Sunday, August 31, 2014

Taking Matters to God's Hands ~ Romans 12:9-21 ~ Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

Early this week, a skirmish broke out on a flight traveling from Newark to Denver[1]

The female passenger in seat 11A wanted to recline her heat, but the male passenger in seat 12A installed a device called the “Knee Defender™” to prevent her seat from reclining.  The female passenger complained to the crew, who asked the man to remove the device.  He refused.  The female passenger proceeded to throw a cup of water at the male passenger. 

The incident ended with the plane making an emergency landing in Chicago, and the feuding passengers being led off the plane in handcuffs.  The remaining passengers were nearly two hours late arriving in Denver. 

Once upon a time, outrageous behavior like this would have shocked us.  But not anymore…  More and more adults are acting like animals; pushing and shoving each other, fighting over everything from a place in line to a flat-screen TV on Black Friday.  These aren’t exactly matters of life and death—but you’d sure think so by the way people behave!

And yet, while it’s easy to point fingers and poke fun, the temptation is always there to do the same things! 

When the pressure’s on and you feel threatened, “fight or flight” instincts kick in.  And you hate coming out on the losing end!  So we get vicious in getting what we want—and when someone steps on our toes, we become even more vicious.  We quickly take matters into our own hands, to teach ‘em a lesson; make ‘em pay, put ‘em in their place for being rude and obnoxious. 

And there’s nothing like the satisfaction of winning.  And if you don’t win, the next best thing is that sweet revenge. 

And yet, while you’re at war against everything and everyone that’s against you, you’re completely blind to the reality of God who is gracious, merciful, and loving towards all…

Let’s be frank—who wants to end up in jail over a couple inches of legroom?  Who wants to end up hurt or even dead over what’s trivial in the whole scheme of things?

Amid pain and anxiety, we are so easily blinded to what is of ultimate truth and ultimate importance.  Jesus fought and won the battle against sin and death.  He literally took the matter of our sin into his own hands, with a nail hammered through each.  Your sins are forgiven.  You are a child of God.  
If you’re struggling, it matters to God.  It matters to God if you’re hungry or thirsty or homeless.  It matters to God if you’re discouraged or scared; if people have hurt you or you’ve hurt them.  So instead of taking matters into your own hands, put your matters in Jesus’ hands!  God wants you to see Christ working for your eternal good through each and every one of these matters. 

Faith is all about handing over to God everything that matters to you—including your life itself.  And even if it feels like everything and everyone in the world is against you, God is for you

What a great freedom that is, to know that your life is in God’s hands.  What peace and what joy.  “Me” is a dead end.  It is possible to gain the whole world and lose your soul.  “My way” leads to death.  God’s way is love—and leads to life.

What is love?  It is looking out for your neighbors and their needs—because God is looking out for yours.  You become your neighbor’s keeper.  You treat him/her as friend.  You welcome him as you would Christ himself.  You make friends in the low places instead of high.  You make peace the priority over having it your way. 

And when love is hard, you love harder. 

When you come face-to-face with your enemies, and they reject you, defame you, and abuse you, do whatever good you can to them.  You forgive sins—and sinners.

Everyone always says “love the sinner, hate the sin”—just make sure your putting your energy into the love part. 

No matter how much you want to—and how good it might make you feel—vengeance is never an option.  Vengeance is best left in God’s hands—because more often than not, you’ll burn down your own house while trying to burn down your enemy’s. 

Trust God to make it right when someone does you wrong.  God will deliver you from evil. 

One of the biggest mistakes we’ll make in life is thinking that we can control things, to make everything come out in our favor.  That’s why vengeance feels so good—and winning even better—because you’ve created a positive outcome for yourself.  But no matter how rich or smart or powerful you are, you can’t make the world turn your own way—and you can never cheat death. 

On the other hand, it will literally feel like dying when you love your enemies and forgive sins, or you sacrifice winning for peace.  It’ll feel like dying when you sacrifice yourself to what matters to God. 

It is dying.  But this is exactly what Jesus wants for us—to lose our lives for his sake, to be raised up into new life.  Me is a dead end—but the way of faith, hope, and love is the way of healing, the way of overcoming, the way to God.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Beautiful Sacrifice ~ Romans 12:1-8 ~ Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

There comes a peculiar time in every family when the number of licensed drivers outnumbers the number of vehicles in the household. 

