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The Distractions of the World

Mark 10: 46-52 “46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, B...

Friday, September 22, 2023

The Distractions of the World

Mark 10: 46-52

“46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.  51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.”

The blind man, Bartimaeus, had his sight restored because he called out to Jesus despite the crowd noise, despite people telling him to be quiet.  Despite his disability, Bartimaeus knew who Jesus was.  He called him “Jesus of Nazareth” and “Son of David”.  He also knew that Jesus could heal him.

The world is a noisy place, full of distractions and temptations.  We often think that our voices are lost among all the noise and clatter of this life.  But Jesus heard the voice of Bartimaeus, even in the crowd.  

And Bartimaeus, throwing his cloak aside, went to Jesus and was healed.

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Thursday, September 21, 2023


Mark 10: 35-40

“35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”39 “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

A lot of talented people who play sports say they want to be champions but they are not willing to make the many sacrifices necessary to do it.  They like the idea of the prestige of being a champion but eventually they realize that there is a lot of time, work and effort that they are not willing to commit to.

James and John have asked Jesus if he would give them the honored seats when Jesus is in His glory.  Jesus asked them if they were willing to make the sacrifices necessary for this honor and they both answered “yes”.  But we know that they were not yet ready to “drink from the cup” or to suffer in the way that Jesus suffered.  They did not know what saying “yes” meant.

When we say yes to Christianity,  do we know what we are saying?  Do we know that being a Christian means that we are to live a life that is set apart and that such a life requires sacrifice?

Will we drink of the cup?

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

God's Generous Love

Matthew 20: 8-16

8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’9 The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

I picked cucumbers one very hot summer when I was a teenager.  There were acres and acres of cucumber vines and we were paid one dollar for every large burlap sack full of cucumbers that we picked.  Some of us worked very hard and picked several bags full.  Others played around and were not as successful.  But when we were paid, we were paid as a group for the total number of bags that we picked, not for our individual accomplishments, and the pay was split equally among us.   I did not think this was fair and was angry and bitter.  

God is generous, and he is generous in ways that don’t always meet with our approval.  The reward that we receive for our faith is eternal life.  It does not matter that we may not have had faith the first 50, 60 or 70 years of our lives.  We receive eternal life as if we had been  Christians all of our lives.  

It is not by our merit that we are saved.  It is not how hard or or how good  we work in the field.  It is the fact that we are in the field when the day ends. At the end of the day, all who are in the field of faith are given the reward of eternal life. 

This is God’s generous love.

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Christ’s Love for Us is Transforming

John 15: 12

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Christians are to love one another as Christ (and God) loves us.  We are to love with grace, benevolence, mercy, patience, persistence, and sacrifice.  Love offered in this way is a transforming, life changing love.  

We are to be known by our love, not just in the confines of the church, but by the world in general.  Our lives are to be examples of Christ’s transformative love to everyone with which we interact and in every place we go.

We will never transform the world through our anger or hate.  It will only be transformed through love- benevolent, merciful, patient, persistent and sacrificial love.  

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Monday, September 18, 2023

God’s Love is Sacrificial

John 3:16

“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 15:13

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

My wife, Melanie and I were on our way to Raleigh, taking our son to his first year of college at NC State when we witnessed a terrible one car accident.  The car flipped several times before landing upside down.  

We pulled over and my son and I ran towards the car.  While running, I began to imagine the car catching on fire or exploding and I wondered how much I was willing to sacrifice for this person that I did not know.  Was I willing to risk my life and that of my son to rescue him; to die so he could live?

God came into the world in the actual person of Jesus Christ, and sacrificed himself for our benefit; so that we could have a relationship with him; so that we could have eternal life.

What is it that we are willing to sacrifice so that others will know God?

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier

P.S.: The driver of the car was not injured and managed to crawl out the passenger side window before my son and I reached him.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

God’s Patience and Persistence

2 Peter 3: 9

The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

When I was five or six years old I attended vacation bible school at church.  At the assembly one morning, the minister said that he would be glad to talk to anyone who wanted to become a Christian.  After the assembly,  I approached the teacher in my classroom, and told her that I wanted to talk to the preacher about how to become a Christian.  She took me to his office and the minister talked with me for an hour or more about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, salvation, etc.  

When I was eight years old,  the church gave me a bible.  I took it home and put it on a table in my room and every time I walked by it I felt the strangest urge to pick it up and read it.  It was a while (years)  before I did this, but eventually,  I did.  

When I was 20, I met my future father-in-law who, through his example, showed me the living Christ.

There is no limit to God’s love.  God’s love is patient and persistent.  God reaches out to us even when we do not know him.  God sends people into our lives who point the way to him.  God causes us to be in places that call us to him.   God’s quiet, almost silent voice speaks to our hearts,  over and over.

All we have to do is listen.

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Thursday, September 14, 2023

God’s Mercy

Luke 6: 36

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

When a person proves that he or she is not worthy of our trust or respect, we have as little to do with that person as possible. God, on the other hand, loves us despite our sins, despite our unworthiness and sent his only son into this world to save us. 

