Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Tin Monster

“A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

At least my intentions were good. I (jcd) once ordered a swing set for my children identical to a shiny display model I’d seen at the store. What arrived, however, was a long box containing roughly 6,324 pipes, 28,487,651 bolts, 28,487,650 screws, and a set of instructions that would have befuddled Albert Einstein. For the next two days, I sweated to assemble bent parts, missing parts, and parts from a 1948 Ford thrown in just to confuse me.

Finally, the wobbly construction stood upright. I got another shock when I read the final line printed on the back of the instructions: “Please retighten all the bolts on this apparatus every two weeks to ensure safety and durability.” I now had to devote every other Saturday to this tin monster or it would gobble up my children!

Everything you own will eventually own you! Unchecked materialism becomes your master, both when you make the purchase and when you must sweat to maintain it. That’s why I heartily encourage you to decide together to own less… and enjoy life more.

Just between us…

  • Do we have a “tin monster”—something new and supposedly valuable that’s more trouble than it’s worth—in our lives?
  • What do we have that we don’t need and could simply give or throw away?
  • What guidelines could we agree on to avoid the trap of materialism?
  • How can fewer possessions bring us closer to God?

Dear Lord, we are so easily driven by the desire to own more things. We want to live with less. Change us with Your truth about lasting value. We want to hold all our income and possessions in trust for You, the real owner. Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

John and Charles Wesley, Priests

Today the church remembers John and Charles Wesley, Priests, 1791, 1788.

John and Charles were raised together at the rectory in Epworth. They studied at Oxford, and together they were ordained into the ministry of the Church of England. Together they journeyed to America and served there as missionaries in Georgia for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Together they led the great evangelical revival of the eighteenth century.

This movement attempted to foster among Christians a strong personal commitment to Jesus. Its leaders, such as John and Charles, preached and sang in the open fields, on street corners, and in the market places. They actively opposed slavery and drunkenness. John was the more impressive preacher, Charles the musician.

The Evangelical Movement led to the formation of several religious societies. The most famous of these was the "Methodist" Society, so-called for its strict and methodical practices. Some of these societies, especially in America, separated from the English Church. John and Charles Wesley, however, did not forsake the Church of England. Their feast day would seem an appropriate time to recommit ourselves to the spread of Christ's kingdom among all classes of people.

Lord Christ, make us ready to journey forth into the world to do your work and to praise your Name, and all for your glory. Amen.

Lord God, you inspired your servants John and Charles Wesley with burning zeal for the sanctification of souls, and endowed them with eloquence in speech and song: Kindle in your Church, we entreat you, such fervor, that those whose faith has cooled may be warmed, and those who have not known Christ may turn to him and be saved; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Daily Readings for April 3, 2016 - Second Sunday of Easter

Acts 5:27-32
When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man's blood on us." But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him."

Psalm 118:14-29
14   The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.
15   There is a sound of exultation and victory in the tents of the righteous:
16   The right hand of the LORD has triumphed! the right hand of the LORD is exalted! the right hand of the LORD has triumphed!
17   I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.
18   The LORD has punished me sorely, but he did not hand me over to death.
19   Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter them; I will offer thanks to the LORD.
20   This is the gate of the LORD; he who is righteous may enter.
21   I will give thanks to you, for you answered me and have become my salvation.
22   The same stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23   This is the LORD'S doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24   On this day the LORD has acted; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
25   Hosanna, LORD, hosanna! LORD, send us now success.
26   Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; we bless you from the house of the LORD.
27   God is the LORD; he has shined upon us; form a procession with branches up to the horns of the altar.
28   You are my God, and I will thank you; you are my God, and I will exalt you.
29   Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his mercy endures for ever.

Revelation 1:4-8
John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

John 20:19-31
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Daily Meditation for April 3, 2016 - Second Sunday of Easter

From Forward Day by Day

Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and Omega,” says the LORD God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

The door handles of Trinity by the Sea Episcopal Church in Port Aransas, Texas, bear the Greek letters Alpha and Omega. They are a beautiful mosaic of blue and gold. When I notice them, I remember that to enter into the church building is to enter into the mysterious presence of God.

The door handles work going the other way, too. Out into the world. If Christ is the Alpha and Omega, then where is Christ not? He’s here in this step, and the next. Present above and below, to my left and right, as Saint Patrick might explain it. I need little reminders like that, because I can lose sight of God’s presence, and I can forget that God’s Spirit is as close as the next breath. I need prompts like beautiful door handles that remind me that I enter into God’s presence every time I walk in our church—and I enter into God’s presence every time I walk out. I need reminders that wherever I go, and whomever I am with, Christ Almighty, the Alpha and Omega, who is, and was, and is to come, is present.


Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:25

A tentmaker missionary in Morocco struggled with the issue of dying for Christ. He shares these words:

Is faith in Christ worth dying for? I quickly saw that if it wasn’t, I had no business presenting the Gospel to Muslims. You see, when a Muslim receives Christ, he faces certain persecution and possible death. How can I ask a Muslim to receive Christ as Lord if I have doubts in my own heart. If Christ isn’t worth dying for, He isn’t worth living for. On the other hand, if Christ is worth living and dying for, then we have a Gospel that is of infinite value to Muslims...

Ahmed came to see me one day, honestly sharing his fears with me about following Christ. He asked, “What if I go to prison?” This kind of question had always intimidated me; I wasn’t sure that I could ask someone to be willing to go to prison when I myself had never gone. Yet now I realized that it was Jesus who was calling him to take up his cross and follow, not me. This was between Ahmed and the Lord.

A thirty-two-year-old pastor works in Upper Egypt, an area of intense persecution for Christians. He runs a day care center, a medical clinic, a literacy training program as well as caring for the families of those in prison. He has been beaten twice by Muslim extremists and threatened daily with death. He knows they are trying to kill him...but he continues to daily bear his cross.

A leading pastor in Egypt shared about a parishioner who tearfully came for counseling. Young people she had trained at her work were recently promoted to be her supervisors. She was passed over solely because she was a Christian. The pastor concluded, “That’s the cross we must bear here in Egypt!”

The essence of these examples is that instead of exercising and asserting my will, I learn to cooperate with God’s wishes and comply with His will.

RESPONSE: Today I give my will over to God and comply with His will for me.

PRAYER: Lord, I want to cooperate with Your wishes and desires. Help me bear my cross for You.

Verse of the Day - April 03, 2016

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV) fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God

 Read all of Hebrews 12