Today we will release the power that you have granted us to allow the Son (sun) to shine in our sometimes darkened vision of what we see before us. We are informed by your transforming Word that we have an important step to take in our faith lives, to give thanks, no matter what our circumstances. At times, that is difficult for us, because it is not natural for us. Understand, Lord, that we need to practice, and keep at it, until we have brought order and confidence into our daily living. We trust you, Lord, and we will proceed knowing this is the way we need to live in order to prosper. Amen.
Making the most of what we have turns it into being more. The Bible encourages us to give thanks no matter the circumstances. It sort of goes against our human nature, and therefore is properly called "supernatural". Say thank you...until your mean it. Our football coach in college used to say, "...fake it until you make it..." Get good at a skill because your practice that skill. Thank God...be grateful for the gift of life...and for the world...and the whole world...for everyone...and everything sent your way.
Gratitude turns denial into acceptance. We are actually much more healthy if we can accept and love the person that we are...with all our faults. We are more able to come to terms with our shortcomings and more able to love others despite the shortcomings they have, especially when it gets to the point where they disappoint and offend us.
Gratitude turns chaos into order. We get confused when difficult-to-comprehend information comes our way about human conduct in a very cruel and unmindful world. When we take to heart the ideology of Romans 8:28 (see below) we can cope and deal with any situation without withdrawing from the world. It is such a practical, liveable,
realistic, and profound way to live. We are in the world, but we are not of the world.
Gratitude turns confusion into clarity. I keep thinking about prehistoric humanity and how religious belief allowed humankind to contend with an overwhelming world all about ...the question then being..."How can I remain sane...and yet survive in such a dangerous place always making me afraid...and unable to function. The purpose of faith in our lives in a postmodern world remains the same as in ancient times...to encourage us to find meaning in life...to give us confidence to know that life is reasonably safe...worthwhile, rewarding and meaningful...keeping us free from fear and able to function efficiently.
Gratitude is a delight...but one needs to practice it in the heat of the day...every day! After all, it can turn a regular meal into a virtual feast. I have often thought lunch with a friend is not so much about the food as it is the richness of the fellowship. It can turn a house into a home. It can turn a complete stranger into a friend. It speaks to a deep part of ourselves that tells us...we are not alone...we are valued by some one we hold dear. Yet, another reason to be grateful. Loneliness is the great bringer of despair...
Gratitude can turn problems into gifts. It can turn failures into success. It is said that Abraham Lincoln failed at major things in his life sixteen times, but those failures were considered learning experiences, eventually leading him into the White House. If you think that Lincoln figured this out for himself, you just may be wrong. President Abraham Lincoln was an outstanding student of the Holy Bible. He took what he read to heart. To Lincoln the Holy Bible was a very practical book. To Lincoln the Holy Bible was a very sacred, holy book. His language is laced with biblical images.
It is most evident to us, not on account of those who wrote about him, but by his own writings. It is possible that practicing gratitude and praying often got him through the American Civil War. Indeed, it was the Civil War that brought him to his knees. He was the only person in the nation who consistently pressed for the absolute union of the United States of America without compromise and without slavery.
Because of Lincoln we are the nation we are. I acknowledge his attitude of gratitude.
Gratitude can turn disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Situations come up for me as when I've felt so irritated that things were not going my way I was ready to give up. Darn! ...but wait a minute... I can remember letting go in the midst of things to discover that the Lord had His hand in those issues of the day. It wasn't up to me to fuss about it, although I was a part of the solution to take care of those issues. Gratitude can turn the unexpected into "perfect timing". It can turn mistakes into important events. In the final analysis it was discovered what part I needed to play, knowing that the Lord was at work, even though, I didn't have control.
Gratitude as appreciation can make opposition knell in your behalf. Gratitude for the ability to see goodness in the negative things of life can make you successful...
During the Second World War, General George Patton continued making tragic mistakes in his series of skirmishes and battles with German general --- Field Marshall Erwin Rommel in North Africa. Patton ended up reading Rommel's "classic" on battle logistics in German, realized the mistakes he was making, and planned using Rommel's logistics on Rommel. In the Battle of El Guettar in Tunisia, Patton routed Rommel's forces using Rommel's logistics. General Patton didn't give up because he was getting his pants beaten off of him...he used researching his defeats to finally defeat his enemy.
My father, as a football coach, always watched the films of his team, not to extol their strengths, but rather, to note weaknesses of his team's efforts, and improve on the mistakes, to consistently improve the team effort eventually during upcoming games. Patton was a spiritual man, and my father was a spiritual man...their mindset was biblical...and that paved the way for their success. At the heart of their efforts was an attitude. Good! These things happen for a purpose. Can we learn anything from this?
Gratitude can turn just existing into a real life, filled with "good things" and "excellent things". The verses noted above (Philippians 4:4-8) are accompanied by yet another powerful verse (Philippians 4:8): "...finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think of such things..." Often in this postmodern age, we get engaged in popular and attractive items...breaking news...for one thing...movies and magazines of questionable value...other things of curiosity that may not have any value whatsoever... We need to be on our guard! Those activities may just upset a delicate balance in terms of the way we view our lives and what seems worthy of our attention and time.
Gratitude makes sense of our past. It brings that deep personal biblical peace...shalom
...into the "actual time" of each day. You and I have heard people we know talking about what might have been in their lives. We may have also thought and communicated likewise.
I have learned that things past have always turned out the best, no matter what. It is useless to try to re-configure our past. We all know the expression, "to cry over spilled milk". It doesn't do any good, but we waste time trying to do so, all too often.
Gratitude makes things right. Saint Paul writes (Romans 8:28), "...and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose..." God has His ways. God's timing is perfect. God is wise. That wisdom surpasses our understanding and vision of what is, what could be, what has happened, and what meaning - the events of our lives have and will be. There is no failure with God. Trust Him...don't place so much trust in the latest round-up of world and local news and what the news is supposed to mean for our lives or the world. Give Him praise and thanks for what is happening...in the process...let Him know you know He is in control.
Finally, gratitude turns negative energy into positive energy. There is no circumstance or situation so small or so large that it is not susceptible to the power you and I have of being grateful. We can start with who we are...and what we have today...apply that good measure of gratitude, and then let it work - its great work - in our lives.
Think and say "Thank you", until you mean it. If you say it long enough, it'll become the only acceptable truth for you. Your life...what's outside and what's inside you...will be transformed and you will notice it first when others will say of you, "She's changed...He's changed...and it is really good!" You will have moved from mere religion into the mindset of faith. There is nothing like it to make our lives completely worthwhile and ultimately encouraging and meaningful. What an affirmation in a time of pandemic!
"I have come that you may have life, and that you may have life more abundantly." John 10:10
I am convinced, as I am sure Saint Paul was convinced, that the Lord Jesus was talking about, not only the forgiveness of our sins and the assurance of eternal life, but also, trusting in Him...so profoundly...we don't need to worry about complicated international issues. We don't need to get all tangled up in the difficult affairs of our lives. We have the knowledge to know (despite appearances) that everything is going to work out. We have the foresight to know the future lies in God's good hands and we will benefit and thrive. I am reminded of a great truth that says a lot about what effective faith is...
"...now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see..." Hebrews 11:1
Do you really have that assurance? Do you really believe this?
Is this what a perfect God has in store for imperfect people who trust in Him?
Such assurance comes to us when we live our lives with a bold attitude of gratitude. Gratitude is a great presupposition of Christian faith. So many followers of Christ Jesus get caught up in the attractive aspects of religion, the beauty of the sanctuary, the music and hymn melodies, the robes and wall-hangings, the pastor's comforting words, the great choir, the lunch fellowship after worship...all great, encouraging and lovely things to look forward to...but nothing without the basics...a grateful response to the sacrifice of Christ Jesus on the Cross, His tragic death and His victorious resurrection...forgiveness for my sins and all those like me who are sinners...the assurance of eternal life, based not upon my accomplishments, my personal charm, or my good looks...but based upon gratefully trusting in His purpose in my life presently and the unfailing assurance of everlasting life in the time to come.
Gratefully and cordially, Tom
From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
Grace and peace to you through God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen! You can trust in Him to bring you forth! Be confident in the Lord! Play it real safe! Be well!
So very nice of you to join me in sharing the Lord's trustworthy provision for today.
Lord God, today we will continue our personal journey to persistently work on our faith concerns, that is, to truly love others without condition, and to accept ourselves as the person we are, even though -- at first -- it doesn't always seem natural for us to do so. Forgive us, Lord, when we say, sometimes we need to "fake it before we make it", that is, make it a real thing for us.
We're going to force ourselves to go through the motions. We're going to work at loving others genuinely and accepting the persons we are, up until we have fulfilled our goal of being an apostle of love. Sustain us in that strategy for living --- Lord, in a time of tragic pandemic and civil unrest, we are convinced we are on the right path to bring sustained justice and mercy into our world.
Be with those who have contracted Covid-19 and those who have lost loved-ones to this virus. Protect all in our community and our nation and our world. Thank you, Jesus, for granting your wisdom to us. Amen.
