Thursday, September 06, 2012

Why is it important to read the Bible?- Part 2

Back on April 26, 2012 I wrote part 1 of why I believe it is important to read the Bible. Yet, today I felt that I needed to comment more on this, because so many have gotten out of the habit of reading the Bible. Along with this, many people don’t even bring their Bible to church so they are not able to follow along with the scripture readings! We need to get back into the habit of carrying our Bible with us and reading it daily!!
            Every night my wife and I read devotions to our kids before they go to bed. However, Tiffany’s newest devotion doesn’t write out the scripture (you actually have to look it up yourself!). The other night when we started this devotion, I noticed this, and commented to Tiffany that we need to read the scripture. She responded by saying that there was a good story and a prayer, so that should be enough.
            This got me to thinking, is it important that we read the Bible for our devotions? The answer for me was “yes,” for these reasons:
1.      It is in the Bible that we get the story of creation, our fall (through the sin of Adam and Eve), and our redemption. The pages of the Bible are full of teachings about these truths. It is all too easy to forget what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, through His death and resurrection.
2.      It is in the story of Jesus Christ and His example that we see how God created us to live and how we have fallen short. Without regularly keeping this truth in front of us, we will stray away from God and fall into our sinful way of living.
3.      The Bible reveals to us God’s nature and the personal relationship God wants to have with us. Even more, the Bible instructs us in the life we are called to live. The Bible also helps us get to know God and His ways all the more.
4.      The Bible helps to guide us into the purpose God has for us. So many people are walking around this world without understanding their purpose. The Bible leads us to that purpose and keeps our eyes focused on it!
5.      The Bible is the truth of God. When we read the Bible we are able to understand what is good and what is bad; what is right and what is wrong. The Bible helps us to stay strong in what is true so that we won’t get deceived by Satan or by the temptations of the world.
I hope that you will commit yourself today to reading the Bible regularly. It is more than just a story. It is THE story. Blessings.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Christian response to 'the problem of evil'

It is not uncommon for me to hear people ask: How can a loving God allow evil in the world? The truth is, evil has come become of sin, and sin has come through rebellion. This rebellion started with Satan. Satan was an archangel who rebelled against God. Satan wanted to be on the throne instead of God, and so God cast Satan (and all the other angels who sided with him) out of heaven.
            Ever since this event, Satan’s desire is to try and pull people away from God. Satan does not do this outright, but rather through deception. Satan seeks to pull people away by getting them to doubt God. In Genesis chapter 3, Satan deceives Eve into thinking that God is holding back on her and Adam by not allowing them to eat of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Once she and Adam ate, they knew good AND evil. Sin was now introduced into humanity!
            Because of our sin, we choose to be selfish. Because of our sin, we choose to be hurtful. Because of our sin, we make choices that negatively affect others. These choices have progressed on down the line, and evil has increased. Yet even in Biblical times, we see in Genesis chapter 4 that sin led Cain to kill his brother Abel because of jealousy. Sin has existed in great form throughout the ages. The evil in the world is a result of our sin and our choices.
            However, Romans 5:8 tells us that “God demonstrates His love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God does not want to leave us in our sin and evil choices, and so through Christ we can have forgiveness and freedom from sin! When we choose to follow God, instead of our sinful ways, we will do good, not evil.
            My prayer for you is that you would daily seek God and ask God to help you rise above the sin which leads to evil. May God fill you with love and peace. Blessings.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Honest, But Encouraging

