Monday, January 22, 2018

Day of Praise

Tues, 01/23/18, "Day of Praise"

John 11:44 - "The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, 'Unbind him, and let him go.'"

Psalm 44:3 - "...for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them."

In the first verse, Lazarus (who represents all people who need God's help which is all of us) has his hands and face wrapped. In the second verse, the Psalmist celebrates how God has helped us with God's right hand and the light of God's face.

Hands and face.

When my now teenaged son was six years old, he made a place mat that said, "I like to play ball with my dad." The picture he drew on it had two stick people: one was small with nothing but two tiny hands and a small face; the other was large with nothing but two huge hands and a huge face. It's as if God made every child to know the need for their little hands and face to be shared and played with and helped by a bigger set of hands and face.

And so it is when Jesus stretches out his hands and turns his face towards the Father, saying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Friends, may your day be blessed as you live assured that the hands of God are reaching out to help you and that the face of God is looking on you in love. And may our hands and face know the joy of passing it on!

Praise God!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Day of Praise

Mon, 01/22/18, "Day of Praise"

Galatians 6:1 - "If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted."

This is a hard verse about being in mission for Christ. In sum, God's saying that we have a ministry that we "should" do; we cannot do nothing. And what we do should be done in "gentleness." And on top of how we're supposed to do it there is this warning which basically is a warning against becoming full of ourselves and thinking we're better than others. It's a hard charge.

To illustrate, I was with our daughter, Cassidy, one time, getting lunch. A very well-dressed guy went to the soda machine three times to fill his drink; each time he over-filled his cup, turned around, watched his cup overflow onto the ground right next to our table, and looked around to see if anyone noticed his mistake. He was clearly embarrassed. (He never did notice the drink splash onto my pants and feet.)

According to today's Bible verse, what should I have done? Should I have a sense of humor and comfort the guy, saying that I do that all the time too, (which I do)? Should I be silent and smile at him? Should I look the other way as if I don't see what's happened repeatedly? Each of these responses has the potential to be right. Each has the potential to be wrong.

Ultimately, there's only one thing to do, based on today's Bible verse. Do something with faith that God will do what God promises to do, namely, God promises to work through all things together for good.

In sum, boy oh boy, do we all need God's help, or what? May God help us all!

And God surely does.

We know this in Jesus Christ.

Praise God!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Day of Praise

Sat, 01/20/18, "Day of Praise"

Acts 15:39-40 - "Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord."

Some time ago, our younger daughter, Cassidy, was telling me how she was driving to another house very early one morning to let the dog out to run and eat breakfast. Shortly after she left our house, she pulled up to a stop sign with a pedestrian crossing for the students in the nearby Middle School, and her headlights shone on the most adorable sight. In line and in order, from biggest to smallest, were five armadillos, crossing the street in the darkness right down the middle of the ped crossing.

It's a simple concept that's clear from a line of armadillos and in today's Bible verse. Yes, it's important that we mature and become the wonderful individual that God made us to be, but God made us to work together and stick together. Two or more working together has been God's plan in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 and all through God's Word in scripture. Through companionship and teamwork, God works eternal blessings in and through our lives.

May God bless you to seek, find, invest in, and share the blessings of relationships that are in mission together for sharing the good news of God's unfailing presence and love through Jesus Christ just as God in Christ keeps doing with us.

Praise God!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Day of Praise

Fri, 01/19/18, "Day of Praise"

Jeremiah 29:13 - "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart."

I always chuckle when people ask me where my younger daughter goes to college. I'm glad to tell them; it's just that when I say, "Mississippi University for Women in Columbus," then people often say, "Now, what state is that in?"

If we don't listen, look, and seek, then we usually don't find the answer to our questions.

A friend of mine was telling me that he used to wonder how all his friends kept having all these great conversations about eternity come their way from random people. He said he asked them, and they said, "We look for them."

Friends, it's just that simple. God is with us. But God ordained that the way to see him is to look for him. The way to find him is to seek him. Seek him, not halfheartedly, but with all your heart!

Happy Seeing-God-Day today (and everyday) as you look for Him with all your heart!

Praise God!


Pastor Chris
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Day of Praise

Thur, 01/18/18, "Day of Praise"

"Jesus said to her, 'Mary.'" - John 20:16

My wife and children have this supernatural power over me, like with our 18-year old son, Caden, who has a gift. He only needs to calmly say my name, "Dad," and I know exactly what he means.

Like when we used to drive to school in the morning, and the first of many people used the side of the road-that's-not-the-road in order to pass all of us who are waiting in line on the road. I'd let out my annoyed driver siiiiiiiiigh. And Caden would calmly say, "Dad."

What Caden meant was, "Dad, don't start getting all excited. You know that doesn't help anything. People drive like this everyday. And your getting upset with them hasn't, to this day, miraculously turned them into good drivers. So calm down."

Caden says all that with a calm, "Dad."

That's what Jesus did in today's verse when he said, "Mary." Mary was all excited about nothing as she was frantically weeping about Jesus's body being taken. And Jesus calmly says, "Mary. Calm down. I'm right here with you. Your getting all excited doesn't make anything better. It actually makes things worse because you don't even see me standing right here. And I've got everything under control."

Jesus says all that with, "Mary."

So today, when something happens and you start to get upset, stop, for just a moment. And listen. Jesus is calmly calling your name, maybe through someone, like my wife and children do for me. And with one word, he's saying, "Take a breath. Calm down. I've got it all under control. Just trust me."

Blessed are those who do.

Praise God!

Pastor Chris
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Day of Praise

Wed, 01/17/18, "Day of Praise"

"And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." - Genesis 1:3

After Sunday evening worship, it's usually my job to check all the lights, doors, and thermostats. Usually, I knock on the bathroom doors, barely open them, and call out "Hey, anybody in there?"

Once in a while, everybody seems gone, so I just open the bathroom doors and turn off the lights. However, one time, from one restroom came a "Hey, I'm in here!" So immediately, I turned the light back on.

Friends, somebody's going to turn your light off today and leave you in the dark. But God is a God of light, and Jesus is the light of the world. So, I know from lots of experience besides the silliness of this past Sunday with the church bathrooms and the grave seriousness yesterday with a church member's deliverance through smoky, pitch darkness as their home burned down around them at 2 a.m., and I hope you do too, that if you'll just call out to God, God will either shine light onto your path or give you a peace beyond understanding in your dark.

Call on the Lord! He will not fail you!

Praise God!

Pastor Chris
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Monday, January 15, 2018

Day of Praise

Tue, 01/16/18, "Day of Praise" 

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" - Galatians 4:4-6 

Our oldest, now 25 year old and now married daughter, Calley, wrote this once in her blog, and it's worth repeating: 

Some people have said I have a "Save the World" mentality because I'm still young and things can be black and white. Actually I have a "The World is Saved" mentality, because that's what it is. The things I do aren't done to redeem anything; they're done because everything has been done, because redemption is here, because we can be sons! 

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" - Galatians 4:4-6 

So have a great day, y'all, as God's children!!!

Praise God! 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Day of Praise

Mon, 01/15/18, "Day of Praise"

John 1:17 - "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."

