"Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand," Jesus said. Returning from spiritual and physical fasting, having just encountered and conquered the temptations we face daily, Jesus wasted no time picking up the urgent message of his cousin, John.
Are you familiar with North Carolina's vehicle license plates? There's a sketch of an antique airplane in the background and this slogan on top: "First in Flight." That's a pretty bold claim, isn't it? Sure, I'm familiar with the Wright brothers and Kitty Hawk and Dec. 17, 1903, but that wasn't the first thing ever to fly.
Nine years ago tomorrow, one of the most significant events in United States history occurred. "9/11" is now much more than a date on the calendar between 9/10 and 9/12. Just hearing that string of digits now fills us with emotion.
If you've ever been asked the question "Do I know you?" You know how devastating that can be. Whether it's someone you've had several conversations with that you thought you had made a connection to or someone you haven't seen in a while, it is tough when you find out your relationship isn't what you thought it was.
Remember the TV series, MASH? In one episode, someone asked B.J. Honeycutt why he didn't give into temptation in the midst of the Korean War. He answered, "I live in an insane world where nothing makes sense. Everyone around me lives for the now, because there may not be a tomorrow. But I have to live for tomorrow, because for me there is no now." Without using the word, he was speaking of hope.
There is a legend about a very wise king who decided to build a highway from one end of his kingdom to the other. Everyone approved of the king's plans, and watched with anticipation as road crews went to work. This highway would be the pride of all who lived there. It would be used by soldier and monk, royalty and pauper, citizen and sojourner alike, and all who traveled it would bless the king for the ease with which they covered the hilly terrain. Merchants with caravans passing through the kingdom would gladly pay the toll the king ...
You are at war. I know, you probably didn't have to swerve to miss any IED's on the road today, and I'm sure you weren't dodging any heat-seeking missiles when you went to get the paper. Nevertheless, you are at war. That's the way God's Word describes your life here on this earth: War.
In the gospel stories, I do not recall any occasion when the disciples complained of being hungry, or tired, or of pain. As followers of an itinerant rabbi, they were prepared to hike for miles over rough terrain, sustained by meager fare and perhaps suffer violence at the hands of their detractors. We see stories where the disciples note a lack of food ("send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves"). We even see them falling asleep from exhaustion, as in the Garden of Gethsemane. We see them plucking grains out ...
Have you ever had that feeling like you're spinning your wheels? Does it ever seem like you work work and work and don't seem to get anywhere? You know you make as much as a bunch of people, but it just doesn't seem like you can ever get ahead? God's Word for us today in Haggai 1 explains why that happens.
The news recently has celebrated the antics of Jet Blue flight attendant Steven Slater, who pulled off his version of "Take this job and shove it." He made his grand exit from the plane (and his employment) by shouting a series of expletives, opening the emergency escape door, deploying the escape chute, and sliding down to freedom. The two beers he took with him added a dramatic flourish. But more notable is the public reaction to his clearly inappropriate behavior. Nationwide people are celebrating his misdeed. Television, radio shows, blogs, Facebook and Twitter are burning up with support for him ...
"Be joyful always." That's what the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to tell us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16. Now, if you're looking for a verse of the Bible to memorize, that is one of the easiest, right alongside the classic "Jesus wept." Actually, did you know there is a shorter verse in the NIV translation? Job 3:2 is just "He said." But I digress. I was saying that "Be joyful always" is a real easy thing to say, and almost as easy to memorize… but how hard is it to do?
Well, my doctor has advised me to reduce my salt intake for the sake of my blood pressure, a task which has proven to be very difficult. I can pass by the obviously salty things like chips and bacon, but salt is hidden in everything from artichokes to zucchini. Cooking without salt is not hard, but dining out low-sodium style is next to impossible.
Our church's construction project has hit a little delay. We're still waiting for approval from the Department of Transportation. So, I asked the contractor who's trying to work through all this what I could do to help. I was thinking he might tell me to make a phone call or supply some documents. His answer? Pray.