Friday, January 31, 2014

my stack of books

Just for fun, here's a list of the books currently stacked next to my bed ...

Travels - by Michael Crichton
Cinderella Story - by Bill Murray
Dangerous Wonder - by Mike Yaconelli
A Brilliant Mind - by Frank Minirth
The Meaning of Everything - by Simon Winchester
On Writing - by Stephen King
The Dead Sea Scrolls in the Shrine of the Book - by Moshe Pearlman
The Tolkien Reader - by JRR Tolkien
The Hobbit - by JRR Tolkien
The Gospel According To Tolkien - by Ralph Wood
I Owe Russia $1200 - by Bob Hope
The Holy Bible - by God


Monday, January 27, 2014


Andromeda Galaxy: Amazing Photo Was Captured

An amateur astronomer captured this spectacular image during a holiday stargazing session last month. Jeff Johnson, from Las Cruces New Mexico, took advantage of some clear night skies to capture this amazing shot of the Andromeda Galaxy.

The Andromeda Galaxy is located 2.5 million light-years from our own Milky Way Galaxy. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, which is about 6 trillion miles. Andromeda is our closest neighboring galaxy, and contains hundreds of billions of stars and is visible with the naked eye. The Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies are part of the "Local Group" of galaxies in our little corner of the universe.

ht -

Thursday, January 23, 2014

church mosaic uncovered in israel

Ancient Church Mosaic With Symbol of Jesus Uncovered in Israel

Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered mosaics on the floor of a 1500 year old Byzantine church, including one that bears a Chi Rho symbol. The "Chi Rho" symbol puts together the first two letters in the Greek word for Christ, and looks like a P on top of an X. There is also an Alpha and Omega (first and last letters of the Greek alphabet) on either side of the Chi Rho, another Christian symbol, as Christ is described in Scripture as the the beginning and the end.

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Wednesday that the ruins were discovered during a salvage excavation ahead of a construction project in Aluma, a village about 30 miles south of Tel Aviv.

ht - live science


Monday, January 20, 2014

what will your verse be?

"One of the functions of art is to present what the narrow and desperately practical perspectives of real life exclude.” - C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

simple faith

The great theologian Mister Rogers once said that the world would have us believe that life is complicated and shallow, while in reality, life is simple and deep.

In a confusing and complicated "religious" world... God's salvation in Christ is quite simple.

"Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  - Romans 10:13

The Christian faith found in Holy Scripture is so deep and so profound that theologians can spend their whole lives mining its depths and riches, and yet it is so simple that even a little child can believe.

Jesus loves me this i know, for the Bible tells me so...

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.  - John 3:16

God's salvation in Christ is as simple as "A.B.C."

The ABCs of Salvation

1). Admit that you are a sinner in need of a Savior.

2). Believe that Jesus died on the cross for you, and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.

3). Confess Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life.

It really is just as simple as that.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

treasure all these things and ponder them in your heart

"I Remember"  by LCMS Chaplain Will Weedon

I remember when the angel came and told me, and my heart burst with joy and terror.

I remember how Elizabeth greeted me as I came near her house, how she knew my secret, and how my heart melted and my eyes burned with tears as I began to prophesy.

I remember when I first felt your movement inside my body, and I realized that I was the living ark of the living God.

I remember when I first saw your face, and touched your hands, and looked into Joseph’s eyes.

I remember when the shepherds came creeping in to see you, to worship you, telling us songs of angels, glory in the highest and peace on earth.

I remember when we brought you to the temple and the old man took you in his arms and blessed God, ready to die, and told me of my pain yet to come.

I remember when the stargazers came from the East and bowed before you as they gave their gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh, while the star's light shone upon us.

I remember when Joseph woke me and we fled into the night ahead of Herod’s sword of death.

I remember when we came home at last, and our neighbors wondered and whispered about us.

I remember when you stayed behind in Jerusalem, when we found you in the temple, when my heart filled with fear when you chose to abide in the place of sacrifice and death.

