“Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.”

Revelations 3:20

SEVEN NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS IDEAS FOR OUR FAITH

Every year we all make New Year resolutions. We want to exercise more or perhaps lose some weight. Essentially, we want to change in some way. Sometimes it’s big changes and sometimes small. The start of anything that makes us better is always a good thing. Staying the same not only will produce the same results, but in many cases we will go backwards.

So it is with our faith lives. Our faith should be nourished every day. Without this added attention, our faith will dim and the ways of the world will take up a bigger piece of our thoughts. Here are seven simple things we can all do to help our faith this new year. Any one of these will move us forward as Christians.

Read the Bible Everyday

Most Christians have a Bible, why not set aside 15 minutes a day to read the Bible. For instance, at a normal reading pace, if we read the Bible for 15 minutes a day, by the end of the year we will have read the Bible from cover! When we are done, we will be changed.

Sure there are hard parts, but there is also a richness in the difficult sections. Perhaps start with the New testament or even just the Gospels. After a week or so, it will become part of our daily routine. The hardest part is starting and continuing. But we will be surprised how important it becomes after just a week or two.

Go to Church More Frequently

Life is busy and our priorities can be overwhelming. Fitting in going to church every Sunday can be a difficult task. Perhaps our current church isn’t meeting our needs or our schedule. Perhaps Sunday morning comes up to quickly. Perhaps we need to find a church that better suits our lives. But going to church helps us, even in small ways.

Going to church helps our faith lives. There is more to church than just the sermon. There is fellowship with other Christians. It is a wonderful time to think about our upcoming week and how we can bring God into our lives.

Listening closely to the prayers being said and thinking about the words being expressed, will add to our faith. Likewise songs lift our souls, but also included in the songs are important statements that are similar to prayers.

God will speak to us when we are in church, maybe through the sermon or through a song. Or even a person we meet. I can honestly say, that each time I go to church, something new and surprising happens that helps my faith life.

Make Prayer a Part or Our Daily Routine

For some of us the best time to spend a few minutes praying, is in the morning. For others it may be at night. Regardless of the time and place, a short conversation with God through Jesus becomes a haven when it becomes part of our life routine.

Prayer is an important part of our faith lives, it is through our very personal conversation that we begin to see the connection between our prayer life and God’s answers. God will answer, our only task after we have prayed is to watch and observe. In the observation we will see God’s answer.

There are three types of prayers. The first is when we go to God with a request. The second is when we ask for help for someone else. The third and final is a prayer of thankfulness. Perhaps in each prayer, we can use all three types. The only caveats to daily prayer is consistency and being in a quiet place.

Read the Verse of the Day

Many Christian websites have a verse of the day. Some of my favorites are www.biblegateway.com and www.christianitytoday.com. Both have verses of the day. I particularly like going to Bible Gateway, as the first thing you see is the verse of the day. Many times, I will note how it applies to me or a situation I am familiar with.

Christianity Today, has daily newsletters that will can be sent directly to our emails. There are many sites that doing something similar. Over time, it will become part of our daily routine.

Join a Bible Study Group

Most churches have a Bible study group. If not, your local pastor can lead us to some in our communities. Most Study groups have a theme, like Christian mothers or Christian business people. It might take a few visits to a different groups before we find the right one, but there is one for all of us.

Bible study groups are a great place to be with people that share common life circumstances. Hearing others views is important as each person has a unique perspective. Many times I will hear a comment or statement about a verse that changes how I think. But we also share lives at Bible studies, we get to know other Christians and their lives. Not every Bible study group will fit, but there is one out there for us as individuals.

Join a Helping Based Organization

In every community there is an organization that helps those in need. Initially, it may just be volunteering your time. Perhaps later it can be serving on a committee. But in every community there are ways to help others. Most communities have a hospice program or a tutoring program. Certainly every community has a food bank or clothing center.

Spending time helping others, fulfills the second commandment of Jesus, by loving our neighbor. Surprisingly when we help others, we help ourselves.

Each Day Make a Difference in a Person’s Life

This is perhaps both the easiest and hardest one to accomplish. When we go to a store, say “Thank you” to the person waiting on us. Practice holding the door for someone else. Let other cars go in front of us when we are in a traffic jam. Essentially, slowing ourselves down helps others. Sure it might be inconvenient, but is the second or two we lose really that important?

