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Vaccine Hoarding

Several news sources have indicated that rich countries are hoarding the covid vaccine. Somewhere around 55 billion vaccines were purchased by the rich countries and according to some sources as little as 1 in 10 are being vaccinated in 70 low-income countries. I do not know about you, but these inequities are not part of a global plan to bring about any good to people outside the rich countries. 15% of the world's population have access to 55% of the vaccines, so that a country such as Canada can vaccinate each person five times. We in the US could potentially vaccinate every person four times. I will not get into the self loathing, the government officials behind whatever schemes and dreams and other drama perpetrated with the idea that we will overcome with a monetary sum.

Hoarding is sinful, but I am not sure if we know all the facts. I probably will not receive the vaccine, and that may affect something, but ultimately, in the scheme of things, the LORD will lead us out of this mess, including the tendency to sop up all the things needful for others.

Proverbs 11:24 There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, And there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.

Ecclesiastes 5:13 There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt.

Luke 12:34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

1 Timothy 6:7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.

Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal."

Proverbs 3:27-28 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.

Heavenly Father, You provide for us what we need so that while we are calling upon You, You are answering us. Forgive us for thinking that we deserve such gifts so that we deprive others of necessary gifts for their survival. Grant to us grateful hearts that share the good we have been given, and cause the nations to give what is helpful and life-giving to those who do not have anything. Amen.

Karen

Karen is now being used as a pejorative term for entitled people who have a narcissistic need to attack any and all who somehow fall afoul of anyone who is perceived to encroach upon their domain: the person angry at you for accidentally filming them while photographing something behind them; the person telling you to get out of their property even though you are on the public easement--the sidewalk--and not protesting, just walking; the person who does not like your dog barking at them, even though the dog is in his pen and they are on the street with their dog who is using your lawn for their business. You may know what I am talking about. 

It is unfortunate that they use a person's name, especially since there are many Karen's in the world who do not engage in this behavior. I know at least a dozen Karen's and none of them acts entitled or angry. They have a servant's heart and would not see themselves as deserving of such things. They consider themselves servant of Christ Jesus. Oh well.....

2 Corinthians 4:5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

We give You thanks, Lord, that You have called Karens, and others to serve You in serving others. Give to us a servant's heart, the heart of Jesus, in serving others, that they may praise Your name forever. Amen.

Collaboration

This past week our district president came out to address and inform the Kansas City, MO, pastors of the "game plan" for the near future. We learned that both District and National Conventions would, in fact, be moved forward one year to allow for the possibility of social undistancing. We learned all sorts of things, but one message that I heard loud and clear is that we would, both as a church body and as individual congregations, need to collaborate, need to share, need to think ahead and plan for the movement that follows in the wake of COVID. This is so new and so novel that we are really beginning to unwind what will be.

So used to each congregation doing its own thing, now to be in the position of needing to provide assistance and sharing, we probably will never be the same again. 

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 

O Lord, keep our hearts from greed, that we may joyfully support Your Church and those who serve together in other congregations in Your name. Keep us from pride of heart that delights more in what we do than in what You have done, that we might be Your people. Accept with our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving the tithes and offerings we bring.  Amen.

Non-Relevant

If you remember the series Person of Interest, you might remember the story line: Harold Finch creates a computer system that tracks possible terrorist threats and the people involved with them, only to go beyond that to track people who will be involved in violent crime. It is a "do-good, feel-good" thing, saving lives and bringing down bad guys left and right--Just watch some of the activity on YouTube. Jim Caviezel (Mr. Reese) takes out the garbage every episode in righteous retribution. 

The sad thing is when the computer program deems a person non-relevant, which is why Mr. Finch had to rework it. He saw people as relevant. He becomes the Father figure and Reese is the Kinsman-Redeemer, who takes out the bad guys. He is joined by others, but he is the primary source of retribution. He is the one who brings justice and mercy. He was the actor who portrayed Jesus in Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ. In this series, He is the one who brings justice and mercy, another sort of look at another office of Jesus, Retribution in the final judging. BTW, Caviezel is in a new film, Sound of Freedom, which I recommend watching.

Think you are non-relevant or non-essential, read ahead: Isaiah 43:1 But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Loving Lord, as You have redeemed us with the precious blood of Jesus, so have You marked us as Your own. You have Your eye on us for good and You will lead us to all good as we sojourn here below as we wait for our upward call. Grant us patience and courage through faith in Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Avenger. Amen.

Black Ice

Whenever winter rears its ugly head and decides to stick around for awhile, we can only watch as the light snow accumulates. And accumulates. And accumulates. The roads are littered with four-wheel drive vehicles, whom winter laughs at unfortunately, and the unfortunates going to work are at its mercy. Particularly chilling is the black or invisible ice that also litters the roads, often hiding near a culvert or bridge abutment, waiting for an opportune moment. 

