Thursday, December 31, 2015


Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. I Peter 1:8,9 NIV

Everybody wants to be happy, but the world offers only counterfeit happiness, temporary and ultimately disappointing. And the thing is, after life disappoints us too many times, happiness drifts a little farther out of reach, hope gets a little harder to hold onto. The harder it gets to hold onto, the faster we chase the next sure thing, and the next, and the next. But happiness, the butterfly riding on the back of that sure thing, flies away and lands on some other sure thing.

Ever try to catch a butterfly?

Our God Jesus offers real life, real hope, real joy.

The most attractive thing about Christians isn’t what we say and do. Joy is the magnet that attracts us to the God whose image we bear. And the joy with which we live our abundant lives in Him, the peace and hope that shine out through that joy, attracts our neighbors, near and far, to Him.

Happy New Year. Happy new life abundant in Jesus!

My resolution, my only one, is to live this moment—all of it—in our happy God, and enjoy Him.

You hold all the sorrows of the world in Your own heart, Avi, but You still have unspeakable joy. I’ve never seen You; when You sing over me, I don’t hear Your songs—but I feel the peace of resting in Your arms. You’re the God who is there, always and unchanging. when the world drags me down, remind me of Your joy. When life gets too heavy, remind me that You’ll carry my load and me, too. Remind me that you hold my life in your hand, and that you give life abundant, joy abundant, just for the asking, for the accepting. Help me to rest in You, Avi, until You come for me and we leave all my burdens behind here. In Your holy name, Amen. 




And by faith he (Enoch) still speaks, even though he is dead.   Hebrews 11:4 NIV

What a way to end an earthly life! Gone home with God, but still preaching to those he left behind. And what better time than year's end to look forward to our own endings? This isn't macabre; it's scriptural.

How will my life end? What will I still be saying after I’m dead? Who will hear that message?

Today ends an old year. Tomorrow is the start of another new one—but we only get one moment at a time. Little is much—even this one small moment in front of us—if God is in it.

Tomorrow, if it comes for me, is a fresh start.

Even if tomorrow doesn’t come, I have this day, this moment. Got to get out my trusty blue pencil and update my sermon while there’s still time. Let His joy shine through me, that others might see what true happiness is: peace with the One True God who created us.

How do I do that? Easy. I just remain in Him, reflecting on His holiness, His joy, and He does it all.

Avi, You give joy, but the choice of whether to accept Your joy is ours. I choose You, again and again, every day.
People who don’t know You tell us, ‘If you’re happy today, you just don’t understand the situation.’ But, the opposite is true; Your children have happiness and joy in the middle of trials and depression and pain because we do understand; we see beyond.
Help me to write a message with my life that will resound through all the years left to this world. Let my small light shine so bright in Satan’s growing darkness that those who haven’t yet found You will look up from worldly infatuations and see our true Hope, the Light of the world.
In Your holy name, Amen.






Tuesday, December 22, 2015


…the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 NIV

Peace with God, the peace that passes understanding.

Manger scene illustrating Sunday’s church bulletin, crowned by a great eight-pointed star. Beams right and left, up and down, depict a cross. Overlapping in the center, an ‘X’, short for the Greek word for Christ.

Look up. See God’s hand, His plan. The Star of Bethlehem, the Christmas Cross, calls to all mankind.

The Gospel in a nutshell: God gave His perfect Garden to His newly created children, Adam and Eve. But, since He wanted real, two-way love, wanted them to choose Him, He gave them one simple commandment and a penalty—eat from that one tree and you die—and they blew it.

Banished from the Garden to struggle in a broken world until their bodies succumbed, they ached with the greater death of perpetual separation from God.

“Children, I love you, and I don’t want you to die,” God said. “Someone else—sheep and cattle and goats—can die for you.”

But animals are a part of this lost Creation. Even millions of such deaths aren’t enough to save just one soul. There’s only one Perfect Lamb who can pay that final price, that balloon payment, for all of us. So, God made Himself a body that could die—something our spirit God cannot do—and died for us to make peace between Himself and Adam’s whole race.

Then, get this, He whupped the tar out of death and walked out of that grave! And so will we, if we choose Him. 
Wise men of old followed the Christmas Cross. Will you? Will you come to the Creator of Life, who calls us to new life abundant and eternal?

Many times death has been close to me, Avi, and many times You saved me. Even so, this frail shell will die, if You delay. With every new twinge, every new failing, I look forward to the new body You’ve promised I’ll live in—but even more I look forward to the Friend I’ll live with for all eternity. Come soon, Avi. In Your holy name, Amen.





Thursday, December 17, 2015


And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Comforter to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. … I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:16-18 NIV

Just finished our Christmas cantata. The solo highlight was the classic, Breath of Heaven.

