Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Lights

I recently read an article about the origins of different Christmas traditions. The decorations and activities come from a variety of different backgrounds and cultures, all adapted through the years to symbolize parts of the Christmas story: evergreen trees and decorations to remind us of the everlasting life the Savior came to bring; lights to remind us that Christ is the light of the world; gifts to remind us of the gifts brought to the Savior by the wise men and that Christ is the greatest Gift of all. Some people object to “pagan” traditions being adapted to Christian meanings, but I'm not sure I follow that line of reasoning. I think it's a good idea to use everything in our life to remind us about Jesus. If there are things in our life that don't remind us of the Savior, those things probably don't need to be there in the first place. This year, give yourself a present: watch for ways you can see and show others the Savior in everything you do.

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Colossians 3:17 (NIV)
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Matthew 5:16 (NIV)In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Early Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving comes early this year. In fact, it comes as early as it can. November 1 fell on a Thursday, which means that Thanksgiving will the the earliest (November 22) that it can be on the calendar. I suppose that means I need to start thawing my turkey now.

It brings to mind the need for thanksgiving throughout the year. Not just the turkey and homemade rolls (though I wouldn't mind) but the need to give thanks. It's never too early for that, no matter how the calendar falls. The Bible puts it in terms we can all understand.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Give thanks (and it's okay to have some turkey, too)!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stormy Weather

Friday, September 7, was an amazing day in Springfield, meteorologically speaking. It was beautiful sunshine, followed by tornado sirens and hurricane force winds, followed by sunshine, all in the space of about forty-five minutes. To forecast the weather, you needed stopwatch.

That's the nature of weather, though. It changes. Predicting shifts in the weather is still as much art as it is science. A 40% chance of rain means there is a 60% chance of sunshine, so I leave my umbrella in the car 100% of the time, just in case.

It's good to know that the love of God is not like that.

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

That's a truth you can know, and live, 100% of the time.

Monday, August 13, 2012

School Days

School starts this week in several districts throughout our area. That means teachers have been working for several weeks getting ready to welcome their new class. I remember August weeks with my mother, an elementary teacher, stapling bulletin boards, arranging desks and sharpening pencils. This year, I got to help my daughter get ready for her first class of third graders. Pretty special!

As school begins, remember in prayer teachers, administrators, parents, and families as they begin their journey of learning. It's a difficult task, but important, and one that needs our support and prayers. Thank you, teachers, for all you do!

Monday, July 9, 2012


The month of July is filled with camps and mission trips in our Youth and Children's ministries. I remember my first camp. I was in the third grade and it was my first overnight trip away from my parents. When I arrived at camp, I realized I had left my bedroll at home. An empty mattress on a bunk stared at me from our camp dorm room. Fortunately, my mother had pity on me, and brought my sleeping bag along with a box of cookies for me and the rest of the guys in my dorm. I slept better knowing my Mom was there to make sure I had what I needed. The cookies weren't so bad, either.

We often find ourselves in life lacking what we need. We arrive at points along the way - the birth of a child, the death of a parent, an unexpected illness – and find ourselves without the items necessary to move forward. It is in those times we can more fully realize the promise of God's word:

Philippians 4:19
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

As you face your inabilities, realize the God who supplies all your need.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Rain Gauge

This morning was the first day of Vacation Bible School. It rained. Inside.

We had a leak in one of our classrooms. Water is not a bad thing, but it doesn't help the VBS music rotation. Immediately, our VBS team of volunteers sprang into action. Within moments, we had the class relocated, the leak stopped, the water cleaned up and the source of the leak fixed, all before any of the VBS children even knew anything had happened.

It was a wonderful example of 1 Corinthians 12, Paul's description of the body of Christ. As I watched, teachers taught, moppers mopped, movers moved, and children learned about the awesome power of our amazing God.

