The Poirot Bible

He is for me the ideal Hercule Poirot - Agatha Christie's unflappable Belgian detective. And yet many do not know that he is also a Christian with his conversion experience beginning in the late 1980's with a reading of the book of Romans from a hotel Bible.

Now he has a complete reading of the New International Version of the Bible to present; "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17)




Be Ye Thankful, #4

What's Thanksgiving without a recipe?

A Recipe For Gratitude Gratitude

  1. Recognize all the good that you possess. Count your blessings rather than attempting to measure your apparent lack!
  2. Acknowledge that everything you have is a gift, not something you deserve … that God has enabled you to earn it, build it, create it, and maintain it.
  3. Identify the source of the gift, whether God or a human being. Gratitude is pointless without an object to receive our thanks.
  4. Express your thanks openly and cheerfully.

from the website Blog Sense by Barb


Be Ye Thankful, #1

Now thank we all our God, With hearts and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath done, In whom this world rejoices.
Who, from our mother's arms, Hath led us on our way,
With countless gifts of love, And still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep still in grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest heaven;
The one eternal God, Whom earth and heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.


--hymn text by Martin Rinkart (1586-1649) Lutheran minister


meditation upon the name


 

There is a name I call in times of trouble
There is a song that comforts in the night
There is a voice that calms the storm that rages
He is Jesus, Jesus

Who walks on the waters
Who speaks to the sea
Who stands in the fire beside me
He roars like a lion
He bled as the lamb
He carries my healing in his hands
Jesus

"Jesus" by Chris Tomlin


TGIM - Wonderful Words of Life

When she started to play the hymn, I immediately wondered if we would ever get finished.

She was doing the best she could, this young lady who had either volunteered or had BEEN volunteered to play forHymn  the morning service in the absence of the church's organist. So rather than get to hot and bothered, I began to wonder if there was any way I could get her attention and see if we could speed things up a bit.

I don't like slow hymns. They just seem out of place in a worship service of praise and adoration. Besides, slow church music gives a sleepy congregation another reason to rest rather than respond.

But then we began to sing. Funny how slowing things down gives a person more time to think about what one is singing. I took in the words and thanked God for the blessing of a slow pianist...

Wonderful Words of Life

Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life,
Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life;
Words of life and beauty teach me faith and duty.

Refrain

Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life,
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.

Christ, the blessèd One, gives to all wonderful words of life;
Sinner, list to the loving call, wonderful words of life;
All so freely given, wooing us to heaven.

Refrain

Sweetly echo the Gospel call, wonderful words of life;
Offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior, sanctify us forever.

Refrain


Unchurched

It's not a word that is heard often, but when I heard it during a news broadcast one morning while heading to work, the word stuck with me for some reason.

The broadcast was featuring a recent survey conducted by the Barna Research Group. George Barna has tried to help the church for many years now by his many surveys of various religious groups and trends across the United States. His most recent survey reports that the "unchurched" population of America - and by "unchurched", Barna means those who have not attended a church service of any kind in the last six months - this "unchurched group now numbers over 100 million in the U.S.

After hearing the news report I went to look for the report on Barna's study and found it. I read down through the statistics he has there, but I wasn't so much looking for the what or the who as much as I was looking for the WHY people were unchurched. Why did people say they were staying away from church? In a closing paragraph, Barna seems to indicate some basic reasons:

"...relative indifference of most churched Christians to unchurched people; the overt emphasis upon a personalChapel  rather than communal faith journey; the tendency of congregations to perform rituals and exercise talents rather than invite and experience the presence of God; the absence of a compelling call to action given to those who attend; and the failure to listen to dissident voices and spiritual guidance to dig deeper in one’s faith."

Indifference. Focus on ONE rather than MANY. Ritualistic. No Call To Action (i.e. application). Failure to Listen.

If a church presents an "I-don't-care" attitude about people, people won't return.

If a church spends too much time focused on the needs of people as individuals rather than promote the idea of the church as a community, people stay away. People want to BELONG and feel as though they are a part of things.

If a church is caught in the rut of rituals, people will stay away. No one likes reruns...  A person will soon tire of Twinkies and Fritos. I would guess that the "unchurched" are looking for substance rather than liturgy.

If a church fails to show the "so what" about scripture and the Christian life, people will stay away. They are looking for the practical application of sound Biblical teaching. They want a foundation - a workable foundation - upon which they can build a life that pleases God.

If a church ignores the voice/voices of people in their congregation, people will stay away. Everyone at least wants to be heard.

A church can make a difference and instead of being a dull and lifeless place, it can be a magnet and a beacon of hope and help to those who need it.


TGIM 19 - Psalm 121

My first preaching series was a series of sermons I delivered many years ago at a little church over in the next valley.

It was a series of sermons based upon "The Songs of Ascent" - psalms that Israel may have used when they travel to Jerusalem for their high festival times in their religious calendar.

The first of these psalms is 121.

The inspiration for the series came from the first book I read by Eugene Peterson. He has since become one of my favorite authors. In his book A Long Obedience In The Same Direction, Petersen uses the Songs of Ascents as texts for some wonderfully challenging chapters on some of the basic issues of a believer's life - of being a follower... a disciple. It has been a book that I have found inspiring ever time I have turned to it.

I once traveled to a church that Dr. Peterson pastored in Maryland. I wanted to hear the man preach who had written this wonderful book. Unfortunately, the Sunday I visited the church, he was away, and when I once again had a chance to go and hear him preach, I learned he had left that pastorate for another ministry.


The Sermon, The Snow, and Me

I was one shoe short of being fully dressed for church when the phone rang. I was all prepared to preach at a local church - well all except for my left foot - and I figured it was my sis ringing me up to see what I was doing.

I answered the phone and realized quickly it wasn't my sister; it was an elder from the church where I was scheduled to speak.

Church was being cancelled.

I totally understood. A light snow had dusted the ground earlier in the morning around 4:30 AM -- at least that's when I saw it when I let the girls out for the very early morning romp. I quickly turned on The Weather Channel and realized there was probably more to come, although we had been forecast to receive a "wintry mix". With roads being wet with temperatures at freezing, and with things like freezing rain and sleet in the forecast, I had no problem seeing why church would be cancelled. I thanked the elder for the call, and stoodSnow  shy of one shoe looking out of my home's front picture window.

It was a beautiful sight. It was a classic snow falling outside, and in the early morning light giving the sky a light gray color, the world could only be seen through the white dots that were falling in the vertical dance to the ground. I sat down, put on my second shoe, and dressed for church, I watched the silent show.

And as I watched, I could see God's sermon in the snow.

I watched as the dirt and dark deadness of winter became painted in a white glory from heaven. I found myself thinking of the verse from Isaiah:

"Come now and let us reason together,"
says the Lord,
"Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool." (1:18, NKJV)

I sat back and found that the moment of quietness became a time of worship.

Only God can change the color of sin into a thing of beauty in a person's life.

Only God can turn a life around and make it new.

Only God can take the failures of days gone by and make changes that are eternally significant.

I sat and watched God's sermon in the snow.