Thursday, December 28, 2017

"That's the meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown."

A classic, and wonderful reminder; in the midst of the chaos of organizing a Christmas pageant, the wise Linus stands on stage and recites scripture from memory.
Immanuel, our God is with us! Jesus' birth as God in the flesh, come to be with us and save all humanity:  Linus got it right, that's the real meaning of Christmas. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Foretaste of Suffering -- and More

One of the stories we don't like to focus on during this time is told in Matthew 2:13-18. There, we read about infanticide: the killing of the young male babies by Herod's troops in the vicinity of Bethlehem, after the wise men visit

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Gifts of Jesus

A lot of attention is given to gifts at Christmas -- the wise men giving gifts to Jesus, and the gifts we hope to get from someone, or those we feel obligated to give to people

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fake News vs. The Best News!

Did you know that not all "news" is true? There’s been a lot of coverage lately about “fake news” — a rumor or accusation, sometimes sponsored by someone with a political agenda (wow, imagine that?) and then spread by people who assume without checking that it’s true, because it fits their

Thursday, December 7, 2017

God's Humility and Why We Need It

I can hear someone saying already, "hey, what do you mean God is humble?" Yet, that's what scripture tells us, including about the birth of our Savior. The 'great contradiction' is where God, the eternal and non-physical ruler of the universe, was born into human flesh with

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Good News! A Transition in Leadership

Recently in Zimbabwe, the 37-year presidency of Robert Mugabe has come to an end. He has not left the country, and his most likely successor has not yet been sworn in, but the transition appears certain. The streets have been

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thankful? Or Too Busy?

Thanksgiving is next Thursday. That's a time for us to slow down our normal activities and stop to count our blessings. Isn't it a shame though, that we have to be reminded? Maybe we've

Thursday, November 9, 2017

As We Age

I'm getting old. At least some days I feel old. And feeling old can make me start to think that maybe I'm not worth as much as I used to be, because I don't have the energy to do as much as I used to. That is an American problem first of all, because our worth measured by how much we can do. And of course, there are many ways we all become much more

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Welcoming the Stranger

This week for one of my classes I studied the tale of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8. I've often visualized a black man in royal robes, bouncing along in a chariot, while a young Jewish man runs up alongside and is able to

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Disaster Relief for the Saints

As we've all seen in the news, there are multiple natural disasters hitting our hemisphere, not counting those in other parts of the world. I hope you're praying about those, for relief and God's grace on those affected. This world is not yet done with its "bondage

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Not for Wimps

In the Lord's Prayer, recorded in Luke 11, Jesus includes the request "and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us." That's a very bold statement. In one sense, Jesus is stating on behalf of all of his followers, down through the ages, that we will indeed forgive. In another sense, as we pray, it's our

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Confronting Ourselves

Do you ever get somewhat depressed, troubled, disturbed or just off kilter but aren't really sure what started it? Maybe you feel like you get upset with others for no good reason that you can name, but you say something you shouldn't, or retreat and hide, and it hurts relationships. Well, we should realize that emotions don't

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Holy Discomfort, Part 2

Last week we looked briefly at some of the sayings of Jesus about the Spirit's work, from John 14 and 15. Now we'll take a brief look (after all, these are brief messages) at some events in Acts, seeing how the Spirit was at work.

Jesus used the Greek word "parakletos" in John 14:16, translated "comforter" in the King James, and "helper" in some other translations. It's used to mean 'someone who

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Holy Discomfort?

Jesus promised the Holy Spirit, starting in John 14, and I have taken a lot of comfort down through the years that he uses the term "The Comforter." There have been lots of times in my life I've needed someone to comfort me! (Could I hear an amen?) Well, that word is in the

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Torches, Jars and Messages

(This is a reiteration of a few points from last Sunday's sermon time -- I hope you enjoy it!)
The story of Gideon gets space in many children's Bibles and storybooks, because it's so visual and adventurous. A basically ordinary guy is called by God to deliver his people from

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"Renewal Information Enclosed"

(this is a re-posting of something I wrote two years ago. Hope you enjoy it!)
I pulled an envelope out of the mailbox the other day, with "Renewal Information Enclosed" in big letters. I opened it excitedly -- maybe it was an offer for a free vacation, or even better, a retreat where my spiritual energy could be renewed. No such luck: it was just a bill. Bummer! But did you know, you can have renewal information inside you, by the work of the Holy Spirit? Are

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Jesus Loves Us Little Children - and Has Gifts for Us

It's a familiar scene to Bible readers -- Jesus and his disciples are discussing deep, important spiritual matters, and little children interrupt them. The disciples try to push the kids away but Jesus intervenes and calls them over. It's a lot more than "cute." This scene shows the very essence of Jesus' ministry, then and forever. Jesus' words and actions open up two

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Out of Focus?

