Friday, November 3, 2017

500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation summary for St. Luke & St. Peter's Church

A brief look at major events and figures within the Protestant Reformation
In honor of its 500th anniversary

Dear Friends in October 2017 I put together for St. Luke & St. Peter’s Episcopal Church a brief look at the protestant reformation including an introduction, a brief look at two great figures of the reformation Martin Luther and John Calvin, the Church of England’s break from the Catholic church and how today the Anglican/Episcopal Church is both reformed and Catholic. Each article appeared on a Sunday in our bulletin and is now available as a booklet and online. I hope these five very brief articles are a blessing and help to you in your faith as we take a moment to remember the reformation and it’s legacy today as we mark 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his ’95 to the door of All Saints Church Wittenburg, Germany.
In Christ, Fr. Rob+

History, Legacy and Anglicanism today

On October 31st, 2017 protestant churches around the world will mark and celebrate the 500th anniversary of the protestant reformation. The reformation is marked in time by the actions of the Catholic monk and priest Martin Luther nailing his ‘95 Theses’ on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, Germany. This treatise we not meant as a break from the Catholic Church, but as an argument against the Church selling of ‘indulgences’ to absolve sin. However, Martin Luther’s ‘95 Theses’ which propounded two central beliefs—that the Bible is the central religious authority and that humans may reach salvation only by their faith and not by their deeds—was to spark the Protestant Reformation.
The Anglican Church, of which the Episcopal Church is a communion member, is the result of the English part in this reformation. The Catholic church in England and King Henry VIII originally resisted the ‘protesters’ of the protestant reformation and King Henry VIII penned a defense of the Catholic faith. For this Pope Leo X granted Henry the official title of ‘Defender of the Faith’ in 1521. However by 1530, and for political reasons more than theological ones, King Henry VIII decided to break from the Catholic Church so to allow himself to be the supreme authority over the ‘Catholic Church in England’.
From this historical point forward the Anglican church was now separate from the ‘Catholic church’ yet retained much of the form of worship and Episcopal structure of the church. Today we as Anglicans/Episcopalians might be termed catholic and reformed. Over the next four Sundays, we will be offering you brief written summaries of the reformation and what it means to be a part of this reformation as Anglican/Episcopalians. These will include Luther’s protests, Calvin’s reforms, the English church, and our legacy today as Anglicans/Episcopalians.

Part II             Martin Luther (1483-1546) instigates a reformation of the church.
Over the last 500 years Martin Luther has on one extreme been called ‘The ogre who destroyed the unity of the church.” On the other “A great hero whose efforts the preaching of the pure Gospel was restored.” Today among Christian scholars and historians, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, “Few doubt Luther’s sincerity, and many catholic historians affirm that his protests was amply justified, and that he was right on many points of doctrine.”
Martin Luther was a monk before he became a priest and theologian. We was sent to a monastery in Wittenburg, Germany to both study and teach at the University of Wittenburg. Upon Luther’s ordination his demeanor changed in so much that it frightened and even terrorized him that in the Eucharist he was holding and offering nothing less than the very body of Christ. This fear turned into a feeling of unworthiness of God’s love and that he was not doing enough to be saved.
            It was in his study of the Bible in preparation for his teaching duties that Luther began to study in depth the book of Romans. In this book he saw that Paul described a God whose justice was not based on punishment for sin but that in Romans 1:17 ‘the justice of God is revealed’ and that ‘The righteous shall live by faith’. Justice is then not determined by our sin, but on God’s grace. We receive that grace through faith in Jesus Christ and nothing else. With this understanding in his heart Luther wrote, “I felt I had been born anew and that the gates of heaven had been opened. The whole of scripture gained new meaning. And from that point on the phrase ‘the justice of God’ no longer filled me with hatred, but rather became unspeakably sweet by virtue of a great love.”
            It was from this revelation in the heart of Luther in which he challenged his own Catholic Church’s sales of indulgences for the forgiveness of sins as incompatible with the Bible. The church can not sell that which God has already given freely. Neither can the church allow that which the Bible most clearly forbids. With his 95 Theses Luther called upon the church to reform it’s practices based solely on scripture. From this call Luther’s theses and the reforms for which they called began to gain traction and even made great strides inside and outside the Catholic Church.
Did Luther know that his 95 Theses calling the Church to recognize the Bible as the ultimate source of God’s authority and that salvation is not offered through the church, but only through faith in Jesus Christ cause the division and disunity of the church? Perhaps it was merely the spark to ignite what was already happening.
History tells us that Luther never desired to reject or leave the Catholic church and had great criticisms for those did. Yet in the end Luther was called by no less than the Pope to recant his theology. Luther refused and publically burned the Papal Bull which called him to do so. In the end Luther stood before the authority of the Church and declared he would be willing to recant if only someone could show him where he had erred. The result being he was excommunicated from the church.  Yet Luther still found salvation in the grace of God offered freely through Jesus Christ and was a leader of the movement he began with his 95 Theses. 

