Answer the questions people are asking….

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Building Relationships…..

It is such a privilege to be able to help a ministry team, a new church initiative, a training program like those involved with the Instituto Biblico Luterano.

Spending time with people…..there is no substitute for that when a team must accomplish something.  It is the raw material out of which a collaborative effort is born.  God has wired us that way.  We sometimes want to just charge on to the task at hand.  That is the poorer route.  It doesn’t take us far.  The sharing of mundane everyday things … a meal, a cup of coffee, a joke. That takes us down the road where trust can build.  We share truth about ourselves.

I had a wonderful evening with friends who invited me to be part of their everyday life and world. What a gift and privilege.

The simple is profound.

You are a letter written by God’s Holy Spirit.

What a privilege it is for me to see people grow in faith.  I see it here at Concordia where we reach people who are developing a personal relationship with God for the first time.  I know I am witnessing a miracle and that is work of God’s Holy Spirit. As I was reading 2 Corinthians 3 today I was reminded of the fact that those following Jesus are a letter to the world not written with ink and paper but by God’s Holy Spirit.

Our vision here at Concordia of producing generations of people AND CHURCHES that communicate Jesus like the world has rarely seen, also extends to work we support around the world. One ministry we support is south of us in Tijuana.  There we are supporting a new bible institute that will produce workers for new mission work. The more than 30 students just finished their overview of the Old Testament.  As they approach their study of God’s word and so they don’t miss God’s narrative they read a whole book of the Bible in ONE SITTING and OUT LOUD. I am humbled by their dedication, their commitment, their service and their love.

They gathered just last weekend and I was among those invited to celebrate their successful completion of the course. There they talked about what God had taught them during these months of rigorous study.

Here is one woman’s comments.  She talked about the privilege of studying and how God surprises us each day with his greatness and his perfect plan.  She noted that her prayer is that through this study of His word, they are not tempted by vanity to say they know so much but that God would prepare her to share with others and that it all be to His glory and honor.

Pray for these servants of God who will begin their work in the New Testament in September.  Pastor Schmidt will be teaching the course on Systematics next spring!

PSALM 119 – Delighting in the Lord…..

Delighting in the Lord, delighting in the discovery of Him, delighting in the Word.

I love Psalm 119:16.  Last week Pastor challenged us to spend a few minutes reading God’s Word each day.  This week he challenged us to extend the time so that we get to know Him.  He used this phrase: “Linger with the Lord.”

I was reminded of that phrase when I read this verse on “delighting”…… (“I will delight in your statues; I will not forget your word.” Psalm 115:16) This is what this is telling me:   ENJOY your time discovering who the Lord is…..don’t view it as an obligation, one more thing to tick off your “todo” list.  Linger, delight, enjoy, discover.  They are things I desire…..but just desiring them doesn’t take me down the road to achieving them.  I have discovered that TIME in God’s word takes me down that road and God does an amazing thing…..He grows my faith, He gives me those things I need (He knows what those things may be at any particular time).  He is helping me open the door, helping me set aside that time….. because that is how He pursues me….always pursuing me.  That is a good thought and I am delighting in that thought this morning!

Sweet words…..

I am cleaning out my mother’s house and going through boxes upon boxes of papers.  My sweet mom saved every invitation, every receipt, ever gift packaging, etc.  She also saved all the sweet and cute letters and drawings that we would give to her….and about 7 inches thick of letters I wrote to her when studying in Spain and apparently all my school papers through law school (w xerox copies!).

I am reminded of how my mother always had sweet words for us and expressed them as part of her everyday speech.  I recently heard the story that she learned to use sweet words from a co-worker who would talk to her daughter over the phone and speak to her sweetly.  My mother decided right then that she would speak this way too.  She hadn’t learned this from my grandparents who despite being very loving, grew up in a generation and during a time that people weren’t that expressive or sentimental with their words.  I speak that way to my children and if you are around me you will probably hear me call you “hon” too!  Sweet words….they started with my mom….and they will impact the generations that come after her.

Proverbs 16:24

English Standard Version (ESV)

24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

In my mother’s boxes I found this valentine she wrote to me in 1998:

Keep open house….!

In my reading this morning.

Matthew 5:14

The Message (MSG)

 14-16“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Wow!  Opening up to others…..as we build relationship with others…..that is key.  And it takes a generousness of spirit.  It takes a confidence and trust in God and what He will make of that vulnerability.  That is a word not many people like.  But, it seems key in these verses.

Keeping open house and how to go about this….it’s not a secret but its not always easy for everyone either, especially in our guarded world.  What is this going to take for you?  I am sure I will be rolling this around in my mind, heart and spirit today.

Faith growing…..

The Olympics are in the news and Pastor talked about the discipline it takes to be an Olympic athlete. It does not happen over night. It takes consistent practice.  He challenged us to be consistent in reading the Scriptures if we want to have Olympic-sized faith!  He challenged us to read the bible five minutes a day.  

He said read anywhere, or begin in the Gospels!  

Now with smart phones, we can have our Bible with us always and download http://www.youversion.com  I use this and read the Message translation…..or sometime listen to one of the translations that comes in audio clips. 

Yesterday I was reading in Ephesians 3

Ephesians 3:14-19

The Message (MSG)

 14-19My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

I so want to live this full life…..full to the brim!  I want to use everything God has given me and accomplish everything He has for me to do and not leave one opportunity un-seized.  I know I let Him down routinely, but these verses remind me that God’s love and His power is what gives the “full life”.  I am so grateful.  I want to be strengthened by His Holy Spirit. My job?  To keep my feet firmly planted in love.  What a great job!  Great but not always easy. Lord send your Holy Spirit, that we may be filled to overflowing with love and serve others from the fullness that you give.  Amen.