What Do You Mean “Where Have I Seen God?”?

There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.                      – Albert Einstein

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I think the same can be true about seeing God. There are some people who see God everywhere – in everything that they do, in nature, in others, in their actions, the actions of strangers, in animals, in quiet, in loud voice. These people are a huge blessing to have in congregations but often they have the greatest problem with being asked “Where have you seen God?” because they do not know how to answer a question for which the answer is always “everywhere.” Unfortunately, in my experience at least, these people are rare.

There are for more people who do not see God active in their daily lives and therefore when asked “where have you seen God?” their response is more often “nowhere.” Or maybe occasionally they can name that great miracle that happened – but those events don’t come around that often. Fortunately if you are one of these people, you can learn to start seeing God everywhere.

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Facebook, Faith and Change

We are creatures of habit.

Throughout the week we wake up at the same time (even if we don’t want too), shop at the same stores, drive the same way to work and  plan the same things to eat over and over again.  When something disrupts our routines we may find ourselves feeling “out of wack” and more than ever we want to go back to the way things were — or our routine.

This type of longing stretches far more than wanting to have Grilled Cheese and Tomato soup every Monday.   In our faith life we have our set ways.  We may say the same prayer before every meal and before bed time, we go to the same church, sing the same songs and if someone sits in the pew we sit in every single Sunday…..well look out!

Another thing we do not want changed is Facebook.  The past several months there have been a number of changes to Facebook and every time there is a change I have hundreds of friends posting complaints, wishing things went back to the way things were.  I am sure if pressed — most people don’t even remember how Facebook “used” to be when they first signed up.   But there is change, and no one likes change.

To read the rest of this post please visit Soul Munchies.

 

Bullying: Ancient Problem, Same-Old Solution

This is a guest post from Scott Hannon. Scott currently serves Hope Lutheran Church in Arcade, New York. He is a graduate of The Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. This article was a part of Hope’s email devotions. It was published on September 26, 2011. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Our denomination publishes a magazine every month called The Lutheran.  The cover story of the January 2011 issue was entitled, “Bullying the Pastor.”The Lutheran  When I saw the magazine sitting in its regular place among other reading material in our fellowship hall, I thought it would be funny to give the article a little more visibility.  Over the next several weeks I placed the magazine all over the church.  One week it would be on the welcoming table everyone passed on their way into church.  The next week it would be sitting right next to the coffee pot over 90% of our parishioners over the age of 10 frequented.  Every time I would put it somewhere new, it would make its way back to its regular home just to be moved by me all over again.  It was our joke.  I am not bullied and everyone at Hope knew that.  I played with the presence of the article because I thought it was funny.

Jamey Rodemeyer
Jamey Rodemeyer, age 14

Only bullying is not funny, and it certainly wasn’t a joke to Jamey Rodemeyer, the Williamsville North teen who took his life one week ago.  And it certainly isn’t funny to themillions of others who are bullied every day at their schools, work places, or even in their homes.

Bullying is one of the worst kinds of ways we live with one another, and yet for decades we’ve been too quick to dismiss it as “kids being kids” or as a joke.  It is the repeated hurtful acts of others meant to shame, belittle, and cut down.  The people it affects it attacks from every angle.  It manifests itself in physical acts of violence, dangerous rumors, name-calling, and threats.  For children it can be so bad that in 2006 ABC News reported that 160,000 kids skip school every day for fear of being bullied, but even at home they cannot escape the cyber-stalks and slander of their aggressors.

And it is affecting all of us.  Bullies in school are significantly more likely to commit series crimes as adults.  Those bullied are just as likely to become bullies themselves, if they don’t attack their bullies or take their own lives first.

But like so many of the sinful ways in which we live with one another although bullying is reaching new heights, it is certainly not a new problem. As long as people have lived with one another some of those people, often the weak and vulnerable, have been subject to the torments of others.  But for as long as it has been happening, God has spoken against it.  In fact, the Bible is full of reminders of that.  Again and again in the scriptures we hear God defined as “the father to the fatherless and defender of widows” (Exodus 22:22, Deut. 10:18, Psalms 10:14, 68:5, Jer. 49:11, and so many more!).  That is saying much more than God runs a mean orphanage.  The orphans and widows were without place in society.  They were outcast and ignored if they were lucky and reminded of their plight verbally, physically, emotionally, and socially if they were not.  But these people, God continuously reminds, are ones for whom he especially cares. 

Bullying, from pastors to students to co-workers, must stop, because it is not a joke and it is not simply “kids being kids” to our God, the friend of the lonely and the defender of the   picked-on.

            So to the bullies,

we say stop!

            To the bystanders,

we say act for God in stopping it.

            And the to the bullied,

we say God loves you, you are not alone.

