One of the great defenses we have against the holiday pressures is our worship of Jesus. In worshipping Christ at Christmas we push back against the materialistic and cultural Grinches that attempt to steal the true celebration of the Advent. We must hear and heed the invitation of the carol: “O come all ye faithful … O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.” (more…)
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The book of Acts records the untimely death of a woman named Dorcas who had distinguished herself among the disciples by her life of service.
“(Dorcas) was always doing good and helping the poor … All the widows stood around him (Peter), crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them” (Acts 9:36,39).
Standing there around Dorcas’ lifeless body were the people whom she had touched by her many acts of extraordinary kindness. They held in their hands the tangible evidence of a life lived in practical service to others. Dorcas was missed and remembered for the special things she did to help others feel the love of God in their lives. (more…)
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”(Matthew 25:37-40).
One of the hottest reality TV series today is “Undercover Boss.” Here’s the deal: Each episode follows high-level corporate executives as they slip anonymously into the everyday, inner workings of their own companies. Each week the show features a different executive who leaves their corporate office in total disguise to go on an undercover mission to examine the inner workings of their company. (more…)
In the movie Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, actor Jim Caviezel plays the role of the legendary golfer Bobby Jones, who dominated the world of golf through most of the1920s. The closing scene of the film has Jones, along with his friend and golf writer O.B. Keeler, driving into an open field overlooking rolling hills and beautiful trees just outside of Augusta, Georgia. Bobby gets out of the car and stands in the knee deep grass. He looks at Keeler and says, “We’re standing on the first tee. I’m going to call it Augusta National.” Bobby Jones saw more than grass and trees and hills. He envisioned a golf course, and not just any golf course. Jones envisioned the Augusta National Golf Club becoming one of the great golf courses of the world. In 1933 his vision became a reality and to this day each year Augusta National hosts the Masters Tournament, one of the four major championships of professional golf. (more…)
If you’ve tried lately to talk to your friends or family about the Christian faith, you may have discovered that people have a harder time today grasping the concepts than they may have in earlier generations. Terms that once were commonly understood by most people are now like a foreign language to nonbelievers (and even to some believers) in our culture. We cannot even assume the word “Christian” means what it once meant to people. Some understand it as anyone who isn’t another religion like Muslim or Hindu. Some understand it as someone who attends church, or who believes in the teachings of the Bible. To some the name “Christian” may be synonymous with a political persuasion. Through the years something has been lost in the translation. (more…)
A vivid memory from my childhood comes from an experience where I learned one of my first lessons in faith. My buddies and I were playing baseball in the front yard of my house when someone hit the ball up on the roof of our garage. Because the roof was flat the ball didn’t roll back to the ground, so someone had to go up after it. Since it was my house it became my duty to go up on the roof. We had no ladder so one of my taller friends boosted me up on his shoulders and I scrambled up the nine or ten feet on to the garage roof, retrieved the ball, went back to the edge expecting to be helped down by my “friends.” There was no one in sight. They thought it would be funny to leave me on the roof with no way to get down. I began to yell for help, but to no avail. Soon my dad heard all the noise and came outside to see what was up. When he saw my predicament he chuckled, then just held up his arms and said, “Jump.” Immediately I was confronted with a dilemma. Do I trust my dad and jump into his arms, or do I stay on the roof for the rest of my life? It really was not a big decision. I obeyed … and jumped! Why? Because I had absolute confidence in my dad. I knew that he loved me and wanted to catch me when I jumped into his arms. Furthermore I knew that he was strong and that he could catch me when I jumped into his arms.
That was a traumatic experience for a little guy, and I guess that’s why I’ve never forgotten it. But it has served as a repeated reminder to me of what it means to trust and obey. (more…)
It’s been years ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. When our girls reached the age of four or five they started attending “big church.” Parents of preschoolers know that during those years it’s awfully hard for a child of that age to sit still in a typically grown-up atmosphere like a church worship service. Since I am a pastor and don’t usually get to sit with my family in worship services, my wife Nan had the unenviable task of orienting our girls to how they should behave in a worship service. Perhaps in another blog I’ll tell some of the struggles she had in helping our kids learn to act properly in church.
Nan and I just returned from some time away in the mountains of New Mexico, where we spend most of our vacations. Whenever possible we enjoy attending a local church in the mountain village. As a pastor I always strive to be a worshipper even when I am leading worship in our church. On a few occasions each year I get to worship without the weight of the responsibility of worship leadership on my mind. I love pastoral ministry, but I also cherish those occasional opportunities to worship from the pew rather than the platform. It gives me an opportunity to practice what I preach and teach … to be reminded of how adults should behave in church. (more…)
The Old Testament book of Job is one of the most mysterious, yet comforting books in all of the Bible. It is mysterious because we see a horrific series of catastrophes happen to a godly man and his family. It is comforting because we get to listen in on conversations between Job and four of his friends as they try to make sense out of what happens. As they struggle with some of life’s ultimate questions, we don’t feel so alone as we wrestle with the same questions thousands of years later.
Reading Job is a challenge; studying and interpreting it is even tougher. But for the steadfast student of the Bible who takes time to dig into this fascinating book, there are a number of certainties that we can cling to in uncertain times.
Certainty #1 – God is absolutely in control, even when it feels like our lives are swirling out of control. (more…)
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).
As a college student living in an apartment I learned how to cook for myself when I had to. As you can well imagine my culinary presentations were not very sophisticated. French toast was about the only think “continental” about my cuisine. I did however develop the habit of cooking things in a hurry. The burner controls on my little apartment stove had one setting … HIGH. To my way of thinking, if cooking something on medium was good, cooking on high must be better. Of course in those days I presented many burnt offerings. I learned to scrape the burned parts off of food and eat it anyway.
Fast forward to today. On the rare occasions that I cook something in the kitchen, I regret to say that I have not kicked the habit of cooking things on high. Splatters of bacon grease mark the ceiling of our kitchen as testimony to this fact. Nan is extraordinarily gifted in the kitchen, and panics whenever I enter her domain for the purpose of cooking something for myself.
While bringing something to a boil quickly in the kitchen is usually not the best idea, the Bible teaches us that when it comes to our zeal in loving and serving God we should turn up the heat. When Paul admonished the Roman believers to keep their “spiritual fervor,” the word he uses literally means “to bring to a boil.” The present active verb means to keeping on being fervent in one’s spirit. (more…)
Most of us can readily identify with the man who came to Jesus one day with a tragic, seemingly impossible situation. The man’s son was afflicted with demonic possession. The father’s description of the symptoms is heart-breaking: “A spirit …has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid,” (Mark 9:17-18). Previously the father brought his son to Jesus’ disciples, but they were powerless to help. Now the dad stands before Jesus with the frantic plea: “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (v.22).
Interestingly Jesus responds with a bit of a rebuke, “What do you mean, ‘If you can’?” Jesus must be amazed, even amused, at our doubtful “ifs.” But then Jesus issues a powerful declaration: “Everything is possible for him who believes” (v.23).
There you have the towering truth. God has all power, and Jesus was a pure conduit through which that power flowed on this earth because He lived in perfect trust (belief) in His heavenly Father. Everything is possible for the almighty God/Man. But Jesus’ statement is essentially an invitation to this hysterical father: If you will believe in Me it is possible for your son to be delivered. (more…)