Friday, December 16, 2022

 Finding your Voice

The Christmas story starts off with John, "A voice crying in the wilderness." A couple is blessed with a child in their old age, but the husband, a priest, loses his voice during the pregnancy. An emperor is used by God when he tells everyone in his empire to go home and be counted. A young girl and carpenter accept the proclamation of an angel to be the Messiah's earthly parents. Then a choir of angels and a caravan of magi herald the arrival of the new King, who would never serve as King in that life. 

Each of us has to find our voice in the Christmas story. Some of us, like me, will be preachers, pastors, and teachers, working in our field to tell the story, or the part of it that we teach to children, teens, and adults.  A young friend I know has found one of her joys in serving others in physical ways. My friend Beth just graduated this week with her CNA, giving care to those who need help. And some of the best voices are those stilled so that they can listen to others tell their story. In doing so, their voice becomes valuable in sharing God's love. 

So please, whether you sing like an angel, preach like Billy Graham, wash feet like Jesus or listen with love, find your voice, your way to share the Joy and life the Baby brings. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Angels Among us (including Sarah Bell!)

Good morning, friends!

As we continue looking at the messengers of God, I would like to bring out two points from Hebrews.

God sends Angels to help believers. Hebrews 1:14 says "Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?"

We don't always know when Angels are around. Hebrews 13:2 tells us "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it."

I have to give a shout to my daughter, the now 17-year-old Sarah Bell. There are parallels. Angels bring God's message, and the good news of Jesus, to others. Sarah does that in conversation, service, music, and leading children. Angels brighten places where they are, as does Sarah. And they serve the Lord and God's people, which Sarah does wonderfully.

So look for God's messages through others. and be a serving, sharing witness to God, like my daughter!

Monday, December 12, 2022

Good afternoon, friends!
Today we continue our journey to Jerusalem. This week we will be talking about proclaiming the gospel, the good news of God's love.

Our passage today comes from Luke 1:19, where Gabriel lets Zechariah know he will have a baby. When the priest doesn't believe him, he shares who he is. "19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news." He then strikes him mute for 9 months. 

We need to find our self-image, and who we are, from being in the presence of God, as the angels do. God's Spirit lives inside us and will help and guide us at each step of our journey. Live today knowing God's presence and blessing in your life!

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Sight & Belief

 It is ironic that we are talking about sight and belief today. Today is the 80th birthday of my father-in-law, Larry Smith, the closest thing I have had to a father for 24 years. I am blessed to know and be loved by him. 

Larry says we have to believe. We should believe enough to follow Christ and do what Christ wants us to do, including living out our faith, being honest, and generous, and sharing what God has done for us.

Many say seeing is believing, that they will believe what they can see and understand. I think of Larry and a couple of others who would argue. 

Judy was the wise elf in The Santa Clause. She said that rather than that, believing is seeing. 

Saint Augustine went further. He said, from Hebrews 11, that faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.I think they are right. When I believe, and live out that belief, I am getting the vision of what God wants my life, others, and the earth to be. As I see God's vision, I begin to see what I believe, about God, myself, and the world. Believe and you will see!


Friday, March 4, 2022

Early Morning Thanksgiving

 It was almost a quarter century ago. I had a baby boy who would wake up about this time. He and I would go into the other room, letting Mom sleep. He would have an early morning bottle, and I would sit and hold him, check email, and give thanks. I spent a lot of other days with him in his life, but those early mornings were special.
Stephen is grown and married to a marvelous lady. They love other people and their kids in Franklin, Tennessee. Later in life he had a sister, who he has helped to love and grow. I am blessed to spend these mornings with her, seeing her grow into a wonderful Godly young lady who makes the world a much better place. I am amazed that the Lord has given us two such wonderful young people, As Sarah said the other day, we have a blessed life.
On occasions I still wake up about this time and give thanks. There are lots of things going on in our church, the families in it, the ministries I am a part of, our community, nation and world. They demand attention, concern and seem at times to be clouds and storms in our lives.
Sometimes we see what to do, and other times we aren't sure what steps to take. As I look at these people, places and times, I know where to go. The Lord calls me to relationship, communion, life together with the Almighty. From that, God leads. There are things I can't change, things I can pray about, and things God allows me to work on. Most of all, I can pray and allow God to change me, to work with the Lord in these situations.
Lord, thank you for early mornings, children and adults who grow in you, and the blessings and challenges we have. Help me to work with you, and let you work in me, to be the person who can love those you place in my life and be part of your transformation of lives and this world.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

LENT- A Cure for Microwave Christianity

Tomorrow starts a very important season for Christians today- Lent. Some don't even know what it is, and very few truly celebrate it. It is the season from tomorrow until Easter, when we do without, when we fast and pray, when we meditate on Christ's journey to Jerusalem and the cross. 

But Lent is vital for us in 2022- for it brings us a Godly perspective many have left behind.

Lent is the cure for our modern microwave life and faith. In giving more time to God, in denying ourselves "normal" things, in focusing on Christ's journey to Jerusalem, not our own paths, we are changed. We become part of a global, eternal body, not the specific time, meeting or group we find ourselves in. We share life with the Church and God's people for thousands of years, taking time from life to celebrate who God is and what God has done. 

So briefly, I ask that you hear the church's call to Lent- 

Seek God's face and let God lead you to do without this season. It may be one or more meals. It may be a food, or drink, hobby or media. It may be a habit or even an addiction that has you under its control. But ask God what you should do without to better concentrate on the Lord. And keep that denial between now and Easter.

As our days grow warmer and brighter, and as our time gets busier, take more time in these days to seek God. Spend more time reading the Word. Spend more time in prayer. Spend time simply thinking about the Lord and about scripture. 

And celebrate- celebrate Jesus' path to Jerusalem. The miracles, the teaching, the times with his disciples. Celebrate our God in worship, by yourself and with God's people. Share these times with your family- celebrating God's goodness each day and teaching your family to follow God as you follow God. 

Turn off your microwave schedule and use this lent to find again the waiting, the seeking, the gentle joy of God in Lent.