Tuesday, May 24, 2011


"Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea.  All who heard them pondered them and said, 'What then will this child become?' For indeed, the hand fo the LORD was with him."
(Luke 1:65-66)

Liz & Zach were a "mature couple."  No kids.  Living out their lives. Then everything changed.  Zach, a priest, was alone in the Temple one day when the angel Gabriel brought word he'd soon become a father!  Zach found it hard to believe (even from an angel), something that got him in a bit of trouble (and rendered speechless for the duration of the impending pregnancy!).  But sure enough, in due time, Liz had a baby boy & they named him John.  That's when Zach started speaking again.  They dedicated John in the Temple when he was 8 days old. 

As word spread about this "unusual" occurrence, people were overcome with fear (of the Lord) and wonder... specifically concerning this child of Zach & Liz's: "What then will this child become?"

That's a great question to ask of ANY child, especially at their dedication/baptism.  This Sunday, we'll be baptizing Natallyie at Aiea UMC.  Natallyie is already 2 years old and has an amazing story.  Her parents, though not as "mature" as Zach & Liz, were definitely not as young as most would-be parents.  They'd been wanting to adopt a child for many years, but it just didn't happen.  Finally in late 2010 they received word that a girl was available in China.  They made arrangements & welcomed little Natallyie into their family on Valentine's Day 2011.  A genuine gift of love!  Natallyie had been abandoned and was living in an orphanage in China most of her young life. 

Back in Hawaii, there were some (expected) adjustment challenges... but mom & dad handled it with much grace & patience.  Now, this Sunday, they'll bring Natallyie before the congregation to be baptized.

"What then will this child become?"  What a great question.  Surrounded by a foundation of love... supported by a church family... given an opportunity to grow up with all the basic necessities every child should have (nutrition, shelter, education, health care, faith & a loving family?)?  How can we not say that the hand of the LORD will be with her?

"What, then, will this child become?"  Only God knows.  But what a joy it will be to be a part of that divine journey with Natallyie and her family!

Friday, May 13, 2011

It's all about...

"For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake."
(2 Corinthians 4:5)

No matter what people say, there's a tendency for those in positions of leadership to begin to crave attention.  It may not be a strong characteristic at first, but over time the pull of fame and/or power becomes greater & greater.  W in the "pastoring profession" are no exception.  Paul knew this, too.  That's why he made it a point to always stay on point - it's not about us, but Jesus.

We pastors know this in our head.  But it's still hard to live out all the time.  Whether we have a "big" or "small" congregation, it's compelling to want to be the one people look to for advice, inspiration, and vision.  And in some ways, that's our job as pastors... BUT (and this is a BIG 'but')... we must be zealous about pointing others to Jesus, not ourselves.  And we need to do it first, not AFTER we draw attention to ourselves.

Because, let's face it... even the best of us pastors will still let others down.  We're human... and sinful, at times... and imperfect (like EVERYONE ELSE!).  But God is not.  Go is gracious, compassionate, and The Almighty!  He's the One we ALL need to be pointing to and proclaiming.

Monday, May 9, 2011

5 points to ponder

"Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love."
(1 Corinthians 16:3-14)

I love when Paul gets to the end of his letters.  Many times he has so much to say (but is short on space/time) so he throws in a ton of one-liners.  Words of wisdom boiled down to their most salient points.  Such is the case at the end of 1 Corinthians.  In verses 13-14 he gives us 5 points of advice to ponder...
  • Keep alert... More than "don't be sluggish/lazy," I think this calls the people to be aware... keep watch... expect things to happen around you (both good and bad!)... be ready!
  • Stand firm in your faith... When challenges come (see above point), lean on the faith you've built in your life.  Don't waver.  Hold fast.  Trust what God has developed in you!
  • Be courageous... Be brave.  Be willing to take risks, if needed (good risks, not careless ones).  Be ready to take on BIG CHALLENGES without fear.
  • Be strong... Physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.  This is a wonderful trait to put hand in hand with courageousness.
  • Do all in love... Here's the key.  It's easy to neglect love when you're focusing on strength & courage... but God (via Paul) calls us to something higher.  Let love be the foundation on which EVERYTHING is built!
 Yah, I think there's something there for me to learn... what about you?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

It'll catch up with us... trust me.

"But if you do not do this, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out.  Build towns for your little ones, and folds for your flocks; but do what you have promised."
(Numbers 32:23-24)

The 12 tribes of Israel were about to embark on a long military campaign as they settled into the "Promised Land" they believed was given them by God.  All were expected to participate.  Land would be divided equitably afterwards.

The Reubenites & Gadites were cattle ranchers.  They surveyed the land of Gilead as prime cattle-raising country.  The only problem was that Gilead wasn't int he official "Promised Land" area of Canaan they were going to be living.  So they asked Moses if they could remain on this side of the Jordan River in Gilead.  Simple request, right?  Not like you'd think...

Moses, being the "brains of the unit" could immediately see a problem.  Anytime one moves into a new place, one's immediate foreseeable future will be bound up with "settling in."  Moses was afraid they'd be too busy to help the rest of the tribes int eh upcoming battle(s).  So he made a deal: they could take the land of Gilead (and get their flocks & family "comfy"), but they themselves couldn't settle in until AFTER they fought with their brothers in battle.  The tribes of Reuben & Gad wholeheartedly agreed.

Moses then set before them an oath, which they willingly took.  And he said he'd hold them to their word.  Then he concluded with this caveat: "But if you do not do this, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out" (v.23).

How true.  Our sins will find us out.  Maybe not immediately (though it often happens that way)... maybe not in this lifetime (though often it happens this way)... but ultimately, our sins will find us out.  And as Moses implied, all sin is sin against God.  We may think it's only against another, but it's so much more. 

So be forewarned...

But thanks be to God that we have a remedy for our sin... Grace, forgiveness, & reconciliation is available 100% of the time - if we seek it!  Jesus stands ready to forgive us when our sins find us out.  Over, and over, and over, and over...