Why is Temptation Tempting?

Why is temptation tempting?  Everyone deals with temptation from time to time and those who are habitually engaged in some kind of vice or sin, temptation seems irresistible.

   James 1:14 tells us why.  “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.”  NKJV

   “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.”  NLT

   Where are the desires coming from?  They already exist in each person.  Temptation is simply seeking to look into what already is there.  So how do we deal with temptation?  Are we helpless?  Is this just nature taking its course?

   God promises to bless people who endure under trial, who don’t give into temptations.  So there is an expectation from God’s perspective that we can and should prevail when we are tempted.  We are neither helpless, nor destined to failure.  The key to overcoming is to develop what you desire most.  If we desire God and His pleasure more than what we desire, we will prevail.  Ultimately, it is a battle for what we love and cherish the most.  It is how we are wired.  To be a moral creature, to have ability to make choices, involves having the ability to value our options.  This is why the Bible equates the Law with loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves.  Rules are not the issue, what you love is.  If you love your pleasure or your comfort more than God or your fellow man, you will side against all others to have your way. 

   Conversely, if your desire is for your God and Savior and His pleasure and glory mean the most to you, you will obey and prevail against temptation to sin. 

   It’s all about love – and more specifically, who or what you love most.  God is holy because He loves perfectly. 

   We can be holy, as well as, when we refine our desires in Christ.

  

My Grace Is Sufficient For You

   “My grace is sufficient, for My strength is perfected in your weakness.”

 2 Corinthians 12:9

   This verse was written by Paul letting his readers know how God answered his prayer regarding a tormenting issue.  Some kind of suffering, attributed to the devil himself, was troubling Paul.  This man who had exorcised demons was now the target of Satanic attack.  Three times Paul asked for God’s intervention, to finally be told, “My grace is sufficient for you…”  Grace to endure, grace to continue in spirit of the suffering that he was experiencing. 

   About a month ago I began feeling numbness in my lower jaw, chin and irritation in my scalp on the left side of my head only.

  Seeing a doctor the next day, I was diagnosed with an infection in the nerves of my face.  Similar to shingles, it attacked the tri-facial nerve that branches over the front side of my head and face.  I took several medications that seem to have helped the skin rash, yet the pain continues.  I have asked for healing, I have also consulted the internet.  It may or may not stop hurting.  There is not a definitive word on the duration.

   I am not complaining, as many of you reading this have battled things far worse and more enduring.  I have always felt empathy for you but could not relate to such things with the exception of old age in my knees and back.  This experience is giving me a new appreciation for things that may be the way it is for long while.  

   “My grace is sufficient,” has to be just that for all of us, regardless of our health or life situation.  I believe God can heal, provide abundance in finances or in spiritual depth.  I believe He is Lord and I am not.  My prayer is that I shall always be faithful, fruitful and in favor with God.

Easter Forever!!!

EASTER FOREVER!!  The resurrection story is not a once a year thing for Christians, it is every day and celebrated every week of the year.  The first day of the week Jesus rose from the grave.  He had completed the work of redemption by dying on the cross, and rested on the Sabbath.  He uttered those wonderful words, “It is finished.”  He rested, just as He did at the end of the creation week in Genesis.  In six days God created and on the seventh day God rested from all His works.  The resurrection announced a whole new day.  The work of creation and the work of redemption all completed.  Today is the new day and we celebrate every day with new life in Jesus.

   The work that is going on now is the work of Christ through His Church.  Our part is the proclamation of this finished work of redemption and the new day of life through the Son.  Yet there is another day coming as well.  It is called “The Day of the Lord” and that day brings an end to the proclamation of the gospel.  The Day of the Lord will bring the judgment of God upon the earth and all those who have done evil and remained in unbelief.  The fallen angels and fallen man that have not repented of their sin and become followers of Jesus, will all face the eternal consequence of their sin.  That day is fast approaching.

   While it is still the day of redemption, remember the risen Christ and be devoted to His life in you.  Give yourself to faithfulness in prayer and proclamation and rejoice in the empty tomb.  Be grateful that bunnies and eggs come and go, but the power of the Risen Lord abides continually each and every day.  Until that great Day of the Lord, look up for your resurrection is drawing near. 

   Maranatha! Even so, come Lord Jesus!!!

