Posts Tagged ‘Hope’

Just as God broke open the tomb on Easter morning and raised up Jesus,
God can break open your tombs and raise you up, too! 

Did you catch David Brooks’s impressive closing keynote speech at the Knight Foundation’s 2019 Media Forum? If you missed it, you can see it online. Brooks is a conservative columnist who writes for the New York Times which, he jokes, makes him feel a little bit like the “the resident rabbi at Mecca. It’s a very lonely position”.

I was quite moved by Brooks’s thoughtful presentation which citied biblical passages and even the great twentieth century theologian, Paul Tillich. One of the things from Brooks’s speech that has stuck with me was his understanding that in our individual and even national times of division, darkness, or crisis, “we can either be broken, or broken open.” (more…)

Like the cross, and the brutal form of death it once represented, death is now a way-marker or a signpost that points us toward abundant life in Christ, today, and eternal life, tomorrow.

Have you ever been with someone near the time of their death?
Find out who and what we see before we die. 

Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem, and kept his focus on the eventuality of the cross (Luke 9:51-62). Jesus was set-faced and cross-eyed. Find out how the cross, and the death it once symbolized, have now become way-markers on our greater journey. (more…)

wordcloud (2)

This Lent I’m preaching a sermon series at the historic Old Stone Church in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. The series is called Cross Words: There’s Power in the Cross! 

This afternoon, after our staff meeting, Old Stone’s Associate for Care, my friend and colleague in ministry, Rev. Dr. Charles D. Yoost shared this beautiful prayer from the Iona Community with me which connects so well with our Lenten  focus on the cross. Today, I share this prayer with all of you along with my own prayer that the cross may bring you closer to God and God’s purpose for your life this Lent and always.

O Christ,
The Master Carpenter,
who at the last through wood and nails,
purchased our salvation,
wield well your tools in the workshop of the world,
so that we, who come rough-hewn to your bench,
may here be fashioned to a truer beauty by your hand.
We ask this for your name and for your sake.
Amen.

– From the Iona Community, Scotland

BY THE TIME MY BROTHERS AND I WERE TEENAGERS, my parents were able to take  short vacations and leave us in charge of the house. We didn’t always take care of the place very well but knowing when they were due home, we managed to get the place passably cleaned up before they returned. The problem for us happened on those occasions when Mom and Dad decided to come home early. Yikes!

In a sense, Jesus has left us to be faithful stewards of the world, to take care of the earth and all who dwell in it until his return. And he said, Keep awake, for you do not know when the master of the house will come.

Check out this inspiring first-week-of-Advent message, House Sitter. It asks the questions: Are we living in fear or in hope? What would life be like if we lived as if faith wasn’t a requirement to receive God’s grace, rather a hope-filled response to having already received it?

What happens when parents leave the kids in charge? Living in hope, not in fear.

 

 

 

zombie

The power of Easter can slip easily from our grasp, if we’re not careful. As far as the big Christian holy days are concerned, Christmas is so much easier to deal with than Easter.

At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a child. No problem, there! Who can’t get behind a birthday celebration, especially one for a poor kid who grows up to be king? Disney ought to make a movie: Jesus: Prince of Kings.

At Easter, though, we have to accept that almost two thousand years ago a dead man was raised from the dead, got right up, walked around the place for fifty days, dropped in on old friends, and even cooked-up a mess of fish on the beach one morning. The Easter story is a whole lot trickier than Christmas to get our heads around. Christmas is a heart warmer. Easter is a mind bender.
(more…)

LIFE AS A HOUSE: A MINISTRY OF ENCOURAGEMENT

Have ever seen the old Kevin Kline/Hayden Christensen movie, Life as a House? Beth and

House

When Paul told the church in Thessaloniki to encourage one another and build-up each other, he used a word that literally translates, “build a home.”

I watched it the other night on Netflix. In the story, Kevin Kline plays the father of a dysfunctional family. He’s divorced from his wife. She’s unhappily remarried. Their son (Christensen) is angry, lonely and abusing drugs. The teen has even considered selling himself into prostitution to feed his drug habit.

 

After losing his job, and almost simultaneously being diagnosed with a terminal cancer, Kline, an architect in the movie, decides that he’s going to spend his few remaining months fulfilling his life-long dream: building a house overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He forces his estranged son to come and live with him and together they build a house.

The miracle of the story (spoiler alert!) is that as they build the house together, the boy discovers hope and healing for his sadness and rage, and love is restored to the family as a whole.

It’s fascinating to me that when the Apostle Paul told the church at Thessalonica to “encourage one another and build-up each other” (1 Thessalonians 5:11), he used the word, “oikodomeo” which literally translates, “to build a home.” In other words, as a church, we are called to build a home for God, for faith, and for love within our church. As we do, there is the promise for healing within ourselves and our church family as a whole.

Instead of grumbles, gossip or complaints about one another, or even turning a cold-shoulder of indifference toward each other, we should encourage each other by laying a foundation of truth, building-up walls of faith, and nailing down a roof of safety and protection. And don’t forget to open some doors and windows and let love in!

Who needs encouragement in your family, among your friends or in your church? I pray that you might join me in a ministry of encouragement. Let’s make a home for love in every heart by our words and actions of encouragement.

God Bless You Today and Forever,

Mark

On November 26th, I preached a sermon called A Ministry of Encouragement. Watch it here!

In the next post, I’ll give you some tools for being a minister of encouragement!

A member of my congregation shared this beautiful little story with me. Thought it might be a great way to start your week. I hope your days are filled with blessings better than biscuits! – RMG

Biscuits

A visiting Pastor was attending a men’s breakfast in farm country. He asked one of the impressive older farmers in attendance to say grace that morning. After all were seated, the older farmer began . . .

“Lord, I hate buttermilk.”

The Pastor opened one eye and wondered to himself where this was
going. Then the farmer loudly proclaimed, “Lord, I hate lard.”

Now the Pastor was worried. However, without missing a beat, the farmer prayed on, “And Lord, you know I don’t care much for raw white flour.”

Just as the Pastor thought he should stand up and stop everything, the farmer continued, “But Lord, when you mix ’em all together and bake ’em up, I do love fresh biscuits.

So, Lord, when things come up we don’t like, when life gets hard, when we just don’t understand what you are sayin’ to us, we just need to relax and wait ’till You are done mixin’, and probably it will be somethin’ even better than biscuits.

Amen.”

May God Bless You Today and Forever!

Mark

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. – Jeremiah 29:11