Part III John Calvin 1509-1560
Our Continued series in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation on October 31, 2017
‘Without any doubt, the most important systemizer of protestant theology in the 16th century was John Calvin. While Luther was the daring trailblazer for the movement, Calvin was the careful thinker who bound the various protestant doctrines into a cohesive whole. ’ The Story of Christianity, Justo Gonzales, pg. 61

John Calvin was born in a small town in Noyon, France in 1509 a part of the rising middle class. He was 8 years old when Martin Luther nailed his thesis to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, Germany and was a student during the firestorm of the early reformation. During his studies he became familiar with the doctrines of John Wycliffe, Martin Luther and Jan Huss. After receiving a Master of Arts degree Calvin then went on to study law under two of the great jurist of his day.
It was from his study of Theology and Law that Calvin found himself drawn to the issues and arguments surrounding the protestant reformation. In his early writings Calvin was obviously sympathetic to the reformation as he began writing treatise to help clarify the faith in confusing times. His first was on the state of the souls of the dead before the resurrection. It is not known when Calvin officially broke from the Roman church, but in January 1935 he went into exile in the protestant city of Basel in Switzerland.
            From this time forward Calvin felt called to spend his time in study and literary labors and in 1536 His first Institutes of Christian Religion was published. This work would move from 6 chapters and 516 pages in its first edition in 1536 to 4 books and 80 chapters in its final definitive edition in 1560. This work would become the most famous work of the protestant reformation and spawn many Christian denominations such as ‘reformed’ Presbyterians, ‘United Church of Christ’, ‘reformed Baptists’, and influence greatly the Anglicans, Lutherans, the Methodists and really almost all protestant denominations.
                The core of Calvin’s original work focused on Theology and ‘the Law’, The Creed, The Lord’s Prayer, Sacraments, false sacraments and Christian Freedom. The most visible legacy of Calvin’s work in the Episcopal Church may be our understanding and practice of Holy Communion. Calvin argued against both the Catholic understanding of the ‘Real’ presence of Christ in Communion and the no presence of the memorialist. Communion in neither simply commemorating what Jesus did at the last supper. Calvin argued that in communion the real presence of Christ dwells within the bread and the wine in a spiritual way and so we partake of Jesus Christ and are taken into heaven by the power of the Holy Spirit and ‘share with Christ in a foretaste of the Heavenly banquet.’
Today many who adhere to Calvin’s Theology may be called a ‘Five point Calvinist’. This refers to his central five assertions of the Christian faith. These are the total depravity of man, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace and the perseverance of the saints. If these terms are confusing to you I understand as they need more fleshing out than we can accomplish in this brief pamphlet.
Just as it is perhaps today, the understanding of the Sacrament of Holy Communion was the greatest source of division between the reformers and the Roman Catholic Church and between the reformers themselves. In this division is perhaps the greatest challenge we have faced in regards to the unity of the church. In his lifetime Calvin signed several accords with other great reformers respecting and holding together in fellowship even though they had different views of the presence of Christ in the sacrament of communion. Those who came after these first reformers were not so kind to each other and these divisions became both nasty and deadly with the killing of ‘Heretics’.
To understand Calvin’s legacy in the reformation we need to understand this: Through his systematic work of theology in The Institutes of Christian Religion and his founding of a university in Geneva, there is no reformer with a greater influence on our Christian life and worship today than John Calvin. -Fr. Rob+

The Reformation in England (1534 and counting)
Henry VIII, Thomas Cranmer and the breakaway of the Church in England
from the Catholic Church

