Monday Morning Meditation 3-27-23

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Mark 3:1-5

Sometimes the rules get in the way of doing good.  Upon a strict interpretation, the Sabbath law prohibited Jesus from healing that man.  Yet Jesus asks the question “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” Jesus heals the man, in the synagogue on the Sabbath, for that is the greater good. 

When we enter the sanctuary on Sunday morning, we should come expecting to meet Jesus and be healed.  Maybe it is not the healing of a physical issue, perhaps it is a healing of our soul, but one way or another we should find healing in worship. It is there, we only need, like the man with the withered hand, to show up.

As you journey through this week, I pray you meet Jesus and find healing, and I invite you to attend worship, for He can be found there.


Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation (Tuesday Edition) 3-21-22

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”  He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”  Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”  Mark 2:23-28

Sabbath rest is important.  It is so important that God made a rule about it (see the fourth commandment).  Yet God did not do this to be cruel and harsh (follow the rules and regulations or you perish), rather God understands that we humans need to stop.  We need to take a break.  We need rest. 

Over the past week I was on Study Leave.  I spent time in prayer and meditation, I wrote, I planned and I rested.  I did not set an alarm, got up when my body said “wake”, spent the mornings in study and work, spent the afternoons in nature and the evenings reading.  It was a wonderful rhythm and one sorely needed.

As I got back to the grind on Monday, I began my normal routine (except for the Monday Morning Meditation!), and realized something important.  I need to follow Sabbath.

Taking this important time is precisely for the reason Jesus stated, The Sabbath was made for us.  It was created precisely because we need that time away from work and time with each other and God.

If you do not practice Sabbath-taking, do so.  If your Sabbath is rule infested (don’t do this, don’t do that), relax it.  Spend time with God, with family, with friends.  Go for a long walk, ponder the mysteries of the universe, get some rest.

And do it routinely.


Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 3-6-23

We are well into the season of Lent.  This week’s meditation is on the discipline of study.  When we study scripture and theology, we learn more of God, and most important, we grow closer to God. 

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans 15:4

Studying scripture to learn the “who, what, when, where and why” of scripture is important.  Knowing what happened “way back then” is great knowledge, but our study must be more than book knowledge of the scriptures.  The two biggest questions about any scripture are these: What was God telling the original hearers of the word?  What is God telling us today?  These two questions might be answered with the same answer, and sometimes it can be different.  The great thing about the scriptures are that they can speak to us in our situation today even if the original writing was to an ancient situation.

Studying the word takes us beyond the face value and into the depths of God’s connection with us.

This week, take some time to study a passage.  Get a commentary, ask your pastor about it, try to go deeper with one passage and ask yourself the two questions.


Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 2-27-23

I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall laud your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed, and I will declare your greatness. They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness, and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. Psalm 145:1-7

The Psalmist has it right.  We are to tell others of the greatness of the Lord as much as we are to meditate upon God’s word.  We are to extol the glories of creation as we ponder the scriptures.  We are to be outward in our praise of God, as we are inward with our thoughts. 

Meditation on the word is just as important as our outward praise of God for meditating upon the word is a way of internalizing rather than memorizing scripture.

If you truly want to know God, if you really want to grow in your spiritual life, meditate.  Take a passage, read it and then spend time in quiet, rather than reading it quickly to get the daily reading in.  Take a few verses of a favorite psalm as your breath prayer (one line while breathing in, one line while breathing out) and it will instantly calm your spirit.  Read a complex passage slowly and deliberately and allow time for more than the words on the page.

Meditating on the word can be one of the healthiest things we can do for our body, mind and spirit.  As you travel through this Lenten season, meditate.  Allow the Holy Spirit to bring the word into your heart. 


Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 2-20-23

This Wednesday is the first day of the Lenten season.  For the next few Mondays I am going to focus each meditation on a classic spiritual discipline.  Today is prayer.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.2 Chronicles 7:14

Our lands need healing.  Our nation needs healing with all the political, racial and social division.  Our local communities need healing with all the violence.  This past weekend there was another murder in Philadelphia, another act of senseless violence.  The world also needs prayer.  We are fast approaching the one-year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, and the death toll from the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey has surpassed 46,000 lost. 

On the surface this is hardly an uplifting morning meditation and yet it can be.  We can make a difference when we turn to God in prayer.  I am not suggesting the empty “Thoughts and Prayers” statement, rather true prayer, going before the Sovereign of the Universe asking for help because prayer works; “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16).”

Through prayer we are changed, we are inspired, we are given ways to make changes in the world.  As we join together in prayer, God will show us the path forward.  If we have the courage to act, God will do incredible things.


Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 2-13-23

My original plan for today’s meditation was going to be light as we celebrated an Eagles victory at the Super Bowl.  Well, so much for that plan.  All of the Eagles Universe is unhappy this morning.  Perhaps later on we can say how much we appreciated the season, we can be reminded that only two teams make it to the big game and ours was one of them, and even celebrate the good things.  But for today, Eagles fans are unhappy.

So let’s get theological on this Monday morning.  The Eagles may have lost, but things are okay.  God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (Genesis 1:31).  You may be dragging this morning, but God’s creation is still very good.  Your Kansas City fan friends might be chiding you, but God’s creation is still very good.

