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Priceless

March 21st, 2018

Many things are prized; Christ alone is priceless.

 “Everything is worthless when compared with knowing Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:8 NLT

My thoughts today are about things that are, “priceless.”

Priceless things do not always come with a price tag. Yesterday, I received a few digital copies of old family photographs. The originals from which they were copied were tattered by time, but immeasurably valuable to me. They were glimpses of our family history and heritage, my paternal grandparents, including my sister and I with our New York cousins. And a photo of my uncle Ralph, a proud marine who never returned from WW2. Another was of my parents as a young couple, apparently taken before I was born.  And one of my sister on her first birthday. Those pictures would be noteworthy to no one other than our family and myself. But to me, they are priceless.

Everyone has some things that hold special meaning tucked away safely or secretly somewhere. Such objects are rarely viewed as costly or valuable to anyone else. But to that one to whom they belong they are prized possessions. Usually, our valuable things are tucked securely in safe deposit boxes or may be paraded proudly and publicly before friends and neighbors as signs of our success, such as houses, cars, jewelry, college degrees, awards of recognition, expensive recreational toys, and things like that. None of those are bad on their own; none of them good enough on their own.

The Apostle Paul listed many proud achievements about which he could brag and boast. “I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Read Philippians  3:7-8 NLT.

Paul successfully checked off all the required boxes of religious, social, and political success. Those prized accomplishments identified who he was, how well he had done, and how important he was. But when he added it all up, he saw the inadequacy and emptiness of all that. “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” 2 Corinthians 10:18 NIV.

“Breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples,” Saul asked for and received letters of authority from the High Priest to imprison those troublesome followers of the recently crucified Jesus. Read Acts 9:1-5 NIV. While enroute to Damascus, Saul dramatically encountered the Risen Christ and viewed everything that he once counted as his life’s net worth, as worthless. Many things are prized; Christ alone is priceless. After his traumatic encounter with Christ, Paul’s singular, surpassing purpose became his passion to know Jesus personally and intimately.

Paul wrote, “Everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:8-10 NLT/NKJV. While in college, “That I may know Him and the power of His Resurrection,” became my life-verse; it still remains so today.

What prized possessions do you hold in a tight grip, or those that hold you in an even tighter grip? There are things that money cannot buy. Can anything at all actually compare with the true wealth of knowing Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord? “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, Who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17-18 NIV. Christ alone is priceless.

Today I pray for you to allow nothing and no one to become as important to you as Jesus.

 

Christian Communications 2018-4610

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Tears and Hope

November 2nd, 2016

Tears and hope are complementary, not contradictory.

Through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures we have hope.” Romans 15:4 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about “Tears and Hope.”

Have you ever had nothing to hold onto except hope in a distressing situation? For too many that seems to be the rule rather than the exception. When hope rests solidly on the Word of God and your faith in that, hope is sure and steadfast.

Last week was challenging. I last wrote to you about a steadfast hope that we have in Christ. Little did I know that the same morning I would receive a call that our grandson Parker, just twenty-one years old, had died in an automobile accident. The news was devastating. Yet the words about “Steadfast Hope” were tried and proven true. God has been faithful and His Word is ever sure. The Blessed Hope of which Paul wrote is nearer and dearer than ever before. Our family is grateful for the loving words of encouragement and faithful prayers of so many friends, the ministry of our church, our faith in Christ and His Word, and the grace and faithfulness of God has sustained us these past days. Rather than writing last week, I set aside time to be with our family as we grieved together and began the healing process.

Our family has grieved individually and collectively because of this tragedy. Pain has been our companion and part of our conversations these recent days. And I believe that God has grieved with us over the death of Parker – our grandson, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, and friend. We are a family of faith. We do not grieve apart from hope; we do not hope apart from Christ. As Paul wrote confidently, “I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians who have died.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 NLT. We sorrow, but with the sure hope of the believers’ resurrection. Read Titus 2:12-13 KJV.

Having said that, I cannot imagine the inconsolable grief of those Paul describes as, “at that time you were without Christ . . having no hope and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:12 NKJV. Without Christ. Without hope. Without God. In the world. The world is a tragic place without God in it. By the grace of, God we enjoy a Godly heritage of five generations with expectation of that extending until Jesus’ return. In this recent ordeal, our faith has been tested, but has proven steadfast. As our son said, “Our trust has been tested but our trust in God remains sure.”

