All at Once

The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future: Oscar-wilde
The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future: Oscar-wilde

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!
1 John 3:1a

Isaac Newton worked on it in the seventeenth century, then Albert Einstein wrote about it in the early twentieth century: time. Generally, time has three dimensions: past, present, and future. Right now you are in the present. But a few seconds from now, this moment will be in the past. There is a seamless transition at work in our lives as the present retreats to the past and gives way to the future. God exists outside of time; past, present, and future are one to Him. God sees our redemption (past), sanctification (present), and glorification (future) at the same “time.”

The Bible speaks of both God’s and man’s perspective on time. God is both eternal (Deuteronomy 33:27) and infinite (Psalm 147:5). And the apostle John speaks of our past, present, and future with God in 1 John 3:1-2. God has bestowed His love on us (past; verse 1), resulting in our being children of God (present; verse 2a). And the future is ahead of us when “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (verse 2b).

Praise Him today that His love is all-encompassing. Our past, present, and future are in His hands.


The voice crying out in the wilderness…


Today we find ourselves in the second week of Advent, this time of waiting and anticipation of Christ’s return. A time to reflect on our own lives and prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of our Savior.
The scripture from the beginning of Mark’s gospel is titled, “The Proclamation of John the Baptist.” Mark’s gospel is the shortest of the four gospels, it is direct, it is to the point and each verse is filled with meaning and purpose.
Mark is direct enough that he skips the nativity and baby Jesus account and immediately begins with the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mark begins his gospel and account of Christ by going back in time.
Mark goes back about 600-700 years to the time of Isaiah. From the Old Testament account of Isaiah he quotes, “A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
Make straight your paths, for the promised one is coming. In Isaiah’s day he spoke to a Jewish audience that had been exiled. In Mark’s account he talking about Christ and the messenger preparing the way for him.
Mark writes, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord.’
In this painfully hectic time between holidays, how much time are we spending preparing our hearts, souls and minds to meet and be present with our God? This time of year we don’t celebrate credit card debt or empty bank accounts. We don’t celebrate added inches to our waistline.

No, we celebrate the birth of our God. The mystery of the incarnation and the insane lengths our God went to, to reconcile us to him. To bring us closer to him.

In preparing for this sermon I read about and questioned why our God would need someone to prepare the way for him. Why would an all-present and all-powerful God need a man dressed in strange clothes – camel’s hair, and who ate weird things (locusts and honey) to prepare the way for him?

Is it because we all stand on the shoulders and accomplishments of those that have gone before us? We all stand on the ground that was prepared for us by others. All the hard work of our ancestors and their desire to see their children succeed have benefitted each of us.

Unfortunately, these bodies and minds of flesh that have short memories and are inclined to take credit for what has been accomplished.

Even our God, who emptied himself of all his divinity, needed someone to prepare the way for him. An all-present and all-powerful God would rely on a mere mortal to be the voice crying out in the wilderness.

Why would God need someone to prepare the way for him? And why would he pick a strange looking and acting guy to be that person?

….It would take someone with far more knowledge than I to fully answer that question. I think it has to do with the humility of our God. We celebrate, honor and worship a God that gave up the splendor and glory of heaven, all that beauty to come to this world riddled with sickness, disease, war, famine, acts of evil and death.

I think that I would rather look at that from a distance and bask in the beauty of heaven. But not our God. He saw the terrible consequence that sin caused and he decided that something had to be done about it.

He traded his mansion for a mud hut, he traded power for humility and splendor for suffering. He sent his messenger, John the Baptist, before him. John appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

In spite of his strange appearance people flocked to listen to him and to be baptized by him in the Jordan River. “Make straight your paths, prepare the way of the Lord.”

People came from the Judean countryside and from Jerusalem to see, hear and be baptized by John the Baptist. He had his own disciples and was popular enough or posed enough of a threat that even the Pharisees came to see what all the commotion was about.

