Mary Had A Little Lamb

  • Friday, December 23, 2011

  • "When man attempts to reach up to God, we call it religion.  When God reaches down to man, we call it CHRISTmas."

    They left the Garden fully clothed, but an innocent animal had died to give them covering.  Their sons came to God with gifts in hand, but one sought His pleasure with an impressive display of the works of his hands.  God, instead, smiled upon the one who offered the lamb. They found no security in shelters or rituals the night the angel of death passed by.  Life was the gift only for those to whom the perfect lamb's blood was applied.

    For all the impressive efforts of man to please their God, the regrettable reality is this--their feeble attempts prove completely impotent.  For when man attempts to reach up to God, they call it religion.

    When God reaches down to man, sends the Lamb, and we call it Christmas!

    Merry Christmas, Church!
    Pastor Tom

    Come See…Go Tell: Till the Whole World Knows!

  • Friday, December 16, 2011

  • Wise advice, delivered with humble grace and unquenchable optimism to a Bible college classroom filled with "preacher wanna-be's." It burned into my memory bank to surface frequently these many seasons later.

    "Gentlemen," began Miss Elsie, "as shepherds to God's people, your responsibility will be to diligently study God's Word all week long. Then you are to prayerfully prepare your sermons. By the time you are ready to preach, you will have far too much material. Your job, then, is to select the best 10% to be delivered. Leave the rest in the can!"

    Matthew's gospel record of the life and ministry of Jesus opens on a clear tone, only to close on a completely different note. He begins with a "come see" strategy. "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him," (Matthew 2:2). Matthew's opening direction, "Come see." But then, in closing out the account, the author takes a radical redirection and ends by writing, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel," (Matthew 28:19). Matthew's closing direction, "Go tell!"


  • Friday, December 9, 2011

  • Suspended high above the street, attached to a tall light pole on both sides, was the familiar holiday word, N-O-E-L. As you turned off Hi-way 30 and drove north onto main street, you were welcomed by the old French version of Christmas greeting. It was one of those seasonal predictabilities which, after the first couple of trips through town, one simply forgot. Christmas had come to main street. Windows were decorated with tape-on window frames and spray-on snow. Christmas in a small town…the things of which Hallmark cards are made. "Noel! Noel! Born is the King of Israel."

    With only 26 letters with which to work…common words can soon become trite. Words and phrases so much a part of our tradition that they flow in and out of our conversation, jump off the ends of our texting fingers, fall loosely from our lips and liven the poetic structures of our carols…losing the richness of their meaning simply due to their commonness. Trite seasonal expressions, until…

    Until my bride pointed out a reality of which I have been totally unaware. She sent me a text asking, "Did you realize that SILENT and LISTEN both have the exact same letters?" Incredible! I have used those two words…typed those two words…sung those two words…never recognized that those two words are the same word simply arranged in different ways.

    S-I-L-E-N-T    L-I-S-T-E-N

    And that is exactly what the first hearers of the incredible Good News did. They sat silent in order to listen! The dark night sky burst into full noon-day brilliance as hundreds of angels took their place and each sang their own part in history's first Christmas Carol. "Glory (another word that has become trite by overuse) to God in the highest!"

    Wise Men Still Adore Him

  • Friday, December 2, 2011

  • Matthew 2

    Horses or camels? Please tell me we didn't rent donkeys! Did we make reservations? We did book this trip on Priceline, didn't we? Is there a penalty if we cancel? You guys sure we should actually do this? I mean...we are throwing our whole lives into chaos over a strange-appearing flaming thing in the sky! We have job responsibilities to cover. We have schedules to rewrite. We have families to consider. Oh…did I mention the recent reports of assaults and robberies on that particular highway? It is not exactly safe to be traveling these days, you know! We should travel in a caravan; how many armed guards do you think it will take to guarantee security? Did it occur to any of you that the larger our traveling contingent, the more attention we attract and the greater the chance we WILL be bushwhacked! Wait till word gets out that we have gold onboard, now THAT ought to excite a few ne'er-do-wells!

    I guess protocol is protocol. "Never approach a king without a gift in your hand." The appropriate gift for a king is certainly shiny gold, so I guess we will be traveling with gold. Incense? Why are we wasting packing space with incense? Isn't the gold enough? What is the baby's mom going to think when she unwraps incense--that the diaper needs changed, the barn is a bit smelly, someone needs a shower? Who's idea was it to include myrrh anyway?!? Bad enough the mom will open a package of sweet smelling stuff to burn, but stuff for a funeral? What kind of sick joke is that?!?