John 20:19 says, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the Jews…”  Did you know that the church of Jesus Christ began with a group of frightened men in a second-floor room in Jerusalem?   Upper-room futility….a little bit of faith but very little fire. How many congregations today have just enough religion to come together, but not enough passion to go out?  What is needed to get us out is exactly what got the apostles out.  They saw Jesus.  The stone of the tomb couldn’t keep … Listen Now

Gratitude.  It’s being more aware of what you have than what you don’t.  It’s recognizing the treasure in the simple—a child’s hug, a golden sunset.  Most of all, it’s a sense of the greatest gift: The Son of God, Jesus Christ, who took your place. In the World War II death camp at Auschwitz, Franciszek [FRAN-sih-zeck] Gajowniczek [Guh-JOE-na-zeck] was one of ten prisoners chosen to die.  An angel in the form of Franciscan priest Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to take his place.  You know, you and I have something in common with Franciszek.  We both had a substitute die in our … Listen Now

God never gives up.  When on trial before the cross, people spat in his face, but he didn’t spit back.  When a whip ripped his sides, he didn’t command the awaiting angels to stuff that whip down the soldier’s throat. When human hands fastened the divine hands to a cross with spikes, it wasn’t the soldiers who held the hands of Jesus  steady.  It was God who held them steady. God never gives up. Not then, not now, not ever. So the next time doubt walks in. Escort him out. Out to the hill. Out to Calvary. Out to the cross … Listen Now

God promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars and would inherit all the land.  But Abraham had no son.  He was facing the dreadful darkness of doubt. The same darkness you feel when you sit in a funeral chapel and listen to the obituary of the one you love.  The same darkness you feel when you realize the divorce you never wanted is final.  The same darkness into which Jesus screamed, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Appropriate words.  For when we doubt, God seems very, very far away.  Which is exactly … Listen Now

Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” That passage is so poignant.  God did not spare his own son but gave him up.  God’s heart must have ached as the cracking voice of his son prayed, “Father, take this cup away.”  God said good-bye to his son fully aware that when Jesus’ cry of despair would roar through the heavens, he would sit in silence. He gave himself up for us all.  Jesus, though in anguish, would … Listen Now

In the shade of a well in a rejected land Jesus spoke to an ostracized woman, saying, “I am the Messiah.”  Don’t you know His eyes must have danced as he whispered the secret to the Samaritan woman—a woman with five failed marriages.  Suddenly the insignificance of her life was swallowed by the significance of the moment.  She dropped her water jar and ran to the city to tell the people. The water jar seems to symbolize the weight she was carrying.  The weight of her struggles and insignificance.  Jesus took her common existence and made it special. He took a … Listen Now

The futility of life zaps strength from life.  Do you know the weight of futility?  Is it worth it?  When I get what I want, will it be worth the price I paid? Such weariness makes the words of Jesus so compelling, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” People brought him the burdens of their existence, and he gave them not religion, not doctrines, not systems, but rest. As a result, they called him Lord. As a result, they called him Savior.  And they all found rest.  My prayer is that you, too, … Listen Now

How sturdy is your life when faced with the storm of futility, wondering what is the purpose of it all? What about the storm of failure, when you blew it and let everyone down…or the storm of finality —tears, and flowers— an open grave. Two thousand years ago during six hours on a Friday, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Jesus gave us three anchor points that can stand against any storm.  The first anchor point is my life is not futile.  The second is my failures are not fatal. And the third anchor point is my death is not final.  So, … Listen Now

Why did God leave us one tale after another of wounded lives being restored?  It isn’t to tell us what Jesus did.  It’s to tell us what Jesus does.  Paul says in Romans 15:4, “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us.  The Scripture gives us patience and encouragement so that we can have hope.” Reflect on your own journey.  What was it like before you met Christ?  And share your story; not with everyone necessarily, but with someone.  Your honest portrayal of your past may be the courage for another’s future.  But don’t just depict … Listen Now

Paul writes in Romans 3:10, “There is no one who always does what is right, not even one.”  And he adds, “All have sinned and are not good enough for God’s glory.”  Then how do you go to heaven? The two criminals being crucified with Jesus mocked him.  But Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they are doing.”  Then one thief began to defend Jesus saying, “We are punished justly, getting what we deserve, but this man has done nothing wrong.” The core of the gospel in one sentence—through the mouth of a crook.  Then the thief … Listen Now