Thursday, December 29, 2016

whoever gets the son ...

The story is told about a wealthy man who, years ago, shared a passion for collecting art with his son. They had priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, and many others adorning the walls of their family estate. But there was conflict in that region, and war soon engulfed the nation, and the son left to go serve his country. Several months later his father received a telegram. His son had been killed in battle. Lonely and distraught, the old man faced the upcoming Christmas with great sadness.

On Christmas Eve, a knock on the door awakened the depressed old man. As he opened the door he was greeted by a soldier who was holding a package. The soldier said, “I was friends with your son. I have something to give you.” The soldier was an artist and the package was a portrait of the man’s son. As he opened the package, the old man was overcome with emotion, and immediately he hung the portrait over his fireplace, pushing aside millions of dollars worth of art.

The following spring, the old man died. The art world waited with anticipation for the day when his paintings would be auctioned off. According to the will of the old man, the art would be auctioned off on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve finally arrived and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world’s most spectacular paintings. The auction began with the painting of the man’s son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid, but the room was silent. “Who will open the bidding with $10?” No one spoke up. Finally someone yelled, “Who cares about that painting? It’s just a picture of his son. Let’s move on to the important stuff!” The auctioneer responded, “No, we have to sell
this one first. Now, who wants the son?” Finally a neighbor of the old man offered $10 for it. The auctioneer said, “Going once, going twice . . . sold.” And the gavel fell.

The auctioneer looked around at the room filled with people and announced that the auction was over. Everyone was stunned. Someone spoke up and said, “What do you mean, it’s over? We didn’t come here for a painting of someone’s son. There’s millions of dollars worth of art here!” The auctioneer replied, “According to the father’s will, whoever gets the son gets it all.”

Whoever gets the Son ... gets it all.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

hanukkah coin

A bronze penny from the time of the first Hanukkah (165 BC) was stumbled upon recently by archaeologists near Jerusalem’s Tower of David. The head of Antiochus Epiphanes appears on the front of the bronze penny, and the reverse side has a goddess holding a torch in her hand. Antiochus IV was a Seleucid monarch remembered in Jewish history for his promotion of Greek culture and suppression of Jewish religious observances. After he had a shrine built to Zeus and even sacrificed a pig on the altar of the temple in Jerusalem, Jewish zealots led by Judas Maccabeus rose up in revolt against him, which is the basis for the celebration of Hanukkah.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

christmas in crisis

The terror attack this past week at the Christmas Market in Berlin took place right across the street from a famous memorial church called the Gedachtnis Kirche.   

It's a cathedral that was built on the site of a series of earlier churches. The church was badly damaged in WW2 when the dome was hit by a bomb and collapsed as the rubble fell all the way down into the church's crypt. After the war, as residents went about cleaning up all the ruins, they made a decision not to tear down all the bombed out buildings, but to save some so that they would always be reminded of the horrors of war. The present buildings, a new church and a bell tower, were placed right along side the old bombed out cathedral. The damaged spire of the old church has been retained and its ground floor has been made into a memorial. A shiny new church stands in the midst of the ruins of an old blown up cathedral. 

At the center of it all is a charred cross, where Jesus offered his sinless life for all our sins. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus defeated the powers of sin and death and hell and has claimed us as his own. And not only has Christ died and risen for us, He also holds our lives in His hands and rules over us in grace and mercy and love. We have His promise from Romans chapter 8 - “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Although we are immersed in a ruined and rotten creation, for a brief moment this time of year we are able to see and to hear God's wonderful promises for us in Jesus. It is an experience that gives us comfort and hope this Advent and Christmas season.

Hope is a hard thing to get a handle on sometimes - kind of like that old cathedral in Berlin. After the church had been bombed, it would have been easy for the people to do one of two things. They could have looked at the ruins and fallen into despair. They could have given up and walked away. Or, they could have cleaned up the ruins, erased their memory, and built a new church where no one would even know the difference. One option lets the destruction triumph and denies any hope of a future. The other option lets the future glory triumph and denies that there is suffering in this world. What they did, however, was something different.