Everyone has someplace to go: some end up winners, others end up as “losers” “bumming rides.”

Most of the time, I had the car at my disposal, while my dad was the one “bumming rides.”  But he never complained—even though he was working to make payments on a car he never drove. 

It’s taken over a decade for me to realize what a great sacrifice this was. This brought into perspective something they both said to me and my sister: “we would give our lives for you.”  This was one small, yet no-less-significant way that they sacrificed themselves for me and my sister.

So how do we feel about sacrifice?

The truth is, sacrifice is not part of our human nature.  It’s never something we want to do.  And our culture certainly doesn’t encourage it.

On the contrary, our culture is increasingly narcissistic—self-absorbed, if you will.  A good quality of life means having it all, knowing it all, and doing it all—to the extent that others envy you and wish they could be you.  

The world tells you that you can and should have it all your way—without having to sacrifice anything.  Faster, cheaper, better is the rule.  Ours is a culture of entitlement to the extreme—especially if you have the money.

The trouble is, there is a cost to living this way.  You see, the avoidance of sacrifice on the part of the self creates sacrifice for the neighbor.  That’s why there are people who work hard in multiple jobs and still can’t make ends meet.  That’s why our planet is polluted.  That’s why we’re seeing an unprecedented clash of civilizations all around the world.  When “it’s all about me,” everybody loses.  “Me” is a dead end. 

What’s worse is that the Christian faith has largely become “all about me.”  It’s not often that you’ll hear sermons or read Christian books about forgiveness or radically changing the way you live for your neighbor’s sake.  The measure of a church is defined in terms of “what you get out of it.”  What we want is a Christian faith that gives us everything, and demands no sacrifice.  Your needs and wants take priority over everything and everyone—including the Gospel.  Without sacrifice, love grows cold.  Faith grows cold.  Jesus will be little more than an imaginary friend if we don’t sacrifice for him. 

Today, God’s Word invites us into a beautiful new way of life.  In the 12th chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul writes,

“present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

A living sacrifice begins at the altar God raises up beneath the cross where Jesus bled and died.  There, God reveals a love that is truly out of this world.  We’re claimed loved by God, just as we are, regardless of what’s in the past.  As far as the east is from the west, our sins are forgiven.  In the cross we see that each of us is so precious to God, that Jesus willingly sacrificed himself so that we would be his own forever.   Christ’s love gives us everlasting life; for without it there would be everlasting death. 

We must get off the hamster wheel of life, stop thinking about ourselves, and pay attention to what God is doing for you in Jesus Christ.  The love that transforms our eternity has the power to transform our selves.  It has the power to transform our heart, minds, and even our priorities.  The fires of God’s love literally consume the sin by which we think and act only for our own sake.  Ultimately, we present ourselves as living sacrifices as an act of trust, joy, and hope. 

It is then, through beautiful sacrifices we offer, for the sake of God and neighbor, that our lives are renewed and transformed.  We’re liberated from fears and anxieties that turn us into ourselves.  We ourselves are healed as we witness the power of God working in us and through us.  Our communities will be healed as we use the gifts of God to care for our neighbors in need.  Best of all, we’ll see Christ more fully.  We’ll not only know his will.  We’ll do it.

If you’ve watched the news recently, you probably know that a lot of living sacrifices are being made around the world.  Brothers and sisters, with whom we share a common baptism and common hope, are dying on account of their faith in Christ.  We call those persons martyrs.  But the word “martyr” means witness.  No one could face death without the Holy Spirit giving them the kind of faith to believe that they will see the face of Christ immediately after they see the face of their executioners. 

We are so blessed to have religious freedom.  We must exercise this freedom for the sake of Christ, for our neighbors, and yes—even for ourselves.  We can gather beneath the cross of Christ, without fear of death of persecution. 

So I challenge you to examine yourselves beneath the cross and ask, “what beautiful sacrifices am I invited to present?”  This isn’t time to beat yourself up for your sins.  Instead, can you give what’s important and most pressing in your life to Christ, trusting that the life he gives you in exchange will be even greater?  Can you give your everything to the one who gave you his everything?  For it is in a life of beautiful sacrifice that you discover the heart of Christ in yours.  It is in beautiful sacrifice that the power of resurrection takes hold.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Busting Down the Walls ~ Matthew 15:21-28 ~ Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Image courtesy of dan at
Of all the churches I've ever visited, none has been more memorable than my visit to Bethany Chapel. 

