“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:25-26)
Today millions of believers are observing Ash Wednesday while hundreds of millions of believers and unbelievers alike are celebrating Saint Valentine’s Day. What do Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day have in common? Certainly this: they both deal with the deep longings of our hearts to love and be loved, to have a significant relationship with someone who cares for and accepts us forever, without condition. The two events are not that different, nor are their symbols: paper fades, flowers wither, sweets are consumed, dinners are digested, and all our endeavors to love and be loved ultimately become ashes and dust. Praise be to God that there is a love in the universe undiminished by time—the love of God that is ours in Christ—and in that love we are able to love each other for eternity. Our flesh and our hearts will ultimately fail, but God is the strength of our hearts and our portion forever.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for strengthening our hearts through Your eternal and unconditional love. Enable us to love each other as You love us: sacrificially, unconditionally, eternally, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
WHO SAYS ROMANCE IS DEAD?
A man asked whether his friend had bought his wife anything for Valentine's Day.
“Yes, of course” came the reply, “I've bought her a belt and a bag.”
The first man was impressed, not thinking his friend to be very considerate.
“That was very kind of you,” he responded, “I hope she appreciates the thought.”
The man smiled as he replied, “So do I, and I hope the vacuum cleaner will work better.”
After waking up from an afternoon nap, a young woman told her husband,
"I dreamed that you gave me a pearl necklace for Valentine's Day. What do you think it means?"
His eyes lit up, as he had been at a loss for a Valentine’s gift. "You'll know tonight." he said.
That evening, the man came home with a small wrapped package and gave it to his wife.
Delighted, she opened it—to find a book entitled "The Meaning of Dreams."
A young man walks into a post office one to see a middle-aged, balding man at the counter.
He sees the man methodically placing "Love" stamps on bright red envelopes covered with hearts.
The older man then takes out a bottle and sprays perfume all over the many envelopes.
His curiosity getting the better of him, the young man can’t resist asking what the other is doing.
The older man says "I'm sending out 1,000 Valentine cards signed, 'Guess who?'"
"Why would you do that?" asks the younger man.
The older man replies, "I'm a divorce lawyer.”
The love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit preserve you in Christ Jesus!
“All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn—for he has done it.” (Psalm 22:27-31)
Psalm 22 begins as a startlingly specific depiction of Christ’s sufferings, written a thousand years before Jesus was born, yet it ends with a description of…us! You and I are among those from every nation on earth who remember the LORD our Creator because of Christ our Redeemer. God’s righteousness has been proclaimed to us, and we are the latest link in the chain of saints serving Him and proclaiming Him to the next generation. As we reach out to new nations and generations amidst an ever-changing cultural climate, it is reassuring to remind ourselves that we are simply turning people back to what all our human ancestors once knew: that “dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.”
“Heavenly Father, thank You for bringing us to believe in Your rule and salvation. Give us confident faith to introduce new nations and generations to You, that they may know and turn to You, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
ABSENT MINDED—actual excuse notes written to a school principal:
“My son is under a doctor’s care and should not take PE today. Please execute him.”
“Please excuse Madison for being absent. She was sick and I had her shot.”
“Dear school—please excuse John for being absent on Jan. 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 & 33.”
“Please excuse Tom for being absent yesterday. He had diarrhea, and his boots leaked.”
“Please excuse Jason for being. It was his father’s fault.”
“Please excuse Katy for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it Monday, we thought it was Sunday.”
“Please excuse my son’s tardiness. I forgot to wake him up and did not find him until I started to make the beds.”
“Maryann was absent Dec. 11 to 16 because she had a fever, sore throat, headache, and upset stomach. Her sister was also sick with fever and sore throat. Her brother had a low-grade fever and ached all over. I wasn’t the best either—sore throat and fever. There must be a flu going around. Her father even got hot last night.”
The LORD protect you from all ills this week,
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
We should not be surprised by trouble; Jesus predicted it, particularly for His followers. Yet He also gave us the resources to endure trouble, and to help others endure it. We have His promises in writing, in water, in bread and in wine. We have His Spirit poured out to be our Comforter, Counselor, and Commander. We have His invitation to cast all our anxieties on Him, because we know He cares for us. And we have a mission: to bring His peace to the hearts of others, when they too are troubled.
“Heavenly Father, send Your Spirit to be our Comforter amid the world’s pain, our Counselor when we are perplexed, and our Commander when we can have the opportunity to bring peace to others, in Jesus, amen.”
A GIFT FOR WORDS…
The pastor of a church enjoyed a drink now and then, but his passion was for peach brandy.
