Friday, August 31, 2007

Come on Down - Aug 26 07

Luke 13:10-17

We have some outstanding helpers today … come on down – introduce them – help them get into their boxes.

Scripture reading … help each young person get out of the box, stand up straight and tall … how about a hand for our helpers today.

The power of the positive:

Three stories:

My aunt Lala … real name, Sylvia, but my child’s mouth couldn’t say it, so Sylvia became Lala, and it stuck … she was Aunt Lala for me forever, and what an aunt she was.
She was poor as a church mouse … her husband a dreamer with nary a dream come true … she sold greeting cards to the wealthy … huge sample books of cards for every season, cards for every reason … she lived humbly, frugally … but with a gourmet’s touch for good things …
I remember a special lemonade she made for me … with cream … I have no idea how she made it, but it was delicious.
I remember a summer afternoon picnic by the Sheboygan River, beside a weeping willow … avocado salad … a rarity then I’m sure … but that was Lala.
She always asked me simple questions that I could easily answer, and then would say, “Oh, what a bright boy you are!”
She made me feel ten feet tall.
Everyone needs an Aunt Lala!

A man named Burt … my third grade Sunday School Teacher … I can still see in my mind’s eye – sitting in chairs, no more than ten of us … in the church kitchen or something like that, and I raised my hand and asked a question … no idea what it was, but the kids laughed at it, but Burt said something to me … I have no recall of what it was, but I remember what happened to me – Burt made me feel important … whatever he said to me was just right … a moment of recognition, encouragement, affirmation … he made me feel ten feet tall.

The last story: The Rev. Morris Faber, Bible teacher, Grand Rapids Christian High School – 1962, my senior year, three weeks before graduation, Bible Class.
Rev. Faber invited the seniors to step to the front, to come on down, and tell their plans.
So there I stood, in front of my peers, and I said, “I’m going to Calvin College and enroll in the pre-seminary track.”
The class erupted into gales of laughter … from what my classmates knew of me … I was not “ministerial material.”
And I laughed right along with all of them, but there it was, my calling … brewing inside of me since 9th grade … and really from the beginning of my life – earliest memories … filled with God.
When the laughter subsided, Rev. Faber looked at me, and said, “Tom, I believe you can do it.”

Words emblazoned on my mind and heart forever … I felt ten feet tall. Everyone needs a Rev. Faber.

Years later when I was visiting Grand Rapids, I caught lunch on 28th street, and lo and behold, there was Rev. Faber and his wife … I walked over to them and introduced myself … she looked up at me and smiled tiredly; Rev. Faber looked straight ahead.
“Morris has Alzheimer’s,” she said.
I told her the story, and she thanked me.
Rev. Faber looked at me with for a moment, his face still pleasant … did he hear me? Did he know?
I’ll see Rev. Faber in heaven … and he’ll be one of the first I say thanks to … a whole lot of people who made me feel ten feet tall, but he’ll be one of the first on my list.
“Rev Faber, thank you!”

The power of the positive! Heaven knows we need it:

Police in Los Angeles had good luck with a robbery suspect who just couldn't control himself during a line-up. When detectives asked each man in the line-up to repeat the words: "Give me all your money or I'll shoot," the man shouted, "That's not what I said!"

A man spoke frantically into the phone, "My wife is pregnant and her contractions are only two minutes apart!"
"Is this her first child?" the doctor asked. "No!" the man shouted, "This is her husband!"

In Modesto, California, Steven Richard King was arrested for trying to hold up a bank. King used a thumb and a finger to simulate a gun, but unfortunately, he failed to keep his hand in his pocket.

We all need a little help to stand tall.

Last year in Michigan, Donna and I, at a restaurant … young lady working hard to handle a lot of tables and lot of tourists … I asked and found out, she was a student, planning to be a teacher, I said, “You’ve got a great style; you will do well.”
She visible straightened … stood taller … the power of the positive!