"Mindfulness" is getting a lot of press today. Basically it means "paying attention to what you're paying attention to." The idea, they say, is that you can be more productive, positive, and nearly every other good thing you can imagine, by being mindful. But of course, the real question is not just whether we're paying enough attention but what

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Father's Day, God, Fathers and Men

A few days ago in the US and many other countries we celebrated Father's Day. Historically, Dad has been the head of the family and the bastion of what's right, but in the search for equality and recognition for all, as well as admitting that men (and particularly fathers) have many human flaws, we've removed men, and Dad, from that pedestal. Also, some have had poor relationships with their fathers, and those two factors have led some to reject the God of the Bible whom they see as

Friday, June 9, 2017

God's love is a consuming fire

Here's a very interesting post from my friend Linda Rex, on God's love and wrath:

It's a good read and I recommend it as a way to see all the technical theology-talk in human terms.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Fearless Love -- Do you have it?

How would you like to be free of fear? I know many who have reasons to be afraid, like the people being martyred for their faith in Jesus, in many countries today. Many of them have responded to their captors and killers with love, not anger or fear, and their families have also refused to hate but are praying for their killers. What a witness! More than that, we can see that love and fear are contrary:

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

You Need to Breathe

You need air, right? We've been breathing air since before we knew that air was actually 'real' instead of just a clear essence. Air also has power when it's moving, like when the wind catches the sails on even a huge ship and moves it along. God knew this, and the power

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


A popular animated movie has a retired widower attaching a huge bunch of balloons to his house and sailing off into the air, on "the adventure of a lifetime." Well, back around 30 AD, someone else rose up in the air, without the benefit of

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What's Your Purpose in Life?

It's easy to get sucked into the rhythm of work, bills, sleep (not enough), chores (too many), and the drudgery of life. Years pass and we're no closer to our dreams than before. Life coaches tell you to explore the deepest desires of your heart, then start pursuing those. But what is

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Friend of...

Carole King had a hit song back in 1971 called "You've Got a Friend." That song was popular because, well, who doesn't want a real friend? I listened to that song over and over, vowing to be a friend for others -- especially my girlfriend at the time -- and wishing

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Focus on Jesus

Jesus tells us in John 14:16 " I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you." That "Advocate" is the Holy Spirit, to whom we are introduced more and more in the rest of John's Gospel, and who replaced

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Victory through Surrender

Our "tough guy" culture tries to tell us that only those who are strongest will survive, and sometimes you just gotta beat up on your enemies. Culture says that, but not Jesus. He brought a whole different method of defeating evil -- surrendering to it, absorbing it, in order to free us.

Isaiah 50 describes a servant who would not

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Bible Verses

From my friends at The Sanctuary Church in Denver:

Bible verses we should read at least once more...

Walking through Walls

Remember Jesus appearing to the disciples after his resurrection? In two accounts (Luke 24:36-43 and John 20:19-20 and 24-29) Jesus shows up inside of a locked room. The disciples thought he was a ghost, but he had them touch

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Blind and the Lame

In Matthew 21:14, we read "The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them." Most of the attention in this passage is on Jesus clearing out all the rubbish (that is, the merchants, sorry) from the temple, to make it once again "a house of prayer."  Then we read

Monday, April 10, 2017

Reading and Meditation Guide for Holy Week

We hope this scripture list and questions for meditation will help you walk through Holy Week. From the Book of Common Prayer, let’s pray together:
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified:
Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen
Focus / For Meditation
Jesus clears the temple
Voice from heaven

If you were in the crowd watching Jesus clear out the merchants from the temple, would you have been “for him” or “against him”? Why?
What did Jesus mean by “Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you”?
Temple controversies, and continuing the tension with the Jewish leaders
Did Jesus speak these parables to condemn the Jews, or for some other purpose? What?
Imagine yourself as an observant Jew listening to those parables. Do you understand what he is saying? How do you feel about that? Does he make you angry, convict you, or what?
Likewise, what was Jesus thinking and feeling as he spoke the words in John 12:37-40? Why?  
Sanhedrin plots to kill Jesus
Preparations for the Passover meal

If you were a member of the Sanhedrin, why would you condemn Jesus?
Imagine yourself not agreeing with their decision but remaining silent. What are you feeling?
Last Supper; footwashing
Upper Room sayings & prayer
Jesus prays in Gethsemane




Reclining at the table, and being part of the argument about who is greatest, how would you feel about being rebuked by Jesus?
What was Judas feeling during the Last Supper? How was Jesus feeling about Judas?
What would you be feeling as you were taking the bread and the cup, as Jesus commanded?
Do you sleep in Gethsemane while Jesus prays? Imagine praying with him instead.   
Betrayal and arrest
Imagine yourself as Simon Peter, falling asleep then waking to find the crowd approaching. What are you thinking? Why do you believe you can fight off the guards?
Imagine yourself as one of the witnesses to the crucifixion. What is the weather like? How are you feeling? Where are you standing and what can you see? What is your reaction to the words of the soldiers and the Pharisees?
What do you think about when Jesus says “Father, forgive them”? Do you wish to forgive?
Put yourself in the place of Mary, Jesus’ mother. What are you feeling? Are you praying?
Put yourself in the place of Nicodemus, assisting with Jesus’ burial. Why are you participating? What are you feeling? What is your relationship to Joseph of Arimathea?
Silence and mourning

