Happy New Year (2017)

2017 in blocksI suspect I was not the only one to start off 2017 staying up way too late, but after about six hours of sleep I began the new year in one of the best ways possible.

Reading Scripture.

Many of us at the Strasburg Church of Christ are taking the blessed trek through all 66 books together in 2017, and today’s reading was Genesis 1-3. Because the kids will be joining us on this journey, I am at least beginning it in the version they are using, the New Revised Standard Version. I am glad I did, because in the first chapter of the Bible there was a very cool pairing that happened frequently.

“God said” and “And that’s exactly what happened.”

If there is one thing that history has proven, it is that when God says that He is going to do something, or that something is going to happen…well…

That’s exactly what is going to happen.

My prayer for you is that you will have faith in the One who is so reliable, even when what He promised was at such great cost to Himself.

That is, when He said He would provide a Savior and sent His only begotten Son to die on the cross so we could spend eternity with Him.

Happy New Year everyone! Grace, peace, and love to you all.

2017 New Year's clock

Returning to the First New Year’s Day

Happy New Year with angel

How Many?

Just curious…how many New Year’s Days do you think there have been?

[Wait for answers.]

Personally, based on the Bible, I think it has been less than ten thousand. I know that seems to contradict the geological record and other scientific evidence of the age of the universe, but science also cannot explain how Jesus Christ was resurrected.

“And if Christ has not been raised, then [my] preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).

Christ was raised and your faith is not in vain…so let’s trust Scripture when it comes to the age of the universe, of the earth, of humanity…and it is difficult to believe things have been around for millions or billions of years based on what is written in the 66 books.

However, regardless of how many New Year’s Days there have been, today’s we label as the one for 2017. Mathematically, what is special about that number?

That’s right, it is a prime number!

Of course, that doesn’t mean it is going to be special…but the mathematician in me likes it. 🙂

The First

2017 will likely not be special…no worse than most and no better than most…but there are some truly monumental New Year’s Days. Today we’ll quickly talk about four of them, starting to the one spoken of in Genesis 1:1-5:

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Nothing.

Before God created, there was nothing.

Think about that.

When I was young, I could get a shiver up my back by pondering, “If there is such thing as nothing, why do we exist?”

I suspect I could still create that shiver if I focused on it.

But, before the first New Year’s Day, there was absolutely nothing.

[Read more…]

Baby Jesus, Did You Know?

Mary and the baby JesusAway in a Manger

I’m not sure I would say it is in my top three, but I really like Christmas carol, “Away in a Manger.” We all know its first verse, right?:

Away in a manger, no crib for his bed,

The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head;

The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,

The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

It is a simple tune…and the fact that I can recall those words means it’s pretty easy to remember. 🙂

It brings to mind this part of the nativity story:

2 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2:1-7).

In the adult Bible study a week back we discussed how the angel Gabriel gave Mary a heads-up about her miraculous pregnancy and the Savior it would produce, but at that point in Scripture’s narrative I imagine she looked at Jesus the same way Michelle did at Mikey and at Augie when they were first born.

With love, awe, and thankfulness.

However, at some point after His birth, Mary had to ponder the incredible words from God’s divine messenger. What exactly did she know about her newborn’s future fate? [Read more…]

Merry Christmas (2016)

Magi pointing to the starIt is past midnight here in Strasburg, Colorado…so we have crossed into Christmas Day. In a world where minute-by-minute (and overall) life can seem quite askew…Christmas reminds us of a Savior that came to set everything right. To bring peace on earth and goodwill to men.

Merry Christmas and our love to all! 

Anticipating the Arrival

Magi on camels traveling to nativityJust Can’t Wait!

Have you ever really, really looked forward to something?

Looked forward to it so much you just couldn’t wait…and it seemed to take forever?

What was it? A trip to some exotic place? Your wedding day? Something else?

Christmas?

Kids, when I was your age I just couldn’t wait for Christmas. It truly was a magical season for my brothers and me, and boy we wanted the day to arrive weeks ahead. Then…Christmas Eve…we couldn’t wait for Santa to come. My parents would keep our full Christmas stockings away from us until about 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning…since they knew as soon as we had them we were going to be wide awake. 🙂

And then…to torture us all the more…after my parents got an hour or two more of sleep…we’d go downstairs…and although we could see all of the awesome gifts under the tree…many with our personal names on them…we weren’t allowed to open any until we had breakfast.

