Memories of Christmas

December 20, 2016

Christmas never fails to evoke memories. Most of us all can recall Christmases of great joy and of disappointment, of warm camaraderie and frightening loneliness.

I can remember a Christmas over 50 years ago (isn’t it funny how memory works-I can remember 50 years ago but sometimes I forget what happened weeks ago!) We had moved to Visalia California that fall. With a year old baby and a new job, we looked forward to the future. My folks had come down to spend Christmas with us. I had to work late on Christmas eve. When I got home, there was my family, parents, wife and baby all having a good time by the fire in the living room. That three days was one of the happiest Christmases I can remember.

On the other hand, many years later, after a divorce ,I was living by myself but dating a wonderful girl . We hadn’t been dating long and one evening she said to me that she was
going to her parents for Christmas, and at that stage it didn’t seem appropriate for me to come along. Of course I understood, we didn’t really know each other that well and to go to her parents for Christmas I knew was a little early (I rationalized). My parents were half a continent away and I had no brothers and sisters to spend the holiday with. So there I was in my apartment along–never having been alone at Christmas before. I was disappointed and very lonely . Right then and there I vowed to never be alone a Christmas again!!

So as we approach Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I hope you make wonderful memories of this time of year. That you go to church to celebrate the coming of the Christ Child.. That you tell the people that mean the most to you that you love them.
After all what is Christmas but love.? God’s love for his creation, to send his son Jesus Christ into the world to love us and to show us how to love others, to forgive us for our sins and to die on a cross so that we might be in communion with God. And most of all that he was resurrected and conquered death so that we might have eternal life.

What is there to celebrate this Christmas season? The birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ but not just at Christmas, but each and every day of the year. Amen.

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We Are One

November 2, 2016

We sometimes look at other denominations and say to ourselves, I am glad I am not a member of that church. Or we promote our mission projects or congregation size over the other churches in town.

But we have gotten far afield on what we as human beings made by God in His image are about. God joined us together. We are not dogs, Not wolves. So we shouldn’t be so to each other. When Jesus talked about the church, he wasn’t talking about the Baptists,l the Presbyterian, the Methodists. the Catholics, the Lutherans etc,

We as Christian believers, who walk with the Lord need to look at each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. So lets review what that means:
One Body, We are all members of the Body of Christ
One Spirit: When Jesus went to be with the Father he sent the Holy Spirit to reside in each of us.
One Hope. We are the heirs of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
One Lord: All who claim to be Christians serve the one God, the one Lord.
One Faith: We might have some disagreement on some of the minor things but we all believe in the one faith that gives us grace and joy in this life and the life to come.
One Baptism: Again some differences but no question that we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins and being members of his Kingdom.
One God. We all agree that there is but One God. The God who created the world and made each one of us.
Let us wrap this around scripture…. Ephesians 4: 4-6 which says:
“There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope–when you were called–One Lord, one Faith one Baptism one God the Father of all, who is over all, in all, and through all.”
In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Chirch and State

September 30, 2016

There have always been differences of opinion about the separation between the church and the state. Lets try to clear up some of the misconceptions . The first amendment to the constitution reads:

“Congress shall make no laws respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”

I know this is the whole amendment and some of it doesn’t apply specifically to religion, but it gives us a context for what the framers of the constitution were intending that the government has no right over these things.

The idea that those who wrote  the constitution were atheists who wanted religion to creep into the business of the state is absurd. The opposite is true. Most of the founding fathers found the bible and the Christian religion the very foundation of the new republic.
You might say that they wanted to make sure that the new government was not the oppressive one that they had fled from England. There, a state religion was formed and it was between the Church of England and the Catholic church. This caused very uncertain times and even war fought over it. That is why the colonists who came to this country wanted to make sure that one of the freedoms was religion.

