Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Answer: Jesus! - April 30, 2011

Good morning! It's a new day and the wind is already getting revved up for the race today. That is the race where the wind blows real fast from somewhere to somewhere else. We don't know where it is going or why it gets in such a hurry on some days, but praise God it hasn't been a tornado wind like they have suffered down south. The final day of April; yes, already. The first third of the year has passed by and how are your New Year's resolutions doing? Oops, sorry that was mean and below the belt. I can't even remember my resolutions, or perhaps I don't want to. Wow, that was a pretty good wind gust there. Yesterday, a robin sat in her nest all through the wind gusts. As many man-made things went floating and bouncing around, this robin and her nest stayed put in my little tree out back. That robin didn't have a university to attend to get her nest engineering degree; she didn't go to the Sparrow Savings and Loan to get a loan for the house, er, nest, and make payments for the rest of her life, but on a windy day, she looked pretty snug sitting there riding out the gusts.

There is still ice on my grass out back, but the robin isn't there right now; I checked. The wind chill rule is still in effect apparently. It might become May tomorrow, but it was still cold this morning! The question I have for this morning is: did the robin worry yesterday that the wind would blow even harder today? No she did not. Unlike us, that robin worried only about the day. We on the other hand probably thought of quite a few things to add to our worry box for tomorrow. We know Jesus said to trust in God and not worry about tomorrow, but we do it anyway. Are we that disobedient? Is there no hope for us at all? Well no, if I keep looking at me, and you keep looking at you, we will never find the answers to our worries. Jesus didn't tell us to lean on our own understanding and trust in our own abilities.

We must learn to quit looking at our ability, or more properly, what we see as our lack of ability and strength, and look to the One the writers of Hebrews called the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ (12:2). Of course there is no hope if I look at what I have, expect to have, and what I know to solve my needs and problems. There is every reason to hope when I look to Jesus: He rose from the dead. He what? He rose from the dead. How do you do that? My understanding is short on that point; I have no idea how to die and then walk out of the tomb. If I want to know about life after death, I reckon I should look to the one who died and then lived again. I don't know what is going to happen at the end. Jesus gave John his revelation. I guess if I want to be reassured about the end time, I should read the Revelation of Jesus. Yes, there is a lot of hope in Jesus; none at all in me. I have the answer! Jesus!

Have a great Saturday, or at least try to hold onto your hat and any other loose gear like dogs, cats, and small children. I think I just saw the neighbor's Doberman blow by. You think I'm joshin' you, but what really concerns me is the shed he was holding onto!


Friday, April 29, 2011

A Busy New Day - April 29, 2011

Good Friday morning! The next big royal wedding has already taken place today; in case you didn't get up at zero dark thirty to watch it. The first round of the NFL draft is done; in case you didn't stay up until you know when to watch all of it. And we are under a wind advisory today; gosh, what a surprise! Today is Arbor Day here in Nebraska, you will be able to tell by all the bent over trees. Today is just full of news. Oh, and it's Bridget Dishman's birthday too. Sorry, I don't know how old she is. Oops, blew it already today... I don't know how YOUNG she is today.

Did you get to see Peyton Hillis thank his Lord Jesus Christ last night when he announced the Cleveland Browns draft pick? I am glad to see more and more big name athletes and stars taking a stand publicly. Did the world notice? A shocked silence after that statement? Nope, the world went on as before. However, somewhere in some home, where an almost pagan ritual like the NFL draft was being watched, some hard heart may have melted, even just a little, toward Jesus. We never know when our life's example, our words, our helping hands, or even a little prayer in a public place may not cause someone to perhaps wonder why we believe in Jesus.

We tend to think that our witness is only grabbing someone on the street or knocking on doors, and we may shudder to think of doing that. Some are called to just that sort of witness and they relish the opportunity. However, our first witness is simply in how we live, especially when we think no one is watching. Second in how we talk to others we speak with each day. Many who do not believe in Jesus know the rules and regulations of the Bible. They know that Paul said that crude jokes and coarse language are not for the Christ-one. They watch your life to see if you join in with such things, and they take note if you do not. "Who or what gives him the power to stay away from that stuff?" a person might ask. Each of us can have a powerful witness in simply living for Christ and obeying his commands out of love for our Lord Jesus.

With so much going on today, you might think that no one will notice you, but they do! Live in the light of Jesus. Ask for his guidance as you walk your life with him today!


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Always Room for Unbelief - April 28, 2011

Good Thursday morning! The end time came last night. Yes, our men's Bible study is finished until next fall. The signs of summer are kind of difficult to see this year as even the plants are greening and growing slowly with the still winter-like night temperatures. We have to look more closely at the signs and not all of the signs say the same thing right now. The night sky showed a hint of sunset after 8:30pm last night, but the light jacket on me said, "not enough!" in the cold wind. We may face the same thing during the end times. One sign may tell us to warn others, while another may point to Jesus' return being farther away. This doesn't surprise anyone who believes in Jesus. We know quite well that Jesus said that no man would know the date of his return. If every sign pointed to the next sign and all signs pointed to the end, we would be able to figure out the date as it approached. Jesus told his disciples that at the time just before his return, life would be getting on just as it did in Noah's day with the weddings and banquets happening just like they always had. We could add things like going to work, paying our taxes (sorry, that too), sending the kids off to school, and the many other things that go on each day.

The signs are not deliberately confusing, but God always leaves room for unbelief. We see a large earthquake, and then things seem to calm down for a while. We hear of this war or that conflict, and then the news headlines get quiet for a time. However, those riding out each day on patrol in a war zone might tell us of the comrade buried last week or of the near miss from an IED that happened on today's patrol. For them, the war has not quieted down. Those made homeless by the last big earthquake do not feel that particular event has ended for their family. Our so-called quiet times are but illusions relative to the next big news event. I suspect that if we included all the residual suffering from every war and natural disaster on the timeline we would find that at no time has there been a complete stop of the signs we are to watch for leading up to that final period of tribulation. Yet, all over the world the weddings, births, funerals, and going to work have continued just as before. The return of Jesus is closer only in that it must happen some day because Jesus told us it would happen. On the other hand, the return of Jesus is no farther away than the next 'quickly': that event that happens so suddenly and quickly that it catches everyone by complete surprise.