Lend a hand to someone who is struggling, even when we are busy. Perhaps spend a few more moments listening to their story. Listening is our easiest gift to give.

These seven things can all be accomplished or perhaps one at a time. But in some way they all push us to be closer to God. In some way they affect how we treat others and strengthen our faith. Some can be hard to start, but after a few weeks, we find ourselves with a new routine.

This New Year, besides our normal resolutions, why not add a few resolutions that strengthen our faith lives. Jesus is waiting for us to answer his knock on our life’s door.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

John 3:16

GOD’S GIFT TO HUMANKIND

Traditionally, Christmas is December 25th. But in other parts of the world it extends to January 6th or the twelfth day of Christmas. In many countries Christmas is celebrated as vibrant holiday for almost two weeks. During this two weeks, Christmas is celebrated with parades, dinners, each day a present is given and each day becomes a reflection on the importance of Christmas. Christmas is the day God gave the world his only son. A son, Jesus, who would live to serve humankind and redeem humankind. To accept this gift, we only have to have faith in the gift. This gift is the greatest present any of us will receive, not a gift to be left unopened, but to be cherished and have for a lifetime.Points of Reflection

  • How can you extend Christmas for the traditional twelve days?
  • What is the greatest human gift you have received?
  • What is the greatest gift from God you have received?

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:21

IS JESUS BAD FOR BUSINESS?

In at least half of my radio interviews I am asked, “Does Christianity and business work together?” The reason I am asked this question is, in our current society the prevailing feeling of mixing our faith with our business lives is out of step. Fundamentally and practically this concept of not mixing business and our faith is in error. Jesus and his values are strongly related to running a successful business.

First, let’s consider the reality of most lives. We all have bills to pay. To pay these bills most of us have to work. In fact, most people spend more than half of their awake hours working. The vast group of humanity has to and needs to work. But are they to leave their faith at home? Making them part time Christians. A difficult proposition for those who desire a personal relationship with God. Working is a necessity and so is a strong faith life, and they should be connected.

Second, there are businesses that are faith based and they thrive. Consider Chick-fil-a, a wildly successful business. While we can disagree with some of their positions on faith, they are Christian based and follow their beliefs. If you compare Chick-Fil-a to other fast food restaurants they exceed all in productivity and profits on a store by store basis. What makes this more remarkable is that they are only open six days a week versus seven for their competitors. They are closed on Sunday, every store.

Their customer reviews exceed those of other fast food places and their employees are always the happiest. Their lines are long every lunch time, but people will wait.

Many of the small businesses I meet that are Christian based, likewise have similar results. Their employees are courteous and congenial. The customer reviews are high.

What makes them successful, isn’t the pursuit of money, but the way they pursue paying their bills and earning profits. They think long term and not short term. They think about how they treat their customers and are not satisfied until the rankings are high. They think about making quality products. They create a great work environment for their employees. Jesus’ values are present in all these thoughts.

I know of a firm that has grown substantially over the last few years, that doesn’t embody these values. But warning clouds are on their horizon. Through skillful high pressure sales tactics they have amassed a large number of customers. But less than one percent of these customers are satisfied. When I discussed this with their management, I was met with surprise. They responded by saying, “But we are making lots of money.” True for the time being.

Looking at their reviews on line, a tidal wave of complaints is growing. It has become so large that it will swamp their business. They invest most of their activity in selling and making money;  little in satisfying their customer. Certainly, opposite of Christian values. Like all businesses with this direction, they will enjoy a period of success and inevitably fail.

In my book Jesus &Co.I talk about this disconnect between the ethical values and purpose of companies. Those that are inwardly motivated to generate profits through any means, typically stumble. Ethics and especially Christian ethics will solidify a company for the long term and help them avoid the disasters caused by short term thinking.

The reason short term thinking companies stumble;  is they serve to make money now and not to produce a great long term product. They use high pressure sales tactics to acquire customers and do little to satisfy. For the time being their money is growing, but it will soon dry up.

Jesus, who himself was a business person, makes a profound business statement when he says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” An insightful strategic thought. If we chase money as our only goal we will be captivated by that goal and ignore the real purpose of our company.

Customers shop where they are respected and employees work where they are cared about. Our goals should be long term and not in the short term pursuit of money.

Many of the Parables of Jesus center around this concept of fair play in business. More than half talk about how to exist in business ethically and sustainably.

