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Acts 12:1-5 “1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James,...

Friday, September 29, 2023

The Choices We Make

Deuteronomy 30: 19

“19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”


There used to be a blinking light on our way to the beach that signaled that we were approaching a crossroad.  My father and mother could never remember which road we should take.  All they remembered was that one way led to the beach and the other did not.


Each day we arrive at a crossroad.  We have to choose between God or the world, or as the writer of Deuteronomy put it, between life or death, blessings or curses.  Hopefully, our choices will show the people around us that we are people of Christ so that they may also choose Christ at some point during their journey in life.


The road to Christ leads to life.  The other road leads to death.  Each day we have to choose.  


May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Assurance of Faith

Deuteronomy 34: 1-4, 9

“1 Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole land—from Gilead to Dan, 2 all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea, 3 the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”

“9 Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses.”


Howard’s Knob looks down over the town of Boone, NC where I went to college. To this day, I love driving to the top of it and looking out over the town.  I am filled with a sense of peace.  It is like I am looking at home.

I think Moses must have felt the same way as he gazed at the promised land from Mount Nebo.  He was looking at home.  He had led the Jews out of Egypt, through many hardships, and God had guided and provided for them.  And now, after 40 years of wandering, he knew the journey was over; that the Israelites were now ready to become a nation and that a new leader, Joshua, waited in the wings to take them there.

Moses died, assured that Israel, the nation, would become a reality.  

As Christians, the assurance of God’s presence and God’s redeeming love rests in our faith.  No matter what hardships or suffering we endure, “nothing can separate us from the love of God revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).

No matter that the journey is long and hard, God is with us.  And we will dwell with God.


May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Perfect Work of God


Deuteronomy 17: 16-20 

“16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. 18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.”

Israel’s king was to be humble.  Even though he was the king, he was not to consider himself better than the average citizens of Israel.  He was not to become rich as king, nor have many wives, as his position would allow in those days.  He was to keep his heart and mind fixed on God and on the good of Israel.

We know that Israel’s kings did not live up to this standard.  They failed God and Israel.  Yet, from the line of David and from the nation of Israel, came the Messiah, the savior of the world.

The perfect God works His perfect will through imperfect means.  This is why we can find God even in the messiest situations; this is why we should never give up or lose hope or think God has deserted us.  

God is with us, even in the chaos of our imperfect lives.


May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Tuesday, September 26, 2023

God’s Perfect Plan

1 Peter 1:18-19

“18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

The horse, Secretariat, ran the perfect race at Belmont in 1973 and he won by 31 lengths.  At the end of the race he was still gaining speed and running away from the field.  

It is said that Jack Nicklaus, the greatest golfer who ever lived, watched Secretariat run on that day and wept like a child.  When asked about this, he explained that for his whole career as a golfer he had sought perfection.  He had been close a few times,  but he never achieved it.  On that day he had witnessed perfection both in the horse and in the race.

Christ led a perfect life; a life without sin or blemish. It is this perfection that caused people to be drawn to him; to get up, leave everything behind and follow Him, but, it was this perfection that also caused the world to reject Him and to crucify Him.   As a result, he became the perfect sacrifice; a sacrifice which provides us the way of salvation; a resurrection that assures us of eternal life.

This was God’s perfect plan; the plan for the redemption of humankind.


May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


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

Sacrifice


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

Serving

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)