March 3, 2021

The traditions of Lent

In the tradition that I have been with (two different denominations) Ash Wednesday was always an important event. It is a reminder of our human mortality and the need for reconciliation with God. Ashes are administered by the priest or pastor on the forehead of the congregant in the form of a cross. This signifies both death and repentance.

It is also the start of Lent. This is a period of 40 days of prayer fasting and support of the church. Lent ends sundown on Holy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter) It is a time of true denial by self control over some aspects of our life. An emphasis is on prayer, meditation and fasting during this period…there are actually 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday, but Sunday’s during Lent are not considered days for this discipline. This is also a time to cone to a realization of the Spiritual Gifts God has given us and to offer them to the Church.

The Sunday before Holy Week is Palm/Passion Sunday. IT is a time to recall through reading of scripture Jesus entry into Jerusalem the week before His crucifixion. It was my custom to also have the Passion story of Christ’s last days on earth. The significant times during Holy Week are Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday. It is called Maundy which is the Latin word for “command” and refers to Jesus’ command to his disciples to “love one another as I have loved you” This commemorates the Last Supper and Jesus’ washing the feet of his disciples. We celebrate this meal at most churches either weekly or monthly as the Holy Communion or the Eucharist.

The next day Friday is called “Good Friday” This day marks the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. It is probably called good and may have been translated from Holy. Someone was asked about that and their answer was “how would you characterize the crucifixion” -answer is was good. Good because Christs death on the cross paid for our sins past, present and future.

Next time we will talk about the resurrection and the traditions of Easter. Thank you for reading this! Blessings to each of you this Lenten season.

where do I fit in God’s kingdom

February 8, 2021

We all think at times, what can I do for the Kingdom of God with my limited skills. I don’t seem to fit anywhere . We are told in Matthew to go make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28: 19-20) First Corinthians says that “these three remain, Faith hope and love and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

So how can I follow Christ with the command to make disciples and to love all God’s children?

There are several things we can do to shine our light in this troubled world By loving people you can:

keep in touch with friends relatives and neighbors with phone calls email and Facebook;. Write a letter (a lost art but one that has a great impact to the recipient); Complement others. There is always something good to say to them; give people your time..what a gift to take your time to spend with them; Point them to scripture. Share your belief that the bible is our guide and inspiration. I always start with the book of John; Fill a need . We should be more sensitive and aware of the needs of others and see if there is a way to fill that need; Be forgiving. A good example for non-believers and new believers is that God forgives us and that he will forgive you so you should forgive others; Set a good example. I love to tell the story of the new Christian in China. He had been baptized and started reading the bible. He was at his job one day when one of his fellow workers noticed that he was always in a good mood and had a smile on his face. He asked him what was different about him. The new Christian told him that God had come into his life.

What is the saying: “preach the Gospel and sometimes use words” If you are not like that Chinese man who said that God had come into his life, you can change that right now. Ask God to forgive you of your sins and turn from them. Ask Him to come into your life and guide you every day. If you sincerely prayed that prayer, you will now be part of Gods kingdom and the Holy Spirit that is send by God will be in you and with you.

May you be blessed in your walk with the Lord. Amen

January 8, 2021

God has a plan

I moved from Missouri to Kansas in August. While in the Show Me state I became acquainted with a columnist with the Columbia Daily Tribune. I would give her name but do not have her permission so I will call her Sally. All of her columns are human interest and more than likely talks about her family and their trials tribulations travels and extended family.

I told her that I really enjoyed her columns and was disappointed that I would be moving to Kansas and not see them each week. She wrote back that she appreciated my comments and that she would send me the column each Monday when she publishes for the newspapers and magazines. I was happy that she would do that because her writing is her stock and trade and she charges them for the column. 2 weeks ago I noticed that she had sent me that weeks column in an email. I was distracted that week and didn’t get around to reading it until later in the week. When I did she was talking about her husband and that he had some medical issues and they went to the doctor. She described sitting anxiously after the exam for the doctor to come back in and tell them what was wrong. The Dr. said that he had cancer and they wanted to start him on radiation and chem. Right away I wrote back saying how sorry I was and that I would pray for both of you.

