Monday, December 28, 2015

Whose Faithfulness?

We often like to chuckle at the story of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptizer.  The angel Gabriel appears to him, and he has a hard time believing what God will do through him and his wife Elizabeth. So as a friend of mine pointed out, God didn't

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Don't Be Afraid, it's Good News!

If you saw a headline that said "Great News! Stock Market Crash Wipes Out Wealth of Millions!" you'd wonder about the writer's sanity. Good news is supposed to benefit people, so they jump up and down in delight. The night Jesus was born, an angel appeared to shepherds out in the field to bring them this good news. The angel explained, "I bring you good news of great

Thursday, December 24, 2015


A view of the eternal is always dangerous. When you get to see what you've longed for, nothing else is ever the same. Ask Moses: he wanted to see God's glory up close, and the Lord said yes, at least some of it. In Exodus 33 God says "Yes, you can see my back but not my face -- nobody can see my face and live!" And so he passed by Moses, who got a

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Hope of Glory

from my fellow pastor Bill Winn, at the Trinity and Humanity blog:

We huddled in a small room above a sympathetic citizen’s house. It was a tense time here in the Middle East. Christians were being rounded up and killed in horrible ways. It has been astonishing to us to witness the cruelty human beings are capable of inflicting on each other. The most glaring example is the Crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. For a moment on that rooftop, as we were being systematically hunted down and

Friday, December 4, 2015

Jesus and Inconvenience

This month, The Lovely Joanne is wearing a dress every single day. Now, us guys don't think about that much, but in December, the cold wind has a way of, let's say, swooping in under a dress and cooling you off in ways you didn't really want. Besides that, finding a different dress for each day and the right accessories with it (again, guys, not our normal thought process) can be

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What Was Jesus Doing?

I've spent the last two years or so journaling through the Gospels, a couple of verses at a time every morning. So far I've made it through Matthew and Mark. Now, I don't like "journaling" as a practice, because I can't think of anything to say. But reading the scripture over and over, often writing it out word for word, has been fascinating. 

I've been looking at a couple of verses at a time and meditating over it. I've asked "what was Jesus thinking?" "Why did somebody say that--what was their question or their pain that he needed to address?"  "Why did Jesus choose this action instead of a different one?" "What was the cultural background?" and a lot of other questions. 

Normally when I look at scripture I'm working on a sermon or something else to teach, and I'm asking some technical questions as well as the ones above. But when I'm journaling, using in-depth reading and meditation, it's for myself, not for others -- and the difference is, I'm asking for the mind of God to be clear to me, and when that is clear, then I get a lot of correction and direction from the Lord. And that's why I recommend the practice to others. Including you, since you're reading this. 

So if you haven't done so lately, I suggest reading through the Gospels very slowly. Maybe you'll want to choose one, then read through it a couple of times first to get the overview before you start. And, maybe you'll find that writing on the scripture isn't a good tool for you, and that's okay -- but I suggest giving it a try and see what you pick up. You may be surprised, as I have been, how much there is in those books that you never saw before! 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Darkness, and Jesus the Light

Waaay back in history -- around 1500 BC -- the children of Israel were in Egypt, enslaved by the Pharaohs, and working long hours under the lash, for no pay (and you think your job stinks!). The Lord sent Moses and Aaron to set them free, but it wasn't a simple process -- if it had been, the book of Exodus would be about three chapters shorter! Along the way, some of the events look

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Trick AND Treat?

Well, the little kids with their buckets and bags are gone, so it looks like we got through another Halloween celebration. It's one time of year people come to our front door all on their own, so The Lovely Joanne and I do our best to love on them. The "trick or treat" chant the kids used came back at me this morning when I was reading through Mark 14 and Mark 15, the account of Jesus' trial and crucifixion. There's an element here of trick AND treat in this story that has

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Grief and Grieving, Part 3: 'Stages' of Grief

For those of us who have lost a loved one or a relationship, we know the pain of loss. Someone from whom we had gained comfort, companionship and love is suddenly (or slowly then finally) gone. That loss hurts! We try to figure out what we might have done differently to not suffer the loss, or get angry that the person is no longer here, or we try to

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Grief and Grieving, Part 2: Why Grief Is Important

Suffering a loss of some kind has been part of human life since we first got here. There's something almost foreign about death, though, because it betrays our friendships by ending them, and it takes away our best-loved family members. The 'viewing' at a funeral is painful:  looking at the face of

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Grief and Grieving, Part 1: Accompanying

