Christmas is About Reconciliation

Christmas is About Reconciliation

Advent 2 December 9, 2018 Christmas is About Reconciliation Colossians 1:19-23 Recently, Aaron Rogers, the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, gave $1,000,000 to victims of the fires in one of the California communities near the area where he grew up and played football.  It was a very generous and heartfelt donation. However, it prompted his brother to call him out and say that his actions were hypocritical.  He was showing care and concern for strangers, yet he didn’t have enough consideration to pick up the phone and call his mother to check on her while she had her car packed and ready to evacuate her own home. The fires brought out an unfortunate family matter, that the Rogers family has been estranged for years. Crises situations will do that.  The holidays highlight our estrangements as well.  We can move through most the year fine, pretending these issues don’t matter or don’t exist, but when families are supposed to come together, that’s when we are reminded that estrangement isn’t normal. We get word that someone in the family isn’t coming after all, or one of them is showing up for the Christmas meal chronically late, which angers someone in the family because he or she is always late.  Right in the middle of the family gathering, someone brings up politics and an argument starts and before the gifts are unwrapped the family is divided. Usually, people are already stressed, trying to fit schedules with multiple families keep everybody happy. Sometimes when I go fishing, I get a knot in my line, and I cannot reel it in. If it’s just...
Today Could Be Your Bethlehem

Today Could Be Your Bethlehem

Advent 1 Today Could be Your Bethlehem Matthew 2:1-12 I have a pastor friend that was adopted into a wonderful family as a baby.  His parents never hid the fact from him that he was adopted.  They wanted him to embrace the story of his life and of their love for him and process it as he grew. There came a time in my friend’s life that he felt the need to search for his biological parents.  He wanted to fill in some unanswered questions. He knew where he was born, but nothing else about the circumstances of his birth. He wanted to know his medical history, the circumstances surrounding his birth, and the reason he was given up for adoption.  He wanted to know if his biological parents were alive.  Would they speak with him?  Did he have any half brothers and sisters? He purchased an Ancentry.com kit, and he was able to find a close relative that eventually led him to his birth mother. Recently, his birth mother and three half-sisters drove down from Pennsylvania to meet him, with the blessings of his parents.   So far, his biological father has not responded to his efforts for conversation. I’ve often wondered about how Jesus processed the information about the uniqueness of his birth. It is clear that the gospel writers want us to see where Jesus came from.  They want us to know that he was unique.   He was both from heaven and the lineage of King David.  These gospel writers want us to see that even before Jesus was born, God was at work in Jesus’ life and had...
The Significance of Leftovers

The Significance of Leftovers

November 25, 2018 The Significance of Leftovers Mark 4:30-34 Mark 8:14-21 For all of the school teachers present today, here is something that should make you feel good about your profession.  Of the 90 times that Jesus is addressed in the gospels, 60 times he is referred to as “teacher.”  So you are in good company. You often think of Jesus as a preacher, but no one called him “preacher.”  Jesus was called a teacher. When you see the word, “Rabbi,” that is a Hebrew word that means, “teacher.” Teachers are among the most important people in the world. Without teachers, how could children learn to read? How would they learn right from wrong? How could we learn to ride a bike, or tie our shoes? How would a rancher learn to raise cattle? How could a doctor learn to operate? How could an engineer learn to build roads and bridges? We don’t learn to do these things on our own.  We all need teachers. Even people that are inventors build on knowledge that others taught them. You might not have a teaching degree, but all of us are teachers to one degree or another.  What we teach is left up to us.  What we are teaching may be good, or it may be bad. It may be in line with what the Master Teacher taught, or it may not be. What are you teaching those around you?  What are they learning from you? Jesus taught us to “Go and make disciples.”  We cannot make disciples unless we are teachers and we cannot be good teachers unless we understand what it is that we are supposed...
What if We Lived By the National Motto?

What if We Lived By the National Motto?

What If We By Lived the National Motto? Proverbs 3:5-6 In March, the Tennessee Legislature passed a bill that the U.S. Motto, “In God We Trust,” must be in a prominent location, either as a plaque, artwork or in some other form in all Tennessee public schools. Governor Haslam said that at the end of the day he’s never thought that having a motto somewhere changes a lot of people’s thoughts, but in April he signed the bill into law.  If he wanted to earn the trust of voters, he didn’t have much choice. Perhaps the motto gives God-believing people some feeling of hope that we still have not strayed completely away from acknowledging God as our Lord. However, mottos are not worth much if they are lived out. If no one pays attention to a motto, or if no one is being held accountable to live by a motto, then it becomes like a piece of trash that people walk by, ignore, step on, and even discard. It becomes like a church people ride by every day but never see.  It becomes like a Bible people put on a shelf but never read. It becomes like wedding ring people wear but forget the vows it represents. When is the last time you’ve heard that someone’s behavior about how they use their money was influenced or changed because they were convicted by the motto, “In God We Trust.” That motto is printed on every coin and every piece of currency. Every day, money passes through our hands without us giving any thought to whether we should save, it, invest it,...
Learning Generosity in the Midst of Grief

Learning Generosity in the Midst of Grief

Learning Generosity in the Midst of Grief Luke 6:38 During Vacation Bible School this year, I was showing some preschool children some pictures I took in Liberia. One of the pictures showed a young woman holding her infant child. The picture was of particular interest to me because the T-shirt she was wearing said, “Be Like Jesus.” I asked the children, “What kinds of things should we do to be like Jesus?” The children responded with answers like “be kind, love others, pray for people, and be helpful.” One child said, “Be generous.” Eventually, a boy raised his hand and asked, “What does “generous” mean?” I explained that being generous was sharing what you have with others, like the time a little boy shared his lunch with Andrew, a disciple of Jesus, who then gave it to Jesus, who then multiplied it to feed thousands of people. The children had just finished their meal. So I told them that they had something to eat because other people were generous by providing them with their food. We then looked at another picture of three hungry Liberian children squatting down to eat leftovers from a big bowl used for cooking food for the students at Ricks Institute. While in Liberia, I have known people to eat only a cup of rice a day, and even that was due to the generosity of others. Some have gone without food for days. When Jesus said He was the Bread of Life, he wanted people to hunger for a relationship with him like they desired food when they are hungry. Generosity is one of...
Learning to Turn off the Meter and Wait

Learning to Turn off the Meter and Wait

Learning to Turn off the Meter and Wait 1 Samuel 13:2-15 October 28, 2018 One profession I think would breed impatience would be a cab driver in New York City. Here is an occupation where a person isn’t making money unless the meter is running. Taxi drivers don’t get paid to wait for people unless of course, the meter is running. But on the other hand, if the meter is running, waiting is traffic might not be such a big deal. We’ve all heard how impersonal the big city can be, so when I read this story written by a New York City taxi driver, it brought tears to my eyes. Listen as I share this heartwarming story.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes, I honked again. Since this was going to be the last ride of my shift, I thought about just driving away, but instead, I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked. https://www.elitedaily.com/life/culture/story-one-taxi-driver-will-change-entire-day “Just a minute,” answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. (Ibid) After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie. (Ibid) By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. (Ibid) There were...