They held the suffering and the glory together to form a new reality. They didn’t just walk away from the church - they built a new one. But they didn’t clear away the ruins and build on top of them. Instead, they left them as a reminder of the suffering of this world. The ruins and the church stand together as a visible reminder that in the midst of the fallen creation, God continues to rule and reign over His people.

Living out the Christian life in this world is really a paradox – a strange combination of glory and suffering. We are certain of the glorious future that God has in store for us. We know and trust that all things work together for good. But we also see the reality of suffering in this world around us. Though we live in the midst of this ruined world, we do not give up hope. And, though we see the hope of the future, we don't deny the suffering of this world. No, instead, we live in both worlds – in the reality of suffering and in the certainty of hope.

So as Advent hope turns to Christmas joy this week, even in the midst of the ruins and rubble of this fallen world, we are reminded of the true reason for the season. Our Savior Jesus has come from heaven to earth to take away all of our sin and sorrow, suffering and loss. He has come to give us Christmas in the midst of crisis. 

This is His gift to you today and always - "Nothing in all creation will be able to separate you from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ your Lord."  - Romans 8:28


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

streams in the desert

Image may contain: mountain, outdoor and nature

The image of the desert or wilderness is a powerful image in the divine drama of the Bible. The desert is dry and barren, lifeless and unknown, bleak and dangerous. It is a place of trial and testing.

I have seen the Judean wilderness that begins just south of Jerusalem and Bethlehem - and let me tell you - it's even bleaker and more barren than you can imagine. It would take a miracle just to survive out there.

Moses led the children of Israel as they wandered for 40 years in the wilderness after coming out of Egypt and across the Red Sea before entering the Promised Land. John the Baptist came as a "voice in the wilderness" preaching and baptizing in the desert to prepare the way for the Messiah. And Jesus at the beginning of His ministry, right after His baptism in the river Jordan, went out into the wilderness, to be tempted and tried by Satan for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert.

700 years before this, at the time of the prophet Isaiah, life had become like a desert for the nation of Israel. The people were in captivity, their capital city had been incinerated, their temple had been destroyed, their sons had been killed, their cities and farms had been burned, they had been in captivity for nearly fifty years. The people were feeling burned out and broken down.

Life can be like that sometimes. Life can be like a desert where everything is withered and dried up, burnt, bent, and brown. Your heart becomes cracked, your soul parched, and your dreams brittle. It is the dark night of the soul, and sometimes it seems daybreak will never come.

After a death of a husband, a wife or a child. During an illness like cancer or heart disease. After an accident that leaves people crippled or paralyzed. When someone loses a job and loss of income and they don’t know where to turn. In periods of loneliness and depression, when you begin to lose your energy and strength. Like the Psalmist says, this is a dry and desolate place where there is no water.

Like how John the Baptist must have felt in prison in Matthew 11. When John about Jesus' deeds, He sent word by His disciples and said to Him - "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?" To paraphrase - "Because I'm sittin' here in prison about to get my head chopped off, and uh, this isn't exactly how I thought this whole thing was going to go when you showed up. Are you really the one who is to come, or shall we look for someone else?"

How about for us? This time of year, this "happy" season, often the worst time of year for people who feel that life is like a desert or a wilderness. When the Christmas season starts the day after Halloween the people who already feel like they are in the desert can easily wilt under all the pressure to be happy.

The prophet Isaiah comes to those of us in the wilderness with these words -“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom. It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing ... Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped, the lame man shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert."

Jesus uses the same words to reassure John when He tells his disciples - "Go and tell John what you hear and see. The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended by me."

Jesus the Messiah has come to bring hope, joy, peace, comfort, nourishment, new life. Jesus comes to bring new life to the world. And not only to the whole world, but to individual people as well. He came to bring life to Matthew, Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus, the Roman centurion, the woman at the well, to Jairus, the widow of Nain, and on and on.

Again and again, when Jesus comes into the lives of individual people, their deserts begin to bloom once again. Jesus comes to you this Advent season to give you new life as well. When Jesus the Messiah comes into your life, He brings new life to your wilderness and makes it bloom again.

But here’s something important to remember about the hope and healing Jesus brings:
There is no way to get to the promised land except through the wilderness.
The beauty of Bethlehem is always connected to the cross of Calvary.
The joy of Easter always comes after the pain and death of Good Friday.
The cross always comes before the crown.