A person can choose unbelief because the world seems to be progressing in the same way it always has. That person can scoff at those of us who look up every chance we get hoping to see Jesus coming in his glory or just ignore us. A person can also choose to believe in Jesus because the pot of the world does seem to be coming to a boil and we know that the return of Jesus must be soon. As in the days of Noah before the Great Flood, there is room for unbelief for those who choose this world, and room for belief for those of us who will choose Jesus. Noah had faith in God and was saved from the flood. We have faith in Jesus and will be saved from the next destruction. God has left room for unbelief, but why seal your own doom?

Have a wonderful Thursday in Christ!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Light Comes On! - April 27, 2011

Good wet Wednesday morning! According to the weather map, more moisture is headed our way this morning too... and I ran my sprinklers today, which if you think about it kind of explains the excess of moisture in my yard too. I just can't quite seem to get everything right. Ah well, praise God for showing me the One who can and did get everything right. Last night I read the story of Joshua leading the people across the Jordan River for the first time. The forty years of wandering the desert had come to an end and this time the people had enough faith to step into the water trusting in God completely. This is the story of that interesting test where the priests had to shoulder the ark and step toward the water first. The water then stopped flowing near a town called Adam, and piled up in a great heap. What I found interesting is that God didn't just stop the flow of water, He also dried up the ground. The Bible states that the Israelites walked across on dry ground.

If the Israelites had tried that here in Nebraska (the Platte River, not the prairie sod that is), and God didn't take care of that little dry ground detail, they would have been trying to ford several feet of mud in many places. That dry ground bit is an important detail. While the Israelite population was much reduced from their time in the wilderness, there is no way that all the people and animals could have crossed even a small river bottom without that dry ground. And what about the warriors with their armor? Not only that, but the ground dried up immediately when God gave the word, for certainly the priests under that ark (gold is heavy) would have bogged down in any mud. What that story tells me is that when God sends us somewhere, or tells us to go somewhere, He will take care of the details too.

It is not easy to take off on faith. Those priests stepping into the flowing Jordan River were pretty much doomed without God's act. In eternity we face that same river of doom without the act that Jesus did on the cross. Without the sacrifice God accepted at Calvary, we would step from the physical death and glub, glub, glub, we would sink for all eternity into the lake of fire. However, Jesus did pay the price God demanded for sin, and when we take that step into the darkness, the Light will come on. When we choose to believe in Jesus, the Light comes on!

Have a great day with the Light on!


Monday, April 25, 2011

Just Another Beginnning - April 25, 2011

Good Monday morning! A few people once thought that a life was over when the corpse was buried in the tomb. Those people thought there would never be a first Easter. How wrong they were! Yesterday we celebrated another in a long line of Resurrection Days. Today, we can celebrate the new beginning that Jesus made for all of us. Easter is one holiday that is never finished. We will clean up the dishes, put away the roaster, and see to the leftovers, but Jesus didn't stay down in that hole in the ground; our holiday each year only marks the beginning of new life in Christ.

Speaking of beginning, I see a season that is reluctant to begin this year. White on the grass and white on the roofs (rooves?) and it is almost May. Snow is coming down , straight down for once, and the scene looks a lot like winter outside. How many years have I written about a spring that is slow in coming? Pretty much all of them I think. I guess we'll just have to put out the High Plains edition of the calendar next year; one that shows the start of spring as May 31. Tell the scientists that vernal equinox thing just isn't working out for us.

Everyone I heard from speaks of the great Easter worship services and messages yesterday. That is good to hear! Easter is a wonderful time to remind people all around us of what the holiday is all about. Perhaps I should say WHO the holiday is all about. In a changed life I find it hard to not speak or write about Jesus at Easter. The world tries with its rabbits and candy to hide the true facts of Easter, but the Good News is that Jesus rose from the grave on the day we celebrate. Many religions have gods and heroes, but only one man has ever died for our sins and then left behind an empty tomb. Jesus didn't come to start a religion, but to save the world. Jesus rose again because he literally is the way to eternal life.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday 2011 - April 22, 2011

A Great Good Friday to you! Spring has arrived at last! How do I know this? Our first big boomer of a thunderstorm arrived at bedtime last night. Much more of that and I might have to keep some regular coffee around to help me wake up for the devotional. Yawn, woof, I think the sun got up extra early this morning. Good Friday always seems like a day when we should be sad, after all our savior died on this day. When I remember what and who Jesus died for, I cannot help but celebrate! God loved us so much that he sent his very Son to die in my place on the cross. The punishment I, and you, and your friends, and everyone we know, and even all of those we don't know, was taken by the Son of God upon himself and then the sacrifice was accepted by God. On Sunday the celebration really kicks in as we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior and Lord. We are freed from the penalty of sin!

Today, I volunteered to be a part of the prayer vigil at the church. This seems like a small thing, just half an hour of prayer in the church library. Yet, the needs that I have thought of are very large. Any of us can pray over national problems such as greed, lying, abortion, and idolatry. Or we can pray about the same things just in our little town. We also have marriage problems very close to home; drug arrests and trials that seem almost nonstop here in our own county; and a whole lot of folks seeking to relieve the stress in the wrong ways. I think that 'me' will be off limits in the prayer vigil today. I don't mean that I have somehow become perfect and sinless, or that I don't have needs that could use a little prayer. No, I mean that for this half hour of prayer at the church, I'll put the other needs ahead of myself and spend the time with God in bringing those other needs before the one who has the answers. The interesting thing is that alone will fulfill one of my needs - the answers that I don't have when I hear about all the problems and sin going on around me.

Before I came to believe in Jesus, I would often make suggestions for all the world's problems. You know the scene; the friends and I would sit around over our favorite drinks and eats making the "they should..." suggestions for problems of all types. Many of those problems, especially the local gossipy ones, were none of our business, but that never stopped us. One of the things that Jesus has taught me is that I don't have the answers, but that I can bring those problems in prayer to the One who does. That realization we get is only a part of the process where the Spirit brings witness of Jesus and helps us to replace King Me on the throne of our lives with the King of kings. That old King Me or King Self, whatever you want to call him or her, never did accomplish much with all of those idle suggestions. However, the Bible reminds us that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. I believe prayer is even more effective when we take a little time and pray for other needs ahead of our own.