She immediately wrote back and said that while in the process of radiation and chemo he got Covid went in the hospital and passed away the next day. It was almost as if one of my family had died. I was stunned. I tried to say words of comfort as I responded to her. Those who are not believers would say, “well, too bad but life goes on” We as believers would say, that maybe it was his time. God does have a time for all of us on this earth. But we are also prone to say God, why would you hit a healthy man , a believer with cancer and Covid at the same time.

This a lesson for all of us. It is not how healthy we are, not how much we tithe, not how much we give to others, not even how strong is our walk with the Lord. God has a plan for each of us and even though we have a plan, Gods plan prevails. As a pastor I have talked to several widows and widowers who couldn’t understand why their spouse was taken so soon. I went through the same thing myself. I have also followed up with some of those who asked that question and they reported later that their lives had taken a positive turn and they were now doing things and involved in things that they never thought would be of interest to them.

I have rambled on about about this. I miss my wonderful wife but I am now in a new phase of life that is interesting and fulfilling. At the time of her death I couldn’t see the good that was to come. But I ask you to keep that in mind when and if you lose a loved one. We need to think about that person that has left us. As a believer he/she is with the Lord in eternity. He/she will no longer be in pain or distress and will meet up with loved ones that had gone on before. We need to celebrate our loved one coming home to Jesus. How many widows or widowers have said ” I am anxious to be with my loved on in Heaven”

As I mourn the loss of Sally’s husband, and I mourn the loss of my wife, I say Hallelujah, as they are now with their Lord… Amen.

January 2, 2021

Do we need a faith checkup?

December 3, 2020

A while ago in a bible study we were talking about the Christian Walk. In that discussion it was emphasized that it is our FAITH that keeps us on that walk.
Some of the material we were studying was part of a sermon by Ellsworth Kalas, and I quote: “when the scores of life are totaled and God’s troops report back home, He will not say ‘well done you brilliant servant’ or well done you ball of fire’ . No, no God will say ‘well done good and FAITHFUL servant.
In God’s lexicon of values, it is FAITHFULNESS that makes a star.
I wonder how man of us really understand why God was manifest in Jesus Christ and put on the earth? God created all that we see and touch, God created us in His image. He gave humans a utopia, a garden that would fulfill all our needs. Then man sinned and was banished from this perfect place and all of us including you and me, carry that original sin.
So God sent His Son Jesus Christ to be born a human, that we celebrate this season. to live among the people and to teach preach and heal and love us as His children. But his real mission was to atone for the sins of the whole world, so that someday we may be in the presence of God. He did this by His death on the cross. He suffered and died as a human so that we would not be lost to His love and that we would not suffer as He did.
They the miracle of miracles , Christ rose from the dead and ultimately sits at the right hand of God. Jesus conquered death and He conquered it for us all. This was God’s ultimate gift to His creation.
Do you believe? Do you believe that God loves us so much that he gave His only Son to die on a Roman cross for our redemption?
Go to the bible and read stores of FAITH and how God walked through life with yesterdays FAITHFUL; God was with Abraham and Sara in a new land; Moses and the children of Israel in the wilderness; Meshack, Shadrach,and Abednego in the fiery furnace. God has been and will be with us today and always.
Our FAITH reminds us to make of our lives HIS story. Let God stir in the pages and each line of the tale of our living. Give new meaning to FAITH, FAITH in God and all that he does for us.
As we gather this Advent season with family and friends and celebrate in worship, share our walk with Christ and the FAITH we live by. Bill Graham has said at his rally’s: “I don’t know all I need to know about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ but I believe it by FAITH” Let us take those words to heart and make them ours. Merry Christmas. Amen

God is Near

November 4, 2020

I an going to start with an illustration that should clarify what I want to say in this blog. Psychologist Jean Plaget carried out psychological experiments in which he observed that very young babies ,
(under 6 mo old) would be clearly interested in a toy placed a few years in front of them until Plaget placed a blanket over the toy. Then the infants showed no further interest, assuming that the toy was no longer there.
I have observed in my self (full disclosure) and in others that there are times where it seems that our focus is on God such as when at church, at prayer, reading the bible and meditating. However there are other times like the infant where we are distracted from our focus on God as though he wasn’t there.
But if we are true Christians , and we have given our lives over to Christ, then the Holy Spirit is with us all the time and we should be looking to that Spirit to guide us in everything that we do. We need to have the attitude that we don’t venture into our day without opening our heart to that Spirit.

