Posted in church, Grace, Ministry

All the signs are there

58054dca7ec3a.imageNo church today. Waiting for Hurricane Irma to traverse the Florida peninsula. Plenty of time to think and pray…

Of course you’re going to hear about it. You’ve thought about it, too. How could you not? All the pieces are there: a total eclipse, back-to-back hurricanes hitting the United States, a devastating earthquake in Mexico City, scorching wildfires in the west after record high temperatures and years of drought, hatred and violence in places like Charlottesville, VA and nuclear war just over the horizon. Science fiction writer John Scalzi tweeted, “These aren’t the End Times, but it sure as hell feels like the End Times are getting in a few dress rehearsals right about now” (1:20 pm Sept 8. 2017)

[Jesus said,] “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26).

Just make sure you keep reading. “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). The coming of our Lord is good news for God’s people. We’ve been waiting for him, right? Continue reading “All the signs are there”

Posted in Life, Ministry

Haiti a year later

It’s been a year since the earthquake hit Haiti, devastating an already devastated country. Where were you when the earthquake happened? I have no idea. I don’t remember the news even really showing up on my radar a year ago.

But now we think about Haiti all the time. Last March, when the call for help went out, my wife went with an LC-MS World Relief medical team and saw first hand what had happened and what people were going through. Although she touched a lot of lives, it turns out that others touched her life even more. Those who survived, those who had to stay there after she came home, those who email us, and those whose faces we can’t forget, touch our lives each day.

There are lots of articles out there to read about Haiti a year later, from LCMS World Relief and Human Care, Relevant magazine, and so many others. In some ways, not much has changed. Some have found homes. Many receive care. Some are back in school. A few have real hope. Hopefully our hearts have changed. We are planning on having our friend Lophane here in February to speak to us about his life, his work and his hopes for Haiti. I think it’s amazing just to be able to write that we have friends in Haiti, a place I hardly ever took notice of before.

Posted in Ministry

Last minute sermon adjustments

Today I’m wondering how much I should adjust my sermon to address the event that is on everyone’s mind and constantly on the news: the devastating earthquake in Haiti last week. I’m already prepared to speak about life issues this week, as we often do the third Sunday of January. Yet I can’t pretend that people aren’t thinking about the suffering in Haiti, how they can help, earthquakes, and what this all might mean. I also can’t ignore the even greater tragedy of millions and millions of abortions over the last 36 years in America.

My plan is to still speak the truth about life, and use Haiti as an example of how sensitive we are to suffering and dying in this world. So is God. That is why His Word speaks so powerfully about the value of human life, from the view of both creation and redemption. We care about life because He does. Since I don’t write out my sermons, but do a kind of storyboarding, I think I can weave this together.

Another thing to consider when adjusting a sermon is how quickly we move from one crisis to another. After five days, there are already other stories in the news, and our focus is turned elsewhere. Jesus said that earthquakes are just the beginning of the birth pangs, just a sign that the world will be coming to an end, calling people to boldly testify of him and remain faithful (Matthew 24). It’s going to happen, and you are going to need some endurance, in other words, hang on for the ride and remain faithful by loving God and loving others (Revelation). For me, that’s about all you can say about an earthquake. But there is so much more to say about life.