Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Hope

Sunrise: Hope of
a new day

I was reading last week about how Dr Martin Luther King Jr. conducted civil rights marches throughout the south. He gave inspiring speeches for which he and others were persecuted and arrested during the sit-ins and demonstrations.

An important question is this: "Why did Dr. King keep going? Why was he willing to be arrested and mistreated for his beliefs? What motivated him to tirelessly campaign for civil rights in a time period when things between whites and blacks weren’t very civil?

The answer is that he was a man of hope. He dared to imagine that the world could be different; that the world could be a better place. That is why he said,
"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day in the state of Alabama, little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream that one day, all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

It was the hope of a better tomorrow that inspired these words of Dr. King. The same thing is true about Isaiah 2:3-4, “Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”

Isaiah is saying, "Yes, I know that things aren’t going well. Things might seem hopeless in many ways. Yes it is because of our sin and we live in a war ravaged time. But I believe that someday, things are going to change around here! I have a vision from God! There are better days ahead! Someday, this sinful land is going to become the home of the living God! An oasis of freedom and justice and righteousness. A place where people from all over the world can come to learn the word of God! A place where nations will throw away their weapons of war. And learn the ways of peace.”

As you go through this Christmas season and into the new year, ask yourself this: “How can I have hope in a way that Christ can work through me to have better days ahead?” You can do it. I can do it! Let’s do it together. Tell me what you think. (

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Nativity Story

Keisha Castle-Hughes as Mary in "The Nativity Story"

Yesterday I went to see the movie "The Nativity Story." I had heard good reviews, and so I and a few people from my church went to see it. I enjoyed the movie on several levels. The first was that I thought it had excellent acting, music and cinematography. But it was enjoyable on another level as well, and that was to visually see the story of Jesus' birth played out. While it is wonderful to have the Bible to read, being able to see what is going on as well helps to put things in perspective. I was moved by the realization of the difficult times Mary and Joseph lived in. I was reminded of their status in society. I was caught by the difficulty Mary's pregnancy would have caused her in the community, with Joseph, and even with her parents. It was wonderful to see this story unfold in front of me. And even though there was artistic license taken, it was still a profound experience for me.
As my church members and I talked about the movie afterwards, we remarked about several things that stood out to us. First, was that Mary was a teenager who joked around and had crushes on other boys. When she was told that she would marry Joseph, it was a blow to her at first. Second, was how Mary was committed to doing what the Lord asked her, even if others around her doubted. I loved the line to her parents: "I have told you the truth. Now it is up to you whether you believe me or not." Third, the love that developed for Mary to Joseph as they made the journey to Bethlehem. Joseph was a committed husband and father, even in the midst of this adversity of being with a woman whose child was not his. And forth, Mary and Joseph were just regular people. We like to try to immortalize the people of the Bible, but they were just like you and me. They had struggles, and doubts, and fears. But for Mary, it all came down to faith, as she believed what the angel told her in Luke 1:37- "For nothing will be impossible with God." Mary and Joseph were just normal people struggling to survive each day.
So I leave you with this: Where do you need to believe that God will do for you? Now I'm not talking about your selfish desires. I'm talking about where God is leading you in life. What is God calling you to do? Trust that nothing will be impossible with God, and He will bless you and fill you and empower you to carry it out. Tell me what you think. (

Thursday, December 14, 2006


There are many people in this world that have no hope. And the first reason that they have no hope is that they have no one to turn to for help. In this society that encourages individualism and a do-it-yourself attitude, so many people have stopped relying on others. Did you know that sometimes just telling someone about your troubles is helpful? When you keep things to yourself, it can eat at you and frustrate you more. We have been created to be in relationship with others; and that includes sharing our troubles with each other.
A second reason why many people have no hope, is that they have no one who is capable of doing anything about the troubles in their life.
I know that there are many times in my life that people come to me and share their struggles. I hear what they have to say, and I struggle with them. But I know that I can’t physically do anything to ease their pain. I cry out to God: “O God, what am I to do for this person? We need to be reminded that we can’t always do it on our own, or we can’t always help each other, but we have a God who can help us in ways we might never understand. There is hope in knowing that we have a God of strength available to us.

A third reason people feel like thay have no hope is they don't have anyone who is there for them. We need to practice the ministry of presence. What is the ministry of presence? It is just being present for someone in a time of need. Maybe you hear that somebody is in the hospital. You can’t make them better. There are probably no words you could say that would make it better. But you choose to go and be with them anyway. You know what? That is the ministry of presence, and is probably the best thing you could do for them.
Hope will come to us when we open up our hearts to God and cry out to God. Hope will come to us when we believe that God is always with us. Hope will come to us when we let God’s face daily shine on us. Hope will come to us when we understand that the discipline of God is there to restore us and bring us back into a right relationship with God. During this season of Advent my prayer is that we would have a strong sense of hope because we have a solid understanding of who God is in our lives, and share this hope with someone else. Tell me what you think. (

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Useful Person

In a Peanuts comic strip, Linus is eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and in the middle of a bite, he says to Lucy: “Hands are fascinating things! I like my hands…I think I have nice hands…my hands seem to have a lot of character…these are hands which may someday accomplish great things…these are hands which may someday do marvelous works! They may build mighty bridges or heal the sick, or hit home-runs, or write soul-stirring novels! THESE ARE HANDS WHICH MAY SOMEDAY CHANGE THE COURSE OF DESTINY!!” Lucy comes over and looks closely at Linus’ hands, and then says: “They’ve got jelly on them.”(The Gospel According to Peanuts, p.36)

In Ecclesiastes 2:11, this verse says- “Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was in vain and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”
We can easily feel this way, because all too often we are not seeking to fulfill what God created us to do and be, but instead we go off and chase our own selfish dreams. We need to understand that God uses people who seek to do His will. Think about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary was one who humbly sought God. We are told in
Luke 2:19: "Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and often thought about them."
Mary created a habit of listening to God.
God speaks to people who listen. God uses people who desire to be used. So if you want to be used by God, if you want to do something significant with your life, if you want to be chosen by God then you need to seek to listen to God and follow God's plan. You probably need to stop thinking that you have all the answers. When we seek to do it on our own, it will seem like we are chasing after all the wrong things and that life is in vain. We need to understand that we are trying to satisfy ourselves with things that won't satisfy.
We need to gain a new perspective on life and believe that God can come to us and speak to us and choose us as God did Mary. Tell me what you think (

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Laughter is important. It is said that if you learn how to laugh regularly and often you will be happier and healthier. Here are some important facts about laughter...

· Thirteen muscles are used for our smiling mechanism, while 50 muscles are required for frowning;

· Laughter lowers the levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol suppresses the immune system. Lowering this level helps the immune system to work and prevent disease.

· Did you know that you can get the same benefits for your heart and lungs from laughing 100 times a day than you can from rowing for 10 minutes a day?

· Laughing for 15 seconds adds 2 days to your life span.

It is said that children laugh on the average of 150 times a day, while adults laugh only 15 times on average a day. We need to laugh more! We need to make laughter a regular part of our day. I love to use humor in my teaching, my preaching, and before meetings. I love it when people in my congregation send me funnies in my e-mail.
So, what keeps you from laughing?
Is it that you have hardships? God walks with you through your hardships.
Is it pain in your life? Jesus went through the ultimate pain by dying on the cross so that He could free us from our pain.
Is it lack of purpose? God created us with a purpose and has gifted us to live out that purpose.
As you go through this Christmas season, my encouragement to you is to find ways to laugh and people to laugh with. Tells me what you think at