Help support the vision of Woodland Hills Community Church!

Help support the vision of Woodland Hills Community Church!
For those of you who would like to support the vision & ministry of Woodland Hills Community Church (the faith community I serve that continues to encourage me to minister outside the box), please click on the link just above.

Tuesday, August 25

Today’s Readings: Psalm 96; 1 Chronicles 8:23-36; Mark 12:28-34; James 1:1-11; Psalm 29

Even though I went to a Lutheran college to earn my bachelor’s degree, there are many things that Martin Luther and I wouldn’t see eye to eye on. One of the things good old Martin and I would vehemently disagree about would be the book of James. You see Martin Luther was NOT a great fan of the book. In fact, that would be an understatement. On one occasion he even referred to James as “the epistle of straw”! I, on the other hand, L-O-V-E the book of James. So what is it about the book of James that makes me appreciate it so? I suppose it’s the epistle’s pragmatic approach toward living out one’s faith. The author has little if any patience for folks whose words don’t match the way they live their lives. That’s probably one reason the book makes some so uncomfortable. James preoccupation with making sure people’s words line up with their actions is made clear right out of the gates – for in today’s passage from the first chapter of James the author calls the tests and challenges we face in life “sheer gifts”. He calls them gifts because those tests and challenges bring our true faith “out into the open” where one’s faith “shows its true colors” (James 1:2-3 from The Message). I can certainly attest to the wisdom of those words – for I know in my own life I learned more about my faith during times of hardship than I ever did during the so-called good times. It was during moments of grief, for instance, that I laid aside all the clichés I had been taught as a child and wrestled with what I really believed about the nature of life and death. It was during moments of fear when I was faced with an illness or period of unemployment that I learned what I really meant when I said, “I trust in God”. It was when I was faced rejection and bigotry after I came out that I sensed the power of what it means to be loved unconditionally by God. So what about you? In what ways have the hard times in your own life helped bring your faith out into the open and show you its true colors? Til next time…

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