Weekly Study Guide

As a minister I believe the only true way to study is to look at verses in the context of which they were written.   These HJD messages and the scriptures are done for that purpose.  Each verse listed is a link to the whole chapter.  Simply click on the verse and you will be taken to the whole chapter for further reading.  I chose the translation “The Message” as it is in the language of today so we can relate.  I encourage you to study with passion each verse in many translations.   Enjoy and I pray this blesses you over and over.

Perry


October 3rd, 2-21

Happy Jesus Day!

The Truth Of Our Being

He never held back.  He never questioned why!  He never asked are you worthy?  What religion are you? Where do you come from?  He never wondered why they needed help…  why do they think they deserve it?  He never once refused to help someone in need.  Our Savior… our Jesus… healed those who asked.  Gave advice to those who pondered.  Gave help to those in need… and not one time do I see where he judged before or after.  He simply did his fathers work, to the best of his ability, and without hesitation.  Many times I am asked, “why do you help all those on the street”?  “You have no idea what they do with the money”.  Doesn’t matter!  Christ would.  Why do you give second chances to those with a criminal record? Doesn’t matter!  Christ would.  Why do you love without limit and without forethought?  Because Christ would.  There is a difference between the way of our being and the truth of our being.  The world teaches the way they think we should be.  Christ teaches the truth of the way we should be.  I think we all should be following the truth of our being.  The truth of our being is simply love.  Anything else is falling short of the spirit within us… that is Jesus.

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
“I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.
Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.
Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Colossians 4:5;
Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.
Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
18I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”
Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.
This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.
Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help.

September 26th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Speak To Me

It’s amazing how you can speak right to my heart.  Father… without saying a word you can light up the dark.  Each day as I find myself surrounded by so many negative people, and so much evil, your love gives me peace. A love that can only be found in your presence.  Your arms wrap me in a positive warmth, that only you can provide.  The light that shines new each day comes from the hope that is found in your grace… your love…  Your heart, speaks to my heart, in ways that I can only understand when I take the time to be still, and truly know who you are.  When I put aside the worlds negative view… and fully concentrate on the love you provide.  A love that is humble… accepting…understanding… and never ending. A love that gives me assurance of a future with you, and your father.  A love I will never fully comprehend. A love I can firmly place my faith in, and give my heart to.  Father, give me the wisdom to hear when you speak.  Give me the understanding to know what you are saying.  To hear with an open heart, and a creative mind, that I may come to truly know your ways… your truth. 

 
Don’t Throw It All Away
So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body.
So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
God is a safe place to hide,
ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
the tremors that shift mountains.
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
“But blessed is the man who trusts me, God,
the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees replanted in Eden,
putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts,
bearing fresh fruit every season.
Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next. May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!
“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.
Can any one of you convict me of a single misleading word, a single sinful act? But if I’m telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Anyone on God’s side listens to God’s words. This is why you’re not listening—because you’re not on God’s side.”

September 19th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Loving Anyway!

As we talked…  I expressed to him the heart of our Savior.  The longer we visited, the more he become uncomfortable.  Every human, deserves our love and respect, as they are children of God. Each one made in his image… given a purpose… given a part of his spirit.   Because each person holds Christ DNA in them, we are to love them all.  He commented,  “what about the guy that steals from me”?  Jesus says give him your coat also.  “What about the guy who harms me”?  Jesus says turn the other cheek so he can hit it too.  He was struggling.  He was having trouble understanding, because the world he was raised in, taught just the opposite.   Then he commented.  “if he has done something to me, then he loses my love… my respect”.  So now we are ranking sin based on what is important to you?  Should we operate off of Christ standards… or our own?  Christ and God do not rank sin.  One is bad… the next is the same.  However, we operate from our own scale.  We see sins’ in a hierarchy.  The lie I told yesterday, could not be as bad, as the murder he committed.  It is but for the GRACE of our Savior that any of us can rest.  I for one, am so THANKFUL, that my Savior does not lose love and respect for me, because of my actions. 

Jude1:22-23;
Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven.
Romans 3:23;
The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift.
Romans 12:10;
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
Romans 15:1-2;
Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”
James 2:10;
You do well when you complete the Royal Rule of the Scriptures: “Love others as you love yourself.” But if you play up to these so-called important people, you go against the Rule and stand convicted by it. You can’t pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God’s law and ignoring others. The same God who said, “Don’t commit adultery,” also said, “Don’t murder.” If you don’t commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder? No, you’re a murderer, period.
1 Peter 3:8-12;
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.
Whoever wants to embrace life
and see the day fill up with good,
Here’s what you do:
Say nothing evil or hurtful;
Snub evil and cultivate good;
run after peace for all you’re worth.
God looks on all this with approval,
listening and responding well to what he’s asked;
But he turns his back
on those who do evil things.
Colossians 3:12-14;
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

September 12th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

It’s All About Jesus!

Monday! Most of us don’t like Monday! To me, it offers new hope and a chance to be back with the people, I love to work with.  However, this particular Monday, was a day full of disappointment and frustration.  There were times, I felt as though it couldn’t get any worse.  People who say they love you… but leave.  People who say they want what is best… but do not do their best. Religious leaders who reflect only the world.  Then I saw it! Our Saviors letters and the stories he left for us.  It only takes a moment to remember… it’s all about Jesus.  Doesn’t matter what others say or do.  It’s all about Jesus.  Doesn’t matter what the outcome is.  It’s all about Jesus.  Doesn’t matter that others are rude and angry.  It’s all about Jesus.  Doesn’t matter if the world likes you, or not.  It’s all about Jesus.  When the world knocks us down.  When others disappoint.  When people could care less about you.  When the world shows hatred… malice… envy…  violence and indifference.  All that matters is Jesus.  When he is front and center in your life, you will return hatred, with love.  Malice, with compassion. Envy, with sharing. Violence, with peace.  Indifference, with caring.  It’s simply all about Jesus.  What a comfort that is… in this crazy world.

All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.
Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.
The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
20-21Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
“To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

September 5th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

So Many And Yet One!

So many!  As I stand on 16th street in Denver, so many people. Sitting. Standing. Walking.  I try to see each one.  I don’t want to see a forest… I want to see a tree!  So many, that it would be easy to look at them as a crowd, but I desire to see a person.  To notice each.  To try to see Christ in this one and that.  As he stopped to ask if I had a cigarette,  I noticed his face was severely disfigured. He was missing his nose along with other scars.  Now homeless… I asked if he could use some money.  My heart aches as I think, but for the grace of God… go I.  If I had a handicap such as his… would I be on the street, as well?  Did he turn to drugs to run from the pain? Did he turn to the street to escape the ridicule.  I tried to visit with him, but he was gone as fast as he came. I would have told him that one day there will be no more scars.  One day his nose would be whole again.  For now, all I can do is pray, that he finds peace in our Savior.  Our Savior always saw the person… and not the crowd.  I pray that he blinds me, to the mass of people, and leads me to the one that needs a kind word.  We can make a difference… we just have to take the time. 

“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’
So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.
What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.
Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote,
God is there, ready to help;
I’m fearless no matter what.
Who or what can get to me?
Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.
“Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, walk away from the baby she bore? But even if mothers forget, I’d never forget you—never.
Listen, God, I’m calling at the top of my lungs:
“Be good to me! Answer me!”
When my heart whispered, “Seek God,” my whole being replied,
“I’m seeking him!” Don’t hide from me now!

August 29th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Do You Reflect HIM?

Do you struggle to understand as I do?  Daily I see people, many who call themselves Christ followers, doing everything, but reflecting the heart of the Savior.  Daily I think:  Everything I do… everything I say… the way I act… the way I conduct business… the way I treat others… is a direct reflection on the one I follow.  When I wear the name Christian.  When I profess to follow Christ.  Others look to me… to see what HE is like.  Do I truly understand his heart?  Do others see him in me or the world?  I go to a Christian concert, and I watch as people shove to be first in line.  As they throw down their trash.  I observe, as they yell at each other over a parking place.  Is that Christ?  I deal with church leaders who are deceitful… hurtful… and self-serving… Is that Christ?  When I was a kid, I behaved, not because I was afraid of getting in trouble.  I was good, because I wanted to reflect well on my earthly father, whom I adored.  Should we not do even more, for our heavenly father?  Tomorrow, as you go through your day, look to his heart in everything you do.  Reflect his love to everyone you meet.  Above all else be the mirror of his spirit.  That, and only that, will bring others to him, and put a smile on his face.  

Wake Up from Your Sleep
1-2Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
3-4Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.
5You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.
6-7Don’t let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don’t even hang around people like that.
8-10You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.
If someone claims, “I know him well!” but doesn’t keep his commandments, he’s obviously a liar. His life doesn’t match his words. But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature love. This is the only way to be sure we’re in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.
Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.
These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their heart isn’t in it.
They act like they’re worshiping me,
but they don’t mean it.
They just use me as a cover
for teaching whatever suits their fancy.”
They say they know God, but their actions speak louder than their words. They’re real creeps, disobedient good-for-nothings.
Friend, don’t go along with evil. Model the good. The person who does good does God’s work. The person who does evil falsifies God, doesn’t know the first thing about God.
Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
1-3So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.
The Stone
4-8Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life. The workmen took one look and threw it out; God set it in the place of honor. Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God. The Scriptures provide precedent:
Look! I’m setting a stone in Zion,
a cornerstone in the place of honor.
Whoever trusts in this stone as a foundation
will never have cause to regret it.
To you who trust him, he’s a Stone to be proud of, but to those who refuse to trust him,
The stone the workmen threw out
is now the chief foundation stone.
For the untrusting it’s
. . . a stone to trip over,
a boulder blocking the way.
They trip and fall because they refuse to obey, just as predicted.
9-10But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.
11-12Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.

August 22nd, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

He Is Standing Near

Five thousand had come. Matthew says men, which meant many women as well.   All they heard was grumbling, and throws of insults, as everyone was hungry.  As the twelve checked their bank book, they soon realized, they had not enough money to feed the crowd.  They were frightened… worried… afraid of what the people might do.  How easily they had forgotten who was with them.  Who was standing near.  They forgot who was about to speak, to this mob of people.  Yet while they worried, Jesus took five loaves, and a few small fish, and fed the thousands. In the blink of an eye…  problem solved.  He not only fed them, but had twelve baskets, of left overs.  What seems like an insurmountable problem to us… is but a whisper to God.  What seems like a never ending nightmare… is but a day dream to our Savior.  Are you standing near to him, yet have forgotten who he is?  Are you listening to him speak, but don’t trust him to solve the problem?     No matter what… when… or how big… he will turn a few loaves, into a feast.  You simply have to trust… hand it to him… and watch him work.  Then when he is done, sit back, and listen to him speak.

and he is before all things, and in him all things consist.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
And God is able to make all grace abound unto you; that ye, having always all sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every good work:
And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.
Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.
casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you.
The Lord gives perfect peace to those whose faith is firm.
So always trust the Lord because he is forever our mighty rock.

August 15th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

What He Ask or What He Needs?

Do you give God what he asks for… or what he needs?  When this question entered my thoughts I found it to be strange. God doesn’t need anything from us.  The more I have contemplated, the more I have come to understand, the depth behind this question, the Holy Spirit put on my heart.  There are those that follow rules.  There are those that are happy to stand behind years of tradition, and years of never ending patterns, in a hope to find God.  They come to believe, that God wants us to follow this rule or that.  If we don’t give him what he asked for, he will be unhappy with us.  Some believe he wants us to perform a certain way.  After forty seven years of walking side by side with him, I have come to realize what he needs from us… is simply love.  What he needs… is simply a relationship.  True love means you don’t need rules that are written down.  True love means you will do what is needed… when it is needed… simply because you love.  I don’t wash the dishes because I’m afraid my wife will be unhappy if I don’t.  I do it because I love her.  True love means you don’t find favor with another, simply because they perform to a certain level. You find favor… because they are the one you truly love.

I don’t want to hear any of you bragging about yourself or anyone else. Everything is already yours as a gift—Paul, Apollos, Peter, the world, life, death, the present, the future—all of it is yours, and you are privileged to be in union with Christ, who is in union with God.
And now I have it all—and keep getting more! The gifts you sent with Epaphroditus were more than enough, like a sweet-smelling sacrifice roasting on the altar, filling the air with fragrance, pleasing God to no end. You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes.
The God that made the world and all things therein, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25neither is he served by men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him; and he is before all things, and in him all things consist.
But woe unto you Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and every herb, and pass over justice and the love of God: but these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

August 8th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Fervor For Life!

He had no idea the affect he was having on me.  He made an impact on my life, after twenty short minutes of knowing him.  He was simply doing his job with fervor, with zeal.  After many times of being in Juvenile  Detention he joined a program that changed his life.  A year long plan that takes young people, in trouble and teaches them how to work.  How to do life.  How to love and honor others.  He was now back at the restaurant, that houses this program, as a supervisor and lighting up the room with his spirit.  Through tear filled eyes, I hugged this young man and told him how proud I was of who he had become.  Once a stranger… now a young man that had my heart!  You never know, each day, who’s life you are touching and how it can affect them.  Do you touch lives for good… or bad?  Are people better for having crossed your path… or worse?  It doesn’t matter where you are… who you encounter… as followers of Christ it is our job to show love.  To show hope.  To show a fervor for life. To create happiness and caring with everyone, each day. JD learned that lesson, at the young age of twenty.  I think we need more JD’s in this world.

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.
So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.
But if you correct those who care about life,
that’s different—they’ll love you for it!
Save your breath for the wise—they’ll be wiser for it;
tell good people what you know—they’ll profit from it.
Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”
Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

August 1st, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Love To Overflowing

He could have walked away.  He could have stuck by his claim when he said “Woman it is not my time”.  Out of love for his mother, he went ahead and turned the water into wine.  Not just any wine, but the kind you find on the top shelf.  Wine that would cost several hundred dollars a bottle, in today’s world.  Why not cheap wine?  Why not wine that you would buy at the local convenience store?  Because he came to bring life… to bring it to abundance… not just a mediocre existence but life in full glory.  Should we not do the same, because he did and does?  “When you do something do it as if your working for the Lord”.  Christ never once said “I am only going to do a little because that is all you deserve”.  He never said “I am only going to save a few, because not all deserve my grace”. Instead he worked tirelessly, to fulfill the work of his father, and he did it in abundance.  Daily I encounter people who only want to get by.  Some who claim the title “Christian” but only want to do the bare minimum, in an effort to get a reward.  Those that want something for nothing.  In everything you do, whether for money or not, do it in abundance.  Then sit back and watch.  He will provide to overflowing. 
Servants, obey in all things them that are your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord: whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance: ye serve the Lord Christ. For he that doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.
but God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us
For I am come down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.
And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth.

July 25th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

A Place In The Heart

Why do we insist on playing God?  Daily I have conversations with people that rank sin. They judge other peoples lives based on the sin they perceive.  Those who judge, based on one lifestyle or another, feed their egos by thinking that my interpretation of scripture is right, and yours is wrong.  Why do so many of us, presume to know the heart of God, simply because we can quote scripture, one after another?  When you understand the heart of our Savior, you see a man who embraced all people.  A man who took the laws of the time and threw them out the window.  A man who took every human, from every walk of life, and every lifestyle, and made them his own.  Jews… Gentiles… Samaritans… Prostitutes… Evil infested… Lepers… and everyone in between.  He loved them!  Accepted them!  Sat them in a place of honor and formed relationships with them. He cultivated friendships and sat down to eat with them.   It is not about keeping laws.  It is about love… it is about relationships.  Mostly It’s about forgiveness… and it is a place in the heart. 
We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours.
Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me cast out the mote out of thine eye; and lo, the beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
Wherefore thou art without excuse, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest dost practise the same things. And we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against them that practise such things. And reckonest thou this, O man, who judgest them that practise such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
Speak not one against another, brethren. He that speaketh against a brother, or judgeth his brother, speaketh against the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judgest the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. One only is the lawgiver and judge, evenhe who is able to save and to destroy: but who art thou that judgest thy neighbor?
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
above all things being fervent in your love among yourselves; for love covereth a multitude of sins
and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you.

July 18th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Our God Is Good!

Her life seemed to be one tragedy after another.  As I listened to her story of abuse… of harm… of the attempt by her ex-husband to kill her… I thought of the goodness of our God.  I use to wonder how our God could allow so much suffering… so much pain.  If he is a loving God? If we are his children?  Then why does he not protect us?  Our God is so good, that he stands with us in the fire, of this broken world.  He walks with us through the pain… through the tragedy.  The cross!  The most disgusting torture device ever created, by the evil side of our nature, he used for glory.  He didn’t save his son… himself… from that tragic device. He embraced it and used it for good. He took his own son and proved that no tragedy, not even the evil of the cross, can keep us from him.   Every season in your life.  Every tragedy you have gone through.  Every illness or loss you have encountered, had a purpose. To be used for good and to bring glory to him.  God is good, all the time, whether you embrace him or not.  She made it through the fire, her ex-husband set to kill her.  The only part of the house that didn’t burn, was the closet she was in!  Our God is Good!!
Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.”
The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.
There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
Don’t panic. I’m with you.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.”

July 11th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

It’s Not In A Book!

I could read daily, a book about Lorna, my wife.  Daily I could study, read, highlight, and outline word, after word, about my beautiful wife and still not truly understand her heart.  It is not until we have a daily intimidate relationship that I came to know her… her heart… and her spirit.  So is our relationship with our Savior.  Daily I study scripture.  Daily I read book, after book, about him and his journey.  I have done that most of my life.  It was not until I felt one with him, that I truly understood his heart… his spirit.  As time passes, I spend day after day praying, contemplating, and walking by his side.  Looking to him for every answer and every direction.  After so many years of that journey, I am starting to understand and feel his heart and the way of his being.  I can feel his spirit in my life, in my heart.  From the deepest part of my soul, I feel his guidance… his love… his grace.  I rest daily knowing what he wants for me and I feel the security that comes from knowing him intimately.  So sometimes put down the scripture.  Put down the book.  Simply walk… and talk… with our Savior.  You will be amazed at everything he will reveal to you.  There is no better feeling!!

This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit.
“The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’ Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it?
Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.
“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.
Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out.
If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!

July 4th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day! 

Washing Feet 

They simply did not understand.  It’s significance gets lost in OUR, everyday lives. Jesus washed their feet.  He took off his robe… adorned an apron… got on his hands and knees, then washed their calloused… dirty… stinky… feet!  Three years he had taught them.  Three years they had watched him heal… even bring people back from death.  Now the last thing they saw him do before he was crucified was wash their feet.  Why?  To show them, and to show us, what heaven is about. To show them and to show us what pure love means.  Pure unfiltered… unglamorous… sacred love is simply about humble service.  God and his Son do not have to serve us.  God, his Son, and the Holy Spirit exists without anything from us.  Yet the Trinity out of a deep love for mankind, serves us each and everyday, whether we know it or not. Each day Jesus gets on his knees and washes our feet.  He washes away the dirt, the filth, and the mistakes. We should do the same for those around us. When you practice humility by allowing others to be first.  By allowing others to feel important.  By letting them know you see them.   When you show love, regardless of who it is, you are washing feet. Then maybe… just maybe… those we serve, will catch a glimpse of heaven. 

 
It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? 
He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”
Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.
Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.

June 27th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day! 

Spontaneous Love! 

As I entered the room he spontaneously came running to hug me.  No hesitation… no worry… no wondering who I was… he simply came to hug.  This little boy had so much love in his heart, that he was willing to hug a perfect stranger.  He told me his name, asked for mine, than went back to play.  Did he feel a connection?  I know I did.  Did he feel the love of Christ as we embraced?  I know I did.  His teacher said she had never seen him do that.  Spontaneous love… it was pure… it was holy.  Isn’t that what Christ wants of us?  No hesitation to love.  No hesitation to find a connection.  No stranger in the room, only people we love.  Did our Savior not take perfect strangers and ask them to spend their life with him? I observe, as so many people go through their day, with no thought of the person right next to them.  The clerk behind the counter,  the waitress, is just another person, in a sea of people we encounter daily.  Thought is never given as to their life and how we might help.  A kind word or a concerned prayer.  So as you go through your day do you see people or do you see a person?  We could learn from this young man and the spontaneous love he had to offer.  I’m certain it made our Savior smile.  

Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.
Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.
Earn a reputation for living well
in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people.
“I have no husband,” she said.
“That’s nicely put: ‘I have no husband.’ You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough.”
“Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”
“Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.

June 20th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Hypocrisy!

