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Waiting


'Tis the season for waiting. We wait in lines at the store (or for those of you in the 21st century, we wait for boxes from Amazon). We wait for family to come home and spend Christmas with us. We wait for that glorious morn when desired gifts are given and the excitement of giving to our loved ones is realized. We are busy indeed, and yet we wait.

Simeon was man who knew about waiting. God had made him a promise - he would not die before he saw the Lord's Christ, the baby Jesus. The scripture says to be still and know that He is God. You can be still and still be busy. Life occupies our time, even as we wait; yet we can still put on an attitude of waiting for God in our busyness. Simeon did. He was devout. That means his life was dedicated to the service of God. He was not a spiritual couch potato. He was a man waiting for God, doing life.

The Lord would have us with the same attitude.

I was driving to work, visiting my company's New Hampshire facility, when I came u…
We need wisdom to navigate this life; at times, it is beyond us. The Lord invites us to ask for the wisdom we need, and He says He will give it generously - without reproach, without a hint of disappointment or disapproval.

That means that when we are in our desperate places, when we've lost control, (rather when we realize that we never really had control), we can ask for His wise guidance without looking to our lack. This means that He doesn't chide us for our lack of knowing what to do; He does not say, "We've been through this already, you know what to do." He does not rebuke with words of disappointment, "Again? You're asking me again?" Rather, He gives generously.

We simply need to ask.

I recently needed wisdom because of a situation that was completely out of my control. Between distance and closed roads, literally, I was unable to come to the aid of a very sick young girl - my daughter Hannah. Dengue can ravage the body, and dengue was taking i…
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Sometimes dreams must die.

Dreams never realized can be heartbreaking, but there's nothing that leads to that craggy road called discouragement more directly than dreams realized and then lost. The hope of marriage broken on the rocks of disappointment and conflict. Booming investments in the market tail spinning into oblivion on the comment of a high political official. God's promises realized seemingly put to bed for good. 

Seemingly. 

I want to give you hope. She is just sleeping. The young vibrant female we call hope is not dead. She is just sleeping. But she needed to lay her head down into a lifeless slumber, lest, we come to trust in her instead of Someone greater.

There's a story of a rich woman, a childless woman. Her lifelong and dormant dream was to give birth to a child. It was a hope for her, a dream; a good dream. Many of us are like her. We hope, but never get our hopes too high, lest they be disappointed; lest we be let down into the overwhelming mire of swampy…
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Assurance

I don't ever want to move from the cross, to lose sight of it. At the cross is where we trade sin's blackest stains for the pure white robe of His righteousness. Our assurance comes from what was accomplished at the cross. Thieves and murderers die on Roman crosses, but when the righteous One hangs there, when the innocent One dies on a cross, when the Son of God is nailed to the tree as thief and murderer, all of heaven and earth shake. 


John Wesley, an influential 18th century English preacher, had a deep realization that he lacked assurance of salvation. In spite of all of his methods and disciplines, he saw that empty nagging void inside of himself. He knew much, was trained by his parents, had a heritage of preaching and evangelism, but still he lacked that surety, that comfort that comes with salvation.



What if I was to not do another thing with this life of mine? Would God withdraw His promise of salvation from me? Would His love towards me cool? These questions …
The Sin Sandwich

God has forgiven us of all of our sins.

Paul writes to the church at Colossae, He forgave all our sins. All. The word in Greek is panta (πάντα). It is a word of completeness and means all, any, every, the whole, forever, complete, whatever. I think that covers it. No stone unturned, no exceptions.

But admittedly, there are times when our heart is burdened by guilt, by doubt, by voices that whisper "not enough". God understands our doubts, and He has compassion on us. John the Baptist, Peter, Elijah, were all men who doubted, yet God met them all there in their doubts. The Lord knows there are times when we need extra assurance, so He sends us writers, apostles of the faith like John who wrote,
"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."
John wrote to bring the "sinner" comfort. He who leaned on the heart of Jesus writes these words from the heart of our Savior to comf…
The Overabundance of Grace

Here's a quick look, a bite-sized study, into some of what Paul had to say about grace and redemption in his letter to the Ephesians. In this studyette, you'll see the Greek definitions for several key words in this scripture. These definitions will highlight and bring depth to an already amazing gift. Put on your study hats (and study hearts). I pray the Holy Spirit will guide your thoughts and inspire you as you read on ...