God’s love is merciful.  God hears the cry of the suffering, and forgives the sins of the sinful.  With God, there is the promise of the second chance, a new beginning, and a new life.

Because God is merciful, said Jesus, we should be merciful to others.  “Go,” he said, “and sin no more” (John 8:11).

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

God’s Grace

Ephesians 2: 8-10

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 

God loves us.  God does not love us because of our good deeds.  Nothing we can do merits God’s love for us.  God loves us because God is love (1John 4: 8, 16).  

Grace is God’s loving action toward and for humans that does not depend upon merit or worthiness.  In this scripture we read that our salvation is a gift of God, given to us through God’s grace.

The gift of God’s grace is Jesus Christ whose sacrifice opened the door for us to salvation, and to a relationship with God. God offers the gift of salvation to anyone who believes.

No one deserves this gift.  And this does not matter to God.

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

The Peace of Christ

John 14: 26-27

“26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

What has Christ given to us?  He has shown us a different way to live our lives, and a different way to view people.  He has given us forgiveness and a way to eternal life.

Because we believe, the Holy Spirit dwells in us, teaching us and guiding us, and is a great source of peace to us especially in times of trouble. 

The world gives us material things that rust or break and are only good in this lifetime.  Christ has given us spiritual wealth that lasts beyond our lives on earth into eternity.  

This is our comfort.  This is our peace.  This is our hope.

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Saturday, September 9, 2023

God's Benevolence

James 1: 27

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

Do you know someone who is just good; there is no other way to describe them?  Every word they speak is encouragement, praise, or helpful instruction.  They treat everyone with respect, no matter who they are, or how old or young they are?  And the work that they do in the church is work that reaches out beyond the church, to schools, to drug rehabs, to prisons, to the hospitals and the list could go on.  

These are people who are full of the love of God.   God’s love is benevolent.  This benevolent love reaches out to us while we are yet in our sins.  It reaches out to all of us, the entire human population.  It is unconditional, unselfish and sacrificial. 

Because God loves the world in this way, His desire is that we reach out to those who are in need, those who are hopeless or helpless, those who are lost.

Through us, God’s benevolent love is offered to the hurting world.

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Friday, September 8, 2023

God’s Transforming Love

1 John 4: 19-21

“19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

Have you ever thought to yourself, “people will never change”?  We all know people who pretend to be one thing but are, in reality, something (or someone) else.

As Christians, we believe that God can change people and that this change will manifest itself in that person’s behavior, their speech, their emotions, and actions. The love of God transforms them into a new creation and God’s love will shine forth from them into the lives of others.

People can change and are being changed, but only through the love, mercy and grace of God.

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Thursday, September 7, 2023

The Fruits of Our Anger

James 1: 19-20

“19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

I know people who tell stories about their anger; when they got mad and shouted at someone; when they really told off this person or that person.  And they tell these stories with a sense of pride and accomplishment.  

Should we view our anger in this way?  Scripture tells us that when we walk in anger we do not walk with God.  Our anger does not transform us into a Godly person.  

We do not grow closer to God because of our anger.  In fact, our anger normally causes us to sin, and sin separates us from God.  Our anger quenches the Holy Spirit.

The fruits of our anger are not of God.

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Who Are We?

Mark 10: 42-45

42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be a slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Sometimes we wonder what our lives are all about.  We wonder why we are on earth and the purpose of our lives.  When we are young, life seems such a puzzle. We talked to guidance counselors and we took tests trying to discover our passion and our talents.

If we are Christians, we should know that, whatever else we choose to do, we imitate Christ.  That means we infuse our lives, our work, our play, our projects and our relationships with the life and teachings of Christ.

In this scripture, we are told that Christ came into this world to serve and to sacrifice for others.  If this is Christ’s purpose, then it becomes our purpose.

Service is not something we do.  It is who we are.

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Monday, September 4, 2023


John 12:26

“26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

When I was a boy, I always wanted to be where my father was.  When  he was working in the yard and I was there watching him work, he would look at me and say,  “If you are going to be out here you can help me work.”

Whoever is a disciple of Christ is expected to serve.   Wherever a Christian serves, Christ is present.  In order for Christ to be present in the world we must serve Christ everywhere we go.  Christ is served when we imitate Him in words and actions that are grounded in our love.

When we serve, the world sees Christ.  

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Our Joy

Philippians 2:4

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

All Christians are disciples of Christ.  As disciples, our lives are to be based on the life and teachings and acts of Christ.  We are to strive for the same love, the same tenderness, the same humility, the same spirit as Christ.

And, because our lives are based on Christ, we are to rise above our self interest, not looking to our own needs but to the needs of others.  John Wesley called this “practical Christianity”.  Christians are to embody the teachings of Christ so that we live out His teachings in our everyday, ordinary lives; taking the teachings of Christ outside the church and into the world.

Christians, then, are examples of Christ to the world in which they live.  This is who we are, who we are called to be.   Christ dwells within us and therefore in the world. 

And this is our joy.   

