Friday, August 04, 2017

Has the Church abandoned the well as God's truth?

Here. Thanks to my son, Pastor Philip Daniels, for sharing this over on Facebook.

[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

She Chose Me by Randy Newman

Randy Newman's first new LP in nine years, Dark Matter, was released today.

It starts out unevenly. The first track mines the old Christian faith versus science meme to an absurd end. (It's a false dichotomy.) The second track looks at Jack and Bobby Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis in a strange, incomprehensible way.

But the remaining seven tracks are strong.

This song is the next-to-last one on the LP. For once, the satirizing Newman takes his tongue out of his cheek and presents a beautiful ballad. Any man who's ever been suprised by a special woman choosing them will identify.

[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

Whatever the changes, just one thing matters

This picture, recently unearthed by one of my sisters, had to have been taken after school, probably in the spring of 1963. I'm there with two of my sisters, Betsy and Kathy. That's when Kathy, the sister on the horse, would have turned three. Betsy would have been six and I would have been nine. (Two more siblings, a girl, Dianne, and a boy, Marty, would follow, in 1965 and 1967, respectively.)

I'm sure the picture was snapped some day after school because Betsy and I were dressed in our "school clothes," though, by today's lights, we may seem to be overdressed for school. But because the shirt is patterned, it's not one I would have worn to church on a Sunday morning. That would have required a tie and a sportcoat. And because I was such a nerd (and still am), had this been taken on a Sunday after church, I would have insisted on keeping my tie on until I changed into "play clothes."

"Play clothes" never included jeans in those days, either for me or for most of my friends. I doubt that I had a pair of denims until I was in junior high school. Throughout my public school years, and this was common, I never wore jeans or tennis shoes to school.

They weren't allowed. A student back then only wore tennis shoes for gym class in junior and senior high years. We played ball at recess or, in rare designated times for physical education during the elementary years, in our dress shoes. (No kidding!)

A rite of each fall before school began on the Tuesday after Labor Day was buying a new pair of dress shoes to wear to school each day. Your parents hoped that your feet didn't grow too much and that, somehow, the shoes would last you through the school year.

That was just how we rolled back then.

Today, when my work day is ended, I take off my sport coat, clerical collar, and dress pants and slip into jeans or sweats and a polo. Dress shoes went the way of the dodo bird for me long ago; for years, I've worn "old men's shoes" from SAS.

It's interesting to note the ways in which people's dress have changed over the years since my own parents were born.

For example, check out this picture of a crowd of baseball fans from the 1930s:

Notice the men in dress shirts and ties?

And, I recall, that even in the 50s and 60s, when my grandmother and mother used to take us to the downtown Lazarus department store in Columbus to shop for school clothes, shirt, tie, and sportcoat were required for me and "dressier" dresses and patent leather shoes for my sisters. These trips were major and more formal outings. Not exactly what you wear when you go to Walmart these days.

The picture below shows typical moms (honestly) with kids in tow, walking through the Lazarus air door on North High Street, sometime in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Over all, I prefer 2017 to that long-ago world. Most of the changes through the decades have been good, I think.

Yet, we still live in the same roiling, boisterous, beautiful, sin-plagued world that's always been. We make progress in one field, we fall in others. Different sins go in and out of style, changing as certainly as the styling of our clothes.

Everything about this world, changed or not, should be held onto loosely.

Why? Because this world isn't all there is or that God has in mind for us. God made it perfect. But we messed it up. We became messed up.

Which is why God took on flesh in the Person of Jesus Christ to take our rightful death sentence for sin on a cross, then rose to open eternity with God to all who turn from sin and trust in Christ as their only God and Savior.

One day, Jesus will bring this creation to an end and invite all who have trusted Him into the new, eternal creation--like this world except that it will be perfect, devoid of sin, death, hatred, war, racism, oppression, injustice, sorrow, grieving, or tears.

Peter's call to believers in Christ seems more relevant to me than ever:
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:11-12)
I pray that the God I know in Jesus Christ will help me to live a life so focused on Him that, whatever changes, superficial or deep, may fall on this world or to my own life, I will keep on trusting Christ as my only hope.

Nothing else matters.

[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

Calvin Coolidge, his dad, and the majesty of Constitutional Democracy

While Calvin Coolidge was out of his depth as president, particularly as it relates to understanding the twentieth century's new economic realities, I've always admired him as a person.

The story of his swearing-in has been a favorite since I first read it when I was a boy. It captures the simple majesty of US constitutional democracy and George Washington's great legacy to our country, the peaceful transfer of executive power.

One highlight of a tour of New England several years ago was seeing the room in which Coolidge's father administered the presidential oath of office to his son. I literally got goosebumps.

