The Gift of Gifts

Many people will spend much time trying to find the perfect gift for someone they love. Some people will buy an expensive gift in order to impress someone. Christmas is a time for giving. But the best human gift pales into insignificance compared to God’s gift to us. He gave us his best. He gave us Himself. That baby in a manger was his gift to us. That boy in the temple was his gift to us. That man teaching on the mountain was his gift to us. That man of Galilee touching and healing the leper was his gift to us. That man on the cross between two thieves was his gift to us. That man who came out of the grave conquering death was his gift to us. In giving Jesus to us, He gave us salvation, abundant life, eternal life. The Bible says, “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” And Paul broke into praise when he wrote, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” And through the ages men and women of faith have been talking about this amazing gift. It is a gift so precious that many have died martyrs deaths because of it. It is a gift so life-changing that many endure imprisonment and ridicule to tell others about it. We have just finished observing “Thanksgiving Day.” But, Christmas is certainly a time for thanksgiving. It is a time to thank God for the gift of eternal life, abundant life. We can spell that gift in one word, Jesus. No wonder that we celebrate Christmas every year....

Looking Right Side Up

I have a bookmark which is woven like a Persian rug. Looking at the back side you see no pattern. In fact, it is ugly. But, right side up it is beautiful. Those who fly have had the experience of taking off in cloudy, rainy weather. But once, you get above the clouds, the sun is shining and everywhere you see clear blue skies. How we look at things determines much of how we feel and enjoy life. We can look around us and see much to frighten and discourage us. That is why we need to look up. “Looking unto Jesus” we see things as they really are. We see the bigger picture. When we live a mole-like existence, it is easy to fall into depression. Around us may be much darkness. When we look up, we see that the light is shining. The disciples were with Jesus when a storm came up. They were fishermen and had seen many storms. This one must have been especially bad because it frightened them greatly. They awoke Jesus who was sleeping and asked, “Don’t you care that we are perishing?” It was life-threatening to them. Jesus calmed the storm and simply asked, “where is your faith?” All around us are storms of varying intensity. Like the disciples have we fastened our eyes on the storm or are we looking to the Ruler of the storms? Perspective changes everything. We need to look right side up. The Bible gives us that perspective on life. Let’s look at the world, the problems, and all our needs through the eyes of faith. God...

The Moral Abyss

No doubt most sensible people would recognize the moral abyss that our country has fallen into.  When you think things could not get worse, they do.  Things you would never talk about in public a few years ago are now spoken of without shame.  Hate speech is common.  Political enemies are treated worse than many animals.  What has happened to our country? I believe there is a way out of the destructive path that our country is heading.  It is a spiritual solution.  We need God.  We need to know Him and trust Him.  When man shuts out God, life goes down.  Relationships deteriorate.  Rightly related to God, we respect one another.  We become servants who think about other people and want the best for them. The Bible says that love covers a multitude of sins.  Biblical love is so foreign to much of modern society. We talk about “selfies.”  Problems always arise when selfish people are each trying to have their own way.  Whether it is a divided country or divided families we cannot make it by ourselves.  We need God’s love.  Love is the way out of the abyss.  Only God’s kind of love will do.  There is an old song which says it well,  “I Need Thee Every Hour.”  How we need God during this hour!      ...

The Value of Christ

These remarks come from my latest book, “The Focus of Faith.”  Christ surpasses everything and everyone.  He is the Pearl of Great Price.  He is the Treasure of all Treasures.  Others may hold their matches of light but He is the light of the world.  Others may talk about truth, but he is the living truth.  Others may talk about beauty, but He is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valleys.  Solomon was known for his wisdom.  However, the wisdom of Christ surpasses anything that Solomon knew. Paul’s values changed greatly when he met Christ.  He counted his old way of living as nothing but trash.  It did not compare to what he gained in Christ.  Whatever he lost, he gained far more in Christ.  In fact, he uses that expression several times, “much more.”  And he says that the grace of Christ “super-abounded.”  There is no balancing the scale.  The riches of Christ surpass everything.  The weight is all on the side of Christ. What would we compare to Christ?  The created world?  He made this world.  He existed before the earth and the universe.  It was all made through his power and holds together through his power.  Would we compare some great act of love to Him?  His love is before all other loves.  His love is from “everlasting to everlasting.”  Would we compare modern technology to Him?  Machines are helpful but they are dependent upon their makers.  Would we compare him to some of the great heroes of history?  We would soon realize that He surpasses any hero that we would mention. One...

Joy in Mozambique

Monday I returned from a trip to Mozambique with Reaching Souls International.  205 pastor,  church leaders, and 46 women registered for the Leadership Development Institute.  For 4 days there was intense study in classes such as “How to Study the Bible,”  “Basic Christian Doctrine,”  “Marriage,”  “Forgiveness,”  “The Preeminence of Christ,”  various classes on evangelism, and many others.  The four days of study were followed by 3 days of outdoor evangelism.  Thousands of people came to Christ as the men and women went out into the market places and villages to share the Gospel. For the outdoor evangelism there were 4 teams of about 70 members each,  going to different villages.  After one hour or longer doing personal evangelism, there were outdoor meetings in four different places in the mornings and afternoons.  It was the first time for some of the Christians to do this type of evangelism and they got a new vision for reaching out.  Pastors in the different areas were given decision slips so they could do follow-up.  Already one pastor sent word that there were several new members at his church last Sunday. If you are looking for a good place that emphasizes evangelism and discipleship, that believes national Christians are the ones who will reach their own people, that provides tools and training for national Christians, you might want to check out the website of Reaching Souls International.  Because there are many orphans from the Aids epidemic in Africa, Reaching Souls provides financial help for Christian families who care for orphans in their homes. Yes, there is great joy in Mozambique today.  Joy in the hearts of Christians who shared...