You Can Do Nothing and Nothing Means Nothing.

There are many people who are trying to succeed in life.  This begs two questions; first, what is success?  And second, what is the goal?  What are people aiming at?

   The second question is as diverse as the people you ask.  It has different assumptions based upon culture and age.  Older folks want to succeed at either cheating death or to avoid being lonely.  Middle aged people want financial security and career fulfillment.  Younger folks want to experience all they can out of life and to have meaning in who they are and what they do.  To feel like they are making a difference.  This second question is more important than the first because it defines the success one seeks.

   What is success for a Christian?  Is it to master the Scriptures or to be an effective soul winner?  Perhaps to be a productive member of the church and society, making a difference or perhaps leaving a legacy.

   The one thing that matters most is whether or not we attain to success in what God has established as the goal.  Just what is God’s agenda or standard?

   It really isn’t in the faithfulness of attendance or consistency in tithing, nor is it how many converts we can name.  It is not in how we advance the church by our service.  The true goal of every believer is to know God intimately.  Jesus said, “Unless you abide in Me, you can do nothing.”  Nothing means nothing.

   There are many things people can do by sheer initiative, ingenuity and hard work.  Yet it will produce nothing that matters to God.  Success in the Christian life is not measured in achievement nor accomplishment.  True success in measured in the fruit that results from abiding in Him.  This fruit actually remains, according to the Lord.  Yet, abiding in Him may prove to be the most challenging thing we will ever do.

What is Your Source?

As I write this installment of “Thoughts,” it is April 1st.  I got taken in by an article that stated New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, had been traded to San Francisco.  I was totally taken in until the very last line in the story by Coach Shanahan, “If you think this trade is real, check your calendar.”   

   Sadly, I was easily taken in because I trusted the source.  Big mistake on my part.  Yet, I like a million of people, was taken in by an apparent story that was a hoax.  I suppose part of my interest in the story was for our good Patriot fan and associate pastor, Cliff.  But I was taken in.

   This illustrates the importance of sources for what we accept as truthful.  Frankly, I have little trust for any major news source and zero trust for the mainstream.  There was a time when journalism was key to our nation’s ability to make judgments.  They were America’s conscience, watchdogs that had a chance to square off with government to keep people accountable.  Not that there have never been biases, the fact is, there have been biases from the beginning of this country.

   The ultimate leverage of the American people was a basic knowledge of the Bible and the basis for right and wrong as given by the Ten Commandments.  Even journalists had some conscience in not spouting blatant lies.  The public also had a moral compass in which to judge the values and character of its leaders.  Yet, since the days of Richard Nixon, those standards have all but disappeared. 

   This countries leaders and power people want no God.  The general public concurs as they are incessantly taught there is no God of consequences.  So on this April Fools Day, I lament that we are a country of fools indeed. 

   I do not give up hope, however, for God is alive and well .  HE is not done with any of us yet!

Taking Steps to Scale the Mountain

The things people can do is astounding!  When a person has the combination of mind and body and potential, it seems that nothing is impossible. 

   Patty and I watched a documentary called “Free Solo” about a professional rock climber named Alex Hommold who was the first person to successfully climb the face El Captain in Yosemite National Park.  Free Solo means it was done entirely without ropes or safety gear, not even a parachute.  El Captain is 3,000 feet of granite wall.  Hommold did it in just under four hours.  Others will likely follow and likely die in the attempt.

   It took Hommold eight years to prepare, train, map the rock and get his mental faculties ready for the attempt.  Olympians are similar with years of training and mental preparations are needed to succeed.  Professional athletes, magicians, musicians and the like, devote their entire person to the mastering of their craft and yet, not always achieving their goals. 

   Watching Hommold describe himself and his journey was intriguing.  His whole life was wrapped up into that one feat.  Now that it was over, he is contemplating what is next.  For the time being, he is doing lots of smaller climbs to stay physically in shape.  He also has a foundation that supports solar energy entities in third world countries to provide infrastructure needs to those who literally have no access to electricity.

   My point is that these kind of people are rare, and exceptional.  Yet we as believers have such a higher purpose.  Can we begin to take “little” climbs toward the great goal of completing the Great Commission?  Perhaps just one conversation a week, an invitation to something or to hand out a tract.  Simple climbs, simple steps that might in time result in scaling the impossible. 