They say that honesty is the best policy. I believe that to be true. Yet, part of the challenge of relationships is learning how to be honest with the other person, but do it in a way that doesn’t discourage. There are times when you might say something that seems to be honest, but can be hurtful. There is a great commercial that asks: Was honest Abe always honest? It then shows Abraham Lincoln’s wife asking him: “Abe, do I look fat in this dress?” Abe, hesitates, and says, “Well…” Then his wife gets mad at him.
In this case, it might have been better for him to have said something about the dress not being the best fit for her. Or maybe the dress didn’t flatter her figure as much as another dress might. This would be true, and yet not dwell on the issue of her being fat or not. Another thing he could have said was to point out some good features about the dress first (encouraging words), and then talk about the fact that there might be a dress that she would look even better in.
            Why is it that people have trouble being honest? It is usually because the truth will cause them trouble. Usually people are not honest when they have done something wrong, so they lie. But when the lie is found out, and often times it is, trust is destroyed. This is why we must seek to learn how to be honest.
            So let's get back to being honest, yet encouraging. Part of the ability to do this is to understand who the person is that you're talking to. Some people can take the truth straight out: "You don't look good in that dress." And yet, who am I to tell them this? They did ask my opinion, but I must remember it is only an opinion. I also have to remember that they are asking me because they want my input. So I must seek to give input that will truly help, not hurt.
            If you have ever had a situation where you sought to tell the truth, but the truth damaged your relationship, then you understand the need to be honest but encouraging. Think about what you are going to say first. How will it sound to the other person? Is the way you’re going to say it really the best way to say it? Can you shape your response with some encouraging words? I believe we must seek to be loving, even when we are honest. In this way we will be able to guide, instruct, encourage, and challenge with honesty. Blessings.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Is the God of the Old Testament the same God as the God of the New Testament?

At first this question might sound silly since it is one Bible, but many feel that the Old Testament and New Testament describe different Gods. The usual reference is to how God seems to be more vengeful and less loving in the Old Testament, and more loving and less vengeful in the New Testament. But, if you look closely you will see this is not true.
            While there are many rules given in the Old Testament, and many limitations given to God’s people, this is not at all vengeful or mean. God knows that His people need strict guidelines to keep them from the sinful ways of Israel’s neighbors. There is also punishment associated with breaking the laws, but this is actually a loving thing to do. I say this because our nature is to break laws, and the threat of punishment actually helps us to seek to do right.
            In the Old Testament there is much to be seen of God’s love. The Israelites are regularly turning away from God and seeking their own way, and God consistently is giving them the opportunity to come back to Him and receive forgiveness. God’s grace is given abundantly in the Old Testament.
            In the New Testament the focus is on Jesus Christ (the Son of God, God in the flesh) and His bringing the light of God to the world. Jesus brings the truth of God’s love and forgiveness in His teaching, but even more in His sacrifice on the cross. Yet, Jesus regularly teaches about the punishment that will be received for those who reject Him. Jesus talks about the existence of hell for all who choose to not believe in Him. So there is vengeance and punishment mentioned in the New Testament as well.
            We see that God is consistent throughout history described to us in the Old Testament and the New Testament. In fact, many of the scriptures of the Old Testament are prophecies that explain what will come about in the New Testament. He has established laws to govern us, and punishment for those who fail to abide. God gives us many opportunities to be forgiven if and when we turn from our sinful ways and seek Him out. He regularly shows His love, care, and concern for His followers.
            While there could be much more said about this topic, my intent here was to give a simple synopsis on the constancy of scripture and the God of the scriptures. As we are told in Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Jesus, being God in the flesh, expresses to us how God is the same forever as well. Blessings.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What We Have is a Failure to Communicate

