Friday, December 16, 2011

A GIFT FOR YOUR CHURCH

Jesus is the best gift, but what if a church could choose a gift for herself…

A while ago I got a telephone call from a lady who wanted to tell me about a “church resource” her company could provide. There was no clue as to what the resource was in the company name, and it wasn’t identified up front. I had to ask. It was a pictorial directory. That is a good resource, but not one we needed right now.

Later on I got to thinking about an even better resource they could have offered. It would be like the Sea Monkeys” they used to advertise in the comics when we were kids. You’d just add water, only instead of little critters floating in the water, out would pop brand new church members overfilling your pews. You could market it as a new member packet.

Just think of what you’d get after you added your water:

*Enough church leaders to replace those who have been lost through death or relocation.
*A well balanced music team that knew the right mix of hymns and choruses to use to make everyone comfortable.
*Sunday School teachers who would never say, “No!” when asked to teach.
*Personal workers to evangelize the lost in the community. (Of course, maybe with this new method they’d be obsolete, especially if you got the two packet deal.)
*Great givers.
*A full time Children’s Church Staff, a full time Youth Ministry, a full time Discipleship Ministry, etc.
*A full youth group, children’s group, college age group, etc.
*Lawn care and maintenance experts.
*A Women’s group led by ladies better than Lois and Eunice.
*Crowds who eagerly attended every service and study with their Bibles in their hands.

And, of course, then there would be you. But then, that would be the best gift you could give Jesus, anyway.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Greetings 2010

Nothing
Is to be abandoned -

Creation
Made by God
Unmade
By sin
And ruled
By death
Will be given
It’s Maker

Nothing
Is to be left alone -

Man
Breathed with life
But lost
To it
And wandering
Far from it
Will be given
One hope

Nothing
Is to be beyond love -

God
Who is love
Who is light
Who is
Has life
Which
Will be given
On a cross

Sunday, December 11, 2011

20 Voices Speak Of His Coming

Those involved in the story of the
Coming of Jesus were not all
Holy
Nor
Were they all filled with joy

The coming of Jesus
Brought out the Best
And
The Worst

No one could
Ignore the coming
Or
Be unaffected by It

It was a coming
For justification
And judgment
Only our voices
Could decide
Which

- 17 November 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Greetings 2009

Keeping
To Himself
He could have
Avoided pain

Staying
Where He was
He could have
Missed trouble

Turning
From the world
He could have
Seen no sin

Waiting
Improvement
He could have
Watched all decay

Reaching
His own height
He could have
Left us in our depths

Loving
His creatures
He had to
Change loss to gain

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Greetings 2008

The days
That made the world
Are not even noted
On any calendar
For even
Occasional commemoration
Yet they began
All things
So
Often are beginnings
Cast away
In the contemplation
Of what
Looms large
And seems to make
Today important
Yet the origin
Started the line
Which now
We draw
But it
Did not
Complete the drawing
Nor do we
For that,
Another hand
Was needed
To take up the pen
And flourish
It to
A favorable
Finish
And that hand
Has made its mark
So well
That it need not
Do anything
More
To make us
Complete

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Greetings 2007

Do Not Fear
The Angel said
But How
When all around
Breeds fear
When uncertainty
Lives in our homes
When distrust
Haunts the spaces
Between us
When the world
Provides new pains
Every day
When even God
Has left us
To the devices of others
Not Fear?
But when
We look at Him
Calm in the Peace
Of His Father’s Good will
Resting in the place
Of sustenance
Meeting us
In our own flesh
Then, where is Fear?
What place is left for it
In a world where He lives

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Greetings 2006

There was light
But little enough
Was seen
It was enough
To show
What was wrong
But not enough
To show
What should be
And try and try
The Best Light
Was but Dark
And those who would run
Were made to sit in it
And be still
Then came the dawn
And nothing more
Was obscure
Every line was sharp
Every color clear
Every face seeing and seen
And the light
Lived in our flesh
And felt our need
And when they came
To put it out
It shone most brightly
And even now
All of it
May yet be seen