So the phrase “separation of church and state” was penned by one of the signers of the constitution, as he wanted to make sure that the state did not interfere with the practice of religion. And then, many years later, it was taken out of context by the Supreme Court in two decisions , you can look them up…. One was in 1947 (Emerson vs Board of education) and in 1962 (Engle vs Vitale)

IF the idea was to keep religion out of government, why did they allow church services on Capitol Hill? There are services in a chapel outside the House Chamber to this day. So religion and government can exist together, with the government bodies embracing religious services and the religious community ,…. the people,, can embrace their religious beliefs openly.
pray to God that we can get back to that in total…..Amen

I am back

July 29, 2016

I had issues with my WordPress account but it is now ok (I hope) This gives me a chance to get away from my usual biblical/theological blog to let you know about an organization that I feel needs to be continually praised.

In May, my wife and I went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. We arrived a day before the first appointment. The next morning a shuttle came and took us to the Mayo/Gonda building (which is the main clinic) We went in and were met by a guide who told us which building and floor to go to get to our appointment. We were a little early but as soon as we were checked in they called us to the exam room. Tests were run, back to the waiting room, more tests. Then they told us we were to go to the waiting room to talk to the doctor. Immediately we were escorted into an exam room. The doctor came in and said, tell me why you are here and what is your complaint  He said the preliminaary tests ruled out many things that had been bothering us. And we needed to come back tomorrow for blood and other tests.

 

We came back the next day went for blood tests ( they had several people in that area to take blood) We were early for the next appt. We really wanted to get going home so the earliest we could get the tests run and get to the doctor the better. We went to the area for the next test , told them we were anxious to get the test run and they accommodated us we were off to the doctor. He gave his preliminary opinion and said when the final test results were in he would write us a letter (in addition to contacting our primary physician)

He was as god as his word and we are in better shape than before. With the hundreds of people coming and going in that clinic, I feel we were treated with very professionally.

I thank God for medical facilities like Mayo’s who save lives and improve the quality of life for thousands.

 

 

Is There Life after death

May 14, 2016

This is the last in a series gleaned from Partners In Ministry on questions we have asked at one time or another, but when others ask us, we sometimes dismiss them. This blog will deal with the question, “Is there life after death?”

Where do people go when they die? Do they cease to exist? Do humans have a soul that will live on forever? People like yourself wonder about these questions every day.The truth is that you are a living soul and God has devised a plan whereby you can spend eternity with Him, in the life to come. The plan  involves your decision to believe in Jesus Christ with all your heart and soul. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die  ( John 11: 25,26) Jesus made it clear that there not numerous ways to get to Heaven-but only one way-He is the way.”I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)

It doesn’t seem right to wonder  if there is life after this physical time on this earth, and then when presented with the way to eternal life someone would say, no thanks! Admittedly Jesus isn’t handing you a  ticket for a one way trip to Heaven. But he is offering you that trip.We have been told  that through Christ we can attain eternal life, but we have to have faith that what Christ says is what Christ will do. Yes God loves you and He wants you to come to Him, being his child and be alright in this world and His side for all eternity.

Does this make sense to you? If it does, wouldn’t you like to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? If you are willing to put your faith in Christ and receive Him as your Savior, you need to pray to receive Him. The bible says that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord, will be saved (Romans 10: 13)

Why not tell God right now in your own words that you are sorry for your sin and that you believe Jesus Christ  died for you and rose from the grave.  Tell God that you are receiving Him right now as your personal Savior.  You accept His forgiveness from sin and by faith you receive the gift of eternal life that He has provided for you. Tell Him you want Him to be the Lord of your life. Tell him you are willing to surrender your life to Him, and follow His leadership. ….then you can live this  life knowing that it is not the end when we physically leave this earth. What a marvelous gift that is!  Amen

 

 

Why don’t I do what I know i should?

April 8, 2016

This is the 6th is a series gleaned from Partners In Ministry on questions we have asked a one time or another, but when others ask us , we sometimes dismiss them. This blog with deal with the question, “Why don’t I do what I know I should?”

If you are honest you will admit that you have suffered personal failures. If you say you haven’t, you are only fooling yourself. Every human being does the wrong thing at times , even though he fully intends to do the right thing. Why do you say things that hurt others and do things that damage your credibility and integrity. The bible gives us clear guidance on this subject. You can’t do what you know your should because of your sin nature.The bible says “therefor just as sin entered the world through one man , and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) The sinful nature which you inherited, is what qualifies you as a member of the human race! But it also means you need a Savior. Jesus Christ came to give you the ability to overcome your tendency to sin.