Time

Solve this riddle:

   Until I am measured I am not known.

   Yet how you miss me when I have flownAnswer:  Time

The Bible tells us that time is something that we cannot stop and yet it can be redeemed.  We cannot go back in time to rectify our mistakes, or to undo the travesties of history.  Many a movie has been made exploring that issue, most of which end up with the same conundrum, no matter what happens or how we try to fix it, there are always consequences for our choices.

   How do we redeem the time?  One translation of Ephesians 5:16 is making the most of every opportunity.  Too often we think in terms of getting to the important stuff as soon as we get the nagging things off our plate.  What we don’t realize is that these little things sap our energy so that when we are done we are too tired to do the important stuff.  We also think that the important stuff will take so much longer to do and that we will miss out on things when we are so occupied.  These are actual deceptions that are engineered by the wicked one and play so nicely with our carnal sensibilities.  Then one day, we wake up to another reality, the horror of regret because we let the most important go by thinking we will get to it in time.  You won’t unless you act today.

 Another riddle:

   I never was, am always to be.

   No one ever saw me, nor ever will.

   And yet I am the confidence of all.

   To live and breathe on this terrestrial ball.               Answer:  Tomorrow. 

   You and I only assume it will come for us or those we love.  Maybe what we really need to to should be done today.

To Be or To Do?

I ran into an old friend from many years ago and had a wonderful conversation with him.  He has been a very successful business man and is looking at retirement now.  He said, “I have been so driven all these years, not for the money per se, but just to achieve, to excel at whatever I try to do.  I am looking forward to going from doing to being.  I hope I can make the change.”

   This is a very insightful look into his own heart.  After all is said and done which is most important, who we are or what we have done?  We live in a largely results oriented culture, one in which younger people are increasingly skeptical.  The millennial generation does not seem to be so driven, which makes many employers frustrated now a days.  But I don’t know that they are necessarily moving from “doers” to “be-ers”.  Experience is something that they seem to be quite interested in, but as to the state of their being, I’m not so sure they are any more equipped to answer that than the “doer” generation before.

   What is it exactly “to be”, that is, to focus on being?  Is it just another way of saying content?  Being able to be without striving for things or success or even results?  Is contentment what most folks are seeking?  After all, the “doing” does not seem to yield that feeling or sense of contentment.

   The Bible says that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).  It takes both.  To concentrate merely on being content is not the answer.  Godliness, which is simply being like God, is the companion.  Godliness means to be generous, gracious, merciful and compassionate.  Coupled with contentment it is easy to see why these two qualities are such great gain and are not as elusive as one might first expect.

Life is an Adventure! Join ours!

Today we are launching the first of our Adventure Club activities.  This will be a series of activities throughout the year for both the young and young at heart.  It will involve activities that engage with the great outdoors that is available to us in this great state of Idaho along with adventures at Yellowstone Alliance Adventures Camp in the Bozeman, MT area. 

   Today is tubing on the snow in the South Hills.  Other adventures will take us to places like Boise or Featherville to tube on the rivers.  Hiking in the high country and or camping out near lakes, kayaking in streams, fishing or other play activities. 

   Coming soon will be our second Nacho Movie Night.  This is when we pick a goofy movie that we can lampoon together, eat Nachos and invite others to join us in a low key event in order to get acquainted and introduce to others outreaches coming up.  You will be receiving tickets for Nacho Movie Night to use as invitations to the event and which includes opportunities to win prizes!

   Today’s Adventure will take place at Diamond Field Jacks.  We encourage folks to grab some lunch.  We will have hot dogs and hot cocoa and coffee there to refuel after ascending the slopes.  PLEASE bring snacks to share.  We will have some room for passengers.  Please let us know if rides are needed.  We hope whole families will participate.  Bring winter gear, sunscreen and sunglasses as the snow is bright and sunburns get sever this time of year.  We will carpool from the church at 1:30 PM.

   See you up at Diamond Field Jacks later today!

Information, Information, Information!!!!!

