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To Follow His Example

If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 2 Timothy 11-13 “He cannot disown himself.” We are God’s children. As our Father He sees us as a part of Him. We can make mistakes as well as conscious bad choices and He will forgive us. What a great feeling to know that every time I turn back to Him, repent, God will accept me with open arms. I have been disowned. Let me assure you, it’s as painful and nasty as it sounds. The worst of it is that it isn’t a once for all thing, as it sounds. It’s a continuous pattern. Certainly the event of being told, that’s it, we’re done with you was a once for all event but as life goes on, so does the reality that I am no longer a part of a whole that should have a spot for me. The niche that was mine is closed. For me the words of Thomas Wolfe are very true, you can’t go home again.

Kingdom Now

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11 There is a worship song that talks about a time when everyone will realize the sovereignty of God. It says that even given that truth, the best life is lived by those who know God now. I think of the story of the vineyard workers. It illustrates the fact that it is never too late to seek God. Losing a friend who seemingly did not know God my husband and I have prayed that the truth of that verse would carry him home. So, if I can get to the kingdom at the absolute last minute why worry about loving and serving God now? Is there any truth in the statement that life is better lived with God in it? Too many people have told me that they don’t want a relationship with God because then they couldn’t enjo

Getting Prepared

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12 In the song “Joy to the World” there are two lines that stand out for me every Christmas season. One is “let Earth receive her King.” Those words are a thrill to me. I see it as my children’s reaction when their grandparents arrive. “They’re here! They’re here!” Last year our oldest son had a significant birthday and his grandparents surprised him by coming to his party, from the other end of the East coast. He was as thrilled then as he was when he was a child. Of course we received them. We changed our plans for the next several days to enjoy their visit. That’s the emotion I have when I hear “let Earth receive her King.” Jesus is here! Yay! Sadly that is not everyone’s reaction. Some sing along with the words but don’t get it. Others are offended by the idea of Jesus. To me that is tragic. Parts of

Holiday Inn

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in the manger, because there was no room in the inn. Luke 2:6-7 December is here. It’s Christmas time. I know that because my street is alive with colored lights and every store I pass by is busy. I hear conversations about this party, that dinner and who is giving what to whom. I hear very little if anything at all about Jesus. Due to the eagerness of advertisers and businesses we have all been primed for the season since the middle of October and each day that brings us closer to the 25th intensifies the onslaught. I hear about stress and too many commitments. I wonder myself if we can celebrate the holiday without any harsh words about where, how and with whom to celebrate. Our pastor has a tradition of basing his Christmas sermon around some trinket he can give as a reminder of his message, the message that we are who we are beca

Every Knee Shall Bow

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Philippians 2:9-10 There is an item in the news this morning that is frankly making me ill. Somewhere in New York several boys were suspended from school for bowing their knee in what looks like prayer. It isn’t prayer however; it is an imitation of sports figure, Tim Tebow. Putting aside for a moment the basic problem I have with the fact that the boys would not be allowed to bend their knees in AMERICA a country founded on and for religious freedom …. Let me say that I am not a sports fan. I don’t follow sports and ordinarily would never have heard of Tim Tebow except that I live in Orange Park, Florida just a bit over an hour away from Gainesville where Gators rule baby and Tim used to be their king aka, the quarterback. My children are rabid Ga

The One Who Always Watches Over Us

For he will command his angels concerning you To guard you in all your ways; They will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. Psalm 91:11-12 My granddaughter Faith has had an experience of some kind with God. I’m not sure exactly what happened but I know it’s real. She knows things about God that a child of her age, who is fairly unchurched, would not know. Further, she knows things about people who died long before she was born, that none of us have told her. One night while she was sharing some of her experience with me she referred to God as “the one who always watches over us.” When I asked her who she meant she said, “God” in a voice that suggested that I might be a bit less than intelligent, not in a sassy way but more in the way of a teacher to reluctant student. I then asked her why she didn’t just say God and she told me that “the one who watches over us” is one of God’s names. She informed me that lots of people call Him that. M

Christmas

For to us a child is born, to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 A few days ago I was reviewing some Christmas messages I have written. I hate to repeat myself too closely. Granted the message is the same year after year but if I state it the same way twice that could be bad. My kids already accuse me of being senile sometimes. While reviewing the messages I saw Christmas over the last few years. A lot of them deal with Mary’s feelings about the whole thing. That seemed right to me, as I am a mother and two of my sons were born either side of Christmas, one in the beginning of January and one at the very end of November. I can relate to Mary’s pregnancy on some level. A few of the messages were about the commercialization of Christmas, the emphasis on the ordinary rather than the sacred. One of my favorites uses the image of my

