Saturday, December 27, 2014

When We Face Raging Rivers

Raging rivers come in all sizes and dimensions. 
Some are called “financial ruin”.
Some call them “divorce”.
Others use the name “dreaded illness”.
Some face the waters of depression.

What do you face?

My thought for you is a simple one really.  When you and I face the raging rivers that come our way, it is good to remember these words to a very simple, very profound chorus we sometimes hear in church.

Got any rivers you think are uncrossable
Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through
God specializes in things thought impossible
And he can do what no other power can do

In Isaiah 59:1 we find this:

“Surely the arm of God
is not too short to save,
and His hearing is as good as ever.
(PMB paraphrase)

Need more?

We have just come through the Christmas season.  It is good to remember the words of the angel of God when He comes to Mary and tells her she is the chosen one to deliver God’s Son to this world. 

“For with God nothing is impossible.”
Luke 1:37

Let’s go back in time to when the children of Israel were wandering around in the dessert.  They came to the waters of the Red Sea.  The Egyptians were close at hand.  There appeared to be no way out. 

God stepped in.  He caused a strong East wind to blow all night long and made a path in the middle of the ocean, and the children of Israel crossed on dry ground.

Moses said this to his troops: 


Got the picture? 

God specializes in the impossible situations. 

He doesn't always do things our way, yet He gets the job done.

As our little chorus says:  “He can do what no other power can do”

What does your raging river look like?
Is your mountain looming large?

Hang on!  God is already working on that.



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Where Hope Meets Fear

If we read the newspapers and watch the news, we find enough wrong with this world to throw us into a fit of fears to last a lifetime.

We fear beheadings, invasion from evil empires, the ultimate monetary crash of all crashes, rising taxes, shrinking income and rising prices at every turn.  We do have more than a few fears with which to ponder, don’t we?

And then along comes Christmas – the season of hope, joy, and peace on earth good will to mankind. 

Perhaps we ask the obvious question:  Where is hope and peace to be found?

It is in the manger in Bethlehem.  The heart of the message of hope is found in one key phrase in the carol O Little Town of Bethlehem.

The hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight.

Even in the days before Christ’s birth, oppression ran rampant, economic conditions were at a low ebb.  People were discouraged.  They had fears.  They needed hope. 

Sounds familiar doesn't it? 

Note the phrase “of all the years.”  Those years reach all the way to where you and I sit today.  God’s plan was not only for the present day Bethlehem.  It included Seattle, Des Moines, Selma, Nashville, Rochester, Baltimore, Albuquerque, Berlin, Baghdad, Dubai, Paris, Bombay, Hong Kong, and all other points east, west, north and south.

The fears we face today, this very moment, are met in the birth of Christ.

To borrow another phrase from a great Christmas song – O Holy Night:

He knows our need,
our weakness is no stranger.


My message of hope is simple – We are right in the middle of God’s eyesight.  He knows everything that is going on at this moment in every corner of our world.  He hears the cries of the oppressed, the downcast, the imprisoned, the hungry and lonely, and the discouraged and depressed soul.

Psalm 121:4 reminds us of this: 

“He who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.”

That reminds me of the great phrase in I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead nor doeth He sleep


In the middle of the chaos of our world, take heart my friend.

God really does have it all under His control.

Be encouraged and Merry Christmas!

And now, a musical moment on this beloved carol.




P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, December 13, 2014

What the Bells Say


Perhaps you need a word of hope this Christmas season.  If you do, keep reading.

From the Christmas carol I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, we find this phrase.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead nor doeth He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men


Sit with that for a few minutes.  Some in our world might sing a doomsday song. 
Some paint a bleak picture.
Debt on every hand
War
Strife
Confusion
Dissonance at every turn


However …

However, these words ring out loud and clear.

God is not dead, nor doeth He sleep

This gives me amazing comfort.
This gives you and me tremendous hope.

God is on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days each week.  How about that?

Is the world going to hell in a hand-basket?

Not on His watch.

God is real, alive and in control.  He doesn’t even take Sunday afternoon naps.

Simple message?

You bet.

Take heart.  God is watching over you and me, and He has the whole wide world in His hands!



Please take a few minutes and listen to this marvelous recording.


 Merry Christmas!

P Michael Biggs
Up-Words.net
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Man and the Birds

(This story is based in part on the version as told by Paul Harvey.  I have cherished this story for many years and hope it is an enriching experience for you as well.)

