Tuesday, December 18, 2012


"We consider Christmas as the encounter, the great encounter, the historical encounter, the decisive encounter, between God and mankind. He who has faith knows this truly; let him rejoice." Pope Paul VI

Many different things are meaningful to people at Christmas. Christmas lights, decorations, parties, giving and receiving of gifts, gathering of families, going to church, Christmas feasts, Santa and singing Christmas carols are just a few things that many hold dear. For some, if you leave out their favorite element of Christmas, the holiday just doesn’t seem right.

However, sometimes, things happen around the holidays that make us stop to consider the true reason we celebrate the season. Reconnecting with an old friend, family members returing home after a long absence, relationships mended, the first Christmas for a new baby, all make us pause for a moment and take in the magic in the air.

For some, tragedy strikes during Christmastime. For some, the stark reminder that evil is still in the world is the unfortunate reality that shakes us and forces us to realize that salvation from sin and evil is the reason Jesus was born. Bad news never waits until Christmas is over to rear its head. It comes to us during the holidays, just as easily as it comes to us any other time of year. However, it seems much more invasive and troublesome when it comes during a season that is supposed to be about joy, love, hope and peace.

On Friday, December 14th, many families, a school, a community, and an entire nation watched in horror as events unfolded in Newton CT. Many questions still remain unanswered. The main one is WHY?

I’m a pastor. I’m supposed to have all the answers. I’m supposed to be able to comfort and reassure people in times of tragedy. I’m supposed to be able to explain why things like this happen if God loves us so much.

I cannot. All I can do, is tell you what I do know about God.
1. God is still God.
o He didn’t stop being God when the Israelites were taken into slavery in Egypt.
o He didn’t stop being God when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed.
o He didn’t stop being God when Herod slaughtered male children of Bethlehem under two-years-old.
o He didn’t stop being God when Jesus was dead for 3 days.
2. God makes good out of bad
o There are always stories that come out of great tragedy, of heroism and goodwill.
o If we look and listen, there is always more good than bad in any situation. Unfortunately, the bad seems to overshadow it, until someone brings it to light.

As for the tragedy in Connecticut, many will try to make it about taking God out of schools, gun control, politics or even reasons why it happened. However, what is truly about , is the evil that is in our world: The evil that Jesus came to battle. As long as we live in an imperfect, sinful, world, there will always be evil deeds, evil thoughts and evil people. However, If you look closely, there are many more good thoughts, good deeds, and good people than there are bad.

Think about the account of Jesus’ birth. There was a lot of bad there. An unwed pregnancy, Birth in a stable, Herod killing the children to try to defeat the Messiah were all heart wrenching events surrounding the birth of Christ. Looking back from our vantage point in time, we see it differently. We see the pregnant Mary as a touching symbol of obedience to God. We cherish our nativity scenes that depict Christ born in the stable. As for Herod, he would be lost in history without the brief mention in the Bible, a mention that many don’t even pay attention to.

That’s where we need to be during Christmas and all through the year. Look for the good. God is there in the tragedy and joy alike if we seek Him first.

May God show you the light and the good in everything around you. Merry Christmas from my family to yours Pastor Stacy

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people (Luke 2:10)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


“Coincidence is the word we use when we can't see the levers and pulleys.” Emma Bull

Two months ago, in Spokane, Washington, Haans Glassi was on a camping trip and decided to go wakeboarding. He was ready for the boat to pull him along the water, but as the boat sped away, he noticed that his hand was in a loop in the towline. He tried to free it, but didn’t get it out in time.

When he finally got his hand free, he said he didn’t feel much pain and was sure he was fine. However, when he looked at his hand he realized that something was very wrong. He was quoted as saying, “I pulled my hand out of the water and it had pretty much lopped off all four fingers, [there] was a lot of flesh and bone, not a lot of blood.”
He was taken to a hospital and has been in physical therapy twice a week since then. He still has half of his index and middle fingers and can grip most things. However, that is not the end of the story.

Last week, Mr. Glassi received a telephone call from the sheriff that he didn’t expect. The sheriff said that a fisherman was cleaning a trout he caught and found a finger inside. Investigators took a fingerprint and matched it to Mr. Glassi. The trout was caught eight miles from the site of the accident.

