Life Along the Way

A Daily Devotional

"Raise Your Aim"

image1
"Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them."

Hebrews 11:16

I have always been drawn to the ministry of D.L. Moody ever since I gave my heart to God and one of my favorite quotes of his is, "Aim at the earth and you will miss heaven, make heaven your aim and you will get the earth thrown in". I am asked periodically how do we keep going when life hurts and disappointments and trials get you down? The answer is easier than you might think. Raise your aim! That's right loved one, raise your aim towards heaven. Look up. It was Abraham Lincoln who once said, "I can see how a man can look down upon the earth and be an atheist but I cannot comprehend how a man can look up int the heavens and say there is no God." Lincoln wasn't implying that we stare at the clouds but that we look beyond them.

The writer of Hebrews puts it like this, "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude–innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them." (Hebrews 11:8-16).

You see loved one, the reason we should be talking about heaven is not because we are getting old or are dying or as some say, "about to meet our Maker" but because faith in our present struggle is sustained only when we have the hope of a better and brighter future. Let me repeat myself here. Faith in the present struggle is sustained only when we have the hope of a better and brighter future. In the case of the believer we have a glorious future in store for us, one whose architect is God and builder is God. Its this knowledge that a helps us hold on and not let go, to walk by faith and not by sight. If we make decisions based on what we see and how we feel eventually our lapse in faith will take its toll on us.

Jesus calls His disciples to abide in Him and asks the question of us, "will the Son of man find faith on the earth when He returns?" Will you and I still be standing and trusting in Jesus Christ and believing His Word or will our love grow cold like the world around us? The only way to know for sure is to fix our eyes firmly on Jesus and on our place in heaven now. We need to talk openly about Jesus and the glory of heaven that awaits us knowing as we do it will create within us a longing that this world cannot satisfy. Yes, beloved of God, the goal of today foe those who believe is to look up, to raise our aim towards heaven knowing as we do His love will pull us through.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

Matthew 6:33

I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  68 Hits
  0 Comments
68 Hits
0 Comments

"Being Prepared For His Presence"

image1
"make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words."

Hebrews 13:21-22


Hopefully by now like me you have or are figuring out that this life is nothing more and nothing less than a dry run, a walk thru, a dress rehearsal for eternity? Like I love reminding those who are in Christ, the best is yet to be! Because of the Fall of man this life and everything in it as we currently know it is slowly dying and in desperate need of redemption. The Good News of the Gospel is, this earth is not our home and with each passing day we experience with a greater sense of awareness like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz speaking to her pet dog Toto, "I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore". Like I said, this isn't heaven and all that we are experiencing is preparing us for something better, something so much more. If you don't remember anything else today remember this, for the follower of Christ, the best is still yet to be!

One of the greatest lessons I learned in my studies in the book of Job is that life is simultaneously pleasure and pain, happy and sad, grief and glory and we don't find them to be mutually exclusive but rather simultaneously inclusive. Everything and everyone in life comes our way by an act of divine providence, some for a season but all for a reason. 

Life is full of difficult experiences. If you are not in hot water today, God is preparing you for it tomorrow. Life is a lot like a tea bag. Hot water or difficult times is what brings out the flavor in us. Don't forget, friend, a tea bag is of no use until you put it in hot water. It was Jesus who said in this life we would have trouble but to be of good cheer for He had overcome the world. Our hope is and will always be in Jesus, nothing else, no one else!



Life, however we look at it really is made up of simultaneous experiences. Have you ever been so happy that you cried or hurt yourself and laughed? No matter how good our lives are, there is something God is working on to make us more like Jesus. And conversely, no matter how hard life is at the moment for you, there is reason to rejoice, ample reason to worship and praise the Lord because God is always working as He never sleeps nor slumbers. 

Today is a new day, loved one, a day you and I get to choose to focus on Jesus or focus on you and me on me. What will it be, Jesus or me? Will I praise Him or will my problems get the best of me? Remember, God is more interested in what you and I will become than in what we do. Again, for the Christian, the best is still yet to be so then the best part of today is knowing Jesus in whatever state we might find ourselves  in. Here is a thought to keep in mind…

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.


"For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name."

Hebrews 13:14-15

I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  38 Hits
  0 Comments
38 Hits
0 Comments

"The Flesh Dies Hard"

image1
"So Saul, his three sons, his armorbearer, and all his men died together that same day."

1 Samuel 31:6


A sad ending to what could have been promising lives. That can be said about every person who has ever breathed the breath of life yet died not knowing the Lord. You see, friend, it doesn't matter what we accomplish in this life, it doesn't matter how much money we make, where we work, the number of toys we possess, all that matters when it is all said and done is did we live for the Lord, did we know Him personally as Savior and Lord?

The flesh dies hard is the message of Saul's life. He trusted in himself instead of trusting in God like David did. The world says, "those who live by the sword die by the sword" and that's true in the world. But, in Christ, those who live by the sword of God's Spirit, which is the Word of God, they go from victory to victory! Walk with God, walk in His Word today and the victory is yours!


"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."


Hebrews 4:12


I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  50 Hits
  0 Comments
50 Hits
0 Comments

"How Big Is Your God?"

image1
"O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!"…"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained."


Psalm 8:1,3


Can you recall the last time you sat and thought about how big God is? Lets think about it this morning because the more you and I understand how big God is, our problems in this life will seem very small. The psalmist tells us that God has set His glory above the heavens so that means God is bigger than the heavens He has created. To get an idea of just how big heaven is we need to understand the way science measures that kind of distance. Science uses light.

Light travels at the speed of 186,000 miles per second. We call that the speed of light. A light year is 186,000 miles per second for an entire year. If you could travel at the speed of light, you would be able to circle the Earth's equator about 7.5 times in just one second! A light-year is the distance light travels in one year. So just how far is a light year? Multiply the number of seconds in one year by the number of miles that light travels in one second, and there you have it: one light-year. Do the math and it comes out to about 5.88 trillion miles. Thats a long way!

Science tells us that it would take approximately 100,000 light years to get from one end of our galaxy to the other. And from what science has been able to gather with our limited ability to see, since telescopes can only look so far, there is something like 350 billion other galaxies out there besides the earths galaxy. Why is that so important to know today? I don't know about you but I can worry about a lot of things, mostly things I have no control over so for me and my tiny brain it simply reminds me we serve a BIG God who is both bigger than and in control of this humongous world of ours.