Enjoy the Good Friday, and have a blessed Easter weekend!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Start of Easter - April 21, 2011

Dear Christians, welcome to another beautiful day! Today is the start of the Easter weekend. Thursday may have been the start of the end for Jesus. There is some debate on that as the city-country kid thing started way back with the Passover observance. Some held it earlier and others later. That is one of those things that I'll just refuse to argue about. If you want to start the Easter celebration and observance on the Monday before Easter, I'm good with that too. In fact, the more I grow in the love of Christ, the more I think that Easter should be at least a week of celebration away from work, school, and any other normal activity. We should give gifts on Easter morning and have small or large gatherings all week long. Let Easter become bigger than Christmas and much more centered on the risen Son! We are missing a real opportunity for celebration here!

More celebration for a whole week; what about all of those who must work in hospitals, fire departments and such? No, I don't have an easy answer for that, but I know someone who has the answer! Back in the day, the Israelites let the ground rest on every seventh year. Do you think God let them all starve that year? Did the cows and sheeps find only an empty manger to stare at one morning? As I sit here day after day writing and trying to write, reviewing my first novel and really trying to stay with it.... the novel is good, I just find the writing of new stuff much easier than doing the work of reviewing the already written stuff... I have to constantly fight off the worries about the future. You have the same trouble. How do I know this? Easy, we have the same basic needs and the same basic Adversary. The temptations that come my way may differ from yours in some aspects, but I know that the big unknown that we see in the future is ripe ground for the Devil to sow some worries in our minds. The good news is that Easter is here to remind us of one need that all of us have - the need for salvation.

When Jesus went to the cross and died for our sins, the need for a price to satisfy God's judgment was met. When Jesus rose again on the third day, the need for a resurrection to a new life was promised. When Jesus ascended to Heaven and sent his Holy Spirit to dwell in those who believe, the need for a guide to remind us of our Lord was met. We have many needs both physical and spiritual, but we have a mighty Lord and Savior who reminds us that God already knows our needs. Even as we try to worry about tomorrow and the next day, God has already set in motion his providence.

Have a wonderful Easter weekend!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

No Pleading Ignorance - April 20, 2011

Good Wednesday morning! Ah, another friend having a birthday today, good thing he is older than me! When I run out of older friend's birthdays to celebrate, I'll know that my appointment with God is getting close. The new guy on MyBridge that comes on when Ken Davis used to speak - I'm saying all that because suddenly I cannot remember his name - spoke about our inevitable appointment with God this morning. That is a good thing to think about, especially for those who dread that appointment. I finished reading Schindler's List last night. As usual the book has a lot of interesting things in it that the movie skipped over or mucked up, though the movie is a classic in its own right. At one point, Oskar Schindler found out that the SS had ordered huge crematoriums for the extermination camps. Though many Germans in 1945 would deny any knowledge of what the Nazis were doing, Schindler in his position as a factory manager could see the bids and orders in the system. Schindler had knowledge from inside the system. Herr Schindler could see that there would be only one purpose for such large crematoriums and places called extermination camps - murder on an industrial scale.

Back in the day, I had the opportunity to look at the Marine Corps supply system when they were first going to computers. The entire database of possible numbers was made available through the new computer networks down to the battalion level. Of course the jet fighter caught my eye. With the entry of one number, a person could order an AV-8 Harrier, or any of the 800 million or so parts that made up the jet. A little exaggeration there, but there was a whole lot of parts! Of course I had no authority to order anything in the system, but I did have the knowledge from inside the system. Like Schindler, I could not deny something I knew about now that I had that knowledge. Yup, somewhere in the Marine Corps in the 80's someone was ordering Harrier fighter jets. Yes, I still wish that I had tried to order one; don't we all want a fighter jet of our very own? The growling and gnashing of teeth from the officers would almost have been worth it.

If you go to church, you also have knowledge from inside the system so to speak. You have heard the preacher talk about this Jesus and what he said and did in the Bible. You may have sat through an invitation to be saved, baptized, surrender your life to Jesus, or to start a relationship with Jesus. However your church likes to state it, you have a knowledge of what you need to do for eternal life. You also have lost that chance to plead ignorance when your appointment with God arrives. Time to face your knowledge and give your life to Jesus!

Have a most wonderful and blessed day in Christ!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hebrews Eleventy-One - April 19, 2011

It's gonna be a bright, bright sun-shiny, day... on this foggy Tuesday morning! Faith, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11:1). What do we hope for? The return of Jesus of course, and the entry of our loved ones, and each of us, into that heavenly realm of God the Father. These things are promised in the Bible, but we are still here. Hope in the Bible is not the same as we often hear it spoken here in this world. Hope is a promise of God that had not yet been fulfilled. Abraham hoped for a land promised to his children by God, and indeed under Joshua the Israelites did enter into the promised land. In this world we usually hope for a big raise at our employers that will just make life so much better for us. Or worse, we hope for that big lottery ticket to hit the right numbers. These of course are wishes and wishful thinking. God's hope is a different thing entirely.
If Jesus had told me that today would be bright and sunny, I could go about singing my song with cheerful abandon. Today, with the rain and fog - and thank the Lord for the good rain we had - singing a song about a bright, sunny day might have folks calling me a loon. Jesus didn't promise a bright sunny day today, but I just feel like singing a bright sunny song. Our hope is not based on the conditions of this world, either political or meteorological. Faith in Christ and his word is not a wish, but a certainty that hasn't arrived yet.
People in this world have faith in their next paycheck, even though it has not been deposited in their bank account or clenched in the hand yet. Companies have failed to make payroll in the past and will probably do so in the future. At any moment, any employee might find himself in the position of having worked for no pay. Faith in the world's sense is more like the substance of our expectations, the evidence of what has happened in the past. Yet, these same people will then turn around and question our faith in Jesus. We all know that the world is surprising and the world's institutions cannot be depended on. However, those who believe in Jesus have the very word of God and the Spirit in their hearts reminding them of Jesus and his faithful promises. We believe and the Lord grants us certainty; something that is very hard for the world to accept.
The world would have us to reach out and shake the hand of someone in Heaven. "This is Mike, he passed on about 12 years ago. He is enjoying Heaven and you can too. Say 'hi' Mike!" Of course there would be no real faith if any of us could reach out and touch someone in Heaven. The evidence of things not seen can go either way. We don't see the powers and principalities that Paul mentioned in the unseen world, and we know that a third of them followed Satan in his rebellion against God. We are not blind to that, pun fully intended, we simply choose to follow the Son of God and love the light rather than the darkness. What does our faith in Jesus have? Substance and evidence, just like it says in Hebrews eleventy-one!
Rain or shine, the faith we have in Christ is unshaken!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Enjoy the Day! - April 18, 2011