Mary, weary and feeling inadequate, sang her prayer. Did God doubt His choice of her, she wondered. Was she up to the task? Whatever, she decided, whether she was enough or not, she was and would be His willing servant. She pleaded for His help: hold me together; stay with me; cover me.

Compared to Mary’s assignment, ours seem small. After all, hers was foundational—she bore the Heart of God’s plan—but none of us is given an inconsequential task. God doesn’t waste His resources.

The Child Mary carried was the Cornerstone. We are living stones being built on that Stone into a holy Temple.

OK, our jobs are important. Are we really up to the task? It isn’t that we doubt the wisdom of His staffing choices. He’s the God who invented and defined wisdom. It’s that we know ourselves. We know how small we are, how flawed, how inadequate, how unprepared.

No need to fear; we won’t fail. The all-powerful God who saw Mary through is living in us, working through us, breathing out the breath of His own holiness, working all things for the good of those who love Him—and forgiving us again and again.

A living temple… Wow.

Am I a doorpost? A roof beam? A sunny window? Or, am I the smallest letter on the welcome sign out front? Doesn’t matter, as long as I’m faithful to the end.

Avi, You said You wouldn’t give us more than we can bear. As long as we give our burdens to You, we will stand and not be crushed by their weight. I’m Yours, Avi, and here, today, I give You my treasures and my burdens. I give You my weariness, my discouragement, my confusion. And when I take them back to worry over them a little more, please forgive me and remind me that You are the One who will carry me and my load. Hold me together, stay with me, cover me. In Your holy name, Amen.











Wednesday, December 9, 2015


He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:20 NIV

Watching the media coverage of the brouhaha over Donald Trump’s latest pomposity: No Muslims to be allowed into this country.

I don’t think this is what this businessman is really aiming for. Rather, it’s his first outrageous trade offer, to be followed by the compromise he allows his opponents to push him to, which is everything he really wanted in the first place. Whatever that is.

But has he stopped to consider the collateral damage? Does he realize the risk he’s taking by applying his deal tactics to the political arena, inflaming passions in frightened individuals, many of whom are unstable?

I hope not. To knowingly incite incendiary behavior points to a far greater character problem.  (And no, I'm not accusing him.)

A strong, in-your-face candidate is very attractive in this climate, but we need strong godly leaders. And, whatever he calls himself, a man who says he’s never asked God for forgiveness because he’s never done anything bad enough just doesn’t have a clue.

But here’s the deal: Donald Trump can’t fix what’s wrong with America, with our world. None of the candidates can. None of them can achieve peace in the Middle East. None of them can assure us of peace and prosperity at home. Too many tangles, too much greed and selfishness, too many histories, too many passionate world views, too many conflicting value systems and religions.   

Let’s choose the One who can fix our problems and make everything new. It’s an individual choice. Individual leadership for every life. National leadership for a country longing to be blessed again.

Then let’s choose godly leaders who’ll lead us in His way.

Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus. Come for us soon, Avi.
But wait. How many of those we love are hesitating at the door? How many still need another chance, need You to wait just a little longer? You know, Avi. You know every heart. Choose for us. And, while we wait, give us leaders after Your own heart.

In Your holy name, Amen.





Tuesday, December 1, 2015


“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”  
“Come,” he said.      
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”    
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”   
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.
                  Matthew 14:28-32 NIV

If Peter can walk on water, why can’t I ____ ____ ____ ___?  If you’re here, too, fill in your own blanks.

For me it’s, if Peter can walk on water, why can’t I finish a book? Writing one, that is.

Same reason Peter almost lost it.

I was doing pretty good, until I took my eyes off the prize.  For me, the storm that pulled my eyes from both the task and the One who enables us was technology. I can write. I can use the word processing functions of my computer, no problem.

But when the need to build a platform blew in, it brought with it the need to learn more and more about my other tools, specifically the seductive time trap of social media. And, with it, the need to flounder in the how-to’s of all these things.  

Satan’s pretty good at kicking up storms in our lives. One of his favorite squalls is to get us too busy. Doesn’t matter if the detour has a legitimate purpose or not. If it isn’t what I’m given by my real Boss to do right now, it isn’t what I should be spending my time on right now.  

I can finish a book—if I can concentrate on that book. So, as of now, officially, I quit. I quit spinning my wheels on what I’m not given to do. Bye-bye, Facebook. Bye-bye, formal market research. Bye-bye Pinterest and Twitter and whoever the rest of you are.

Master of all seas, save me! Reach out Your hand and rescue me as You rescued Peter. Calm this storm of doubt in me, and set me back on my feet at Your side. Help me to do what You’ve given me to do, Avi, so that I might hear You say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” In Your holy name, Amen.