God tells us in His Word that He's set His glory above the heavens. Psalm 8:1 tells us, "O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens! Verse 3 goes on to say, "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained." To think God not only created the moon and the stars but He has numbered each one of them and called them by name. All I can say is wow!

And yet this big God of ours isn't just aware of all the galaxies that make up our universe. God is also very much aware of me and you! The psalmist is overwhelmed by the thought that the same God who has created the moon and the stars which he can see is also mindful of us! Psalm 8:4 captures the moment of his awareness, "What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?"

I don't know what you are up against today in your life but I do know this. God is mindful of you! And because He is mindful of you He is seeking you out today to visit with you. God isn't so busy managing the universe that He doesn't have time for you. He is perfectly aware of all that you are going through and seeks to remind us, we are not alone.

Yes, loved one, the world is so very big and you and I can seem so small and yet God wants us to know we are not alone. Read Psalm 139:1-18 and understand today that what was true of David in this psalm is also true regarding me and you!


"O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall fall on me," Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.

Psalm 139:1-18 (NKJV)


I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  61 Hits
  0 Comments
61 Hits
0 Comments

"Happy Wife, Happy Life"

image1
"submitting to one another in the fear of God."

Ephesians 5:21 (NKJV)

Today, July 9th marks my wife's and my 35th wedding anniversary and as usual we entertain questions as to what is our secret to 35 years of marriage. Every marriage is unique and what works for one couple doesn't necessarily work the same for others. For my wife and I what I would call the so called secret to 35 years of marriage is "submission". 

Yet I'm not talking about my wife submitting to me but rather me submitting to her. Through the years I have discovered far more pleasure in my marriage by learning to submit myself to her rather than trying to get her to submit to me. I'm constantly learning it is Jesus who is the model of submission, and how His love for the Father was all the motivation He needed to live His entire earthly life in perfect submission to the Holy Spirit. 

Its so important to understand that a man never loses his place as the head of his household by submitting to his wife's authority as a joint heir of promise. When a husband submits to his wife he merely models the way God always intended things to be done from the beginning, in love. Make no mistake about it. A redeemed life is a submitted life. 

Most everyone has heard the expression, "Happy Wife Happy Life". The words adorn everything from coffee mugs to t-shirts and it usually carries a negative connotation towards women along with it that somehow implies that unless a wife is happy nobody else is or can be happy. As a pastor who has done my fair share of marriage counseling through the years I can honestly tell you that relationships like that don't last very long. Eventually selfish people become single people.

When I think about what it means by "Happy Wife, Happy Life" I think of the privilege God has blessed me with as a husband to prefer my wife's needs over my own each day and not just on our anniversary. I prefer to look at "Happy Wife, Happy Life" as a goal I seek to achieve each day of my life and not a burden. No one forced me to get married. I chose my wife, she chose me and 35 years later we choose us! 

I don't live in fear that if my wife's not happy she will make life miserable for me. If anything, I know I would be miserable if I felt there was nothing I could do to serve her and make her happy. There is a quote by Robert Heinlein that captures best what I am trying to say, "Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own." The apostle Paul put it like this, "So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself" (Ephesians 5:28).

Yes, friends, I throughly enjoy when my wife is happy and I am extremely thankful to our Lord for allowing me another year of life to show her my love and not merely tell her that I do, though I do enjoy telling her very much every day that I love her, and that she is very beautiful to me and that after 35 years of marriage, I still absolutely adore her. Today, on our anniversary I look forward to preferring her and serving her, providing for and protecting her just as Ephesians 5:29-31 exhorts all husbands to do for their wives when it says,

"For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."

I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  265 Hits
  0 Comments
265 Hits
0 Comments

"The Gift of Loneliness"

image1
"Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed."



Mark 1:35



Have you discovered what Jesus knew, that the best moments in life, no, I should have said the sacred moments are the times you and I spend alone in silence with our Heavenly Father, not studying or even praying for the desires of our heart, just simply sitting still before the Lord, listening, waiting and learning from Him.


We use phrases like "in the lonely hours of the morning before the sun rises and the world awakens" to convey that sense of isolation that we might have felt before the hustle and bustle of a new day provides for us "white noise" to extinguish the feelings of loneliness or aloneness that might over take us if we are left to ourselves.


Little do we know that in reality the noise of the day seeks to drown out any sense of peace we might have enjoyed otherwise and yet as I study the life of our Lord I am growing to appreciate these divine moments of isolation and loneliness that He deliberately sought out for Himself for in them revelation is birthed in much the same way we see how God operates in reading Genesis 1:2, "The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." Before there was anything there was God and before light there was darkness. It was in the dark that light came forth into being and when I consider creation and all that God does, His best work, His miraculous work always stems from nothingness. You may feel isolated today, loved one, you may be lonely, but you are never alone. God shines in the dark!


I read an interesting quote by a Catholic Priest whose studies focused on solitude, "Loneliness is one of the most universal sources of human suffering today. By running away from our loneliness and by trying to distract ourselves with people and special experiences, we do not realistically deal with our human predicament. We are in danger of becoming an unhappy people suffering from many unsatisfied cravings and tortured by desires and expectations that never can be fulfilled. To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into a garden of solitude. This requires not only courage but also a strong faith. As hard as it is to believe that the dry desolate desert can yield endless varieties of flowers, it is equally hard to imagine that our loneliness is hiding unknown beauty."


Jesus loved people, He lived to do the Father's will but we know from the disciples request of Jesus to teach them to pray that they easily recognized Jesus strength, His courage, His focus in life and most of all the comfort and peace He enjoyed seemed to be directly connected to those moments of isolation when Jesus would seemingly sneak away in the dark of the night or in the early hours of the morning to a solitary place.


Have you ever considered, loved one, that maybe whats missing in your life are lonely times where you lock the world outside deliberately and get alone with yourself and allow yourself to experience the barrenness of your own soul so that when the Lord visits you He can bring light to the darkest places of your being and shed His glorious light on the beauty that would otherwise go unnoticed? Yes, there are varieties of flowers God has planted that can only grow in the dessert places, proof once again that there is nowhere we can hide from His love.