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Greetings 2005

Expected ?
We expected it
Much sooner
Much stronger
Much longer
We expected an end
To oppression
Not more trials
We expected
To be set Free
Of everything
On earth
We expected
The Glory
To overpower
Evil in Our Day
We expected
A finality
To fix all
We had torn
But
We found
Expectation
Far short
Of Reality

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Greetings 2004

Sold
So long
That Hope
But laughed
Then
Hid
Her face

Sold
Forgotten
Left
To starving
In
The place
Of Desolation

Sold
To Bondage
Bitterer
Than the
Death
To
Follow

Gone
Gone
Gone
But then
By
Him
Redeemed

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Greetings 2003

We cannot look

But what
We shall see

Though the ages
Intervene

We know we shall

For writers
Wrote
And died
And singers
Sang
And were stilled
And watchers
Waited
And waited

And what
They knew

Others saw

But what
We know

We shall see

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Greetings 2002

The Darkness
Could not
Have been
More Black
No single
Color
Variegated
Its depth
It was
Without Shade
Or variation
Uniform
To the cord
Impenetrable
To Human will
It held
All Creation
Surrounding
Heaven
And had it
But its own will
It would
Have that, too
But then
To its
Heart
The Light Came
For
Where Else
Would
Light Go?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Greetings 2001

Even Eternity
Knew Delay
In the Age
Before He Came
The Pendulum
Of His Will
Quivered Impatiently
To be Set In Time
And angels
Who could not
Have such things
Knew They Would Be
While sin reigned
In turmoil
He Kept His Eye
Upon its death
And when the Sand
Had Reached
Its Height of Grace
He Turned the Glass
And when the Hours
Were Marked Anew
Not Wrath
But a Babe Came Forth

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Greetings 2000

And when the night
Had run its course
And no more the moon
Shone pale above the horizon
The Bright Morning Star
Left the sky
And brought its light
To where the darkness reigned
And in one blinding stroke
It made of slaves free men
And settled them
Beyond the tyrant’s claw
For it had broken
What was black
That every color might come forth
And flower in the sun
It took the low
And raised it up
That it might see
And thus be seen
And when the elements
Were ranged in rage
It lay before them
Until its Weakness brought them down
And though the night
Seems still upon the earth
We know it is no more
For we have seen that which shall not set

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Greetings 1999

In the Winter
Of the World
When the Ages
Were shut up
And Darkness
Reigned in the Day
A Seed
Fell upon the earth
And few
Beheld its beauty
But in the
Season of its Spring
It flowered
Under the sun
And ripened
To the harvest
Cut down
It fell again
And hid
In the earth
Where
Being a Seed
It Multiplied
Its Life

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sunday, 11 December 2011

I am going to be premiering a program of all new music which I wrote in November called "20 Voices Speak Of His Coming" on 11 December 2011 at Nevins Christian Church at 6 p.m. If you are in the area, I would like to invite you to attend. There will be other songs and possibly readings from people from the church and refreshments.

Nevins Christian Church is located at 17475 E 390th Road, Paris, Illinois.

217-463-8770

Third Alternate Christmas Poem For 2011

When fear
Held the world
An angel said
Fear not
When peace
Was a policy of war
Real peace
Was born
When burdens
Were multiplied
They were multiplied again
By zero
When grace
Was only wrath
Mercy compelled it
To give life
When we
Were not yet born
One birth
Gave us Hope

Monday, November 28, 2011

Second Alternate Christmas Poem For 2011

Chains

On
Sick and sinner
On even those
Innocent
Of all
But one
Deed

They held fast
And
Would not
Release

From without
They were
Inviolate
Unconquerable

Only
From within
Could they be
Broken

So
He
Went
Inside

Sunday, November 27, 2011

First Alternate Christmas Poem For 2011

Lost

All
Was
Lost
Beyond
Its
Own
Salvation

Then
Came
The only One
Who could find
Every
One
Lost

But yet
He did not
Do the finding
By His knowledge
Or
By a will to find

But
By
Losing
Himself

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas Poems

Last year I began a review of all the Christmas poems I have ever sent out. I began with the current one and then covered everything from the first year I sent them out, 1970, up to 1998. This year I will post everything from 1999 up to last year. Also, beginning tomorrow, I will post the three poems which I wrote for this year, but which were not chosen as "the" poem to be sent out.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Greetings 2011

