Friday, April 30, 2010

Just Start It - April 30, 2010

Good Friday morning! Does it seem a bit odd to talk about starting something at the end of a month? We sometimes like to wait for a 1st day of the month, or the Monday of a new week to start things. We somehow feel that a new habit or a new goal in our lives must begin at the start of some period on the calendar. On the other hand, any morning is a good time to start something new. We are given a new day after night's rest and that seems like a good time to just start it. Whatever your "it" may be, get started, put faith into action, and let God provide the strength and means to keep going.

A new morning can bring optimism and hope to the mind and heart. I read a couple of weeks ago that Chrysler lost 4 billion dollars last quarter, but they thought that would turn around next quarter and actually show a profit. Now that's optimism. The stockholders may not share quite that much optimism with the company officers, but I can appreciate their attitude after so many dark days. Some mornings, we just have a new attitude. No matter how dark the days in the past look, why not link up with God and have hope for the future? After all, you didn't lose $4,000,000,000 last quarter did you? That's a lot of zeros!

At the big Wall Street banks that huge loss would be cause for another round of bonuses. There's optimism, and then there's complete foolishness. We don't have to act that way. "I'm starting a new program in my life: each year I will buy a brand new car, even if my bank account is empty... maybe the government will bail me out!" Ha, ha, I don't think so. The government probably wouldn't say "Bucky's too big to fail; we'll have to bail him out of jail." When we start something new it's more along the lines of: "I am going to stop worrying about my needs and start trusting in God!"

Do you want to help our country recover? Certainly, we all do. I would suggest tithing. Start with tithing faithfully. This can be a difficult thing to start. We look at our resources and as Scrooge would say, find every item dead against us. God tells us to just start it, and just as importantly, quit worrying about it.

Have a great Friday in Christ!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Powering up the Prayer - April 29, 2010

Good Thursday morning! Well, there it is; the final Bible study meeting for this school year happened last night. We enjoyed the final exam, I got one wrong as usual, and we had some delicious peanut butter pie. There comes a time to feast together, and there is also a time to fast together... or is there. We feast together, but Jesus told us to fast in the closet and not to look for public acclaim or sympathy when we fast and pray. Our brothers and sisters in Christ shouldn't know that we have been fasting. The temptation is strong to toot our own horn in this area. We get together, ask each other how we have been doing, and there it is... we want to put on that persecuted and pious face, and then tell how we have been suffering for Jesus by fasting. "Look how holy I am!" is what we are trying to say.

Jesus had a different method of fasting and prayer that didn't involve shouting out prayers to the people in the streets or seeking public sympathy for our fasting. Jesus told us to go into the closet and shut the door where our prayers and fasting should be done in secret. Many things in our Christian walk are done quietly or in secret. We don't serve to gain the cheers of the masses. However, don't mistake secret for sneaking about. If a friend comes to the door while you are praying and fasting, we are to wash our face and greet them cheerfully. That friend could be God's answer to a prayer you have just spoken to Him.

Praise the Lord for prayer and life in Him!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How Far Away are You? - April 28, 2010

Good Wednesday morning! If a person we know takes off on a long trip, the question we most want to ask is often: where are you? I'm not sure what drives this, perhaps a need for some kind of control of the situation. If traveller gets into trouble, we would at least have some idea of their last location. We often try to ask the same of Jesus, but in a roundabout way. We study the scripture for clues about his second coming, while knowing full well that no man will know the time of His return, just as Jesus told us. We want to ask Jesus how far away He is from that glorious return trip.

God gave each of us a burning need to know. We ask questions, research, learn, and store facts in our little heads about all manner of subjects. We want to know as much as God does, but we don't have the capability to be omniscient as He is. This desire can go too far until we worship the very knowledge we seek, or it can be used in a healthy way to ask questions of God's creation and seek the answers we do not yet have. We can also ask questions of God's Word, the Bible, and seek for the deeper meanings that He alone provides through his Holy Spirit.

The Bible will not explicitly tell any of us that Jesus is returning on this date and time in the year 2xxx, but the scripture does give us signs to watch for. Jesus also told us not to worry when the first signs appear, as they have already, but to trust in Him. Anytime we don't know everything about something that will occur, we tend to worry. Look at your death, you don't know the date or time of that, and so you have a tendency to worry about it. If a friend takes off on a trip without filing an itinerary with you, you get worried about all manner of things.

I would be guilty. If someone I know takes off with a casual, "I'm leaving on vacation; don't know where I'm going and I'm not sure when I'll be back!" I would tend to wonder more and worry more about that person than if I had knowledge of their destination and anticipated return. In a similar manner, we know where Jesus went, but don't know exactly where Heaven is, and we don't know when He will return. What is quite different is that we have no worries about Him or His welfare; instead we are worried about our selves and our loved ones and when He will return to rescue us. Looks like we are the ones who are "away" and have no idea about our return trip!

The question isn't how far away Jesus is from home, but when He will come to bring us home. We are the ones out there in the world, lost and in need of saving.

Have a wonderful day. Jesus is Lord!


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Resolved to Trust in Him - April 27, 2010

Good Tuesday morning! Do you ever feel that God has put you to the test? Perhaps you have been put to the test; you know it; and yet you feel like Job - your friends and even your relatives are telling you to admit your sin or worse, curse God and die, as Job's wife told him. In our faith in Jesus, God is going to put that faith in the fire to purify our faith in Him. Of course our flesh is going to holler.

We don't like to be put in God's forge; it's hot and we feel the pain and discomfort of the fiery testing. We would much rather be in that resting phase when God takes us out of the testing to let us heal, rest and recuperate. However, we also know that God is the Teacher, and in time come to realize that our first and perhaps most important test is to learn to trust Him in all things.

Problems come at us in all areas of life. I don't know of a single friend in Christ who doesn't have some money concern, and all of us know of someone in the world who doesn't appear to have any reason to worry about money at all. We are learning to trust in Him in regard to finances and to not compare ourselves with the imperfect standard that is our neighbor.

My friends in Christ also have doubts about the Bible, God's holy Word. We are learning to believe God's Word without reservation, but it isn't always easy. Some of the words are difficult to believe and we feel the temptation to be learned and knowledgeable instead of coming to God as a learner and aware of our ignorance in so much. The world wants us to be intellectual according to its standards and treat God's Word as just another ancient text. I see three ways that you can have no doubts whatsoever about the Bible: 1) you are in Heaven with Jesus. 2) you are already in Hell and have found out the truth the hard way. 3) you have decided to be wise in your own strength and have lumped the Bible into that same collection as all the other mythology and stories from ancient times, in effect ignoring God's Word completely. The remainder of us are going to struggle as we learn the truth of God's Word.