One way for us to apply the contrast in today's Bible verse is by asking ourselves if we deal with people in a heavy-handed, condemning way or a gracious, give-them-the-benefit-of-the-doubt way.

When my son, Caden, was in second grade, he played in a city, recreational, basketball league. Yes, everybody's trying to win, but it's ultimately a rec league. Nobody's career or salary is at stake. But maybe somebody's reputation is at stake. Are they heavy-handed, taking this stuff way too seriously? Or are they gracious, giving the benefit of the doubt?

This one game was nearing halftime. A boy threw Caden the ball at half-court. Caden turned and shot it, just as the halftime horn sounded. It went in! Everybody cheered like crazy! A second grader made a half-court shot in a game!

But wait!

The referee said it didn't count because his x-ray vision ascertained that the ball was still on Caden's fingertips as the halftime horn sounded.

Seriously? Second-graders? Rec league? C'mon ref, do you really need to be right and have your pickiness be more important than a thrill of a lifetime for a second grader? How about a little grace?

Can y'all imagine a world full of stuff like that?

God couldn't either.

That's why God sent Jesus!

John 1:17 - "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."

Praise God!


Pastor Chris
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Friday, January 12, 2018

Day of Praise

Sat, 01/13/18, "Day of Praise"

John 1:14 - "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."

The weather's gotten colder, so I saw and read this article about energy saving tips. The author said that we should turn our water heaters down to 120 degrees but no lower because, at 119, harmful bacteria will start to grow in the water heater. I just laughed. It's as if the author was saying that we should save energy by putting in as little as possible and just barely staying away from danger.

It's a good thing that God's not like that.

God is a God of super-abundance, like we hear in today's Bible verse. God did not send Jesus with just enough grace to get by, leaving us just on the edge of danger. Instead, God sent Jesus "full of grace," which is more than enough for all of us to be covered in God's love and to have enough to pass a lot to everyone else.

Yay! We are loved abundantly! So enjoy! And pass it on!

Praise God!


Pastor Chris
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Day of Praise

Fri, 01/12/18, "Day of Praise"

Isaiah 25:9 - It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation."

One of the things that God actually saves us from is ourselves. Praise God for that because everyday is filled with potential frustrations.

But in the face of such potential frustrations, like I've tasted before, where, in the span of one hour, a cashier made a time-consuming mistake with me, a driver dangerously pulled on the road in front of me with no car lights on, and another cashier didn't give me all that I paid for, God says, "Lighten up! 'Be glad and rejoice!'"

And that's a good thing because in the next hour, as it turned out, I pulled on the road with no car lights on and didn't get honked at, and a different cashier gave me a $5 gift card just because they liked my smile. Funny how things work out, isn't it?

So, let's hear it for joy and gladness instead of harumphing and frustration.

Expect God to do great things for you! And TELL HIM that you expect it!!!!

And thank you, God, for always working things out so that joy and gladness can reign with you today and everyday!!!

Praise God!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Day of Praise

Thur, 01/11/18, "Day of Praise"

Psalm 73:1-2 - "Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped."

Have you ever had a bad time in your life? A hard time? Have you ever "almost stumbled" and "nearly slipped"?

I remember two times I went to camp with my daughters and the special time we had for parent-child conversation. As a remembrance of that parent-child time, the camp gives each parent and each child a simple, string bracelet with beads that spell "G-O-D". I wore mine until they literally rotted off. 

However, one day before the one bracelet had rotted, the black string broke as I was getting ready for bed. The beads bounced around, including one that bounced into the bathtub and was headed straight for the drain. I quickly prayed, "Please, Lord." And right at the lip of the drain, it stopped. 

Did my prayer make a difference? I believe so. Even moreso, did God stop the bead that carries a special meaning for me? I believe so even more. 

In the same way, in your bad time in your life, in your hard time, when you "almost stumbled" and "nearly slipped" right down the drain, who kept you from going right down the tubes like a tiny bead on its way to its end? And if necessary, who would've kept going with you, even if you'd come to your end?

In Jesus the Christ, we have One who is God with us, holding us close, keeping us together, like a special bracelet on God's own wrist. But Jesus, the very Son of God, has also shown us plainly, on his cross and in his death, that when our lives are headed for the drain, he's pleading for us, advocating for us, to keep us from going straight down the tubes. 

In essence, he keeps us from stumbling and holds us upright. He's certainly held me up, by his Spirit and through his people, in the worst times of my life and in every other season too. And even if I'd fallen, he would've gone with me, all the way, because in the depths he meets us and from the depths he raises us up. 

Give thanks, dear friends, for Mighty God who is with us. And pray for your friends who are struggling, not only that God would keep them from falling and heading straight down the tubes, but also that your friend would know who is with them, even in the depths of despair. 

And even better than prayer for them, reach out and personally tell them! God promises to speak to them through your faith in Him with a powerful and life-changing encouragement that will give them strength in the Lord, if they'll but receive your testimony and trust God to hold them up and keep them from going down the drain!

For He who is with us when we stumble is the One who also raises us up!

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Day of Praise

Wed, 01/10/18, "Day of Praise"

Isaiah 41:6, 8a, 10b - "Everyone helps his neighbor and says to his brother, 'Be strong!'...But you, Israel, my servant...I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

And there we have it.

God tells us plainly that it's fine for us to encourage one another, saying, "You can do it! Be strong!" But if we really want to encourage someone, then it's a much greater blessing for us to claim God's promise, saying, "You can do it! God will be your strength!"

Indeed, God will be our strength as we encourage others with the same!

Praise God!


Pastor Chris
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Monday, January 8, 2018

Day of Praise

Tues, 01/09/18, "Day of Praise"

2 Chronicles 34:33 - "Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he had all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors."

Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites so that all who were present in Israel could serve the Lord their God. Wow! That was nice of him. 

What needs to be removed from your life?

There's a television commercial for some product (which I think is a truck) that shows some kids playing ball on a very nice baseball field. Then the advertisers kick the video in reverse and show everything that went into making the ball field, including "removing all the detestable boulders." I hope those kids thanked the person and the machine that did all the heavy lifting so they could have a ball field, even if it was just a commercial. 

That's what Josiah did for Israel. He did all the heavy lifting. He removed stuff that got in the way, not of people having a good time playing ball, but he removed the stuff that got in the way of having a good time serving the Lord. 

Let me ask you a personal question? 

Do you enjoy serving the Lord? I don't mean the idea of serving the Lord; I mean everyone likes the idea 💡 or the thought of serving the Lord. It's a nice idea. Instead of the idea of serving the Lord, what I mean when I ask "Do you enjoy serving the Lord?" is do you enjoy serving the Lord God as the Lord God describes serving the Lord God in the Bible? Ya know, humbling yourself, stooping down, getting your hands dirty in service to people whose life doesn't look like your life and they need somebody to encourage them with real hope. (Maybe read Matthew 25:31-46 for some ideas about serving the Lord!) So after thinking about it, do you enjoy serving the Lord?