As he welcomed us, to the hotel, he said happiness and peace radiated from us!  We then talked about how all of that comes from Jesus… I could tell he was uncomfortable.   As we showed the love of Christ to this young man, he shared his life with us, and told us he was gay.  He explained he was tired of those that say they love Jesus, being so judgmental.  As I hugged him I said… me too!!  The religious community has driven him to a point of not caring about God or his Son.  How can that be what Jesus would want?  How can that be LOVE!  Should we not take the log out of our own eye before pointing out the speck in his?  Our Savior welcomes everyone.  Our Savior is much more comfortable with the sinners, than with those that claim to not be.  Our western religious culture, has put so much importance on rules, that we have forgotten, nothing is more important than love of others.  As Christians, our job is first and foremost, to live a Christ centered life. To show his love to all those around us.   As all people experience us… they should always see Christ shining… from every angle of our existence.  Hypocrisy… what our Savior hated the most.  We would warrant his favor if we hated it too.  
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”
Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones.
The Woman at the Well
1-3Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee.
4-6To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was still there. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon.
7-8A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)
9The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)
10Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”
11-12The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”
13-14Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”
15The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”
16He said, “Go call your husband and then come back.”
17-18“I have no husband,” she said.
“That’s nicely put: ‘I have no husband.’ You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough.”
19-20“Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”
21-23“Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.
23-24“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
25The woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”
26“I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
11-13Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
14-16Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
17-19Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
20-21Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

June 13th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Amazing God!

I see large, white, clouds, as if they are made of cotton, bellowing up into the heavens.  What an amazing God!  I watch as the sun sets, and turns the sky  to a golden yellow, followed by an awesome deep dark orange, with remnants of sun beaming through the clouds.  What an amazing God!  I marvel at a lighting bug, as it flies here and there, beaming its’ signal to other fire flies.  What an amazing God!  As if that is not enough, I look into the faces of my family and I see Christ!  What an amazing God!  I look into the eyes of my wife and I see infinite love.  What an amazing God!  From the people I work with… to the lady that cuts my hair… to the homeless gentleman we give shelter to… to my dear friends… I look with amazement as Christ shines from each of them.  What an amazing God!   Even through tragedy I see his hand in everything that I touch… smell… see… or experience.  He is an amazing God!  So worthy of our praise, simply because he is God!  Tomorrow as you wake… thank him for the amazing God he is.   Then trust that he will provide, in you, an amazing day!  
In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.
For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.
This is the very day God acted—
let’s celebrate and be festive!
Salvation now, God. Salvation now!
Oh yes, God—a free and full life!
Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!

June 6th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Normal?

What is normal?  Her comment was “why can’t they be normal”?  I see people treat others with disrespect because “their lifestyle is different or they dress or behave different then I do”.  Daily my heart prays “father make me blind to peoples differences and actions… so that I might see you, in them”.  We should not allow ourselves, as followers of Christ, to worry about how others dress, talk, act or behave.  As we observe the world around us, we should see Jesus, in all people.   Each person, regardless of looks, behavior, or lifestyle was made in his image, and carries within them the spirit of Christ.  Mother Teresa said “I see Jesus in every human being. That is why I help them”.  What power!  What understanding of our Saviors heart!  To be a Christian is to see Jesus, in everybody and everything. The very person you look at with distain… because of the way they dress, the way they wear their hair or the number of piercings on their face, is the very person you should love the most.  I use to be the one who judged.  I use to be that person, that looked at others different than me, with disapproval.  Through much contemplation I have come to better understand my Saviors’ heart.  Suddenly each face looks like him. 

What glorious people he has put on this earth!!         
 
God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
“Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”
Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.
This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!
But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
A Simple Guide for Behavior
Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

 

May 30th 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Healing

He had waited so long.  For lack of hope, he knew not what to do, but try the water.  If he could only be the first to touch the moving water maybe he would be healed.  A lifetime of not being able to use his legs was almost more than he could bear.  Then came Jesus.  With a few simple words he healed the man and told him to take his bedroll and walk.  Twelve years she had been bleeding.  Twelve long years with no help from doctors.  One simple touch of his robe and the bleeding stopped.  As he turned she made herself known.  Jesus knew, Jesus felt, and Jesus blessed.  My heart tries hard to imagine how these people and others felt.  To be healed by the Son of God.  To be healed by the Savior and to look into his loving eyes.  To know that he cared enough for each of them, to use the spirit of his father to heal… to save… to bless.  Daily I can feel him in my heart.  Daily I know that he resides in my soul and his spirit is one with mine.  Still I long to sit and visit with these people. To hear the incredible stories of his healing and to know first hand how they felt.  One day I will get to look into his eyes and feel that amazing touch.  Then and only then will my soul soar.. as it did for these. 
That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next. May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all.
That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.
All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.
You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!
I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.
“And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”
And Mary said,
Yes, I see it all now:
I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me
just as you say.
Then the angel left her.
“Count on it: Everyone who had it in for you
will end up out in the cold—
real losers.
Those who worked against you
will end up empty-handed—
nothing to show for their lives.
When you go out looking for your old adversaries
you won’t find them—
Not a trace of your old enemies,
not even a memory.
That’s right. Because I, your God,
have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go.
I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic.
I’m right here to help you.’

 

May 23rd, 2021

Happy Jesus Day! 

Keep Praying 

As she asked me to pray for her son, and his cancer, I could see the 90 year old wisdom in her eyes.  I could see the knowing.  Not hoping.  Knowing.  That prayers would be answered, and that one way or another, God would keep his promises.  I was honored!  Prayer!  Such an amazing time to talk with God, Jesus and his Spirit.  A time when the world and its’ woes are forgotten and all that matters, is our Savior.  My day starts with dialogue to my Jesus… and ends the same.  Can’t tell you how much I talk with him during the day, but it is constant.  Prayer need not be formal, as so many think.  Prayer should be, and is, a simple conversation with someone you love. Can be as simple as “thanking him” for a beautiful tree or as complex as stage four cancer.  He knows your heart but he wants to hear your voice.  He wants to know your concerns and he wants to share in your victories.  Doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from, he hears them all just the same.  She saw me in the crowd and because my shirt said “Happy Jesus Day” she asked me to pray.  I’m still praying for her son!  Just like her… I rest in the knowledge that God will answer those prayers… to his will.  

Keep Praying!! 
The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.
My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he’s listening. And if we’re confident that he’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours.
Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Don’t forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I’m locked up in this jail. Pray that every time I open my mouth I’ll be able to make Christ plain as day to them.
Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.
Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.

May 9th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

He Is Jesus!!!

It doesn’t matter what you think you know!  Jesus has chosen you!

Each day I study.  Each day I pray for wisdom.  Each day I read.  Daily I am enlightened, in my quiet time, to strive harder.  To move closer.  To ponder more… in a desire to know the heart of my Savior.  We should not study to be wise of men, but to be closer in heart… to Christ.  I want to feel his touch.  I want to look into his eyes.  I want to experience the warmth of his hug.  I want to know that he has chosen me.  Through study and contemplation we can know these things, while here on this earth.  We can feel the healing power of his touch.  We can take in the love of his eyes. We can be aware of his warmth… and we can know he has chosen us.  He is all around you and me.  He is a part of our very soul.  His spirit resides in us.  He is the foundation of everything we see… touch… and smell.  He is the beginning… the end… and everything between.  He is the reason for all we know and experience. He is the way… the truth… and the life!    He is Jesus!!! 
“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!
The Master said:
“These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their hearts aren’t in it.
Because they act like they’re worshiping me
but don’t mean it,
I’m going to step in and shock them awake,
astonish them, stand them on their ears.
The wise ones who had it all figured out
will be exposed as fools.
The smart people who thought they knew everything
will turn out to know nothing.”
Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.
Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple.
He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
“And I’ll give them a heart to know me, God. They’ll be my people and I’ll be their God, for they’ll have returned to me with all their hearts.

May 2nd, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Unbridled Enthusiasm!

As he spoke of baptizing his child he said: “it was all I could do to contain myself”.  Why would we ever contain ourself, when it comes to God?  I watch as people view sporting events and when the team scores they are on their feet, cheering.  I watch people at concerts… at children’s performances… and I see unbridled enthusiasm.  Why do we not have that same level of excitement about our Lord and Savior?  Jesus loved all of his disciples.  He spent time with each of them.  Why do you think he gave the keys to the kingdom of heaven to Peter first? Why do you think Jesus named Peter “the rock” upon which he would build his church?  Peter lived with passion for Christ.  Peter jumped out of the boat when no one else would.  Peter came to Jesus’s defense before anyone else even thought of it.   We should pray daily to have the spirit of Peter.   To live our life not only in devotion to Christ but to have an unbridled passion… unbridled excitement… for the one who saved us.  It’s great to cheer at a game.  It’s important to show emotion at our children’s performances.  But so much more important is what Jesus did for us.  Don’t you think that deserves some unbridled enthusiasm? 

 
What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.
I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.
Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.
Philippians 1:12-26;
They Can’t Imprison the Message
I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else, too, found out that I’m in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they’ve learned all about him. Not only that, but most of the followers of Jesus here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah.
It’s true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they’ll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I’m out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better—they think—for them.
So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!
And I’m going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don’t expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn’t shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose.
As long as I’m alive in this body, there is good work for me to do. If I had to choose right now, I hardly know which I’d choose. Hard choice! The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful. Some days I can think of nothing better. But most days, because of what you are going through, I am sure that it’s better for me to stick it out here. So I plan to be around awhile, companion to you as your growth and joy in this life of trusting God continues. You can start looking forward to a great reunion when I come visit you again. We’ll be praising Christ, enjoying each other.
None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God!
Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name.
Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.
Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.
Hallelujah!
Praise God in his holy house of worship,
praise him under the open skies;
Praise him for his acts of power,
praise him for his magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise him with castanets and dance,
praise him with banjo and flute;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
praise him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God!
Hallelujah!

April 25th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

How Much Is Enough?

We seem to be stuck.  So many with their feet in the quicksand.  Statements like; “She is not living with God in her life. It pains me that I will not see her in heaven”.  God loves her just like you!

Proclamations like “She died without knowing our Savior, I guess there is no hope”.  Maybe no one told her about Jesus!  So how much is enough?  Do you need to do one more good deed… or twenty?  Do you need to go to church one more time… or one hundred?  If I can just memorize one more scripture I will have it made.  What makes us think that we have enough power to determine our destiny?  How can we be so arrogant, as to think we could ever do anything good enough, to stand by his side?  If we are earning our way into his presence… what was the cross for?  There is nothing you can do.  Nothing you can say. Nothing you can give that will allow you to even touch the hem of his robe.  There is also nothing you can do.  Nothing you can say.  That will keep him from you.  He is a God who pursues.  He is a Savior that loves..unconditionally.  He dwells in a spirit of forgiveness.  Do what you do… but only out of a deep love for him.   He will not ask for anything more.  
Romans 8:31 thru 39
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
Ephesians 2:8-9;
Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
Acts 8:20;
Peter said, “To hell with your money! And you along with it. Why, that’s unthinkable—trying to buy God’s gift! You’ll never be part of what God is doing by striking bargains and offering bribes. Change your ways—and now!
Matthew 18:12-14;
“Look at it this way. If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders off, doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine and go after the one? And if he finds it, doesn’t he make far more over it than over the ninety-nine who stay put? Your Father in heaven feels the same way. He doesn’t want to lose even one of these simple believers.
Romans 3:23;
Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
Romans 6:23
But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.

April 18th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Don’t Eat The Fruit!

“DO NOT EAT OF THE TREE OF GOOD AND EVIL!”  Why?  What is good and what is evil?  I truly believe that the tree of life gave forth a never ending spring of love and kindness.  It produced in Adam and Eve all the fruits of the spirit.  However the tree of good and evil produced in them the instant feeling of separation from each other.  “I am better than you.”  “You are wrong and I am right.”  It produced the feeling of blame, shame and hatred.  Only after that tree did they see themselves as different.  Only after that tree did they point the finger.  How often do you eat from the tree of good and evil?  Each time you see differences.  Each time you judge another.  Each time you place blame.  Every time you form hatred instead of love.  That is when you have tasted its’ fruit.  The evil one will tell you it’s alright, just as he did to Eve.  Jesus in his life said “live from the fruit of the tree of life”.  Eat of the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  That is the only way you will truly live… in the flow of the garden.  Then, you will find God… walking beside you. 

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.
Whoever wants to embrace life
and see the day fill up with good,
Here’s what you do:
Say nothing evil or hurtful;
Snub evil and cultivate good;
run after peace for all you’re worth.
God looks on all this with approval,
listening and responding well to what he’s asked;
But he turns his back
on those who do evil things.
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

April 11, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Anticipation!

As I sat in the middle of thousands of people, she decided to go shopping.  “I will be back shortly” was the words she lovingly used!  A kiss was given and I sat down to wait. More time passed than I thought would, so I found myself constantly surveying the crowd, anxiously waiting for the return, of the one I love.  Then my heart paused!   The one I love even more than my wife, told me he would be back one day!  One day he would return to care for us.  To bring us to where he is. To wrap us in his love and warm embrace.  I want to wait daily with anticipation.  With an anxious feeling in my heart.  With a stronger fervor than I had for the return of my wife.  So many distractions. So many Interruptions. So many life moments… stealing my look from the return of my Savior.  I know he will return.  He will one day open the eastern sky and we will be taken to the place he has arranged for us.  I sit patiently.  I wait with anticipation.  I wait with an anxiousness in my heart.  I did the same for my wife.  She did return, and a joy filled my heart.  One day. One moment. One second.  He will be back.  Unspeakable joy will fill my heart on that day as well. 
Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time.
“Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.”
Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when the Son of Man is going to show up.
Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences. Christ’s death was also a one-time event, but it was a sacrifice that took care of sins forever. And so, when he next appears, the outcome for those eager to greet him is, precisely, salvation.
You know as well as I that the day of the Master’s coming can’t be posted on our calendars. He won’t call ahead and make an appointment any more than a burglar would. About the time everybody’s walking around complacently, congratulating each other—“We’ve sure got it made! Now we can take it easy!”—suddenly everything will fall apart.
These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud. They stood there, staring into the empty sky. Suddenly two men appeared—in white robes! They said, “You Galileans!—why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left.”
You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.
Jesus knew they were dying to ask him what he meant, so he said, “Are you trying to figure out among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘In a day or so you’re not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me’? Then fix this firmly in your minds: You’re going to be in deep mourning while the godless world throws a party. You’ll be sad, very sad, but your sadness will develop into gladness.

April 3rd, 2021

Happy Jesus Day

Torture and Love!

We tend to glamorize it.  We even make beautiful jewelry out of it.  We don’t want to face the truth.   
The whip had metal, and bones, in the ends.  As Jesus was struck, flesh was torn away from his back… his sides… his neck.  This would continue until near death.  Our Saviors raw muscle, tendons and bones would have been exposed.  His wooden cross was made to have splinters.  As he carried it on his shoulder and back the splinters would lodge in his open wounds.  The nails driven through his wrist, were placed as to touch nerves. Any movement was excruciating.  As he was lifted upon the main pole his shoulders would have been dislocated from his own weight.  Then both of our Lords’ feet were held together and one large nail driven through them.  Breaking bones in the process.  Then the suffocation starts.  The only way to breath, was too push up on the nail through his broken feet, so his diaphragm could expand.  His legs would have been bent at a 45 degree angle, meaning all of his weight was on his thigh muscles causing excruciating cramps.  The cramps would worsen as he pushed up to breath.  As he lost blood all of his organs would begin to cry out in pain.  All these things were happening to our Jesus at the same time.  With no way for relief.  Why did he not call his army of angels?   LOVE!!!! 
Jesus said, “Put your sword back where it belongs. All who use swords are destroyed by swords. Don’t you realize that I am able right now to call to my Father, and twelve companies—more, if I want them—of fighting angels would be here, battle-ready? But if I did that, how would the Scriptures come true that say this is the way it has to be?”
Jesus kept silent.
Then the Chief Priest said, “I command you by the authority of the living God to say if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Jesus was curt: “You yourself said it. And that’s not all. Soon you’ll see it for yourself:
The Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Mighty One,
Arriving on the clouds of heaven.”
At that, the Chief Priest lost his temper, ripping his robes, yelling, “He blasphemed! Why do we need witnesses to accuse him? You all heard him blaspheme! Are you going to stand for such blasphemy?”
They all said, “Death! That seals his death sentence.”
Then they were spitting in his face and banging him around. They jeered as they slapped him: “Prophesy, Messiah: Who hit you that time?”
Then he said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.
God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.
The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.
That accounts for the prominence of blood and death in all these secondary practices that point to the realities of heaven. It also accounts for why, when the real thing takes place, these animal sacrifices aren’t needed anymore, having served their purpose. For Christ didn’t enter the earthly version of the Holy Place; he entered the Place Itself, and offered himself to God as the sacrifice for our sins. He doesn’t do this every year as the high priests did under the old plan with blood that was not their own; if that had been the case, he would have to sacrifice himself repeatedly throughout the course of history. But instead he sacrificed himself once and for all, summing up all the other sacrifices in this sacrifice of himself, the final solution of sin.
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!
He Tore Down the Wall
1-6It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
One more thing, friends: Pray for us. Pray that the Master’s Word will simply take off and race through the country to a groundswell of response, just as it did among you. And pray that we’ll be rescued from these scoundrels who are trying to do us in. I’m finding that not all “believers” are believers. But the Master never lets us down. He’ll stick by you and protect you from evil.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.
Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.”
4Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”
For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, “Since you are God’s Son, jump.” The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: “He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.”
Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.”
For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.”
Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”
The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.
For indeed Christ died for sins once for all, the Just and Righteous for the unjust and unrighteous [the Innocent for the guilty] so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit; 19in which He also went and preached to the spirits now in prison.

March 28th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

He Deserves Better!

They knew what he had done.  So a hero’s welcome… a kings honor.  The robes from their backs, and palm leaves paved his way.  Put yourself in Jesus’s place.  Not wanting the spot light, but knowing the donkey ride and the king’s parade, is what was needed to send the religious leaders to the edge. Knowing they needed one final push to send him to the cross.  I’m sure as he gazed at the gathering of people, he was repeating what he would say on the cross.  “Forgive these people, father, for what they are about to do.”  The same people that praised his entrance today would later cry out for his crucifixion.  They knew what they had seen… had heard… but chose to send him to the cross.  Twelve best friends… twelve men who walked in the parade with him… men who said they would die for him… ran and hid.  Do we not do the same thing when being his child is too hard?  When we ignore praying because it’s not politically correct?  When we turn away from a homeless man because it’s too hard to love him? When we do not trust?  Christ deserves better.  I’m going to spend my life trying to give him that.  I hope you will too. 
What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.
The Royal Welcome
When they neared Jerusalem, having arrived at Bethphage on Mount Olives, Jesus sent two disciples with these instructions: “Go over to the village across from you. You’ll find a donkey tethered there, her colt with her. Untie her and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you’re doing, say, ‘The Master needs them!’ He will send them with you.”
This is the full story of what was sketched earlier by the prophet:
Tell Zion’s daughter,
“Look, your king’s on his way,
poised and ready, mounted
On a donkey, on a colt,
foal of a pack animal.”
The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, “Hosanna to David’s son!” “Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!” “Hosanna in highest heaven!”
As he made his entrance into Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken. Unnerved, people were asking, “What’s going on here? Who is this?”
The parade crowd answered, “This is the prophet Jesus, the one from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.”
The man asked, “What in particular?”
Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.”
The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?”
“If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”
That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.
As he watched him go, Jesus told his disciples, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God’s kingdom? Let me tell you, it’s easier to gallop a camel through a needle’s eye than for the rich to enter God’s kingdom.”
The disciples were staggered. “Then who has any chance at all?”
Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”
Then Peter chimed in, “We left everything and followed you. What do we get out of it?”
Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”
“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.

March 21st, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Getting Back!

