Ralphing our way back to God

What do a stomach bug and a TV show about a crime solving priest have in common?

Two essential elements of Christianity. That’s what. Repentance and confession. In The series Father Brown is more concerned about the criminal’s soul than he is about solving the crime.

His main goal in the show is to get the guilty party to repent and confess.

Today I came down with a Flu bug. I was at work when I decided to turn around, change direction and go back home. I repented of my decision to go south east to Moses Lake, I turned around and headed north west back to Ephrata.

I was only home a couple of minutes before my stomach confessed of everything I had eaten. It wouldn’t be satisfied with a partial confession, it had to have it all out.

“5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

Take it from me, when a stomach confesses it is nasty business. All kinds of ugliness comes out. The same is true for a heart and soul.

Usually working together with confession and almost always preceding it, is repentance. My favorite story of repentance is found in the book of Luke. Jesus tells the story of 2 brothers. The younger cashes in his inheritance and goes partying. When he runs out of money he also runs out of friends and ends up destitute, feeding pigs.

“17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.”

The next verses are what I think are the best bd description of God’s Father heart towards us, his wayward children.

““But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

Are you feeling a long way off? Sometimes I do. It’s mostly my fault too. I go my own way and then feel estranged but Gods heart towards me, towards us has not changed. God is scanning the horizon anxiously waiting for us to return.

Repentance and confession are not our ticket back in to his love. God loves us. Repentance and confession are our way to be purged and healed.

So I say and you can say it with me if you like; Forgive me Father, I have sinned against you and against heaven. I am unworthy to be called your child.

And he says about us and to us, welcome home!

Getting past the sparks

Proverbs 9:10

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. “

Growing up as a Loeffelbein, there was always a project going on in the garage. Something was being built or repaired or modified or enhanced almost all of the time. In my early childhood my dad was racing in the jalopy class. I don’t remember what the specifications were but they were mostly homebuilt open wheelers. At the same time he was also building street rods, one I remember the most, a 39 Ford coupe.

The strongest memories from those days were approaching the garage, the door open, and my dad, my brother and my dads friends bent over, and crawled under, and poking into and hanging out of the car projects. I remember the smells of grease and oil and I remember the sparks. Showers of sparks. Sometimes from welding and sometimes from grinding. Lots of sparks. Sprays and geysers of sparks. I may actually be superimposing years of memories on top of each other but I don’t think it will change the validity of my point.

I feared those sparks. Somehow my older brother either wasn’t afraid or worked past it or around it. Because my brother faced the fear, No it wasn’t that. My brother knew and loved my father and felt safe in his presence even if there were sparks and loud noises.

God has invited us all into his garage, his work shop. There are some scary and surprising things going on inside. He is busy creating, restoring and repairing humanity.

Some of us never look into the garage. We have no knowledge of or interest in Gods creative process. Some of are drawn in but see the sparks and are frightened away. But some of us move past to meet the maker of the sparks and get to know the father God who creates and repairs and redeems.

I am reminded of what the ghost of Christmas present says in A Christmas Carol, “come in and know me better man!”

He invites us in, but not just to watch. He wants us to participate and he wants to work on us too.

The work God wants to do in our lives is almost always in our hearts. Sometimes it’s actually heart transplant surgery, where he takes out a heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh. Sometimes it’s the deconstruction of walls we’ve built around us. Sometimes it’s tearing down the high platforms of pride In ourselves or the lofty expectations we have for others. Sometimes it’s to remove cancers of hate. Sometimes it’s to repair wounds inflicted by others. There is electrical work to do. Sometimes our brains get wired wrong. God untangles the mixed messages. When any switch a person flips on us makes us angry or when we flip the love and respect switch but it keeps opening the lust faucet.

To know God is to love God. If we don’t love him yet, We don’t we know him yet. He is our Father. He has the role of provider and disciplinarian but he also has the role of the great one who loves, who holds and helps, who protects and prompts, who leads and guides. He created us but not like our parents, blindly, just hoping and guessing what we will be and what will will do. He created us, not as a toy but as a tool. We were created with and for a purpose. We have an enemy who wants to distract and destroy us and diminish or destroy our purpose.

We need to fear and honor this great and awesome God who said to nothing, “let there be…. “ and everything we know came into existence. To fear and honor him is the beginning of wisdom, but to know him is find out about ourselves, first that we fit into a plan and next, how we fit into his plan. To know him is to be loved and cared for by him, and to be guided by and disciplined and trained by him. We have value because he created us on purpose and for a purpose.

