Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bill of Rights Day 2012

On Dec. 15, 221 years ago, the First Ten Amendments to the United States Constitution was ratified. The First Amendment, is the first of ten  known as the Bill of Rights, guarantees our right to worship, speak, petition the government and assemble. 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.[56]
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
  • Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Celebrate and protect your rights as Americans on this Bill of Rights Day.

Friday, December 14, 2012


We are all feeling gutted tonight after the terrible news of school children being shot. What manner of person does that sort of thing? So many questions fill our minds as our hearts ache for the parents of those dead children.

Our country has endured so many of these senseless killings over the last decade and before then. Some want stronger gun control laws and perhaps that is needed as anybody can purchase a gun either through a store or on the black market. There are more guns than people. Even though more control makes sense I am not sure it would work.

Those who do such a heinous killing have lost their conscious moral center and respect for society. If they did not have guns they would use knives or bows and arrows so the question is how do we deal with our pain and grief?

I am praying for that small community in their grief and praying for our country. How do we reach out to those so lost that they kill others and keep them for acting on their intent? Every one pray!

Happy Birthday Jesus

Happy Birthday Jesus

“The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will come to all people.’” Luke 3:10

This good news of great joy was an announcement for the birth of a child. When a new child come into the world, the parents and family send out birth announcements that express their joy at the birth of the baby. The card usually says, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” We are excited about the hope for new life that has come among us. Even people who are not members of the family get caught up in this excitement when that joy is expressed.

As Christians, we celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ every year. It’s a strange thing, but we are not putting 2,012 candles on the birthday cake. We are however sending out birth announcements as though the birth was a recent event. Plays are staged to recount the story of the birth. Choirs sing cantata’s and lots of special music. We have parties to celebrate the good news.

We do all these things and more because in a real sense Christ is still being born into the world in 2012 AD. The birth of this child continues to bring good news of great joy for all people. Each time someone hears the gospel and accepts Christ as savior, a new birth occurs. A new life begins as Christ takes control, cleanses us of sin and gives us the spirit to live for Him. No wonder we celebrate this one birth in this way every year. Jesus was born to us and in each one of us.

Consider your own experience of Christ being born in you and express your joy in the new birth that is good news of great joy for all people. Express your joy that God loves you so much that He sent us a child, His Son.

            “For unto you is born this day a savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 3:11

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

About John The Baptist

Growing up I remember bible stories about John the Baptist as a crazy Jewish wild man wandering in the desert. So strange was this preacher dressed in camel hair cinched with a leather belt eating locust and honey. So many people came to hear him preach and I often wondered why they would do that. Well we have a lot of crazy preacher that people flock to today so we have not changed all that much.

As a student of bible history I later discovered the real reason that so many people, including the elite, went out to the Jordan to hear John preach and be baptized. It was unusual for ordinary people to be baptized as the ceremony was mostly for the ritual cleansing of the priest and for converts to Judaism. Here was John baptizing lots of people every day and not for ritual cleansing but for forgiveness of sins.  

The Gospel According to Luke gives us some clues in the first chapter when we are introduced to the father of John the Baptist who was Zechariah a Priest who worked in the Temple. His wife Elizabeth is also a descendant of the tribe of Aaron the first high priest of Israel. That by itself makes John the Baptist a priest of Israel by birth so he was not just any wild man preaching in the desert.

As if that is not enough Luke’s description of what Zechariah was doing is most intriguing for the student of bible history who pays close attention. It puts Zechariah in the sanctuary of the Lord alone while all the others are out side. You may read that as the Holy of Holies where he offers an incense offering. WE note that because of his encounter with the angel his stay in the Holy of Holies was a lot longer than usual and the other priest outside were wondering what was going on.   They could not go in to find out because only the High Priest was allowed in there.

This tells us that John was the son of a high priest and would have been inline to become a high priest him self. Truly he was no ordinary man preaching to the people.  John likely spent time as a priest serving in the temple so one can imagine the talk of the people when the son of a former high priest shucks his priestly garb and puts on camel hair to go preach in the wilderness. No wonder they went out to hear him and be baptized.

On a side note we also learn that Mary the mother of Jesus was relative of Elizabeth perhaps a second cousin so that she also was of the house of Aaron and Jesus would be too.  Very interesting!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Anger Management

I learned a hard lesson as a young man in Texas. When I get angry enough to be out of control I lash out with abandon and create havoc in the world around me. This havoc would often come back to haunt me and cause me grief. I decided that my anger needed to be managed.

This was before the days that I knew of “Anger Management Seminars” so I was left to fend for myself in finding a solution to my fits of peak. My best example was my mother who had plenty to be angry about but always seemed calm. I sought her advice and she said to pray about it. Well that was her answer for everything as she is a lady of great faith. At that time prayer did not come easy for me because even though I could say the words I didn’t have a feeling for it and it was just words.

Then I experienced a spiritual awaking and found the power of a daily prayer life. I read in Daniel 6:10 that Daniel prayed three times as day to put himself in the presence of God. When you put yourself in the presence of God you are doing more than just saying words. Now I am having a conversation and it puts my anger at others in perspective. Prayer becomes my source for patience, gentleness, self control, and a sense of power over my emotions.

Now havoc no long rules and I am at peace even during the storms around me caused by other people’s anger. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

More Jesus Less Santa

There is an old story about a young woman who greeted her pastor at the door following the worship service at Christmas Eve. Beaming with enthusiasm she said, “Oh Pastor, everything was just so wonderful. I have a real feeling of Christmas. You know just like in the mall.” When you ask most school children what Christmas means to them the resounding answer is, “Getting presents from Santa Claus.”

I am not calling for a ban on Santa or taking all the fun out of Christmas as I can remember my childhood and the excitement of Christmas morning. I do want us to give more focus on God’s great Gift to all of us in sending Jesus to be our savior. I want our children to remember that it is the birthday of Jesus that we are celebrating. I am very concerned that the American, I would even say the world’s celebration of Christmas is out of balance with the jolly old elf of myth taking over. Santa with his bag of toys has become more important than the infant Jesus in the manger. The legend of Santa grew out of a real person, Nicholas who was bishop of Myra in what is now Turkey. He gave special anonymous gifts to people in celebration of the birth of Jesus and the church later declared him a saint for his goodness. Only in America could Saint Nicholas be transformed into an elf who lives at the North Pole and rides a sleigh pulled by reindeer.

I know that preachers all over the country remind the church of this issue every year, but it is a very necessary reminder. Keeping Christmas “CHRIST” centered is our job. The commercial interest spends millions of dollars each year to focus our attention on spending money. The church must speak out for Jesus with a loud voice. Christian parents must help their children understand the real meaning of the birth of Jesus the Christ. So that when someone ask them the question, “What is Christmas?” they can quickly answer, “Jesus’ birthday!”