Jesus goes church … teaches … He sees a woman standing in the shadows in the back of the church … Jesus calls her forward, “Come on down.”
When I first looked at the text, why didn’t Jesus go to her? Why call her forward, in front of the crowd … all bent over … how hard it must have been for her, and who knows what rumors the “righteous ones” spread about her condition – “Wonder what she did? She must’ve done something bad,” clucking their tongues, shaking their heads, wagging their fingers.

She’s a brave woman … still there … after 18 years … the taunts of children, the icy stares of the “righteous ones.”
She’s here … and Jesus calls her forward.

“Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”
He touches her - “puts His hands on her” – on her bent over back? On her head?
Powerful hands … kind hands … the hands of a carpenter … take rough wood and make a door … take a bent over human being and make them stand straight and tall.

He puts His hands on her, maybe the first time in years that someone touched her lovingly, but that’s all it took, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, free at last.

Out of the box … standing tall … free at last …

But the preacher got all bent out of shape that day … the preacher didn’t like it one bit … got edgy and cranky.

Scolded the people … preachers do that, now and then, I’m afraid … when preachers don’t know what else to say, when preachers forget the positive … when preachers forget the purpose of church … set people free, help them find their place, regain their identity, stand ten fee tall.

By scolding them? No, by holding them; touching them … with the grace of God.

Jesus helps the woman out of the box, and the preacher climbs in … feet first, all the way.

Maybe the preacher was liberal and fearful of faith; maybe the preacher was conservative and fearful of love …

“We don’t do that here on the Sabbath,” says the preacher.

“Why not?” asks Jesus.

Doesn’t everyone untie their ox or donkey on the Sabbath and lead them to water?
Then why not untie this woman and set her free?

Daughter of Abraham … that’s who she is … I bet she was as surprised as anyone … “Is that who I am? Do I really have a place in the Kingdom of God? Does God care about me?”

Of all the people there that day, Jesus singles her out … “Come on down” … front and center … “Come on down!”

The power of the positive … you can do it … you will find a way … it’ll work out … you are a servant of the Most High God and a follower of Jesus! That’s who you are!

The power of the positive … help someone stand straight and tall … at least ten feet tall.

Jesus makes it clear … her condition is not of God, but of Satan … but why 18 years?
No answer here … Jesus goes to work: “This woman needs to be set free, because that’s what God is all about.”

That’s what church is all about … that’s what Sabbath is all about … set people free, restore hope, reclaim identity.

I am who God says I am, I have what says I have, I can do what God says I can do.

God sets us free … gets us outta the boxes … helps us stand up, straight and tall.

All kinds of boxes …

Anger, bitterness, resentment …
Gossip, greed and envy …
A contentious spirit, a loose tongue, smoldering memories …

Stubbornness & pride …
Fear & fixations …

All of kinds of boxes:

“I will not forgive.”
“I will fight and claw my way through.”
“My way or the highway.”

Boxes of self-doubt:

I’m a failure, I’m a flub, I’m a flop.
I can’t do it.
I’ll never amount to much.
I can’t handle this.

Compulsive boxes:

Too much shopping … too much debt … judging Amy by how she dresses … needing to be smarter than everyone else … gotta be king of the hill.

Blame boxes …

I’m Irish, that’s why I have a temper.
I’m German, that’s why I’m stubborn.
I had a bad childhood, that’s why I have problems.
My boss is a bum, my spouse doesn’t understand … my children are a pain in the neck.

Theological boxes … just like the preacher: stuck in the past, fearful of change … “gimme that old time religion” …

Spiritual boxes …

I always have to smile … can’t let my flaws show … gotta read more Bible … pray more; pray harder … have more faith … be stronger, be better, be more like Jesus … gotta believe this and believe that … and woe to the one who sees it differently.

Boxes, big ones, little ones - into them we crawl … just like the preacher, all bent out of shape.

I wonder … did he ever got outta the box?

I’ll not judge that man … I’ve been there and done that, maybe you have, too.

I crawl into my little crummy box … and there I sit and sulk, wondering why no one understands me, feeling sorry for myself, snapping at folks, carrying a grudge, all bent out of shape.