Things do not always go as we want, games will be won and lost, jobs will have good and bad days, relationships have their ups and downs, but one thing is constant, God, and God loves you.  As you travel through this difficult day and new week, remember this:  God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.  You were made by God and therefore, you are very good.


Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 2-6-23

A man brought his son to Jesus to be delivered.  The boy has been tormented by a spirit his entire life, and his father was at his wit’s end when Jesus appears and the father asks if Jesus is able to heal his son.

Jesus said to him, “If you are able! — All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Mark 9:23-24

Faith isn’t easy.  Faith is not just a belief that everything will work out (even without any evidence).  Rather, faith is difficult.  It is difficult to say to God “I have complete faith and I turn it all over to you.” 

This father sums up a lot of us, especially if we have sick children, spouses or other family members.  We spend so much time, energy and resources seeking help, and when things do not work out, we get deflated, just like this father.  Our prayers tend to be begging and bargaining “Please Lord heal them” or “Lord, I’ll take the pain, I’ll take the sickness if you heal them.”  We pray earnestly and in faith, yet do not always believe.

I believe; help my unbelief.  It could be a daily prayer for all of us.  Is your job going poorly and you have no idea what to do next?  I believe; help my unbelief.  Is your relationship in trouble?  I believe, help my unbelief.  Are you struggling with a personal issue?  I believe, help my unbelief.  Is your church in need of transformation?  I believe, help my unbelief.

God may not give us the complete outcome we desire, but if we pray for greater belief, God will show us the way forward.  As you journey through this week, keep this prayer in mind.  I believe, help my unbelief.


Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 1-30-23

In his classic work “Confessions, the great theologian Augustine said “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”

The Psalmist said: O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Ps. 63:1

Here it is Monday morning, I’ve been up for hours, made breakfast, lunches and drove my daughter to school.  My wife started the laundry that we did not get to over the weekend before she left for work.  We have an online appointment and I need to get working on next Sunday’s worship service and Lenten planning.  Plus we still need to review our calendars to make sure we know what is happening in the next few weeks.  I’m tired already.

But what was missing from all of this?  The quiet time with the Lord.  At some point this morning, I need to turn away from the computer and phone, get away from the to-do list and focus on what will bring me life, God. 

Today I feel like I am in a dry and weary land.  I’m going along with the flow of stuff, yet I know what I need.  Are you in that dry and weary land too?  Are you busy with your Monday morning?  Are you just getting through the day so you can go to bed and start over tomorrow?  If so, take a moment.  Read the psalms, go outside and watch the birds, find a quiet place, even if only for a few minutes and contemplate God.  Allow God to refresh you for you have been made by God for God. 


Pastor Bill

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, That my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, That my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, That I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, To defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, That I always may be holy.


Monday Morning Meditation 1-23-23

1Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3“Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. 6And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. 7Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” 9And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

14The sower sows the word. 15These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. 17But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, 19but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. 20And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”  Mark 4:1-9, 14-20

How is your soil?  Many of you have either grown up on or near farmland.  Living in this area for quite some time, we are used to the cycle of preparing, planting, growth and harvest.  The farmers take great effort in preparing the soil so the seed will take and an abundant harvest will come.

Preachers and teachers have the responsibility of taking the Holy Scriptures and feeding them to the congregation.   We need to prayerfully prepare ourselves to proclaim the word to you.  That is hard work and to do it properly, takes a lot of time.  But no amount of time on the preacher’s part will make up for poor soil.

We prepare our soil by coming to worship with an open heart and mind, expecting to experience God.  We prepare our soil by reading scripture and spending time in prayer.  We even prepare our soil by taking our bulletins home, re-reading the scriptures and liturgy throughout the week as we contemplate the sermon.  The more we do this, the more we are prepared to receive God’s word through the service and sermon.

How is your soil?  As you journey through this week, prepare your soil.  Spend some time meditating on the sermon and in prayer, asking God to help you receive the word.


Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 1-16-23

7Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; 8hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. 9He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; 10for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. 11Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” 12But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.

13He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. 14And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, 15and to have authority to cast out demons. 16So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, 19and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.  Mark 3:7-19a

If you stop and really consider this passage, it is amazing.  Here is Jesus, the Son of God who has healed people of diseases and chased away evil spirits.  He has all the power, and yet He shares the ministry.

Jesus takes his disciples up the mountain and then names twelve as apostles (which, in the Greek, means “one sent out”).  He gives them the authority to preach the gospel, to heal and to cast out the demons.  Please note verse 19.  Jesus even shares the power with one who will betray him.

So, let’s review – the Son of God (God Incarnate), the one with the power, shares it with some of his followers so that they, too, may do the ministry.

Did you see this?  Even Jesus is not to do the ministry alone, rather He shares it with others.  Nobody, not an Elder, not a Deacon, not a Priest, Pastor, Preacher or anyone else is to do the ministry alone, for it is a shared ministry.  If that is good enough for Jesus, that should be good enough for His church.

As you journey through this week, consider what ministries you are doing.  Are you sharing the opportunity?  Are you sharing the power?  Jesus did.


Pastor Bill