Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Across The World"

It makes things a little sober and maybe even a little scary for me. When you write, you never know who is looking and you sure don't know why. When you realize where your blog is reaching, it brings a seriousness about what you write. I get many emails each week from all over. I have conversations with people on the phone. In the whole, sometimes people ask me to address this or that which I try to do if I think it will be beneficial for all. Sometimes what I am asked to address is not for all so I write to the individual personally addressing their thought or question.
I have a section where I can go under and see where this blog is read and it was rather insightful and shocking. Over this month of December here is the breakdown:
United States - 413
Nigeria - 128
Russia - 53 
Germany - 51
Saudi Arabia - 34
Hungary - 19
Philippines - 8
United Kingdom - 5
France - 3
Georgia - 3
India - 3

That opened my eyes. Not that people read my blog but where they are from. Sometimes it can be someone accidently coming across the writings as a mistake which you know happens if you are searching for something in particular. My blog started as a result of my own family, especially my lovely daughter, asking me to start one up. I never realized where it was being read. I want to teach. Sometimes I get my point across, sometimes I don't do so well. In any case, thank you for reading. This is not some ego thing with me. It takes a lot of effort each day to write something. If I get to a point where I feel this is no longer a useful tool, I will shut it down. Thank you for those who encourage me in your personal notes and emails. Above all, I ask you to pray for me. Pray for the lost souls in our families, in the church and in the world. Pray fervently. Devote yourselves to prayer. We need to realize that we don't believe in prayer but God, that's why one prays. This will be my last posting until next week, Dec. 27. To all, have a safe and blessed time with your family! May God richly grant you His grace as you grow in the knowledge of His word.

Monday, December 19, 2011

"The Most Blessed"

Indeed I am one of the most blessed men. I know many of you are blessed but I am especially blessed. There are congregations of our Lord all over the this state, this country and this world. Yet here I sit in one of the best congregations I have ever been associated in my 31 plus years of preaching. We have our difficulties and struggles but the prevailing desire for God and His word is wonderful. The struggles have strengthened us. I know there are those after my being here so many years that would probably be glad to see me go on down the road and I can understand that.  But while I am here, I love preaching and teaching for the brethren that assemble at this location.
I watch people just quietly go about serving the Lord, looking for opportunities to help. My phone rings often from brethren asking me if I know of someone that needs assistance of any kind. I have a long list of names of members that have informed me that if I come across someone in need of financial help to call them. People study and pray daily, weekly and you can see it. People reaching beyond their comfort zones in their service to the Lord. Brethren who willingly give of their time to help one another. I am not trying to shout the praises of man! I know those who serve in such ways would not want me to speak of them or the things they do in the name of the Lord. I just sit here this morning, praying and reflecting...indeed I am one of the most blessed men to be a small part of such dedicated people of the Lord. Thank you Lord from the depth of my heart!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Watch God Work"

Who are we? We are a bunch of people beset with many different types of weaknesses! Our weakness is seen when we disappoint others, when fear grips our hearts and we go into a state of panic, when we say the wrong thing at the wrong time and when we just simply fall flat on our face. There are no exceptions, we have our weaknesses.
As we examine Scripture, we see God always working with the weak. Abraham in his fear. David in his fear and flesh. Job wondering why while trying to establish his own righteousness. Peter who argued with Jesus and even told Jesus how things were going to be only to fall flat on his face of cowardice. 
Take those weaknesses and put men in position as elders to shepherd the flock. They are spiritual men (or should be), men mighty in Scripture but still beset with weakness. We add deacons to serve in special ways that have weaknesses. Preachers (probably myself more than others) that teach/preach yet find themselves letting those around him down or failing at strategic times in their lives.
The church is full of weakness and yet we act like we are super strong! That reveals more of our weakness.Putting men in the positions that God wants, women who serve with openness and humility in heart and there we find the recipe for...weakness! It's not going to be great. In fact, God speaks that the weak, lacking member of Christ's body are given more honor from God (I Corinthians 12:24-25).
With all this, we can place our hearts in the hands of the eternal, Almighty God and watch Him do His work with all this weakness to which we will simply praise His name for indeed, holy and awesome He is while working with this large pot of weakness!! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Do You Believe This?"

How I wish I could see spiritual things better! Too many times I find myself like Martha and Mary in John 11. Lazarus their brother was sick and eventually died. What was amazing is Jesus loved them so yet lingered a few more days to allow him to die. Jesus knew what He was doing. The people didn't. It became a trust issue.
Upon arrival, Lazarus had been in the tomb four days. Martha came out to meet Jesus before He arrived at their home saying, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died!" It wasn't long before Mary came out and met Him saying, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died!" Isn't it rather interesting they both had the same response? Someones been talking. They could see only the immediate. Jesus could have done something yesterday but nothing today. The circumstances are such they are beyond Him today but yesterday...?
Jesus knew this death was going to be to the glory of God. Jesus expresses to Martha that her brother will rise again to which Martha replies, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Martha has gone from yesterday to tomorrow which hasn't come! Isn't that what we do. We move from wishing we had done something different yesterday to speaking of tomorrow with little to no hope today. The words from Jesus came: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" Right there we have it! Do WE believe this? Jesus is today! He is yesterday! He is tomorrow! Jesus is!
Jesus weeps! Why? Not because He watched people sad over the death of this beloved Lazarus. Jesus already knew this outcome. Jesus cries out, "Did I not say to that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" What hurt His heart? What made Him weep? What moved His spirit and troubled Him? The unwillingness of the people to trust in Him and listen to what He was saying.
That's me sometime! I find myself dealing in ways and situations drawing upon me rather than listening and drawing off the Lord. How many times do we look back or forward yet never see the now? How it must crush the heart of our Savior to see us act in such ways while our resurrection and life watches us, troubled and moved at our unbelief. The question He asks us: "Do you believe this?"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"A Glimpse Of God"

We learn from the prayer of Jesus in John 17 some great insight to what was on His heart and what eternal life really is. "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." Knowing God and Jesus Christ is eternal life. I'm not real sure what to make of that but it is powerful and impacts a life.
 Moses was known by God and called by name. Moses asked to see the glory of His Maker to which the sovereign Lord said man cannot see and live. Man is not capable of handling God in His majestic glory.
Too many of us, and I'm afraid I too fall into this mindset from time to time, that we have God wrapped up in a nice neat little package to present and just move about speaking His word as if we know Him inside out! We are too shallow and God is too majestic!
But to know God is to walk where He wants us to walk. That walk begins with Jesus! One looks closely at Jesus and they see God. Our Lord "Jesus" is the human name of the Almighty Jehovah. Jesus is God speaking to us the only way we can understand and that is our human image and language. Jesus is God taking on form and substance.
We must know Jesus to know God. To know Jesus means we must walk in His steps. When mistreated, how did He respond? How do we respond? When a brother wronged Him, how did He walk? When a brother wrongs us (or sometimes what someone thinks is a wrong which is even more serious), how do we walk? Was Jesus diligent about the unity between Himself and His heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit? What about our diligence to preserve the unity? These are just a few things that reveal our "knowing God and Jesus Christ."
To know God is looking closely at Jesus. Listen to His voice. Watch His moves. See His truth. Too many are making God some heavenly sweetheart and speak as if He is just some common friend we pal up with. That is why many have little fear of the Lord and the result you see in their worship, treatment of one another and approach in their thinking.

