Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The Acts of the Apostles ends with Paul exhorting his Jewish brothers in Rome to come to Faith in Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Law of Moses and the Prophets.  When they disagree, Paul concludes his exhortation by saying, "The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet: Go to this people and say, You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving."  Would that we who have received this same gospel message will not allow the commercialism of American Christmas to keep us from hearing and believing the truth about God's great Christmas gift.  In the hustle and bustle of Christmas it is not the decorations, not the Christmas tree, not the carols or the gifts that gives real meaning to the is that God has come, Emmanuel, and we have this knowledge that we have not been left alone.  All of the adornment will fail, the glitter will loss its sparkle, but the story of God's presence among us as told in the Gospel accounts as the word of God.....those will be eternal.  God has come and because he has come we have this hope of eternity and restoration with the author of life.  This is the good news of Christmas and we who have heard the voices of angels and have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and have invited the Christ to live within us; we have become the bearers of this same news to all the world!  Would that our hearts not be calloused as those who heard Paul's pronouncement.  Would that we would have ears to hear and an acute perception and in this knowledge of Christmas we will have voice to sing.  Indeed, the King has come and because of his coming, we have the power to act on his behalf to change the world.  Will we have the courage to sing this new song to those who have not yet heard its life changing word and wondrous melody?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


We are in the season of Advent.....a time when we prepare ourselves and wait for the promised one.  Waiting is a hard thing for most of us.  We are an impatient lot and made so be the society that encourages our impatience.  We want instant gratification (perhaps that is inborn, just watch an infant when it is time to eat).  We want our communication to be instant thus comes e-mail and texting and cell phones and portable computers and tweeting and all of the other forms of instant communication.  We want same day shipping and instant success in our careers.  We see folks who are greatly impatient; they cut in lines and weave in an out of traffic trying to move up a space or two.  We suffer from our impatience with attacks of acid indigestion and high blood pressure and tension headaches.  We are not a patient bunch, but Advent says to us "wait for him who is promised".

Why?  Why must we wait?  Why can't we have our Savior now?  Interesting questions because we know that the Savior has already come.  We know that he surrounds us in the Holy Spirit, that he is ever available to those who call on his name so why the waiting?  Is it for preparation?

My wife prepare meticulously for the honored guest.  Bathrooms are cleaned.  Mirrors are polished.  Rugs are vacuumed.  Bookshelves are dusted.  Fresh towels and linens are brought out.  Everything is in its appointed place before the guest arrives.  All is in readiness.  Are you ready for a most honored guest?

Are there things that need to be repented of?  Are there promises that need to be kept?  How about that vow that you made when you first accepted Christ as your Savior?  How have you been doing with that rejecting of the power of the deceiver?  How have you been doing with making Jesus the center of your life?  Keeping up with your Bible reading?  Daily devotions?  Prayer?

Old and New Testaments alike remind us to "prepare the way for the Lord.  We are to make straight the way for our God.  Every valley is to be raise up, every mountain and hill to made low, the rough ground is be made level."  While we are waiting for the "glory of the Lord" to appear this Christmas season, let's spend a little more time getting ready.  An honored guest is coming.  He desires a special place in your heart.  "Prepare the way for the Lord!"

Thursday, November 24, 2011


It is Thanksgiving morning.  Patty is busy in the kitchen finishing up her preparations for the day.  She makes a mighty good pie (cherry, pumpkin and pecan).  In a little while we will shower and dress and head to Strasburg where we will gather with brothers and sister, cousins, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, aunts and uncles and my Dad.  I suspect there will be 60 or 65 in all.  They will have come from Texas and Minnesota, Colorado and Kansas; for a single give thanks.  Oh, I don't mean we won't eat.  We will do that.  There will be fried turkey, smoked turkey, baked turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, oyster stuffing and cornbread stuffing.  There will be salads,hot rolls, fresh vegetables, Patty's pies and other good things that will delight the palate.  We will play football in the church yard and spend a few hours at the local schoolhouse playing volleyball.  Sometime during the afternoon there will be a card game.  But sometime before all of the eating and playing and picture taking and story telling there will be some moments when we bow our heads and offer thanks to our God.  The one who made us and sustains us and blesses us beyond our ability to imagine blessing.  We will give thanks for those who have gathered and for those who were unable to be with us.  We will give thanks for those who are no longer with us because they have gone home to the father.  We will give thanks for the generation that birthed us and loved us and taught us the stories of faith.  We will give thanks for the sounds of life among us and the plenty set before us.  We will give thanks for the country of our birth, for the beauty of creation, for the abilities within us.  And finally we will give thanks for our Savior and the promise of eternity.  Some who will gather with us today may not be with us next year at this time.  That will sadden us in the moment, but we take great joy in the knowledge that Jesus Christ has prepared a place for them and that other whom we love wait for them there in that "great crowd of witnesses".  I am blessed to be part of this family.  I take joy in being part of this piece of humanity.  But my greatest joy, my greatest thanksgiving is to know that as much as I have been blessed in this life......I ain't seen nothing yet!  God's goodness is everywhere.  I hope you see it today and give thanks.  It is a great day to be caught up in the love of God.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Paul's 1st Missionary Journey