If you answered "no, I do not enjoy serving the Lord," then today's Bible verse is just one of many where God tells us that there's something in your life that needs to be removed (maybe something detestable) because it's claiming your eagerness, anticipation, and hope for what is to come more than the Lord is receiving your eagerness, anticipation, and hope for what is to come. Quite frankly, God's Word basically says that God is constantly amazed at how nonchalant we are about our relationship with the Lord. We'll swap time with God through His Word for time with the world and its pleasures in a heartbeat. All we need to do to have proof that God is right about this is look at our calendar and checkbook.

The major problem with letting the world dictate our calendars and checkbooks, which is a way the world creates spiritual boulders in our lives, is that Jesus says that we are nothing apart from the Lord, have nothing apart from the Lord, and can do nothing apart from the Lord. And spiritual boulders tragically make sure that we're apart from the Lord. 

So let's get to the point. You know where the Lord is on your priority list. If God isn't first on the list and the center of everything else on the list, then you (like all of us) have some detestable boulders that need to be removed so that you can have a good time serving the Lord. Now the question is, "So who's going to remove these things from our lives, especially if ironically they're so big we can't see them?"

Yep, you got it! God, through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, is the only one who can remove the spiritual boulders. After all, he overcame the sin of the whole world, overcame death, and overcame the grave. And Jesus mightily removed some big ol' literal honker of a boulder from his own grave. So I'm sure he can remove some relatively little ol' boulders from our little ol' lives. 

Keep it simple. Just ask Him! And he will!

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Day of Praise

Mon, 01/08/18, "Day of Praise"

A few people here in Alabama are interested in a little college football game tonight, and it made me think of a devotion from a few years ago that both made me laugh today and also celebrate the agility I had years ago. 😀

"His arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob." - Genesis 49:23-24

When Jacob blessed Joseph in today's Bible verse, he spoke of agility coming Joseph's way.

Maybe we should ask for some agility for each other.

For myself, I need a little physical agility to go dumpster diving later this morning. In my typical helpfully unhelpful fashion, I thought I'd help after our church's annual Thanksgiving Feast last night by taking four big garbage bags out to the dumpster. Turns out that one of the garbage bags had $400 worth of linens that were borrowed from a member of the church.

Dumpster, here I come.

Pray for me. I need some agility.

Pertaining to us all, it's a short week because of Thanksgiving and probably a lot of good eating ahead. But before we get to the turkey, I'd guess many of us are in the same position, namely, the same amount of work needs to get done but now in a shorter period of time. A little mental agility would probably be helpful to us all.

So let's pray for one another for the Almighty One of Jacob to dwell in us and give us some mental agility to get it all done before Thursday. And while we're at it, it probably isn't a bad idea either to pray for one another for a little physical agility so we can all get in a little physical exercise before the big eats day gets here.

Happy Agility Monday!

May God grant it to all of us today as it was granted to Joseph in days of old!

Praise God!


Pastor Chris
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Friday, January 5, 2018

Day of Praise

Thanks for all of you checking in! I never plan these breaks. I try to both Sabbath from writing and also then get back at it at the Spirit's lead. Huuuuuuuggg to y'all! Here's today's devotion:

Sat, 01/06/17, The Epiphany of Our Lord, "Day of Praise" 

Matthew 2:10-11 - "When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh." 

Today is January 6, which is Epiphany, which celebrates the Magi booking a camel in Babylon for unlimited miles, which they'd need as they traveled as long as two years to see and worship Jesus. 

The Magi went a long way to see and worship Jesus because they knew he'd come a long way for us. In the words of an ancient Creed, "for us and our salvation, he came down from heaven." That's a long way for the Magi and a longer way for Jesus. 

How far would you go to see the one who's gone farther to see you? One family in our church drives 160 miles round-trip to worship. 

Hey, y'all, there's a lot of us reading this devotion today, we're all flesh and blood. Mornings are hard for almost everyone. But Jesus's cross was harder. Much harder. He went all the way for us. It's worth it for us to go a ways for him. Ya know, to say, "Thank you." 

So how about in 2018, starting today, we all find a church and get there, no matter how far away it might be, and worship God and God's Savior Son, Jesus, and then don't stop there; don't stop at worshiping God, but go even farther by following Jesus, who came so far from Heaven to meet us here on earth, so that, going farther by following Him, we could follow him from earth to Heaven! (As Catherine of Siena said, "All the way to Heaven is Jesus because Jesus is The Way.")

PS - Thank you all for almost 6 and 1/2 years together in sharing this Day of Praise devotion. By God's grace, we've journeyed a long way together in Christ. And by God's grace 2018's going to be a great year too! 

Praise God! 

Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Day of Praise

Sat, 12/23/17, "Day of Praise" 

"And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need." - Acts 2:45 

Please sit down. 

After all, it's Saturday. 

But actually, the reason I want you to sit down is because my sincere desire is to help you get stronger. 

God's way. 

As an illustration before the request, did you know that, when you give blood, the blood that your body makes to replace what you gave is actually stronger blood than what you gave away? 

God's way of making us stronger is that God made us to pass along what God gave and entrusted to us so that we'd get stronger in return. So when we pass along blood that God gave and entrusted to us, then we get stronger blood in return. And when we pass along our stuff, our possessions, our material goods that God gave and entrusted to us, then we get stronger stuff, possessions, everlasting goods in return. 

This is what God's talking about in Malachi 3:10 and Jesus is talking about in Mark 4:18-21. This is what the people in today's Bible verse were counting on. This is what we're all counting on every time we give away canned goods or clothing or money or any possessions. 

In freely giving, we actually are receiving even more, which God freely gives in return. 

With this in mind, please stay seated and consider the following challenging (but rewarding) video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YwScBFTb_M. And if you'll believe and respond to what you see while you're seated, God's promise is that you'll rise up even stronger than before. 

Praise God! 


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Day of Praise

Fri, 12/22/17, "Day of Praise"

Jeremiah 11:18a - "The Lord made it known to me and I knew..."

Amos 8:1a - "This is what the Lord God showed me:..."

What would you like to know?

Don't let Friday get in the way. 

It's easy for us to get so wrapped up in the things that we enjoy and the things that we anticipate that we wind up missing out on the things that God wants to show us now. Usually it means that we're so wrapped up in the temporary that we wind up missing out on the eternal and everlasting. 

I remember a time when a friend was telling me that he had recently discovered the joy of inviting people both to Jesus and also to worship. Such joy is a joy, whether or not people accept your invitation, because, having made us in His image, God made us to love it when we invite others to Him. It's an additional immeasurable bonus when they accept.

Well, my friend said that he was with his usual group of almost twenty golfers, who get divided into foursomes by drawing names from a hat. These guys had met and divided into groups and played golf for years, so they knew each other quite well. My friend said that, as the first three names were drawn, he recognized that two of them were strong non-believers. And upon recognizing that the non-believers had been picked, my friend said that he just knew that, even though there were almost twenty names still in the hat, he himself was going to be picked next. 

And he was.

He knew he'd be picked, and he knew he then was picked because God had a divine appointment for him. He was supposed to start talking to the strong non-believers about Jesus and worship.

