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Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Busy Day

It has been a busy day. I put the finishes touches on tomorrow’s sermon, “Glory on a Mountain.” I will be preaching from Matthew 17 about Jesus’ transfiguration. The disciples seemed to be in denial whenever Jesus predicted His crucifixion, but Moses and Elijah, representatives of the Law and the Prophets, understood. They appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and talked about His imminent decease.

Soon, churches will emphasize Jesus’ crucifixion, and rightly so. He voluntarily shed His blood for our sins because He was devoted to the Father’s will and loved you and me. His death was a vicarious, expiatory, substitutionary sacrifice that God accepted on our behalf. By raising Jesus from the dead, God proved we were justified by Jesus’ blood.

On the Mount of Transfiguration, the flaming wick of Deity shone through the clay lantern of Jesus’ humanity. Peter wanted to commemorate the event by making three booths: one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus. Perhaps he thought Jesus was about to inaugurate His kingdom, and therefore the festival of booths (Feast of Tabernacles) was an appropriate celebration.

But Jesus had come to redeem, not reign. He would embrace the cross. Someday, He will accept a crown.

The rest of the sermon is scheduled for tomorrow morning.

I also commented today on lessons submitted by three of my writing students, and I tried to encourage a fourth student who feels overwhelmed with responsibilities.

Further, I completed the writing of a VBS lesson for fifth and sixth graders today. Hats off to those who write for or teach kids. It’s tough work.

I think my dogs knew I needed a break from all of today’s busyness. They treated me to a three-mile walk.

All in all, it was a good day. I am looking forward to tomorrow, the Lord’s Day.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Master Builder

I have always admired anyone who can build or remodel a house. I might as well try to build a space shuttle as try to build a house. When I pastored in New York State, I worked alongside capable builders during our church’s building program. Later, when I was a pastor in Indiana, I participated in another church-building project. However, this time a general contractor did most of the work. The congregation simply provided volunteers for a few jobs. Frankly, my contribution to both build projects was likely more of a hindrance than a help. I am just not equipped to build anything except sentences and paragraphs. Once I built a doghouse, but the dog refused to enter it.

Fortunately, God is a perfect architect and builder. Abraham lived in a tent throughout most of his life, but he anticipated reaching the eternal city whose architect and builder is God. Heaven is a perfect place, designed and built without a single flaw. Do you have a title deed to a home there?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

No Effort, no Reward

When I ask our three dogs if they want to go for a walk, Rosie the poodle and Sadie the Coton de Tulear bark excitedly and rush to their leashes, but Molly the Maltese turns and runs upstairs. A walk in the neighborhood doesn’t interest her. However, when I ask if she wants to ride in the car to a park and walk there, she barks excitedly and waits for me to attach her leash.

When Rosie, Sadie, and I returned to the front door this morning after a walk, I said, “Watch, Molly will come downstairs and meet us when we go inside.” I was right. As soon as I opened the door, Molly came downstairs to meet us. Here’s why. Whenever the dogs and I return from a walk, I give each of them a treat. Molly wants a treat without having to do anything to earn it.

Molly is a smart dog, but she lacks a good old-fashioned work ethic.

Consumerism has invaded our churches. Like Molly, many churchgoers don’t walk the walk, but they wan\t a treat. As a result, churches, small and large, have far more shirkers than workers.

Someday, Jesus will reward His faithful servants. May He find you and me faithful!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Traveling First Class to Heaven

Cal went to heaven last night. He traveled there first class.

Lung cancer claimed Cal’s life, but it didn’t destroy his faith in Christ. After being rushed to the hospital last week with a collapsed lung, he was hooked up to a lung machine, and his lung reinflated. However, he and his wife both knew he would not survive long without the life-sustaining tube that stretched from the machine to his side.

At times Cal’s breathing was labored, but at other times he was able to speak with a strong, clear voice. Much of the time he used his voice to share the gospel with the attending medical staff and to express the firm confidence that he would soon be in heaven. He kept a stack of checks at his bedside, and encouraged staff and visitors to take one. Each check was issued by “The Bank of Eternal Life” and was payable to “Whosoever Believeth” (John 3:16). Its sum was “Eternal Life,” and it was “signed” by “Jesus Christ.”

Cal and his wife Eileen joined a church I pastored in Colorado Springs a few years ago. Every Sunday, when I greeted Cal at church, I would ask how he was, and he would reply, “I never felt better. I never have a bad day. Praise the Lord!”

When I called Cal the other day, he answered the phone and told me he and Eileen were discussing funeral plans. “They give me about five days,” he said in a firm, triumphant voice.

As it turned out, he had only one more day. In a matter of hours, after the tube was removed from his side, he passed into the presence of Christ. He used his last few breaths to share the gospel with the attending doctor.

Yes, Cal traveled first class to heaven.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

What a Difference a Day Makes!

I have been thinking the words of an old song (I don’t know any new ones): “What a difference a day makes, twenty-four little hours.” Yesterday was a summer-like 74 degrees with lots of sunshine. Gloria and I drove from Colorado Springs to Denver to see our daughters and granddaughters. Jim and Sherrie were celebrating their 17th anniversary. It seems only yesterday I performed their wedding at Galilee Baptist Church in Denver. The Denver Nuggets’ mascot, Rocky, was on hand for the reception. Gloria and I had driven from Chicago for the wedding.
Hundreds of motorcycles and many convertible with tops down shared the road with us yesterday. At one point, a James Bond Astin passed on the right. Sherrie later checked out the make and model’s price on the Internet. How does $180,000 sound? Don’t look for me to pass you in an Astin any time soon.
But back to my topic: Today’s temperature is a 28 degrees, the wind is slamming into Colorado Springs at 48 mph, and snow is on the way. It is already snowing in Denver at Monument Hill just 20 minutes north of the Springs. I plan to leave for church in Penrose much earlier than usual. Maybe I can drive ahead of the approaching storm. Doing so would be no problem if I owned an Astin!
Twenty-four hours can make a huge difference in Colorado’s weather, but it can also make a huge difference in our lives. We can’t guarantee tomorrow’s circumstances. “Do not boast about tomorrow,” Proverbs 27:1 advises, “for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”
Today offers us an opportunity to worship and serve God. Let’s not waste it or take tomorrow for granted.