Saturday, December 31, 2005


I'm not sure about the spelling of the title! The greek word for repentance is meta-noi-e-o which means "a complete change in ways of thinking and acting."

In order to do this complete change, we must despair of the worldly ways of thinking and acting. And this isn't so easy to do! In the movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" the main characters are driving down an interstate against traffic.

Someone in a car heading the same direction in the proper lane gets their attention and shouts, "You're going the wrong way!" One of the main characters, John Candy, says to the other, Steve Martin, "That's nice of them, but how do they know where we're going?"

Each of us has goals in life and those goals are unique to each individual. But there are things common to each of us also. One of the main things we have in common are the things of God.

I heard a news commentary today in which the commentator mis-interpreted the first commandment. He said that in the first commandment, "You shall have no other gods", the "you" referred only to the Jews. According to this commentator, God wasn't prohibiting other people from having other gods. In fact the commentator was criticizing someone for saying Jesus is the only way to salvation. The commentator stated that anyone who says that Jesus is the only way to salvation doesn't know the Bible at all.

Wow. Here's the link to the video I'm speaking about, listen until the part about John Gibson

Friday, December 30, 2005

Voice On the Water

Reflecting on Jesus' baptism led me to consider the role of water. Through a chain of thought I came to a new understanding of the role of water in Jesus' ministry.

Several times in the Gospels, Jesus preaches from a boat just off shore. Commonly we understand His purpose in doing this was to reach a greater number of people--voices carry better over water and He could reach a significant number of people from a boat just off shore.

This is also a symbolic action. As I considered the role of water in the re-creation of baptism, I also considered its role in the creation of the world. In the beginning of creation, when God spoke the words of creation, He was hovering over the waters. Christ also spoke words over the water in His ministry of re-creation.

This role of water in creation and in Jesus' ministry makes a compelling connection that I continue to ponder.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

And It Snowed!

We've gotten more than average snow for December so far--and for Misawa that's saying a lot! The average for December is around 22 inches. We've gotten over 30 so far! None of the snowfalls have been particularly large -- 1 to 2 inches at a time, maybe 4-5 inches a few times. But it seems like I have to go out and shovel the walk every morning! And this is just the beginning--it's good exercise and I appreciate the time to listen to my audiobooks on the Ipod while I shovel, so all in all I can't complain!

We finally made it to the Shimoda mall! It's one of those things we kept meaning to do but things kept coming up. It was a good experience--the boys haven't seen a full toy department/store since we left the states. I think we could have left them at the mall for a week or so while they absorbed the toys! We did pick up a truly Japanese toy for my nephew for his birthday, he should be pleasantly surprised!

More on the sermon preparation tomorrow!

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Baptism of Our Lord

The next time I'll be preaching is 8 Jan 06 which is the celebration of the baptism of our Lord. So my devotional writings will center around the pericopes for that week as I prepare for the sermon. The readings are Genesis 1:1-5, Acts 19:1-7, and Mark 1:4-11. The psalm is 29.

The first thing I like to do in looking at a pericope is to look for a common thread between the readings. I also look for a theme incorporating the theme of a special Sunday like this one: the Baptism of Our Lord.

First, a quick look at each of the readings:

Genesis 1:1-5-God creates light
Acts 19:1-7 Paul informs people who had been baptized by John about the Holy Spirit
Mark 1:4-11 Jesus is baptized

A connection between the Acts and Mark readings are the role of repentance and the Holy Spirit in baptism. The connection between Genesis and baptism is the beginning of light. Baptism ushers in the light of Christ into a persons life and that person becomes a new creation. As God created the world so He creates new people through baptism.

We repent, we receive the Holy Spirit, and we are recreated as new creatures in Christ.

My reflections the next couple of weeks will revolve around three elements: repentance, the Holy Spirit, and re-creation.My prayer is that a unique angle of connection between these elements and baptism will emerge and serve as the basis for an engaging sermon!

I invite you to join me on this journey! I'll publish the finished sermon on my new website: The new site is up but I don't have content on it. This sermon on 8 Jan 05 will be my first post to that site.


Pastor Boarts

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Beginnings are always a wonderful time. That is a big part of the joy of Christmas--it is the beginning of Christ's journey on Earth. We know that His journey will be difficult to say the least--but beginnings are always full of anticipation, even if the journey is going to be difficult.

During my deployments the beginnings were always full of adrenaline and excitement. Eventually that wore off and routine set in. But it was in the midst of the routine that I found significance. I was able to bring the joy of Salvation to others in the midst of their routines.

The beginning of faith is often full of adrenaline and excitement. But then, in faith as well, routine sets in. Some people fall away from the faith then--drawn only by the adrenaline and excitement. But many find significance in the routine. That is when they truly find that they know God who is the rock, God who is the Alpha and the Omega--the beginning and the end, God who never changes.

Even as life changes around us the promises of God stand firm. As we celebrate the beginning of Christ's life, let us celebrate our faith whether it too is new or whether it is mature having been tested and found pure.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Holidays and Christmas

Perhaps I'm not Christian politically correct on this issue!

I find the Christian backlash against stores for dropping "Christmas" ironic. How long have Christians lamented the commercialization of Christmas? Now, when the stores want to move away from Christmas, some Christians get even more upset!

I'd rather have a store prevent their employees from saying "Merry Christmas" and then let those employees attend worship on Christmas, Sunday, and other occasions. Many, if not most, companies do not take a persons worship schedule into consideration when composing work schedules.

Where's the "Merry" when you're working on Christmas! For that matter, where's the "Happy" when you're working on the holidays!

Probably the only national company I've seen with sensitivity here is Chick-filet. They are closed on Sunday--to allow their employees a day off and to worship if they choose...what a concept!

I suppose the motivation of the stores isn't the best. But, hey, let's let them drop Christmas! Then the church can once again define the meaning of Christmas. As it is, I think the people upset about stores dropping Christmas are sending the message that Christmas may only be found in stores!

Excellent Book

Have you ever read a book you didn't want to end because the characters were so compelling? I recently had that experience with "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt" by Ann Rice.

As Rice states in the Epilogue, creating a homosexual or liberal Jesus is easy, portraying the Jesus of the Gospels is extraordinarily difficult. And Rice did an excellent job of painting a picture of Jesus of the Gospels.

I'm looking forward to the next installment! Many events of the boy Jesus' life foreshadow later events in His ministry. Although Rice is known for her vampire books, she's made a change in her life rediscovering her Christian faith. This book really enriched my faith. I recommend it highly!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Snow and ... Christmas

The forecasters have no idea what the weather will be! Each time we've had a wind and/or snow warning, it was calm and/or not snowing! The only time we've had a major snowfall so far this year (about 5 inches), the forecast was for 1 inch! At any rate, we've had plenty of snow so far!

This Christmas, I'm focusing on the mystery. So often religion is criticized if it isn't "practical". Well, perhaps some parts of our faith aren't "practical"! Some parts of our faith are so much a part of the things of heaven, that they have nothing to do with the world and so don't seem practical at all!