But we sometimes want to go it on our own. Sometimes we say that we can handle it God . another illustration drives home this point. A man was in the parking lot of a big box store and couldn’t find a parking place. He kept driving around and finally in frustration he said “God, find me a parking place.” Shortly a place opened up and the man said “never mind God I found one on my own”
We might chuckle at this but too many of us have the attitude that “God is there if I need Him” Jonah thought that taking a ship to Tarsus rather than facing Nineveh, that God would no longer be in control of his life. But as you know the story, Jonah did come face to face with God once again.

We need to understand and acknowledge that God is ALWAYS with us. And that we need to surrender control of our life , for God has the perfect plan for each and every day. We should:
“lean on the everlasting arms of God” Amen

A treasured find

October 1, 2020

I am going to get personal again this month
As those of you who know me know that my wife passed away last October. I rejoice that she is with her Lord , that she is not suffering and is at peace. I tell myself that every day. The chore of going through old files and keepsakes can be tough sometimes.
I say all of this to introduce a devotion that she had published in a daily devotional guide. I came across it the other day. I see the evidence of her devotion to God and to her friends and family in everything I go through.
With your indulgence, I am going to print it exactly as she said it in 1995.
She made reference to this scripture: John 15: 12-13. which epitomized her loving attitude.:

“As a child growing up in the small community of Boonville , Missouri, I belonged to and attended the local Methodist Church., Sunday School, vacation bible school. Church socials and dinners were a regular part of my simple life.
Childhood faded into youth and youth into adulthood. Choir and musical events in the church became connected to my spiritual life. In music there was a special closeness to God. The words of the hymns cementing forever beautiful bible verses in my mind.
One composition especially stands out for me, ” I walked Today Where Jesus Walked”It would bring tears to my eyes and chills to my skin. I could just imagine walking in His steps.
Years later I would have that opportunity. A trip to Israel , where the shores of Galilee, the river Jordon, the peaceful hillside of the Sermon On The Mount, The Garden of Gethsemane, the way of the Cross placed my feet in His footsteps and sent this beautiful song through my mind once again.

The song is sung often in springtime and its lovely words and music remind me of “the peace that passes all understanding” and that Jesus died for our sins because He loved us. May we be mindful of His sacrifice and love and “gp forth and do likewise”
prayer: Jesus forgive us for not living our lives as you would have us live. Thank you for loving us anyway. Amen”

Thank you sweet lady the love of my life and my inspiration for 38 years………Amen


September 4, 2020

Our memories are gifts from God.. The bible is full of stories of faith and how God walked through life with yesterdays faithful. What is implied is , if God was with Abraham and Sarah in a new land, Moses and the children of Israel in the wilderness, Meshack, Shadrach and Abednago in the fiery furnace, God has been and will be with is today and always.

You cannot escape the presence of God . The bible says “when I go to the depths, you are there, when I ascend to the heights you are thee” (Psalm 130;9 ) and the gift of memories is a gift to remind us that we are not forgotten, abandoned or discarded. God’s relentless hopeful pursuit of us cannot be thwarted by momentary lapses of memory or even the embellishment of the story leaving God out of the picture!

We talk of the past as history. Our faith reminds us to make of our lives HIS story . Let God stir in the pages and each line of the tale of our living . And tell your family where you have seen God at work in your life. And maybe some day your son or daughter will tell stories of how God was working in your life. What ever you do, be sure and make a memory with God.

This leads me to look at my personal situation. I am in a new town with new doctors. After 25 years seeing the same practitioners who knew me backwards and forwards I am facing physicians who don’t know me and want test after test.They take my oral history with a grain of salt. It seem that what has gone on before doesn’t mean anything now. I have been referred to doctors whose specialty is something I can hardly pronounce let alone understand. I get concerned when they them say that they want to do further tests.

