Monday, August 29, 2011


"All the prophets testify about [Jesus] that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."--Acts 10.43
Forgiveness is foundational for the Christian life: God forgiving us, us forgiving others, and others forgiving us. The longer I live, the more incredible this truth becomes to me. Forgiveness is really at the heart of the Christian faith! It is a miracle and yet, the very cornerstone of a life of following Jesus.
As I reflected on the miracle of forgiveness this morning, I found this:

THE HATRED . . . which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class; FATHER, FORGIVE.
THE GREED . . . which exploits the labors of people and lays waste to the earth; FATHER, FORGIVE.
OUR ENVY . . . of the welfare and happiness of others; FATHER FORGIVE
OUR INDIFFERENCE . . . to the plight of the homeless and the refugee;
THE LUST . . . which uses for ignoble ends, the bodies of men and women;
THE PRIDE . . . which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God;
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (St. Paul to the Ephesians)"
---The above prayer was at the altar of Coventry Cathedral

Thursday, August 4, 2011

qualities to live by

2Peter 1.5-8: "For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
In our world of information (and information overload), sometimes, it gets difficult to discern the movement of God in our midst. It's often easier to suppose where God is not than where God is.
The Apostle Peter gives a great laundry list of qualities that go along with our faith in the passage above. Things like, "goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, mutual affection, love." With these, you can't go wrong. Where these are active through the Spirit of God, we can know that God is active and alive in our world today.
As I scan this list and think about their meaning, I am challenged to assure that I am walking with Jesus throughout the day, not just at set times of prayer, but throughout the whole day. Chances are, if we are walking with Jesus throughout the day, these qualities just start "showing up" in our lives.
I invite you to scan this list and ask Jesus to work these qualities in you today! As Peter writes, these are the kinds of qualities that make us effective and fruitful as followers of Jesus.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

meeting together . . .

Hebrews 10:24-25: "And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
There is simply no substitute for Christian Community. We always need reminding of that. Part of our human condition is a temptation to try to "go it alone." We want to be our own masters. We want to call the shots for our lives. And, if we are honest with ourselves, sometimes we just don't want to be bothered by others and their problems.
But there is no substitute for Christian Community. We need the Church. We need to be with our brothers and sisters in Christ no matter how immature, petty, or bothersome they may sometimes seem to us. There is something that happens when we live life together that cannot be achieved on a solo spiritual journey. In fact, in the Christian faith, there is no such thing as a "solo spiritual journey." Following Jesus involves walking with other Christians.
Unfortunately, in my lifetime, I have seen many "good" people simply fall away from Christian Community. They all had different reasons and some sounded pretty logical on the surface. But in every case, their spiritual life was handicapped by a refusal to participate in Christian Community.
It's not always easy to practice Christian Community, but that's why we call it "practice." Living in Christian Community always necessitates prayer, forgiveness, and an amount of grace that can only come from Jesus Christ.
But there's simply no other way to follow Jesus without Christian Community. If you've "fallen away" from the fellowship of Christian Community, why not reconnect today? Call one of your sisters and brothers in the faith and ask them how it's going. Better yet, share some prayer concerns and pray together. Reach out to someone and take church to someone who cannot come to the church building any more. And don't forget to worship together this coming Sunday.
There is simply no substitute for Christian Community.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

God's Promise

"And God said, 'This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come."--Genesis 9.12
Unfortunately, we've all had the experience of a broken promise. For most of us, that broken promise is something minor like, "I'll be there at 3pm" and they don't show up. For some of us, the broken promise is something major, severing relationships and causing scars that last throughout our lives.
The good news about God is that God never breaks his promises! A reminder of that is in the story of Noah. Before the terrible flood that covered the earth, God made a covenant (a sacred promise) with Noah: "I will save you and your family." After the flood, God made another covenant with Noah: "Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth." This was a forerunner of The Covenant that God would make with us through Jesus Christ, promising that, if we trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior, we will not be destroyed but instead, would have eternal life.
That promise is for you and me! Remember God's promise today, a promise that will never be broken. And walk in that newness of life!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Path, continued . . .