But the question is, "How did he know he was going to be picked out of a hat?" Was it coincidence? Well, friends, you can choose to believe whatever you want. Or you can believe what God says in His word as in today's Bible verses. God wants us to know things and show us things that have to do with everlasting things. And God wants us to just know these things and show us these everlasting things even when we're doing some earthly temporary thing we enjoy, like golf, or when we're eagerly anticipating some earthly temporary thing we're going to enjoy, like the weekend. 

So today's Friday. It's fine to enjoy it as Friday and to enjoy anticipating the weekend, especially with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day being a part of this weekend. But in the midst of your earthly enjoyment, remember why we're ultimately here: to know the Lord and to worship Him and to make Him known, inviting others both to Jesus and also to worship God too. And as you remember our ultimate purpose, God will show you things so that you'll know things that bring unmatched excitement to your day, an eternal blessing to those before you, and glory to God and his name. 

Jeremiah 11:18a - "The Lord made it known to me and I knew..."

Amos 8:1a - "This is what the Lord God showed me:..."

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Day of Praise

Thur, 12/21/17, "Day of Praise"

Romans 8:18 - "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."

I remember the time I was in the lobby and at the front desk of my oldest daughter and son's huge, 2,600 students, high school, signing my son in as tardy, with 100 or so students milling around and with a good number of them saying, "Hello, Mr. DeGreen" or "Hi, Coach Chris" or "Hey, Pastor Chris." After all, my family has been blessed to be in this community for almost three decades.

The thing was that day that this wear-pastor-clothes-90%-of-the-time-with-the-little-white-thing-at-your-neck-coach-Mr.-pastor was in the huge high school lobby...in my pajamas.

Of course, that also meant doofy looking hair and, only the good Lord knows, whatever else was uncovered or out of place.

I was embarrassed for a moment.

And then God said, "Chris, this is nothing. But if it is anything, it's a chance to show these kids what matters." So instead of apologizing about my pj's to every kid and adult, I just had an even greater time greeting the kids, hugging a couple necks, and telling my son to have a great day and that I would pray for him with his test.

And let's be clear; I was embarrassed, but God had greater plans.

So, come what may today, with whatever may be out of place, may God speak to our hearts, help us to laugh at ourselves, shine through us with gladness, and bring God the glory.

Praise God!


Pastor Chris
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Day of Praise

Wed, 12/20/17, "Day of Praise"

Proverbs 25:11 - "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver."

Every parent wants to give their child(ren) "more than they had." The question always is: "More of what?" 

I have a friend. He's an older man in my life, who's not related to me, who says that his father gave him more life by giving him less words. For example, his dad would say, "Son, you're a young man, so you have freedom to make your own decisions, but you're not making very good ones." My friend says that's all it took for him to wake up and start making what have turned out to be some amazing, mature, life-giving decisions, which have brought him far more spiritually and financially than his father ever had. My friend's father, therefore, saw every parent's dream come true, namely, the child had more than the parent. And in this case, the parent gave his son more by giving him less because what the father gave was, what God calls in today's Bible verse, "A word fitly spoken."

"Fitly" means correctly; judiciously; suitably; properly; pertinently;
done in a competent, appropriate or suitable manner. And such a word, God says, "is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." (Proverbs 25:11)

Did you know that God has given us such a word? God has spoken a fitly word, which is correct, judicious, suitable, proper, pertinent, and done in a competent, appropriate and suitable manner. And that word is "Jesus." If we'll read John chapter one in the Bible, we'll see that God calls Jesus "The Word," so that with one word, "Jesus," God has given all his children "more" because in Jesus we have the most! In God's word, Jesus, we have the most life, the most strength, the most insight, the most courage, the most peace, the most love, the most joy, and on and on and on of everything that counts and matters and lasts in life. 

Do you want your child(ren) to have more? If so, then give them less words. In fact, give them just one word. Give them Jesus! 

(And, by the way, any child of God, any human being, no matter their age, could use and needs the same! So, give it; give Jesus to them!)

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." (Proverbs 25:11)

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Monday, December 18, 2017

Day of Praise

Tues, 12/19/17, "Day of Praise"

[Jesus said,] "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." - John 16:7

I remember a young teen basketball team our son, Caden, played on. Though thirteen, one boy had never played the game. It was a good reminder for us coaches to make sure we touched on the basics of basketball. Very basic. 

I remember a time I was asked a question that I assumed everybody knew, at least I thought you'd know it if you'd ever been in a church. It was a good reminder for us churchgoers to make sure we touch on the basics of the Christian faith. Very basic.

And so it is with Jesus in today's Bible verse. He's making sure that we touch on the basics of the purpose of his death on the cross. Very basic. 

We all know that Jesus died on the cross so our sins could be forgiven. That's basic stuff. 

But did you also know that Jesus died on the cross so that he can actually live in you by the power of the Holy Spirit? I talked to somebody just yesterday who's gone to church their whole life and didn't know that Jesus had to die in order for the Holy Spirit to come. And they didn't know that the Holy Spirit had to come in order for Jesus to live within us. That's why Jesus said, "It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:7)

And what that basically means is this: if you will believe that Jesus died for your sins and that he was raised from the dead so he could pour out the Holy Spirit, then Jesus will actually live in you so that, no matter what happens today, you will find that you are not alone, that Jesus is your strength in hard times, and that the Holy Spirit will be your peace and insight in the face of your difficulty. And basically a whole lot more. 

The mom of the new boy on our basketball team told me that her son never knew that basketball was a team sport. As basic as that may seem to some of you, please don't laugh because apparently he'd only experienced basketball as a street game where everybody played by themselves and for themselves. 

Kinda like what many people think being a Christian is. Everybody by himself and for himself. 

But basically, y'all, in case you're new to the concept, Jesus died on the cross so he could send the Holy Spirit and turn the game of life into a team sport with Jesus in me and Jesus in you and Jesus joining us all together in a winning team called the Church. 

So, if you haven't gone to church lately, you should go and get involved. 

Your team needs you. And you need the team. 

And while you're at it, invite a friend. After all, being part of a church may seem basic to you, but it's a brand new concept to many, who need your help in learning to be on the team. 

And, because Jesus died and was raised, the Holy Spirit will help and coach us all!

Praise God!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Day of Praise

Mon, 12/18/17, "Day of Praise"

Y'all have heard this one before a bunch, but I couldn't help but think about it all day Sunday since we had a cold, rainy day on the outside but an amazing day of worship, study, and fellowship in Christ for our hearts, including little Megan Durbin serving as a Banner Bearer at our church for the first time, a prayer and healing time in worship, and 60 preschool kids doing an absolutely amazing Christmas Pageant! So here's the simple word—

"My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day." - Psalm 71:8

Have a great day!

I hear there's a great forecast for today:
1) God will reign.
2) The Son will shine.
3) The Spirit will provide a gentle breeze from the East.
4) And, if we're really blessed, Jesus will come on the clouds of heaven.

Praise God!

Pastor Chris
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Friday, December 15, 2017

Day of Praise

Sat, 12/16/17, "Day of Praise"

Mark 15:43 - "Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus."