Care
Caution
Didn’t
Enter into it

A careful
God
Would have never created
A world that could rebel
Nor
Once the rebellion began
Would He have allowed it
To continue
Once continued
He would have let it
Run its course
To its destruction
Once destroyed
He would have
Swept the pieces away
And thought of something else

Maybe

But our God
Recklessly saved
What his enemies
Had carefully destroyed

- Kevin

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Some New Thoughts on Music

Last Friday evening I attended the closing concert of the Contemporary Music Festival at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana (the whole festival was totally outstanding, by the way). I spoke with one of the organizers of the event. She was surprised that a preacher would be interested in contemporary music. I’ve always been interested in arts, so it’s no surprise to anyone who knows me.

Over the next few days I began to think about music in general and its value and its connection to the spiritual realm.

There is a likeness between music and theological pursuits. Both are focused on ultimate things beyond themselves. While the focus is on the ultimate, it is not ephemeral, but real. Both can be understood directly without knowing a big structure of things ahead of time. They can be experienced through the heart even more readily than through the intellect.

Music, like love, is one of the few things that we’ll take from this world to the next. It’s best to learn them both now.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Parable

Once upon a time, Jesus did a favor for a saint. He GAVE that saint a great gift, a unique one which was given to no other saint. The saint then built a wall around Jesus’ gift so that no one could steal it from him. People heard him using Jesus’ gift and were drawn to it, so he decided to allow them to use it, but with the full understanding that it was HIS gift and that they had to pay without ceasing to use it. This involved incorporating his gift or else selling it to someone else who was incorporated to profit from the gift. All this so that he could control something which was had freely been given to him.

What will Jesus do with that saint on the day of reckoning? Will He praise him or will He say, “When you required payment from one of the least of these, you required payment of me.”

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bible Dash Day 10

DAY 10 John 8 – Revelation 22

In John 19:12 it speaks of being a friend of Caesar. Is this like the close court official mentioned elsewhere – “and so and so was the king’s friend”, as though it were an office. Are they implying intimacy and power? Is Pilate trying to get at the truth independently of politics.

Silas and Judas were prophets in Acts 15:32. Why don’t we normally think of them along with Agabus and Philip’s daughters?

Principle: God deals with things as they come up, and we can, by our prayers, make them “come up”.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bible Dash Day 9

DAY 9 Mark 5 – John 7

Luke 1:6 – Blamelessly. They fulfilled all the commandments at this time in their lives. They offered the sacrifices that would render them blameless for a time. For us, Jesus offered the sacrifice which renders us blameless absolutely.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bible Dash Day 8

DAY 8 Joel 2 – Mark 4

The main theme of the minor prophets seems to be that God is the restorer. See Joel 2 and Haggai 2:9 for instance. This would make a good message threading all of these 12 books together on this one theme.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

BIble Dash Day 7

DAY 7 Jeremiah 16 – Joel 1

There is always opposition.

Ezekiel 45:17 – The prince provides the offerings.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bible Dash Day 6

DAY 6 Proverbs 11 – Jeremiah 15

Comparisons:

The New Testament tells us that God will make us righteous, but Proverbs makes it clear that God will not do righteousness for us.

Ecclesiastes 3:15 etc. sees nothing new, but God did a new thin in Jesus and does a new thing in us.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bible Dash Day 5

DAY 5 Nehemiah 11 – Proverbs 10

In Job they’re all trying to rationalize. We will never arrive at truth if we start with ourselves. That was the basic error of Descartes. He could only assert his existence, not explain the cause of it or the rest of the world. We have to start with something objective, and the only changeless objet ive is God. That is why the element of revelation is important. It writes more surely on the tablet of our heart than experience does.

Elihu did not take God’s place. Even though he’s not rebuked, he still wasn’t “it”. in fact in 37:23 Elihu says we can’t find God. Two verses later God speaks. This contradicts verse 24, too, for God regards Job (wise in heart or not) since He speaks only to Job at first. Interestingly God doesn’t speak to Elihu or even about him at all.