This was an African American congregation in a blighted neighborhood of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. 

But it wasn’t just the race of the people that made the worship experience unique and memorable.  There was the upbeat Gospel music; worshippers clapping hands, dancing in the aisles, shouting “Amen” and “alleluia!”  The sermon lasted about forty minutes, but at no point could I call it boring.  (The preacher probably burned five hundred calories with his booming voice and animated body language.)

What stands out most in my mind was the sharing of the peace.  Everyone hugged each other.  They hugged me and Elizabeth—including people who weren’t sitting anywhere near us.  That love and hospitality was so incredibly genuine.  For as different as I was, I was one of them that Sunday morning. 

But Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words still ring true today: Sunday morning at 11:00 is the most segregated hour in America.  And it’s not just race and class and denominational differences that divide us.  So many of God’s children aren’t worshipping in any church.  Many simply don’t know Jesus.  Some do believe, but going to church is like going to the moon.  In sum, there’s a lot of faith outside the church—perhaps more than what’s inside the church.  The only difference is that it hasn’t yet been sparked.

2,000 years ago, there was great faith outside of the Holy Land.  Jesus knew this—which was why he traveled to foreign lands, like the region of Tyre and Sidon…

Great faith began shouting from the sidelines, “Have mercy on me, Lord Son of David.  My daughter is tormented by a demon.” 

Of all the terrible things that could happen to a person, this was the most violent and horrific.  And Jesus’ answer to her was as uncharacteristically cold.  At first he doesn’t even acknowledge her; and when he finally does, he says “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”  In other words, “I wasn’t sent here for you.”

But she doesn’t take “no” for an answer…

She doesn’t beg Jesus for the world; just a few “crumbs” of mercy.  Then, Jesus commends her for her great faith, and her daughter is instantly relieved of her demon.

What was this great faith?

1.       She knew that Jesus was the Son of David

2.       She knew she had no right to ask Jesus for anything, since she wasn’t a child of Israel.  But she sought him anyway, as the only hope for her daughter.

3.       She was bold and persistent. In those days, a woman would never approach a rabbi the way she did.  And the fact that she knew she was a Canaanite—she had no right to ask him for anything.  But she did anyway—because her need was so great, and because she believed in Jesus.

Remember—faith isn’t something people do…  God gave her the faith to cry out to Jesus for mercy, trusting his grace will be sufficient to meet her need.  The Holy Spirit brings this whole meeting together for the sake of the woman and her daughter—and for the sake of everyone who was looking on, so that they would believe that Jesus’ saving work was not confined within the bloodline of Israel.  This gift of faith opened everyone’s eyes to the power of Christ bringing salvation when it was needed most…  With faith came transformation

It’s all happening—because God is busting down boundaries. 

God is still doing this today.  The challenge, however, is that we’re not so quick to give them up.  Boundaries give us security and comfort.  They keep us in the familiar.  They protect us from trouble.  This is chiefly why Christians don’t give generously, or go out of their way to put Christ first.  This is largely why churches are shrinking—because we’re not comfortable going out, meeting strangers, and  speaking openly about our faith.  At the same time, there are un-churched Christians out there who feel as though they’re outside the boundaries of what it takes to belong to a church, because of who they are or what they’ve done. 

The devil loves building up walls to cut God’s people off from God.  But grace tears them down.

One thing all of us have in common with our un-churched neighbors and the Canaanite woman is that we are so hungry for spiritual transformation.  We need the power of grace in our lives—but it won’t happen unless we take the grace we’re given and bust down the walls that confine us in what is comfortable and convenient—and bind up the gospel.  We always ask, “when will new members come through our doors.”  But the question we should be asking is: “why aren’t we going out of our doors?”

When faith breaks boundaries, transformation happens.  Lives are transformed as dramatically as for the Canaanite woman and her daughter.  The transformation you give in Christ’s name is almost always the transformation you get.  Sometimes, the boundaries we are most determined to protect are the ones that need to be busted down most. 