The sheriff asked if Mr. Glassi wanted his finger back, to which he replied, “uhhhh…no…I’m good.” However, the sheriff’s office is keeping the finger for a few weeks in case he changes his mind!

Think about all of the crazy things that led up to the “reuniting” of the man and his finger. The man lost four fingers in a lake. A fish ate the finger that was severed. It just happened that another man was fishing on the same lake and happened to catch, out of all the fish in the lake, the one with the finger inside. Then the man decided to eat the fish instead of throwing it back. As he was cleaning it, he happened to notice a finger. Instead of throwing it away, he calls the police. It just happened that the finger still had a fingerprint and they also “happened” to have the young man’s prints on file.

When it was time to pay the temple tax, the tax collectors came to Jesus’ disciples and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” They replied that he did and Peter went unto the house to talk to Jesus about it. Jesus told him to go fishing in the lake. Jesus said, “Throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.” (Matthew 17:24-27)
Jesus did many astounding miracles. Some of them were so incredible that it boggled the mind. Over 10,000 people were fed with just a couple of fish and a few loaves. Jesus walked on the water. Lazarus was raised from the dead. All of these and many more defied the laws of nature.

However, there were also times that the miracle was not in the defiance of nature, but in the timing of the event. Just like the events leading up to Mr. Glassi being reunited with his finger, there was a miraculous string of events that led up to the coin being in the fish’s mouth.

Perhaps someone accidentally dropped a coin in the lake. (I have one friend who likes to believe that the person who dropped the coin had obtained it through deception or cheating!) It “happened” that a fish swallowed the coin. Then, the fish “happened” to be near the shore on the same day that the temple tax collector showed up. Peter, then, “happened” to drop the hook in the water at the same time the fish was near and the fish “happened” to take the bait.

The great thing about this account is that none of this was an accident or strange coincidence. It happened just as Jesus said it would, at the time Jesus promised. Remember, there are no coincidences with God. The things that happen to us do not just “happen.” They happen because God allowed it or caused it.
My prayer is that you will be able to praise God in the middle of whatever circumstances you are in, whether they seem very good or seem to be the end of the world. Trust God. Put your faith in the One who created you and knows what is best for you. Give your whole life, your whole agenda, your everything to Him and He will always lead you to righteousness.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Under Construction

“The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.” Charles Dickens

Some men in a pickup truck drove into a lumberyard. One of the men walked in the office and said, "We need some four-by-twos."
The clerk asked, "You mean two-by-fours, don't you?"
The man said, "I'll go check," and went back to the truck.
He returned and said, "Yeah, I meant two-by-four."
"All right. How long do you need them?"
The customer paused for a minute and said, "I'd better go check."
After a while, the customer returned to the office and said, "A long time. We're gonna build a house."

Isn’t it wonderful to know that God is building our “house?” I not only talking about the “house” He is preparing for us in Heaven, that Jesus mentions in John 14. I’m also talking about the ongoing construction that is our Christian life.

There’s a song that we often hear children sing, called, “He’s Still Working On Me.” The lyrics are something that we all need to understand about the work God is doing in all of us. There really ought to be a sign upon the heart. Don't judge her yet, there's an unfinished part. But I'll be perfect just according to His plan, fashioned by the Master's loving hands He's still working on me, to make me what I ought to be. It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars, the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be. He's still working on me.”
I recently visited the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC. Billy's wife, Ruth, is buried there, in the prayer garden. Her marker is a simple stone, with a Chinese symbol on the top that means “Righteousness.” On the bottom the inscription reads, “End of construction-Thank you for your patience.” 

Ruth Graham understood what many of us need to learn. Our salvation is a one time event. It is not, in any way, earned by our efforts. However, God does not stop there. The work continues through our entire lives in this world. We are all under construction.

We will never be perfect while we live on Earth, but God certainly works in our lives to mold us and make us into His image daily. What we need to understand, is that God loves us, even though we are not perfect. We are His creation and He will continue working on us, to make us more like Him, until the day we are called home to be with Him. 

Remember, when you fail or feel as though you are not good enough for God, the person that you are now is not the finished product. You are still under construction. Allow God to lay the foundation in His Word and then build you up with His materials. Only then will you be able to say at the end of your life, “End of construction-Thank you for your patience.”

