Learning from Luke: Let Your Kingdom Come

Learning from Luke: Let Your Kingdom Come Sermon Audio Here

Luke 17:20-26

Let’s be honest: we pray every week for God’s Kingdom to be known on earth. Does the world in which we live remind you of life in Heaven? Why not?

We Hold Back The Coming Kingdom When

We Watch For The Wrong Signs
Luke 17:20-21

  • v20 Pharisees used same words, but different meanings; they understood the Kingdom of God to be a political victory over opposinging forces
  • v21 Jesus sets them straight: the KoG is INSIDE, not outside; it’s about voluntary surrender to the King of Heaven, not forced submission to a stronger external force

We Want The Wrong Person
Luke 17:22-23

  • v22 “son of man” = perfect mediator between God and humanity
  • v23 “after THEM” warning about following the CROWD instead of following the LORD

We Wait For The Wrong Event
Luke 17:24-26

  • v24 His day will be when Jesus brings humanity and God together at last
  • v25 He did this at the cross
  • v26 He will do it again at His second coming; like Noah’s day, we won’t be watching

2 Kings 5:8-14 Just like Naaman was upset that the man of God didn’t kowtow to his own self-importance, most of humanity will miss the work that God is doing among us – the quiet surrender of Self to the Kingdom of God

Learning from Luke: Measuring with a Broken Ruler

Learning from Luke: Measuring with a Broken Ruler Sermon Audio Here

Luke 16:10-15

In 1628, the Swedish warship Vasa sank on its maiden voyage. Why? because two rulers of different sizes were used in construction. How do we measure our lives – are we using the same standards that God uses?

We Are Headed For Shipwreck If We Ignore

The Problem of Misplaced Priorities
Amos 8:4-6 An old problem

  • Amos, a farm worker who was called by God to deliver His word, warned Israel that their priorities were so far out of alignment with His, that He would stop speaking to them. The people had become so consumed with their own SELVES that they would no longer be able to hear God’s word.

The Persistence of Misaligned Principles
Luke 16:10-15 A persistent attitude
=> 750 years later, not much change: Jesus taught about the prodigal son (the measure of grace from the Father) and contrasted that with the shrewd servant (the measure of money for personal gain)

  • v10 small choices are indicators of big choices
  • v11/12 notice: true riches are NOT financial!
  • v13 devotion in service is the emphasis; 2 masters can receive crummy service, but that’s not right
  • v15a outside life vs. inside; SHOULD match, but don’t always
  • v15b When our value system doesn’t match God’s, we can either change ours… or SINK

Is this a current problem? In a greater context, YES. How can we, as a local expression, live and move and have our being without using the world’s standard measure of success?

Voluntarily share and show your standard; if the shipbuilders of the Vasa had simply compared their tools from the port and the starboard sides of the ship, they would have avoided disaster. Let’s show each other (and the watching world) that our voyage of faith can go the distance… IF our standards match the Master’s.

Where The Roses Never Fade – Marion Laib funeral sermon

For those of you who don’t live in Warden, our church’s choir director and organist, Marion Laib, passed away last week, and today was her funeral.

Writing her funeral sermon was one of the more challenging tasks I’ve done in pastoral ministry; Jami reminded me that from here on out, it will only get tougher because I love these people so much.

I’m posting this sermon/meditation because some might have missed being able to attend… or some might want to read it… or some musicians might appreciate the merger of hymn and remembrance. At any rate, here’s Marion’s funeral meditation: Where The Roses Never Fade.

One of the greatest honors I have as a pastor is to remind people just how close Jesus is at times of crisis. As we move through this life, we experience heartaches and struggle, frustrations and pain; this is a part of the human condition. And in the midst of it all, God is present. We may not always see Him at work, focused as we often become on our own matters and concerns. Yet, God is right there, right beside us, as close as our own heartbeat, steadily calling for us to hear His whispered voice. This is the promise of faith – that we are never left alone; that we can always hear the call of God.

Many of us hear that call from the Lord through the means of music. It has been shown that music lights up our minds, causes us to be more alive, more aware of the nature of reality than when we ignore melody and harmony. Marion was one of these souls for whom music spoke in a powerful way; and she shared what she learned with others. She had a special fondness for the hymn “Where The Roses Never Fade”. Marion’s life reflected the values in this song; it’s no wonder it was so powerful to her.