It is in the wilderness wanderings and the times in the desert that the genuineness of our faith is tested. Genuine faith does not simply believe in God ... it actually believes God! We might say we believe in God, but it takes faith a step further to say that we believe God when He says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" and "I will be with you always, to the very end of the age".

It is that faith of the prophet Isaiah which cries out in the midst of Israel’s desert experience in Babylon - "The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom."

We rejoice this Advent Season that the kingdom of God has come, that Jesus the Messiah has come to us and still comes among us, during this time in between His first and second coming, the time of the now and not yet, the time in which we now live. We rejoice in the fact that out in the middle of a dry and barren desert, way out in the boonies, in the middle of the wilderness, a desert rose began to bloom. 

"Lo, how a rose is blooming
from tender stem hath sprung
Of Jesse's lineage coming
as prophets long have sung
It came a flower bright
amid the cold of winter
when half spent was the night"


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

exiles in the wilderness

“No one escapes the wilderness on the way to the promised land.”  - Annie Dillard

Exiles in the wilderness. This is a theme that runs throughout the entire Bible. The worst penalty imagined in the Old Testament was to be exiled, separated from home, under enemy rule, and alienated from God. Over and over again in the Scriptures, we hear the voices of the exiles.

Adam and Eve, cast from the Garden because of their transgression to a life east of Eden.
Cain, sentenced to wander the earth after failing to be his brother’s keeper.
Joseph, sold by his brothers into slavery and exiled in the land of Egypt. 
Jacob’s entire family, forced to resettle in Egypt, where eventually they become slaves to Pharaoh.
The children of Israel, wandering in the wilderness until a generation dies off because of unbelief.
Widows like Naomi, who left the land in time of famine and lost her husband and sons.
David, God’s chosen king but also an exiled king, as he dwelt in caves while fleeing King Saul.
Elijah the prophet, who hid in the wilderness from Ahab and Jezebel, and was fed by ravens.
The northern kingdom of Israel conquered and scattered by the Assyrians.
The southern kingdom of Judea and the great city of Jerusalem destroyed by the Babylonians.
The people taken into captivity, transported into exile in Babylon, longing for their homeland.
The captives who returned to Jerusalem with joy after the edict of Cyrus the Great.
Joy is mixed with sorrow, however, for other nations would soon come in to rule over the land. Though they had returned from exile, they remained captives in their own land under enemy rule.
We pray for an end to the exile - O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!
When God restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad!

This is what we do during the Advent season as we journey through the wilderness.
We recognize our own captivity and exile. We cry out for redemption and restoration.
And we wait for the Lord until He comes again.

Friday, November 18, 2016

lift up your eyes

There is a great deal of uncertainty out there in our nation and our world today. We have a new president, new leaders, a new and different direction for our country. How will the economy and the culture be affected? How long will the protests last? How will other nations like China and Russia react to all this? What will happen on Wall Street? Not to mention on Main Street.

Though temporal things will continue to change with the political seasons, no candidate or party has the power to ultimately direct our lives. No president has ever eliminated anxiety. No world leader has ever erased fear. And no earthly power has ever had an answer for death. That role is reserved for the One who stands above all powers and principalities, above all councils and countries.

The writer to the Hebrews tells us that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." - Heb. 13. And James reminds us that, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights who does not change like shifting shadows."  - James 1:17

When anxiety and fear creep into our lives, our Leader and our Lord shows Himself to be the source of true comfort and peace and hope. In times such as these we lift our eyes to His cross and to the empty tomb. Jesus is our Risen and Living Lord and Savior, and in Him we receive all the things that we so deeply desire. In Him is the fulfillment of all God's promises to us. In Him we are delivered from the sin and brokenness of this world, and we are given a new life and a living hope for a future forever with Him. So lift up your eyes today, and put your faith and trust in Him.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth."   - Psalm 121


Monday, November 14, 2016

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Saturday, October 29, 2016

tomb of jesus

Image result for tomb of jesus

The marble slab above the purported tomb of Jesus at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem has been removed for the first time in centuries. After His crucifixion, Jesus' body was placed into a new tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea. The body would have been placed on a limestone slab inside the tomb. The original limestone lies underneath layers of marble added later for safe keeping.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built over the site of Jesus' death and resurrection in 325 AD by Emperor Constantine with assistance from his mother, Helena.