But who wants to live in a box?

I don’t wanna live in a box … and you don’t either.

Boxes never feel good, never feel right, because we were made to stand up, straight and tall, at least ten feet tall.

I want to be that kind of person … straight and tall, the power of the positive … the good word, the word of hope and encouragement … to walk on the sunny side of the street, because the glass is half full, and I belong to Christ, and we’re all servants of the Most High God.

Let’s get rid of the boxes …

Step down … cut the tape … fold the boxes … put ‘em away … at the foot of the cross/front of Table.

No more boxes. Amen!

For benediction:

Let’s get rid of the boxes …

Ask folks during postlude to tear a piece of the bulletin … let it be a box that you’d like to get out of this morning … during the postlude, come to the chancel and put that piece of paper on the boxes here … at the foot of the cross, where boxes come undone, and bent-over folks stand up, straight and tall, at the touch of the Master!

Big Envelope - Aug 19 07

Matthew 28:16-20

My daughter remembers the day when she got the Big Envelope!
Donna and I were on our way out of the house when I turned back to see if anything was in the mailbox, and there it was.

A Big Envelope, the school’s logo prominently displayed … I grabbed it and hurried back into the house.
To this day, Rachel recalls my “klomping” through the house into the family room where she was sitting on the floor, watching TV.
I stood in front of her – Big envelope in hand – her face, at first uncomprehending, exploded into a mile-wide smile.
“The Big Envelope” I announced.
“The Big Envelope” she shouted.
Up she jumped – tore it open, and there it was.
To the school of her dreams.
The Big Envelope!

In the kingdom of God, everyone gets the Big Envelope.
“For God so loved the world!
No ifs, ands or buts.

Paul the Apostle writes: “we are convinced that one has died for all.”
Everyone gets the Big Envelope!
There’s no guessing game here – as if some were in and others were out.
Everyone gets the Big Envelope.

Some can’t recognize it.
Some don’t know what to do with it.
Some don’t know how to open it.
Some read it and can’t believe it.

“When you grow up the hard way
Sometimes you don’t know
What’s too good to be true,
Just might be so.”

Lots of folks grow up in a small envelope world – that’s all they’ve come to expect.
“You don’t belong here.”
“You don’t measure up.”
“You’re not good enough!”
“You’re a flop, a flub, a failure.”
“You’re a dope, a dummy, a dunce.”

Some folks have drawers full of small envelopes – attics filled with them; basements stuffed with them …
We all have a cache of small envelopes somewhere!

Jesus has special regard with folks who live in a small-envelope world.
He touches the untouchable leper.
He heals the blind and the deaf.
He invites a tax collector to climb down out a tree.
He talks to the woman at the well.

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because God has anointed me to bring good news … to proclaim release … recovery of sight … to let the oppressed go free … to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor.”
To give God’s Big Envelope to folks who live in a small-envelope world.

“Go!” says Jesus … into all the world … and let folks know they have a place in the kingdom of God. Everyone belongs; no one left behind.

Helping people see the Big Envelope – it has their name on it … no mistake about it … God knows what He’s doing … God is still in the business of saving people.

Last week Sunday – keep it simple … evangelism is simple …

Simple talk about God.

Think how Jesus did it: simple talk -
A father waiting for the Prodigal Son;
A shepherd searching for a lost sheep.
A little old lady sweeping her floor to find one lost coin.

The passion of God … “For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”

Jesus tells stories … simple stories … He helps folks reconceive of God … think differently about God … God’s not so bad; God’s not angry with you; God is not out to get you. He’s on your side. He’s all for ya!

“Don’t be afraid … it is your Father’s will to give you the kingdom.”

Look what God does …

God leaves heaven to be with us.
God takes up our flesh and blood, our sins and sorrows …
“He has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases … wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities … upon Him was the punishment that made us whole … by His bruises, we are healed.”
Jesus shoulders a cross … stumbles through the troubled, dirty streets of Jerusalem … New York, Chicago and LA, too – Culver City, Inglewood and Westchester – Mogadishu, Kuwait City, Baghdad … every city, every town, anywhere a heart cries out, wherever a child sheds a tear.
A generous-hearted God.
A world-sized love.
A Big Envelope for everyone!