In All of this is God is waiting for us but we have to say the words. Like in a wedding, the honeymoon night awaits. The wedding rehearsal does not a marriage make. It is very similar to the wedding but it is not the same thing. A wedding, saying the vows and exchanging the rings, that makes a wedding.

God longs and waits for us but we are stopped from joining him by a wall of sin, (Wall or crevasse) a dividing point. Jesus died to remove the barrier and fill in the gap so there is no more division.

In his letter to the believers in Collisi Paul said this: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

Colossians 2:13-15

God is inviting us into the garage, partly for work we need done on us, and partly so we can participate in what he is doing in and for others. Will you brave the sparks with me and join in God’s plan to restore broken lives, mine and yours?

Bloom

John 11

Bloom where you are planted, unless you are dead.

“17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”’

This week some famous people died. George Beverly Shea, 104. Chyna, 46. Prince, 57. My uncle Delvin passed away recently. He was buried next to my parents who both died in 2003, January and June. I stood on the ground that covers my parents remains.

Most people once dead stay dead.

Or do we?

“25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”’

This is the question we all must ask ourselves: Do we believe this?

Jesus will show his authority over death by raising Lazarus. And it won’t be long in our reading of John before Jesus himself is put to death. But death couldn’t hold him.

The questions remain.

Who is this Jesus?

Do we believe him?

I do.

Significant details

John 11

Wait, what?

“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”’

There are a couple of things that happen here that make me scratch my head.

Jesus said that the sickness wouldn’t end in death but Lazarus dies. But it doesn’t end there.

Lord willing I’ll talk more about that tomorrow.

The second thing is that John mentions a thing about Mary washing and anointing Jesus’ feet as if he had already told us about it but it doesn’t get written in until the next chapter.

I have often felt that in the story of my life I only play a minor supporting role. In the credits of “Peters life, the movie” towards the end, right before they thank the caterers and the city of Ephrata there will be “and Peter Loeffelbein”.

I think lazarus’ sister Mary may have felt that way about her life but her simple act of ministering to Jesus was so well known that John could reference it before he had written it.

I think this says our service to Jesus may be more significant than we know. He remembers it all.

Do the right thing and do it for the right reason and for the right person.

Do it for Jesus. And keep doing it because he remembers it all. Keep serving him. Love people. Serve people. Keep going. He remembers it. He remembers us. It is significant.

We are significant to him.

Knock knock, who’s there? Nobody, the tomb is empty!

The tomb was empty.

They left him there, Joseph and Nicodemus took charge of Jesus body and left him in Joseph’s tomb. “Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

John 19:38-42

When his friends came back to care for his body, the tomb was empty.

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying. Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

John 20:1-20

Jesus began to appear to his followers at seemingly random times. One of my favorite post resurrection appearances was when Peter took the gang fishing.

“Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus ), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

John 21:1-

At one time he appeared to over 500 people at one time.

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

1 Corinthians 15:3-8

I’m writing this early on Easter morning, April 21st 2019. It’s a beautiful sunny spring day. I have listed some of the scriptures that I base my belief in Jesus resurrection on. What do you believe about Jesus? Today would a fantastic day to start a new life as a follower of Jesus, the risen savior of the world. If you already believe, will you share your story with one other person today?

May you and yours Have a blessed Easter resurrection day.

He is risen!

Indeed!

I say “he is risen” and you say?

He is risen indeed….

It’s a call and response that we used to do in the Lutheran church. It was especially popular on Easter Sunday.

Here is why we can say that, found in First Corinthians:

“3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.”

He is risen.

He is risen indeed!

Three guys

Three guys….

Why do so many jokes start with 3 guys?

The next thing I will say here is no joke.

On this day about 2 thousand years ago three guys hung from crosses on a hill outside of Jerusalem. They weren’t tied to the cross, they were nailed, through the hands and feet. Two of them were thieves, the third was a man named Jesus.

We have a record of his Jesus’ last words. The last thing he said was, ” it is finished “

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (Jn 19:30)

What did he mean?

He meant that the job of paying for all of the sin in the world, all the wrongs, all the hurts and hates, the stains on the souls of men that could not be removed by men had been removed by God.

This is no ordinary man this guy Jesus. He is the very, the only son of God.

Much to our relief he did not stay dead. 3 days later he rose from the dead. He is alive! Jesus is alive.

He died to finish the plan of our salvation and he rose from the dead to give us eternal life.

Three guys hung on crosses to their deaths. One guy said “It is finished”. And so it is.

All we gotta do is ask.