Should be interesting to see what they find. And of course ... what they don't.  ;-)


Monday, October 17, 2016

mosaics uncovered in ephesus

Archaeologists in Turkey have uncovered brilliant mosaics in the ancient city of Ephesus. These mosaics have been discovered along with murals, marble, and wall paintings in the ruins from the homes of wealthy Ephesians.

The last picture shows the villa in Ephesus before restorations.

ht - haaretz

Friday, September 30, 2016

reopening the gates

Image result for lachish

Archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority have unearthed the largest city gate ever discovered in the Holy Land at the Tel Lachish National Park. Lachish was one of the most important cities in Judea after the capital city of Jerusalem. The newly discovered city gate goes back to the time of King Hezekiah, one of the few good kings in Israel after the time of David and Solomon. The courts around the city gate is where much of the civic activity took place - complete with judges, officials, and governors who would sit on benches and conduct important business in the surrounding  chambers.

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise"   - Psalm 100

"Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates, behold the King of Glory waits ... "  - LSB 340


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Saturday, September 24, 2016

en gedi scroll

Image result for en gedi

Just off the western shore of the Dead Sea, north of the rock fortress of Masada and south of the Essene community of Qumran, lies a small oasis in the midst of the Judean desert called En Gedi. This is where David hid out from King Saul's men who were seeking to take his life. This is the place Solomon writes about, "the vineyards of En Gedi", in the biblical love letter, the Song of Songs. And this is the location of an ancient desert community, where people seeking refuge lived and where a Jewish synagogue was located. It was here, along with the cloister of Qumran, where Essene scribes made copies of the Hebrew Old Testament for use in their synagogues.

The Jews would read from the Torah (the first five books of Moses) every time they would meet in the synagogue. They had a whole system of readings, like our lectionary system today, which would cover the entire Torah every year or every 3 years. The scrolls at En Gedi would have been used for these readings.

Image result for en gedi scroll

Fast forward to 1970 when a portion of a scroll from Leviticus, named the En Gedi Scroll, was found by archaeologists amid the ruins of an ancient synagogue. The scroll had been burned due to a fire in the synagogue, making it illegible and so fragile that it would disintegrate if touched. It was therefore unable to be studied, but thankfully was preserved for safe keeping.

This is the oldest scroll ever discovered in its original location in an ark in a synagogue. The synagogue fire was in the 6th century, but the scroll itself could be much older, even dating back to the 1st century or the the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Today the technology is finally here to allow researchers to read the ancient scroll. It's called micro-computed tomography, which is basically a micro CT scan that can read the location of the ink and then reconstruct the text of the document. Truly amazing.

Image result for en gedi scroll

And even more amazing is how God continues to keep and preserve His Word today through the church by the power of the Holy Spirit.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

and a happy 100th to missouri state parks as well ...

To celebrate the 100th birthday of Missouri State Parks, here are a few pics of my favorite park, Ha Ha Tonka.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

happy 100th to our national parks

To celebrate the 100th birthday of our National Parks, here are a few pics of my favorite park (Glacier) along with some of my favorite people. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

prayer as gift

"Every time I try to turn my prayer life around on my own, I tend to run out of steam. But over the years I have learned a different story from the Scriptures. Little by little, God the Father has used the school of hard knocks to join me with Jesus in prayer and to rely on the Holy Spirit for my spiritual life rather than on my own resources. So now I no longer regard prayer as an obligation or as a duty that I must fulfill, but as something that is given to me, something that I receive as a gift from the triune God." - Dr. John Kleinig


Monday, August 15, 2016

scripture interprets scripture

"The entire system of dispensational millenialism is designed in such a way that you can look at current events and then go to specific instances in Scripture to try and find fulfillment. The very fact that you're looking at the Bible in this way means that you're majoring on the minors. You begin thinking more like Nostradamus than a historical reformation Christian, as you look up all these verses to prove that what's going on in the news everyday is actually predicted in Scripture. You end up doing your Bible interpretation totally bass-ackwards - seeing something on the news that you can't explain and then going to some obscure passage in Ezekiel, Jeremiah, or one of the minor prophets to explain it. Instead, we should allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, and interpret the cloudy passages with the ones that are clear."  -  Dr. Kim Riddlebarger


