Wednesday, March 26, 2008


An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer of many years about his plans to quit building houses and enjoy his family and some free time. He would miss his check but they would get by. He just needed to retire. The contractor was sorry to see him go, for he had been a faithful worker many years. He asked him if he would build just one more house as a personal favor. The man said yes, but his heart was no longer in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship, used inferior materials and worked far too quickly. But after all, it was just last job and no one could fire him for bad work now.

When the house was finished, his employer inspected the house and then handed him the door keys.  "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you." The carpenter was shocked! If only he had known he was building his own home, he'd have done it all so differently. What a shame!

You and I build our lives one day at a time, often putting into it less than our best. Then with a shock we realize we have to live in the "house" we have built. And we cannot go back. We are the carpenters. With each nail we drive, each board we cut, and each wall we build, we are constructing the house we live in. Today's actions and decisions certainly affect our life tomorrow.

Give thanks to the Lord that He forgives us and gives us a second chance! If we had no living Lord of Easter, all our foolish decisions, rebellious actions and selfishness would collapse our life around us. Without our living Lord Jesus, our lives would be nothing but disaster. 

But with Him, we have hope for the future. Trusting in Jesus, we are assured of eternal life, despite how poorly we may have lived in the past. By faith in Jesus, even the most rickedy of lives can be salvaged and made strong. So, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Build your life wisely! 

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Soon Easter will be here, and there is a story that has been going around why this Easter occurs so early on our calendar. Easter has never been a fixed date, and here is the story why:

Easter is always the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after the Spring Equinox, which is March 20. This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew people used to identify passover, which is why it moves around on our Roman calendar.

This year is the earliest Easter any of us will ever see the rest of our lives. And only the most elderly of our population have ever seen it this early. The rest of us will never see it a day earlier. Amazing!

The next time Easter will be this early, March 23, will be 220 years from now in the year 2228, if the world lasts that long. The last time it was this early was 1913, so if you're 95 or older, you are the only one who was alive for that! The next time it will be a day earlier, March 22, will be 277 years from now, in the year 2285. The last time it was on March 22 was 1818. So, no one alive today has or will ever see it any earlier than this year. Amazing!

Yes, but not nearly as amazing as what happened that first Easter. A man arose from the dead! And not just any man, but Jesus of Nazareth, a man who changed the course of human history, who changed all humanity forever. His resurrection is proof He was more than a mere man - He was God in the flesh, God in human form, God bridging the gap between Himself and His creation, God restoring mankind to Himself. Amazing!

We can only understand this if we believe in sin and what it has done to our world. A majority of our world rejects the idea of sin, and yet our world is a mess because of sin. Nations fight, religions argue, people hate and children die, all because of sin. Disease destroys, relationships fail, people kill and the world is being used up because of sin. One day the world will end because of sin - that's how serious sin is.

And that's why Jesus gave His life - because of sin. He came to take on Himself the world's garbage of sin, and to die for sin in our place. And His resurrection is proof He is who He said He is, God's Son, our Savior. And all He asks is that we trust Him instead of ourselves. He doesn't ask our money or our life - just our trust, our faith.

Jesus lives, and that's why Easter is so - Amazing!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


In 1982, New Yorker Roberta Gaspari was served with divorce papers. No reasons were given, no calls were returned; her husband of ten years just disappeared, leaving her with two young sons and only her wits to provide for them. She felt crushed, but not for long. 

All she knew was to give violin lessons, but it soon was apparent that would not provide them a living. So she went to the East Harlem School District and offered to teach violin to students for no pay. If they were pleased, she said, they could offer her a staff position. It was a hard sell, but finally they gave her a semester trial period.

Within year, Roberta Gaspari had over a hundred violin students, there in the middle of the East Harlem slums. Her gentle yet firm attitude not only taught many young musicians, it changed many lives. She was offered a teaching position and her popular programs brought hundreds of children to her auditions each year. Some of her students were accepted into major music schools, including Julliard and Eastman. 

In 1993, she was shocked to learn her program was to be cut for lack of funds. With hundreds of students waiting to learn the violin, the school district had chosen not to fund her work. Ms. Gaspari felt crushed, but not for long. She offered to find funds to keep her program going, and school officials finally agreed but offered no assistance. With some parents she planned a benefit concert and all seemed to go well until one day a parent came with bad news, The hall they'd rented was condemned and couldn't be used, and the concert was only a month away! Again, Roberta Gaspari felt crushed, but not for long. 

Word of her plight came to another violinist who offered her the use of a hall for her concert, "But only," he said, "if I and some of my friends may play along." It turned out to be Carnegie Hall, and the man was Isaac Stern and his friends included Izaak Perlman, Arnold Steinhart and other violin virtuosos. The benefit concert was so well received that her East Harlem violin program was fully endowed and is still going today. Young lives are still being changed, and violin music is heard in the streets of East Harlem.  

Roberta Gaspari could have given up many times, but she did not. She often felt crushed, but not for long. The 1999 film, "Music of the Heart," details her story more fully.

As you and I are faced with obstacles on our journey, we can't avoid feeling crushed from time to time. We may feel like we're being pushed into the ditch on the road of life, but it's up to us if we are going to stay in the ditch or get back on the road.

Jesus has walked that road for you and has earned you forgiveness and a new start. God has a plan for us to be with Him forever by faith. The potholes or rough roads can either make us give up, or they can make us work harder and find newer ways to travel, ways that include Him at our sides.

Whatever happens, let Jesus be your travelling companion wherever you go.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


A recent monthly prayerbook had a message about being carefree.  "We all want to be carefree," it said. "Children expect to be carefree when school is out for summer vacation, adults expect to be carefree when they become empty nesters, and everyone looks forward to the carefree years of retirement."

North of Phoenix there is a Carefree, Arizona, and I'm sure the person who named it intended its name to convey a basic human wish to be that way if you live there. But of course, we can't escape the cares of life no matter how much time or money or wishes we have. Life will always toss its troubles at us, no matter what.

1 Peter 5:7 points us to the solution: "Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you."  Health cares, job cares, money, child or world cares - cast them all on Him, because He knows how to handle them. Some He will remove, others He will help us through, some may remain a long time but He will help us handle them. Whatever the case, Jesus is our heavenly care taker, if we will only let Him.

Recently I heard a man tell of how he struggled with the sudden death of his wife.  "I learned the meaning of those words in Psalm 23," he said, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." He continued, "The important word is 'through'. Some people get into the valley and stay there, not knowing how to get out. We need to remember Jesus is in the valley also, and He will help us get through it."

During Lent we remember Jesus went into the valley, and endured the pain, isolation, rejection and death we deserved. He went there so we wouldn't have to stay there. He didn't stay there either, but came out alive on the other side. Jesus is our great care taker, for He took away our sins. Now we all can be carefree in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is our risen Lord who loves us, no matter what!