Don't give up! Keep up the daily struggle toward being a vessel of divine love in your home, community and world -- but like James Joyce -- go easy...don't bump your head up against a stone wall...rather...let the side of your head rest upon your pillow...
"...let us not become weary in doing good...for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up...
therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers..." (Galatians 6:9-10)
It's like physically going to the gym to keep in shape. Keep working at it. Keep practicing it. Often it doesn't seem natural. Often it is uncomfortable. Many good people, even seasoned Christians become hardened by the journey. Don't let it happen to you. Remain strong and confident in He who gives you strength and hope!
It literally takes years for heartfelt faith concerns to move from our mind to make their way into our heart and soul. We need to work (but ever so gently) to behave with diligence, effort and repeated practice to force out practices that created behaviors that brought us personal shame and self-hatred. We need to force ourselves to do things even when they don't feel natural. We need to tell ourselves that we care about our attitudes toward others and also the negative attitude we have about ourselves. We need to tell ourselves we care about others and ourselves even when we don't believe what we are saying. We need to work on it again, and again, and again...without being discouraged, or saying to our selves...that we'll never make it.
It is unreasonable to expect the new way of life in Christ Jesus to sink in overnight.
Yes...we may have to "act as if" for days, months, and years...until Christ-like behaviors become ingrained and natural. I keep thinking about treasured relationships with extended family members and also revered members of my home church in Wisconsin, thinking to myself...how am I ever going to become like one of these folks. One of the reasons I am a Christian today is because of my pastor and the laypeople of my church family in town --- who seemed to me so advanced in faith attitudes and actions. I have learned, it didn't come naturally to them. With the assurance of the faith, they became the outstanding people they were.
Even after years, we may find ourselves in times of great need, in times of stress, in times of loss...or great misfortune...reverting back to old ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. We may have layers of feelings we just aren't ready to acknowledge until years...indeed, decades...into our first coming into a life of faith in Christ. Now I'm not talking today about some fake show of religious piety here. I am talking about the genuine nature of true faith borne out like Saint Peter's "fire of faith" making the believer like a gorgeous piece of pottery refined into a state of beauty and uniqueness. The journey is not easy. Often we fall short. Don't give up. Your world needs you.
Guess what? It's okay. The Lord's got a grip on us. He's aware of what's going on in our lives. So, don't sweat it! It's going to come around. In the Scriptures, Saint Paul suggests that we are becoming what we already are...what a concept! Chew on that powerful notion for a couple of minutes. In Jesus we are becoming what we already are.
In terms of the profound nature of your spiritual journey...Don't give up! It takes a lot of time to get "Christ-centeredness" into the core of our being. Note! The victory is ours in advance. All our goals of being good to others, of accepting ourselves, of finding satisfaction in our lives, of being able to forgive and to be forgiven, of experiencing completeness in the Lord...all are guarantees in this life of faith. There is no failure in God. Nonetheless, keep practicing. Don't give up when you temporarily fall short. It's okay! Just keep working at it. But --- Go gentle. Jesus says, one day at a time.
In our faith in Jesus, we are...what we are becoming...good, truly humble, supremely valued, strong, consistently genuine, reliable, trustworthy, efficient, and great to be with. Sometimes we lose track of the value of these characteristics. Keep working at it. Be gentle with yourself...the result will be that you are gentle with others. Through this process of gentleness and patience, you will be sanctified and also those you care for.
This is the "joy" component of true faith. We are fully human...the Lord knows us inside and out. Through the down-to-earth component of faith, we are able to accept ourselves and grow in true faith at a pace -- that "includes us" -- so that the guarantees of faith in Christ are guarantees for us, too...even though obviously we are "fully" human.
Then...just when we think we've arrived, we find we have more to learn. This is the joy of living our lives in the Lord Jesus. We look better to those around us, but we see a need for improvement in ourselves, but nonetheless, we are confident and we know we are loved, just as we are. I never thought the pastor of my youth who I looked up to with all my heart...saw himself as one who needed personal improvement. I'm sure now my boyhood pastor continued to keep becoming a good example to others.
Keep on...no matter what! Keep on plugging away at those unacceptable behaviors, one day at a time. "...seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all things will be given to you as well...therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself...Each day has enough trouble of its own..." (Jesus of Nazareth - Matthew 6:33-34)
Take things one day at a time. Accept the premise that you will be successful. Keep on loving God, loving others, and loving yourself and your efforts, even when it doesn't seem natural, or productive. Keep on...no matter what!
One day, it will happen. You will wake up and find that what you've been struggling with and working so hard at, and forcing yourself to do, finally fits and feels comfortable. Your soul will have been refined by trusting in the Lord...and you will have participated in faith.
Then, you go on to learn something new, and exciting, and better. There is no failure with God. The Lord is worthy of our trust. The Word of the Lord is sufficient to cover all of our needs. It's time for all of us to let go, and to let God create something of beauty.
I'd like to close with an anonymous written piece called "The High Calling"
"If God has called you to be really like Jesus in all of your spirit, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility, and put on you such demands of obedience, that He will not allow you to follow other Christians, and in many ways, He will seem to let other good people do things He will not let you do...The Lord will let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hid in obscurity, because He wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade...Now when you are possessed with the living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit in your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven."
May the good Lord bless you in these trying times. May you be encouraged to know that you are loved with an everlasting, gracious, and powerful love in Christ Jesus! May you live out these days in great confidence to know that victory is yours in the Lord! Amen!
Have a great Sunday! Make it a joyous celebration! Peace, joy, and love are yours!
From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
Good morning Lord,
Starting today, I will let go of unhealthy endurance and survival skills. I will choose the new way of living granted me by the Lord Jesus---as "the Way, the Truth, the Life" (John 14:6). I will be open to negotiating conflicts with other folks in my life that I don't relate with well, or others that I disagree with. I'm going to work for balance in my life without being too submissive or too demanding. I will be motivated to demonstrate appropriate flexibility in my efforts to solve all problems in my life. I know with you by my side, Lord...with you guiding my thoughts and ways...even conflict will be something I can anticipate without dread. I acknowledge and recognize that conflict is inevitable, and now, with your help, I will be wise, patient, and forbearing. I will allow myself to truly be alive and enjoy the journey. I pray in your name, Lord Jesus, Amen.
Author Dr. Scott Peck started out in the book, entitled, "The Road Less Traveled" and "People of the Lie", with the startling discovery that ... "Life is difficult" ... What a revelation? Why didn't I think of that?
Wealthy. Poor. Successful. Unsuccessful. America. Pakistan. Peru. Life is difficult no matter what. Dr. Scott Peck and the Scriptures suggest that I accept it!
In terms of my church background, it was "the way of the cross" rather than "the way of glory". The way of the cross was self-sacrifice and acceptance of pain. That's the way Jesus took. The way of glory was the new Lexus you got if you joined the church and did good. You always got rewarded in this way. Being less than the wisest person I could think of, it still seemed to me for some reason the way of the cross was the way to personal victory and success in life. In this way I felt affirmed by Dr. Peck's affirmation. It was this affirmation that led this psychiatrist to Christ despite rejection by many peers.
Look---there is no trouble-free way to carry on in life!
There is no journey without accepting the difficulty involved. Problems and conflicts are a part of life for all of us -- with friends, with family, and at work. Peck's notion is that there is no escape, no matter who you think you are, no matter how well you've planned, there will be difficulty. Plan for it. Simply, life is not trouble-free. Don't be overcome.
Problem solving and conflict negotiation are skills we can acquire and improve on with time. Don't be surprised when problems come up despite extensive, "fool-proof" planning. The last thing I always say to the bride and groom at the end of a wedding preparation counseling series is..."Friends, you have planned as extensively as any couple and family I can recall for your marriage ceremony...Now accept the fact in advance that 'What will happen...Will happen!' ...ride with it when something or other unexpected and unpleasant happens --- years from now you will laugh about it."
In terms of relationships, not being willing to tackle and solve problems leads to angry feelings, terminated relationships, and "power plays" that intensify the dynamics--and end up being a waste of time and energy. It follows that anticipating problems in advance (not always knowing when or where they will show up), and accepting their probability, is a point of supreme wisdom. Things happen. Expect the unexpected.
Not being willing to face our problems means that we may run into that same problem or similar problems again and again.
Some problems with people cannot be worked out in mutually satisfactory ways. Sometimes the problem is a boundary issue we have and there is no room to negotiate.
You've been there. I've been there. Surely my family has been there. In situations like this, we need to clearly understand what we want and need and figure out what the "bottom line" is...for us. However, I've discovered something. When we have knowledge that nothing which befalls us, just happens, but is part of a larger picture that we cannot see...I am suggesting what Saint Paul writes helps greatly in dealing with difficulty gracefully, "...and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called by His purpose..." (Romans 8:28)
Our survival skills had served us well. They got us through difficult times. Our ability to freeze feelings, deny problems, deprive ourselves and cope with stress had helped us to get to where we find ourselves today. But now, we can accept the unexpected problems, the difficulties, and even the tragedies we face, because we have come to the great awareness that life is difficult...and we'll come to terms with this as reality.
