We’ve learned about the assorted experiences of people who we so admire for pressing on despite uncertainties and challenges. Yes, there are many brave and determined folks who press on in the midst of varied circumstances. There are marital issues, job issues, neighborhood issues, financial issues, as well as security issues. God teaches us how to best press on — to trust the Lord — to seek the Lord for the help that we need to continue. It’s such an enormous relief to know that we aren’t alone in our trials. The love and comfort of God are gratefully welcomed. Yes, a present help in the times of our needs. Life’s occurrences cannot “swallow” us if we keep ourselves anchored, rooted and grounded in the blessed assurances provided by the Lord. Nothing is too hard for God. We can rest in that awareness, and encourage others about that truth. People providing for one another is essential. Surely, God created us to enjoy fruitful relationships, and to gain from those connections.Continue reading »

There is a wonderful worship song that poses the question, “Mary did you know?” It’s a well done song that I have been singing parts of for weeks, and as I was playing it mentally, I began to wonder, as I have before, if Mary even knew what she was getting into? We know the angel came and talked with her before she became pregnant with the Son of God, but, in thinking of it, I wonder how much she really understood? Maybe she was completely focused on the conception and what kind of a reaction that it would cause both in her personal life and in the community in which she lived. While it is true that both Mary and Zechariah sang of great things in their respective praises, Mary in Luke 1:46-55; “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for theContinue reading »

I wonder how often folks pause to do introspection. Isn’t it more likely that people “inspect” the conduct of others more quickly than we do introspection? Self-evaluation is indeed necessary to tune in to where we need to adjust and alter what is within us. Yes, sometimes spiritual “housecleaning” is something that we should do. When we engage in that healthy exercise, it not only benefits us but also those folks with whom we engage and encounter. Certainly, we do well to make changes in our personal and professional lives. Regular quiet time with the Lord sure helps us to recognize, understand and to know what’s necessary to address. God reveals what best pleases him. When we line up with the guidance of our Lord, such wise choices are always a plus. Years ago, I worked with a guy who regularly complained about the conduct of others. One day as we rode the bus, seated next to each other, he proceeded to inform what, in his estimation, was wrong withContinue reading »

I wonder what various types of things the folks mentioned in the Bible did to have fun. What types of recreational activities did they indulge in to unwind? They did play; it says so in the Bible. One place that play is expressed is in Exodus 32:6 – KJV, “And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.” I can imagine them playing hide and seek. Likely, they engaged in competitive sports. We don’t read where Jesus played. Is it reasonable to believe that he did? Probably, Jesus did fun things to balance his life on earth. If he engaged in competitive games, my guess is that he always won. Really, can we visualize Jesus not coming in first every time if he competed? Or it could be that he let others win from the standpoint of earthly perspective? We can only speculate, but I do believe thatContinue reading »

“The star which they had observed at its rising went ahead of them until it came to a standstill over the place where the child was . . . They prostrated themselves and did him homage” – Matthew 2:9-11 The Gospel of Matthew tells us of the first Epiphany, the visitation of the three “wise men” to Mary and her child. Long before the day took on the aura of a religious observance and became known as “little Christmas” and long before it became the last of the beloved “12 Days of Christmas” there was a greater meaning to this visit. Matthew speaks of Jesus being born in Bethlehem, with no manger or shepherds. These details are found in the Gospel of Luke and speak to his, gentile, readers. Matthew, through his recording of the words and deeds of Jesus, presents Jesus as the fulfillment of Scripture and the ultimate teacher, rabbi, or wise man. Therefore, it is important, for Matthew, to have wise men from the mysterious East payContinue reading »

“If, by some still small voice, He calls me to paths I do not know, I’ll answer with my hand in His, ‘I’ll go where You want me to go!’” Mary Brown, 1856-1918   Every year we step through the gate of the New Year. On the threshold, we often turn our head one last time and say goodbye to what’s behind. Goodbye, joy and goodbye sorrow. Then we sigh and step through the gate, a little unsure of what the New Year will bring. After all, the skies seem dark and ominous. Is there a storm coming maybe? “Please hold me, Lord,” we whisper. “Wasn’t the old year already difficult enough? Can’t we travel on the wings of Your love to pastures full of sunshine and rest?” The young Jewish Dutch girl Anne Frank wrote once, “How difficult it is to keep steady in a world where idealism is mocked and love is so often crushed. It is so hard to walk in a world where people show themselvesContinue reading »

“See, I make all thing new” – Revelation 21:5 With this promise, Our Lord who sits on the Heavenly Throne, gives us the strength and support to face the new year that is filled with trials and tribulations. While these mighty words come in the context of a new heaven an earth, it resounds with our human markers of times and beginnings. As the Lord tells us how all tears shall be wiped away and all manner of sorrows and sadness vanquished he also teaches us to leave behind that which has befallen us- look to the new year, not with dread, but with confidence and hope and with full knowledge that Our Lord is standing by us and protecting us. If we have faith, He will give us a new life with new opportunities and new chances to build his kingdom. If we embrace the Kingdom of God- the authority and dominion of God- we will have it power and protection. To the ancient mind, and to our modern ideas,Continue reading »

People often talk about the dark days before Christmas and depending on where you live in this world that is a true saying. Where I live the temperatures usually drop, the days are short and you can’t appear on the streets unless you are bundled up in several layers of clothing and like most Christmas lovers I am hoping for a white Christmas. But these days are a good illustration of where we are spiritually as well. In the Spirit, we must bundle up to protect us from the cold winds of doubt that seem to sweep this present world with strong gusts of unbelief. And then—in the heart of the darkness—there is a star. A sparkling star that pierces the dark night and that leads the way for all who wish to follow it, to the stable of the newborn King. It leads to a place of hope, forgiveness and peace with God. Like the Catholic Bible puts it, “Peace to men of good will.” * That is anContinue reading »

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:21, 25, 28, 33 (NIV) I was away on a trip and had thoroughly cleaned the kitchen before I left. My husband, I am happy to report, is messy and also untroubled by the mess, meaning no matter the state of things, he doesn’t really notice it and doesn’t complain about it. The reason I am glad for his less than neat freakiness is simple. On the one hand, it can be difficult that he doesn’t pick up, but on the other it is good because he will rarely complain it things aren’t perfect. So if youContinue reading »

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? Corinthians 5:1-2 (NIV) Toleration is not love. And while it may be what the world thinks we should do, to leave people in their sins without warning, what we actually do is condemn misguided people (of whom we were once) to an eternity in Hell. Don’t we, as the church, stand accused of tolerance of sins that will be judged unrighteous when the Lord Jesus returns? We condone ungodly unions with pride – adultery, fornication, and homosexuality. And lest you think our churches don’t condone sin, think again. We condone whatever wrongdoing and unholy things go on in our churches if we stand silently by and allow these things to continue. Although it seems harsh, even to me,Continue reading »

Today, in the midst of Advent, the Roman Catholic Church remembers Samson in her readings. He is remembered because he began the liberation of Israel from the power of the Philistines (Judges 13:5), he prepared the way for the Davidic Kingship which began the line of the Messiah, and he was seen as a Hero of Faith by the letter to the Hebrews (11:32). Samson stood in the historical backdrop of Jesus Christ, 1000 years before the birth of Our Savior. The name Samson invokes images of heroic adventure, surpassing power, and invincible strength. Because of his name, which derives from the Hebrew word for “sun”, many have thought of him as a figure of folk tales, a myth from the early history of Israel, or an embellished memory of a local strong man. How unfortunate are those who do not see the rich theology in the narratives which speak of this man or the hand of God which moved him. His name, literally meaning “power of the sun”, showsContinue reading »