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Friday, September 1, 2023

The Light of God

Isaiah 58: 9b-10

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,

then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

We want the world to be made in our image.   We get upset when things do not go our way, when people disagree with us or when things are not in proper order.  We want to blame someone, to point them out to others, to call them names.

But the prophet Isaiah says we should do away with such nonsense and focus on the needs of others.  When we yell, scream and point fingers, the darkness reigns, but when we live a life of service, the light of God shines forth into the darkness.

This dark world needs the light of God.  Let’s let it shine through us.

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Thursday, August 31, 2023

The Light in the Darkness

Acts 20: 35

“35 In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Have you ever thought what your last words would be to those you love?  Would they be something profound?  Would they be something poetic?  Would it be an expression of love or some life advice?

In this scripture, Paul was on his way to Jerusalem and was speaking to the elders of the church at Ephesus.  He told them that he would never see them again.  So, his words were to be his last words to them; his most important words.

He told them to serve others.   Service done through faith is service founded on love.  Through the service of others, especially the least, the last, and the lost, we are examples of Christ in the world.  We are examples of Christ’s love, mercy and grace.   

Christianity, then, is the light in the darkness.   It is the calm in the chaos.  It is the love amidst hate.  

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Luke 18: 10-14

10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

We all know people who brag or who constantly talk about themselves, never asking about you or your family.  And when we leave them, we thank God that we are not like them.   It is at that point that we have become the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable.

You see, the tax collector never said, “Lord, thank you that I am not like that other person”.  It was the Pharisee who said that.  It was the Pharisee, like us, who could not see his own faults because his own light was shining so brightly in his eyes.

We identify with the tax collector in this story, but Jesus was telling us that we are the Pharisee and we don’t even know it.  

Let us shut our eyes.  Let us pray with our heads bowed.  With all sincerity and humility, thinking of nothing but God’s love and forgiveness, let us whisper “God have mercy on me,  a sinner.”  Now, we are the tax collector.

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Saturday, August 26, 2023

The Kingdom of God is Among Us

 Luke 17: 20-21

“20 Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”

The Pharisees wanted to know when the Kingdom of God was coming.  To this day, we are all wanting to know when the Kingdom of God will arrive.  But, Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is already among us.  It has not arrived with material benefits as the Pharisees expected.  It is a spiritual kingdom that inhabits our hearts.

Great stone structures called churches are not evidence of God’s Kingdom.  Huge, ornate sanctuaries are not evidence of God’s Kingdom.  Large budgets are not evidence of God’s Kingdom.  

We can see evidence of God’s Kingdom on earth in the people of faith.  Through our love, mercy and forgiveness the world can see the Kingdom.  Through our compassion for people who are in need, the Kingdom is visible.  Through our humility, the Kingdom is visible.  Through our examples of Christ to the least, the last, and the lost the world sees the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God is among us….in our hearts.

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Friday, August 25, 2023

Saying Thank you to God

Luke 17: 11-19

“11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus's feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Ten lepers were healed, but only one, the Samaritan, thought to turn and praise God. They forgot to thank God, even though they had pleaded for mercy just prior to their healing.

Saying thank you to God, offering praise and worship for God’s mercy and love, is a spiritual discipline in which we can experience God.  God can work within this discipline to move us in closer relationship to Him.

Saying “thank you” to God can change your heart.  And then it will change your life.

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Thank You for the Work

Luke 17: 7-10

7 “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8 Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”

Growing up, our mothers taught us to say thank you when someone did something for us, or passed us the mashed potatoes at supper.  I had cousins that would say, “Thank you for the mashed potatoes,” even before they were passed.  

In our jobs, we are taught it is important to say thank you and to show our appreciation for people who work for us.  People like to be appreciated for what they do.  And we like for people to express their appreciation by saying “Thank you!”

In this scripture, Jesus is telling us that when we work for God, our motivation should be our faith and our love for God; that we should not work for recognition or even for a “thank you”.  When we do the work of God, we do it because we cannot imagine not doing it.   

We should say thank you for the work, even before the work has begun.  

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

The Older Brother

 Luke 15: 25-32

“25 Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father[e] said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

The prodigal son’s older brother is the lost character in Jesus’ parable.  And it was told in such a way that this would happen.  All of the attention is on the prodigal son and his father.  

The older son is angry with the younger son, who took his inheritance and deserted his family.  He has imagined that his younger brother has been having a wild time, living it up, cavorting with prostitutes, while he, the loyal older son, has been sweating under the sun in the fields.  And now, when the prodigal returns, he is welcomed back as if he had never left, as if he had never sinned against his father and his family.

The father tries to console the older son by saying, in essence, “I thought he was gone forever, but he came back.  We had to celebrate.” 

And so, the parable ends with the older brother at a crossroads.  He has a choice to make.  Does he remain angry at this seeming injustice, or does he accept his father’s justice?

In our Christian walk, we will inevitably come to a crossroads.  We cannot take both roads.  We have to choose to follow the road that leads to love, forgiveness and reconciliation, or the road that leads to anger, hate and retribution.   

It is up to us.  It is in our hands.  Which road do we walk?

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)