What's Showing?  
Wednesday, February 28, 2007, 10:48 AM - Extra Christy
A child was intently drawing a picture of God in Sunday School. She was undeterred when others told her that no one knew what God looked liked for she explained: "Well, they'll know when I'm done drawing!"

Showing what God looks like isn't as easy as drawing a picture, but it is possible. At least according to Eugene Peterson's version of 1 Corinthians 12 in The Message. He interprets the use of spiritual gifts for the benefit of others as a way to show God to others. Gifts such as: wise counsel, clear understanding, simple trust, healing the sick, miraculous acts, proclamation of good news draw God so that others are shown what God looks like.

Hope when your day draws to a close, people are shown God...

"Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits." - 1 Corinthians 12

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Do You Look Like Your Driver's License? 
Sunday, February 25, 2007, 08:00 AM - Sermon
Luke 4:1-13

Do you look like your Driver's License picture? How about your passport photo? We are more concerned about identity than we used to be. We show our driver's license so many times at airports that people have taken to just wearing them around their necks. Visiting in some areas of the hospitals in Akron requires signing in with a guard to unlock the hospital door.

All of these have to do if you are allowed to be where you want to go. Does this person have the stickers and stamps to be delivered to this place? It is a checking of the labeling to see if you are safe for the intended use.

We need an identification card for our hearts. We have one for our faces, but none for our heart. A card we could pull out and show to others and look at ourselves that would tell us who we are and whose we are, not just whether we can fly in an airplane. For the root of all temptation is denying who you are…

The devil tempts Jesus three ways: with materialism…having every thing you want, but not anything you need, bribing people into faith; with power…commanding people into faith; with fame…magically dazzling people into faith. Jesus counters each of these temptations, one of which includes a scripture from the Psalms with responses from the scripture, from Deuteronomy. Jesus looks at his identification card, to see who he is as Savior.

Am I a savior whose purpose is satisfy bodily hunger? He looks at scripture with the story of the hunger in the wilderness and provision of manna by God, to find that God's people do not live by bread alone, that filling our bellies with bread will not give us the life he came to offer.

Am I a savior who commands by state authority and political power? He looks at scripture and finds that a divided loyalty is not allowed. Serving principalities and powers of this world is not the way to be the savior of the world. Only God is to be worship and served. That just isn't who he is.

Am I a savoir who dazzles the crowd and wins loyalty by my fame and entertainment value? He looks at the scripture, the paper that tells him who he is, and sees that we do not use God as a stage prop.

When you have been tempted by the need to succeed and forget who you are, what words have strengthened you and reminded you of your true identity? (The words could be lines from
Scripture, from someone wise, or from something you have read.) What words have you shared with others to remind them of who they are? — paragraph from Thoughtful Christian Lent series

When my son was born, I wanted to name him Robert, partly to honor an Uncle of Bette Lynn's but partly because Robert could be Bob, Bobby, Rob, Robby, so many variations. While he was growing up, people would ask him if they could call him Bob, or Robby..his answer was always the same, “My name is Robert.” He wouldn't say Yes or No, just who he was, “My name is Robert.” always the full sentence. He knew who he was.

A powerful way to raise a child, where television and media bombards them with images of who they should be is to remind them of who they are. We are Ramseys, we don't lie. Ramsey don't hit..ever.

When the tempter, asked Jesus who he was, he said, “I am God's, directed and defined by God's word.” For tempter is a translation of Diabolos… one who throws things around. Toss everything, so everything is out of place and doesn't work. Bible verses are thrown into temptations to escape God's will, evil is shuffled to seem as good, confusion reigns, chaos replaces creation, which God called into being and declared Good.

Tom Long teaches preaching at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and tells a story about a high school play, lovingly prepared by a dedicated teacher/director. Lines were memorized, movements blocked out, lighting arranged, music rehearsed, all was ready for the big night of the show.

All went well until one of the actors forgot his line. The earnest new director whisphered his part, but he didn't hear her. After an uncomfortable silence, he just made up a line. The audience laugh, the tension relieved...but then, encouraged by the reaction, he made up another and another...until the play was broken. And off-stage, you could see the director with tears in her eyes.

The one who throws everything all over the place is forever tempting us to make up our own lines, make them up for success with the crowd. All we can do in order to resist such temptation is reach into the tradition and remember who we are, remember our lines as it were. — from Thoughtful Christian Lent series

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Bothered By Answered Prayer 
Wednesday, February 21, 2007, 08:30 AM - Extra Christy
I got a long distance call for computer help today. It was from a former youth group member, now a young man. He apologized for calling every time he had a computer problem. (He calls about once or twice a month.) He knows he is a bother.

Yet every time he calls, I get a warm feeling. For these annoying calls are an answer to prayer. When he was in high school, he had a terrible car accident. Head Injury. Doctors held little hope for him ever waking up, much less walking or talking. At his bedside visiting him, I felt so helpless. Yes, I prayed with him and his family and read him messages sent by his friends, but for weeks, months, there was no reaction. I was so frustrated. My prayer was that I could do something for him that I knew was helping him, something that got through. A selfish prayer, I admit.