            The other night I was trying to explain my sermon to Tami by telling her that Jesus came DOWN from heaven and then went OUT into the world. Thus, my sermon was entitled “Down and Out.” As I was telling her this, Tami kept asking, “You mean when he was a baby?” “No,” I said, “when he was older.” We went back and forth for a couple of minutes until I realized that we were having a failure to communicate. Tami thought I was talking about Jesus coming again (which was confusing her), but I was just trying to explain why Jesus came into the world.
            It is easy to have trouble communicating with others even though we have the wonderful ability to speak and hear and understand. Sometimes we know what we are saying, but don’t say it clearly enough for others to understand. This happened to me when I first started to preach regularly. I knew what I wanted to say in my sermon, but it didn’t always come out that way to the listener. So now I preach my sermon to Tami on Saturday night to get feedback on anything that might be confusing or unclear!
            I have also noticed that when I try and speak to people about Jesus Christ and Christianity that there can be a failure to understand what is said. This often comes from people not having the biblical background to understand biblical truths. It also can come from me expecting them to understand spiritual concepts that might be beyond them.
            So, what are we to do? I think the best way to communicate the message of Jesus with others is to talk about who Jesus is to us, and what He has done in our lives. I like to talk about how I was selfish in nature and sarcastic in my speech. But then I met Jesus and realized that I need to care about others, not just about myself. Or as the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 2:3-4, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
            I also memorized Ephesians 4:29, which says: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  
            Through the touch of Jesus on my life, the forgiveness of my sins, and the realization that my words were important, I began to change who I was and become more the person I was created to be. Hopefully now, through my story and my actions, I don’t have a failure to communicate, but communicate well the love of Jesus! Blessings.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why is it important to read the Bible?

Regularly seen on the bestseller list are “How to” and self-improvement books. Why is this? Because people want to learn, grow, and have more success in life. People are searching for a better life and hope the information in these books will help them achieve this. Another book that is regularly a best seller is the Bible. The Bible is full of wonderful stories, information, and guidance. But even more, we are told in 2 Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."
            One of the problems that people can fall into is thinking they don’t need to learn and grow. The only way that this would be true is if a person was perfect. It is pretty clear that no one is perfect in our world. In fact, God, our creator, has clearly stated that: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Since we are not perfect, then it follows that we can always be improving. The best way to seek how growth is needed, and can come about, is to read the Bible. In reading the Bible we will be taught the word of God, we will be able to train ourselves to be the person God created us to be, and we can be corrected from our errors.
            When I met my wife Tami I found out she was a professional golfer. I was reluctant to tell her that I played golf, because I’m not sure I would call what I played golf. I swung a golf club, but there were many errors to my game. When I decided to finally play with Tami, she was able to “instruct me” in how to play correctly; she corrected my errors. The Bible is an important tool in correcting our errors and helping us to live more righteously.
            Along with this, the Bible helps us to get to know the creator Himself. The Bible is full of stories that help us to see the character and love of God. The life of Jesus is a direct picture into the nature of God. The overall story of the Bible leads us to understand who God is, why God created us, and the purpose we have in this world. The Bible also instructs us in how we can receive eternal life (through faith in Jesus Christ), and how Jesus’ death enables us to be forgiven from our sins.
            The Bible is the most important instructional book that has ever been in print. The more you know and understand the Bible the fuller and richer your life will be. The Bible will give you direction and clarity to life. As Psalm 119:9 says, “How can a person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.” You can’t live according to God’s word if you don’t know God’s word.  I highly encourage you to read the Bible often. Blessings.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Proof That God Exists

It does not surprise me that there are many people who do not believe that God exists. By our nature, we tend to doubt what we cannot prove; what we cannot see. Since God is not visibly present in our world, people will doubt that God is real. There are many who lean toward the idea that only that which can be quantitatively proven is real.
                        So, I ask, is there proof that God exists?
I would answer, “Yes, there is proof.” When Jesus came to this earth, He gave proof of God’s existence. As John 1:14 tells us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In Jesus we behold the glory of God. Just His existence shows us proof.
            But there is more, as Jesus performed many miracles that showed He was God in the flesh. Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead after He had been dead for 3 days! (John 11:1-44) Jesus was seen alive, risen from the dead, 3 days after it had been verified that He was dead.
            Even more, the existence of God is proven in the miracle of life. If you analyze the human body, you can see that it is intricate and complex. The way our body functions together is not an accident, and did not come together through some evolutionary process. When you see the way each part of the body supports the rest of the body it is clear that our body has been put together by a creator who carefully structured it!
            I also know that through my faith and living by my faith God is alive and real. Christians will tell you that they experience a deep communion with God. God has changed me from the sinful, selfish person I was before I knew Him, to a caring, loving, compassionate person. I am transformed because He is alive and at work in me! My God, who is real, gives me forgiveness for my wrongs, purpose for my life, and strength to live each day.
            I am confident that God is real, and that there is strong proof that He exists. Blessings.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Is faith compatible with logic and reason?