I remember when you told me it wasn't your time, yet you still made water into wine.

I remember when we came to find you and bring you home, when we learned that all those in need were dear to you as your own family.

I remember when they took you, tortured you, and crucified you; when the old man's words in the temple came true, when a sword pierced my own soul too as I watched you suffer and die.

I remember when you looked at me and your beloved disciple and gave us to each other for all our days.

I remember when the light died in your eyes and my heart sank beyond tears and words.

I remember after the dark days when they came and told me that you lived again, and joy flooded my heart, and I knew then what I had always known - that your every promise was true.

I remember when we prayed together after you had gone into heaven and the Spirit came in wind and flame.

I remember how they went and told the news to all the world, and how I welcomed each new believer as my beloved child, a brother of my Son, the King of all.

I remember it all now, as I lay my head down in death.

My Son, My Lord, I am not afraid. I go to you now, to you who have conquered death, to you my Redeemer and Savior. Receive me, child. Receive me.

I remember ...

"And Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart ..."


Sunday, January 5, 2014

epiphany message

"Looking For God In All The Wrong Places"

"The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men"  - Titus 2

There was a man who lost his keys and he was looking for them at the edge of the street in front of his yard right underneath a street lamp. His neighbor saw him across the way and walked over to see if he could help. After a few minutes he finally said to him, “Uh, where exactly do you think you dropped your keys?” "In the house." "Well, why are you looking for them out here?" "Because the light's better out here."

I remember a popular song on the radio when I was a kid - "looking for love in all the wrong places." Well, now it seems people are looking for god in all the wrong places.

Stories abound today of visions, sightings, appearings, apparitions ...

There is a popular Youtube video called "Finally Tonight, Jesus" in which newscasters from across the country document all of the so-called "sightings" around the country of Jesus and/or the Virgin Mary. The images are found on such things as a spoon, a door, a floor, a frying pan, a telephone pole, a potato chip, a grilled cheese sandwich, a pancake, a waffle, a cinnamon roll, burnt toast, fish stick, and yes, even a cheeto. As you watch it, you don't know whether to laugh or cry.

There are apparitions like this in every country of the world, and one of the more famous is of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico.

The story goes that on the morning of December 9, 1531, a peasant farmer named Juan Diego saw an apparition of a young girl at the Hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City. The girl asked that a church be built at that very site in her honor. Juan Diego recognized the girl as the Virgin Mary, and he
went and told his story to the Archbishop of Mexico City, who instructed him to return to the hill and ask the "lady" for a miraculous sign to prove her identity. So he went to see the lady again, and when he came back to the archbishop, he opened up his cloak and on the fabric was the image of
the Virgin of Guadalupe.

This image is now on display at the Basilica of our Lady of Guadelupe in Mexico City. I've actually been to this cathedral and seen it, and let me tell you, its a pretty bizarre experience. After standing in line for a long time, you actually have to get on one of those people mover things like at the airport because there are so many people who are there to see it and they don't want anyone standing around for too long, so they try to keep people moving. But people are bowing and weeping and having a real emotional experience seemingly separate from any kind of worship to God or Christ, but merely because it is an important pilgrimage site ... the site of the appearance of Guadelupe.

Aside from all of these so-called "appearances", God has made His appearance - His ultimate appearance - at the first Christmas with the birth of His Son in Bethlehem. As a result, Christmas should be a season of endless wonder, worship, and praise! And yet, for many these days Christmastime has become just a litany of appearances. The season becomes crushed by shopping sprees, social gatherings, and endless parties. Before you know it, Christmas fatigue sets in, and often by the second or third Sunday in Advent. Divine worship becomes just another “holiday event” to attend. People go and make their appearance but can easily grow subtly indifferent about the birth of the Savior of the World.

By now one may wonder, what more can be said? There are 12 days of Christmas after all - and today is the last day. Do I really still need to go to church? Haven't I already made my appearance? What more can be said anyway? Believe me, there is a whole lot more to say - there's always more to be said about the greatest event in the history of the world. And no matter what time of year, we all need what God has to offer us.

