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April 16, 2018

Finishing Faith

Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.”

The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it would obey you!”

Luke 17:5-6 (NLT)

Thomas: “Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails, and place my fingers [there] and my hand into His side, I will never believe…”

Lord: “He said to Thomas “Put your finger here, and see my hands and put out your hand and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

John 20:25-27 (ESV)

From that first passage above and that moment with his twelve Apostles, we see that the Lord asked them, as He asks us, to have faith.

Faith in His promises.

Faith in everything He says and does.

Faith that He has a plan and purpose for your life and mine.

Faith in Him.

Faith in all of that, at all times—even when we don’t know how.

He asks us to believe without doubting, as written in James 1:6. To ask, to seek until we find, to knock because the door will be opened, as recorded in Matthew 7:7-8. To pray without ceasing, written in I Thessalonians 5:16. Simply believing that what we ask for, seek, knock and pray for—He will do something about.

But He also knows that we sometimes have a hard time believing. Having faith. Trying to wrap our limited, finite brains around what our infinite all-knowing, all-powerful God says and does. Sometimes like Thomas, we need to see it to believe it, and can’t seem to believe it on faith alone. (more…)

Posted by: Scott Whitaker at 6:00 am
Filed under: Thoughts

April 9, 2018

Easter—A Week Later

Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”

Luke 24: 1-6 (ESV)

She had seen Him heal Lepers, and eat with the prostitutes and set them on a path to a new life. She had watched as He forgave the hated tax collectors and turned them to a better life. She had seen Him feed the 5,000 and bring Lazarus back from the grave.

Time after time Mary had seen Him perform miracle after miracle, always doing what He said He would do. And yet she stands there that morning frozen in fear, looking for the living among the dead, looking for her Christ—in a tomb. And the angels ask the obvious question to them: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” The Christ who told her days earlier that He would rise again in three days, has risen. (more…)

Posted by: Scott Whitaker at 6:00 am
Filed under: Thoughts

April 2, 2018

Easter Truth, Softball Truth—Freedom

Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus…

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!”

John 20: 13-16 (NIV)

If you hold onto my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8: 31-32 (NIV)

If she wasn’t the fastest runner on her team I’d be surprised. She’s also an extraordinary athlete, with innate skills, aptitude, strength and flexibility to be able to perform at remarkable levels within a short period.

My elder Granddaughter Hannah is also a truth-teller.

It was probably her speed and trying to hit the corner of the bag just right, to get a good push-off to the next base, which caused the confluence of these traits to bubble up into a crisis of conscience a few years ago during her softball game in Tampa. Attempting to score on another teammate’s hit, Hannah rounded third heading for home and eventually scored. The umpire and the other team’s third-baseman both said she touched third base.

But she knew differently. And so she went to her “safe-and-wise-place” for help. She knew that then and there, the whole matter would be made right.

She told her Daddy that even though the others, including the umpires, had said she touched third base, she knew she hadn’t. Between gentle sobs causing tears to roll down her cheeks she told her Daddy what had happened and asked him, “Who should I tell?”

She wanted to make sure the truth prevailed. She hadn’t touched third. She felt locked in a “lie” and wanted to be free. (more…)

Posted by: Scott Whitaker at 6:00 am
Filed under: Thoughts

March 26, 2018

Let the Celebration Begin

Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”…

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!”

John 20: 11-18 (NIV)

Hope would be an appropriate attitude as we begin to look ahead this week toward the events which will eventually lead to and surround the celebration of our risen Christ on Easter Sunday.

But I got an additional and unexpected boost of joy, when I learned that our two precious granddaughters would be staying with us for the evening and overnight. It was a surprise announcement in the midst of an otherwise normal day. Many of you understand how that works; the rest of you perhaps will one day.

Let the celebration begin.

It reminds me of a scene in a cemetery many years ago—the last place you would expect a celebration to occur. It’s recorded in the passage of Scripture above. Mary was there at the tomb early on Sunday morning looking for her Lord. She wanted to anoint His body with spices. But all she could remember was the cross.

The image of three days earlier is still seared in her memory. She could still hear the religious leaders screaming for His blood. She could see the Roman whip flying through the air and landing to rip still more skin off His already bloody back. She winces, remembering the thorns cutting His forehead, and she cries, remembering His lifeless body hanging on the cross. (more…)

Posted by: Scott Whitaker at 6:00 am
Filed under: Thoughts

March 19, 2018

Triumphal Love

Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided the property between them… [and] the younger son…set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living…

When he came to his senses, he said…I will…go back to my father and say…‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son…But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him…” Luke 15: 11-13, 17-20 (NIV)

It’s a long verse but a short story. I suspect that Jesus was smiling as He told it—knowing the punch line that was coming. You have to admit He really had a way with parables—our Jesus. A way to make a point with His tone, expression and words that would last longer than that younger son’s inheritance.

And the central moment of this parable is a theme that is woven throughout the Old and New Testaments—from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. Simply and clearly a poignant reminder of God’s continual presence in our lives and His never-ending love for us—no matter what pigpens we find ourselves wallowing in.

Maybe we can’t identify with that young son. Maybe some of you have never been there. Maybe you’ve never felt as low as that young man, with the filth caked on his clothes and pig slop staining the edges of his lips betraying where he had eaten his last meal.

Maybe you can’t identify with that story. (more…)

Posted by: Scott Whitaker at 6:00 am
Filed under: Thoughts
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