One of the definitions for faith in the dictionary is: “Firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” In Hebrews 11:1 it says: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” On the other side you have logic and reason. A definition of logic says, “A particular system or codification of the principles of proof and inference.”

Faith is something we believe even though there is no proof. Logic is a principle that comes from proof. The question is then; can logic and faith be compatible? Can you have faith in God, and yet seek to apply logic to your faith? Is spiritual practice to only be about faith, or does logic fit in somewhere?

I believe logic and faith actually can co-exist. Since God made us beings with the capability for both, it stands to reason that we are to use both in our lives, including our faith in God. However, belief must come first. The scriptures teach us that when we are filled with God’s Spirit, through the Spirit we begin to understand spiritual truths. Without the Spirit of God these spiritual truths elude us. Our physical minds cannot comprehend the things of God. As God said through the prophet Isaiah, 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Yet, if we were to live our lives on faith alone, then we would struggle to make even the simplest decision. It is like the story of the woman who would wake up each day and pray to God to see if she should get out of bed. If she felt God was leading her to get out of bed, she would then pray to see what God wanted her to wear. Some days she would only wear one shoe, some days no shoes! This story is a bit ridiculous, and rightly so. This woman sought to use only faith and no logic.

Even more, in our faith walk we must use logic. We have to make decisions all the time how we will “love our neighbor as ourselves.” We are called to eat well and stay healthy. These are all choices that come from knowledge, reason, and logic.

After I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, there have been many occasions where I have seen the logic of a loving, and personal God. I have experienced and seen many miracles that have come from prayer and faith. I have learned through study how Jesus fulfilled many prophecies foretold hundreds of years before He came to the earth. Our logical minds help to affirm the faith we place in God.

So, give yourself to God through faith, and then let God impart to you the reason and logic needed to live this life well and to understand spiritual truths. Blessings.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

When Life Doesn't Make Sense

When my kids were learning addition and subtraction, I would tell them that 1+1=2, or 2-1=1, but they struggled to understand it at first. Then I would take out 2 marbles, and I would count each one as I pointed to it: one, two. Then I would take one away so that they could see how 2-1=1. I would then add one back so they could see that 1+1=2. Our minds are great at learning, but for some it takes time.

Each of us learns in different ways. I tend to learn best when I see it and experience it. When I first meet someone and they tell me their name, it is easy for me to forget it at first; especially if it is not a common name. However, if they spell it for me then I am more likely to remember it. Even more, I will add them to my prayer list and pray for them each day. The next time I see them it is easy for me to recall their name!

I have had many conversations with people who don’t think that life makes sense. Relationships are difficult, sin is rampant, life is hard, and it doesn’t seem to all be fair. They wake up and try to find reason for their life, but it just doesn’t make sense. I believe the reason for this is because they fail to understand their purpose. If you understand the purpose of life, then it will makes sense. Similar to learning math and names, we need to experience and understand what brings purpose and meaning to life.

When God came to this earth in human form, in Jesus Christ, one of the things He sought to do was to help us make sense of our lives. One great way He did this was by giving us the 2 great commandments: love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-40)

The first command helps us to understand our relationship with God. We have been created to be like God and be in relationship with God. The second command helps us to understand our relationship with each other. We are to seek to love one another and to work together. When we are fulfilling these two commands, not only does life make sense, but it is meaningful and blessed.

The problem comes when people fail to live according to one or both of the commands. When we are not in good communion with God, then we do not have God’s presence, power, and guidance in our lives. We struggle all the more in life, and find ourselves in more difficult situations with seemingly no way out. When we aren’t loving towards one another, we tend to experience more conflict and frustration.

