Church Creek Charge

Weekly Bulletin - Things the Bible Teaches

Rev. Kirkley
White Haven
Taylors Island
Weekly Bulletin


July 10th, 2005

It is time that we talk more about a Christian's relationship with his/her country.

For too long some voices have claimed that you can not serve both God and country. Supposedly you can serve God or you can serve your country but you can not serve both because they are antithetical. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

During the 23 years that I served as pastor in St. Mary's County our church was just outside the main gate to the Patuxent Naval Air Station. Our church people were 80% base related with representatives from all branches of the military.

I can say without contradiction that some of the finest and most Christian people I have ever met were in the military. They loved both their Lord and their country. In fact, they felt that being a Christian made them better personnel in the military. Their faith in God carried them through the crises that all people meet in life. Having observed many military people, I am convinced that their higher values in life came through their relationship with God. They had a quality of life not seen in others.

Whereas a Christian may not serve a communist country, there is no contradiction in serving a country whose foundation was built on God and on spiritual faith. More political leaders need the spiritual roots that faith brings. The excesses we see in government and some leaders are not caused by faith but rather by their lack of faith. People who feel the tug of God on their hearts will be different from people who have no spiritual orientation.

Even though theoretically there is a separation of church and state, it does not require that no one of faith can be in government. It also does not mean that the government must oppose all faith. Some of our proudest moments of history, such as George Washington praying at Valley Forge, were based of faith. Our coinage bears the motto "In God we trust".

Throughout history we have seen Godless governments, such as Russian communism, or Hitler's horrid persecution of the Jews. Other examples can be cited. The further people are away from God the more vicious will be their countries. People who leave out God will resort to all evils, while people with faith in God will be compassionate and devoted.

Let us pray for more faith-full leaders in our branches of government. People whose lives include their faith in God will be those who stand for the right and righteous people.

July 3, 2005

With all the hullabaloo that we hear today about the separation of church and state, we need to get a clear understanding about who and what a Christian is.

If you listen to some in the media you would get the idea that Christians are destroying America. By the way -that was the charge that Nero and the Romans used in the first century to inspire hatred against Christians, which led to the deaths of five to six million Christians for the ensuing 150 years.

America was founded by Christians who wanted to be free to worship God in their own ways. That is why all the original founding documents included references to God, faith and freedom. We must never forget the reasons that America got its start even though some want to bury that part of our past.

There is no conflict between being a Christian and being loyal to your country, particularly so when you consider why and how this country got its start.

As your pastor, let me reaffirm my own priorities.

I am first and foremost a Christian -one committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. On that I will never compromise.

Secondly, I am a husband and a family man. I do not believe in neglecting my wife and/or the family that my wife and I have created. The Bible makes this very clear.

Thirdly, I am a very patriotic American. I refuse to apologize for that. I am proud of our country and what it stands for. I stand with the early patriot who said "My country -may she always be right -but right or wrong -my country". It is part of the duty of every Christian to support, uphold, and defend this country.

Fourthly, I am a minister. This is not just my profession. It is my life. All my life -all I have ever wanted to do is to touch people's lives for the Lord. People may retire from a job, but you never retire from serving the Lord. I intend to keep ministering as long as the Lord gives me my health and the opportunity. There is still so much to do.

Notice that I have not listed denominations or politics. These things are far down the list. I believe that all Christians should do all they can to improve our country in every possible way. That is why I served for 10 years as a member of the St. Mary's County Board of Education and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but the four priorities listed above take precedence over everything else.

There is no conflict between being a Christian and being a loyal American. Let us all be proud of that honor.

June 26, 2005

There is an old adage that goes back to ancient history - "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

What you look at in life is what you will see. If you go around looking for beauty in life you will see it. On the other hand, if you go around looking for the bad or the ugly then that is what you will see.

Today we ask the question -"What are you looking at?"

In our scripture lesson today (Matthew 14) we have the marvelous story of our Lord walking on the water. Simon Peter said "Lord, if it really is you let me come to you" and Christ invited him to do so. Simon Peter probably looked back at the disciples and said "Fellows look at me -I'm walking on water". Then he looked at the waves and wondered to himself what he was doing there. At that point he began to sink. He cried out "Lord save me -I perish". Christ reached out and pulled him back on top of the water and said to him "Why did you doubt?".

You see -as long as Peter was watching Christ he was safe. When he looked at his circumstances he went under.

What are you looking at in Life? If you see only the bad, the ugly, the broken in life, then that is what you will see. If you look beyond those things and see God at work then you will see victory.

All of us have driven when it is raining. You can either focus on the raindrops on the windshield or you can look beyond them and see other things. Why look at the raindrops for they are only temporary. Look beyond them and see your destination.

Part of what you see in life has to do with how you see yourself. If you view yourself as being inferior, unimportant, and of little value then you are denying your true self. When you see yourself as part of God's redeeming work and part of God's family then you are opening the door to the blessings that God has for you.

Jesus Christ came into our world as the Redeemer to bring people back into fellowship with God. Through Jesus Christ you are not a nobody -you are a special somebody. You deserve in life the blessings that God makes available to people.

Furthermore, you are part of God's family and that makes you royalty. As such you can live above the circumstances rather than under them.

In life keep your eyes on Jesus Christ. He is your Lord and Savior. Don't look at all the undesirable things around you because they will defeat you. Realize who you are in God and look at the blessings that God has for you. Your happiness and victory over life has been decreed for you in Christ. Keep your eyes on Him and everything else will be taken care of.

June 19, 2005

On Mothers' Day I made some strong statements about the sacredness of womanhood. The major point was that women are sacred and as such should be treated in very sacred ways.

Today I wish to emphasize the sacredness of manhood. Just as women are sacred in God's design of the family, so also are men. They have been created by God for a very special role in life. A role that is so vital that people suffer when that role is unfulfilled.

According to the divine plan each person comes into this world with certain abilities, functions, and responsibilities. Just because the roles are different, it does not mean that one is inferior to another. In God's eye, as taught in the Bible, each person (man or woman) is a very precious part of creation. Each plays a vital role in the plan of pro-creation and as such total equality is in the system.

For too long, due to the misunderstanding of people, men have exercised the role of being superior to women. "Me Tarzan -you Jane" was thought to be the divine plan. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Women are sacred -men are sacred and each should revere and respect the sacredness of one another.

Men have unique roles in God's plan, just as do women. The role of the man is to be the strong male influence in the home and in society. Too many men have deserted that role as well as their responsibilities. In Ephesians 5:25 we read "Husbands -love your wives". It goes on to say that when the husband loves his wife he is really loving himself because the two are one. The sacredness of being a man is fulfilled by being a person of love. The reason that more people do not love their spouse is because they have stopped loving themselves, which creates a void in life that they try to fill with side distractions.