The Formal break with the English Church from the Catholic Church happened in 1534 under the authority and leadership of King Henry VIII and the Arch Bishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer. This is 17 years after Martin Luther began the reformation with his 95 Thesis against what he saw as abuses and corruption in the Catholic Church. Our Church History books tell us that the break happened because King Henry wanted a divorce from Catherine of Aragon. But rarely are such incidents so cut and dry.
England was effected by the religious and political turmoil of the protestant reformation as much as anyone in Europe at that time. The teachings and religious leanings away from the Catholic church toward a reformed understanding of the Christian faith centered on the authority of Scripture and salvation through faith alone were finding quite a foothold in England. This was particularly true with religious leaders such as William Tyndale, John Wycliffe, and Thomas Cranmer who would become the first independent arch bishop of Canterbury and the author of our first Anglican prayer book. Yet Henry VIII was not a fan of the reformation and published a treatise against Martin Luther which was acclaimed by Pope Leo X who conferred on him and His descendants the title of ‘Defender of the Faith.’ Yet by 1534 Henry VIII solidifies a break with the Catholic Church. Why was this?
            Justo Gonzales writes, ‘As Henry saw matters, what was needed was not a reformation like the one on the continent, but rather a restoration of the rights of the crown against Papal Intervention.’ Where Luther criticized the abuses of the church upon its people through unbiblical requirements and practices, Henry VIII was tired of undue influence of the Pope upon the rights of princes. Henry, who was forced to marry the widow of his older brother Arthur, was seeking an annulment upon the grounds that such a marriage is unlawful according to church law and therefore should never have been granted. The denial of an annulment and divorce from Pope Clement VII should have been granted according to church law, but it was not. Thus this event precipitated and really solidified Henry’s decision to break from Rome. Upon the break from Rome All clergy were required to give an oath of loyalty to the King as head of the church in England.
            For several years the break from the Catholic Church was little more than schism and no doctrinal content was put forward to justify the schism nor a reformation of the church (except the king was now it’s head) was attempted. Yet the reformation could not be held at bay and its influence which had been pressing upon the English church and clergy for years. In the years that followed, Henry’s motivations relating to the church we almost always political though he always sought to maintain the worship of the church be as close to the catholic ideal as possible.
Yet the King did begin reformation in England. He allowed Arch Bishop Cranmer to order the bible be translated into English and placed in every church where it could be read by all. Henry continued to suppress the monasteries, which were allied with the Catholic Church. All of this saw the allies of the reformation in England have a strong foothold in England and when Henry died took the opportunity to both push the reformation further with the Church and country of England. Yet as we will see next week, the English or Anglican church it is now known, of all the churches that are a part of the reformation, see itself most closely with the Catholic church in its worship and its theology.

The Anglican Church Today: Catholic and Reformed
Today’s Anglican Church has 38 provinces, over 300 million members and is the legacy of much more than a Church begun upon the political and marital machinations of a British Monarch. To understand who we are today as a church we really need to understand the Anglican Church as something much more than what it was when Henry VIII first broke away from the Papel Authority or what so many call ‘Catholic light.’
As you might imagine 500 years does something to a person or in our case a Church. Yes Henry VIII declared independence from Papal authority, but he still retained the structure of the Catholic Church in England and its worship. Churches did not look any different and the man in the pew would not have noticed much of any difference in the worship. In fact the church as we now see it has had several very significant changes in how it looked when it broke from the Roman Catholic Church and none of them came with Henry VIII.
Henry’s daughter Queen Elizabeth established much more of a protestant hierarchy in the church with key leaders from the English protestant movement being made bishops. She also passed the the Act of Uniformity for the church which says worship in all churches must follow the same form. This is why no matter where you go in the world a service at an Anglican or Episcopal Church will look very much like the service we have here at St. Luke & St. Peter’s.
            Following well after Queen Elizabeth, the 1662 prayer book (which laid out Anglican forms of worship and theology) set forth what is even now is our standard for said worship and theology. Today we still consider ourselves a church whose theology is founded in the Bible, but whose worship is secured in the prayer book and it’s more modern revisions.
                Though worship today actual would look familiar to the church in Henry and Elizabeth’s time, there was well over 100 years in which the worship of the church tended to move closer to the Anabaptist movement which got rid of things such as crosses, Altars, and stained glass windows. The focus of the church at that time tended be much more about the Bible, personal devotion and corporate worship without the use of anything that could be mistaken for an idol or an icon. In Shorts, churches were bare with only a pulpit and bible.
Yet in the Early 1800’s a movement began in England and in the United States which looked back upon the church in the era of Henry and Elizabeth and saw in it the deep connection to the worship of the Roman Catholic Church and brought back into our worship both the vessels and the Sacramental look of our sanctuaries for the purpose of Eucharistic Worship. It’s leaders were such Anglican clergy as John Henry Newman, John Keble, Edward Pusey and Richard Froude. They reminded the Anglican Church of its deep connection with and dedication to liturgical worship. Without their influence, today a worship service at St. Luke & St. Peter might look more like a non-denominational church than a Catholic one.
Today our worship is decidedly Eucharistic and Sacramental. Yet our preaching is more on the Authority of the Bible and the focus on a personal faith in Jesus Christ for Salvation. So to understand the Anglican Church as either Protestant or Catholic would be a false dichotomy for we are both. We are both steeped in the Bible as the authoritative word of God and trusting in our faith in Jesus Christ to receive salvation. And we share the ministry of the Sacraments, the three fold orders of ministry of Deacons priests and Bishops, and we hold to the Holy Eucharist as our primary act of corporate worship. Today’s Anglican Church then is not an either/or, but a both/and. We are distinctly reformed, we are distinctly catholic, we are…distinctly Anglican. –Fr. Rob Longbottom+