With this in mind, I have resolved to trust in God. Doubts do come in my Bible study. Did the scholars translate this part accurately? Did that part get added later? Perhaps they didn't really understand what that ancient Hebrew word meant? How could all those obviously smart folks be wrong about this? And of course the always present; maybe I'm just too slow to get that part! Trust in God and His Word doesn't come automatically; we have to learn and grow as He shows us the Way. We also have some strong reassurance in our trust resolution.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.

Isaiah 29:14b - ...for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.

Matthew 11:25 - At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes."

1 Corinthians 1:18 - For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

I like how the Bible progresses in these verses from the warning in Proverbs to the prophecy in Isaiah, then Jesus says it has happened, and finally Paul points out that Jesus accomplished it at the cross. The wisdom and prudence of the world will call us foolish for resolving to trust in God. We will feel the urge in the flesh to be known in this world as wise, prudent, intellectual, and intelligent, but none of those will do us any good unless we first trust in God. We all have much to learn from our Lord!

God's blessing go with you this day,


Monday, April 26, 2010

In Memory of Fine - April 26, 2010

Good Monday morning! In the English language we have another of those words with more than one meaning. Today we lament the end of the word fine. The dictionary says that we use fine for perfected, superior in quality; better than average; excellent; very good; also for very thin or slender as in a fine thread; or even for a payment to settle a matter as in a parking ticket. Interestingly, all of those meanings have the same Latin root finis, meaning finish. How did we get to all these different meanings from one root word?

We know that English seems to have a way of doing that, making the language quite difficult for all of us to learn. Sadly though, fine has been destroyed by a couple of customs. We walk by a person and he asks, "how are you doing?" and we answer, "fine." Often he doesn't really care about the answer and so we give him a stock answer that means nothing. Fine now means the same as a general grunt like "urg" or "mmmf". I used to run experiments in the corporate hallways to check this.

Corporate minion: "How ya doin'?"

Me: "A frog sat in my Wheaties this morning..."

CM: "Great, I'm doing fine."

Me: "Your britches is on fire."

CM: "Yup, gotta get back to workin' ya know."

Lost in my experiments was the meaning of fine; somewhere the word became meaningless. Of course there is a price to pay for this as well. If your wife buys a nice dress (listen to Ken Davis' Lighten Up this morning) and you say, "That's fine," you might as well have said, "I don't give a hoot about the dress or you!" Fine has become a non-committal and dismissing word. You might get an angry shout in return, "If you don't like it, why didn't you just say so!" While it may not be wise to blurt out that you hate the new dress, at least in committing to dislike, she can go get another one. People, especially spouses, hate to be ignored or dismissed with a bland, "that's fine" comment. In the corporate hallways, people have come to expect the meaningless "I'm fine", but in a close relationship, wives and friends want to know where you stand on the matter at hand.

Poor fine just kind of loses out in modern conversation, stripped of meaning by overuse and incorrect usage. We stop to remember the word that once denoted perfected and superior in quality...

Fine then! Just be that way. Love had, and still has, a similar problem, but God brought it back. Through God's love, we are redeemed in Christ. Through the love of Christ, Paul wrote the great chapter on love in 1 Corinthians. Through love we learn to sacrifice for each other and to glorify God in all that we do. Love as a word might have died at the hands of scriptwriters writing about sex or advertisers talking about liking a product, but it hasn't yet. We carry the light of God's love in this dark world; let it shine out for Him! Let us resolve to not let love become a dying word in this darkness all around us. Love one another as Christ commanded us.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bearmin' and Emotin' again - April 24, 2010

Good Saturday morning! Some folks are critical of Josh McDaniels and the Broncos for selecting Tim Tebow in the first round of the NFL draft. For those of you going "who? ...draft?" just hang with us for a bit here. I felt good about their choice and was pleasantly surprised when I saw it on the telly. Drafting a quarterback who believes in Christ is an unusual thing in the NFL, though I realize that may not be the reason the Broncos made their selection. I pray for Mr. Tebow's success in the NFL.

In watching the NFL draft, I feel glad for the success of these young men. The college football players are evaluated on their football skills, a team selects them sooner or later in the selection process, and the player's agent sits down with the team to negotiate a big pile o' loot. The whole process is about as mercenary, or capitalist, as it gets in this world. The danger in that is in placing a value on yourself from what others will pay you. We see it all over the world; people learning their value from the amount they see on their paycheck.

We may look at the speck in the eye of the draft in a manner of speaking, and then look around the beam in our own eye. We may not even realize that it's happening to us, but each year we make a little more and then a bit more as the annual raises are given out... and suddenly we have a tendency to think we are worth more by the size of our pay or bank account. "I'm better than them because I have so much, or they are better than me because they have that fancy thing there!" We look to the wrong things to find our worth.

Jesus died for each of us long before we earned a single coin or bought a single luxury. All of us living now had an earning potential of exactly zero when Jesus went to the cross. Yet we often fall into the trap of judging our worth by worldly standards. We look at the wealthy and consider them of more worth to God somehow. After all, they can give more right? Jesus had a different standard that he told in that story we know so well about the widow and her two mites. Why do we find that story so easy to forget when we start looking at our worth? Jesus didn't have a rich fellow show up in Galilee with a boat load of fish and a bakery, anyone could have fed the multitude with that; he had a boy show up with his sack lunch. Your life may seem of little worth in this world; give it all to Jesus and watch what he does with your offering!

Have a great weekend in Christ Jesus,


Friday, April 23, 2010

Pre-approved! - April 23, 2010

Good Friday morning! We are still in the rainy season here; in two days we have about the same amount of rain as the people who experience real monsoons get in about 10 seconds or so. Our rainy season is not likely to be featured on the national news any time soon. But still, we praise God for the rain to water the crops and trees (all 6 of them!) on this spring day.

You have seen the "pre-approved!" offers in your mail, probably all of us have. Anyone with a name and mailing address has probably been pre-approved by some bank to go further into debt. In life, you might say that we are pre-approved to go to Hell. There is nothing we can do about it, if we are born, we get that pre-approved condition. That does seem a bit unfair when you look at a small child, but there it is. Born of Adam, you get the basic package of sin in your life from the very start. The ability to lie, cheat, steal, fornicate, kill, hate, and become bloated with pride is all in your pre-approved package at birth. The marketing department of your credit card bank wants to be the first to congratulate you on your new pre-approved status; welcome to life.