Just as the love of a mother is needed to develop the full potential of a child, the love of the father is just as vital. Years ago I heard a statement -"The best thing that you can do for your child is to love his/her mother." The broken home, as necessary as it sometimes is, also breaks up the lives of children.

Men are to be role models for the family and the community. They need to be vitally involved in the lives of children. They need to set standards of morality, decency, kindness and affection.

Men need also to be involved in the church and the spiritual development of their children. I know that most men are extremely busy but the spiritual aspects of life become priorities -priorities that will set examples for children to follow.

Women are sacred -men are sacred. Let's treat each other in that way.

June 12, 2005

One of the things that stands out in Biblical teachings is the responsibility of each person for who they are in life and where they are in life.

It has been popular theology (even though it is very wrong) to believe that God makes all the decisions for you and that the less desires you have in life and the more you just accept in life what life hands you, the more you are fulfilling God's will for you. This is sheer nonsense and 100% wrong.

Spirituality is never found by maintaining the status quo but rather by rising above all other circumstances and fulfilling all the talent and potential that God has put within you. Spirituality is the challenge to be the unique individual that God created you to be.

One of the greatest mistakes people make is the desire to be just like everybody else. There are no 'cookie cutter Christians' created by God. This is a great problem with our youth today -the desire to be 'just like everybody else' and to do the things everybody else is doing. The problem with conformity is that somebody tries to be everybody so that nobody has to be anybody.

Instead of believing that God makes all decisions for you and that you are to accept whatever life hands you, be the unique person that God has created you to be by fulfilling that wealth of hidden talent within you.

Set your own goals in life and then work diligently to fulfill them. The person who fails to plan in life already plans to fail in life. Life will be what you make it- it is entirely up to you.

The Bible has a great deal to say about dreamers -about those who raise their gaze higher than others. These are the people that God can work though because they refuse to be mundane and ordinary.

God is not honored by the smallness of people's ideas -He is honored by those who think big and then enter into a big partnership with God. Instead of doing something small for God why not reach out and do something big for God? Audacious faith is the kind of faith that claims great victories because "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world".

Be all you can be in God. That is the only way to success and fulfillment in life. Reach for the higher things in life in a partnership with God.

June 5, 2005

Today we conclude our studies on the Lord's Prayer. I hope you realize that this prayer was given at the beginning of Christ's ministry and that it came years before the Cross and the Resurrection. Christ was teaching spiritual Jews about spiritual prayer. A lot of prayer amounts to a 'religious' exercise in futility, because it is not spiritual prayer.

Today we conclude with the phrase "For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever". Simply stated this phrase teaches that God is everything and those who are connected with God have everything while those who are not open to God have nothing.

Our entire universe is filled with both the presence and the power of God. Life, in the truest sense of that word, means having a relationship with our Creator.

To be in God is to be alive and to leave out God means that there is nothing left. It is not a matter of being religious, because God is not religious. People are in the religion business but God is in the people business. We do a great disservice to God and ourselves when we turn Christianity into just another religion by all the religious things that we add to it.

Simply stated - a Christian is a person who has opened his/her life to God and because of that lives in a daily relationship with God. You don't have to live the Christian life in your own power or energy because God offers to each person the fulfillment of His power in the life of that person.

You can summarize the entire teachings of The Bible by a simple insight -"Outside of God there is only death". It is so foolish for people to exclude God from their lives when the presence of God could enhance their lives everyday.

Everything is God and God is everywhere. The breath that you breathe is filled with the peace and power of God. Entering into that partnership with God, which is what He offers you, makes the difference between living on your own or living with God. Why try it on your own when God guarantees you peace, fulfillment, and the truly satisfied life.

People could live without the benefits of electricity but why do that when there are so many other blessings that come to you because of electricity. It is the same with God. His love and power is available to each person, so why try to live without Him when life is so much better with Him? God is everything that is good and the closer you walk with Him each day makes life worthwhile and complete.

May 29, 2005

Today we come to the second phrase in The Lord's Prayer that shows a remarkable difference between 'Pre-Cross and Pre- Resurrection Theology' and 'Post-Cross and Post-Resurrection Theology'. Last week we discussed "Lead us not into temptation" - the old idea that God tests people with temptations. Today we look at "Deliver us from evil'. This simply carried on the old idea that unless God intervenes individually for us, we just can not survive, because evil is always more powerful than people.

The most basic theme in the Christian faith is the victory that passes to every Christian because on the Cross and through Christ's Resurrection we have already been delivered from all evil and we can claim the victory that is ours through Jesus Christ.

We must understand the momentous victory that took place on the Cross. Jesus Christ (God Incarnate) entered a world that is filled with all types of evil, went to Calvary's Cross to forever defeat all the forces of evil, and literally bring the world back to its Creator through the Christian concept of love and all-encompassing forgiveness.

In Colossians 1:13 Paul exults "He (God) has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated (moved us over) us in the Kingdom of the Son of His love".

The victory of Christ on the Cross was for the purpose of the freedom that is now given to each person through Christ. You are no longer a loser waiting for God to save you -You are a victor because Jesus Christ has already delivered you from all the power of evil Each person is eligible to accept this new found liberty in Christ. Christ's victory was for the purpose of freeing you and making you a victor. Your name is already on the check -the power is in the bank and it is yours to use.

That is why Christ sent out His disciples to heal the sick and to cast out demons because no evil can withstand the power of God. You no longer are under the influence of evil because Christ has set you free. No evil can control you unless you surrender to it.

How do you see yourself? You can see yourself as this poor unfortunate person waiting for God to come and rescue you from this world, or you can see yourself as the victor standing strong and complete in Jesus Christ and no form of evil can conquer you. You have already been delivered in and through Christ and you have the authority to use the power of God. Read Luke 10:19.

Instead of praying to be delivered (pre-Cross) you have already been delivered. You are free and perfected in Christ.

May 22, 2005

Today in our study of The Lord's Prayer we come to the phrase "Lead us not into temptation". This is the most striking difference between Jewish theology and Christian theology. To understand this phrase we have to understand the Old Testament Jewish mind.

To the Hebrews there was only the power of an Almighty God. To them Jahweh (the name for God given to Moses at the burning bush) was the only power in the world. Therefore they believed that God was responsible for everything -good or bad. They believed that God sent storms, floods, droughts, famines, even evil rulers. If tragedy struck you or your family they believed that it came from God. They believed that even sickness came from God. They thought that God sent temptations to test people and to see who was weak and who was strong.