We travel the road of life with our eyes peeled for all sorts of hazards, but many are hidden and many do not suffer momentary non-vigilance.  For us in the faith, it is never a question of when, but more how--how we will be assailed by the devil's whiles. He uses black ice techniques to lure the unwary into his snares. He seeks to foil the most powerful of faithful. He joys and delights in the upending of the weary, bringing to their knees the ones who slip, worn from travel. 

For us we seek the strength of the LORD (Isaiah 40:28-31), cast our burdens on the One who is vigilant for us (Matthew 11:25-30; Hebrews 9:6-14; 1 Peter 5:7) and seek His comfort in time of trial (Micah 7:7; 2 Timothy 4:17). Ultimately, the LORD will bring about the good through even the bad (Romans 8:31-39)

O my heavenly Father, God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, God of all comfort, I thank you for revealing to me your dear Son, Jesus Christ, in whom I believe, whom I have preached and confessed, whom I have loved and praised. I pray, my Lord Jesus Christ, take my soul into your hands. Heavenly Father, I know that although I will leave this body and be taken from this life, I will live with you forever, and that no one can pluck me out of your hands. God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Our God is the God of salvation, and the Lord delivers from death. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. You have redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth. Amen. ~ Martin Luther

No Joy in Mudville

I did not watch the Super Bowl last night. Periodically I would get an update on my phone, until I stopped it. It was so close--no, not the score--but the fact that the Chiefs got this close to winning their third Super Bowl, and this was not a fluke. As a former Cleveland Browns fan (not the new and improved Browns), a former Cleveland Indians fan, a Cleveland Cavaliers fan--is there a pattern forming?--I am not used to seeing award-winning teams. Okay, the 2016 Cav's took the NBA championship, but I was too far out of the loop. Kansas City has had two World Series wins, the Chiefs have done it twice, and who cares if they don't have a professional basketball team. In this market, no fan has to agonize for not getting another the Super Bowl under their belt. They got as far as they could get. They are still winners and they are still our team. No apologies about that. Besides, KC has a lot going for it, and KC does not want to be like anyone else. We are who we are by the grace of God, so be thankful for who you are. God is not done with KCMO, and neither are we. 

I will not engage in Monday morning backward looking; nor will I tear down another city, including Tampa Bay. I pray that you find peace in the fact that God blesses us in so many ways, that whether or not our teams win or lose, we live as winners in a world that cannot take your victories away from you, and you live in the certainty of victory that has been given to you through Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

We give you thanks and praise, Lord, that in You we are victors and conquerors over sin, death and hell, because You destroyed those powers in Your sacrificial life, death and resurrection. We stand as winners in what counts, and the victory stands now and always even when all other trophies fade away. Help us to see this more and more with eyes of faith until faith becomes sight at Your return. Thank you evermore, dear Lord Jesus. Amen.

Pink Hill

Place names mean a lot to us in western Missouri. From Raytown to Lee's Summit to Westport--excuse me--Kansas City. Having driven on the Pink Hill road for more than a decade, I was asked why it was named such. I jokingly said that Mr. Pink lived on a hill and it stuck. Of course, being the sleuth I am, I had to find out what really happened. It was originally a settlement with a post office and had Pink Hill as its name, from 1870-1895, and then conflated into Pinkhill from 1895-1902. Its name came from the pink blossoms from a small flower in spring, so it was not a person, but a natural phenomenon. 

Names are indicative of the Namer; the LORD named everything. Psalm 147:4 tells us that He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Amos 5 reminds us: He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning and darkens the day into night....

So, God has named everything and yet we think He came up with it later or that it is not in the Bible. It is, and the names of the stars we know are in God's Word, so He thought of it first.

If that is not enough, Isaiah 40:22 we hear: It is he who sits above the circle of the earth [no flat earth people here], and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in...

The LORD i very interested in His world He made, but He is mostly interested in us, whom He rescued from sin, death and devil. He has given us new names (Isaiah 62:1-3) and have put them in His book (Revelation 21:27).He is interested in you above stars, birds and pink blossoms, and He wants you to have confidence that He has your life in His hands (Matthew 10:26-33).

God grant us the confidence that You not only know our names, but You have written them in Your eternal book, the Lamb's book of life, for Your Son, Jesus Christ, gave up His life to save us; He is the Lamb who takes away our sin. Amen.

If you would like to know more about songs we sing, check out the stories behind the hymns that are being made available at church or let our secretary know at: secretary@ascensionlckc.org. Blessings to you!

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