The Greatest Heist

In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, two men identifying themselves as Boston police officers arrived at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. They said they were responding to a silent alarm that indicated the museum was being robbed. The guard on duty checked the officers’ credentials and let them into the museum.

The two uniformed policemen assembled all the private security officers in the museum, handcuffed them, and locked them in the basement. The police then roamed through the museum, stealing 13 works of art, including a Rembrandt, a Manet, and a few paintings by Degas. The estimated value of the paintings was $500 million dollars!

The next morning, when a new private security detail arrived for duty, 13 empty picture frames were discovered hanging from the museum walls. The theft remains unsolved.

When Jesus gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age (Galatians 2:4), the Bible says that the greatest heist of all time took place. At the very moment Jesus died on the cross, all whom God the Father elected to salvation were delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14).

In broad daylight, under the noses of both Heaven and Earth, Rome and Palestine, angel and demon, Jesus rescued us from Satan’s kingdom unto Himself. It wasn’t some sneaky deception carried out by impostors, but an instant deliverance out from the domain of darkness and into the kingdom of Heaven by the King of Glory.

Since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 11:28).

For more information on the greatest heist of all time, consult your local Bible and return to this website for additional daily updates.

 

The Moving Carpet

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).

Many years ago, one of my co-workers and her husband adopted a baby boy from the country of Costa Rica. When Ryan turned 13, Tamara and Bob decided it was important their son see the nation of his birth and meet the family he still had living there.

The family flew to the tiny Central American nation and with a guide, began making their way toward the small, remote village of their son’s birth.

The first night in Costa Rica, they found a village with a hotel. When they turned on the light in the room, Tamara said it was like the whole floor moved. The family was tired and passed the blur off to their sleepiness.

In the night, Tamara was awakened by a strange clicking noise. She turned on the tiny light next to the bed to find the walls, ceiling, and the entire floor of the room covered with cockroaches, which are creatures of the dark and generally associated with uncleanness and food waste.

Tamara screamed while Bob ran for the ceiling light. When he turned on the light, he said it was like entire floor shifted beneath his feet.

Tamara hid in the car while Bob and Ryan packed up the luggage.

Jesus described Himself as the Light of the world (John 9:5). Later He added that His works caused Him to be hated. Why? Because His works and His words revealed the sin in people’s lives (John 15:22-25).

Like the cockroaches scattering in the tiny Costa Rican hotel room when the light was turned on, sinners scatter when the Light of Jesus is shined upon their sins because their deeds are evil.

** Please keep us in prayer while we minister in Kenya. Thanks!

The Leopard’s Spots

 

 

 

 

This is a poster printed in the year 1898. It reads:

The Brutal Driver

Many horsemen are so lacking in the sense of humanity that they take delight in pursuing and running down cyclists on the public road. By the efforts of the L.A.W. many of these brutes have been arrested and punished, and this salutary work will be carried on in the future more vigorously than ever.

Despite the advancements in education, medicine, technology, and general civilization, the nature of man doesn’t change. It reminds us of the Scripture:

Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil (Jeremiah 13:23).

Apart from the transforming work of Jesus Christ in the heart of man, we are no more able to do the good that honors God than the leopard can change its spots.

I’m Not Rich

Where Living Begins, Pastor Richard L Rice

My wife got a good laugh when I first began cutting my own hair. She’d sit down next to me in the evening and begin laughing hysterically. “Did you cut your hair today?” she’d ask.

Why?

Between gasps for breath she’d answer, “Because you missed a big streak of hair down the back of your head!

I’ve gotten much better at using the electric clippers on myself. You can call me cheap, but as a mostly bald-headed man, I refuse to pay $20 a week to have someone else cut my hair to my scalp. If my head looks like the back of a skunk, well, that just happens to be the way I like it!

Money is one of those things we all take seriously. We can always compare ourselves to someone else and conclude, “I’m not rich,” but we need to remember this important truth:

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share (1 Timothy 6:17-18).

 

Dr Seuss with Bedhead

where living begins, pastor, Richard L Rice

Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me NOW!
It is fun to have fun
But you have
to know how.” Dr Seuss

When my wife and I married, I often greeted her each morning with a silly song or rhyme of some sort. Think of me as Dr Seuss with bedhead. A few days of my rhymes and she informed me, “I don’t like rhymes in the morning.” I understood and began telling her a rhyme before bed. She doesn’t like those either.

I learned that my penchant for silliness isn’t always appreciated or appropriate. However, I didn’t learn anything about Kim as a person. I learned what displeased her, but not who she was or what she enjoyed.

A popular myth is that we get to know God by “worshiping” Him, and by worship the mythologizer incorrectly means singing songs. So ask yourself, how well do you get to know someone by singing to him? You might discover that he thinks your voice is annoying, but you don’t really learn who he is. To know him, you listen to him.