In Christ we are big enough to face what is "real" and "awesome" in our lives. As followers of Jesus, we are grateful that our God is not above having experienced the same things that we experience, no matter how difficult. Through Christ, God empathizes with us and our condition. And this...is the genius of the Christian faith. Our God is not above it all... unable to grasp the challenge of being human. For this reason in Jesus' life, He experienced rejection, loneliness (even among His friends), innocent suffering, despair, and the prospect of an early death. John 11:35 says that "Jesus wept". He had the feelings we have and He experienced all the negative things of life we experience. It was this aspect of Jesus' life that impressed Dr. Peck in his Spiritual journey.
Through Christ we are learning to do more than just survive. We can actually let go of survival behaviors. Through the Lord's intervention in our lives we can continue to learn new ways of protecting and caring for ourselves and others. We are free to feel our feelings, and yet, act nonetheless. We are ready to identify, acknowledge, and solve our problems---and in the process---give ourselves and others our very best.
So, let the sun shine in. Let the Son shine in. It is through Jesus, and His Lordship, that we become free to open up and truly come alive. We accept His forgiveness, His invitation to wholeness, and more importantly, His peace and joy in the fullness of what this life offers.
We will not be discouraged. We will be "disillusioned", that is, removed from the "illusion" that we can be destroyed by the challenges God places before us. He doesn't cause the evil that befalls us at times, but He will allow it to happen for His purpose and our good. So we take on our feelings, acknowledge them, and yet proceed to overcome in our lives with God's help. Amidst the challenges of life, there is no failure with God. Whatever befalls us we can know that the Lord will work wonders in the most disparaging situations of life. It's the wisdom of faith that gives beauty to our existence. It is the power bestowed upon us that makes life worthwhile.
P.S. Please be kind and leave your important reaction to this message at pacficalocal news.com
From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
Editor: Tom humbly invites you to comment on his message in the Pacifica Tribune. He says Thank You in advance to anyone posting comments.
How about a little bit of humor...
A man called up a lawyer and said, "How much would you charge to answer three questions?" The lawyer said, "...four hundred dollars..." The man said, "...that's a lot of money, isn't it? The lawyer said, "I guess so...So what's your third question?"
Mark Twain is reputed to have said "...by trying we can easily learn to endure adversity, that is---that of another person...".
W.C.Fields is quoted as saying "...if at first you don't succeed, try and try again...and then quit...".
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1 What faith is...
"He has shown you, O Man, what is good---And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love
mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8 What religion is... What ethical behavior is...
"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. That person will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name so that the Son
may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." John 14:12-14
"...they claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him..." Titus 1:16 Are we praying with a mindset of faith?
"...the feeblest among them will be like David and house of David will be like God, like the Angel of the Lord going before them." Zechariah 11:8 Do we know how empowered we are by God to live out our lives?
"...for a person is a slave to whatever has mastered him or her..." 2 Peter 2:19 --- Are you bound by the your issues?
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us..and if we know that He hears us---whatever we ask---we know that we have what we asked of Him." 1 John 5:14-15
"God, today I will forthrightly ask you for what I want and what I need. Now, Lord...I'm not going to demand of you --- I will respectfully ask. I'm not focused upon incredible wealth nor upon expensive toys to entertain myself. I am really focused in on my essential wants and needs, especially those to benefit others near and dear to me---then, Lord, I will let go. I will trust in your Word. In faith, I will pray once only. Or, in faith, I will pray constantly whenever I think of what it is I want or need. In the process, I ask for that which will make me a more effective servant of yours and a more useful citizen of your eternal kingdom. Boldly, I pray confidently, in Jesus' name. Amen."
Today I will boldly proclaim the Gospel of God in Christ Jesus...without condition. I will encourage you to bring any request you have to the Lord. I want you to understand that no request is too large. There is no request that is too small. There is no request that is insignificant to the Lord. He just loves to hear us call upon His name. He loves to hear from us when we are in need. He is waiting to hear from us. He is waiting to prove He is worthy of our trust, where other resources are unable to fully guarantee.
I remember a woman in great need, a lady who recently had come to the Lord...with a rather insistent personality -- tell me, "God is not listening...I'm hurting!" I replied, "May I ask, how did you make your request?" She said, "I want what I want, and I want it now!!!" I went on to assure her that God would fulfill her desire within His perfect timing. I suggested that sometimes God comes through for us immediately. At other times, it's done in a way that things needed...fall in place together. His timing is always perfect.
I remember, years ago, a financial prayer request of a lady in my neighborhood. Shortly after that prayer, an unexpected gentleman drove up in a Jaguar automobile, came into my office, laid that same amount of money she had prayed for, into my hands. He felt called by the Lord to give the money away. The man did so...and she received that large amount of money within the half-hour. Years later she moved out of town. After many years I heard from her just this last week. She has remained strong in the Lord...never quite able to forget the extraordinary way God had ministered to her need.
Another lady who I had known as a teenager, got involved in a drug habit, and through the years was severely addicted for decades. A year ago a good-looking lady in her forties came up to me in the presence of Priscilla, my wife, and gave me a big kiss on the cheek. She said, "Pastor, do you remember me?" I replied, after a moment's pause looking into her face, "Well...No. I don't..." She said, "I'm so-and-so...You have prayed for me for thirty years...when everybody else gave up on me...you still prayed on...that the Lord would preserve me and save me from my addiction. And so, here I am, free of drugs for three years, and in addition, I have turned my life over to Jesus!" Sometimes the Lord fulfills a prayer request immediately. Other prayers are answered much later.
God always listens to our prayers. God always answers prayers. Rev Martin, the old Southern Baptist preacher, from my days in Alabama, used to say, "God always answer prayer --- it's like sometimes He says Yes --- sometimes He just says No. Sometimes He says Maybe --- and sometimes He says Later".
We forfeit a great deal of personal victory in our life when we don't exercise our mindset of faith. We experience a great deal of personal pain --- totally unnecesary pain --- when we don't put a merciful, purposeful God in the midst of our suffering. We forfeit a great deal of peace by not trusting in God. Recently a dear friend was suffering overwhelming pain in the hospital. While I was visiting, he cried out to me, "Pastor, help me with this killing pain of mine!" I opened my mouth without thinking and the Holy Spirit filled it with His grace, "As a follower of Jesus, when you suffer, you share with Him - His suffering -for the redemption of the world..." My friend paused. Within a half-hour he was asleep...
How often we think we need to limit God...supposing we will be disappointed and lose confidence in Him if we boldly reach out, stretching ourselves way beyond the ordinary, allowing the Lord to fulfill His promise to us personally, through the words of Jesus in John 14:12-14. I keep thinking to myself, what if God does things like He does only if my human conduct was perfect and without blemish. There would be little point in being a follower of Jesus...no assurance of heaven...no answers to life-and-death issues...no confidence to live our lives with a multitude of earthly assurances along the way.
Once again, mere "do-and-don't" religion and human doubt bounce back into the divine place of faith. Faith is not about what we deserve. It's not about the so-called limitations of what we can accomplish as human beings alone. It is about, what we call in theological circles, the manifestation of God's undeserved grace and His ability to make any and all things requested happen. Trust me, no perfect people are going to heaven.
In the faith we have in Christ Jesus we can ask for it --- and if it is really something we want and need --- we will receive it. Make up your mind (John 14:12-14). Jesus is either telling the truth or He is lying. I made up my mind twenty-five years ago that Jesus was telling the truth. Doors were opened to me in ministry and my life that were sealed shut before. I have been criticized for this conviction. Other ordained clergy have actually addressed me by saying, "...bad things just happen...you can't do anything about it..."
Either Jesus Christ was telling the truth, or He was lying. I have made up my mind. Jesus was telling the truth. It was good for the time He had said it. It is good for today.
Turn your life anew into God's hands. Put your request in God's hands. Trust that you have been heard. After that, let it go in faith. Leave the decision in God's hands.
This is the way to care for your innermost being. Have the renewed assurance that God in Christ Jesus really does care for you. He loves to hear you when you call upon His name. He deeply cares that we, through faith in Him receive what we want and need.
From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
A number of years ago I attended a synod pastoral retreat of rostered persons from all over Northern California and Northern Nevada. The invitation was given for Holy Communion on the south shore of the Monterey Bay at a certain beach where we were to meet at 5:00 a.m. I arrived on time. The bishop had not assigned a person to share the morning prayer. He asked me on the beach to lead the group in prayer. It was early in the morning, and I have sort of a cornball approach to worship at such an hour...so being called on during the service I prayed.
Lord, help me to be the person my dog thinks I am. Amen!
In a true spirit of congeniality the Bishop kind-of liked the prayer, and said, "You know I've never heard that particular wording in a prayer before. I don't know what the occasion may be, but I'm going to use that one myself sometime."