In time, due to prayer and the love of his family and friends, he woke up and slowly with years of hard work learned to walk, talk, and just recently drive again! Oh, yes, he learned to use his computer and cell phone.

Where before he laid in bed beyond my best efforts to help, now he calls me and asks for help that I can give him. Thank you God, for those bothersome phone calls. It was just what I asked for.

Jesus Teaches About Prayer
"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." - Luke 11:9-10

Hope You're Ready when God Answers Your Knock!

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Lifting the Veil 
Sunday, February 18, 2007, 08:00 AM - Sermon
2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

The child was fussing, so the mother had to leave the older child in the ice cream store to attend to the younger crying one. Now it was a wrestling match trying to get the child in the origami of the belts of the car seat. After a few minutes the older child came out and got in the car and started squealing for another reason. There in front of them was a glorious rainbow stretching completely across the sky. The mother had missed it, it was blocked by the flaying arms and legs, and drowned out by screams and squeals.

Appropriate symbol for that time in a parent's life, one of God's care and consistency, which God's freely promises to preserve the world.

What gets between us and the glory of God?

Other Things
We can keep busy with work, keeping our mind on our labor even when we are home. Letting work keep us away from God. For students, they can be so wrapped up in school that there is no room to see God. For seniors, the distractions of home and health can keep our minds far from the things of God. For parents, the demands and needs of children can pull a veil over time with God. Sometimes it is impossible to close the door for a well deserved bubble bath, much less time for prayer.

An occasional snowstorm helps break our busyness cycle. Routines are disrupted; Color Our Rainbow had only 8 children on Valentine's Day, about a tenth of what they normally have to take care of. Stacy told me, “It's great! I'm getting all kinds of work done!” Severe weather can rip away the veils of activity and schedule that we have draped ourselves in and expose us to a winter wonderland transformed from ordinary to heavenly, if we are ready to see it.

When your schedule is bumped, or cancellations come your way; consider it is a gift from God and nudge to look up from that which screams for attention. It doesn't need to be the rainbow of God's presence.

Another veil that keeps us from the glory of God is our avoidance of times and places that we might be God. From a private prayer time, to Men of Luke 15 Bible Study, worship, to funeral services, or Ash Wednesday service, we can avoid the presence of God.

Folks like to quote evangelist Billy Sunday, “Going to church won't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage will make you a car.” Yet it is still true, that if you are a car, a garage is a good place to go to keep in running order. It takes a lot more work to be a car, if you avoid the protection and help that a garage can give.

We can take a break in our busyness and be physically present and yet still have veils over the glory of God. We can cover up newness and tie down possibility, making sure that more light will never break free. Here is an account of Pastor John Robinson's final address to his congregation we know as the Pilgrims upon their departure to the New World, 1620:

We were now, ere long, to part asunder; and the Lord knoweth whether ever he should live to see our faces again. But whether the Lord had appointed it or not; he charged us, before God and his blessed angels, to follow him no further than he followed Christ: and if God should reveal anything to us by any other instrument of his, to be as ready to receive it, as ever we were to receive any truth by his Ministry. For he was very confident the Lord had more truth and light yet to break forth out of his holy Word.

Where is God's light breaking forth from his holy Word? I can't wait to see the film “Amazing Grace” about the idealist William Wilberforce who maneuvers his way through Parliament in 18th century England, endeavoring to end slavery in the empire. There is an example of more light breaking forth from the holy Word. What light awaits the 21st century?

Seen God
I have been close to God a few times. I was on a camp-out. Running all over the place at night. When I got up the next morning, I found that my lens was missing from the glasses. I despaired of finding it. It could be anywhere. But I looked, not want to come home with glasses that needed repaired. I looked and looked, had others look. I gave up and prayed. Just stopped where I was and prayed that I would find my lens. I opened my eyes and saw some reflection on the grass right were I was looking with my head bowed. I stopped breathing. Could it be? I reached for it, thinking it was a trick of the early morning dew. It was my lens.

Have you had moments like that? When God poked you and you giggled like the Pillsbury dough boy in the commercial?

For the glory of God, you have to pause, pray, and peer. Make room for God's glory, remove the veils that cover his presence from us and you will see rainbows that God is with us, even when we are not with God.

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Snow Day 
Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 08:16 AM - Extra Christy
Midwest Ohio had its blizzard last night. Today, schools, businesses, and governmental offices are closed as people stay home waiting to be plowed out. In anticipation of the storm, a flurry of phone calls, emails, radio, TV and web site updates blanketed folks with cancellations and cautions.

All over Ohio priorities were reordered; a family went to visit an elderly relative before the storm since their meeting was cancelled; late night work addicts went home early, dinners were calmly eaten at home instead of hurriedly in the car on the way from activity to exhaustion.

There is a story of priorities in Gospels. It is about preparing for the arrival not of snow but salvation:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-41 NIV

It is good to have interruptions in our prepared and planned lives full of worry and upset. By canceling the urgent, we have time to consider the important.

Hope your Snow Day helps you find what is truly necessary
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