We do not know the creator of this wonderful story, but our gratitude abounds for his or her contribution to our understanding of the essence of Christmas.

THE Christmas story, the “God born a man in a manger” version simply escapes some people.  Perhaps they seek complex answers to their questions, and this one is really very simple.  So for the cynics and the skeptics, and the unconvinced, I submit this modern parable.

I want you to meet our main player in this story.  He was not a Scrooge – he was a kind and descent man.  Some would say he was a good man.  He was generous with his family, fair in all of his dealings with other men, yet he just did not believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmastime.  It just didn’t make sense, and he was too honest to pretend otherwise.  He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus story, about God coming to earth as a man. 

Christmas Eve came and his wife and family were preparing to go to the nearby Christmas Eve church service. 

I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve.”  He said he would feel like a hypocrite.  He would much rather stay home, but he would wait up for them.   So he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away, snow began to fall.  He went to the large landscape window and watched the flurries get heavier and heavier, and then went back to his fireside chair to read his newspaper. 

Minutes later, he was startled by a thudding sound, and then another.  At first he thought perhaps some kids were throwing snowballs against his living room window, but when he went to investigate, he found a flock of birds

huddled miserably in the snow.  They had been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window. 

Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there in the snow and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony6.  That would provide a warm shelter, if only he could direct the birds to it.

Quickly he put on his coat and goulashes and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn.  He opened the doors wide and turned on the light, but the birds did not come in.  He figured food would entice them so he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs and sprinkled them in the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted, open doorway of the stable, but to his dismay the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow.

He tried catching them; he tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them and waving his arms.  Instead they scattered in every direction, except into the warm lighted barn, and then he realized that they were afraid of him.

“To them,” he reasoned, “I am a strange and terrifying creature.  If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me.  I’m not trying to hurt them.  I’m trying to help them.  But how?”

Any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them.  They just would not follow.  They would not be lead, or directed because they feared him.  ]

“If only I could be a bird,” he thought to himself, “and mingle with them and speak their language, then I could tell them not to be afraid.  ‘Then I could show them the way to the safe, warm … to the safe, warm barn.  But I would have to become one of them so they could see and hear and understand.


At that moment the church bells began to ring.  Their sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind and he stood there listening to the bells ringing out – “O Come Let Us Adore Him” – and as the bells rang out the glad tidings of Christmas, he sank to his knees in the snow. 

Here is the perfect song to capture the heart of this story, 



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Saturday, November 29, 2014

What Child Indeed

It is interesting to ponder the baby who became a King.  He was brought into the world into such humble settings.  His place of birth was less than wonderful.  His first swaddling left much to be desired.  His first visitors were farm animals, and then came shepherds fresh from the fields. 

Not a very exciting way to welcome THE KING, was it? 

His birth surprised the establishment of the day as well.  They were looking for a deliverer. 

Instead they got a baby.

They were looking for a warrior to overcome their oppressors. 

Instead they got a baby.

They were looking for a hero.

Instead they got a baby.


But most of all they got love.


Ponder the child in the manger. 


Love expressed in the most wholesome, beautiful way.

Love expressed in innocence.

Love expressed in cries in the night, just like the sounds any normal baby would offer.

Love expressed through a lifestyle of peace, compassion, caring, passion. 

Never before had the world seen
such a life, nor would we ever see it
again in such a pure state.


This baby, this little one named Jesus grew to become …

Well, what do you need this Christ Child to be in your world?

Do you need …
A friend?                         He is.
A healer?                          He is.
A savior?                           He is.
A comforter?                      He is.
A model of integrity?          He is.
A pathfinder?                        He is.
A protector?                           He is.



What child is this?

Indeed, what child is this!


P Michael Biggs
Offering Words of Hope
At Christmas


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Reasons to Say "THANKS"


In a world that has more needs than answers, there are still some opportunities to pause and say “Thanks”.

