Thursday, December 29, 2011


“God so loved the world that he gave his Only Begotten Son, so that all who believe in him may not perish, but may have eternal life.” John 3: 16

Perhaps you have seen the unmistakable banner held aloft in the crowd behind the end zone as the kicker tacks on the extra point after a touchdown. Or maybe you saw a bumper sticker on the back of the car in front of you while you were stuck in traffic. Then again, maybe you were handed a Bible tract on the streets of your downtown by a well-meaning Christian trying to spread the basic Gospel message on a warm Spring afternoon. John 3: 16. One of the most famous and often-advertised verses of the entire Scriptures and one that many people know by heart. The basic message of God’s rescue plan in a succinct sentence; the Gospel in a nutshell. It’s no wonder that this verse is used during the Christmas season because it was for this, for love of US, that God became an infant and was born of the Virgin Mary. It was for love of US that He humbled Himself and became one of US in order to save us. It was for love of US that He healed the sick and cast out demons from the afflicted. It was for love of US that He subjected Himself to obedience to the Father’s will and suffered and died at the hands of His own creation so that we might be with Him forever in heaven.

If we believe.

If we believe. And this is the crucial point. We live in a cynical and sarcastic world. We are surrounded by hypocrisy, arrogance, confusion and doubt. But what will convince someone, in the end and to the heart, of the reality of God and His love for them? Will it take a miracle? How about good preaching? If we win an argument or a debate with an atheist? No. What will convince the majority of unbelieving people to believe in God is when they see those of us who do believe living that way. So a guy holds up a John 3:16 banner at a football game, while at the same time gets drunk at the game. So the person driving the car in front of you has a John 3:16 bumper sticker, but then flips someone the bird when they cut in front of her. So the sidewalk evangelist hands out tracts all day while condemning and judging anyone that does not take a tract. Is it harder to hold up a banner, or glue on a bumper sticker or hand out a tract, or is it harder to truly LOVE others as God loves them?

Once upon a time a Hindu government official from Indian remarked that if all Christians were like Mother Teresa, then there would be no more Hindus. Presumably he meant that if all Christians lived out their beliefs with such love as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta that every Hindu would convert to Christianity. All of us sin and fall and thanks be to God for His limitless mercy. But we must realize that WE are the only Gospel someone might read today. WE might be the only Jesus someone encounters today. WE might be the only love that someone experiences today. And this is what will ultimately bring belief to the heart of an unbeliever. We will never be perfect in our actions, but we can seek perfection in the way we love; so that we may believe more sincerely and be the means of belief for others through the grace of Jesus.

Dear Jesus, help my unbelief this day and help me to live in Your love in such a way that it draws others into true belief in You. Despite my failings, may I each day be an instrument of Your grace. Amen.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Breaking Dawn

“In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1: 78-79

The word “passion” comes from the Latin root meaning “to suffer”. This is why the crucifixion of Christ is often referred to as “The Passion”. Christ was so passionately in love with you and me that He was willing to endure the ultimate sacrifice and suffering in order to open the doors to heaven for us so we could be with Him forever. When we look at the Latin root of the word “compassion” it means to “suffer with”. This is huge! Many times perhaps, we think of compassion as sympathy—merely feeling sorry for someone hurt or in need. But compassion is so much more than feeling bad for someone else; it moves from sympathy to empathy in action. And this action is to join with the person in their suffering: we go to the homeless, we hug and cry with the sorrowful, we visit those in prison, we get cut and dirty and sweaty working on projects for a workcamp or service mission with our church. We live with and eat with the people in Africa or Asia or Central America when on a mission trip. We sacrifice our own time for a friend that needs to talk. In other words, we don’t just go around feeling sorry for people while still continuing to live our own isolated lives.

And this is what God did (and still does) for us. He did not stay in heaven feeling pity and mercy for His people who had turned from Him while at the same time content in the love of the Trinity. No, His perfect love compelled Him to come down to this Earth He had created from nothing, to become one of the creatures He had made in His own image from clay, to humble Himself and come as an infant, helpless and in need of His own creation to care for Him, feed Him, change His diapers. He grew-up like each of us grows-up. He went through acne and puberty and school (at home). He learned obedience and sacrifice from Mary and Joseph and He got cut when he fell down, He got blisters from working carpentry, He experienced hunger and thirst, He was too hot and too cold at times and He knew fear and anger as well as joy and gladness. And in the end He knew what it felt like to be abandoned, betrayed, falsely accused, humiliated and hated.

Jesus came into our darkness like dawn breaking over the horizon and His light will penetrate deep into the darkness of our hearts if we allow Him to join with us in our suffering. This Christmas let us meditate on the tender compassion of a God who loves us so much!

Dear Jesus, thank You for Your tender compassion. Thank You for joining me in all of my sufferings so that I can trust You at every moment. With Your grace, may I open my heart fully to the dawn of Your presence in the very depths of my heart. Amen.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tim Tebow’s Secret

“Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession, Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3: 13-14

There is so much fascination right now with Denver Broncos’ quarterback Tim Tebow—from that fact that he is a good football player, an outstanding role model and an outspoken follower of Christ. And people can’t wrap their minds around what makes him so fascinating. Media pundits, football analysts and other “talking heads” keep trying to figure out why this young man is so positive, so energetic and so contagious. They say he is not a good quarterback, and yet he keeps winning. They keep trying to catch him doing or saying something “unchristian” and yet he doesn’t. He gets baited in almost every interview and some opposing players mock him outright on the playing field. And all the while he keeps winning and smiling and blessing people.

But you know what? Tim Tebow’s secret is never going to be figured out by people without Faith because it isn’t about football, or being a good quarterback, or even being a nice guy. Tim Tebow’s secret is that he is more passionate about Jesus Christ than anything else in the world. And with this intimate relationship with the Savior as the foundation of his life and the center of his heart, everything else falls into place and nothing else matters. So he loses a football game, no biggie. So he loses the starting job, no biggie. So people don’t like his outspoken beliefs, no biggie. So people say he can’t play in the NFL as a quarterback, no biggie. Everything can roll off of him and he can smile because the God of the universe is his BEST FRIEND! If you’ve got that, you’re good. And on the flip side, when you don’t have to worry about pleasing people and making a name for yourself, you can just do what needs to be done and do it well because there is no pressure. So because of his relationship with Christ, because of this security, he IS a good football player, and he is winning and he can be a nice guy and smile even in the face of scorn or defeat. Tim Tebow knows what so many in the world do not: that his happiness is not dependent upon anything or anyone on this earth, but only in Christ.

The reason people are drawn to Tim Tebow is because he does everything to give God glory, not himself. He is kind, generous, humble, self-sacrificing, hard-working and dedicated; all traits that people are naturally drawn to, because our hearts are seeking Greatness whether we know it or not. If we could realize that we were created to find Greatness in Christ alone, then the world would be a different place. And Tim Tebow’s secret wouldn't be a secret any longer.

Dear Jesus, please grant me the grace today to keep my eyes on You and not be distracted from looking at things that can never satisfy my heart. May I come to love You more and more each day. Amen.