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Showing posts from December, 2013

A Promise, A Hope

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I woke up early yesterday morning—4:00 a.m. early. Rather than try to go back to sleep I went out into the living room to spend some time reading Scripture. I’m “between” reading projects so flipped open my Bible and read the first thing that appeared. It turned out to be Psalm 145.

The approach of a new year always drives the mind toward thinking about the future. This coming year, 2014, will be a time of transition for me. How, when, and what, are the questions that arise when I think of what might be coming around the next corner. But even in my rather haphazard way of choosing what to read in Scripture, God sent His Word to me.

Psalm 145:13b-16: “The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Psalm 145:19: “He fulfills the des…

The God Who Took On Skin

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The Word began flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).’’

We know the story. Perhaps its familiarity is part of what keeps us from taking the time to revisit it and to think again about the implications of it. The busyness of the season—what others have made of the season—sweeps us away and before we are aware it’s January and we have forgotten to REALLY stop and pay attention to a baby in a cattle shed.

Think again with Paul about what this “God with skin” is all about—what He did for us and what He wants to do in us. Think, and worship.

...All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth...For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may …

Memories

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Memories.

Some of our seniors shared memories of Christmases past at a recent event. Memories can be sweet. They can also be sorrowful. As Saturday, December 21st morphed into Sunday, December 22, I remembered those same dates and days 22 years ago when my mother passed into glory. But I also remember much more pleasant things about Christmas past. For those whose recent memories fade with time, it is often those things from the more distant past that remain in the mind and heart.

For Mary, the mother of Jesus, remembering the events surrounding the birth of her Son would leave an indelible mark on her.

After the long trip from Nazareth, the birth in a stable, the visit of the shepherds, the Scriptures record: “...Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). The shepherds went out to tell the world what they had seen, but Mary, the mother, kept silent.

Most mothers are never reluctant to sing the praises of their children so it seems odd that Mary simp…

Facing Challenges

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If Zechariah and Elizabeth were taken by surprise by the announcement that they would have a son in their old age (Luke 1:12, 13), we can just imagine how surprised Mary was to learn that she would have a baby without ever having a relationship with a man. Today that would be possible, but not back then in ancient Israel (Luke 1:30)!

Mary took the announcement in her stride—a testament to her faith—and hurried off to see her cousin, Elizabeth, who was in her sixth month of pregnancy by that time (1:39).

Several years ago, when in a transition period in my own life, I laid claim to the words that Elizabeth pronounced over her young relative, recorded for us in Luke 1:45.

"Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished."

Both Elizabeth and Mary had entered significant transitions in their lives. Mary, by the time she returned to her hometown, would be obviously pregnant. The fact that she was engaged, but not married, might have result…

When God Changes the Equation

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How is it possible?

I wonder how many times I’ve said or thought those words? Life is never perfect but it helps if it is predictable.

For Zechariah, life was predictable. He fulfilled his priestly duties every day. And once in a while, when his turn came, he went up to the temple to offer incense to the Lord. He and his wife, Elizabeth, were growing old as gracefully as they could. Even their childlessness was predicable—they were long past conceiving children. Perhaps the bitterness and disappointment of that reality had faded in time, though it appears that they had prayed for a son (Luke 1:13) to carry on the line.

Then Gabriel came along and announced a change in the whole equation. While Zechariah was performing his duties in the temple, the angel of the Lord appeared to announce that he and Elizabeth would have a son in their old age. If Gabriel had appeared to me I probably would have doubted too.

Zechariah answered the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my w…

The Quality of Love

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We always revert to what we know.

When I look back at our beginnings in Venezuela I am reminded of how true that statement is. We wanted to do something uniquely Venezuelan, to make the church we were trying to establish be different, be Venezuelan. In the end it was uniquely North American. That wasn’t a bad thing—Venezuela is very pro-all-things-North-American. My point is that it just became too complicated to be different and much easier to go back to what we knew.

After the resurrection, after Jesus’ appearances in the upper room and on the Emmaus road, the disciples were still “on hold.” What was the next step for them? They weren’t entirely sure and it was futile to speculate and too frustrating to plan. When we get to John 21 we discover Peter and some of the others reverting to what they already knew to do—fishing.

They were sitting on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, waiting for no-one-knew-what. Peter suddenly announced, “I’m going out to fish...” (21:3). The others went out…