Because the fact is, without Christmas, we're all doomed. We are all hopeless and helpless without God’s divine intervention. Fortunately, God's redemption has come - God has appeared on the scene - He has made his appearance - first in Bethlehem - then in Nazareth, Galilee, Capernaum, the Jordan River, Jerusalem, Bethany, Emmaus, in the temple, at the cross, through the empty tomb, in the upper room, along the seashore, upon the mountain, up into heaven, on the Damascus road, on the island of Patmos, in His Word, through His church, yes, God has made His appearance alright! He has appeared to us in the person and work of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. God's redemption has come. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth. The Word remains flesh and dwells among us even here today.

God’s redemption has come for all humanity to see, touch, and hear. It is no illusion conjured in the hearts and minds of men. God has come - He has made His appearance in Jesus. Simeon says it so beautifully as he takes the Savior in his arms and says, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel.”

And so begins the Epiphany Season. "Epiphany” means appearing, revealing, or making manifest.

In the eastern church Epiphany is actually the day they celebrate Christmas. In the west we celebrate Epiphany as the visit of the magi, those mysterious magi who came from the east to worship Jesus and to present their gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh.

Epiphany is called the “Christmas of the Gentiles,” because the magi were the first Gentile worshippers of the Messiah. Until then the only ones to worship Jesus were Israelites. Mary and Joseph, a bunch of shepherds from around Bethlehem, and Simeon and Anna in the temple. But the magi were Persians, probably from Babylon. They were about as non-Israelite, Gentile as you could get. Yet they too come to worship the Child and acknowledge Him as God and King. Since most of us don’t have a drop of Jewish blood in us, this is a big day for us too. So if you still want to hang on to Christmas, go ahead for another week. You don’t have to pack it in just yet. It's Epiphany - Christmas for the outsiders, the Gentiles. The Baby born to Mary is the world’s baby, and today the world sends it’s wise men to worship Him. Wise men still seek him...

Epiphany is where we get the Christmas star, the Christmas lights, the whole notion of giving gifts. Epiphany is God’s way of saying, “Hey Gentiles. It's okay. He’s here for you too. Come and worship.” He's the Redeemer of the nations, He's God's gift to the world, He is the Lord and Savior of all. Though there may be many “religions” in the world, there is only one Way, one Truth, one Light and Life of the world. God has only one Son, and His Name is Jesus. God is merciful and gracious - and so He shines His light for all to see - even to those who don’t know Him yet.

For there is coming a Day to end all days, the day of His Glorious Appearing, when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess what the Magi learned on that first Epiphany - that this Jesus is the Lord and the Christ of all. You’re in on the mystery ahead of time. Consider yourself lucky -
scratch that - consider yourself blessed by God.

For you see - you too have been guided to the place where you might bow down and worship the Savior. Not by a star in the sky, but instead by the example of a parent, a word from grandma or grandpa, or an encouragement from a friend. And you didn’t have to go on a thousand mile journey through the desert. You don’t have to ride a camel, follow a star, or cross the desert. You don't need to try and find Jesus in a potato chip, pancake, or a cheeto. Because Jesus comes to you. He comes to you personally through His Word, in the Supper, and through His people. He comes to you and calls you by name - You are His.

And even though we celebrate Epiphany today - each and every Sunday is another “epiphany” where Jesus makes Himself known to us, revealing the Mystery of His Incarnation, and our inclusion in His death and resurrection, bringing His light and life to all who believe.

Blessed Epiphany!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy 122nd, Dr. Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was a writer, poet, philologist, and professor, best known as the author of the classic fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. He served as Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford, and was a close friend of C. S. Lewis, also a professor at Oxford. They were founding members of the informal literary discussion group known as "The Inklings".

The Lord of the Rings is the second best-selling novel ever written, and in 2000 was voted by many as the "Book of the Century".