Monday, December 12, 2011

"Going To Church"

Most call it "going to church." They are young and old, some smiling, some frowning and some easy to get along with while others aren't so easy. Some come with words of encouragement while others have their few they like to see. Who are these people?
Why do they come? God knows! Some come with moodiness and different reasons. Maybe its to see someone or their parents make them come. Some come out of duty and obligation while others may come because their children need it. Still there are those who come because some young man or woman has caught their attention. There are so many reasons for coming together sometimes we can't begin to put it together but God does!
There are those who come simply because of the grace of God received through the death of Jesus. They gather for the proper reason and they simply want to thank God with those who want to thank God. And there is SO MUCH to thank God for!!
We also have those who come seeking for forgiveness. Oh, they realize it's not the church that forgives, or the preacher, or elders or even the place of worship. But sometimes forgiveness is found there in the presence of the Lord and Savior, in the midst of His people that are dedicated and committed to His cause. They find a cleansing in the midst and walk away feeling free again to honor and serve in their daily lives.
There are those who come seeking the face of God to challenge their faith to a deeper trust and commitment. They don't want a pat on the back, good job and a hand shake. They want to be stirred in their heart, confronted by God through His word to take their blood-bought lives seriously.
There are those who want to worship in a serious and respectful atmosphere with the brothers and sisters. Their daily lives are busy, rushing here to there and it is a time to reflect and sit in quietness just to give praise to their Savior for their salvation.
There are those there who simply wants to hear again the gospel of God in His search for them! The cross amazes and His life consoles. They draw strength to face an up-coming week with all the vile and ungodly behavior surrounding them while they hold up the cross of Christ before the lost world's eyes.
No matter how we cut it, it all boils down to this...we do it together as His body of people! Together we sing as one. As His congregation we pray when one person shapes our prayer for us to which we say "AMEN"! We place ourselves under the guidance of His word as one body. We share our blessings in giving as one in Christ Jesus. The Supper is passed and we take it as one. We witness people repent. We see them baptized into Christ Jesus and our hearts are over-joyed and eyes filled with tears because we share in the one body!
Yes, we all do this thing called "going to church" but we aren't alone. We gather as His people and fellowship our Lord. We come together because our Leader is one with us and we do it as one!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Today is a little difficult to write because I can almost see some winch as they read it or shake their head. I want to give us something for deeper thought. Sometimes what we are doing is not wise but we follow the natural line of thinking not realizing what we are doing. I want to begin by saying I am for classes and teaching different ages! What concerns me is many times what people want leads to fragmentation.
It seems many are bent on stressing our differences too much. People seem to want studies, classes like a group therapy session rather than what is common and the Lord sees as common. In these classes, the word of the Lord is treated less than it's purpose and is just a reference book rather than the heart of God effecting change in our lives. People speak, "We need different classes because we have different needs!" That may be true but it may not be true. The needs of man, from temptations to the power to overcome are basically the same (I Cor. 10;13). "We need women having their own class because they have different needs than a man!" The same God who created man created the woman and the answers are the same for both. There aren't two sets of Scripture for each. We have allowed the world to shape our desires into believing there are two different sources of answers for both groups. Peer pressure, fear of the future, health, self-respect, financial decisions, parent/child relationships, husband/wife relationships, guilt and shame, chronic illness are all part of all of us. These things aren't just for one particular age, gender or group.
Some time back a man approached me telling me how our teens needed to be taught the purity of sex because their sex drives are so strong and sex is flaunted before their eyes daily. He spoke of peer pressure and the need for guidance. I asked him if he thought the older aren't tempted with sexual impurity and peer pressure to be part of the in-crowd or working force was around each of us? Drink with your workers. Party with them are all part of peer pressure for adults too! Pornography is all around the adults and it affects many a home!
I realize that many go through some things others don't but we must realize that everything boils down to a single, common denominator! We are all battling temptations, battling the same foe and facing the same challenges. What is needed is not breaking things down into specific groups but our lives molded and changed into the likeness of our Lord and Savior (Rom. 8:29). What we face is not a lack of understanding or need special attention but the character to deal rightly with things in light of the Lord (Rom. 5). It is all about godly character being developed in each one of us.
 We hear people speak that singles need a class because they aren't like the married couples. So what do we think the solution is? Let's create more isolation and remove the singles from the couples! The couples and singles learn to be separate rather than both molded together in the life of Christ, caring for one another.
We hear our teens and older have a communication problem so what do we do? Let the teens go their way and in some cases they don't even worship with the older. They do their own thing during worship. What are we really doing?
We are hurting ourselves by fragmenting us and thinking we have these special needs. The Lord and being molded into His likeness falls by the way, the very thing God is trying to do in all of us! We are the body of Christ! Weak and strong, old and young, the strugglers and the weak in character. We need Jesus to shape our lives individually so we can shape the body as a whole. We need to rethink about what we are doing and fragmenting, thinking the needs of certain ones are different than others is not clear thinking. Over-coming is what the Lord has in mind and over-comers must have Christ as the center in their heart, His Scripture leads our paths and we humbly submit which brings about unity and changing into His likeness.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Getting Along"

Romans 14-15 are two chapters filled with richness about how members of Christ body are to get along. Too many refuse to hear what is being taught in pursuit of their personal interests. Here we have two groups that have come to Jesus: Jews and Gentiles. They have come to Christ Jesus with diverse backgrounds and there would be serious adjustments that need to be made by the love and grace of God. They needed to live in harmony as those reconciled by the blood of the Lamb. There was a controversy over to eat meat or not eat meat and holy days. Should the holy days be kept or not? People were looking down on one another, passing condemnation to one another while claiming their relationship to Christ. Too many today are turning things into a life and death debate in the church that really aren't.
It's all about rights and giving up your rights in view of Christ the Lord. Both groups could be pleasing because it wasn't about eating, not eating or keeping certain days holy and not keeping them holy. It was about a relationship to Jesus. Remember, we are speaking of things that have no clear cut do or don't do teachings. We are speaking about pushing your ideas on another, condemning one because they don't do it like you think it should be done and pulling some verses out of line to make your stand!
Who are we? We need to understand that those who have been immersed into Christ are acceptable servants to Christ because they came to Him on His terms! We need to realize that if one feels strongly about a situation and another doesn't, each does it because they want to please the Lord. We need to realize that walking in the kingdom of God is not about rights but righteousness, peace and joy. It's too easy to accept those we have a warm affection toward and very difficult for those belligerent toward us. We must realize we could give up our rights to help another make it! What would that do? Create righteousness, joy and peace! If we can't give up something for the sake of another who struggles with it, what kind of brother are we really? If I can't say no to a piece of meat, who is the one really held bound and blind? What did Jesus do? He gave up everything that we might live! And here we sit complaining about one another because they observe some holy day from the old covenant, or they won't see things my way. Paul took things so far that he would never eat meat again if it caused his brother to stumble (I Cor. 8). Why don't we take that loving attitude? 
When we give up our rights for the sake of another, do we realize what we are doing? Teaching! We are teaching the major truth about what Christ and His kingdom is all about. It encourages those who don't have as much insight to learn how to give up for one another resulting in peace and the community of true believers working in love which sends a message to the world about fellowship and the glorious gospel. We seem to miss things sometimes and it is causing more and more factions in the body which is why we have no gospel of peace but a gospel of division to see and do it my way!!! I wouldn't want to be drawn to that kind of gospel. I can get that from the world's religion!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


The most difficult thing to do is trust in hard times! Sometimes we begin to question why God allows the walls to close in and in some cases it seems they have fallen in? Here we are, children of God, begotten of God and things are collapsing. Our homes are in disarray. A mate is out of line and we are left wondering what to do in this case. Where is God if we are His child? Our children are rebellious and seem bent on destroying their lives and God doesn't seem to be too concerned. What use is it being a child of God and He doesn't help? These are things that can run through our minds!
Eighth centuries before Christ, the king of Judah and his advisers were under siege and in a panic because Israel (the northern 10 tribes) and Syria had agreed to overthrow his throne and punish the people (Isa. 7). Israel and Syria were in a state of panic themselves because the most powerful army in the world, the Assyrians, were headed their way and Judah refused to join and help the fight. King Ahaz, the king of Judah, was very afraid. King Ahaz feared the plans of Israel and Syria but even more afraid of Assyria! Ahaz began thinking that if he would join forces it would be with the Assyrian's as they were most powerful and would preserve his kingdom.
King Ahaz finds out the Assyrian's overruns Israel and Syria and in order to keep him from thinking is was Assyria that did it, God sends Isaiah telling King Ahaz it wasn't Assyria. It was the Almighty Jehovah, their God! God makes it clear in Isa. 8 that He was in control of the whole situation and that Assyria would enter Judah like a flood that will reach to the neck but that's all. God wasn't allowing destruction. Discomfort? Yes to teach him to trust. Then the warning came not to walk in the thinking or ways of the people. The king was warned to not fear what they fear. Why? Because they were the children of God and He had it all under control. The king didn't trust his God! He trusted his own feelings and reasonings!
We don't have fears of armies like this. We have no threats as they faced. We do have troubles, some very difficult. Our families, unemployment, age, our children's future and even the church can be distressing. Where do we get our assurance for the present and future? Turn to a network of friends? Our financial security? Promises made by doctors? Even our brethren? However fine these things may seem they are very limited! We never seem to listen or respond to the name: IMMANUEL!! "GOD WITH US"! Is God really with us? We speak the words when all is well but when things aren't, we panic, just like King Ahaz!
Our faith in IMMANUEL or lack thereof is seen in our difficulties and how we respond. Just listen to our talk or watch our behavior. Look where we turn and the road we walk. We seem to draw off anyone or anything that can bring us some glimpse of hope. Who is this IMMANUEL? Your Savior and we need to trust Him and only Him!