Walking past I heard him talking.  All alone.  My heart paused… maybe he needs someone to talk too.  As I sat down beside him I simply asked “tell me how you got here”? Three years.  Danny’s mom had died and he simply couldn’t move on.  Three years on the street…  simply doesn’t know how to get back.  Fifty eight and sleeping under a bridge.  He simply doesn’t know how to get back.  Do you ever feel lost?  Like you don’t know how to get back, to the place where you were?  Doesn’t matter how far gone you are, God can find you.  God will run after you and bring you back.  Back from addiction.  Back from grief.  Back from pain and back from despair.  Then just like the father of the prodigal he will rejoice with you.  He will welcome you home.  As I left this nice man I prayed, “thank you Father for always bringing me back”.  “Father, I asked that you show Danny the way home”.  “Give him the mind to realize it when you lead him”.   As i rejoined my family the tears came.  I always think…”but for the grace of God go I”.  Never take the guidance you are given for granted.  It comes from the Father.
Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.
The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.
Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.
Let me give you some good advice;
I’m looking you in the eye
and giving it to you straight:
My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world. These people belong to the Christ-denying world. They talk the world’s language and the world eats it up. But we come from God and belong to God. Anyone who knows God understands us and listens. The person who has nothing to do with God will, of course, not listen to us. This is another test for telling the Spirit of Truth from the spirit of deception.
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

March 14th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day

Eight Simple Words

Not sure what his life was like.  Scripture doesn’t tell us.  
The bible doesn’t even tell us where he came from.  
I simply know he must have had a troubled life, given the fact he was being crucified, next to our Savior.   “Jesus remember me when you enter your kingdom”.  Eight simple words.  So much power in eight words.  A lifetime of sin erased by eight words.  We have a God who chases after us.  He chases… he calls us by name… and he looks for the good in us…  We have a God who simply wants a relationship.  He simply wants us to acknowledge and love him.  Our Savior is not about rules.  He is not about worshiping one way or the other.  He is not about doing everything right.  He is simply about love.  We are a people who have been taught that nothing is free.  Everything has to be earned. Rules must be followed and reputations have to be upheld.  Many times that even applies to our human relationships.  But Jesus… the Christ… our Savior… says don’t worry about the rules, you can’t possibly fulfill all of them.  Love me… love others… and I will remember you, when you come into my kingdom. 
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.”
By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story.
4-7“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.
The apostles returned and reported on what they had done. Jesus took them away, off by themselves, near the town called Bethsaida. But the crowds got wind of it and followed. Jesus graciously welcomed them and talked to them about the kingdom of God. Those who needed healing, he healed.
On his return, Jesus was welcomed by a crowd. They were all there expecting him. A man came up, Jairus by name. He was president of the meeting place. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his home because his twelve-year-old daughter, his only child, was dying. Jesus went with him, making his way through the pushing, jostling crowd.
In the crowd that day there was a woman who for twelve years had been afflicted with hemorrhages. She had spent every penny she had on doctors but not one had been able to help her. She slipped in from behind and touched the edge of Jesus’ robe. At that very moment her hemorrhaging stopped. Jesus said, “Who touched me?”
When no one stepped forward, Peter said, “But Master, we’ve got crowds of people on our hands. Dozens have touched you.”
Jesus insisted, “Someone touched me. I felt power discharging from me.”
When the woman realized that she couldn’t remain hidden, she knelt trembling before him. In front of all the people, she blurted out her story—why she touched him and how at that same moment she was healed.
Jesus said, “Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!”
By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely. “They looked all over and couldn’t find him because God had taken him.” We know on the basis of reliable testimony that before he was taken “he pleased God.” It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.
I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,
your handmade sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.
Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do you bother with us?
Why take a second look our way?

March 7th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Are You An Addict?

So I use to be an addict!  I’m sure that statement caught you off guard.  You may be thinking –  this is a surprise!  Without hesitation I could raise my hand and say “Hi my name is Perry and I am an addict”.  I’m pretty safe in saying we all could.  People have a universal addiction to being “right”.  We will argue… we will spend countless hours and resources… trying daily to prove that we are right, and others are wrong. I have encountered those that are so addicted to being right, that it becomes more important than loving.  I know… I use to be one of those people.  We have to find a better way to relate to one another.  A better way to love one another.  Pure love means I am willing to see you, to listen to you, with an open heart and an open mind. I am willing to walk in your shoes in order to understand the reason for your life… your ways. To be a Christ follower means we are to emulate his heart and his way.  His way was never condemning but always loving.  So the next time you feel the need to feed your ego… simply stop.  Look at the other person with Jesus eyes and let yourself become teachable.  THEN SIMPLY LOVE!!

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!
Healing on the Sabbath
He was teaching in one of the meeting places on the Sabbath. There was a woman present, so twisted and bent over with arthritis that she couldn’t even look up. She had been afflicted with this for eighteen years. When Jesus saw her, he called her over. “Woman, you’re free!” He laid hands on her and suddenly she was standing straight and tall, giving glory to God.
The meeting-place president, furious because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the congregation, “Six days have been defined as work days. Come on one of the six if you want to be healed, but not on the seventh, the Sabbath.”
But Jesus shot back, “You frauds! Each Sabbath every one of you regularly unties your cow or donkey from its stall, leads it out for water, and thinks nothing of it. So why isn’t it all right for me to untie this daughter of Abraham and lead her from the stall where Satan has had her tied these eighteen years?”
When he put it that way, his critics were left looking quite silly and red-faced. The congregation was delighted and cheered him on.
Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.
“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
One day at three o’clock in the afternoon, Peter and John were on their way into the Temple for prayer meeting. At the same time there was a man crippled from birth being carried up. Every day he was set down at the Temple gate, the one named Beautiful, to beg from those going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter the Temple, he asked for a handout. Peter, with John at his side, looked him straight in the eye and said, “Look here.” He looked up, expecting to get something from them.
Peter said, “I don’t have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” He grabbed him by the right hand and pulled him up. In an instant his feet and ankles became firm. He jumped to his feet and walked.
The man went into the Temple with them, walking back and forth, dancing and praising God. Everybody there saw him walking around and praising God. They recognized him as the one who sat begging at the Temple’s Gate Beautiful and rubbed their eyes, astonished, scarcely believing what they were seeing.
The man threw his arms around Peter and John, ecstatic. All the people ran up to where they were at Solomon’s Porch to see it for themselves.
Turn to Face God
When Peter saw he had a congregation, he addressed the people:
“Oh, Israelites, why does this take you by such complete surprise, and why stare at us as if our power or piety made him walk? The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his Son Jesus. The very One that Pilate called innocent, you repudiated. You repudiated the Holy One, the Just One, and asked for a murderer in his place. You no sooner killed the Author of Life than God raised him from the dead—and we’re the witnesses. Faith in Jesus’ name put this man, whose condition you know so well, on his feet—yes, faith and nothing but faith put this man healed and whole right before your eyes.
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

February 28th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

He Laughs!

He laughs.  He lovingly laughs.  I can’t find it in scripture, but I know God lovingly laughs, at his children.  He laughs as he says – “make your plans, go ahead and nourish your dreams… your hopes… but don’t forget that I have my own plans for your life.  I have my own dreams for your future, and mine are greater than yours”.  This last year.  This last month.  This last week has given me pause to consider that even though my plans are necessary, I should always look to my father for guidance.  I should daily say “your will not mine”.  I should daily say “you lead and I will follow”.  Still I make plans.  Daily… weekly… monthly… even as a year progresses, I look to the future with every intention of fulfilling all of my hopes… my dreams. Our father loves us more than we could ever know.  When he laughs at our plans it’s because he knows what is best for us. We don’t always know why he leads to the places he does, but we must follow. We must have faith.  So make your plans. Have your dreams, but remember, when and if it changes, he is the one giving guidance.  He is the one doing what is best for you.  There are no better plans than that. 
“I don’t think the way you think.
The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.
This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
Let me give you some good advice;
I’m looking you in the eye
and giving it to you straight:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
We humans keep brainstorming options and plans,
but God’s purpose prevails.
Put God in charge of your work,
then what you’ve planned will take place.
We plan the way we want to live,
but only God makes us able to live it.
Hurry with your answer, God!
I’m nearly at the end of my rope.
Don’t turn away; don’t ignore me!
That would be certain death.
If you wake me each morning with the sound of your loving voice,
I’ll go to sleep each night trusting in you.
Point out the road I must travel;
I’m all ears, all eyes before you.
Save me from my enemies, God
you’re my only hope!
Teach me how to live to please you,
because you’re my God.
Lead me by your blessed Spirit
into cleared and level pastureland.

February 21st, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Too Many Angels

Today the streets of heaven are crowded with too many angels.  This week someone very close to my heart, and a once in a lifetime friend of thirty years, went home to be with our Savior.  No warning… no preparation…  just gone.   I don’t really understand, but I’m trusting my God.  On top of that this week, we have watched as the weather took its toll, and we lost many things including animals.  I don’t understand, but I’m trusting God.  Our God uses everything for glory.  He will take my dear friends life, and her death, and use it to bless others and to forward his kingdom.  He will comfort… he will bring peace… and he will guide… as we walk thru this journey.  Without a doubt, he will find a way to use all of our lives, to bring glory to his kingdom, and further his love in this world.  I don’t understand his ways, but it is not my place to have understanding.   It is simply my place to trust.  On February 14th the streets of heaven become crowded with one too many angels.  Still I am trusting!!
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
There’s the root of our ancestor Jesse,
breaking through the earth and growing tree tall,
Tall enough for everyone everywhere to see and take hope!
Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.
Jesus knew they were dying to ask him what he meant, so he said, “Are you trying to figure out among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘In a day or so you’re not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me’? Then fix this firmly in your minds: You’re going to be in deep mourning while the godless world throws a party. You’ll be sad, very sad, but your sadness will develop into gladness.
If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.
I’m feeling terrible—I couldn’t feel worse!
Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember?
When I told my story, you responded;
train me well in your deep wisdom.
Help me understand these things inside and out
so I can ponder your miracle-wonders.
My sad life’s dilapidated, a falling-down barn;
build me up again by your Word.
Barricade the road that goes Nowhere;
grace me with your clear revelation.
I choose the true road to Somewhere,
I post your road signs at every curve and corner.
I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me;
God, don’t let me down!
I’ll run the course you lay out for me
if you’ll just show me how.

February 14th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

God Is Huge

Recently I read the work of an astronomy professor.  He shared in his writing that fifty years ago we believed there to be six stars in the sky for every one person on the planet.  WOW!  Because of the Hubble Telescope we now know there are six galaxies in the heavens for every one person on the planet!! WOW! WOW!  The God we follow is huge. This is a God that can never be understood… he can never be pictured… he is beyond all human comprehension. In our feeble efforts we put him in a box out of a need for control.  Out of a need for intellect… which can never be fully achieved.  Do you honestly think that this God, who created all we see or know, will let anything stand in the way of his most prized creation? You!!  We have an immense God who climbs into our lives. He feels our hurts.  He laughs at our joys. He giggles at our feeble attempt to know him.  At the same time he loves… he forgives… he understands and he chases.  He chases after each of us desiring simply a relationship.  He is a father that sees his children and wants nothing more than our love. Next time you look at the heavens… think about the vastness of God.  Then remember he loves you more than you could ever imagine. 
Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out.
Is there anyone around who can explain God?
Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?
Anyone who has done him such a huge favor
that God has to ask his advice?
Everything comes from him;
Everything happens through him;
Everything ends up in him.
Always glory! Always praise!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
I, Simon Peter, am a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. I write this to you whose experience with God is as life-changing as ours, all due to our God’s straight dealing and the intervention of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Grace and peace to you many times over as you deepen in your experience with God and Jesus, our Master.
Don’t Put It Off
Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
20-21God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!
“I don’t think the way you think.
The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
God’s the one who rebuilds Jerusalem,
who regathers Israel’s scattered exiles.
He heals the heartbroken
and bandages their wounds.
He counts the stars
and assigns each a name.
Our Lord is great, with limitless strength;
we’ll never comprehend what he knows and does.
God puts the fallen on their feet again
and pushes the wicked into the ditch.
I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,
your handmade sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.
Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do you bother with us?
Why take a second look our way?
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.
Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.
“What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.
The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. Who ever knows what you’re thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God—except that he not only knows what he’s thinking, but he lets us in on it. God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way.
But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I’ve had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift.
He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”
I’m charging you before the life-giving God and before Christ, who took his stand before Pontius Pilate and didn’t give an inch: Keep this command to the letter, and don’t slack off. Our Master, Jesus Christ, is on his way. He’ll show up right on time, his arrival guaranteed by the Blessed and Undisputed Ruler, High King, High God. He’s the only one death can’t touch, his light so bright no one can get close. He’s never been seen by human eyes—human eyes can’t take him in! Honor to him, and eternal rule! Oh, yes.

February 7th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Life Giving Dance!

My wife, Lorna and I, love to dance.  In fact, we have danced a lot over the past 37 years.  We have danced for so long, we now move together as one. Thought is not on the dance, but simply on each other.   So it should be, with our relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit.   As we spend time in contemplation… as we spend time in prayer… and time in stillness with God… we will get to a point of unending flow.  We will come to understand, the energy and love of our father, and become as one with him.  God intended for his children to participate in the dance that takes place between God, his Son and his Spirit.  We were intended to move in a rhythmic flow between God and all creation. We will come to see Christ in everyone and everything.  As that happens, the rules fall away one by one.  The striving to please God, and the striving to earn his favor, become as natural as breathing.  We no longer see the need to prove anything, to anyone, we simply dance in a life giving flow.  A flow of love with the Trinity, that is mirrored in our human love here and now.  I love the flow that my wife and I have.  I truly believe it is of the Father.  

Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!
Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.
What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!
But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!
Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.

“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be inyou!


January 31st, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

He is a liar!  

He delights in chaos!  He cheers as we dislike others.  As we see differences in ourselves, he dances.  He finds pleasure, as he watches us look at others with hatred, instead of seeing our Savior in them.  He lives to divide… to cause fear… and to make us turn from one another over differences.  He hates our hope, he hates our love, he hates our compassion and most of all, he hates the one we get that from.  Satan has spent a lifetime driving humans to what we have become.  He will continue to push… to influence… to lie, too so many people as they fight… as they fear… as they look everywhere else, but up.  Want to defeat the evil one?  Take to your knees in prayer.  Love others regardless of nationality… race… religion… or lifestyle.  Whether they are good or bad.  Look to Jesus for all the answers and not to the world.  Focus on our Fathers words… our Fathers wisdom… and lean not on your own.  Those simple things will cause satan to run and hide.  He is not welcome here.  Drive him out of hearts with unending love for all, and worship to our Savior.   Ephesians, Chapter 6

Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. “Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, “so you will live well and have a long life.”
Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.
Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God. Good work will get you good pay from the Master, regardless of whether you are slave or free.
Masters, it’s the same with you. No abuse, please, and no threats. You and your servants are both under the same Master in heaven. He makes no distinction between you and them.

 

One final word of counsel, friends. Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.
Enoch, the seventh after Adam, prophesied of them: “Look! The Master comes with thousands of holy angels to bring judgment against them all, convicting each person of every defiling act of shameless sacrilege, of every dirty word they have spewed of their pious filth.” These are the “grumpers,” the bellyachers, grabbing for the biggest piece of the pie, talking big, saying anything they think will get them ahead.
But remember, dear friends, that the apostles of our Master, Jesus Christ, told us this would happen: “In the last days there will be people who don’t take these things seriously anymore. They’ll treat them like a joke, and make a religion of their own whims and lusts.” These are the ones who split churches, thinking only of themselves. There’s nothing to them, no sign of the Spirit!
I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.
I bring this up because some from Chloe’s family brought a most disturbing report to my attention—that you’re fighting among yourselves! I’ll tell you exactly what I was told: You’re all picking sides, going around saying, “I’m on Paul’s side,” or “I’m for Apollos,” or “Peter is my man,” or “I’m in the Messiah group.”
I ask you, “Has the Messiah been chopped up in little pieces so we can each have a relic all our own? Was Paul crucified for you? Was a single one of you baptized in Paul’s name?” I was not involved with any of your baptisms—except for Crispus and Gaius—and on getting this report, I’m sure glad I wasn’t. At least no one can go around saying he was baptized in my name. (Come to think of it, I also baptized Stephanas’s family, but as far as I can recall, that’s it.)
I want you to put your foot down. Take a firm stand on these matters so that those who have put their trust in God will concentrate on the essentials that are good for everyone. Stay away from mindless, pointless quarreling over genealogies and fine print in the law code. That gets you nowhere. Warn a quarrelsome person once or twice, but then be done with him. It’s obvious that such a person is out of line, rebellious against God. By persisting in divisiveness he cuts himself off.
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

January 24th, 2020

Happy Jesus Day!

Slave Market!

As I read the account of a slave market my tears flowed in abundance.  Men and women were forced to stand on a block of wood… naked… as buyers examined. As buyers threw insults. As they yelled out prices they would pay.  In my mind I could see it… I could feel the pain… the humiliation.  I then pictured myself on that block.  Naked and afraid and wondering “why me”?  I pictured myself full of sin… full of selfishness and ashamed of who I was.  I could hear the small amounts that satan and his demons would pay for me.  One who worships God but falls so short.  One who loves God but is so full of sin… so full of selfishness.   Then I heard his voice!  Above the noise.  Above the insults. Above the humiliation.  Jesus… standing at the back of the crowd yelling “I will buy him”.  Don’t care what he has done, who he is or what he looks like.  I want him.  Name your price and it is yours.  I love him that much.  He then walked up to where I was standing. With outstretched hands and love in his voice said “let’s go home”.  Slavery was and still is a horrific thing that in the name of Jesus we need to eliminate.  We are all slaves to sin.  Thank goodness Jesus is willing to pay the price for our freedom. 

Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can’t come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through. I know you are Abraham’s descendants. But I also know that you are trying to kill me because my message hasn’t yet penetrated your thick skulls. I’m talking about things I have seen while keeping company with the Father, and you just go on doing what you have heard from your father.”
Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.
So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.
All of you, slave and free both, were once held hostage in a sinful society. Then a huge sum was paid out for your ransom. So please don’t, out of old habit, slip back into being or doing what everyone else tells you. Friends, stay where you were called to be. God is there. Hold the high ground with him at your side.
When the ten others heard about this, they lost their tempers, thoroughly disgusted with the two brothers. So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

January 17th, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

In A Matter Of Seconds!

Thursday was a day just like any other.  Same routine.  No appointments. A day to laugh and spend time with my work family.  Lunch was relaxing. Then as I made my way back to my desk… in a matter of seconds… life took a dramatic turn.  A young man that has a very special place in my heart was found unconscious in his apartment and then later went home to be with our Savior.  No warning.  No preparation.  No time.  Just one minute everything is good and the next tragedy.  We are a people that are addicted to comfort.  We are a people that are addicted to control.  We work tirelessly to make sure we have everything in order.  We spend day after day in search for peace, that we think is found in order and control.  There is no control.  There is no order.  There is no peace to be found on this earth short of Jesus Christ.  All the plans in the world… all the money in the world… and all the control is but an illusion.  As a people we have to put our faith, our hope, our comfort in one place and one place only.  The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Anything other than that… is time wasted.  
Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”
“But blessed is the man who trusts me, Godthe woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.
Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.
I can’t wait to hear what he’ll say.
God’s about to pronounce his people well,
The holy people he loves so much,
so they’ll never again live like fools.
See how close his salvation is to those who fear him?
Our country is home base for Glory!
God is a safe place to hide,
ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
the tremors that shift mountains.
Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.
Proverbs 16:9
We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.

January 10th 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

To Be A Child!

She was like a picture out of a magazine.  A little girl all dressed up… sitting with mom and dad enjoying dinner.  As we admired her from afar and then as we were leaving she displayed an unbridled love to us.  Her smile was contagious and the eagerness with which she shown love was heartwarming to say the least.  Then it hit me!!  When Jesus said we should be as children this is what he was meaning.  Children, unless taught otherwise, have an infinite abundance of love and hope. They do not worry about who you are or what you look like, they see love… they see hope.  Children will display the love of our Savior without hesitation, until which time they observe in us, the opposite.  As they absorb all levels of the world around them they learn to be intimidated and scared of others… by watching us.  They lose that level of Gods love that they remember from having been in his presence.  When our Savior said “be as children”  he was telling us to love unconditionally.  To hope without end. To see everyone as a product of God. Made in his image and holding his DNA in their souls.  And mostly, he was telling us not to forget the love that was given to us, by him, when we were created.  

 
At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?”
For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. “Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.”
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

January 3rd, 2021

Happy Jesus Day!

Living In The Flow!

At an early age I could hear the music. I could see it everywhere.  I could feel it in my soul and hear it in my head.  As a gift from God I learned to play the guitar without lesson. Music is not about notes on a page or theory in books.  You have to feel the music in your very soul and display it in your heart.  Since the age of thirteen I have used the musical talent he gave me to his glory.  As time has passed and I have walked in communion with our God… I have come to learn the same of him.  God… and his Son… and his Spirit… is not something that is simply words on a page.  He is not found in the church you attend or the ministry you are a part of.  You have to feel him in your heart.  You have to experience him in the deepest part of your soul.  He has to become, not just knowledge to you, but you have to become as one with him, to experience his flow.  I have heard it said that you know you’re a writer… if all you can think about it writing.  You know you’re a musician… if all you can think about is music.  When you get to a point when all you can think of is Jesus.  When he is a part, of every minute, in every day, then you will know you are his child. 
Only then will you experience his peace!
You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple.
But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.
There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.

December 25th, 2020

Happy Jesus Day!