Research for these articles came from The Story of Christianity, by Justo Gonzales and the Living Church Magazine Article by Rev. Tony Clavier, protestant or Catholic,

Friday, September 19, 2014

New Website and a new welcome from our Church, St. Luke & St. Peter's

Well its no Dog with a Blog and I really can not say that this blog has changed the world or has been widely read, but it does give me an avenue within the context of my pastoral ministry and leadership to offer those within my life and ministry to gain a greater glimpse into how their faith interacts with the world in which we all live.

This week the new website for the church with which I serve goes live! The church is The Episcopal Church of St. Luke & St. Peter’s and the website is

This new website replaces a perfectly adequate website which has served our church for many years. This new site however does some things the old site does not. First, it connects potential visitors and our current members with pictures and videos of happenings at our church. Second, it also connects visitors and members with online Calendars, social media, sermons and my pastors blog. This will allow visitors to gain a much fuller grasp of who we are, what we do and what we believe. It will also connect current members to the life of the church in a more comprehensive fashion.

I love what a Barna group survey from the late 1990’s (yes eon’s ago) indicated of visitors to churches who were looking for a new home. This survey posited from a study it did on persons searching for new churches that visitors to our church will know within five minutes of walking through our doors whether or not they would ever come back. Visitors first impressions of how they are welcomed as well as the ‘curb appeal’ which shows that the church has resources for ministry is vitally important if we ever want a visitor to remain.

Churches took this information and started welcome ministries that began the greeting process on Sunday mornings from the moment a person’s car come onto their property. They also made sure that their campuses were well maintained and beautiful as a mark of ministry. I think anyone in business understands the principle that making people feel welcome is truly tremendously important to inviting and maintaining clientele.
However we no longer live in the 1990’s when visitors found us in the phone book or with a print ad without any knowledge of what the church is really like. Their first impression of a church was when they stepped onto the church campus and how they are greeted once they arrived. Today, potential visitors will take their first steps into our church by finding us online. In today’s world, potential visitors will judge whether or not they will even set foot on our church campus based on what they find via our website and social media. This means online welcoming and online ‘curb appeal’ which allows visitors to easily find us and explore who we are is of the utmost importance.

I would be surprised if you disagreed with this assessment because you are most likely reading it on my Blog. Anyone who takes the time to read a blog understands that in our world today we first search online for everything in order to determine what we will search it out in person. Our new Website attempts to bridge this gap by creating a website which will mirror the welcome and family friendly nature of our Church. We hope that by searching us out online, you would be a church which desires to warmly welcome you as a part of that family whether you have found us for the first time or have been a member for years.

The Church of St. Luke & St. Peter's Has two new websites one for our church and one for our preschool, both of which we believe are reflections of what you will find when you visit us in person.
Church website:
Preschool website

Fr. Rob+

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Run out of Gas Lately? I did! Time to get refreshed

Alright, I know this imagery is pretty well known and written about, but once it happens to you, you a reminder is always helpful.
Running out of Gas