Monday, December 5, 2011

"Hold To The Truth"

I can't stress the importance of the truth and truth seeking. That applies to every aspect of our lives. Truth seekers are just that. Truth means everything thing to them from Scriptures to living our daily lives. Truth seeking keeps us on track and well rounded in our lives so we don't jump on a bandwagon of presumptuous sins. David found himself concerned with that very thing in Psa. 19:13 where he rested on the Lord to keep him from presumptuous sins, not allowing them to rule over him! Truth seeking will keep presumptions from ruling our lives.
We meet people often who have a conviction about what they believe in Scripture. When you show them that their conviction is not based completely on the whole of the truth, there is a battle that ensues within them. They struggle, deny, want to argue because their world of faith and conviction is being torn down. If their heart is a truth seeker, they will give over to the word of the Lord and submit. If not, the Lord will provide the delusion so they can continue down their same road and mind-set. That's a sobering thought (II Thes. 2:10-12).
It also leads us into other areas of our lives. Sometimes people do something and we quickly jump with a conclusion based on what it looks like or what little we have been told and develop a conclusion about the matter. Recently a dear brother living in another state called me telling me about a situation that had arisen. As he shared it with me he gave me his conclusion asking me what I thought. Not being around, it looked completely different to me and I shared that with him. I asked a couple of questions to get him to be careful in his thinking. The result, he found out that he was going down a wrong path in his conclusion and realized later it was completely different than he had originally thought. He presumed and was wrong but because of a heart for the truth, it kept him from presumptuous sin.
The Lord gives each one what they want. If we want truth, desire truth then we will be careful in our lives when something might look a certain way but we can't be sure. Learn to rest in the Lord, have a love for His ways and allow His truth to bring forth His righteousness. If we start jumping to a conclusion based on a little bit of information here or there (sometimes the information might be coming from a source that is held in the cords of sin) we could fall prey to being ruled by presumption. The Lord will give each and everyone what they want and if it's not truth we sincerely seek, that leaves only one other path to head down.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

"God Created"

If one reads Genesis 1 carefully, we see where everything began. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Gen. 1:1) It doesn't say God made or God built. We don't hear God developed or God constructed. It's not God produced or God erected. God created!
We as humans build, develop, construct, produce and erect things. What's the difference? God created from nothing. When we build, develop, construct, produce and erect things, it is out of material that already exists. God created what we see and use out of, well, not even thin air because thin air didn't exist either! There simply wasn't anything and He created it! What a mind. What a heart to put everything in the order we see.
What do we see? God's creation but the creation we see is not the creation God created. What that garden of Eden must of been like. The perfect place. No sickness. No diseases. Why man didn't even have to cultivate the ground. Every thing was provided for man out of nothing! Even though sin marred God's creation, the amazing fact of how God created is just beyond our thinking. What kind of Creator is He who made our human bodies the way they are? What kind of Creator is this who could make electrical impulses within our being to keep the heart pumping, blood flowing and all the elements working together each and every day of our lives? Man can't figure out what causes the brain to work the way it does or other parts of our bodies. How can God make our bodies out of dust and all these elements flow and work in dust? Why don't you try that?
Why is the sun exactly fixed, not too far away and not too close? What a Creator we have and it all was made from nothing! We sit and marvel. Our God, our Creator did one more act of creating that really stirs the heart. The Creator dies for His creation! Why? Why would a Creator offer His Son for those He created? What drove God to do such? We know it is love but why love His creation like that? If everything began from nothing, couldn't God just take it back to nothing? Yet there is one element that makes us look. The Creator created man in His own image! God's love couldn't destroy His image!! The image of God took on corruption and destroyed creation and God took notice at His image and died for it. What love! What devotion! There was something about His creation that moved His love to sacrifice and we are the benefactors of that love. Even created angels in heaven long to look at this love and salvation (I Pet. 1:12). In the beginning God created! In the end God saved!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"A Trusted Love"

It seems there is too much sweetener in our understanding love. As a result we make our Heavenly Father a "Heavenly Sweetheart." We take the approach in our sins to God as a God who approaches us in our wickedness saying, "There, there now, I know you didn't mean to be sinful!" But is that really true? There are times we want to behave badly because we are upset about something or someone! Just try to talk to someone when they are angry about something and just see how difficult it is to speak to them about a holy love.
What we need is a love that is a holy love. We are missing true love. People speak of God loving us unconditionally. God's love is holy! A love that isn't holy can't be trusted!! A love that finds no offense in corruption and sinful attitudes isn't holy. A love that yawns at our sins will yawn at the sins of a universe. A god who loves like this is not a god worthy of our worship because he is not a righteous god.
God wants to forgive us and longs to forgive us and made means for our forgiveness by providing a sacrifice of justification. That sacrifice is Jesus Christ. Jesus came into our world and identified Himself with us. But there is another side. He identified Himself with the holiness of God that He offered His Father nothing less than complete, holy obedience. He identified Himself with sinful humanity that He took on our sins because we have sinned against a holy God and dishonored His holy name. He died our death, bore our sin, confessing for us the justice of God's holy judgment.
There we have it! This Lord and Savior Jesus Christ knew what God's love was about and His love was holy. God's holiness was met in Jesus and we as humans can meet and face the holiness of God. Forgiveness is not something just shrugged off by God. It was met in Jesus completely. That's why we repent, we are baptized into His name because God's holiness demands it. God abhors sin and His abhorrence is seen in the cross. Why? Because God loves and this holiness is a love that can be trusted!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"My Classmate"

While visiting home, my parents were sharing with me about one of my classmates of years gone by. We weren't really that good of friends growing up but I do remember many things we did. He was a handsome guy and many admired him but he had a wild side which seemed to attract certain type of girls. He started drinking in Jr. High. By the time we hit high school, he would be drunk, sometimes at school! I couldn't believe the teachers never noticed but it was obvious to all of us.
After graduation, he went to college, only to drop out...yes, drinking cost him. He got engaged but soon afterward, she dropped him. That seemed to do it! It started a downward spiral in his life like a rock falling from the sky. He would frequent bars, get into fights and his body was having the markings of scars. He got hooked on drugs along with his alcohol. Rehab came and went. Visits to the "6th floor" at the hospital were in order. (That's the floor of those mentally unstable.) His life was completely out of control.
A picture was handed to me. It was his obituary. He looked worn and wrinkled. It was hard to believe this man was my age with the way he looked. His face was one of sadness and lostness. His life had spiraled downward so far that he lost everything in life and for eternity! He was lost in relationships and to himself and lost with the Lord. 
Too many are like my classmate. Chasing things that cost and ruining their lives in the process. Trying to find meaning while in the process of losing! We see it today. Many a young man or woman thinking that living a life of wanton pleasure, party spirit is where life is while it spirals them downward into self-pity and ruin. Here we have a gospel message for people like this yet we keep it to ourselves because of fear. Fear of offending. Fear of rejection. Fear of not saying something the right way. Yet here people are looking for some meaning in life and we withhold that life from them because of fear. Maybe we don't see the power of God that's found in that gospel (Rom. 1:16-17)? Maybe we are searching too? The Lord God is right there, found in Jesus if we would only look and get others to look.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Sometimes we need to sit and reflect about things. Reflections about our lives, our loved ones and the journey we are taking. Some bring great joy to our hearts while other things make us realize how we really missed things.
As we spent our time with our family in Texas over the Thankgiving holiday, my mind was filled with reflections. I spent a day with my brother and sister-in-law. She has a serious brain tumor that only the Lord knows what will be the outcome. I reflected on our past as we spoke. We brought up things we did and where we had gone. It was good to bring back the memories. But in the reflection I saw a strength in my sister-in-law that was extremely encouraging. She knows she has a life threatening situation but her attitude and view of it was what we would call...GODLY. She had her hope and heart set. As we reflected that was good to see.
While at my parents house, my dad told me to go out into his garage, which was his work place over the last few years since closing down his tv and appliance business, and look through the things to see what I wanted. He brought so much from his shop with him and it is all set up in his garage. There were so many memories when I would pick something up that would flood my mind. My two sons were with me and they would find something and ask me what this was or that was. I found myself explaining things to them as I reflected. My grandkids were just having fun with it all. There was an old televsion set my dad has been tinkering with for several years trying to fix and my grandaughter asked, "What is that grandpa?" I explained about the older tv's to her surprise. I showed them soldering irons, tools and parts from years gone by. There were so many things that I can't begin to say how it made me feel. I was handling my past and how my dad had been blessed by the Lord to support us. It was incredible.
It is good to reflect. Sometimes it is good to sit and reflect where we came from and how we got to where we are presently. In the whole, as we each look at the journey we have taken, make certain you reflect on the Lord who brought it all about and where He is leading us. That's a reflection that leads to our present reality. Let's reflect on our past how it brought us to the present but this isn't over yet. We still have a future, a bright and blessed future, if we just hold to the promises of God in Christ Jesus. And smile as you reflect! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Until Later..."