I thought of those who had died and continue to give their lives for the freedom I now have to listen to those fireworks knowing that our republic is secure and safe. Then, I reflected on demonstrations, and coronavirus, and unemployment, and politics, and the awesome fact that we are as divided as a nation as we were in 1861.
In a time of pandemic and intolerance and great uncertainty in multiple areas of our lives as Americans...I paused...and I thought to myself... I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, ONE NATION, UNDER GOD with liberty and justice for all...again, once again...thankful for the wisdom of Walt Whitman and President Abraham Lincoln who reminded me...in trying times to keep my focus clear...striving as an American to keep the vision focused upon "our better angels" to provide increasing "a more perfect union".
We have a great nation, I thought. As we honor God -- God will honor us...in addition to being a citizen of the United States of America, I was glad to be considered a citizen of the Kingdom of God in Christ knowing that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. I re-committed my life to humble service...at that moment...as I had back in July of 1956 receiving the Pro Deo et Patria (for God and Country) scouting award.
Dear Lord, today, I will remember that I don't have to hide behind being right all the time. I don't have to justify what I want and need with saying something is "right" or "wrong". I can let myself be who I am...having a sound mind and a solid knowledge of the Scriptures to form and guide me. Amen.
The life of faith is not about "being right about everything under the sun". It's not about making oneself dominant over others who may have a different slant on things, even in the Spiritual realm. That means however that we need to have "our ducks in order" and have a firm foundation in Spiritual matters and other issues of life. That is the reason I have always put a great deal of emphasis upon Bible Study in church life, rather than placing priorities upon the latest book on the secular market to talk about during church events and schedules...or something else which substituted for God's Word. The Old Testament suggests, "...my people perish for lack of knowledge..." I've learned that I need to be faithful to Scripture to be faithful to myself and to others. That may seem strange to say for some, but it really has proven true and pragmatic for me.
When we come into a life of faith, we do not become "cookie-cutter" Christians. I have known so many of them. I remember a man who was brought to Christ through our fellowship, but yet, chose a more "dynamic" church to live out his life of faith. He set up an appointment, and during that appointment, he complained, "They won't let me do the things I want in my life. I feel like I'm losing myself, rather than finding myself..."
His complaints I thought were well founded. You don't give up everything good in your life because you choose to follow Jesus. A life of true faith is about allowing ourselves to be who we are. It is, nevertheless, understanding what it means to have balance in our life. It is also understanding that others -- as myself -- have heart and mind. We are all fully human. I like the notion of Dr. Martin Luther of being "simultaneously saint and sinner". It is about examining the validity of that sense of balance. At the times of being with Dr Billy Graham, he used to say so often, "The Christian life is a matter of two steps forward and one back."
Often we can test our concept of what truth is in our dialogue with others. Another important aspect of truth is the notion not only of transparency, individuality, and sense of personal taste, but also within the context of belonging to a trustworthy community of faith.
The corollary to this wisdom is that "abundant life" is about accepting others as they are also and being tolerant (to a fault)...but nevertheless...being able to bear testimony while embracing biblical truth, without seeming to be superior in dialogue. It is such a shortcoming with so many religious folk to have all that good biblical truth and not have the common sense of chewing on it, digesting it, and being able to share it in a congenial way with others.
You don't have to be German Lutheran theologian, Dr Wolfhart Pannenberg, to embrace truth and share it. Do what you can do. Be yourself. There is room in the universe for what you have to say...how you chose to live...how you provide room in the universe for others.
One important way we love others who differ from us is to hear them out. The Lord Jesus Christ, in this regard, suggests, "Love the Lord our God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment and the second is like unto it, love your neighbor as yourself...All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
The way to love others who may or may not agree with us is to embrace them and their experience of life. Unlike many religious persons in our midst, the way of Jesus was to get on the same level as His hearers -- to embrace and love those wanting to dialogue with Him. Not only to hear them out, but to allow the dialogue to be a positive experience -- and --make the commitment to have it be so.
Now why am I talking about this? Because, so very often, you and I are inclined to be intolerant of others and their beliefs, and in the process, we build walls instead of building bridges. I'm not talking in this regard to encourage a radical surrender of Scriptural principles...a so-called liberal approach to faith dialogue. I am conservative in this regard. However, I have learned you can catch more bears with honey than with vinegar.
We may come in contact with a Muslim man or woman, for instance. Often, we think to ourselves, this person's thinking is foreign to mine. No. Look at the person's humanity. Embrace them for the moment. Embrace them hopefully for the dialogue. Be sure you have embraced God's Word beforehand. Relax. Be yourself. God doesn't want you to tell that person you are "right" and they are "wrong". Don't be so religious. Be yourself. Know your point-of-view. Do the loving thing in dialogue. The Scriptures suggest that when you open your mouth the Holy Spirit will fill it with divine grace and truth.
Having swallowed and digested truth, and allowing the weight of that truth to magnify our our personal experience of life, we absolutely need to be exposed to knowledgeable dialogue with others. One of the greatest little books I have ever read is a book by Reuel L. Howe, entitled, The Miracle of Dialogue. It arrived in my life at just right time. The suggestion of Dr Howe's book is that it is not only important to be ourselves and have a truth we own, but we need to be able to articulate it in such a way that what is on the inside shows on the outside. You don't need to be Saint Peter or Saint Paul. Just be yourself. There is a place in the universe for what you have to contribute. But let me say -- you need to chew, swallow, and digest those things the Lord places before you. You say you don't have your PhD in Systematic Theology from Oxford or Harvard! There is a specific need in the Kingdom of God for your particular knowledge and wisdom to share.
One important aspect of being ourselves and being able to express "what's inside" is personal openness. I love to return to Romans 7:15-25 to observe the great transparency of Saint Paul, as he expresses, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do ---I do not do --- but what I do --- I hate to do. And if do what I not want to do I agree that (God's) law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself that do it, but it is sin persistantly living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me --- that is --- in my sinful nature....because I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot seem to carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do...NO! ...the bad things I do not want to do...this is what I keep on doing! Now...if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living within me that does it. So I find this to be a principle at work. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. In my inner being, I delight in God's law, but I find another principle at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law in my mind and making me a prisoner..."
It would be a sad thing if the story for Paul ended there. After a powerful confession, Paul resolves this issue of truth in his life with this understanding of undeserved favor from God through Christ (Romans 7:24) "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God --- through Jesus Christ our Lord."
It is not the weakness of others that I focus upon, but upon my own weakness and insufficiency, as Saint Paul would say, that Christ Jesus would rescue me...and make me His tool to bring about peace, and joy, and love (as respect at times) in others' lives.
After a person discovers truth for herself and himself...and I encourage the backbone of truth to be a firm knowledge of sacred Scriptures...that element of self-knowledge provides a powerful sense of "being on solid ground" in conversation with others...and of course with one's self, the so-called "inner conversation".
In this regard, the Lord suggests in the Old Testament, "My people perish for lack of knowledge". First of all, we try hopelessly to work out the difficulties of our lives by trying to figure out things for ourselves, and failing miserably, rather than grabbing on to the "good stuff" (also known as the "God stuff")...that is...the wisdom of God's Word.
Now I mean that in a very profound personal sense. This is not the preacher in me speaking out. It is the testimony of an imperfect man who has been saved by the blood of the Lamb, so to speak, but also by the power of the wisdom of God's Word. I have a quotable-magnet attached to my refrigerator which proclaims, "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." I could not have come this far without the influence of a Christ-centered, Bible-based influence in my life. I would recommend it to anyone. That being said, I am confident in saying that it would not have happened without the community of faith and those who loved me...and as well...those who didn't like me very much...that reflected the transparency of Saint Paul's confession in that passage from the Philippians letter.
This concept can be difficult for many of us if we have lived in communities which function on the "right-wrong" justice scale. That is --- the person who is right is okay... the person who is wrong is shamed...all value and worth depends on being right...to be wrong means annihilation of self and self-esteem. I got an earful last week from a lady who had been raised in a conservative Christian denomination. Get this! She had converted from that denomination to Judaism claiming, and I quote, "I had to go this direction because this synagogue reflected the teaching of Jesus more clearly and in a more straightforward way than the church I had attended." In my lifetime I never thought this sort of transition could happen. I had thought that only the opposite could. I'm telling you, we're going to held accountable by God! That statement caused me to re-think this whole business of faith in our lives and also the business of personal witness.
In the focused life of faith we learn how to strive for love in our relationships, not superiority over others. Indeed, we may need to make decisions about people's behavior from time to time. If somebody is hurting us, we need to stand up for ourselves. We have a responsibility to set boundaries and take care of ourselves. However, we do not need to justify taking care of ourselves by condemning somebody else. We can avoid the trap of focusing on others...instead of focusing on ourselves.
In the life of faith we learn that -- what we do -- needs to be right only for us. What others do is their business and needs to be right only for them. It is tempting to rest in the superiority of being right...and in analyzing other people's motives and actions, but it's really more rewarding to just go ahead and look deeper...at times...together.