Our church congregation has gone through a lot of losses: the deaths of loved ones; loss of health or mobility or strength; friends moving away or deciding to quit our fellowship for some other; and more. Lots of our friends have had losses too. Those losses cause pain, and the pain needs to be grieved. The biblical Job, for instance, needed to grieve (1:20) as does everyone who suffers any kind of loss. Even with the comfort of

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Eyes on the (Real) Prize

Have you ever seen any of the Rocky movies? It's the saga of a hard-working guy who decides to pursue his dream of winning as a boxer. In the first film of the series, Rocky goes into an intensive training program, finds a trainer, and takes on the local champion, winning against odds in the actual bout. Americans like

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Not an Option

I awoke in the middle of the night with a starkly realistic dream about someone from many years ago in my life. My nerves were knotted up in anger, and I realized this was someone I haven't yet forgiven for real or perceived offenses. It's time for me to go

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Jesus Is our One True...

In life we sometimes believe a false idea that looks simple and convenient. The urban legends cataloged at various websites such as feed on peoples' mistaken ideas about celebrities, politicians and fads. But what if you could

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Lawyers and Widows and WYSIWYG

Jesus was all about sincerity and dedication. Those were and are two of his best qualities, IMHO (in my humble opinion, if you didn't know). Jesus was always truthful and and WYSIWYG ("What you see is what you get"). Some of those around him, not so much, you might say. Jesus appreciated

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Known and Loved by God?

Apparently there's a website out in internet-land that invites people to be unfaithful to their spouses. It matches them up with other unfaithful people (why would you want that?). The site attracted bazillions of users by peddling adultery like it was ice cream. The scandal is that some hackers got into their client base and published the list of names, and now those folks are feeling embarrassed. But of course, God knew it all along. Not only that, God loves all those unfaithful people, just like

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

OUCH! guest post

Fellow pastor Bill Winn graciously agreed to let me share his marvelous post in which he writes about our hurts and how discovering their roots is sometimes painful.  Highly-recommended reading! Here it is:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hearing and the Holy Spirit

You may have heard it said that a blind person has more sensitive hearing, touch, taste or smell than a seeing person. Technically, the senses themselves are not sharper, but the perceptions of the sensations are. People who are blind at birth or at an early age tend to get better at accessing and interpreting information coming from their other four senses. (See this article in

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Core-Strengthening Exercises

The Lovely Joanne and I sometimes exercise together. One of the types of exercise we do is to strengthen "the core" which means those muscles that hold you up, and the ones that hold your innards where they belong. That's supposed to help you sit, stand and move in a more balanced way. There's also a spiritual side to that idea of core-strengthening, that has to do with

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Where Do We Go from Here?

The Lovely Joanne and I just got back from a day at a summer camp, where some of the campers and staff were baptized. Hooray and hallelujah! For those newly-baptized persons, I know one of their next questions is "now, how do I follow Jesus?" So here are a few words that may help. Should we seek a 'balance' between grace and

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Inside, Outside, Rightside Up

It's easy to envy the rich and famous. They don't seem to worry about paying the bills, or the daily grind like the rest of us. Sounds pretty attractive, right? Except it can be catastrophic to our spiritual life. Jesus met a rich young man in Mark 10:17-25, who showed us just how strong the hold of riches can be on us. This man was so attached to his physical stuff, that he turned down a chance to

Monday, July 20, 2015

"News Flash! Church Elder Found Faithful to Wife of 50 Years!"

David and Shirley Hunsberger have been married and faithful to each other since July 14, 1965. Here's a picture of the two of them at one of their celebratory occasions:

So the next time the media report something less desirable than 50 years of faithfulness, remember the good stuff!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Messing Up God's Artwork

This morning The Lovely Joanne told me in her endearing way, "Well, you're stuck with me forever, so you'd better just get used to it." By which she was telling me she loves me and is not interested in ever being anything but married to me. Which is really a good thing, because I

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fruit? No Fruit? No Control

Last year the fruit trees my neighbor and I have in our yards produced a very large crop. We used all we could, froze a lot and still watched a lot fall to the ground. This year, all the blossoms got frozen in our Mother's Day snowstorm, and we won't get any fruit at all. That points out a couple of truths of gardening and life in general: You can't guarantee a crop, no matter how hard you try. All you can do