Loneliness and isolation might just be the perfect place the Lord has you currently to prepare the soil of your soul for a new harvest, to reveal to the world the rarest of beautiful desert flowers. After all it was Jesus who said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain" (John 12:24). Yes, beloved of God, loneliness is the gift of God that reveals to us that He is there!


"Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts."


Jeremiah 15:16


I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  65 Hits
  0 Comments
65 Hits
0 Comments

"No Place Like Home"

image1

"A song of Ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain."


Psalms 127:1


Studying the book of Psalms this summer took me to John 11 and Jesus declaration that He is the resurrection and the life and whoever believes in Him will never die got me thinking about what it means to be at "home" with the Lord. In my studying I was reading about how when evangelist D.L. Moody was invited to perform his first funeral he poured over his bible to see how Jesus performed funerals. D.L. Moody quickly learned from his study of the bible that Jesus never performed a single funeral for the simple fact that when Jesus showed up at a funeral it turned into something that resembled a birthday party for the deceased person always came back to life. Where Jesus is there is life.

Don't you love the word "Home"? It gives you this picture of peace and security, life and love, (at least it does for me) and I think that is exactly what our Lord had in mind when He told the disciples in John 14:2, "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." Home is that special place where you can let your hair down so to speak, be yourself without a care in the world. home is our hiding place, an oasis from the world, our own little slice of heaven. 

It is if Jesus is Lord over it. Heaven is home, and it's a real place Jesus is preparing for those that love Him. Yes, beloved of God, Jesus is preparing a place for each of us where we can feel at home, where we can feel safe and secure, where we are loved and full of life. I doubt very seriously Jesus is carving furniture or hanging pictures on the walls. No, loved one, I believe the Lord is doing something so much deeper, so much more better than that for us. He is preparing a place that we can be with Him.

Let me ask you, friend, where is it on earth that you feel most at home? I read a quote that a Mrs. Craik wrote regarding friendship, and you might wonder what friendship has to do with feeling at home but there is a link? Bear with me as I share with you what she wrote and see if you can make the connection. She wrote,

"Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts or measure words, but pour them all right out just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow away the rest."

Home then is not a house per say, but rather; home is a relationship, a friendship between two people that is shared. I tell people all the time. It makes no difference then if you live in a tent then or in a castle, what makes a home truly a home are the relationships there. For me, home is wherever my wife is. Mrs. Craik understood well there is a direct link between friendship and heaven. When people experience love at its deepest level they often will say things like, "Isn't this heavenly" or "this is simply divine" to describe how they feel and that is entirely true. 

There is nothing like a good friend that will make you feel like you are at home. Its why the gift of hospitality is so sweet. We all enjoy those people with this gift as when we grace their doors we just feel at home and not because of the house itself but rather because of the relationships there. My wife has been blessed with this gift. It's not the place that makes home, home, It's the people. Like the old saying, "home is where your heart is".

Did you know, loved one, that Jesus desires to be that kind of friend to you? He does and if you remember it was Jesus who Himself said, "No longer do I call you slaves but friends, for a slave doesn't know what his master is doing but I have told you all things." In John 14:3 Jesus made sure the disciples knew where He was going and what His intentions were regarding them when He said, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."

The purpose then of Jesus building a place for us was so that we could be with Him. Did you get the last part of what John was saying? John was quoting Jesus own words, "that where I am, there you may be also." Do you get it? We get it only when we understand that heaven is home because heaven is being with the One who loves you so much so He that gave His very life for us so that we could be together with Him forever. That's what makes heaven, heaven! Heaven is heaven because Jesus is there just as hell is hell because Jesus isn't there. There's no place like home when Jesus is its Master builder! After all, He is a carpenter too you know!

"So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord."… "We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord."

2 Corinthians 5:6,8

I LOVE YOU!

Continue reading
  59 Hits
  0 Comments
59 Hits
0 Comments

"Celebrate Your Dependence"

image1
"But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

John 6:68


It never ceases to amaze me how far a person will go to find peace, and to experience true freedom in this world. Consider those who boarded the Mayflower.

On this 4th of July as America celebrates her 242nd year of independence from Great Britain we do well as believers to remember that our dependence on God is what leads us to enjoy our independence on others and the opposite is just as true. When we seek to become independent from God we become more dependent upon others which is a huge mistake as only God is immortal where man is not only mortal, but fallible too.

I love recounting the story of America and how our founding father's saw the birth of our great nation as an act of God's mighty hand and not solely the efforts of man. John Adams in writing about the signing of the Declaration of Independence wrote and its celebration on July 4th, "It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty." John Adams connected our freedom as American's to our devotion to God and nothing is more true.

According to John Quincy Adams, the celebration of Christmas and the Fourth of July were intrinsically connected. On the Fourth of July, the Founders simply took the precepts of Christ which came into the world through His birth (Christmas) and incorporated those principles into civil government. Even if America's roots were traced back to its primitive stages, the marriage between the early inhabitants of the land and Christianity are inseparable. The Pilgrims clearly stated the purpose for their voyage even before stepping off the Mayflower: "...undertaken for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith..." Make no question about it, the greatness of America came about because of our desire to glorify the Lord and any country, any people group who seeks the glory of God will be blessed.

Yes, loved one, America is a great country in direct correlation to her devotion to God and no one made that point clearer than the 40th president of the United States, the late and great Ronald Reagan who once said of the United States, "Without God there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience....without God there is a coarsening of the society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure....If we ever forget that we are one Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under."

Pray for America today, as this great country of ours is under attack and the greatest enemy we face today is not from beyond our borders but from within. There are some in the United States today who have forgotten that America is also a nation under God founded on Christian principles. Some have forgotten that 54 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were not deists but bible believing Christians, and 27 held theology degrees, and many went on to form Bible societies.The signers of the Declaration of Independence intended the document to officiate the separation between America and Great Britain. However, they based the Declaration which has served as a foundation to the beginnings of the American nation upon a greater foundational belief that God, or as written in the Declaration "Creator" was the source for men's irrevocable rights.

Behind every creation is a Creator and even our founding fathers understood that behind the creation of this United States of America was a Creator, not the signers but rather God Himself for they knew what the apostle Peter understood too when he said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

True life, true freedom, loved one is in Christ Jesus, the Creator of heaven and earth. Today as we celebrate we do well to stop and recognize our need and our dependence on Him. Happy 4th of July! Be safe and sane!


