Posted by: pastordarren | December 10, 2017

A Journey to Love

Mark 1:1-4 – The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” — “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”  And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins

The Advent Scriptures seem to be working backward in time.  Last week we saw the return of Jesus, here we see John the Baptist announcing the coming of Jesus in the words of Isaiah the Prophet (40).  His message was one of repentance and God’s forgiveness of our sin.  

Wow, what a gift of Love that the God of the universe loves us so much that Jesus was sent that through Him we can have a life that is reconciled back to God! (John 3:16)

This is what and more importantly WHO, that John is announcing and who is coming one the scene to speak of God’s Love and God’s Kingdom and to also live out that Love for all the people.

In Advent, we see the gift of Love that is given to the world through the gift of Jesus.  Let us receive Jesus and share that love with all around us, announcing to all who would hear that Jesus is coming!

Prayer:

Gracious God, we thank you for loving us even when we don’t love you and those around us.  Thank you for Your grace and forgiveness that we know through the gift of Jesus.  Amen.

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Posted by: pastordarren | December 3, 2017

A Journey to Hope

Mark 13:24-37

I have always thought that including scriptures that talk about the end of times and being ready for the coming of Jesus seem odd and out of place during Advent.  Aren’t we supposed to be focusing on the birth, the angels, the shepherds, Mary and Joseph?  These images of the end of times just don’t fit.

But there is a theme that seems to weave it’s way through, a theme of expectation, a waiting for something that is different, better, a theme of Hope for the coming of God’s rule and reign in the world today and forever.

The people before Jesus were waiting for the coming Messiah, we wait for the return of the Messiah.  We are all waiting in expectant Hope.  

The signs of Christmas are around us (and have been for a while) and the signs of Jesus’ return are around us too.  We know when Christmas is coming and hopefully we can be ready for the day.  We don’t know when the return of Jesus will be or even what it will look like, but we are called to be ready and be waiting with Hope.

As we begin this Advent season, a season of waiting, let us have the hope of Jesus for a better today and a better tomorrow.

Prayer:

Gracious God, we look forward to celebrating the gift of Jesus, given to us as a baby as well as celebrating the gift of Jesus in His return.  Each offer us a new Hope, a new vision of what it can be here on earth as it is in Heaven.  Amen.

Posted by: pastordarren | November 10, 2016

Moving Forward Together

Eight years ago, as the country was preparing to elect Barock Obama, I had a lady in the church I served, who was adamantly against his election. In the days following his election, she came to the church and shared with me the following words, “I didn’t vote for him, but he is now my president. I will do what I can to support and respect him.”

I have never forgotten those words and they came back to me during this election.  Donald Trump has won the election and there are those who are angry, there are those who are glad.  I don’t agree  with much of President Elect Trump’s views, actions and plans.  The question is, “How do we go forward in this new reality?”.  A reality that shows a significant and sharp division.

There are going to be many different answers to this and we have seen some of them playing out already.  There are those who are name calling (continuing to do call names), protests (violent and peaceful and not my president), celebrations, fear, mockery and even the talk if moving to a different country.  I don’t believe that this type of response will make any difference.

For me, the answer begins with the following words, “He has shown ypu, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”. “Love God and love your neighbor.”. These important words from Scripture are words that focus and guide our actions and words.

For me, no matter who is in the White House, the real work of caring for our neighbors, uplifting those who are down, loving as God has called us to love and providing where there is a need is done in the communities through out this nation and begins in the hearts, homes and lives of each person.

I don’t know what the future holds but through my faith, I want to work toward a better future for all.  Let’s role up our sleeves and continue the work of serving and caring for all.

Peace!

Posted by: pastordarren | September 11, 2015

Remembering and Healing

This will probably be like many posts today, but still wanted to share.

As I begin the day today, I am remembering the events of that fateful morning 14 years ago.  I was late to the breakfast worship committee meeting (as usual) and had a tape on in my truck which means I did not hear about the attacks until later that morning.  Stunned, angry, hurt and shocked, I with most in the country watched as the events unfolded through out the day.  Praying for those in the towers, Pentagon, the planes and the first responders, we watched as first responders continued to go into those areas to rescue and help all they could.  Many at the cost of their own lives.

Later that afternoon, I attended a prayer service at another church.  One of the hymns we sang was “It is Well With My Soul”.  I sat there thinking it is NOT well with my soul and to this day, even knowing the story behind the hymn, I struggle with singing it.

