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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mowed Down by God

“He will be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth.” – Psalm 72:6mowing2

Mowing my yard where I grew up was a chore. We had a pretty big back yard. It would take about 2 hours to mow the whole yard with a push-mower. I would divide the yard up into sections because that seemed to make things go a little faster. I guess it’s the sense of accomplishment that achieves this effect. First I would mow a square section right in back of the house. Then I would get the section adjacent to that all the way back to the property line in the back of the yard. Then I would move to a sort-of square in the back corner. Finally I would get the section next to the garage. As I was cutting this last section, it’s shape reminded me of the state of Nevada.

Every Saturday I would have to mow the grass. Not much has changed. Each week I have to mow the grass at my own house as well. In the early Spring I do a silly thing. I put down lawn fertilizer and the result is that when it rains I end up having to mow the grass twice a week.

In Psalm 72, the “king” is compared to a rain failing on a mown field. Walking in a yard that has been newly mowed and after a rain is an exhilarating experience. A quietness seeps over you. Birds sing softly in the trees as water drips from the leaves. Taking your shoes and socks off, you walking through the wet grass and you can feel the life between your toes.

The “king” of Psalm 72 possibly two kings. First King Solomon. He is noted, in most Bibles, as the author of this Psalm and it is a prayer asking God to bless his reign. The second king could be the “King of kings.” Jesus Christ is seen all over the Old Testament, especially in the Book of Psalms. This Psalm could be outlining some of the attributes of Jesus as Messiah-King.

Jesus is like a shower on a newly mown field. He waters and feeds us with His love and blessings. He sustains us with His life-giving showers as He forgives our sins. He takes care of us. At times we must be “mown” – a rather violent treatment that is beneficial for growth. A lawn that is not regularly mown grows to a certain point but then begins to choke itself. God, in His perfect justice and love, disciplines us – “mows” us. And Jesus in His perfect salvation and love showers us with forgiveness and blessing.Lawn Service_clip_image001

“You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the LORD, have created it.” – Isaiah 45:8

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Change

The day dawned clear and bright. Cool but not yet the promised cold of autumn was in the air. It was a Wednesday. The sound of geese honking filled the crisp morning air.

But there was a sound missing. At first it went unnoticed. But after a few minutes, it became clear that this Wednesday was unlike any Wednesday in America for many decades.

The sound of jet airplanes did not fill the morning sky. Living near a metropolis like Chicago this was unnerving.

It was September 12, 2001.

Nearly 3000 people had died the day before in New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. The iconic skyscrapers of the World Trade Center were gone, having been replaced by a smoking hole that smelled of burning death.

They say that America changed on September 11, 2001. And for a while they were right. No airplanes would fly for a week. Professional baseball was put on hold for a couple of days. Ministers planned prayer services and memorial services all across the country – some working together with those they wouldn’t even think of worshiping with on September 10.

America did change on that day. September 12, 2001 was a very different day.

But would it last?

Looking back nine years later, there are some things that have changed but most others did not. Places of worship were full(er) on September 15 & 16, 2001, but most did not see a repeat of that attendance the following weekend. Air travel and baseball had resumed. People went back to work, back to school, back to living a “normal” life.

Yes, air travel had changed. Now you can’t bring a bottle of water through the security check point and you have to take off your shoes. We’ve gotten used to the color “orange” in the last nine years.

But other than that, I don’t see that much has changed.

Which leads me to the question, “What does it take to change the lives of people today?”

A great triumph like winning a war or a great tragedy like September 11, 2001 cause a pause, but do they really enact true and lasting change? If they cannot, what can?

The answer is paradoxical. The answer is ironic. The one thing that can enact true change is Jesus Christ, who is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

The one who does not change – Jesus, the Son of God – is the only one who can bring true change to a person’s heart and life.

Many thought that 9/11 would bring lasting change to American lives. That the attacks would turn peoples’ hearts back to God and that the places of worship would be full once again. The American memory recalls that this is what happened after December 7, 1941, and V-E Day and V-J Day.

But unless the heart is broken to repent of sin and turn to the everlasting peace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, this change will not last, and for most will not happen at all.

Be the change you want to see in the world. Not even tremendous and horrendous acts like 9/11 can bring true and lasting change. But the one more powerful than anything in the universe can.

Jesus Christ brings change because He brings forgiveness of sins. Through the truest love in the universe Jesus died on cross to pay the price for all our sin. On that day – the first century’s “9/11” – true change came on the following Sunday. Places of worship weren’t filled like they were following our 9/11. It wasn’t a full place but an empty place that brought terrific change to the world – the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. He rose from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity.

And Jesus loves you with a changeless – and life-changing – love. That will bring true and lasting change to your life.

© 2010 True Men Ministries, Inc.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Open the Door

In Genesis 19, the two angels that had accompanied the Lord as He visited Abraham at the Oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18) went on to Sodom and knocked on Abraham’s nephew Lot’s door. 2000 years before Jesus is born, Lot shows hospitality to these two strangers – not knowing they were really God’s angels. He showed great hospitality to them, and the Epistle to the Hebrews has this in mind when it tells us of one of the basic missions of our Christian faith.

Showing hospitality to strangers is how we can show the love of Christ to others. Most likely, there has been a time that a stranger has knocked on your door. How did you respond? Did you show them hospitality?

What did you do when you found out that the stranger was a Mormon on his mission trip? What did you do when you found out that the stranger was a Jehovah’s Witness on her mission trip?

I know of people who slam the door in their face. I know of people who yell at them that they are going to hell! I know of people who tell them, “I’m a Lutheran and I believe in the Bible” and then get into a bit of a theological argument with them.

These may not be angels from God. They may just be ordinary people who happen to disagree with what you believe about God. But does that mean you can’t offer them a cookie or a muffin or a cold drink of water on a hot day? You may not want to hear about the Mormon Church or hear that the end of the world is coming. But does that mean you can’t offer them a chance to get out of the hot sun into a cool home and sit for a couple of minutes and rest?

I do not agree with Mormon Theology about Salvation. I believe that a person is saved only by faith in Jesus Christ – True God and True Man – and His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. (http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=2708) I disagree with Mormon Theology that salvation is conditional (http://www.mormonwiki.com/Plan_of_Salvation) and that “God is a glorified, perfect, all-powerful, all-knowing, resurrected man.” (http://www.mormonbeliefs.org/mormon_beliefs/mormon-doctrine-salvation)

But does that mean I slam my door in their face when they come to my house? No! Jesus said to love all people. He spoke and ate and listened to those He disagreed with. And sometimes Jesus was able to change their minds and their hearts by sharing the Truth with them. The Truth is not a door slammed in the face. The Truth is love and compassion that opens the lines of communication. Truth is best shared through hospitality!

Two young men or women, wearing black pants and white shirts and ties may knock on your door this week. Or someone from across the street may stop by to say hi. You can slam the door in their face or you can open your door, show them hospitality and share the love of Jesus with them.

Open those doors and share the love!

© 2010 True Men Ministries, Inc.

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