Saints of God

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be opened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. Ephesians 1:18 Saints are very important to the people of the Catholic Church. I know this because I was raised Catholic. In my teen years I found the whole thing quite amusing and as I grew to truly know Jesus I found it a little sad. Now I have to admit I find it all interesting. No, I don’t believe a certain saint can bring a certain result but I bet they did while they were alive. They got those credentials from somewhere. Think about it, when we have a specific prayer request we think of a person we know who was healed or helped through something similar. We wonder who prayed for them and we want the same person praying for us. When my oldest son Paul was born and experienced complications a woman named Melissa prayed for him. Her daughter had just been healed of an inoperable brain tumor. I believed that ha

How Many Times

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22 There are a couple of relationships in my life that continue to fall into a less than positive pattern. Things go well for awhile and then they get stale, to put it tactfully and that brings difficulty and hurt feelings. In praying about one of them today I realized how much God puts up with in having relationships with us. On any given day I can be totally devoted to Him at one point and fairly ignorant of Him in the next section of the day. Although it may not be the first image that comes to mind when you hear or see the word ignorant, one of the synonyms for it is unaware. I think that fits what I’m talking about perfectly. It isn’t that I don’t love God or appreciate Him. It is that in certain moments I am unaware of Him and the worst of those is when I c

He Does It His Way

I know that the Lord is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens, and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. Psalm135:5-6 “The Lord does whatever pleases him.” That sounds a bit arrogant taken out of context. If I say of someone, he does whatever pleases him, most likely I am describing someone selfish or thoughtless. These words are describing God, who is neither selfish nor thoughtless. Reading this psalm however, I wondered what a person who is just coming to know God or opens the Bible for no reason other than to disprove it, thinks of that passage. It would be pretty scary to serve a god who “does what pleases him” if that god didn’t care about people. Thankfully what pleases God, the one true God, is to care for us, teach us, prosper us and bring us home. Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse a lot of people know and love. It says “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you

The Gift Box

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 I read an account of children in El Salvador receiving Christmas gift boxes prepared by American children. It was in a book by Max Lucado. He spoke of the excitement the children feel at receiving toys, books and personal items but that the part they enjoy the most is the letter that comes from the other child. He made many eloquent and touching points comparing that gift to the gift that God gave to us in the form of Jesus. There was one line though with which I disagreed. He said that for us the box, which is Jesus doesn’t come with toys, books etc that Jesus is the gift. While I agree that Jesus is the main gift and in fact the only gift we need I believe there are other gifts involved. In fact I believe that every good thing in my life comes from that gift box from God. My family, my home, my health all of those are gifts from a lo

Receive the King

Today in the town of David a Savior is born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government of the world will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. Isaiah 9:7 “Joy to the world the Lord is come. Let Earth receive her King.” Christian and non-Christian alike are singing these words today. It’s Christmastime and people who don’t give Christ a single thought all year long are singing about His birth. I love Christmas. I love the colors, the smells and the songs. Unlike some other people I realize that the songs like the season itself are two sided. There are songs about Santa and jingling bells and there are songs/hymns about Jesus. So we sing, “let Earth receive her King.” Long years ago Earth received that King with little excitement. Sure, the whole thing touched a few shepherds an

Truth (Re)Revealed

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved Joel 2:32a Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32 I was reminded this morning of a very simple teaching and that reminder exposed a huge lie, a lie which I have believed and been bruised by for quite awhile now. The teaching was this, when times are hard, go to the Word of God. The lie was this, when I feel overwhelmed, sad or frightened and I go to God’s Word, written or sung, I am putting a bandage on the problem. A few years ago I had an injury. The doctor I saw told me to wear a pressure bandage. Bryan, a physical therapist with whom I work, told me that bandage wasn’t doing me any good. He explained that all the bandage did was compress the area to make it feel better when in fact it wasn’t. That was true and was also excellent advice. It would seem that what the enemy was telling me was similar. In going to the Word of God I could get lost in the comfort of the familiar stories. In s

Jesus Christ is Born

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21 I love music. I say that my life has a soundtrack because for every event, major and minor in my life, I attach a song. Now the Christmas season is here and with the Christmas season comes Christmas music, which I love. Every year one song becomes my favorite, the one I have to hear over and over again. Last year it was a tie between “Sing Mary Sing” and “Go Tell It On The Mountain.” Whether it is my current favorite or last year’s fave or just one I really like a lot, all of the Christmas songs speak to me. We’re not talking Jingle Bell Rock here, I mean the ones you’d sing in church. Earlier tonight I was listening to Christmas CDs as I prepared some food for a gathering at work. During that time in the kitchen I heard two different versions of “Go Tell It On The Mountain.” As I listened I kept hearing, make that hearing , Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ.