Psalm 123:1 - "To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!"

Psalm 14:2 - "The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God."

I rarely, if ever, go when the light initially turns green when I'm first in line at a traffic light. I value my life way too much. Plus, I really do want to see the expressions of all the drivers who are running the red light as they fly down the road in a hurry for their funeral. 

As the cars zip in front of me through their red light, while I'm getting honked at from behind at my green light, I notice two primary expressions on the faces of the red-light-runners. The first expression is that they are staring ahead, laser-focused on the road, but exuding a spirit that you can feel where they clearly think that if they don't look at any other car while they're running the red light then it makes it all okay. The second red-light-running expression is much more rare where the driver realizes that they've made a poor judgement, and they actually turn my way, waving both hands (which is also dangerous) as they're trying feverishly to apologize for the high probability that they would've killed everyone in my car if we had gone when the light turned green. 

Do you see the contrast? One does something wrong and looks away from the wrong as if not looking makes it right. The other does something wrong and looks feverishly for someone to apologize to and for forgiveness. 

I don't know about you, but I will mess up today. In today's Bible verses, God plainly encourages us to be like the Psalmist and Joseph of Arimathea who are both constantly looking to the Lord and for the Lord because they're looking for help when they mess up and when they're hurt and when they're confused and when they're looking for strength and when they start a new segment of their day and when they're wanting to taste the constant fellowship that God promises and because they've tasted the inexplicable peace that comes over you when you look to God for everything and not just to apologize and for forgiveness.

And best of all, Joseph and the Psalmist look to God and for God because they clearly believe God when in Psalm 14:2 God says, "The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God."

May God help us today and everyday to look for the Lord and know the blessings that God promises when we do. 

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Day of Praise

Fri, 12/15/17, "Day of Praise"

[Jesus prayed to the Father,] "And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." - John 17:3

I remember one time, standing in my office, bawling like a baby, looking up to the heavens, and crying out to God, "What is going on?"

Have you ever wondered that in your life?

Recently, I met someone at their favorite coffee-shop so they could ask me the same question about their life, "What is going on?" "Am I a bad person?" "What am I going to do?" "How am I going to get past this?" "Where is God?"

As my friend was talking, we were doing the guy thing, ya' know, sitting next to each other, backs to the wall, looking out into the room, watching people. At the same time, we both had noticed a very tall person who came in looking very short, pressed down by the weight of the world, with that look on their face, "What is going on?" The now-short, tall person ordered a coffee, sat down, shook their head despairingly, and took a deep breath, as if they were trying to expel a bad taste from their soul. Shortly after, their name was called; they got their coffee; they pulled out their phone; and texted someone. We both later said that they probably texted a trusted friend with the words, "What is going on?" because the coffee stayed untouched as they waited for a reply like a person on trial, waiting for a verdict. Their phone must've vibrated because they jumped about a foot off their seat, even though their eyes never came off the phone. They started to read what must've been short because they never scrolled. They just put down their phone, screen down. Then they looked up. And then they smiled. 

And grew tall again.

Coffee untouched. They arose and walked away. Restored.

What was said to them that made it all better? We, of course, can't be totally sure. But I said to my friend, "this is what I think was said" to the short-tall person now restored to tall. What I think was said was something like, "Who can be sure exactly what's going on when broken people and destructive forces are involved? But this is sure, 'I am with you!'"

And so it is with us in today's Bible verse. Jesus is praying. He's about to be rejected, suffer, and be crucified because and only because broken people and destructive forces are involved. In his humanity, we know that Jesus was feeling the make-you-feel-short-and-small weight of the question, "What is going on?"

But God sent him a spiritual text. Jesus heard the voice of the Father say what God's word says again and again and again. God's word says, "This is!" (John 17:3), as in "this is most importantly what's going on: I know you, and I AM WITH YOU!"

Can't you just see Jesus smile?

Like when St. Paul's in a horrible jail for the "crime" of preaching about Jesus, and Paul writes, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4). And when Jesus knows he's about to be rejected, suffer, and be crucified, and he says, "In the world you'll have trials and hard times, but cheer up! For I have overcome the world!" (John 16:33)

Friends, in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, we have assurance that God sees you shaking your head and hears you groaning with a sigh too deep for words, "What is going on?" "Am I a bad person?" "What am I going to do?" "How am I going to get past this?" "Where is God?"

And God just sent you a spiritual text, saying what God's word says again and again and again. God's word says, "This is!" (John 17:3), as in "this is most importantly what's going on: I know you, and I AM WITH YOU!"

And because of God's promise, may we all grow tall again, arise from our untouched coffee, and get back out there with a smile.

Because mighty, victorious God knows us and is with us!

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Day of Praise

Thur, 12/14/17, "Day of Praise"

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." - Isaiah 53:5

In one short little verse, God says that transgressions, iniquities, punishment, and the need for healing are the things that belong to us. And in that same verse, God says that there is one who will be pierced and crushed for us in order to bring us the peace and healing we need. 

How might we understand this?

I remember consciously thinking and telling people how I'd never had one stitch in my first eleven years of life. And then in the next ten years, it was like it was inevitable, and I got more stitches than, as they say, you could shake a stick at: a surgery in my midsection, another surgery in my midsection, a huge gash in my left shin from jumping a fence, another gash in my thigh from falling out of a tree, surgery on a badly broken ankle, surgery on a badly broken cheek and jaw, multiple broken noses, multiple broken ribs, stitches over my right eye, then my left, and then my right again, and a feeling that stitches and I just were born for each other. 

I became so thankful for a mother who bandaged, a father who provided medical insurance, and doctors and nurses who knew how to stitch up my accidental, but still real wounds. 

And so it is with sin and the need for a healer of the soul. 

We might have a run where we feel really good about our thoughts, our decisions, and our actions; ya know, we feel like we're good people, and we've got this sin thing conquered. 

But it's inevitable! Spiritually speaking, here comes a punch in the gut, a kick in the shins, the jumping of a boundary fence that plainly said "stay out", a falling from our high horse, a broken heart, various other wounds to our pride, a plank in our right eye, a splinter in our left, and then a poke in the right eye again, and an overall feeling that the need for spiritual stitches and us were just born for each other.

Ever since the first man and woman, way back at the beginning, used their God-given freedom to think and decide and act in ways that wounded their relationship with God, all us people are all under this condition called "depravity," which means both that we're totally helpless to avoid sinning and also that we're certainly helpless to stitch up and heal our soul and our God relationship. It is the human condition. It is inescapable. We can't get out of our own way. We are sinners to the core. And it is good for us not to deny but to understand ourselves as sinners in this way because Jesus himself said in Matthew 9:12, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."

To deny our sinfulness is to deny our need for a healer. 

And, boy oh boy, do we need a healer. Maybe not for a season when you're feeling good about how good you are and how good you're doing and how good things are going. 

But it's inevitable and inescapable that we will see the truth plainly again. 

We need a Healer for our every wound. 

And that's just what we have in Jesus Christ and the wounds he bore unto death on the cross. 

