Showing posts from December, 2018

Focusing on What is Real

  “We live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”   Hebrews 11:1-2 I am writing this column on Christmas day, even though it will come out more than a week later. We will see part of our beloved family later in the day, but right now it is nice just to sit in my rocking chair and be still and listen to Christmas music! I know someone who  decided this year not to send gifts, feeling that Christmas was getting more and more materialistic. I couldn’t agree more. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older, but I feel that our culture is more and more in overdrive. There is the constant hype of advertising, constant calls from machines doing telemarketing (even if you are on “do not call” lists), simpler and simpler answers to everything, politics by tweet, etc., etc. In that environment, the following verse comes as a refreshing word from beyond this world: “So we fix our eyes not on wha

The Parable of the Birds

I first heard this story told by Rev Ken Newman forty years ago on Christmas Eve at First Presbyterian Church of Richmond, Virginia. Copyright information is at the end of this column. There was once a man who lived in the country with his family. He was regarded by them as a good husband and father. But he was not sure he believed in God, and at Christmas time he was particularly aware that he did not—and could not—believe that God had come as a baby born in Bethlehem so many years ago. “Even if there was a God,” he thought, “why would God need or want to become a human being?” It seemed a silly idea to him. He believed that it would not please God—if he even existed—to celebrate Christmas when he did not believe in its message. So on Christmas Eve when his family invited him to go with them to the village to their small church which had a Christmas Eve service, he declined. He preferred to stay at home by the fire, look outside through the big picture glass window, and

A Compassionate and Smart Investment

It could be both compassionate and smart to help starving children. According to UNICEF USA, in Yemen, a country in the southern Arabian Peninsula, “an estimated 85,000 children under the age of five have died from starvation or disease since the war started there three years ago.” They say it is “the worst humanitarian crisis…since World War II.” There are many things you and I could spend our money (and prayers) on. Why should we spend our money to save starving children--especially outside of the US? Why not invest in a new house, or a new car, or more presents for our own children or grandchildren? In Matthew 6:19-20, Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” I believe that when we physically feed hungry people, or when we spiritually feed people with the Wor

Reading the Old Testament As Pointing to Jesus

For many churches during Advent (the four Sundays before Christmas) this season is a time of looking forward to Jesus’s coming, just as people in Old Testament times looked forward to the coming of the Messiah. One way of reading the Old Testament is with eyes that see it pointing over and over again to Jesus. Let me give you an example. Psalm 91:4 says about God: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” In that verse God compares himself to a bird, and we are compared to the baby birds who find safety and protection underneath the wings of their mother. Specifically, part of the mother bird’s body, her wings, protect the babies from danger. The full force of a potential attack against them is absorbed by the mother’s own body. “That’s fine,” you say “but, unlike a bird, God doesn’t have a body we can go hide behind. God is a spirit who is invisible and immutable. Also, God is infinite and incapable of being harmed in any way like the wi