3 Keys to Peace

Simeon and the Christ Child - Big Three Series

It has been a hectic time – Christmas gifts to buy, decorations to put up, celebrations to attend, food to bake, gifts to unwrap, trash to recycle, extra pounds to lose, OK I’ll stop there.  Did you feel at “Peace” this Christmas?”  I wonder if the first family of Christmas found much “Peace” that first Christmas.

It was just 40 days after the Birth of Jesus and the young family was back in the temple again.  This time it was for the sacrifice of purification and the dedication of the Christ Child.  Having been the firstborn boy, the Law of Moses called for his dedication to the Lord as Holy, in memory of the rescue of the firstborn in the Passover.  While they are there they come upon an old man, Simeon, who had spent many long years in the temple. Simeon was waiting on a promise that had been given him by God. This promise said that he would not die before he saw the Lord’s Christ.

I imagine that some of the others had differing opinions as to the antics, and all his talk about Messiah. Even on this day they probably shook their heads when they saw him hurry after this poor young couple. Messiah? This couple couldn’t even afford a proper sacrifice, they were getting by with the minimum prescribed in the law for the poor. Luke tells this account in the second chapter of his Gospel:

22  And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23  (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24  and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25  Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27  And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28  he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29  “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30  for my eyes have seen your salvation 31  that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32  a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

33  And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34  And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35  (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
Luke 2:22-35 (ESV)

How is it that Simeon could leave this place in peace today? Three reasons;

  1. He was declared “Righteous” (vs. 25)
  2. He was given a promise (vs. 26) and it was fulfilled (vs. 30)
  3. He was led by the Holy Spirit (vs. 27)

I can only imagine his joy over meeting the Messiah. All it took for him was a glimpse and he had seen enough. He did not live to see Jesus grow up, to become a Rabbi, or to die and rise from the dead. The promise and the prompting of the Spirit that it was now fulfilled was enough.

How can we find peace like Simeon?

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3 Pitfalls in Ministry

Big Three Series

Having served in full-time ministry for more than 30 years I have seen and experienced the pitfalls that come in Ministry first hand.  The unholy three, Satan, the world, and our sinful nature all take aim at Christ and his message of Life. One of the best ways to attack the church is to go after the shepherd. While there are many things that can distract, derail, and destroy out ministry I believe they all fall into 1 of three dangerous pitfalls.

Losing Sight of your Humanity (Humility): Pride I think tops the list of temptations for pastors and those in ministry, it shows up in so many different ways: a pride that says I don’t need to study the Word because I know theology; a pride that is more concerned with his appearance before his people, than being faithful to preach what needs to be heard; a pride that says I am worth every penny you pay me, in fact, you should be paying me more.  This nasty Pride can easily morph into a love of power, and the feeling that your ideas and plans should be taken without question.


Losing Sight of Your Call: This leads to many issues, neglecting your family by forgetting that you are called first to shepherd your family then the flock of God; This causes you to  put the “Work” of the church ahead of the people you are called to Shepherd; It is also easy when you lose sight of your call to take on everything, forgetting, if you are a pastor, that your call was to administer the sacraments, preach and teach – equipping the saints for their ministry. This can also lead to a grab for power when losing sight of being called to be servants.


Losing Sight of the Lord: This can lead to us falling for the temptation of sexual sin when we do not find our all in all in Christ; It also can lead to a cynical attitude when we do not trust the Lord of the Church to manage the church and try to carry it all ourselves. When we lose sight of the Lord, we also forget that he is a God of restoration and forgiveness and can work to resolve conflict if we only allow him the chance.

3 Lessons I learned from a squirrel

Big Three Series

big3setAs the owner of several Bird feeders, squirrels have so many times been a real pain.  They can be destructive and messy as they chew through your sock thistle feeder or the plastic on your “squirrel proof” feeder.  I have also gone to great lengths to keep them from my feeders. In order to effectively do this I have watched them closely, and in doing so I have learned three things from the squirrels at my house.