For God so loved the world …

The thief on the cross and the soldiers driving the nails.
The rulers and the ruled; Pilate and Caesar; Jew and Gentile; man and woman; free and slave, near and far; the old and the young, you and me!

“Come to me all you who are weary and overburdened, and I will give you rest.”
Is there anyone who doesn’t need the Savior’s grace? Anyone who doesn’t need a fresh start, a second chance, a mulligan?

A good word.
“You’ve got the Big Envelope!”

I was a pastor in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the home of Oral Roberts University. In the airport, Sunday afternoon, heading out to a conference.
A tall, gangly young man, fresh of face and bounding with energy sat down next to me and asked, “Are you saved?”
“Yes I am,” I replied.
The young man’s face fell. He was clearly disappointed.
He began to question me like a trial lawyer.
He didn’t want me to be saved.
I ruined his Sunday afternoon.

He continued to press me.
Knowing the drill, I said, “Yes, Jesus is my Savior. I serve Him, I love Him, I honor Him I gave my life to Him a long time ago.”
The young man grunted reluctantly, excused himself and headed across the terminal for a few other sitting ducks.

The young man loved the LORD.
But on that Sunday afternoon in Tulsa, he couldn’t wrap his heart around another Christian.
He couldn’t celebrate the world-sized love of God.

That young man was NOT doing evangelism – he was on a commando raid, and I was the enemy.
His guns were loaded, and he could hardly wait to fire a volley.

It’s no fun being someone’s target.
Put on spiritual trial.
No wonder so many Christians have a sour taste in their mouth when it comes to the word, “evangelism.”
But it’s a good word; a word rightfully ours.
A Presbyterian word!

Frontier preachers and globe-trotting missionaries – inner-city pastors and tall-steeple preachers – telling the stories of Jesus, helping people find hope and healing – building hospitals; teaching people how to farm; bandaging the wounded and consoling the broken-hearted; teaching children to read and write, saying the name of Jesus with care and joy.
The Biblical word for evangelism is rooted in victory announcements … brought back from the battlefield – a breathless runner crests the hill; a soldier in the watch tower cries out – “Runner approaching.”
Every one holds their breath.
What’s the news?
The city gate is thrown open – the runner collapses into the arms of a friend – someone brings a cup of cold water – parched lips and dry throat refreshed: “Good News,” cries the runner. “Good News. Victory is ours!”

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ.”
“And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith!”
Every one of us is an evangelist in the best sense of the word.
It’s very simple.

We live our lives the best we can, with what we have, where we are.
We cry when a loved one dies; we laugh at corny jokes. We fall on our face, pull ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and try it all over again.
And always, we’re perfect - did you know that?
Perfectly human.
And God loves us with all of heaven’s glory.

We are loved more profoundly then we could ever know.
Our sins, though they be many, are as if they never were.
Even now, God sends the Holy Spirit to bind us to Jesus and to one another.
And when we die, we’ll be with Jesus forever!

I’ll tell anyone about Jesus, because He’s my King, my LORD and my Savior.
He’s my hope and my light.
I’d be sunk without Him.
But I’ll not buttonhole people and push Jesus into their face.
I’ll not do a commando raid.
The name of Jesus is precious, and so are the people He loves … so we’re wise to be restrained.

Yet if we Presbyterians can be faulted for anything, maybe it’s carrying our restraint too far.
There are those moments when someone we know, someone we love, is hungering and thirsting for God … the Spirit of God flings wide the heart’s doorway … just a simple word is all that needed.
An invitation to come to church with you … “I’ll pick ya up and we’ll have lunch afterward.”
That’s evangelism.

“I’ll pray for you today.”
That’s evangelism.