When a person falls into the trap of accepting all those pre-approved offers in our credit card society, he or she may come to the point where a wish for a savior can be felt. The interest piles up, the payment demands keep coming, and thanks to the new law - by making the minimum payment, you Mr. Jones can now be out of debt in just 357 years! - we get helpful information like that on the statement. That last bit assumes of course that no new charges are made. The debt can easily become more than a person can pay. Someone to take all that credit card debt away and wipe the accounts clean might just become the one overarching wish of those trapped by credit cards. Who would have known that our modern situation would provide such a great example of our sin debt?

The problem is: we don't get a monthly statement of how far down our sin debt has caused us to fall. Imagine the new style statement arriving in the mail with - if you make the minimum payment on your sin debt, the debt will be paid in just: *eternity* months... imagine the chill that would bring. Sometimes a little touch of hell-fire might alert the sinner to his or her condition. A close call in an auto accident, a burned-down house, or some other calamity might suddenly bring to mind that a person hasn't been living right and the invoice for all of that sin debt could come due at any moment. A glimpse of that impending doom doesn't always cause repentance though. We do have an inborn capacity to forget that sin debt too! For those who repent, we have a savior who is always ready to forgive, offer mercy, and bestow eternal life - wiping away that sin debt completely and totally. What we cannot pay, Jesus is ready to mark "forgiven!"

Pray for those who have not yet realized their sin debt is coming due soon. Thank God for the Savior who paid the debt we cannot pay down.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Good Stories! - April 22, 2010

Good Thursday morning! Have you ever looked at the stories around you? Many people have good stories in them. Harold gave us one last night, complete with a moral lesson.

The story goes like this: Harold had an uncle who thought that he could preach a sermon. The old pastor of the church gave up his pulpit one Sunday to this man to let him preach that sermon of sermons. The man strode up to the pulpit full of pride and confidence in his own ability. As he stood at the pulpit, everything he had prepared to say in his mind was completely gone. In humiliation, he stepped down and walked back to his seat. The old minister told him a simple truth: had he walked up to the pulpit in the same way he stepped down; he would have been able to come down in the same way he went up!

In our own pride, we often mistake a lust of the flesh for the calling of God. If your 'calling' includes visions of public acclaim and glorifying yourself, it probably isn't a calling from God. Many have sat out in the congregation and thought, "I could do better than that!" during a dull sermon. Just like Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron, not every 'at bat' is going to be a home run for every minister. I remind myself that even the great writers didn't hit a home run with each novel they wrote. Sometimes the best shows on television put out a stinker of an episode. Of course, every fan of every sport has watched a game or match from their easy chair and thought that he or she could do better on some occasion.

However, those called to minister to God's people do so week after week with humility. And every time that minister mounts the steps to the pulpit, he is probably saying a prayer for guidance from God. Instead of stepping up with an "I got this!" in his mind, the thoughts are probably more like, "Lord, please don't let me fall on my face in this! Please remind me not to use Mrs. Henderson's cat as an illustration again; it died yesterday." Peter calls us to humble ourselves. Why does God want us to humble ourselves? First of all so that He doesn't have to, which can be painful for us, and second, so that we realize every day our need for Him.

People who discover their gift from God use it often for His glory. With that gift and with practice they become quite good at what they do. In time, these folks make what they do look easy. That day that you are sitting there thinking, "Man, what a dull sermon, I could do better." That minister is probably thinking much the same thing... except that he is probably right, and you are most likely quite wrong. Certainly it is possible that the world's greatest minister is sitting out in some congregation waiting for the call of God to get him going, but it is more likely that God has his best ministers already in the pulpit spreading the Good News and getting better with each sermon. I certainly hope my writing is getting better with each devotional!

Practice faithfully what God has called you to do, and trust in Him to guide you!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Under Attack - April 21, 2010

Good Wednesday morning! I voted my few shares of Level 3 stock yesterday, but I did have some reservations. You see, the company board wants to do a reverse stock split at some ratio they don't want to say, but then issue 550 million more shares. Perhaps I don't have the mentality of the rich and privileged in this land, but if your shares are too diluted, wouldn't it make more sense to first stop issuing more?

"The ship is still sinking sir. I think the baling thimbles we issued are just too small!" the chief of the S.S. Level3 reported.

"You're right, son. Let's recall all of the thimbles and hand out teacups, or buckets, or tubs...I haven't decided on the ratio yet," the captain ordered, "but first issue more thimbles!"

"Umm, yes sir," the chief responded dubiously, "but shouldn't we try to fix the leak first?"

In our lives we are surrounded by people trying desperately to fix the symptoms. We have diseases without cures and conditions with unknown causes. While doctors work to fix the symptoms, other doctors and scientists are trying to first find the cause so they have somewhere to begin the search for a cure. Corporations look at their stock price and try all manner of fixes, but sometimes fail to address the cause. We do the same thing in our own lives. We see symptoms, but try our best to ignore the sin.

Organizations are simply groups of people. Is it any wonder that they have the same problems in some cases that we do as individuals? Placing bandages on symptoms, organizations pat themselves on the back for their proactive stance while the cause of the wounds goes on stabbing. Sorry, that's a bit of a bloody example there, perhaps I should have used tires and patches as the metaphor!

We don't take the time to think that an organization might be under attack much like we are. If the devil wants to make you miserable, where do you spend many of your waking hours? Yes, at work. By throwing confusion, unbelief, and persecution into the workplace, the devil can make any of us quite miserable for 40 or more hours each week. And that only counts the hours you are there, not the time at home spent mumbling to yourself with tears of frustration running down your face. Of course, if you lose that job, as many of us did in this recession, you have even more time to sit at home mumbling to yourself with tears of shame and humiliation running down your face. Getting past either condition takes a big dose of comfort from Jesus.

Just as the individual is under attack, so are the organizations we join, live under, and work for. Churches are obvious targets, and we have seen some examples of Satan's victories in the press when church leaders have fallen into sin. Governments can make our lives easier or more difficult by their actions, and the place you work for can make your life a yoke of many tons. Jesus told us to follow him, for his yoke is easy and his burden light. That is hard to understand until you come to realize the yoke you lived under before coming to believe in Christ.

We need to pray for the organizations we live under in this world, and for those who lead them.

Trust in Jesus to lead you this day,


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's Just Me - April 20, 2010

Good Tuesday morning! We would like to think that our set of problems is unique to each of us; that somehow God has called just me to this particular suffering. Everyone should pity me, because I alone have this thing... If we pay attention to the Word of God and the ministers He has sent to us, we are going to find out that we are not alone in this suffering of ours. Contrary to the title, it most definitely is not just me. All of the problems that I face have not only been faced by other believers, but were faced and defeated by Christ.