I want to wish all a wonderful Thanksgiving. I love the Thanksgiving holiday because it is one of those holidays where people can sit and enjoy their family together without all the craziness of gift buying and fear of debts. Just simply familes getting together and sharing in a meal.
It's a lot like some of the times in the OT. Families would sit together and eat in a meal and reflect on the Lord. I know many don't do this but what a great opportunity for each of us. The Lord has blessed us and blessed over and over. Even in our down times, we are still blessed. It's the difficulties that make one thankful or that's how it should work.
Enjoy your time to get away from everyday business! Take time with your family. Make it an opportunity to listen to those around you. You might be surprised what you hear and find out they have a heart for things you were unaware. This is my last post until after the Thanksgiving holiday. May God richly grant you His graciousness and care for you and your loved ones.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Peter Did!"

There were few as up and down as Peter. One minute we find him rebuking His Savior and the next calling out to Him to save from a situation. He fought to defend His Lord and yet denied Him at the most critical time. Peter was so different than Judas. Judas was just...well, the devil. Jesus calls Him that! Judas was a petty thief, a deceiver and greedy! Judas had no answers for life but suicide.
But that night of Jesus' arrest, Jesus tells Peter that Satan has demanded permission "to sift you like wheat." (Luke 22:31) The devil didn't have any right over Jesus. It shows his weakness in dealing with Father and Son. He had to ask permission. That alone speaks volumes to us.
That night, Peter loudly and boldly proclaimed not to allow anything to happen to his Master. But that was short lived. Peter observed Jesus taken into custody and stayed back to watch until his hand was called. "This man was with him too!" a servant-girl said (Luke 22:56). Peter denied it!  Another person approaches Peter and speaks "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." Peter didn't just deny it, he denied it with an oath (Matt. 26:72). A third bystander came up and said, "Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away." Peter didn't just deny it or swear with an oath. He began to curse and swear (Matt. 27:74). Can you imagine an apostle of the Lord doing such?
What was Peter to do? Suddenly out of nowhere, Jesus locks eyes with Peter. There you were, looking into the eyes of the Redeemer of mankind that you had just sworn and cursed about! As we would say, Peter threw Jesus under the bus. The cross was for Peter too! Peter went out and wept bitterly. Bitterly! Not just a few flowing tears but tears of pain and sorrow for having sold out the One who he said he would defend. It makes us wonder where Peter was (or the others as well) when that sky turned black upon the death of Jesus? More tears and sorrow!
But here is the thing. While Peter and Judas both walked with Jesus, they had witnessed His miracles, His working with and among people, heard His teachings of truth and knew what forgiveness of sins was. Judas didn't believe. Peter did! Jesus prayed for Peter and knew that Peter would turn after his great and horrific failure in his life. Peter did! Peter found forgiveness! Peter knew forgiveness!
We've been there. We have failed and too ashamed to ask for forgiveness but our faith won't give up asking. That part in our lives where shame and guilt hit us but we just had to respond to our Savior with an open heart. We walked in the shoes of Peter many times. The ups and downs. The arrogance and humblings. The denying and realizing we are nothing. What made Peter return? He witnessed Jesus forgiveness among many. Jesus willingly forgiving those of faith. There was a rock, a security for the heart of mankind if man would be honest. What about us? What makes us return? What makes some never to return? Jesus showed His willingness and the depth of His forgiveness. What are we going to do with that? Are we going to humble ourselves and cling to Jesus? Peter did!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Close But Far Away"

If we look closely we will see it. Here the men were, soldiers close to the cross but so far away. It meant little to them as they saw Jesus as another commoner. I don't know what really happened but John gives us a little insight: "Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. So they said to one another, 'Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be'; this was to fulfill the Scripture: 'They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.'" (John 19:23-24)
Heartless, unfeeling men below the feet of Jesus gambling for His clothing! Close to the cross but so far removed from the impact of what was happening. It makes me wonder what Mary, her sister and Mary Magdalene thought as stood by the cross watching the thoughtless and uncaring actions? What a scene that demonstrates man's calloused hearts.
But wait, could that be us today? Our eyes on everything around, our faces turned away from the cross while we claim we stand beneath it. Many have been carried away by the things of the world while claiming Christ. What about those who have little interest in worship but they claim Christ? Personal gains and condemning one another seem to run rampant. Why, if things don't go just the way we want, we take what little we have left of ourselves and walk away justifying why we did what we did. It didn't matter if Jesus wants us to love and forgive. You know we were hurt, or at least believe we were. Many are so close to the cross but so far away.
Swords of bitterness are drawn ready for battle the next time something happens. Blame, divisions, make worship about what we think is okay, another doctrine, new twists in teachings, misuse of Scripture and in some places that are so small in population, the church has 3, 4, 5 different congregations that have started all in the name of the Lord but the motive for starting them was far from the Lord. Wasn't it Jesus who spoke, "That they all may be one, just as We are one!"? (John 17:22)
Are we really so different from those soldiers that day? As they gambled for the clothes of Jesus, they were throwing eternal life away. How many are at the foot of the cross playing the same games? Little pursuit of His righteousness. Just day by day throwing away our lives. I wonder what Jesus thought that day? Too many are close but so far away. Have you ever sat down and taken serious inventory of yourself? Are you close but far away?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


"Almost!" It can be one of the saddest words that so many use today. It comes in different flavors. The one that got away. I nearly did it. It was right there in front of me. But most of the time it's "almost!" I "almost" got to play. I "almost" closed the largest sale in history. I "almost" got married. I "almost" climbed to the top.
We listen closely to Scripture and read about Jesus standing face to face with Pilate. Can you imagine? The governor standing face to face, eye to eye with His Creator and His Redeemer. The accusations were flying at Jesus past Pilate like hot volcanic rocks that have been hurled into the air. Each time Pilate brought Jesus before himself and found no crime, no fault and nothing to accuse Him. All the power that Pilate had to release Jesus was there too and Pilate knew it. Jesus did explain that Pilate's authority came from heaven above but still the decision was Pilate's to make. There are at least five times Pilate was weighing in on what to do. The crowd roared. Our Savior stood quietly. His silence had to be more deafening than the crowd yelling!
But then we have that sad word show up..."almost." Pilate's wife sent him a message to have nothing to do with this righteous man (Matt. 27:19). Pilate "almost" listened. Pilate over and over wanted to release Jesus and "almost" did. Who knows what Pilate really felt after handing Jesus over and knowing what happened from that point.
"Almost" is to fail! Just as Pilate washed his hands, that didn't eliminate the decision. One can't close their eyes to their wrongs with some outward justification and be released of their guilt. We too, because we "almost" did it God's way, we "almost" helped someone in need, we "almost" gave Jesus 100 % entrance into our heart but yet many stand still in their filth and defilement. There is no "almost" with Jesus! Jesus doesn't "almost" forgive us of everything. We are forgiven or not forgiven. We are either with Him wholly or against Him...there is no place for "almost" in relationship to Jesus.

Monday, November 14, 2011

"The Tale of Two Trees"

On that dark night of the betrayal and arrest, there were two hills being climbed. At the end of each hill was a tree. One was the hill of Calvary the other was a hill of regret. Even though Judas arranged everything, upon seeing Jesus condemned, the regret hit him hard. All Jesus saw before Him was a monumental task of bearing the sins of the world. All Judas saw before him was the monumental task of betraying innocent blood. While Jesus was giving up His life freely to save, Judas was giving up his life stricken with life-ending grief. While Jesus entrusted Himself to the Father to raise Him up, Judas was alone, died alone and lost!
Too many today are climbing a hill of regret. Mistakes made, regrets of the past, times of great anxiety, tears of frustrations and years of doubts. Sometimes the pain is on the surface while other times is deep-seated within the heart. Some can remember. Others want to forget. All want to cope!
Why are so many living lives so empty? Why does it seem so many are climbing up the same hill Judas climbed? Oh, maybe not because we betrayed the Son of God with a kiss but yet, maybe we have? Many live with such guilt and heartache they head to an end that's barren. Why?
Because they have not looked to the One who climbed the hill of Calvary! Judas choose a tree at the top of the hill to end His life. Jesus took a tree at the top of His hill that gives life. Too many refuse to embrace the forgiveness offered. Our sin bearer, our eternal Redeemer, our Covenant Maker, our Savior is the only One that can rescue us from the sins of our past and take them from us. That's what the promise is that is made. "And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." (Heb. 10:17)
The choice is ours. Jesus offers to those of faith. To those who refuse and look other directions to relieve their downtrodden past, it is a painful and pitiful life that will lead to fears. Two trees, two completely different results. Which tree will you arrive at?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Love Never Fails"