Marion Laib merged her life and her faith. She had set her heart on receiving the promise of God, that she would be “going to a city Where the streets with gold are laid; Where the tree of life is blooming And the roses never fade.” She lived her life in such a way that her eventual destination shaped how she lived day to day. The music with which she filled her life also impacted the lives of many others; she played the organ and directed the choir in this congregation for many years. She poured music into the lives of children (and adults who sometimes acted like children) and they were made better for it.

Let us face an unpleasant truth: this world, and the things in it, wind down. Nothing on this physical realm lasts forever; we understand that there is a season to every activity under heaven. The Bible reminds us that there is a time to live, and a time to die; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. All we need do is look around and we can see the truth of this: the flowers that bloomed so beautifully last week are already fading, and yet farmers are out in their fields, planting and preparing for the harvest. Marion’s hymn reminds us that what we value so much in this life “blooms but for a season, and Soon their beauty is decayed; I am going to a city Where the roses never fade.”

What a stunning promise of faith: that we will leave behind the old, and inherit the new. We will leave behind the decay, and enter into the realm where Death itself is no more. We will be free: from the difficulties of sin, from the injustices that are often experienced, from the fear of the unknown. For those who have trusted God, as Marion had, will move from death to life, from woe to wonder. We understand now that “In this world we have our troubles, and Satan’s snares we must evade” as the hymn says. That requires a recognition that we aren’t guaranteed a perfect life down here; we all just do the best we can with what we experience. But as we lean on Jesus, and step into His wonderful embrace, “We’ll be free from all temptations Where the roses never fade.”

If Marion could speak to you right now, I’m sure she’d tell you how wonderful Heaven is. She might describe what it looks like to her; the Bible uses terms like “streets of gold” or “jeweled foundations” or “gates of pearl”. But the point of Heaven isn’t eternal fancy accommodations, or how amazing everything looks. The point of Heaven, indeed the point of all of existence… is Jesus. The reason we rejoice when one of our loved ones steps into eternity is because they get to finally see Jesus face to face. They receive the promise that they’ve hoped for all their life long. This is true for Marion: she no longer has faith; she no longer has doubts or concerns. The Bible says that she no longer peers through a dim glass, but instead sees the Lord face to face; now she knows, even as she is fully known.

And this promise is extended to all who will trust Christ for their salvation. The last line of the hymn reminds us that “Loved ones gone to be with Jesus, In their robes of white arrayed, Now are waiting for my coming Where the roses never fade.”

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses [like Marion, and Royal and Elsa, and Pastor Lindsay, and so many others], let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Digitizing Media with Linux

Hello, faithful readers – all two of you –

Be warned that this is another Linux post, intended for me to keep track of a task I’ve done, so if I need to repeat it, I don’t have to reinvent the wheel from scratch.

Today’s task: to record video from my old VCR into my computer.

If you wanted to do this on your own Linux computer, you’d need:

  • a computer
  • a video capture card
  • a vcr
  • wires to hook everything together

Specifically, you’d need to make sure that your vcr output is going into the video capture card’s input. On my setup, I’m using a pcHDTV 3000 card, and I’m using the composite input. That’s considered “input 1” in the code below.

I’m using Mencoder to record the video, as I like the settings it has: I get a good balance of quality video and size with the setting below.


export MAIN_DIALOG='
  <window title="MyDVR" icon-name="gtk-preferences" resizable="true" decorated="true" width_request="320">
      <label>Time to record (hh:mm:ss):</label>
    <entry activates_default="true">

      <label>Name of recording:</label>
    <entry editable="false">

        <action>xterm -e mencoder tv:// -tv driver=v4l2:device=/dev/video0:norm=NTSC:input=1:width=720:height=480:audiorate=44100:alsa:adevice=hw.0:brightness=17:contrast=0:hue=0:saturation=0 -oac copy -ovc lavc -noskip -quiet -vf crop=720:460:0:20 -vf yadif=0.5 -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:vbitrate=3000 -endpos $ENTRY1 -o  "$ENTRY2.mp4"</action> 
        <action type="exit">OK</action>
        <action type="exit">Exit</action>

gtkdialog --program=MAIN_DIALOG

So, this may not have been the most interesting post I’ve ever written, but I’m putting it up here so I can refer to it later if need be. Thanks for your patience, readers!

