The Messenger

His parents waited many years for him to come along. They were a barren couple. No children and now old age had somehow crept in. Until one day, Zechariah received a visit from an angel of the Lord announcing that he would be a father. Oh. Zechariah was so pleased and in disbelief that he was tongue tied. He wasn’t able to speak from that day until his son’s birth announcement. Zechariah was able to announce that his son was to be named John.

The angel told him wonderful things about this child who was to be born. His son would grow to be a man, and would be great in the eyes of the Lord. He was called to a special assignment. He was to prepare the people for the ministry of Jesus Christ.

But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.” Luke 1:13-17

John was a voice calling in the wilderness to prepare the way for the Lord’s coming. As he taught, the people would ask what they should do. John’s response was straight and to the point. If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry. He told the corrupt tax collectors to collect no more taxes than the government requires. And to the soldiers, he said not to extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.

John knew he was the messenger for the Promised Messiah. He knew there was one coming who was greater than himself. John was comfortable with that. He didn’t try to be the Messiah. He was paving the way for One to come after him. He was the voice calling to the crowds that a new King was coming.

This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began just as the prophet Isaiah had written: “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way. He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord ’s coming! Clear the road for him!’ ” Mark 1:1-3


Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Mark 16:15


Now we too must share the message of the One who is coming. We too must share the good news of His promised return. Oh. He has already come to the earth as the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. He who was hunted as a child. The twelve year old who knew he must be about his Father’s business. The young man who learned the trade of his earthly father. And at age thirty, he started a ministry that turned the world on its heels. And for three short years, his message rang out for those who would listen.

Oh. He was rejected in his own hometown. People thought he was trying to be someone he wasn’t. After all. He was the son of a carpenter. He wasn’t God. That’s what they said. But little did they know. Little did they believe.

But he was God. And he’s still God. And before he returned to heaven, he suffered and died on a cross. He had a thorn of crowns shoved into his head. His clothes were torn in two. His side was pierced. And with his last breath, he was ushered into heaven to sit at the right hand of his Father. He is waiting there today for all His children.

And today that message is ours to share. We who have repented of our sins and called on his name for forgiveness are now called to share the good news of salvation. We are now the messengers calling others to repentance. Not in a superior tone of voice. But in love and grace. Because just as we have been saved from our sins, we want the world to also share in that forgiveness. But one must ask for this free gift.

The One who is greater than us is returning to gather his people. We don’t know when that day will come, but it’s getting closer. Signs point to the nearness of the time of his return.

Our message today is that there is one coming who is greater than us. Are you ready to meet him?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

What Do They Say

There he was. Hanging on a cross. For the world to see. Oh. Some who witnessed his death were followers of The Way. Others had ridiculed him. Pronounced him guilty of a crime he didn’t commit. Wanting to witness the takedown of a man who stood for everything they were against. And so he died. There on the cross.

There were some witnesses who hadn’t quite made up their minds where they stood on the issue of his guilt. They had witnessed his arrest. They knew when he was dragged to court that the charges were all heresay. But they stood silent. And when the beatings started, they stood in agreement with the brutality. But in their hearts, they doubted his guilt. Oh. They knew they must keep quiet. Or they too would reap the anger and violence upon themselves. So they kept quiet. But they still doubted. They saw innocence when those in authority were pointing the finger of guilt.

So they continued with their charade. Forcing an innocent man up the path to Calvary, carrying a cross that was too heavy to bear. Imagine being those soldiers. How many times did they doubt the guilt of those they were leading to their death. Most likely, not too often. But on this day, there was doubt. and confusion. But they continued on the path to the trio of crosses.

Perhaps some of these soldiers had witnessed miracles this man had performed. Perhaps they drank the wine of his first miracle at that wedding. Perhaps they had seen Lazarus, who had been dead for two days, walk out of that tomb. Or maybe they had seen the paralyzed man leap off his mat and begin walking. But they spoke not a word of what was in their hearts.

Oh. There were mockers in that platoon of soldiers. You see. Not all believed who he was. So they shouted insults and taunted him. They created a crown from a branch of thorns and shoved it on his head. They even dressed him in a purple robe. Not out of respect, but in jest. And when they were finished with the mockery, they led him to be crucified. No dignity. No respect. No honor.

There were those who taunted him. They threw his own words back at him. In his face. You said you were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. Come down from the cross and save yourself. Even those who were crucified with him ridiculed him.


When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!” Mark 15:39


But at some point, the tone shifted. To a certain degree. One thief nailed on a cross next to Jesus continued to hurl insults at him. But the thief on the other side believed. We’re going to die right along with this King of the Jews. He hasn’t even done anything wrong. He asked Jesus to remember him as he moved from life to death. And Jesus assured him that he would have a place in paradise that day.

When the Roman officer who stood facing Jesus saw how he had died, he exclaimed that he truly was the Son of God. He had witnessed the entire crucifixion scene. He saw the tenderness of Jesus’ interaction with the thieves and with his mother. This soldier knew he was seeing God in action. He believed.

It makes me wonder. When I’m going through my toughest week and my life is on the line, what do those who are against me see? When those who have ridiculed and taunted me see me at my weakest, what are they saying about me? When they see me struggling in troubled and difficult times, do they say to themselves, “Truly, this is a child of God.” Or do they wonder if I’m all talk with no action in my faith.

Is my life consistent with the words that I say? Do my actions speak louder than my words? If my life was on the line, would others recognize the work of God in my life? What do others see in me that I’m not aware of?