Over the years, there has been many things that have come out of the events of that day, war, increased security, uncertainty, but there has been healing and rebuilding and remembering as well.

It is still not well with my soul.  I have come to know that none of the hate, violence, attacks, etc., whether in our country, our cities, and our houses and around the world should be well with our soul.  We must continually work toward healing, forgiveness, and loving our neighbor.  This is the call of God shown through Jesus and the scriptures.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Darkness can not drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Let us bring healing as we remember as we love our neighbor, as unlovable as they may seem, and in doing so, push back the darkness in our world.

Peace.

Posted by: pastordarren | January 1, 2015

Into 2015

I found the follow poem in a recent cartoon, Non Sequitur, and wanted to share it with you. You can view it online at WWW.arcamax.com/the funnies/nonsequitur/s-1596101?ezine=323

image

Your Story

What’s going on here? Where is this place?
Who are all these people? What do they want?
And, why? Who are the “good guys”?
And who are the “bad guys”?
Is this the story’s beginning? Middle? Climax?

These are your questions.
There are no wrong answers.
This is your story.

Now go ahead and jump in.
Let your imagination run free.
Your story can be as long or short as you like.
You can write it alone or make it a team project with family or friends.
It’s entirely up to you!

I think the imagery in these simple words caught my imagination as we go into 2015. We don’t know what the year will hold for us, our families, our church. There are a lot of different ways in which we can approach our new story in the new year, with fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. Or we can have hope, joy love, peace and faith in our God who loves us and gives us grace and in community with our church family who is growing together in relationship with our God.

I am looking forward with faith to see what stories will be written this year and how God will be present throughout all of them. Someone once said, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future”.

What and who will your story include this year? It is my prayer that whatever is included in each of our stories and our collective story of the church, they will be written together with God in faith and grace!

Peace.

Posted by: pastordarren | December 8, 2014

Prepare

Prepare – Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,     who will prepare your way”— “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord,     make straight paths for him.’”

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

As we begin the second week in Advent, I hope we have been focusing on watching the signs around us for the coming of Jesus. As we have watched, we now move into preparing for the coming of Jesus, with the story of John the Baptist.

Sometimes in life we don’t have the opportunity to prepare for an event. The surprise of something comes upon us and overwhelms us and we then have to play catch up.

John the Baptist, takes the role that Isaiah writes about, in preaching and preparing the people for the coming of Jesus’ in His ministry. John begins by calling the people to repentance and baptism in the Jordan River. As they did so, he also reminded them that there was another coming who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

I’m guessing that many of us have begun to prepare for the Christmas season with decorations, gifts, music and other festive things. Have we though, as we have watched the signs, began to prepare our hearts and lives for the coming of Jesus?

Another way to ask is that are we helping to prepare our families, friends, neighbors, community for the coming of Jesus in ways that will “. . . make straight paths for Him” in the hearts and lives of those around us?

As we prepare ourselves, let us too, help prepare the path for those who don’t know and may not have been watching for the coming of Jesus.

Prayer: Father God, help us to prepare our hearts and lives for the coming of Jesus and use us to help prepare others to receive the coming of Jesus too. May our hearts and lives be open to receive Him as He comes to us today. Amen

Posted by: pastordarren | November 30, 2014

Watching and Waiting in Anticipation

Watch – Mark 13:28-37

 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.  If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

As the horizon begins to brighten, even just a little, begin to watch for the coming of the sun.

As the buds appear on the trees, we know that spring is coming soon.

The Jewish people had been waiting for the coming of the Messiah for hundreds of years. Looking for the signs, watching for His appearance, waiting for the hope and Kingdom that was to come.

Jesus, in the passage from Mark, reminds us, that even though He had come, there was still another coming and that we were called to wait expectantly and watch the signs and for the returning at the end of time.

As we begin the season of Advent, we begin a season of waiting in two different times. The signs of the season are all around us, yet do we see the truth they are pointing to. We are waiting and watching for the birth of Jesus that we celebrate at Christmas. We are waiting for this event that has already happened and yet will happen again. We are also waiting and watching the signs that will point to the coming of Jesus again, even though we are told we don’t know the time or day.

Prayer:

Most holy God, thank you for providing signs of Your presence and signs of Jesus’ comings. Help us to keep our eyes open to watch and be aware of what those signs point to so that we will not miss the coming of Jesus into our world and the coming of Jesus to lead us into the next. Amen.