The Path, continued--

The Morn

Death is not the End!
Life springs forth
From behind the rock

Dawn has cracked
The darkness of the tomb
Sun shines bright
As the Son rises

Morning Robin
Sings her song
On Resurrection Morn

The horrible, torturous Cross
Now blooms
With flowers and New Life

Once symbol of
Caesar's cruel rule
Now, symbol
Of King Jesus' eternal reign

Temporal power,
Curse of death,
Sin's horrible offspring
Now lie in the
Rags of Jesus'
Burial clothes-
Left Behind

With Jesus, we rise
From the ashes of sin and death
To Redemption's Sunny Morn!
@2012, Michael Lancaster

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Path

The Path

The Path took its final turn on Palm Sunday
For Jerusalem, the Holy City
That murders the prophets and those sent to her

The Path had led him
In the womb from Nazareth to Bethlehem--
Least of all the tribes

No cradle, but a meek manger
For the God-Man,
Light of the world

The path had led him to Egypt
Former house of slavery
Now asylum from Herod's wrath

The path led him to
Jerusalem for Passover
To learn with the elders

Were they the same who cried
Twenty-one years later
For his blood?

The path led him to a carpenter's shop
In lowly Nazareth
Tables, chairs, and cabinets would be his wares
Later, people's hearts

The path led him to the
Rivers of the Jordan
Crossed by Joshua ages before

To be baptized--not for sin
But as a model for us
An anointing, an ordination
To the greatest ministry ever known

To a lakeshore where fishermen
Became bishops
A tax table where a crook became
The writer of the first gospel

His path led him to synagogues
Teacher's seats
To leper colonies
To a midnight meeting with Nicodemus

To a hillside where the
Greatest Sermon was ever preached

His path took him to
Long days of teaching
Thick-headed disciples
And stiff-necked masses

To a table where a sinful woman
Washed his feet with the tears of repentance
To an adulterous Samaritan woman

To a tree that held a sinner named Zacchaeus
His path took him to confrontation
With the "powers that be"

A table with blood and body
Shared by a traitor
And eleven deserters

His path took him to
A lonely garden
Where the grief of the world
He bore alone

His path took him
To a beating and flogging
Like no one has every known

The wrath of sin
Tearing at his
Precious flesh

His path took him to
The Cross of Calvary
Love poured out like
Wine at the Passover Table

"Father, forgive them
because they don't know what they are doing."

"Woman, here is your son.
Behold your mother."

"Truly, I say to you
Today, you will be with me in Paradise!"

"My God, my God
Why have you forsaken me?"

"I am thirsty!"

"Father, into your hands
I commend my spirit."

"It is finished!"

His path was the love of God for sinners
Extravagant, Lavish, Limitless Love
That led him to the Cross
Where Love's flesh died for you and me

"How much do you love me, Jesus?"
"This much!"
(And he stretched out his arms on the Cross and died)
Life-Giving Spirit departs

His path had come to its End
In a borrowed tomb
Or had it really ended? . . . . . . . . . . .
@2012, Michael Lancaster

Monday, March 7, 2011

The fight is done

2Timothy 4:6-8: "As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me -- the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return."
This past week, my dad finished his race. He passed from this life to the life to come. I've been thinking a lot about the race that he ran in his life, for Jesus. He was a faithful husband, father, and grandfather. He served his country in the Army. He worked hard and provided for his family. He passed on so much wisdom to me that I can not even name it all. "He fought the good fight." He ran the good race. He taught me how to follow Jesus. He taught me how to be strong, yet gentle, courageous, yet sympathetic. He also taught me to laugh and enjoy the blessings of life.
There's no way to tally up the lessons and love that my dad shared with me. I am thankful for it all. The Good News is that he lives on in my heart and mind, in the man I have become. And most importantly, he lives on in the blessings of eternal life with Jesus. There will be a great reunion one day, when I meet him there.
All this has reminded me that each of us leave a legacy in our lives. In fact, you and I are living our legacy today. We touch so many lives. So, let's also fight the good fight and run the good race by sharing the love of Christ today.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The quest for freedom

Psalm 2:10-12: "Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling kiss his feet, or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled. Happy are all who take refuge in him."
Like many of us in the West, I have been greatly moved by the protests, demonstrations, and uprisings for freedom in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and other areas of the Middle East. Something significant is happening. People are fighting for positive change for themselves and future generations.
I do not pretend to understand all the complexities of these uprisings. But one thing seems to shine through: the desire for freedom, the desire for a better way of life, a life of justice and peace.
The psalm for this week is connecting deeply with world events. The psalmist warns kings and "rulers of the earth" to "be wise; be warned." "Serve the Lord with fear . . . or he will be angry and you will perish in the way." There is accountablity for world leaders. They cannot rule without being accountable to God's justice. They cannot oppress and injure without being held responsibile.
Will you join me this day in praying for the rulers of the earth, especially those in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya? Pray for those who have passed and particularly for those to come. Will you join me this day in praying for the peoples of the earth who hunger and thirst for freedom and justice?
I have linked a wonderful prayer for the people of Egypt below. The places where "Egypt" is listed can be replaced with "Tunisia" and "Libya" as well.