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near, make straight your path, prepare the way for the Lord…….Repent……confess……..understand your own brokenness before your God……..ask for forgiveness for the kingdom of heaven has come near…….

What if each of us in our own way is John the Baptist? We may not go out into the timber or near the closest river and cry out or wear strange clothes, but what if each of us as we commit and recommit to our faith every day is living like John the Baptist?

Every time we commit to be read our bibles, to pray, to be a part of a small group, to do something for someone else, every time we chose to be intentional about our faith that we straighten our own path and influence those close to us.

Lives of faith can scream and proclaim the gospel without speaking a single word. Proclaim the gospel always said St. Francis, use words only when necessary.

People went to John the Baptist to repent of their sins and to be baptized. In his humility, John proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

John the Baptist knew his mission was to prepare the way for the one that is coming, one far more powerful than he.

We have also been made aware that one that Christ, is going to return. Are we preparing the way for his arrival……

Are we proclaiming the good news of God’s action and arrival in this world, the coming of God’s kingdom, his ministry, death and resurrection?

As we celebrate and honor the second Sunday of Advent, let us remember all of those that have gone before us. Let us remember the spiritual giants in our own lives and Mark’s gospel does recalling the words of Isaiah.

Let us live bold, courageous lives of faith that speak to this world and those in it who we are and what we are about. In this painfully busy time of year, let us slow down and take time to reflect on what is truly important and why we celebrate with gifts, good food and precious time spend with family and friends.

Let us go with the knowledge and the truth that our God is coming back to this earth. It may not be in our lifetime, but he is coming back. If we don’t see him in the time each of us has left, that is no reason or excuse to be convenient or flippant about your faith.

Let us be about the work of the one that created all that is good and holy. Let us be about the work of a God that became the word incarnate. A penniless, nomadic preacher that come to save the souls of many.

Pastor Shawn LaRue, Pastor @ Seymour UMC

Author of Incomplete

The Trump Card

President Trump, just did the unthinkable. He just made a statement that was purely trumpish…  he also garnered a significant populace behind him. All the Christians who were like  trumph…. blah… just got a rude wake up call ( that includes me). Any Bible believing christian would agree that this is not coincidence,  this is prophesy.

I have often disagreed with other Christians about the illegitimacy of Trumps president-ship ( not because he did something illegal, mostly because I think he won by fluke… and also because people voted against Clinton… because she seemed like a player),  his tomfoolery and his immature tweets. Now I have to reconcile that whether he is a fool or  “The President of America”, he is unequivocally GOD’s tool.

Trump just defined his presidency and by extension redefined the role that the US of A has to play on the world stage.

I think more than Trump, it’s a call towards Christians  to accept and embrace the prophesy foretold in revelations.

These are interesting times for sure….. I just hope that we will weather it with grace.




You did it for the least of these…..


We have arrived at the end of Christ’s public ministry in the book of Matthew. Matthew’s gospel was written in the last half of the first century with an emphasis on the fulfillment of Christ as the Messiah.
This passage of scripture opens with the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy from the book of Daniel, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, and then he will sit on the throne of his glory.”

Christ is in the last week of his life. He has spoken parable after parable of what it will be like upon his return and the work, we as Christians should be about until his return to this world. Christ gives fair and ample warning about what will happen come Judgment Day.

Today’s scripture is titled, ‘The Last Judgment.’ “All the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.”

All nations means just that – all Jews, Gentiles, everyone from everywhere. Separating the sheep from the goats was a common practice for shepherds in biblical times.

Having mixed herds was common, at night sheep would be placed in an open pasture, while the goats needed to be protected from the cold. Sheep have more commercial value than goats do.

The bible oftentimes makes reference to the vocation of being a shepherd. God’s people are often times referred to as sheep, whether we like it or not. Have you ever wondered why………

Given the context and setting – 2,000 years ago in the Middle East, being a shepherd and tending to livestock was a common occupation – people could identify with it.
Sheep need protection, guidance and provision. It is also believed that sheep respond to the voice of their shepherd.