It doesn't take much to look around and see a world filled with sin. Look at families (maybe our own), crime rates, prisons overflowing, nations killing and being killed, abuse of children before they are born as well as after, murderers become hero's, divorce is pandemic and greed pushes all. We look at the church where people can't get along, won't get along. Hostilities toward one another, the church splits and splits while everyone believes they will have their share in heaven.
God speaks: "Love never fails!" (I Cor. 13:8) Never? That's what God says. Never! Man fails. Man's attempts fail but God's love...NEVER! We live in a world that glamorizes immorality and we "Don't get mad, we get even!" is prevalent. But God still speaks: "Love never fails!" Not man's love or idea of love but God's love. What's amazing, we rarely see or hear anything of God's love. God's love doesn't beg to be given room to work and enter. It simply is. God's love stands waiting for someone to respond and use it.
It happened years ago on the Larry King program. He was going to interview one of the president's closest workers. After the interview, Larry King announced to come back and watch because the next portion would simply knock you off your feet. It was about a woman who's son was killed by a drunk driver. She went to court listening, seething and hurting. As the court case drew to a conviction, she made sure the judge and jury heard her case against this man. He was sentenced to jail and to go to the schools as a public spokesman against drinking. She decided to follow him when he spoke at a high school. The first speaking she watched him closely in front of these young people and could sense a sincerity she hadn't seen before. She went to another school where he spoke and afterward walked up to him. Suddenly she couldn't speak. She smelled the alcohol on his breath and was furious, going back to court and getting the man thrown in prison for breaking the law. 
As time went by, one day her husband decided to go by and visit this man who had taken the life of their son. The husband was touched as the man was making progress. He encouraged his wife to go with him. She finally agreed. They began going to the prison each week and something began happening on both sides. You see, the lady began having bible studies with him. Eventually, he requested to be baptized into Christ. She went back to court, paying out of their own pocket to get his sentence reduced and to see if they could pick him up and bring him to worship with them. The judge was shocked but it was granted. After his release from prison, he came and lived with the family.
This true story shows the power "Love never fails!" God's love practiced will bring people together, not separate them. It was Jesus who said: "By this will all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35) What are we missing? 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Raising Children In A Whatever World"

I know it is difficult to raise godly children in a "whatever" world! It can be done. How you ask? By being a godly parent! I'm not talking about being one who says they believe but a parent who believes by following the Lord with all their heart. We need parents dedicated to the Lord filling their hearts with the godly attributes and allowing the Lord complete rights over their lives.
We need to be parents walking, talking and praying with our children when they rise up and when they lay down. Godly fathers that provide comfort, nourishing and instructing their children, keeping them from the evils that lurk. Godly mothers that will not allow the world styles of cloths, the latest fads become dominate in their lives. Too many parents are not leading their children away from the spiritual dangers and traps that are set in this world.
What would be the first thing the devil would do to children and parents? Lead them away from love of the Lord and to love the world! We are speaking of 'agape' love, the love God has for us. It is a love of sacrifice and choice for the betterment of another. Parents tend to lead their children into loving the world and the things in the world. As our children grow, many just watch them love the world more, being more dedicated to the things of the world than the Lord. Love for God is lost. Children are lost. Parents are lost. We need parents set on developing a deep, trusting relationship with God.
During a child's tender years, parents are just over-whelmed sometimes at their heart for God. Then something happens. Most can't figure it out. What happened to that little child that was thrilled with worship, bible study and singing to the Lord? It's called love. Something has stolen their love.
Step up fathers and be godly fathers! Step up mothers and be godly mothers! Your soul is at stake and so is your children. Your children will have relationships and many will be based on the spiritual character you placed within them. If they have had little guidance, their standard in their relationships will be low. We live in a "whatever" world and we need parents dedicated to the Lord more than ever to avoid "whatever!"

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Thinking With Sound Judgment"

Our society pushes us away from focusing on God and His ways. Busy! Everyone is so busy but where are we really headed in all our business? Go, run here, do this, get this done surrounds us. Worn out and frazzled is where many find themselves. The result: little sound judgement and soberness in our thinking. "...be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer." (I Pet. 4:7)
Sound judgment and soberness have behind it clear thinking and a mental calmness. When you contrast these two thoughts with I Pet. 3:3, where the terms of sensuality, lusts, drinking and idolatries (whatever takes the place of God in our lives) are spoken, we can see the need for sound judgment and soberness. Sensuality, lusts and idolatry muddle the mind. Intoxication by alcohol and drugs affect the mind physically interfering with sound judgment.
We can think back in our lives to times where something important happened to our nation and we were caught paying close attention to every detail. Everything around you at that moment was blocked out. I remember when 9-11 took place that parents went to school and pulled their children out to be home with them. There was a sobering mind set and sound judgment was being used as the important things were brought into view.
Jesus is teaching at Mary and Martha's house. Martha was put out that Mary was not helping her prepare and serve (Luke 10). Jesus calls her hand, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Martha was no longer sound in her thinking and in her distraction was losing ground. What about us? How many opportunities to gain real ground are forfeited because we aren't thinking clearly much less have a mental alertness. What do you find going on in your mind? Is your mind clear and mentally alert so you spend time in prayer? What is distracting you?
"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."  (Phil. 4:8) That's sound judgment and sober thinking!

Monday, November 7, 2011

"What Would I Say As President?"

What would I tell Congress if I were President? What would I say to the people if I were President? Hmmm.... I would tell Congress to stop all the game playing, Independent, Republican and Democrat! We need to humble ourselves in the presence of the Lord and get some Divine help for our nation. We need true direction and stop all the rhetoric.
I would tell this nation we need to come together in the word of the Lord and listen (like the days of Josiah).
I would tell all policitians to wash their necks so their shirt collars aren't dirty. Make sure they pay for their own sodas. Use their own vehicles for personal business. Buy their own stamps. Let's go fishing! Fishing always helps clear the mind so you can meditate on God's proper things. Yep, that's what I believe I would say if I were President. 
What's that? You don't think it would ever happen? Me either but just in case you were wondering what I would say, that's what I would say! Just sayin'!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"To Preach or Not to Preach"

This week I have had two dear brothers contact me asking me about preaching and wanting insight. I was requested by both to address this through my blog. I am speaking presently with a preacher that wants to quit preaching as he has been wounded by the brethren and is ready to walk away.
We must start with God. Preaching takes an honest and sincere heart for the Lord and His word. You must seek the truth and glean for yourself the things from God's word. That's where it begins. We have had those individuals instrumental in directing us but it still comes down to your heart seeking the truth and applying it properly. Will you misapply the Scripture sometimes? Absolutely! But not with intent to misapply. You just keep looking, praying and seeking and the Lord brings you around.
Back to the thought: to preach or not to preach, that is the question! There is an element I would say to all young men wanting to preach they need to understand (and also those who have matured and want to start preaching). In the line of preaching, you must realize that there will be times where brethren will use you as a whipping post! Sometimes you will be hurt. It is tough. Sometimes as a preacher, you bring on your own difficulties because of your weakness and other times people simply don't like you! Remember many didn't like Jesus either. It's not about whether someone likes you or dislikes you, it's about helping the souls.
Preaching has many challenges. The one who substitutes for someone who preaches rarely touches the challenges because people know they are a fill-in. Brethren are more merciful to a substitute.  It's when you take up that position for the Lord week in and week out that the shots will come. Now, I am not trying to discourage those wanting to preach but prepare you. The Lord is gracious and it is always a thrill to speak for Him. As a preacher you get to see people turn with the heart and move from unbelief to belief. It is wonderful to see a heart touched coming from a world of sin and death into the love of Christ. I know of nothing else more encouraging and exciting. I never felt that from winning a ball game or other things this life offers. It simply is amazing to see Jesus work in the heart and lives of others.
Have I wanted to quit? Oh yes! Have I wanted to walk away and leave a place? Absolutely! Sometimes you get feeling sorry for yourself because people berate you or treat you with contempt of what they believe to be sinful behavior on your part and you can't do anything about it. Minds and hearts get set and you just simply must endure. The people of God, surprisingly to many, can treat you worse than the world. It can become lonely from man's view and difficult. But what keeps a preacher on track? The cross before your eyes. You see Jesus attacked with words, accused of wrongs He didn't do and you realize you are trying to walk in His steps. That's good company to keep. The Lord carries you through it all.
To preach or not to preach...it depends on your heart toward the Lord. If your motive to preach comes from what you see in a class or sermon and you think you could do that, that's not a good reason. To preach because of the love of Christ and wanting others to share in His love, that's proper. It is rewarding and one day, holding to His love and faithfulness, trying to be faithful and honest with Him, you will hear the words spoken..."Well done, you good and faithful servant." Yep, preaching is about servanthood. Preaching is about Jesus. Preaching is about saving the lost and sometimes it's the church that needs saving! Preach the word!! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Jephthah the Warrior"