Friday, July 3, 2015

Stress and Relief

After reading several thousand Facebook posts from people in my Friends list from all over the world, I'm beginning to think that a lot of stress in life is caused by trying to be right all the time. We get irritated, we feel threatened and frightened, we feel unloved, unappreciated and alone. Often it's not a huge life-threatening situation, but something simple. I don't like the way my wife just spoke to me or questioned my plan for a project. Sometimes we get upset because we think

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Be Still and Know...Part 3

Been busy lately? I sure have! My days and weeks have been filled with people, meetings, phone calls, issues needing work and clarification and prayer. Sometimes though you just have to stop and get away from it all. Lately I've been contemplating and studying the importance of silence -- getting away, turning off the noise and giving myself a chance to hear God speak. The first two posts talked about some of the aspects and benefits of silence, moving from an understanding of Psalm 46:10. But wait! There's more! Especially when we are alone with God, we get to deal with two important messages: 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Blessed Life

There are some great words of blessing in the Bible. Some of them are so wonderful they bring me to tears. The one I was reading last night with a couple of friends really struck me. Here it is in

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

"What's That In Your Hand?"

God can do anything, including everything that looks impossible for us -- like creating the universe from nothing, to start with! What's interesting is that he has continued to do the impossible, but now he's also doing it through

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Be Still and Know...Part 2

Last time we looked briefly at what silence is about, and some of its fruits. Let's continue to look at those concepts, and see what we

Monday, June 1, 2015

Be Still and Know...Part 1

Our neighborhood has half a dozen dogs that take turns yapping at, well, whatever dogs yap at. They seem to like hearing themselves, and each other. They don't seem to have much appreciation

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Take a Break...

Americans have a problem:  we are far too focused on accomplishment. We measure our worth by what we have done or made, not on

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New Clothes, New Life

I just purchased a new pair of jeans and was surprised again by how dark blue they are compared to the old ones I've shredded in the last few years. New clothes always feel unfamiliar and a little awkward, but at the same time warm and special -- almost like a

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It's Here -- and It's Spreading!

"One of these days..." is a frequent phrase with some people I know. Like them, I'm looking ahead to the time when peace and joy will cover the earth, death and disease and war will be no more, and the only tears will be from joy. YES, it's coming! Better than that, it's already

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Doing it for Him

My niece is a Registered Nurse. Her career is all about taking care of the sick and the dying, and for her it's a very rewarding career. But she can tell you, the

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Shame Is Defeated

Our culture is good at handing out shame. Some parents use it to control their children, and in the entertainment industry, shame is a common source of humor at someone's expense. We

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Plants and People Grow

It's planting season in our part of Colorado, but even if you start seeds indoors under lights, it's a slow process. If you've ever gardened with children, you've seen them put

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

You Belong!

What if your life was filled with horrific circumstances, suffering abuse and neglect and anger and hatred from all the people around you? What if your despair at the life you were unable to escape led you to commit acts

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Oh, For Joy!

I can't get over it. There was something going on in the minds of all the followers of Jesus after he was crucified and then raised out of the grave, that keeps coming back to surprise me and to make me,

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Holy Saturday

We sat in that room all day. We men sat pretty much in silence scattered around the floor, not trying to talk, not knowing what to say. The women were huddled together in the corner, sometimes whispering to one another then breaking out into quiet sobbing. Mary Magdalene started

Friday, April 3, 2015

Pain and Good

This morning I pinched my finger in a cabinet door and yelped at the pain. Then I remembered what today is. Today is Good Friday in the Christian calendar. "What's so good

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Dirty Toes and Messy Hearts

On Thursday of the week he was to die, Jesus did something no one expected. During a meal with his disciples, he got up from the table and began

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Enduring the Cross

Holy Week helps us rehearse annually the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ for us. This morning, while reading through Matthew's account of Jesus' last week, my mind turned to what must have been on the Lord's mind those last few days before his cruel death. Walk with me for a bit, will you?

Crucifixion was a horrifying death, yet Jesus knew that was

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

It's Personal

"Okay, if God is love, then he loves me too, but only in the general sense, because he has to. After all, he knows me, he knows my sins and he knows all my problems, so he can't possibly love me - not me -- not really, even if it's in his

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

No More Circles, Please?

A friend of mind commented the other day that Jesus seemed to enjoy having a meal with the most obnoxious and despised people of his day. That baffled the "good" religious people, who

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Temptation, Jesus and Our Identity

Because this is Lent, a time when we look at our temptations and sins more seriously, I'd like to excerpt what Dr. Joseph Tkach, president of Grace Communion International, wrote about temptation recently, for this shorter venue. I hope you find his words encouraging as I did:

Jesus’ first temptation involved the false assumption, I am what

Monday, March 9, 2015

Praying for Our Enemies

This very insightful post was written by Judy Wu Dominick on her blog,  I suggest it for your reading and edification. It sobered me and has given me much to pray about in my own life.