Friday, August 5, 2016

Monday, August 1, 2016

happy monday

happy monday from kilauea volcano in hawaii

ht - paradise helicopters

Friday, July 29, 2016

Paul in Ephesus

A recent article by James Edwards in Biblical Archaeology Review sheds new light on the authenticity of the Apostle Paul's visit to Ephesus and the riot that ensued there - complete with inscriptions and figurines and the theater where the riot took place.

The account from the Bible in Acts 19 is filled with details about Ephesus and its way of life. In 1984, a monument was discovered that corroborated Luke’s account of the prominence of silversmiths in the region of Ephesus. The inscription on the monument stated that it had been paid for by the silversmiths and called their city the “greatest metropolis of Asia, and the temple guardian of the venerable Ephesians.”

It's interesting to note that both the inscription and Luke's account in Acts 19 use the same Greek word, neokoros, or guardian, in describing the relationship between Ephesus and the temple.

The article concludes with these words - “Luke knew what he was talking about in recording the riot in the theater. His claim at the outset of the two part work (Luke/Acts) to have ‘investigated everything accurately and reported them orderly’ is substantiated in Acts 19.”


Friday, July 22, 2016


apocalyptic microburst seen yesterday near phoenix arizona

ht - chopper guy

Monday, July 11, 2016

"horse and rider thrown into the sea"

A mosaic from a 5th century Jewish synagogue has recently been uncovered which depicts Egyptian soldiers and chariots sinking into the Red Sea during the Exodus.

ht - live science

Saturday, July 9, 2016

italy from space

  - photographed by one of the Expedition crew members aboard the International Space Station approximately 240 miles above the Mediterranean Sea.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

a wedding message

We always have a great time when our family gets together. We like to eat, go on walks, watch movies, and play games. But this? This is no game today. This is serious business. Yes, there will be a lot of fun and happiness and joy today, but this is still serious and important stuff. Reminds me of the old CS Lewis quote - "Joy is the serious business of heaven."

To many people today this whole thing is like a game of Trivial Pursuits. The direction of their lives and the things they spend their time on are utterly trivial. But we know better. We know that's not God's will for us. We were created in God's image, we have been redeemed by His Son, we have been filled with the Holy Spirit, we were meant to live, for him and for one another, to His glory and for the good of all.

So though many see marriage as just another trivial pursuit, as God's people, we know that marriage is a big deal. It's a beautiful blessing from our Father God. It's a wonderful gift that He has given us, to bring a man and a woman together in love to build families, to provide a foundation for the church, to bolster and build up society.

God says in His Word says that in marriage two people become one flesh. That’s pretty amazing. How is that possible? How can this happen, two becoming one? Well, God makes it happen. His Word makes it happen. His love makes it happen.

In marriage you leave your father and mother and are united as one flesh. That means leaving some things behind - old habits, old interests, old expectations, always putting yourself first. To have a marriage that works takes work, it requires wisdom, discipline, maturity, a leaving behind of selfish and childish ways.

The Apostle Paul says, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I grew up, I put childish ways behind me." To have a good marriage means leaving some old things behind. But it also means taking on some new things. Things like faith, hope, love, dedication, commitment, sacrifice. That's what marriage is really all about.

One of the Scripture readings for today is from Ephesians 5, where Paul echoes Genesis 2 and the creation of man and woman and God's design for marriage as the foundation for His created order. Paul shows us that as far back as the 2nd chapter of the Bible, marriage was already the chosen instrument God would use to bring His Messiah into the world, as well as being a beautiful picture and symbol of Christ and the church that permeates throughout the rest of Scripture. Paul is teaching us that God's purpose and plan for his people is not trivial, but is something far greater than our own wants, needs, and desires. When we follow the Lord, our lives always mean more than we think they do. Our normal, ordinary lives become extraordinary when God is at the center. Everything we do in faithful obedience to Him is important, no matter how seemingly insignificant it may be.