And now I entrust you to God and the Word of his Grace — His message
that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those He
has set apart for Himself. (Acts 20:32)

Thursday, July 12, 2012


In 1914, Kaiser Wilhelm II was in power in Germany. He was hugely in favor of a strong military and had built up the nation’s arms over several years. Wilhelm, however, turned out to be Germany’s last Kaiser.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand
In June of 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated by a Serbian terrorist group. Kaiser Wilhelm encouraged Austria-Hungary to take revenge on Serbia for the assassination. The situation began to spin out of control and with multiple nations taking sides, World War I followed.

Some actually point to Kaiser Wilhelm’s urging Austria-Hungary for revenge as one of the main catalysts for the onset of World War I. However, the Kaiser almost didn’t get the chance to influence anything. He was fortunate enough to dodge a bullet many years before.

Kaiser Wilhelm II
Not long after the Kaiser was crowned, he attended a show in which there was trick shooting exhibition. A young lady named Phobe was planning to perform a few trick shots with her gun. The Kaiser emerged from the crowd and challenged her to shoot the ashes off his cigarette while he was smoking it. The young lady agreed, but was a bit nervous because of the Kaiser’s lofty position.

She paced off the distance and turned to aim. She said later that as she began to aim, she began to regret the whiskey she had consumed the night before. Since she was famous herself, pride took over and she decided to shoot.

The Kaiser lit his cigarette, placed it in his mouth and waited. Phoebe raised her gun and took aim. She only hesitated a second and then fired. The sound of the rifle rang out and to the delight and roar of the crowd, the ashes of the cigarette flew off. She had done it! Of course, she had done it! She was Phoebe Ann Moses! Perhaps you know her better by her stage name, Annie Oakley! The show was Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and Kaiser Wilhelm II dodged a bullet that day.

After World War I broke out, Annie never forgot that day. She wrote, “If I shot the Kaiser, I might have saved the lives of several million soldiers.” In fact, Annie’s husband, Frank, wrote to the Kaiser and told him that his wife wanted the opportunity to take a second shot at him. The Kaiser never replied.

Annie Oakley
This was a regret in Annie’s life. However, the fact of the matter is, we cannot know the future. If we knew what was going to happen years from now we might avoid pain, but we might miss other blessings that God has in our path.

We are not supposed to look back with regret on the things we have done wrong or mourn over missed opportunities. We are called to do the best we can as Christians today and look to the future with Christ as our guide. We don’t know what the future holds, but we follow the One who does!

Regret, grief, remorse, and pain of the past will always rob you of your joy in Christ. We must ask forgiveness for past sins and give them to God, who washes them away, never to be remembered again. God wants to wipe the slate clean and give you a new start. Give Him your past, present and future!

This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds. Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. (Hebrews 10:16-17)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Saving Bunny

None of us can ever save himself; we are the instruments of one another’s salvation, and only by the hope that we give to others do we lift ourselves out of the darkness into light.                      Dean Koontz

The other day I was driving on the interstate and saw something that broke my heart. In the middle of the busy highway, there was a small stuffed animal. My mind went where yours probably just did. Some child has lost that stuffed animal and will be heartbroken when they realize it. I wished that I had seen it happen, so I could track them down and return the animal to the proper owner, but there was nothing I could do.

I imagined what it would have been like when my children were younger. They would have cried their hearts out for days. I probably would have too.

Imagine you have just gotten off a train. You get your precious little girl in her stroller, and as you do, her favorite stuffed bunny falls out and onto the track. Your first instinct is to get it, but you are warned that another train is coming. You are left with nothing to do but stand by and watch as your daughter’s favorite stuffed bunny is smashed by the oncoming train. What do you do? How do you handle it? How will you explain to the child why you didn’t jump down there and risk your life for her bunny?

We, like the bunny, are a treasured creation to God. He made us, formed us, and loves us dearly. However, somehow, we always manage to find some way to wiggle away from Him, like that small stuffed bunny. When we do, we find that we have no life, no voice, no movement without Him. We are simply helpless on the tracks as the train that will destroy us moves closer and closer.