A sympathy card to a bereaved neighbor – slip in a Bible verse written in your own hand.
That’s evangelism.

Breakfast with a friend, and a patient ear to hear their heartache.
That’s evangelism.

When others speak with fear and frustration, we speak with faith.
When folks are mean-spirited and grumpy, we’re kind and gracious.
When extremism of either right or left threatens to unravel the social contract, we stand in the middle, a moderating voice, because Christ is bigger and better than all of it.
When others dig ditches, we build bridges.
When other raise up walls, we create doors.
When others give up, we get going.
When negativity rears it’s ugly head, we’re positive and we’re progressive, because this is “our Father’s world.”
When others speak harshly, we speak the language of grace.
When folks slam a door, we open it.
When folks walk away, we walk with them … to the ends of the world.

One of life’s most gracious moments … when we can say the name of Jesus to someone … those moments are few, but what a moment they are … no commando raid in an airport, just regular Christians living regular lives in the Spirit and grace of Jesus … alert and eager, faithful and loving … committed and ready … “Jesus my LORD.”

The Big Envelope … for everyone!

Simplicity - Aug 12 07

Hebrews 11:1-16

Good morning! Welcome to Covenant Presbyterian Church … my name is Tom, and I’m glad to be here, and I know that you are, too.

We gather, from east, west, north and south, and all around the town …
We’re Republicans, Democrats and Independents … we’re all over the Christian map … we’re diverse, we’re different … we each wear our own pair of glasses … we see Christ from our own angle … we’re passionate and laid back; visionary and satisfied; eager for change and pleased with convention.
We gather in the name of Jesus …
To refresh our memory … who we are, what’s up, what counts.

To remember the things of God!

Which reminds me …

A preacher attended a preaching conference … wanted to use humor a little more effectively.

One of the featured speakers approached the pulpit and said, "The best years of my life were spent in the arms of a woman who wasn't my wife!" The crowd gasped! He followed up by saying, "And that woman was my mother!" - The crowd burst into laughter.

The next Sunday, the pastor decided he'd give this humor thing a try, and use that joke in his message. As he approached the pulpit, he tried to rehearse the joke in his mind. It suddenly seemed a bit foggy to him.

Getting to the microphone he said loudly, "The greatest years of my life were spent in the arms of another woman who was not my wife!" The congregation gasped. After standing there for 10 seconds in the stunned silence, trying to recall the second half of the joke, the pastor finally blurted out, "...and I can't remember who she was!"

To remember who we are … the stories of our life together in Christ … Joshua & Rachel know that when our family gets together, I tell the same jokes, the same stories - everyone laughs, moans and groans and everyone remembers!

That’s what we do here – we remember … all the way to Adam and Eve … Moses parting the sea … or was that Charleton Heston? … David & Goliath; the woman at the well … Paul in a Roman jail.

We remember:
Life is more than meets the eye …
We live by the Word of God …
We’re surrounded by a cloud of witnesses: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Sarah, Leah and Rebecca; Moses, Aaron and Joshua; Peter, Paul and John; St. Teresa and Mother Teresa; Martin Luther and Martin Luther King, Jr. …
We stand on the shoulders of great people – parents, grandparents; pastors, Sunday School teachers – the named and the nameless who give us their best.

Memory … the things of God …

[12] What shall I return to the LORD
for all his bounty to me?
[13] I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD,
[14] I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.
[15] Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
[16] O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.
You have loosed my bonds.
[17] I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
and call on the name of the LORD.

I am who God says I am.
I have what God says I have.
I can do what God says I can do.

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Simple … basic and simple!

Simple is the heart of the gospel.

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Heaven is simple … hell is complicated …
Heaven says: “Well done good and faithful servant.”
Hell shouts: “never enough, more is needed.”
Heaven assures: “I will come and find you, so you can be with me forever.”
Hell unsettles: “You’re not good enough yet … still more to do; you may not make it …”
The strategy of hell: gum up our life with complications … and do you think for a moment that Satan cares if you’re in church?
Heavens no.
The church is one of Satan’s best allies too many times … programs weary us, challenges deplete our energy; sermons put us down … words that exclude, words that condemn.

