Grace & Peace January 26, 2015

Genesis is filled with betrayal, murder, deceit and faithfulness.  It is one wild ride.  Tamar must have felt like she was riding Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  She was selected to marry a man who ended up being wicked (Genesis38).  He died.  Her ride begins with someone else linking her with a wicked man.  That alone would have created stories for a lifetime.  Then the wicked guy’s brother gets sent to her to make her pregnant but he would have none of that, so he died.  So she goes home to live with her dad and then tricks her father in law, Judah, into making her pregnant.  She really wanted a kid.  Judah does not know Tamar is pregnant with his child and when he discovers she is pregnant calls for her to be put to death.  He is a hypocrite.   Then Tamar reveals the truth that the child is his and she gives birth to twin boys.  Now that is one crazy soap opera.  I wonder how often our own lives seem so crazy that we could make our own soap operas.  And yet, God sees a way to have Tamar in the genealogy of Matthew 1 that takes us to the birth of our savior.  Only God can take a life like that and use it for glory.  He can do the same with our lives.

Grace & Peace January 12, 2015

I love people watching.  When they think no one is looking, they reveal all sorts of traits, good and bad.  This is one of the reasons I love the Bible.  People act like no one can see them when all of history is actually watching.  I hope no one ever puts me in a book.  Yikes!    Over the next few months I am going to be studying people in the Bible and how they behave when no one is looking.  So each Blog I plan to present a new character.  First up, Rahab.  I first became interested in her when I realized she was listed in the genealogy in Matthew 1, in the line of David, five generations removed.  Rahab was an unwholesome woman, at least by profession, a prostitute.    Now why the spies went to her house is not really known.  I can only imagine prostitutes have a certain adversarial relationship with the people of their own community.  The men use them and the women hate them for that.  At any rate, the spies somehow knew she would turn her back on the people to save her family.  She did.  It saved her life and the lives of her family.  And for this, the Israelites accepted her as their own.  There are five women in Matthew’s genealogy:  Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary.  Each woman has her own sort of courage and ability.  Rahab was a woman who knew an opportunity and seized it.  She sensed God was with the Israelites.  I pray that you sense when God is acting around and perhaps through you.

Grace & Peace December 29, 2014

“Christmas is over for most, some are still right in the middle of it all.  The gifts are opened; the apple pie is consumed.  So what is next?  New Year of course.  Holiday football games, Times Square countdown, time with family and friends.  And for most people in America, the first week of the New Year is a time to evaluate where we have been and where we are headed.  During these next few weeks, lots of people set goals.  We set goals to exercise, goals to eat right, goals to grow a business, goals to get out of debt.  Have we ever really set spiritual goals?  How do you plan to grow in wisdom?  How do you plan to gain a deeper relationship with God and know more about Christ?  Here are a few thoughts about spiritual growth:

  1. Make a decision to learn.  Bring a Bible to church, underline things, write a verse on a card and memorize it.
  2. Make a decision to be connected to other believers in a Wesley group.  These groups are the greatest opportunity for personal spiritual growth.
  3. Take what you learn to others.  God intends the power of the Holy Spirit to come to you and to flow through you.
I pray you have a great beginning to the new year and that you grow in faith.  Love the Lord with your whole heart and be blessed.

Happy New Year

Grace & Peace December 15th

where_are_youWhen we look at the image to the left, do we wonder if someone is asking God, “Where are you?” Or perhaps God is asking us, “Where are you?” I think of the latter for myself and others. Where are you this Christmas season? Are you wondering if anything has meaning? Still searching for joy? Here is a thought: Jesus says to the faithful steward of the gifts given to him in life, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:23. Christmas becomes God’s invitation to move from where we are to a new place. Joy is not a feeling or a desire. It is a destination, a place for those who choose to travel with God through the Christmas story. The invitation begins. God announces, “I have come to be the savior of the world.” Those who choose to recognize that they need a savior begin the journey. Then He offers reassurance, “do not be afraid.” Though the journey is along a rocky road, I am here. And for the wisest of all, they bring gifts to begin the journey. Knowing full well the journey is difficult, they have the sense to bring sacrificial gifts to the originator of life. And some few will run around like crazy shepherds yelling to all who will hear, “good news! Good news! The savior has been born.” Joy is a journey to a place. It begins with faithful stewardship of the gifts given us by the creator. Christmas is really not about the gifts we get from one another or the ones we give. Remember the real gift is our faith in Jesus as the originator of our joy. See you Sunday!