Good Monday morning! The rain and clouds kind of make it seem like Monday is weeping for us. Perhaps you have to go back to work this morning after a wonderful weekend and the rain just seems somehow appropriate. The day may be gray, but your heart doesn't have to join in. Jesus is with you today, and he will never leave you whether the sun is shining in the sky or the clouds are pouring out rain. We may be tempted to think that the dreary weather doesn't matter to Jesus in Heaven, but it does. You might feel too small for the Lord to notice this morning. Surely your own feelings are quite beneath the Lord's attention as he works with the world leaders and famous ministers on this day. Wrong answer! How each of us is feeling today is very much on the Lord's mind. If you are sad, Jesus is not going to come in with false cheer and trite sayings; he will sorrow with you. If you feel happy and tip-top this morning, Jesus will rejoice with you. The Holy Spirit reminds us of Jesus and makes intercession for us with the Father. We may feel down this morning, but there is a lot going on in our behalf that we need to be aware of! Even in my day, and I don't have someone piling up assignments on my desk as you do, I find it difficult to concentrate on more than one thing at a time. Yet, there is God the Father in Heaven, looking down on the Earth and listening to each and every person who believes in His Son. Every prayer and supplication, each complaint and moan, God hears. God is also waiting with the Son for that special prayer, that one that all of Heaven waits for: the simple prayer of repentance and humble belief in the saving grace of Jesus Christ coming from that one who didn't believe a few moments earlier. That same prayer that you may have made as a young teen, or as an older adult, the prayer that laid your life at the foot of the cross and began a life of believing in God's own Son. You and I didn't come to the Son just to be abandoned. God didn't mark up some tally on a board in Heaven and then shift his attention to the next project on his heavenly to-do list. When Jesus found you and raised you up, the devil immediately began telling you lies. One might have gone something like: "Okay, now you've confessed and now you feel better, but now you have to earn God's favor for the rest of your life to get to Heaven! Ha, ha, hope you enjoy all that hard work!" But, Jesus didn't say that. Jesus invited us to come to him to find rest; to take on his yoke which is easy and his burden that is light, and to learn from him because he is gentle and humble. That doesn't sound like hard work to earn heavenly favor. Jesus also said that he would never leave us or forsake us. You know, I kind of like listening to the Word instead of the lies. Enjoy the day and thank God for the blessings he has provided! Bucky

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Little Cheatin' Going On - April 16, 2011

Good Saturday morning! The breeze is light, the sun is shining and most of the snow is gone. Can we start spring now? Winter seems rather tenacious this year. I used that big word there to prove that I did actually attend college not that long ago. In the Reader's Digest this month is an interesting story on cheating in college. At first, I didn't think too much about it; kind of a "glad he isn't talking about me" kind of thing, but then, something occurred to me. I may have competed against a pro at some point in my college courses. My grade at some point may have been less because a classmate paid for a paper written by a pro while I used my own work. I must be the amateur in this because I had to pay up front to be there while the article is written by one who receives a pretty penny for his writing services. Any one of us may not think that an epidemic of cheating hurts us, since we choose honesty, but we do have to compete against this cheating, this dishonesty and lying. Imagine if you had to write an essay to try for a promotion at work, and the other fellow went out and paid some professional writer to bang out a 'bang up' essay while you gave up your evenings for a couple of weeks to produce you own work having not written an essay since college some 20 years ago. The other fellow's work, professionally done and paid for, would probably look a lot better than yours and the promotion would be his. You would cry foul of course, that is assuming you found out what he had done, but would that do any good? We should cry foul over this epidemic of cheating in our colleges too. Are we to 'tattle' then as we learned as children? Yes, actually the Bible does have something to say about that: "Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them." (Eph 5:11) This does not say that we are to run to the authorities right off, but that may be one option. Exposing the works of darkness could mean speaking out from the pulpit, and, yes, writing of it in a devotional or magazine. Certainly we should expose deceitful works to each other when it involves a scam or con that is going on. Exposing might be taking that most painful path and confronting in love the person who is doing wrong. What if that other fellow was a deacon in your church? The article points out that seminary students had used the 'cheat' company's services too. But that shouldn't come as a great surprise to us. After all, we have been warned that false prophets and teachers would come in the last days. We also realize that some folks are getting into the ministry to become a famous televangelist and pull in lots of loot. Kind of makes you wonder if any of the sermons you hear on the telly have been um, ghost-written? Have some of our beloved ministry shows become performance art instead of preaching? Some of that will happen in the end times, some is probably going on now. "Be anxious for nothing, but in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Let the Spirit guard your mind, come to the Lord in prayer. The deceptions of the enemy are many in this age. Bucky

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tax Day (not!) - April 15, 2011