His name is Jephthah the Gileadite. He was a valiant warrior. His mother was a harlot. Because of his mothers reputation, Jephthah was driven out of Israel and from among his own family. Those who left with him were called "worthless fellows." (Judges 11) Suddenly, Israel found herself at war with Ammon and in dire need of help. The elders of Israel come to Jephthah asking him to come be their leader and help them fight against Ammon. Jephthah was confused as to why he was treated the way he was and now they need his leadership!
Jephthah agreed to lead Israel but under one condition: He would be their head! Jephthah spoke before Lord. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah. Jephthah made a vow to the Lord God saying, "If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the Lord's, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering." (Judges 11:30-31) What a vow to make to the Lord! As we read this, we can be sure that Jephthah was thinking an animal or something else to come out of his house upon his return. A burnt offering of such an animal would be offered with a heart of thanksgiving! But what happened next was beyond his thinking!
The Lord gave Jephthah the victory over Ammon and he returned home. The first thing that exited his house was not an animal but his own daughter. Jephthah was devastated! He knew he had made a vow to God and he could not take it back. 
How could Jephthah made such a foolish vow? Why did he not think this thing through before he made such vow? It is a horrible thought. Jephthah followed through on his vow. Devastated, heartbroken and brought low, how could he continue knowing what he had done?
We turn our attention to think about our world, every single person that lived and is living on this earth. Sin filled. Wicked. Hearts against God. Mankind following their lusts and doing all sorts of ungodly acts. Haven't we all done things we are ashamed of today? God looked upon our world from the very beginning of His creation and made a vow. I vow to offer MY SON for the sins of the world. It makes us wonder, what did Jehovah God really go through in His heart? What did He have to endure for our sake? That should give us reason to pause and reflect on our relationship to Him, don't you think? 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"Dull of Hearing"

One of the greatest dangers that we face is what the Hebrew writer was dealing with in his writing. "Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing." (Heb. 5:11)
"Dull of hearing" happens when one cannot give up their present mind set and embrace the Lord's mind set. In the context of this verse, the writer was pointing to the priesthood of Jesus and because of their mind set toward the Law, it was difficult to explain things further. We too can do the same. It becomes difficult for many in Christ to move forward because they have become "dull of hearing."
The term "dull" is 'nothros' in the Greek. It is made up of two words: (1) "no"  (2) "to push". In other words, there is no push! It comes from the idea of numb limbs of a sick lion. When the limbs are numb, they can't sense or push off them. It is the same word used in Hebrews 6:12 speaking of being "sluggish" or "lazy".
When one becomes "dull of hearing" they are difficult to teach because they have no real push to desire to listen. Their mind set is one that holds to their present and refuses to let go in order to gain. How difficult is it to explain anything to someone if they won't listen? People who say they know the word of the Lord yet stay in their present mind set, without listening carefully to His word, they are "dull of hearing." As long as one remains devoted to their present mind set, it is difficult, if not impossible to move them forward.
The "dull of hearing" can lead one into hardness of heart if the hearts not willing to listen. Paul explains in Rom. 11:8-10, speaking of the Jew's, that they were given a "spirit of stupor" which is eyes that cannot see and ears that cannot hear. Not only is "dull of hearing" a problem but being given a "spirit of stupor" on top can take one into the depths of spiritual ruin. The Lord gives according to the desires of the hearer. 
How can we avoid such traps? Be tender to the word! Listen with a heart of faith and sensitivity. Make certain you hear and if you are convicted, don't fight it but submit to the voice of the Lord. Our very souls depend on the condition of our hearts and we need to watch over our hearts diligently to make certain we follow and hear in purity. The majority of time, it's not the subject matter is difficult, it's not the messenger but it can lie in the heart of the hearers."Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life." (Prov. 4:23)  

Monday, October 31, 2011

"Sabbath Day"

The Lord gave Israel their Sabbath day but it was His Sabbath! "But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'You shall surely observe My Sabbath's; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you many know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. Therefore you are to observe the Sabbath, for it is holy to you." (Ex. 31:13-14a) The Sabbath was given to God's people as a gift but it was His Sabbath! Everything in time and life belongs to the Lord.
The Sabbath was a witness of the relationship between Jehovah and Israel. It was holy and day that the relationship was dwelt upon, prayers offered and the heart tuned with the One who had purchased them from bondage. Their prayers showed appreciation. Their readings spoke to their heart from the Almighty. Their day of rest was a reminder of the covenant given by Yahweh. That day drew people together in the power of fellowship. It reminded each one their relationship with Yahweh and the community they were in fellowship with.
What about us? Our community of believers begins at our immersion into Christ. At that time and moment, they begin to share their Lord in common. Cleansed, belonging to Jehovah God who purchased them with His blood. This community is marked out different than anyone else that exists. We know the blood of Christ speaking to us about our covenant (Heb. 8). We gather on God's holy day of rest. Our prayers show appreciation. The reading and teaching of God's word is from the Almighty. Our communing in the Supper expresses love not only for the Lord who purchased us but also for one another. It's a community! It what marks us different from any others on the face of this earth.
The Sabbath and it observance rang a message both in the heart of the people and love for the Lord's day of rest. They had their once a year Passover. Circumcision was a once-in-a-lifetime act. The Sabbatical Year was every seven years. But the Sabbath day was weekly and powerful. Maybe we need to take some time and read about the Sabbath that Jehovah God pronounced as holy to be observed and reflect on our part that we have something greater...the blood of Christ that purchased us. What are we doing each first day of the week, our Sabbath from the Lord?

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Over the years we have met people in Christ Jesus that are militant for "the truth", but are oblivious to the attitudes of "the spirit". Then there are those who are all about attitudes of "the spirit", but are just as flippant toward "the truth". Does that make us unable to worship "in spirit" and "in truth" at the same time?
Maybe it has to do with our genetic makeup? Is it that people are reacting to their upbringing and are living in opposition to parents who were too extreme one way or the other? Could it be that some people are like older son in the prodigal Jesus related in Luke 15 who stood in stiff judgment against a sinful (but repentant) brother? Maybe some people are like the sinful younger brother, who just wanted to find acceptance after foolishly wandering into his personal desires?
Is it that men are more logical and women are more nurturing? Could it be that folks from the period of the Great Depression and World War II have a different mindset from the baby-boomers and other sociological groups? Maybe it's the environment one grows up in? Maybe it's the inherited genetic characteristics that each one of us is born with? Or could it be the influences of astrological heavenly bodies? Maybe it's global warming? Or could it be that God has so designed us that it is impossible for us to obey His commands?
That's a lot of questions to ponder. That's a lot of reasons people explain things away. One more question: could it possibly be that those who cannot worship God in both spirit and truth are actually false worshippers? Listen to the very words of Jesus: "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers." (John 4:23) I wonder what God seeks?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"It's A Mess Sometimes"

We have recorded from Scripture that nations or people can get so far removed from God that it requires a complete overhaul. After Israel split into two kingdoms, the northern ten tribes known as Israel, consistently rebelled and had evil kings. The two southern tribes, known as Judah, remained more steadfast but still drifted. When things get so far from the Lord, the Lord will fix it! Many times the nations are just done away with.
His name was Josiah (II Kings 22). The nation had wandered from the Lord and Hilkiah the high priest found the book of the law from God. It apparently had been missing. Here's what Josiah did when the book was read in his presence:
(1) He destroyed Topheth, a shrine where people sacrificed their children in fire to the pagan god Molech.
(2) He removed all pagan symbols from the entrance to God's temple.
(3) He burned the chariots that were dedicated to the sun.
(4) He pulled down pagan altars that had been built on the roof and in the courtyard of the temple.
(5) He desecrated the high places of honor to pagan gods that Solomon had built for his wives many, many years earlier.
(6) He destroyed the unholy sacred stone and cut down the ungodly Asherah poles.
(7) He destroyed the altar at Bethel that king Jeroboam had built there centuries before.
(8) He took the bones from nearby tombs of the wicked and burned them on their pagan sites to defile the grounds.
(9) He slaughtered the priests who served the pagan god throughout the regions of Judah.
(10) He directed the people back to God and celebrated the holy day known as "Passover."

