Betray

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This little ray of sunshine is called Kirsebær which is Norwegian for cherry.  She is the newest member of my family. At a very young age, she was betrayed by people who were responsible for her, and she fought to live on the streets of Houston, TX.  Mange covered and in bad shape, she was saved.

Some dear souls took her in, named her Cherry and stood by her until she healed. This is the opposite of betrayal, it can be called care, it can be called fidelity, but mostly it is called love.

During Lent often we look at our own role in betraying Jesus. We see the humiliations of Holy Week and Good Friday in particular.  It can hurt, it can make us feel terrible to know that our sin is one of the reasons Jesus died on the cross.

Here is the beauty amidst the ugliness of it all, the cross is not the end of our story with God!  What happens on the cross and the empty tomb that follows is all about care, fidelity and most of all it is about the love of God for you!

 

Wind

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Funny how things work sometimes!  The word for the day was wind, and boy howdy, was it windy the day I took this picture.

The thing you can’t see is the modern wind turbines just to the left of the frame. No matter what I tried, short of trespassing and a good long hike,  I couldn’t quite get the correct angle to make the shot work.

Then I thought, you know that is very wind like behavior!  You know its there, but you can’t quite get a handle on where it comes and where it goes.

That is how the Holy Spirit works too. You can always tell when it is at work and where it has been, but try to nail it down, get an angle on it, well good luck with that.  The key with the wind of the spirit is that it always pushes toward God in Christ.  Next time you feel a big ol’ gust of wind ask yourself this question, the spirit is up to something here, what is it that God would have me see, be or do?

 

Guard

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I chose to call him Abner… it is a good biblical name I would never give to a child or a pet, so it goes to this squirrel.  The thing about Abner is that he is actually a lousy guard. The minute I head down the stairs he is off, anyone come down the sidewalk, he is out of there.

Well, he is a squirrel, not a guard dog.

So how do we know what we should guard and what we can leave to Abner to protect?   I have found that we often protect those things that we ought to leave, and leave vulnerable things that really could use some proper guarding, like our hearts, and our relationships.  Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

We are to guard what is most important to us, not for the sake of hoarding it but to nurture it to grow it so that we have a good and healthy heart to love others as God has first loved us.

So what are you doing to take care of your heart? How do you guard it for the sake of the other and to be ready for God’s purposes?

Preach

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So row 1; Uncle John, Uncle Robert, Uncle Web (aka David)  row 2 My dad, Uncle Jim and me.  Preachers each and every one.

My Grandpa Braaten was a preacher too; it is sort of the family business. None of us are “famous” none of us owns a jet,  in the eyes of the world, we may be labeled just garden variety ministers, parish pastors, parsons, padres or preachers.

We are blessed to be the ones who professionally bring good news, and let me tell you it is a sweet gig on many days.  But there are other days when people don’t want to hear the good news, or can’t hear it because of the other noise in their lives. Even on those days, we are called to preach the good news and so is every baptised child of God. We are all on some levels called to be preachers.  Some of us do it as a day job, some do it with words, others with deeds and still others with song.  The Gospel of Gods love, forgiveness and grace needs to be heard by so many and for many the only preacher they may get to know is you.

A quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi captures the life of the Christain very well. It goes this way “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”

 

 

 

Stones

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These stones are part of a breakwater along the beach in Dorado Peurto Rico. They are pretty big, but they didn’t get here naturally, they were hauled in somehow. While they are impressive, the forces of erosion will after a long time make them smaller and smaller until they are part of the beach sand that surrounds them.

The truly impressive thing about stones is that no matter how big they may be, it is the smallest parts of them that last the longest.  The disciples once saw in the large stones and the imposing centrality of the temple as something awe-inspiring, and I am sure it was on many levels, but like the stones on the beach, the would end up as dust.

What do we cling to as unchangeable and central that will not stand the test of time? It is God and God’s word alone that will endure forever. Here we find the proper object of our awe, and here we find our hope when all else crumbles to dust.

Answer

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Old churches are wonderful places if you have a taste for history.  Things like this are stuck in storage out of the way nooks for decades.  Looking at the names, I get a sense for when this was produced, likely sometime around the mid-1940’s. But the answer as to exactly when and why this was used has eluded me.

I may never know the answer, as those who could answer it have likely all gone to check on their status on the heavenly honor roll.   Who’s on that you might ask, now there I have an answer.  Those for whom Christ died, those who have been baptised into his name, and the reason for the list,  in God’s love we have become inheritors of eternal life.  Old churches and new churches for that matter can be wonderful places if you have a taste love, grace and forgiveness.  Go poke around and see what you find!

 

 

Cup

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So in many places in this great country of ours, you can pull up to a Steak n’ Shake any old time.  But I get this treat rarely.  But this was the best, a Nutella shake… oh for good!

Now as a cup goes it isn’t holy, which for a shake cup is a good thing, but you get my point, it is just a styrofoam cup. But what was in the cup… oh… that was heaven.

When we gather at the table at church to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, it is what is in the cup that makes the difference. I have had communion in plastic cups, silver cups, gold cups, coffee mugs, and likely any other typical cup type container.  I have had good wine, great wine, questionable wine, red, white, purple, and pink wine, wine is wine for these purposes. What made the difference was the word together with what was in the cup, and that is divine.

Where have you seen the holy under the ordinary?  When has something plain on the outside turned out to be spectacular on the inside?  How do you see God at work in such things?