I think I was lied to today!

I’m sure that this was not the first time but for now it will serve as the most memorable.

Here’s a little history:

Several weeks ago I broke a tooth while I was eating. It broke off at the gum line so the root had to be dug out. Today was the day…. on a Monday….. 7:15AM….

Some topical numbing agent on cotton swabs with three inch sticks coming out of my mouth. I’m uncomfortable, breathing through my nose, and getting numb real fast.

This is precisely the time that the nurse wanted to get an oral history from me.  Have you ever tried to say “Gainesville”, “seventy-one”, or “Levothyroxine” with Novocain numbing your tongue and lips?

Then the Oral Surgeon, who also wanted to be conversational, appeared. He seemed to understand all the garbled words that were falling from my numb lips.                               I heard him say, “You’ll Feel a Little Pressure”. He was wearing a mask, holding a scalpel, and some other tool that looked like chrome plated pliers.

A little pressure?? Are you kidding me? A razor knife and a pair of pliers in my mouth caused me to have an entirely different sensation.

Maybe I’ve had it wrong all these years. The broken arm, the snake bite, the stab wound? Pressure? All these years I thought it was pain but apparently I was wrong….or, I was lied to today.

In the Bonds of Calvary,

Facing the Battles of a New Year

God never intended for us to face the battles of life by ourselves. We simply do not have the strength.

When I started learning how to drive an eighteen ton dump truck, I had trouble learning how to change gears. The more I ground the gears trying to get in the next gear the harder the transmission was to change. I kept on trying to “muscle” it in. I finally learned that “less” was “more.” All I had to do was to relax and use a just a little of my muscle and just ease it into gear. My gear changes became a lot smoother.

That what a lot of people try to do. They try to muscle their way through life. All they manage to do is to strip their spiritual gears and burn up their emotional clutch. They worry and fret about everything, “What shall we eat, what shall we drink, what shall we wear?” They have lost the foundation of Jesus.

The miracle of salvation is that is our very weakness that makes strong. Our strongest building is weak when it is not put on the foundation of Jesus. But the weakest buildings are stronger when they are fixed on the foundation of Jesus and His word.

OK. I know. But I just felt like preaching a little.

In the Bonds of Calvary,

Jesus Is the Message

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to talk to a stranger about the weather, about football or our children or where we are from, and yet when it comes to telling them the simple truth, our stomach ties up in knots and our  tongue gets stuck to the roof of our mouth?  Why is that?

  God hasn’t called us to be weathermen and sportscasters; He has called us and empowered us to be light shining in the darkness.  Somewhere in the course of our conversation we need to seize upon the opportunity to Preach Jesus!

I’m going to Preach Jesus!

 To the lost, I’ll preach Jesus as the Way!

 To the lonely, I’ll preach Jesus as the Friend that sticks closer than  a brother.

 To the child, I’ll preach Jesus as Father to the fatherless.

 To the sick, I’ll preach Jesus as Great Physician.

To those addicted to drugs or drink, I’ll preach Jesus as the  Deliverer.

 To the brokenhearted, I’ll preach Jesus as the One who came to bind up  the brokenhearted 

To the man on the deathbed, I’ll preach Jesus as the Resurrection and   the Life. 

To the sinner, I’ll preach Jesus as the Savior. 

To the church, I’ll preach Jesus as Lord and Master.

 No matter where I am, or who I’m talking to, I can preach Jesus in a way that will fill a void and make a broken man whole. 

Jesus is the message!

In the Bonds of Calvary,

Why DID Jesus come?

To show God to us, to share humanity with us, and to settle our debt for us.

The heavenly Father announced the good news: the fullness of time has come, time to send the Son of God to earth to redeem mankind. 

The angels said, let us weave you a golden robe, but Christ shook his head. 

Let us take all the pearls from the sea and build you a stairway down to Jerusalem. No. 

Let us deliver you in a chariot of fire.  No. 

Let us encircle the globe and blow our heavenly trumpets. No. 

 Let us call 1000 eagles to carry you on their wings. No. 

Jesus laid aside his crown, removed his royal robes, stepped down from his glorious throne, leaned his golden scepter against the arm of the throne, and took his place in the humble manger of Bethlehem.

 Why?  Because he loves us.

 One Christmas eve a woman and her children started off to church, but the husband would not go.  He was not a Christian, and he did not understand the incarnation–all that stuff about God becoming man.

