Category: Discipleship (Page 1 of 23)

In Increasing Measure

I’m intrigued this week by these words of Peter. But I don’t think I’m going to have the time to include my thoughts in this Sunday’s sermon. I might not be able to make it fit. So I’m giving them to you now with grace and peace.

“Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~1 Peter 1:5-8

The older ones among us, the ones who’ve been disciples of Jesus the longest, we’re the ones who should be giving more and serving more. Those of us who were baptized 20, 30, 40, or 50 or more years ago are the ones who should be sacrificing and volunteering more and dying more for others. The older we are, the longer we’ve been on the journey, the more like Christ we should be.

It’s the oldest among us who display more self-control. Our older brothers and sisters show more kindness and love. The ones who’ve been disciples longer are the ones who are “more good.” More persevering. More like our God than those who are younger.

More like God?

Yeah, Peter says, “in increasing measure.”

That means it’s the older among us who are more forgiving, more patient, more gracious and compassionate, more sacrificing and giving, more tolerant of the shortcomings of others. Adding those Christ-like qualities in increasing quantities every day keeps us from getting stale. It prevents us from getting into a rut and not being any good to God’s Kingdom.

“I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.” ~1 Peter 1:12

We older Christians can be prone to crankiness and sour attitudes. We can sometimes be bossy and demanding and impatient. We can occasionally come across to others as unkind or unloving.

It’s just that we have much less of an excuse than the younger ones.

Peace,

Allan

Life, Light, and Love

“What is good for us always comes by three unequivocal words: life, light, and love. Defending life, witnessing light, living out love; these remain forever. They are the specific duty of anyone who calls upon God, following Christ’s unmistakable example.

An assembly where people do not love each other, where they accuse each other, where there is rancor or hatred, cannot call itself Christian.

A person who keeps silent about the truth, who hides the light, is not Christian.

A people which kills, which deteriorates the quality of life, which suffocates the poor, which is not free, is not a Christian people.

This is terribly costly. It is drawn from the silence of God. It calls for swimming against the stream. It demands lengthy prayer. And no fear.”

~ From The God Who Comes, by Carlo Carretto

A Week Late & 50 Degrees Warmer

Due to COVID restrictions and our desire to try something completely different, we had planned an Ash Wednesday Drive-Thru event in our church parking lot. But on Ash Wednesday last week in Amarillo, it was four-degrees and there were nine inches of snow on the ground. So we postponed the event until last night when it was 50 degrees warmer and 100-percent drier.

As a church family last night we joined our Lord on his way to the cross. We participated with Jesus, we walked (drove) with our Christ as he willingly traveled to Jerusalem to suffer and die for the sins of all humanity. It was a come-and-go event with four different stops or stations to remember and reflect on Christ’s baptism, his triumphal entry into the Holy City, the supper he shared with his followers on that last night, and his crucifixion. We read the biblical texts and prayed focused prayers at each stop. We had meaningful conversations.

 

 

 

 

 

Last night we remembered that, while he was in the water, God publicly declared his eternal love for Jesus. In the same way, our heavenly Father acknowledges us as his precious children and commissions us for service in his Kingdom. We looked each other in the eyes last night and said, “You are loved by God and he is well pleased with you.”

 

 

 

 

We waved palm branches outside our car windows and shouted “Hosannah!” as we drove our vehicles over other palm branches and robes and coats. That’s where our people did some double-takes. “You want me to drive OVER the robes?” We discussed the differences between the way Jesus rules and the way worldly kings rule. We told each other, “God saves you.”

We shared the communion meal together last night. We thanked God for meeting our deepest needs in Jesus. We thanked God for washing away our sins in the blood of Christ.

And then we parked our cars facing the floodlit cross Leon Wood and Tom Grant had built and erected in front of our ancient chapel. Our shepherds met each car with words of blessing and prayers for peace. Holy moments. Sacred conversations. Nobody was in a hurry. Blessings were being given and received. God’s Spirit was comforting and transforming all of us. As the cars departed the event, our elders painted a gray cross on the window of each driver and passenger, reminding us that we are human – we are made of dust and to dust we will return – and that we need God and each other. The ash-colored crosses on our car windows acknowledged that the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus far surpasses in glory the burnt offerings made by the priests.

 

 

 

 

 

That’s the essence of the Gospel. God created us out of his great love, we have sinned and fallen short of his glory, we are in desperate need of forgiveness and salvation, he forgives us and restores us through Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

 

 

 

I am so grateful for our ministers and shepherds, for our church staff, and every member of this wonderful Central congregation. We have found creative ways to remain connected over the past year and we have seen our Lord at work in everything and everybody around us. May our faithful God continue to bless us during the days and weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. May we remember. May we walk with Christ. And may his will be done in and through this church and our city just as it is in heaven.

Peace,

Allan

Everyone is a Follower

“Everyone, at some time and in some areas, is a follower, and it is just as important to be discriminating in choosing whom to follow as it is to prepare to lead.”

~ Robert K. Greenleaf, Servant Leadership

To Mature All Graces

“May it be our blessedness, as years go on, to add one grace to another, and advance upward, step by step, neither neglecting the lower after attaining the higher, nor aiming at the higher before attaining the lower. The first grace is faith, the last is love; first comes zeal, afterwards comes loving-kindness; first comes humility, then comes peace; first comes diligence, then comes resignation. May we learn to mature all graces in us; fearing and trembling, watching and repenting, because Christ is coming; joyful, thankful, and careless of the future, because he is come.”

~John Henry Newman

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