Saturday, November 28, 2015

They Missed It

Somewhere a dog barked three times and then was silent.
Somewhere a merchant was just finishing with his last customer.
Somewhere a very tired inn keeper was shuttering his windows and doors, for his last available space had been rented for the night.

And somewhere a tired fourteen year old girl and an even more weary twenty-something man finally found a space among some cattle and sheep in a drafty cave. 

And the birth happened.

And the villagers missed it. 

For their lives were demanding.
Their jobs were endless.
Their focus was on the next buck to be made, not on the baby being born who would usher in a whole new system.

But they missed it.

They missed the greatest event of the season.
They missed the spectacle in their own backyard.

Sometimes I’ve been distracted by gifts to see THE gift.
Sometimes I’ve been focused on activities instead of the Advent.

This Christmas, let’s make sure we don’t miss all that Christ might say to us as we revisit the manger, the joy, the lights and the sights of Christmas.

Merry Christmas.

P Michael Biggs
Internet Church Pastor
Offering Hope
One Word at a Time

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What Is Thanksgiving

~Holding a thought of gratitude for the life we’ve been given

~Holding closely thoughts of God’s goodness, for they are new every day

~Being grateful in the small things and in the large and looming circumstances

~Seeing a butterfly in flight and giving thanks

~Hearing the laughter of your grandchild

~Anticipating the embrace of that one who is making a last minute effort to come home to her family’s embrace for Thanksgiving

~Remembering the ones who work on this day to provide us the blanket of safety and security we depend upon

Let us pause and give God thanks.

Loving God:
From the depths of our soul we offer a simple ‘thank you’.
Your mercies are abundant and undeserved.
Your bounty is more than we should expect.
Your protection is ever with us.
Your love exceeds anything we can comprehend.
We give you thanks, God almighty.

We give you praise and adoration, for we are mere mortals in the sight of an omnipotent God, yet you dared to create us and love us with something called ‘unconditional love’. 

Our hearts are full of gratitude.  Our words seem so inadequate before your might and power.

And so we simply say – “Thank You God!  We give heartfelt thanks.

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

Saturday, November 21, 2015

God Takes the Lead

I’ve been reading in the Old Testament tonight in search of an idea and a thought for this post.  I began in Genesis and I’m still there.  Around Chapter 45 it hit me how God has taken the lead thus far in establishing mankind on planet Earth. 

At the moment I’m reading the story of Joseph and his 11 brothers. The story goes like this:

Joseph was favored by his mother Rachel and father Jacob.  His mother made him that famous coat of many colors.  His brothers became jealous of Joseph and eventually sold him to a traveling caravan and reported him abducted by wolves to their father

Meanwhile Joseph ended up in Egypt as 2nd in rank only to the Pharaoh himself.  

Now about this time a great famine was predicted in a dream that was going to sweep the land.  Joseph properly interpreted this dream for Pharaoh and was thus put in as 2nd in command. 

The drought came, crops dried up, there was little or no rain and things were tough all over.  However, in Egypt, where Joseph ruled, they had the foresight to stockpile great storehouses of grain for the people.

His brothers came seeking grain.  Finally he revealed himself to them as their long lost brother.  His words struck me tonight –

“Do not grieve yourselves over what you have done, for God sent me before you to preserve life.”

You see, God took the lead well in advance of the draught, the dry season and the burned up crops.  He put His man in place as a savior/redeemer for those people in that place and time.

And today, we wonder if God is still in the lead, don’t we?  We question if God knows what is going on in our world.  Did He see what happened in Paris last weekend with 130 dead and countless more wounded?  And don’t forget the attack in Mali just a few days ago.

What in the world is going on and where is God in the middle of all of this?

Good question.  Where is God indeed!

He is in the middle of all of it just as He always has been.  He has boots on the ground all around those places.  Even in the middle of tragedy there is hope. 

I heard of a lady who died in the Paris attack who used her body to shield a five-year-old boy who survived that chaos.  And there are stories yet to be told of how God is working in the middle of all of this madness. 

We are not promised to be free from pain and sorrow.  We ARE promised that He will be with us in the middle of it all.  And He goes ahead of us.  He takes the lead.

~Joshua 1:9 reminds us that God will be with us wherever we go, just as he was with Joshua at the death of Moses when he was about to lead the Israelites out of the wilderness into the promised land.

Just take a look at this handful of scriptures that speak of God being with us in the middle of fear and anxiety.

~Isaiah 41:10:  Don’t fear. I am with you. I will strengthen you.

~Psalm 56:3:  When afraid, I put my trust in God.