Clothes Don’t Make the Faith

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15 At church this morning our pastor spoke about appearances. It was a small part of a bigger message but it really hit me. He showed a picture of some Amish or maybe Mennonite people and a picture of Catholic nuns. Though he didn’t use these exact words, his point was, clothes don’t make the faith. We are not wholly based on how we dress or what emblem we plaster on our vehicles, backpacks etc. We can wear the t-shirt, have the bumper sticker and wave the flag without believing one single word or living out the ones we do believe. He is right of course, although I do believe that the habits worn by the nuns are more about purity than anything else. Anyway, I was quite taken with the sermon and especiall

Believing

Immediately the boy’s father answered, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 Boy can I relate to this guy! For years I have thought that this verse was about not having enough faith, believing deeply enough. It may be, but today I am wondering if all these years I’ve gotten it wrong. The man has just asked Jesus to heal his son, “if you can.” To which Jesus replies by repeating the, if you can and telling the dad that everything is possible for people who believe. Which elicits this famous, to me at least, response, that he does believe but maybe not enough, or as I’m seeing it today, maybe not in the right way. I believe in God. In fact I’m fascinated by the arguments of people who don’t. I find it remarkable that they can’t see the holes in their theories. Believing in God is easy. There are signs and evidence of His existence everywhere we look or in the fact that we exist and that we can look. That part is quite simple. I believe God can do anything He chooses

Thanksgiving

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 There is no school today or tomorrow or the next day…. For which I am extremely grateful. I’m so blessed to have a job and I’m thankful for that as well. The job, however, is a bit stressful at times and very tiring. It is also incredibly rewarding. Still, it’s just lovely to be home, to sit with my Father and not have to check the clock to be sure to leave on time, to sip my tea and to look over the hours in front of me knowing they are all mine. Today is Monday, this is my day. Tomorrow afternoon three of my grandchildren will arrive for a sleepover that puts them in position to help Grammy and Uncle Paul in our annual Thanksgiving prep. We are all quite excited about that, as usual. Right now I am just happy to have this time to be able to think about all the things for which I am thankful. On Thanksgiving I will pass around our family notebook in which each pe

Being Myself

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48 I’m one of those people who is always reminded of songs. Any word or phrase, circumstance or situation can remind me of a song. Earlier, thinking about Thanksgiving, I found myself humming that old Sly Stone song, “Thank You (for Letting Me Be Myself Again).” Which was spelled, Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin. As it hummed through my head I started laughing. It seemed so ridiculous. I get his point, he was a bit out there, showing us all his non-conformity and he was giving kudos to the people who were letting him do it or as we say to today to the people who “got” him. To me it just was hilarious to have that in my head because I spend a portion of my prayer time every single day praying for God to change me. I see my faults, well, some of them, I know there are more I don’t see, and I want them to change. No, thank you I prefer not to be myself. In fact the lyric was thank you for letting me be myself ….again~~~~

“It Duddn’t Maddah”

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father know that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:31-34 A few years ago I met a little boy whose smile could light up the darkest room. In the first few minutes of knowing him, he asked me and then two other people if we knew Jesus. Maybe that doesn’t seem terribly remarkable but at the time that boy was ten years old and he has Down syndrome. Still upon meeting a new person his first thought was to ask about Jesus. In the years we spent together I tried to make sure that somewhere on my person I had a necklace, earrings or a pin that was a cross because each day he would look me over, searching for one. His eyes wou

A Sinner is a Sinner

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7 Earlier today I was listening to some songs that have really touched my life and enhanced my faith experience. They are performed and were written by an amazingly talented young woman who according to her songs, has great faith. She is also a sinner. She made her sin a very public thing a few years ago. Before that we, in the world, knew nothing about it but she was painfully aware of it, all too painfully aware. Her songs take on a richer, deeper meaning to me when you know of her struggle. Other people find them invalid because of what she has done. If you are one of those people stop reading right here because while my sins may be very different from hers they are still sins. That makes me a sinner and if you can ‘t appreciate the perspective of one sinner, you most likely won’t appreciate the perspective of another. The difference between that woman and me is that I am better able