Good Friday morning! I would say something about happy Tax Day, but some holiday out in Washington, (that's D.C.) has moved Tax Day to Monday, which is a rather mean thing to do to folks on a Monday. The other problem is that most of us don't consider a Tax Day as worthy of any kind of celebration. We are under a high wind warning today and of course it is also our trash day, which means that I will be keeping an eye on the trash bins around here so that we don't have a minor environmental disaster in the neighborhood. Did you see that the USPS took an image from the replica Statue of Liberty out in Vegas instead of the real one for their Liberty stamps? I guess the New York folks are a little miffed over that one, but other folks (like in Las Vegas) are delighted. Sitting here in Nebraska... meh, just something that I won't worry about. That sounds like a good thing to implement - a worry filter. I worry about too many things, and there is just the slightest possibility that I am not the only one guilty of this. I figured that out by the fact that Jesus commanded us not to worry about what we will eat or wear in the Bible. In a way the Bible is God's personal message to me and I strive to apply the commands of Jesus to my life. However, the Bible is also a personal message from God to Joe, Bob, Fred, Sheila, Jane, Tony, Edmund, Karen, Clementine... and everyone else who has ever lived since the Word of God was given. That tells me that some of you have this worry problem too. "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?" (Matt 6:25) But it's so easy to worry! Yes, that is true, but I have noticed that pretty much everything Jesus told us to do is harder than not doing it, and everything he told us not to do comes more naturally than saying no to it. Welcome to the club, that is what we know as the lust of the flesh, or the sin nature, or original sin, or the mire, or many other names, some more technically correct than others. Paul reminded us that we would struggle with this all of our lives, but that we no longer are enslaved to this tendency. Worry comes easily, but we don't have to wallow in it. Bucky

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Weakness, God's Power - April 14, 2011

Good Thursday morning! Welcome to the snow and sleet of spring time in Nebraska. Problems: we all have 'em. A problem might come suddenly, or it may come on gradually. Sudden problems may have no warning at all - kind of by definition eh? - or it could be that you failed to see the warning signs. A gradual problem may have all manner of warning signs, but somehow all of your planning and maneuvering fails to change the dreaded outcome. A sudden problem might be called a tragedy, while the gradual problem may be called a trial, but in either case you and I may find the water depth is above the depth where our little mouth is asking, "What happened?" We suddenly or gradually seem to be drowning in the problem. Actually, these days it never seems to be just one problem, but a terrible combination of sudden and gradual problems - a storm of tragedies and trials.
As if you don't have enough problems of your own, pick up a newspaper or view your favorite news program and you can find all manner of problems that you didn't even know you had. The government, our federal government that is, has spent far more money than it has, something like 14 trillion dollars more. You may not have realized the depth of your spending problem. Shame on you! If you are thinking that it would be a good idea to recall all of the elected officials at the federal level and start over, you might be onto something there. The debt problem would not immediately disappear, but we would have a fresh, new set of folks in Washington to cause more problems...oops, maybe we should think about the general recall thing just a bit. Problems of that size are quite above my head. I don't know how to solve a 14 trillion dollar deficit. That problem I must take to the Lord in prayer.
But it isn't just the huge national problems, or the world tragedies that are above my head. Even my own problems often get away from me, but I live in hope. How can that be? We read the answer yesterday: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness..." (2 Corinthians 12:9) Could it be that our trials and tragedies are carefully controlled by God to hurt us just enough to make us call out to our Father in Heaven? I think that is very much the case. In the Bible we find that not one of us can save ourselves or each other through our own effort. In order to be saved we must call upon God's own Son; there is no other way to be saved and gain eternal life. If there is no other way, God will show us his grace through the careful application of our own weakness. You and I may see our own weakness through a trial where the problems mount up gradually until we cannot stop the coming avalanche; or we may see our weakness in a sudden tragedy that we can do nothing about. When we take those problems and turn to God, his power will be applied perfectly to cover our weakness.
To God be the glory; I may be weak, but my God is the Almighty One!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Good Days Ahead! - April 13, 2011

The best part of waking up has nothing to do with some brand of coffee. The best part of waking up is greeting the Lord one more time and knowing that He loves me. I don't know where everyone is today, but even if you are waking up in a hospital, the Lord loves you with his perfectly abiding love. The cross has not been cancelled, the resurrection has not been postponed, and the love of Jesus for those he died for is still as strong as it ever was. If you are waking up in a position of weakness this morning - and isn't the hospital an example of that! - you might even have a bigger measure of God's love today. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul states: But [the Lord] said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." We often forget that God's power is made perfect in our weakness. In our despair at the treachery of our fallen bodies the strength of the almighty God seems far away. Paul was not perfect, God had to remind him too that God's grace was sufficient for his needs. We want to be strong, but we forget that each time we are weak is an opportunity for God to show His power. Waking up strong and ready to face the day we may not remember to thank the Lord for the night's rest or the possibilities and opportunities in the new day. When we wake up in weakness, calling out to the power of the Lord may be the first thing on our minds. God is glorified in our weakness! We can train our minds to wake up thanking the Lord on the good days, even if the good days become a bit hard to come by as we rack up the days in a long life. Of course, good days are relative to bad days. Many years have passed since I last woke up in a hospital bed, but those hospital days remind me that almost every day is a good day when I am not waking up in a hospital. Praise God for all those good days he has brought me over the years! I pray that you will have a grateful, good day in Christ! Bucky

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Joy From the Word - April 12, 2011

