Tag Archives: God

Death and Life

So Christian, the big day is coming. The dirt nap, the big send off, the shuffling off of this mortal coil, the big sleep: our death. 

So, are you looking forward to it? Do you yearn for it? 

In the news right now is at least 20 dead at a church in Texas. 

Are you ready for that send off? Are you ready to meet your maker?

Jesus conquered death. It no longer holds power over you. The Apostle Paul said “to live is Christ, to die is gain!” 

Gain?!

Yes. Gain. 

We leave behind a broken and battered world. We leave behind broken relationships and incomplete knowledge of each other.  We leave behind evil and violence and torture and pain and anxiety and fear. 

So, yes it is gain. So until then let us live free of the fear of death. For death to this life means to rise to new life, an imperishable life. Life eternal joined to the source of all Goodness and Life. 

Soli Deo Gloria 

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Labor Day

Right now in the USA is one of those weirdly named holidays. A day to rest from labor named after the thing we are resting from? 

The historically savvy know that it relates more to beginnings of Communism than anything else. Karl Marx and the struggle of the working class, etc. 

What’s truly weird is the complete loss of the concept of a holiday. Which derives from Holy Day. And that a nation might have a Holy Day would probably be a source of derision from the secular culture.   

Now we’ve managed to keep a few actual Holy Days in our line up of official holidays: Christmas and Thanksgiving. And even these are tenuous at best and detrimental at their worst. That Thanksgiving is now the kick off for voracious buying for the commercial nirvana that is Christmas morning gift opening is disheartening. 

The Holy Days instituted by God for the nation of Israel were based around an agrarian people.  Planting and harvest, cycles of the moon and the like. A rhythm built into the very fabric of the society. 

We have ours built in here: summer is marked between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The fall season of Halloween to Thanksgiving with a build up to Christmas. After New Years it’s the slog to spring marked around Easter (secular culture has stolen Holy Week from us, giving us instead the pathetic “spring break”). 

Then back to Memorial Day. A loop. And the older one gets the more one feels the repetitive nature of it all. The slow meandering brook of life.  We labor under the sun, toiling and laboring to an unknown end other than knowing we will be with our Lord. 

Now you might be wondering why I took you on this tortuous loop. It’s this: don’t separate the labor from the Holy God who gave it to you. Today is a Holy Day, an extra day of rest our Lord providentially provided for us. We were made to tend the garden of Eden. We were made to labor, to work. Not aimlessly, but to the good of our neighbor and the Glory of God. 

The culture may have forgotten about Holy Days, but our God surely has not. Someday all will be made right. Today let us rest and yearn a little for that day. 

Soli Deo Gloria 

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Day 30: It is finished

Today is the last day of my personal challenge to write 30 days in a row. A few days were nothing more than me phoning it in, pretty perfunctory really.  But overall I think I did a lot of writing. I do have one piece that’s nearly written that needs to be posted on a particular day to have the desired effect. I think you will know it when you see it. 

The title is two parts: one, I’m officially done with the challenge; two, the work of Christ is finished. Since today is Sunday, it’s fitting since it is a recalling of the Resurrection. Just before giving up His spirit he cried “It is finished.” The work of atonement was done. The Resurrection is the initial proof of the atoning sacrifice. 

When we come to Christ (and we only come because He called us) and we turn from our sin, we are forgiven. That forgiveness was purchased on that cross. 

There is a phrase “between the already and the not yet”. This is where we live. The work of Christ is done, the atonement finished, forgiveness is purchased. The kingdom of God is already, but not yet in its fullness. 

So I shouldn’t be striving to earn my forgiveness or impress God with my religiousosity, my Christian “bonafides”. I shouldn’t be praying to impress God, but because I’m leaning into Him for strength.  I don’t cross myself to prove to others my religiousness. No, I do it to remind myself to whom I belong. I was bought with a price. 

I don’t bow at name of Christ in the Nicene Creed because it want to show off, I do it to remind myself one day all knees will bow to him. Right now I choose to kneel. But only because He called me. It’s the end of me and the start of Him. I’m finished. 

Soli Deo Gloria 

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Day 25: Chance Encounter?

So, I decided to grab some coffee this morning before heading to work. As I walk into the place I notice a man in his twenties reading the Gospel of Luke (he was right in Chapter 1, so it was in nice bold print that even these old eyes can see). I grab my coffee and headed out. I normally don’t talk to people randomly. Something made me ask. “So, personal bible study or sermon prep?”

He initially looked a little startled. And then we chatted. He’s a young athletic trainer who is also mentoring some kids through his church. We talked about humility, Divine Mercy, the ways that pride sneaks up on you, the amazing strange ways that God works in, through and around our lives.

