Reflections on Faith
In this blog, you will find weekly reflections on life and faith. My hope is that, in some way, they will prove helpful to you in your daily living. May God bless you on the spiritual journey.
Andrew S. Odom
Paul’s shipwreck brought it all home. As Paul and the crew were tossed back and forth across the stage by the wind and the waves, we were reminded of God’s great promise that runs through the whole of scripture. In each story, in every instance and circumstance, we are given a God who is with us from start to finish. This is a God who abides through the raging storms and the calm seas of life. God does not leave, ever. That is the great promise, no matter if the reminder comes from a rainbow in the sky or a movement of the heart.
Published on 05/08/2017 @ 7:11 PM CDT
This life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us. (I John 1:2)
On Sunday we began a sermon series called “Life Assurance” that will walk us through the 1st letter of John. 1 John is heralded by many as a capstone to the New Testament. Martin Luther once called it the kind of letter that “can buoy up even the most afflicted heart.” In other words, people think highly of it. In the coming weeks, we will find out why that is, but one thing I can tell you right now is that 1 John sets out to assure us of our new life in Christ. John believes deep down that every day is Easter.
We live in a world that appears divided at every turn. We can’t agree on policy. We can’t agree on who should be in office. We can’t agree on social issues. We can’t agree. But, one thing we can agree on, one thing that no one can deny is that none of us will get out of this world alive. Every single one of us holds death in common. This we can be sure of. What we have a harder time being assured of is life.
In a divided world that often feels like it sucks the life right out of your, we can’t help but wonder if we can have life at all. Do we have life? Will we have life? John’s answer to that question comes with a loud resounding “Yes! We have seen it with our eyes and touched it with our hands.” And with that grand statement John begins a letter that is sure to sink its teeth into your heart. Read it this week when you get a moment. I’ve heard that it can buoy up even the most afflicted heart.
Published on 05/01/2017 @ 9:02 PM CDT
Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray. (Proverbs 22:6)
On Saturday I attended a local fundraiser lunch for the Presbyterian Pan American School down in Kingsville, Texas. PanAm, as it is fondly called, is a “Christian college preparatory school that educates and empowers young adults for leadership in the global community.” It takes students from all over the world, including impoverished countries, and helps open new doors through education and spiritual growth. It is quite a unique place.
During the lunch, we heard from alumni students who went on to further education and are now out in the world. One graduated from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, another Presbyterian affiliated school. He is now working in Dallas. A young lady from Piedras Negras graduated from Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas, a Presbyterian affiliated school my grandfather once served as president and where my mother currently works. She talked about how a group of Christians came to Piedras to build a home for her family and how they helped her apply to PanAm. She is now teaching in Fort Worth, seeking ways to help students in poverty succeed more effectively in the classroom. Each of these people got emotional when they shared their experience of how the scope of their lives has completely changed.
What struck me throughout the entire lunch is how much the Presbyterian Church has helped shape these future leaders. They have been introduced to a life of learning, led in the way of faith, and have not departed from that way. They are the kind of folks who understand what it looks like to build cross cultural bridges. I left that gathering filled with a rekindled hope for the future.
Published on 04/24/2017 @ 9:49 PM CDT
Published on 04/17/2017 @ 6:31 PM CDT
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” (Matthew 26:36,39)
One of the truly poignant moments during our recent trip to Jerusalem had to have been the day we went to the Garden of Gethsemane. It sits just across from the outside of the city wall. While there, our group was given ample time to walk around the grove of trees and think about the importance of this place. We were told that, although the trees themselves have grown and regrown, some of the roots may well have been there in Jesus time. Here’s what caught me about being there, though. It wasn’t the fact that Jesus knelt in this same spot years ago or the thought that this is where they came to arrest him. What caught my attention was the loud noise of the cars.
Right next to the garden, just a few feet away, is a modern street filled with cars racing to their destinations. It was quite odd to stand there looking at this ancient site right in front of me while the hum of revving engines and the smell of exhaust filled the air right behind me. There in the place where Jesus expressed those prayerful human words, "Father, take this yoke from me, though not my will but yours be done," there, even today, the realities of the world continue to encroach on and crowd out the holy sound of God. That’s what caught me.
Published on 04/10/2017 @ 7:04 PM CDT