Friday, September 29, 2017

Devotion 9.28.17

This is the continuation of a series of devotions inspired by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, Creation and Fall.  Why?  Because what better place to begin something than with creation itself.  As they say, let’s make first things first.  No need to read the book to understand though you’re welcome to order a copy.

Ex nihilo. Out of nothing.  God creates out of nothing, because in the beginning, “the earth was without form and void.”

To humans this is scary stuff.  Emptiness is scary.  Sensory deprivation can break down humans in a matter of days or even hours.  When you think of our forefathers many had to suffer through psychological trials in taming the vast open plains where everything looked so similar and the distance between families was so large. 
What nothingness in your life is scary.  Are you bored?  I don’t mean sitting around twiddling your fingers bored, but bored with repetition in life- job, family, pastimes, maybe even church?  Is there a scary nothing out there, an unknown future, a question to which you don’t have the answer. . . and you dread it?

Nothingness is scary.  And yet God bursts into nothingness and he creates.  And then later in history he sends his son to earth, so that he can die, but then transform the nothingness of death into something, into resurrection.  The same God who created out of nothing, also resurrects out of nothing.  And the resurrection is a promise for us too. “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Rom 6:4) So look into your life.  This isn’t a call to cast things aside and to simply get to something new.   This is a call to look at those areas of life that seem boring or unknown and start to imagine how God can transform them into something special.

Written by Pastor Dan Borkenhagen, Hope Lutheran 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Devotion 9.7.17

Got a slap on the wrist one time from a devotion I wrote.  "Do you think God cares about Tech football?" was the message.  No, I replied, but sports is a metaphor for life, so it is used to provide an image to the message.  I also apologized if the person who wrote me had been offended.

Paul, though, uses many kinds of images to convey his message.  As we journey through life, Paul encourages us to live intentionally, focused and remembering the reason we are on this journey.  "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

We pray that we focus on the cross.  We pray that we receive the Spirit to keep us focused through God's Word, the sacraments, and through worship, prayer, and study in God's Word.  We pray we live intentionally and not "aimlessly."

Hope Men's Ministry

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Devotion 9.6.17

Baseball is the ultimate sport of attrition, and the month of September is where the finishers are determined based mainly on who is left standing.  It is said that Cub manager Joe Maddon tells his team to sleep in during the month of September, to not take as much batting practice, and to not throw as much warm up.  The players have responded by pulling away with the lead in their division.  So who is the best team in baseball?  The last one standing.

God rested after creation.  Christ rested and sought rest.  Rest is an important facet in life.  Isaiah gives us a great passage as to where we find our rest.

"Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." 40:30-31

We renew our strength in Christ.  We ask for renewal as we go through our lives.  In Him, we find rest, renewal, and strength.

Hope Men's Ministry

Devotion 9.5.17

Hand-wringing.  We are all guilty of hand-wringing.  We are worriers, and some people worry to the point that they worry about what they were worrying about because they forgot but knew they were worried about something.  I had a friend I referred to as a professional worrier.  "Why should I worry?" I would say, "I'll give it to him and he'll worry about it for me."

Scripture is full of passages that basically let us know just how wrong it is for a Christian to worry.  Joshua 1:9 reminds us: "Have I note commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."  He's basically just promised us He is with us on this journey.  But, that's not good enough.  Sometimes I want to be a man's man and handle this one on my own.  God, you sit in the back seat and enjoy a good book because I'm a self-made man.  Got here this far with my solid mind and firmness in decisions, so I'll let You know when I'll need Your help.

Paul, however, proves we are wrong.  In Philippians 4, Paul reminds us that Mr. Self-Made Independent Man can only go so far.  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think of these things... I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

If, at the end of the day, I don't have these committed to heart, then I continue to rely on me.  However, these two passages tell me that God is with me, and to turn to God in everything.  Paul informs me to be at peace because I've given it to God.  Paul will also say, "My grace is sufficient for you."

That's a peace that surpasses all understanding.  We pray for that peace than only Christ can give.

Hope Men's Ministry

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Devotion 9.4.17

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, so much remains to be learned about the historic catastrophe this will definitely become.  Yet already, as the storm was happening, there were people affixing blame.  From the vein of politics and a set of political beliefs (not going to say right or left), we hear that this flood could have been minimized had the wide-open, non-zoning philosophy of Houston minimized development which leads to what would have been field-drainage now becoming run-off. So, the floods that reached the second- and third-story of some buildings might not have reached so high were Houston not an asphalt jungle.

Of course, there is the age-old question as to God and His allowing such catastrophic events to happen, and people are too happy to speak on God's behalf.

To the first blame-affixer we say this, when rainfall comes in feet (to put it in perspective, Houston received as much rain in a few days as Lubbock averages in three-plus years), flooding is going to occur asphalt or not.  To the second who asks about God and why this event happened, we ask, "Do you understand Romans 11:34?" "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?"  It is in our nature to want answers, and the truth is we may never know why these things happen.  I don't know what's on God's mind and I cannot, and should not, try to speak for Him.

These next few devotions will contain verses that have been particularly meaningful to me as I endure the journey called life, and when it comes to Harvey, were I still in Houston, Romans 5:1 - 5 would be painted on a wall in my house as we rebuild.  "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

If I'm down, I don't need someone standing over me wagging a finger.  I'm already there, and if I'm not, someone standing over me wagging their finger is not likely to get me to that frame of mind that says, "Man I really needed that!"  However, someone speaking the truth in love, telling me I cannot speak for God, yet I know that these events have shaped me and can shape us and help us to grow may soften my resistance to the message of the gospel.

Romans 5 reminds us that life is a journey and that suffering is a part of that journey.  It reminds us to be prayerful in finding God's meaning and purpose in our lives through that suffering to progress through suffering, endurance, character, and hope in the resurrection of Christ Jesus.

We pray for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, and all victims of tragedies that impact only one person or millions.

Hope Men's Ministry