Tuesday, December 29, 2015


For me the days between Christmas and the New Year
are a between time. The mad rush of shopping and
parties are over. Family has returned home. The
New Year has not yet begun. It is a quiet time
pregnant with possibilities. I catch up. There are letters
to write, turkey soup to make, friends to call, and time
to walk. With temps in the teens, and six inches of
snow on the ground, walks are shorter than usual. We
took the path less traveled today and I discovered new

During this week I spend more time sitting with my
Bible letting God speak to me regarding the coming
year. He usually gives me scripture or a few words to
ponder. This week I have come across three words
over and over:

Steadfast Love

Love and Faithfulness feel warm and fuzzy. I like those
words. But the word "suffering" seems prickly like
the seed of a Puncture Vine. Suffering and a loving God
don't go together in our minds, do they? I wonder how
a sovereign God views these words? Think about it.
Love and Faithfulness became a Man and died on a

I have a feeling we will revisit this topic in the coming
year--here on the blog and personally...

In the quiet of this week, ponder this with me.

Happy New Year, reader!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Joy Comes in the Mourning

Yesterday we looked at the babe born to Mary
in the darkness of night. Today I want to look at
another Mary, Mary Magdalene, out of whom
came seven demons. Talk about darkness!

It is the end. Three days ago the light of Mary's
life died on a cross and with that death Mary
lost everything. Everything! The poor woman
has been weeping ever since and she is not
sleeping. Mary comes to the tomb while it is
still night only to find the tomb is empty.
Crushed she turns away in absolute despair.
Not even a body to bring her comfort!

Mary turns and sees someone through her tears.

Jesus says to her,
"Woman why are you weeping."
    What a funny question. It is a cemetery!
"Who are you looking for?"
    She had come for a corpse.

Pause: Jesus does not speak his first words after
his resurrection to the men, the brave hearted, but
to a woman. A weeping, despairing woman. No
faith here. Reader, Jesus wants to know you in your
feelings and your words. He wants to know you so
deeply. Love never hides from the beloved. Total
safety; total trust.

Back to the scene where Resurrection Life stands
looking down at a weeping Mary who sees nothing
but blackness. "You weep, but maybe there is
something else, a new possibility, beyond all logic."

"Why are you weeping?" It is a question to gently
bring her into joy never before defined. Death is
gone, defeated. A new way of living stands before
her. The invisible is dancing with laughter.

Then Jesus speaks her name: "Mary"
His voice penetrates her to the very core. He's alive!
She grabs hold of Him.
"I'm alive, but we are not just going back to what
was. I'm alive so all impossibility is possible."

A new word comes into being: Joy! The joy of
God comes. He comes in. We are in Him.
Intimacy not doctrine.
Jesus is alive!
He's alive!
He sets us free from the possibility of death.
He brings us out of bondage.
Gone are the negatives!
(bits and pieces taken from JOY
by Malcolm Smith)

I cannot do Christmas without the cross where all my
sins were nailed. But I cannot do Christmas without
the resurrection either. And, everywhere I look in
scripture I see that He is coming again for me and we
will be together for all Eternity. Birth, death,
resurrection, return. What a package!

I know this is long but there is so much. If you
have some time over the next week, go to the
website below where Malcolm Smith spends an
hour at the tomb with Jesus and Mary. It will be
an hour well spent.


He's Alive! An old piece but so uplifting!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Splitting the Darkness

Mary gives birth to a Son in a dark stable, at night.
The shepherds watch sheep the same night when
suddenly light splits the darkness and an angel
makes a great announcement. He says that this
night Light has been born

What happened to this Light? This Light was
crucified on a wooden cross because men prefer
the darkness.Why?

Reader, I have been pondering the contrasts with
all the lights of the season shining out from trees
and buildings, but the reason for the season is not
to be found! I have not seen one nativity scene
peaking out in the dazzle of the light shows.
The birthday child is not honored.

Are not we who live at the end of the age, finding
that there is deep darkness settling around us?
Jesus was not born in an easy time for Rome
pressed a heavy boot on tiny Israel. The law was
a burden the people lifted every day. No, the
Savior came at a time of darkness and fear.

Isaiah says, "The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land 
of deep darkness, on them light has shined."

Take heart, dear reader, for deliverance is closer
than you think! He IS the light of the world.

For it is the God who said, 'Let light shine out 
of darkness,' who has shone in our hearts to give 
the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in 
the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

He has come. He will come. He is always on time! 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Death is Swallowed Up

We visit First Corinthians fifteen one last time.
But, it is not yet finished.

...But when this perishable will have put on the
and this mortal will have put on 
then will come about the saying that is written:

'Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?'

The sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law;
but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Oh that we may see and understand this great
mystery that God is ready to unfold in our
generation! Paul says that God Himself gives
us the victory through our Lord. So in this
between time how then are we to live in light
of our glorious future?

'Therefore, my beloved brethren, 
       be steadfast,
       always abounding 
 in the work of the Lord,
knowing that in the Lord, 
       your toil is not in vain..