We share these things in common. We are also in need of guidance, provision and protection and if we take the time to listen we will also recognize the voice of our shepherd, of the one that provides, protects and guides.

A shepherd had to be willing to lay down his or her life for who and what they were protecting. Christ, our shepherd, was willing to and did the same when he laid down his life for us.

On that Day of Judgment, when the Son of Man returns in all his glory, the herd will be separated, like the parables of the past two weeks – the wise and foolish bridesmaids and the servants who were charged with investing their owner’s estate.

“Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink.

I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

Our God is omnipotent and omnipresent. He has unlimited power, he knows everything and is always present. Everywhere all the time, to everyone. The God we serve is a God for everyone.

Our God champions the poor, the marginalized and disenfranchised. Our God is a god of the poor, downtrodden and forgotten. A god of the hungry, thirsty, sick, lame and the incarcerated.

A God of the homeless, those in care facilities, nursing homes, the homebound and all those that can’t do for themselves. We do not need to look any further than Christ’s life and who he spent time with during his ministry.

He spent time with those that needed him most. He eased their suffering through his own acts of mercy. He gave sight to the blind, provided living water and broke the shackles of sin that enslave us.

After they have been separated the righteous answered, “Lord when was it that we say you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? When was it that we say you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?

When was it that we say you sick or in prison and visited you? The righteous seemed to be surprised and unsure how to answer God’s question. We don’t remember seeing you or we would have surely given you food, drink, clothing and visited you.

I am reminded of Mother Teresa’s life and example. Taking care of the dying, cleaning their wounds, teaching young children by writing the letters of the alphabet in the dirt with a stick.

She said that each person she interacted with was Jesus in a distressing disguise. Each person, every human being bears the image of the Creator and deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.

The king answered the righteous, “Truly, I tell you just as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.” When you treated one of the least of these well, someone that could do nothing for you, you did it for the very God that we serve.

Then, Christ will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels, for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink.

I was a stranger and you did not welcome me. The accursed when into panic mode, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry, thirsty, as a stranger, naked or imprisoned and did not take care of you?”

Pleading their case they are. If we only would have known we would have stepped up to the plate. If we hadn’t fallen in love with everything that the world has to offer we would have taken care of you.

If they had only not fallen into temptation, if they could have only gotten past themselves, if they would have only taken to know our God and his heart the accursed may have had a different outcome.

The challenge of being a Christian in a world of commercialism, advertising and temptation. The challenge of living a spiritual life in a body of flesh and blood.
It can be very difficult. I think it would be hard, almost impossible to know the heart of our God without spending time with him, without reading his word or spending time with others that believe in him.

This chapter from scripture, the 25th chapter of Matthew gives another window into the heart of our God.

There is no mention in today’s scripture of church affiliation, tradition, attendance or giving. It is about how we treat others. It is about having compassion and spending time with those that are suffering. It is about living merciful lives and easy the burden of others.

This scripture speaks to the heart of a God of compassion, a god of mercy, it speaks to a god of love. May we always be about God’s work.

Pastor Shawn LaRue, Seymour UMC

Author of Incomplete

The Necrosis of my SOUL.

I takes guts to make confessions like this… I hope you find yourself in a better place

The Shaming Room : Pieces of me

The liberal media paint a glossy picture of pornography and masturbation. In my life time there were at least a few people who advocated the usefulness of masturbation and porn, that it helps to relieve stress and sexual frustration.

My first experience with porn was a life changer. The first time I saw a naked picture of a women, my eyes felt glued, my soul was transfixed and it felt like an electric current passed through me. I was hooked.

Since then, I have spend countless hours toiling towards exposing my self to porn. Almost all of my decisions were influenced by trying to steal an opportunity to watch.
In the process, I would look out for every opportunity to isolate myself from others, so that I can spend my personal time fantasizing, reading and watching pornography.

Maybe it was this that drew me to loneliness and Isolation. I did…

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