AS HE SAID Matthew 28

Who can you trust?  Seems like few and far between anymore.  Growing up we respected police and firefighters, doctors and teachers, and pastors.  I called our elderly neighbors Mr., Mrs. or Miss.  Never by their first names.  If any complaints came to my parents about me, the griper was believed way before yours truly!

Remember when you shouldn’t trust anyone over 30?  Then those under 30!  That covers the gamut.  Leaves us with little authority to lean upon.  Few we can believe in.  Lion’s share come up short.  Except.

You know what I’m about to say.  Yes, Jesus!  After His crucifixion, women followers come to His tomb, expecting nothing less than one containing His lifeless body.  But instead, they encounter the unimaginable.  He’s gone.  An angel tells them not to be afraid.  Yeah, right!  Why not?  What’s happened?  Where is He?  God’s messenger says this–‘He is not here, for he has risen, as he said…’ (Matt. 28:6).

‘As he said…’  That’s it.  We can read Jesus’ promises and stories, His miraculous healings and right teaching, trusting them one and all.  It’s all there in your Bible.  Check it out!  The Old Testament points to the coming Messiah, with all fulfilled by Jesus Christ in the New.  ‘…as he said…’ –from start to finish.

What Jesus says we can trust.  And the only way to know Him better is to dig deeper into your Bible.  Without that, we’re left utterly vulnerable to any claptrap myth and baloney society doles out and bullies us with.  The more I study God’s Word, the more this world seems hopelessly off-base, off-kilter, off-the-wall, outlandish, hitting multiple sour notes all at the same time.  Well, you get the point!

So, take Jesus at His word.  Feast on your Bible like never before.  Then you’ll notice that your trust barometer is beginning to rise, and heading in the right direction.  Just ‘…as he said…’

Thank you Jesus, for being totally trustworthy.  Amen.


The church that’s honored me as their pastor emeritus has two communion tables.  Two?  Yes, two!  One rests up on the elevated chancel platform.  The other table, crafted by a church member decades ago, sits on the main floor, where the communion elements are placed for distribution during weekly worship.  Jesus’ words have been carved on the front–‘Do this in remembrance of me.’

Why two tables?  Well, getting older, it’s obvious that some no longer can navigate the chancel steps without fear of falling.  It sounds redundant yet having two adds up.  After all, how easy is it to forget how much Jesus has done for us?  As in giving His all to forgive us of what we can’t do for ourselves.  That the cross was no walk in the park, but the ultimate sacrifice of God for His own.

Deuteronomy 8 repeats the words ‘remember’ and ‘forget’ many times.  Here’s one–‘You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you…’ (Deut. 8:18).  And then ‘…if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods to serve them and worship them…’ (Deut. 8:19).  The dual words ‘remember’ and ‘forget’ roam all through this chapter.  Why so necessary to repeat them?  Don’t we get the point?

No.  At least I don’t.  I need constant reminding.  How often do I face some difficulty and my first reflex being fear and worry, wringing my clammy hands until finally remembering that the Lord wants to hear from me not last and even least, but rather first and foremost.

That’s what He wants.  To be remembered… that He’s right there for me.   And not forgotten… that He always knows best.  Why is that such an uphill battle?  For still I fret and stew.  Am I the only one?

So– ‘Remember and do not forget…’ (Deut. 9:7)– all those times He’s been there for you.  All the help Jesus has given.  He’s right there, side by side, never to let go.  Never.  Ever.

Got it?  Remember…and don’t forget!

Thank you, Jesus, for always being close to me.  Amen.

UP A CREEK Deuteronomy 1

I’m impatient.  That grass seed we scattered weeks ago seems to be more bird food than anything else.  Where are those new sprouts?  Push…push…push.  Pull…pull…pull.  Working myself into a stew.  And not a tasty one at that!