I want to encourage you to use Matthew 22:37-40 as not only a guide to make sense of life, but to bring more meaning to your life as well. I believe that if you do this, you will find that you will experience the power and wonder of God’s presence, and the joy of living well with others. Blessings.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Does the evidence support evolution?

I’m not an expert by any means on evolution, so this blog post is not designed to be “expert” testimony. However, I do think that there is information available for the average person to have an informed position. My goal here will be to briefly explain what I believe the evidence shows us.

Creationism and evolution are really seeking to answer the same question: how did the universe and all life in it get formed? Creationism states that all things were formed by an all-powerful, always existing God. Evolution, which is derived from the principles of Charles Darwin, states that all organisms are descended from common ancestors by a process of branching. The theory continues that evolution took place over a long period of time.

Many people will look at the theory of creationism as unreliable, because there is no “scientific” proof to show it to be true. They will argue that there is much evidence in fossils and archaeological discoveries to give proof to the evolution theory of the origin of life. Yet, I believe this evidence falls short because there are no “intermediary” fossils that prove the evolving state of one species to the next. Even more, if evolution is true, why has the process ceased (i.e. we no longer see apes becoming human beings)?

In truth, both theories take an aspect of faith to believe. You need to have faith that evolution took place as believed, since we cannot experience this phenomenon first hand. You need faith to believe that God created all things from nothing, since we were not there when it was said to have happened. Yet, if you look closely at the human body, and see its complexities, it is difficult to believe that this just randomly happened through a series of mutations. The human body is a wonderful, and artful arrangement of organs and nerves and structure. It is clear to me that our lives, and this world that we live in, was designed by a creator who deeply cares for His creation.

Further evidence helps us to see that the man known as Jesus Christ was indeed God in the flesh, come to ‘save His people from their sin.’ You don’t have to look too hard to realize that human beings are sinful and corrupt. When Jesus Christ came to this earth as the Messiah, He fulfilled numerous prophecies foretelling His coming. After His death, there were hundreds of witnesses who saw Him appear again. Through the millions of believers who exist, there is great evidence of the miracles and power of this creating and loving God.

While faith is required to believe in creationism, it doesn’t take too long after one believes to know it is true. On the other hand, there are many gaps and questions still unanswered when it comes to evolution. My conclusion is that the evidence does not support evolution, but does support creationism. Blessings.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spiritual Implications of Movies

Movies are full of spiritual implications. I believe this is because we are spiritual beings, and people are searching for answers. You have your overtly spiritual movies like Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of Christ”, you somewhat subtle spiritual movies like “The Chronicles of Narnia” series, as well as your controversial ones like “The Da Vinci Code”. But the movies that have intrigued me the most are the Star Wars movies.

In the Star Wars movies they talk about ‘the dark side,’ and ‘the force.’ The whole concept of the force is that it is the spiritual guide for their lives. The main character of the original Star Wars movies is Luke Skywalker. Luke is trained by a Jedi Master name Obi Wan Kenobi. Obi Wan helps Luke to feel the force and use the force for his benefit. He tells Luke that he can listen to the force for direction and guidance. The force empowers him, especially when he learns how to channel it.

The dark side is really the evil side of life, the evil side of the force. The main character on the Dark Side is Darth Vader. Darth Vader is turned to the dark side by his anger and hate. Darth Vader also uses the force for evil, not for good. Darth Vader finds out that Luke Skywalker is his son, and tries to turn Luke to the dark side. Luke is conflicted by the fact that the force on the Dark Side is so powerful.

It is interesting how people are willing to talk about the force and Darth Vader and Sith Lords, and yet they are not as willing to talk about God, Satan, and sin. When I talk about people being lured to "the dark side," it is not just about the sin that is in people’s lives, though sin is certainly central to "the dark side." Rather, it is also the issue of what causes good people, even godly people, to turn away from God, not just in momentary actions, but in a pattern of living. Why does someone who once walked with God end up living in an ungodly manner? What has changed this person's heart and lifestyle?