Some people say, a person cannot be a solidly-grounded human being these days and live in a diverse population and make an impact when it comes to sharing one's faith. You know, I disagree with that. The bottom line in coming to terms with this issue has to do with sticking around long enough with a person who really has no faith, or as I have noticed, a person who is into religion that they think is faith --- who are from a Christian background or not --- and allowing the Holy Spirit to give just the right encouragement, insight, or solution --- that will draw them into a closer relationship with the Living God.
From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
Independence Sunday - during the Great Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020
This weekend is normally presented to local people in the San Francisco Bay Area as a celebration of "Constitution and Faith". This year because of the Coronavirus epidemic we have decided to postpone this joyful and informative event until next year.
Today our old friend Irenaeus died. The date was 195 AD. Who was Irenaeus ? Why should we know about this man? Irenaeus, despite great opposition from fellow Church leaders, made the bold move of adding the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to the Scriptural Canon of the Old Testament. Also, we remember Irenaeus because he was a true theologian of the Scriptures and not just one as an apologist defending revelation in Christ Jesus. We are grateful that Irenaeus had the courage despite opposition to add the Gospels to the Canon.
Heavenly Father, today I will accept my powerlessness where I have no power to change the facts of my life. I remember when Jesus, Co-Creator of the Universe, submitted Himself in personal surrender into the hands of evil men to do what they would do. I will not allow despair to overwhelm me. I will surrender to You in the midst of crisis. I will allow my life to become manageable. In the process I invite you to provide completeness to me in my daily living with brokenness, despair and tragedy all around me. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Scripture: Philippians 4:11-13,19
"...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what is it to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength...and my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."
Grace and peace to each of us in the Lord as we continue to experience our lives being controlled and transformed daily by an unseen power in our midst beyond our control. That unseen power is Coronavirus. The harder we try to deny the reality of pandemic -- pandemic responds by continuing to take its deadly toll upon us. In the midst of the pandemic, we are witnessing protest demonstrations throughout our nation and around the world. Things seem totally out of control. How are we to respond? In this respect I'm not suggesting that we protest or not protest. I'm not talking about social distancing, wearing masks, washing our hands often, staying at home...I'm not talking about staying healthy or playing it safe. I am talking about being well.
I am talking about being well heart, soul and mind --- when the odds are against us. Saint Paul put it this way..."I've learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Imagine what great fellowship of faith and life would take place in Christ's Church if we were to take this concept of the Holy Spirit more seriously and practice it.
Should we take "the bull by the horns", so to speak? We've learned we can't always do that, especially in the our present situation...How are you and I going to say, this has got to stop! We may be right in saying this, but we have no power to make it happen.
...taking care of myself properly and showing compassion to others (this does not include giving "helpful advice" to others) --- when we'd normally think only about ourselves inappropriately and become the chairperson of the local "pity party committee" we become "in drawn" and unattractive to others...it's not a good place to be in.
Feeling what I feel...addressing those feels that are negative...and turning them over to the Lord...addressing the positive feelings and allowing them to bless us...we need all the help we can get. I got a call some time back from a guy who informed me that Los Angeles that day was declared one of the three most smog-free metropolitan areas of the world---because of the "sheltering-at-home" policy as a result of Coronavirus...(the idea here keynotes the song-line from the 1930s tune, "Accentuating the Positive").
Doing what I want to do with my life...as believers we get so caught up in what God wants for our life that we fail to understand that sometimes what God wants for our lives is what we have always wanted. A former fellow student friend used to think that he had to go into formal ministry to please God. He became a high school football coach and has done far more as a Christian coach than he could have had as a Lutheran minister.
Being people of faith...not just unbelievers expecting the very worst to happen...or, contemplating a lucky break along the way...or being mere religious people following the "traditions of men" expecting that God will, in turn, shelter them from the difficulties of life...yes, being the people of faith...WE LEARN TO SURRENDER. We learn to surrender, not to the situation, or to the well-intentioned oppression of others, but to God, whom we can trust.
We can learn a great deal about unrealistic expectations, fake religion, and constant disappointment by reading the prophetic book of Habakkuk. Note! Habbakuk overcame by surrender. God became real to the Prophet through surrender. What happened for the Prophet Habbakuk became true for Saint Paul.
Again Saint Paul declared, "I have learned the secret of being content..."
Through surrender in faith we stop wrestling with bears and tigers because we cannot win. When we strive to take on things like Coronavirus on our own terms, we will meet with failure and the consequences of this will be horrible. Sometimes we turn to change other people. We learn that the more we are focused on controlling and changing others, the more unmanageable our own lives become. The more we focus on living our own life, the more we will have a life to live. It comes in biblical spiritual surrender despite our situation. In the process our lives become increasingly more and more manageable. Imagine...not having to ride the roller-coaster of life any longer.
From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
Scriptures: Ephesians 4:26-27
"When you are angry---do not sin---don't let the sun go down while you are still angry and don't give the devil a foothold"
1 Corinthians 13:5
"...(agape) love is not easily angered...it keeps no record of wrongs"
"Let God be true and every woman and man a liar"
"Be angry...but do not sin!"
That seems funny...I thought it was a sin to be angry.
The doctrinal perspective on the nature of Jesus of Nazareth was that Jesus was without sin...but please note this:
"Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers!'" (Matthew 21:12-13)
Jesus was fully human but without sin...this is our basic doctrinal affirmation, and yet --- if this isn't a picture of a man being angry, I'm just going to have to return to school for a little more sophistication. This is a model for us...but how do we apply this to our lives, so we can be a blessing to others and also be a confident, yet fully human, well-adjusted individual. This is a great challenge to followers of Jesus, and really, each and every one of us. We can overcome...
In addition, we--as a nation--have been challenged by another old disease, another old enemy, from our inception that relates to racial tension and intolerance, and what comprises proper policing in our streets and byways. The nation is divided on these issues. In response to this, many have expressed great anger over the very "real issues" we face. I am pleased and comforted by the unique and helpful teaching of Scripture that assists me as a child of God to perceive these feelings of anger in a much more constructive and insightful way. As the father of my children and as a citizen of a troubled nation, I am blessed with the wisdom of God's Word to provide guidance for me.
God, help my hidden and repressed angry feelings to surface. Help me to have the courage to face them. Help me understand how I need to take care of myself with the people I feel anger toward. Help me stop telling myself that something must be wrong with me when people at times victimize me and then I feel angry about it. I can trust my feelings to signal problems that need my attention. You, Lord, can gently lead me to address those feelings in a positive, triumphant way. This morning, I pray with great confidence, in Jesus' holy and practical way. Amen.
Here we go. It's about time you got angry---yes, THAT angry! Note as I suggest such an audacious thing...that we understand what underlies anger. Indeed, anger is not the emotion. Underlying anger are three basic feelings. They are:
Anger can be such a powerful and frightening emotion. Note that it can also be a feeling that guides us to make important decisions that prior were difficult or even impossible decisions for us to make. Anger can signal other people's problems, our problems, or simply problems we need to address.
Recognize that we are holding on to what has affected us. Pause. Turn it around. As we say these days, "Flip it!" Give information. Not pulsating lava. It works. In any case, we've got to get it out. Stop being such a perfect person. Be like Jesus --- Get angry! But like Paul, get angry, but do not sin.
With the information of the Scriptures we can legitimize anger. Uninformed people of faith think that ANGER IS A SIN and therefore they hide it and are ashamed of it. Denial of being angry at times in the life of a believer is equivalent to lying. We need to know how to be honest with ourselves, transparent, and yet straight forward in terms of personal integrity. One of the great teaching of Saint Paul, as he reflected upon the Psalms of his Jewish tradition, is..."BE ANGRY....but do not sin...".
Often, what we do with anger instead of facing it --- and what it is telling us to do in terms of what is best for us --- is to feel hurt, victimized, trapped, and guilty. We experience uncertainty about how to care for ourselves --- which makes us uncertain about how to properly care for and deal with others, especially those who have made us angry. Our tendency is to withdraw from others, deny our deepest feelings, make excuses for our behavior as it shows up in the strangest of places...basically to hide our heads and our hearts in the sand --- while the strong grip of anger taking hold of us.
In the process, we punish, get even with the person who is the object of our anger, we whine, and we wonder why good persons like us could have ever been offended...the ultimate pity party! Come on, let's face it, that is no way to live!
It gets worse. We repeatedly forgive the other person --- and then take it back.
In a committed intimate relationship we become afraid the other person will leave us, abandon us, if we deal with our anger toward that person. Not dealing with anger is, in this respect, especially harmful in the relationship of one partner with a husband, or another partner with a wife.
We get to the point where we are afraid of our anger, and the awesome power it has over us. Often we don't know we have a right --- even a RESPONSIBILITY to ourselves --- to allow ourselves to feel and learn from our anger. In other words, we try to escape from the potency of angry feelings thinking we cannot overcome. It's embarrassing that we can accomplish the remarkable things we do as human beings, including going to the moon or crossing the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean in a raft, and yet, we don't know how to handle the very human feeling of anger.