A minister on My Bridge radio spoke of how he had doubts regarding his motivation for becoming a minister and preaching each week. He couldn't say that 100% of his speaking was centered on Christ, and that some of it was not for his own selfish ends. I have wondered that same thing in writing the devotional. Jesus overcame that problem; he spoke only the words given to him by the Father.

Who among us has not felt the doubt of trusting wholly in the Father? We stock up on this and that, buy things we won't need until next year; the rich stockpile money, the poor yearn for more of it, and we worry about the next day and the next month. Jesus told us that one day's worries were enough for today. Trusting completely in the provision of God seems to be a problem with all of us - once again, it isn't just me.

Some of us have fallen into the trap of trusting in our government or an employer. I only realized my faith was misplaced when my employer escorted me out the front door. At about the same time, millions of other folks around the world were realizing their misplaced faith as well. No doubt, many of them believed in God and wondered, just like me, what happened? It wasn't just me.

I read a story about a woman who was literally born lost. The poor lady cannot deviate from a simple route to work and back, or she will become immediately disoriented and lost. As soon as the report came out about her condition, hundreds of others spoke up reporting that same condition. She wasn't alone in her suffering. With more than 6 billion people on the planet, even the most obscure disease or condition is shared by someone else. You may even find a web site to share your "unique" experience with others.

...and when it seems that we are completely alone in suffering, all we must do is turn to Jesus in prayer. We will find comfort and compassion in our Lord!


Monday, April 19, 2010

April Showers - April 19, 2010

Good Monday morning! The sound of rain on the roof and thunder in the air awakened us this morning. I took the weekend off due to the announcement that Dave Kellett would no longer publish a Sunday morning Sheldon strip. Actually, that's not the reason that I didn't write this weekend. I did however get my yard fertilized and some other running around done. One neighbor went camping, another got their camper out and parked in the street, and still others were seen doing some yarkwork this weekend. Um, 'yarkwork'? I mean yard work, of course. The signs of spring have arrived this weekend!

60 Minutes had a great show last night. Does it disturb you that a con man can be caught in the act and still be unrepentant? I had to wonder last night, why I ever thought that the Bible would be wrong in saying that we would be glad to see justice done at the end. Jesus is right to send out messages calling us to personal integrity; in many that quality does not exist today. At the end, when judgement comes down from the throne of God, there will those who do not repent of their sins. The Bible speaks of wailing and gnashing of teeth; we will see their hatred of God laid bare for all to see.

We like to wonder how anyone could hate each of us. You and I try to follow the commandments of Jesus and do good works. How could someone hate us to the end? I think that we fail to understand the strength of hate. Jesus didn't say the world would not like us or would prefer to be in a different room from his followers; He used the word "hate". In the world of today, this is more likely to be a seething, scheming, and plotting hate. The Holy Spirit is still in the world speaking to the hearts of all people. At the end, when all is revealed, this hate will be overwhelming and unrestrained.

We tend to think that when faced with eternal judgment that all will bow their heads and feel sorry for what they did in this life. Of course we would be sad to see a repentant person go to Hell. However, imagine that as God passes judgment at the end, the person consumed with hatred instead goes mad, trying to bite and claw at God in their rage. I don't think we understand hatred yet.

Trying to dive into a study of hatred is not my intent; I think that learning more about the love of Jesus is a better goal. Perhaps the rainy, stormy morning has me thinking deep thoughts. We do need the rain though! Even on a cloudy, wet morning we can celebrate the love of our Lord.

Have a great Monday in Christ!


Friday, April 16, 2010

Rest in Me - April 16, 2010

Good Friday morning! Ahh, for better or worse, the tax day has passed and we can take in the weekend. Do you have problems? That's an easy question for me to answer for you; we all have problems. A neighbor's problems might seem huge or trivial in our eyes, but our opinion doesn't remove the problems. A better question might be: do your problems seem overwhelming? At times our problems may seem like a huge pile of dirt ready to fall on us. We can't see around or over the pile, and even the sun seems gone as we stand in the deep shadow of our problems. However, we can only tell it's a shadow because the sun is shining on the other side. We cannot see the future, but God does.

Over that huge pile of problems, stands a new land ready to be discovered. With the sun striking the other side of that massive pile of dirt, the green plants are bursting forth in new growth. What seems like an tremendous evil to you and I is a new opportunity for life to those plants. The pile of dirt that we see as our own problems, is actually God's time of testing for each of us. God calls us to bring that pile of problems to Him. God will lead us out of the dark shadow and up onto the mountain. No one claims the climb will be easy, but we can make the climb in the strength of Jesus.

Some days or hours, we stare at our pile o' problems and wonder how each of us can ever make it. God calls us to rest in Jesus as we start the climb upward. How can we rest and climb at the same time? I cannot explain it, but it seems to be something like what Jesus said in Samaria that one time. "I have a kind of food that you know nothing about." (John 4:32) Later Christ explains to his baffled disciples: "My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing His work." (John 4:34) It seems to me that only by resting our troubles in Jesus will we be able to climb out of the shadow.

Resting means giving the worries to Jesus. It's not easy. We look at the pile of troubles and problems, try to face the Lord and do his work, and say, "Lord, that's going to fall on me!" Trusting in the Lord includes taking that first step up the mountain. Give God what he asks for; turn over your fear and worry to Him.

Have a better day in Christ!


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tax Day '10 - April 15, 2010

Good Thursday morning! Yo ho, yo ho, it's Tax Day in the land, a chance for all pirates to celebrate the biggest one of them all, our own government. Let's sing a pirate ditty and celebrate Tax Day!

You will probably see several devotions today that speak about our duty to pay taxes and the fact that Jesus chose a despised and hated tax collector to be one of his disciples. We might try to compare Matthew to a CEO today, but I don't think that is quite correct. The tax collectors at the time worked on a sort of commission; they got to keep everything they collected over the amount set by the Romans. Matthew would have been a combination of an IRS tax collector, a Mafia strong-arm man, and a government contractor of the sort we have heard about in Iraq - overcharging the government and finding ways to lose millions of dollars: Matthew was scum. Matthew was also worse than all of that because he was supposed to be one of us, so to speak.