Baby Jesus

I remember vividly what it felt like to hold my daughter… then my son… for the first time.  The amazing deep love, like I had never known before, overwhelmed.  As I admired their face… as I counted their fingers… their toes… as I kissed their face and experienced their wonderful smell for the first time.   I remember the emotion.   I remember the capture of my heart and the sense of responsibility I felt in that instant.  All these memories have rushed back in as I thought about what it must have felt like to hold baby Jesus for the first time.  To not only love him, as we all love our children, but to know that he was the son of God!  To feel the pure love that was given to only him!  To know that he came to save every soul… that ever was or ever will be! 
To know that he was as pure, as pure can be, and would stay that way!  To know that he would sacrifice himself, as the lamb of God,  to save his very mother…  his father…  to save you… to save me…  To reconcile the world to God, as all of our sin rested on his tiny shoulders. To simply be in his presence and know that he is God, he is the Savior and he is the Holy Spirit .   I weep as I think of what that must have been like for Mary… for Joseph… 
   
Happy Birthday Jesus!!!   
 
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
He said, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?” But they had no idea what he was talking about.
So he went back to Nazareth with them, and lived obediently with them. His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
21How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.
I write this, dear children, to guide you out of sin. But if anyone does sin, we have a Priest-Friend in the presence of the Father: Jesus Christ, righteous Jesus. When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good—not only ours, but the whole world’s.
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.
Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!”

December 24th, 2020
Happy Jesus Day!
Lesson Of The Manger!

I thought I got it!  Every Christmas, I look at and read about the nativity scene but the true deep reality of it never fully came clear.  In that time a stable was simply a lien-to and perhaps the most disgusting structure in town.  Under its’ roof the dirtiest place would have been the manger.  Full of animal saliva… worms… and the stench of uneaten moldy food.  God could have chosen anywhere for his son to be born.  A palace.  A suite at the inn.  In the middle of the synagogue.  Why a manger?  He wanted to choose the lowliest, most disgusting, vile place, to show us how his love works.  I have watched churches turn away people because they do not fit in.  I have watched as people shun those they consider disgusting.  We live in a world where it is believed you should act a certain way,  dress a certain way,  and talk a certain way.  The manger says – I came for everyone!  I was born to love the most disgusting, dirty, vile person you can think of.  Sometimes God hides lessons in the most obvious place.  For me, this one brought a multitude of tears and time on my knees.  The manger teaches humility. The manger teaches unconditional love.  Isn’t it time we all practice that each day in our churches and on the street?
Happy Birthday Jesus!  
While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.
An Event for Everyone
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
On the road someone asked if he could go along. “I’ll go with you, wherever,” he said.
Jesus was curt: “Are you ready to rough it? We’re not staying in the best inns, you know.”
Jesus said to another, “Follow me.”
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
I love those who love me, and those who seek me early anddiligently shall find me.
The Lord does not delay andis not tardy orslow about what He promises, according to some people’s conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance.
We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

December 13th, 2020

Happy Jesus Day

Reconciling Sin

The love our God has for us is so immense that words can not explain. He created us in his image and shared with each of us a portion of his spirit.  He wanted nothing more than for us to love him back.  For us to be devoted to him.  Pure love is free choice. He soon saw that our love would falter.  Our love would fail. Because of his intense compassion for the people he created he had to find a way to reconcile our sin with his love.  Enter Mary!!  A simple girl… young… normal… and well thought of by some. Because of her dedication she found favor with God .  Still a normal everyday girl with sin just like yours.  Just like mine.  God knew by placing his son in a normal girl he would create a way to take our sin… her sin… and cancel it once and for all.  Gods son, our Savior, sinless and perfect, had to be made one with a normal sinful soul in order for sin to be defeated.  He had to be born of a sinful human… in a humble nature… in order for the pain of the cross to cancel all sin once and for all.  There was no announcement.  No parade. No headlines.  The birth was not even noticed by many.  However it changed all our lives forever.   Our God… our Savior… did that for us.  They did that for you. They did that for me.  What an amazing God!  

Mark 2:17 

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.”

1 John 4:9-10

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

2 Corinthians 9:15

Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God. This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone. Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they’ll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need. Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough!

Philippians 2:6-9

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
9-11Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

Luke 1:26-38

A Virgin Conceives
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:
Good morning!
You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you.
She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.
He will be great,
be called ‘Son of the Highest.’
The Lord God will give him
the throne of his father David;
He will rule Jacob’s house forever—
no end, ever, to his kingdom.”
Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”
The angel answered,
The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
the power of the Highest hover over you;
Therefore, the child you bring to birth
will be called Holy, Son of God.
“And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”
And Mary said,
Yes, I see it all now:
I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me
just as you say.
Then the angel left her.

 

December 6th 2020

Happy Jesus Day!

My Daily Prayer!

Father
As I learn… as I grow… you reveal your spirit to me.  As I look into your eyes I have a heart that can not keep.  My greatest of fears is that you will leave me here.  Drowning in this water so deep, when I want nothing more than to walk with you.  I’m just a common man with  common fears.  I don’t like the doubt…  I don’t like the lack of trust, as satan tries to lead me in the wrong direction.  As I pray I want to become one with you.  I want to show the world your love… your heart… your grace.  Father, come into every part of my spirit and use me until you can’t use me anymore.  I give up my very soul, along with all of my heart,  my mind.  Take my life to your service.  Allow me to get out of the way, so the world sees only you.  Give me a faith that is so rock solid that nothing of this world can shake it.  Allow my life to speak of you to others. Father, my whole life is in your hands.  Mold me, as the potter molds the clay.  Turn me into a vessel for your love.
In your great name – AMEN!
That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!
“‘I’m sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.’
“But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I’m completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won’t be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.
Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.
In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

November 29th 2020

 

Happy Jesus Day!

Love Ripples!

I watch the ripples a rock makes in the water.  I ponder how each of us affects the other.  Like ripples in the water our lives and the way we live it affects the next, then the next, then the next.  
As they argued satan took over his thoughts and convinced him to kill her.  She was the past wife and children’s mother, of someone close to me.  Her boyfriends actions caused pain and despair to one person… then the next… then the next… all the way to me.  I mourn, because the one I love, mourns.
When we are hateful to someone it flows down the line.  When we cut someone off in traffic it causes them to be rude to the next.  When we ignore the person in our path, it causes loneliness and in turn makes them ignore the next .  But when we are kind, when we love, that light shines thru the person in front of us on to the next, then the next, then the next.  When we plant seeds… seeds of hope… seeds of love…  seeds of kindness… they grow.  They grow and at some point they provide love and hope to many more.  Like ripples in the water the kindness and love we display to others spreads out in even circles and produces infinite joy.  Look what the life of our Savior did and that was 2000 years ago.  Let’s see how many love ripples we can make per day.  
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Worry weighs us down;
a cheerful word picks us up.
So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.

November 22nd, 2020

Happy Jesus Day!

Give Thanks Away!

He is fully human.  He is fully God.  He embraces the spirit, as the three live in each other.  This is a Savior who through the Trinity climbs into our lives and makes beauty out of our mess… out of our pain… out of our sin.  This is a God who can take the ugliest, most evil, torture device ever invented and use it to save us.  My God, out of a deep unwavering love for us, not only used the cross to reconcile our sin but he turned it into an instrument of beauty. An emblem we use to proclaim our love for him.  He takes our brokenness, no matter how tragic, and turns it around to bring good to our lives.  As our Savior hung on the cross his cry was “My God why have you forsaken me?”.  The pain was so intense that he could not feel the love of his father.  There are times in our lives when the pain is so intense that we can not feel his love.  But we have a God who climbs into that pain… because he loves us that much.  There is nothing you can do that will make God love you less.  Out of his love he will take the worst part of you and make it good.  Out of the pain, out of the sin, out of the brokenness he will make beauty.  No matter your circumstance GIVE THANKS!  He is using it for good! 

Give thanks to God—he is good
and his love never quits.
Say, “Save us, Savior God,
round us up and get us out of these godless places,
So we can give thanks to your holy Name,
and bask in your life of praise.”
Blessed be God, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Then everybody said, “Yes! Amen!” and “Praise God!”
Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.
Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

November 15th, 2020

Happy Jesus Day!

WHY?

I grieve… I mourn… I sometimes cry uncontrollably…
Gandhi.  Dr King.  Kennedy.  Lincoln.  Lennon.  Evers.  Our Savior Jesus Christ…  all killed simply because they stood for peace… for love! 
I have great trouble understanding why?  Understanding the struggle between Gods’ children.  Why do we use skin color. Race. Differences in opinion. Nationality… as an excuse for such hatred and such violence?  I see friends and loved ones not speaking simply because they disagree.  I see churches terminating leaders because they are not perfect.  Scripture tells me that we are all his children and made in his image.  So why do we abuse and treat each other as we do?  Why do we judge based on color, based on opinions, based on differences in lifestyle?  Are we not ALL made in his image and filled with his spirit?  From that spirit we inherit the knowledge that anything, other than love, for others, is wrong.  Stop letting the evil one direct your actions and look solely to the spirit that lives in you.  The spirit of the God who made you.  The spirit that says I don’t care who you are, where you come from, or what you did, you deserve my love… my respect… my compassion!  Oh to live in that world!!   
So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it! Jesus, staying true to God’s purposes, reached out in a special way to the Jewish insiders so that the old ancestral promises would come true for them. As a result, the non-Jewish outsiders have been able to experience mercy and to show appreciation to God. Just think of all the Scriptures that will come true in what we do! For instance:
Then I’ll join outsiders in a hymn-sing;
I’ll sing to your name!
And this one:
Outsiders and insiders, rejoice together!
And again:
People of all nations, celebrate God!
All colors and races, give hearty praise!
And Isaiah’s word:
There’s the root of our ancestor Jesse,
breaking through the earth and growing tree tall,
Tall enough for everyone everywhere to see and take hope!
Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!
Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always].
“To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
God Is Love
7-10My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
11-12My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!
13-16This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.
To Love, to Be Loved
17-18God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
19We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.
20-21If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.
If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth—we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
30Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.
31-32Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.
Hatred starts fights,
but love pulls a quilt over the bickering.

November 8th, 2020

Happy Jesus Day!

Bone Deep Love

As we all sit in a circle the question was “what do you get from your spouse”?  After listening to all the desires, all the wants, from the others, I simply answered “I expect nothing from Lorna except to love me”.  Love is free choice.  As the two of us are soulmates our love does not demand or expect performance.  We simply do for each other out of a place of deep love.  Unconditional love produces a desire to please… to serve… to cherish.  So it is, with our love and relationship with Christ.  As we accept his deep unconditional love it forms in us a desire to please him. Not out of fear… not out of a desire to earn… but out of respect and love.  Unconditional love never demands performance.  Never demands compliance. Never demands rules.  If love is truly unconditional there is no need for rules, because everything is done from a place in the heart.  Our Savior does not demand that we do things a certain way, act a certain way or follow a given set of rules.  If he did, then what was the cross for?  He simply and unconditionally asked that we love him in return… the way he loves us.  From a place of love that goes bone deep… and includes all of who we are!! 

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear
1My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.
2-3Here’s how you test for the genuine Spirit of God. Everyone who confesses openly his faith in Jesus Christ—the Son of God, who came as an actual flesh-and-blood person—comes from God and belongs to God. And everyone who refuses to confess faith in Jesus has nothing in common with God. This is the spirit of antichrist that you heard was coming. Well, here it is, sooner than we thought!
4-6My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world. These people belong to the Christ-denying world. They talk the world’s language and the world eats it up. But we come from God and belong to God. Anyone who knows God understands us and listens. The person who has nothing to do with God will, of course, not listen to us. This is another test for telling the Spirit of Truth from the spirit of deception.
God Is Love
7-10My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
11-12My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!
13-16This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.
To Love, to Be Loved
17-18God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
19We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.
20-21If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.
Father, I want those you gave me
To be with me, right where I am,
So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me,
Having loved me
Long before there ever was a world.
Righteous Father, the world has never known you,
But I have known you, and these disciples know
That you sent me on this mission.
I have made your very being known to them—
Who you are and what you do—
And continue to make it known,
So that your love for me
Might be in them
Exactly as I am in them.
It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.
One final word, friends. We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance. You know the guidelines we laid out for you from the Master Jesus. God wants you to live a pure life.
Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity.
Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, not abusing it, as is so common among those who know nothing of God.

 

November 1st, 2020

Happy Jesus Day!

Love Is All That Matters

Matthew Chapter 22.
During times like these when anxiety fills the air  We must remember that we are all more alike than different…   Christ would love first.  During times like these when there is so much division the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers…    Jesus would love first.  
As we are all his children, we simply have to run not walk toward each other with arms open wide….. in love.  
It’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong… it’s about what brings glory to God.  It’s not about who’s ideas are best and who’s are not… it’s about how can we all be one people.  It’s not about mistakes made or triumphs won… it’s about giving the praise to the one who rules over all.
I see so much hatred… turmoil… pride… so much resentment and I know in my heart that is saddens our Savior.  According to Jesus the two most important things is loving him and loving others.  He didn’t say only if they agree with you.  He didn’t say only if they look like you or if they behave like you.  He said love everyone just like you love me.  Next to that… nothing else matters.
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
God Is Love
My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!
This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.
To Love, to Be Loved
God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.
If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.
“To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.
“I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”
He quoted a proverb: “‘Can a blind man guide a blind man?’ Wouldn’t they both end up in the ditch? An apprentice doesn’t lecture the master. The point is to be careful who you follow as your teacher.
“It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
But you, friends, are well-warned. Be on guard lest you lose your footing and get swept off your feet by these lawless and loose-talking teachers. Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Glory to the Master, now and forever! Yes!
Every time the Animals gave glory and honor and thanks to the One Seated on the Throne—the age-after-age Living One—the Twenty-four Elders would fall prostrate before the One Seated on the Throne. They worshiped the age-after-age Living One. They threw their crowns at the foot of the Throne, chanting,
Worthy, O Master! Yes, our God!
Take the glory! the honor! the power!
You created it all;
It was created because you wanted it.
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

 

October 25th, 2020

Happy Jesus Day!

I Am Broke

As I met him for the first time he had questions.  How long have you owned this company?  How many employees are there?  It appears you have money.  My reply caught him by surprise… “I do not own the company, I have no assets and as for money… I was broke when I was born,  I currently don’t have a thing and I will die without a dollar to my name”.  Honesty brings the realization that all we see,  all we take comfort in, all we claim we own… belongs to God.  He commented “but you built this company from the ground up.  You had the wisdom to do what was needed.”  “But who gave me that wisdom?   Who opened the doors for me?”  God!!   Do you take pride in your accomplishments? God gave you that talent.  Do you measure your success by the people you know?  He puts people in your path. How about the size of your bank account?  He trusted you with his money.   Everything we have…  every talent we possess…  every accomplishment… belongs to God and must be used to his glory.  It’s not about us.  It’s about using what he blesses us with to glorify him and love others.  The next time you have a chance to use your talents, money, or possessions to love others.  Do it in his name.  His love will come back to you… ten fold. 
Some people say, quite rightly, that idols have no actual existence, that there’s nothing to them, that there is no God other than our one God, that no matter how many of these so-called gods are named and worshiped they still don’t add up to anything but a tall story. They say—again, quite rightly—that there is only one God the Father, that everything comes from him, and that he wants us to live for him. Also, they say that there is only one Master—Jesus the Messiah—and that everything is for his sake, including us. Yes. It’s true.
It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?
Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.
Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!
So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!
Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.
Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.
Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.
Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

 

October 18th, 2020 

Happy Jesus Day!

Whatever It Takes

As I sat at my desk a call came thru the intercom.  There is someone in the parking lot looking in cars and trying doors.  As everyone rushed outside I caught a glimpse of the young man.  Homeless… simply looking for a way to get a dollar.  As I stood there watching him walk away the thought weighed heavy on my heart.  Why were we more concerned with our material possessions than the life of this homeless young  man?  Why were we so quick to think of running him off then to care for him and pray for his well being?  As Jesus spoke from the mountain, he taught of the need to minister to ones such as this.  To be more concerned with each other than with this world.  To love those that persecute you. Love those that steal from you as much, as if not more, than those that love you in return.  I went back to see if I could help… but he was gone.  As a child of God I should minister to him.  If it means giving him everything I have in order to bring him to Christ and show him the love of our Savior then I should be willing to do that.  “If he steals your shirt, give him your coat also”!  From the mountain… and the mouth… of our Lord.   
“To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
When We Practice Real Love
My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.
Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
“To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,
He throws caution to the winds,
giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways
never run out, never wear out.
This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.
Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.
“If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”
Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!

 

October 11th, 2020
Happy Jesus Day!
What’s On Your Screen?

As we all spend so much time on our phones.   As I watch so many spend endless time looking at a screen.  As I observe people on FB and so much social media… God put the following thought on my heart!  “What if I had made you with a screen on your chest that showed the thoughts in your mind and the desires of your heart?”  Scary thought?  Would others see Jesus is first in your life or money?  Would they see that family takes center stage or our Savior.  Would your friends be the most important or God?  How about your hobby, your job?  Would those be at the front of your screen or would it be covered up by Jesus?  Could the world see your thoughts and still accept you or would you run in shame.  Would they see a heart of Jesus or a heart of stone?  Would they see judgement or compassion? Love or hatred?  There is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us.  I pray daily that my screen would show unending love for everyone surrounded by Jesus, Jesus, and more Jesus.  Don’t know if I will ever get there… but I’m trying. Lest we forget… God sees it all as if we have a screen.  I for one am so thankful for the grace of our Savior.      
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.
Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
If we had forgotten to pray to our God or made fools of ourselves with store-bought gods,
Wouldn’t God have figured this out? We can’t hide things from him. No, you decided to make us martyrs,
lambs assigned for sacrifice each day.
The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition.
“Be generous. Give to the poor. Get yourselves a bank that can’t go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bankrobbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

October 4th, 2020

Happy Jesus Day

Eighteen Inches

Eighteen inches!  Such a short distance… but a long journey.  Does your walk with God start in your head or your heart? It’s eighteen inches from one to the other.  Christ didn’t spend time telling people what they did wrong. He didn’t spend time telling of his wisdom.  He didn’t make a list of all the things they needed, to gain his approval.  He simply loved.  He simply forgave.  He simply made them feel special.  When it came time to love he didn’t analyze why they were caught in the situation they were in… he simply helped.  He didn’t worry about where they came from… he simply helped.  When you run across a homeless person do you judge or do you pray and help.  When you encounter a person with a hardened past do you shy away and judge or do you pray and help.  Why are we so quick to see differences when Christ doesn’t?  If your walk with God is in your head.  If your walk with our Savior is all about one scripture after another.  Take time to let it travel the eighteen inches he intended for it to.  It’s the only way we will change this world for him.  It’s not about how many verses you can remember.  It’s about how much love you can show.  He is counting on our hearts to be the door he walks through. 
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.
Whoever wants to embrace life
and see the day fill up with good,
Here’s what you do:
Say nothing evil or hurtful;
Snub evil and cultivate good;
run after peace for all you’re worth.
God looks on all this with approval,
listening and responding well to what he’s asked;
But he turns his back
on those who do evil things.
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.
But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad.
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

September 27th, 2020 

Happy Jesus Day!

Drinking From Their Cup

“Samaritans?  Half-breeds!  Who would think of associating with them?  They must stay in their village and they are not welcome here.  We must keep them in their place and their place is certainly not with us.”  

He knew the unwritten rules.  Jews simply did not talk to samaritans.  But she was there.  He was there.  He could tell she needed a kind word and a loving heart.  Jesus had been traveling so you know he had his chalice with him.  But he asked her to dip him some water with HER cup.  Why?  I believe he wanted to show compassion… empathy… by drinking from her cup.  He wanted to know what it felt like to be a samaritan.  He wanted her to know he was not afraid to be in her life… in her world.  Should we not do the same?  I have no idea what it feels like to be black.  What it feels like to be born in Iran.  I am clueless to the struggles of the homeless but I should try to learn.  Christ showed compassion to this samaritan woman by stepping into her shoes, if only for a moment.  We should pray for the empathy and compassion to do the same with the people around us.  If we call ourselves Christ followers then let us follow. 
Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!
This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.
Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.
Whoever wants to embrace life
and see the day fill up with good,
Here’s what you do:
Say nothing evil or hurtful;
Snub evil and cultivate good;
run after peace for all you’re worth.
God looks on all this with approval,
listening and responding well to what he’s asked;
But he turns his back
on those who do evil things.
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
5-8Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

September 20th, 2020

Happy Jesus Day! 