In Deuteronomy 1, Moses sadly rehashes ancient Israel’s history of disobedience.  Instead of entering the Promised Land, they hem and haw, grouse and gripe, kick the dust, anything other than following God’s instructions.  But when the Lord warns them that this is not the time to fight the Amalekites and the Canaanites (see Numbers 14: 39-45), they plow ahead anyway, getting totally clobbered.  Impatient bunch.  Aren’t you glad that you’re not like those naughty, rebellious folk?  Me too!

Sad to say, I’m their mirror image.   Antsy and in a sweat.  Gung ho and rarin’ to go.  At times like this, I can hear the Lord saying to slow down.  Wait, already.  What’s your hurry?

I need to listen to the Lord.  But somewhere behind my impatience lurks a wrong view of God.  Much like that of ancient Israel–“And you murmured…and said, ‘Because the Lord hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt…to destroy us'” (Deut. 1:27).  Hated them?  Out to destroy them?

Hard to admit that at times I think the Lord is out to get me.  Waiting for my next misstep, causing Him to put His big leg out tripping me up.  Has it in for me.  Relishes rubbing salt in my sin’s wounds.

I know.  You’re disappointed in me.  How could a retired pastor ever think that way?  Sorry if honesty bothers you.  It does me too.  But let the truth be told.  Read the Old Testament Book of Job without preconceptions.  You’ll encounter bald-faced bluntness, glazed with heated anger and rampant impatience.

So, I pray for a truer picture of God.  One that’s spot on.  And biblical.  Not from nasty old distorted tapes I keep playing over and over again in my rusty noggin.  Time to shred them.  Heed their siren call no longer.  And for this I pray the Holy Spirit’s help.  HELP!

Without His help, I’m up a creek without a paddle.   Just me?

Lord, help me to know and love you as you truly are.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


The Saturday before Easter Sunday, a church member, who happens to be an actor on the television soap opera ‘As the World Turns’, meets with me to rehearse the main Bible reading for the next day’s 3 worship services. I’m the tenderfoot assistant minister who needs help. At Princeton Seminary, I take speech classes with Virginia Damon, who’s a former radio star and character actress with Jackie Gleason’s repertoire company. A top-notch teacher, yet I must still seem needy.

Hank Forsythe, who portrays Dr. David Stewart on the soap in addition to a variety of roles in movies and on Broadway, volunteers to coach me on reading John 20, the Easter Resurrection story of Jesus’s encounter with Mary Magdalene at the garden tomb.

How am I feeling? Nervous an understatement. Shaking more like it. After all, this is my first Easter Sunday in a church of 1600 members with probably many more attending this special day. Oy vey, already!

How’d I do? Fine really. Hank, a kind and humble man, how could I not love what he teaches me, adding passion and emotion to familiar words. But actually none of this falderal amounts to a hill of beans disconnected from the reason behind it all. That Jesus truly gives His life so that we’ll live forever. Death dies in the face of His resurrected life. And knowing Him personally as your Savior and Lord is incomparable. What could ever match up?

Lots of moolah stashed away? Maybe when interest rates were worth writing home about. But not even then. Being in control of everything? If so, you won’t be missed when off the scene. Not one bit. The center of attention? Sorry, vain big shot. Who cares anyway? Spend some time reading the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes to get a good whiff of life’s meaning. Oodles and caboodles of vanity and foolishness. Unless.

Unless you know the Lord. The more of Jesus, the less annoying life becomes. You can put up with a lot holding His hand, looking up into His face, walking right beside the One who knows exactly where He’s going. He makes a world of difference. I know. Has in my life. And He’s not done with me yet!

Tomorrow why not think about all that He’s done for you. How He’s changed your outlook on life. Added patience and kindness with lots more where that came from. All because of Jesus.

Let the children enjoy the decorated eggs and candy (probably I’ll have some, as well!). But primarily, let’s relish Jesus. Who lives…and lives forevermore!

Happy Easter!

Lord Jesus, you mean the world to me. I love you. Amen.