Josiah made a stand for the Lord Jehovah. It was extreme and drastic. He cleaned up the mess in one generation that had developed over many, many years. Josiah dies and the nation left God again. In 606 B.C., God sent the Babylon king Nebuchadnezzar to defeat Judah and enslave the people for 70 years. They had opportunities but their hearts would never remain firm.
Today, we have our nation pushing God out every time the opportunity is given. In the church across this nation, we have people who are making a mess of things for the Lord. It's heart-wrenching to watch. We need to preach the gospel message loud and clear. I pray we can get this mess cleaned up before the Lord steps in, don't you?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Deception is all around us. In fact, we can easily deceive ourselves. How? Just not believe the truth! It is easy to believe in something thinking it is true while it really isn't. This is stated well in Gal. 6:7: "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap." Let's think about this. How many "believe" they can go against God, believe as they want to believe and still be saved in the end? People sow in their lives to outbursts, harshness, lying, cheating and believe they will be saved in the end. God will never allow sinful man to ridicule Him or turn their nose up at Him. Man cannot and will not be allowed to impose upon God anything that is wrong. It is Jehovah who discerns the thought and intents of the heart.
What's the end result? You will reap back into your life exactly what you have given out. That's the determination of God. Man sows and reaps because God determines according to the heart. Years back while speaking in Tennessee, a fellow came and spoke with me about how angry he was with another person in the congregation. He went into details about what he believed was abuse by this other brother. The more he spoke, the more he revealed how his own life was coming unraveled. The heartache, the sleepless nights and finding little peace. I asked him to listen to what he was saying and look at the above verse. It was like a new revelation came to him. About a month after returning home, the man called me and thanked me because his heart had been abused for ten years and he realized it was him, not the other man who he thought was the problem. There is a God! He is alive! Our God makes promises and those promises will not be broken or violated by any man or woman.
We will reap what we sow! We sow what we believe! If what we believe is wrong either in attitude or concept, where do you think that will lead us? It blocks us from seeing the whole truth about God! God is serious. We will reap what we sow. That should keep all of us in a proper mind set, to be careful of our attitudes and hold tightly to the Lord who controls all things!

Monday, October 17, 2011

"The Paid Debt"

Fiorello LaGuardia was the mayor of New York City during the worst days of the Great Depression and World War II. He was known as a man of colorful character. He would take entire orphanages to baseball games and, whenever the New York newspapers were on strike, he would go on the radio and read the funnies from past newpapers to kds that were listening. He loved children.
It was a bitterly cold night, January 1935. Mayor LaGuardia went to a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself. Within a few minutes, a worn out, beaten down elderly lady was brought before him, charaged with stealing a loaf of bread. She spoke in a shaky voice, telling Mayor LaGuardia that her daughter's husband had deserted her. Her daughter was sick and her grandchildren were starving. The storekeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop the charges. "It's a bad neighborhood, your Honor." the man spoke. "She's got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson!"
LaGuardia turned to the woman and said, "I have to be just and punish you! The law makes no exceptions - $10 or 10 days in jail!" Then the most incredible thing happened. The mayor stood up, reaching into his pocket, took out $10 and placed it into his famous sombrero. Then the following statement: "Here is your fine which I now remit! Furthermore, I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom 50 cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat! Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant!"
The following day, the New York City newspaper reported $47.50 was collected and turned over to a bewildered old lady who had stolen a loaf of bread.
When read something like this, it reminds us all of God and His grace toward mankind. We are in debt beause of our sins (Rom. 6:23). God is just and righteous and His righteousness will not allow ANY sin over-looked! All sin must be punished. That's the righteous judgment of God. God reached deep into His heart and sent His Son on a death mission, to redeem us by paying the debt Himself (I Pet. 1:18-19).
Jesus demonstrated the grace of God and His love for us (Rom. 5:8-11). We didn't earn anything but death. His grace, His love should affect us to the deepest part of our beings! We should be a reflection of His grace in the way our lives are lived before others (Titus 2:11-14). We sing: "His grace reaches me!" Do we believe it?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Chewing The Cud"

David speaks in Psa. 119 about meditating on the word (Psa. 119:148). Have you ever thought about the idea of meditate? First, David cries out to God with an honest heart and a willingness to observe His testimonies and statutes. If we are to make any progress, there must be an honest heart before the Lord. Secondly, David could not wait to hear the word of God. He had a zeal to want to hear and loved listening to God through His word. If we are going to move ahead spiritually, there must be a zeal, a desire to listen to God and His word. We cannot be stubborn or take a 'relaxed' attitude toward what God speaks.
Finally, David wants to meditate on God's word. What does it mean to meditate? It is calling to mind and thinking over, dwelling upon and actively applying God to your life situations. How many times do we really meditate on God's word? From the Hebrew word 'meditate' we get our English word "ruminate". It literally means 'to chew the cud'. It's like a cow that chews and re-chews the cud to extract all the nutrients from it. We need to approach God's word at times and chew the cud.
Recently while teaching one of my classes, I told the people instead of going over a section we quickly move through, we are going to slow down and chew the cud. It was helpful and insightful. What we must do is not measure ourselves by our abilities God has given us (but we need to use them for His service) or our knowledge of learned Bible verses we can quote but we need to measure ourselves by what goes on in our heart! Your heart is the seat of all your thinking and actions. It is the workshop of your being. If the heart allows corruption or self-seeking ways to be seated, misuse and corruption of God's teaching will abound. We need to give our hearts completely to the Lord, allowing God to have a complete and final say in our hearts while we sit quietly and chew the cud!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"I Don't Love Her!"

While speaking at a lectureship, a fellow about 45 yrs. of age, asked to speak with me personally to discuss some difficulties in his marriage. He opened the conversation with the words, "I am having a mid-life crisis!" He and his wife had been married for 23 yrs. and he began relating how their relationship had changed drastically and he was unfulfilled. His final statement was: "I just don't love her anymore! Am I free to move on with my life and be happy?" I knew what he was asking. I responded with the following: "Is she in Christ Jesus?" He said, "Yes!" I next asked, "That means she is your sister in Christ too. Would you love her as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her?" He winced and said, "That's so hard with the way I feel." I continued, "Would you love her as your sister in Christ (I John 3:14-16)?" He looked down and said, "Why are you making things so difficult for me?" Once more I spoke, "If you don't love her anymore, and you see her as your enemy, would you love your enemy and pray for her (Matt. 5:44-45)?" Silence now ruled the conversation. His unhappiness had nothing to do with his wife but his relationship to the Lord.
Often I have heard married couples state they have "fallen out of love." God's will for us is to love on every level. The world speaks about happiness and find your soul mate. If one marriage doesn't work out, find one that will. God speaks to the husband to love their wife as Christ loves the church. God speaks the wife is to love her husband (Titus 2:4). These aren't just nice suggestions by God but a way of life for those living in relationship to Him.
Love is a choice! It's a sacrificial love that seeks the highest good of another more than itself. It's the same identical love that Jesus loves us (Eph. 5:2). Why do people fall out of love with one another? Because they fail to practice the love of God for one another. The one that does not love does not know God (I John 4:8). When a husband or wife finds themselves struggling with the other, if they will put on Christ Jesus and walk in His love, they will find the true love they were missing and desiring all those years. Happiness will be the result. If one refuses to practice the love of God for their mate, their lives will head down the road to more and more defeats and struggles that will eventually consume the heart and destroy the soul. God's ways are always the best and if we believe God, we will follow His will which leads us to life and godliness.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Jesus Asks For Entrance"

It is so easy to say we love the Lord. What's even easier is to believe we love while our hearts and lives show something else. Jesus is Lord are not some words penned down for us to agree on. When the gospel of Christ Jesus is preached, Jesus isn't just asking to let Him into your heart. The gospel speaks that Jesus is Lord no matter what anyone else believes! This King of kings and Lord of lords offers to us His fellowship. Just think, us, the weak and sometimes rebellious and He desires a relationship.
We must be willing to allow God complete entrance. God knows who He is and is calling us into a relationship with Him. God doesn't force Himself but gently through Jesus knocks on the doors of our hearts asking for entrance. What does that entrance look like?
It looks like Himself. The gentle, the merciful and lovingly loving others. To allow Christ entrance we see compassion and acceptance of one another. The Lordship of Jesus rebukes us when we have wandered into sin not because we are just sinful. He knows that! It is because we are rejecting His Lordship and He wants to maintain a relationship. But the Lord of heaven and earth won't demand of us entrance. We have to be humble, willing and tender in heart. We must be honest in every aspect of ourselves.
To many are wearing a cloak of looking good in the eyes of others while our hearts are filled with vile and ugliness. The heart is what the Lord wants. The heart is where Jesus asks for entrance. The heart is the most deceitful part of our being (Jer. 17:9). The heart must belong to the Lord or we are fooling ourselves. What does the entrance to the heart look like? JESUS!