Please remember that the Lord's Prayer was taught to Jewish believers and that it came before the cross and the resurrection. It fit right into the Old Testament concept of God tempting people. The concept of God taught by Jesus Christ was that God was a loving father who wanted only the best for His family. (Matthew 7:11) No loving parent would deliberately place illness or evil upon his/her child and neither would our Heavenly Father. Evil occurs, not by divine decree but by the forces of nature as well as the law of averages.

There is a definite change in the New Testament -not that God had changed but that people's understanding of God changed. In James ( 1:13) the apostle clearly states that evil never comes from God, whether that evil happens to be in the form of temptations, sickness, or financial disaster.

How often today people still blame God for the things that go wrong. They think that God is punishing them for some sin by sending disease, financial reverses, or tragedies.

The God that would do that may fit into the theologies of some religions but not in the Christian faith. One way to distinguish between religion and the Christian message is to analyze their concept of God.

In the Christian faith God is never the cause of evil but He is always the cure for evil God leads no one into evil nor does He cause evil to confront anyone.

The New Testament, in the Scriptures read today, clearly teaches that evil occurs and that it rises from the human factor and not God. Evil people will do evil things, but evil is never the will of God.

May 15, 2005

Today we return to our study of The Lord’s Prayer after various weeks of interruption. We will finish this study before summer.

Remember that the Lord’s Prayer as taught by Christ was to teach spiritual Jews how to pray as opposed to the gaudy pretentious prayer that they were accustomed to hearing.

This prayer, however was and is pre-Christian because it came at the beginning of Christ’s ministry and three years before His crucifixion and resurrection. It did not include the victorious message of deliverance found in the Resurrected Lord. As we will see in the coming messages in this series that the conflict between the Jewish theology before Christ and the resurrection theology of the new Christina faith.

Today we come to the phrase “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

The Scripture lesson goes on to say that if we do not forgive others the wrongs that they have committed against us that God is not able to forgive us the wrongs that we have committed against Him.

Please remember that the Bible was not written in English. Our Lord spoke in Aramaic, which was then translated into Greek, the language that the New Testament was written in, and then translated into English some 1500 years later. That is a lot of perhaps lost meanings.

What Christ was teaching is very simple. God can only help the person whose life is open to be helped. He forces nothing on anyone.

What does it mean to have a life that is open to God? That goes right to the heart of what a Christian is. IA Christian is the person whose life is open to God, who lives in fellowship with God each day and enjoys God’s blessing in his/her life.

What is the opposite of that? It is to live a closed life – one that is wrapped up in one’s self. One who lives constantly in fear and worry. It is living the self-protected life out of fear of being hurt or just plain selfishness.

The life that is not open to fellowship with others is the life that is also closed to God. The life that refuses to up and forgive others is the life that is not open to receive God’s forgiveness. If you are not open to others, to the same degree, you are not open to God. It is not a matter of your orientation, but rather a matter of being loving and accepting of others. The life that loves others is also open to receive the love that comes from God.

God truly loves people and desires to help them but He can only help those whose lives are open to Him. When you forgive others you make yourself eligible to receive His forgiveness also.

May 8, 2005

Today is Mother's Day but I want to broaden it to include all women. I am going to write many things I have said before in various settings, some in sermons or classes, because they need to be said and particularly here on Delmarva which historically has been a bastion of male chauvinism. For too long men have believed that they are superior to women, that God has given to them this right and "me Tarzan -you Jane" is still thought of as divine law.

The Christian portions of the Bible teaches absolute equality between men and women. Ancient history may have taught otherwise but with modern times modern insights are needed.

What I am about to write comes from 58 years of pastoring and marital counseling with all situations imaginable.

It is far harder to be a woman than it is to be a man. It takes more of a person to be a woman than a man. Women are far more complex than are men, mainly due to the pro-creative processes that are built into the female psyche. Men have it easy compared to what nature itself has placed on women. I have said over the years that nature has already played enough 'dirty tricks' on women and men do not have to add more.

There is a sacredness attached to womanhood that is often unseen and/or neglected. The privilege of carrying a new life in her body for nine months, and then lovingly caring for that new life for the next twenty years, is a special God-designed blessing that no man will ever be able to duplicate. God created women because He knew that no man could ever fulfill those responsibilities. God created women for a very special role which by itself makes womanhood sacred.

Yes, men are physically stronger than women and that situation has caused men to overcome their own inadequacies through abuse, promiscuity, and other absurd actions.

God, in the original plan, created the family -father, mother and child(s). Each person in that arrangement is equal in value before God even though the roles are distinct. There is no sense of dominance or control because each fulfills a divinely given function. Father and mother are to love one another and then to mutually love their children thus contaging a love relationship which has its roots in God.

Does God love women more than men? Absolutely not because He loves them equally. Each has a separate but equally important role. Each role is sacred before God as both men and women fulfill the potential that God has placed within them, whatever that potential may be.

It is sacred to be a woman. Women -accept and fulfill your sacredness. Men -honor their sacredness.

April 24, 2005

The 'Lord's Prayer', as taught by Christ to the Jewish believers, has been revered in the Christian faith. Actually, coming at the beginning of Christ's ministry, it was pre-cross and pre- resurrection. Christ was simply teaching spiritual Jewish believers how to pray spiritually rather than 'showy prayer' often used in religion. The theology of this prayer was simply the continuance of Jewish theology. There is a definite difference in pre-resurrection theology and post-resurrection theology, which shows up in the later sections of the prayer.

Today we come to the phrase "Give us this day our daily bread".

Right from the beginning we run into a translation problem. Please remember that Christ did not speak English. He spoke Aramaic and the New Testament was written in Greek, so there are problems in translating from one language to another, not to mention the three languages.

The word that is translated as 'bread' in English refers to far more than just food. It really refers to everything that anyone can need in life -health, money, careers, finances, etc. God is in the blessing business and it is His desire to bless and fulfill you in all that you do.

When we think of the old translation 'Give us this day our daily bread' we usually picture someone going down to the market place and procuring only what is needed to squeak through that day. That is certainly the misguided insight I had as a child, and it was made worse by those who taught that God only dealt with us on a daily basis otherwise we would forget how much we needed Him.

Even today if someone is hungry it is hard for them to even think of other needs. But God is far more interested in just seeing that you have food on your table. He wants you to live the truly 'abundant life' that Christ promised His followers. That abundant life includes the fulfillment of all the potential that God has put within you. The Christian life is the most blessed life in every way. God is not now and has never been in the failure business. Go back to Psalm 1 where God promises His followers "Whatsoever you do will prosper".