The Jewish tax collectors worked for the Romans and against their own people. Imagine that your neighbor is a tax collector, not for our government, but for an occupying power. As you plant your garden for the year, he is over there with his Ipad calculating how much you spent on mulch, seed, fertilizer, water, et al., and adding that to all the other things he knows about you. That time you told your other neighbor a little too loudly about your promotion at work is figured into his profile of you. And just when you think you're not doing too badly this year, April 15th arrives and that tax-collecting neighbor presents you with a tax bill.

You have some idea what the Roman government demanded of him, but your bill seems a bit unfair. All of the other neighbors say the same thing... and then as you all line up to pay, prodded by the thought of Roman spears poking your kidneys perhaps, you notice the swimming pool going in the backyard and that expensive contractor with the TV show coming in the side door of that neighbor's house. But it gets worse, the other neighbor down the block, the one right beside the tax collector is moving out under the gentle care of a squad of Roman soldiers. You see, his tax bill was so steep that he could not pay.

A week later, you all watch as the tax-collecting scum tears down his other neighbor's house to add a monstrous addition to his own. It seems that all of you now live and pay taxes to a mansion in your own neighborhood. At the grand opening of this new mansion, the Roman swells and the town mayor all arrive for the party, but no one from the neighborhood is invited. You do get to watch however as all the most expensive party favors, both human and consumable, arrive at the back door. What will your tax bill be like next year; heck, will he even wait for next year to hit you with another bill?

Tax collectors back in the day were not well thought of. Not only did Jesus choose one of them to be a part of his group, but he told them to pay Caesar his due, that is pay your taxes. I'm sure that more than a few of the Jews thought that what Caesar was "due" would be something non-monetary and quite painful if carried out. However, Jesus addressed that kind of thought too. Who helped record the words of Jesus regarding how we should treat our neighbors, no matter what they might do for a living? Matthew, that despised former tax collector.

We have to wonder how Matthew felt while writing down the Sermon on the Mount. No doubt he burned with shame at some of it while thinking back to his former life. Perhaps the assignment was something like Peter's little talk with Jesus after the resurrection. To make up for his former life, Matthew was assigned to write down every word of the greatest sermon on ethics ever told. We don't know for sure what Matthew thought or if the writing of his gospel had anything to do with making up for his former life. Once again, it is interesting how God uses people in a way that sometimes makes up for their former life. Saul/Paul is of course the primary example of that... or is he? Maybe I am, maybe you are, the best example of the changed life that Jesus brings might even be our own.

Have a happy Tax Day, I guess...


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Too Big for Me! - April 14, 2010

Good Wednesday morning! Do you have dreams that are too big for you? From the first windy day in my house, I have wanted to replace the siding with brick. What seemed like a good-looking exterior finish quickly proved to have one major shortcoming: when the wind blows the siding rattles. This is not a flaw, but simply a characteristic of the light material used in the siding. Several thousand screws might help with the problem, but adding that many holes to the boards underneath might add other problems; such as the boards losing their structural integrity and crumbling into a heap of wood chips and screws. While the brick exterior sounds nice, and would help with the wind noise problem, I suspect that it would cost several thousand dollars at the least to have a mason perform the work. The problem is too big for me right now.

Not only is the solution out of my reach, but I'm reaching in the wrong direction. Any of us could move into a fortress and gain a false sense of security. The real security is in Christ, not in the construction methods and materials of man. We will not gain the security we seek by looking to concrete or steel, but only by looking to Christ Jesus. We also will not have the physical security we seek while we live in this fallen world. Jesus even promised us persecution for following him! While this persecution may not be physical, it does show that the security we seek is right where it has always been - with God in Heaven.

Mud huts fall in cyclones; wood-frame houses shake in the wind and fall in tornadoes; concrete and steel buildings can fall in earthquakes, and iron fortresses can be taken by force; there is no absolute security in our dwellings. Look only to God for the security you seek. None of the calamities of this earth have affected Heaven in the slightest. One day we will stand there with Jesus, and have no worries, mate!

Thank you, Lord, for the new day!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What Would Mary Do? - April 13, 2010

Good Wednesday morning!

Newsweek asked the question on the front cover of this week's issue, what would Mary do? The article is about the continuing or returning abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, but the question kind of made me wonder. Since they brought it up, let's ask that question of the scripture. In Matthew we find Joseph learning from an angel in his dream that he should not be afraid to take Mary as his wife for she carried God's own son. We also read how the wise men found and worshipped the newborn King of the Jews as a child while he was with Mary. Later, Mary takes off with Joseph to Egypt to avoid the massacre ordered by King Herod. So far, we have found no indication of what Mary would do, but that's only if you assume she had no free will in going with Joseph to Egypt.

In Luke, we find that Mary is troubled by the angel's greeting and doesn't understand his prophecy. However, we also get the first indication of what Mary would do in her life when she submits to the will of God saying, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." Now we often assume that she meant God the Father when she said "Lord", but the angel had just told her who her son would be. Mary may well have seen more clearly in this than we do.

After the announcement of her own pregnancy, Mary went with haste to the hill country to visit her relative, Elizabeth. Mary stayed with the mother of John the Baptist for 3 months and spoke words of prophecy. Mary then went home and then on to Bethlehem with her betrothed husband, Joseph, where she delivered the Christ child.

What else did Mary do? In the second chapter of John, we find Mary and her son, Jesus, at a wedding feast in Cana. Mary brings a problem to her son, and then tells the servants to do whatever Jesus says to do. Another good lesson for us, and another indication of what Mary would do. We also read later in John that Mary was at her son's crucifixion where Jesus gave her into John's care.

So, what would Mary do? From the Bible we learn that Mary would obey the message brought by angels and submit to the will of God. We learn that Mary would go where her betrothed husband went and visit relatives to rejoice in the providence of God. When problems arose, we learn the Mary would defer to her son and tell others to obey Him. Finally, we see that Mary accepted the will of her son by adopting a grown son in John. What would Mary do? We're glad you asked!

Have a wonderful new day in Christ!


Monday, April 12, 2010

The Middle of April - April 12, 2010

Good Monday morning! Will Shakespeare warned his character to beware the Ides of March. Here in the U.S., we are warned to beware the 15th of April. Yes, this is the time when all those of working age must file their tax returns, even the 49% or so who pay nothing in taxes. I managed to finish mine last Friday and celebrated with a pizza. The frightening part is that I had to pay more this year; no refund for Bucky! Yes, and to top it off I gave the IRS access to my credit card and the state access to my bank account; two groups that are known to be far worse at controlling their spending than I am at controlling mine.

