Last Wednesday most people were celebrating Valentine’s Day with that special someone. However, this was not the only celebration taking place this year on that day. February 14 was also the beginning of the Church season of Lent. It is marked with the service of Ash Wednesday. Lent is the 40 days before Easter (not counting Sunday’s) where we recognize the significance of the Cross and the death of Jesus Christ in our lives. Usually during this season Christians all over the world fast, pray, read scripture, and repent. It is also a season of reconciliation as we invite people who have fallen away from the Church to return and be reconciled. I always find it interesting that more Christians do not celebrate this season. Continue reading “Repentance???”
In the past month we have witnessed fire damage, hurricane forces, earthquakes, flooding, and now a mass shooting where at least 59 have died and hundreds wounded. Not to mention the famine in war torn countries, genocide, and persecutions that happen all around the world every day. We need to remember that tragedies can happen anywhere because we know that the darkness and evil principalities are seeking to destroy us. However, let us not despair. Continue reading “Real Hope…”
My parents decided that when they had children they would not raise them in the ways they were raised by their parents. At least this is what they claimed to me, so I will believe them. One distinct way they did this was a profound sense of God’s love for all people as His creation. In other words God has created us all in His divine image of Love. White, African, Hispanic, Asian, are all the beautifully created work of God. I did not know my grandparents well on either side, however you kinda pick up on some beliefs they had through the comments that I heard. One of these issues was race and racism. I do not know if my grandparents were racist, but when you hear the comments like, “if your grandpa knew what you were doing he would roll over in his grave” directed toward other family members when they dated people from another race you kinda get the idea on where they stood on this issue. Continue reading “Hello, I’m a recovering racist…”
Have you ever had one of those weeks or moments when you are reminded just how unprepared you are for your job, family, or life in general? You know those moments when you are hit with something from left field and it leaves you feeling completely inadequate? This past week it happened to me. Continue reading “I’m so inadequate…”
As I sit here in my house, I am taking great pleasure in listening to the rain fall on the ground. Why I am taking so much pleasure is because in the western panhandle of Oklahoma, like most of the central and south west, we are in a serious drought. Less than a month ago Oklahoma and Kansas were plagued with grass fires because of the drought. Many farmers lost crops and ranchers lost parts of their herds. So to see and hear the rain fall I take much delight. I believe that drought is one of the hardest times in our lives. Not just physical drought, but more importantly spiritual drought. Continue reading “Dry and Thirsty, Love and Lent…”
Have you ever noticed that Paul rarely talks about Satan? Jesus, particularly in the Synoptic Gospels, engages Satan directly or indirectly quite often. Paul does not. The role that many Christians assign to Satan, Paul seems to assign to Sin. To be clear, he isn’t so interested in particular sins (though he does address these […]
“Don’t be a hypocrite,” is a statement that we use and hear a lot in our culture. It is also a word that Jesus uses a lot in His sermon on the mount found in Matthew 5-7. Hypocrite is the Greek word for actor. In a simplistic understanding a hypocrite is someone who pretends. This happens a lot in our Church as a whole. People claim to be a follower of Christ, but their actions speak very differently. It seems that a lot of people put on a very good show, especially on Sunday’s, but for the most part of their lives that is not who they really are. A few verses from Matthew will bring out my point. “And when you fast. Don’t put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They distort their faces so people will know they are fasting. I assure you that they have3 their reward. When you fast, brush your hair and wash your face. Then you won’t look like you are fasting to people, but only to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matt. 6) Continue reading “Lent 2…”
Lent is the seven weeks leading up to Easter. It is a solemn season where we travel toward Jerusalem and the cross with Jesus. It is during this time that our prayers and thinking shift. Starting on Ash Wednesday (March 1) we begin to contemplate the meaning of the cross. The cross in its time was a device of torture. It was designed to make a human suffer for as long as possible till the human hung on it died. During Lent, we contemplate our own mortality. From the dust of the earth we were created and when we die we will return to the dust. This is not to say that we our hopeless. The cross also gives us tremendous hope. The cross was also the instrument that God used to save us. Christ died to set us free from bondage of sin. Up until the cross, sin was the ruler of our hearts. Now that Christ died and rose again sin is no longer the slave master. Continue reading “Lent…”
Well, Christmas has come! This past Sunday we celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ. All the anticipation and buildup of the past month found its climax. We opened presents, visited with family, ate a ton of food, and played with our toys. It was a fun and exciting day. A day to rejoice, a day to be happy, a day to love. I bet most of us gave a huge sigh of relief when we went to bed. So, now what? Did all this planning, cooking, wrapping, and decorating have one day of explosive celebration? That seems like a big letdown for me. Maybe that is why I love to remind people that it is still Christmas. In the Church, Christmas is not just a day, but a season. Most Churches celebrate Christmas for 12 days, but it can last as much as 40 days.
While shops and stores are preparing to sell off the Christmas left-overs and start setting up for the next holiday, Christians can continue to celebrate. The Christian faith gives us a whole lot to celebrate at Christmas. For Christmas is the beginning of salvation. It is the birth of Love on earth. It is the reality that God became human as the Incarnate God. Through Jesus Christ we are being cleansed and adopted into the family of God. Through the Incarnation, God has opened the door for the Holy Spirit to live and move in our lives. One day just does not seem to match the endless joy that we can experience with the birth of Jesus.
One of my favorite Christmas readings comes to us from the book of Titus 3, “But ‘when God our savior’s kindness and love appeared, he saved us because of his mercy, not because of righteous things we had done. He did it through the washing of new birth and the renewing by the Holy Spirit, which God poured out upon us generously through Jesus Christ our savior. So, since we have been made righteous by his grace, we can inherit the hope for eternal life.’” This is why I celebrate Christmas longer than one day. My hope was born on Christmas Day. God’s grace was given fully on Christmas Day. The birth of God’s generosity came to us and continues to be given to this day.
I say go ahead and keep listening to Christmas music. Watch those Christmas movies. Keep wishing people “Merry Christmas.” Continue giving out gifts. For the season of Christmas has just begun. Also, this gives us the continuing opportunity to give people a great Christmas. Above I described the joy of Christmas, but that joy is not with everyone. Some had to work on Christmas Day, some had to wait for family, and some have no family to celebrate with. Now that your family has celebrated the day, maybe it’s time to celebrate with those who have no reason to be joyful. You still have time to spread the Christmas Hope to all people. Do not let the world tell you that Christmas is over. Christmas is still around and active. Remember Jesus is “washing” and “renewing.” These are present, active verbs. God continues to do these things through the Holy Spirit and the birth of a Baby began it all. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
One of my favorite things for this time of year is the lights that people put up to decorate their houses. Let’s face it, winter time can be a time of darkness. The days get shorter and the nights get longer, not to mention it gets colder. It can be a very depressing time for us. However, when we decorate for Christmas we put up lights. For me, colored lights are my favorite. My family never put up one color, we put up the multi-colored lights. I like to think that having different colored lights helps us to see the beauty that God has created. Continue reading “Light in the Darkness…”