"for in Him we live and move and have our being"

Acts 17:28

I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  137 Hits
  0 Comments
137 Hits
0 Comments

"Assembly Required"

image1

"For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him."

Colossians 1:16


Men and women are different in so many ways and one that stands out in my mind always with regard to how we approach life is when it comes to following directions. I throughly enjoy listening to men describe how they go about assembling items they purchase. Ive yet to meet a guy who begins by reading the instructions. I'm not saying we don't end up reading them but few start there. Maybe its the sense of adventure or a product of the fall. We want to try it on our own? 


Recently a guy explained that he has his wife hold the box up so he can see the picture on the box of what the completed object is supposed to look like. His explanation was simple. He thought focusing on the picture would make assembling the item easier and save him time in the long run not having to read the instructions. He said there was only one flaw in his methodology. The item in need of assembly also had internal parts that could not be seen on the box so that explained why he had a few parts left over.


Have you discovered often times we tend to do the same thing regarding our lives? We have a tendency to use and outside in approach. Instead of following God's instruction manual (the Bible) to become whole people we focus on the picture the world gives us of what complete looks like and we allow that picture to shape us. The danger in going by what is seen is that we too have internal parts that cannot be seen from the outside and whats on the inside is what matter most. It was C.S. Lewis who said, "God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it's not there. There is no such thing." More than we can know, we need God.


You and I were called to a life of faith in God, loved one, for we are fearfully and wonderfully made by Him. If the truth be told, there is nothing simple about us and that is why we need to follow the Word of God if you and I are to ever become complete people. The last thing we want is to be left incomplete, to be undone as it were with missing pieces. To function properly in life takes faith, tremendous faith to believe and to accept that our Creator knows us better than we know ourselves and that by following His directions we will become complete, not just whole but holy people as God Himself is holy. Remember, loved one, the word 'holy' in our bible means complete, whole.


Here is a quote for you today, "God's people live on promises and not explanations." This is where trusting God comes in. We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus that He prepared beforehand that we might walk in them." God has a will for our lives, friend, meaning that we were created by Him and for Him. We are not a random chance or accident. God created you with a specific plan and purpose in mind. God has not called you and I to fix ourselves or to put our own lives together or even "build the life we have always wanted." 


God's desire for you and me is that we follow His directions, submit to His Lordship in our lives knowing that the life that pleases Him is the life of faith where we walk with Him "step by step" day by day, hoping and trusting and believing on Him to complete the work He started in us. Don't forget, God has made us a very faithful promise, one we can trust in completely. He will finish the work He has begun in us from the inside out, no missing pieces!


"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."


Ephesians 2:10


I LOVE YOU!

Continue reading
  71 Hits
  0 Comments
71 Hits
0 Comments

"The Bucket List"

image1
"To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;"

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

This month my wife and I will celebrate our 35 year wedding anniversary and in celebration we are preparing to kick the bucket. If you research the term "Bucket List" you discover its a phrase that has to do with items that a person desires to accomplish before they "kick the bucket" so to speak. Some people write their list down while others just ponder them in their heart. We are setting out to visit some places we have never been before, cities that are on our personal "Bucket List".

My wife loves the web site Pinterest as it speaks to her creative genus. She will scour pages and pages and pages and pages of pictures getting ideas for making crafts and then no sooner has her I-pad or lap top cooled down that her circular saw has started up and she is bringing her newest idea to fruition. Yes, my wife has her own circular saw. A few years ago now she saw a common fence post with old looking destination signs like you would see in the middle of nowhere on some old abandoned dusty road saying something like, Taft 17 mi, Fellows 14 mi, Lost Hills 22 mi.

The websites suggestion was to make signs of either places you have been in your life or places you want to go before you die, thus, the term "bucket list". My wife made one with the names of different cities on it, cities we enjoy visiting and as well some destination spots we hope to see before one or both of us kicks the bucket. My wife's list includes Israel-7592 mi, Tuscany-6198 mi, New York-2813 mi, Bahamas-2523 mi, Nashville-2028 mi, Austeim Germany-5039 mi, Bora Bora-4127 mi, Rome-6385 mi, Paris-5661. All the miles are from our home in Bakersfield to these actual destinations. She looked up the mileage too! In a couple of weeks, God willing, we will kick a couple more cities off our bucket list.

My wife's sign post has sitting on the very top of all the other signs on the pole one that says "Heaven-18 in" as in 18 inches. It's our favorite destination that we look forward to enjoying one day. Isn't that amazing to think that heaven is only 18 inches away from us at any given moment in time? The difference between heaven and hell is a mere 18 inches, the difference between our head and our heart. Romans 10:9 makes it clear, "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."

Of all the things I could or would pray for you today, loved one, it is that heaven would be at the top of your bucket list too. No one has to miss heaven as the price for our safe arrival has already been paid in full by God Himself, first class all the way as there are no second class citizens in heaven! Jesus has made us one in Him! Ephesians 2:8-10 says it best, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

Let me ask you a question. Have you opened your heart to God? Have you committed your ways unto Him? If someone approached you today and offered you an all expense paid trip to your favorite destination spot would you accept it? I'm pretty sure you would. Jesus came all the way from heaven to earth to show us the way to heaven and to personally invite us to join Him there. He even paid the expenses to make it possible, so no one would have to miss out. Yes, loved one, heaven is a free gift that each of us must accept by personally receiving Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

What's on your bucket list, loved one? Does heaven top your list? I pray so. Remember John 1:12, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name". If you want heaven, accept Christ Jesus as your Savior and Lord. The invitation has been given, "All Aboard!"


"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance"

2 Peter 3:9

I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  83 Hits
  0 Comments
83 Hits
0 Comments

"There Is None Like You"

image1
"I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me."

Song of Solomon 7:10


Studying the Song of Solomon last night at our Mens Bible Study a quote came to mind I heard a number of years ago. It said, "Many Things Will Catch My Eye But Few Things Will Capture My Heart". It's one thing to be noticed but it is another thing to become the object of focus. I could easily imagine from reading the Song of Solomon how the Shulamite captured not only Solomon's eye but his heart too. After all, Shulamite actually means, "Perfect."