A while back, I came up with the name, "spenduhmungus'; as in don't be a spenduhmungus: one who cannot control impulsive and unwise spending of money. We see a warning to be good stewards of God's money, but sometimes that warning needs to be repeated. Owing to recent circumstances, my unwise spending is certainly not in the amounts that it was back in the day, but that is no excuse for poor stewardship. Even if the unwise spending is in the form of a mere $5, we need to be faithful in the small amounts too.

When Jesus told his parable of the talents, he could have used the one given 10 talents as the example of hiding the money instead of using it wisely. However, he used the one given the smaller amount as that example. Why? Perhaps because those with little can be tightwads just as much as the Scrooge character who had great wealth.

A tithe is a tithe, even if yours amounts to a dime and that other family's amounts to millions, both must be faithful. Some ministries are suffering in this tough economy; please don't try to hold onto what God has commanded us to give, our tithes ...or maybe I should say, His tithes. Trust in God to provide all that we need each day.

Speaking of trusting... if sending more money to a government that seems hell-bent on spending our nation into international bankruptcy court isn't enough to frighten you into trusting in God; I'm not quite sure what will do the trick in this life. Perhaps we need to start warning about eternity in Hell again if our government spending isn't frightening enough to get a person's attention. I'm not trying to trivialize the place of eternal punishment, but trying to express my growing fear of our President's seemingly endless deficit spending. There is nothing quite like paying some more tax money to the government to bring a person to thinking about governmental responsibility.

Great thundering cats! in the big one thundering back and forth through my house right now. Must be something interesting going on outside.

Enjoy the day in Christ Jesus!


Saturday, April 10, 2010

The First Thing - April 10, 2010

Good Saturday morning! Sometimes we are at a complete loss for what to do about a particular situation, but most of the time we have some ideas about what to do. Sadly, we often think of the worldly things first. We want to say, "don't worry, Lord, I got this!" We rush in self-confidently and fall on our faces or worse, we succeed. What could be wrong with success? For one thing, we fail to recognize that God wants to be involved in all that we do, for our own good. When succeeding in our own strength, we either attempted too little or we set ourselves up to fall harder the next time. God will let us take off on our own, but we need to come to Him first.

In listening to John MacArthur and Chuck Swindoll this week, one of them said that he believed our biggest problem as Christians is prayerlessness. We don't come to God in prayer first in every situation. In thinking about some problems yesterday, I did that very thing. "What can I do? If this worldly thing would happen, then I would be able to help in this situation." The Holy Spirit of course, jumped in with that warning that I needed as soon as He could get a word or two in, "Why don't you come to God in prayer first?" Exactly, what is that natural inclination to look around us first before we look up to our Heavenly Father?

Probably the answer lies in that lust of the flesh thing we must struggle with throughout our lives. We tend to think: physical problem needs physical solution, and worldly problem means worldly solution. However, God says that all problems have a godly solution, if we will call upon Him and step out of that driver's seat for a bit. Too often we look to things in this world that are quite unlikely to change a situation for the better. We put our faith where it doesn't belong!

Today, try once more to put your faith in Jesus; trust in Him completely with all of your problems. The world might gasp a bit, "We have provided thousands of self-help books, get a few of those!" How many of those books have helped us without prayer and the guidance of God first? I can answer for my case: none. I have always needed to come to God in prayer first, then the help books might help in specific situations. The Bible of course is the first God-help and self-help book, and it works in all situations. Often the first thing the Bible does is to get our minds off the problem and onto... God. It seems kind of obvious in hindsight, but I need reminding just as often it seems.

Praise God for the guiding and helping hand of the Holy Spirit in our lives!


Friday, April 09, 2010

Endurance or Perseverance - April 9, 2010

Good Friday morning! We are called to both endure and to persevere in this world. Just what does this mean? Some of us, back in the day, didn't go to the dentist as regularly as we should have. I think I skipped like, oh, 10 years or so one time. That first cleaning was something I had to endure, and I deserved every minute of it. Learning my lesson, I did my best to brush and floss daily, and kept my appointments every 6 months from then on; that's perseverance.

Jesus provided a stronger example of this when he endured the beatings, flogging, abuse, and death on the cross. Jesus also persevered in teaching the disciples about his death and resurrection. We read several times where Jesus told them quite plainly what was going to happen to him in Jerusalem. However, the disciples refused to "get it" until after it happened. Jesus did not stop teaching them and he does not stop teaching us. Sometimes I wonder what I don't "get" that I should?

We endure many sufferings in this life, from small passing pains to the long term degeneration of our bodies. We may also be called to suffer persecution, both emotional and physical. However, Jesus is returning soon! We get that intellectually, but do we get it in our hearts? The sun rises this morning over the neighbor's house; what if Jesus suddenly appeared? I'm thinking that like the disciples, I don't truly get that word, soon.

We need to live every day for God, and every day as though Jesus is scheduled to!

Living in that manner is not easy. I don't think that God would have us stand there looking at the sky going, "here he comes... right now. No, it's right now! ...Alright, now!" We have much to do before the last day of our life on the earth before Jesus returns. God is patient with those who do not yet believe, and we have work to do. We need to persevere in our work for Jesus.

Right now we are staring down the barrel of tax time, April 15. Wouldn't it be great if Jesus came before then? Sometimes we are very much ready for Jesus to return today; like on a day we are quite sick for example. The flu is always a good reminder of how much we want Jesus to return on the day we are ready for Him. Looking skyward, we fervently groan out, "today would be just fine with me, Lord!" We know very well that God's schedule is not set up just for each of us, but there are those days...

A couple of prophets waited for years to see the birth of Christ. I imagine that day after day they expected to see the Christ child come in the door of the temple. One day, perhaps after many sick days or hot days, cold days or wonderful days, Jesus did arrive for them. God will deliver us in his own perfect time.

Thank you, Lord, for the new day we have in you!


Thursday, April 08, 2010

Do You Trust Yourself? - April 8, 2010

Good Thursday morning! Around Easter we hear about Peter's three denials a lot. Peter has much to teach us about being human. All of us feel the urge to be strong; Peter did. When Jesus warned Peter that the devil desired to sift him like wheat, Peter strongly told the Lord that he would never deny Jesus. Wow, looking back on that event through years of pastoral teaching and Holy Spirit guidance we see trouble coming like a train on the tracks. How could Peter boast of his own strength that way? We do the very same thing with our self-confidence and self-trust.