The tale was recounted again yesterday in a post from the White House Historical Association:
John Coolidge received several telegrams during the early hours of August 3, 1923, all of which bore the same message: President Warren G. Harding was dead.

This meant that John’s son, Vice President Calvin Coolidge, would soon be sworn in as the President of the United States.

The news shocked the Coolidges, who were enjoying a family trip to their home in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. President Harding had also been touring the country during his “Voyage of Understanding.” Coolidge received reports that the president showed signs of recovery from a recent illness; his death was completely unexpected.

Calvin Coolidge sent a telegram expressing his condolences to First Lady Florence Harding shortly after receiving the news. Meanwhile, the family accommodated the crowd gathering outside their home, setting aside one room for reporters as John Coolidge greeted curious neighbors. Despite the commotion, the new president’s youngest son, Calvin, Jr., remained asleep. The family decided to wait until the morning to tell him the news.

The elder Coolidge, a notary public, administered the oath of office. Calvin Coolidge placed his hand on the Bible in a dimly lit room in front of a small audience, becoming the thirtieth president of the United States. His first act as president? Returning to bed.

As President Coolidge slept, a new telephone line was installed, creating a direct line of communication between the farm and the White House.

The next day, President Coolidge returned to the capital in his new role as commander in chief.

[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

No vanity here...

Posted this earlier today on Facebook:

[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

Only One by James Taylor

James Taylor's 1985 release That's Why I'm Here contained this breakout hit. The hook line with its beautiful harmonies by Joni Mitchell are what make this song. See if you don't agree.

How we can believe

This is my journal entry for a recent quiet time with God. How I approach quiet time is something I explain here.
Look: “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45)

Throughout Luke 24, which is where we read Luke’s account of Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples struggle to “get” what’s happened.

The women see the empty tomb. But it takes a reminder of “two men” whose clothes gleamed like white lightning, to remind them of how Jesus had said that He would be crucified, then rise from the dead (vv.7-8).

Peter runs to the empty tomb, but wondered “to himself what had happened” (v.12). The other disciples had written off the women’s witness as “nonsense” (v.11).

Cleopas and the other disciple (maybe his wife) unknowingly encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus and only recognize Him after He breaks and gives the bread to them (vv.30-31).

Later, when some of them are gathered in Jerusalem, Jesus suddenly appears among them. Even with Him there among them, they doubted, thinking that they were seeing a ghost (vv.38-39).

Finally, in verse 45, Jesus opens their minds to understand what they were seeing.

What interests me is the word, understand. In the Greek in which Luke wrote his gospel, the word is συνιέναι. It carries the meaning of comprehending. But it’s a compound word having the literal meaning put together. Any time we understand something, it’s the result of putting together multiple facts.

For the disciples, it wasn’t enough to see the risen Jesus before them. They’d never seen a resurrected person. (They had seen people raised from the dead by Jesus. But, they’d never thought that Jesus would be raised if He were killed. Who, they would have reasoned, was going to do the raising?) For the disciples to believe the evidence that stood before them, it was necessary to put that evidence together with other things: the reminder of Jesus’ past prophecy; the way the risen Jesus broke and served bread the way He had before He was crucified; the witness of the Law, the Prophets, and the psalms; and finally, Jesus unfolding the Scriptures for them.

When God’s Word was brought to bear on the claim that Jesus was risen, the disciples were able to put things together. They could understand.

Listen: This chapter and this verse in particular, underscore how completely dependent we are on Jesus to integrate what we see or hear from the Word of God with our openness to Jesus’ teaching, to Jesus Himself. The disciples knew the Scriptures. They knew what they’d heard Jesus say before His crucifixion. They could see the risen Jesus. But until Jesus “opened their minds,” they couldn’t “understand the Scriptures.” They couldn't understand Jesus and the new thing He was doing. They couldn’t put things together.

Martin Luther writes: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in the true faith.”
Memorizing God’s Word is a great way to allow God’s truth to permeate our lives. But if we look at it only as a way to gain head knowledge or to find justifications for our own sinful behaviors and decisions, we will never understand the Word. We won’t put it together. It’s only when we, like Mary, as described earlier in Luke's gospel, place ourselves at the feet of God, our Teacher, that anything about the risen Jesus or the life to which He calls me will make any sense. (Luke 10:38-42)

I’m reminded of the passage from Proverbs 3:5-6, we’ve been memorizing for our discipleship small groups: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”

Without the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus to be My teacher, Christian faith will be nothing but a clump of words and assertions. When I place myself at Jesus’ disposal and ask Him, “What are to you telling me here, Lord?,” I begin to least I begin to understand what I need to understand for that moment.