The Way You Wonder

The way you wonder is the way you choose!  Do you dwell on the heavenly things Paul talked about in Romans or do you dwell on the fear and anxiety that Satan is using the world to throw at you.  I pause as I see us living our life inside our heads.  We fill ourselves with anxiety… pride… selfish thoughts.  I’m told for most people 70% of our thoughts are negative in nature.  Will I get sick?  Will I suffer at the hands of another?  Will I or someone I love die today?  Have you ever noticed in the word ANXIETY, the I is in the middle? The word PRIDE, the I is in the middle?  When we live lives of pride and selfish behavior anxiety and fear control our thoughts.  We dwell in a place of what is best for us.  When we turn our minds and hearts to Christ. Completely and fully to Jesus… then the holy spirit fills our minds with the fruits that come from HIM.  He fills our minds with positive thoughts about his love and grace.  Fear takes a back seat to confidence in his salvation.  Anxiety is washed away by assurance in his love. Pride is replaced with caring for others.  Pray daily for the courage to walk away from the deception that Satan throws at you.  Dwell in the place of love that can only come from our Savior.   If he cries over the falling of a sparrow then how much more will he watch over you?

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. 
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.
But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

September 13th, 2020
Happy Jesus Day!
Standing With Jesus!
Daily I watch as people judge… people hate… people treat those different than them with dis-respect. I listen as they blame the condition of the world on everyone else, but themselves.  “You don’t believe the way I do, so you have to be wrong.”  “You’re liberal and I’m conservative so you’re wrong.”  “You don’t follow the rules.  You hang out with the wrong people.  You eat with them and laugh with them.  You allow them to call you friend and you parade around with them as if they were family.  You’ve been seen talking to thieves, to prostitutes, to liars, cheaters and adulterers.  How can I ever associate with you.”  As I watch the hatred… the judging…  as I listen to the blaming… our Savior lays on my heart.  Did not the conservatives of his time say these things of him?  Did not those with status treat him as a sinner.  Didn’t he get looks from the religious leaders because of the people he helped… the people he called his friend.  Our Savior loved unconditionally.  God sent his son to show us how to love… how to live… how to treat others.  Because of his behavior they crucified him.  I would rather be judged for my love of people, along with my Lord, then to be accepted by those of this world.  We should think about that next time we find ourselves placing blame.
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.”
Run away from infantile indulgence. Run after mature righteousness—faith, love, peace—joining those who are in honest and serious prayer before God. Refuse to get involved in inane discussions; they always end up in fights. God’s servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey. You never know how or when God might sober them up with a change of heart and a turning to the truth, enabling them to escape the Devil’s trap, where they are caught and held captive, forced to run his errands.
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.
Whoever wants to embrace life
and see the day fill up with good,
Here’s what you do:
Say nothing evil or hurtful;
Snub evil and cultivate good;
run after peace for all you’re worth.
God looks on all this with approval,
listening and responding well to what he’s asked;
But he turns his back
on those who do evil things.
Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”

September 6th, 2020
Happy Jesus Day!
Why Me? 

I watch through the tears as he struggles to talk.  As he struggles to walk.  As he struggles to sit still.  Twenty three, and a disease that is inherited, with no cure in sight.  My love for him runs deep… and my heart hurts… and my prayers are hard.  I then watch as this little girl lives in a place of darkness because brain tumors have taken her sight.  Her illnesses are many but her spirit is huge.  Her picture is something I see daily and her story is special to my heart.  And it hurts…   I pray to take their pain away.  I pray to make them whole.  I pray to bless them and give them favor. My thoughts then turn to “why me and not them?”  Each day he blesses me to overflowing.  He gives me strength.  He gives me health.  He gives me resources I don’t deserve.  So why does he shower me with blessings?  “to those that are given much… much will be expected”  If you have health… if you have wealth… if you have blessings untold do not for one minute think it is for you.  Every blessing in your life. Every talent you possess. Every resource at your disposal was given by God to help others to his glory.  These young people inspire me with their energy.  It is up to me to spread his love and resources, in return.  I would gladly trade all these blessings for their health.   

“The servant who knows what his master wants and ignores it, or insolently does whatever he pleases, will be thoroughly thrashed. But if he does a poor job through ignorance, he’ll get off with a slap on the hand. Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!
Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.
God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,
He throws caution to the winds,
giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways
never run out, never wear out.
This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.
Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God. This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone. Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they’ll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need. Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough!
The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed;
those who help others are helped.
Curses on those who drive a hard bargain!
Blessings on all who play fair and square!
I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.
Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

August 30th, 2020

Where Do You Live? 

Do you live in the house of fear or the house of love?  Christ calls us to unbridled love for all those around us.  Love of not only the people that are easy but the people that are hard.   Do you have love in your heart for the terrorist you see on the news?  Do you have love for the person that persecutes you? Christ did!  Do you pray blessings on the very people that threaten your way of life?  Your Savior does!  Every Soul – Good or Bad – Rich or Poor – Black or White – is a soul made in Gods image and loved deeply by him.  Each one created with purpose.  If we live in a house of fear then we see differences and we foster hatred.  We allow satan to sit with us and cloud our judgement.   However if we live in the house of love… with the Lord as our father… we will come to dwell in compassion for all mankind.  I’m not fully there yet.  I struggle daily but our Savior has answered many of my prayers and brought me into the entryway of his house.  He puts me in the path of people and allows me to minister to them and show them compassion.  My prayer for all of us is that we strive to become the human family instead of the human race.  With Jesus as our father it can be done.  But it has to start with us.  

Give Away Your Life
But it’s trouble ahead if you think you have it made.
What you have is all you’ll ever get.
And it’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself.
Your self will not satisfy you for long.
And it’s trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games.
There’s suffering to be met, and you’re going to meet it.
“There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular.
“To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.
“I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”
He quoted a proverb: “‘Can a blind man guide a blind man?’ Wouldn’t they both end up in the ditch? An apprentice doesn’t lecture the master. The point is to be careful who you follow as your teacher.
“It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”
It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?
My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
Jesus heard about it and spoke up, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.”
Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way—he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.
When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.” Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?”
Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.”
Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.”

August 23rd, 2020
Happy Jesus Day!
God Is Not Religious!

As he met God for the first time it took him by surprise.  God was not what he imagined and certainly not what he spent his life thinking.  As God hugged him he couldn’t help but proclaim.  “You’re not what I expected”  To which God replied “What were you looking for?”  He said “Someone more religious, someone older and with a long beard!”  The answer from God was very surprising.  “Religious?  I’m not religious!  I never wanted all this division.  Certainly not among my children.  Catholic, Baptist, Church of Christ, Methodist,  how could you ever know what to do and where to go? What matters is being my child.  Loving me with all your heart… your soul… your mind….   Oh and make sure you love everyone else just like you love me!  It’s that simple.  Don’t get caught up on rules… on ceremonies… on who’s right and who’s wrong.  It’s not about that.  You can’t earn your way to my arms by following rules.  You can’t come into my kingdom by belonging to a certain religion.  It’s much simpler than that.  Love me so much that nothing else in your life can come between us.  Then love others,  and I mean everyone,  that much as well.  Do that… teach that…  and the rest will follow.  I love you more than you know.  Now give me another hug my good and faithful servant!”
If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.
Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
One final word of counsel, friends. Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”
My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”
We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

August 16th, 2020
Happy Jesus Day
My Hearts Prayer
My eyes have not beheld what my heart so clearly sees.  Daily I reach for you… knowing that your hand will be there to guide me.  To welcome me.  I rest in the comfort that your light will shine… to lead… where my life must follow.  That your love will bring freedom to my soul, as it longs to soar to your waiting arms.  My life… given in service to you… and all your children… as I desire to mirror your love.  To be the hands… and feet… of your glory to all those I encounter.  I fall prostrate to the ground as I behold your grace… your majesty…  I try, with all my strength, to follow your truth… your life… your way.  I ask for wisdom, for guidance, to love all your children without forethought or motive.  To allow you to guide me in your ways and in your plan for me.  That my life may be nothing more than a tribute to you.  That the breath you have given me will not be in vain but will be in service and dedication to you.  Come… Father come… and fill my soul with your presence.  That others may see the glory of you… through me. 
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we’ve been shown the mystery! I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone leading you off on some wild-goose chase, after other so-called mysteries, or “the Secret.”
By your words I can see where I’m going;
they throw a beam of light on my dark path.
I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back
from living by your righteous order.
John 14:16-17; 
“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!
None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.
What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.
I’m asking God for one thing,
only one thing:
To live with him in his house
my whole life long.
I’ll contemplate his beauty;
I’ll study at his feet.
My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!

August 9th,  2020
Happy Jesus Day!
Jesus Is Weeping!
Jesus wept!  
It’s hard to think of Jesus crying.  
We cry…  We cry over loved ones lost.  We cry because our lack of faith brings doubt about if we all see them again.   But Jesus wept!  Jesus knew the outcome.  Jesus knew the power he had.  Jesus knew he would bring his friend Lazarus back to life.  So weeping?  Why?   Disappointment!  Frustration!  After all the miracles his friends had seen him do.  After all the times they witnessed his power, they still had doubt.  They still did not believe he could bring his friend out of the tomb.  I truly believe his friends… the people he loved the most… and their lack of faith brought deep sadness to our Savior.  That gives me pause!  How many times do I bring tears to my Saviors eyes when I doubt his power.  How many times do I cause him to cry because my faith is weak.  As I try to deal with life, instead of trusting him to care for me, does it cause a tear to stream down his cheek?  Do you struggle daily with your faith?  Do you fear or worry instead of trusting his love… his power?  You… I… and those around us bring sadness to our Savior as we struggle with our faith.  Jesus Wept!  Might be better to say Jesus is weeping.  I am going to pray for strength to stop those tears.  I hope you will join me. 
Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said.
God’s a safe-house for the battered,
a sanctuary during bad times.
The moment you arrive, you relax;
you’re never sorry you knocked.
We have a strong city, Salvation City,
built and fortified with salvation.
Throw wide the gates
so good and true people can enter.
People with their minds set on you,
you keep completely whole,
Steady on their feet,
because they keep at it and don’t quit.
Depend on God and keep at it
because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.
No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!”
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.
So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul.
By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely. “They looked all over and couldn’t find him because God had taken him.” We know on the basis of reliable testimony that before he was taken “he pleased God.” It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.
“Because you’re not yet taking God seriously,” said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.”
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

August 2nd, 2020
Happy Jesus Day!
The Heart of Jesus!
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Do you ever feel burdened by something that you know burdens Christ? Does your heart hurt for things that you know hurt Jesus’ heart? 
We had stopped in an ice cream store to celebrate a blessing God had given.  He came in the front door.  A young man… slender attractive… but with ragged clothes, and that look that comes from the streets.  I watched as he wondered around the store, talking to himself.  As always God put on my heart to visit with him.  Didn’t take long to realize that his mind was lost as he was.  I bought him a couple of sodas and some popcorn.  I then told Joel about Christ and asked if I could pray with him.  Even now the tears come as I think of the lost future, the lost potential, the lost life.  Do you find yourself weeping over the misplaced soul?  Do you find yourself troubled at the one who has lost his way?  Does sadness overcome you as you witness those that look for guidance in a bottle or pill.  As the Holy Spirit becomes more a part of who you are then it is only natural that you will feel the same burdens that Christ feels. As children of the living God we should have heavy hearts for the things that our Lord has a heavy heart for.  It is through those burdens we will start to see the heart of Jesus!
God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”
Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
God doesn’t miss anything. He knows perfectly well all the love you’ve shown him by helping needy Christians, and that you keep at it. And now I want each of you to extend that same intensity toward a full-bodied hope, and keep at it till the finish. Don’t drag your feet. Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them.
Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!
Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.

July 26th,2020
Happy Jesus Day!
Jesus’ Eyes!

To have him look at me!!

Can you feel him look at you?  Do you feel the penetrating love of those eyes?  Matthew had seen him from afar.  He had watched and heard miracles.  As a tax collector he wanted to know more of this man Peter called Jesus.  Then it happened!  Christ stopped and looked at Matthew with his eyes of pure love.  Eyes that do not judge… but love.  Eyes that do not condemn… but forgive.  Do you feel the same look that Matthew did?  Maybe you long for Christ to look upon you?  Many days I can feel his look.  On those days humility will often bring me to my knees.  To find peace that can only come from the eyes of Jesus.  To know that he loves me.  That the Savior of the world…  the son of the living God… the creator of life… the maker of heaven and earth… the author of ALL I see… the very one that rose from the dead… LOVES ME!!  Through all my trials, thru all my sin,  thru all my weakness, thru every good and every bad… HE LOVES ME AND HE LOVES YOU!   If you haven’t felt his look… seek it out.  It is a look that will touch the very center of your soul and bring you to your knees.  When you find it… you will never want to let it go.  You will long for the day when you will see his eyes right in front of you.

Jesus looked her in the eye. “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.
But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”
Watch this: God’s eye is on those who respect him,
the ones who are looking for his love.
He’s ready to come to their rescue in bad times;
in lean times he keeps body and soul together.
“The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that’s who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him.”
The question keeps coming up regarding meat that has been offered up to an idol: Should you attend meals where such meat is served, or not? We sometimes tend to think we know all we need to know to answer these kinds of questions—but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all.

July 19th, 2020
Happy Jesus Day!
Just Ask!

Thirty seven times.  Thirty Seven!!  
H2O became wine.  Evil spirits ran in fear.  Fish jumped into nets at his calling.  Leprosy vanished with a touch.  Small fish and simple bread fed thousands with a thought.  Walking on water – no problem.  Blindness vanished with a little spit and mud.  Even a simple touch of his garment brought healing.  Simple words and death’s sting was gone.  Thirty seven times in three years Jesus used the power from his father to heal… to save… to change lives.  Thirty seven times he proved to us that the power of God was present in his spirit.  Why then do we struggle to believe that he will take care of us.  Three hundred and sixty five times in his word he whispers “DO NOT FEAR” but yet we spend our days full of anxiety for one thing or another.  Does not the Holy Spirit live within us?  Does not the Holy Spirit… His Spirit… reside in our hearts… in our souls?  I know its hard to comprehend but the same power that performed thirty seven miracles lives in each of us.  That same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available simply for the asking.  So ask!! When you fear,  ask for courage.  When you doubt, ask for confidence.  When you are filled with anxiety ask for peace.  His power will fill you to overflowing.  Just ask!  
But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!
“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

July 12th, 2020
Happy Jesus Day God’s Child
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Oh how I love being your child!  Each morning I am offered a new day to love and praise you.  A new day to talk to you.  To marvel at your love.  The world and it’s parade tries to still our time.  Hurry from here to there.  This phone call and that meeting.  All the while wishing it could be just me and you.  I spend my day looking for signs of you.  Looking for you to show me another example of your love.  I talk as much as I can, because I know you always listen.  I know you always care.  I know you always love.  I wait for the chance to talk about you to others.  Many times you place others in front that need to hear of you, and other times I have to look for the reason.  How I love to talk about you.  To share your love with others.  There seems to be so many that need to know you.  That need to feel the experience of being your child.  Of resting in your love.  I ask that you use me daily until you can’t use me any longer.  This life has so many trials and still so many opportunities.  I want nothing more than to be your child.  To show your love to others.  It is the greatest honor of my life.  Oh how I love being your child.
But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims,
A sight to take your breath away!
Grand processions of people
telling all the good things of God!
But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act. Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another: “Does anyone care, God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?” The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.

 

If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones.
Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Don’t forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I’m locked up in this jail. Pray that every time I open my mouth I’ll be able to make Christ plain as day to them.
Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.
What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
the world was there through him,
and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people,
but they didn’t want him.
But whoever did want him,
who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
not blood-begotten,
not flesh-begotten,
not sex-begotten.
In the course of listening to Paul, a great many Corinthians believed and were baptized. One night the Master spoke to Paul in a dream: “Keep it up, and don’t let anyone intimidate or silence you. No matter what happens, I’m with you and no one is going to be able to hurt you. You have no idea how many people I have on my side in this city.” That was all he needed to stick it out. He stayed another year and a half, faithfully teaching the Word of God to the Corinthians.

July 5th, 2020
Love Is The Question And The Answer

I am so tired!  My heart tells me that God is tired too!  Tired of all the hatred.  Tired of all the lies.  Tired of all the judging.  Tired of all the selfishness.  Since the time of scripture… since the time of Adam and Eve… we have spent lifetimes worried about what is best for us.  Spending year, after year, consumed with looking out for ourselves instead of concentrating on what pleases our Savor.  We hate the person that cuts us off in traffic, instead of praying for them.  We run to be first in line, instead of allowing others to be.  We spend countless amounts of money to make sure that our way of life remains the same with very little regard for other parts of the world.   I’m tired… of a world where trivial things, that do not matter to our Savior, are more important than a hungry child.  Our father has given us everything we need to make our world work.  He has given us all the directions we need to have a joyful life.  We simply need to follow the instructions found in his word.  Love him with all we have and love others as much as we love him.  Follow that… teach that… live that…  and don’t make it harder than he intended for it to be.
 
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
5-8Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
9-11Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.
Looking at it one way, you could say, “Anything goes. Because of God’s immense generosity and grace, we don’t have to dissect and scrutinize every action to see if it will pass muster.” But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.
A New Life
Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.
Difficult Times Ahead
Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.
Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. The law code—don’t sleep with another person’s spouse, don’t take someone’s life, don’t take what isn’t yours, don’t always be wanting what you don’t have, and any other “don’t” you can think of—finally adds up to this: Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.

June 28, 2020
Hear His Whisper!
Take a moment…  
Close your eyes…  
Relax your spirit…  
Can you hear him?  Can you feel his presence?  Can you hear his whisper?  Come with me!  Daily he whispers. Come with me! He wants to show us pure joy that can’t be found without him.   He wants to show us a peace that can’t be understood outside of him.  He wants to show you faith over fear.   He longs to show you love like can’t be found in this worldly place. A love you will wonder how you ever lived without.  Once you experience it you will never let it go.  He longs to be with you… to hear you whisper back.  He wants to hear you say his name… he wants to spend the day with you.  To show you wonders and amazement.  He longs to know your worries… your concerns.  He wants to break the chains that hold you captive and set you free.  
Take a moment and whisper his name “Jesus”.  
He’s listening… 
leaning in… 
waiting for you…  
Let him wake you up as only he can do.  Jesus!
Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and though you do not even see Him now, you believe and trust in Him and you greatly rejoice and delight with inexpressible and glorious joy
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].
Now may the Lord of peace Himself grant you His peace at all times and in every way [that peace and spiritual well-being that comes to those who walk with Him, regardless of life’s circumstances]. The Lord be with you all.
God, the one and only—
I’ll wait as long as he says.
Everything I hope for comes from him,
so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul,
An impregnable castle:
I’m set for life.

June 21st, 2020
TRUST = LOVE

Do you ever think what is the greatest way to show love to someone?  Is it thru gifts? Is it thru words?  Is it thru actions or simply by noticing?  Then my thoughts turn to how do I show my deepest love to the God who made me and watches over me?  Trust!!  When you trust our God you show him the unconditional love he so desires from you.  During times of your life that all hope seems lost… you must trust.  During times in your life when fear is your greatest enemy… you must trust.  During times when the answers don’t seem to come… you must trust. During times when control is out of reach… you must trust.  When you have deep abiding trust in God it is the greatest way to show your love.  At that moment you are telling him.  I believe, without a doubt, everything you have promised.  I believe without a doubt, that you are here,  you are watching, you want what is best for me.  Isn’t that what a child does with a parent to show love for them? Children trust mom unconditionally.   If you can’t truly trust the maker of the universe and the giver of life.  Then true love has not found its way into your heart.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
don’t sulk under his loving correction. It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this.
So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.
Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!
“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.

June 12th, 2020

The City I Am Looking For!

Disappointment filled our hearts as we realized that trips would be canceled.  That the promise to show New York City to our children would have to wait.  My wife and I travel a lot.   We love our time together and we love the sights and sounds of the city or the beauty of the mountains.  We love to see the people. The amazing buildings and experience the different foods.  As I sit and ponder when we can complete the next trip I realize that no matter where I go… and what city I see… It will not be  the city that i’m looking for.  I long for the city where our father resides.  I long for the city where I will walk with my Savior.  I will feel his warm embrace and see his loving eyes.  I’m told the streets are paved in gold and the place he has prepared for me is like none other.  Most of all that city will be filled with his love.  With his peace and with his glory.  New York will have to wait for now.  Trips to other cities will have to wait for now.  But when the time comes I will walk the streets of New York.  I will see the sights.  I will hear the sounds.  I will visit with the people and taste the food.   As I do I will be thinking of the city that I long to see.  The city of heaven where our Jesus lives.  

1 Corinthians 13:12

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

1 John 3:2

But friends, that’s exactly who we are: children of God. And that’s only the beginning. Who knows how we’ll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him—and in seeing him, become like him. All of us who look forward to his Coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own.

John 14:3

“Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.”


May 31, 2020
Chasing Your Giant!