The horrors! The anticipation could have killed us!

Anybody else feel that way with Christmas? [Read more…]

The Reunion

Sunset with light and beamsDenver International Airport

Yesterday, Michelle, Augie, and I got up a bit early for a Saturday, headed over to Denver International Airport and picked up…

Who did we pick up Augie?

That’s right! His big brother Mikey…or “Michael” as he is more formally known to most others. 🙂

And although mom and dad were also excited for his return, clearly Augie couldn’t wait…telling lots of people all week that his big brother was coming home.

We look forward to reunions with the ones we love, don’t we?

And speaking of Denver International Airport…although it basically stopped the latter half of this year, many of you know that, historically, I have travelled a lot for work. One of the blessings in doing that is, while at the airports, seeing couples and families reunited. The same joy and happiness we three felt yesterday when Mikey came up the escalator and crossed over into our “un-secure” area in the airport is repeated millions of times a year all over the world.

We are blessed by reunions with the ones we love, aren’t we?

Now, I have to admit that if I drove out to the airport to watch something it might be the planes taking off and landing…but sometime, if you are in a funk and want to break out of it, you may want to drive 30-40 minutes to DIA and watch the holiday reunions. Joy and happiness are infectious. Even watching the anticipation itself is fun and spirit-lifting. People just can’t wait for that special someone to suddenly come in sight, because…

We look forward to reunions with the ones we love, don’t we?

We are blessed by reunions with the ones we love, aren’t we? [Read more…]

I Didn’t Do It!

Butter, dish, and knifeGood or Evil

What do you think? Are humans inherently good or evil?

How many here believe humans are inherently good?

How many here believe humans are inherently evil?

I suspect the best answer to the question, “Are humans inherently good or evil?” is…

Yes.

🙂

But, if there is one thing that I think argues for the latter…that we are inherently evil…at least in part…is our propensity to lie.

It seems to me that, even at an early age, when you are going to get into trouble for doing something, human nature automatically wants to say…

“I didn’t do it!”

Pretty much as soon as we can feel guilt and/or understand we might get in trouble, we want to (and to often do) lie. Say we didn’t do it. Blame someone else. Claim ignorance about it. Anything but just fess up and admit we are the guilty party. [Read more…]

Do You Understand?

Empty tomb with crosses in the backgroundFiverr

Has anyone here heard of Fiverr? The description in the title on its web site’s main page is:

Fiverr: The Marketplace for Creative & Professional Services

And it is a great marketplace for various services. For instance it’s main menu lists Graphics & Design, Digital Marketing, Writing & Translation, Video & Animation, Music & Audio, Program & Tech, Advertising, Business, and Fun & Lifestyle. I have used it for logos and some video intros and outros…and have found it a relatively inexpensive place to get quality work.

However, it does have one problem that has caused my hairline to shrink a little…related to its providers being all over the globe.

Can you figure out what that is?

Not time zones…if anything that seems to work in my favor with work getting done while I am sleeping. Instead…

It is language.

I think I am being very clear about what I would like and the responses…very congenial and timely…often show English is not their first language…or second, for that matter. This past week it just meant more back-and-forth than should have been needed…but one time it was so bad I had to cancel the order. Sometimes…

They just don’t understand.

However, even when you and someone else both fluently speak the same language, can’t you get in the same situation? Where you think you’ve explained something very clearly, but…for whatever reason…even after restating it several different ways…sometimes..

They just don’t understand.

Sometimes it is just a lack of knowledge. I can try to explain quantum mechanics to a four year-old, but nobody would be surprised if the kid stares blankly at me and just burps. 🙂

However, and I don’t want to psychoanalyze this too much, I think occasionally the incapacity to comprehend is because of a mental block. It could be an inability to pay attention, an unwillingness to accept the truth, and so on…but it’s not that that they cannot understand…sometimes…

They will not understand.

[Read more…]

Happy Thanksgiving (2016)

Pikachu on TV setThree resting dogsWhether it is the dogs laying on my legs, Augie getting super excited at seeing Pikachu during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, or you, my Facebook friend…I am reminded I have so much to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and may the Lord, who most deserves our thanks, bless you this holiday season.

Gotta Serve Somebody

Man having to choose between an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other

Digital World

We live in a digital world, don’t we?

What does that mean to you? What does it mean to live in a “digital world”?