In his first test away from Jesus, Peter failed - he scored a big zero. Three questions, three answers, and Peter blew every one. Later, Jesus would personally give Peter a retake of that test, this time with the Lord right there with him. Peter came through wonderfully. He not only answered correctly, but appealed to the Lord's own perfect knowledge. It may seem obvious, but how do you pass the tests in this life? Don't take them without Jesus!

A test we often fail is the one in which we are most confident in our own ability. Imagine self-confidence as you standing on a throw rug, rocked back on your heels, hands folded across your chest and nose in the air. You feel that you are the picture of self-confidence, powerful in your own talent and strength. The first thing you feel is the solid ground under your boot heels. However, anyone can see that you are already off-balance, just as Peter was with his "I will never..." statement. The next thing, you hear a devilish little chuckle as one of Satan's minions gives that throw rug a good yank. There's a reason they are called throw rugs. After you look up from the stunning blow to your entire backside, you wonder what could have happened; after all you trusted in your self?

Jesus spoke to the disciples, "You trust in God, now trust in me..." Nothing in that statement should lead us to trust in ourselves or in others. We are to trust in God first and in Jesus Christ, His Son. A Christ-one should be Christ confident. In Philippians we learn that we can do all things... not quite, we learn that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. From that verse we learn that we have no reason for confidence in ourselves because we need strengthening. We have every reason for confidence in Christ because He strengthens us!

Trusting in myself always gets me into trouble. None of us are trustworthy in our own strength. We don't come by trustworthiness naturally, the quality must be learned through the teaching and the strength of Christ. If I'm boasting, "I can do this", you might want to step back; failure is imminent. However, if I am confidently stating, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!" then great things are on the way. The verse from Philippians just seems to fit like a key in a lock: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Saying, "I can do all things!" just seems to clash with how many times we have seen our talent and strength fail and fall on their own.

Peter succeeded greatly in Christ, but failed miserably in Peter's strength. We can learn from this, hopefully before we self-confidently fall on our backsides.

Have a wonderful, Christ-confident day!


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Joy Just Won't Leave! - April 7, 2010

Good Wednesday morning! Oh the joy of new fallen snow! It's an April snow too, which means the streets and walks are wet, but not snow covered. The best kind of snow! Seriously though, we've been a bit dry lately, a snow like this is cause to remember gratitude to God for his providence.

So, how goes the battle for you today? Do you find joy in your present circumstance? You might find that fleeting moment of happiness in your circumstances today, but joy comes from another source. We pursue happiness, but joy comes to us from our Lord Jesus. I took stock of my circumstance this morning and found a headache from a nightmare I had last night. When I asked God what to write about this morning, wondering how I could use the circumstance instead of the Word, He said to write about joy.

Joy? I have a headache! There it is... a headache is a passing circumstance, praise God for the passing part, and circumstances are not the source of our joy. Having some sort of pain does not make us happy in the moment, but James reminds us to rejoice in all of our trials. Rejoicing has little to do with our circumstances and much to do with Jesus in our hearts. Mornings will come when we don't get up feeling tip-top. We might feel more like the dregs of yesterday's coffee, but our joy is still centered on Christ. Jesus promised that He would never leave us, so that means no matter how we might feel - our joy has not left us either!

You can push your happiness away with that bad thinking we engage in from time to time, but the joy that is in Christ Jesus doesn't leave with our happiness. Circumstances might rob us of the happiness we feel at times, but joy is here to stay. Happiness is a transient; joy a permanent resident.

Praise God for Christ Jesus and the joy found in Him!


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Joy of the New - April 6, 2010

Good Tuesday morning! I listened to one of the preachers the other night speaking about how we like new things. We do; there's not much use in denying it. Even in this world where new becomes used or old in a short time, we still like to get new things. So how much joy did those early followers of Christ receive when Jesus rose from the dead?

No doubt someone looked from afar at this "cult" and how they became far bolder after the death of their leader. At some point that person noticed that the movement wasn't going to die out and commented, "This is new." The world in Jesus' time saw cults come and go, much as we do today. However, this new thing stuck around and grew exponentially. A few years later some Roman official may have noted to a colleague, "These Christ followers are everywhere! Where did they all come from?"

Around A.D. 70, the Roman armies came down to Israel and ruthlessly put down a rebellion. That should have taken care of any Jewish "cults", but it may have appeared as though they stomped on an anthill instead. Christians had spread throughout the world and continue to do so almost 2,000 years later. What is it about this thing that keeps it going?

A risen savior who died to pay a penalty we could not bear is certainly something new to the world. Many more cults and religions have come to the world, but none have a savior risen from the dead. Each year we celebrate the life, death, and life of Jesus. So if we have celebrated this for the better part of two thousand years, what's new? A certain promise is what is new. When you believe in Jesus, you are made new!

John 3:16 says it all: For God so loved the world that he gave his only son. So that all who believe in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For years we have feared the approach of our own end time, our mortality. When Jesus rose again on that first Easter Sunday, something new was in the air - eternal life for all who believe in Him! Now that's something new to enjoy forever and ever.

Have a joyous day in Christ!


Monday, April 05, 2010

The New Week - April 5, 2010

Good Monday morning! This week, way back in about 33A.D., a very different kind of week began. A bit earlier, Lazarus had been raised from death by Jesus. People might have wondered about that dead guy hanging about. Lazarus might have been a little stunned by what happened. But this new week was even more different and amazing than that... Jesus was alive!

Eyewitness reports began to come in to Disciple HQ, and the instructions from Mary came to those beginning to come back together after scattering to the four winds, "Go to Galilee, I will already be there!" A dead guy said that he would meet them there? Understandably, that left a few of them, especially Thomas, with some doubts. Was someone trying to have fun at their expense?

We know how Thomas had his doubts erased by the physical presence of a very much alive Lord and Savior. This week was certainly like no other before it. From the eyewitness reports in Acts, we learn that Jesus made occasional appearances for 40 days; hundreds of people in total saw the risen Lord. Of course the thing to do is to dismiss all that as religious hysteria, tall tales, and myths... much like the smart folks of this world like to do. Why are some so eager to dismiss eyewitness accounts of people from long ago?

Actually, we learn in this life to be a bit skeptical of many things right now. Thomas was one of us. He heard something hard to believe and wanted concrete proof. We have a choice: believe in Jesus or don't. You can pray for the same proof as Thomas; Jesus might even grant it, but you had better be ready for a life changing experience if you do. The most likely scenario is that you will still need to make the choice based only on faith. "Blessed are those who do not see and still believe." Jesus told the gathered disciples. Those of us in this skeptical, cynical age who will still believe have received a blessing from our Lord Jesus. I'll take a blessing from Jesus over any amount of gold or cash in this world.