When you think back at the time in your life that you did something that you wanted to do but at the same time you knew it was wrong.. What did you think in the aftermath of that time? Did you dismiss it as a one time thing , a boys will be boys, girls will be girls do dumb things? Do you have any remorse over those things you have done over the years that you now know were sins? IF you are still haunted by any of these things, you need to understand that when you receive Jesus Christ as your personal savior , you receive a new nature. But in addition to that Christ died on a Roman cross to take away those sins and any sins you might commit from now on, (and you will)

The Bible tells us: “through these he has given us his very great and precious promises,
so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the word caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:4) The new nature is God living in us, The new nature is spiritual , but you still have your old nature which is human. It still wants to do the wrong thing. However, now you have a choice. You can choose to follow God’s way and experience life and peace to its extreme fullest.  The bible puts it this way: “the mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6) This does not mean that you will become perfect. IT does mean that after you receive Jesus Christ as Savior, you have the God given ability to do what is right. The conflict is still there but the Divine nature of God is also there to empower and guide you…..Amen

Feeling alone

March 4, 2016

This the 5th is a series gleaned from Partners In Ministry on questions we have asked at one time or another. but when others ask us we sometimes dismiss them.This blog will deal with the question “Why do I feel so alone?”

Making genuine friends is on of the real struggles of life.Why are friends so fleeting?
Why do I feel so alone most of the time?To answer these questions the Bible clearly states God invites us to become his friend through the sacrifice of his own Son. John’s Gospel says: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lays down his life for his friends.You are my friends if you do as I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his masters business. Instead I have called you friends, for everything I have learned from my Father, I have made known to you. (John 15: 13-15)

God never intended for you to be lonely or isolated from others. I have had people say to me, ” I can’t ever seem to meet anyone”. In visiting with them it became apparent that they were not good at showing a positive attitude toward strangers.
They didn’t have a friendly attitude and didn’t engender an open persona. Any one of these characteristics could be a deal killer for making friends.
God invites you to discover the end of all lonliness in a personal relationship with Him. When you receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you become part of God’s family of believers all over the world. He calls you into community with all Christians. This community of genuine friendship is based on love respect and forgiveness-which is what our relationship is based on. Haven’t you seen people who seem to be “up” most of the time, who seem to have a joy that others don’t have?
With these characteristics you are more approachable because you are more loving and open to other relationships. God has promised to walk with you- through the Holy Spirit- and will guide and direct you to satisfying relationships that cam last a lifetime.

Imagine being a personal friend of God? Maybe that seems impossible but I assure you it is not. You can become an intimate friend of the God of the universe. It begins the day you find forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ. You don’t have to be lonely, God (and others) want to be your friend! Amen

Why is life so unfair?

January 16, 2016

This is the fourth in a series gleaned from Partners in Ministry  on questions we have asked at one time or another , but when others ask us we sometimes dismiss them. This blog will deal with the question “Why is life so unfair?”

Life is full of trouble and there are days of heartache. That is a fact. Life is painful. For some people it seems like each day is like being in a torture chamber–it is agonizing.
If we dwell on the injustices of life, it will eventually lead to bitterness. One of the reasons that many of us struggle with the question, “Why is life so unfair?” is because we do not understand that this earth is not the land of the living, it is the land of the dying. All around us there is disease, death and sadness. The bible teaches us that we live on a planet that is suffering from the after-effects of sin. When you understand this, it changes your perspective on life and things begin to make sense. You realize that this life is simply the proving ground for your life in eternity.

I know that doesn’t mitigate the pain and suffering we all face. I know at times we all say, “God, why did you let this happen?” But you know what? God did create the universe, and created each one of us to be like Him. But he also gave us free will. We could have been safe in the Garden of Eden but, we, like Eve, want to make our own decisions, and because of that we are at the mercy of the world. Not the world that God created in the Garden,but  a world of risks, a world of evil and our free will may or may not navigate us through it without major disasters.