  It is an amazing thing that we live in an age of such access to information and yet people really know so very little.  The Bible predicted that the time would come when people would be running “to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4)  I use the information super highway on a daily basis, getting news and even booking flights, or using my map app while driving.  It is truly amazing and yet, the people are totally ignorant of the historical roots of this nation or the teachings of the Bible.  The apps are there, the teachers and studies are available online, but most people simply are either misinformed or don’t care about anything except their vanity.

   I know that those of you reading this are an exception to the rule.  Many of you have good knowledge of the Bible and are more aware of history than many.  Yet there is a very stern warning for us from both Jesus and Paul.  Jesus said, “See to it that you are not deceived.  There will be many antichrists and false prophets in the last days.”  And, “At that time many will fall away and betray one another.”  Jesus also said, “Some will show signs and false wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”  (Matthew 24)

   Paul would teach that in the last days, there will be a “great falling away and the man of sin will be able to seduce the people because they did not love the truth.” (2 Thess. 1)  The book of Jude and 2 Peter teach that apostasy (falling away) will characterize the end of days.  How easy it is for the information super highway to be a conduit for deception? 

    I say this to encourage, exhort, warn and compel each one of us to be diligent in the Bible.  Make it your aim to spend an equal amount of time in Bible study and prayer as you do in any other source of information.  Not in devotionals, though some are excellent, some more popular ones are not good.  I’m talking about the Bible.  Let the Bible teach and inform you rather than the opinions of men.  These last days are too dangerous to take chances.  Deception is a formidable weapon.

Is your life monotonous?

   Last Sunday, Patty and I had the joy and privilege of being part of Justin Williams’ ordination ceremony.  It was a time when Justin made the public vow to be faithful to God in his calling as a pastor and leader in the church.  It was great to see his family gathered to support him.  This event was a one day shy of his father, Cliff’s death.  It also coincided with his brother, Jordan’s first week with the Meridian Fire Department.  A goal that Jordan has worked toward for at least 12 years.

   All of this to say that it is a great blessing to witness God’s  gracious hand upon a family that has endeavored to serve God since the 1970’s.  Many trials, many triumphs, many days of monotony, which is not to say that their lives are boring, but to say that, for all of God’s people, life is more defined by the monotonous rather than by the punctuated times of highs or lows that we experience.

   We read of the great characters in the Bible, their lives often compressed into a few chapters that takes only a few minutes to read and ask ourselves, “Why is my life not as exciting?”  We don’t remember that Abraham waited 25 years for the promise, along with another 15 years before the challenge to offer Isaac in sacrifice.  David was on the run from Saul for at least two decades before ascending to the throne.  Joseph languished in an Egyptian jail for up to seventeen years before he was promoted to Egypt’s prime minister.  Jesus waited 33 years before embarking on His ministry and likely did not perform His first miracle for a year after His baptism.  In all of this, God remained faithful to His Word.

   If you are feeling like life is passing you by, concentrate on being faithful to your vows and callings, allow God control in all things, including monotony.  He remains the same regardless.

Lest We Forget!

Legend has it that George Washington confessed, “I cannot tell a lie,” when confronted with whether or not he chopped down a cherry tree.  Yet, it is a well known fact that he developed a very successful ring of spies to gain information regarding British troop movements, supplies and strategies.  Abraham Lincoln was said to have been a racist, though he abhorred the slavery of human beings. 

   There are many “histories” or revisions of that history that have floated down through the past few centuries that make it hard to know the actual facts.  Biographers and historians alike are subject to their biases when they present their conclusions. 

   This weekend we celebrate President’s Day, combining those two great men and birthdays into a national holiday.  I doubt many high school students could give you thirty seconds of coherent meaning of these men and their contribution to our way of life.  I’m sure they are glad for a day off from school.  Likewise, for Martin Luther King Day, or Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day.  How much meaning is held in the hearts of people today?  Why do we remember?  Why do we acknowledge these people or Jesus’ birth, or the recognition of pilgrims setting aside a day to feast with neighbors of different culture?  So we don’t forget!  Each of these events signifies people and events that have impacted billions of people.  We must remember.

We meet weekly as a church family to celebrate the greatest Person and the greatest event in history, Jesus and His resurrection. I’m glad we do it weekly, lest our remembrances fail to carry our devotion very far. The resurrection alone is worthy to warrant our daily devotion to Christ

The Big Game is over, what is next?