Please remember that our Lord taught His disciples to think of God as being the most perfect, the very best loving father. No loving father wants to see his children groveling in defeat and despair and neither does God.

Every day God wants to pour blessing after blessing in your life. That is what Christ taught when in The Lord's Prayer He taught us to remember from whom all blessings flow. God is in the needs- meeting business and He wants to meet all of your needs.

April 17, 2005

The 'Lord's Prayer', as taught by Christ to the Jewish believers, has been revered in the Christian faith. Actually, coming at the beginning of Christ's ministry, it was pre-cross and pre- resurrection. Christ was simply teaching spiritual Jewish believers how to pray spiritually rather than 'showy prayer' often used in religion. The theology of this prayer was simply the continuance of Jewish theology. There is a definite difference in pre-resurrection theology and post-resurrection theology, which shows up in the later sections of the prayer.

Today we come to "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven".

Since the beginning of the world there has been a definite conflict between what people do and what God wants them to do. People have hard heads, are very self-centered, and are determined to do everything 'their way' even if it is wrong and/or harmful to them. God never dictates to people and He has given them free-will to develop their own lives. What God wants people to do is to live life to its fullest and best, because this is in their best interest. However, people often choose the path that is not the best for them. We waste our lives with so many foolish things when we could do a lot better.

Obviously, God runs Heaven and people run this world. In Heaven everything will go right because it is God's world. There are no wasted lives there.

When we pray "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven" we are praying that God will overrule the evil in this world and help people to find the higher way that is always there for them. We are asking God to lead people who don't want to be led, into something better for them. No one can deny the sin, the hatred, the evil that is in our world, and we are praying for people to find God's way.

There is also an even more important aspect to this request. We are aligning ourselves with God and in this request are giving ourselves to God's way. We are not just praying for the world but also for ourselves. "Thy will be done in my life". In the battle of good and evil which rages within each person, we want God's power to overrule our own tendencies and to help us find and live the higher life. We are both acknowledging the higher way and asking God to help us live it.

The hardest thing any human has to do is to surrender his/ber own human desires to allow God to lift us to higher things. The history of the world is this conflict - the desire of people to follow whatever they wish rather than the higher life that could be ours in God. To live with God's way is the only worthwhile decision. "Thy will be done" is the smart decision.

April 3, 2005

Our churches have truly had a great Easter season and hopefully you have too.

The message of Easter is so spectacular that the afterglow of Easter should last until next Easter. As much as we love the Christmas message of God coming into our world to help us solve our problems, that message would be incomplete were it not for the victorious message of Easter.

Think of all the people who thought that they had gotten rid of a trouble-maker -the religious leaders and the Romans. Rather than solving their problems they only compounded them. It has been estimated that by the year 65 one- tenth of the Roman world were Christians, even though it was illegal to be a Christian. By the third century it is estimated that one-third of that world were Christians. The church grew during persecution when people realized all that was offered to them in Jesus Christ. So many people had become Christians when it was against the law to be a Christian that the Roman government repealed those laws.

Today the message of victory in God should be contaged by the glow in the lives of Christians. The presence of Jesus Christ in your life lights a fire that nothing else can extinguish. Paul exults "1 can do all things through Christ who strengthens me", and you can too.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ not only tells us about our victory in Heaven but it also enables us to live the victorious life in this world.

The Bible tells us that "in all things we are more than conqueror~. If you are more than a conqueror than you can never be conquered by anything that this world can throw at you. Nothing can come between you and God unless you let it. You can give in to fear, worry, anxiety, sin and a host of other problems but you don't have to do 80.

Remember who Jesus Christ is- your very best friend, a constant companion, your guide through the maze of life, as well as many other blessings.

Think of how happy you would be if all of a sudden you received millions of dollars. In Jesus Christ you have even better than that. Easter guarantees that. Realize it and appreciate it. All things are yours in Jesus Christ. Live in that glow.

March 27, 2005

Today the Christian church culminates the message of redemption that began on Christmas day -the message of what God has done for our world in coming into our world in human form, dying for the sins of the entire world, and then rising from the dead to show that evil, no matter how powerful, can never defeat God.

The message of history is quite clear .There is much evil in our world. Sometimes this evil veils itself in religious garb and sometimes, like communism, it tends to be anti-religious. The general characteristic remain the same, in that, people are in rebellion against God. We see it here in our own country in the way that Christianity is being attacked in the media, on television and radio, and often in court decisions. People who have spiritual values and principles are thought of as bigots and/or religious fanatics.

The world to which Jesus Christ came had many of the same characteristics. In many ways the world of that day was even more religious than the world of today because there were more religions then. Most people believed in many gods.

The basic characteristic was still the same -people turned to gods that were not very holy or even moral. The search for pleasure was the number one god, much as today. They rejected morality, good, and similar goals in favor of sensual pleasures and self-gratification.

The world was steeped in corruption, violence, and sin. In the Christmas message God came into our world offering people something better than the circumstances they had created for themselves. The world was too satisfied with its own life-style to try God's way. In the crucifixion of Christ evil thought it had won the battle between God and evil Christ arose from the dead to show the world that despite all its efforts evil can never finally conquer God. There is an on-going battle today where people think foolishly that they can win and have a better life without God than they can have with God.

The empty tomb of Christ still announces to the world that the life lived without God is a loser's life. That the wages of sin are still death and destruction. Christ opened the way so that people can return to God and find the only satisfying and fulfilling life.

It is so foolish not to live life in a partnership with God when it is offered to everyone, and the life God offers is enjoyable, fulfilled and fulfilling. The life without God is a self-destructing, painful and frustrating experience leading to great heartache. The life with God is a life of peace, joy and power leading to eternal happiness and blessing. Learn the lesson of the empty tomb. Evil can never win and those who choose to have God in their lives can never lose.

March 20, 2005

One of the great confrontations of all time is being re-enacted today on Palm Sunday. Jesus The Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey offering Himself to the world as Lord and Savior. That day He was acclaimed as the Messiah by the masses who knew Him. Five days later He was crucified by the religious leaders who did not know Him.

There was a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for Him from the crowd. The Passover was to be celebrated that week so thousands of the faithful were going to Jerusalem for the spiritual preparation proper for Passover. Many of these people were from Galilee where Christ had healed thousands of people and ministered to many thousand more. They looked upon Him as the Messiah –the leader who was to restore spirituality in Israel and free Israel from the Roman occupation. The palm branch for years had been the sign of Jewish independence so the crowd waved them in expectancy.