Testing

Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Galatians 6:4-7 I spoke to two different friends about this verse yesterday without even realizing that this was what I was talking about. We were talking about a common acquaintance I’ll call Nancy, and how obtuse she can be about her own behavior. Before you judge me for judging her, let me say, she is what I would consider an acquaintance but I treat her as a dear friend for many and various reasons. This is not a person I hold in any kind of contempt. I love her, exactly the way Jesus advises us to love. I get a lot wrong but with her I believe I get it pretty close to right. Back to the story…. This woman was extolling the oddities of a person we often observe, none

Noah and Timing

So Noah came out together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. All of the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on the earth—came out of the ark, one kind after another. Genesis 8:18-19 Do you know about Noah? I’m sure you do. Noah is a fairly illustrious guy. I’ve read his story a few times in my life including earlier today. What hit me during this reading was timing. Noah sent out the raven…. not yet. Okay, then he sent out the dove. Nope, still not dry. Then he sent the dove again, and received signs that the land was drying up. After that he still had to wait for God to say, “okay Noah, now get out of the ark.” That’s patience and a firm reliance on God’s timing. Not my strong suit. A year or so ago one of my favorite Christian bands released a new CD. The first song from the CD was all over the radio. I never listened to the whole thing. I would hear a few bars and decide that oddly enough, I just didn’t lik

Courage

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 Sometimes terror is the only thing that wants to register on our emotional radar. All those phone calls that bring bad news, from family members, from friends, from the doctor or the police, terror is sometimes our first response. Sometimes it shows up right after shocked disbelief has gone off to look for a new victim. In all of it our Lord counsels us “be strong and courageous”. Those words repeat several times in the first chapter of Joshua. The Lord begins by promising Joshua that He will never leave or forsake him but He does not promise a bed of roses. Neither does He promise us an easy road. It is a common mistake among new believers the supposition that once we have given our lives to God He will make it all smooth sailing. He promises to be our strength, our hiding place and our refuge. Why would we need all tha

The Past

Forget the former things: do not dwell in the past. See I am doing a new thing. Isaiah 43:18-19a One day I am going home. I have no idea when that will happen but thanks to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ I know that I am going home eventually. In my prayer time this morning I realized that the last thing I want to do is bring my dirty laundry. Twice today I heard or read messages about letting go of the past. Sounds simple, but then we read that God allows some suffering in our lives for the benefit of others. My most intense suffering is in my past which means I would have to remember it, relive it, in a sense to help others, right? Lately I’m beginning to think the answer is no. What happened to me, what I have experienced has defined my personality and my choices. I can help because I understand. I can bring empathy to the situation without revisiting my past. I can encourage and offer support because I know there are brighter days, better opportunities ahead. Our Fath

Clean Up

Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine of nakedness or danger or sword? Romans 8:35 While I was praying for a friend one of our students came to my mind. In any study of child development one is taught that a child is never bad. His actions may be bad but the child himself is not inherently bad. To those who penned that teaching I would say, “You’ve never met Stevie.” But that would be facetious because while the better part of Stevie’s behavior is beyond bad and straight into deplorable, Stevie is not bad. He is a product of other people’s bad choices. Stevie came into the world with more than three strikes against him. When I am praying for him, when he is finished terrorizing the people around him and has given himself over to tears and when he is sleeping or sitting quietly I can easily remember that his behaviors are not his fault and for that I thank God. That knowledge, that merciful view of Stevie gets me throu

Fall Back

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 24-25 Given my early life experiences it is no shock to me that trust does not come easily, when it comes at all. Today looking at these words “to him who is able to keep you from falling” I thought of that stupid (to me) exercise people do in various groups, self-help, youth group, mission planning etc. where one person is supposed to fall back trusting another person, positioned behind, to catch him. I hate it! The idea is to trustingly collapse into the arms of another person to illustrate how you can count on each other in other circumstances. It’s not a huge leap of faith really. If it were just the two of them in the room the one in back may or may not catch the one in front. However, in a group of people if you

Blessings

“ I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19 We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 Some weeks are busier than others. I was in the middle of a particularly hectic week rushing home from work to make a dessert for a small group that was meeting in my home that evening when I got a phone call. It was from a member of the group just letting me know that she would be bringing some goodies for the meeting. “Oh bless you!” I said as I drove. As I finished the phone call I thought how truly I meant those words. If I were literally in the business of bestowing blessings, she would absolutely have been a recipient at that moment. She had just taken a task off of my hands that I didn’t quite have time to accomplish. It was a blessing to me and I wanted to return the favor. I thought about it for quite awhile as I drove home, prepared dinner for my husba