I then said how I never stop at this particular coffee shop in the morning. He said he’s never come to this place either to do his bible study. We just looked at each other and knew that it was He who arranged the appointment. We each chuckled a little about it but marveled at God’s timing.  He’s considering the pastorate and I’m thinking about mentoring young believers and strengthening the maturing. So I get to offer some encouragement to a young heart thirsting for God’s direction. He gets to see God’s timing and realize that the call is to a work that God is already doing. And honestly, I get to as well.

So, yet another divine appointment for me. God pre-arranging meeting with fellow believers so we are each able to see God’s perfect timing. Chance encounter? Nah, not at all. That’s my GOD and Savior at work: “both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Soli Deo Gloria 

 

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Day 23: Admitting Error

One of the main aspects of Anglicanism, and really all old order traditions, is the liturgy. We have a set practice, and in our particular case it is in the Book of Common Prayer (this is a link to Anglican Pastor for a good explanation of what that book is).

Every single Sunday, prior to the Celebration of the Eucharist (communion), we say prayers for the nations and then a confession of sin. We all say the same words together, led by the deacon:

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

It’s also part of morning daily devotion. It’s a serious prayer. But let me reword it a bit to draw out some the ways it challenges us, I hope it makes you think and analyze the various ways we all rebel against God:

Calling on the mercy of God. We acknowledge that we have erred against God in every way, through action and inaction. Our Love has been on ourselves and not You and definitely not on others. This was a major mistake and we submit ourselves to examination by Jesus Christ that we have turned from our errors please be merciful to us because of our rebellion. Please Pardon our sins. Our error is we think your will isn’t really delightful for us, help us see the unbridled joy of your plans, show us the ancient paths of wisdom, for the Greatness of your Beautiful Name. Amen. 

Soli Deo Gloria 

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Day 21: A little poetry 

God of all the living

Son of man forgiving

Man keeps on sinning

Evil tries and tries 

Satan lies and lies

A Man he tries and tries

Without God impulsing

Sin within us still convulsing

All good our souls repulsing

Need we must to see

How broken useless are we

Without the Godhead one in three

    

(C) 2017 Richard Reeb

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Day 19: Barely Beating the Buzzer

So it’s nearly midnight, so I need to get something up if I’m going to get 30 consecutive days. 

The Triple O Again

Orthodoxy, orthopraxy and orthopathy. This has been my regular thought for weeks now. Like I said in my post yesterday I’ve been ruminating on the pathy part. Right passion or right feelings. 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul. 

Love your neighbor as yourself

Love one another as I have loved you

Our culture, the world we live in here in the United States is one of self gratification. During lunch at a restaurant with my wife we overheard a conversation between two ladies who were obviously rather well to do. One was complaining that all he husband does during a vacation is drink. The other told her she needed to find her own “happy place”. It was the saddest conversation to listen to. Lives lived chasing happiness through material things. 

There was an obvious lack of love all around. Well, not exactly. There was a love of vacations, material possessions and personal happy places. I wanted to cry. It was so ostentatious and yet so sad. There didn’t seem to be any real love between anybody involved.  

I dare say everyone has either heard a conversation or been in one ourselves like it. 

“God is Love” we read in the book of John. The summary of the law, the first two quotes above are about love. Jesus’s final command is about love. Paul says “Do everything in Love.” 

Other focused. Talk about counter cultural. How does one really live like that? Where do we look for clues?

Jesus lived that life. Jesus lived that Love. 

But we can’t do it on our own. Only by, with and through Christ Jesus. By embracing His Love for us are we able to Love others as we should Love them, which is how Jesus loves us. 

Now I realize that the practice and the passion (orthopraxy and orthopathy) are tied up together there. But we are body and soul, we are incarnated beings. And therein lies the rub, to quote Hamlet. 

They are not separate things. Orthodoxy informs the orthopraxy which produces the orthopathy which feeds the orthopraxy more energy to keep receiving more orthodoxy. Whew. 

Practice and passion are tied up in a intricate Tango. Tear them apart and the beauty is gone. Examine them separately and they’re ethereal, lofty ideas that seem unattainable. But put them together and they dance with beauty and grace. Sublime passion and perfect practice. Dance Christian, dance. 

Soli Deo Gloria 

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Day 16: It’s All His

It’s Sunday morning. My church recently asked me to take over one of the support teams for the Sunday services: the Altar Guild. We make sure there’s bread, wine and juice for each service. We bake our own bread and have both a chalice and communion cups. We have around 800 to 1000 people between the two morning services, so it’s a few people to prep and clean as well as maintain the elements. It definitely uses my administrative gifts along with a little strategic thinking.  

We have a priest visiting who is in town to drop his daughter off at Wheaton College. He’s part of a small mission in Portland, Maine. It’s in the very heart of the most unchurched area in the United States. I had a chance to chat because he was using our spare vestments to get ready for the service. I think he used the word small at least twice to describe their mission/church plant. 

