Friday, December 6, 2013

Meaning of Christmas

The following is a terrific story on the meaning of Christmas

Did you ever read Bret Harte's story The Luck of Roaring Camp? Roaring Camp was supposed to be, according tot he story, the meanest, toughest mining town in all of the West. More murders, more thefts--it was a terrible place inhabited entirely by men, and one woman who tried to serve them all. Her name was Cherokee Sal. She died while giving birth to a baby.
   Well, the men took the baby, and they put her in a box with some old rags under her. When they looked at her, they decided that didn't look right, so they sent one of the men eighty miles to buy a rosewood cradle. He brought it back, and they put the rags and the baby in the rosewood cradle. And the rags didn't look right there. So they sent another of their number to Sacramento, and he came back with some beautiful silk and lace blankets. And they put the baby, wrapped around with those blankets, in the rosewood cradle.
   It looked fine until someone happened to notice that the floor was so filthy. So these hardened, tough men got down on their hands and knees, and with their hardened and horny hands they scrubbed that floor until it was very clean. Of course, what that did was to make the walls and the ceiling and the dirty windows without curtains look absolutely terrible. So they washed down the walls and the ceiling, and they put curtains at the windows. And now things were beginning to look as they thought they should look. But of course, they had to give up a lot of their fighting, because the baby slept a lot, and babies can't sleep during a brawl.
   So the whole temperature of Roaring Camp seemed to go down. They used to take her out and set her by the entrance to the mine in her rosewood cradle so they could see her when they came up. Then somebody noticed what a dirty place that was, so they planted flowers, and they made a very nice garden there. It looked quite beautiful. And they would bring her, oh, shiny little stones and things that they would find in the mine. But when they would put their hands down next to hers, their hands looked so dirty. Pretty soon the general store was all sold out of soap and shaving gear and perfume and those kinds ... the baby changed everything.
   That's the way it is for those of good will. That's the way it is for those who please God. The baby enters into their lives, and he slips into every crevice of their experience, until they say "Hark! Listen, the herald angels sing! God is for us. And Christmas is forever."

   -- Bruce W. Thielemann, "Hark! The Herald Angels," Preaching Today, Tape No. 63.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Worship - Who? -What? -When? -How? -Why? - Where?

Who do we worship?
               We are to worship the Lord.
What is worship?
                Worship is our positive response to the presence and work of God.
When do we worship?
                Everyday can contain times of worship.
How do we worship?
                Externals and type are not the issue. We are worship God from a sincere heart.
Why do we worship?
                We, as His children through faith in Christ, were made to worship God.
Where do we worship?
                Anywhere, but uniquely gathered with other believers in corporate worship.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

“What is truth?”

“What is truth?”  That questioned has been asked by asked by many people in various circumstances. Many people have asked it. Philosophers have asked it. Theologians have asked it. Evaluating another person's sincerity can be difficult. But when someone does not want or accept the answer, then their sincerity can be called into question.

While reading this passage consider the sincerity of Pilate’s question.

John 18:37-38 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.

Pilate seemed to be looking for  "wiggle room" concerning his response to Jesus and the issue of truth.  He knew Jesus was innocent and was trying to let him go. But under fear of loosing his position and power, he eventually gave in and turned Jesus over to be crucified.

Jesus claimed to be the truth and to bear witness to the truth. In the above passage he said, "Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”  In facing this statement, Pilate also wilted.  How we respond to Jesus, reveals our commitment and understanding of the truth.


Friday, January 4, 2013

What is friendship?

Friendship is not using someone to get what you want. If you only hear from somebody when they want something, they are an acquaintance, not a friend.  Genuine friendship is not mutual encouragement to do the wrong thing. It is not promoting co-dependence or any other unhealthy behavior. The Bible speaks about friendship in the book of Proverbs.

 Proverbs 27:6, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” A friend will tell you the truth and confront you even if it hurts, because he or she wants what is ultimately best for you. I have a few friends who will tell me when they think I am wrong and they are very valuable to me. When you don’t share your concerns about someone’s direction because of fear of offending them you aren’t being a friend. A few years ago someone told me that her friend was making a terrible mistake by marrying this certain man. I asked her if she had expressed her concern to her friend. She said she hadn’t because she did not want to hurt their friendship or her feelings. Unfortunately, her friend went through a messy divorce after a short disastrous marriage.
Proverbs 17:9, “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”  A friend loves and accepts you and does not gossip about your private matters.  The thoughts and feedback from people who love you are very helpful. The ability to feel completely secure in a relationship is a marvelous gift to give and to receive.

Proverbs 18:24,   “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” The first part of this verse describes the danger of too many indiscriminate relationships. The second part describes the value of a true friend.  When my father passed away I made several trips in the following months to Portland to settle his affairs. The presence of an old friend at key moments made a difficult job a little easier.                             

A number of years ago I attended my niece’s high school graduation party. She had a book for people to write notes to her as she faces adult life and starting college.
In her book I wrote,  “A  true friend is someone who wants what is best for you. Seek to have those kinds of friends and seek to be that kind of friend to other people.”