God is God and I am not.   
He was so big!  Muscles the size of melons.  His armor… it glimmered in the sun.  His spear alone weighed more than I do.  I would be afraid if it not for the living God who stands beside me.   The living God will give me victory.  The living God who takes my fear away and replaces it with rock solid faith.  And so he did.  One small boy… one slingshot… one smooth stone… a dead giant!!  What is your fear today? Your giant? Your mountain to climb?  I see people daily that live in fear of so many things.  Fear of so many situations.  OH! to have the faith of David!   Why do I think I could ever do anything on my own?  I simply can not see the whole picture.  David saw the picture with faith.  David knew in his heart… in his soul… that he could do nothing without God.  By that faith he killed the giant.  By that same faith you can overcome your fear.  Your giant.  Pick up your stones and your slingshot, ask for Gods help and run toward your fear.  God will stand beside you and help… as you slay the giant. 
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.
Take my side, God—I’m getting kicked around, stomped on every day. Not a day goes by but somebody beats me up; They make it their duty to beat me up. When I get really afraid I come to you in trust. I’m proud to praise God; fearless now, I trust in God. What can mere mortals do?
That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.
That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you! And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.
Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.”
One day, Jesse told David his son, “Take this sack of cracked wheat and these ten loaves of bread and run them down to your brothers in the camp. And take these ten wedges of cheese to the captain of their division. Check in on your brothers to see whether they are getting along all right, and let me know how they’re doing—Saul and your brothers, and all the Israelites in their war with the Philistines in the Oak Valley.”

May 24, 2020

Never Enough!

All the love in this world.  All the worship that can be done… will never be enough for me.  I speak with him nonstop on those days.  I marvel at his love.  At his blessings.  At his never ending grace.  I worship his amazing creation.  I see… and smell… and feel… all the wonders of his love.  I want more of him with each passing moment.  I long for his look.  I long for time in his presence.  I want nothing more from this life than to be his.  To be his hands… his feet…  his window and door.  I want others to see him in me and to experience the amazing love and grace of our Savior.  I hold my breath…  I don’t want this moment to vanish.  In those times he sets off a dream in me of days when I can spread his word and demonstrate his love.  Moments that he will be able to use all of me, to his glory.  I want it to echo through the rest of my life until he calls me home.  There are times I stumble and fall, but his love is there to pick me up.  I then think of the day when he has used me fully.  We will walk hand in hand and I will hear those words I long for.  “Good job my faithful servant”.

Jesus refused, again backing his refusal with Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”
Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.
God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.
Still later, as the Eleven were eating supper, he appeared and took them to task most severely for their stubborn unbelief, refusing to believe those who had seen him raised up. Then he said, “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all. Whoever believes and is baptized is saved; whoever refuses to believe is damned.
Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad.

May 17, 2020

PRAYING HARD!

How hard do you pray?  

She struggled to come into this world.  After being late she had a rough birth and time in the neonatal intensive care unit was a must.  Our daughter was born with complications. Holding her meant a fight with wires, with machines, with gowns, with masks.  As I got home alone… the stress, the strain, the fear, overtook me.  As I hit my knees, weeping, I had but one prayer.  TAKE ME!  God if you need a soul.  If you need a life, then take mine…  I had never prayed that hard in my life!!  God sees our needs before we ask.  He sees our hearts.  Maybe sometimes he wants to see how bad we want it.  Maybe he wants to see if we have a strong enough faith to surrender to him and allow him to do what he does best.  LOVE US!  When life takes a bad turn.  When you simply don’t know which way to go… look up and pray.  Show him how much it matters to you.  Then sit back and watch him work.  He did for me.  The next day she was better. And the next, and the next.  That night he taught me the power of prayer.  He taught me the power of his love.  
By the way,  she is the apple of my eye.  Rest assured I would pray that prayer again… if need be.  
“Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
A little later Jesus found him in the Temple and said, “You look wonderful! You’re well! Don’t return to a sinning life or something worse might happen.”
15-16The man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. That is why the Jews were out to get Jesus—because he did this kind of thing on the Sabbath.
Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

MAY 10, 2020

THE TRUE SHIBBOLETH!

Faith is the true shibboleth to determine the people of God.  
Shibboleth was a Hebrew term used as a password to determine if you were an Israelite in the book of Judges.  I see so little faith during this season of our lives.  I worry about those that claim to be people of God who’s faith is so weak that fear has overcome them to the point that they can not move on.  
The storm was worse than the apostles had ever seen.  The boat was being tossed violently and they feared for their lives.  One of them remembered that Jesus was asleep in the bow and so they woke him.   “Where is your faith” were his words after he calmed the wind and the waves.  My heart has been burdened wondering how many of his people will he say that too when we get past this time in history.  Faith is paramount in our service to God.  Faith is the cornerstone of showing the rest of the world the joy and confidence that comes from Christ.  When others see you do they see the shibboleth that points to Jesus or do they see the fear that comes from the world?

“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.”
“Because you’re not yet taking God seriously,” said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.”
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.
Gilead captured the fords of the Jordan at the crossing to Ephraim. If an Ephraimite fugitive said, “Let me cross,” the men of Gilead would ask, “Are you an Ephraimite?” and he would say, “No.” And they would say, “Say, ‘Shibboleth.’” But he would always say, “Sibboleth”—he couldn’t say it right. Then they would grab him and kill him there at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two Ephraimite divisions were killed on that occasion.

 


MAY 3, 2020

UNCERTAINTY – I Think Not!

Uncertainty is not a word that should be part of our thoughts.  I keep hearing commercials… people talking… ads that claim this is an uncertain time.  That we must face the future with new normals…  with new focus…  Uncertainty?  God is still on his throne.  Christ is still sitting to his right.  The holy spirit is still beside us watching… protecting…  Our Savior still hears our prayers.  He still loves us.  He still forgives… he still protects… he still wants what is best for us.  In my life, I have never known a time of certainty, outside of my God and his Son.  Each day you leave home with no certainty of your return.  You plan, you save, with no certainty of your future. You exercise, take vitamins, and eat right but health is on the edge of a cliff.   People look for stability in their spouse… in their children… in their finances… in their job.  That could vanish tomorrow like smoke in the wind.  God is still on his thrown. Christ is still sitting to his right and the holy spirit is within you.  Uncertainty, I think not.  Our Savior is still alive and listening!  Be still and know that he is God!


John 14:26

“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.”


James 4:13-16

And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”
As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.

DECEMBER 1, 2019

A LIGHT OF PASSION!

Do you live with passion and purpose?  When you walk past someone playing the piano with skill and talent do you stop to marvel at the gift that God has given? Do you get excited and emotional when you hear a voice sing as if it was directly from God?  Do you find joy in the amazing flavors that a good chef can add the to the food that God provides?  Do you see a rainbow or sunset and bow to our father who made it with the touch of his hand? Do you see hope and marvel as you watch a young child play?

I pray that I will always find wonder and excitement in the everyday things that God blesses us with. A life of passion… a life of purpose…  brings unending joy and will produce a light in you that others will see. A light, that others will want.

A light, that shines directly from God.

 

1 Corinthians 12:5-6 MSG

And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

1 Peter 4:10-11

Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!

John 1:3

Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.

 

James 1:17 MSG

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

 

Romans 12:4-8

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.


November 24, 2019

AMAZING GRACE!

Do you live each minute, of each day, with a heart of praise or do you wait for everything to go your way?  He had faced so many hardships.  Sickness, stoning, beatings and prison.  Thru it all his heart of thanksgiving never wavered.  His praise to our Savior never faltered. The apostle Paul was giving thanks even as he was beheaded.  Do you have a bed to sleep in? – God’s Grace.  Do you have money in the bank? – God’s Grace.  Do you have food to eat? – God’s Grace.  Are you addiction free? –  God’s Grace.   Do you have people that love you? – God’s Grace.  Do you have a job? – God’s Grace.  Everything we have, everything we own, every blessing in our life is because of God’s Amazing Grace.  Pride says we did it.  Pride says we are the makers of our life.  Truth is – EVERYTHING in your life and mine is by God’s grace.  His AMAZING GRACE!!

1 Corinthians 15:10

But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste. Haven’t I worked hard trying to do more than any of the others? Even then, my work didn’t amount to all that much. It was God giving me the work to do, God giving me the energy to do it. So whether you heard it from me or from those others, it’s all the same: We spoke God’s truth and you entrusted your lives.

Ephesians 4:7

But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift.

Colossians 1:6

The Message is as true among you today as when you first heard it. It doesn’t diminish or weaken over time. It’s the same all over the world. The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, just as it has in you. From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you’ve been hungry for more. It’s as vigorous in you now as when you learned it from our friend and close associate Epaphras. He is one reliable worker for Christ! I could always depend on him. He’s the one who told us how thoroughly love had been worked into your lives by the Spirit.

 


November 17, 2019

YOU SAY YOU LOVE ME

My Heavenly Father!

You say you love me but I don’t know how to be your child.  You say you have grace untold for me but I don’t deserve it.  You fill my life with favor but I don’t know why.  I try each day to make you proud.  To be your hands… your feet… your love.  I try with unwavering devotion to put a smile on your face but I fall so pitifully short.  My sin makes me want to hide.  Then you wrap me in your love.  You fill my soul with the warmth of your embrace.  You peer into my heart and without hesitation you tell me that I don’t have to know how to be your child.  All I have to do is accept and love you.  What an amazing Father.  What an amazing Savior you are!  Father guide me down the path you would have me to follow.  The path that leads straight to you.

 

Romans 10:9-10

It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!”

 

1 John 4:16

Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.

 

Ephesians 2:8-9

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

Matthew 6:31-33

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Romans 3:23-25

But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

November 10, 2019

PURPOSE, PRIORITY, AND PASSION!

As I listened to his ability on the piano the tears started to flow. He played with  such passion and such purpose.  Many people can play the piano but only a few find the passion. I then thought of the fact that many of us know Jesus but only a few know him with passion and purpose. God will not provide provision without purpose…  without priority… without passion.  Purpose for the life he gave you.  Purpose for giving him glory.  Priority for the love of him.  Priority for making him first.  Passion for the love of others. Passion for being his hands and feet.  Learn to live with purpose, with priority, with passion and watch as he provides provision.

Romans 12:4-8

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

Colossians 3:23

Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.

1 Timothy 6:17-19

Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.

1 Corinthians 10:31

So eat your meals heartily, not worrying about what others say about you—you’re eating to God’s glory, after all, not to please them. As a matter of fact, do everything that way, heartily and freely to God’s glory. At the same time, don’t be callous in your exercise of freedom, thoughtlessly stepping on the toes of those who aren’t as free as you are. I try my best to be considerate of everyone’s feelings in all these matters; I hope you will be, too.

Ephesians 2:8-10

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

 


NOVEMBER 3, 2019

I KNOW HIM!

had my blinker on.  I was moving forward and trying not to crowd… no luck.  No one was letting me in the slow moving traffic.  People looked… people noticed… but they wanted to be first and besides what would they gain by letting me in. If only I could see someone I knew, they would let me in.  Then I thought of the day when I will stand at the gates of heaven.  I will have tried to do what God ask of me.  I will have moved in the right direction but what do I have to offer God?  How will he benefit by letting me in?  Then I will see the one I know.  I will see my loving Savior, Jesus.  He will open the gates, spread his arms and say “doesn’t matter what you have to offer.  I love you… you love me… so come to me and I will give you rest”

 

Philippians 2:3-4

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Romans 3:23

A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

 

Ephesians 2:8-9

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

Titus 3:5

He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.

 

Galatians 2:15-20

We Jews know that we have no advantage of birth over “non-Jewish sinners.” We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know? We tried it—and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good.
Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?) And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren’t perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous. If I was “trying to be good,” I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan.
What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

October 27, 2019

DO YOU FEEL LOST?

Do you ever feel lost?  Do you feel like you don’t belong… in the place where you find yourself?  Lately I have felt lost!  I look… I listen… I notice… I deal with and encounter others who seem to have  no love or even thoughts of our Savior.  I watch as people are so ugly to each other.  I contemplate as so many are greedy.  I observe as people fight and argue.  I see so many looking for happiness in the wrong places.  There are times that I feel so weary over it all.  Then I remember that he is directing.  Jesus is in control and at sometime will come back.  He reminds me that until that day I am to be his hands and feet.  As I try to show his love he gives me the strength I so desperately need.  He will for you too… just ask!

 

John 16:33

Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

 

Romans 12:1-2

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Romans 8:28

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

 

Galatians 6:9

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.

 

John 14:12

“Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.

 

Ephesians 4:20-24

But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

1 John 2:15-17

The Spirit of Truth
“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!

1 Peter 1:13-16

A Future in God
So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”

 


October 20, 2019

SUCH COURAGE!

Courage!  Such an important part of being a Christian. Such an important word when it comes to right or wrong.  I watch as a group of five blind people tour Boston with no guide… no help… just their canes and each other. It inspires as I watch such amazing courage. I then think of how simple it is to take the easy road and not show the courage that God expects of us. Courage to stand for what is right. Courage to forgive without hesitation and the courage to love everyone no matter who!!  Maybe we should take a cue from these blind people and step forward for our Savior.

 

Matthew 5:8

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

 

2 Timothy 1:7

That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you! And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.

 

Ephesians 6:10

A Fight to the Finish
And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

 

Joshua 1:9-11

The Taking of the Land
Then Joshua gave orders to the people’s leaders: “Go through the camp and give this order to the people: ‘Pack your bags. In three days you will cross this Jordan River to enter and take the land God, your God, is giving you to possess.’”

October 13, 2019

WHERE IS YOUR LOVE?

What do you find yourself talking about the most?  We tend to talk about what we enjoy the most. If you love sports then you will find yourself talking sports. If you love music then your conversations will be about music. Fishing then that is on your mind. How many of us say we love the Lord but we don’t talk about him?  I hear “how about that game” but why don’t I hear people say “how about my Savior”

Where your love is that is where your heart lies. Where your heart is belongs your eternity. I hope mine is not in sports or music! Rather in Jesus Christ.

 

Matthew 6:21 AMP

A Life of God-Worship
“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

 

1 Corinthians 10:14 AMP

So, my very dear friends, when you see people reducing God to something they can use or control, get out of their company as fast as you can.

 

Proverbs 4:2

Listen, friends, to some fatherly advice;
sit up and take notice so you’ll know how to live.
I’m giving you good counsel;
don’t let it go in one ear and out the other.

 


October 6, 2019

WE ALL NEED FORGIVENESS!

As I watched that young man forgive the very woman who killed his brother I was so proud of the spirit of our Lord that lives in him.  It gave me thought as to what our world would be like if we had more people like that young man.  If more of us allowed the Holy Spirit to guide, guard  and lead us… then this world would be what God intended.  This world would shine the light of Christ.  This world would be headed in the direction of our Savior who said “forgive them they know not what they do”.  So many have trouble forgiving even the least offense.  I for one, am grateful that our God is not that way.  I need all the forgiveness I can get.  How about you?

 

Ephesians 4:32

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

 

Matthew 18:21-35

A Story About Forgiveness
At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”
Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.
“The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
“The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
“The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’
“The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.
“The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”

Matthew 6:14-15

“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

Colossians 3:12-13

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

“Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.

September 29, 2019

CHRIST HEART! – JOJO

He doesn’t even know it!

I simply watched as this young man went around shining the love of Christ to others from the center of his heart.  There are times you run across those that even without very much knowledge of scripture, or exposure to our Savior, God blesses them with a heart of gold. I watched as he showed such compassion. Such empathy. Such love and a smile that showed the happiness in his heart!  As a man of God it brought such joy to my spirit.  It brought such hope to my soul.  If you find yourself with such a heart… cherish it.  If not, simply pray and God may give you one also.

 

2 Corinthians 4:5

Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.

 

Matthew 5: 14-16

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

1 Thessalonians 5:11-14

The Way He Wants You to Live
And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!
Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.

September 22, 2019

INCOMPARABLE LOVE!

As he laid there on the sidewalk, cigarette still burning, the other homeless people where flagging down the ambulance.  I stopped for a moment to render a prayer that God would take care of his soul.  Then the realization hit my heart.  God was crying for the death of this homeless man just as he did for that of his own son. This man, destitute and alone, is a child of the living God. He may not have the ability to attend church…  hold down a job… or have a family but God breathed life into him and gave him a purpose.  We need to stop each day and remember that all the things we chase… all the things we think are important… don’t compare to the love of our Savior!!! 

 

Luke 12:6

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

 

John 15: 9-17

“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
“You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
“But remember the root command: Love one another.
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”
A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)
Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

September 15, 2019

SUCH JOY!

I walk along with her hand in mine… such joy!

I watch my grandkids laugh and giggle… such joy!

His smile was so big as I blessed him… such joy!

I behold the morning mist over our pond… such joy!

I feel the amazing kisses she showers me with… such joy!

Accomplishment fills my soul after hard work… such joy!

I listen to soul moving music… such joy!

I bask in the morning sun and the cool breeze… such joy!

I think on his love and salvation… such joy!

If we look.  We can find.  Unending joy in this life!

Your life is a series of choices!

Do you find the gold in each day OR do you look only at the coal.

Then my mind turns to what heaven will be like…

Unending Joy!  Hallelujah!!

 

Romans 15:13

Then I’ll join outsiders in a hymn-sing;
I’ll sing to your name!
And this one:
Outsiders and insiders, rejoice together!
And again:
People of all nations, celebrate God!
All colors and races, give hearty praise!
And Isaiah’s word:
There’s the root of our ancestor Jesse,
breaking through the earth and growing tree tall,
Tall enough for everyone everywhere to see and take hope!
Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!

 

John 15:13

“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.

 

John 16: 20-24

Jesus knew they were dying to ask him what he meant, so he said, “Are you trying to figure out among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘In a day or so you’re not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me’? Then fix this firmly in your minds: You’re going to be in deep mourning while the godless world throws a party. You’ll be sad, very sad, but your sadness will develop into gladness.
“When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there’s no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you’ll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you. You’ll no longer be so full of questions.
“This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he’ll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks!
Then he told me, “These are those who come from the great tribulation, and they’ve washed their robes, scrubbed them clean in the blood of the Lamb. That’s why they’re standing before God’s Throne. They serve him day and night in his Temple. The One on the Throne will pitch his tent there for them: no more hunger, no more thirst, no more scorching heat. The Lamb on the Throne will shepherd them, will lead them to spring waters of Life. And God will wipe every last tear from their eyes.”

September 8, 2019

ARE YOU READY?


The question I keep asking myself is “Are we ready for Jesus to return”? I sit in the middle of a party as I watch some play ping pong. Others are playing ball and still others are throwing corn hole. How many of us have our mind on the one that made that possible? Has he even crossed our thoughts in the past hour? The past day? If this minute the horn sounded and the eastern sky opened would everyone here be ready?  It’s easy to remember him when the dark days come.  When death knocks or the job is lost.  But he needs to be on our mind every minute of every day.  He’s coming back and even he does not know when.  I pray my heart is in the right place.

 

Philippians 3:15-21

So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.
Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.
But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.

Colossians 3:1-2

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn’t in it. They act like they’re worshiping me, but they don’t mean it.
They just use me as a cover for teaching whatever suits their fancy.”

Jeremiah 29:13

“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.
“I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.

 


September 1, 2019

YOU CAN’T EARN IT!

The burden can be heavy.  The pressure we put on ourselves, trying to live up to  the name of Jesus, is overwhelming at times.  We struggle daily with believing we have to earn our way into his arms, by what we say and do.  Religion teaches that.  As I wore my HJD shirt I noticed she had on a shirt that said “freedom from religion”.  My thought was… I have that too.  I have Jesus Christ!!  We worry about if we are living up to his love… because the world says, nothing is free.  Jesus love is!  You simply need to love him back.  Stop trying to earn his love by what you say… by what you do…  He doesn’t work that way.  He forgave the very men who hung him on the cross.  Don’t you think he will love you too!

 

Ephesians 2:4-5

It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

James 2:26

The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn’t her action in hiding God’s spies and helping them escape—that seamless unity of believing and doing—what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.

Romans 3:22

But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:17-18

Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man’s sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God’s gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?
18-19Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right.
It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!”

Acts 4:12

With that, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, let loose: “Rulers and leaders of the people, if we have been brought to trial today for helping a sick man, put under investigation regarding this healing, I’ll be completely frank with you—we have nothing to hide. By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One you killed on a cross, the One God raised from the dead, by means of his name this man stands before you healthy and whole. Jesus is ‘the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.’ Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one.”


August 25, 2019

BROKEN CHAINS!

Forty days.  A long time with no food.  Satan asked “make bread from stones”.  Jesus said no I want but one thing.  Satan said “being Gods son you can do what you want and your father will save you”.  Jesus said I want but one thing.  In desperation, satan foreseeing the cross simply said, “give loyalty to me and all this earth can be yours”.  Our Lord at a time of weakness and physical exhaustion stood before the evil one and wanted but one thing.  Our freedom!  He chose, out of deep love, to give up food.  To give up comfort.  To give up life.  He took the chains of sin that weighed so heavy on us and broke them for me… For you…  What an amazing Savior!!  

