Santa Claus is Coming! – Galatians

Santa Claus

I Declare! Everyone loves this charismatic and popular saint, so he must be truthful and on the up-and-up. He smiles and laughs a lot. Cheer, happy music, and excitement bubble around him. Wherever he appears, adoring fans stand in long lines for a photograph or opportunity to hear him talk. He works hard helping you get your best life ever. He is surrounded by little helpers who never question him. He has all that he has need of, even living in a castle. People around the world wait for a night of hope. Best of all – he promises great gifts of health and wealth, power and prosperity… you can and you will have anything you ask for … but only for those who are good enough to believe. It’s your time! 

Of whom do I write? Santa Claus? No, the television evangelist and many pastors.

There are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:7-8).

Final Victory

Final Victory

We knew the day would come, but anticipating it’s arrival didn’t make it any easier.

Our home was the residence of great sorrow. My son broke up with his first love. After more than 16 months dating the same young lady, they parted ways.

My wife and I were heart-broken to know that the heart of this dear young lady was dashed by another loss in a long string of disappointments. It was very difficult to see my son cry himself to sleep at night still sitting at his desk. It was tough wondering how this would affect his attitude in the waning days of summer. Frankly, there was nothing I could do but tell him that it would be okay and that I knew the pain he felt.

The pain of a father is no greater than when he sees the pain of his son. I’ve had my own heart broken. I know the feelings that accompany such loss because I’ve walked the same pathway.

The Bible tell us that Jesus knows our sorrows and pains, grieving with us in every tear, because He has experienced our same trials. He knows the disappointments of betrayal and abandonment. He’s felt the sting of physical affliction. He suffered the aches of hunger, thirst, and sleeplessness. He knew the weight of sin, though not His own.

His own experience as a Man is why He can sympathize with us in every distress. His own experience as a Man is also why He can comfort us, why He prays for us, and why He knows that the Father’s will is not only good, but best. His own experience is why we can be assured of final victory over our own experiences. Like the sun, eternity will rise over this life.

Jesus wept (John 11:35).

America’s Thanksgiving


Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789

The Bridge

Inca Empire

Around the year 1200 AD, a warrior named Manco Capac established a city-nation that grew into the Inca Empire. Within 200 years, the empire of massive pyramids and cities stretched over 2,500 miles (4,023 km) from the Pacific coast of Colombia down through the Andes Mountains of Chile and Argentina.

The kingdom straddled rugged mountains and valleys, connected by over 15,000 miles (24,000 km) of stone-paved roads and elaborate rope bridges, some of which extended more than 175 feet (53 meters) over deep gorges.  These bridges connecting the empire were so vital that they were considered sacred and the death penalty imposed on anyone who tampered with them.

In 1532, a small army of 160 Spanish conquistadores, through disease and warfare, began the swift destruction of the Inca Empire, conquering their lands and assuming their great wealth. Yet some of those ancient roads and bridges are still in use to this day.

Bridges connect two sides together. They may span rivers, gorges, or buildings. We even use the phrase building bridges to describe creating connections between and uniting different peoples.

The Bible describes Jesus as the one Mediator between God and men, who gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:5). In contemporary English, Jesus is the “bridge” between God and humanity. He gave Himself as the payment for the sin which separates people from God. Jesus became the vital and only bridge between God and men, so that sinners could be received by God the Father.

No One Will Cry

No One Will Cry

The small congregation of six sits quietly as their unpaid pastor steps behind the make-shift pulpit in the borrowed space. He opens his Bible and preaches with all his might the sermon he spent dozens of hours preparing.

Verse-by-verse he carefully explains the Bible passage from the place where he left off the week before. He’s convinced that every word of the Scripture is filled with rich and eternal value. He would be negligent to cavalierly handle the Word of Life.

An hour later he prays and closes the Bible on the music stand until next Sunday.

It’s the same routine for Beverly each week. Before she walks home she approaches her pastor. “I don’t know what I’d do if I hadn’t found you and this little church. You deserve so much more than this.”

When the church closes, no one will cry but Beverly and her pastor. The Lord Jesus, however, will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things … enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:23).



A Little Upset – Second Corinthians


For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

This verse is usually shared or preached as a kind and gentle offer of salvation. But read the entire account in context.

These words were spoken by Jesus to Nicodemus, a the leaders of the Jewish religion. Nicodemus came to Jesus in the cool of the night and the cover of darkness to question the motives and mission of this new Teacher.

The first words recorded of Jesus in the encounter are the famous: unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). These words were ridiculous and offensive to Nicodemus who snorted back, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born? (John 3:4).

Christ’s offensive words mounted until He demanded: Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? (John 3:10).

Don’t stop at John 3:16 … keep reading and you’ll see Jesus gets more offensive. His words are offensive to all who think their lives and deeds apart from Christ are good. Of these Jesus said they hate Him (John 3:20) because they love the darkness of sin (John 3:19) and their deeds are evil (John 3:19).

John 3:16 is comfort to the soul of the redeemed, but to the unsaved it will be as offensive as it was to Nicodemus.