My gas light had been flashing at me for the whole day. That night I saw I was below empty and gave myself a reminder that I needed to fill up the tank the next morning, but it really wasn’t a problem because my gas gauge had been down that far before and I knew I had about 30 more miles before I would truly be empty. The next morning however it had all slipped my mind and I did nothing all day. The truth was I never even noticed my gas light was flashing at me. Why would I notice it? I had seen it a million times and never run out of gas. I was fine! It was about 5:30 in the ‘Prevening’ as Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory has coined the term, and I was delivering dinner to a couple in our church who both just had surgery. The woman met me in the driveway so I left the car running and met her with the food. She invited me inside so I went. We talked for several minutes and then said goodbye. Returning to my car I remarked to myself that the engine seemed pretty quiet. I got inside, the air conditioner was still running and the radio was on. I buckled up, put the car in gear, pressed the gas peddle and… nothing. My car wouldn’t move. I had run out of gas! Never in my life had I run out of gas. Not even in college when I was notorious for driving on an empty tank. So what was I going to do? I sat there with my seat belt on saying to myself, ‘Well I guess I will call my wife and have her bring the gas can.’ I knew however that this would be difficult as dinner was literally being put on the table and she would have three kids to get into the car. Then I thought, maybe the parishioner has a gas can with a bit of gas for his yard work. I went and asked and luckily they did have gas. I put about a quarter gallon in and drove straight to the nearest gas station. When I got there, the atm/credit card machines were down and they were only accepting cash for gas. I HAD NO CASH! I prayed my little amount of gas would get me to the next station and by God’s grace it did. I filled my tank, went home and told my family all about it.

                The God thing about running out of gas is two fold. First happening at the home of someone who had both a Gas can and gas in the can. God seems to be taking care of me this way lately, thank you very much! Second, it happened the evening before I was leaving for the day to go to a one day retreat with other pastors and church leaders to refresh and rejuvenate ourselves. I realized that I had been running on empty for quite some time and if I did not get away to fill my spiritual tank I would have nothing left for the church, my family  and spiritually run out of Gas myself. Thank God this one day retreat was the pit stop I needed to be re
freshed and encouraged to run the race of ministry for which I had been called. Isaiah 40:31 tells us, ‘But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint’ Paul continues this line of thought when he writes in Philippians 3:13-14, ‘Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’

I encourage you as a follower of Jesus to not let your tank run out of gas, but take time to rest in the lord, renew your strength and continue to press on toward the prize.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Day 87 For the Love of Money: A Tale of two perspecetives (Pastors of L.A. and Pope Francis)

For the love of Money: A tale of two perspectives

Ok this is going to be a long post. After not posting on the Essential 100 challenge for awhile, this is a doozy. When I came upon reading 87 about ‘The Love of Money’ I was really challenge.

I do not know about you, but I could have seen this coming. On the Oxygen network this fall is a new reality show called, “Preachers of L.A.”. This show follows six ‘mega Church’ pastors and what is called their ‘Mega-lives’. The trailer for the new reality show indicates that that it will follow these six pastors in their ministry and their lavish lifestyles. If you want to know what the show may focus on just look at these quotes from the Oxygen Channel’s trailer for the show:

1.       "The Bible says I wish above all things that you would prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers. I believe that," declares Bishop Clarence McClendon, one of the stars of the show.

2.       McClendon, whose weekly international broadcast reaches some 250 million homes, believes "there is no other kind of Gospel" except the prosperity gospel, according to a release from the Oxygen network.

3.       P. Diddy, Jay-Z, they're not the only ones who should be driving Ferraris and living in large houses," says cast member Bishop Ron Gibson, a former gang member who now ministers to 4,500 people each week at Life Church of God in Christ.

4.       "The Bible says that those of us who sow among us should reap from us, that's implying that preachers should be taken care of," says Senior Pastor of The Sanctuary of Huntington Beach Pastor Jay Haizlip, who is also on the show.

Another cast member is described as follows:

“Cast member Bishop Noel Jones, who was born into extreme poverty in Jamaica, now lives "on a hilltop with a view of the Pacific Ocean, Malibu at his feet, and across the street from the former home of the late L.A. Lakers owner, Jerry Buss," according to his biographic information shared by Oxygen.”

Part II

What holds all these pastors in common is not their ministry, but their lavish lifestyles and belief that God’s desire is for those who follow him will prosper.

Recently, as I was reading day 87 of the Essential 100 challenge, I was confronted with Paul’s writing to Timothy regarding Pastoral leadership and ‘the love of money’. In 1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”


I will be so bold as to declare to things:


1.      I love money. I love the security it brings, the comfort it brings and the lifestyle it brings. But this too, as the writer of Ecclesiastes would say, is vanity. To love Christ is to forsake money. You can not serve two masters.


2.      God specifically does not want money, possessions or anything else to impede our relationship with him or our mission of spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom of heaven; which is freedom in and through Christ.


