Monday, April 27, 2009


Out here between the mountains and the plains, we get blown at from every direction. The wind comes through, without warning, and does its work thinning out the trees and putting leaves back to where you just raked them from. And giving us clean air.

Can't see the wind, can you? But you can sure see what it's doing. That's what Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:8 -- "Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

Jesus had just said to Nicodemus in verse 6 that "
Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life." It is the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit that gives us new spiritual life, makes us desire the things of God and helps us see life through spiritual eyes instead of our old human-oriented ones.

On our own, we don't want the things of God, but the Spirit brings a different mind-set to us. Paul explains this in Romans 8:5: "Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit." That's a change we can't create with human effort, and can't measure its occurrence, but we can see its effects in someone's life. I certainly have seen it! Perhaps so have you -- or others have seen it in you.

So as Paul continues, "But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you." Is this something you're still missing? Are you still helpless against everyday problems? Then you need the overwhelming power of the Holy Spirit, who alone can conquer sin in us. It's like having that fresh, clean Colorado air to breathe. It's free for the asking, because it's already been provided, free of charge, by God to his children. Need help with that? Let us know.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Today is the wedding anniversary of Stuart and Joyce Powell, parents of The Lovely Joanne. It's a day that they remember, not so much for the church ceremony they had all these years ago but for the meaning of their marriage. The two of them have grown in love and care for each other over the decades, deepening in their mutual concern, their understanding of each other and their desire to serve one another.

Joanne and I also treasure our marriage, and we celebrate our anniversary with joy. Another anniversary I treasure is my baptism. I had committed my life to God through Jesus Christ quite some time before that date. But on one certain day, I submitted to a ritual that showed what was already true; 'an outward sign of an inward intent' as we say. That ritual of baptism celebrated three things: that I had died with Christ; that I was raised into new life with him; and that I was made part of the body of Christ, the church.

I can still feel the water closing over my head as I was plunged under the water and then came up out of it. But as with marriage, I value what baptism stands for, not the actual ceremony itself. I value the on-going relationship I have with Jesus Christ and with his other children. I don't bother celebrating the actual date of my baptism when it rolls around every year. I do, however, celebrate what it means, every day of my life.

Being dunked in water doesn't save us, nor does it even transmit to us the salvation given us by God. But we are baptized to obey the command of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 that new disciples should be baptized. That baptism ceremony shows to the world and the church, and it shows us, whose we are. Being "raised from the dead" as it were, out of the water, symbolizes the newness of our spiritual lives from then on.

What about you? Is it time for you to commit your life to your Savior through this sacrament? Please ask a servant of Jesus Christ to help you with it. It's one of our greatest joys!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Resurrection Life

The celebration of Easter (see footnote) is behind us by a couple of days now. Once more we've lived through what many Christians call Holy Week -- the time from Palm Sunday, remembering Jesus' entry into Jerusalem with the crowds waving palm fronds, through the events of Thursday night, commemorated by footwashing and partaking of the bread and wine, to Good Friday and its solemn remembrance of the Lord's death on the cross; all the way to the victorious excitement of the resurrection on Sunday morning.

Now what? Back to the same old drudgery of working and paying taxes? Is that all? Nope -- Paul said we are "raised with Christ" (Colossians 3:1) and we have a whole new life with him (Romans 6:4). Paul says we are "in Christ" over 80 times in his epistles, not counting other phrases like "alive with Christ" or "raised with him". That means it was important to him, and it has a lot of meaning for us as Christ-followers.

Being "in Christ" basically means:
--Our sins are now wiped away because of his death on the cross
--Our old lives no longer matter to God, because the Father accepts us through Jesus
--Since he was resurrected, we too are as good as resurrected also
--We live in two worlds -- the current physical existence we see, and the spiritual life we experience through Jesus (this is the hardest one to understand)

How do we experience being "in Christ"? The best analogy I can come up with so far is being "in marriage." My old single life is gone, my wife accepts and loves me, and I get to spend the rest of my days exploring my relationship with her. I get to know her better, love her more, be loved by her, and learn to please her. By following that process, she and I are bound together in love more and more. We are secure in each other's love, and participate in each other's lives in multiple ways. We don't have any desire to go back to being single, and we live together more fully and intimately because we know and love each other so well.

In our new life "in Jesus Christ," we have at least one advantage that marriage doesn't give: at the end of physical life, we get transported into an eternity of ever-growing closeness with God. So, being "in Christ" is truly something wonderful and blessed. Even if we can't completely understand it, we can enjoy it. My life "in Christ" is a lot richer and deeper than it was ten years ago, and I hope yours continues to grow too.

*Contrary to popular myth, the name Easter is not linked to any pagan goddess. The best historical information gives a different story. For more, follow this link, or ask me about it:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Four Reasons to Celebrate the Resurrection

The death of our Lord was important. He was the perfect atonement for all our sins, so they are no longer a barrier between us and God. But lest we get wrapped up only in his death, we need to remember that we are also saved by his life:
Romans 5:8-10 says: 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

Why should we celebrate the resurrection? Here are four basic reasons:

1. His resurrection proves he was the Messiah, that he did die for our sins and was raised from the dead to make us whole.
1 Cor. 15:17-18 says: 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost!

2. His resurrection gives us our hope for a future life with God, beyond this physical life with all its troubles and brevity.
1 Cor. 15:19-22 says: 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. 21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.

3. By faith we understand that the risen Jesus Christ lives in us, and we have new life already because of him.
Galatians 2:20 says: 20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

4. The risen Jesus Christ is now with the Father, and is our advocate at the Father's throne. We are wrapped up in him and included with him, fully accepted and loved by God.
Ephesians 2:4-6 says: 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.

Wow! What a series of blessings and gifts we have been given by this amazing act of God through his Son! These should give us every possible reason to rejoice this meaningful season. May you have a blessed week of celebration!