Meanwhile the religious leaders were in the Temple, gleefully already counting the money that these worshippers would leave behind them when they returned to their homes for Passover. The religious leaders were appointed by the Roman, and they got their power by bribing the Romans. {Nice spiritual hunch.) The religious leaders always wanted to thwart any movement that would cause the Romans to replace them. They all wanted a quiet Jerusalem.

When the loud entourage arrived at the Temple the religious leaders begged Christ to silence them but He rebuffed their requests. It was at that point they realized that they would have to kill Christ to save their own hides. So after the worshippers returned to their own homes some distance away, the religious leaders took Christ prisoner, put Him on trial and sentenced Him to death. However, Rome was in charge and no one could be put to death except by the order of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. Therefore, early on Friday morning they took Christ to Pilate who finally gave in to them and ordered Christ crucified.

The spiritual people who knew Christ had acclaimed on Palm Sunday while the religious people planned his execution.

How do you greet Christ today? Are you among the religious who put religion ahead of God? Are you among the spiritual who worship and acclaim Him as your Lord? Religion, then as now, killed Jesus Christ. Those who know God worship Christ, knowing that He is the bridge that reconciles people to God. He truly is our Lord and Savior. Greet Him today with palm branches - not with a hammer and nails.

March 13, 2005

The ‘Lord's Prayer’, as taught by Christ to the Jewish believers bas been very revered in the Christian faith. Actually, coming at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, it is pre-Cross and pre-resurrection. Christ was continuing all of the spiritual truths taught to the people of Israel for centuries. He was teaching them 'spiritual’ prayer, as opposed to the 'showy prayer’ often used in religion.

Today we come to the phrase "Thy Kingdom come".

When we use this phrase. we are emphasizing that there really are two kingdoms - one of good and the other of evil. We don't have to look far for the evil in our world -it is seen everywhere. We often see evil in religion. We see it in the hatred, bigotry and violence that are often expressed through religion. We see it even in the Christian faith when one group believes that they are right and all otters are going to bell. We see evil in the horrible things that people do - child abuse, rape, murder, sexual asaults, discrimination, corporate greed and dishonesty. We even see it in the 'acceptable' sins such as jealousy, gossip, envy, character assassination, etc. Evil is everywhere because everywhere there are evil people.

The kingdom of God is the opposite. It is the kingdom where good overcomes evil It is where righteousness, love, and human kindness are in control. It is tilled with people who wish to partner with God every day and in all that they do.

When we pray this prayer we are also asking that God tak2 over in our lives. Thy kingdom come in my life. In other words in the conflict of good - versus evil we choose to he on God's side. We want the world to know that we stand with God and good and we want that seen in our lives. We choose each day to partner with God.

There is no clearer picture of the conflict of good and evil than that seen in the ministry of Christ. He came into our world to call people back to God. De was rejected by organized religion. He was crucified by power, greed, and evil ambitions. Love and good was rejected. However, on Easter Sunday through His resurrection, God was showing 1he entire world that evil can never defeat God and the cause of good.

Every one of us makes a choice every day. We either choose to stand with God or we choose to follow evil. "Thy kingdom come" is the spiritual alignment of ourselves with God. We know that God can never ultimately lose and that evil can never ultimately win. This is spiritual prayer. It is renewing our allegiance to God and all the goodness that is ours in God. <p>

March 6, 2005

We have been examining The Lord's Prayer these past few weeks and will continue this through the spring, looking at a different phrase each week.

I have made the comment that this prayer is a pre-Christian prayer in that it was made in the early ministry of Christ and he was teaching Jewish believers about spiritual prayer. This is not to fault the prayer, but being pre-cross and pre-resurrection it fits better into ritualistic Jewish worship rather than the post-cross and post-resurrection Christian faith. There is a decided difference between spiritual Jewish faith and developed Christian faith. We will see more of the differences as we move through this study because they are monumental.

What the prayer has taught us thus far is the family relationship that exists between Jahweh (the Old Testament name for God) and His children. Christ was ministering to spiritual Jews reminding them that Jahweh was their father, which belief is carried over into Christianity. God is a loving Father who wants the close ties of family with all believers. In Matthew 7:11 Christ compares the loving human relationship that parents have with their children and God's love for people.

He further wants us to understand two Heavens – the one waiting for believers after death but also the one that exists here in this world for us the moment we turn our lives over to God. Wherever God is becomes a Heaven, and it starts here and now in this world and then continues into eternity in the true Heaven.

When we pray "Hallowed be Thy name" we are saying that only God is holy and that all humans are less than the people God would have them to be. Define sin as anything that keeps you from being the person that God has created you to be. It can be doing bad things or doing good things if those things do not express the best of efforts on your part. In the Old Testament the origin of the concept of sin comes from a term in which the archer is 'missing the mark', that is, not hitting the bullseye. You may miss the bullseye by one half an inch or you may miss it by ten miles, but what matters is that the archer 'missed the mark'. This should help us to understand more about the death of Christ on the cross. Christ died for the sins of the entire world - those who miss the mark by one half an inch as well as those who miss it by ten miles. When we turn to Christ ALL sin is forgiven and we have a new chance to be the people God created us to be.

February 28, 2005

The 'Lord's Prayer', as taught by Christ to the Jewish believers, has been very revered in the Christian faith. Actually, coming at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, it is pre-cross and pre-resurrection. Christ was continuing all of the spiritual truths taught to the people of Israel for centuries. He was teaching them 'spiritual prayer, as opposed to the 'showy prayer' often used in religion.

Today we come to the phrase "Hallowed be Thy name".

We know that only God is holy. People are human and prone to selfishness, greed, cruelty, foolishness, stupidity, and many other problems. Bear in mind the definition of sin that I gave you several weeks ago. Sin is anything that keeps you from being the person that God created you to be. You don't have to do something bad to sin. If you are being less than the person God created you to be, then you are sinning, even if you are doing something good. That may seem contradictory to you but it is not. Let's use a mathematic parallel- if you score a 75 or 80 when you could score 100, then you are being less than the person that God has created you to be. That is sin. Always be your best self and always do your best -that is the challenge that comes to you from God.

God alone is holy and we are prone, by human nature, to be unholy. To think that by ourselves we can be good enough for God is a total mistake. The Bible says that our very best cannot be compared to God.

That is the reason that Jesus Christ came into our world. Through His life, death and resurrection He has brought people back to God. People, through sin, have wandered from God. Isaiah said "All we like sheep have gone astray -we have turned everyone to his own way". We could not on our own make our way back to God. Jesus Christ came into the world to reconcile people to God. That is what Jesus meant when He said "1 am the way, the truth and the life".

"Hallowed be Thy name" is an honest statement that only God is holy and that people need God's help if we are ever going to get right with God.

