Tuesday, December 27, 2011


As we come to the close of 2011, many people are concerned with what will happen during 2012. Each new year brings such thoughts and concerns, but 2012 appears to be especially important, almost pivotal. World economies, American politics and even doomsday predictions may make us pause to think, and hopefully pray about, what this New Year will bring.

Michael W. Smith and Wayne Kirkpatrick have written a lovely Christmas song, "All is Well." Some of its words are:

"All is well, all is well, Lift up your voice and sing.
Born now is Emmanuel, Born is our Lord and Savior.
Sing Alleluia, sing Alleluia, all is well."

To hear the words of this song at Christmas time is comforting. But some people are unable to absorb the message because their lives are in such turmoil. They've experienced the loss of a loved one, or persistent unemployment, or a reversal in life, or a serious illness or personal depression that will not go away. Their hearts cry out, "All is NOT well, at least not for ME."

This is when a simple understanding the birth of our Savior Jesus can bring light into the midst of our darkness. Jesus of Nazareth was born. He died for our sins and rose again so that we might rise. Despite our complex circumstances, all IS well because Jesus is our Savior and He is with us. We are not alone in our pain or trouble. Christ is here, even now on this mixed-up, confusing earth, beside us as our Friend.

Jesus promises never to leave us (see Hebrews 13:5). He promises that His grace will be sufficient for us (see Philippians 4:19), and He assures us we receive the gift of eternal life by faith in Him when our suffering of life is over (see John 10:27-28).

As you review 2011 and look forward to 2012, remember God's promises and blessings. Perhaps you can agree with the poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who wrote:


Cindy Hess Karper, a writer for OUR DAILY BREAD (available free at: http://rbc.org) gave me the idea for some of the thoughts I have shared with you today. Most of my WEEKLY MESSAGEs are taken from an idea, a story or an event that lends itself to a message for that week. 2012 begins my sixteenth year writing WEEKLY MESSAGE, and I am privileged to continue this ministry for the several thousand people of many nations who receive it each week.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, because Jesus is with us in 2012, ALL IS WELL!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I am always amazed at the generosity of American people most any time there is a need, and especially at Christmas. The church, non-profit organizations, and individuals give us so many opportunities to give. Every year millions of dollars in gifts passes hands, and boxes of food and decorated Christmas gifts go to people in need of all ages. Even the media features story after story about young and old sharing with others. All this makes Christmas the most heart-warming time of the year.

Giving and sharing are good anytime, but especially now. I saw this poem in the paper and wanted to share it with you. It's about some people who are… Well, you read it and decide what it's about. This little poem has quite a strong message.

"THE COLD WITHIN" (by James Patrick Kinne)
Six humans trapped by happenstance In dark and bitter cold.
Each possessed a stick of wood, Or so the story's told.

Their dying fire in need of logs, But the first one held hers back,
For, of the faces around the fire, She noticed one was black.

The next one looked across the way; Saw one not of his church,
And could not bring himself to give The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes; He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought Of wealth he had in store,
And keeping all that he had earned From the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black man's face bespoke revenge As the fire passed from his sight,
For he saw in his stick of wood A chance to spite the white.

And the last man of this forlorn group Did nought except for gain;
Giving just to those who gave Was how he played the game.

Their sticks held tight in death's stilled hands Was proof enough of sin;
They did not die from cold without -- They died from cold within.

Because God gave us His only Son, Christians are the most generous of all. They understand the coldness of sin and the warmth of their Savior dwelling in their hearts. God grant this Christmas that everyone, whether young or old, families or single people, will have all that they need, including the gift of the Christ child of Bethlehem.

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given." (Isalah 9:6)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I have often told people, "God doesn't care two hoots about my golf game." I've usually said that right after making a shot that causes a fellow player to comment, "You must have Someone Up There who likes you." People like to say that to pastors, even retired ones. So I usually respond, "Naw, God doesn't care two hoots about my golf game." And the way I usually play golf, I'm convinced He doesn't.

But this fall I've added, "or pro football." And yet after last Sunday and watching the Denver Broncos pull out another come-from-behind win, winning the 7th of their last 8 games, I am wondering whether or not that's correct. Maybe God does care about pro football and He is telling us something through it this season.