One of his congregants blended spirits as a hobby and would make him a bottle each Christmas.
One year just before Christmas the minister went to visit his friend hoping for his usual present.
He was not disappointed, but his friend told him that he had to thank him for the peach brandy from the pulpit.
In his haste to complete Christmas preparations, the minister hurriedly agreed and left.
The next Sunday the minister suddenly remembered that he had to make the public announcement.
He then realized it would sound bad to announce that he was being supplied alcohol from a member of the church.
Meanwhile, his friend sat in the church with a grin on his face, waiting to see the minister's embarrassment.
The minister climbed into the pulpit and said, "Before we begin, I have an announcement.”
“I would very much like to thank my friend, Joe, for his kind gift of peaches ...
…and for the spirit in which they were given!"
The Holy Spirit be with you all,
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:4-9)
We don’t actually know the day on which Jesus was born. It probably was not “in the deep mid-winter,” as the carol puts it. Still, it makes sense to celebrate the coming of Christ near the winter solstice, when we could imagine the entire world dying, but then the days start growing longer again. Scripture says that in Jesus God was giving life to us—spiritual, eternal life—as a free gift, ours for the taking. We could no more negotiate our reconciliation with God than we could talk the earth into tilting for us to bring back summer. But for those who believe, the entire order of the universe was tilted in our favor by the gift of God’s Son, who became one of us so that we could become one with Him.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of Jesus, Your Son born to live, die, and rise from death for our reconciliation. Give us faith to endure and enjoy the salvation of Christ in this season that bears His name! In Christ Jesus, amen.”
THE NICK OF TIME
It was coming up to Christmas as the judge addressed the defendant.
"Now then, tell me, what is the charge against you?"
"I was caught doing my Christmas shopping very early." replied the man in the dock.
"That doesn't seem like an offence to me. What do you mean by 'very early?
"Well, your Honor." said the defendant, "It was before the shop was open."
A woman told her friend: "At Christmas, I had a visitor!
It was a jolly, bearded fellow with a big bag over his shoulder."
"You mean Santa Claus came to see you in person?"
"No," she replied. "My son came home from college with his dirty laundry."
The Lord bless your celebrations with His presence!
"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three.” (Luke 12:49-52)
‘Peace on Earth; Good Will to All.’ It’s the perfect holiday slogan: vague enough to avoid offending anyone and recently made gender neutral! Except that it’s not what Jesus came to bring. What the angels actually said was ‘peace on earth to men who have God’s good will,’ referring not to a lack of conflict in the world, but to an inner confidence in the hearts of all who trust that God will redeem His people and remake the world through the Savior, Jesus. That’s why, until recently, believers haven’t spent the days leading to Christmas getting nostalgic for idyllic years past, dreaming happy dreams of future possessions, or wishing wistfully that people could just get along. Instead, Christians observed Advent—a penitential season remembering why Jesus came: because our race has a long history of idolatry and conflict confirming our need for a Savior. Jesus Himself looked forward to kindling the final judgment because only then will we have worldwide peace and end the division of families over the questions posed by Christmas: who was Jesus, really, and why did He come?
“Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to suffer hell for us, so that we can experience heaven with Him. Kindle our hearts in this season with the inner peace that comes through confidence in You, and enable us to live thoughtful and hopeful lives, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
Under the same management for 2000 years!
Cremation is your last chance for a smoking hot body!
Adam & Eve: the first to not read the Apple terms & conditions
Satan called—he wants his weather back!
Whoever stole our AC units keep one: it is hot where you are going!
With all this rain we need an ark. Fear not! (Wait for it…) We Noah guy!
If you are praying for snow please stop
Forgive your enemies—it messes with their heads
Love is grand; divorce is twenty grand
Be the kind of person your pet thinks you are
Tweet others as you would like to be tweeted
Honk if you love Jesus! Text while driving if you want to meet Him!
‘Highway to Hell’ and ‘Stairway to Heaven’ say a lot about anticipated traffic
Catch-up with Jesus, lettuce praise and relish Him, ‘cuz He loves me from my head to-ma-toes!
The Lord lead you to praise Him this week!
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:6-9)
Giving thanks is the perfect antidote to the pervasive distress in our world. When we focus on what we want but don’t have (as in shopping lists) or on what we have but don’t want (as in added pounds) we only add to our stress. But when we focus on the freedom from want that we have because of God’s amazing grace and the future already ours because of Christ’s sacrifice for us, we discover that we are wealthy beyond hope and loved beyond reason. What a blessing to live in a country with an official holiday dedicated to giving God thanks for such astounding blessings! I hope that you take full advantage of the gift you have been given in this holiday to praise God for His gifts. I guarantee that if you do, you will enjoy them more—and others will enjoy you more!
“Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing us with such a prosperous, peaceful, and free nation. Thank you for the opportunity we have to reflect on our blessings this weekend. Be present in all our gatherings, so that we might experience the grace You have so generously poured out on us and spread Your peace in a distressed world, through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.”
HORN OF PLENTY
A music student brought his French horn to an instrument shop for repair.
He complained that the instrument “felt stuffy” and he couldn’t blow air through it.
The technician knew it was not unusual to find partial blockages in brass instruments.
However, when the he tested the instrument, the horn was completely blocked.
After much probing and prodding, a small tangerine dropped out of the bell.
“Oh,” said the musician when he was handed the fruit.
Seeing the bewildered look on the technician’s face, he explained,
“My mom used the horn for a cornucopia in a Thanksgiving centerpiece.”
Records indicate the first Thanksgiving meal more likely included duck or goose than turkey.
A wild turkey, when scared, can run 20 mph--which may be the reason why.
If there were turkey, it was probably cooked by men, since only 5 women had survived the prior winter.
Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national symbol, claiming eagles had bad moral character.
After a stroll on the moon, the first meal Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin enjoyed was roast turkey.
The Lord bless your thanksgiving this week!
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8:28 NIV)
It’s not all good. Although God made everything all good, His good gift of free will allowed our ancestors to choose what was not all good, the knowledge of good and evil, from which come diseases, disasters, death, cruelty, wickedness, and lost innocence: an inherited inability to be ‘all good.’ Yet Paul reassures us that God is in the redemption business: for those who love Him and are called to His purposes, God is able to bring good out of even the evils we experience, because He has redeemed us through the evil experienced by His Son, Jesus. Such is the comfort of the Christian faith, that God is all good, even when all else is not.
Heavenly Father, thank You for redeeming us and promising to redeem even the evils we experience, in Christ Jesus, amen.”
A visiting pastor was attending a men’s breakfast in Mississippi farm country.
He asked one of the impressive older farmers to say grace that morning.
After all were seated, the older farmer began------“Lord, I hate buttermilk.”
The Pastor opened one eye and wondered to himself where this was going.
Then the farmer loudly proclaimed, “Lord, I hate lard.”
Now the Pastor was worried, but without missing a beat, the farmer prayed on,
“And Lord, you know I don’t care much for raw white flour.”
Just as the Pastor was ready to stand and stop everything, the farmer continued,
“But Lord, when you mix ‘em all together and bake ‘em up, I do love fresh biscuits.
So, Lord, when things come up we don’t like, when life gets hard,
when we just don’t understand what you are sayin' to us,
we just need to relax and wait ‘till You are done mixin’,
and probably it will be somethin' even better than biscuits. Amen."
The Lord grant you patience this week!
"If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:6-9)
Jesus did not die for good people. In fact, those who consider themselves to be good tend to miss the point of His suffering and reject His salvation. No, Jesus died for honest people—those who recognize that their instinctive ways of thinking, speaking, and acting disqualify them from fellowship with God, and who therefore rely on Jesus’ sacrifice to pay for their sins and provide reconciliation with the Father. Because He is faithful and just, God forgives the sins of those who confess them; and because they are grateful, those who are forgiven are in fellowship with each other and committed to following the example of Christ. They increasingly walk in the light of His goodness, not the dark of deceit.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us as we are, forgiving the sins we confess, and empowering us to walk in Your light. Enable us to always be honest about our sins and to turn back to You quickly, in Jesus, amen."
NEVER LIE TO YOUR MOTHER
A mother is invited to dinner with her son and his female roommate.
Watching the two interact, she wonders if they are more than roommates.
Reading his mom’s thoughts, the son pre-emptively volunteers,
“I know what you must be thinking, but I assure you, we are just roommates.”
A week later, his roommate tells him, “I can’t find the silver serving plate.”
“It’s been missing since your mom ate with us. You don't think she took it, do you?”
He says, “Well, I doubt it, but I'll email her, just to be sure.”
He sits down and writes: “Dear Mom: My roommate and I are missing a silver plate.
I am not saying you took it, but it has been missing ever since you were here for dinner.
If you happen to know where it is, please let me know. Love, your son.”
Several hours later, he receives a reply: “Dear Son: I am surprised your plate is missing.
I am not saying your roommate sleeps with you, but if she were sleeping in her bed,
she would have found the silver plate by now, under her pillow. Love, Mom.”