Ephesians 1:7-8
(ESV) In him we have redemption (629) through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches (4149) of his grace (5485), which he lavished (4052) upon us, in all wisdom and insight


629 apolutrosis ἀπολύτρωσιν
Ransom in full. Acquire, redeem, redemption, release.

RELEASE
Think about it, we are -

released from guilt
released from debt
released from sin
released from bondage
released from shame
released from abandonment


4149 ploutos πλοῦτος
From 4130, wealth, flow, plunge, launder, clean. (literal) money, po…
An underlying culture exists in America today, a pattern of thought that says, "At all costs, avoid pain." And we, as the church, must take care to not let our understanding of scripture be shaped or influenced by such a world view. For from this culture we have seen such pseudo-spiritual doctrines as "name it and claim it" spring up to entice the body of Christ. We’ve incorrectly divided scriptures such as "By His wounds we are healed" to wrongly mean that we shall never suffer disease of any kind. Yet it was the disease of sin that was defeated on the cross. Comfort is king in our "now" society and we must take care that we don't adopt that attitude in ourselves.

I'm going through a dark night of my soul. Right now in my life. It's uncomfortable, and I want it to end. And I suppose that my desire for comfort, release, and escape goes beyond just the cultural norm of today. Our human nature doesn't embrace suffering. Understandab…
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God's Process

Sometimes God's process is messy.

I'm in the middle of a kitchen remodel, and it can be wearying. Stuff everywhere. When you replace cabinets, you have to put their contents somewhere while you're replacing them. When you replace the sheet-rock on your walls, you have to deal with dust and you have to look at studs for a while. It's nothing to complain about, really; a new room is a blessing. But getting there can evoke irritation over the current mess and a desire to have everything finally completed.

And so it is with us. There is chaos in the midst of God's reconstruction of the areas of our lives. We call this sanctification and it's a process and it gets messy. None of us likes chaos. (Well, maybe there are some of us that do!) When you realize how much you lack in patience, kindness, and unselfishness, God goes to work. And it can get ugly. When you see your addiction for what it really is, God begins to break down the walls and it's du…
We have an Advocate, One who not only pleads our case before the great Judge, but One who also consoles us. And we often find ourselves in need of this merciful Defender. At any point we are susceptible to the wanderings and failings of our earthly nature. To the honest man, sin comes far too easily. To the proud man, it is non-existent. And to the guilt-laden one, it is always present - like a morning fog. With some, sin remains in the forefront, a gray reminder of our failing. With some, it is artfully hidden, covered by a feigned life. Yet, all of us need this Advocate our Lawyer.

John, the aging apostle, wrote,

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.

Sin easily entangles; it weaves that tangled web around our freedom. And at any point we are vulnerable to its attack, though never at its mercy. At any point we may sin. But …
Intimacy.

O how I long for it; hunger and thirst after it. Yet oh how it evokes in me the most paralyzing fear. Nothing terrifies me more than being exposed, having my inner feelings and thoughts made available for viewing by those around me - even those close to me. 

Those of you familiar with rejection will grasp what I am saying. You want to play the lead role, you long for the approval, the acceptance, the closeness and connection. But what if you forget the lines, or even worse, say the wrong lines? What if you pour out the deepest parts of your heart, share the values and convictions you esteem, unwrap that which is precious to you, to the world and the world says, "Meh"? Even worse, what if you open the door to your innermost to those closest to you, those who "owe" it to love you and you are met with cold response?

Intimacy has a way of shutting itself down. If we let it.

Jesus was familiar with rejection. He suffered under the slung slurs of those in authority…
The Seventh Man

It's been said that it's insanity to think that we can continue in the same patterns of behavior and expect our lives to yield something different and new. But we do that, don't we? Often unaware of our behavior which has been formed through years of habit, we continue on. So, we find ourselves seeking that which we truly need through a relationship, an addiction, or resolutions that quickly fade. In some ways, and some days, it almost feel like we are stuck in a pit; at at times, we are.

