Tuesday, February 28, 2012
This year is a Leap Year, and tomorrow is Leap Day.
Wouldn't it be cool to be born on Leap Day? Well - maybe not! On the plus side, you would
never have to deal with turning 40. To turn 40 in leap years would actually be turning 160 in
normal years. On the down side, you'd have to wait 'til you were 64 before you got your drivers
Just think, if you were born on a Leap Day, on February 29th, then in a non Leap Year, on February
28th, if someone asks, "When's your birthday?" you can tell them - "It's the day after today, but
it's not tomorrow. And it's the day before tomorrow but it's not today."
All this deep pondering aside, what does having a leap day every four years really mean to us?
Does it have any spiritual significance?
Well, the reason we have an extra day every four years is to make up for the fact that a complete
year (based on our solar calendar) is 365 1/4 days.
And then all those quarter days are added and we make one honest day out of them.
Think of it this way - leap day is an extra day we're given because of our imperfect calendar.
Every four years things are set straight and we acknowledge that for the last four years, we've
ignored the messy business of imperfection. We've been sweeping this little secret under the rug.
But there always comes a day to 'fess up and deal with what we have messed up.
Leap Day is a day that we can use to remind ourselves that we live in an imperfect world, one
thats not quite right, a bit off kilter. And just as leap day is a way of cleaning up our
calendar, it can remind us that Jesus is God's way of cleaning up the rest of the mess we have
made of this broken world. Jesus is our Leap Year Lord, who has come to make things right, to set
things straight again. He wipes away all of our sins and imperfections with His blood shed on the
cross for us. He takes our sin away and gives us His own righteousness, to make us complete,
whole, and perfect in the sight of God our Father in heaven. In Christ, we can live at peace with
God, as we follow Him and serve Him each and every day of our lives.
Its not every day that you get an extra day in life, so make sure you make the most of it.
Why not take a leap of faith on Leap Day this Leap Year? Jump in, take the plunge, and do a free
fall into the everlasting arms of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
"Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for great is your reward in heaven." (Luke 6)
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Lent - A Journey With Christ
by Rev. Bill Marler
Many people look forward to spring break, especially if a vacation or special
trip to a special place can be planned (and afforded!). How wonderful to be a
Christian with such a gracious God, who, among so many other blessings and
gifts, provides His people with an annual springtime journey that is well planned,
already paid for, and as special as any time and place can be on earth! Curious?
Want to sign up and go?
This year–2012–the journey begins on Wednesday, Feb. 22. And that is the day, fellow Christian, on which you ought to get on board. This journey is best celebrated and appreciated when you make the commitment from beginning to end. It is a 40-day pilgrimage with seven great weekends included, the final week of the journey guaranteed to be the greatest week of the year! How can you afford such a journey? Your trip is already paid for! He who paid your total fare also made it possible for you to be included on this annual voyage of a lifetime. And there’s more! He is also your Host on this journey. He will travel with you each day to make sure you get everything promised in the journey’s package. Are you ready now to receive the details from this amazing Host, so you can be booked on board?
Welcome to the annual Lenten season of the Christian Church on earth.
Your host is none other than the Savior of the world, the eternal Word, the Second
Person of the one, true God, the Triune God. Yes, in the flesh this host is known
as Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of the Jewish believers and of the whole world.
This journey is one of the oldest in history, dating back nearly 2,000 years, so it is
indeed well planned and well tested. Your Host Jesus promises that this journey
cannot crash; even the gates of hell could not crash this wonderful trip!
Your fare was also paid for all those centuries ago when Jesus Himself first went
on this same journey, blazing the way we can now joyfully follow. From His own
Baptism, temptation and assaults in the bleak wilderness from none other than
the devil himself, and journey through life to His triumphant entry into Jerusalem,
to the Upper Room of the New Covenant, to the cross at Calvary, and to his grave,
Jesus was paying the price for all of us to take this journey. Much of the landscape
here on earth has not completely changed, but, going before us,
He has made these pathways of our journey safe and passable.
He will meet you when you come on board Feb. 22. He will be present in all
the Divine Services in Lent, including special weekday services that focus on the
work of the Holy Spirit through the means of grace as He deepens your faith,
refreshes your spirit, and guides you in the joyful obedience of discipleship.
Such great gifts and blessings you will receive. You will be overwhelmed at how your
Host makes this such a meaningful journey as you find new health and strength
within yourself, reflecting upon baptism and receiving renewal in preparation for the grand finale on Easter morning.
By the end of longer vacations and trips, people usually experience fatigue.
On your Lenten journey, you grow stronger and are ready for the greatest, final week
of this experience. What special places in history we find ourselves!