Squirrels Do Not Quickly Give Up

thebig3_1When a little frustration comes their way they do not quickly give up. When you cut down the crab apple tree they used to get to your feeders, they discover they can get there from your bird bath. When you move the bird bath they continue to try over and over again until they convince themselves that can not do it that way anymore. Instead of finding a new feeder when this happens they find a new way of attack. They will continue to try 50 different ways that don’t work until they find the 1 that does.

I with I had their spirit when it comes to spending time with God. Sometimes due to schedule change or some other change in my world I cant seem to complete my quiet time. Maybe the time is wrong, or the room is too distracting, or my favorite Bible was left at the office.  It doesn’t matter, I just need to find another way.

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. 2 Chronicles 15:7

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3 Weapons Against Temptation

"THE BIG 3" Series



: a strong urge or desire to have or do something

: something that causes a strong urge or desire to have or do something and especially something that is bad, wrong, or unwise

There is no question we live lives filled with temptation. Scripture tells us these temptations come to us from 3 sources.

The Devil:

8  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

The World:

15  Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16  For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. 17  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:15-17 (NIV)

Our Flesh:

6  The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7  the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Romans 8:6-7 (NIV)

Temptations is something we face on a daily basis. Jesus knew first hand about the temptations we face. The writer to the Hebrews, in talking about Jesus who stands as our High Priest, wrote: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 (NIV)

Temptation is a real issue in all of our lives, but God does not leave us unarmed in the battle.[Tweet “Temptation is a real issue in all of our lives, but God does not leave us unarmed in the battle.”]

Prayer & Scripture

TheBig3_1Our first and strongest weapon is the weapon that Jesus used in the midst of His wilderness temptation by satan. (Read Luke 4:1-13) The Word of God is our first defense against temptation.  Jesus uses this powerful weapon, after 40 days of fasting and prayer.  The best way to face temptation is by being prepared for it.  This includes spending time in prayer and study of God’s Word. Learn to be specific in your pray, you know the snares that trip you up repeatedly.

10  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV)

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Subscribe to GodPonders Christian Podcast

Part of "The Big 3" Series

Christian Podcast


Podcasts have been around for many years now, and podcasts have come and gone over those years. Many people are now discovering podcasts for the first time as many new media outlets are using podcasts as a way to re-purpose their content. The first GodPonders podcast was introduced about 8 years ago, but was very short-lived. Now that GodPonders is a full-time venture, we have revived the podcast and are having a ball in the process. So, here are 3 reasons you should subscribe to the GodPonders Audio Christian Podcast.

Because it’s FREE.

TheBig3_1We’re back, and that should be reason enough to subscribe to our podcast. After all, you are on our website . . . so you must have some interest in who we are and what we do. You can subscribe for free through iTunes or through Stitcher Radio, or through any Android device. Just click the links to the right of this article to sign up today!

With the price of subscribing being at an all-time low (which also happens to be the all-time high price for our podcast), there is no better time than the present.

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3 Reasons to Use Evernote

Part of "The Big 3" Series

B3EVERNOTEIf TheBig3Coloryou have information to keep and retrieve (and who doesn’t in this digital age?), let me introduce you to one of the best tools I have found: Evernote. It is a digital work space in which you can keep your memos, documents, photos, videos, Web clips, and so much more. I’d like to share 3 ways that Evernote improves my life and organization.

Keeping it All Together.

TheBig3_1I don’t know about you, but I have a long trail of failed filing systems, both physical and digital. That trail ended once I came to Evernote. It is a place for me to keep everything. And I mean everything. I keep important emails that I will need in the future. I keep articles that I have clipped from the Web for future reference. I keep audio recordings from workshops I have attended. I keep documents and project files. I keep medical information and prescription records.

Part of the beauty of Evernote is that it can be the catch-all. No more keeping some things in Google Docs, some in One Note, some in a file cabinet, and some on my computer in a deeply nested file structure that made perfect sense on the day I created it . . . but not now.