May you be blessed today.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Invited Into our Father's Business

By Randy Bloom, Regional pastor for GCI

Trinitarian theology teaches us that God (Father, Son and Spirit) is “on mission” in the world and we are invited to participate! We participate as we actively engage with Jesus, by the Spirit, in

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The End of Conflict

Last night some friends and I discussed part of a book called "Life Together." A German pastor named Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote about church life, during the Nazi persecution of the Lutheran church in Germany during WWII.  Brother Dietrich realized that if the church didn't

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ashes and Dust, You and Me, and the World

Today (February 18) is Ash Wednesday in the Christian tradition. It springs from a desire to spend 40 days of contemplation, self-examination, repentance of our sins and humbling ourselves before God, in order to accept in a humble spirit his

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Crucified God

This is about the best half-hour you'll ever spend. Hear Brian Zahnd explain some truths about the God whom we see in Jesus Christ, and explode some myths that have hung onto the way people try to explain him and completely miss the point.

God loves you -- Jesus is the living, crucified and resurrected proof.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Being, Becoming and Doing as the Church

Last week I used football as an illustration of how, as followers of Jesus, our 'being and becoming' leads to doing Jesus' will, and how as we grow in 'becoming' like Jesus, we grow in 'doing' too. If you missed that post, click here to read it.  But did you realize the same

Monday, February 2, 2015

God Always Makes the First Move

Isaiah 65:24 says "I will answer them before they even call to me.  While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!"  And this is a statement from the same God who says earlier in the same passage that he had been reaching

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A New You

This is an outline of a sermon I would have given except for being snowed out.  I hope you enjoy it!

Main scripture, 2 Cor. 3:7-18 -- the old covenant versus the new.  Here are some contrasts between the old, based in the law, and the new, built on Christ:
Law, leading to death, vs. the Spirit

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Being, Becoming, and Doing

At the end of his gospel, Matthew records Jesus sending the apostles out to "make disciples." Much of Christian church discussion right now centers on knowing exactly how Jesus made disciples, so we can imitate his methods, and thereby be "more fruitful." That's a focus on technique, or "doing." Others are focused on "being" or "becoming" more like Jesus through

Monday, January 26, 2015

SIlly Things We Think, #1: God Cannot Look on Evil

Have you ever heard someone say "God cannot look on evil" as a way to tell you that you are cut off from him because you have sinned?  Well, if that is true, it sets up a lot of problems and doesn't solve any. Here are a few of them:

--Jesus who was God, came into a world full of sin

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Prayer Is a Big Deal

Jesus prayed constantly. One of his more meaningful and critical times of prayer was at the garden of Gethsemane, shortly before he was arrested, beaten and crucified. The gospel of Luke makes it plain in chapter 22: this was

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

"Justified by Faith"?

Does your own faith save you?  Maybe we should ask, faith in what? And what kind of faith?

Note how T.F. Torrance explained Jesus’ faithfulness:
Jesus Christ stood in our place, taking our cause upon him, also as Believer, as the Obedient One who was himself justified before God as his beloved Son in whom he was well pleased. He offered to God . . . a perfect faith and response which we are unable to offer, and he appropriated all God’s blessings which we are unable to appropriate. Through union with him we share in his faith, in his obedience, in his trust and appropriation of the Father’s blessing; we share in his justification before God. Therefore when we are justified by faith, this does not mean that it is our faith that justifies us, far from it—It is the faith of Christ alone that justifies us, but we in faith flee from our own acts even of repentance, confession, trust and response, and take refuge in the obedience and faithfulness of Christ—“Lord I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” That is what it means to be justified by faith. (“Justification: Its Radical Nature and Place in Reformed Doctrine and Life,” Scottish Journal of Theology, vol 13, no 3. pp. 225-246.)
As Joseph Tkach explains in this article, our faith is both active and passive. We trust in Christ, and we trust in Jesus' perfect faith on our behalf, not on our own imperfect (and sometimes missing!) faith.

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Few Nothings about God

The Triune God -- Father, Son and Spirit -- are not limited in any way. God's attributes include being all-knowing, all-present, and all-powerful.  So, here's a list of a few "Nothings" that apply to God:

Nothing that, from our perspective stands in our way, imposes an obstacle