It is not a put-down on people to say that they are sinful. It is the opportunity that makes them eligible for God's help. After Isabel, many places were declared 'disaster areas' and rather than being a put-down it made people eligible for federal help. Being a sinner makes you eligible for God's assistance given through the salvation that is in Jesus Christ. People are sin-prone because we are human, but that makes us eligible to receive the forgiveness that is offered to us in Jesus Christ -God's salvation sent to us out of His love.

Only God is holy. We need God's help and that is what the Christian message is all about.

February 20, 2005

We are spending the months before summer studying the prayer that Christ taught the people of Israel to pray. This prayer contains great spiritual lessons for Christians today even though it preceded the message of the cross and the resurrection.

Last week we looked at the concept of God as being 'our Heavenly Father', and we concentrated on the family relationship that the believer bas with God. Today we are talking about the concept of Heaven.

Heaven is the scripturally promised blessing of eternal life that follows this life. To the early Christians it meant reunion with their Lord as well as release from all the evils in this world. Heaven is still the great expectation of the Christian faith, even though there is great misunderstanding about it. It is neither a rest borne nor an opportunity to gloat or brag. More on that later.

When we talk about 'our Father Who Art in Heaven' we often miss out on all the implications of that term. Think of Heaven as 'the place where God is' and then remember that God is also with us in the here and now. The life that is lived with God daily is the life that is already with Him in Heaven so that what comes after death is simply the continuance of our relationship with God now.

In other words the blessed life of the true Christian experience means that your life here in this world should be a 'Heavenly experience'. Too many people in this world are living in the hell of their own creation when they could be living in the blessedness of Heaven. Heaven is anywhere you are when you are in the presence of God, and in this world you should be in the presence of God because that is the partnership that God wants to have with you.

You don't have to die and go to the real Heaven to find God when you can start enjoying God's presence everyday in your life now.

Instead of thinking only of Heaven as what comes after this life, expand your thinking and realize that here in this life Heaven can start for you in your closeness to God. Living with God in the here and now is truly a heavenly experience. It is the greatest life that can ever be lived. It only gets better when we leave this world and go the true Heaven, but why wait until then to enjoy living with God when we can live with God right now.

Each Christian should live in a heavenly experience now. Wherever God is is Heaven so why not realize how blessed your life can be now and start realizing a new relationship with God who makes all of life a Heaven. Stop living in Hell and start living in Heaven. You do that though Jesus Christ the Redeemer.

February 13, 2005

We are beginning a new study of The Lord's Prayer for our messages for this winter and spring. There is great spiritual insight and understanding in this prayer.

We have to clearly understand its place in the Christian faith. Christ taught this prayer at the beginning of His ministry and He was teaching Jewish people what spiritual prayer was all about They had been exposed to religious and very hypocritical prayer by the religious teachers, who were more interested in form than in content.

Since this prayer came at the beginning of Christ's ministry it was strictly in the theology of ancient Israel. We shall see these things as we study this prayer each week. The post-resurrection theology of Christ gave new insights and understanding to the early church.

Before Jesus Christ came along the ancient world, even the Jews, never thought of God as being their father. Their ideas of their gods were rather strange. The gods of Greece and Rome, as elsewhere in the ancient world, were an immoral lot. They did all the things that people do and that's because these gods were created by people. They were figments of twisted minds. Their gods weren't their fathers for they were dictators, aloof, deities to be brought by bribes and other special favors.

Abraham gave us both monotheism (the belief in only one God) and the concept of a truly moral God who demanded righteousness from His people.

To that Jesus Christ added the concept of a family relationship between God and all His creation. God wants to have a father/son-daughter relationship with people. After all He created us to have fellowship with Himself and love is the foundation of that relationship. GOD LOVES PEOPLE. He doesn't hate them or ignore them. He is very personal with them. The most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16 "For God so LOVED the world..."

That is why The Lord's Prayer begins "Our Father Who art in Heaven..."

Don't think of God as your judge, critic, dictator, or anything else less than a loving father. Matthew 7:11 says "If you being human know how to take care of your children, why is it so hard for you to believe that God will take care of His children?"

Human fathers often fail their children but God never will fail His children. He loves them, cares for them, and lives to help them. He is "your father who is in Heaven". Spend more time in fellowship with Him - talk to Him more often. He wants to hear from you.

February 6, 2005

I have some questions over which I want you to cogitate.

What is it that really worries you? What do you spend most of your time thinking about?

Your happiness and the secret of success is found in your thought processes. People who think doom and gloom will be unhappy people while positive people are going to enjoy life more. I guess a corollary question is - Are you really enjoying life?

It is grossly apparent today that 'religious people' are not very happy people. That is why so many 'religious people' are trying to kill other 'religious people'. Even here in America, they may not try to kin other religious people, they just criticize them and engage in other forms of destruction, such as the squabbles over doctrines and denominations.

The Christ consciousness makes the difference between 'being religious' and being spiritual.

What is the 'Christ consciousness'? It is the realization of your own personal walk with Jesus Christ and the awareness of how close He is to you each day. The God who came to us in Jesus Christ in human form is still ministering to us each day and His constant blessings are ours.

Each day practice this thought -Jesus Christ is with me in all that I do and is everywhere I go because He is my constant companion.

The disciples had spent three years with Christ, probably being away from Him very little, so after they had experienced His presence through His resurrection, they knew that every day He was still with them.

It should be the same for each Christian today. Forget all the negativity about how little you deserve such a blessing and think more about how Christ is your constant companion. Spend more time thinking about His presence. Pre-occupy yourself with the positive power of Christ energizing you and keeping you company. Get off the negativity and say with Paul "1 can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".

The more you think about living with Christ in the here and now, the more your life will turn to the positive power of His influence. Keep the Christ-consciousness foremost in your life. You too can do all things through Christ.

January 30, 2005

Every person, and certainly every Christian, should always be the very best person that he/she can be.

The great enemy of personal development is allowing yourself to lapse into anything less than your best.

When we look at fellow-workers or other people around us in life we often tend to accept their performance as being our standard. Nothing could be more self-destructive.

You are a very unique creation of God. There is no other person in the world exactly like you. You make a tragic mistake when you limply accept some other person as your role model Don't let others, no matter how close they are to you, determine the person you are going to be. You have a unique calling so why not fulfill it.

This is particularly true for every Christian since they have support that others may not have. The entire power of God is made available to you and you have the authority to use that power. This is clearly taught in the Bible.

Every Christian is under moral obligation to be the very best person that he/she can possibly be. We often make excuses for lapses by saying something like "I took all I could but then I blew my lid" or "I had to let my hair down", (whatever that may mean – some of us can't do it).