Respond: Lead me today, Lord, and help me not to resist. Bring to mind Your Word whenever I’m about to speak, when I’m tempted, when I’m with others, when I pray. Open me up so that I can integrate Your Word and Your will with my life today. Help me to experience Your living Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen

[I'm the pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio. I'm also married, the father of two grown children, a son, a brother, a 1975 graduate of The Ohio State University (Bachelor of Science in Social Studies Education), holder of a Master of Divinity degree, a reader, a nerd, and a fan of baseball and rock music. Oh, and I fix egg whites and turkey bacon most mornings for breakfast. I love the small group of men with whom I presently participate in a small discipleship group twice a month. And I really miss my friends in Woof, our one-time wine-drinking, snack-gnoshing, theology-talking, friend-supporting group who gathered each week around our dining room table after a church Bible study. And I love it when I get to interact with elementary and high school classmates.]

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

A song

"Give me your tired..."

The New Colussus (the poem is posted at the Statue of Liberty)
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Emma Lazarus (November 2, 1883)

Putin by Randy Newman

Before Randy Newman spent most of his time composing music for movies (Toy Story) and television shows (the theme for Monk), following the family trade, he was a brilliant solo recording artist whose lyrics satirized the insanities he saw around him.

His LP, Sail Away, from 1972, remains one of my favorites. (It includes a song used in the Norman Lear-Bud Yorkin film, Cold Turkey, which starred Dick Van Dyke and Bob Newhart.)

Happily, Newman has been back in the studio. Two tracks from Dark Matter, a new LP which comes out on Friday, have been released.

One of them is Putin, a hilarious and brutally honest send-up of the thuggish and pretentious Vladimir Putin. Like all dictators--a description which may be too charitable to Putin, since he's more like a mafiosi--Putin is increasingly a parody of himself, which may make him all too easy a target for Newman. But this song is delicious.

[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

Today's 11:11, August 2, 2017

My favorite dark ride at Disneyworld in Orlando was always Maelstrom, housed in the Norwegian pavilion at Epcot. But Maelstrom is no more. This was its last run on October 5, 2014.

Of course, videos seem never to do these attractions justice. But Maelstrom was a multi-sensory experience. When the boats were cut loose in the North Sea amid the oil rigs, the air turned chilly and the sea mist was in your nostrils. At the ride's end, you really imagined yourself to be in a Norwegian village.

It's understandable that Maelstrom is no more. The Disney parks have always evolved and changed, sometimes to present fantastic new imagineered attractions, sometimes to piggyback on the latest Disney film. I'm not a nostalgist. I don't pine for the "good old days." But it is fun to look back on what was a terrific achievement. Glad that someone took the video.

[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

How to face temptation

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)

One reason we cave into sin, violating God's will as expressed in the Ten Commandments, is that we grow deaf to God when we're tempted. Instead of living in the freedom and dignity of a child of God, we're trapped by slavery to self, the opinions of others, and, to be honest, the devil. It's happened to me. It's happened to you.

The key to resisting temptation, with an aim to living lives that express gratitude to God for the grace and life we only receive from Christ, is to be tuned into what God wills for our lives, again as expressed in the Ten Commandments.

You get tuned into God and an intimate relationship with God when you spend time in His Word each day, not just reading it, but soaking it up, even memorizing it.

For example, this passage from 1 Corinthians 10:13 is one that small groups at Living Water have been memorizing in our Navigators discipleship small groups.

A good example of how God's Word can protect us from making sinful, stupid decisions is found in the experience of Joseph, son of Jacob, in the Old Testament book of Genesis.

Joseph's brothers had sold him into slavery in Egypt. But there, he ended up working for a powerful man named Potiphar, essentially functioning as his chief of staff and administrator.

Potiphar's wife was attracted to Joseph and tried repeatedly to get Joseph to go to bed with her. Joseph explained that he couldn't sin against God nor his master in this way.

But Potiphar's wife wouldn't take no for an answer. One day, she grabbed Joseph's tunic, saying, "Lie with me!" Joseph ran. When he did, the tunic slipped off of Joseph and he found himself running from Potiphar's wife naked. Enraged, she accused him of trying to rape her. Her possession of Joseph's cloak implicated him. Potiphar had Joseph slapped into prison.

Some might hear or read that story and think that the moral is that Joseph could have spared himself imprisonment if he'd only gone along with Potiphar's wife.


The moral is that Joseph ran from temptation and chose to walk with God, even when that meant being falsely accused and imprisoned for some time. He maintained his faith, his integrity, and his usefulness to the purposes of God for our lives. And Joseph was able to make the decision to run because He knew God through being steeped in God's Word.