The values of Jesus are always long term. They speak to fair dealing. They embody how to treat our customers and employees. They are always about fair play and decency. What employer wouldn’t want these values as part of their operating culture?

How do we as individuals bring these values into the workplace if we work in a non-Christian business. Simply act in a manner that is pleasing to our Lord. We don’t have to stand on the lunch table and declare we are Christian. We only have to bring the values to our behavior. Overtime our bosses and compatriots will notice that we are the ones who seek long term sustainable solutions. We are the ones who defend our customers right to a quality product. We become the person, people turn to for moral advice.

The goals of all businesses should be on achieving long term goals and not short term victories. Short term victories wane and long term success sustains.

We don’t need to declare we are Christian in the work place to be Christian. We need to act in a Christian manner that inspires others. Words don’t change people, actions do.

A business purely based on money will not survive in the long run, a business that has the long term values of Jesus will.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again, The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 4:13-14

DOES A BAD STOCK MARKET CHANGE OUR FAITH?

Over the last few weeks I have talked with a number of friends who have grown despondent over the size of their savings. Which have become significantly reduced by another round of stock losses. In some cases dropping more than ten percent in a month. Their normally happy disposition has become subdued by the knowledge of what they have saved is less than what they expected. They now worry about their future and ability to be free to pursue life.

Many are stuck watching the stock market hoping for a change, only to be left with a weakened sense of hope. They are glued to CNBC looking for hope or some clue that it is almost done going down. Optimism has flown from their minds, replaced with dread.

Panic and fear have set in. But the stock market is cyclical and never permanently sits still. It mostly goes up, but at times it goes down. Since that last major shudder to the stock market in 2008, the market has rebounded by over 300%. Each down is replaced by a higher up. But sitting in this moment of down it is hard to believe it will go up. They have no control of the cycle and that makes it worse.

Today, eighty percent of the stock market trades are made by computers. Guided by algorithms that are unaware of the emotional effect of their computer generated decisions. Large behemoths that are insensitive to the human emotions they create. There is no sensitivity to the human drama that they create.

A worldly function that impacts our outlook and faith. But should it? Should we put our sense of well-being on a petulant and uncaring machine. Eventually, the market will return to where it was, like it has so many times before. But for the moment this is a period of anxiety.

Like all anxieties that we can not control, our task is to not change our view of life. It is not the time to lose faith. We may have to cutback a little, but has our life really changed? Does it mean we become more miserly with our charity? Does it mean that our hopefulness needs to be abated?

Jesus answered these questions, while talking to the Samaritan person at the well. He simply said, when we allow the things of this world control us, we will thirst again. When we put our faith in his Living Water we will never thirst. The Living Water replaces gloom with a hopeful Christian attitude of joy.

It is a hard road to cross, what should we thirst for? It is hard when we see what we work for is diminished. It is hard when our human efforts don’t bear fruit, despite our earnestness.

What we can control is our faith. A faith that does not worry. Faith in Jesus gives us a future. The past is only history and doesn’t define the future.

Valleys are a part of life that are followed by mountain tops. It is here in these valleys our faith is refined and we become better prepared for the next valley.

Maybe it’s not the stock market that makes us despondent. Perhaps it’s a lost job opportunity. Perhaps the loss of a close friend. Many things in life are out of our control. Through Jesus what we can control is a spirit of optimism. A faith that believes all will be right. It is not being defeated that defines us, it is whether we get up and try again that defines us.

Turning our eyes to Jesus, dims the a world that can be wildly unresponsive. Drinking the Living Water of our faith calms our thirst and worries.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace

SILENT NIGHT AND WHY IT SOOTHES OUR SOULS

Exactly two hundred years ago in 1818 on Christmas Eve, at St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, Austria, disaster struck. Mice had chewed on the wires of the organ bellows and created mayhem. Ruining the church organ on Christmas eve. Forcing the Reverend of the church, Joseph Mohr, to scramble to find music for the evenings worship service.

Not to be undone by a few mice, Reverend Mohr quickly gathered his wits and decided he would create a new song. A song that could be played on a guitar. A song that would become the hallmark of Christmas Eve, throughout the world.

In his study, Mohr quickly penned the lyrics to Silent Night. He then asked famed composer Franz Gruber to create the melody for the song. In moments of haste, the most famous of all Christmas songs was created. By two resourceful people under duress.