On Palm Sunday we are brought into ancient Jerusalem on a most festive day,
into Holy Week and into the heart of Jesus’ Passion. The Host often hands our own
children palm branches to wave during worship, to include us in this true narrative of His humility. The popular God who throws us a great party with the promise of prosperity and
power — Him we worship in the middle of the parade.
But could our “Hosannas to the Son of David” disintegrate
in a matter of hours into a “Crucify Him?” On to Maundy
Thursday and Good Friday to continue the divine drama
of these three wonderful spaces and times of Holy Week,
taking us on an emotional roller coaster ride, even though
we already know and believe how the journey ends—at the
empty tomb in bright Easter victory!
All aboard! Do not pass up the journey of the year, for this promise, offered
only through the Church, is for you and for your children!
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Back in the late 1800’s there was no cure for the chronic disease of leprosy. In order to keep the disease at bay, to keep it from spreading and creating an epidemic, the government sent people with the disease to a leper colony on the island of Molakai, one of the Hawaiian islands, where they would be secluded and isolated from those who were not infected. In this leper colony there were not only severe physical problems, but severe spiritual problems as well. Drunkenness, immorality, abuse, and an overall sense of helplessness and hopelessness.
In 1873, a young priest named Father Damien volunteered to go to this leper colony on Molokai, to spend his life serving the people secluded there. When he arrived he was taken aback, for he saw that the people were not only suffering physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. But Father Damien decided to stay and live there among the 700 lepers. He helped to build hospitals, clinics, churches and even built some 600 coffins. And whenever a church service was held, he would stand up in front of them, and warmly address them as "my dear brethren."
One morning in 1885, at the age of 45, in a calm voice, instead of "my dear brethren," he began the service with, "My dear fellow lepers, I am now one of you."
It was out of mercy and love that this humble priest went to Molokai leper colony to become one of the them. Out of love he gave the people of the colony the most important gift he could give - himself. This is the same mercy, love, and compassion with which Jesus came down from heaven to earth - to become one of us - to live, die, and rise again for us. He too gave us the most important gift He could ever give - Himself.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
In today's pop culture of tv preachers, mega-churches, and dumbed-down silly spiritualities, it seems that some in our society just want to know - what is the least I need to know to be saved?
In other words, they're asking - What is the most I can get away with?
Think about it - what if we were to pose that question in other areas of life?
How much water can I put in the gas tank before it stops running?
How much salt water from the ocean can I drink before it kills me?
How much fuzzy mold needs to be on my sandwich before its unhealthy for me to eat?
The mere fact that someone would ask this kind of question means they're putting conditions on God. It's telling God He can have part of their life but not all of their life. The real question is - Who is really in charge?
The question of "what must I do to be saved?" is in reality the question "who is Jesus?"
Strictly speaking, we don't have to KNOW anything to be saved. It is a gift of God - the undeserved grace of God for all who believe in Jesus Christ. But once we are saved, once we have been baptized and believe, once we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will want to know and to grow as Christians and to learn the Bible and be filled with the knowledge and wisdom of God. Not because we have to - but because we want to.
So, why do we have to know all this stuff when it doesn't really matter? Well, that's simple. Because it matters to God.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
In one of his recent blog postings at GospelCoalition.org, Kevin DeYoung shares ten reason to believe in a historical Adam ....
1. The Bible does not put an artificial wedge between history and theology.
2. The biblical story of creation is meant to supplant other ancient creation stories more than imitate them. Moses wants to show God’s people “this is how things really happened.”
3. The opening chapters of Genesis are stylized, but they show no signs of being poetry.
4. There is a seamless strand of history from Adam in Genesis 2 to Abraham in Genesis 12.
5. The genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3 treat Adam as historical.
6. The Apostle Paul believed in a historical Adam.
7. The weight of the history of interpretation points to the historicity of Adam.
8. Without a common descent we lose any firm basis for believing that all people regardless of race or ethnicity have the same nature, the same inherent dignity, the same image of God, the same sin problem, and that despite our divisions we are all part of the same family coming from the same parents.
9. Without a historical Adam, Paul’s doctrine of original sin and guilt does not hold together.
10. Without a historical Adam, Paul’s doctrine of the second Adam does not hold together.
(Oh, and one more - because Jesus said so. That's good enough for me.)
Monday, February 6, 2012
This is a picture of the theater of Ephesus. It could hold 25,000 people and was one of the largest theaters in the ancient world. Ephesus was an ancient Greek city (later Roman) on the west coast of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). It was one of the largest cities on the Mediterranean, and was also famous for the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The apostle John lived here at the end of his life, and St. Paul wrote to the saints in Ephesus around 60 A.D. The epistle of Ephesians found in the New Testament is a letter written from the Apostle Paul to the church of Ephesus. Ephesus went on to become an important center for Early Christianity.
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment— to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ." (Ephesians 1)