Good Tuesday morning! What is the joy of being a Christian? In other words, why do we follow Jesus and learn His way? I know that working long days and nights chasing the next paycheck is not the way to show it, or at least that didn't work for me. Some of the happiest people don't work for an employer, have health insurance, or a retirement savings account, but happiness is not joy. If happiness depends upon the circumstances then joy must be more than just the set of environmental variables around us at any particular time. Ah, the sun has crested the neighbor's house and is shining into my office. That is a changing circumstance and does provide me with some happiness, as does the bird in the tree outside, but this is not joy. Where does joy come from then? Here is an interesting passage from Job: His soul draws near the pit, and his life to those who bring death. If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him, and he is merciful to him, and says, 'Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom; let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor'; then man prays to God, and he accepts him; he sees his face with a shout of joy, and he restores to man his righteousness. (Job 33:22-26) Job would not have been the first person to ask about joy when he sat in his misery, or so it seems. But if anyone could have joy in spite of the circumstances Job would certainly have been one to watch. Job's circumstances were truly miserable and he had every right to sorrow. Here though he speaks of restoration in the Lord and makes a prophetic statement about the coming Christ. Jesus is our mediator and our ransom. Through our Lord Jesus we will one day be restored and see the face of God in great joy. Could this be the source of joy? In Jeremiah 15:16 we read, "Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts." Perhaps our joy can be found in God's word then? All we have to do is chow down on a Bible or two it seems. Of course, we know that Jeremiah didn't literally eat pages of papyrus with scripture written on it, though he was given a touch on his mouth by the Lord and given words to speak. Ezekiel, if I recall correctly, was actually given something to eat in the spirit and then spoke God's word. We are to consume the word of God by reading the Bible. Does God's word have the joy we seek? Jesus spoke of two faithful servants entering into the master's joy as a part of their reward, and later in Matthew an empty tomb causes both fear and great joy. In Luke there is more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who have no repentance, and after Jesus has returned from the grave the disciples had great joy. In John, Jesus explains that when he is taken from them the disciples would sorrow, but then their hearts would rejoice at his return, "and no one will take your joy from you." In Romans, Paul has this to say: "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (14:17) So far: we have joy in Christ's resurrection; joy in the Holy Spirit as a part of the kingdom of God; and we can have joy in our master as faithful servants. We also cause rejoicing in Heaven by our repentance. But where do we obtain joy? Paul wrote in Galatians 5:22 - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,.." Ah ha, the fruit of the Spirit! And finally, the last reference to joy in God's word: "Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. " (Jude 1:24-25) Jesus will one day present you and me to God with great joy! That hardly seems possible to us right now, but that is what faith is about: believing that Jesus will do exactly as he says in his word. What do we know from today's verses? Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and as such is not something we can simply grasp and hold onto. The fruit of the Spirit, including joy, is grown in us by the Spirit as we grow in Christ. We cause great joy by repenting before Christ, and we can enter into our Master's joy by serving faithfully. We have great joy in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus and no one can take that joy away. Joy is an integral part of the kingdom of God, and one day Jesus will present us to the Father with great joy. That is some good news for today! Have a great and joyful Tuesday! Bucky

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Beloved Crackpot? - April 11, 2011

Uh-ohhh, the intrusion has begun. Yes, it's a good Monday morning and the morning sun has reached the first screen on my computer. That means that spring is moving on and summer will be here one day. We look forward to the changing of the seasons and it is interesting that Jesus also used this as an illustration of his second coming. Whatever time of the year it is, we always have another season to look for. That's a good thing because I find that a couple of the seasons are just long enough for me to get really tired of each one. By the end of July, I'm usually quite ready for the heat of summer to give way to fall, and in September or perhaps October I get my wish... most of the time; as winter moves on into May, I am ready for spring and sometimes we don't have any snow in May. Out here on the high plains we usually get a month of spring around late May and into June-ish, and then we endure the hot summer. Winter is often from November to May and comes anytime after our 3 weeks of autumn. But the seasons do change each year. Why am I thinking about all of this? The house was really cold this morning and we are nearing the middle of April. The seasons are a bit relative to our position on the Earth and the year. Age is relative too, and I speak not of the approach of my sister's birthday here! Did someone mention 45 at any time? In the Reader's Digest this month, I see that the so-called baby boomers are saying that old age starts at 72 now. Back in the day old age used to start much earlier, say at 60 or so, but the times have changed it seems. Still, like our seasons, the next birthday or old age, if you qualify, will arrive on or near the day it is due. If you want to treat your next birthday's date of arrival as kind of optional like our seasons then by all means do so. Skip a year or two if you want and say that you are not quite 60 or so. Time is kind of optional that way too. Almost everyone who has ever learned about time zones and fast airplanes has arrived at the conclusion that if you just had the fuel and jet to fly fast enough to the west, you could gain days or reverse time or some such thing. You may have seen this in that old Superman movie. Unfortunately, if you take off and fly really, really fast for two days and land back at home, you will have flown for two days and we'll be here two days later to greet you along with the rest of the world. If you want we'll even let you add pages to your calendar and play with your watch, but if you don't mind we'll just keep marking off the same old days on our calendar. Each of us can say that the year is 1905, that the season is summer, and that we are 29 years old today and getting younger with each passing day. Not that anyone will believe us if we say that, but we can say it. The world looks at us in much the same way when we tell them that Jesus is coming again soon. In fact, we might be accepted as just one of the world's beloved crackpots if we claimed to be getting younger each day through using a backward calendar. Try to claim that Jesus will come soon though and the world holds up the hand and says, "Oh, you're one of them..." I heard a news report on NPR today about the arrest of Christians in China. It seems that repression is still going on over there, and we should not be surprised at that. Communist governments are famously, or infamously, atheistic and have always been quick to suppress Christianity with particular zeal. The news of the arrests brought it back to me that I need to be praying often and fervently for my brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. The world may laugh at us when we say that Jesus is coming soon, but the signs that our Lord spoke of are showing up each day in the news. Have a great new week in Christ! Bucky

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Why Worry? - April 7, 2011

Good Thursday morning! Some mornings the writing tank just seems dry, but the Lord is always there to fill it for me; I will trust in the Lord my God! I often worry about not having any ideas to write down for the devotional or the novels I am working on, and indeed some days there just is nothing to write when I sit down to work on my books. I am not alone in this. I started reading the autobiography of Mark Twain, considered to be one of the great American writers. He described the affliction in exactly the same way: that some days the tank was dry. When it comes to the books, when the tank is dry I go to find something else to do. But in writing the devotional, I always want to have something for you each morning. As God fills up my tank, I pour it out for you. So why the worry? As the infamous second century philosopher Knucklehedicus used to say: "Worries are what keeps a man on his tippy-toes." Jesus simply said that we are not to worry. Jesus is quoted often, probably daily, in many places around the world. Knucklehedicus is lost to history with the exception of my small efforts to revive his infamous quotations. What else can I worry about in the devotional writing? Writing the wrong thing of course. However, when I look in the Bible, I see that false teachers and false prophets had one thing that those who truly believe in Jesus cannot have - the intent to deceive. I can make mistakes, have already made some in fact and probably will again. False teachers on the other hand start out to deceive and follow only their master, that number one deceiver, Satan, who is our adversary. Any other worries we need to shoot down today? Worries about what tomorrow may bring perhaps? As Knucklehedicus liked to say: "Tomorrow is another day!" Actually that came from a man I worked with back in the day. For some reason his today was never anything but depressing and sad, so he constantly quoted himself with that dreadful cant. We can try to worry about tomorrow and throw away today, or we can take God's joy and peace for today and let him worry about tomorrow. Oops, the cat caught me staring, he must be worried that I'm going to use him as an example again. Okay, we'll let the cat off for today. Tomorrow is God's territory; he sees all of it already. We see nothing at all when we try to look at tomorrow. We can guess, plan, anticipate, and even prepare, but when the next day comes all of our planning may be useless in light of what actually happens on the day. Why worry? Of course, I cannot claim to be the champion of trusting in God and never worrying. I guess that I will just have to trust in God to raise me up to a higher level of trust and peace in Jesus Christ! Have a wonderful Thursday. God's love to you on this fine day! Bucky