In another of his letters Paul reminds us how God uses weak and broken people as well as plain and simple things to display the greatness of his power and wisdom and love - even though it may seem trivial to the world. Everything we do in the name of Jesus is important. Serving one another, helping those in need, falling in love, getting married, having a baby, raising a family - for the Christian all of these seemingly simple things are all quite profound, for they are grounded in God's will in Christ and connected to eternity. They are all part of something much bigger than our little minds can even comprehend.

As Christians we believe that the best is yet to come. Our God saves the best for last. That's the promise that sustains the life of men and women who follow God, who trust in Jesus, who are saved by God's grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Paul quotes Genesis when He writes, "therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to His wife and the two shall become one flesh." To cling, cleave, hold fast, the word literally means to glue. You two are glued together by Christ and His Word. Proverbs 18:24 says there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. That is you for one another - and most importantly - that is Christ for you both.

That's the devotion and dedication we are to have with one another in marriage as husband and wife. No matter our differences or flaws, as Christians we are called to love and serve one another, just as God in Christ has loved us and served us.

There's always more going on than we think in God's great plan of salvation. There's more to the story than just two people and a beautiful wedding and a happy marriage and thankful parents and a proud grandma or grandpa. If there weren't, it would be just another nice afternoon outdoors - another good reason for a party. But there is so much more. For when we are joined together in Christ and connected to God's grand story, it opens up our lives to things we could have never imagined. It points us back to all the great saints of old, and it points us forward to the future glory of heaven with God forever. And in the meantime, it centers us in Jesus, in His life and death and resurrection for us which promises forgiveness of sins, life and salvation to all who believe. It gives us the promise of a hope and a future together with God forever. And let me tell you, there is nothing trivial about that. Amen.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The 5th Gospel

There's an old quote by British evangelist Rodney Smith that goes like this - "There are five Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian - but most people never read the first four." The truth of the matter is - you may be the only Bible some people read.

If the world never reads the first four gospels, then what will they read? They’ll read us. They'll read you and me. They’ll read our lives as Christians. You and I are the 5th Gospel, and unless we've gone undercover, we’re being studied, watched, and examined.

This is not about some secret or hidden gospel out in the desert somewhere that is just waiting to be discovered. This is the real thing, what Luther called the "viva vox", the living voice of the gospel, the genuine and authentic witness and testimony of the Christian about what they believe about Jesus.

Unfortunately, many Christians have gone AWOL - incognito for Jesus. But God’s not looking for more secret service agents. He's got enough of those. He wants ambassadors instead. The 5th Gospel is an invitation that asks each one of us, “Will the real Christians please stand up?”

In his Epistle to the Romans Paul writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). And Jesus in His Great Commission said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).

Every Christian’s life is sending a message. The question is - what kind of message are we sending? As followers of Jesus, our lives are on display for all to see. The apostle Paul, speaking to the Corinthians said, “You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Cor. 3:2-3).

Our lives tell a story. But what do they communicate? That’s the question. We are meant to be the 5th Gospel - a good news message in a bad news world for people who desperately need to hear it.

(ht - bobby conway)


Sunday, May 15, 2016

i am the gate

"I am the gate for the sheep, and whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly." - John 10


Monday, May 9, 2016

Top 10 Things

Top 10 Things Needing to be Reformed in the Christian Church

1. Altar Calls

2. The Sinner's Prayer

3. The Prosperity Gospel

4. The Word/Faith Movement

5. Maryolatry

6. Works Righteousness

7. Materialism

8. Nationalism

9. Individualism

10. Millenialism

(there's plenty more ... but this is a good start. )

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Friday, April 8, 2016

thy kingdom come

It seems the media today is always concerned about one of two things - politics and economics.

Who's ahead in the polls? How are the races going in the swing states? What's the latest controversy? How is the economy doing? How much have the markets gone down? How will the world's economic crisis and Europe's terror crisis affect us here?

The mass media covers politics and economics, and we pay attention, as we should.
We are citizens of 2 kingdoms, after all, the kingdom of the right and the kingdom of the left.
So we should pay attention on some level and know what is going on in the world.