Now, hopefully you won't skip the rest of this WEEKLY MESSAGE, viewing it as just another article on a certain pro quarterback who has received more publicity than he probably deserves. But I would like to examine for a moment whether or not there is anything too small for God to be concerned with.

Articles on this person usually center on whether or not he should be so public and vocal about his faith. I think what he does - taking a knee after a touchdown or pointing to the sky - makes a lot of people uneasy. Most fans would rather just watch the game and then, 1) rehash it to show their knowledge of players and teams, or 2) give their most recent prognostication or the season's outcome, or 3) philosophize on pro football in general, especially on how it used to be, or how they'd fix it if given the chance.

But not some oddball (lucky?) quarterback giving God thanks! Can't a person have just one area of life that avoids God talk? Yes, we all know of a team that "really believed" and somehow lived the dream of the "impossible season." But can't we just leave God out of football? (God is surely not ignored in sports bars - you hear His name mentioned there quite often)

Leave God out of football? Go ahead and do it - you have my blessing. But there is still a part of me that asks, "If we really believe God is almighty and cares about us, is there anything too small or insignificant for Him not to be concerned with?" If He can number the hairs on head or keep track of those irritating dirty little sparrows, might He not also hear us and our prayers, even the ones about the outcome of a football game?

This young quarterback is just living his faith, doing what he's been doing since he was a child and gave his life to Jesus. Somewhere in life he promised to vocally thank Jesus whenever something good happens, and he's kept his promise. Like St. Paul says, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Maybe the armchair quarterbacks and those all-knowing sports pundits out there should chill out and let him play his game.

If God does care about every aspect of our life, maybe now's the time to thank Him for making a couple of teams really interesting to watch. By the way, Packer's quarterback Aaron Rogers is also a fine Christian, a man who has also dedicated his life to Jesus Christ. And so far his Green Bay team is undefeated, with a string of wins over two seasons longer than any team in NFL history. Some guys are just less vocal about their faith. I wonder how many other Christian athletes there are?

Maybe God really does care about my golf game - maybe just one hoot?

Monday, December 5, 2011


Every year at this time, I have urged readers to make a special Christmas gift to a charity, and this year the one I have chosen is, "OUR FAMILY IN AFRICA." About a year ago, our son and his wife blessed us with an adopted African granddaughter from the DRC, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Chuck and Debbie applied to an orphanage there and Debbie returned with Anaya, now a smiling, energetic and growing sweet girl who will already be two years old in February.

Carol and I decided this year to forego giving adult Christmas gifts and are making ongoing contributions to "OUR FAMILY IN AFRICA," a group that is starting a new orphanage in Kinshasa, the DRC capital. With five million orphans in the DRC, and with 10,000 of them roaming the streets of Kinshasa, orphanages in DRC are badly needed.

The DRC has been at war nearly 15 years, resulting in a high infant mortality rate due to disease, abuse and rape. Existing orphanages there are overwhelmed. While we can't help them all, we have decided we can help some. Furthermore, adoptions from DRC have been nearly closed due to government problems there.

OFA is a group of American adoptive parents working through the United Methodist Church to refurbish an abandoned orphanage in Kinshasa. Debbie and Chuck are supporting OFA, and on their behalf, we are seeking the support of others for this newest Kinshasa orphanage.

The OFA website is: http://www.ourfamilyadoptions.org/. It will give accurate information, as well as buttons to other pages of information, including donations. Please note on your check or PayPal information that your gift is for the "Kinshasa Orphanage Project."

Carol and I are giving an initial gift plus a monthly gift through our credit card. We invite you to do the same, if not to OFA, then to another worthy orphanage charity. There are many, and all are in great need of our gifts.

John 1:12 says, "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." Jesus came into the world that also had a high infant mortality rate. But through the loving care of his birth mother Mary and his adoptive father Joseph, He grew to be our Lord and Savior. When adoption becomes difficult, good orphanages are great blessings to the world and the Church.

May our Lord Jesus move you to share of your gifts this Christmas with orphaned children in need.