Brothers and sisters, come to terms with it. Don't try to hide it, because we're such nice people...after all, nice people never get angry, do they!?! The truth is, last time I checked, we all get angry. Even Jesus got angry, just as surely as "Jesus wept" (John 11:35) Don't think you are exempt from anger, even though you may be Mother Theresa or the Secretary General of the United Nations. Don't think that you are better or worst than any other person because you are human and bound to be angry, if you are normal.
The subject of dealing with anger is of utmost importance to the Church and to the world we live in. To sum things up, the wisdom of the Scriptures in dealing with the subject matter of anger is one of the most profound teachings we can receive in regard to living an abundant life. From the experience I have had in my interactions with others, I must say, the insights of Scripture have been a saving grace for me through the years.
From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
Good morning, Sunshine! Friends and Fellow Companions in the Journey!
Be blessed this very day and the upcoming days which follow with the divine sense of the Lord's unconditional love and undeserved provision in your life! Let go and let God!
Lord, today, help me let go of my need to be perfect and to unreasonably insist that others be perfect. I won't use this to tolerate or accept abuse or mistreatment, but to achieve appropriate, balanced expectation. I want to, and I will create a healthy atmosphere of love, acceptance, and nurturing around and within me. I will expect that this attitude will bring out the very best in other people and in me, also. In Jesus' name. Amen
As the years have passed by--more and more--it has been my experience increasingly to accept myself, my shortcomings, and as well, my idiosyncrasies. Laughing at myself gets me a lot further that "picking on myself" in my attempt to make myself perfect. Trust me, I've been there!
How about you? It seems to me nowadays true prosperity in life is this:
It isn't rocket-science. Happily, you do the best you can, but put an end to expecting perfection from yourself, and also from those around you.
People make mistakes. People do much better in life if they can live with a sense of knowing that they are not expected to be perfect - less anxious and less intimidated.
So what are we supposed to do when it comes to having standards in our lives? Can we just goof off and have people tolerate us? Can we just allow others to use excuses when it comes to having standards and producing things and services of quality?
I think a Biblical standard for accomplishment, excellence, and as well, quality in the affairs of everyday life would definitely include this notion. Striving for excellence, working together to create things of beauty and practicality - the very best we have to offer - just doesn't happen within a negative, fear-producing atmosphere of overseers expecting perfection. The good things of life --- the really excellent things of life --- come from the joy and peace of knowing you are doing something outstanding and well.
Some of the best pottery in the world comes from Japan. The most expensive, the most outstanding pottery made in Japan is made in such a way that there are cracks and crevices in the final products. This very pottery is the most envied and expensive. I'd like to think that the most outstanding, productive and precious human beings that are with us in the world are a little bit "cracked" themselves...I would hope this would be true.
So, indeed, especially as people of faith, we might present themselves as productive workers, but be ready at times to fall short of the goal, and being gentle with ourselves, we may be gentle with others.We need to have and set boundaries. We need to have reasonable expectations. We need to strive to do our best. We need to encourage others to do the same. As we do this, we know that we and others will make mistakes. We need to understand that we will have learning experiences, that is, things we go through, and being reasonable, we will overcome. We will be successful. It will involve pleasant though challenging times.
Sometimes the flaws and imperfections in ourselves, like the Japanese pottery, will determine our uniqueness, and in some cases, pleasantly surprise us by not being a mistake after all. It will give rise to us to relish our imperfection --- to see that God is at work in our efforts to bring about true art or something new and useful. Rather than bringing self-condemnation, we will be able to find humor our in human efforts. As we embrace both sides of our human nature, to strive for excellence--or--to find ourselves in a situation of personal shortcoming...we embrace our circumstances and our most fundamental humanity. God will be there to bring eventual blessing to each situation.
In process, we encourage others - having embraced our own humanity - and we do the very best we can ourselves. With the love of God firmly implanted upon our hearts we discover we are lovable and worthy of love, though flawed. We nurture ourselves and others for being who and what we are, creatures of God's own making, acceptable.
It is then that we realize that we are not merely human. We affirm heart, soul and mind that we are intended and created to be human:
From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
Grace and peace to you from God our Father Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!
Dear Lord, be with us in these days -- when we and our nation are in a time of great pandemic as well as disorder, confusion, and, yes, violence. In the midst of the calamity and frustration we face, grant us grace and vision for the immediate hours -- that are to follow. In your name we pray, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You."
1 Corinthians 2:9 "...we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began..."
Let us pray. Please come along with me today:
O God...Today, I will not worry about other peoples' reactions to my convictions. I will not focus on events and reactions beyond my control. I release myself from every hesitancy and fear. Instead, I will focus upon my reactions. I will handle my life well today and trust that, tomorrow, I can do the same. Build in me Christlike conviction and courage. In Jesus' name.
We are all saddened by what is happening in many of the metropolitan areas of our country. I am especially focusing in on Minneapolis where I was partially raised. I lived right down the street from where many of the TV images are presenting the sights of this normally delightful city. Things have changed there as everywhere. All of us, so it appears, need to grow into the twenty-first century, realizing that many things that should have been taken care of centuries ago, we are still dealing with. Often, with a mindset of faith, I tend to think that many of our problems have underneath them a certain presupposition that I would like to address in this meditation.
A note in passing..."What if's" can drive us crazy. They place control over our life into someone else's hands. "What if's" are a sign that we have reverted to thinking that people have to react in a particular way -- for us to continue on our course.
"What if's" are also a clue that we may be wondering whether we can trust ourselves -- AND GOD -- to do what is best for us. These are the tell-tale signs of personal insecurity in our thinking, feeling, and behaving...and they raise a "red flag" when it comes to being dominated by fear. It is one aspect of the "spector of fear" in our lives. Whenever and wherever fear becomes the motivation, there can be no dominant controlling factor of God's love in our lives. So the Apostle John correctly affirms, 1 John 4:13 "...perfect love casts out fear..." God's love and human fear cannot co-exist in the same human body, mind, and soul. What an insight to savor this is -- as we seek to know peace, purpose, and freedom in our lives of faith.
A key factor in true, genuine Christianity has to do with a presupposition of faith. The reactions, feelings, likes or dislikes of other people don't have to control our behaviors, feelings, and direction. We don't need to control how others will react to our choices. As we trust the Lord, we trust ourselves with God's help to handle any eventual outcome -- even the most uncomfortable, unexpected result. Many Christian women and men fear this. With the mighty support of the Scriptures and God's direct help we can trust ourselves to handle it well.
What kind of reaction of others do you fear? Be kind, be loving, be happy, be well, but be yourself...everybody else is taken!
Cordially, in Jesus, Tom
From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!
How about a little humor...
What did Adam say to Eve in the Genesis? "I wear the plants in this family!"
What's Ludwig Beethoven doing now? Decomposing!
Mrs. Caesar to Julius Caesar: "No way we're naming this kid, Sid!"
What's the difference between apathy and ignorance?...I don't know and I don't care.
Enough. Enough. The great saints of God always maintain a keen sense of humor. Walk with Him with joy!
We trust in the Lord in our midst as we pass these days. Soon we will be together again to praise Him in our beloved church in the fullness of His perfect timing!!!
Many of us used to "pick on ourselves" before we came to faith in Christ. Now that we have become women and men of faith we may yet have a tendency to "pick on ourselves" -- to beat ourselves up -- even after the time we have let go in order to let God do things in our lives His way. I've caught myself at times saying,
"If I was really living a life of faith in Jesus,
I wouldn't be doing that again. After all, I've
been working on faith in Jesus for seventy-seven
years now. I should be further along than I am."
Acceptance enables us to grow, to change for the better. That's what God wants for us. We can come to embrace our humanity because God has made known His love for us -- and we are made worthy -- through His grace, available for us to receive accomplished at great price to through the sacrifice of Jesus. Not worthy in one's self!!! Made worthy!!! That makes sense. I don't need to attempt to justify myself. That seems fake to me.
How about you? I just accept God's undeserved grace as a gift, because somehow God deems me worthy of His great love. Being justified I don't need to struggle with whether I am good enough or not. God accepts me as I am. No wonder the song "Amazing Grace" has become so popular.
Life is too short to spend behind "the eight ball"...as far as the Lord is concerned.. Get with it, Sister! Get with it, Brother! When Jesus died on the cross, He suffered and He died literally becoming our sin that we might be made innocent in His presence. I've said it before and I will say it again, if you were the only human being who ever lived, yet Jesus would have come to save you. That's how much God loves you and me, no matter what we've done, no matter what our circumstance may be. This is the reliable source of our sense of self-worth. Our worth, our value is determined by God's opinion of who we are in Him...not by who we think we are. Talk about reliable! We've got to "grab hold" of this solid Bible truth.
Even if we slip back into old, harmful ways of acting out, from time to time... thoughts of feeling helpless, of behaving badly as a result, we don't need to keep living in the shame of it all. We simply turn it over to Christ. We make our confession. We put that "guilt garbage" into His hands. Otherwise Jesus died on the cross in vain. Goodness! I would not want to be accused of thinking that Jesus' death on the cross was for no purpose whatsoever, just a meaningless tragic effort. Certainly I'm really ready to hand it all over to Him. We need to confess. We don't need to wallow in guilt. Nobody needs that in their life, and yet it's so prevalent.