The LORD give you the honesty to seek and find His forgiveness! In Jesus,
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:4-9)
Some days I get it. The crushing combination of an aching body, longing heart, restless intellect, and shame filled soul overwhelm my vain self-reliance to remind me just how desperately I need God’s grace, and just how blessed I am by the incomparable love of God poured out on the cross for my redemption in Jesus. If we feel like misfits in this world, it is because we have been raised with Christ and no longer truly belong here. If we are ambivalent about the future, it is because only our death or Christ’s return can completely rid us of all failures and fears. If we are unsure how to respond to the challenges of life, it is because we do not yet see the same grace that saved us in the past as also preparing good works for us to discover and enjoy in the future.
Yet we always get it. Even when we are discouraged, distracted, deceived, or disgusted with ourselves—especially then—God’s Word assures us of His great love for us, enacted in the reckless abandon of His Son, and enables us to believe that He will sustain us through His Spirit. The remarkable story of the Reformation, sparked 500 years ago this week, is also our story. Like Martin Luther, we are continually rediscovering God’s grace, and continually called to step and speak out in faith, confident that He who called us is faithful.
“Heavenly Father, strengthen our hearts to grasp Your grace, especially when we feel undeserving or overwhelmed. Remind us of Your continuing love and purpose for us; sustain us in all our struggles until we stand in Your presence, beloved in Christ Jesus, amen.”
THE REFORMATION POLKA by Robert Gebel
(To the tune of "Supercalifragilistic-expialidocious")
When I was just ein junger Mann I studied canon law;
While Erfurt was a challenge, it was just to please my Pa.
Then came the storm, the lightning struck, I called upon Saint Anne,
I shaved my head; I took my vows, an Augustinian!
Chorus: Oh, papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!
When Tetzel came near Wittenberg, St. Peter's profits soared,
I wrote a little notice for the All Saints' Bull'tin board:
"You cannot purchase merits, for we're justified by grace!
Here's 95 more reasons, Brother Tetzel, in your face!" (chorus)
They loved my tracts, adored my wit, all were exempleror;
The Pope, however, hauled me up before the Emperor.
"Are these your books? Do you recant?" King Charles did demand,
"I will not change my Diet, Sir, God help me; here I stand!" (chorus)
Duke Frederick took the Wise approach, responding to my words,
By knighting "George" as hostage in the Kingdom of the Birds
Use Brother Martin's model if the languages you seek,
Stay locked inside a castle with your Hebrew and your Greek! (chorus)
Let's raise our steins and Concord Books while gathered in this place,
And spread the word that 'catholic' is spelled with lower case;
The Word remains unfettered when the Spirit gets his chance,
So come on, Katy, drop your lute, and join us in our dance! (chorus)
(Don’t get it? Join one of our Reformation studies!)
The grace of God be with you! Joy in Jesus,
POST-IT FROM THE PASTOR
"The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:8-14)
Those who do not know the Scriptures well sometimes suggest that there are two Gods in the Bible: the angry, grouchy, war-mongering judge of the Old Testament (memorably depicted by Monty Python), and the friendly, meek, always-accepting buddy Jesus of the New Testament (often depicted in country music). The truth is that there is just one God, who disciplines His children as a loving and compassionate Father, who sacrificed Himself to rescue us as a human Son, and who continually calls us back into a right relationship with Him as the Holy Spirit. The more we read through and understand the entirety of Scripture, the more we recognize the continuity of God’s grace guiding our history.
“Heavenly Father, continue to remind us of Your patient compassion, shape us through Your loving grace, and enable us to represent You through both holiness and humble service, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
TEN THINGS YOU NEVER HEAR A REAL DAD SAY:
10. "Can you believe it? I’m lost! Looks like we’ll have to stop and ask for directions."
9. "Now that you’re 15, you’re ready for un-chaperoned car dates. Won’t that be fun?"
8. "I noticed that all your friends have a certain hostile attitude. I like that."
7. "Here’s my credit card; your friends are waiting at the mall. Go crazy!!!"
6. "Why play football, son? Isn’t figure skating good enough for you?"
5. "Your parents are going away for the weekend. You might want to throw a party."
4. "What’s with your car? Some doo-hickey? Tow it to a mechanic and pay what he asks."
3. "No son of mine is going without an earring. Quit belly-aching and let’s get you pierced."
2. "What do you want to get a job for? I make plenty of money for you to spend."
And the number one thing you’ll never hear a real dad say:
1. "I can’t wait until you grow up and get out on your own.”
The LORD watch over you this week!
As Pastor at Pilgrim, Kirk is fueled by a passion for God's Word and a lot of good coffee.