Yes, life is short and unfair, yet the bible tells us that God loves us and wants to share his love with us for all eternity. The bible puts it this way, “Because of His great love for us God,who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace that you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realm in Christ Jesus in order that in the coming age, we might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in the kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2: 4-7)

If you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, then what you have in this life is not what you get. God has a wonderful plan to make all the injustices you have experienced in this life, right, in God’s eternal kingdom. You experience life as God intended it to be. The bible records these words about the end of all suffering; “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning, or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21″4)
Put your hope in Christ. But in your daily walk with Christ, let Him through the Holy
Spirit, be your sword and shield as your walk through this life, headed to a glorious life in eternity! Amen

Am I Unique

November 27, 2015

This is the third in the series generated from Partners In Ministry on questions we have asked at one time or another , but when others ask us we sometimes dismiss them. This blog will deal with the question” I wonder, am I unique, do I have any value?”

Not only do you have a reason for your life on this planet, but you are also a very unique and valuable person. You are a precious individual, tailor made by the great designer. You are God’s special creation made in His image. Knowing that we are made in his image and thus share many of His characteristics, provides a solid basis for our self worth.

Before you were formed in the womb, the Bible tells us that God was already involved in shaping your life. Here is what the Bible says: “you knit me together in my mothers womb I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. …your eyes saw my unformed body, all the days ordained for me were written in your book before any of them came to be” (Psalm 139: 13-14,16) God made you who you are. You are not product of some evolutionary process.

Think it through –there are billions of people on this planet, and you are the only one with your fingerprint and DNA structure. Furthermore if the DNA structure from your body were stretched out in a line it would reach to the Sun and back …400 times! You are a complex unique individual.

When Jesus Christ was on the earth over 2,000 years ago, he prayed to God the Father,”Let the world know that you have sent me and loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:23) The Son of God wants you to know That God the Father wants to love you just as he loves His own Son. That is amazing and it makes you very special. Amen

7 questions #2 Is There A God.?

October 6, 2015

God is where he has always been and he is doing what he has always done.He is looking for you..God has been trying to connect with you long before you pondered the question of his existence.

Lets look for a second at this material world. If you haven’t done so , maybe this is the time to meditate on what you see around you. The trees, the sky, the clouds, the rain the sun. The vast universe, the stars the moon. If you really think about it all that you see around you could not exist without a Creator.
How about things that go on in your life. Remember the time that you got a nudge from someplace to call a friend. When you did you found out that they needed to hear from you just at that time.
How about when you were getting ready to back the car
out of the driveway and you forgot something in the house. When you got down the road there was an accident at just the time you might have gone by had you not had to delay a few minutes. Do you suppose that God might have had a hand in that situation? How about your marriage partner. I talk to many people who have said that it was a unusual set of circumstances that brought them together – the perfect mate. Oh you might say that all of these things are coincidental. I submit that God is alive and well and is with us each and every day and He does guide and direct us.

Where is God? He is nearer to you than you can possibly imagine.You and I are no different that Adam and Eve, who, after disobeying God in the Garden of Eden, experienced fear, guilt and alienation from God–for the first time in their lives. They ran and hid themselves from the presence of the Lord. (Genesis 3: 1-13) God came looking for them but they were hiding in the trees, afraid to speak to Him. However, God loved his creation and knew that something must be done if the fellowship between them was to be restored. God looked for them, they certainly were not looking for Him. In the same way, God has been searching for you all your life, to love you.

We again visit the feelings that we get the urging that comes to us as we search for our place in this world. That is God through the Spirit saying I have been with you every step of your life even though you may not have thought so.. and I want you to accept Me and my gift of Grace that I offer you.

To have that relationship with the God who loves you and to then be aware of His presence every day of your life and to know that he died for your sins and was resurrected to give you eternal life, you just need to acknowledge Him, ask Him to forgive your sins and come into your life. This salvation is available to all who acknowledge Christ as the savior of mankind! Amen.