I then shared that we had not always been the size we are now. I wasn’t here for the growth to our current size, but I’ve heard the stories: we left the Episcopal Church because of their unfaithfulness to the faith once deposited. We wandered over the years. Some discord occurred, some infighting within leadership, another split. Then reconciliation, the building bridges between the faithful to God gifting us with the enormous former plastics factory for a building. 

I hope I encouraged him with a quick reference to Gideon. “But the Lord said to Gideon: “The people are yet too many.”

Our growth is the Lord’s. Our current numerical strength is the Lord’s. Our faithfulness is the Lord’s. The healings that occur here are the Lord’s. 

It’s. All. The. Lord’s. 

Soli Deo Gloria 

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Day 12: True Peace

The concept of posting a blog every day for 30 days is proving very difficult. My post yesterday really needed to be edited more. I may have wedded a couple of themes into one. 

So, I’m thinking I should write and think on the more serious ones and hold them until they are ready and then keep doing regular posts on simpler issues.

Some Reflection 

The events of the past few days in Charlottesville are illuminating. Like shining a light into the dark corner of a garage, we are finding some things we wanted. 

And other things we wish hadn’t seen:

  • We have white supremacist marching around with tiki torches and inciting violence. 
  • A feckless media who seem only too happy to pour gasoline on this fire and fan to flame more passion. 
  • Certain counter protesters inciting violence as well. 
  • A president who hems and haws about clearly condemning white nationalism and white supremacy. 

I’m sorry, but these tiki torch guys needed meme posts of them with bunny ears and pigs noses and the like, you know the snapchat filter stuff. I’m thinking in how to handle them strategically. They needed to be derided and made fun of, instead Antifa showed up and provoked them. Bullies like these white supremacists need to be starved of oxygen (a point I’ve made about Trump in the past) and be treated as the small minority they are. Their social media footprint appears to outweigh their numerical size. They should be called the white tweetbot supremacists. 
Then we have the morally repugnant man-child who used his car as a weapon to murder and maim. This is the temper tantrum of a boy who never became a man. A passion induced frenzy: a pounding on the floor and screaming like toddler, “This is mmmyyyyyy country!!!!”. 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: Let Us Be Self-Controlled 

Let us react like grown ups. Punishment is both right and necessary for the man-child. We as Christians should pray for his tortured and twisted soul. And those involved carry tiki torches. And for the souls of those who think mob violence is the proper response to the white supremacists. 

Let us be champions of peace, not capitulation, but True Peace. The peace of Christ. Let us preach and proclaim the Good News: the debt of Sin has been paid, come and find Reconciliation in Christ. 

Soli Deo Gloria 

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Day 11: We still have a dream

The Big Picture 

These words are still revolutionary and instructive to us now:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. ” 

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let’s make it personal 

Said another way: Judge No One by the color of their skin. Judge them by what they do and say, not some external facet beyond their control: place of birth, into a rich or poor family, orphaned or not, ethnic background, religious background, southerner or northerner, westerner or easterner, hue of skin or birth defect, male or female or chromosomal defect, lack of limbs or whole, physically attractive or plain looking, short or tall, large frame or small frame, native language, etc. 

There’s something that many Americans have trouble with, and I say this as someone who has lived outside the country about 15 years ago for a period of six years. I worked and traveled in Central and South America working for a Hong Kong based textile machinery company. Additionally my wife is not an American, which she reminds me of from time to time. So here’s the concept: many Americans have been taught (overtly or by implication) to assume only whites can be racist or prejudiced.  I can bear witness to the fact that this is not true. Indigenous peoples all over the America’s are looked down upon. They are domestic help that are treated poorly and paid even worse. Many Spanish speaking countries use a whole list of pejoratives when speaking about blacks. Certain countries are extremely ethnically proud in a way that makes a lot of flag waving Americans look tepid. The Arab owners of textile factories had open disdain for the local workers. The rich oppressed the poor and the poor stole and abused other poor people who were weaker than they. 

Break the chains 

In my post yesterday I simply posted the two biggest set of verses that I thought were most relevant to race and other external differences. I wrote a the very list above for a reason: there are many subtle factors that work into our brains and souls and hearts over the years. We sin against others and they sin against us. These wounds build up and then resentment sets in. 

Psychologists refer to this as “baggage”. 

And that baggage needs to be dropped at the foot of the Cross of Christ. The perfect Son of God hung on a tree for all our sins. He came to his own people and they rejected Him. He suffered the greatest injustice. He was whipped and scourged for our transgressions. 

WE ARE ALL SINNERS. 

WE HAVE ALL SINNED AND FALLEN SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD. 

So leave the baggage. The King has forgiven us. We must forgive. See others as GOD sees them: made in the image of the Most Holy GOD. 

Soli Deo Gloria 

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