The life of Paul as portrayed in the Acts of the Apostles is the stuff that movies are made of!  You have the whole Damascus Road experience and the renewal of sight when a sworn enemy prays over Paul, the unknown years that follow as Paul becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ and then off to worlds (almost unknown) to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.  His travels are filled with peril.  He is imprisoned and beaten and ridden out of some towns on the rail that I have often heard of.  I suppose tar and feathers might have been used if they had thought about it, but through it all Paul remains steadfast in his faith and his resolve to serve the Christ who saved him from his own sinful and prideful depravity.  He is faithful all the way to Rome and to the martyrdom that would await him.  But on the way to Rome he builds the church, actually many churches in places like Philippi, Corinth, Antioch, Iconium, Athens and many, many more.  He opens the door of the church to gentiles; folks like you and me.  Until Paul the church had only been filled by converted Jews.  Every time I read the story I am grateful to Paul because the church and all its blessedness has been made available to me.

I wonder who will discover the marvelously blessed creation of Christ Jesus that we call the church because of our faithfulness?  Will our witness be steadfast and faithful?  Will we be true to the missionary spirit that lives in each of us who call ourselves Christian because we have been inhabited by the Holy Spirit?  We are unlikely to experience jail or beatings or significant harassment because we speak the name of Jesus; so what keeps us from telling the world the good news that God has come to restore us to relationship with the one who can forgive our sins and make a way for us to inherit eternal life?

In this season of Thanksgiving, Advent and the coming Christmas; many will have a new thought about what this story of a virgin birth is really about.  Will you be ready to offer an answer?  Will I?  Reading the Acts of the Apostles reminds me that we are made able, through the power of Jesus, to do wonderfully miraculous things.  My prayer is that we will be faithful to the one who has marked us with his grace and his love and that the gates of hell will be forced to retreat because the power of God's love at Christmas long ago grows stronger in the testimony of our lives.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

He must become greater

Sorry, it has been more than a week since I last posted.  I don't think it is laziness as much as it is business.  I am ready my Bible regularly, but I am several chapters behind our reading plan as I am only a few chapters into John and I think we should be near chapter 15 or 16 by now.

John is a delightful book to read.  It is so different from the synoptic gospels that preceed it in Matthew Mark, and Luke.  John spends less time on the miracles and more time emphasizing Jesus as God incarnate.  His view may be made different because he is the only one of the disciples that is not martyred.  John lives to a ripe old age and has many years to contemplate what he saw, heard and experienced as the beloved disciple in the company of Jesus the Christ.

Every chapter is filled with stories and reflections upon who this Jesus is.  John's gospel is filled with what John describes as "signs" rather than miracles....signs for those with eyes to see and ears to hear that this one, this Jesus of Nazareth, is the fulfillment of the prophecies.  This carpenter's son is the promised one of old.  He is the Christ, the son of the living God!

In the 3rd chapter of John much is made over a conversation between John the Baptist and some who thought that this upstart itinerant rabbi was horning in on John's territory.  He describes Jesus as the bridegroom who has come to claim his bride.  The baptizer describes himself as a good friend of the groom who delights in his voice and in his arrival and now that he is here, the baptizer must step into the shadow, "become less that he might become more" and rejoice that he has finally arrived.

How much so should we live our lives, praying for God's presence in the Holy Spirit, asking God to act in us and through us as we shepherd and teach and point the way to he who is greater than any of us or all of us combined.  Allegiance to a church or a pastor is misplaced; we serve for a moment in time and if we do it right, the Body of Christ is enriched by our offering of talent and time, but the glory is to God.  Our faith is not predicated by the presence of any mortal, it is placed upon the promises of God in the person of Jesus.  We are encouraged by the Holy Spirit and we should live out our  various places of ministry in the same way as the Baptizer, pointing the way, encouraging the wanderer, offering hope and always becoming less that Jesus might become more in the hearts and lives of those over whom we have some small influence.

Praising God for all of the good works that you do.  Asking him to bless you out of the abundance of his love.  Looking forward to being in fellowship with you on the Sabbath.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Just reading the early chapters of Luke with the beauty of the Christmas story and the Magnificat as Mary declares her blessed position in Christ and then I began the 3rd chapter and came across this, "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar....when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod Tetrach of Galilee, his brother Philip Tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias Tetrach of Abilene....during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.  He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."

What is the purpose of that?  Luke is writing to his friend Theophilus and to the Gentile world of the things that he has learned about this man who Luke has come to believe is the Savior of the World.  It is as though he is saying to anyone who reads his account, "hey, check it out.  If you don't believe me, here is a list of the important folks who were around when all of this happened.  Ask them!"  Luke is providing detail to refute anyone who might say, "prove it!" 

How sure of your testimony are you?  Have you seen or heard evidence of the Christ?  Can you back up your belief?  Can you cross reference what you have seen or know in a way to be convincing to the curious, the one who needs a nudge to come to faith? 

Growing in our understanding, becoming confident of our Faith is to become a witness; one who can speak with authority of the good news that we have heard that God has come and because he has we have a hope for the future.  What are you witness too?  Can you speak as one who is witness to God's power and presence.

Praying that you can have the boldness of an eyewitness this day.  Be a blessing and praise God in what he has done in and through you.