Heading to my Mac’s trusty dictionary (as I often do), its first definition of digital is:

(of signals or data) expressed as series of the digits 0 and 1, typically represented by values of a physical quantity such as voltage or magnetic polarization. Often contrasted with analog.

We are definitely in a computerized world…and computers, ultimately, do all their work in ones and zeros…but when I said, “We live in a digital world” I was really going with the idea that we live in an either/or world…an either this or that world. [Read more…]

Who Is Your Father?

Justice with scalesThe Internet provides many blessing, but it also comes with destructive curses. One of its banes is the ease by which it allows damning accusations to proliferate. Most common today are charges of “isms” and their equivalents, e.g. racism, sexism, and nativism. I’d like to propose some understandings when it comes to accusations in general, but especially on social media. They are an attempt to combine logical and biblical principles.

The burden of proof is on the accuser

Whether you are the first one making an accusation or just passing it along (with or without commentary), the burden of proof is on you. “Innocent until proven guilty” is important because, otherwise, our government could arrest anyone they wanted, charge them with a crime, and then say, “Prove you didn’t do it.”

We would consider that tyrannical and backward if our government did it. It is equally tyrannical and backward for you to do it. [Read more…]

Now That Its Over

2016 Google Election Results

Lazarus

Let’s jump right into Scripture today.

Well, first a bit of background. Jesus’ good friend Lazarus dies while Jesus is away. Jesus gets the news and stays another two days.

There is no question. Lazarus is dead. Fully, truly dead. [Read more…]

Damien and Augie’s Sermon on Angels

Angel with halo

Last Sunday…

Last Sunday Damien came over after church, and he, Augie, and I were chatting at the kitchen table. I cannot remember if I specifically asked what they would like me to preach on, but, regardless, the two boys ended up telling me they’d like one on angels.

And this sermon is a result of that request. 🙂

Because it is a talk for children, it’ll follow our three rules for preaching to kids. Kids, do you remember them? 🙂

  • Use simple words.
  • Keep it short.
  • See #1 and #2.

I’ll do my best with #1…but the way we’ll try to stick with #2 is we’ll limit our sermon to five questions about angels:

  • Are angels real?
  • What are angels?
  • What do angels look like?
  • What do angels do?
  • Should we worship angels?

Does that work for you Damien and Augie? Other kids?

Are Angels Real?

So…let’s start with a fundamental question. Through the ages people have believed in a lot of supernatural creatures that don’t exist like fairies, vampires, and leprechauns. How about angels?

Are angels real? [Read more…]

You Just Can’t Win

Sad manCan’t Win at…

Do you ever feel that you just can’t win?

That no matter what you do, someone is going to be unhappy?

Michelle is familiar with a few of these stories, but I’ve felt that way quite a bit at work. Not with my boss specifically, but as an example…early this year one bigwig sent an even bigger bigwig a note asking a question and saying that I was doing a “fabulous” job. The word “fabulous” was literally used.

My Director needed an update about the overall discussion…so I forwarded it to him thinking, “He’ll see what bigwig #1 thought and that’ll be good for me.”

Well, I’m not entirely sure what my boss thought, but I did find out that his boss was very unhappy because he felt I stepped outside my bounds.

I do my job in a way that the bigwig I am specifically leant to is super-duper happy and…

Crying womanI just can’t win. And trust me, that’s not the only example. Luckily I am not one to give up, but I have to admit I am having a hard time getting past my sense that I just can’t win.

Now…your experience might be in a different area. Perhaps a relationship where no matter what you do it bothers the other person.

You just can’t win.

Or at school, where no matter how hard you try your teacher isn’t satisfied.

You just can’t win.

That’s a frustrating and depressing situation to be in, isn’t it? [Read more…]

You Are Not Alone

Matthew 11:28

Last Week Stopped Short of the Full Story

Last week, in my sermon “Like a Feather,” we discussed how Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light.

How salvation itself is “easy.”

Just believe…have faith…in Jesus.

So simple it is hard to accept.

But true.

However, we had to stop there or my sermon would have gone on way too long. 🙂

I also noted that doubt’s yoke is hard and burden is heavy. A such, stopping at the point of salvation doesn’t remove the yoke or lift the burden completely, does it?

Great, you were saved. Great, I was saved. Great, we were saved.

But you mess up…I mess up…we mess up so much. Avoiding sin seems anything but an easy yoke or light burden.

Have we lost our salvation?

Will we lose our salvation?

Were we every saved?

Doubt’s yoke is hard and burden is heavy.

[Read more…]