In 2005 determine that you will always be the very best person you can be. You don't have to do it on your own because the Holy Spirit will work within you to enable you. You don't have to live the Christian life in your own strength or energy.

Please remember that all human characteristics are self-adopted. There is no 'you' that is dictated for you by outside forces. You choose everyday the type person you will be.

Don't do anything unless you do it to your best ability. Be the person that God created you to be. That is the key to accomplishment and self esteem. Take pride in everything that you do and realize that it carries with it a part of you - it is your work. In the Christian life mediocrity is never acceptable -it is a contagious disease that debilitates and lessens you.

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it as unto the Lord because you labor for God and not people." When you realize that you are God's employee, you take a different approach to your labors.

In 2005 - always be your very best self - be the best advertisement for God that you Can be. Rather than put you under strain, it will relax you and make life more enjoyable for you. Be the person God created you to be.

January 23, 2005

Part of the joy of the Christian faith is watching one's own personal spiritual growth. Many Christians are so preoccupied with their physical obligations that they over-look their spiritual opportunities. As pastor it has been my delight for years to watch various people develop their spiritual growth.

Your most basic relationships are those with your Lord. They are more foundational for happiness and success than any other involvement.

There are two reasons why more Christians do not grow. 1. They don't realize that they can. 2. They don’t make growth a priority.

Why should you live a frustrating life when you can live an exciting one? You don't have to settle for the mundane and uneventful when God really wants you to have an exciting time.

In Philippians 3 Paul says "I reach forward to the things that are ahead." Paul realized the great Christian truth that is there for us all - God has something better for you that you have yet received.

Your goals, dreams, and ambitions are the framework that God uses to bring blessings to you. It is not up to God what blessing you receive - it is up to you. A low expectancy leads to low blessings while a high expectancy leads to high blessings.

For the year 2005 make your expectations high and watch the blessings come. Claim the victory that is yours there in the Promised Land. You can claim high goals through faith.

The early Christians may have died through many things but they never died from boredom. Too many Christians resign themselves to boring and eventless living.

Negative feelings such as self-denigration, unworthiness, a lack of understanding about your place with God, and many other put-downs that we self-construct - all of these things are barriers to God so that the blessings can not flow.

Sit down this week some time and make a list of things that you would like to see happen in your life in 2005. Don't settle for small things but claim greater blessings from your Heavenly Father. This is what the Bible promises.

Don't be vague but rather be specific. Let God know exactly what you desire. Then claim these things through faith and watch God fulfill for you these high goals. Make 2005 a great year for you through God.

January 16, 2005

Growing spiritually is what being a Christian is all about. Being a Christian is not about being religious or being better than others. When a child is born and then is unable to grow or develop his/her potential we characterize that as a tragedy. How much greater a disappointment occurs when people begin the Christian life but then never grow spiritually. The Christian life is about far more than Heaven or Hell. It is about living and enjoying the abundant life that Christ has promised His followers.

My responsibility as your pastor is to help each person grow in God's grace and exhibit increasingly the blessings that God has for you. Remember that The Promised Land is not Heaven. The Promised Land is living here in this world enjoying each day your blessed relationship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and being ministered to by the presence of The Holy Spirit in your life. Heaven is the blessed experience that we await after we pass through that doorway we call death. Until then we can live each day in the Promised Land enjoying our new life in God.

Spiritual growth is a wonderful involvement offered to each Christian. We spend a great deal of time and money maintaining our physical bodies, but the benefits of that pale in comparison when we compare them to the benefits of the spirit. The spirit is life and the more alive you are spiritually the greater all of life will be for you, because your most basic needs are spiritual and not physical. Spiritual satisfaction brings a peace that can never be found through mere physical activities.

I have told you that spiritual growth never occurs by accident but is always the by-product of a deliberate quest. How then does it occur?

First of all it occurs through your mind and thinking more and more about God and your relationship with Him. No matter where you are or what you are doing realize that God (your partner in life) is right there with you. He is there to assist you and to enable you, so talk to Him - sometimes out loud and then sometimes in your mind.

Secondly, ask Him for guidance and direction but then be receptive and open to His inspiration. New ideas, understandings, and concepts will enter your mind from God.

Thirdly, realize who you are. Are you living up to the potential that God has placed within you? Are the things you are doing honoring or dishonoring God? The closer you are to God the more you will do those things that honor Him.

Like physical growth spiritual growth takes time, but it is the most worthwhile and enjoyable thing that you can do.

January 9, 2005

There is a great parallel between the entry into a new year and the spiritual growth of the people of Israel in the Old Testament.

Having been freed from slavery in Egypt, and having wandered aimlessly through the wilderness for forty years, they were looking for permanence and stability in a new land of their own.

One of the problems that they had was very debilitating to them. Even though they had lived in slavery in Egypt at least they had permanent homes there and plenty of food. They had gotten tired of wandering and living in tents, particularly since food was scarce. Many of the Israelites wanted to go back to Egypt, even as slaves. After the death of Moses, Joshua became the leader, encouraging the people to go forward in faith.

These are good lessons for all of us in 2005.

Regardless of whether the past was good or bad it is a tragic mistake to live in the past. If the past was bad you do not have to keep reliving it over and over with regrets. If the past was good it is just as bad to want to relive it. There are two things that we do with the past - we learn from it and we leave it.

God has new blessings for you in the year 2005 and you can go forward to them in faith. Joshua challenged the people to live in faith and not fear, and that lesson applies to your entry into a new year.

Certainly there are always questions about the future and what a new year will bring. Yet when you live in the fear of the unknowable you open the door to increased anxiety which will destroy your God-given powers of energy and faith and make you long for the security of what 'used to be' even when that was less than what is best for you.

"God has something better for you than you have yet received" is a statement that has challenged people for years. That is the promise of the Scriptures. The Bible is full of such teachings.

The unknowability of the future is actually an opportunity for your faith to grow. You are not alone in life because your Loving Heavenly Father is there to guide you and to be your companion in all that you do. He is your source of hope, strength, and victory. Get out of bed each morning saying to yourself - "What new thing is God going to show me today". The life that opens the door of faith to that attitude will never be disappointed. You open the door and God will be there to fill your life with hope and happiness.

Enter 2005 with great confidence and hope. Claim your blessings through faith and they will be there.

January 2, 2005

It is my responsibility as your pastor to help you to reach levels of spiritual insight and understanding that you have not previously reached.

No two people are truly alike so no two Christians are at the same level of growth and development. Each person is different from others.

We make a serious mistake when we try to duplicate someone else's pattern of growth. Their program is not your program because God has a different plan for each person.