The ultimate answer of the book of Job is that God is in charge. This does not teach fatalism or quietism, but simply sets the record straight.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bible Dash Day 4

DAY 4 I Kings 18 – Nehemiah 10

II Kings 6: “Open their eyes” is a good prayer.

Even though God knows ahead, he lets us “play out the game as we will.

If asked like Solomon in II Chronicles 1, what I would like, I would say, “Give me the ability to penetrate people’s hearts with the word.”

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bible Dash Day 3

DAY 3 Deuteronomy 25 – I Kings 17

Let’s see how you did it. That’s what God is saying in this section.

In the law there are more curses than blessings.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bible Dash Day 2

DAY 2 Exodus 23 – Deuteronomy 24

Complete directions for everything. See especially Deuteronomy 10:12-22.

We usually think only of the 10 commandments.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bible Dash 2011 Day 1

Every year since 1995 I have done at least one “Bible Dash” during the year. This is a time where I put other things aside and read through the Bible as fast as I can, not for the purpose of plumbing the depths and following out every point, but for getting the big picture. In getting the big picture I’ve often also gotten insights. Here, day by day are the insights from the reading along with the heading telling of the passages covered. Some days will have more than others, but it all depends on what I happen to write down.

DAY 1 Genesis 1 – Exodus 22

God engages us by questioning us to draw us out in to the open.
He asks Adam, “Where have you hid?” He asks Cain, “Where is your brother?

We also see a progress;
Adam talks with God in Genesis 3.
Men called on the name of God in Genesis 4:5.
Abraham believed in Yahweh in Genesis 15:6

In Genesis 19 and 20 relationships changed from natural to the wrong. This always opens the door to later dangers.
Ammon and Moab were enemies of Israel.
Sarah’s deception could have harmed Abimelech; it was probably the source of the later conflict Isaac had with Abimelech.

Genesis 22: Is God testing Abraham to see if he will go off track again as he did with Hagar? By contrast, the children of Genesis 25 were just children; there was no intention to make them the heirs of the covenant.

Genesis 37: The brothers and father interpreted these dreams. Joseph didn’t. Also, Jacob interpreted the blood stained coat. We get into trouble when we interpret things for ourselves. The brothers thought to thwart the dreams and take control of the situation. WRONG!.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

FAVORITE GOSPEL RECORDINGS ACQUIRED IN 2010

Everyone has their own awards; these are mine. Since 1982 I’ve awarded a favorite quartet album title. Since then I’ve added a non-quartet Southern Category and an Other Category for everything else. This is simply an award of what is my favorite for the year, not the greatest. Also, it’s based on what I acquire during the year, not the year of release.

In the past 10 years five out of the 10 favorite quartet albums have been old lps I’ve picked up at yard sales and Goodwill type stores. Actually a 6th is a CD release of an old album by the Statesmen from the 50s. So, my tastes are more nostalgic than ever before. That’s not so true in the other two categories.

Quartet Album: The Statesmen “Message In The Sky”. This is an RCA Camden album that I discovered in a little store in Leadville, Colorado. I don’t agree with the theology of the title song that God actually purposely sends heartaches our way, but the rest of the album is great. It has the reverse song to “Everybody Will Be Happy” on how everyone will have a terrible time down there. I had heard it before on a different old album of theirs which someone had when I was in college. A few other songs I’ve heard on some of their pre-RCA old compilations. There is more life and fire in this album than in anything else I’ve heard all year.

Southern (non-quartet) Album: Karen Peck and New River “Ephesians One”. The title song would merit this one getting the award. I haven’t heard anything in a long time that has so captivated me. It is one of the most encouraging songs ever written. The other songs are all on a high spiritual level with the concluding track being the rousing “We Shall Wear A Robe And Crown”.

Other: Ricky Skaggs “Mosaic”. My friend, Larry Biller, was the one who introduced me to Ricky. I haven’t gotten many of his albums, but this one could stand alone for his entire gospel oeuvre. It is one of the most insightful spiritual albums I’ve ever heard. It instantly struck a chord deep inside me. George Beverly Shea, age 101, does a small segment on it. If you are down and discouraged, this one will lift you up into the heavenly places. It transcends its country/bluegrass roots to become something truly universal.