Saint Paul makes it clear in Galations 5:1, it is for freedom's sake that Christ has set us free. God encourages us to take full advantage. We are not to be burdened by the demands of an arduous religious life. Christians are set free by the saving power of Jesus to live fully. As we are made free in Christ others are being made free by observing us.
Saint Francis used to say, "Preach Gospel truth all day long, and sometimes, talk about it." Living free we are an example to others.
So there are two types of guilt, good guilt and bad guilt:
On the other hand, you can have only a penny in your pocket, and trusting in God, you can be the happiest and most contented person alive. Shame, guilt and regret will put you into a prison of your own making. I know a man who is worth six hundred million dollars. He is on his fourth wife and he is miserable. Allowing Christ to free you from these "three killers" will complete your life, one day at a time. It really works. The Lord will never force you. It is up to you.
I'll end things today by taking on a bit of Theology...don't really mean to bend your ear...but it is such a lovely and completing thought I have in mind. In the sixth chapter of Romans, Saint Paul says that through our baptism we die to self and become a new person. So since we die only once, it means the person we were before is gone, and we have become a new person, "a new creature".
In a sense we are in the "first phase" of eternal life awaiting the everlasting life that will begin for us at "the marriage feast of the Lamb"...and yet...being born again, so to speak, we still have to deal with our human body. I call the experience the "creative tension of the gospel" which is of great advantage because it keeps us on our toes. This baptism makes us one with God and with His purpose here on earth. This baptism makes us part of His family and therefore we are precious to Him. He knows what we go through, because He became one with us through Jesus.
This is a brilliant biblical idea from the incredible mindset of God. It would take someone like Saint Paul to sum things up by saying "what counts is a new creation" (Galatians 6:15) and earlier in Galatians 3:16, "Only let us live up to what we have already attained." Paul could say, "Because of Christ, I am who I am." It is just the opposite of what happens in the world at large. We are given divine assurances about our lives as we live day by day. God does this to allow us to be totally human and yet to have assurances for our everyday lives that show us the marvelous plans the Lord has for us. People, we are loved!
A message for the 3rd Sunday in Easter from Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
Grace and peace, Sisters and Brothers in the Lord!
Scriptural Lessons from the New International Version of the Bible (NIV)
Acts 2:14a, 36-41 "...repent and be baptized and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit..."
1 Peter 1:17-23 "...For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable..."
Psalm 116:1-19 "...I was overcome by distress and sorrow..." "...then I called on the name of the Lord..."
Luke 24:13-35 "...their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus (Him)..."
We note details in Luke's narrative about our experience of walking with God.
The Road to Emmaus
THEIR NARRATIVE WAS DETAILED AND ACCURATE
They communicated all the events of the past week with great accuracy and detail. Indeed, the "powers that be" sentenced Jesus to death and they crucified Him. They related the "unconfirmed yet" fact of His resurrection. Jesus at this point spoke up in addressing their testimony.
THEY DIDN'T COMBINE LIFE NARRATIVE WITH KNOWLEDGE OF SCRIPTURE
Jesus said to them, "How foolish you are and how slow of heart to believe..." (What?) "...all that the prophets have spoken..."
What had they spoken (and where in Scripture?) "...that the Christ has to suffer all these things and then enter
His glory..." They arrived at Emmaus and they urged Him to stay with them because it was getting late.
THEIR EYES WERE OPENED AND THEY RECOGNIZED HIM
At the dinner table he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and distributed the bread. How much this act of Jesus in their midst reminds me of Holy Communion.
JESUS WAS RECOGNIZED BY THEM WHEN HE BROKE THE BREAD
Our encounter with the Lord Jesus is our "daily walk" with Him. Unlike the two followers journeying one time only to Emmaus, our experience with Jesus is a daily journey, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we get to have - each and every day - as we proceed to our destination in dialogue along the way. He will open up the secrets of the universe for each of us. He will grant us "peace" when we are faced with the discomforts, the outrages, and the humiliations of this age. He will bestow an overwhelming personal sense of His "perfect love" when we question our worth or effectiveness.
Even in times when we are on alert for some reason, when times are uncertain, and where rumors are rampant, we will have His peace and His love in abundance. As the old hymn says, "He walks with us, He talks with us, He tells us we are His own." Jesus is simply right there. Still can't figure out why His two followers couldn't recognize Jesus. "It causeth me to tremble, tremble, tremble" as I need to let it go.
In short, as the Gospel narrative suggests, our faith concerns are not about about mere religion, they're not about imprisoning obligations, nor about "rules and regulations", especially for the sake of rules and regulations. It's about a relationship with God, and God in human flesh, and Jesus resurrected. It's about the companionship we have in our earthly journey with the co-Creator of the universe. All too often it happens we feel we are all alone.
All too often, it happens, that when we stand fast on some issue of "principle" we think we are all alone. In situations like this, don't lack the discernment to know His presence. In Him, there to comfort and assurance.
You are in good fellowship with - the One death could not hold down - the One who walks with you.
Love the Gospel lesson for this Sunday.
Cordially, Pastor Tom
P.S. Email me if you need help on your daily walk
We feel a sense of urgency. We may want to resolve the issue by doing something - anything now, but that action is not in our best interest - or those we want to help or serve.
Living with confusion or unresolved problems creates difficulties for us. It is easier to resolve things. But making a decision too soon - doing something before it's time - means that we may have to go back and redo it. We're in the midst of this kind of situation as we deal with the pandemic.
If the time is not right, wait. If the way is not clear, do not plunge forward. If the answer or decision feels muddy, wait.
In the new way of life that we have with the Lord Jesus, we have a guiding force. We do not have to move too soon or move out of harmony. Waiting is an action - a positive, forceful action. Often, waiting is a God-led action, one with as much power as a decision, and more powerful than an urgent, ill-timed decision.
We do not have to pressure ourselves by insisting that we do or know something before it's time. When it is time, we will know. The Holy Spirit will give us definite word. We will move into that time naturally - with supernatural insight. We will move harmoniously. We will have inner peace about our decision and we will have consistency. We will feel empowered in a way we do not feel today.
Let the Lord guide. Let the Lord lead. Let the Lord bring clarity.
Deal with the panic. Deal with the urgency. Deal with the fear within. Do not let them control or dictate the decisions of your life.
Waiting is not easy. It isn't fun, at least not for me, not for you. Waiting is often necessary to get what we want and what we need.
It is not dead-time. It is not downtime. The answer will come. The right power to action just precisely on time will come. Yes, the time will come...and it will be right.
Lord Jesus, guided by your Holy Spirit, I will wait if waiting is the action I need in order to take care of others and myself. I will know that I am taking a positive, forceful action by waiting until the time is right. I know you will speak to me at just the right time if I wait.
Jesus, help me to let go of my fear, my urgency, and panic. Help me to learn the art of waiting until the time is right. Help me to learn timing with your economy of time. Amen.
God bless us all as we courageously and confidently take on the day. Confidently I say that the Lord has a special place in His heart for those who wait on Him.
Cordially, Pastor Tom
A message for the 2nd Sunday in Easter from Rev Tom Nibbe
(ED: Easter lasts beyond just Easter Sunday so Sunday April 19th is the Second Sunday in Easter.)
God of Grace and Love, walk with us in this season of second chances and blessedness beyond our comprehension. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Grace and Peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus!
We’ve all been missing the fellowship of worship on Sunday mornings. Perhaps, opportunities to write and share can serve to draw us together in great anticipation of being together again on a Sunday morning in the near future. We are missing the fellowship of those we meet through SpiritCare.
I like the collection of Bible verses assigned for each given Sunday because it gives focus to biblical insights which illuminate our understanding of Scripture. Let’s take a look at the Bible lessons for today… Acts2:14a, 22-32 (New Testament), 1 Peter 1:3-9 (The Epistle), Psalm 16 (Treasury of David) and John 20:19-31 (The Gospel).
It appears certain that young David in Psalm 16 really outdoes himself…after all…this was written over three thousand years before Jesus of Nazareth…verse 10 especially…His insight is beyond remarkable - “you will not abandon me to the grave…nor will you let your Holy One see decay".
David knows he will have an eternal inheritance himself. He also knows that Jesus, his descendent, though dead, dead, dead will not experience the decay of his human body, because Yahweh will raise him up. Just think about that for a while. Such amazing stuff. Normally we just read material like this and move on. The great Jewish thinker, Rabbi Abraham Jacob Heschel, wrote, to address our lack of the amazement over what is remarkable, ”King Solomon prayed to the Lord and asked for wisdom, but I, in this postmodern age, ask for the gift of wonder and amazement.”
Surprisingly, as we turn to the New Testament lesson, in Acts 2, verses 22-32 the Apostle Peter knows about and refers to that same 16th Psalm of David. It has stuck in his mind and refreshes the mindset of his hearers, many of whom have memorized all of the Hebrew Scriptures, especially David’s Psalms. I like the way Peter puts a great poetic touch to his powerful sermon - "but God raised Jesus from the dead…freeing Him from the agony of death” because it was “impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.”