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." - Isaiah 53:5

Praise God!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Day of Praise

Wed, 12/13/17, "Day of Praise"

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

So, some time ago, I go into the bank, fill out my cash withdrawal slip, walk through the Disney World line, walk toward the inviting teller, and put my driver's license and withdrawal slip on the teller's counter. He pulls both my license and the slip towards himself with the slip being closer to himself and my license placed right above it, like he's dealing a hand of Black Jack. He says, "So you'd like $50 from checking [as I see on the slip], Mr. DeGreen [as I see your name on your license]?" I respond affirmatively. 

But then (we'll call him) Travis says, "Could I see your I.D. please?"

And now I'm confused. So I look at him with my world-famous I-look-dumber-than-I-usually-do look. Then (we'll still call him) Travis wakes up and says, "Oh, I'm sorry. I don't know what I'm thinking. I have your I.D. right here."

Well, I know what he's thinking. We'll still call him Travis is thinking that I'm just like everybody else, namely, nobody ever shows I.D. without being asked. 

And y'all know that this has nothing to do with me wanting to win a "Best Bank-Customer" Award. It has to do with the fact that "oh we of little faith" start pre-judging people at an early age; (we'll still call him Travis could not have been over 22). At a very early age, we taste things that irritate, annoy, or hurt from a person or two or ten, and we start saying, "Oh, everybody's that way."

And, because we start lumping people together (because it's easier), we miss out on a whole lot of blessings. 

The worst of it is when a person or two or ten does something that irritates, annoys, or hurts us, and we throw God into the lump. Ya know like, "Eeeehh, people always have ulterior motives, so God does too. People use ya, then they leave ya, so God does too. People can't be trusted, so God can't either."

What are we doing? We're judging God, and lumping God in with everyone else; we're lumping God in with sinners. And in so doing, we miss out on the blessing that's right under our nose, namely, seeing the face of God with us in the face of Jesus Christ...

which, by the way, is a whole lot better looking face than the one that was under let's still call him Travis's nose. :-)

But, let's be clear, not judging God so we can see the blessing of his face starts by not judging others so we can see the blessing of their face. 

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

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Monday, December 11, 2017

Day of Praise

Mo, 12/12/17, "Day of Praise"

"What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" - Romans 8:31

If things get tough today, remember this: God is for you!

Holy Communion is a reminder of two things. First, Holy Communion is a reminder of Jesus's death on the cross where Jesus showed us that God is totally for us. Second, Holy Communion is a reminder from Jesus himself that God's promise to us in Holy Baptism is still true, namely, God is totally for you.

It's not just that God is giving us something that we must respond to. Ya know, like, "Here, ya go. This is for you." No, in Holy Baptism and Holy Communion God is saying, "Hey Kiddo, I not only have something for you, but I myself am for you!"

Knowing that someone is for you makes a difference. Knowing that God is for you changes everything. 

I still remember a boy named Brandon on a little boys tee ball team that I coached in a recreational league one summer in college. He played for us at shortstop, which, at that age, means he's the best at fielding the ball. But he missed a ball on one play and was pelted with criticism from a family member. Even as a little boy, Brandon had latched onto the truth and called out to his critics, saying "Coach would say that I did a good job even getting to the ball!" In essence, if I know my coach is for me, I don't care who is against me. 

When we are for each other, believing in one another and passing on genuine affirmations, the people around us walk in unheard of confidence and can stand up respectfully to the harshest of critics and the hardest of trying matters. 

So how much moreso is it true? When God is for us, believing in us through Jesus's death on the cross and passing on genuine affirmations in Baptism and Holy Communion, well, then who can legitimately be against us?

Walk tall today, friends, walk tall! And if things get tough today, remember this: God is for you!

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Day of Praise

Mon, 12/11/17, "Day of Praise"

"So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner." - Matthew 20:10-11

Football. Baseball. Basketball. Soccer. Sports teach lots of lessons.

There's one lesson, though, that I don't remember learning and that I rarely hear much about. It's the lesson on the power of a loss to invalidate time.

I remember one time on a Saturday, my favorite college football team lost on the very last play of the game. Then on Sunday, my favorite pro football team lost on the very last play of the game. On Monday, my favorite pro baseball team lost on the very last at bat of the other team. Though I didn't watch the whole game of any of those three games, they were a combined twelve hours of the best contests that any sports fan could ever hope to see. But because of the power of a loss to invalidate time, that twelve hours turned into the biggest waste of time a human being could ever experience. The power of a loss to invalidate time says that time slipped away because of my team losing. 

That's the tragedy in today's Bible reading. The workers who were hired first worked twelve hours that day. Clearly, in the parable, they should have been the most glorious twelve hours that a human being could experience. But in creeps the power of a loss to invalidate time. The workers who were hired first and worked twelve hours saw that those who got hired later and worked a lot less got paid what the first workers were promised they'd get paid. So when the first workers saw that they got paid exactly as all the others, then the first workers felt that they'd lost, and that loss totally invalidated the time they'd worked in the garden. 

Lesson: No it doesn't. A loss at the end doesn't invalidate all the great things that preceded it. 

My three favorite teams lost in the end, but the loss does not invalidate the fact that they played amazing games that both my son and I will remember forever. The Atlanta Braves suffered one of those losses, and it ended their season, but the loss doesn't invalidate the fact that they had a terrific season. The first workers in the parable thought they might get more in the end, but their perceived loss of pay does not invalidate the fact that they had a wonderful day in God's garden. 

Too bad they refused to see it that way. 

Friends, sometimes the ending is not what you had in mind to start with, but God sees to it that the loss at the end doesn't invalidate the good things that preceded the end.

A forced retirement or job transition doesn't invalidate all the good work that you did over the course of your career. A failed test doesn't invalidate the things that you did learn, (but you probably need to learn a wee bit more before the next test. :-) )

And Jesus's death on the cross doesn't invalidate all that he revealed and taught, along with all the people that he saved and healed before he was crucified. In fact, his loss on the cross opened the door to a victory for us which gave eternal life now and everlasting time with God. 

Do you see the irony? In Jesus Christ, the power of a loss or bad ending (the cross) is the power both to validate all that preceded it and also to give back even more time to those who will believe. 

So, come what may today, remember that a bad ending doesn't invalidate all the good things before it, and, as we see in Jesus, that bad ending may just be the beginning of something better. 

Praise God!



Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Friday, December 8, 2017

Day of Praise

Sat, 12/09/17, "Day of Praise"

"But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold." - Psalm 73:2

Have you ever had a close call? Ya know, an "Oh, I can't believe what almost happened" moment?

One time, I'd parked in the short driveway of a young family next to the large van that's a work vehicle for him. After our visit, I was backing out very slowly but couldn't see because of the work van. I'd barely pulled back toward the sidewalk when, in my right rear view mirror, I saw two very small children flash past on the sidewalk merely inches from the back of my car. "Oh, I can't believe what almost happened!" My heart almost stopped as the near-tragedy flashed through my mind. God alone could be thanked for the horror that didn't happen.