In the end of Star Wars, Luke realizes that the Dark Side is full of evil, and anger, and hatred, and that the force is not meant to be used in this way. Luke is able to stand strong in being good, and even is able to pull his father (Darth Vader) back to the good side. Even though this leads to Darth Vader’s death, there is an air of joy knowing that it is better to die on the good side, than live on the Dark Side.

What is best about the Star Wars movies is the implication that the force is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, and the Dark Side is sin. While we may be pulled toward the dark side by our tendency to sin, the Holy Sprit is there to help us overcome our sinful desires. Even more, when we stumble down the dark side in our sin, Jesus is there to forgive us and cleanse us from this sin. We are then brought into God’s presence. What a difference it is to be in the presence of God, as opposed to the presence of sin, and evil, and darkness!

Thanks be to God for giving us the life force we have; the very breath of life; His Spirit. May we let movies lead us to search the Bible to help us understand all the more. I encourage you to look for spiritual implications in the movies, and find a way to turn them into Biblical truths. Blessings.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The Colors of the Rainbow

The rainbow is one of the most beautiful natural phenomenons that exist. Often times when we are traveling in the car after it has been raining, the kids will see a rainbow and they always shout out so that everyone else in the car can see it as well. The colors that are seen are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. What a beautiful array of colors they are!

What is even more beautiful about the rainbow is what it represents. In Genesis 6:5 we are told, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.” God saw that the sin of humankind had gotten so great that they didn’t have any regard for doing good or for following God. So God made a decision that we are told about in the scriptures: “The Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” Because He was so grieved, God decided to send a flood. Whoever was on the ark that Noah and his family built would be saved. In the end, ONLY Noah and his family chose to follow God’s word and seek safety on the ark.

After the flood receded God made a promise, a covenant, to Noah and his family in Genesis 9:12-16, “And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

The rainbow is a reminder of God’s love for His people and His desire to see His people follow Him. The rainbow displays the beauty, and wonder, and holiness of God. The colors of the rainbow remind us of all the colors of God’s creation. The colors of the rainbow remind us of the wonderful colors that exist in heaven (for more on this you can read Revelation 9:9-21).

So, the next time you see a rainbow, I hope you remember to give thanks and praise to God, and remember the wonder and splendor of God. Maybe it will help you to serve God all the more and commit your life to Him a little more deeply. Blessings.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

My Favorite Bible Verse

The Bible is full of wonderful wisdom, insight, and instruction. The Bible teaches us how to love, the importance of giving of yourself, and reasons why you should pray. So to choose one verse or passage is a tough challenge. Yet, I believe that one verse speaks very powerfully to me: Romans 6:23. This verse says, “For the penalty of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

A few years ago I was at a pastor’s conference. As I walked into the auditorium on the first day, I was surprised to see something on every chair: a free gift. There on my chair was a Bible and a music CD! I was excited about this because I like free gifts as much as anyone else. It was nice to have these gifts passed on to us by the vendors who were helping to sponsor the event.

Romans 6:23 tells us that God gives us a free gift. This free gift is the greatest gift that has ever been given. It is the gift of eternal life. To receive this free gift all we have to do is take hold of it, just like I had to pick up the gifts off my chair. Jesus Christ has done all the work that is needed (being crucified on a cross) to pay the penalty for our sins. In our saying “yes” to Christ, we are saying “yes” to this free gift.

What we have to do in the midst of this is to first understand our sinfulness, then accept our inability to save ourselves, and finally acknowledge what Christ has done for us. Admitting sinful nature is often a draw back for many people. Even more, accepting the fact that people can’t save themselves can be a hard pill to swallow. Acknowledging Christ’s work simply requires us to humble ourselves before God. If we can humble ourselves, then we find ourselves at that place where we are ready to grab hold of the free gift.