~Philippians 4:6-7:  Don’t be anxious or worried.  Trust God, and the His peace will guard your hearts and minds.

~Psalm 94:19:  When anxiety mounts, God’s comfort and peace bring on the joy.

~Isaiah 43:1:  Don’t fear. I have redeemed you; I call you by name.

And the list goes on.

When facing times of testing, God is in the lead.  He goes before us.  He prepares the land, the table, the situation.  He works behind the scenes. 

What an amazing concept of hope and grace for us today.

Be encouraged.

And in this season of Thanksgiving – give thanks to God for all things.

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

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sticky Grace

(Today I am opening up this space to my long-time friend Dr. Larry Lacher.  Larry was in my youth group in Albuquerque and is now senior pastor of First Church of the Nazarene in Roswell, New Mexico.  

I've watched as Larry has taken his calling to the ministry from this first days of experiencing the call to the full-blown blossom of having an active and effective ministry as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is my great pleasure to have Larry speak to us today.)

When I was about five years old, my big brother took me out one afternoon to teach me how to ride a bicycle.  I remember that he taught me all about balance and how the work the pedals.  He even taught me how to steer.  I think, however, that I was not listening when he taught me how to use the brake.

He asked me if I was ready, and I said that I was, so I mounted the bicycle and he took his position behind and gave me a great push.  I traveled free for several hundred feet before I began to veer toward an empty lot.  I remember seeing the lot and noticing that it was full of cactus bushes.  That’s when I realized that I did not know how to stop the bike.  The next moment, I slammed right into the middle of a cactus bush—bike going one direction and body going another.

In an instant, my brother was there to extract me from the sticky mess I had gotten into.  He shepherded me and the bent bicycle back home where he spent the next several minutes removing cactus spines from the body of a whimpering five year old with a pair of pliers.

While I cried and moaned and begged that he would stop because he was hurting me, he held me tightly in his arms and patiently removed the spines one by one until all the ones he could see were removed.  Then, when I thought I could escape the pain, he ran his hands over my skin, lifted my shirt and inspected my chest and my back, and carefully examined every inch of my body to make sure that the tiniest sticker was removed, knowing that it would become infected if he did not get everything.  Finally finished, he dried my tears and declared that we would try again tomorrow. 

Now that I am an adult myself, I find that I still get myself into sticky situations because I am not listening closely to God or because I head off in reckless abandon at full speed without really knowing how to slow down.

When I crash, God treats me like my brother did.  Rather than scolding me for my inattention, He plucks me out of the thorny situation I find myself in and begins the process of healing.  Sometimes, I do not like the way that He inspects me and picks at me.  I would rather He just leave me alone in my misery.  So, I squirm and complain and cry out.  Still, God holds me close in His arms and gently plucks out the things in my life that are causing me pain and sorrow one by one. 

When I think He has it all, He presses His gaze even closer, plucking out the tiny fragments of sorrow and disappointment until everything that might fester and infect is removed.  Then, he bathes me with His love and anoints me with His Spirit and completely heals me from the mess I got myself into.  He smiles in love, dries my tears, and says, “Let’s try again tomorrow,” and promises to be with me until I get it right.  Then, we will ride together and experience places that I have not yet imagined existed.

 Dr. Larry Lacher
Roswell First Church of the Nazarene

Saturday, November 7, 2015

What Does God Have to Offer

Now that is an intriguing question, isn’t it?  Have you ever wondered what God could possibly have to offer to you?  I mean, your life is going well, isn’t it?  No worries, no hassles, no major upsets, all your bills are paid, all your relationships are in order, you have a sense of direction for your life and plans.

And for those of us who live in the real world, we can’t check off many if any items on the above list, can we?

So, the question still remains – what does God have to offer?

(Because of copyright laws, I can only give you the link to each verse.  Please click on the red links and you will be taken to an on-line Bible.  Choose the topics that more closely meet your needs and concerns.)

Do you have stuff on your mind?  Are you plagued with worry, concern for your future or some major issue you face?  Check this out.

Do you feel lost, without hope?  Do you feel God has abandoned you? Read this. Luke 19:10

Are you in need of salvation?  Do you feel you need to be cleansed of your past life?  Read this.

Do you need a word of hope that God really does love the likes of you and me?  Read this. 

And often we wonder if God has any kind of plan for our lives, or are we left to figure things out on our own.  Read this:  Jeremiah 29:11

And so we can see, God has a lot to offer.  The important thing is that we reach, ask for help, and trust that He offers the help as found in these verses.

I will pray for you.

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