The big game is over.  What big game am I referring to?  The game of course, you know, the big game!  The key to answering the question, “What game?”  is the word “over.”  It’s over.  That’s right.  The big game is over.  The Patriots won.  Which one?  The Boise State Broncos won.  Which one?

   Now, I am truly happy for Cliff, our resident Boston fanatic.  But the fact is, all things, be it sport, or achievements in music, film, experiences like being a child, or having a child, all these things are ultimately over.  They happen, we celebrate or grieve, but they soon are over.  Things, events, great moments and terrifying over,  all get over.

   We are living in a world of the temporary.  For this reason we as humans look so quickly for the next big game, the next meaningful event, the next significant milestone.  All these things are compressed between two very personal events to each of us.  The day we were born and the day we will die.  Only one event, sandwiched somewhere between birth and death there is only one big thing that lasts eternally.  It is the day when a person is born a second time by God’s grace through faith in Jesus, the Son of God.  That one event eclipses all others in significance because it alone re-writes the future of a person forever.

   Have you been born again?  A second birth, a new creation?  You know if you know.  If you are not certain - you haven’t been born again.  If you are the latter of the two, please make an appointment – we can help.

O Death Where is thy Sting?

I had the privilege to participate in the funeral for a beloved friend and mentor in Christ this past week.  The service was a delightful time of sharing about his life, his conversion, his love for Christ, the Church and his family.  It was great to see people from our past coming together to celebrate the life and death of Therman Kingery.  I was blessed to see people from our church there, and to see Wendy (Williams) and Bill Strunk as well.

   I was reminded as we met together that death truly has lost its sting.  The hopelessness that comes with it was not present yesterday.  Nor was there a false hope that I’ve seen at religious funerals.  It is one thing to talk about hope and heaven, but it’s not hard to discern the phony.  When people are preoccupied with family members they believe they will see, or other aspects of joy, happiness, non-suffering and such, I suspect the fraudulent if Jesus is not the center of the focus, the true treasure, the goal of being there.

   Therman’s funeral was a Jesus centered service because Jesus was Therman’s center.  Though he had confidence that he would see people he loved, that was not who he wanted to see first.  He wanted to see the One who purchased his life from the land of the lost and with His own blood redeemed his soul.  That was his treasure and would be ours if we have truly come to know Him. 

   Yes, we will have billions of years to talk with our friends and relatives.  I don’t suppose we will be too concerned with that until several billion years pass while we simply worship the Son and revel in His glory.  

Missions

Today we will have Justin Williams and his family with us.  Justin, Anna, Evan and Luke are here to share their new journey of ministry.  Justin has recently joined the missions staff of Church Partnership Evangelism (CPE) and will be assistant pastor at Bread of Life Fellowship in Boise.  Justin’s new role requires him to raise a portion of his financial support so that he can devote time to training leaders across the globe. 

   We have had a long history with CPE at Heritage.  Beginning in 2000 we took a team to work with Haitian churches in south Florida.  Two years later, I went to the Philippians, where we have a long standing partnership with the Alliance churches in Cebu City.  I have also led teams in Russia, Thailand and El Salvador.  These partnerships have resulted in literally hundreds of people receiving Christ and being discipled into disciple makers themselves.

   Justin, who has already ministered in Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, India and Mexico, will be able to devote half his time in developing these partnerships, as well as, give aid to Joel VanHoogan who spends 25-30 weeks a year developing leaders in churches all across the globe. 

   I urge you to consider including Justin and Anna in your financial support toward missions.  There are many excellent causes, but we are praying that we become impact partners for the Williams’ at this time.

Can The Lord be in an Annual Business Meeting? Indeed!

Our Annual Business meeting was a great way to start the year.  Yes, a business meeting of all things.  What made it a good start for us is the spirit and camaraderie felt at the meeting that demonstrates unity of purpose, generosity and a desire to move forward toward being a great church fellowship.

   We learned a few things.  First, the financial generosity is evident, and has been a characteristic of this church for many years.  Of the total amount of giving, 18% made its way to church planting and missions at home and overseas.  Much of that impacted our own state through the planting of Vector Church in Boise and the growth of our sister church in Cebu City, Philippines.  We were also able to finish 2018 in the black with all bills paid including parking lot maintenance issues and upgrading our security system.

