Wake Up! Don't Be a Governor Festus!

In Acts 26, Paul is in the Caesarean prison near the Sea of Galilee.  He's been called in by King Agrippa and Governor Festus to present his case for Christianity.  He ends up, in the end, turning the tables by putting the two accusers on trial.  Paul asks a critical question: "Why do you think it's so incredible that the Lord God raises people from the dead?  Why?  Tell me, Festus, why is that too incredible for you?"  And Festus answers, "You are going mad, Paul.  In spite of all your sophisticated learning, you are crazy."

The Lord God raising people from the dead...Incredible?  Absolutely!  Not impossible, but absolutely incredible!  It is incredible that God had created humans for eternity.  And when humans messed that up, the God who is capable of all we are amazed at in so many areas of life came up with a solution workable only by God: raise people from the dead...beginning with Christ Jesus.  (Festus, are you listening?)

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No More "Agony of Defeat"

"If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?  But with You there is forgiveness."  [Psalm 130:3]

I've been considering what I might have learned from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  I've come to understand there is reality TV...and then there are the Olympics – real reality TV.  All the drama.  The triple axels on ice.  The amazing jumps on ski slopes.  The gravity-defying snowboarders.  Oh, yes, and the falls...the miscues...the bad starts...the crashes.  And then there are the replays...of wonderful performances...and all the mess-ups, too.  I'm fine with showing the good stuff again and again.  After two weeks, though, I was bothered by endless replays of what went wrong, probably because of my position as a Christian, and pastor to other Christians.  You see, over and over again I observe in my life and the lives of others the damage done when we choose to keep replaying the mistakes of people we should be caring greatly about.  Occasionally, (too seldom) I also get to witness the replays and reminders of what we all do right in this world.  As a result, there are way too many folks, young and old, who know very well what's wrong with them, but need help remembering what's right with them.

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Reflecting the Lord's Glory

Well, Christmas is past, the New Year has come in, and now finally, maybe, our schedules are beginning to normalize just a bit (although I'm reminded that Erma Bombeck said that normal is just a setting on your washing machine).

Regardless, I'd like to challenge you to make church a part of your normal setting in 2014.  With everything going on around us, there are many reasons to encourage you to come be involved with others in the church family.  For everything I could say about needing to be here for what you may get out of it (which is important), I'd rather suggest there's an even greater reason to show up and get involved: to simply give God His due glory.

We are here on this earth because God desires that we know Him and glorify Him.  According to Ephesians 1:12, we are here to praise our glorious God!  Worship is an important part of service.  God inhabits the praises of His people.  (Psalm 22:3).

Did you know that your worship is a witness?  Acts 2:47 says that the early church was "praising God and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."  There was a direct connection between worship and witness.  We are being watched, both inside and outside the walls of our building.  When times are less than wonderful, the world marvels at our ability to continue rejoicing.

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The Harvest is Now

"Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'?  Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for the harvest."  [John 4:35]

Here is an interesting fact about American church history you may not know.  Years ago, when the first New England churches were designed, they were built with clear windows instead of the stained glass we see so often today – and the graveyard was usually in the church yard, placed so it would be visible from the pulpit.  Why?  So the pastor would see the graveyard while he preached and could be reminded of the urgency of his message!  It was so he could be reminded that everyone who sat in the pews before him as he spoke, would eventually take their place in that cemetery beyond the windows...and ultimately stand before God's judgment.  Can you imagine?

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Christmas - Episode 1 of "Justified"

Have you ever sat down and really considered why Christmas happened?  Have you ever searched the Scriptures beyond the Luke 2 story of His birth, to find out why that birth happened?  A lot of folks would say that Christmas happened so that Jesus would live on earth and teach us by His words and His actions how we should live our lives.  Take a minute, though, and really think that through.

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True Thankfulness - Even for Fleas

One great joy of Thanksgiving is leftovers.  For some reason, turkey and dressing tastes almost better on Thursday night or maybe even Friday or Saturday, doesn't it?  I came across a website that adds up all the goodness of leftovers and then gives us a calorie count (how bad is that?).  And then, on top of that, it tells how far you need to walk to shed those calories!  A turkey sandwich, some dressing and mashed potatoes, a little cranberry sauce, and a piece of pie with ice cream – 13 miles!  Add some gravy and you have to walk 15 miles to shake off that one meal of leftovers!!  Can you imagine?  If we were serious about getting rid of those calories, our sidewalks would be more clogged than our arteries!

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Goodness and Mercy

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever."  [Psalm 23:6]
It seems like many people are under lots of stress, tension, and discouragement.  We all seem to know someone close to us going through major health issues.  The job market and economy are in the pits.  Relationships for some folks don't seem to last.  Politicians can't agree on the time of day (and if they did we wouldn't trust them to tell us).  The culture is going south in a hand basket.  Are you experiencing any of this personally? Are you right now in a season of defeat or discouragement?  Does it even seem like God is real, yet not present with you in your trials...someplace far off and distant from your own reality?

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