The Church

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:18-19 The church my husband and I attend has as its subtitle, “the Church of Second Chances.” We have a set of defining and hopefully motivating values that we go over every week. It’s a lovely little church and the concept is great. The idea of being “the” church of second chances just struck me as odd today. Shouldn’t all Christian churches be places where people are given not only second chances but endless chances? Shouldn’t the tenets of forgiveness, renewal and mercy be a major part of any group that claims Jesus Christ as its leader? With absolutely no malice toward my own church, a church I do appreciate, I wonder how far we’ve strayed from God’s original idea? When Jesus said to Peter, “

The Closed Door

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8 God has closed a door. For months I have been eagerly anticipating an opportunity to which I felt truly led. Now that opportunity has evaporated. It is gone, due to human error, although not my error. I had to rely on other people doing their jobs and someone didn’t. For a moment I felt sick. I felt the bile of disappointment rise in my throat. Then I remembered a teaching I heard just yesterday. Yesterday morning I was not feeling well and stayed home from church. While resting I tuned into a program that features an evangelist I used to listen to quite often. I haven’t heard him or read anything by him in the last year or so. Yesterday his message was for me. I just didn’t know it until today. I listened as he spoke about his own disappointments and a very serious situation that had troubled his father. He spoke about how in such situations each of us has a choice. We can choo

The Teapot

How long will the enemy mock you O God? Will the foe revile your name forever? Why do you hold back you hand, your right hand? But you O God are my king from of old; you bring salvation upon the earth. Psalm 74: 10-11, 13 I do not believe that God does things to hurt us. I do believe He allows temptations, consequences and even disasters. He uses the negative things of this fallen world as tools for our spiritual growth, to give us better understanding of Him, to strengthen us and for many other reasons, most of which I do not understand. I do know that God wastes nothing so even my disappointments and heartbreaks have a purpose. Several years ago my husband, a self-employed painting contractor, did work for a company who then did not pay. Unfortunately my hubby still had a crew to pay, which he did. In the same span of time we had trouble with two vehicles, not impossible but costly enough to pinch. Then our pool pump died and took our air conditioning unit along for the ride. We w

Accepting God’s No

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20 Lately I have read a lot about why God says no. None of us like it. We want God to say yes and from that yes we’d really love smooth sailing. He’s God after all. Can’t He just make it easy? No, He can’t. That’s not technically true, because of course He can. He chooses not to for our good. When God says no, as harsh as that may sometimes seem, it is always for a reason. For the past several months I have been making the same request of God over and over and over. It isn’t for wealth or power or influence. It is a simple request, one that the Bible supports. In fact what I am asking for is highly recommended in Scripture. So why, oh why, oh why does God keep saying no? I have no idea. Quite frankly I am beginning to get aggravated and frustrated, which I heard in a teaching a few days ago is referred to as the sin of Jonah. That made it a bit easier to s

Humility

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12 On humble people, Christian writer Brennan Manning says, “Following the counsel of Jesus to take the last place, they are not shocked or offended when someone puts them there.” It is important to know your worth to God but to know also that while no one is better than you, neither are you better than another. Our Father sees us all as equal. Though it is difficult for us to understand He sees all sin in the same light as well. We often fall into the trap of the Pharisee who compared himself to the tax collector, forgetting that our Father loves each of us as if there were only one of us. Self- promotion is never effective. Only God’s promotion counts. The way of the world is to shine our own light. Take a look at any political campaign. Such paragons of virtue and people of immense strength and widespread accomplishment are running for office. It is hard to believe that suc

Seeing the Hand of God

“A voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.” Luke 2:4b-6 (paraphrase of Isaiah 40:3-5) My young friend Anna is going through a terrible time in her life right now. Her brother is literally fighting for his life. He is alive, after an experience that most certainly could have and some would say should have, resulted in death. Today the quality of his life is what hangs in the balance. So the good news is that Patrick is still with them. The hard news is to what extent? Anna and her family are surrounded by medical professionals who shake their heads and murmur words of, if not discouragement, then at least what they see as reality. Anna and her family, strong believers and lovers of Christ, nod, take in what they believe they need to hear and toss the rest. T

But for the Grace of God

But because of his great love for us God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5 Through my life I have heard and used the title of this message repeatedly. Disaster strikes someone near to us or similar to us and we think, “there but for the grace of God go I..” True! I used to work with a woman with whom I had much in common. The major difference being I chose to accept salvation, to invite Jesus into my heart and she said, “no thanks.” The choice however is ours. God’s grace is available to any and all who will open their hearts and take it. Over the last year or more I have watched as a young man I know, I’ll call him James, chose to reject the invitation of God. He has cast for himself idols made of flesh, chemicals, hops and barley, etc. etc. etc. He has lived fast and loose not caring who paid the price, not concerning himself with the needs or desires of the people around h