After his family drove away, the snow began to fall.  As he read the newspaper, he heard something hitting the window;  it was a flock of birds, caught in the storm and seeking shelter.  He remembered his barn, and thinking it would be a warm refuge from the snow, he went outside and opened the doors.  The birds would not fly into the barn, so he put out breadcrumbs to lure them, then he tried shooing them in, but to no avail.  “If I were only a bird for a few seconds,” he said, “I could lead them to safety.”  At that moment the church bells rang.  He sank to his knees in the snow and said, “Now, God, I know why you had to become a man.”

In the Bonds of Calvary,

Estimate or Overhaul?

I love Christmas, for lots of reasons. One reason is because of all the people who come to church. Some realize they’ve gotten out of the habit of going to church and some remember that Christmas is supposed to be a religious holiday and some just figure this is as good time as any to see what that church down the road is like. Some come because a member of the church invited them and some come because they got a flyer in their mailbox and thought, Oh well,

Some will come on Sunday mornings and some will make their annual trip to church on Christmas Eve.

And I know about these people, because they’re a lot like you and me. I think some of them are just coming in for an estimate. But some are coming in for an overhaul.

And you know what the right response to that is, don’t you?

The right response to that is, “Thanks be to God. Amen.”

In the Bonds of Calvary,

Too Busy for Jesus?

The week before Christmas! 

In North America it’s business as usual, as people fight the traffic and the crowds, frantically scurrying from mall to mall, looking for that last-minute gift idea.  It seems we have developed modern traditions for the Christmas holiday like rushing, stress and overspending. 

It’s like this “Christmas carol”

Wreck the malls this Christmas season, fa la la la la la la la   

 Blow my cash for no good reason, fa la la la la la la la la

Push my charge card to the limit, fa la la la la la la la la

My bank account has nothing in it, fa la la la la la la la la

Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same!

First century citizens certainly didn’t have to cope with malls, but  the cities, towns, villages, streets, homes and businesses of Israel were packed for another reason – the taxation and census ordered by the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus.  Everyone had to make the long journey back to their hometown and stay with their relatives while giving up a major portion of their time and money – sound familiar?

The more things change, the more they stay the same!

There are three building blocks to any relationship – time, time, time!

People who really know God ALWAYS have to build that relationship by taking time away from other things to spend with Him.

We’ve fooled ourselves with the illusion of Christmas, because we really face the same problem EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR.

The world is always TOO BUSY for Jesus, and that’s not a seasonal problem!

In the Bonds of Calvary,

I’m Ready to Take a Trip

I find it interesting that only a select people made that trip to see Christ at His infancy: only shepherds and Wise Men. And the reason they were there is because they were the ones that received a special invitation from God.

I am ready to take a trip. The trip of a lifetime!  Actually, it’s the trip of eternity. I accepted the Father’s invitation and I am making preparations.

 And I have discovered something. I’ve been forced to deal with obstacles. As I’ve traveled I’ve had flat tires, dead ends, taken risks, and met unscrupulous people. I’ve faced Herod or like the shepherds I’ve been forced to leave what is precious to me. But let me assure you of something. When I arrive at my destination, I’ll discover, in an instant, the journey was worth it!

I’m not going to Bethlehem, I’m going to Heaven.

I’m not going to see the babe in a manger; I’m going to see the King of all ages.

Unlike the shepherds and Wise Men I’m not going for a quick visit, I’m making plans to spend eternity with my Savior.

 There’s an ancient legend of three horsemen traveling through the desert when a voice spoke from the darkness: “Dismount from your horses and pick up the rocks.” Stunned they obeyed the voice and waited. Moments later the voice said: “Remount your horses and continue your journey and tomorrow you will be both glad and sorry.” They didn’t understand but they traveled on anxiously waiting for morning. When the sun rose they reached into their pockets to examine the rocks and discovered they had picked up diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. They remembered the voice: “You will be both glad and sorry.” And they were. They were glad they took what they had taken, but they were sorry they hadn’t taken more!

My spiritual journey is taking me to heaven. And it’s possible that the Lord is asking me to do something that doesn’t make sense. Like those legendary horsemen God’s request seem as odd as collecting rocks that would bulge from my pockets and feel awkward for the journey. But one day I’ll find the rocks will turn to gold.

God’s ways aren’t always our ways!

In the Bonds of Calvary,

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