BUT…..I know that God is with me. God knows me and has my history on His lips. I wish I could just say to all of those healthcare professionals , Check with God he knows all about me and can give you all the information you need……… So I go about doing what they all say with the assurance that God will be my comforter and my guide through all of this.. AMEN

Is it August already?

August 15, 2020

I recently moved from a small town to a medium sized city. Even though people universally have become more civil to each other, I find that people in the city are either more burdened that those in the more relaxed atmosphere of the small town or they are just in more of a hurry. Oh there have been exceptions.But what I have found that when you first meet them, they display the city attitude, until I respond with respect, interest and a smile. It is no wonder how peoples attitude changes when you are nice to them and are concerned with what is going on in their life. So my conclusion and my point is that if you are nice and treat others with respect and interest, that is the response you will receive.

In this blog I really want to address our commitment to Jesus Christ. So many of us go to church each Sunday and even attend a bible study and participate in the churches outreach programs but in reality are not believers in the sense that they do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A lot of pastors (and not enough) give an invitation at the end of their service , inviting people to accept Jesus a their savior. In my time in the pulpit I gave the invitation at each service. I led them through the sinners prayer but I didn’t require them to come forward.
Some in my congregation asked why do you invite then each week to accept Christ as their personal savior when very few seem to acknowledge it. My answer was that they prayed the prayer and the rest is up to God and them.

I was motivated to discuss this topic after I read Ann Graham Lotz analysis of the disciples and their journey as faithful believers.She talked about how they followed
Jesus and did his bidding, helping him with his mission on earth and then she said , this is what happened to them :
Phillip was tied to a pillar and stoned to death
Matthew was nailed to the ground with spikes and beheaded
Jude was beaten to death with sticks and clubs
Simon was tortured and crucified
John , son of Zebedee was tortured and exiled.
Simon was tortured and crucified
James, brother of John was beheaded
James was pushed from the top of a building , then his broken body was
beaten to death
Andrew, Peters brother, hung on a cross for 3 days before dying.
Bartholomew was beaten crucified and skinned alive after being
Thomas was thrown into a fiery furnace then speared with a javelin
Peter was crucified upside down.

Why did they all (with the exception of John) die a gruesome death? Not for saying that Jesus of Nazareth had been crucified but that he had risen from the grave , that he had conquered death and he was alive.

We are all children of God and we are his disciples. What do we say to the non-believers? Are we afraid of the consequence? We may not suffer the same fate as the original disciples but we may be looked down on, we may be persecuted , But if we have given our life to Christ then He commands us to spread the Good News of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Giving our life to Christ means following Him and sharing our love of God. That may mean that we are not popular or accepted but it does mean that we are following the command s of Jesus and He will reward us if not in this world but in the world to come.
May that path be the path for you to meet the Savior some day. Amen

Do We Believe Bible Prophecy?

July 2, 2020

Over a 1000 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem , God had spoken many prophecies about His coming. He spoke them through men like David, Moses, Isaiah and Micah.

In order for Jesus to be the true Messiah, he had to fulfill every prophecy that was ever spoken and written…and he did,every single one! Here are just a few:

He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:140
and he was (Matt 1: 18:25)
He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
and He was (Matt 2:1-6)
He would be taken into Egypt (Hosea 11;1)
and He was (Matt 2:15)
He would heal the sick and make people whole (Isaiah 5;3)
and He did (Matt 8)
He would be crucified ((Psalm22; 14-17)
and He was (Matt 27:31)
He would die for our sins (Isaiah 53)
and He did (John 1; 29; John 11;49-52)
He would be raised from the dead (Psalm 16:10)
and He was (Matt 28: 1-10)

There are many prophecies about Jesus second coming that of course have not yet been
fulfilled……..but one day,as we have seen about all the other prophecies in the bible, they will be fulfilled. One day we will see the glorious return of our Lord and Savior.

Will you be ready for that time.?Will you be expectantly waiting for that wonderful celebration?
I pray that you now have that hope. But if you don’t know Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord you either do not understand what that means or you don’t care. In either case you will not be with Him in paradise.

You can make sure of your standing with Christ if you confess your sins, ask for forgiveness of your sins and ask Him to come into your life. If you do you will be considered His child and he loves and takes care of His children.
Now is the time to do that as we do not know if we will have a tomorrow. Amen.