Yet the kingdom of this world should never out-shine or over-shadow the kingdom of our Lord.
For you see, there is an even greater thing going on right now than the presidential election,
the crisis in the middle east, the Masters, March Madness, and yes, even Opening Day.

The kingdom of God has come near. The kingdom of heaven has broken through time and space and entered into our world. God has become man, the Word has become flesh, the infinite has become finite, and newsflash, this just so happens to be the most important event in the history of the world! Extra Extra - read all about it!

This is nothing less than the long-awaited end-time redemptive rule and reign of the Creator of heaven and earth himself. The kingdom of God has been ushered in by the one and only Son of God - Jesus Christ - the Anointed One - the Messiah - the Savior and Redeemer of men's souls.

What was repeatedly promised and anticipated and foreshadowed and prefigured for ages and ages has finally come to pass. Moses and the prophets, the patriarchs, priests, and kings would love to be in your shoes! What great good news - what glad tidings! The best news the world could ever receive!  Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Easter, and Happy Thanksgiving all rolled into one! Could we get a little news coverage please??

I guess that the lack of press is not all that surprising. In one sense, things really haven't changed all that much. Famine, disease, sickness, death, tumult, tragedy, catastrophe, pestilence, wars, rumors of wars, political factions, economic woes, leaders vying for power and influence. How can you say the kingdom of God is here when all this chaos is going on just like it always has?

Well, the fact is, human reason can only deal with the kingdoms of this world. That's why it's all you see on TV. The kingdom of God doesn't get a whole lot of press because it looks pretty small and lowly - kind of like a mustard seed. There's nothing noticeable or remarkable or grand or glorious about it. At least not on this side of eternity.

The end-time rule and reign of God in Jesus Christ the Messiah has indeed arrived, but it doesn't always look like what you'd think. It often times looks small and lowly, weak and insignificant, pitiful and powerless.

This is the mystery of the kingdom. It is surely at work - but in a hidden kind of way. In a way hidden from human reason. In a way the mass media will never understand. For it came through the humble figure of Jesus of Nazareth, who was born in a stable, and placed in a lowly manger. His parents were poor peasants, and he became a carpenter like his father. When the time was right, he began teaching and preaching about the the kingdom of God. "Repent and believe the good news." Some followed but most did not. During the last days of his life in Jerusalem, all of his disciples abandoned him, one even betrayed him, and he was left alone to suffer and die on a roman cross.

The kingdom of God had arrived, but most everyone rejected it. It wasn't the kind of kingdom they wanted. It wasn't the kind of kingdom they thought God should have. So Jesus, though he was King, allowed himself to be despised and rejected, allowed himself to be taken into the hands of evil men, to be beaten and bloodied, whipped and tortured, and then to be crucified on the cross, to die for the sins of all the world.

Why would the King of all creation allow himself to go through all that? So that by taking upon himself all the sins of all the world, and putting them to death on the cross once and for all, He might overturn death itself by his own death and resurrection - in order to bring forgiveness and salvation to all who believe, and to inaugurate the end-times rule and reign of God.

Christ has died - Christ has risen - Christ will come again. Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, He now rules and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

It might not make the morning papers or the evening news, but the kingdom of God is very much at work right now in the world. The kingdom of God is at work right here in our midst today - through Word and Sacrament, through the Holy Spirit, and through His people. Christ is present with us even now, and someday He is coming again to restore all things and claim that which he has redeemed.

Wouldn't you love to see the live shot on that day when Jesus comes again? When Christ Himself appears in power and glory and might and all people see Him for who he really is? I'd love to see the look on the reporter's face when he realizes, just before the connection goes dead, that no story in the history of the world could ever compare with this one.

If only he could have written the headline - "Creator of Universe Returns To Make Things Right".
Oh what a headline that would be ... and what a reality that will be for you and for me.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

easter egg hunt at the seminary


oh, that we would run to church, run to god's word, run to the gospel, and run to share the good news like these children running to find easter eggs! christ is risen!

ht - respublica


Monday, March 28, 2016

empty tomb

the tomb is still empty ... christ is risen!


Friday, March 25, 2016


"When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mt. of Olives." - Matthew 26

Thursday, March 24, 2016

upper room

"On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’ ” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover."    - Matthew 26