Say “Thanks”
For the companion who walks beside you
For the memory of the companion who once walked beside you
For kids and grandkids and the uniqueness of each

Say “Thanks”
For whatever measure of food you have to eat
For whatever measure of clothing that is covering your back
For heat in public buildings and homes

Say “Thanks”
For your source of income and whoever supplies that income
For those who serve those in need
For medical professionals

Say “Thanks”
For law enforcement professionals
For military units and their fearless response
For government official who have a thankless job

Say “Thanks”
For the friendly hands that have benefited you throughout your life
For that special neighbor who never refused your call for help
For the reliability of water that comes through the plumbing

Say “Thanks”
For a supportive co-worker who never fails to help
For those bosses who graced your life at odd moments
For bosses who gave you constructive guidance

Say “Thanks”
To the driver who allowed you to enter the freeway lane
To the server who brings your morning coffee
To the cook who makes your eggs to perfection

Say “Thanks”
For our siblings
For extended family members: aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents

Say “Thanks”
For your minister and spiritual leaders
For writers who enlighten your life
For song writers who bring joy to your day

Say “Thanks”
To radio and TV personalities who give consistent information
To retail clerks who work on holidays so you can buy their wares
To the stranger headed your way later today

Say “Thanks”
To God above for mercy
To God above for grace that continually flows down

In all things, give God Praise and Thanksgiving.


Happy Thanksgiving!



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Does God Provide?

The ultimate question is this … Can God really provide what He has promised?

Let’s look at one particular story in the Bible for our answer.  In Genesis 22 we read about the story of Abraham taking Isaac into the mountains.  Here is a modified telling of this story.

Abraham and Sarah were barren for a bunch of years – well into their nineties, and finally God made a promise to Abraham that He would bless him with generations of descendants.  Low and behold Sarah got pregnant with Isaac.  Isaac was God’s plan for continuing Abraham’s line, which ultimately led to the birth of Jesus. 

Time passed.  Isaac grew.  When he was in his early teens God tapped Abraham on the shoulder and said, “Go into the distant mountains to a place I will direct you and sacrifice your son Isaac.”

That was pretty simple and direct. 

It was a three day hike to the place God had chosen and off they went.  All along the trail I can only imagine the conversations Abraham was having with himself mostly, and with God sometimes. 

“You promised to bless my line with generations upon generations, and the beginning of that line is Isaac, and yet you have commanded me to go and sacrifice him to you.  Why?  What are you thinking?”

And on they pressed. 

At one point Isaac looked around and asked, “Father, where is the lamb for the sacrifice you say God wants us to make?”

And Abraham answered, “Never mind son.  God will provide the lamb.”

And on they walked.

On the third day of their journey, Abraham saw their destination in the distance. 

As they got closer he commanded his fellow travelers to stop and make camp while he and the boy went ahead to make the sacrifice.  He even said, “And we will return.”

WE!  That was faith speaking.

On they went until they came to the place to which God had directed him.  He built the altar, lay in the firewood and actually placed Isaac on the altar. 

Got the picture?  Abraham had a promise from God – “Isaac is my plan to bring multiple generations to your lineage.”  Yet God had commanded that Abraham sacrifice him on an altar in the mountain.

So he tied Isaac down.  He bound his hands and feet, and he sharpened the knife.  And as he raised his hand to strike the deadly blow, a voice from the heavens called out and stopped him.  

The voice said, “I know that you trust God and He has first place in your heart, for you were willing to sacrifice your only son as God directed.”

Perhaps with a trembling hand and weak knees Abraham slowly lowered the knife, and as he did, he heard the bleating of a ram.  Its horns were caught in a nearby thicket. 

The message came loud and clear.  “Because you have obeyed me, I have provided a substitute sacrifice and I will bless you with abundant blessings and descendants.”

What is the message that reaches us in this narrative?

I think it is this.  God wants our trust and our obedience. 

~Trust that He always knows what is best for us in every situation 

~Obedience that we will follow and obey as we discern the voice of God.

You see, God provided the lamb for Abraham that day. 

And a few thousand years later He provided another substitute lamb for us in the form of His own son.  Christ became the ultimate sacrifice for us to provide a way to God’s side for eternity.

This gives me hope today.  When I think of this story and all of its ramifications, I see the hand of God and the wisdom of God at work. 

My mind automatically goes to this thought – God provided for Abraham in the middle of his sacrifice, and if He can do that, I believe He can reach across the generations today and provide for our needs as well.

The name for God that we see here is Jehovah Jireh (translation – God provides).

GOD PROVIDES!

Does God provide?

Yes indeed!

Please watch this:

God Has Provided the Lamb
The Bill Gaither Trio

 Click below for this video




P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Don't Drown in Your Failures

Are you swimming in failures?  We all do at one time or another.

I have some good news.  First – a quote.