A way we can know what boundaries exist is to ask: what is it about a life of discipleship that gives you heartburn?  What people do you try and avoid, rather than serve?  Where are you most resistant to change?  Would you say “no” to Jesus, if he called you to pray aloud with someone?  Talk to a stranger about your faith or invite them to church?  Would you say “no” if he called you to rearrange your plans for the weekend to worship him on Sunday?  Would you say “no” if he invited you to tithe, even with all the uncertainty in the economy? 

All of these things may give us heartburn, but the reality is that they are invitations to be transformed by grace.  When walls and boundaries come down, new life rises up.  That’s something the whole world could use right about now…

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Holy God and the Holy Demands of God: Bible Study blog for August 14

Three months have passed since the Exodus.  The Israelites reach the Desert of Sinai—and there, God commands Moses to consecrate the people to receive the Ten Commandments.  The Ten Commandments make up God’s Covenant with the Israelites: “they shall be God’s treasured possession for all time,” “a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.”  The promise demands their obedience.

To consecrate the people, God demands that the people wash their clothes and abstain from sexual relations.  The other demand is that they are not to approach the Mount Sinai.  Those who do so “shall be put to death.” 

The people obey, and God appears in thunder, lightning, fire, smoke, and an earthquake.  The people tremble with fear at the presence of God-- as does the earth.  They tremble because of God's holiness and might.

A recurring theme in Exodus is the holiness of God.  Already, God has refused to reveal the divine name to Moses, but commanded him name God as “I will be who I will be.”  And now, those who approach God on the mountain must be put to death for violating God’s holiness.  We will see this theme repeating throughout the Old Testament.  There will be strict boundaries separating the holy from the mundane.

The people experience the presence of God in a way profoundly different than we.  We are accustomed to an intimacy with God that Jesus gives—that we may approach the throne of grace, praying to “Abba, Father.”  We are taught not to be afraid of God—yet, we are still to fear God in the sense that we respect God as holy and righteous, and that we live our lives in such a way as to recognize that God is God and we are not.

Many of us will remember a time when we approached God in profoundly different ways than we do today.  Worship on Sunday was never a question of if—and when Sunday morning came, everyone dressed in their “Sunday best.”  Women wore hats; men wore suits.  The church where I grew up had an altar sectioned off by a rail, where no one but the pastor would go.  Many churches still have such holy spaces—a “holy of holies,” so to speak.

Have we lost a sense of the holiness of God in that we are much more casual not only within our worship of God, but in our worship of God in general?  When we come to worship, we dress casually.  Furthermore, we’ve become more comfortable in choosing to do other things on Sunday morning rather than worshipping in church.  It’s easy to take our relationship with God and repackage it into a faith that’s convenient, comfortable, and fun—never getting in the way of how we choose to live our lives.

It is certainly for the better that we’ve come into a greater sense of comfort approaching God, just we sing “just as I am…I come.”  Fear of God should never translate into terror before God.  But we have lost a “holy fear;” a reverence of God as our Creator, our Savior, our Lord.  It must never be a matter of indifference that God is the potter and we are the clay.  It must never be a matter of indifference that Christ laid down his life for us, and that his holy and innocent blood have made us holy.  Saving grace must manifest itself in a repentant holiness—that we live profoundly different lives, putting God and neighbor before self.  God must never be a matter of indifference.

It is not bad news that God is holy—because God is holy for our sake and the sake of the world.  Human holiness, that is baptized upon us, must manifest itself in walking in the way of Christ.  Christ, who gave his life for us, ought to be worthy of our best—the first-fruits of our time and treasures, and the best of everything we have to offer him in faithful devotion. 
Our next Bible study will be on Thursday, August 28 at 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Word Above the Winds and Waves ~ Matthew 14:22-33 ~ Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

It was St. Patrick’s Day, 1936.  You would’ve needed a boat to reach our church.

Leechburg was submerged in what was one of the most devastating floods in this region’s history.

As you can see, the loss of homes and livelihoods was tremendous.  Even greater still was the loss of precious human lives.

One wonders how a small town like Leechburg could survive this.  One wonders how this church could survive this.

Two decades later, the flood was not finished wreaking its havoc upon our church. 

