August 15, 2017
This morning we read the sad tale of the rich young man who had been good - but mourned the need to give up all that he had. What are we to learn from this man? That it is bad to be rich or perhaps something deeper?
As we read this part of the lesson, we realize that the rich young man and even the disciples are trusting in something other than God. For the young man, it is his riches, but it can be anything.
For those of us who were blessed to be born in the west, we are inordinately wealthy, and we are prone to trust in this wealth, instead of God, whether it be our actual money, or politics, our career, or any other number of worldly blessings we enjoy.
Woe unto us when we do this. While it is good to strive to be excellent at our job, fiscally responsible, or even politically involved, but none of these will save us. Only God can save us, and only God is our source of life. Too often we are prone to thinking the right leader or the right job will bring us joy.
Instead, take joy in what you have regardless of the circumstance and trust no man but only God to be the true source of your life.
August 14, 2017
This morning's lessons include the story of the Pharisee and the publican. On the surface, it doesn't seem like a hard lesson, but it forces us to look into our heart and ask ourselves who we are. Are we the Pharisee or the publican?
Are we the Pharisee? Proud of all the work we've done. Proud that we're not like the other Christians, or other Americans, or our neighbors? Are we trusting in our own works of righteousness?
Or are we the publican? Humble and broken, filled with a contrite heart that recognizes our brokenness. Are we trusting in Christ's righteousness for us?
We are called not to trust our own righteousness as this poor Pharisee does, but Christ's. But fear not, if you look within yourself and see that you are a Pharisee, repentance is always welcome. Repent, believe, trust not in yourself, but in Christ and his righteousness.
August 10, 2017
This morning we read of the fall out from Saul's disobedience, but what stands out when we read 1 Samuel 15:10-23 is his inability to take responsibility for his sin. Instead of taking responsibility, he blames his people, "they thought it was a good idea!" he claims.
How often do we adapt this attitude and try to run away from our responsibility when we have failed to honor the Lord or even in our day to day lives when we stumble and fall. Instead of confessing and repenting we sweep it under the rug or just to blame someone else. I've seen this in my own life and time and time again with others.
Instead, Christians are called to confess, repent, and turn from our sins and failings. It is then that we find freedom. If we avoid them, deny them, or pretend they don't exist, they continue to compound, growing burdensome for our soul. So, repent dear friends.
August 9, 2017
House keeping: I bought a nifty little recorder that is supposed to be very good, but someone has told me they've had a hard time hearing it. I have purchased a lapel mic that will be ready to be used next week, but in the meantime, I fiddled with the input, let me know if that helps. My apologies for the inconvenience.
Lo, thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD. ~ Psalm 128:5
The lessons this morning are difficult. They feel harsh to our civilized western ears. As we read on, we'll learn that because Saul didn't utterly destroy the Amalekites, he earned the ire of the Lord. At the same time, the rich men don't seem all that bet, yet they're doomed to hell.
Certainly, there should be a little grace for Saul, the Amalekites, and the rich men. Yet, we find none of it.
In all these cases, Saul, the Amalekites, and the rich men were obstinately rebellious against the Lord their creator and God. They wanted to live their life their way.
How then do we avoid this pit fall? We trust and obey. The Psalm this morning reminds us: thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord. That is to say, the person who sees the greatness of the Lord and bows down before him. Those that follow His commandments and delights in him shall be blessed.
This view can buck directly against our culture, and it can be hard, but it is the very good road to take. Let us then learn of the fear and joy of the Lord.
August 8, 2017
My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word. ~Psalm 119:81
I would be a delusional liar if I told you if life was without its ups and downs. There will be difficult valleys of frustration and even despair, but there will also be times of utmost joy. It is easy to sing praise and remember our hope is in the Lord when times are great, but the psalmist reminds us, even when our soul is so weary it faints that we can find our hope and help in the word of God.
First, though we learn to establish the habit of dwelling in the word of God, we read it daily. So, it is when we find ourselves in the valley of despair, our minds are turned back again to Christ.
Our help and our hope is in Christ alone, and he will not disappoint.
August 7, 2017
We read this morning the story of the prodigal son which I'm sure we are all familiar with. The beauty of this story is how layered it is. At any point in time, we can be the loving father, the lost son, or the grumpy older brother.
When we are lost and wandering, this lesson reminds us that we can always run back to the father confessing our sins. He will take us back with a glad heart, and all of Heaven will rejoice with him.
When one returns to the church after a time of wandering and heart-ache with a contrite heart, we are also reminded to be the Father and not the older brother. We are reminded to open our arms and embrace the lost one with open arms.
As we go through our daily lives, let us remember this lesson.
August 6, 2017
The lions, roaring after their prey, * do seek their meat from God. ~ Psalm 104:21
As most of you know, I recently relocated to Arizona to become to the rector of a parish here. I have been traveling, looking for a new place to live, getting acquainted with people. It has been a bit stressful, but very good. In all of this, God has been incredibly faithful.
At the same time, I find myself fretting. Every challenge I face I find myself getting anxious and then God provides faithfully.
We read about the lions who roar, the mightiest of the mighty, yet they depend upon God for the food. If lions who can rip large animals to pieces and be satisfied depend upon God how much more are we called to depend upon? I needn't worry about where I'll live, it'll work out, to the glory of God. Let us remember to put our trust in the Lord for all things.
August 3, 2017
Dear listeners. I have been pre-recording these podcasts for the last month or so as I move to Arizona. If it be the Lord's will, I will have arrived by now, and my first Sunday will be the 6th of August. Your prayers for my first Sunday will be much appreciated, and Lord willing things will start to return to normal.
Blessings, Fr. Ian