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Jesus Wins! - April 6, 2011

Good Wednesday morning! Clouds in the morning, wind at night, will today bring a special fright? We don't know what the day may bring; we know even less of tomorrow. The problem is that we just don't know. We try to live in the moment like our children, "I'm hungry NOW!", but we often wonder and worry about the future. We envy our pets because they have no worries and Jesus told us to live that way. We claim to like our freedom, but we don't like the uncertainty that freedom brings. So who knows what is going on with tomorrow? Word has it that God knows everything, so he must know about the future too! That's the answer; the Word does have it. Tomorrow evening for our life group, we are going to begin our study of Revelation. The future, that big unknown we fear and worry about, is revealed in the Revelation of Christ given to John to write down for us. Paul expected the end times to begin in his lifetime, but it didn't. John might have expected that 'soon' would start when he finished the manuscript, but that didn't happen either. Many who read Revelation in the second century probably looked to the heavens to see the four horsemen coming down to start the carnage; they didn't see anything but the sky and stars. When a pastor first read Revelation to us, we may have looked around for the dreaded Antichrist. Quite a few movies over the years have tried to help us fear the Antichrist too. Why do we place our fear there? If you walked into the arena for your favorite sport and looked across the playing surface at your opponent, you might see a fearsome sight. Perhaps the opponent would be especially large or quick; you might recognize the reigning champion in your sport, one who had never suffered a loss in his entire career. In a team sport the other team might make all of your players look like little boys when compared to the physical size and speed of their players. But suppose that no matter what those opposing players looked like, you had some special foreknowledge that your side would win? Matters are different now; you might still look small and puny next to the other team, but you know that your side will win! Revelation is this revealing we long for. The other side appears to be winning the battle for much of history, ever since Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit in fact. Suddenly, a champion appears on the scene near the end of time as we know it, and all of history is summed up quite simply: Jesus wins! 'nuff said, Bucky

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Better News After the 'But'! - April 5, 2011

Good Tuesday morning! Some nights guarantee a late start in the morning. Whether you stay up very late for some reason, or you just don't sleep very well, the morning is not going to start on time. You might then have to call an employer and make some excuse for being late, or simply call in sick. You might not get your shop opened on time and this would be the one morning that new customer was standing at the door at 0800. Or you might be like me and get the privilege of sharing all the fun with your readers in the morning devotional! Woo hoo! Yes, sleep was a struggle last night, but the morning is here at last and the sun is shining brightly in the morning sky. The Bible verse for the day is Romans 6:23 - "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." I have heard the first part of this birth about a zillion times, but often that good part after the 'but' is forgotten. It is all in one sentence why don't we want to recall the last part as well? Perhaps it is one of those things our Adversary likes to do. We take the first part and accuse others or even our own self with that stern reminder: The wages of sin is death...! But then we leave off the good news; are we trying to do the accuser's work for him? In Galatians, Paul gives us another reminder about sin's effect on us. "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life." (6:7-8) We tend to paraphrase this as well with the saying "You reap what you sow", but again there is good news to be had here. The passage in Galatians at first seems to speak of God punishing us for sin, but that may not be quite correct. Paul speaks of reaping corruption from sowing to the flesh. The New Living Translation puts it this way: "Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death." By sinning or living to satisfy only our own lusts, we gain the products of that crop - decay and death. The punishment is already provided in the curse on sin pronounced upon Adam and Eve way back in the first days. God didn't want Adam and Eve to rebel against him because the effects of that rebellion were then, and still are today, decay and death. The wages of sin is indeed death. But! God gave us a gift. In Christ, God sent us a little baby and the heavenly host rejoiced. Why the rejoicing over the baby in Bethlehem? Perhaps because by coming down to earth not in his glory as the King of kings, but in the humble form of a virgin's son, and committing himself entirely to God's will the victory was already won. As a helpless child Christ would have been no threat to anyone, yet Herod felt threatened enough to murder. This gift of God not only threatened the powers of this world, but also would grow to provide the ransom demanded for the hostages to sin by God. You see, none of us could get out of this death and decay until God's justice was satisfied. I have a friend who uses the layaway program up at a certain store to buy guns. While the guns are on layaway, he says that the guns are "in jail". He cannot bring his guns home to enjoy them until he pays the price. In the same way, God wants to pay the price to get us out of jail. He sent Jesus to make the payment in full for the entire world. The only problem is that when Jesus opened the door to the jail, not everyone came out. In fact many clung to the bars and shouted insults at the one who wanted to free them! Those who believe in Jesus accept his gift of freedom and walk out of the jail of sin. "...but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!" That's one big 'but' there. In some cases it's okay to insert a 'but' in where it belongs, the Bible has a good one in Romans 6:23. Let people know that they can walk out of that jail cell of sin. Have a great new day in Christ Jesus our Lord! Bucky