   We also have made a stated commitment to growing our young families both through outreach and passing leadership to the younger families.  This really won’t be too difficult as we have very capable and godly family leaders and truthhfully, most of the rest of us were doing it in the early days of this church’s history.  We are confident in our younger leaders.  It isn’t the church that belongs to the old folks, it is Christ’s church and we are all in this together.

   I look forward to what God will do this coming year, and trust that we will never tire of being amazed by who God is and how He works.

Making another lap around the sun, is that all there is?

We start off yet another year that simply tells us we have made another lap around the sun.  That is all, unless we choose to make it more than that. 

   I received a call from a 90 year old lady who asked me to drop by as she wanted to discuss something with me.  So I dropped by and had a delightful chat.  She feels her mind is beginning to fail, her body certainly is, and she knows her time is soon to finish making laps around the sun in her life.  What she wanted to talk about was so refreshing, a true blessing.

   She wanted advice as to sharing the gospel with her two grown children before she dies.  Now, her kids are in their 60’s, maybe close to 70!  She brought them up in church and took them to Sunday School.  Yet, she senses by their lifestyles and priorities that the gospel did not take root in them so as to bring about fruit.  So her request was how to go about setting them down one more time to simply lay it out for them.

   This woman, funny, godly, yet wracked with the infirmities of old age, has one priority on her mind, the desire to make clear one more time where her hope is and her desire to see her kids embrace that truth.

   Many are making and breaking resolutions this year.  I, for one, will stand with this lade and help her keep hers.  There is no more worthy goal than to tell people about Jesus and His worthiness to be trusted.  God grant to her her heart’s desire. 

What is yours?

  

Giving does not end after the holidays!

In the bleak mid-winter, frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain,
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter a stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty —Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom Cherubim worship night and day,
A breast full of milk and a manger full of hay;
Enough for Him, whom Angels fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and Archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But only His Mother in her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am? —
If I were a Shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man I would do my part, —
Yet what I can I give Him, —give my heart.

 Christina Rosetti, 1872

Kindness happens only at Christmas?

  If you have ever wondered what the twelve days of Christmas is all about, you can always Google it.  Don’t be shocked by the many answers and traditions that will come up.  I read on one site that claimed the cost of all the gifts mentioned in the song would total $170,000.00 in US currency!  There are sites that suggest the twelve days are some code or formula to recognize either saints, martyrs or different highpoints of Biblical history.

     I bring this up because there is so much that centers on the Christmas season.  Hallmark movies galore.  TV commercials.  Movies both traditional and new, and then “special episodes” of regular prime time TV.  Most often, themes are that we should be extra nice this time of year.  Christmas ought to be the time when people come together, giving extra kindness to our fellow man. 

   Whether it’s the season or the 12 days of Christmas, or just that one special day, the fact is that if we are true followers of Jesus, what difference does it make what time of year it is; or what day it is?  Should we act special for occasions or seasons?  Or is Christ the Lord of May 3rd, July 19th, September 4th and the other 362 days as well?

   We should enjoy the season, the songs, and the celebration of Christ.  We must, however, live consistently every day until He comes for us all. 

   Always kind, considerate, generous and always loving.

"Doesn't anyone know what Christmas is all about?!" Charlie Brown

Today our kids will perform their Christmas program.  It has become a staple of our Advent celebrations.  This year’s program has been co-written by Lisa and Emma Spooner, an adaption of the Peanuts Christmas Story.  It is one of my all time favorite TV programs.

   I’ll never forget that my first year as a real Christian, I watched the show.  It was already becoming a classic, but like many things, I was missing so much because I was literally dead in my trespasses and sins.  I believed in God, I certainly did not want to go to perdition.  I was just hoping I was a decent enough chap for God to let me slide through.

   Once I faced my sin, however, and then believed in the Risen Christ, I became a new creature.  So many subtle things changed.  One was watching the Peanuts Christmas special.  I laughed at Snoopy and sadly identified both with Charlie Brown, as well as, his mockers.  Then Charlie Brown cried out, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!”, Linus takes the stage, and in that most famous speech, begins quoting the gospel of Luke, that is still the most iconic sound track today.

   But, like Charlie I heard it over again for the first time.  Yes, today, in the City of Bethlehem there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  His name is Jesus, for He is saving His people from their sins.