As we stood beside our grandson’s body in the ER and trauma center, weeping and trying not to do so, the grief and sorrow felt unbearable, the tears uncontrollable. Saying a final good bye to a grandson is something I never expected to do, yet my pain does not compare with the pain of my son and his wife saying a tearful farewell to their young son. In those moments, I believe the Holy Spirit comforted my heart with this thought, “Tears are often the voice of prayers spoken from the heart.” I certainly have discovered that tears are the language of the heart. Tears communicate a depth of emotions that words often do not. Tears release pain in ways language cannot. Tears and hope are complementary, not contradictory. Read 1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to experience “the peace of God that passes understanding.”

A personal note: I would appreciate your prayers as we minister in four services this Saturday evening and Sunday morning at Cathedral of Faith, 2315 Canoas Garden Ave, San Jose, California, with Pastor Ken Foreman. The teaching will also be Live Streaming on their Online Campus, Sunday, 10 AM, West Coast time. Go to: http://cathedraloffaith.org/live?parentnavigationid=25879, Online Campus. Due to travel and ministry responsibilities, I may not be publishing EDL until my return home . . Blessings!

Christian Communications 2016

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A Spiritual Heritage

April 16th, 2016

Your work produced by faith, labor prompted by love, and endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV.

A meaningless life while you live is meaningless after you live.

My comments today urge you to value, “a spiritual heritage.”

Is death the end of everything? Really? Some people believe that it is, but even they wish they didn’t believe that. Such a belief certainly offers no consolation when facing death. The Bible is clear that death is inevitable, and a very real appointment with God awaits afterward. “Everyone must die once, and after that be judged by God.” Hebrews 9:27 TEV. That seems simple enough. As a follower of Christ, I believe there is an afterlife, an eternal life after death. If this life were all there is, that would not be enough.

There is an enduring hope for all who place faith in Christ as Savior that is asserted true by His own death, resurrection, and ascension to Father God. I cannot imagine everyday life without such an everyday faith; I certainly would not try living without that very real relationship and substantial hope. “We who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor of the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary, where Jesus, Who went before us, has entered on our behalf.” Hebrews 6:18-20 NIV.

Max Lucado, a local pastor and popular author, wrote a book with the intriguing title, “Outlive your Life.” Many are happy just to live their life, with little thought or regard to outliving those brief years. God meant for your life to “outlive” you. How? By an enduring impact on others’ lives that will extend beyond yours. Everyone will have a history; for some unfortunately, that will be all they have. They will leave little or nothing that will last after they are gone; nothing they are or do will outlive them. A meaningless life while you live will remain meaningless after you live.

I love the beauty, architecture, and history of our nation’s capital, Washington DC, a city filled with monuments and memorials like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery that commemorate heroic, exemplary lives that have inspired generations who never knew them but still know of them. They call us back to what we’ve been to empower us to become what we should be. My personal goal is to leave a spiritual legacy for family and friends that lingers after my history has been written.

May it be said of you and me, “We continually remember . . your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV. My Dad died too young. He didn’t leave much of worldly goods, but he left me an invaluable Godly heritage by his faith and example. I live so as to leave more than memories or inheritance; I purpose to leave a loving, Godly heritage. After life, what then? What will you leave that is lasting? Jesus said to His disciples, “I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit that will last.” John 15:16 NLT. Fruit that will last. That’s how you, “outlive your life.” Leave an inspiring legacy of eternal worth.

Today, I pray for you to live and leave a Godly heritage for family and friends.

Christian Communications 2016

Dad and son with Bible

 

 

 

 

 

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Fellow Travelers

May 1st, 2015

“A [person] that has friends must themselves be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV.

Life is best in the company of family and friends.

My thoughts and comments today are about “fellow travelers.”

Life is a journey; don’t travel alone. In your journey, joy and satisfaction are found in the company of fellow travelers. Life is most satisfying when lived in the strengthening context of healthy relationships. Healthy relationships are meant to be learned among family and friends. Those relationships are meant to complement each other, never compete or conflict. For a richness of life, you will need both family and friends. Life will still be life with good times and bad; that’s exactly why meaningful relationships are important.

Solomon wisely observed, “Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.” Proverbs 17:17 MSG. Family and friends will share both your joys and difficulties. In the company of others, each enjoyment is multiplied and every difficulty is divided. “When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. Live in harmony with each other . . enjoy the company of ordinary people.” Romans 12:15-16 NLT.

In the Garden of Eden at the origin of life, God established a principle. Having filled the heavens with birds, the seas with fish, and the fields with animals of all kinds, God created man. Then God asserted, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Genesis 2:18. But that principle extends beyond the marital relationship. Its truth speaks to the aloneness in which people are otherwise tempted to live. You are never your best without the company and contribution of the right people.

