Big Time Foot in Mouth Disease

By An Anonymous Writer/Member of Easter Lutheran Church

Ecclesiastes 3:7  “A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be silent and a time to speak.”

Several months ago my husband and I woke up to discover we’d come down with foot-in-mouth disease. Big time. We inadvertently offended someone we love and respect. (Big time.)  And wow she was angry. Big time. We’re talking “I’ll-never-speak-to-you-again” and “Don’t-you-dare-approach-or-I will-turn-my-back-on-you-and-walk-away!”  Really big time!

Amazing GraceIn Lent we heard so frequently of God’s love for us even when we ignore Him. He just keeps on giving. He loves and forgives us daily for our every sin. He even let His son be persecuted and killed just so our sins, our foot-in-mouth diseases, wouldn’t stand in the way of our salvation.  I am unable to comprehend a love that is so strong you would sacrifice your son.  That’s who He is–a giver who never stops giving; a Love that will always be there to welcome our approach.  Big time!

A common saying among our friends is, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”  That’s not forgiveness.  I Cor. 13:5 says Love keeps no record of wrongs. When we sin we’ll never hear God saying, “Okay, that’s twice!”  And we must forgive others as quickly as we expect God to forgive us. That’s big time difficult! Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt someone who hurt me. This is what God does – all the time!

Lent this year meant weeks of watching Jesus be so very brave, loving and forgiving.  Weeks to not mourn our hurt, instead to tell our hurt and pain that’s it’s time go away and simply love. It meant we really understood the great disappointments we cause our Father. Yet we must do as He did and forgive. Big time.

The writer of Ecclesiastes said there’s “a time for everything.”  Lent showed us big time that our time is now.

Please join us in prayer that our ever forgiving Lord and His brave, unselfish Son will be with us in our times of missing the mark.  We ask them to bless our words and deeds so that we may always be loving—big time! 

Heart

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Damn You

By Chris Cairo

Image spotted on Equal Rights Institute Blog (see below for more info) -- "If what you’re doing remotely looks like what Westboro Baptist Church protests looks like, it’s worth immediate reevaluation. Image: LonelyConservative.com"

Image found on Equal Rights Institute Blog (see below for more info) — “If what you’re doing remotely looks like what Westboro Baptist Church protests looks like, it’s worth immediate reevaluation. Image: LonelyConservative.com”

One recent night, as we left the Minnesota Timberwolves game and waited for the train to come, we had a front row view to a guy “preaching” from on top of a stool across the street.

You may have seen this style before, flanked by two supporters with large signs, he yelled out his message: basically damning most of us who don’t live up to the standards he feels the bible states. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen these guys downtown.

After another game earlier this year I witnessed two guys on the train single out a twenty something young man for a conversation, “Hey, do you believe in God?…Do you go to church?…” They were friendlier than the guy last night, but no less aggressive.

Have you encountered this style of evangelism before? Maybe on your campus? Where you shop? The workplace?

I question its effectiveness.

It seems to me that Jesus taught us a much different way to spread the Gospel (that is, “the good news”).

Yes, He told the woman caught in adultery “to go and sin no more” (John 8), but first He dissipated the angry crowd by saying, “If any of you are without sin, let him throw the first stone,” and then, as He spoke to her alone, Jesus starts by saying, “Neither do I condemn you.”

Jesus goal, never seemed to be to shame, ridicule, or to mock someone. Even in calling for repentance, as in the above story or with the woman at the well,  He did so in a manner that was gentle, and guiding in its message, to point a person in the right direction. To point towards God.

And that is what I think He asks each of us to do.

Best way to preach the Good News?  Live it.  

Heart

 

Note: For related reading, see  “3 Great Points about Angry Street Preaching from Stand to Reason” by Josh Brahm on Equal Rights Institute Blog.  Photo of angry street preachers was found on that sight, with reference to the image source: LonelyConservative.com. 