We came from sinners in the hands of an angry God to believers forgiven in the hands of a loving Jesus, and we did nothing to deserve this change. Jesus rose again to prove our hope. A Sabbath as dark or darker than any the disciples had ever experienced, gave way to a glorious time of fellowship with a risen Savior. The first thing that Jesus commanded was to give him a hundred push-ups; He had to get those disciples in shape! No, our Lord's first command was to wait for the Holy Spirit; and the new life began for those who would believe.

Praise God for the new life!


Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Day Between - April 3, 2010

Good Saturday morning! We have the day Jesus died on the cross, and we have the day He rose again, but what happened on Saturday? The Bible seems to kind of blip over that entire day, the Sabbath day at that! Did anything at all happen that day?

For the Jews, the Sabbath was holy and they were commanded to rest all day. However, we do know at least one thing that went on that day - the Roman soldiers guarded the tomb. More than likely, the squad leader or platoon commander - whatever the Roman equivalent of those small units would be - used two men to stand guard for two or four hours at a time. These two would be relieved by two more and two more after that, and then the shifts would repeat around the clock while the duty remained or the entire unit was relieved by another. For a twenty-four hour period, six guards and a sergeant would have stood duty and relieved each other for meals and rest. An officer would most likely have done checks on them as well given the unusual nature and importance of the assignment. It is also possible that at the urging of the Jewish leaders that the guard was doubled or multiplied even more than the usual. We don't know, but that much is possible given the attitudes of the officials at the time.

During the time on watch, the guards would have dealt with all manner of "tourists" coming to see the grave of Jesus. People are curious and anything guarded that is not normally guarded, like a tomb, would draw out the people to see something. You can take my word for it, I stood a lot of guard duty during my service. If you guard an armory or ammo bunker, no one cares; they expect such places to be guarded 24/7. If you guard a tombstone at our cemetery all day, quite a few folks are going to drive by to see... something. We never knew what it was they were trying to see, but if you want to bring folks out, put a guard on something out of the ordinary.

Pilate had also given the Jewish officials permission to secure the tomb as best they could. It is possible that some priests were working on that Sabbath day or night with tools and mortar to lock Jesus in the tomb. We know from the resurrection that neither of these things worked. Nothing we do as humans is going to keep an angel from opening any door we shut and lock, and apparently the guards fled in terror or fell unconscious upon the angel's arrival at the tomb. When Mary arrived at the tomb on Sunday morning, all that had been put in place on Saturday was gone. The tomb stood open and unguarded.

Oh, and it stood empty - the most important point of all. Jesus didn't need the stone to be rolled away, that was for the benefit of Mary, Peter, and John. Praise God for the empty tomb of Christ!


Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday - April 2, 2010

Good Friday morning! This is the one day each year I get to say "Good Friday!" on Good Friday. However, in one way the title of the day is a contradiction. What, after all, was good about the murder of our Lord Jesus on the cross? Bear in mind first that this was a designed and planned event by God. Since God can do no wrong, else He wouldn't be perfect, then what He planned must be good. Also, Jesus assured us that He had the power to lay down His life and that He didn't do it because He had to. And finally, Jesus did lay down his life to save us from our sins. The day is starting to sound pretty good! Jesus accomplished much more than we realize on this day.

All of creation awaited the coming of the Son, and you can almost imagine the sigh of relief when Jesus gave up His life on the cross. Not relief that Jesus was gone, but relief that He had done the will of the Father and redeemed all who believe in Him. All of creation now looks forward to the second coming of the resurrected Lord! We have much to be grateful for on this Good Friday. is a day when we examine the price that was paid on our behalf. Sunday is for celebrating the resurrection; today we do well to recall and ponder the heavy price paid for our redemption.

A good book to look at on this Good Friday is: The Murder of Jesus by John MacArthur. If you don't have time for a book, The Passion of the Christ is a movie that will show the suffering of our Lord on this day long ago. We can also simply get out our Bible and read the accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, although the accounts seem to go over Jesus' suffering rather quickly.

The thought came to me that the Gospels keep it quick and simple to help with our initial salvation. "Pilate had him flogged..." kind of brings to mind a spanking when we were little. The act was a bit painful, but was over quickly and I doubt any of us were ever harmed in the act. As a beginning Christian, perhaps God wanted us to concentrate only on the gift of salvation and not so much on what Jesus endured to provide that gift. As we grow in our salvation, we become more interested in the details of what happened on that very unique Friday. When we see a graphic depiction or read the details of what it meant when "Pilate had him flogged" we begin to understand a lot more of what it took to gain our salvation.

As we learn more about what crucifixion involved, along with wondering how Jesus even managed to get there after the flogging and beating He endured, we learn a bit more about the cost involved in our salvation. Then, finally, he who had never complained or cried out, did so on the cross. What pain and loneliness must it have taken to make Jesus cry out like that? We may never know or understand, but as the sun rises on a new day, we can thank Jesus for His final declaration: "It is finished!"

Observe Good Friday; celebrate Easter!


Thursday, April 01, 2010

April Fools! - March 32, 3011

Good Garfday morning! Foo snickens appazatle muk feefleing! I read an interesting page on how April Fools Day got started in several cultures, including a prank on how it started in Rome. We tend to have a little fun on this day trying to find a "fool" to fool. I suspect the spell checker will not be fooled one bit by my little sentence at the start there; computers are notoriously ill-humored when it comes to such things. Every year we can read tales about some well-played pranks that have occurred on this day. The great stories in the Bible are no prank, though some would call us dupes.

Have you ever had someone turn their back on you? Jesus experienced a sort of mass back-turning in Jerusalem on this very day almost 2,000 years ago. From an entry of honor with palm branches and hosannas, to treachery, night-time skulduggery, mock trials, and the complete rejection by the crowd. On the very next day that crowd even called for his crucifixion. We don't have a method of execution that ghastly and painful today, but it would be something like holding a ticker tape parade with honorary banquet, and then the same crowd calling for the honoree to be hung slowly on the next afternoon. We have a hard time imagining that could happen, but it did.

In this life you will hold the lantern that Jesus gave you with a little bit of His light shining into the darkness. Some will turn their backs on you; some of those might even be formerly close friends as Judas was to Jesus and the disciples. Don't hide your light when that happens! That former friend might walk away from you forever, it happens. Give them up to the Lord and keep on shining the light of Jesus. For every person who 'cannot buy' the story of Christ's resurrection, there are many who long to hear the good news we have for them.

Praise the Lord for this day!