Are you aware that you are desired? Do you have any idea that there is One who pursues you day and night, night and day, and who longs to meet with you face to face? It's true. Oh, to be pursued! Better still, to be loved and desired! No wonder the Shulamite would say, "He brought me to the banqueting house, And his banner over me was love" (Song of Songs 2:4). Her beloved not only wanted her to know she was loved, he wanted the whole world to know he had found the one with whom his soul loved. She was to be "bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh."

The Song of Solomon is a beautiful love story, a true story that communicates the desire of a husband for his wife and a wife for her husband and yet it points us forward to an even greater love than marital love. Every time I read it I learn something new, something that reminds me of the tremendous love that God has for His bride, the church.

We seldom think of romantic love when we consider God's love for us but we should when we read the Song of Solomon because though Gods love for His bride isn't erotic, His love for us is truly romantic, and deeply passionate. Consider the lengths Jesus went to redeem us to Himself. Talk about love! We can learn a lot about the heart of God by reading it, since He inspired it.

Yet, there lies the key to enjoying this unique work tucked away in the midst of the poetic books of the Old Testament. I think Max Lucado might have said it best regarding the reading of the Song of Solomon when he wrote, "A love letter is to be enjoyed not analyzed".

That's my prayer for you today, beloved of God, as you read the Word of God today don't just analyze it, simply enjoy it too. Keep in mind that God's Word is His love letter to us. Simply open your Bible and listen for His voice to speak to you and just take it in like a sponge absorbs fluids. Get lost in His words and allow them to fill your heart and mind, and to saturate your soul.

That's how you read a love letter. You read it over and over and over until the paper is crumbled and the words are no longer legible on paper but now, they are forever engraved on your heart, in your mind and in your soul. Yes, beloved, that is how you read a love letter! Enjoy.


"Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death…"

Song of Solomon 8:6

I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  80 Hits
  0 Comments
80 Hits
0 Comments

"Why I Love Starbucks"

image1

"If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, 'The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,' and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you. You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, 'You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.'"

Deuteronomy 15:7-11


I am not much of a coffee drinker but I have to confess even though I do not ascribe to the political or moral policies of Starbucks Incorporated, I have found a practice of many of its customers that has moved me from what some might call a conservative to becoming a full fledged liberal. I frequent my local Starbucks mostly to purchase iced tea for my wife as she spends most of her free time working outdoors in her garden or tackling one of her never ending projects in her "she shed". I use the drive thru almost exclusively when I visit and not merely for the convenience but also for the opportunity it presents me to practice my liberality.

If you have visited the drive thru at a Starbucks with any amount of frequency there is a good chance the person in front of you in the drive thru will purchase your drink for you at some point. I have no idea how this practice was started but I truly appreciate the random acts of kindness many of the customers display. I have learned more lessons about my Christian faith while going through the drive thru at my neighborhood Starbucks than almost any other single location. When I first began to visit the Starbucks and the person in front of me purchased my drinks I merely thanked the Lord for who ever the kind and thoughtful person was and prayed the Lord would bless them in return for the kindness they showed me, most likely a perfect stranger to them.

As time went on I grew to not only thank the Lord for the gift and the kindness shown me by the person paying for my order, I began to purchase the drinks for the vehicle behind me to keep the "pay it forward" string alive. So far the record of people paying at the Starbucks near me is like 38 straight vehicles paying for the person behind them. I first paid for the car behind me simply because I didn't want the curse on me of breaking the string. I don't believe in bad Karma but many of Starbucks employees do so as to not ruin their day I would gladly pay for someone else's order. Besides, I liked the way I felt when I gave to someone I didn't even know simply because I wanted to do something kind that hopefully would bless them as much as I am blessed when someone purchases my order for me. Its one of the few opportunities I have found where I can reap and sow in the same day!

Why I love Starbucks is the lessons I have learned about giving liberally to others, not stingy or begrudgingly but with joy, preferring others over myself. Starbucks has helped me to recognize a world full of need and how a simple cup of coffee, a cup of water, or just one meal can make a difference in a persons day, and for some maybe their life. The greatest lesson I have learned though is that, "paying it forward" might be a nice gesture for a Starbucks customer but for me as a child of God, as someone who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ its not an option, it is a command, a way of life. Giving to others without expecting anything in return, helping the poor by giving liberally is not natural, its supernatural.

You and I who love the Lord are commanded, (that means it's not optional) to share what we have with the less fortunate. God doesn't say how much you and I have determines if we give or not. The determining factor in our generosity is based on the need of those who find themselves in need. God's method of support for our fellow man is not "Communism" where we take from the rich and give to the poor. God's method of caring for the world around us is "Commonism" from Acts chapter 2 where the first church shared with one another as needed and they had all things in common. Communism's philosophy is "what's yours is mine" where as the heart of Acts chapter 2 and "Commonism" is "what's mine is yours". Communism takes where "Commonism" gives. 

One of the best stories in the Bible regarding giving is in Mark chapter 12, the story of the poor woman who put two mites into the offering. "So He (Jesus) called His disciples to Himself and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; "for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood." Mark 12:43-44 (NKJV).

The world is in desperate need of more liberals, those who are looking out for and seeking to meet the needs of the less fortunate. God has commanded us to give liberally with the desire to reflect His love, and to communicate to the world that God cares and is intimately involved in the affairs of His people on a day to day basis. Remember, "the kindness of God leads a man to repentance" Romans 2:4 reminds us. Don't miss out on your chance to show the kindness of God to others with the hope of ushering them into a personal relationship with Jesus! Let your light shine today, loved one, "pay it forward" and help the world to know the love of God that is found in Jesus Christ our Lord by giving liberally keeping in mind, God loves a cheerful giver!



"Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."

1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NKJV)

I LOVE YOU! 

Continue reading
  154 Hits
  0 Comments
154 Hits
0 Comments

"40 Questions"

image1

"Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me."


Job 38:3


Growing up I recall a common response people used when they felt they were being asked one too many questions. The common reply was, "What's with the forty questions?" Some say the term comes from this passage here in the book of Job where God rattles off to Job question after question to prove a point to Job. God wants Job to understand that He, (He being God) and He, God alone is Sovereign. No one but the Son and the Holy Spirit were present in creation. 