Our Father, Father’s Day, and Parable of the Father’s Love

Today’s devotion is from Chris Cairo:

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”

How easily we say these words, sometimes without even thinking about what we are saying, about what the words mean to us. The Lord’s Prayer becomes rote memorization and blind (spiritual) repetition.

Father and son at lakeGod as our Father (let’s side aside any discussion of God’s gender for a moment): what does that mean to you?

There are many stories in the bible, both Old and New Testament, that give us insights into God’s character. One such story is found in Luke 15: the story we call “The Return of the Prodigal Son”.

In a book of the same name by Henri Nouwen, Nouwen suggests that this story could/should be called “Parable of the Father’s Love”. This parable in Luke is told by Jesus after He hears the Pharisees complain that Jesus associates with sinners.

The story has three main characters (the Father and his two sons) and seemingly spends more time on the exploits of the younger son, who goes off and squanders the inheritance his father has given him. It is hard to miss the point that the Father (God) is filled with compassion and joy when the son returns, and holds no grudges: he forgives and accepts. End of lesson, right?

But then there is the older brother who resents that the Father treats the prodigal son so well when he returns. “He is not deserving!” (Or at least not as deserving as me!)

How many of us have moments of jealousy when attention or praise is given to one of our (less deserving in our eyes) siblings by our Father? Or a classmate by the teacher? Or coworker, by our boss? Or when a friend gets complemented on what they are wearing and not us?

I am guilty of this. Sometimes it’s hard not to be jealous, as the world is always comparing us, evaluating us, grading us. Constant competition.

But not God.640px-Rembrandt_Harmensz_van_Rijn_-_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Google_Art_Project

In the story the Father runs out to greet the prodigal son as he is returning home. But the Father also goes out to the older son, to bring him into the celebration in the house.

Jesus’s point with the story, seems to be that not only does God love sinners, but that God loves all of us, equally. The Fathers love is not given in measure to our goodness or success. Thank God! (No pun intended) You do not have to have better grades than your brother or sister. You do not need to be the best athlete in the family. Or the smartest…There is no comparing.

Your Father simply loves you.

And so it is “on earth as it is in heaven”.

In the famous painting by Rembrandt of this parable, he shows the son kneeling, and comforted, in the warm embrace of the Father. The light in the painting symbolizing the fathers love. The father reaches out to give love, and equally important, the son has returned and learned to accept the fathers love.

I hope you each can bask in the love of your Father on Father’s Day, whether he is with you or not. That’s all He wants.

 

Easter member Chris Cairo wrote the above reflection as part of his special ministry to college students and others, in which he writes to them on a monthly basis to encourage their faith to thrive in their daily lives.

 

Prickly Passage, Prayer, and Forgiveness

Today’s post is written by an Easter member who wishes to remain anonymous: 

Jesus and Fig Tree--medium size --01_Fig_Tree_JPEG_1024Lately I’ve been focused on a BFF* who has hurt my feelings.  Waaaay too much focusing!

So when I was reading Mark and came upon this one story I was speechless.  (That’s probably a good thing.)

Mark 11:11-26 contains that prickly passage about Jesus and the fig tree that had no figs (never mind that it was out of season anyway). Here’s part of the story:

 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry.13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. (Mark 11:12-14)

Jesus and the Fig Tree--medium size --06_Fig_Tree_JPEG_1024After this, Jesus and the disciples go into Jerusalem, where Jesus casts the money-changers out of the temple. As he and the disciples head back out of town, Peter notices that the fig tree Jesus cursed has now withered:

20 In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. 24 So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:20-25**)

Jesus replies by assuring them that whatever they pray for in prayer, they will receive.

But someone at church once pointed out something I’d missed in the many times I’ve read this passage: Jesus tells them that whenever they pray, they are to forgive.

Wow. What if, in every prayer we offered, we asked for the grace to forgive those who we feel have wronged us?

And what if God granted that request?

Ponder this…

 

 

*BFF: best friend forever
** Bible passages from NRSV online at www.biblegateway.com