Ultimately, of course, it was precisely because Joseph was imprisoned that he came to the attention of the Pharaoh. And because of Joseph's faithfulness to God and his faithful stewardship of gifts God had given to him, including the gift of administration, he was able to save his own people--God's people, Israel--from extinction. It was to be from the people of Israel that God's plan for salvation from sin and death was to be opened to all humanity through Jesus Christ. So, Joseph's decision to run from sin rather than to acquiesce to it is of eternal significance.

Truth be told, every time we face the temptation to sin, the stakes are higher than we may realize or imagine. Not only is our eternal salvation in play, so, potentially, is the salvation of every person whose life is impacted by our decision, whether we decide to cave or run.

Running from the temptation to sin can be painful. The things that tempt us hold out the real promise of pleasure. At least, they do for the short term. The fruit that Adam and Eve ate tasted good, but it also brought the burden of sin, of knowing not just good and righteousness, but also knowing evil and death.

It's better to run from sin and into the arms of the God we know in the crucified and risen Jesus. When we do that, we literally run from death to life.

Of course, when we cave into sin, that need not be the end of our life story. It need not be the end of our connection with the God of grace we know in Jesus Christ. It needn't be the end of a useful life. Jesus came to ensure that sin and death need not be the last word over our lives. It's a matter of trusting God with our sins, our past, our present, our future, our whole lives. It's a matter of running to Him. 1 John 1:9, another of our Navigators verses, reminds us: "If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9)

Deep down, we probably all want to run from sin. We want God, whether we know much about Him or not. God wants to help us enjoy the life Christ died and rose to make possible. Soak up God's Word each day and He will help you stand where you should stand and run when you need to run.

Just some thoughts on this Wednesday.

[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

Monday, July 31, 2017

Something Old, Something New

Matthew 13:44-52
In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus tells us that life with God is built on two strong legs: The old and the new.

In the final verse of our lesson, Jesus says: “Therefore every teacher [or, every scribe] of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” (Matthew 13:52)

What does Jesus mean?

When Jesus began teaching, preaching, and healing, He crashed into the staid orthodoxies of first century Judea like a nuclear hand grenade.

People didn’t know what to make of Him. He threatened the iron-fisted rule over people’s lives with God exerted by the scribes, the teachers, of what we know as the Old Testament.

These scribes were experts on what God’s Word said in the Old Testament, but unlike the people of faith in the Old Testament to whom that Word was first revealed--people like Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David, Ruth, Isaiah, and Rahab--they didn’t know God.

They had boiled God down to an implacable philosophical proposition, a grim judge who dispensed blessings only to those who kept His Law.

Now comes Jesus saying things like, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17) Jesus is saying, in effect, “You can’t keep the Law fully. You’re incapable of it. The old law was meant to point you to that fact and to your need of Me. And that’s why I’m here: To obey the Law perfectly for you so that, if you will trust in and follow Me, My obedience will cover your sins and change your relationship with God. And it won’t make you feel that it’s OK to indiscriminately violate the old law. It will make you seek My help each day to be obedient, just because our relationship has been made new.”

But for all that was new about Jesus, those who really listened to and followed Him heard the echoes of the old.

The God Who, through Jesus, breathes His Holy Spirit on His Church to give it life is the same God Whose breath first gave life to Adam and Whose Spirit moved over the waters and made creation happen! In Jesus, the Word becomes flesh, God takes on our humanity, enters our lives.

The person who follows Jesus can come to know God as Father, just as Jesus did.

Because of what Jesus has done for us, we have a new respect for the old law, not because we think that if we obey it, we’ll be saved from sin, death, darkness, and futile living...but because of our thankfulness that Jesus shed His blood for us on the cross, we see that God’s Law, as reflected in the Ten Commandments, the way Jesus lived is how we aspire to live.

I took my dad to lunch the other day. I’m 63. Nonetheless, I find myself wanting to please my dad now more than ever, not because I think that he’ll withhold his love from me if I don’t, but because I know how much he loves me already.

This is like the new reality that Jesus came into this world to proclaim and to die and rise to bring into being. He moves me from feeling I have to obey God, to wanting to obey God (even though I often resist Him) because I know that He loved and died and rose for me despite the death punishment I deserve.

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

The scribes of the old religion were shaken by Jesus. They were afraid of what might happen if people became Jesus’ disciples and actually believed that they could speak and live intimately with God, read and know His Word, pray in Jesus’ name, teach others how to have life with God.

They wouldn’t be in control; God would be.