The world didn't just happen and there is no such thing as evolution with regard to the creation of the world if you believe the bible to be true. Behind every creation is a creator and behind every design is a designer. Did you realize it takes more faith to believe in the so called "Big Bang" theory than it does to believe in intelligent design?

Think about what an evolutionist must believe. As evolutionists they must believe, "first there was nothing, then nothing exploded, and then when nothing exploded, we got the universe." Talk about needing faith. Rest in this, friend, Noting has ever happened by chance yet man creates all kinds of systems in attempt to take the place of faith, simple faith in an awesome God. We do well to trust the Word of God no matter what the so called scholars might say. God can be trusted for He alone is faithful.

Back to Job. Can you imagine Job sitting at a desk like a student in a classroom setting and God saying OK Job, prepare yourself for this test when in fact unless the Lord reveals the answer to the test there is no way Job could ever respond. God is a God of revelation and everything we know about God He has revealed to us. Man doesn't discover God, God makes Himself known to us. That is what we call the Good News of the Gospel. God loved us so much He sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ to take on human flesh and make known to us the love of God and to reveal the Father to us every time we saw or heard Jesus speak.

Scientists attempt to explain the universe yet if science is proven by observation and only God was there in the beginning, then isn't science really nothing more educated theory and not fact? Isn't the so called. "science of evolution" at some point really an issue of faith? Wouldn't it have to be since only God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were there in the beginning. Maybe all the confusion is due to the fact that the clay (mankind) is trying to figure out the potter (God), when in reality all we can know about God is what He chooses to reveal to us about Himself and what He chooses for us to know…

We do well to understand, beloved, what Job is about to learn in chapter 38 of the book bearing Job's name. Read the chapter and as well read the words of the apostle Paul and let them sink deep within your soul. Colossians 1:16 spells it out very clearly for us, "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him." It doesn't get any simpler than that. We can trust God, friend, He is in control. 

What is it that you have need of today, what is broken in your life that needs repair? A broken heart, a broken spirit, a broken home, a broken… you name it Jesus can fix it as nothing is too difficult for Him. Jesus can make it better than new simply by speaking the Word, His Word to your situation or circumstance. Thats how powerful He is! Trust Him, loved one, and rest in the knowledge that Jesus is in control of your life no matter how things may or may not appear in your life today. Not only is God in control, believe it or not He has plan that is unfolding day by day which has a glorious ending to it when He comes one day and rescues each of us who have placed our hope and trust in Him. Its not just a love story, its a true story! 

Take God at His Word and bring all your needs to the Lord in prayer today asking in simple faith for God to meet your needs taking Him at His Word that He loves and cares for you even though much of the time we have not a clue how He works or even why the Lord does what He does. It's OK to not understand the how and why God does all that He does. What matters most is we believe that He is God, and that He is good all the time. And still, the greatest knowledge any of us can ever possess about God is the knowledge that He loves us! Jesus Christ is the proof of God's love for me and you!


"By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible."

Hebrews 11:3

I LOVE YOU!

Continue reading
  87 Hits
  0 Comments
87 Hits
0 Comments

"Two Sets Of Eyes"

image1

"For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."

1 Corinthians 2:2-5


Its been well said that we have two sets of eyes, the eyes of faith and those of our flesh and each sees an entirely different world in front of us. I was reminded of that truth when I read a quote by Max Lucado and then I changed a word so it would read like this, "Your eyes see your sins. Your faith sees your Savior." The question today, loved one, is which set of eyes are you and I going to be seeing the world through today? Are you seeing through the eyes of your flesh that see only the limitations or are you looking through the eyes of your faith that can see the seemingly impossible? Seemingly impossible because the bible tells us that with God nothing is impossible, and by faith you can even move mountains!

As another day begins there is much ahead of each of us to do, many different roads to travel down, and choices that need to be made. How will you decide which way to go? The book of Proverbs reminds us that there is a way that seems right to a man but its end brings forth death. How then can we avoid going down the wrong paths? The bible provides the answer in one word, "FAITH", choosing to trust God and His Word and to walk by faith when we what we read in our bibles does not match up with what we see.

Remember what the writer of of the book of Hebrews declared regarding faith, "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (yet) Hebrews 11:1" Yes, loved one, we need faith to make it through the day for the bible goes on to say, "Without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is God and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" Hebrews 11:6. The key to our faith is God, to seek Him!

So then, how do we develop the eyes of our faith and seek Him? Again the bible holds the answer for us when it says in Romans 10, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word of God." Isn't that just like God? We develop the eyes of our faith by seeking Him and hearing the promises of God and accepting them for what they are, truth, as every word of God is truth. Who would have ever thought the way to see correctly would come to us by way of hearing? Its true, loved one, faith comes by hearing not by seeing. When we look at our lives through the eyes of our flesh we see all kinds of limitations and obstacles in our way but when we look at our lives from heavens perspective, through the eyes of our faith the barriers and the blinders are lifted.

Faith is the only sure way to travel down life's roads! Believe it or not, the bible says we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, at least all the things God has in store for us. The key then is doing exactly what Max Lucado made mention of when he penned those words, "Your eyes see your sins, your faith sees your Savior." Don't focus on your past, on your sins and on your failures, friend, focus of Jesus Christ today and see your life through His eyes! Walk in the plans He has declared that He has for you and when you do you will soon see your future more clear. Regardless of your past our even your present circumstances today you can know His peace and His presence because what will become most clear to you as you walk by faith is that you are not alone, that God Himself is with you, He's right there by your side every step of the way.

Yes, loved one, the eyes of our flesh have limitations but the eyes of our faith can see through the impossible. The eyes of faith allow us to see in the dark! The eyes of our flesh see our fears and our failures, where as the eyes of our faith see our Savior, Jesus Christ, the One who loves us and gave His life for you and me.

Focus on Jesus today, loved one, and see the world like you have never seen it before! How do we know? Because this we know for sure, we have never been this way before! Today is a brand new day, one day filled with endless possibilities and choices. The best way to travel down the many roads ahead is by faith, listening for the voice of the Lord Himself who calls for us through His Word which illuminates our paths and makes our ways straight. Oh the joy of walking by faith, using our other set of eyes that only see Jesus! Focus, focus, focus!

