Life Together: Humility - Philippians 2:1-11

It was October 14, 2012, exactly 65 years after Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier while flying a rocket.  However, Felix Baumgartner was not riding in any rocket or other aircraft when he broke the sound barrier.  Baumgartner was free falling after rising to an altitude of 128,100 feet in a helium-filled balloon.  As he fell, he broke the sound barrier after reaching a speed of 843.6 mph.  Baumgartner not only became the first person to break the sound barrier without the aid of a plane or a rocket in his 4:20 minute long freefall, as of 2010, it was the highest freefall and highest manned balloon flight.  
A little over two years later, on October 24, 2014, Alan Eustace, Senior vice President at Google, climbed to a height of 135,898.68 ft above Roswell, New Mexico, USA, and set a new free-fall height record.
While those heights may seem ridiculously high, and while I talked this past Wednesday night about refusing to let the fear of heights control my life, jumping off the roof o…

Giving Up Fear For Good - Matthew 8:23-27; 10:28-31 Wednesday Night Reflection

For many years I let it control my life.  It kept me from fully participating in some activities, or if I did, my heart would be racing faster than a stock car running at Talladega.  One time it left me stranded on a roof.  The drains in our house were not quite draining the way they were supposed to.  Plumbers in Northampton County, at least the part of Northampton County we found ourselves living, were far and few in between.  In fact there was only one plumber that anyone in the western half of the county, where I lived, called.  He had a waiting list a mile long of calls he needed to respond to, and he prioritized, not by the date you called, but by critical nature of your plumbing problem…and slow drains did not rank way up on the waiting list.  If I remember correctly, it was about a six week wait for him to respond to the call.  One time before, in a previous parsonage where the same problem occurred, the plumber had said that the issue was a buildup of stuff in the vent and i…

Life Together: Brought Into Community - Ephesians 2:12-14

George Burns had something to say about families before he died.  He was recorded one time as saying, "Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family…in another city."
Dietrich Bonheoffer, had something a little different to say about living together.  Bonhoeffer was a German theologian, church leader, and seminary professor during the reign of Adolph Hitler.  While leading a congregation in the anti-Nazi Confessing Church in Germany, he was arrested, jailed, and later hung for his efforts to take a stand against Hitler and the Nazi movement. Bonhoeffer is best known for writing The Cost of Discipleship.  However, he has written many more, among them is Life Together, a reflection of the life of Christian Community he established at Finkenwalde Seminary, a community that was involuntarily shut down by Hitler's Gestapo.  Bonheoffer writes about what a blessing and gift of God it is to live in Christian Community:
It is easily forgotten that the community …

Giving Up Regret For Good - Philippians 3:12-14 - Wednesday Night Reflection

I know it has happened more than once in our twenty-four years of marriage…it probably happens more often than I even know.I know it has happened within the last week.Sometimes it happens when I am tired.Sometimes it happens when I am frustrated with something I am working on.Sometimes it just happens because I have a “Y” chromosome.Maybe I could blame anything from the past week on the flu.What happens is that Anita and I are talking, and I open my mouth and say something, and I immediately wish that I could take those words back.I love Anita dearly, and yet sometimes I find myself saying things that are hurtful or cutting or simply uncaring.It’s not that I say them because I am intentionally trying to be mean or hurt her, I immediately regret saying them.I completely understand what Paul is talking about when he tells the church in Rome, “I do not understand my own actions.For I do not do what I want, but I the very thing I hate…For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not…

Spiritual Warfare: The Armor of God: The Sword of the Spirit - John 1:1, 14; 3:16-17

Excalibur…when I think of famous swords, Excalibur is one of three that immediately come to mind.  How many of you know of the legend of Excalibur?  It was the sword, sunk deep in a stone, that waited for the rightful king to draw it forth.  One of the others I think of is Sting.  Anyone know where to find Sting?  It is an Elven blade found in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings wielded first by Bilbo and then by Frodo. We are engaged in battle with the enemy.  Yet our conflict is not with those who look, speak, think, or even believe differently that we do.  Our enemies are not of flesh and blood, as Paul has told us over these last two months, our enemy is the ruler of the spiritual forces of evil and wickedness.  We are, my friends, engaged in spiritual warfare.  There is no doubt to those that follow Christ that we are constantly in the midst of conflict…a conflict we may experience in this world, but that is ongoing as the forces of evil and darkness try fruitles…

Giving Up Judgment For Good - Matthew 7:1-5 - Wednesday Night Reflection

It was fifteen days ago.  I had just sat down in the office when my phone went off.  I looked and what I saw was a little shocking.  I looked out the window…everything looked fine—the water in the sound was not drawing back.  I wondered where in the world an earthquake had happened that would cause a tsunami warning to be issued for Harkers Island, and how far away any suspected tsunami would be…so I clicked open the warning.  It was a test…only a test.  When looking beneath the surface of the warning, we could easily identify it as a test.  However, most folks evidently judged the alert by the cover and failed to look inside—choosing instead to enter into panic mode…forcing the National Weather Service to send out a follow-up message reiterating that it was only a test.  (By the way, the test evidently failed, whether they realize it or not, because there were quite a number of folks I talked to that morning who never received the alert.)
I have shared with y’all in the past my batt…

Spiritual Warfare: The Armor of God: Helmet of Salvation - Philippians 2:5-8

As I mentioned last week, if you haven’t already figured it out, I’m a comic book nerd (as I heard a local island resident who is the same way refer to himself).  And since last week’s illustration featured the well-known Marvel characters from Avengers, particularly Captain America and his shield in our discussion the Shield of Faith, I figure for the Helmet of Salvation, I would offer fair treatment in the comic world and turn to DC comics, and one of their oldest but lesser known figures… Dr. Fate and the Helmet of Nabu.  The helmet is both a blessing and a curse.  Among other powers, it gives its wearer the power of flight, super-strength, invulnerability, telekinesis, and control of lightning.  However, in putting on the helmet to confront and battle evil, the wearer also surrenders their personality to the spirit within the helmet. Cap and his shield, Fate and his Helmet, equipping themselves for battle against the evil of their fictional worlds.  We have been spending weeks talk…