The Holy Spirit would be unleashed in believers’ lives, freeing them to live without fear of death, empowering them to love God and to love neighbor, confident, as our second lesson for today puts it, that nothing could separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (By the way, the fear of letting God take control of our thoughts didn't go out with the first century scribes. There may be nothing that terrifies any of us more than just letting go and letting God take control of our lives. "Mark," a wise older pastor told me once, "the biggest problem in the Church is that we're afraid of the Holy Spirit?")

So what difference does this all make to you and me?

Just this: The Word of God, Old and New Testaments, is the Word of God for one reason, it points us to Jesus as the way, and the truth, and the life. The Bible, this perfect and authoritative witness of God by God is a treasure chest and when we read it through the prism of Christ’s death and resurrection, it brims over with the life and love of God for us. (As someone has said, “The Bible isn’t humanity’s word about God, it’s God’s Word to humanity!”) 

To spend time in God’s Word--reading it, praying about it, reflecting on it, soaking it up not as stagnant print on a page but for what it is--an urgent love letter from God--is to know God and it is to know life. 

Old and new, it points us to the truth we read in 2 John 5:11-12: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” The Bible is a living storeroom and powerhouse filled with the infinite treasures of God.

The Word reveals the Gospel to us. Romans 1:16 say: “...I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”

It is this powerful gospel that Christ detonates repeatedly when we dare, by faith, to take in God’s Word, old and new. 

In those who believe the Bible’s message, crafted by the Holy Spirit, written in the blood of Jesus, life abounds.

It ushers us into God’s Kingdom.

And just how valuable this kingdom Word is, Jesus shows in a string of parables in today’s Gospel lesson.

Jesus says the kingdom witnessed by His Word is like a treasure so valuable that when a man finds it in a field, he spends everything to have it.

It’s like pearls so amazing that when someone encounters them, they sacrifice all to have them.

It’s like a net laid down by God, a net in which you want to be caught so that you can be part of the gospel kingdom, so that you will never be separated from God.

And it is by taking from this treasury, old and new, that we who are believers in Jesus can face each day, help others to do the same, and let others know the good news of new life that they they too can have with Jesus.

Years ago, the US government worked to allow Christians who had been imprisoned for their faith in the old Soviet Union to come to this country. I remember reading in a news magazine about one of these Russian Christians who emigrated to America. In the Soviet Union, it was difficult for him to get or keep a Bible. It was forbidden to own one. But in the United States, he met people who had as many as six Bibles in their homes...many of them left unopened.

Fellow disciples of Jesus, Jesus did not spend centuries giving us His Word just so that we can ignore it.

He didn’t give us the gospel of new life through faith in Jesus so that we could blend in with the rest of the roiling, selfish, dying world.

He didn’t open the way to the Kingdom of God so that we could treat our faith like an occasional trip to McDonald’s.

We’re to be scribes of the new kingdom, steeped in God’s Word, filled with the power of the Gospel, so that we can live in the confidence of God's grace and share Christ and His Gospel with others. 

If you’re not spending time with God each day, you’re missing out on a treasury of intimacy, grace, love, and guidance.

So, please consider taking up the practice of daily quiet time. I aim to do this five days a week.

In quiet time, you read a bit of Scripture each day, ask God to show you the truth He wants you to see for that day, and ask God to help you to live that truth. Then, pray for the chance to share your faith so that you can share the kingdom of God with others.

Our Navigators’ life and learning discipleship team is now beginning to pray about who God wants to participate in the next wave of discipleship small groups. (Our goal is that one day, every member of Living Water, plus many of our friends and neighbors, will be involved with these groups.) Be open to their invitations.

But you don’t need to wait for an invitation: Seek out others with whom you can study and pray and grow together. (I or other of our Navigators team will be happy to help you get started, just as a new group of men recently has.) God’s Kingdom is available to any who willing to receive Jesus and take in His Word, old and new.

Listen: I don’t need to tell you how difficult life can sometimes get. In any given week, I speak with any number of people who feel discouraged, even hopeless.

But neither they nor we need to be kept down. The devil wants to keep us down; but Jesus wants to lift us up! Even in the midst of life’s difficulties, we can have the very power and the kingdom of God filling our lives.

The treasury of God, old and new, is open to any willing to receive it. And it should be available through any disciple willing to share it.

Today, I ask you, be that open and available disciple.

Make it your daily aim to live in and spread God’s life and love and kingdom wherever you are.

Here’s a simple plan for being a disciple: Meet God through His Word daily. Soak it up. Spill it out. Repeat each day.

Meet, soak, spill, repeat.

Meet, soak, spill, repeat.

This is the life of a disciple, a scribe of God’s Kingdom. Amen

[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio. This is the text for the worship message yesterday morning.]