Posted by: pastordarren | October 31, 2014

Wonderful Fruit

I used to love to stop by road side fruit stands, get a huge, fresh pear, and enjoy it in the middle of a busy day.  The only reason I don’t any more is that we don’t live where we have access to stands with pears!  As I would finish one off, I was usually in the mood to go get another.  I was able to do this again, albeit with blueberries this summer because of my wife’s job at a blueberry farm and she even brought them home.  It is something about the wonderful fruit that draws me back again and again.

I was reminded of this enjoyment as I am preparing for the sermon this Sunday from Luke 6:43-45:

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.  A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

There is no way that I would have chosen a bad pear and the farmers would not have put one out because they would turn people away.  Jesus says here that it is our heart and what is there that will be seen in our words and actions.  If there is grace and love then that will be evident in what we do and say.  If there is fear, anger, unforgiveness, etc., then they will show themselves in our actions and words.

In the church, too often, we don’t let the transformative power of God make us different and create a clean heart in us.  We instead continue to produce questionable fruit that is made to look differently or excused in one way or another.  It is that change that our faith is supposed to bring, that will change the way we act and talk.

I wonder, what flows out of my heart through my words and actions?  Is it goodness that speaks of Grace and Love and draws people into God’s presence?  Or is it spoiledness the will turn them away and leave them hurting even more?

What flows from your heart?

Posted by: pastordarren | October 22, 2014

Choices

We face them every day – Choices.  Some are simple others more complex but unless we make the choices before us, then weChoices will not move forward.  What ever choices are before us, there will be effects from them.  You can call them results, consequences, or whatever other term you choose but the will be there.  All of our choices have consequences.

It can be as simple as what you choose to wear or eat each day.  If we wear shorts and flip-flops on a day that is snowy and cold, we will probably be miserable.  Or if we eat something that is full of fat, grease and calories; we will not be feeling very well.

Think though, about the choices that will affect others and most of them do.  The reasoning that we use to make our choices will be based on a lot of different criteria, including what I want (or we want), financial, time, etc.  None of those are necessarily wrong but let me give you another criteria – others. The results of our choices will spill over and affect those around us in our families, work and school, churches, even those we don’t know.  I’m sure that we have all been affected by the choices and actions of those around us to varying degrees and it is easy to point out what someone else has done, but harder to see what we have done to others.

Coming from a background of faith there are certain ways of making choices that are important, even if you are not a person of faith, think about these things.  When the consequences of our choices bring about harm and pain to others instead of healing and reconciliation, then we should seriously look at what we are choosing to do.  When the results of what we choose is going to exclude and alienate someone or a group, then we need to stop and think it through again.

Spock once said this, “The needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few, or the one.”  The scriptures tell us to think of others before ourselves.  Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Jesus lived this way. Maybe this is not such a bad way of thinking.

Posted by: pastordarren | October 16, 2014

Heaven at 6500 Feet

Heaven at 6500

Heaven at 6500 Feet Redfish Lake, Stanley Idaho

Earlier this summer, we had the opportunity to gather with our extended family at a place in central Idaho called Redfish Lake. This is a glacier carved and snow fed lake in the middle of the Sawtooth Mountains that is a beautiful place not just to gather and relax but to renew your spirit as you recognize the presence of God in your midst. I also had the privilege of baptizing one of my cousins as she continued her faith journey. It really is Heaven at 6,500 feet.

Many mornings, I would wake up and while making and drinking my coffee, would watch the sun rise on the mountains, being quiet and still, recognizing and reconnecting with God’s Spirit. The passage from Psalms 46: 10 was constantly before me, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

We all need those times of getting away and being renewed, even Jesus did this from time to time. Away from cell phone, Facebook, Instagram, email, etc. to really take the time to ‘detox’ and listen to God speaking to us. It is hard to put all that down, to quiet our own minds and hearts and really experience God. It is easier when we are away, but it is necessary on a regular basis. There is so much that clamors for our attention, so many distractions to deepening our relationship with God, we have to be disciplined in what we do and how we live.

Taking the time each day when you are most able to put aside the business of life and all it demands, takes some work and effort but it is necessary. Through quiet prayer, listening to God speak through scripture and other disciplines of ‘being still’ in body, mind and spirit, we can regularly experience the presence of God even in the midst of the chaos of the world. Read the whole of Psalm 46 to see how the psalmist describes this.

I hope that you would have a place where you can get away, that is special and you can escape to and really hear God’s Spirit. I also hope that you take those opportunities on a regular basis and develop the discipline to stop in the middle of life’s business and listen to what God is speaking on a daily basis.

Peace.

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