Over the years, the original manuscript was lost and the identity of the original writer was unknown. In 1995, the original manuscript was found and Reverend Mohr was credited with writing the words. Franz Gruber went on to a successful career as a composer and musician.

Since that time, the song has been translated into three hundred languages. As well as, its simple melody has been made to fit music for one player or an entire orchestra. Today, many performing artists have recorded the song, from Kelly Clarkson to the Temptations. If you go to YouTube you will find pages of renditions.

A simple set of lyrics combined with a soulful melody, created in haste, that is now the staple of all Candlelight services on Christmas Eve throughout the world. No denomination claims it as its hymn, it is just a universal statement of the purpose of Christmas for the whole world.

A reflection of the true spirit of Christmas. A song praising the arrival of God in human form. A song of peace and calm, with a melody that transcends language and cultural barriers.

A song sung by the whole world, from Austria to Africa and North America. A song that unifies our purpose and our world. For the brief moments we are present when Silent Night is sung at church with lit candles, we are mentally transported to feeling close to God and those with us.

A song that doesn’t require money or extraordinary efforts of our daily lives to be at peace. It only requires a heart of hope and expectancy for our future. A quiet time when we are surrounded by other people expressing their joy in the birth of Jesus. A peaceful and joy filled time amongst all the worries of the world.

This Christmas eve, why not visit a local church and attend the Christmas eve celebration. The service will end with the lighting of candles in the dark, symbolizing the lighting of the world with the arrival of our Lord, Jesus. Accompanied by the singing of Silent Night.

In a few brief moments the Spirit of Christmas will arrive.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

Luke 2:7

BORN IN A MANGER

Jesus arrival was in the humblest of circumstances, in a dark and cramped manger. He was born surrounded by livestock and straw. The king did not come on a white horse and a crown. He arrived humbly. On that Christmas morning in the gloom of night he appeared with only a lonely star to announce his arrival. A foretelling of that he came to serve and not be served. The king of the world didn’t come to be waited upon, but to wait upon. His life wouldn’t be a life of luxury and wealth, but a life of service. A life that included caring for all people; the poor in both wealth and spirit, those that were merciful and those with a heart pointed to God. From this humble beginning Jesus rose to change the world and give us a new way. A way not built on our lavishness, but on our inherited desire to do good.Points of Reflection

  • What non-material gifts did you give this Christmas?
  • What gifts has Jesus given you?
  • List three people you gave presents to this week and how did it impact their lives?

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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“Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.”

—John 5:19–20

THIS CHRISTMAS “WHAT OUGHT WE TO DO?”

Beyond the ethics of doing the right thing, we must also show faith by having the courage to do the right thing. If we truly believe and have faith in the unseen, then we will not hesitate to do those “right” things, even if doing so might put us at some personal risk. Being bold in our faith leads us to do what God would have us do. A faith that if we choose a path for the right reasons that God will give us “A future with hope.”

The principal question of ethics is “What Ought we to do?” A simple question that when married with difficult situations can lead to complicated answers. Even simple answers to this question will lead people to have different answers.

When we bring Jesus into our thought process, ethics turn into Christian ethics. We then begin to ask, “What would Jesus do?” Again this sounds simple, but it is not. Competing with what Jesus would do is our natural selves. We have our own desires and needs. We need to pay our bills. We need to earn a living in order to do that. We want our worldly needs satisfied. Sometimes these needs will conflict with what Jesus would have us do.

I know a woman named Beth, who was homeless and fighting hard to regain her footing, so she could raise her child in a home like she saw other mothers do. She worked at a local Dunkin’ Donuts in a job that sometimes had her scraping gum off the bottom of the tables. Her boss was abusive and ranted at her throughout her shift. Each day she went back to her shelter with a little more money to get her freedom. On the Christmas Eve of her one-year journey in homelessness she left work and found a woman in the parking lot who was in need. It was a dark, rainy night, and the woman had not recently eaten and was rummaging in the trash bin behind the store. With what she had earned in tips that day, Beth took the woman into Dunkin’ Donuts and bought her a meal. She sat with the woman and listened to her story. On that rainy Christmas Eve, she drove back to her shelter wondering if she had done enough for the woman. Her principal question was had she done what she ought to do?

Beth eventually got an apartment and left her job, to work at a better place. The next fall she was able to put her child on a school bus for her first day of school. She was able to go to a job where she was respected. She continued to wonder if she had done enough on that Christmas Eve.