The reason why I state that this is the greatest gift ever given, is because this gift enables us to have an eternal future in heaven. We will forever be in the presence of God; the presence of love. Heaven will be a far superior place and environment than we will ever experience here on earth.

I love the Bible as a whole, but appreciate the truth of Romans 6:23. That is my choice for favorite verse. How about you?

Thursday, February 09, 2012


In the months of January and February I have spent many of my days at church dealing with heater issues. Our church buildings are well over 50 years old, and fixing the heaters has been long overdue. Whenever work is being done, it is not uncommon for there to be problems or issues that arise. Because of these issues, my attention has been taken away from what I want to accomplish and directed to the issues at hand with the heaters. This can be frustrating because I have not scheduled time for these interruptions.

Of course, these are not the only interruptions that I experience. Phone calls and people who come to the office are also a cause of interruption in my schedule. When someone goes into the hospital and I need to visit him or her, this also can be seen as an interruption from what I have scheduled. How can I change my outlook in regards to these “interruptions”?

It is important for me to live my life scheduling “open” times. What I mean by this is that I tend to plan my time without room for interruptions. Every half an hour I have something new scheduled to do. This not only keeps me from being able to handle interruptions, but also leads me to think of interruptions as a negative thing.

Even more important, I need to understand that most of Jesus’ ministry involved interruptions. In one story, Jesus is teaching at a house, when a paralytic is dropped down from the roof right in front of him. Instead of being upset at this, Jesus took the time to talk to the man, find out that he wanted to walk, and then He healed him. In another story Jesus is walking along when a woman touches the hem of His robe. Jesus feels ‘power’ go out from Him. He stops and discovers it was because the woman wanted to be healed. She believed she would be healed if she could just touch Jesus. Jesus took the time to talk with her and make her well.

I believe we are too caught up in life with what we are supposed to do, forgetting that there are things God wants us to do that aren’t even in our plans! Let us live our lives with the idea that interruptions are a part of life, and then we will be able to enjoy life so much more. Amen.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

A New Year, Another Chance

In the Bible, the gospel of Luke, chapter 13, Jesus tells a story of a fig tree which is planted in a vineyard. The owner of the vineyard comes to visit, but there is no fruit on the fig tree. The owner wants to tear the tree down and plant something else that will make good use of the soil (since if a fig tree hasn’t produced in 3 years it probably never will). But the caretaker of the vineyard talks the owner into giving him one more year with the tree. The caretaker wants to do three things. These three things I believe give us an important lesson for our lives as well.

1. Work the soil- The caretaker wants to first work the soil. He believes that
by preparing the soil, the tree will have a better chance. The truth is, without good soil, a tree cannot produce. This is true for you and me. If we don’t have good soil (which Jesus likened to our hearts), then we will not be able to produce. So we must make sure that we are letting God soften our hearts to care for others around us.

2. Fertilize- Second, the caretaker wants to fertilize. Fertilizer helps to put nutrients into the soil that will make the soil more able to nourish plants and trees. For us, fertilizer is the word of God and Christian fellowship. When we are reading the Bible and when we are around other Christians, we will be more likely to live in a way that will bless others around us, and help others understand the need to believe in and follow God.

3. Extra care- Last, the caretaker wanted to give the tree extra care. Sometimes extra attention can help provide the right conditions for growth. Maybe there are insects that are affecting the tree. Or maybe the tree isn't getting enough water. That extra attention can make the difference. This is true in our own lives. It is good to have someone in your life who is making sure that you are doing the things you need to do to grow. It is important to have someone checking up on you, in love, so that you might become all that God created you to be.

This is a parable of second chances. This tree was given another chance. Jesus wants us to know that He gives us another chance. If we stumble, if we fail, if we stray, if we sin, if we feel like we don't measure up, Jesus is there to pick us up and help us move forward. As we enter 2012, let this be a reminder that you get another chance in a new year.