 

Matthew 4:1-11

Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.”
Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”
For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, “Since you are God’s Son, jump.” The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: “He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.”
Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.”
For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.”
10Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”
The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.

Philippians 2:3-4

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

John 15:13

“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.

Titus 2:14

God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness.

 


August 18, 2019

COME LORD COME!

Do you sometimes feel so weary.  Over the brokenness of this world.  That you hope and pray the Lord will return?  There are days… as I try to show the love of my Savior and the patience of my King that I must hit my knees.  I pray on those days for his return.  For him to come and set it right.  For him to come and with those amazing arms… wrap me in the love that only he can offer.  For him to give me the peace that can only be found in his presence.  Then he talks… then he tugs… then he gives me the strength to show his love… his arms… his peace to others until he returns.

Come Lord Come!!  We can’t wait to see you!

Philippians 4:6-7

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

John 16:33

Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

John 14:16-17

“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!

John 14:25-27

“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.

Revelation 22:20

He who testifies to all these things says it again: “I’m on my way! I’ll be there soon!”
Yes! Come, Master Jesus!

August 11, 2019

WALK THE TALK!

To hear Chris Tomlin sing about our Savior brings tears. To stand in the middle of Red Rocks in Colorado, as we embraced his music, brought even more emotion.  As the concert ended, I looked at the trash left by all those that call themselves “Children of God”…  I was embarrassed.  As Christ followers we are to show his light, love and good works to everyone on this earth.  We are to be his  example for all to see.  As Christians we need to be above reproach.  We need to remember that not a day goes by that we are not representing him to the rest of the world.  Live each day knowing that God is aware and remembering that others may judge our Lord by watching us.  I don’t know about you…  but I want to make him proud.

2 Corinthians 8:21

For we have regard for what is honorable [and above suspicion], not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

Hebrews 13:18

Keep praying for us, for we are convinced that we have a good conscience, seeking to conduct ourselves honorably [that is, with moral courage and personal integrity] in all things. 19And I urge all of you to pray earnestly, so that I may be restored to you soon.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Titus 2:12

It teaches us to reject ungodliness and worldly (immoral) desires, and to live sensible, upright, and godly lives [with a purpose that reflect spiritual maturity] in this present age, awaiting and confidently expecting the [fulfillment of our] blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who [willingly] gave Himself [to be crucified] on our behalf to redeem us and purchase our freedom from all wickedness, and to purify for Himself a chosen and very special people to be His own possession, who are enthusiastic for doing what is good.

Colossians 1:10

For this reason, since the day we heard about it, we have not stopped praying for you, asking [specifically] that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom [with insight into His purposes], and in understanding [of spiritual things], so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord [displaying admirable character, moral courage, and personal integrity], to [fully] please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing in the knowledge of God [with deeper faith, clearer insight and fervent love for His precepts]; [we pray that you may be] strengthened and invigorated with all power, according to His glorious might, to attain every kind of endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints (God’s people) in the Light.

 


August 4, 2019

HUMAN TRAIN!

Some come.  Some go.  Some stay.  Some wonder.  Some produce love.  Some cause sadness.  Some bless.  Some burden.  God directs and summons others into our lives.  God leads us down paths… with people… in an effort to teach, to direct, to lead, to produce wisdom in our lives.  We touch others hearts as they touch ours.  We influence others and they influence us.  No matter what direction or path it leads you down one thing is for sure.  It always leads directly to our Savior.  This human train is always moving.  Its up to us to jump on and enjoy the ride. 

Matthew 5:14-16

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Hebrews 13:15-16

So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is—not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This “insider world” is not our home. We have our eyes peeled for the City about to come. Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name. Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.

Romans 12:15-16

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

Galatians 5:13

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?


July 28, 2019

THE GREATEST OF THESE!

Love such an amazing word and yet so hard for people to say.  Why do we always relate love only to the relationship between husband and wife or family members?  Are we not called, by our Savior, to love everyone we encounter?  Are we not to practice PHILIA love to other humans and friends regardless of who they are?  As I hug people I tell them of the love I have for them.  A love that Christ showed to everyone and thru the Holy Spirit I try to show.  It amazes me that so many struggle with that term and still others think it to be inappropriate.  Our true state of being and the center of our existence is a place of love.  “The greatest of these is love.”  Obviously to God not much else matters.

1 Corinthians 13:13

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Romans 12:10

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

John 13:34-35

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

1 John 4:7-10

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

Mark 12:28-34

One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: “Which is most important of all the commandments?”
Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”
The religion scholar said, “A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that’s better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!”
When Jesus realized how insightful he was, he said, “You’re almost there, right on the border of God’s kingdom.”
After that, no one else dared ask a question.

 


July 21, 2019

YOUR WILL NOT MINE!

Do you every wonder if the way you spend your time is pleasing to God?  Lately I have been puzzled by the way I spend my time.  Everything we do in life should serve one purpose.  To bring glory to him.  If your involved in ministry, is it for your glory or his?  If you belong to a club is it to make you feel better or is it to glorify our Father?  If you have a hobby is it to make you happy or to make our Savior happy?  Many times I find myself boasting in my ministry instead of his glory.  Many times I find myself addicted to the self fulfillment of service instead of his love.  I pray that he will fill our hearts with an over abundance of his love… his glory…  his presence…  Then I can truly say “ your will in every part of my life and never mine”!  

 

James 4:4-6

You adulteresses [disloyal sinners—flirting with the world and breaking your vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend [that is, loving the things of the world] is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

So eat your meals heartily, not worrying about what others say about you—you’re eating to God’s glory, after all, not to please them. As a matter of fact, do everything that way, heartily and freely to God’s glory. At the same time, don’t be callous in your exercise of freedom, thoughtlessly stepping on the toes of those who aren’t as free as you are. I try my best to be considerate of everyone’s feelings in all these matters; I hope you will be, too.

Romans 8:28

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

John 3:30

“That’s why my cup is running over. This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.

1 Corinthians 6:20

You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body.

Matthew 5:16

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven.


July 14, 2019

ALL WE NEED IS CHRIST!

As I was watching a movie this week it reminded me of how often we battle against each other.    I thought of the time in the book of Mark, when the disciples were arguing over which one was Jesus’s favorite.  They were arguing at the very time he was trying to teach them love… humility… and kindness. We compete on so many levels. We compete over money. Over status.  Over lifestyle. Over power.  I even see us competing over religion.  We think that because we go to a certain church or follow a certain religion we are more spiritual than the next.  We think that our level of happiness is in correlation to our position in life.  When will we simply listen to our Savior when he said “I am the way, the truth, and the life”.   We need to stop and realize that Christ is all we need!!

Mark 9:34

The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.

Philippians 2:3

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Psalm 37:4-14

Get insurance with God and do a good deed,
settle down and stick to your last.
Keep company with God,
get in on the best.
Open up before God, keep nothing back;
he’ll do whatever needs to be done:
He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day
and stamp you with approval at high noon.
Quiet down before God,
be prayerful before him.
Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder,
who elbow their way to the top.
Bridle your anger, trash your wrath,
cool your pipes—it only makes things worse.
Before long the crooks will be bankrupt;
God-investors will soon own the store.
Before you know it, the wicked will have had it;
you’ll stare at his once famous place and—nothing!
Down-to-earth people will move in and take over,
relishing a huge bonanza.
Bad guys have it in for the good guys,
obsessed with doing them in.
But God isn’t losing any sleep; to him
they’re a joke with no punch line.

Romans 15:13

So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it! Jesus, staying true to God’s purposes, reached out in a special way to the Jewish insiders so that the old ancestral promises would come true for them. As a result, the non-Jewish outsiders have been able to experience mercy and to show appreciation to God. Just think of all the Scriptures that will come true in what we do!


June 30, 2019

DON’T LOSE SIGHT!

I write the messages he puts on my heart.  I spend each morning with a prayer of thanksgiving for his grace…  for the blessings he so richly pours on my head.  As I reflect on the prayers… the writings… do I truly understand the level of favor I have.   We go from day to day taking so much for granted.  We don’t give a second thought to so many of the comforts we abide in.  I then see a home that is made of cardboard and wire.  I see people who stand in the rain looking for a simple dollar for food or shelter.  Father forgive me for losing sight of all you have done and will do for me.  Forgive me for losing sight of the riches and love you so freely put in my life and on my heart.  Father I ask that you put  people in my life that I can pass it on to.  I want them to see the glory of you and your love.

James 4:13-17

And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”
16-17As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.
Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.
Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.

2 Corinthians 4:15

We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, “I believed it, so I said it,” we say what we believe. And what we believe is that the One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive. Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise!


 

June 23, 2019

 

 

 

 

HUMAN AND DIVINE!

Why does everything have to be either human or divine? Are we not made in his image?  We believe that being human means we have to earn our way to being divine.  Are we not already divine by the holy spirit? Then why do we work so hard to earn his love?  Don’t we already have it simply by being his children?  We are conditioned by this world into thinking that we have to earn everything.  That nothing is free.  His love is…  His redemption is…Being divine is a product of his glory.  Of his spirit.  Not a product of our doing but of his.  “I came to save you from glory to glory!”

2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.


June 16, 2019

DON’T LOSE SIGHT!

I write the messages he puts on my heart.  I spend each morning with a prayer of thanksgiving for his grace…  for the blessings he so richly pours on my head.  As I reflect on the prayers… the writings… do I truly understand the level of favor I have.   We go from day to day taking so much for granted.  We don’t give a second thought to so many of the comforts we abide in.  I then see a home that is made of cardboard and wire.  I see people who stand in the rain looking for a simple dollar for food or shelter.  Father forgive me for losing sight of all you have done and will do for me.  Forgive me for losing sight of the riches and love you so freely put in my life and on my heart.  Father I ask that you put  people in my life that I can pass it on to.  I want them to see the glory of you and your love.

James 4:13-17

And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”
As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.

June 9, 2019

WHERE IS YOUR HEART?

Where do you find your heart?  When you lay down, is your heart on worldly matters or our Savior?  I see stickers “I heart my dog” – “I heart my state” – “I heart my country”.  I see people who plan their whole lives around a celebrity as if that person can bring salvation. Still  I see others that put their hope and happiness in worldly riches.  As good as those may be, Christ wants our whole heart, mind, and spirit.  Daily I love my wife so much that I don’t see how it could get any deeper.  Then my heart reminds me,  as important as she is to me,  Jesus stands so far above.  Would you give up family… state… country… and yourself for him?   So where do you find your heart?  Where your heart lies so lies your eternity! 

 

Mark 12:30

Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”


 

June 2, 2019

GOD HAS THE ANSWERS!

He was simply serving our food.As I told him we were about to go to God I asked him if there was anything we could pray about.  At that moment heartbreak covered his face.The tears started to flow as he asked that we pray for his 25 year marriage that was in trouble.As I spoke that prayer I thought of all the hurt… all the heartache… all the pain that so many of us live with daily.We are all the same.Everyone has an issue.Everyone has a story. Everyone is searching for answers in a broken world.I assured him that we would continue to pray.We would keep him in our heart and that God can fix his marriage in the blink of an eye.That hope. That assurance. That faith. God and only God has the answers.We need only to ask.

1 Timothy 2:1-3

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.

Ephesians 3:20

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Colossians 1:9-11

Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.

Ephesians 6:18

Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensableweapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Romans 8:26-27

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

John 14:13

“Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.

1 Thessalonians 5:17

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.


May 26, 2019

 

 

 

 

NO MATTER THE COST!

As I handed him a blanket and some money I could see the dirt.I could smell the days on the street.I could sense the loneliness. As I drove away I thought of all the homeless people I have helped but not one time have I offered a hug.I told them of the love of Jesus but have I shown it? Then I pictured Jesus washing the feet of his apostles.I pictured him on his knees wiping away days of dirt and filth. There is no way to know how long it had been since the man I helped had felt a human touch. Experienced a loving hug. Christ calls us to move beyond comfort and into a unbridled love. It’s time to put aside pride and offer Christ love to everyone. No matter the cost.

John 13:14-17

Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.

Mark 10:45

Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”

1 John 4:11-12

My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!


May 19, 2019

BEHIND US!

HATE…  Such a strong word that seems to be everywhere.  I see hate between people over ethnicity.  Hate between people over political differences.  Hate  because you believe different than I do.  I see hate because your life style doesn’t agree with mine… or your sexual preferences I don’t agree with.  Enough!!!  Our Savior, our King, our Lord, our Jesus, came to destroy hate.  He rose from the grave to prove that hate has no place in this world.  He rose to show us all that love can shine a light that destroys the dark.  Love can shine a light that puts satan and the hate he produces right where it  belongs.

BEHIND US!!!!

Romans 12:9

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Colossians 3:12-14

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Ephesians 4:29-31

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
Anyone who claims to live in God’s light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It’s the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God’s light and doesn’t block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn’t know which end is up, blinded by the darkness.

John 13:34-35

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

Luke 6:27

“To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.


May 12, 2019

WHEN GOD SHOWS UP!!

I went because I love the people who run it.  I was simply providing music not looking for anything special.  Just being helpful.  Then it happened…  God showed up with one of his angels.  An angel in the form of a four year old blind girl leading a little horse.  Such a small petite frame but she filled the arena with joy and blessing beyond measure.  As on cue and by Gods hand a song started “Ordinary Miracle”.  The tears started to flow as I thought of what this little girl has had to endure.  Tears because I take to much for granted.  Each day we experience “ordinary miracles” that we don’t even notice.  But if you keep your eyes open, and look with your heart, God will show up.  He will bring an extra special miracle with him and it could change your life.  It has for me.

Psalm 28:7, 69:30

Blessed be God
he heard me praying.
He proved he’s on my side;
I’ve thrown my lot in with him.
Now I’m jumping for joy,
and shouting and singing my thanks to him.
Let me shout God’s name with a praising song,
Let me tell his greatness in a prayer of thanks.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

Romans 15:13

Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!

Colossians 3:15

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.


May 5, 2019

WHAT GOD WANTS TO HEAR!

The presence of God is not a place to bypass your emotions but a place to process them! Are you angry… tell our Savior.  Are you disappointed… tell our Lord.  Are you worried… tell our Maker.  Do you feel like complaining… tell God about your complaint.  You simply can not fight the battles of your heart with your mind.  Regardless of who you are the devil has strongholds in your thoughts.  Inside your head… your mind will battle with your spirit.   You can only fight those strongholds with your mouth by pouring it out to the one who understands.  So when you pray let God know your needs.  Shout, whisper, or talk as a friend but let your mouth say what God so longs to hear.

 

Philippians 4:6-7

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

James 5:13-15

Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.

Mark 11:22-25

Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”

John 16:31-33

Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

 

 


April 28, 2019

YADAH!

I see people looking excited that a Texas team was in the final four.  They wear jerseys.  They cheer endlessly.  I see Tiger Woods throw his hands in the air over the victory he worked so hard for.   Then I ponder… don’t we have a victory thru Christ, that more than anything, should cause us to throw up hands in praise to him?  Should we not cheer daily of his love and grace he so freely pours out to us?  The Hebrew language uses seven words for worship.  Everyone of them involves celebration for our Lord with shouts…  hands raised and a holy roar.  We certainly should cheer when our team wins.  We certainly shouldn’t hesitate to throw our hands in the air for someones accomplishments. However… more important we should praise with shouts and hands raised for the love of our Savior and his amazing, incredible, grace.

Psalms 67:3

God, mark us with grace
and blessing! Smile!
The whole country will see how you work,
all the godless nations see how you save.
God! Let people thank and enjoy you.
Let all people thank and enjoy you.
Let all far-flung people become happy
and shout their happiness because
You judge them fair and square,
you tend the far-flung peoples.
God! Let people thank and enjoy you.
Let all people thank and enjoy you.
Earth, display your exuberance!
You mark us with blessing, O God, our God.
You mark us with blessing, O God.
Earth’s four corners—honor him!
Come, bless God,
all you servants of God!
You priests of God, posted to the nightwatch
in God’s shrine,
Lift your praising hands to the Holy Place,
and bless God.
In turn, may God of Zion bless you—
God who made heaven and earth!

April 21, 2019

HE HAS RISEN!

HE HAS RISEN!! Really?  How can this be?  I knew he was special… I saw him perform so many miracles but to bring himself back to life?  It must be a mistake, it simply can’t be.  Then Thomas saw him.  “See my hands Thomas. Touch the hole in my side.  Believe…Thomas, because I love you”.  I try so hard to imagine what that was like.   To see Jesus again.  To hold his hand.  To place my hand on his side and feel the scar.  To know he did that for me out of a deeper love than my soul can comprehend.  I try so hard to picture that in my mind.  Then he reminds my heart that one day, he will allow me to do what Thomas did… to hold his hand, touch his side, to caress his feet.   All I have to do is believe.  Hallelujah!!!!

 

John 20:27

Then he focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.”

James 1:5-8

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

Mathew 11:4-6

Jesus told them, “Go back and tell John what’s going on:
The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side.
“Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!”
When John’s disciples left to report, Jesus started talking to the crowd about John. “What did you expect when you went out to see him in the wild? A weekend camper? Hardly. What then? A sheik in silk pajamas? Not in the wilderness, not by a long shot. What then? A prophet? That’s right, a prophet! Probably the best prophet you’ll ever hear. He is the prophet that Malachi announced when he wrote, ‘I’m sending my prophet ahead of you, to make the road smooth for you.’

John 20:24-29

But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.”
But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.”
Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”
Then he focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.”
Thomas said, “My Master! My God!”
Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”

 

 


April 19, 2019

OH HOW HE LOVES US!

I keep seeing him carrying the cross!  It brings such a burden to my heart as I picture it. Imagine lifting a crosstie on your shoulder.  Imagine doing that after your back was beaten to the point that muscle, ribs and tendons were exposed. Imagine the burning in your muscles as you were beaten while you endured the weight of that splitter filled, rough carved cross.  Imagine that large piece of wood hitting against the thorns fastened to your head.  Imagine fatigue from no rest and endless loss of blood.  Now look deep… imagine enduring all of this when you know you did nothing wrong. It’s hard to imagine a love that strong.  OH HOW HE LOVES US!

 

 


April 18, 2019

CRUSHING ANQUISH!

He had seen several crucifixions. He had walked past and witnessed the cruelty of the cross.  He saw how it looked… he had heard the suffering… he observed the agony.

 Our Savior knew what was coming.

 On this night in 33AD our Jesus felt unrelenting stress. He felt crushing anguish.  As he cried out “daddy” blood poured from his brow. The human side of him wanted his father to take the pain away. The heavenly side of him knew the answer was “no”.   Next time you feel anguish. Next time you feel hurt. Know that God has a reason and a plan. He does for us as he did for his son.    

SALVATION.

Matthew 26:31-46

Then Jesus told them, “Before the night’s over, you’re going to fall to pieces because of what happens to me. There is a Scripture that says,
I’ll strike the shepherd;
helter-skelter the sheep will be scattered.
But after I am raised up, I, your Shepherd, will go ahead of you, leading the way to Galilee.”
Peter broke in, “Even if everyone else falls to pieces on account of you, I won’t.”
“Don’t be so sure,” Jesus said. “This very night, before the rooster crows up the dawn, you will deny me three times.”
Peter protested, “Even if I had to die with you, I would never deny you.” All the others said the same thing.
Then Jesus went with them to a garden called Gethsemane and told his disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. Then he said, “This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me.”

Romans 8:28-29

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

1 Peter 1:6-7

I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

James 1:2-4,12

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.


April 14, 2019

NO ORDINARY JEW!

He had seen so many crucified but none had been beaten so badly.  Wounds so deep.  Thorns so sharp.  Hatred so intense.  This centurion had hardened his heart because there had been so many.  But this one was different.  This one seemed to endure the pain with a purpose.  Then it happened.  Middle of the day.  Full darkness.  Darkness void of any stars.  Ground shook and someone yelled “the temple curtain has torn”.  Then thru the darkness he heard the scream “ father I give you my spirit”.  He pondered as he stood looking at this man on the cross.  This was not just another crucifixion.  This was no ordinary jewish carpenter.  This jew was talking to God.  This Galilean was talking to his father.  Jesus was talking to God so that we can talk to him too. 

                                                     WHAT AN AMAZING SAVIOR!!!

Mark 15: 38-39 (MSG)

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died,15:39 Some manuscripts saw that he died with such a cry he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Matthew 27: 51-54 (MSG)

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

Luke 23: 44 – 49 (MSG)

By now it was noon. The whole earth became dark, the darkness lasting three hours—a total blackout. The Temple curtain split right down the middle. Jesus called loudly, “Father, I place my life in your hands!” Then he breathed his last.
When the captain there saw what happened, he honored God: “This man was innocent! A good man, and innocent!”
All who had come around as spectators to watch the show, when they saw what actually happened, were overcome with grief and headed home. Those who knew Jesus well, along with the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil.

