Archive for the ‘Boston Bombing’ Category

Not too long ago, I heard someone list three things that tell the truth: small children, drunk people, and yoga pants. I’m not sure if there was an inference in there that all others lie, but the statement itself seems to be true (at least on its face).


In this day of fake news and alternative facts, it’s always nice to know when the truth is being told (as long as it’s not some negative truth about yourself). If you read the reactions to my e-letter from last week (see below), you’ll note that even I was called on my facts.


That is as it should be. None of us should toss around inaccurate statements. In this case, my general assertion was true, but way overstated. I’m glad it was pointed out to me. It will cause me to be a better writer in the future. Kudos to my diligent readers!


But back to the yoga pants. Truth tellers are not always met with overwhelming joy. Take Jesus, for example. As is also ascribed to George Washington, he could not tell a lie. It always got him into deep doo-doo. Eventually, it got him crucified.


Jesus’ problem was he often spoke out when silence would have helped him avoid most messy situations. Of course (had he done that), he could not have carried out his role as Messiah. Then where would we be?


While I can avoid yoga pants (and drunk people, sometimes), I can’t avoid the truth of Christ–at least not without negative consequences. He once said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) While it’s one thing to know the truth, it’s entirely another to be the truth. If what he says is correct, he is the very embodiment of the truth. There is no truth without him.


A preacher once told a congregation, “If God would strike every liar dead, where would I be?” After everyone stopped laughing he added, “I’d be preaching to an empty house. That’s where I’d be.” I guess we’re all guilty of not having enough truth within us.
The Apostle Paul wrote these words. “
Let God be true, and every human being a liar.” (Romans 3:4) We seem to be on a neverending quest for the truth. If Jesus is the truth, it might be a good strategy to begin with him.

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. (Luke 2:15-16 ESV)

God chose Bethlehem for Jesus to be born. He did not choose a major city like Jerusalem or Rome. Even today, it is still not a likely city one would associate with a place for the Savior of the world to be born. God did not seek super stardom for his son’s arrival. Nor was there a Facebook entry with thousands of followers and press reporters that converged on the sight.

Humble shepherds saw the angelic messengers and then paid homage to the Child that would become the Savior of mankind. Joseph did not have an internet reservation at a five star hotel. He had to make do with what one would least expect: A manger and animals! Imagine the outcry of child abuser activists today if one would use a manger as a crib.

Even two thousand years ago an earthy royal prince and future king’s birth would have been remarkably different from this. There would be the best materials for baby care: a cot, clothing, fine linen and woolen blankets and nursing care. There would be a royal doctor and midwives of the Court.

Joseph and Mary followed through with the honor God had bestowed on them to be the earthly parents of Jesus Christ. They trusted God to provide when there was not even accommodations and a place to put the baby to rest.

This biography tells us that opulence and materialism, especially shopping sprees at this time of year, draw our attention away from what God wants us to focus on, namely the Savior that was born into this world and stripped bare of what one would regard as basic essentials.

Prayer: Almighty God. We thank you for the greatest and most precious gift ever given to mankind, our Lord Jesus Christ as Savior from our sins. Help us to look beyond all the distractions of the material world and to focus on the real value of worshipping Jesus

Going a little further he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but you will.” (Matthew 26:39 ESV)

How often are we faced with something in our lives that troubles us, grieves us, or simply we don’t want to do? I face this situation almost daily. Whether it’s not wanting to deal with someone at work, face rush hour traffic or do a necessary chore around the house. Most the time I think to myself that it would be nice if I did not have to deal with such things. They tend to be interfering with my plans or my will and bring about frustration.

When I reflect on the reading above (Matthew 26:39), I am immediately shamed into realizing how petty my so called trials and tribulations of life are.

Here we find Jesus asking God the Father to take away the immense physical pain and death he will be suffering. However, it is what Jesus says next that provides the most important lesson. He says, “Yet not as I will, but you will”. In other words, “God please don’t let me suffer a horrible death and find another way for me to save all of mankind, BUT only if that is what you want. If not, I am want to carry out your will.”

These 8 words from Matthew 26:39 shifted my entire paradigm of what it meant to be a Christian. I have struggled, continue to struggle and will probably always struggle with trying to assert MY will over God’s WILL. Yet, I want him to remove all life’s trouble and pain. It is inherent in our fallen nature as human beings to think this way. However, meditating on this verse helps me truly understand that God has a plan for me (us) and in end it is His WILL that we should be praying comes to pass.

Be sure to ask yourself daily, whose WILL shall be done?

fearWhen God asks us to do something, it can be doverwhelmng, terrifying even, and cause usanxiety. Maybe it is moving to a new city, asking someone if they know Jesus, or even quitting a job. This happened multiple times to Gideon, who was a Judge in the Old Testament. There is encouragement for us though. God didn’t look at Gideon as a failure because he was afraid and questioned God about the things he was supposed to do. In fact, each time he was afraid, God provided for him.

But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. (Judges 7:10 ESV)

In this verse we read that he was afraid to go down to the camp alone. So, God told him to go with one of his servants. God could have easily said, “You failed and I will use somebody else!” But he didn’t. Don’t feel as if you’ve failed when God has called you to do something and you are afraid. He will provide a way for you to make it through your fears and succeed. Being afraid is okay, but succumbing to that fear and being disobedient is not. God will call us to do hard things in our lifetime, but as with Gideon, He will be ever present and strong in our weakness!

Be encouraged today and trust our good God to equip you for the work laid before you! Below are some amazing verses on fear

  • Psalm 23:4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

  • Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?