That is the church! Thank you NHBC for providing a living example of biblical service in action.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Upside Down Tomatoes

I attempted to grow an upside down tomato plant. I had seen a news report about a way to grow tomato plants in a plastic bucket with a hole cut in the bottom. So far, it doesn't appear to be working very well. The tomato plants we planted normally are flourishing. The plant I put in the bucket is about to die. As best I can tell, the bucket is not draining properly, literally drowning the tomato vine before it has a chance to grow. It reminds me of what sometimes happens to us as believers. We come to church and soak up all the scripture and worship, but we don't absorb it, and we don't let it spread to our neighborhoods and communities. Pretty soon, we wind up looking like my tomato plant, withered with nary a tomato in sight. We have it upside down. Church isn't designed to serve us. We, as the church, are designed to serve, to bear fruit. Jesus put it this way:

John 15:5 (NIV) I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Procrastinators rejoice! This year you have one extra day to complete your taxes. No, your congressman is not doing you extra favors in an election year. April 15 falls on a Sunday, so tax day, for this year only, moves to April 16.

So what will you do with your extra day? Plan a family vacation? Work in the long delayed vegetable garden in the backyard? Complete the world's best novel? Unfortunately for most of us, an extra day simply provides one more day to worry about our taxes. To take the ultimately pessimistic view, this means we have one less day to pay our taxes in 2013. Ah, the joys of life.

Still the ambiguities of the tax code remind me of one essential truth: there is no ambiguity in the salvation we know in Christ. Though it was very costly, God has made our salvation profoundly simple to understand. When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas what he needed to do to know the salvation they had in Christ, this was their reply:

Acts 16:31 (NIV)
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

That's a message worth sharing – and with an extra day to finish your taxes, you have all that free time to share it!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Trash Bread

Recently while visiting Taipei, Taiwan, I was introduced to trash bread. That's not the actual name for it; it has a Chinese name and an English equivalent, but no one I could find knew what it was. A friend told us it was delicious.

Basically, it is bread filled with meat and vegetables, cooked in a barrel (that, in fact, does look something like a trash can). Biting into the bread reveals a clump of brown substance – the meat and filling. Having accidentally eaten some squid and chicken neck the day before, I had to be convinced the clump wasn't hiding something I didn't want. It wasn't. In fact, it was delicious.

Enjoying my trash bread, I realized this was how many feel when approached with the gospel. They have heard so many disappointing messages before, they think the Good News is something like that, that there is something hiding inside that will leave them feeling empty. That's why it is so crucial for those who know the Lord to give testimony to the fact that this is a message like no other. I would have missed trash bread without a friend to tell me. How much more tragic it is for anyone to miss Christ because no one tells them.

Romans 10:14 (NIV)
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

Monday, February 13, 2012


Today, we had the first measurable snow of the season. Great - yet another adventure in driving. Actually, Springfield drivers, in general, do what you are supposed to do. They slow down, don't follow too close, and generally keep everything safe. The road crews typically have the major streets clear, or at least drivable.

Where we used to live, that wasn't the case. The road crews worked diligently, but were far fewer in number and less well equipped. The drivers were even less so; going out on the road after an inch of snow was taking your life in your own hands. Most towns considered shutting down if the mayor had a mild case of dandruff.

Preparation is key. Too many people look no farther than today, spiritually speaking. If they feel good now, they are satisfied. I don't mind feeling good now, but I'm glad I know my future is bright as well. Proverbs 3:5-6 says: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

That's good to know when the snow falls.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Save Three Lives!

We have a blood drive at NHBC this month. I've always been fascinated with that process. I can give a pint of blood, which I won't miss, which then has the possibility of saving three lives. Exactly how that works escapes me – something about the different components of my blood being used to treat different situations. Personally, I tried to forget my biology class after we dissected some pickled frogs. Fortunately, some people were listening during biology, and they use their knowledge to help folks who are sick. All I have to do is sit back and fill a plastic bag, and I get free cookies and juice!

As believers we have an even more extraordinary opportunity. All we have to do is share our story, what Jesus has done for us. That simple act, a testimony for Christ multiplied through God's power, can bring eternal life to the people you love. No pickled frogs necessary!