Monday, April 04, 2011

Off On Our Own Again - April 4, 2011

Good Monday morning! Well, how about that weather change! I saw 84° on Saturday, had all the windows open and even had to close the shades when it got too warm in the house. Then, Sunday was just like that winter thing we have enjoyed for so long: snow, wind, cold, and a temp of 50° less than the day before. Ah, the balmy winds of April...aaagh, the freezing winds of April. We have such wonderful, variable weather in this world. On Saturday, a person might have complained that he or she missed a good weekend of camping. We tend to say this is this or that is that on one day without the ability to see into the next. On Sunday, that same person might have been suffering out in the camper with clothing too light and not enough fuel in the heater bottle. We have a tendency to do things based on our own wisdom. In this, I am going to return to that Psalm, number 127 in our Bibles, the one that speaks of building a house. 1. Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 2. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. 3. Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. 4. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. 5. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. 5 short verses, one might even memorize the entire psalm, and yet so much wisdom. Is it any wonder that Solomon composed this psalm? The first verse is one that speaks to all of those projects we propose so often. I'm going to do this, or we should do that, expecting that all of these ideas will be blessed as we go about doing our own will. Jesus had words about that too, telling his disciples to ask God first before taking off on some plan or scheme. We gave our lives to Jesus, rested in his assurance, and waited for the Spirit to lead us. Then, we try to grab control back and do our own thing according to our own wisdom. Solomon saw the foolishness in this and reminded us with his excellent example in verse one: "Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain." We don't want to do something that is useless, but we are so easily distracted from God's will, or from even asking God to reveal his will, and we take off on our own plan asking God to bless what we want to do. Even doing the right things, such as going to a Bible study, or to church could be in vain if we are not asking God to show us his will first. God may want us to go to this particular church or to attend the pastor's Bible study and not the one with that fellow who is so entertaining (not that your pastor isn't mind you!). Interestingly, it was a show on cannibals last night that started this discussion in my head. What if you felt the call to be a missionary, but didn't go? What if you wanted what you saw as the honor or public acclaim of being a missionary, but God's will for your life was something else? At some point, God called some folks into the missions field. Not just any missions field, but into the jungles of New Guinea where the cannibals lurked... uh oh! If God called a person to minister to the cannibals, God will take care of that person and it would be wrong for him not to go. On the other hand, if God called a person to be a clerk in a cubicle in Corporameia and that person took off for cannibal country, he might only succeed in getting on the menu. How are we to know whether we are following God's will or our own? Are the troubles we face God calling us in a different direction or simply trials to strengthen us? One way to check: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7) Love and joy be yours in Christ Jesus! Bucky

Saturday, April 02, 2011

The Dumbed-down Childhood Version - April 2, 2011

Good Saturday morning! I read a book again yesterday after many years. I say again because I remember some of the episodes from the first time, but this time the book had far more depth for me. I wonder if back then I didn't read the dumbed-down childhood version, perhaps even a comic book. Back in the day some novels or stories were made into comic books for kids since the big book was thought to be too much for us. In this case, 'they' were probably right. Of course there is always the possibility that I was the dumbed-down child version of me and that I simply didn't understand all of the pain and suffering written down in the dry words of the book. What impressed me the most is how the words of another book came alive to those people in the story in the midst of their suffering. The more they suffered and the longer the suffering went on the more God's presence and Word seemed to be new and immediate to them. Looking back over my life, I found the same thing. Suffering in a trial, though my trials have only slightly compared to those in the book, has brought the Word of God very close to my heart during the worst of the trial. Some of you may have guessed by now that the book is The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, a classic of Christian literature. In the story, a lot is left out that I now understand from my adult viewpoint. I appreciate that the writer used 'a curse' in place of writing out the actual words as many writers do today. I struggle with those words from my past enough without being reminded of every one of them in print. Also some of the specific violations of people, women in particular, that must have gone on were not graphically presented, again as many writers are fond of doing today. Our adult knowledge can be a burden in some cases. We can recall that life was simpler before we learned some of the things that make us adults. Most of those things are sin, but some like taxes and paying bills are simply part of this fallen and broken world system. Adult situations in a movie tend toward the sin, but we know quite a few adult situations that are not nearly so attractive. All of that adult knowledge, the sin and suffering, the paying and the sorrow, came from one disobedient act. Sometimes that just boggles the mind. Almost immediately that single act was followed by another, the woman's husband Adam, decided to hang with her instead of obeying God. The suffering we read about in the prison camps of World War II all comes from Adam and Eve disobeying one simple law. Amazing. What is even more amazing is that God decided, and indeed had already planned, a way to save us from this one seemingly small act. God sent his own Son to redeem us from the consequences of that rebellion of disobedience. All of the terrible, inhumane things we can read in a personal account like Corrie Ten Boom's came from the first act of disobedience, and all of the good deeds and miracles in that same account come from the one act of supreme obedience done by the Son on the cross at Calvary. Amazing! We love and follow an amazing God! Bucky

Friday, April 01, 2011

It's No Joke - April 1, 2011

Good Friday morning! Do you suppose Paul the apostle knew about April Fool's jokes? We may think not, but Paul did know a thing or two about practical jokes. Paul in writing to the believers in Corinth wrote down a disturbing thing. What if God had somehow played the cruelest of all April Fool's pranks on all of us? Paul wrote: But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:13-19 ESV) Those few verses, perhaps a thought that came to Paul at some point in the dark of the night, raise the disturbing possibility that all that we believe is a bad joke played on us by someone and we are the most miserable of all poor wretches on this day. Those who believe in the resurrection of Christ would spend their lives in the most abject misery only to receive the bad news of the joke when the judgment day came. Ha, ha, why is no one laughing? We know better, because Paul went on to explain how Christ has been raised from the dead as the first fruits of all who are to come. We are not victims of some awful joke in our belief, even though the Adversary will try to convince us otherwise. Jesus rose again on the third day and is even now preparing a place for us in our eternal home. God loves us and love does not lie or deceive. Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, impossible if Jesus had not been raised from the dead. Thomas felt the wounds in Jesus' side and saw the holes left by the spikes in the hands of our Lord. Peter shared a meal with Jesus days after his death and resurrection. These men and many others shared their testimony with us that we might believe and not doubt. In fact, Luke uses very similar words in the introduction to his gospel, "...that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught." (Luke 1:4) Many things in life are uncertain, but we can be certain and rest in the assurances of our Lord himself that he did die for our sins and did rise again on the third day. It's no joke for fools, Jesus lives! Bucky