  • Psalm 118:6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

  • 2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

  • Psalm 115:11 You who fear him, trust in the LORD– he is their help and shield.

soulConfess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.—James 5:16

Have you ever been wrong and refused to admit ot confess the act? I have recently been put into the position where I am being persecuted to the point of disbelief. I watch these people accuse me, then refuse to admit they were, or did, anything wrong. While I wish I could get an apology from them, my biggest concern is for the damage they are doing to themselves by not admiting their sin.

No one enjoys admitting they are wrong. We hope our spouse or kids or friends will overlook our shortcomings and not call us out on the mistakes we make. We want to preserve the appearance of having our life pulled together. No one wants to say, “I was wrong, and I’m sorry!”

But by avoiding those painful words, we miss the blessing that follows. When a wound is cleaned, the healing can begin. If we live with sin festering in our life, we miss the healing and wholeness that God has made available to us.

James tells us the next step after confession is also important for healing—we must also pray for each other. It’s hard to be angry with someone for whom we are honestly praying. By asking God to work through each other to advance his kingdom, we might find we can forgive as we have been forgiven.

Prayer

Gracious Lord, grant us the courage to admit our failings and to confess them to one another. Help us to forgive each other and to pray for those whom you have placed in our lives. Amen.

  1. bibleJohn 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  2. Jer 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
  3. Rom 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
  4. Phil 4:13: I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
  5. Gen 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
  6. Prov 3:5: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
  7. Prov 3:6: in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
  8. Rom 12:2: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
  9. Phil 4:6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
  10. Matt 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
  11. Eph 2:8: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
  12. Gal 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
  13. Rom 12:1: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
  14. John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
  15. Acts 18:10: For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”
  16. Acts 18:9: One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.
  17. Acts 18:11: So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
  18. Gal 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
  19. 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
  20. Rom 3:23: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
  21. John 14:6: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
  22. Matt 28:20: and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
  23. Rom 5:8: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  24. Phil 4:8: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
  25. Phil 4:7: And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  26. Josh 1:9: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
  27. Isa 40:31: but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
  28. Eph 2:9: not by works, so that no one can boast.
  29. Rom 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  30. Gal 5:23: gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
  31. Isa 53:5: But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
  32. 1 Pet 3:15: But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
  33. 2 Tim 3:16: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
  34. Matt 6:33: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
  35. Heb 12:2: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
  36. 1 Pet 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
  37. Eph 2:10: For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
  38. 1 Cor 10:13: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
  39. Matt 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
  40. Heb 11:1: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
  41. 2 Cor 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
  42. Heb 13:5: Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
  43. 2 Cor 12:9: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
  44. Rom 10:9: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
  45. Isa 41:10: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  46. Gen 1:26: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
  47. Matt 11:29: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
  48. John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
  49. Acts 1:8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
  50. 2 Tim 1:7: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
  51. Isa 53:4: Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
  52. 2 Cor 5:21: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
  53. Rom 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  54. John 11:25: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
  55. Heb 11:6: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
  56. John 5:24: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
  57. Jas 1:2: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
  58. Isa 53:6: We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
  59. Acts 2:38: Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  60. Eph 3:20: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
  61. Matt 11:30: For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
  62. Gen 1:27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
  63. Col 3:12: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
  64. Heb 12:1: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
  65. Jas 5:16: Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
  66. Acts 17:11: Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
  67. Phil 4:19: And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
  68. John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
  69. 1 Cor 6:19: Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
  70. 1 John 3:16: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
  71. Ps 133:1: How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
  72. John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
  73. Heb 4:12: For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
  74. John 15:13: Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
  75. Mic 6:8: He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
  76. Rom 10:17: Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
  77. John 1:12: Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
  78. Jas 1:12: Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
  79. Jas 1:3: because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
  80. Rom 8:38: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
  81. Rom 8:39: neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  82. Heb 10:25: Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
  83. 2 Pet 1:4: Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
  84. Phil 1:6: being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
  85. Ps 133:3: It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
  86. Heb 4:16: Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
  87. Ps 37:4: Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
  88. John 3:17: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
  89. Acts 4:12: Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
  90. Isa 26:3: You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
  91. 1 Pet 2:24: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
  92. Josh 1:8: Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
  93. Matt 28:18: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
  94. Col 3:23: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,
  95. Matt 22:37: Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
  96. Ps 133:2: It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.
  97. Matt 5:16: In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
  98. Isa 55:8: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
  99. Heb 4:15: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.
  100. John 13:35: By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

gavelLet us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or ob-stacle in the way of a brother or sister.—Romans 14:13

To people outside the faith, Christians often seem like hypocrites who look on the rest of the world in condemnation. We are seen as critical and self-righteous. And sometimes it’s true. Sometimes our rejection and derision make Christ look bad. We condemn those who have heard only judgment and long for grace. We disapprove of people who have made poor life choices. We wish common sense were a little more common. Our impatience with others for whom Christ died shows how much we need him too.

Sometimes we have been hurt, and our hearts cry out for justice. We want to take judgment into our own hands. Part of forgiveness involves allowing God to take care of justice. We may need good boundaries with those who are still broken, and God ordained civil authorities to restrain crime—but God alone is the judge.

Practically speaking, looking scornfully at our neighbor makes it difficult to share our witness. If we Christians shared the truth of how we have fallen down, the world might receive us better. Admitting our brokenness would allow Jesus’ restoration to shine brighter. If we approached each other as fellow sinners pointing the way to be forgiven, maybe more sinners would follow Christ.

How can you show grace today?

Prayer:

Lord, forgive us for judging one another. Teach us how to share our brokenness and to point others to Christ. Amen.