“We should walk on our path of faith, to explore the length and breadth of our inheritance. An inheritance that will heal and free us.”

Deciding what we ought to do seems complicated, but Jesus gives us a simple blueprint when he says, “but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.” Regardless of our natural circumstances, Jesus tells us to act in a manner that we envision how God would act. He asks us to act without fear of loss, but through our hearts. We should not overly ponder the event, but to let our knowledge of God through our heart tell us what we “ought” to do. We should walk on our path of faith, to explore the length and breadth of our inheritance. An inheritance that will heal and free us.

Maybe this is the Christmas that we move our gift giving to doing what would Jesus do? Perhaps this is someone we know who needs a little extra help. Perhaps a piece of what we give, we give to a needy cause. This Christmas we will all have that moment when we have to decide, What ought we to do?

The answer is; What would Jesus do?

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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DID JESUS REALLY EXIST HISTORICALLY?

One of the questions I am frequently asked is, “Did Jesus really exist physically on earth.” Those who doubt need tangible proof that Jesus really walked on earth. Did he really walk among? Did he really say what is in the Bible? As a Doctor of Ministry, I can say with certainty that he did exist. Not because I want him to be real, but because he was real.

Historical information from the 1st century is much murkier than that of the 21st century. The internet didn’t exist. Great writings were not as prolific as they are today. As such, gleaning information about Jesus’s physical existence is much harder. Proof of his existence requires searching ancient records that are far more subtle than they are today.

This is compounded by two other facts, much of what was known was from oral history and that which was written, was only about the elite. Writings in the 1st century tended to be written about kings or emperors, the aristocracy. In fact, in the first century only five percent of the population could write. When they did write it was on material they may last only a few decades. Unless these writings were transcribed, they would disappear. So finding the truth in this quest is much harder than what we can do today with our own history.

If we discount what is written in the New Testament, can we still be sure Jesus really existed? My answer is yes! There does exist wonderful clues and writings that confirm Jesus’s existence.

We do know that Jesus existed from both Tacitus, at the beginning of the second century, a pagan historian, and Josephus at the end of the first century. Josephus referred to Jesus as a “yoke maker.” A reference to Jesus as a carpenter. Tacitus discussed the crucifixion in his writings, not only referring to Jesus, but Pontius Pilate. A non-Christian source of confirmation.

Dr. Gary Habermas wrote a book called the Historical Jesus. In this book, his research concluded that there are over sixty non-Christian references to Jesus. From writings of ancient luminaries such as; Tacitus, Josephus, Thallus, Phlegon, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Emperor Trajan, Emperor Hadrian, the Talmud, Lucian, Mara Bar-Serapion. Many of these I read during my formal education of obtaining a Doctorate degree.

Another clue in our detective work centers around the existence of a document now called “Q”. Q is a document that included a number of sayings by Jesus. We know this document existed as it was included in the three synoptic Gospels; Matthew, Mark and Luke, and other documents unearthed from archaeological finds over the last few centuries.

The three Synoptic Gospels were all written at different times, spanning sixty C.E to eighty C.E. Mark was written first, followed by Matthew and then Luke. We know that because of some similarities the content of Q is included in all three. The writings of Q also exist in other documents that are not in the Bible. For instance, the Gospel of Thomas includes a number of these sayings.

Christian writers who are not in the New Testament, also have writings supporting the existence of Jesus, such as; Clement of Rome, Diognetus, Aristedes, Papias, Barnabas, Polycarp, Ignatius, Melito of Sardis, Quadratus, and Justin Martyr.

While this evidence answers the question of Jesus physical existence, it is only a small part or start of our belief. When talking with those who doubt, this information is a start, but there is more. Jesus is not just seen, but felt. Feeling Jesus in our hearts extends his physical presence to that of a spiritual presence.

Just knowing Jesus existed isn’t enough for those seeking. It is from feeling Jesus. When I hear the question of did Jesus really exist, I know the person is the early stages of acceptance. Accepting that there is a higher force and a set of life values we can hang on to.

Accepting Jesus in our hearts comes from observing. Learning to discern what is coincidence and what is providence. The process starts with engaged dialogue, or prayer. Then watching and seeing the results. For some this will come quickly. For others, perhaps a lifetime. Ultimately developing a firm faith is believing in the unseen.