The gospel of Jesus is the aroma of death to those perishing (2 Corinthians 2:16), but the aroma of life to the saved (2 Corinthians 2:15). If your message isn’t offensive to the pagan, you may just be what Paul called a peddler of the Word of God (2 Corinthians 2:17).

The Need is Great


This is an age in which people long for salvation from poverty, disease, fear, violence, and much more. What they call “social justice” is the demand. Sadly, even some Christians have bought into the idea that greatest need is social and physical rather than spiritual.

The greatest need of mankind is deliverance from the fatal disease at the root of all symptoms: sin.

When we are delivered or freed or saved from sin and given a glimpse of eternity, the symptoms of living in this decrepit and cursed world grow more meaningless. We are content to live in a fallen world knowing that the pains of sin are but a drop in the bucket of forever.

It’s not that we neglect or ignore symptoms, but bandaging them alone – or even first – still leaves a world spiritually condemned, diseased, and eternally separated from God. The temporary fix does not an eternity make.

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture … I have come that My sheep may have life, and they they may have it more abundantly (John 10:9, 10).

I Was an Ant Whisperer

Carpenter Ants 10.1.15

Like most little boys, I was invincible around girls. At the age of four or five, I found a nest of big, black carpenter ants out near the sidewalk. Bare-handed, I bravely captured as many of the little bugs as possible and put them into my wagon. Then, barefoot, in front of my adoring female fans, I stood in the center of the wagon unflinching!

The ants walked this way and that. Some ventured onto my feet and I flicked them away. The girls were impressed until something went wrong. I don’t know if ants can sense panic, but they suddenly made a concerted attack against my naked legs and feet. I’d become prey.

I leaped out of the wagon like Superman jetting from a telephone booth. Right there on the sidewalk at Second and Edison, in front of God, half the county, and my adoring group of neighbor girls, I did a little dance … and it wasn’t the happy dance.

Wish I could say it was my last such encounter with bugs, but it wasn’t. Some of us just take longer to learn.

A funny thing happens when we try to impress other people: wisdom and common sense go out the window. Willing to look like fools, we’ll do things we wouldn’t do any other time or place.

Some people try to impress God. They give money to a good cause, join a church, swear off certain bad habits, and make all sorts of promises. There’s nothing wrong with these things, it’s just that God isn’t impressed by them.

It’s not your achievements or efforts, your schooling or work history, your sacrifices or talents which please or impress God. It’s faith in the God you can only see in the pages of the Bible (John 20:20-21).

Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and the He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

This is Not the Life I’d Choose

Not the Life

This is not the life I’d choose for myself.

False accusations that sting the heart for a time; true accusations that continually burn in the mind.

Looking in the mirror and wondering who the old guy staring back might be. Eyesight failing, hair falling, skin sagging, hands trembling. Headaches that pound for weeks at a time.

Unappreciated and unwanted. A career that reached a dead end years ago, yet going through the motions because if I stopped, I’d fall apart.

Goals unreached. Dreams turned to nightmares. Life unlived. Heartaches unlimited.

Never enough money to do the things I want to do, or more importantly, the time for the things I need to do.

Like that one sock mysteriously lost in the laundry: my prodigal son.

Tossing and turning in bed at night all alone, while I sleep next to my spouse.

Sins that overwhelm. If you knew what God knows about me, you’d never speak to me again … and if I knew you like God knew you, I wouldn’t ever speak to you either.

Friends who act more like enemies than my real enemies. Trust broken, lies spoken, love a false token.

Living in a nation run by crazed idiots in a day and age when the world feels out-of-control. Life spins faster and faster, like a playground merry-go-round pushed by the schoolyard bully. Each cry to be let off results only in ridiculing laughter.

Why me? This is not the life I would have chosen for myself.

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. 

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I could count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You (Psalm 139:16-18).


Daniel & Dad

The sting feels like it was only yesterday; my son called me “Dad” instead of “Daddy.” It seems silly, but it’s one of those defining moments in the life of a father, right up with having to explain where babies come from, teaching your son how to drive, and walking your daughter down the aisle to her groom.

To the child, these titles of Daddy, Dad, and Father, are the parent’s name. It describes a man’s role in the family, but they are more than titles or pronouns; they are terms of endearment and relationship.

Most people pray to a generic “God.” But who is that God and what is that God’s name? What is His role toward the one who is praying?

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He said something totally unexpected to the Jews of the day: When you pray, say: “Our Father …” (Luke 11:2). Suddenly the generic and unspecial word “God” exploded with meaningful intimacy. He is our “Father” and that makes me His “son.” He is the head of His family and I am His child. It is evidence of a personal and heart-felt relationship.

One can only pray to “God” as “Father” if you have been adopted into His family (Ephesians 1:5). That relationship begins only through what Jesus called being “born again”, a work brought about by the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus (John 3:3, 5, 6, 16).

Outside that personal relationship to the Father through Jesus, the person praying to that generic “God” could be speaking to anyone or anything anywhere in the universe; the Bible reveals that there are many so-called gods (1 Corinthians 8:5), but only one true God. Once brought into the family of the God of the Bible, we call to Him and know Him by His name: “Abba” or “Father” (Romans 8:15). Then He hears us.

Because you are sons, God has sent for the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6).