Satan loves busy Christians … fuss and fret … hit the road running; nothing good enough; more needed … collapse at the end of the day, and before you know it, we’re resentful, irritated, angry at others for not helping us … we look at the glass, and it’s half-empty … we look at others, and their faith isn’t good enough … and we begin to carry within a slow, seething discomfort that takes away the joy of the LORD!

Hurry is heaven’s enemy and hell’s best friend.

The kingdom of God is simple …

I am who God says I am.
I have what God says I have.
I can do what God says I can do.

One of my favorite poems … D. H. Lawrence:

As we live, we are transmitters of life.
And when we fail to transmit life, life fails to flow through us.

And if, as we work, we can transmit life into our work,
life still more life, rushes into us to compensate, to be ready
and we ripple with life through the days.

Even if it is a woman making an apple dumpling, or a man a stool,
if life goes into the pudding, good is the pudding,
good is the stool,
content is the woman, with fresh life rippling in to her,
content is the man.

Give, and it shall be given unto you
is still the truth about a life.
But giving life is not so easy.
It means kindling the life-quality where it was not,
even if it’s only in the whiteness of a washed pocket-handkerchief.

The simple basics - faith, hope and love.

Treat each other kindly.
Take time to listen.
Turn the light on in the room when you enter it.
Be of good cheer.
Remember, you’re doing better than you think, and so is the person next to you.
Say “Yes!” as often as you can, and then some.
There’s always a way through, you’ll find it.
Leave no one behind; include everyone.
Apologize quickly.
Turn around and try another tact.
Hold your views lightly.
No matter how passionate you are, those who take a different approach are your best friends.
Walk slowly with each another.
Say “Jesus my LORD” often.
Read your Bibles a little bit each day.
Keep it simple.
Learn to say, “Thank you LORD!” and say it often!

Basic and simple! To God be the glory. Amen!

The Lamb That Roared - Aug 5 07

Hosea 11:1-11; Luke 12:13-21

Good Morning … my name is Tom, and I’m glad to be here, and I know that you are, too.

“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD.’”

Introduce family …

It’s been an adventure for us … April, 2006, I ended 36 years of installed ministry to begin interim work.

Donna and I had a garage sale and downsized.

I gave away 6000 books, threw away 40 years worth of sermons, emptied a 4-drawer file cabinet, hurried out to the dumpster, lest second thoughts prevail.

July 22, I finished 15 months at a church in northern Michigan … left my snow shovel there, a few books, and had two more garage sales.

An important moment this past week: I set my computer and phone to West Coast Time.

What was was; what is is! “Letting go of the past, to push on to the future.”

Friends ask: “Isn’t it hard to make all these changes?”

“Yup, it’s hard, but half of what we have, we don’t need, and most of what we did, we don’t need to do again.”

Letting go is our pathway to the future!

So, here we are: Donna and I thank God for the opportunity to find the future with all of you, to join hands with you in the journey of faith … to walk with Jesus Christ, to love one another … to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth.

And we’ll do it together.

Together, with God, with one another … arm-in-arm, we’ll travel the yellow brick road … a tin-man who wants a heart, a lion who wants courage, a scarecrow who wants a brain, a girl who wants to go home, and Toto, who wants to be where they are.
Together, arm-in-arm, we will
explore and discover,
pray and ponder,
help and hold,
love and be loved,
serve and be served,
tell our stories and learn from each other,
study God’s Word and grow in our faith,
reach out to our world and make it a better place.

Day by day,
O, dear Lord,
three things I pray:
To see Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly,
Day by day.

You can call me Tom, Pastor Tom, Dr. Eggebeen, Rev. Eggebeen … or “highfalutin’ holiness” - whatever suits your fancy … my office door is always open, and I’m just a phone call away.

There’s a jar of pistachios on my desk.

If you feel like a nut, stop by my office.