I love the story in the book of John, the fourth chapter, about a woman Jesus meets at a well. She was searching, looking for life and freedom, and refreshing. And on the day she encountered Jesus, she would find it.

A little backstory will help in understanding the significance of this encounter between the Lord and the lady. Jesus was Jewish, a rabbi. The woman was Samaritan and, well, a woman. The custom was, actually the strongly imposed cultural demand was that Jews and …
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One Day


Will there be crying in heaven?

Yes. But not for long. Tears will not last. Death, the end of life and the pain of loss, the death of dreams and the killing of hope, the rage of disappointment, will be no more. Mourning over the fallen state or loss of a loved one will be no more. No more grief or regret or wishing we had done or not done this or that. No more guilt or sorrow over "last night" or yesterday's sins.

No more crying. Nothing to make us cry! No pain, no body aches or diseases, no layoffs or depression. No more struggle with this old nature! No longer will we feel the sting of hurt from others. All will be right. No more taxes, no more death, no more government corruption. And no more news channels to bring us bad news. No more worries.



Our final tears will be shed on the precipice of an eternity of perfect joy. Not because all is well, but because, like a tender father who leans down to tend to the hurt of a child that has fallen of their bike, our Father…
Manasseh's Turn

How far does your forgiveness reach? Where is the line drawn on the limits of your love? At what point, at what sin do you draw the line and proclaim, "Too far, you've gone too far!"? If we were to query the Almighty, what would His response to these questions be? Where is His line of forgiveness drawn? With lying? How about stealing or cheating? Surely adultery pushes the limit. Murder? Yes, that's it, surely the Lord's love must reach its limit at the murder of innocents. Right? Try this, think of the worst that humanity has to offer (or has offered) and ask yourself this, would God forgive that?

I recently read the story of Manasseh, one of Judah's kings; one of Judah's most evil kings. As the king of God's chosen people, he should have lead the people into right acts and good deeds; proper worship. But instead, he lead them in the ways of the pagan nations that were in the land before them. He lead them with even more wickedness …
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Taste of home
Sometimes all someone needs is a taste of home; that feeling of connection with the familiar; a reminder. Deep inside all of us is a longing for that place where we feel settled, centered, and solid; that place that is filled with the comfort that loved ones bring. 

We all need a taste of heaven sometimes. Our hearts long for that. We desire heaven, for this is not our home. Oh, we manage to find joy here along with times of refreshing. We find things that occupy us and fill our time, but nothing really satisfies or makes us feel connected like when we connect with heaven; when we are touched by our King. And nothing touches our King like when we bring a taste of heaven to those around us.

My wife is in Haiti right now, visiting our daughter Hannah. Hannah has recently started living in Haiti. For the first seventeen years of her life, she's lived here in America. You could call this her home land; it's her place of birth. Besides some simple snacks, reminders of th…
Re-purposed

In the world of eclectic design, one can find items once considered junk or worthy of discarding, now being used to serve purpose in playful and clever ways. What once was looked upon as an intrusion to space, is now the center of party talk. Scrabble pieces, coat hangers, old guitars, even burnt out light bulbs, are being turned into useful household decor; and grabbing the attention of passerby's.

Have you ever felt discarded, or experienced the feeling that your purpose has come to its end? Or perhaps, you feel that your form and function have served out their usefulness. Maybe it's your time to be re-purposed. Well, Jesus is up to the task.

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. - John 2:6-8

The sto…
The Gift
Today I am excited and honored to hand this blog over to a guest blogger, my son, Josiah Furcinitti. Josiah, thank you for sharing your God-given insight and wisdom, and for allowing me to share that in turn with those who read this blog. I consider this a gift from God and receive it gladly.

It is difficult for most people to receive a free gift from others. I don’t mean that it is physically difficult to take the gift, as though some force is stopping you. Rather, most people feel uncomfortable receiving something “just because.” While it is a great joy to give a gift to those you love, it is often rather uncomfortable to receive something. You may struggle to accept that which you have not earned. You may take issue with the fact that you have nothing with which you can reciprocate the kind gesture; perhaps you may even feel as though you now owe them something. You now feel like you must act a little kinder towards them, pay a little more attention to them, or perhaps perf…