Life is best in the company of fellow travelers. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17. That is true when family and friendships function in love, evidenced through mutual care and service, and compatible with Godly values. Family and friends are meant to be complementary, contributing and completing what God anticipates for your life.

Choose friends that strengthen your desire and resolve for what’s right and best. Choose friends faithful for a lifetime, not just the moment. Jesus told about a father and his wayward son. See Luke 15:11-24. The younger son’s heart turned away from his father and home, when he sought the company of the wrong friends. The Bible warns, “Don’t be deceived, evil company corrupts good habits.” 1 Corinthians 15:33. You will become like those with whom you admire or associate.

Reviewing my life, I have enjoyed the graces of God and graciousness of others – born with a Christian heritage of Godly parents and grandparents, blessed with a Godly, loving wife and family, and blessed with uplifting companions God placed alongside. In such company, I find sufficient strength and manifold joys. I am a better man, husband, father, friend, and follower of Jesus because of those willing to share their journey.

While reading this, I trust you are considering, “How can I have friends like that?” I suggest you consider, “How can I be a friend like that?” In gratitude, I purpose to contribute into others’ lives as God, family, and friends have generously contributed to mine. Friendship is your response to seeing God present in another’s life and adding your applause to the process. It’s simple really, “A [person] that has friends must themselves be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24.

Today, I pray for you that your journey is joined by those who inspire you to be your best.

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A Godly Legacy

March 6th, 2015

“I urge you to contend for the faith that was once entrusted to the saints.” Jude 1:3 NIV.

Christianity is one generation from extinction.

Family wedding portrait cropped

My thoughts and comments today are about “a Godly legacy.”

Some people incorrectly think faith should be a private matter, not something to be discussed with others. Parents have explained to me that they were, “uncomfortable to impose any particular expression of faith on their children,” leaving spiritual life for them to decide when older. When you understand the eternal consequence of personal faith or the lack thereof, that seems neither wise nor loving.

A parent would not leave children to decide for themselves the value of good health, or personal hygiene, or nutrition, or the necessity of education, or matters of character such as honesty, modesty, and respect for authority. There are things left as personal to each individual, but everything that is personal is not required to be private. Faith is certainly one of those. Faith is personal but not an altogether private matter.

You are surrounded by an increasingly secular culture. Any public expression of faith seems to be assumed an intolerance of others and considered intrusive if not kept private. Yet there seems to be no alarm at such faulty reasoning, even an apparent resignation to such practice. Jude, an apostle, admonished believers, “About the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once entrusted to the saints.” Jude 1:3 NIV. You have an invaluable trust to keep.

Christianity is one generation from extinction. “As long as Joshua lived, the people of Israel served the Lord, and even after his death they continued to do so as long as the leaders were alive who had seen for themselves all the great things that the Lord had done for Israel . . That whole generation also died, and the next generation forgot the Lord and what he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:7/10 TEV. The greatest sadness a Godly parent could ever feel is for their children to discount or later discard their parents’ Christian convictions and values. You afford your family a Godly example or provide them a perilous exemption.

Even after their deaths, my parents and grandparents still shape my personal faith. Church and home were one and the same in our family. My faith was taught and nurtured in my Dad’s sermons at church and by my Mom’s hymns at home and, just as importantly, by their personal examples. I remember my Dad describing my grandmother’s miraculous healing from a terminal illness that resulted in his conversion as a teenager, and his dramatic healing from rheumatic fever when I was just a toddler, and of the Lord’s faithful provision at times when there was no food for our table. He refused to let my sister and I forget our spiritual heritage, a history concerning the Lord’s grace and presence in our family.

Your faith is not yours alone; faith is a Godly legacy you are responsible to establish in your family, and share within your circle of influence. Your faith must be sacredly held, sincerely lived, and successfully shared with the next generations. Make your practice and profession of faith honest, and especially consistent. Faith is no private matter; share it with others sensitively and confidently.

You may not have received a Godly heritage. A Godly legacy can begin today with you.We will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord. We will tell of His power and the mighty miracles He did . . He commanded our fathers to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them – so each generation can set its hope anew on God, remembering his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.” Psalm 78:4-7 NLT. That is the mandate of personal faith; each generation will set their hope on God and nurture that hope in the next. Make faith, and your living and sharing it faithfully, a priority in your home and everyday life.

Today, my prayer for you is to value your Godly heritage and the spiritual legacy you must leave others.

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