We need to be rescued. We cannot rescue ourselves, because without our Creator, we have no strength. We lie there in the snare that the enemy has laid for us, and it seems that there is no hope. Psalm 22:1-2 echoes those emotions that we feel when we are up against a battle we cannot win. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.”

The good news is that God, who knows all and sees all, cares for us. You see, the illustration I used above really happened. In Boston a mother got off the train with her little girl. Her bunny fell onto the tracks and the mother had no idea what to do. However, one of the MBTA workers saw the bunny and called the oncoming train, which slowed down so the stuffed bunny could be rescued. The mother was quoted as saying to the Transit Authority, “you really didn't have to do what you did today, but you have made a little 3-year-old incredibly happy."

God cares for you. You are His. He will stop everything to get to you. He did not eve consider His own Son, too high a price to pay for your rescue. He loves you dearly. Take rest in knowing that the One who gives you life, the One who loves you more than you can imagine, the One who gave His life for yours, will be your rescue!

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:14-16)

Friday, April 6, 2012


I am currently reading a biography of Walt Disney, titled, Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, by Neal Gabler.  This biography was published in 2006 and is considered to be the definitive portrait of the man whose name is now synonymous with childhood fantasy, imagination, and creativity. In my opinion, Walter Elias Disney was a genius. His vision for not only animation and movies, but also for his amusement parks was incredible. It was incredible on many levels. First of all it was incredible because nobody had done anything like it before, and secondly, because he made it happen.

That vision was also shared by his wife, Lillian, who in 1987 donated $50 million dollars to a new project to incorporate the arts into the Disney Empire. The money was to fund a new concert hall in Los Angeles, California. This concert hall met with many challenges during its construction, and it was even delayed from 1994 to 1996 due to cost overruns, mismanagement and disagreements over the project's design. Finally, groundbreaking was held in 1999 and the construction was completed in 2003.

After the construction, additional expenses were incurred to correct a flaw resulting from the design's use of polished concave stainless steel surfaces. Residents of the neighboring condominiums suffered significant glare caused by sunlight that was reflected and concentrated like a curved mirror. The concentrated light made some rooms of nearby condominiums unbearably hot, caused the air-conditioning costs of these residents to sky-rocket, and created hot spots on adjacent sidewalks of as much as 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Employees of the ticket office reported observing melted plastic traffic cones and spontaneous combustion in trash bins.

After complaints from neighboring buildings and residents the county government stepped in and asked Disney to come up with a solution. Their response was a computer analysis of the building's structure; after the offending surfaces were identified, they were sanded to reduce glare in 2005. As of yet, there have been no further complaints.

Jesus said, You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 NKJV) So we are to shine our light into the world for all to see, right? So where does that light come from? We have no ability to shine any kind of light into the world, because we cannot generate any light at all. We are only able to reflect the light from The Source of light Jesus Christ.

There are two things we need to see. First, when we reflect God’s light to others it is even more concentrated than when it is just shining alone. Don’t get me wrong here; I am not saying that we are more powerful than God, or that He cannot shine without us. I am saying that when someone just hears about God on television or even in church they might understand God’s love. However, if you show them God’s love and they are able to see how it works out in your own life, then that power is concentrated is even more powerful. God’s love is great, but letting God show His love to others through your life is even greater.

Secondly, we can only reflect light if we are exposed to light. If we walk in the darkness, then we are unable to neither see nor direct others. We are literally the blind leading the blind. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:6-8)

My prayer for all of you is that you will be a reflection of God’s love. As you polish and perfect you walk with Him, your reflection will be brighter and more powerful. How wonderful would it be if we all reflected God’s light so much that we were able to just melt the walls and barriers in our lives like the Disney Concert Hall melted those traffic cones? May God bless you and make your reflection of His light to shine brightly.

Arise; shine; for your light has come! and the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.
(Isaiah 60:1-2 NKJV)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Lucy: Are you afraid of responsibility? If you are, then you have hypengyophobia...How about cats? If you're afraid of cats, you have ailurophasia...Are you afraid of staircases? If you are, then you have climacaphobia. Maybe you have thalassophobia. This is fear of the ocean, or gephyrobia, which is the fear of crossing bridges. Or maybe you have pantophobia. Do you think you have pantophobia? 
Charlie Brown: What's pantophobia? 
Lucy: The fear of everything. 
Charlie Brown: THAT'S IT! 
(From A Charlie Brown Christmas. Charles M Schultz. 1965)

All of us are afraid of something. Fear is a natural response that was wired into us to warn us of danger so we could avoid it. However, as Lucy describes for us above, there are a lot of irrational fears. For most of us, fearing staircases is not a problem. On the other hand, I think there are a lot of people who suffer from hypengyophobia!