I want to end with comparing two stories from this week, the Pastor’s of L.A. with Pope Francis and ask which of these ministers most truly reflects the heart of God and the ministry of Jesus Christ.


1.      Those six Mega Pastors on Oxygen


2.      Pope Francis asking his clergy, “What Would Jesus Drive.” And asking them to be more humble.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Secret Pain of Pastors, "Why did I ever agree to do this!"

This is a very interesting article on the true difficulties of being a pastor. In essence it gives a detailed look at how stressful a pastor's life can be based on all the things he or she must deal with as a pastor on a daily basis. I invite you to take a look and then respond by giving your pastor a word of encouragement whether you think they deserve it or not or whether you like them or not.

Readings 26-29 The Book of Judges: The cycle of Sin and redemption

The book of Judges is a microcosm of the overarching theme of the Bible. God calls his people to relationship and for a while the people accept and follow him. Then the people fall away from God through pride and selfishness. Without being in relationship with God their lives begin to suffer. God is no longer able to protect them from themselves and outside forces. Then in their oppression the people repent of their pride and selfishness and return to a relationship with God. Now God can provide for them and he does so. God redeems his people and once again they are in right relationship. Soon the people begin to fall away again in their pride and selfishness. It is a cycle that never ends and to which the law of Moses has no power to stop.
I am hoping you not only see this pattern in the Bible, but in our own lives. I do not know about you, but I live a life of extreme comfort. I may not be flush with cash, but I live in a nice home, have food on the table, two cars and opportunities to enjoy myself. I am doing extremely well. Yet it is in this comfort and ease that we become most susceptible to selfishness, pride and arrogance. We are susceptible to rejecting the need for a protector and provider. So I reject him. I may not think that I reject him, but by relying on my own strength and failing to go to God in thanksgiving for all he has given me and my family I say, ‘Look what I have been able to do.” I turn to myself and thus reject God. This grieves God as he longs to be my foundation and provider but can not do so as long as I limit him and even reject him.
But God is so amazing that even though he can say, ‘I told you so.’ when my selfishness and pride cause my life to come crashing down, He judges not except to hold me in his arms and say, ‘how I have missed you.”
So as we read the book of Judges, may we know that this book is for each us in that God does not desire our lives to end in sin, civil war and exile as it did with the nation of Israel. God desires to be our ‘Judge’, our protector, our redeemer, our king. Let us think of those places in our lives in which we need to turn over to God and the areas of our lives in which we need to thank God for the redeeming gift of Jesus Christ and follow him in good times and bad as our Lord and Savior.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Day 25: Reading the Bible every day is impossible! Nothing is impossible with God; ask Joshua!

We are one quarter of the way through our Essential 100 and I was wondering something. Have you actually read twenty five daily bible readings? Are you where you need to be to finish the E100 bible challenge on time? Here is the truth, reading the bible, even for five minutes a day is not as easy as Fr. Rob said it would be. How do I know? I have missed a few days. Ok so I have missed six days. Of course when I do miss I make it up the next day or over the next few days.

The truth is about this time we begin to get slack with our reading and even wonder if it is worth the effort. If you have made it to the twenty fifth reading you will find that it is the point in the story of Israel in which after their forty years in the Desert they have crossed the Jordon to claim the homeland that god has promised. Big problem though; there are already people living in the land. These people are numerous, have armies and cities with big giant walls. How in the world are the Israelites ever going to establish themselves in this land it is seemingly impossible. The first obstacle is Jericho, the city with massive walls. God commanded Joshua and the Israelites to take the city. One problem though. With their technology there was no way to take it. The walls were too thick.

                Yet Joshua was obedient and moved as the Lord commanded. When he did so God came again and showed that what is impossible with man is possible with God. He had Joshua do some parading around the city which in itself was silly and could do nothing to actually penetrate the city. Yet God told Joshua what to do and what the outcome would be. So Joshua commanded his army to march around the city in faithfulness to God’s command and what happened? God brought down the walls of Jericho, the Israelite army rushed in and took the city.

                So if God has called you to participate in the E100 challenge, trust in him to accomplish this task and be obedient in doing so. This is not only true with our reading, but in every part of your Christian life. Throughout the Bible was God’s continued call upon Christians is not to a good and happy life, but to obedience. By being obedient God’s people become Holy. By becoming Holy, we are reside in the divine will of God. This is where we have always been meant to be.

                So take off your shoes my friends, be obedient to his call to holiness for you are standing on the Holy Ground of God’s word.