There are those who deny the existence of God. There are those who doubt the creation story. There are those who are  unwilling to bow to a holy God. There are those who watch from the sidelines but back away from the truth.  But they watch the believers. They see the actions. They hear the words. They listen but their hearts are hardened to the truth. Unwilling to sacrifice their will and lay their soul on the line.

They see believers in their hardest days. They watch as believers walk their most painful steps. They hear the testimony of the faithful followers of the Way. They are watching. They are listening.

When you face disappointment or unfairness. When you are persecuted and ridiculed. When you are innocent but found guilty. Will they say of you in those moments, surely, this is a child of God?

This Little Light of Mine

It was Good Friday. She walked into my office and sat down. So. She said. It’s Good Friday, so that’s when Jesus died. Right? And then he ascended on Easter Sunday. No. I said. Jesus died on Good Friday. On Easter Sunday, he arose from the dead. Then he ascended to heaven 40 days later. Oh. She said. I never get this straight, and I just want to make my mom proud.

The thing is. She and I have never had conversations about faith or the church or spiritual matters. Yet she walks into my office and asks me these questions as if she knows that I would know the answer. Why didn’t she ask someone else? Why would she think I knew the answer?

She is the one who speaks insults to others. She uses the f-bomb as casually as any other word in her vocabulary. She has a very poor work ethic. She bends the truth to suit herself. She gossips as if life depends on it. She has lived with boyfriend after boyfriend trying to find the one true love. She lied to her landlord about the dog living in her apartment. She’s unsettled. She’s looking for something to satisfy the deepest longing of her soul. She’s looking for something more. And yet she’s unaware that she’s looking.

I’m not judging her. I’m just stating the facts. But she’s watching. She’s listening. She’s paying far more attention than I gave her credit for. Oh. She sees what I do and what I don’t do. She hears what I say and what I don’t say. She knows that the two of us have little in common. Yet she comes to me with these questions.


Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16


I realize my life is on display. I’ve asked God repeatedly why he has me in this place. I’ve questioned the reasoning of his wisdom. He says stay. You are needed in this place. You are equipped to be there. Perhaps it’s not the work itself that has the most value for me. Perhaps it’s the light I bring into a dark corner of the world that is needed the most. Perhaps I am the instrument of peace and hope.

I find that in order for my light to shine in that small place, I must continually run to Jesus with my shortcomings and doubts. And perhaps in the midst of my frail humanity, others see a strong reliance upon the One who holds the whole world in his hands. Yet he also holds me at the same time.

I must never take for granted the work that I do. Or the place that I’ve been called to. God has a purpose. A plan for me that is bigger than my dreams or plans. I need to be obedient and willing to do as he asks. To share his love with the lost and lonely and hurting. With those who need his love and peace more than they need anything else.

This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine;
this little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine;
this little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine;
let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Opportunity Knocks

She asks me to walk with her to fill her water bottle.  To join her as she heats her lunch.  She says we should walk for 10 minutes each day.  Together.  I want to find excuses not to join her.  I value my time alone.  I enjoy my independence.  She’s an extrovert.  I’m not.

Her personality is strong.  Overly confident.  Pushy.  She’s accustomed to getting her way.  We are polar opposites.

We have huge differences that separate us.  Cultural differences.  She wears a hijab.  She dresses modestly.  She eats halal foods.  She prays five times a day.  She doesn’t believe in Christ.  She lives in darkness.  She needs the light.

She’s new here.  She’s trying to fit in.  Trying to find a friend.  She’s chosen me.  I’m finding it difficult to choose her.  She called me her new bff.  I cringed a little inside.

But when I look at her from the eyes of the one who died on the cross for me, I see her differently.  He died on the cross for her, too.  She needs an opportunity to know Him.  Someone said that she’s drawn to the light.  Coming from darkness, it’s perhaps different and interesting for her to come face to face with the light.  She doesn’t even realize it’s the light that she’s attracted to.  But she’s being drawn to it.  So why am I resisting being the light that she needs?  Why do I want her to look for the light somewhere else?  Perhaps I’m the only Jesus she’ll ever meet.  Why do I resist so?


But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?  And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? Romans 10:14-15


I know I need to spend time with her.  How do the lost become saved if the saved don’t spend time with them?  How does one who doesn’t believe in Christ start believing if no one shares the truth?

I read a prayer recently that said, “Lord, give me opportunities to share all that You have taught me with someone who needs You.”  I must confess.  I’m not one who openly shares my faith with strangers.  To me, it would be utter boldness to share my faith uninvited.  The thought of doing so makes me shudder.  I  tend to stand back and listen.  And wait.  Oh.  I know those who confidently share their faith.  For them, it isn’t boldness.  It’s as natural to them as breathing.  I’m a little envious, because they don’t have to work at it.  They just do it.  They know everyone they meet needs their Jesus.  I know it, too, but I can’t get the words out.

I know we all have our own unique strengths and weaknesses.  I’m not saying I shouldn’t share my faith.  I should.  My approach has to be my approach.  Not someone else’s.  But I do need to share when given the opportunity.

I see this opportunity in front of me.  I want to be faithful and obedient.  Even bold.  I don’t think God wants me to be someone I’m not.  But I believe he provides opportunities for all who call on Him to share His love with anyone who crosses our path.  No matter what our differences may be.  We all have one common need.  We all need God.  Heaven have mercy if I fail to do my part when called to do so.

Maybe it’s time for a 10 minute walk.