"For we walk by faith, not by sight."

2 Corinthians 5:7

I LOVE YOU! 

Continue reading
  82 Hits
  0 Comments
82 Hits
0 Comments

"Critical is Hypocritical"

image1

"Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer."

2 Corinthians 5:16


Reading an email from a fellow pastor the other day, he was sharing how easy it is for us to justify our lives while condemning others, forgetting the very words of Jesus when He said, "in the same measure we judge others we too will be judged with the same measure by God."

Before we came to Christ all of us lived life based on some kind of standard of measurement, a type of scale or curve, a legalistic measuring device where we compared ourselves to the lives of others for the most part to feel better about ourselves, never considering the fact we needed to be changed every bit as much as those we judge so harshly. How quickly we can forget God uses only one measuring device and that is Jesus Christ. If we want to compare lives with someone to see how we measure up, God invites us to do so by comparing ourselves to Jesus Christ.

Growing up playing sports my dad always told me, "there will be always be people better than you and some who are not, so the best thing to do always is give 100% so you can always say, 'I did my very best'." Maybe one of the reasons we find it so is easy to be critical of others is that often times in life we simply fail to give our very best? So we judge others in hope of feeling better about ourselves. Trust me, it doesn't work for long.

Jesus speaking in Matthew 7:1-5 warned about the type of view point where we focus on what others are or are not doing when He said, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Wow, that's a deep passage.

The mistake we can make when reading a passage like that is to say, "I have no problem judging someone regarding ___________ (you fill in the blank with the sin you feel safe judging in someone else's life)." Or maybe we will say something like, "I'm OK with God judging me in this particular area of my life because in this area of my life I am doing really good." The problem with this kind of thinking is Jesus was not talking about a particular sin, He was talking about the attitude of our heart towards others sins, period.

What Jesus is saying is that whatever measurement of judgment you and I use to judge someone else's sin is the same measurement of judgment God will use to judge our own sin. Jesus was not saying if you don't lie, it's OK to judge people harshly that do lie since you don't and therefore you could not be considered a hypocrite. Jesus was saying the exact opposite. It makes no difference what the sin is that we become critical of in other peoples lives. Jesus warns us that the standard by which we judge others will be the exact standard He will use to judge our sin one day. The moral of the story is then, be extremely cautious in our judgment of others because God will one day judge you and I with the same judgment we judge others. Ouch! If we ever found a motive to be gracious towards others, there it is.

Salvation comes to them that believe God and receive forgiveness for their sin, not those who seek to justify themselves before God. The best thing we can do when we are wrong is fess up remembering that confession is good for our soul. I think the reason Jesus stressed this point in Matthew 7 is that He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He knows if we can just find someone who we deem is a worse sinner than we are (in our own eyes) somehow we can feel better about ourselves, our habits and our hang ups. That's a temporal fix at best to a lingering and possibly an eternal one as well, loved one. The only way to fix the real problem of a judgmental or critical spirit is to first come to God and ask Him to help us remove the log from our own eye so we can see clearly to judge rightly the speck that may or may not be in our brothers eye.

Know this, everyone in this life is facing a Red Sea you might say, a situation that like we read about in Exodus 10-15 that to them looks impossible, and without the help of God it is. Try to imagine today what it was like for the children of Israel out in the wilderness, fleeing the Egyptian army that was hot on their tails after they were set free from bondage and as they fled they ended up pinned in on all sides with no escape. There were mountains on both sides, the enemy behind them and nothing but the Red Sea in front. From man's perspective the situation seemed hopeless and the people quickly turned on Moses blaming him for their predicament. It is safe to say they saw it all wrong and when we look at life and people through the eyes of our flesh we too will see it wrong and will miss every time what God is doing and what He is wanting us to do in and through and for us.

Yes loved one, "Everyone you meet and know is fighting some kind of a battle today" and the call of the Christian life is fight the good fight and to walk by faith and not by sight. Remember, without faith it is impossible to please Him but by faith we can move mountains, and not just the ones in our own lives but also the mountains in the lives of others too. Determine today to look at people through blood shot eyes, eyes like Jesus had on Calvary's Cross where He shed His cleansing blood for sinners, sinners like you and me. When we begin to see people as Jesus sees them we realize we too need Jesus every bit as much as they do and in the end we will find ourselves judging people far less and loving them much much more.

"For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again."

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

I LOVE YOU! 

Continue reading
  74 Hits
  0 Comments
74 Hits
0 Comments

"Real Peace is a Person"

image1
"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

John 14:27


I enjoy studying the Greek language as it is so unlike our English language. The Greek language is very specific, the words have specific meaning and not general definitions as we find in modern English. As an example consider in John 14 where Jesus says, "My Peace" I give to you, a peace that the world knows not of." The Greek word for peace in John is not the common definition of peace. 

The peace Jesus is speaking of is not due to the absence of something or someone in our lives. Many times in the world we think of peace as the absence of something. if we could just get out of a situation or a circumstance we would then find peace. We tend to think of peace as being the absence of something or even someone. That is temporal or situational peace but it is far from the peace Jesus spoke of. What Jesus desires for you and me, friend is lasting peace.

Jesus was offering us so much more when He offers to us His peace and what that means is that Jesus promised us something far better than the removal of a situation or circumstance from our lives. The peace Jesus offers us is not the absence of something but rather, a an addition of something, a presence, a someone. Like I said, in the world we become aware of peace by the absence of something but in the Lord we discover peace through a presence of someone, the very presence of God regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in.

I don't know what circumstances you may or may not be facing today, loved one, but what I do know is that true peace is not found in its removal but rather true peace is found in the Lord being in the midst of what you are going through, knowing you are not alone regardless of what you might be feeling or experiencing today. No matter what, know today that God's peace can be yours today. All we need to do to experience God's peace is to invite His presence into our situation and to know we don't need to go through anything alone.