Monday, October 10, 2011

"You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet!"

There must be something so impressive, too wonderful for words about going to the Lord for eternity. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Peter writes: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you." (I Pet. 1:3-4) Looking around us with our physical eyes, hearing with our physical ears all the evil, turmoil and heartache that surrounds us make us wonder what really is to come? We just can't grasp what awaits. Aw, but can we?
Looking closely at the cross and the resurrected Christ, a message is sent. If we would just look and listen. A message and a hope starts coming into view. It's not obtained with the physical eyes or ears but seeing the unseen through a heart of faith. Jesus ascended, took His place in the presence of God for us (Heb. 9:24). Paul saw it! "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most pitied." (I Cor. 15:19)
The young die and we cry. The older ones die and we cry. Is this all life is about?  His life is the proof this is only the beginning, not the completion! Looking at the cross and resurrected Christ speaks to us: "You ain't seen nothin' yet!"

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Looking At Love"

Jesus spoke: "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them." (Luke 6:32) We hear often about love. Christian people speak of love, loving their brother and just love, love, love. It is from God but let's examine the teaching of Jesus a little deeper.
As long as all goes well and everyone is getting along it's all love. "We love the brethren!" "We love this congregation!" "We love the preacher!" Something happens that mixes in our heart. Someone didn't shake my hand and walked right by me. Someone didn't acknowledge my struggles. No one thanked me for my efforts. Suddenly, the heart grasps hold of the hurt and what happens? A slow darkness begins to settle over us. Our attitudes toward an individual or congregation begin to change. It grows worse each time we see this individual or individuals and please, don't let them talk to me about being a Christian! Our disposition becomes sour. What's worse, it is such a subtle darkness that has taken hold that many can't recognize the darkness. John speaks this way: "But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes." (I John 2:11)
Jesus said if we love those who love us, His love makes little impact in our lives. Sinners, those separated from the Lord can love on that level. Godly love that comes from the Father into our hearts is a love that will not take any wrongs and let them fester! Love is not self-seeking or self-centered. True cross-bearing love reaches out even when we think we have been hurt. It takes on the heart of Christ Jesus and doesn't allow feelings to turn them another direction. They still promote selflessness, commitment to the best for others and not consider themselves. They won't allow hurts to be harbored and look for opportunities to do good to those who have hurt them. How do we gain such love? Through Christ Jesus our Lord. Didn't He do that to you?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"What Do We Say?"

We all know of people that are troubled in heart or bearing some difficulty. It pains us to see such and we want to do what we can to help them bear such a heavy load (Gal. 6:2). Many times I am asked, "What do you say to people that are so troubled in heart?" It's a great question that needs to be answered.
There is nothing wrong with telling someone you sympathize with them and will hold them in your prayers. That is a good response. They need to know you are taking them to the Father. We sometimes take a meal to help in their time of need and that too is good. It is a need of the moment. After the visit or the meal that was all so needed, what do we say that would stick with them? Something they could draw from when they face their pains alone?
Here comes Peter, writing to Jewish Christian's who are going through some terrible ordeals. They are being despised by society, suffering and more is to come. What did this inspired apostle say? Look closely at chapter 1:1-9. There we find the real substance, something they could draw from in their difficult lives. He points the mercy of God the Father and a living hope. He tells them of Christ's work on their behalf. They (we) have an inheritance that is so marvelous that is never fading and protected by God's power. They had a place reserved in the presence of God and it was not going away or be touched by anyone! What a lesson to hear. 
Peter doesn't deny the troubles but calls on their faith to rise above and see what God has done. But that's not all. In chapter 2 he reminds them who they are in God's sight. They were the chosen, the people of God's own possession, a mercy-received people. What news to the ears. Peter calls their faith to look at the accomplishment that is on their behalf.
Here we have brothers and sisters troubled. We have brethren around the world struggling, facing difficulties we would never face. What would you tell them? We should never forget they are troubled but don't they need to hear who they are and where they are headed? 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"What Is Our Purpose?"

Why do we exist? Have you ever thought about that? Why are we here? People seem to have many different ideas to answer that. Let's look at this briefly.
In God creating this world, the animals were created from the dust of the ground just as man. The difference between man and animal is that animals possess only "animal life." They have no soul, no eternal part within them to exist forever. Animals were simply created from the earth (Gen. 2:19). We as humans were given a soul, a life living, eternal soul. Man was created in the image of God while animals weren't. (That kind of destroys the notion of evolution!)
To be created in the image of God is a great act of love and kindness. When we love someone, we try to impress upon them how much we care for them and so it is with God. He wants man to take His love and have a loving, living relationship with Him. God walked with man created in His image in the garden. Talking, showing and sharing in a close relationship that no animal on the face of the earth ever shared in. God created man to spend time with, to share in life together extending fellowship. Can you imaging God wanting to have fellowship with us, desiring us? Here came sin, the very enemy of God. It marred the relationship and pushed God to the side. God drove man from His presence because of sin (Gen. 3:24). From that day to present, man began his existence separated from His Creator and our eternal soul was doomed. The very soul God created!
God wanted fellowship with man and still does to this day. He grieved over man's condition. He longed for the closeness with man. He called Moses to deliver His people from bondage. A tabernacle was constructed in the middle of the people so the Creator could be with them and dwell among them. Solomon came onto the scene and he built a temple for the same reason. God lived in the presence of man. But this wasn't enough. God sent His Son, His only begotten in the form of man and He lived among us showing how much God cares. Christ died because man was hostile. That's what sin does! Jesus Christ raised and ascended back to the Father. Out of the death and resurrection of our Lord came into existence of a spiritual body called "the church. Through this body of Jesus, God reaches out among men and women separated from Himself. Christ's body does not exist for itself, to promote itself but it is the extension of the love of God reaching out to man saying, "I want a relationship with you." The love of God for mankind is seen or should be seen in the church.
Why do we exist? What is really our purpose? To bring a gospel message to those unreconciled, separated from the Lord that it doesn't have to be that way. You can live forever, eternally with God. In our existence, we bring glory to God (Eph. 1:6) because the grace of God is trying to save those created in the image of God!

Monday, October 3, 2011


It can happen so easily. Bitterness can start in the heart, put down roots and grow. Before you know it, one day when the right circumstances arise, out it comes. I have seen it over and over in marriages where a mate was injured in the past and when the time is right, they release that pinned up bitterness and let it out. It is destructive and the Lord cannot work in a heart where any bitterness dwells. The Lord cannot co-exist with sinful attitudes!
The Greek term "pikria" is the word for bitterness. It is used in Acts 8:23 where Peter calls Simon, "For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity." Simon wanted and could not obtain so it created bitterness in his heart which allowed iniquity to enslave him.
In Ephesians 4:31, Paul addresses each member of the church to put away all  bitterness, wrath and anger. It seems that bitterness keeps company with wrath and anger! Bitterness has no part of God. Bitterness results in what someone believes to be accumulative hurts. Those hurts are held to and before long, one is laid upon another until wrath and anger result. The solution? Being tender-hearted and forgiving each other just as God has done for us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 4:32) If anyone could have been bitter at us, it would be Jesus. Look at all the hurts we have caused Him, piled upon Him yet what do we find when we turn with all our heart? Forgiveness and compassion. Should we not lay that as a base in our heart?
Recently while dealing with a dear friend of mine in which he faces false accusations for something he did not do, we spoke about bitterness working its way into the heart. He shared with me how he had to keep it from his heart. As a result, his eyes were opened to all the good the Lord was doing and how things were being helped in his life. Thankfulness resulted instead of bitterness. A heart of faith started emerging instead of a heart of bitterness.
The Hebrew writer speaks that a root of bitterness in the heart, as it takes hold and grows can spring up causing trouble and defile others (Heb. 12:15). The worst part is it will keep one from the grace of God! Again, God does not co-exist with sinful attitudes in the heart. When bitterness takes root, suddenly it springs up and sends its pain to anyone that will listen. Now the innocent are defiled. Bitterness never helped one person but drives people into unloving and hurtful practices. It's impossible to find the Lord in that! Just look to the cross, see our debt paid and ask, "What if the Lord dealt with me the way I deal with others?"