Losing Faith in the NFL

On October 9, 1977 running back Herb Lusk took a pitch from quarter back Ron Jaworski, Lusk headed around the left end and ran 70 yards to the end zone for a fourth-quarter touchdown. Four steps over the goal line the Philadelphia Eagles’ running back dropped to his left knee and bowed his head in prayer. A few seconds later, he stood back up and returned to the sideline. What may seem like a common action among today’s players, Herb Lusk was the first NFL player to do something like this and since then it has turned into a staple for many players in the NFL as well as other sports.

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Whether it be a pitcher pointing skyward after a save, a hitter offering thanks to a higher power after a home run, or a basketball team joining for a prayer at mid-court after a game, giving God thanks after a play is common among professional players.

Faith has been practiced among players and teams long before Lusk kneeled in prayer in Giants stadium.  Many players and teams conducted prayer before and after games, but all of that was out of the public eye.

Fast forward to 2011 — we are seeing more and more players show the public side of their faith, but has the public lost the ability to have faith in the game itself?

It surprised and shocked me when I turned on the news this past summer and heard both the owners of the teams and the players could not agree on the financial terms of the game and therefore they were locked out. As someone who does not make a million dollars a year, I was appalled at the actions I witnessed, and I started to lose faith in the NFL.

I realized I was not the only one, I had people ask me about the activity of God in the lockout. What do you think God would say about the lockout? someone asked me.  I paused and really thought about the question.

To read more about this post and my reaction to the question check it out on Soul Munchies Blog

When the Waves Come Crashing Down

Read:  Matthew 14:22-33

In have a lot of memories from playing football in high school.  I was a pretty good lineman (both defense and offense) and I loved playing the game.  One of my memories was a drill where guys would line up in two rows about five yards apart.  Each player would have these padded football shields.  We would take turns running through the gauntlet to the end where our coach was holding on to a 48″ football dummy bag.  Our goal was the run through t gauntlet until we got to the coach and then we would hit him as hard as we could driving him back five to ten yards.  The trick was as we were running through the gauntlet our teammates would be hitting us with these dummy shields as hard as they could, trying to knock us down.  So we would run entering the gauntlet and make it twenty-five yards to freedom.  After a few times doing this drill I found if I absorbed the hits and focused on my coach, I could make it to the other side with very few problems.

I suspect that’s how Peter felt as he started his journey walking on the water towards Jesus.  He kept his eyes focused on Jesus, taking one step at a time and he let all other distracts fall by the wayside.  This worked for awhile but soon the hits became too much and he started to fall, he took his eyes off of Jesus and started to sink into the abyss.

I don’t know how long Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, my guess is a second or two.  But during those few seconds Peter lost his focus and he started to fall into the water!!! Now, I am sure he was terrified, I am sure his life started to flash before his eyes,  I am sure he thought he was going to die but suddenly Jesus came into the picture and Jesus pulled Peter out of the water. Thanks be to God!

We can totally relate to Peter!  Because we too have our battles to face, they might not be football players trying to knock us down or enormous waves come crashing around us.

To read the rest of this blog post please visit www.bibledude.net

 

 

Seperation From God

This past Sunday I was starting my usual afternoon Pastoral nap when there was a knock at the door.  I got up to answer the door and I find it is two of my neighbors.  These neighbors happen to be Jehovah’s Witnesses.  They have stopped by a number of times to introduce themselves and to talk with me about who they are and what they believe.  Even though they know that I am a pastor they are not deterred from sharing their beliefs with me.  Perhaps it is because I am a Pastor they have feel like they have an audience to talk about their beliefs because I do have a strong understanding of my faith and the Bible.

They were sharing with me articles from their latest magazine surrounding the Kingdom of God.  However, our conversation quickly turned into thoughts about salvation.  They were telling me all the things I needed to be doing to ensure my salvation.  Now, I am not afraid to talk with someone about the end times and what that means to me as a Lutheran Christian but in my mind there is a set time and a place for that.  When I encounter someone and we start to talk about God, especially when it is someone who I do not know; I am not warning them about their potential to go to hell, I am talking with them about a God who loves them, who cares for them and who will do anything for them. I tell them about Jesus – the one who preached God’s kingdom and embodied God’s love, the one who suffered and died on the cross and was raised again all because of his love for them and all humankind.  But Alice and Geoff have a different approach and that was quite clear.

After they shared with me I told them about my sermon earlier that day, I preached about Jacob seeing God for the first time and how we are called to see God as well, not only in the church but in the world as well.  I preached about how God comes to us to help us like according to the spirit instead of according to the flesh.  I said that this is all about a God who loves us, who cares for us.  They said that they do believe in the love of God, but it was also important to point out to people that if they do something wrong, then Jehovah is going to punish them.

This is where we do not agree.

To read the rest of this post visit Bibledude.net