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Showing posts from December, 2016

Ready or Not ... 2017

Ready or Not ... 2017

    Can you believe another year is in the books? Time marches relentlessly onward without asking for either our consent or approval. 2016 isn’t even cold yet and 2017 is already relentlessly marching forward. Nothing you and I can do will ever get that time back. With each passing day we creep closer towards time's end. But, as always, with Jesus there is good news.
    2017 will bring with it days of defeat and success.
    2017 will bring with it both sadness and great joy.
    2017 will bring days of suffering balanced with days of healing.
    2017 will bring with it days of loss and others of enrichment.
    For some 2017 will bring with it a day of finality.
    But there will not be a single day in 2017 that you will have to encounter alone! We have One who can lift us up from defeat, comfort us in sadness and sustain us through suffering. There is One who can truly place momentary loss into eternal perspective. And not to be forgotten, we have each other, c…

Breaking Resolutions

    The thresholds of life often give rise to resolutions. So it is common to make promises to others, God and ourselves at the dawn of a new year. Perhaps you have your own set of “New Year’s Resolutions.” However, the point at hand is not how you feel about making such agreements but how you feel about keeping them.
    Various studies could be cited but the final results appear strikingly similar. Thirty-eight percent (38%) of New Year’s vows are broken during the first week. Around seventy percent (70%) will never see the light of February. Hardly any will ultimately be fully kept.
    Perhaps this is true because our resolutions are too vague. Goals need to be realistic and reachable. For example, a common resolution made within the church is, “to live a better Christian life that the previous year.” Such a vow must be broken. A year is much too long to set our sights upon. Why not resolve each day to present a better example of spiritual service than the previous day? Now that is …

It Just Doesn't Pay

    Coming from central Illinois it should come as no surprise that my family has deep roots in farming. My grandfathers on Dad's side all worked the soil on the same farm. It's never been an easy way to make a living, but many farmers never lose their sense of humor. So, when I started reading an article written by a friend in a Kentucky church bulletin, a man sharing deep roots in farming, my first thought was that this must have originally been told by a farmer. Edd Sterchi wrote: "There was once a farmer who was going broke farming, so he quit and started selling hammers. He would buy hammers for $3 apiece and sell them for $2 each. He was selling a lot of hammers and seemed happier than before. A friend soon reminded him that for every hammer he sold he was losing $1. To which the he smiled and replied, 'Yeah, but it’s more profitable than farming.'”
    It is only natural for one to expect their efforts to be rewarded. No one wants to waste their time spinnin…

It Is A Wonderful Life

George Bailey learned the hard way what the world would have been like if he had never existed. Friends, family and events, once taken for granted, took on richer meanings. Unrealized dreams suddenly seemed unimportant. Viewers could reflect on Jimmy Stewart’s intriguing performance and come away with a clearer understanding of the important things in life.
   This time of year Jesus becomes popular. The story of His birth is rehearsed repeatedly. Joy and peace become the operative words as goodwill is mingled among the shopping frenzy. But life is not a Frank Capra film. We cannot experience what the fictional character George Bailey experienced. There is no Clarence Oddbody, Angel Second Class, ready to grant us a second chance at life and no evil Mr. Potter terrorizing Bedford Falls.
   Yet, in the inspired discussion of Jesus’ life and ministry an interesting observation was made by Christ Himself, upon which we would do well to dwell. He said, in John 15:22, “If I had not come ……

The Birth of Jesus

     Luke's words, although relegated to a particular season, are familiar to most in our modern world: "9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:9-12).
     Unlike our modern world, the early church had little more than a passing interest in commemorating the birth of Jesus. For them it served to attest His divine origin and mark the fulfillment of long anticipated prophecies. Christ’s birth also helped confront inaccurate teaching about His physical nature that slowly crept into the church (2 John 7). Of the eighty-nine chapters in the four Gospel accounts of…

One Special Day

In 1912 C. P. J. Mooney wrote an editorial, which appeared in The Commercial Appeal, a Memphis, TN newspaper. His thoughts were not only true then, they remain true today. He began with the words, “There is no other character in history like that of Jesus.” Plato was a great thinker, Aquinas a great philosopher, Napoleon a great soldier but Jesus was the Son of God, Savior of the world, “the perfect man.”
    James A. Francis also wrote truth about Jesus when he penned that, although born in obscurity and living unencumbered by possessions and worldly honor, after nineteen centuries He remains “the central figure of the human race.”
    Francis continued, “I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as that One Solitary Life.”
    We have now come to that special day above al…

One Devil

Read: Revelation 20:10

    Reflecting on the exuberant spirit accompanying Japan's surrender ending WWII, a sailor told of receiving orders to destroy the big shells on board his ship. At first, he related, the shells were handled most carefully, cradling them gently to the side and easing them overboard. As time passed they began treating the shells as if they posed no threat, tossing and kicking them off the ship.
    Satan's presence lurks in the Bible from Genesis 3 to Revelation 20. He is referred to as the Serpent (Gen. 3), Beelzebub (Luke 11:15), the father of lies (John 8:44), the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4), a roaring lion (1 Pet. 5:8), and the great dragon (Rev. 12:9), among other names. While this one Devil is treated with caution throughout the Bible, wreaking havoc on the entire human race, by the time we come to his end, Revelation 20:10, he is treated with complete contempt. Like powerless bombs sinking harmlessly to the ocean’s floor, this one Devi…

Failing to Heed the Warnings

    Residents in Milan, Italy were concerned earlier this year when they began hearing strange noises on Sunday night and Monday morning. Digging noises. They grew concerned especially because of the proximity of the noises to a central downtown bank. Some reportedly contacted the police with their concerns as the noises continued into the week. A few of these concerned citizens confessed that they had joked among themselves, "Are they robbing the bank?” (www.theguardian.com) No real action was taken until early Friday morning as bank alarms started ringing. When the police arrived at the bank they discovered shaken employees who had been forced by four thieves to open and empty safety deposit boxes. By then, however, the bandits had made their escape through the tunnel they had been industriously digging for days. Embarrassed, the police were forced to admit that they had failed to heed the warnings.
    Nearly everybody is bombarded with warnings daily. They alert us to danger. …