“You do not drown simply
by plunging into the water. 
You only drown if you stay
beneath the surface.”
~Paulo Coelho


This is a great metaphor that has a ton of life applications.  For today, let’s consider this one.

So you have fallen into some kind of predicament.  Perhaps it is a moral sin, a vice that has reared its ugly head, or some serious vow that has been broken.

What now?

Wallow if you must, however, I hope you find the strength and grace to stand once again and overcome your fall.

The great promise from God is this:  “My grace is sufficient for you.”  And in another place we find this:  “Cast all your cares on him (Christ), for he cares for you.”

That is the message I have for you today.

Sure, sometimes we sink down into the mire of life, but we don’t have to stay stuck in the mud and muck. 

God in his mercy and grace continually stretches out His hand to lift you up onto solid ground again and again.

I used this phrase a couple of weeks ago, yet it is still pertinent.
For out of his infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

If you feel you are drowning in your sin, reach out your hand one more time.  His grip is sure and His ground is firm.

Thanks be to God.


P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, November 1, 2014

How Rich Is God

In the grand scheme of things, just how rich is God? 

Consider this.

I John 3:1 says he lavishes us with love.
James 1:5 tells us that He doesn’t just dole out wisdom.  Oh no.  He gives generously to all without finding fault.

Romans 2:4 tells us God is rich in tolerance, kindness and patience.

I Timothy 1:14 says He gives grace exceedingly abundant and indescribable.

He overflowed the banquet table when the prodigal son returned home.

He flooded Peter’s boat with fish beyond counting.
He made better wine and in more abundance at the wedding feast.

He provided manna for the throngs of Israelites during their 40-year hike in the wilderness.  And he gave them quail to eat.  He never let their sandals wear out all during that time.  And He provided a flame to lead at night and a cloud for the daytime.

How rich is God?

His grace is sufficient.
His mercy is everlasting.
He forgives and forgets.


God promises to meet all our needs. (Philippians 4:19)

He bestows bounty even when a brother or sister is in need of forgiveness.  His admonition was not just to forgive seven times.  Oh no.  He said “forgive seven times seventy.” 

That is bestowing riches.
Generosity abounds.

And His grace shows up best in weak people.  He give generously, liberally, he does not withhold, even though we may deserve justice.  We find grace.  We find a giving Heavenly Father. 

And to cap it all off, His promise is this … if we call on the name of Jesus Christ, we shall inherit eternal life.

Inherit! 

And what did we do to deserve this?  What price did we pay?  What good deeds were required?  How many trips did we have to make to Africa, or New Zealand, even Las Vegas to earn these gifts, this grace thing?

None.

Not in your righteousness. 
Can’t earn it.
Can’t pay it back.
Don’t even deserve it.

He just gives, and gives, and gives again and again.

This old hymn comes to mind here.

His love has no limits,
His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

Please watch this


We are heirs, and joint heirs with Christ.

We have a very rich Papa.



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Grace in the Dark Places

Grace isn't just for sunny days.  It’s for dark days too.  Maybe grace shows up best on dark days.

King David had a few dark days.  His infidelity and murder was brought out and made public.  That had to be a dark day.  And he found grace.

There once was a woman drawing water at the community well.  She was what you might call a “woman of many men” for she had already had five husbands, and the man who was her current main squeeze had not even bothered to wed her.  Christ came along.  He brought grace to this woman’s dark and dreary life.

Another woman, one we might label as “a slut with an impure lifestyle” was found washing the feet of Christ with her tears.  Her TEARS!  And after washing his feet, she dried them with her hair.  Can you picture that one?  Those nearby chastised her, and they said some less than esteeming words to Christ as if he had lost his senses. 

And in the end, Christ extended grace to the darkest depths of this woman of the streets.  He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Grace came that day and touched the dark places of this common prostitute.  She came in as a woman of sin.  She left as a woman seized by grace. 

What is your dark place?  What parts of your life would you really like to keep in the dark and out of sight of others?

The God that I serve wants to offer you great grace.  He wants to light up your life and extend the hand of grace to your distorted, disjointed, and disengaged lifestyle.

He can bring grace to your life.  He can shed light and life on any area in which you feel great shame and disgrace.

The invitation is this:

Come, all who are tired, worn out, and carry immense problems on your shoulders.  Lay down your burdens.  I will give you rest.  Learn about my ways and a new way of living.  I shall bring peace to your soul. 