For some a crisis must first exist. For others, simply a prayer that is answered. But for all that seek Jesus, he will be found. Each journey is different. With different hills and valleys to wander. The eventual encounter with Jesus will be remarkable and deeply personal.

Sure Jesus walked this earth. But this knowledge is the start of our journey. Jesus is more than physical, he is spiritual. He wants not only our eyes to see, but our hearts to feel. Breaking down the barriers of doubt of his physical existence hopefully will lead us to the final answer. Jesus is God, whom we seek.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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HOW THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT CHANGED STEVEN COLBERT’S LIFE

One a cold winter day in Chicago Steven Colbert stood on a street corner, unsure and confused. Riddled with anxiety and despair with few tethers in his life. Left with a mother thousands of miles away and pursuing an uncertain career in comedy and theater. At the age of twenty-two he had rejected his early Catholic upbringing and became an atheist. But this day was different, it was cold, like only those from Chicago could understand. He had rejected God, he hadn’t become at peace.

Nearby stood a man handing out Gideon Bibles, the ones with the New Testament and two other books; Psalms and Proverbs. He gave one to Colbert. Who then opened the frozen Bible and turned to a page that contained the verse;

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

Matthew 6:25

Reading this verse struck a chord with Colbert, it answered his doubts. In that moment he felt as if Jesus was talking to him. What he read became more than letters strung together to form words. He felt Jesus was talking directly to him.

In that cold moment of his life, he continued reading. He read the entire Sermon on the Mount, from chapter 5 to chapter 8, in the book of Matthew. He devoured the words and each sentence propelled him to a different understanding of life and his purpose. He was no longer confused.

He had gone to Chicago to attend Northwestern’s theatrical school. His goal was to be a comedian or an actor. Earlier in his life, his father and two brothers had died in a plane crash. Being away from home and still dealing with the death of his siblings and father had created a crisis in his life. At first he turned to Xanax, which provided no relief. He still woke every morning suffering from depression and anxiety.

Then he had his moment on a cold street in Chicago. We all know the rest of the story. His wit and humor has made him into a celebrity and an important political satirist. But it was the Sermon on the Mount that steadied him.

The Sermon on the Mount is three short chapters, from five to seven, in the book of Matthew. It was Jesus’s first public sermon. Jesus had been through the forty days in the desert, baptized and gained followers. This was Jesus’s coming out speech.

It contains such notable Christian values such as; the Beatitudes, the Golden Rule and the Lord’s prayer. No single section of the four Gospels contain more of Jesus’s teachings than the Sermon on the Mount.

A simple place to start, full of Christian richness. A place where we learn that the quality of our heart is more important than our deeds. A place to discover the real meaning of loving our neighbor. A complete explanation of the ten commandments and the will of God. It is all here. A strong reader can complete this reading in fifteen minutes, but it takes perhaps a lifetime to fully grasp.

We have other speeches and sermons we can read, like the Gettysburg Address or Martin Luther King’s, I have a dream speech or John Winthrop’s, City on the Hill. Or those from Winston Churchill or John Kennedy. But included in the Sermon on the Mount are the words of life, complete and sound.

Like Steven Colbert, we need look no further than this mighty discourse, for the answers of how to live as Christians. We won’t need those cold and gloomy days to look for direction. We will have with us a primer on God’s desire for our lives.

Perhaps when we finish we will be fulfilled or perhaps the illusionary nature of the world will disappear. Perhaps we will become like a rock on a shore that no longer worries about the pounding waves of life.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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“The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.”

John 1:9

TRUE LIGHT IS FOUND IN JESUS

A remarkable forecast by John the Baptist, that the “True Light” was coming into the world. Jesus was the true Light; that great Light which nothing else compares. Jesus’ Spirit and grace enlightens all that the light finds and which creates a new way of life that is both eternal and aligned with God. Through this “True light” all that is good will be brighter and all that is dark will scurry away. Through this “True Light” our internal desires to be both purposeful and connected to God will be realized. We will forget the momentary dark forces of the world and walk towards a light filled with the spirit and the grace of Jesus. Jesus was and is coming into the world and our lives. Our only task of preparation during the second week of Advent, is acceptance.Points of Reflection

  • During this week describe the moments you see the “True Light”.
  • How is Jesus involved in your life and how can the involvement increase?
  • How are you preparing for Christmas this season?

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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