This seems a crazy question, but how do you get to know the God of the Bible? Not by singing but by reading His words, the Bible.

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, Jesus expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us.” (Luke 24:27, 32).

Time to Move On

knock

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Aren’t you glad I didn’t say “knock, knock” again?

Whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet (Matthew 10:14).

Knock on the door. If it opens and you’re accepted, share. If your message of the Good News of Jesus isn’t accepted, move to the next door.

Greased Lightning

Without hesitation or need for further observance, she made her great escape.

Every time the door opened, Daniel’s new kitten Sassy was at the door sniffing the air and longing for adventure. The occasional coyote, mountain lion, and even bears have been known to shorten the lifespan of outdoor cats around here.

Sassy had been secretly taking notes and plotting her escape. The failures of her previous escapes fresh in her memory, she ran from behind me between my legs and was out the door. Like greased lightning, Sassy was gone.

We searched hours for her. When I finally spied her, I had to chase her up and down the street, in and out of bushes, and around several trees before getting a good grasp on the handle God put on a cat’s backside for the purpose of catching it.

Some people consider the commandments of God like rules for prison life meant to keep us from having fun and experiencing all the joys of freedom. That’s a lie! For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).

Just as a mother has rules for her child, God’s commandments are the expression of His love for His children. They are rooted in relationship and help us understand life and our purpose in life. His will isn’t to crush our dreams, but to protect us from physical and spiritual harm. God gave us commandments out of love; we obey out of love.

For the remaining years of her life with us, Sassy never again tried to leave the house where she was safe.

Lollygagging

snooze button

Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” … and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him (Matthew 4:19, 22).

It happened again. Another late night; another early Sunday morning.

My wife was away visiting her mother. Every 5 minutes the alarm would beep for me to rise and shine, only to be gently tapped for another “snooze” session in the comfy bed. There was an hour before we’d normally leave for church services. I could snooze one more time, but I’d better not. Well, just … one ….. more ……. snooze …….. and I’ll …………

The cat lunged from the windowsill onto my head. I rolled over and pulled the small clock close to my face. Ten minutes until I needed to leave. TEN MINUTES??!! I jumped from bed and hastily woke my teenage son from his slumber and ran to the shower.

Thankfully Daniel and I are both guys who need little prep time to leave the house. We were in the car and on the way into Portland at our usual time. It’s not good for the pastor to be late on Sunday!

The Bible says, Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:14-16). Don’t spend your time lollygagging when there is much living for Jesus to be done.

Ma and Pa’s Love

SalHillbillyCouple

Billy Bob and Martha Ray got hitched one spring afternoon in their little Ozark hamlet. The tiny church was packed with their friends and family, which were the same group.

The couple got right to business and over the next fifty years, Billy Bob and Martha Ray raised 8 boys and girls, all named “Billy.” Neither had more than a third grade education, but made sure their children each continued in school until the sixth grade. Holidays were especially wonderful as the family dined on raccoon instead of the usual squirrel or possum.

Husband and wife never traveled more than five miles from the village they’d always lived in.

Work always came early; they were up and busy before dawn. Enjoying the last few minutes of the evening before bed, the two sat on the porch of their humble shack, Ma puffing on her corncob pipe and Pa chewin’ a wad a tobaccy. Martha Ray broke the silence. “Pa, how come in fifty years ya ain’t never told me ya love me?”

Billy Bob sat quietly, the only sound was the squeak of his rocking chair on the splintered floorboards. After a minute or two, he spit against the white oak tree he’d planted as a child. “Woman, I said I loved ya the day I married ya. If I ever change ma mind, I’ll tell ya.”

The Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8), and if God never changes (Malachi 3:6), then His love for you will never change. Nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35).

Is Your Faith A Fishy Tale?

a-fishy-tale

Two deacons sat in a row boat fishing early one Sunday morning. The church bell rang and the one deacon said, “Better row to shore. It’s about time for church to begin.”

The second deacon sighed. “I can’t go to church today. My wife isn’t feeling well.”

We come up with a lot of reasons not to go to church, for instance, when we have friends or family visiting from out of town. Our visitors may not be churchgoers, and we don’t want to offend them, but when we go to church we show them our priorities. They may not accept our faith in Jesus, but at least they know what is important to us.

Invite your visitors to go to church with you. It may be exactly what they need. They may not attend with you, but that’s alright. As Christians, we are responsible for living out our faith; unbelievers are not.

Sometimes we feel that our time to visit is so limited that we want to make the most of that time together. An hour or two worshipping with other believers is a sign to your friends about the necessity of Jesus in your own life. Isn’t the importance of Jesus to you something you want your friends to know?

It’s easy to talk about how important Jesus is and how He is the love and center of your life, but when you don’t actually live that way because your friends or family are more important … it belies all the witnessing to them you’ve tried. Your faith becomes something of a fishy tale.

“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed Jesus (Matthew 4:19-20).