Friday, December 19, 2008


Have you ever bought a toy for a child, or a piece of furniture etc. that you had to assemble after you got it home? I know that on numerous occasions we have. I, like many men, do not want to read the instructions but just start right in with the assembly process. Usually I give in and begin to try to understand the assembly instruction sheet that came with the merchandise. The problem often becomes how to interpret the instructions. Then it becomes a trial and error process. I often think, if I could just ask the dude who wrote the instructions what he meant by such in such I could follow the procedure he so intricately outlined. But there is no way to get hold of the author of the instructions.

By the way, I have often been told by unbelievers that they cannot understand the Bible. Several years ago during spring break time I picked up a college student as he was walking down the highway. He was returning from one of the many spring break havens after some hardy partying. He was tired, hungry, broke, and did not look very happy. During our conversation I ask him if he had ever read anything in the Bible. “Well,” he said, “I have but I had a hard time understanding it.” “You might have an easier time understanding it,” I said, “if you were acquainted with the author.” This seemed to peak his interest. I spent the rest of the trip sharing with him the gospel.

The Scripture has much to say on this subject. 1 Cor 2:10…The Spirit searches out all things, even the deep secrets of God.11 Who knows the thoughts that another person has? Only a person's spirit that lives within him knows his thoughts. It is the same with God. No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.12 Now we did not receive the spirit of the world, but we received the Spirit that is from God so that we can know all that God has given us.13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom but with words taught us by the Spirit. And so we explain spiritual truths to spiritual people.14 A person who does not have the Spirit does not accept the truths that come from the Spirit of God. That person thinks they are foolish and cannot understand them, because they can only be judged to be true by the Spirit.15 The spiritual person is able to judge all things, but no one can judge him. The Scripture says: 16 "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Who has been able to teach him?" — Isaiah 40:13 But we have the mind of Christ.(NIV)

There is no way to really understand the truths of the Scripture unless you know the author of this precious book. There is no way to really enjoy Christmas unless you are acquainted with the author of this special celebration. Heb 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith… (NIV)

Let us meditate not just on the trappings of Christmas, but the Christ who the foundation of it all. Let us read the Scripture not just trying to dissect the words, but fixing our eyes and heart on the author of those words.

May you prosper in knowing not just the Bible but the author of the Bible. May you be blessed in your celebration not simply of the season of Christmas, but the reason for the season, the Christ of Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Christmas is such a special time of the year. It is a time to give and receive gifts. There is nothing wrong with that, but I am afraid much of our generation has forgotten why we celebrate Christmas and many do not recognize the greatest gift that was ever given.

Jesus Christ was God the Father’s love gift to a world in darkness and sin. The uniqueness of this gift was that the giver and the gift were one. We cannot appreciate the gift if we do not recognize the giver. The gift God the father gave was God the son. When we honor the son we honor the father. God’s gift was not something to satisfy our personal wants, nor was it a gift to enjoy for a while and then discard. The greatest way we can respond to this special gift is to spend time with the giver. And we can know the giver only through the gift.

By The Way I remember a story about a father who had to travel a lot with his job, and thus was gone from home many weeks each year. When the father returned home he would always bring gifts to his two sons. One of the sons would always run out to meet his dad, and began immediately to ask, “what did you bring me, what did you bring me?” The father would give him his gift and off he would go to spend time with his new prize.

The other son would wait on the porch swing until his dad came up and sat down beside him. He would say, “Dad it is so good to have you home, I missed you.” And there they would sit for half an hour just talking and visiting. Finally the father would give the second son his gift. But it was obvious that this second son was more interested in spending time with his dad than just receiving a gift. The greatest gift was the giver, his dad.

Rom 5:17 If death got the upper hand through one man's wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides? (THE MESSAGE)



Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Moving! Moving! Moving!

I am sure you have noticed that I have not done a blog for a while. The reason is because we have been in the midst of a move. I did not have access to the internet for a while. My, my, how did I ever survive? We did move from an up-stairs apartment to a single floor dwelling. It is brand new, much nicer than the old one, is better arranged, and we are already liking it much more.

By The Way, the last two moves we have made has required a lot of downsizing. We had to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. It is not always an easy decision. Some things may not have practical value, but have sentimental worth. It occurred to me that we can leave certain things behind, and when we move to our final heavenly home we will leave everything behind. But who we are we take with us. Our personality, our attitudes, our values, and any internal baggage we might have developed all comes with us. If we have a spiritual or personal problem we do not leave it behind like some old suit, a pair of shoes, or some of our books.

A lot of folks seem to think that they can move away from their problems. If they just move to a new location they will find peace or happiness. Not true! Several years ago while we were doing church planting work in northern Illinois we got acquainted with a family who had grown up in intercity Chicago. They had climbed out of financial poverty and had built a home in a suburban area where we were attempting to start a church. I spent a lot of time building a relationship with the gentleman. I shared Christ with him as best I could.

One day he confided in me that the suburban life was not all he thought it would be. He told me that he had thought if he could just leave the city and move to the suburbs it would bring him peace and satisfaction. But he said that he still had not found peace. It seemed to him that folks in the suburbs were always in competition to make their houses or their lawns look a little better than their neighbors. It was a never ending cycle of one-up-man-ship.
He excitedly shared with me one day that he had found the way to peace and happiness. I was anxious to hear what he had discovered. Well, he had found a place in Arkansas that really appealed to him. He said it was in a beautiful location, plenty of trees, lots of room for pets, a quite stream that flowed a short ways from the back yard. There would be plenty of space between him and the nearest neighbor. “Yes, he said, “I know if I can move down there I will find the peace and satisfaction I have been looking for.” I said, “John, I hate to burst your bubble, but I have just come from that place you are talking about, and it is all the things you say, but it will not bring you peace and satisfaction.” “Why not,” he inquired. “Because, I said, “the things that are robbing you of peace and happiness are things you cannot leave behind. You are going to take your problems with you. Changing locations is not the answer. The answer is allowing Christ to move into your life and bring His peace and joy.” I could not convince him otherwise. Our ministry took us elsewhere before I knew If John had allowed Jesus to Change his life. I only know that for John and for millions more like him, moving is not the answer to the longing they feel in their hearts. Peace, joy, and satisfaction come from knowing Christ in a personal way.

Paul has a word for us from the Word of God concerning this matter. Philippians 4: 10-14 “I'm glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you're again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am…”(The Message)

May you know the peace, joy, and satisfaction of Christ wherever you are.