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Mystery

Mystery in scripture is speaking of something that
has not been known or understood but is now
being revealed.

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.
Nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Behold, I tell you a mystery;
We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.
In a moment,
in the twinkling of an eye,
at the last trumpet;
for the trumpet will sound,
and the dead will be raised imperishable,
and we shall all be changed.

Wow! Reader, the resurrection is like the small bare
seed that brings forth the mighty Oak. What we will
be is hidden from our eyes for now, but God has
given us first of all spring when all the seeds come
up in completely different forms and secondly, God
has given us the resurrection of His Son.The scripture
above speaks of an instantaneous transformation.
One moment you are on earth and the next moment
you are totally changed--in the blink of an eye!

As for this moment, the land has put on a white
garment which makes it a real possibility that we
will have a white Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Yesterday we looked at differing bodies of things
in this dimension, but today we will get a glimpse
into another dimension.

Paul has just gone through the differing bodies in
this world and now he makes an odd statement:

So also is the resurrection of the dead.

It is sown a perishable body
      It is raised an imperishable body
It is sown in dishonor
      It is raised in glory
It is sown in weakness
      It is raised in power
It is sown a natural body
      It is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body,
      there is also a spiritual body.

I am not making this stuff up! He continues to
lay out his arguments for resurrection:

The first man Adam became a living soul.
The last Adam became a life giving spirit...
The first man is from the earth, earthy
The second Man is from heaven.
The organ swells to its most glorious sound:

... just as we have born the image of the earthy,
    we shall also bear the image of the heavenly!

Well, reader, is not this the most glorious
message for this Christmas Season? I just
read an article that said in the month of
September a Christian died every five
minutes from violence erupting because of

Thank God for resurrection!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Two Questions

How are the dead raised?
With what kind of body do they come?

Paul spends several verses on the seed that is
sown, the bare kernel such as a grain of wheat.
What grows from that seed is God's choice.

Paul says that all flesh is not the same flesh:

One flesh of men
Another flesh of animals
Another flesh of birds
Another of fish.

He continues:

Heavenly bodies and earthly bodies differ
      in glory.
Even the stars differ in glory.

Glen and I were watching a dvd in which the
heavens were displayed as one galaxy after
another appeared on the screen. To compare
a grain of wheat with a galaxy is not a fair

The glory of the heavenly is one
The glory of the earthly is another.

There is one glory of the sun,
and another glory of the moon,
and another glory of the stars;
for star differs from star in glory.

So, reader, where am I going with this? It is
not where I am going but where Paul is
going. I am trying to unpack something that
is beyond comprehension! It keeps getting
fuller as the organist pulls out all the stops...

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Life from Death

Paul says:

'What you sow does not come to life unless it

What does he mean?

A long time ago I read a book by a Chinese
believer entitled, The Seed must die. His son
had been killed by the Japanese and his sorrow
was so great it felt like death. In that sense he
died also. As he worked through his pain he
came to the place of forgiving the man who
had killed his son. Corrie Ten Boom was able
to reach out and shake the hand of a man who
had been responsible for the death of family
members, who was now a brother in Christ.
Jesus says,

'Unless a seed falls into the ground and dies, it
abides alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit.
Jn 12:24

Believe it or not, it suddenly came to me that there
is no resurrection unless there is first death.

Reader, are there situations in your life that feel
like death? Expectations that have crashed?
Promises that have died? Friends who have
betrayed you? I can identify with each of these.
We have a choice, we can either surrender our
loss and pain to God--fall into the ground and
die--or we can become bitter and abide alone.

What happens to the seed that dies?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Wake Up!

Reader, in our journey through First Corinthians 15,
we read, 'For, as in Adam all die...but wait! 'In 
Christ shall all be made alive.' Paul keeps churning
out verses, each pregnant with depth and awe. Hope
grows, crashes, grows again:

'Then the end comes.'
He must reign until he has put all enemies under 
        his feet.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death'


"If the dead are not raised, 'let us eat and drink for 
tomorrow we die.'"

Paul is building the concept that it is resurrection
and only resurrection that gives us hope. No wonder
in this Christmas season we perceive such a sense of
despair. Anyone who really looks at the brevity of
life, the fragility of our bodies, has to eat, drink, and
buy, in order to survive.

WAKE UP!  Reality is not necessarily what you think
it is...

Friday, December 11, 2015

First Fruits

The fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians is like a
symphony, a mystery story, where all the pieces are
laid out in order before the climax of symbols, drums,
trumpets. The beginning is the Gospel, then comes
the essential resurrection of our Lord. Now as the
music plays, another layer is added.

'Christ is the first fruits of resurrection...'
     First fruits? You mean there's more to come?

'For as by a man came death, 
by a man has come also 
the resurrection of the dead'
Drums, Symbols, Trumpets, please

'For as in Adam all die,
so also in Christ
shall all be made alive.'

Paul goes on to clarify

'But each in his own order. 
Christ the first fruits,
Then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

Reader, if you are a believer, resurrection is in
your future!!!!!