Learning from Luke: The Lay of the Land

Learning from Luke: The Lay of the Land Sermon Audio Here

Luke 15:1-10

“Lay of the Land” possible that the term originated because scouts were sent ahead to get the topology of a piece of land before settlers moved in. Refers to determining how an unknown area can be accessed.

Jesus gave “the lay of the land” of the Kingdom to his hearers, and they were unprepared for His report. Are we?

As We Look At God’s Kingdom, Ask:

Who Does Jesus Attract?
Luke 15:1-2

  • v1 Jesus draws sinners
  • v2 this makes religious people uncomfortable

What Does Jesus Address?
Luke 15:3-7

  • v3/4 isn’t it normal to look for what is lost?
  • v5/6 isn’t it normal to rejoice when you find the lost?
  • v7 Heaven is like that; Heaven responds the way we would.

What Does Jesus Affirm?
Luke 15:8-10

  • v8 high value = careful effort to regain
  • v9 once found, community invited to rejoice
  • v10 in the same way: do our values match God’s

The difference is in what is valuable enough, when lost, to find. We like what we’re already comfortable with; we “drift” from our initial decision to follow Jesus to following what we think Jesus would like. Part of our challenge as citizens of God’s Kingdom is to always be “recalculating”, to reorient ourselves on the values and the Person of Christ.

Learning from Luke: The Bottom Line

Learning from Luke: The Bottom Line Sermon Audio Here

Luke 14:25-33

Consider Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” speech. It’s one of the most famous “what should I do” moments in all of English literature. How did Hamlet work through the choice to live or die? He compares one state (living with pain) to another state (dying with unknowns).

Long before Shakespeare, Jesus challenged people to make a similar choice; to discover their Bottom Line.

To Find What Is Most Important To You,

Compare with the Cross
Luke 14:25-27

  • v26 notice the large crowds: He points to the Kingdom of God
  • v26 Jesus’ example: Kingdom of God first, THEN family
  • v27 even more extreme: Kingdom of God, THEN life

Consider the Cost
Luke 14:28-33

  • v28/30 count the cost TO COMPLETION (what are your resources?)
  • v31/32 count the cost FOR VICTORY (what is your strategy?)
  • v33 count the cost FOR ETERNAL LIFE (what do you value most?)

What could you possibly have in this life that is better than Jesus? Let go of your old life so you can receive New Life in Christ!

Learning from Luke: Getting in the Door

Learning from Luke: Getting in the Door Sermon Audio Here

Luke 13:22-30

Have you ever looked at the Immigration requirements for different countries? For Austria, they only consider those with skilled jobs. In China, one must be invited by a known Chinese citizen. And immigration from the United States to Argentina is basically unheard of, although ex-pats retire to Argentina without becoming citizens.

What did Jesus teach about being a citizen of God’s Kingdom?

What is Crucial For Kingdom Entry?

Effort Is Needed to Keep Relationship Alive
(Luke 13:22-25)

Effort Alone Doesn’t Replace Relationship
(Luke 13:26-30)

  • v26 being AROUND / knowing ABOUT doesn’t count
  • v27 evildoer= motives don’t match the Owner
  • v28 prophets LISTENED to what God said, and did it. What about us?
  • v29 Jewish warning: people from OUTSIDE Israel would be accepted as belonging OVER native Israel
  • v30 why the reversal? GOD’s values, not ours, make the rules

We can’t automatically assume that because of our background, we’re living like God wants. God chose us for inner relationship, not outward piety. That being said, BOTH must be present (cf. 2 Peter 1:8 – don’t be ineffective or unfruitful)

Pastor Ed Backell

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Pastoral Tweets

  • 2Ki5:8-14 Naaman was mad that Elijah didn’t kowtow to him. Most will miss the work that God is doing among us – the quiet surrender of Self. 1 day ago
  • We Hold Back The Coming Kingdom When We Wait For The Wrong Event (Luke 17:24-26) 1 day ago
  • We Hold Back The Coming Kingdom When We Want The Wrong Person (Luke 17:22-23) 1 day ago
  • We Hold Back The Coming Kingdom When We Watch For The Wrong Signs (Luke 17:20-21) 1 day ago
  • Learning from Luke: Let Your Kingdom Come pastoredb.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/lea… 1 day ago

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