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Showing posts from 2015

At the end of the Year - a Reminder of our Faithful God

Here we are...December 30th and we're close to the end of 2015. As we get to the end, I ran across this reading from Charles Spurgeon that a friend – Doug Bond - had posted on facebook.
 What I realize is that Spurgeon says so well what I want to remember about God's faithfulness both at the end of the year, as well as in the years to come.  
The verse he shares from comes from 1 Samuel 7:12 
12  Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, "Thus far the LORD has helped us."
It's not long, and even though it's in older English, you'll get the point...and when he says "hitherto", he's saying, "To this point in time".

The Title of His Message:  "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." - 1 Samuel 7:12
The word "hitherto" seems like a hand pointing in the direction of the past. Twenty years or seventy, and yet, "hitherto the Lord hath helped!" Through povert…

Thursday, Christmas Eve

As I write this, Christmas Eve has begun.  But, like so many people around the world the beginning is actually on the evening of the day.  Tonight we will gather at Dave & Linda Hughes’ Farm and in simplicity we’ll sing hymns and carols of Christmas.  
We'll tell the story all over again in scripture and song.  It never tires me to hear it anew.  When Zechariah and Elizabeth birthed John, who was to be the forerunner of Jesus - 30 years down the road - Zechariah's tongue was loosened and he spoke for the first time in almost a year about what God was showing him in the birth of his son.

Luke 1:68-69 (NIV) 
68 "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David


The horn was a symbol of God's calling the people.  The shofar was a ram's horn and was used to call them to seasons of worship and celebration.  John was going to be that horn that called …

Wednesday, the fourth week of Advent: The Promise of Christmas

It's just two days until Christmas, and in our house, little ones are getting excited about what is soon to come.  For me, this morning I thought about the Promise of Christmas.
The story of Christmas is a story of the BEGINNING of the fulfilling of God's promise. 
Luke 2:1-14 (NIV) 
2:1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
3 And everyone went to his own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn…

Tuesday, the 4th Week of Advent: "On Deadlines and Advent"

It's Tuesday of the fourth week of Advent...And I'm thinking of "Deadlines",
We're all waiting for Christmas in just three days...but before we get there, we face Deadlines...crunch time..."this stuff has to be done before Christmas"...I am there too.
Isn't that what always happens when we get close to some days off? I thought about that on my walk this morning and it hit me...
Galatians 4:4 4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,
It hit me...God has deadlines too.
Just think about it...the time from Adam to Jesus was several thousand years,
John 1:1-2 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
During this time, the nation had the promise of the first Advent...the Messiah was promised and "in time" He would come.
The nation of Israel waited, and waited, and waited to see the Messiah come, and when he did come..they didn'…

Monday, the Fourth Week of Advent - Living With Hope

It’s the final week of advent.   On this Monday, I am thinking of some friends in our fellowship who have lost a loved one – a grandmother – just these few days before Christmas.
When I was 14, just 2 weeks before Christmas, I walked into my house after delivering the morning papers in my small town.  Standing in the kitchen was my mother, and she was crying.  She looked at me and said, “Grandma died this morning”.  I wept.
That Christmas presents were opened and some of them were from Grandma who had knitted and sewn presents for her family all Fall long.  It was a Christmas I’ve never forgotten.  Years later I can picture the solemnness of receiving gifts as they were passed out.  Tears flowed instead of grin to grin smiles and exclamations.
I read this story this morning about the poet Robert Wadsworth Longfellow.  In 1863, as the American Civil War was dragging on, Longfellow’s son joined the army against his father’s wishes and was critically injured. On Christmas Day that year, as c…

Friday, the 3rd week of Advent: Christmas Chaos

It's Friday, the third week of Advent...and I wonder about Christmas Chaos.
We have a house full of Grandchildren...four of them to be exact.  It's just 7 days until Christmas, and our quiet, serene, rural, pastoral existence has become filled with lego boxes, farm implement toys, railroad tracks, books, and general mayhem...and I'm enjoying every minute.
I awoke to the sounds of children playing
Remember the story and the hymn? 
Luke 2:6-7  6  And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 
Jesus is born...a baby...and what do babies do?  YEP...they cry, they wet, they sleep and eat...and then they do it again, and again, and again.
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay, The little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay.
The ca…

Thursday, the 3rd Week of Advent: Some Musings on THAT day

It's Thursday, the third week of Advent and as I read this morning, I found myself thinking of the difference between the world as we see it, or as it is presented to us each day, and the world that God is at work in.
Remember the story as Luke's Gospel unfolds it?
Luke 2:1-7
1  In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
2  This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3  And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
4  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
5  to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
6  And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
7  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The world around us is loud…

Wednesday, the 3rd week of Advent: Waiting In Faith

It's Wednesday in the third week of Advent.  This morning I'm thinking about what it means to wait with faith.
Christmas is just a little over a week away.  At our house, the decorations are finished, cookies have begun being baked, presents are wrapped and music is in the air...We're waiting.
As I write this my daughter, son-in-law, and their four kids (their two sets of twins) are on a plane flying over the Atlantic headed for Chicago. 
We'll head down to get them...stand in the line and look with anticipation for them to walk through the door. 
Anticipation, waiting...they are all part of what Advent is all about. We wait in hope We wait in faith We wait with expectancy...
Titus 2:11-13 11  For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men...13  while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
A few years ago I was at the airport waiting for my daughter and her family come through those doors.  A Mom wi…