In today's verse, the psalmist is inspired to tell of their "Oh, I can't believe what almost happened" moment. In their case, the horrors were constantly happening, namely, those who did wrong were prospering while those who did right were scraping by. And then, the psalmist got so wrapped up in how unfair life often is that he almost tasted a worse tragedy, namely, he almost gave up faith in the power and goodness of the living and almighty God. "Oh, I can't believe what almost happened," says the psalmist, "But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold" (Psalm 73:2).

The psalmist continues saying that all the unfairness of life "troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood" (Psalm 73:16-17). In other words, when the psalmist surrendered to the nudge of the spirit (instead of quenching the spirit) and he went to God's house, the sanctuary, to worship God, then the near-tragedy of renouncing the faith and giving up on God was averted. 

The real, but lesser, tragedies of unfairness in a fallen, sinful world had still happened, but the greater tragedy of giving up on God was prevented and warded off. 

So, what would have happened if the near miss had happened that day to me? What would have happened if I'd accidentally hit and brought injury or worse to those three and four year old kids who innocently zoomed past on the sidewalk? Would I have kept faith? Would their parents have any faith to draw on? Or would the wrongs and pains of a broken world break us down? We'll never know in that one case. 

But near misses sadly hit everyday. People are hurt or worse everyday. 

How do you deal with it? How do you endure? How do you keep from becoming bitter? How do you walk with a friend who already has?

God says, "Come to my sanctuary and worship me! Run to me and my word! Call on my name, believing! Speak my word of hope to another!"

Through God and his word alone is the ultimate near-miss averted. 

Run to him, friends. Pursue him. Worship him. Listen to his word. Encourage another to keep trusting and searching for the Lord. And find the strength and hope in him to press on. 

Praise God!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Day of Praise

Fri, 12/08/17, "Day of Praise"

Jesus said, "In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples." - Luke 14:33

Some time ago, I was standing next to the copy machine with my friend, Neal. I stick some papers into the feeder to make copies and push "print". The machine kicks into action, but my papers don't move into the feeder. However, a copy does pop out, but, of course, it's blank. 

I looked at Neal and matter-of-factly said, "Well, there's tomorrow's Day of Praise." Neal looked at me and started laughing. I said, "Hey, that's a great parable for how much of Christ we image to the world when we're not engaged. Nothing."

And it's true. The papers were laying there on the copier feeder but were not touching the "grabber" that the papers needed to touch. And because the papers were not engaged, therefore the image that came out was a blank, so too when our lives are full of religious activity but aren't touching the "grabber" (the Holy Spirit) that our lives need to touch, then the image the world sees is a blank.

That's why, in today's verse, Jesus says, "In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples" (Luke 14:33). When we're not engaged to Jesus and his work of pouring God's word into others and breathing the Holy Spirit into others, it's impossible for us to produce an image of him and his life-giving work.

The reason we care about our lives producing an image of Christ and his life-giving work is that God made us for that very purpose, as God attests in the very first chapter of the Bible, Genesis 1, and in countless places in the Bible after Genesis 1. And since God made us for it, our hearts are starving to live lives that produce an image of Christ and his life-giving work.

So what are we to do?

Start by acknowledging that you know you're not engaged with Christ as you ought to be (because who of us sinners is?). But then, thank God for showing us (by Jesus pouring out every drop of blood on the cross and then by pouring out every ounce of the Holy Spirit after the resurrection) that God is fully engaged with us. And then ask God to do what it's impossible for us (or a copy machine) to do, namely, ask God to produce his image and reflect his glory in and through our lives by pouring us out and filling us with himself. (And repeat, over and over, until Jesus comes again.)

Jesus said, "In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples." - Luke 14:33

Praise God!


Pastor Chris 
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Day of Praise

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, which is observed annually in the United States on December 7, is to remember and honor the 2,403 victims who were killed in the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. I've always been grateful for our Veterans, but the older I get the more I appreciate them. Thank a Veteran today!

Here's today's devotional. 

Thur, 12/07/17, "Day of Praise"

"Whoever believes in [Jesus] will not be disappointed." - Romans 10:9-11

I love football. It doesn't matter when or where it is. It can be our now 18-year old son, for all those years, with his friends playing in our neighborhood cul de sac. It can be little kids playing flag football. Or it can be High School, Pro, or the best, College football. 

I'm rarely disappointed when I watch or play football. It's not because my team always wins. Instead, I'm rarely disappointed because of what I'm hoping for. When I watch football, what I hope for is that I'll see a bunch of kids or adults who want to win. I hope to see people who try to win. And even after a win is not possible, they keep playing to the end as if a win were still in reach. In other words, the players believe that if there's time on the clock, then there's still time to try. If there's still time on the clock, then there's still time to give your best and have fun doing it. 

That's the way it is with those who really, deep in their hearts, believe in Jesus. Any time to play is a great time to play. Until the very last second runs off the clock, life is worth living, not on cruise control, but trying hard and giving your best and encouraging others to believe the same, that any time to play is a great time to play, that any time left on the clock of life is a great time to live life, trying your hardest and giving your best until the very last second runs off the clock.

That's exactly what I saw recently: a bunch of, let's be honest, old people, whose average age was like the numbers of football linemen, 70's, 80's, 90's. They meet weekly to pray and try to figure out how to get others into the game and how to get others to come together as a team and how to care and give your best until the very last second runs off the clock of life. But remember, they're not meeting about football. They're meeting about people, and life, and the living of life. Right to the end.

And the constant solution is Jesus. Getting people to know more and trust more in Jesus is how to get others into the game and how to get others to come together as a team and how to care and give your best until the very last second runs off the clock of life.

So these people, in their 70's and 80's and 90's keep playing to the end as if a win is still in reach, namely the win that is winning a soul for Jesus Christ. In other words, these guys believe that if there's time on the clock, then there's still time to try. If there's still time on the clock, then there's still time to give your best and have fun doing it.

And they pray for you and try to reach out to you, hoping that you will grow in believing the same!

And maybe even join their team.

After all, "Whoever believes in [Jesus] will not be disappointed." - Romans 10:9-11

Praise God!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Day of Praise

Wed, 12/06/17, "Day of Praise"

"But what about you?" [Jesus] asked. "Who do you say I am?" - Matthew 16:15

Curly hair. Sweet little smile. Who doesn't love a little kid?

Have you ever heard a little one sing "Jesus Loves Me"? It is absolutely one of the top treasures in life.

Because it's all about Jesus.

It comforts a child to tell others, to sing to others, who Jesus is to them. 1) Jesus loves me. 2) Jesus makes sure that I know that Jesus loves me. 3) The book about Jesus tells me that Jesus loves me. 4) Jesus has claimed me as his own. 5) Jesus is strong for me because I'm weak.

If Jesus asked a kid, who knows the good song, "Who do you say I am?" (Matthew 16:15), then the child would just sing the good song.

Because it's all about Jesus.

So what happened? Why is it that when we leave childhood behind, we also leave our child-likeness behind? If Jesus asked a kid, who knows the good song, "Who do you say I am?" (Matthew 16:15), then the child would just sing the good song that's all about Jesus. If Jesus asked an adult, "Who do you say I am?" (Matthew 16:15), then the adult would not sing, but they'd tell you, "Well, for one, I believe in Jesus. And I pray to Jesus. And I worship Jesus. And I read books about Jesus. And I give money to help Jesus."