Pastor Mont Bowser, who served this church in the late 1950’s, addressed the council while holding in hand a piece of a wooden beam that supported the sanctuary floor.  He squeezed it in his hand, and it crumbled to pieces and fell upon the floor.  The entire building was in imminent danger of collapse. 

How can a congregation survive in those kinds of circumstances?  Yes, it was the 1950’s, the “Golden Era” of American Protestantism, but still—what do you do?  How do you get through that?

And property losses pale in comparison to the kinds of devastation a person can suffer to their health, relationships,

Next thing you know, you’re Peter.  Once upon a time, you “walked on water.” Prayers were answered, problems were overcome, and there was never a question that Jesus wasn’t there, carrying you through it all.  But then a major storm rolls in.  Instead of going away, it just gets worse.  You cry out to Jesus, just like you’ve always done.  But the sky gets darker…  Lightning crashes…  The waves rise.  You get the feeling that you’re going under…  You’re all alone.  No hand is holding onto you.  You can’t take anymore…

Peter most certainly believed this as he floundered upon the waves.  He began going under the second he noticed the strong winds.  Jesus told him he could walk on the water—but Peter believed the word of the wind.  And down he went. 

These are the hurricanes of life.  They speak very powerfully against our faith.  They become the devil’s megaphone, tempting us to believe that all hope is lost.  Your faith is in vain.  You’re not going to make it.  You are going under. 

This is the power of fear.  As the storms rage, the devil works overtime to fan the flames of fear—because fear is the opposite of faith.  Without faith, there is no hope.  A life without hope is the most miserable existence that can be.  And that’s not all… 

Fear has the power to turn us inward, so that we do nothing in love.  We act only for the sake of our own survival.  This, too, is a miserable existence. 

But no matter how bad the storms get, Jesus never leaves any of God’s children to fall into the hands of death and the devil.  Jesus meets you in the storm, just as he meets Peter here today. 

He comes as a still, small voice speaking above the winds and the waves: “Take heart, it is I.  Do not be afraid.”  This is his answer when we cry, “Lord, save me!” 

Faith begins with these simple words.  We may not know it or see it at the time—but Jesus does respond.  He comes and takes hold of you—and the power of his resurrection becomes your sure defense even as the storm rages on.  And it is by listening to Jesus; by turning your focus away from the winds and the waves to where your help comes from, that the power of his grace will free you from dreadful grip of fear.  His desire for you is find rest in the peace and comfort he brings. 

Secondly, his desire is that you live in courage and hope, so that you may live in the enjoyment of all the gifts he gives.  As a child of God, fear should never exercise control of you—nor should God’s enemies that are sickness and death; sin and Satan.  The life of Christ is a life of resurrection; in which hope and newness flourish over and against even the most powerful storms. 

Thirdly, Jesus’ desire is for you to live in love—because love is the healing balm for every wound.  We who receive the abiding care of Jesus Christ are formed into those who will give it.  Lots of people in this world are bruised and battered by poverty and economic injustice; loneliness and rejection; sickness and disease.  But what a gift it is for anyone to never have to face those enemies alone.  The presence of Christ is a gift we give simply by being present; abiding with those who suffer; doing whatever is in our power to do to make a difference.  We give Christ as we pray for and encourage one another; building up others in the faith as we tell our own stories of what Christ is doing for us.  We give Christ as we forgive sins and reconcile with those who’ve offended us.

One thing that can be said is that we may very well see Christ most clearly in the midst of life’s greatest storms.  The power of God is sufficient to take what are the deepest and most painful hurts and use them to bring you into the life that God desires.  We rise up, to stand strong against the worst of the worst by crying out to Jesus; by focusing not open the winds and waves but on the soft and gentle words of Christ, “take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”  We rise up to take hold of the resurrection life of our Savior—and become living signs of the promise that Jesus is with us always.  All the storms will give way to the coming Kingdom of God.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Jesus vs. the Impossible ~ Matthew 14:13-21 ~ Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Some days, I cringe when Elizabeth asks me “what do you want for dinner?”

It’s not because we hate cooking, or that we don’t have food in the house.  The problem is that we’re tired—especially after busy days.  It is tremendously inconvenient to cook dinner—and then clean up afterwards.