Stop trying to be like someone else and learn to be more like yourself - your very best self. Be the person that God has created you to be but be the very best possible. Never settle for being less.

You are your own master and it is your privilege to be the person that God has created you to be - fulfilling all the potential that He has put within you. Many Christians are miserable and live miserable lives because they realize that they are living below their God-created potential

2005 is the opportunity for you to be all you can be in and through God. This however will come about only as you make it your deliberate goal. It will never occur by accident.

You truly are a unique creation of God. There is not another person in the entire world that duplicates you. That makes you very special and very blessed. So what are you going to do about it?

Let me make a few suggestions.

First, stop living in the past and realize that 2005 is a great promised land of blessings for you. Yes, we all have great memories from the past but the future can have even greater blessings for you.

Secondly, be determined that in 2005 you are going to be more the person that God has created you to be. All attitudes are adopted attitudes and you can change everything including your own personality. You can become the cheerful and optimistic person that you were created to be.

Thirdly, start acting like the person you want to be and you win become it. Don't be frustrated and melancholy because God has created you for better things. Act like you have been newly created by God and take a fresh start in life. Life is far too good to be lived in despair and disappointment.

Finally, take God as your partner in life more than ever before. You two form an unbeatable combination. Let His power and wisdom flood your life and you will find greater happiness in all that you do and are.

December 26, 2004

The month of December has been devoted to a more complete understanding of who Jesus Christ was and is.

This is truly crucial. To take Christmas as anything less than a very vital part of God's plan of redemption is to not fully comprehend all that is yours in Christ.

Christmas is for you and the spiritual unfolding of all of your potential. It is God's way of letting you know that you are a very special part of God's world.

I Timothy 3:16 says very plainly "God was manifested in the flesh". The baby born to the Mary was God incarnate in a human form. Jesus Christ was not just 'another nice guy that the world mistreated', nor was He here as a religious reformer. God in human form came into our world to begin the plan of redemption and to offer to people the opportunity of living in harmony with God.

It is such a tragedy that so many people think that they can live better without God than they could with Him.

A close relationship with God is more vital to people than the air that they breathe. It is far easier to live with God than to live without Him. God is more vital to people than the oil in your automobile. Yes, you could run your car without oil but not for very long. Yes, you can live without God but why do it when He desires and offers to be your partner in life and to bring you to a level of living that can't be found anywhere else.

The baby born to Mary was God in human form to help people rise above all their problems. He lived a life of love and service. He died on the cross, rejected by the people He came to help. He rose from the grave to shout to the entire world that nothing can ever truly defeat God.

The whole drama of redemption - from the manger through the empty tomb -is God's way of telling you how important you are to God, how He wants to help you everyday, and how a partnership with Him is available to you.

Sometimes people like to brag about meeting some celebrity or national leader. How much better is it when the Divine Creator of the entire universe personally invites you to be His partner in life with the goal of making your life truly fulfilled and fulfilling?

All of this started with the birth of Christ and it is offered to you in this Christmas season. Like the Wise Men bow before Him in worship and acclaim Him as your partner in life.

December 19, 2004

As your pastor, you have heard me often make very critical comments about religion, but that is alright because the Bible is also very critical of religion. It was the religious leaders that gave Christ a hard time and caused Him to be crucified. Religion is manmade and rises from societal needs of certain times. Religion is people's attempt to find (or make) a god. Christianity is not a religion because it is God's attempt to help people. Spirituality is your own private relationship with God, the God who revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ.

Religion and religious people know nothing about love. Look at what is going on in the Middle East today. Fanatic people live on hatred and not love. Religious people desire to kill others that disagree with them, even people of their own religion.

One of the problems of Christianity is that too often people make it into a religion and they act religiously. Think about all the Protestant - Catholic squabbles where each side has tried to kill the other believing that they were pleasing God by their actions. Denominations today may not try to kill other denominations (but is has been done in the past) they just hate each other.

When you look at the events of that first Christmas you must see the love of God flowing to people. God is not a God of hatred (as most religions teach) but a God that came into our world to save, lift, and help people.

How do you think God feels about you? Many sincere Christians still believe that God condemns them, disapproves of them, and does not love them. God's sole attitude toward you is the outflow of love to you. That doesn't mean that you are perfect or never do anything wrong. It means that He loves you and wants to help you find all the happiness and fulfillment that He created you to possess. He may not approve of something that yon are doing (or not doing) but He loves you because of all the potential that He has put within you.

The God who came to us in the baby born of Mary on Christmas day is a loving, caring, and constant friend. Forget all the foolishness of God hating some people. God is pure love and pure love can not hate anyone. "For God so loved the world (you) that He gave" (John 3:16). Christmas is God's way of saying to you "I love you".

This Christmas, more than ever before, in your own mind, kneel before the manger of Bethlehem, and accept anew all the love that He has for you. Thank Him for His love and let that love radiate through your life and all that you are.

December 5, 2004

As your pastor it is my desire to help you live the happiest and most productive life that you can live. I believe in the abundant life that Christ promised in John 10:10. I believe in living the greatest possible life that anyone can live and that life is centered in and around Jesus Christ as your power of living. That begins the moment one turns to God and it extends into eternity itself.

Since I emphasize life I don't preach worn-out theology. Don't expect sermons on theology from me, because I learned long ago that such sermons help no one.

The one exception I make to that role comes at Christmas time. Who Jesus Christ was and is is so important to your daily life that the message must be high-lighted.

Over the years some strange theologies and mis-understandings have centered around the person of our Lord. Some have suggested that Jesus Christ was just a nice man that the religious people rejected. Even to the point that it made God mad and that then God elevated (or adopted) Jesus as His Son.

Others say that it was too bad that Jesus only lived thirty-three years. Imagine what he could have done if he could have stayed around for sixty or eighty years. They compare Christ to other great leaders who were cut down before or even in their prime.

Of course there are those intellectually challenged people who say that the Bible is all myths and that Jesus Christ never really lived but that a new religion was invented just as the world invents religions. I have pointed out many times that religion is man-made and that they rise to meets the societal needs of that time.

These and similar ideas have appeared in the past and will continue to appear in the future, because people like to imagine that they can explain anything, particularly if it leaves out any reference to a divine Creator.

There is only one source book that we need - The Bible. That clearly reveals who Jesus Christ was and is and why He came into our world. I Timothy 3:16 makes it clear, as do other references from the Bible, "God was manifested in the flesh". When we understand that incarnation the entire message of Christmas takes a new meaning.

Invite others to come and hear these sermons. When you realize all the power of God entered into that body donated by the Virgin Mary, you realize how Christ could do such things as walk on water, heal the sick, and even revive the dead.

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