Tuesday, December 24, 2013


"Unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given..." (Isaiah 9:6)

The eternal God of the universe has revealed Himself to humankind in three co-equal, co-eternal Persons--Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The second Person of the Trinity, the Word ("logos" in Greek) took upon Himself humanity for the purpose of giving His life as a ransom for the sins of the world (Matthew 20:28). The Word entered the world, as prophesied by Isaiah the prophet, after being miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). After a natural birth to Mary, the Word's legal father, Joseph, named Him Jesus ("Yeshua" in Hebrew), which means "Jehovah saves." Jesus, the Messiah (meaning "anointed one," the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek term "Christ") was born in Bethlehem as prophesied by Micah the prophet (Micah 5:2) and grew up farther north in the town of Nazareth. Jesus of Nazareth had a three-year public ministry in which He demonstrated that He was the Messiah by performing signs ("miracles"), and by teaching God's true purpose for humanity. He also predicted that He would be killed and would rise from the dead (c.f., Matthew 16:21 ) as evidence that He was who He claimed to be, the only One through whom humans can have access to God the Father (John14:6).

The little baby boy that was born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago symbolizes the fact that God loves humanity, and sent Jesus to secure eternal life for all who believe in Him. As the angel told the shepherds in Bethlehem, "I bring you good news of great joy...for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." God provided the greatest gift of all by offering us forgiveness of our sins through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. We celebrate God's greatest gift to us by giving gifts to others at Christmas. As we celebrate the birth of Christ, let us be mindful that Christmas is a time of giving, because God has given us so much. Christmas is a time of love, because God first loved us (I John 4:19), and that love became flesh at Bethlehem. Because of God's gift of His Son we sing "Joy to the world, the Lord is come; let earth receive her King."

Have a blessed Christmas in celebration of God's greatest gift.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Tribute to Max

One of my joys in the past decade was teaching my "Cutting Edge" Bible class at our home church in California for over eight years. Other than during summers in Iowa and mission trips to Africa, Asia and the Middle East, I was there every Sunday to keep the class informed on current events affecting the church, and to teach the principles and precepts of Scripture. When we moved to Iowa last October, that season came to an end, but in reflecting on the class, two things come to mind that made this such a special time for me. First, it was my return to ministry after a long hiatus. Those who know me understand my love for teaching the Word, and the Cutting Edge class required me to dig deep into Scripture so I could stay "two hours ahead of the hounds." From that return to ministry many opportunities have now opened up, including our founding of Rolling Stone Ministries, which has brought Laurie and me to Africa eight times, India twice and Israel twice to teach the Word. More recently I was appointed the International Director of Ratio Christi ("the Reason of Christ"), a campus apologetic alliance designed to help high school and college students with intellectual challenges to Christianity, and to reach nonbelievers with the gospel.

The second thing that made the Cutting Edge class so special was the people. I have never had the privilege of teaching such a mature group of believers for such an extended period. At one point I was advised that there were four people in the class who were in their 90s. All the attendees were a blessing, but one special person comes to mind. One year he came to Thanksgiving dinner at our house, and he always took the time to talk to our daughters when they were in class. He always seemed happy, and brought a smile to my face. When I kidded him about his age he laughed that infectious laugh. When we were invited to lunch with his group of friends, he was always friendly and considerate. What also stands out is his testimony. He had been to church throughout his life, but, like many, he made it clear that he had never invited Jesus Christ to be his personal Savior until he was in his 80s. Therein is a great lesson--we have many people in church every Sunday who have not asked Christ into their hearts. Also, there is another lesson--it is never too late to be born again.

It was with sadness, but somewhat bitter-sweet, that Mayor John Beauman advised Laurie and me of the passing of that smiling gentleman, Max Gleason. He leaves a legacy of love, hope and friendship, with a treasure chest of memories. His family and all those, like me, who loved Max can take comfort in the fact that he has now heard the words from our Lord, "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter in to the joy of the Lord." Max brought a lot of the joy of the Lord to us here on earth, and now heaven is richer for the homecoming of one of the Lord's dear saints. Some day we will see Max again, based on the promises of the One who rose from the dead to prove that by trusting in Him our sins are forgiven and heaven awaits us. Until them, may the blessed memory of our dear brother Max inspire us to be kind, loving and a blessing like he was to so many of us.