In other words … I give grace for the dark places in your life.

Amen!

Thanks be to God.


P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Ticket Back Home

Let’s cut straight to the point, shall we?  Our title, The Ticket Back Home is all about grace and acceptance.  Here is why.

I will borrow a line or two from Henry Nouwen’s book The Return of the Prodigal

“Here the mystery of my life is unveiled.  I am loved so much that I am free to leave home. … But the Father is always looking for me with outstretched arms to receive me back and whisper again in my ear:  ‘You are my beloved.  On you my favor rests.’”

What is at play here is this – the relentless love of Papa God. 

He loves us so much that He, God, continues to allow us our free will.  We get to choose.  We choose our food, our clothes, our friends, our jobs, our cars, our entertainment, our sins, our lifestyle and everything else. 

He promised a long time ago that He would never revoke this one privilege.  It started in the garden.  Adam and Eve chose fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  And so today we retain that one great power.

We choose.

And even if, in that choosing, we walk away from God, what then? 

He still looks for us.  He still calls to us.  His love continually reaches out to us, offering grace, hope, forgiveness, peace, safety, assurance.

And still, if we choose to ignore all of that, He still looks for us.  With every stirring of a leaf or every rubbing together of a couple of tree branches, perhaps Father God wonders if we made that disturbance as we turn and head back to His arms of grace and His house of safety.

The ticket back home to God is always waiting for us at the station.  It is ours for the claiming.  And we get to choose when to claim it. 

Today might be a dandy time to claim your ticket and start your journey home toward redemption.

He is looking for you.  He left the light on for you.  There is food on the table and new clothes for you to wear.  And your seat by the fire is ready for you.

Come home to the one who loves you and has never stopped loving you.

Jeremiah 31:3 reminds us of this:
From afar, God reaches for us and He says, ‘I have loved you with a forever kind of love.  I shall continue to offer you my faithfulness.’

Amen.  Thanks be to God.


P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Help for Our 'Should Be' Life

I should be perfect.  I've had every opportunity to get it right all of my life, so I should have this “God” thing down to perfection.  I should have my act together.  I should, you know. 

But I don’t.

I've been going to church since a few days after I was born.  My Dad was a minister and we had prayer in our home, we prayed at every meal, I attended church three or more times every week. 

I should have it all together. 

I've served as a minister.  I've sang songs of salvation and grace, of love and mercy, and I've spoken about these topics too.  I've read the Bible through on more than one occasion, I've attended hundreds of Sunday school classes, I've heard even more sermons, and don’t get me started on the number of prayers I've prayed. 

I should have it all together with God.  I should be a spiritual giant … but I’m not.

Can you relate to bits and pieces of this monologue above?  Do you also sometimes struggle with your ‘should be’ life? 

Then, perhaps, here is some incredibly great encouragement for all of us.

God wants to have a conversation with you and me, and it goes something like this. 

Hi.  This is God.  I have a few words for you.  I know your whole story.  I know everything about you, every skeleton that hangs in your closet.  I know every instance of sin and shame, dishonesty and disobedience that plagues your life. 

I know every moment of your dark past.  I know your moments of weak faith, and I know how shallow your prayers are. 

I know about the inconsistencies in your discipleship, I know how many times you've slept in church, even when trying to pray.  I know your private thoughts, your secret longings, your druthers and your angst.

And in the middle of it all - I still dare to love you. 

I LOVE YOU!

I love you, not as you are. 
I love you not as you should be.
I love you in the middle of all the messiness, the missed deadlines and the misguided thoughts, longings, lusts, and damaging “stuff” you do to yourself.

I put these words into my document called The Bible.  “No one is righteous and pure and holy.  Not even one.” 
(Romans 3:10)

And a little later in this scripture, I added this.  “Whoever calls out to me will be saved.” 
(Romans 3:13)

Don’t you see?  I’ll move heaven and earth just to have you with me.  You don’t have to dress up, clean up, try harder, go to church more, be more, sing more, read more.  You just have to accept what I've already offered you.

My salvation
     My grace
          My peace 
               My forgiveness

So put aside your low self-image.
Put aside your lousy attitude of “I’m not good enough.”
Stop hating yourself. 

Stop putting yourself down.
Stop limiting my power to work in your life.
Quit limiting your concept of me and my ability to love you.

Start believing what is already yours. 

Grace for each moment of your life.

And love – my love.

Your God



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time