The Best Place to Be

There are many places we might like to be. Some would be exciting. Some would be restful. Some would be beautiful. Some would be pleasant to the eyes as well as enchanting to the ears. There are places where we would like to camp out. The thought comes that we would just like to stay there and not leave for any reason. I believe that the best place to be is in the will of God. It may not be the easiest place to be but it will be the most fulfilling place. It will be the safest place. There may be danger all around us but if God has brought us there, it will be the best place. This does not mean that we always understand the reason for God’s will. But, we can trust Him. He is good and He always does good. If we are in His will, we can relax. There is nothing to fear. Worry is useless. We are in His hands, hands that will never let us go, hands that no power in Heaven or earth can defeat. There is no greater security than in His will. A home security system may fail but He will not. In Romans 12 we read that “His will is good, perfect, and acceptable.” This is surely the best place to...

The Message of the Flowers

This is the time of year when you can see many flowers in bloom. There are all kinds of flowers. Some grow in the desert. Others do well in the tropics. There are thousands of varieties even within one type of many flowers. Sometimes you find flowers in unexpected places such as high in the mountains or in the sand near the ocean. One of my favorite flowers is the rose. A private citizen in Tomakomai, Japan had an amazing rose garden. He was a postal employee and not a horticulturist. But, you would not know it from looking at his garden. No doubt he spent countless hours caring for the roses. There were all kinds of roses and colors in his garden. The flowers have a message for us. They point to a wise, artistic Creator. It is hard to duplicate the beauty and fragrance of a flower. But, like the stars in the sky, they proclaim the existence and beauty of our Creator. If the Lord made all the beautiful things we see in nature, how beautiful He must be. Just as a painting is a message from an artist, so the flowers are a message from the Supreme Artist. Let us hear the message of the flowers! Jesus is called the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valleys. Wherever He goes, there is beauty and there is the fragrance of love. Flowers are used in times of sorrow such as funerals. They are also used in times of celebration such as weddings. The Lily of the Valleys and The Rose of Sharon never fail...

New Book is Now Available

My new book, The Focus of Faith, is now available on amazon.com as an e-book and also as a printed book. With the exception of the first two chapters, each chapter can be read independently. These are messages that I have delivered in many countries. You will find chapters such as these: “The Question that is the Answer,” “Love that is Big Enough,” “The Hope that Excites,” “Paradoxes of the Gospel,” and many more. There are messages for mature Christians as well as for people who may want to know more about the Bible. The Focus of Faith is not some vague wish. It is objective, based on the Bible. The messages in this book point to the source of the Christian’s faith. You will find messages to encourage but also point the way to Christ. If you are interested in the Bible or would like to know more about it, these messages should appeal to you. My aim is to deliver messages in such a manner than even children can understand them. I think the fodder should be down low so the sheep can get to it! This is my third book. This one is self published. I am finding that this has many advantages. That way the author has more liberty in using the book and promoting it. If this book is an inspiration and encouragement to any Christian, it will be wonderful. Should anyone come to Christ through reading this book, that will be worth publishing the book. To God be all the...

Easter Every Day

Every year we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. That is appropriate, but in reality every day is a time to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. We need to remember each day that He is alive. Jesus is our contemporary. He is not confined to a grave. He is not the mythological figure of someone’s imagination. He is not a prisoner of the past. He is as much alive today as when he walked the dusty roads of Judea and Galilee. If we only point to the cross, we have an incomplete Gospel. A Savior buried someplace cannot save us. I do not like to see the figure of Jesus upon the cross. The reason is that Jesus completed the work of salvation on the cross. He said, “It is finished.” He was offered once for all and will never have to die again. By that one sacrifice we are saved. No other will ever be needed. Because Jesus lives, He can save us completely. He lives to make intercession for us. The Bible says that he is seated at the right hand of God. The Holy Spirit makes Christ real in our lives. He leads us to the living Christ. And through Christ we can go before a holy God. Therefore, we celebrate at Christmas which points to the coming of Jesus in human flesh. We celebrate the perfect life he lived. We celebrate his substitutionary death for our sins. And we celebrate Jesus’ victory over death. Because He lives, we live. We live abundantly in the eternal life He has given us. We live in anticipation of the same...

The Community of Faith

Often maligned, criticized, shunned and considered out of date, she moves on through the ages. Often the target of jokes and the enemy of political despots, she continues to carry the light into the dark places of the earth. You will find her in historic buildings, in lowly hovels, in caves, under trees, in storefronts, in houses. She is a community of faith, called a church. Jesus said that the forces of evil would not prevail against her. What is the secret of this amazing community? It is Jesus Christ, the foundation and the head of the church. When people fight against churches, they are fighting against Christ. He loves the church. He established it and “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” Talk about variety and you will find it in churches. You will see it in the sizes of churches. There are churches with only 10 or 15 members. But, there are also mega-churches with 10,000 members meeting in multiple places. There are churches with wood benches and mud floors. But, there are also churches with magnificent maple padded pews and carpets. There are churches with drums for rhythms and no hymnals. But. there are other churches with great choirs accompanied by orchestras. There are churches with a “bush” pastor who has no training. But, there are churches which have many pastors, highly educated. The strange thing is that wherever you go, whatever the style of worship or the meeting place, there is an amazing unity among brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a sense of family. The language may be different, the culture...