Tuesday, Week 3 of Advent: His Name is John

It's Tuesday, Day 17 in the third week of Advent.
Advent celebrates the birth of our Savior...but before Jesus is born in the manger, the Gospel of Luke reminds us that God sent someone first to prepare the way.  The Gospel of Luke opens with the story of Zechariah in the temple, the angel Gabriel's announcement to him that Elizabeth and He would have a child - a boy - and they would name him John. 
WHY did God first put John in place?
Luke 1:17
17  and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
But Zechariah has doubts...and the angel says, "you will be silent (mute) and stay that way until the time comes..."
AND THEN the time came...
Luke 1:57-66
57  Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son.
58  And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejo…

Monday, 3rd Week of Advent: "Fear Not"

It's Monday, the third week of Advent. In my reading this morning I could not help but notice a familiar set of words coming from the angel of the Lord to various individuals:
Luke 1:13 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
Luke 1:30 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Matthew 1:20 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
Luke 2:8-11
8  And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
10  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for …

Sunday, the 3rd Week of Advent: Mary, What Did You Hear?

I awoke this morning to thunderstorms.  It isn't snowing outside, and the ground is green...but this is Wisconsin and it's suppose to be cold and white with snow!
Sometimes life feels like it's upside down...sort of a "what's going on here?" time.

I thought about that this morning as I read the passage in Luke of the angel Gabriel's visit to Mary.

Luke 1:26-38
26  In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
27  to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.
28  And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
29  But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.
30  And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
31  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
32  He wi…

Thursday, 2nd Week of Advent - Trust and Fear

It's the REAL Thursday of week 2 in Advent  (I don't know how many of you politely ignored my saying yesterday was Thursday).
Something to think about today... Luke 1:11-13 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.
Later in the passage: Luke 1:18-20 18 Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." 19 The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."
An Old…

Wednesday, the 2nd Week of Advent: Parents of Promise

Let's think about what it means to be a Parent of Promise...  
Read this passage and imagine what is happening as you read. Luke 1:5-13 5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. 7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years. 8 Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was…

Advent, Week 2, Tuesday, "Gifts"

It's the second week of Advent. I have been doing some shopping...with four kids, three who are married, and 8 grandchildren...you can understand why.
Don't get me wrong, we love giving gifts. It's one of the great joys in life to see people receive something that's personal and desired by them. It's made me think of two things for you to ponder this day:
First of all, in a brief, but pointed way the Apostle Paul describes what Jesus means to us:
2 Corinthians 9:15
15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! GIfts...we give them because the people we give to mean something to us. At least, I hope they do. 2 Corinthians 9:7
7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Secondly, Do not give out of compulsion for that is not a gift but a duty.
I go back to the best Christmas movie of all: "It's a Wonderful Life" and the sign on George Bailey's Wall:

Advent Monday, week 2: It's good to Remember

The second week of Advent:
It's Monday morning...it's December 7...Pearl Harbor Day.
Time moves on and away from history.  I wasn't alive then, and probably every person reading this was not alive.  It was our parents or grandparents who lived through it and remembered what was happening in their lives that day.
Yet we all have memories of those kinds of days:
I remember the day John F Kennedy was assassinated.
I remember the morning of 9/11.
While these were tragic, other dates I remember were not:
I remember June 12, 1971 - the day Linda and I got married.
I remember each of my children's births, and remember three of my kid's weddings.

It's good to remember...Psalm 143:5
5  I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.

"If you take an experience and attach to it a strong emotion, you'll never forget it.".

Deuteronomy 32:3-7
3  I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness …

Week 1 Advent Saturday, "What If?"

Hi my friends,  I hope your first week of Advent was good.  I have some catching up to do and I want to share what I've written each day during the Advent season so that we might have time to reflect, ponder, and anticipate the joy of Christ's birth.

Today I wrote about "What If?"

Happy Saturday to all of you.  It's the end of the first week of Advent.  Here's a scripture to ponder, a thought to meditate on:

Isaiah 60:1-2
1  Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
2  For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.

I am asking the simplest of questions: "What if?"
What if the darkness around us witnessed in addictions, refugees fleeing war, radical terrorism fueled by demonic hate, gun violence, and sex-slave trafficking - things I read this morning in the news I get - evil that is pervasive and relentless...

Living For Christ in Our Culture Today, #1

This next week I embark on a risky endeavor.  I'm going to do a series of messages on what it means to live for Christ in our culture - or what in the world does it mean to be a Christian and live for Christ in the midst of this world?

With all sorts of cultural issues to address, I do not pretend to be an expert on any.  I am a Christian first and foremost, and my allegiance is, and hopefully will always be, to be faithful to God, his word, and the work of Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of God.

I don't pretend to know what all of those things mean.  With racial strife, questions on same-sex marriage, terrorism worries, privacy concerns, and the technological malaise that exists...I would be naive to say, "Oh, I have an answer for this..."

What I do want to do is address some of the issues here - especially as it relates to what I'm teaching on.  I know that not all will agree with me - it has never happened before so I don't believe it will happen again.  What I…

Heaven: He Makes All Things New

Revelation 21:5
5  And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

It's almost summer here in Wisconsin - that is on the calendar.  It has felt like Summer for a couple of weeks or more.  I was walking with Linda and remarked how just 8 weeks ago we were longing for warm weather.  The fight between Winter and Summer is called Spring here, but it is just that - a fight.  One day its warm, the next cold.  One day is dry, the next wet.  I had one day where I turned on the furnace in the morning for a couple of minutes just to warm up the house, only to turn on the air conditioner at night just to get rid of the warm humidity.  That's Wisconsin.

What if Winter leading to Summer through this thing called Spring was not a natural way for us to see something Jesus was teaching us?  The Winter is long, dark, cold.  Spring comes in to usher in light, hope, warmth...good…