I read about one this week that struck me as very odd. Pogonophobia is the fear of beards.  I'm sure there must be someone out there who is afraid of beards, or there would not be a name for this phobia. However, I have never met anyone who suffers from this particular ailment. I wonder if those folks are more afraid of full beards than they are, say, a goatee, mustache,  or a simple "soul patch?"

I imagine life would be difficult with such a phobia. There are many people out there with facial hair. A person with this fear would certainly not be able to go to Walmart! I guess they would be terrified of Santa or ZZTop!

Anyway, to most of us, this, and many other fears, are irrational. However, to those who suffer from them, the fear is real and debilitating. Many times, the fear keeps them from enjoying a great deal of pleasures in life.

God, our creator, never meant for us to live under the weight of fear. While fear in the face of danger makes our adrenaline surge and gives us the instinct to run or fight, fears like the ones listed above are not a part of God's plan for us. Many times in scripture people are told to not fear, but to move ahead with what God has called them to do.

The Bible teaches us to have no fear when it comes to the things of this world. David wrote, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,for thou art with me." (Psalm 23:4) We also find David's encouraging words in Psalm 27:1, "The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear?" The apostle John reassures us that God's love takes away fear, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18)

Whatever fears you may have, rational or not, talk to God about them. He doesn't want you to live a life of fear and dread. Jesus came that we might have a life filled with joy and hope. Give your fears to Him and rest in the one who is our refuge and strength!

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
(1 Timothy 1:7)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dirty Windows

I see my reflection in the window. This window clean inside, dirty on the out.
 (Rock, Hetfield, Ulrich. 2003)

Last week I had my truck washed. Notice that I said I "had" it washed. That means I paid someone to wash it for me. I didn't do the work myself. Why? Because it was too dirty for me to even try. I would've had to wash it more than once to get it clean, and I don't have the patience to do it.

The reason I finally had it washed was not because it looked dirty on the outside. Oddly enough, the white of my truck doesn't show dirt too much. I could have gotten away with not washing it for a while longer. The reason I gave in and had it washed was the windows.

Disclaimer: Not my truck. Mine was not that dirty!!
Most of the time, I could see fine through the windshield. However, when I was driving toward the sun, the glare, through the dirt, was blinding. I couldn’t see much at all. The same was true when driving at night. The oncoming headlights or streetlights reflected off the dirty window and made it tough to see.

I realized the danger in not being able to navigate properly and paid a guy to wash the truck inside and out. Now I can see clearly, and it is much nicer to ride in it. I even let my wife ride with me the other day, without having to clear a spot for her to sit in the passenger seat!

As I was driving the other morning, the sun was shining brightly and I could see quite well. I was praying and thanking God for a beautiful sunrise, when I realized I would not have been able to see it like that a week before. I thought about how our Christian walk is similar.

Most of the time, we don't notice that our view of God is becoming clouded. It is a gradual thing that happens over time. We skip church a few times. We forget to read our Bibles. We may even go for weeks without talking to God.

When we do this, nothing drastic happens. There are no bolts of lightning to shake us and remind us to do those things. Therefore, we simply move on and forget to do them again. Sometimes, it is only when we realize we are far away from Him, and possibly in danger, that we call on Christ. By then, our "windows" are filthy and we cannot clean them ourselves.

The good news is that unlike me having to pay someone to clean my truck, the price has already been paid. Jesus paid the fee for us with His life. He gave His life so that we could be clean. He knew that we would always fail in cleaning our own lives up, so He did it for us.

If your life is a mess and you can't see what's in front of you, turn it over to Jesus. He is an expert at cleaning things and making them like new. Just as I am enjoying driving my clean truck, and am a lot less embarrassed to allow people to see the inside, you will feel brand new. Let Him clean you inside and out!

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)