See the difference? The kid's talkin' about Jesus. The adult's talkin' about, well, the adult.

Maybe that's why Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14). Maybe, as much as kids need to be around Jesus, the adults need even more to be around kids who know the good song.

And why might that be true? Because no matter how much I might do in my adult way of doing in order to show that I love Jesus, Jesus loves me even more.

I mean, any kid knows that!

Praise God!

Pastor Chris
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson

Monday, December 4, 2017

Day of Praise

Tues, 12/05/17, "Day of Praise" 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16 

What a funny and interesting world God loves! 

I personally witnessed all but one of the following: 

Exhibit A - A person is talking to me on their cell phone when their land-line rings. They pick up the television remote control and talk into it for 20 seconds or so, thinking that it's a phone. 

Exhibit B - Hymn title seen in a church bulletin: "Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear". (Get it? It's supposed to be "Gladly, the cross I'd bear.") 

Exhibit C - Rural Alabama. We pass "Jerry's Processing". The big city person says, "I wonder what companies they do papers for." (Uh no, that would be Venison (deer-meat) processing.) 

Exhibit D - Seen in a church bulletin one summer: "As the Hart Pants for Cooling Systems". (Uh, the hart pants for cooling streams, not air conditioning.) 

Exhibit E - The dear, regally-dressed, senior ladies near Alex City, Alabama clearly had it all under control as they're driving west-bound on 70-mph Hwy 280 East. As casually as taking tickets at the gate of a football game, the little bouffant-haired ladies were driving smack down the middle at fifteen mph, pointing at each of the more than twenty oncoming cars, and directing oncoming traffic as to how to drive around them. (P.S. - I didn't hear one horn honk in frustration.) 

Have a great day! 

And have a sense of humor! 

God sure does! 

Praise God!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Day of Praise

Mon, 12/04/17, "Day of Praise"

"The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith!' [Jesus] replied, 'If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, "Be uprooted and planted in the sea," and it will obey you.'" - Luke 17:5-6

So a new week is starting, and everyone is looking for an extra boost to start the week off right. In today's Bible verses, the apostles believe that such an extra boost will be found in a faith boost. 

They're right.

But notice what that means. 

Notice what it means for God to give and for us to receive a faith boost to start the week off right. Jesus is basically saying that God is eager to answer the request to boost our faith so we can start the week off right. The question is are we ready to receive it. 

Jesus says that receiving the faith that God is eager to give is directly tied to speaking with faith in the power and authority that comes with being a Christ-one, i.e. a Christian. Speaking with faith is tied to receiving the faith because speaking in Christ's power is a faith proposition. I mean, who in the world would talk to a mulberry tree, saying, "Be uprooted and planted in the sea"? Only a fool in the eyes of the world. 

Or a Christian.

Who would be crazy enough to speak God's word when you know it's going to get you flogged (prophet Jeremiah), ridiculed (prophet Ezekiel), burned at the stake (John Hus in 1415), excommunicated and outlawed (Martin Luther in 1521), imprisoned (St. Paul), stoned to death (Stephen in Acts 7:59), or crucified (Jesus Christ)?

Only a fool in the eyes of the world.

Or a person who wants to live out of more than their own strength. A person who wants to live out of the strength of the Living and Almighty God.

No unbeliever is ever going to speak God's word. Why? Because speaking God's word is a faith proposition.

Every believer, though, must speak God's word. Why? (Same reason that an unbeliever won't!) Because speaking God's word is a faith proposition.

Come on, trust Jesus, and you can do this. In fact, it's still a faith proposition if we all do this together. Let's all do together what my brother, Ben DeGreen, Jr., has done many days and my friend, Bob Kasper does almost every day. Each day they send a text to selected folks with a simple greeting, a simple Bible verse, and a prayer. Here's an example:

"I thought you'd enjoy this verse: Exodus 14:14 - The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."

Let's all ask God for whom we should cut and paste that greeting and verse into a text or email, and send it to them. Sure, they might do what some people have done with me with this daily devotion, namely, reply to you, telling you that they'd kindly like to be off the list. That's what makes it a faith proposition in that somebody might reject not only your text with a Bible verse, but they might also reject you!

But the vast majority of humanity is looking for an extra boost to start the week off right. When you send them a simple text like the suggestion above, then they will get the extra boost they need.

And so will you!

Put your faith in Jesus, send the text, and see!

Praise God!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Day of Praise

Fri, 12/01/17, "Day of Praise"

I heard an awesome group of little ones preparing to share the Christmas story at our church's Child Development Center yesterday, which reminded me of the following devotional I wrote years ago. 

[Jesus said,] "Whoever belongs to God hears what God says." - John 8:47

I hear things.

Based on what I hear, many people hear many of the things that I hear. Especially at night, after my kids have gone to bed, I hear the train that's miles away, the ceiling fan that's whirring on another floor, the refrigerator that's doing whatever refrigerators do to stay cool, and, best of all, my kids adjusting in their beds and breathing. A lot of people hear those things. 

But I hear things that are probably a little strange to hear. Do you? At my church, I can walk in the education building and tell you if a bathroom light and fan is on. I can walk in the preschool building and tell you if a toilet is running on and wasting water because the bowl flap didn't close. I can walk in either worship space and tell you if the sound system wasn't turned off. I know it's a little quirky. But hey, we all, well, we all have our quirks. 

I hear things.

But, quite frankly, it doesn't bother me that I hear things or to tell you that I hear things. It doesn't bother me, as long as I hear the best thing. In today's verse, Jesus said, "Whoever belongs to God hears what God says." (John 8:47)

God wants all of us to hear what God says, but it can be a challenge since God often speaks in a whisper (1 Kings 19:12) and since the devil is often roaring like a lion (1 Peter 5:8) and since we hear things like refrigerators, trains, and ceiling fans, not to mention music, televisions, and screaming sports fans.

But we want to hear God because God's word works life and faith in us (1 Thessalonians 2:13) and brings us hope and good news (Colossians 1:23) and gives us God's Spirit and miracles (Galatians 3:5) and bears fruit and grace through us (Colossians 1:6) and warns us of the anti-christ (1 John 4:3).

So how, in a noisy world, can we hear God's word that we sorely need so we can have abundant life? Well, I bumped into an old friend today, and I asked if he could sit down for a few because he looked like he had the weight of the world on him. I asked how he was doing, and he calmly and quietly told me all the noises that were claiming his attention. I really had to listen because he spoke so softly. Then I asked how he was being fed. And a soft voice turned to silence. But his eyes and therefore his heart were crying out. We made a deal that included quiet time with God, putting time into having and being a spiritual friend, finding a spiritual mentor, and going to church for worship, fellowship, study, and service. 

Only tomorrow will tell if the beggar will show up for his bread. But he looked much stronger at the mere sound of it.

Because his ears were now tuned to the best thing...God's word. 

May your ears be tuned there, too. 

[Jesus said,] "Whoever belongs to God hears what God says." - John 8:47

Praise God!