Monday, March 30, 2015


"Why?" is a great Easter question.  We can ask it about lots of things.

Why did Jesus need to do this?  The obvious answer is that we aren't worthy to purchase our own redemption ... we are not blameless, we are not sinless, we are not pure.  The Psalmist (Ps. 24) says "Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart ..."  I used to think that I could be this person in my own righteousness and with my own good deeds.  But I have realized that I don't have clean hands and a pure heart except through Jesus.  Only He (as reflected in The Revelation of John) is worthy.  Jesus does this to provide His sacrifice for our sins.  Easter is about God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

"Why look for the living among the dead?" The angel in Luke 24 conveys a thought from Isaiah 8:19 ... "Should the living seek guidance from the dead?"  We will explore this further Sunday but it is one of the better questions in Scripture.  God says we should seek the bread of life, living water, and the one who said "I am the way, the truth and life itself!"

Here's my favorite Easter "Why?"  Why live like nothing has happened?  I think we answer this one with a myriad of excuses.  "I am too tired to get up on Sunday morning" ... "I am a good person so what's the big deal?" ... "I am perfectly happy in my life ... " ... "I need my recreational time."  You might notice there are a lot of "I's" and "my's" in those statements.  Here's my take (and I am sorry if this might step on our collective toes) ... we might live like nothing is happened because it is still all about us, so, in fact, nothing HAS happened!

The message of Easter is to wake up, don't be afraid, come and see and go quickly and tell.  Our obedience is demanded by our so-called belief.  Our actions are imbedded in what we say we hold on to.  Nothing should ever be the same again!  Randy

Monday, March 23, 2015

Holy Week

The term Holy Week is a bit of a misstatement.  It has been used by the Church for a long time but I think God might view things differently.  It is called Holy Week because it begins with Jesus' Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (we will have 2 services, 9am and 11am).  Then on to Maundy (meaning mandatory) Thursday which is the celebration of the Eucharist and one of Jesus' last acts before His arrest (our service is 7pm).  The Tenebrae Service of Shadows (we will worship at 7pm) reminds us of Jesus' betrayal, arrest, trial, torture, crucifixion and His  death on the cross.  Then, on Sunday morning (9am and 11am) , we do have the holiest day of the year ... for we, through Jesus, are forgiven, we are victors over hell and death and He is risen!

Here is what I mean by the misstatement.  While we ARE Easter people and (as Paul said) we preach Christ and Christ crucified how do you think god would view this week as we participate, celebrate and travel the road of emotions this week describes?  Would God want us to consider this week so holy that we believe if we attend worship this week we are good for the year till Christmas?  Would God think our fixation on Easter bunnies has made the meaning of the season (pardon the pun) a little fuzzy?  Or, would God tell us every day, every opportunity for worship and Christian fellowship, every Thursday at Celebrate Recovery where there is repentance/restoration/new life, every hospital visit, every prison ministry trip, every Sunday School class, every lesson at the Boys and Girls Club, every bit of time spent in the mission God has given us, every prayer prayed with/for a friend is holy?  Carolyn Arends writes "people, not God, separates secular and holy."  She is right ... maybe every week needs to be Holy Week where life, death and resurrection happen in people because of us, the Church!  Randy

Monday, March 16, 2015

Casting Crowns

In Revelation 4:10 twenty-four elders are wearing golden crowns of glory.  They have obviously earned God's favor and a place in heaven with God.  They appear, however, doing something that teaches all of us what to do with accolades, awards and "glory."  They bow down before God (the lamb seated on the throne) and they cast those golden crowns at the feet of Jesus.  Their earned and just rewards are placed at the feet of the one who deserves ALL of the glory.

Friday night the community of Abbeville, Alabama gathered at the Family Life Center at Abbeville UMC and made a decision to do something worthwhile.  In a world where most of what we see and do each day is mundane and sometimes of little eternal value, Abbeville decided to let God have the glory and the fruits of the blessings He had given us.  It was amazing and beautiful.  As the Missions Auction progressed each item expressed some blessing or giftedness of the person who donated it.  God had provided resources or talents or a business through which a donation was generated.  A hunting trip, a week in a house or condo, a service ... you name it ... was cast down at the feet of Jesus so God could use these resources for missions in foreign places, in America or right here in Abbeville, Alabama.  It was a little taste of heaven.

I think we could have said the two phrases that appear in Revelation 4 that night.  "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty - the one who always was, who is, and who is to come."  "You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive honor and power.  For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased."  I think God might have been pleased Friday night and I thank each person who had any part in what happened.  I love it when God's people live out what is wonderfully expressed in Scripture.  Keep casting those crowns down before Jesus ... He is the one worthy of our praise. AMEN

Monday, March 9, 2015


Did you ever think about the fact that Jesus had every earthly thing we value taken from him?  What little money he had was tied up in a ministry ... not really his at all.  The guards cast lots for his clothing.  His true title was mocked and became a byword and a jeer as he died on the cross.  His friends and family were scattered.  His life bled out as his health was taken. And he was even separated from his Father.  Jesus lost it all.

I wonder ... when we have nothing but God and we reach out to our only help in times of true trouble, does God take those times to grow us, lead us, hold us and embrace us?  Habakkuk was in trouble in a nation that was about to experience destruction.  They were about to lose it all.  But they never lost God.

A few weeks back I said the name Habakkuk might mean embrace or to be embraced.  As you read, which do you think?  One ... neither ... both?

May God embrace you today!

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Problem of Pride

I think it is worth a moment to talk about one of the most dangerous and debilitating things that ever entered the world.  That thing is pride.  Pride entered our world in the Garden of Eden when Satan used pride to tempt Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1-5) ... "God is lying to you!  You won't die if you eat that fruit.  Don't you know that God just doesn't want you to be like Him? (implying WE deserve to be in God's position)."

Pride created the crucible in which murder was hatched as Cain's pride and self-focus caused him to be jealous of God's approval of Abel.  "I work hard and keep my sheep ... I deserve better treatment!" might have been Cain's mantra.

You get the point.  I could go through story after story about pride, haughtiness, narcissism and me-focused people.  We could continue with our study of Habakkuk as we see the destruction and carnage caused by pride.  God says of the Babylonians ... "the enemy is puffed up, his desires are not upright (Habakkuk 2:4)."  God goes on to describe the nature of pride and the fruit of pride.  God's word has nothing good to say about pride ... so why do we tolerate it in ourselves and in the church?

God's Word says "Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall ... (Proverbs 16:18)" but "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. (James 4:10)."  I believe that is great advice for a world that wants it all right now because WE deserve it!  Time to leave the entitlement generation ... pride never ends well!  Randy