Monday, December 31, 2012


Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react.  Your reactions reveal more about yourself than you may know.

I have become a fan to the TV show "Lie to Me" in which a crime drama series where the main character interprets micro facial expressions  to determine the truth.  In their investigations they study how subjects respond to various situations and questions.

This week we continue to focus on the reactions of various characters in the Christmas story: Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, and the Wisemen; as well as the people of Jerusalem and Herod.

Mary, instead of becoming proud at the announcement that she had found favor with God, reacted with humble acceptance.  Joseph, upon facing disgrace and embarrassment with Mary's condition, planned to divorce her quietly; but when given the truth of the situation through an angelic messanger reacted with complete obedience.  The Shepherds, those outcasts of society, reacted to the angelic hosts' proclamation of the birth of the Messiah, God's Son, with instant and on-going testimony.  And the magi, Gentiles from the East, much like the Shepherds - outcasts as far as the Jews were concerned; yet, they reacted with faith and works upon seeing the star in the east and traveled the many miles to see the Child born King of the Jews.

Today, you are presented with the same Christ, the Son of God, who came 2000 years ago for the simple purpose of re-establishing relationship with sinful men.  What is your REACTION?

For the full message shared on 12-30-12 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

With so many things trying to grab your attention this Christmas season, it can be easy to miss the true reason for celebrating this season; Jesus Christ.

Take a moment, sit down with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee, and join our Christmas Eve service.

Whether you are surrounded by family and friends or find yourself alone, rest assured that God loves you and demonstrated that love by sending His precious Son, Jesus, to live and die just for you.

May you find the joy and peace that comes with knowing Jesus as your personal Savior this Christmas season.

For the full message shared on 12-24-12 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Birth Party: A Life Enriched

One of my favorite Christmas movies is It’s a Wonderful Life.  In the movie, George Bailey receives the gift of knowing what life would be like had he never been born.  What would be different if you had never been born?  For George it meant he was not present to save his little brother from drowning when playing on the river with some other friends.  That meant that his brother was not alive to save an aircraft carrier from being bombed and so many sailors died.  George also ran the family business, a small Savings and Loan.  If George had never been born, there would have been no one to take over the Savings & Loan, therefore the old miser Mr. Potter took over the town.

What are some of the implications to your life?  Who has been affected by your having been born?  A birthday is a big thing – because every birth has changed the course of history and our very lives!

The birth of Jesus has affected the whole world; even though many would refuse to acknowledge His significance.  Consider some of the ways history would be different without the birth of Jesus:
  • Our Calendar -- the year is 2012 because nearly 2012 years ago Christ was born.
  •  There would be no NT -- The NT is the testimony of the disciples and followers of Jesus.  Without Him they would have no testimony.  Saul would have never seen Christ on the road to Damascus and never would have been converted.  He would never have become Paul, the writer of over 1/3 of the NT.
  • No Church – We are the bride of Christ.  If Jesus hadn’t been born the church would have never formed.
    • No Church of God – Had the NT church never formed, the Catholic church would not have existed, there would not have been the protestant reformation lead by Martin Luther, and the Reformation Movement known as the ChOG would have never followed.
      • Our local congregation here in Racine, known as the First Church of God, would have never been established.

Imagine, if Jesus had never been born, you and I would have never experienced the demonstration of God’s love; our sin would have remained unpaid and we all would be condemned to hell.

But thanks be to God, He did send His Son, the promised Messiah.  Isaiah 9"6-7 gives just a brief glimpse at how the gift of Jesus enriches the lives of those who receive this gift:

6For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
7There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. 

For the full message shared on 12-23-12 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:
A Birth Party - A Life Enriched

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Birth Party - Enjoy the Moment

My daughters and I were watching Kung Fu Panda the other day and one of the characters ( a turtle I think) said, 
"Yesterday is history, 
tomorrow is a mystery, 
but today is a gift; 
that's why it's called the present."

Now I know this proverb did not originate from the writers of KFP, but none the less it is a truth that we often forget.
Living in the moment is important.  Yes, the past has much to teach us and the future offers hope; but enjoy the moment found in today.

Of course, how we view the moment is filtered by our past experiences.  Some people are very cynical, because of past disappointments.  Others view the moment with anger and bitterness because of past hurts.  Our experiences with Christ should allow us to view every moment with love, joy, and peace – regardless of the circumstance.
Have you ever been to a party where the decorations, the games, the food – everything was just perfect, but nobody paid any attention to the guest of honor?  There’s nothing wrong with all the extras, but the reason for celebration is not because of the party favors, it’s because of the individual for whom the party was given.

This week, I would draw your attention to Mary, the young girl chosen by God to bear the Son of God; the Savior of the World.

For the full message shared on 12-16-12 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:
A Birth Party: Enjoy the Moment

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Birth Party - What will I give?

On this second week of Advent we are continuing with the series: A Birth Party, asking the question What will I give?
The task of identifying a birthday gift to give is handled differently – depending on our personalities.  Kristen usually receives this task with great pleasure because she loves to shop.  I on the other hand am more task oriented.  She will roam from store to store, spending hour upon hour to find just the right gift for the prospective recipient.  I will go to one place, look for the best item on hand, and walk out (usually within the same hour).

When I worked retail, I saw many different kinds of shoppers: the last-minute shopper (who forgot or procrastinated so now they had to make a rushed decision), the creative artist (who is crafty enough to make a wallet out of recycled duct tape), or the indecisive shopper who has no clue whatsoever but is unwilling to admit defeat.

True giving comes from the heart and is very much a part of who God is… and demonstrative of what He desires of us.  

“Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, 
not grudgingly or under compulsion, 
for God loves a cheerful giver.”
2 Cor. 9:7 

 Or perhaps Jesus’ example of the widow who put all she had into her gift, even though it only amounted to two small copper coins. (Mk. 12:41-44).

This morning we will again return to Matthew’s account of the Magi’s visit looking more intently toward the gifts of the Magi and how we may develop some application with regards to our own giving.  

And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.
Matthew 2:8-12

The Magi came prepared with gifts, with the right attitude of heart; and their gifts were expressions of value and symbolic of the Christ Child's status as King, Priest, and Savior.

For the full message shared on 12-09-12 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:

Monday, December 3, 2012

Who Is Invited?

My wife, Kristen, loves planning parties for our children's birthdays.  We have 4 girls and between them she has planned 53 parties for immediate family.  When you begin to figure in parties for friends and parties for extended family; that adds up to over 100 parties.  (If you ever need ideas, she's a wealth of information.)

Every birthday party begins with the creation of an invitation list.  Who would you invite to your next birthday party?  What kinds of people will you invite?  Why?

At this time of the year our thoughts go to the birth of the Christ child, God's Son, Emmanuel.  Considering the birth of Jesus have you ever dwelt on the people He chose to invite?  Two peculiar invites were sent out, not using the mail or human courier, but celestial messengers.  The shepherds received the best singing telegram ever sent; and the magi followed the star which was better than GPS.

Neither of these were among those you would think would be invited to the Messiah's birth party.  The shepherds were included with thieves, robbers, and cheats.  They lived solitary lives often gone for lengthy times in search of food and water for the flock, which made maintaining ritual cleansing extremely difficult.  The magi were Gentiles, heathen foreigners who likely did not worship the Creator God.  Yet it was these to whom God chose to invite to His party.

Doesn't that give you and I cause for rejoicing; for God is not a respecter of persons.  If He was willing to invite the shepherds and magi to His Birth, does He not also invite you and I to join His party?

For the full message shared on 12-02-12 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:
A Birth Party - Who Is Invited?