Peter also makes it a point to impress upon the great crowd hearing him the relationship between Jesus Crucified and King David of old. You can’t help but love this stuff. Thirty-five years later the Apostle Peter will reflect on some of the same thoughts he had had shortly after the events of the Cross and the Resurrection of our Lord.
The occasion is one of two remaining letters we have from Peter’s hand recorded in 1 Peter 1:3-9. The course of his conversation in that letter reflects the change in time and life-style--in 64 AD--after the events of the Cross in 29 AD. Even now, we see the unchanging impact of the event of the Cross and the Resurrection…and how that now touches the lives of those who claim the name of Jesus as Lord and the power of the Cross and the Resurrection. Here’s what the Apostle proclaims - “He has given us new birth and a living hope”. It is an “inheritance” that can never perish, spoil, or fade. You and I as his readers are “shielded by God’s power through faith” in Jesus.
Refinement will be a Key Direction for Us
He writes this because the true church was being terribly persecuted. Peter’s letters have real relevance for us today. All too often, in today's church the Gospel is watered down and totally abandoned for more popular appeals that have nothing to do with God’s grace and love. Those who really love Jesus need to be “refined with fire”. Soft Christianity has rough edges. Refinement will be a key direction for us in the days, months, and years ahead. In recent times, all too often, many love the fellowship of the church – but I think – most of us still need to note Peter’s suggestion that our relationship with Christ still has a way to go.
The standard for the Apostle is a faith and love of Jesus Christ that is “of greater worth than gold” You and I have some way to go in our spiritual lives! Come on, now, admit it! And if we attain to this standard of faith in Christ Jesus, what is the reward? Should we expect a reward? I would say, Yes! Indeed, Yes!
Peter writes in verse 8 about "inexpressible and glorious joy” because we will be receiving the goal of faith. It’s really not about religion, it’s about a personal, responsible relationship with God.
How do we do this? Peter simply says, by “obeying the truth from the heart”. You know, if we’re willing, we can do this - we know the truth when we know the Bible - and accept it in our hearts - not holier-than-thou. Billy Graham used to say that the Christian walk is always two steps forward and one back, two steps forward and one back. It’s not about human perfection, it’s about a personal relationship with God in Christ Jesus, as the old hymn has it ”Just as I am without one plea…but that thy blood was shed for me.”
Peace & the Holy Spirit
A short word about the Gospel Lesson from John 20:19-22. I love this particular portion of the Gospels because it says so much to me about what our relationship with Jesus is all about “when the disciples were together with the doors locked because they were afraid of the Jews, Jesus came to them and said, “Peace be with you!” He showed them his hands and side, and the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me I am sending you.” And with that He breathed on them and said, ”Receive the Holy Spirit”
Respond to the same invitation extended to His disciples. Allow the Holy Spirit to "breath upon you" and come alive in Christ Jesus. Come from the darkness into the light.
Blessings, Pastor Tom Nibbe
Afraid Yet Filled With Joy
From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
The Psalm For Easter Sunday - Psalm 118:5-8, 14, 24,26
The writer of the Psalms is King David...the blood ancestor of our Savior, Jesus Christ:
"In my anguish, I cried out to the Lord and He answered me by setting me free...the Lord is with me, I will not be afraid..what can man do to me? The Lord is with me...He is my helper...I will look in triumph on my enemies...It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. The Lord is my strength and my song..He has become my salvation. ...this is the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it..."
2 Samuel 7: 9,16 reveals the great plan of God given freely to all who take faith...to redeem us...to give us assurance we need...to know that our lives are not in vain. Presently we are in the midst of a great corona virus pandemic. In the midst of our deep concerns, we will not only proceed confidently and safely, but we will have a glorious legacy granted like that of King David. God in this remarkable Scripture promises King David,
"I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great like the names of the greatest men of the earth." (2 Samuel 7:9).
Imagine, after all these centuries, we still think about David, we study his life, and we ponder the details of his struggles and triumphs. The point is...the Lord has a very special destiny planned for us, and not just King David. Christian people in our lives, long dead to this world, are still very much alive because of their goodness and faith is lived out in our lives. David was not perfect, and yet, the Lord called David a man after His own heart. The secret of this whole business of being resurrected is basically...no perfect people are going to heaven, because there aren't any perfect people...only imperfect people like David. The basic fact of David's life was that he was a man of firm faith in the Lord. not himself. His focus as an imperfect man of faith was to please the Lord by trusting in Him on matter what.
So now we get it..."resurrection" --- it's not so much something that we believe in...it is something we know because we have experienced it ourselves...you and I die to our self...we die to selfishness...we die to vain pursuits and pleasures...in order to serve Christ...So Saint Paul writes in Romans 6:4: "We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the Father's glory, we too may live a new life."
Do you have "new life"? Do you desire "new life". How about it? Welcome to the real and authentic celebration of Easter...Resurrection Day for me and you...as well as Jesus. Today, Lord, once again, we submit ourselves to your Lordship over our lives. The whole and complete story of Easter is not just the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, but the resurrection of the deadness in our spiritual life. Do you desire the "living water"? Do you want "new life"?
The way I see it...you and I don't really "believe" in Resurrection and Eternal Life...rather...WE KNOW IT because we have experienced it in the power of the Holy Spirit. We have sensed "new life" totally consuming what we were. We have received the truth of the Lord Jesus for ourselves. We must be "born again". We must accept the invitation.
Acts 10:39-41 As Peter preaches he reveals this to his hearers, "We are witnesses of everything He did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed Him by hanging Him on a tree, but God raised Him from the dead on the third day and caused Him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen--by us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead."
This, of course, is the testimony we need to have Saint Peter acknowledge about what happened then. Colossians 3:1-4 Paul communicates the insight of persons who know Jesus... "...you have been raised with Christ, SET YOUR HEARTS on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. SET YOUR MINDS on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you will appear with Him in glory."
Saint Paul in addition to this sense of what true Christian faith is writes in Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me...I do not set aside the grace of God...for if righteousness could be gained through the Law (Moses), CHRIST DIED FOR NOTHING!"
No, Lord, we do not accept...we do not want to believe...that the Lord Jesus Christ died in vain. No, Lord. Matthew 28:5 ff. ... The angel said to the women (Mary Magdalene and the other Mary), "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified...He is not here---He is Risen!---just as He said."
The part in the text that I like best--after this amazing fact--that death could not hold Jesus down...was the part that had to do with the interpersonal aspect of the narrative. The women are experiencing both fear and joy at the same time. [Hmm, complex feelings, I've been there.] It's resolved by the personal touch of Jesus. The text says, "Suddenly Jesus met them. Shalom a'wa lae'kum! ...Peace be with you! (Greetings!) They came to Him, clasped his feet and worshiped Him...then Jesus said to them, Don't be afraid..."
Lord, we know that we are here with you - only joy will remain.
The message we can receive from Jesus as we come to Him today...and tomorrow...as we experience many of the things that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were experiencing on that first Easter Sunday. Just think about it for a while. Some of us have seen innocent people cruelly destroyed by the greed or envy of others. Some of us have been deeply disappointed in life. Some of us have been crushed by the situations we have faced in life --- or are facing now. Just yesterday I received a joyful telephone call from a gentleman who, just months ago, was going to commit suicide. In his words of personal triumph he was now STRONG in the Lord and ready to serve Jesus for the rest of his life. It was the best Easter story I could have ever imagined.
It is Easter Sunday - Resurrection Sunday of 2020. What wondrous love the Savior has demonstrated for each of us in this time of crisis and pandemic. We rest secure in the midst of it all. What wondrous love, O my soul! Lord Jesus, we will remain faithful.
We know there is no failure or regret in You. We will place ourselves at your disposal and discover new life and new hope, because you are good and your mercy lasts forever. Accept our prayer. Hear our call. Grant the assurance we seek in a time of great trouble. Amen.
Blessed, Happy Easter Everybody! Thank you, Lord, for the Blessing of Fellowship in Your Name! Pastor Tom
From one of Rev Dr Tom Nibbe's Parishioners
Dear Lord, we come to you in prayer to ask in Jesus' name to heal our land, and to stop all the evil-one is doing in our midst. May our land, and all lands, be made whole again. Bring your glory down...and bless each and every person here on earth!
Lord, we pray that you would release us from this plague, this pandemic, and this crisis threatening each and every country on the face of the earth. We pray that you will be with every one who has lost a job or whose job is at risk. We pray that you will be with all the doctors and nurses and everyone working hard to get things under control.
We also pray for all ordinary women and men toiling to keep the rest of us comfortable and fed. We humbly seek that there will be no more death from this virus and only healing. We are nothing without you, God! Eradicate this virus faster than when it started. Leave this world in wonder at how mighty the work of your hand will be, and always will be. Let this nation and all nations seek after you. May all call upon you. May all repent and turn to you, Lord.
In Jesus' name. Amen!