Keeping My Inbox Clean.

TheBig3_2When I set up my Evernote account, I was given a custom Evernote email address that can be used to send things directly to my Evernote inbox. When I get the itinerary for my next speaking trip, I simply forward those emails to my Evernote mailbox and I can delete them from my email. Any time I can clean up my inbox, I am a happy boy! Not only can I forward emails to Evernote, I can also subscribe to newsletters and have them sent right to Evernote. This means they never plug up my email, yet I can read and access them when I want. I simply use my Evernote email address as the subscription address. Yes, even in the days of double opt-in subscriptions it still works.

Keeping My Info at My Fingertips.

TheBig3_3Not only can I keep my inbox clear of clutter, and keep info together in one place, but I can also easily retrieve it again! Evernote allows you to use a system of tags to help you retrieve information based on its tag, a keyword search, or just about any other search you can think of. If you subscribe to the premium version of Evernote, you can also search your PDF files for content. Tell me that is not an amazing, time-saving tool.

Imagine having a file system like this: Take the paper you want to keep, slap a Post-It on it, along with a key word or two, and then toss it in a huge box. If, in fact, you could retrieve it, that would be amazing. That, my friend, is Evernote . . . but if you have the deep need to create sub-folders, you can also create all the “notebooks” you want in Evernote to store your information.

Visit Evernote.com for more information. And did I mention they have apps for every device on the planet? . . . except maybe the old TRS-80 computer you have in your attic.


SOMETHING TO PONDER  What is some information that you filed in such a good place that it took you days to find? Do you use Evernote now? What’s your favorite feature? 


3 Things to Remember When Your Pastor Leaves

Part of "The Big 3" Series



I praise God for the men who have answered the call into the Holy Ministry, who serve the Lord and His Church as shepherds of the people of God. I have had the privilege of serving with many fine pastors over the years. Pastors become especially loved by their congregations, so it often is a hard time when a pastor takes a call to shepherd another church. Let me start by saying that this practice of pastors leaving and serving at various churches is a good and healthy thing for the pastors, and also for the church. Here are 3 things to remember in this situation.

It’s Hard for Them, Too.

TheBig3_1While we often feel a very natural sense of loss when a pastor leaves, like having a good friend or family member move away, remember that they feel loss, too. As the pastor of my church recently announced his plans to accept the call of another ministry, I was struck by the realization that, while we are losing one pastor and his family, they are losing an entire congregation of people. We will still have our fellow worshipers next Sunday and the Sunday after, but our pastor and his family will leave all of the familiar and begin the long, hard road of making new connections.

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3 Reasons to Bring Your Bible to Worship

Part of "The Big 3" Series

B3BIBLETOWORSHIPWelcome TheBig3Colorto the first in a new series of posts entitled, “The Big 3.” I will use this series to share some of my thoughts and ideas on various topics, in no more than 3 points. I figured if the number 3 is good enough for the Trinity, it’s good enough for me. Besides, the Top 10 thing has been done to death . . . just ask Dave Letterman.

As a Lutheran Christian, I notice that the vast majority of us do not bring a Bible with us to worship. Let me share 3 reasons to start a new tradition of bringing your Bible to worship.

The Portable Word of God.

TheBig3_1This might seem too basic, but it needs to be said. The Bible is the very Word of God, the God we are going to worship. Bringing it to worship helps us get in the habit of bringing the Word with us when we leave home. Is there ever really a bad time to have the Word of God with us? If you have children in your home, it also helps them to equate what happens at church with the Word of God. So many pastors today have gotten in the poor habit of reading the Scripture readings out of the bulletin or off the screens and, to children, this just becomes more words that don’t seem connected with “The Word” unless they see you following along in your Bible. Your example might also help some other worshiper who is struggling to figure out which are God’s words and which are the preacher’s own words.

The extra bonus of getting in the habit of bringing your Bible to church is getting it ready on Saturday night. As long as you are getting it out so you don’t forget it, why not open it up?

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