Where are the disciples on this day? What are they thinking?
Are they talking? Sitting in shock silently? Praying? Weeping?
As one of the disciples, would you be asking “what if this was all for nothing?”
Empty tomb
Resurrection appearances
Imagine yourself as Mary Magdalene, arriving at the tomb and finding it empty. What is your first reaction?
When you see Jesus, why are you so joyful?
As one of the women who sees the angels and hears them speak, do you believe or not? Why? What does it usually mean in the Old Testament when angels appear? What could it mean now?
Imagine yourself as John, racing with Peter to see the empty tomb. What are you thinking? Hoping? Fearing? Wondering?
As one of the disciples (choose one), what changes in you as you see the risen Christ for the first time?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Outlook: Cloudy with 100% Chance of New Life

Less than halfway through his gospel account, Luke records Jesus turning the corner toward his crucifixion, in chapter 9. Twice (in verses 21 and 44) he predicts his death, Then in verse 51, he "resolutely set out for Jerusalem." All this emphasis on such a small slice of time gives us a detailed understanding of the events around our Savior's death and his miraculous -- and world-changing -- resurrection!  As we finish up our

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Lent: Stopping to Notice the Heart of God

So how is your life during Lent, without chocolate or sugar or whatever you decided to give up? However you've done it, I hope you've drawn closer to our loving God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Here's another suggestion of a way to journey through Lent into the heart of God:

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lent: The Depths of God's Heart

We've been looking at what Lent is about, because like every part of the Christian year, Lent helps us better understand, and be moved further, into the heart of God as we live our lives in Christ. Here's another aspect of God's heart revealed in this season before Easter.

Luke 9 describes Jesus'  first announcement of his upcoming death (vv 21-22) the transfiguration (28-36) another prediction of his death (43-45) and

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Lent: Drawing Near to God

Some take Lent as a time to beat themselves up for every sin they find. Perhaps they think that by being hard on themselves, God will be easier. Others take the course of long hours of prayer and self-examination. Some make sure to give up something dear to them, as a means of remembering where our true joy comes from. Ruth HaleyBarton describes this in her blog eReflections: "We allow some of the external

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Lent: Beginning the Journey

Today (March 1, 2017) is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the 40 days of Lent as we journey together toward Holy Week and Easter. The early church started looking at the 40 days Jesus fasted in the wilderness before defeating Satan (Matt. 4) as a template for taking time as an opportunity for fasting, extra prayer and contemplation, and repentance. But, some might ask, doesn't the Bible say God doesn't remember my sins? So why should

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Lent: Invitation to a Journey with God

Spring cleaning is a wonderful and sometimes traumatic thing. When the weather warms up, The Lovely Joanne opens the house and lets our prevailing westerly wind sweep through, duct-tapes me to the vacuum (just kidding) and we clean things I didn't even know could get

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Making Your "Awesome List" of Blessings

Have you ever made a 'gratitude list'? You know, one of those exercises in which you list everything you should be grateful for? It's a good exercise, of course, to remember what's good about life. But it can go deeper. Here's how.

Psalm 136 takes it beyond a gratitude list, to a list of some times God 'showed up' in Israel's history. It starts off with praise for his many acts of creation,(verses 1-9) and moves

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Praying: to Santa Claus, or the Almighty?

I admit it, I fall into a bad habit sometimes:  prayer becoming a list of people I'm asking the Lord to heal, or situations that I think he needs to resolve, and other life issues that I believe only he has the power to change. "Father, please help ____" has become a repetitive phrase.  If we are to "pray

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Psst! It's a Secret!

It may not be a big surprise to any of us that Jesus of Nazareth was a little different than expected for his day. He spoke in mysterious ways -- even for a rabbi! -- and said a lot of challenging things, like "he who saves his life shall lose it." It was enough to make some wonder about his sanity (see Mark 3:20-21). So here was Jesus, preaching and healing people, doing wonderful things that made people think he might be the Messiah that the whole nation wished would show up. When he asks

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Last night our weekly prayer group read together Philippians 4:4-7. I was especially struck by verses 6-7, which read "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as

Thursday, January 19, 2017

"I Didn't Vote for Him"

Today was the inauguration ceremony of our 45th President, Mr. Donald Trump, and his Vice-President, Mr. Michael Pence. Like always, there was a lot of pomp and circumstance. Like always, there were people deciding not to attend, in protest of the event, and others attending in order

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

He Came To Set Us Free

We just finished celebrating Advent and Christmas, a time when we look back the Son of God entering flesh. The 'incarnation' as it's called, marked the point in time when God became one of us, entering our world with all its pain and brokenness, and creating a restored