April 7, 2019

AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS!

So I’ve spent this week in prayer and concentration on the cross and the mystery that is the life of Jesus.  As I meditate on the six hours… on the moment he committed his life to his father… it causes such a bag of mixed emotion.  At that moment, in that instant, it didn’t matter what your beliefs are.  It didn’t matter where you came from.  It didn’t matter how strong or how weak your faith is.  All that mattered was the pure outpouring of his incredible love.  All that mattered at the foot of his cross was and is the fact that out of deep love he died for you.  That love was and is for everyone.  He deserves our love and complete self in reverence for those six hours.

 

Ephesians 2:16 (MSG)

Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.

 

1 John 4:7-10 (MSG)

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

1 Peter 2:21-25 (MSG)

This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.
He never did one thing wrong,
Not once said anything amiss.
They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.

1 Peter 3:18 (MSG)

It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.

 


March 31, 2019

TEACH ME PATIENCE!

Why do we look for answers with impatience?  Why do we struggle with faith not knowing for sure in our hearts that he will show up?  We worry… we get impatient… we want our way, in our time.  We look to our own understanding with no regard to his ways… his time.  We make our plans without regard to his plan or asking for his guidance.  The world has taught us to want it now.  He teaches us to be faithful and trust.   Holy spirit guide me in his ways…  in his time… that my faith may be strong.  Allow me to have an unwavering spirit as I wait patiently on him and his answers.  Lead me Oh Lord!!

 

Galatians 5:16-18 (MSG)

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

Romans 5:3 (MSG)

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Psalms 37:7 (MSG)

Quiet down before God,
be prayerful before him.
Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder,
who elbow their way to the top.
I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”
Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.
Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.

March 24, 2019

GOD HAS NO LIMITS!

Why do we insist on putting God in a box so we can understand?  When thoughts of God take us out of our comfort zone we rationalize his ways… his power… his infinite wisdom.  We try so hard to put him into terms that make sense to us.  I don’t truly understand how gravity works but I trust it.  This week I was interviewed by a science show about the formation of the world we live in.  Is it so hard to believe that the theories of the scientific world and God can coexist?  Could God not have formed the earth in a manner as to prove science and also be true to his word?  I for one will never put limits on our father and his power.  It’s not my worry to prove it one way or another.  It is simply my honor to love and trust him.

 

Colossians 1:16-17 (MSG)

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.
He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.

1 Corinthians 2:12-16 (MSG)

The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. Who ever knows what you’re thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God—except that he not only knows what he’s thinking, but he lets us in on it. God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way.
The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit. There’s no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit—God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion. Spiritually alive, we have access to everything God’s Spirit is doing, and can’t be judged by unspiritual critics. Isaiah’s question, “Is there anyone around who knows God’s Spirit, anyone who knows what he is doing?” has been answered: Christ knows, and we have Christ’s Spirit.

Proverbs 3:5 (MSG)

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.

John 14:1 (MSG)

Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.”

 


March 17, 2019

IT’S ABOUT LOVE!

His question was “how often do you read your bible and when do you pray”?  As I ministered to his needs my simple answer was “What does it matter”?  God does not want us to keep a check list or a time table on how often we do things.  We are not making points simply by reading the word or praying for so long everyday.  As followers we have to start living and be lead in the Holy Spirit.  When we set up laws and lists. When we place demands on ourselves with regards to obedience then it becomes more about work and less about love.  It should more about love and less about rules.  Deep love for him will lead you to his word and to his side.  Not to list and record keeping.

Luke 20: 46 – 47 (MSG)

With everybody listening, Jesus spoke to his disciples. “Watch out for the religion scholars. They love to walk around in academic gowns, preen in the radiance of public flattery, bask in prominent positions, sit at the head table at every church function. And all the time they are exploiting the weak and helpless. The longer their prayers, the worse they get. But they’ll pay for it in the end.”

Galatians 5:18 (MSG)

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

Galatians 5:22-25 (MSG)

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.
Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.
Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.
Would you do me a favor, friends, and give special recognition to the family of Stephanas? You know, they were among the first converts in Greece, and they’ve put themselves out, serving Christians ever since then. I want you to honor and look up to people like that: companions and workers who show us how to do it, giving us something to aspire to.

 


March 10, 2019

DEEPER AND DEEPER!

Deeper and deeper.  I never knew that as I studied and prayed more each day that I would see his face… I would look into his eyes… his heart.  Now MY heart is not mine to keep but wholly his.  As a common man I fear that he will lose faith in me.  That he will see the ugliness of my sin and turn away.  Then I return to his face, his eyes, his heart.  I look to the promises of his word and I remember that I am in his hands.  I remember his deep abiding grace. His love.  I remember I am the lost sheep he so desperately longs for. What an amazing Savior!!

Philippians 4:23 (MSG)

Receive and experience the amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, deep, deep within yourselves.

Colossians 3:3 (MSG)

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

1 John 2:28 (MSG)

And now, children, stay with Christ. Live deeply in Christ. Then we’ll be ready for him when he appears, ready to receive him with open arms, with no cause for red-faced guilt or lame excuses when he arrives.

Luke 15:4 (MSG)

“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.

2 Corinthians 4:5  (MSG)

Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.


March 3rd, 2019

WHERE IS HOPE?

Where do you find your hope?  I listened from afar and I could tell she was upset and worried. As she helped with my purchase I simply asked “I know you have a struggle how can I pray for you?”  She told me of her brain illness as she started to cry.  I told her I would pray and that God could heal her if it be his will.  I could tell her hope hung on that truth.  Hope… such an important word and emotion.  A part of our heart that allows us to live thru another day.  Hope comes from God.  Hope comes from Christ and his promises.  Hope comes from the resurrection.  Without hope the human spirit dies.  Without Jesus the same is true.  This sweet lady needs to hold on to both.  I think maybe we all should.

Hebrews 6:19 (MSG)

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.

Matthew 11:28-29 (MSG)

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

John 14:26-27 (MSG)

I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (MSG)

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.


February 24, 2019

GOD IN EVERYTHING!

Where do you see God?  I use to only feel and see him is certain situations… in certain places.  I have come to realize he is everywhere.  In the music we listen to.  In the trees… in the clouds… in every part of the world around us.  He is in the  smallest of insects to the largest of animals.  He is in the smiles… the frowns… of every person we see.  He shines in everything we experience, or feel.  He made everything and is a part of each person no matter where, no matter who.  We were made in his image so that our soul and spirit will know him. Regardless of whether we acknowledge it or not.  Delight in that assurance.

Colossians 1:17 (MSG)

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

Acts 17:27 (MSG)

“The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’ Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it?

Joshua 1:9 (MSG)

And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.”

And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.”

Matthew 28:20 (MSG)

Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”

1 Corinthians 3:16 (MSG)

You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple.
18-20Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. It’s written in Scripture,

February 17, 2019

DEFINING YOURSELF!

His question, that I have been asked a hundred times in my life was simply: “what do you do”?  How many of us would have the courage to answer: “I worship God every chance I get and I share his story with everyone”! Just like always we judge our lives and others based on what we do for a living.  Just like always I answered as everyone does by telling him how I earn money.  If we are going to live authentic lives. Lives of worship to Jesus. Lives of service to others. Don’t you think its time to move beyond our daily tasks?  Time to move beyond defining ourselves by what we do and define ourselves by the one who made us.

Ephesians 1:11 (MSG)

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

Romans 8:15 (MSG)

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

1 Corinthians 10:31 (MSG)

So eat your meals heartily, not worrying about what others say about you—you’re eating to God’s glory, after all, not to please them. As a matter of fact, do everything that way, heartily and freely to God’s glory. At the same time, don’t be callous in your exercise of freedom, thoughtlessly stepping on the toes of those who aren’t as free as you are. I try my best to be considerate of everyone’s feelings in all these matters; I hope you will be, too.

1 Peter 4:10-11 (MSG)

Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!

Galatians 5:13-26 (MSG)

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?

 


November 9th,  2017

LET GO AND LET GOD!

I watched as she ran around the store with a look of despair.  She was simply a customer but her stress level was unmeasurable.  I wondered, as I silently prayed for her, if she ever knows peace? Does she ever let go and let God?  Do any of us?  So many times I have tried to let go and let God but I always have a plan B.  If we have a plan B are we truly trusting our father?   Why do we feel as though we always have to be in control?  Why do we always believe that things should go smoothly?  Trust…such a small word but so important.  We need to completely let go and let God.  He expects us to trust him with everything.  When we do, we will find that he has been carrying us, when we didn’t even realize it.

Philippians 4:6-8

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Luke 12:22-26

He continued this subject with his disciples. “Don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more.

Romans 15:13

Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!

Psalm 118:6-7

Pushed to the wall, I called to God;
from the wide open spaces, he answered.
God’s now at my side and I’m not afraid;
who would dare lay a hand on me?
God’s my strong champion;
I flick off my enemies like flies.
Far better to take refuge in God
than trust in people;
Far better to take refuge in God
than trust in celebrities.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!

 

1 Corinthians 12:4

God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:

Acts 10:34

Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel—that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again—well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.

Ephesians 5:1

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


October 29th, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

HE WILL FIND US!

I couldn’t take my eyes from them.As I watched my grandkids play in the park I felt uneasy at the thought of them being lost or taken.So much so that nothing else mattered at the time.Them being with me and their safety was all that concerned me.Then I thought of how Jesus feels about his children that are lost.How he must worry and be consumed with grief.I think of how much it must tear at his heart and how at times it is all that matters to him.If my children were lost I would do anything, ANYTHING, to get them back.So would and did our Savior-Its called The Cross!!

 

Luke 15:1-3

By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story.
“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.

Jeremiah 29:11-14

This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.
“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
Then he said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’
“So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corn-cobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.
“That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.
“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’
“But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.
“All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’
“The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’
31-32“His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’”

Luke 15:8-10

“Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbors: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.”

 


 


October 29th, 2017

KNOWING ME IS NOT ENOUGH!

But Lord I studied your scripture daily.  I know you did son… but where is the love?  I attended your worship weekly.  I know you did… but where is the love?  But I gave more than my share of your money.  I know… but where is the love?  I worked in your fields to help.  I know… but where is the love.  None of that matters without pure, unbridled love for others. Like I give to you.  Did you do all of that simply because you love ME? That’s easy!  More important did you love my flock as much, if not more, than you loved yourself?  Without unmeasurable love for all of my children the rest is without meaning.  Why is it so hard to pass on what I freely give to you?

 

John 13:34-35

Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

Matthew 22:27-39

When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

1 John 4:20

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.
If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.

THE PACKAGE!

As I walked teary eyed out of a five hundred year old church in Chile I encounter a courtyard full of street entertainers wanting money to perform. I immediately thought of the money changers that Christ lashed out at. Then I wondered what he thinks of all the pretentious things we do in his name. How we build large churches to attract souls but then offer little love. We fill them with beautiful things but we offer no acceptance. We make sure everything is just right but we don’t show the compassion of the one whom we built it for. The lost and hungry simply want bread, no matter the package.

October 8th, 2017

Matthew 21:12

Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. He quoted this text:
My house was designated a house of prayer;
You have made it a hangout for thieves.
Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them.

Philippians 2:1-3

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Matthew 14:13-21

When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully—someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick.
15Toward evening the disciples approached him. “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.”
16But Jesus said, “There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.”
17“All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,” they said.
18-21Jesus said, “Bring them here.” Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.

October 1st, 2017

HUMBLE YOURSELF!

As I stand beside the ocean in Chile I feel so incredibly small.  Do you ever think that God made such grandeur in the oceans… the mountains… as a way to humble us? As a way to say don’t feel more important than you really are. We are to humble ourselves to each other. We are to humble ourselves before God. As we do, we will be made bigger in every way, where it counts the most.  In his kingdom.

 

 

Matthew 23:12

“Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

Romans 12:3

I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

James 4:10

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

 


THROW AWAY THE BOX!

Everything about Jesus life says… step out of your comfort zone.  His virgin birth.  His resurrection. Everything in-between.  He knew no box and taught us to think differently. When others were saying hate, he was saying love.  When others wanted to fight, he said love your enemy. Do you think Peter, John and James felt comfortable when a total stranger asked them to follow?  If we are to follow… to serve, we have to throw away the box and love the unlovable.  We have to throw away the box and forgive, the unforgivable.   We have to look beyond the surface and see the heart.  We can do it but only with the spirit.  The spirit of Christ that lives within us.

September 24th, 2017

1 John 2:15-17

Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.

Colossians 3:2

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from hisperspective.

1 Corinthians 2:13

The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. Who ever knows what you’re thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God—except that he not only knows what he’s thinking, but he lets us in on it. God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way.

 


September 17th, 2017

SEE JESUS IN HIS CHILDREN!

So many times I close my eyes and I see his face.  As I pray I see the face of our Savior.  As I focus on his word I see his heart.  Then I open my eyes and I realize… I see his face in  my beautiful wife.  I see his face in my children.  I see his face in the homeless person on the corner.  I see his face in my friends and the people I work with.  We were made in his image for the purpose of showing his love… his compassion to the world.  As we share his love with those we encounter.  As we share his compassion with others,  we will be changed into what he intended us to be

Colossians 3:10    Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.

Galatians 4:19   It is a good thing to be ardent in doing good, but not just when I am in your presence. Can’t you continue the same concern for both my person and my message when I am away from you that you had when I was with you? Do you know how I feel right now, and will feel until Christ’s life becomes visible in your lives? Like a mother in the pain of childbirth. Oh, I keep wishing that I was with you. Then I wouldn’t be reduced to this blunt, letter-writing language out of sheer frustration.

Romans 12:2     So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

2 Corinthians 5:17     Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

 


September 10th, 2017

HAUNTING IMAGE!!

There is an image that haunts me at times and today was one of those days.  When this image controls my thoughts I can’t stop the tears.  I can’t stop the pain.  They spat on him.  My Jesus. The one whom I love more than anyone was spat on.  They beat him beyond recognition.  The one whom I love was beaten.  They thrust thorns into his scalp.  The one whom I love winced in pain at the thorns.  They drove nails thru his wrist, his feet.  The one I love cried out in pain because of the nails.  I cry because I can’t bare the image without hurt.  Without pain and tears.  I cry because when I say they, I really mean me.  The one I love the most endured for me.  For you.  Forgive us Lord!!!   What an amazing Savior!!

 

1 Peter 2:8-25     Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life. The workmen took one look and threw it out; God set it in the place of honor. Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God.

1 Peter 4:1     Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.

1 Peter 4:12-14     Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.

John 15:18 – 19     “If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you.

 


September 5th, 2017

GOD’S TIMING!

I often wonder about the timing of God.  A thousand years is of a day to him.  How can we ever come to understand that concept.  We pray and we want it to happen today.  We pray and we want it to happen our way.  There are times we need to knock down the walls of our mind and open our hearts to the wonder that is our father.  We have to understand that his timing is best and his way is best.  Then at other moments, because he loves us so, he will operate on our time, in our way.  Simply to let us know how deep his affection is.  To simply say, I understand, I care, and I am always here.  What an unbelievable God

 

2 Peter 3:8     Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.

Acts 1:7     He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”

Romans 8:28     Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Galations 6:9      So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.

Proverbs 3:5 – 6     Trust God from the bottom of your heart;  don’t try to figure out everything on your own.  Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;  he’s the one who will keep you on track.  Don’t assume that you know it all.  Run to God! Run from evil!  Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!


August 29th, 2017

DO WE HAVE TO CLEAN THE FISH?

Why do we have trouble meeting people right where they are?  It seems we want to clean the fish before we catch them.   Jesus, on the other hand, meets us in the midst of our dirt and filth .  He takes us for who we are, then when the time is right,  he enters our soul, and changes our being.  He fills our heart with his love and walks with us thru the fire, the storm.  He holds us in his arms and comforts without judgement. Without condemnation.  Without accountability.  He looks us in the eye and without hesitation says, don’t worry about your dirt. Don’t be concerned with your sin.  I’ve got this because I love you!!   What an amazing Savior!!

 

Luke 7:36-50     One of the Pharisees asked him over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him.”   ———  He ignored them and said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Ephesians 2     It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

Matthew 7:1     “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

Matthew 11:28     “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Romans 12:10     Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

 


IMAGINE JESUS PAIN!

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be spat on?  Can you even imagine what it feels like to be beaten to the point that your muscles are torn and bone is exposed. Do you know what it feels like to have thorns thrust into your head. To have your beard ripped out by hand. Imagine the pain of having large nails driven thru the bones in your wrist and the bones of your feet. Picture not being able to catch your breath not even for a minute.   Now imagine that you knew it was coming this Friday and you can’t stop it because you love to deeply.   He had not a second thought because he loves us that much!

August 29, 2017

Mark 15: 1-40      At dawn’s first light, the high priests, with the religious leaders and scholars, arranged a conference with the entire Jewish Council. After tying Jesus securely, they took him out and presented him to Pilate.    But Jesus, with a loud cry, gave his last breath. At that moment the Temple curtain ripped right down the middle. When the Roman captain standing guard in front of him saw that he had quit breathing, he said, “This has to be the Son of God!”

John 3:16    “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

 


August 29th, 2017

SLOW DOWN – SHOW LOVE!

I saw him on a corner in Fort Worth.  He couldn’t have been more than 18 yrs old, dirty, ragged, and begging for money.  It’s been almost a week and he still stays on my heart and I pray for him daily.  I was in to big a hurry to stop and help him.  I pray God forgives me for that.  Seeing him has left a huge hole in my heart as it always does.  What happened? What put him there? Where is his future?Luke 10:25 is the story of the good samaritan.  Love your neighbor as yourself  This young man is my neighbor and a child of God and I didn’t take the time to love him.  I pray I am never that busy again and I pray the same for you!!.  Never neglect loving someone, no matter who they are!!

 

Luke 10:25 – 37   Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?” He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.” “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.” Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?” Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man. “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’ “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?” “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.  Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”

John 13:34   “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

Galations 5:13   It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?

 


CHRIST SEES THE HEART!

This week, as I visited a young man in jail that I mentor, I thought of how easy it is to let Satan enter our thoughts.  It is so easy for us to think that because we count our life style as correct we are better than others.  Then my heart thought of how Christ sees me.  He looks beyond the disappointments.  He looks beyond the mistakes.  He looks beyond the daily sin and peers straight into my heart.  He looks to see if I have compassion for those that are different then me.  He looks to see if I have forgiveness.  He looks to see if I have empathy and love for others.  He sees us all as his children and loves us equally.  I can’t wait to sit at Jesus’s feet, along with the young man I visited in jail, and feel the warmth of his embrace and hear him say “I am proud of you

August 29, 2017

1 Timothy 1:14-16       But I was treated mercifully because I didn’t know what I was doing—didn’t know Who I was doing it against! Grace mixed with faith and love poured over me and into me. And all because of Jesus. I’m so grateful to Christ Jesus for making me adequate to do this work. He went out on a limb, you know, in trusting me with this ministry. The only credentials I brought to it were invective and witch hunts and arrogance. But I was treated mercifully because I didn’t know what I was doing—didn’t know Who I was doing it against! Grace mixed with faith and love poured over me and into me. And all because of Jesus. Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off—evidence of his endless patience—to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever. Deep honor and bright glory to the King of All Time— One God, Immortal, Invisible, ever and always. Oh, yes! I’m passing this work on to you, my son Timothy. The prophetic word that was directed to you prepared us for this. All those prayers are coming together now so you will do this well, fearless in your struggle, keeping a firm grip on your faith and on yourself. After all, this is a fight we’re in. Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off—evidence of his endless patience—to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever. Deep honor and bright glory to the King of All Time— One God, Immortal, Invisible, ever and always. Oh, yes! I’m passing this work on to you, my son Timothy. The prophetic word that was directed to you prepared us for this. All those prayers are coming together now so you will do this well, fearless in your struggle, keeping a firm grip on your faith and on yourself. After all, this is a fight we’re in. Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off—evidence of his endless patience—to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever. 

Galations 5:24-26      Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.  Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

2 Corinthians 5:21        ‘How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.’

Romans 8:1      ‘With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.’


BE THE LIGHT!

We were chosen and made by God to be the object of his love and affection. It seems that mankind has trampled on and squandered that most precious gift. In the midst of all the darkness we are surrounded by we need to be a people who will not be bound by satan’s follies. We need to be a people who will not lose faith in a world that seems so lost. As Christ believers we must be the brightest shining light in what seems like so much darkness.

August 29th,  2017

 

Matthew 5:14 – 16       “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

1 Peter 2:9     But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

1 John 3:1      What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to.

Galations 5:22 – 23      ‘But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.’