However, we have two fast-food restaurants that are less than a one-minute drive from our house.  For six or seven bucks and a few minutes of waiting, we can get ourselves a very convenient, somewhat tasty, and probably unhealthy meal.  And when we were finished, we threw the paper cups, sandwich wraps, and plastic silverware in the garbage. 

How tremendously convenient

Modern times are constantly handing us new conveniences to better satisfy our needs and wants, quickly and cheaply.   And we welcome every one of them—because there’s so much that we want to do and that is demanded of us.  Our time, money, and energies are constantly being stretched to the limits.

The busier we get, the more we despise inconveniences.

But inconvenience is not a 21st century phenomenon…

Our Gospel begins with devastating news: Jesus learns that John the Baptist has been beheaded by King Herod.  His natural and very human response is to seek some time alone, to pray and be in the presence of God.  But his plans are thwarted when a large crowd follows him.  Yet Jesus has compassion for the crowds.

As evening comes, the disciples see a great opportunity to be rid of them: they suggest that Jesus dismisses the crowds, so that they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves. 

You see, the thirteen were already inconvenienced by the crowds—and they certainly didn’t want to be even more inconvenienced by having to feed them…  But it certainly wasn’t going to be convenient for the crowds to buy food.  The average person in those days didn’t have extra spending money.  And there weren’t 24-hour restaurants and supermarkets. 

So what is Jesus’ answer to his disciples?  He says, “YOU give them something to eat.” 

But with what???  All they have is five loaves and two fish—and there’s five thousand men to feed, PLUS women and children.    Even if they did have enough, you need more than twelve men to distribute food to that many people.  Let’s not forget—night was falling.  It would be dark soon.  There simply wasn’t enough time, energy, and resources to go around.

We know what this is like

How many days do we feel like we’re running on empty?  There’s so much to do and so little time do to it.  As time passes, we lose the ability to do everything we once did because we’re all getting older and our lives are changing.  And we’re in a recession.  Money’s tighter than it’s been in a long time.  We’re all feeling the pressure—and our personal priorities will influence what we do with what we have.

But where will the Kingdom of God fit in?

We all face a constant temptation to perceive the Kingdom’s priorities as inconveniences

Whether we realize it or not, obedience to God’s will shall almost always appear inconvenient.  There’s always important things to do instead of church, Sunday school, or Bible study.  There’s always pressure on our finances in a recession—so why add to that pressure by tithing?  And who wants to be bothered with our neighbor’s needs when we can’t seem to take care of our own?

Who wants to be tied down with Kingdom priorities as we’re so hard pressed to fulfill what everyone else demands of us…and what we demand of ourselves?

But there are miracles in this short story.  Jesus tells his disciples to feed the thousands, with five loaves and two fish—and they do!!!  Not only that, they clean up the mess, with twelve baskets of leftovers!  AND—they do it all before it gets too dark.  God provides everything they need—time, energy, resources…  What seemed so little and inadequate in human hands was more than enough with Jesus involved. 

One more thing—God also provides Jesus the alone time he needs and didn’t get before. 

So what we see in all of this is scarcity and inconvenience on the human end—but God doing the impossible on the other.  God’s will is being fulfilled—and ordinary human beings, who have faith in Jesus’ Word, bring a real miracle to life.  And Jesus is not done making miracles!

The power of God is in calling and then sending meager people with meager resources to do God-sized works.  God’s awesome power and grace is revealed through people who are weak, weary and worn from all the changes and pressures of life.  God’s power and grace is revealed when time and money are at a premium.  God’s power and grace is revealed when we say “yes” to Jesus before anything or anyone else, and trust in him to provide for everything else that’s necessary and important.  The little bit in our hands will be much when we put it in Jesus’ hands.

And one more thing: the “bread” of the faith and hope we are given as children of God is going to feed the hungry, heal the broken, and bring new life to all who will never find it in the gods of this world. 

What you have is enough.  Who you are is enough.  This small congregation is enough.  We can do what matters to God.  So put your meager selves, your meager time, and your meager energies and resources in Jesus’ hands.  There, we are sure to receive the life we crave, along with the rest of the world.  From the cross comes new life.  From the pains and trials and hurts of today will come God’s Kingdom.