I found the most beautiful rendition of
Handel's Messiah on You Tube. Let it play in the
background and be blessed.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

He Lives

Everywhere I turn in scripture I bump into the word,
'resurrection.' But I must stay in this place for now...

Paul begins this glorious chapter by focusing on the
resurrection of Christ. All that follows is predicated
on the fact that Jesus did, indeed, rise from the dead.
In fact, Paul makes the case that without the
resurrection, we are still lost:

'...if Christ has not been raised from the dead, then
our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain...
If Christ has not been raised your faith is futile and
you are still in your sins. (1Cor 15:14,17)

Reader, where are the founders of the major religions
of today? I would submit to you that they are, dead,
buried, lifeless--except for One. Jesus lives. And,
because He lives, I live also.

Do you need encouragement today? Check the video

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Empty Manger

The 15th chapter of First Corinthians begins with the
Gospel and ends with the demise of death. In between
Paul concentrates on resurrection. The words 'raised'
and 'resurrection' are found in nineteen verses but
implied in almost all of the verses--58 verses in all.

So, you ask, why are you talking about resurrection?
Two reasons. I just finished reading 1Corinthians 15,
and secondly, because of a discovery last Sunday. I
was admiring the Nativity scene on a table at church.
Such rich colors. All the pieces were turned toward
the manger in an attitude of worship. But wait, the
manger was empty, baby Jesus was missing! As I
stood there pondering all the worship without the
presence of the babe, some scripture floated through
my mind. 'He is not here for He has risen,' and
'why are you looking for the living among the dead?'

How true! When Paul preached he rarely mentioned
the birth of Jesus but usually went to the crucifixion
and then camped on resurrection. Skim through the
Epistles and see what you find.

So, reader, as you come to the manger this season,
continue on to the life giving resurrection of our
living Lord!

'He is not here, He has risen!'

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


I have set my blog primarily to encourage Christians
in these difficult days. But, what is a Christian? Paul
says it all in these few verses:

'But I would remind you, brothers,  of the gospel I
preached to you, which you received, in which
you stand, and by which you are being saved, if
you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless
you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I 
also received: that Christ died for our sins in 
accordance to the scriptures, that he was buried,
that he was raised on the third day in accordance to 
the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then 
to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five 
hundred brothers at one time.' (1Cor 15:1-6)

We did not pursue Him, He pursued us. We did nothing
to obtain our salvation, Christ did it all when He died,
was buried and then resurrected. We are not saved by
praying a prayer, being baptized, joining a church, or
doing good works. We are saved when we believe the
Gospel as written above.

Reader, we are warned in scripture that many will
come and declare themselves to be Christ in the last
days. Everything points to these days as the last days.
I would encourage you to search the scriptures and
see if these things are true.

PS Here are some scriptures to back up what Paul
was thinking when he used the phrase, 'according
to the scriptures.'
Death: Ps 22: 14-18; Isaiah 53:5
Burial: Isaiah 53:9,12;
Resurrection: Matthew 16:21; 17:29

Monday, December 7, 2015


Did you know that Charles Wesley, the brother of
John Wesley wrote 8,989 hymns? Below is an
excerpt from his Prayer Journal:

I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what
you will: put me to doing, put me to suffering: let
me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Incompetent, Uncaring, Powerless

Yesterday caught me by surprise early in the day as I
received a message of failure, loss and turned inward
to the worst sort of self-centeredness: self-pity. I
turned away from Life and bought the lie that God
is incompetent, uncaring and powerless. That IS what
we believe when we get caught up in the 'woe is me'

This morning I dove into Ephesians 1:15-23 in
preparation for the class on Sunday. (Honestly I am
not making this up.) Here is the gist of it:

That you may KNOW

  • The hope to which you are called
  • The riches of his glorious inheritance
  • The immeasurable greatness of His power
Well, I bowed my head, confessed and repented.
Repentance means to turn around and go the other
way. I turned from myself to Him whom my soul
loves. I confessed self-pity and the implication of 
the belief that God is powerless. Joy, confidence are 
restored. Wonderful!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


We have entered into the 'season of joy.' It is a
season of generosity, celebration, candles, trees,
chocolate, eggnog, music and parties. It is a
season of great expectation in the natural that
frequently ends up flat with disappointment.

What is Christmas about anyway? Oh, you know
the story, but have you ever taken the time to
ponder what happened to our world when light
split the darkness and changed it forever? The
Creator took on flesh and became one of us.
Knowable, touchable. Religion was not born
2,000 years ago; intimacy, relationship arrived
in a very small package. Mary caressed the face
of God. This woman experienced the closeness
and joy of all the interactions every mom
experiences with her ever changing baby.

Dear reader, intimacy is available to you! Jesus
is not a religion. He became flesh so that you can
know Him, up close and personal. He enjoys
watching you and He loves to lavish you with

The extravagance of our God is breathtaking!

Joy to the world the Lord has come...