I’ll spend time listening to you … God gave us one mouth, two ears … listening is twice as important as talking.

The roadmap ahead will clear for us … the will of God will unfold for us … it’s our job to trust and be patient – to wait upon the LORD …

Fear & anxiety will have no place in our hearts … we’ll enjoy the present and let God take care of the future.

God loves us dearly,
God is at work in all things for good,
God stands beside us,
God stands behind us,
God stands ahead of us,
God lives within us.
The Cross of Christ at the Center – the prince of peace, the king of kings, the LORD of Lords.

The Lamb of God:
Seeks the lost, finds the lonely … restores our faith, takes away our sin; cleans the slate, rebuilds the heart … makes all things new.

To Zacchaeus up a tree: “Come on down; I want to eat at your house tonight.”
To Nicodemus, fearful and uncertain, “You can do it; start all over; be born again.”
To the fisherman with their nets: “Follow me and I’ll make you into fishers of men.”
To Martha in her kitchen, “Don’t fuss about the small things.”
To the disciples with only a few loaves and fish – “That’s more than enough to feed the multitude. Trust me.”
To all of us, wherever we are, “Greater things than these you will do.”

The Lamb of God fills us with faith, hope and love; grace, mercy and peace; courage, confidence and conviction …
“I am with you always” …
“I will never leave you or forsake you” …
“I will build my church” …
“Fear not little ones, it is your Father’s will to give you the kingdom.”

The Lamb that Roared … an intriguing image from the Book of Revelation … when John looks to the throne of God, he sees a lion, the Lion of Judah … and then looks again and sees a Lamb … this strange juxtaposition of two contrasting images … the lion and the lamb.

Strength and gentleness … perfect combination … good balance …
strength to see the whole thing through; gentle on our mind …
strength to fashion the universe; gentle to fit into Mary’s womb …
strength to carry the sins of the world; gentle to carry us.

“Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The Lamb that roared!

“When Israel was a child, I loved him … but he turned away and broke my heart … I wanted to hurt him, but I didn’t … I’ll roar like a lion, but I’ll love like a lamb.”

“Teacher, tell my brother to do what I want.”

But the Lion said no; the Lamb told a parable … “be wise, be thoughtful, be smart … the things of this world are not the source of your life … enjoy this life, but keep your eyes on heaven … be rich in the things of God.”

The poor rich man had it made, but he couldn’t count his blessings … never enough; always more … but count your blessings, name them one by one …

Remember that Sunday School hymn? – SINGERS!

Count your blessings, see what God has done … count your blessings, name them one by one, you’ll be surprised by what the LORD has done.

The poor rich man thought something was missing … and that, dear Christian friends, is the original temptation; the source of heartache and ill – something missing.
The snake in the grass said to Adam and Eve “Something is missing, and you really need it … and no one is going to help you, not even God. It’s all up to you.”

So they plucked the fruit, and what a bitter pill it’s been.

But nothing is missing!

The blessing of God is complete and generous. It’s all here; all that’s needed.

“For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”

In the fullness of Christ, we have fullness of life … we’re buried with Him in baptism; we’re raised with Him in faith; God makes us alive with Christ.

Covenant Presbyterian Church has all that it needs … we need nothing more than what we have right now, here and now …

The LORD leads, the LORD guides; His grace is more than sufficient.

“LORD, open my eyes that I may see … let me be a blessing counter.”

“LORD, I promise to stop, look and listen, to appreciate your kindness in my life, the people around me, the hope I have in Christ.
LORD, I’ll be a blessing counter.
I won’t waste time looking at what you’ve given to others … when envy and greed come my way, I’ll send them packing with hymns of praise.
LORD, you have blessed me … I have life, and I have it abundantly … I trust your promise and I trust your grace … today, tomorrow, and forever … in life and in death, in good times and hard times … when I’m at the top of my game, and when the game turns against me … Christ in the morning, Christ at noon, Christ in the evening.

I am who God says I am.
I have what God says I have.
I can do what God says I can do.

Rich toward God … the Lamb that roared.