As I was listening to one of my favorite songs by the musical group Kutless as I rode my bike along the bike path west of town I was once again reminded of God's faithfulness to me and the peace that He provides me with His presence. Peace I was reminded as I listened to the song is not situational or circumstantial, its relational. God promised me and He is promising you that He will never walk away from us and we do well to not walk away from Him. Read the words to the song today and see if you can see what I have come to enjoy. The song goes like this,

I have fallen to my knees
As I sing a lullaby of pain
I'm feeling broken in my melody
As I sing to help the tears go away

Then I remember the pledge you made to me

[CHORUS:]
I know you're always there
To hear my every prayer inside
I'm clinging to the promise of a lifetime
I hear the words you say
To never walk away from me and leave behind
The promise of a lifetime

Will you help me fall apart
Pick me up, take me in your arms
Find my way back from the storm
And you show me how to grow
Through the change

I still remember the pledge you made to me

[BRIDGE:]
I am holding on to the hope I have inside
With you I will stay through every day
Putting my understanding aside

And I am comforted

Looking back at me I know that you can see my heart is open to the promise of a lifetime. (song ends)

I don't know about you, I only know about me and what I have come to appreciate about this song is that I am reminded each and every time I hear it is that God will never walk away from me. Time does nothing to diminish His love for me as He promised that He would be there for me no matter what, through the thick and thin, even if at times my life is much more thin than thick. His love and commitment to me (and you) is not situational or circumstantial, its based upon a promise that was made and that brings me tremendous peace and comfort and I pray it brings you the same thing today too.

I like these quotes I read this past week as I was studying the topic of peace. One of my favorite finds said, "Safety consists not in the absence of danger but in the presence of God." Another one said, "Peace is not the absence of conflict; it's the absence of inner conflict." Yes, loved one, when we are at peace with God we will naturally experience the peace of God. Wherever God is, His peace is present too. My favorite thought regarding the peace of God was in the following quote that said, "God doesn't always still the storm, but He can calm the sailor." Oh how I pray that you know that today, loved one. God might and then again, He might not change your situation or circumstance but He doesn't need too because He promised something better, something more. He promised to change me and you.

Life is full of storms but God is there with you and for you, right at your side to help navigate your way safely to shore. Yes, God is more than capable of rebuking the winds and calming the seas of our struggles but the greatest work He does in our lives is when He calms the storms that rage within us. Peace, "My peace" Jesus said is what He has left for me and you. Peace is God's gift to us to be received when we let go of our worries and the fears and hold on to the one who desires to hold onto us. Yes, loved one, peace is found in His presence not His absence, not in our circumstances but in a person, in Jesus Christ. Cast all your cares upon Him today knowing He cares about you!


"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:6-7

I LOVE YOU!

Continue reading
  168 Hits
  0 Comments
168 Hits
0 Comments

"The Power of Proverbs"

image1
"The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion-- A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel"

Proverbs 1:1-5


One of my favorite pastors describes a Proverb as, "A pithy statement that packs a powerful punch." I have books full of poems and famous proverbs that I enjoy reading from time to time as they make me think outside my little box of a brain. Here are some funny ones I was just reading.

AN OLD FARMER'S ADVICE

~ Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
~ Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
~ A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
~ Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled.
~ Meanness don't jes' happen overnight.
~ Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.
~ Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
~ It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.
~ You cannot unsay a cruel word.
~ Every path has a few puddles.
~ When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
~ The best sermons are lived, not preached.
~ Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway.
~ Don't judge folks by their relatives.
~ Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
~ Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.
~ Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't botherin' you none.
~ If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
~ Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
~ The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with watches you from the mirror every mornin'.
~ Always drink upstream from the herd.
~ Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
~ Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.
~ If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin'
somebody else's dog around.


I can imagine sitting with this old farmer dressed much like Mr. Green Jeans would be complete with a long single blade of grass on tucked to one side of his mouth as he talks. It reminds me of sitting with King Solomon when I open up the pages of the book of Proverbs in my bible. I can easily imagine sitting with the man God considered to be the wisest of all human beings that ever walked the face of the earth other than the Son of God. Just think, we have Solomon's wisdom contained within the pages of a book for us to read, to help us navigate the maze of this life at our very finger tips.

I want to encourage you to make reading the book of Proverbs a regular part of your knowledge diet, more so than any other newspaper or magazine you may subscribe too. In the book of Proverbs are timeless truths. They are just as powerful today as they were on the day they were first penned for us. Here are just a few of my favorites. Be blessed today as you read them and ponder them like a wise farmer would.

Proverbs 1:5, "A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel"

Proverbs 1:7, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction"

Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths."

Proverbs 3:11-12, "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights."

Proverbs 6:16-19, These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren."

Proverbs 8:34-35, "Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord"

Proverbs 10:12, "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins."

Proverbs 11:22, "As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion."

Proverbs 11:30, "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise."

Proverbs 12:4, "An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones."

Proverbs 12:15, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise."

Proverbs 13:12, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life."

Proverbs 13:24, "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly."

Proverbs 14:12, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."

Proverbs 14:34, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people."

Proverbs 15:1, "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

Proverbs 16:3, "Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established."

Proverbs 17:9, "He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends."
Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."

Proverbs 18:24, "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

Proverbs 20:1, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise."

Proverbs 22:1, "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold."

Proverbs 22:29, "Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men."

Proverbs 26:20, "Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases"

Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend"

Proverbs 31:6, "Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those who are bitter of heart."

Proverbs 31:10, "Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies."

Proverbs 31:30, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised."


There you have some of my favorite, just a sampling of the wealth of wisdom and knowledge which is yours and mine each time we eat and drink from the pages of the book of Proverbs. Enjoy them today and may they make your paths straight!

I LOVE YOU!

Continue reading
  150 Hits
  0 Comments
150 Hits
0 Comments

"The Trophy Wife"

image1

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her"


Ephesians 5:25


Being almost 60 years young I forget things a lot more easily than I use too. Yet, I remember falling in love with my wife like it was yesterday. I remember how I felt when we went out in public together and how I loved the feeling I felt knowing that she was with me. Almost 35 years later I still love that feeling. Having a trophy wife as it were is a very biblical thing and not some male chauvinist concept, as the bible says "a man who finds a wife finds a "good thing" and obtains favor from the Lord." Having a good wife gives you that same feeling that coming in first does. Another passage that comes to mind says a wife "is the "crown" (throphy) upon her husbands head" so I think its safe to say that God intended wives to be trophies in a sense, reminders of His favor and His grace in a man's life. That's why we teach the men in our church, one of the most important keys to a great marriage is for a man to marry up! Marry a woman that challenges you to be your best and who seeks to help you become all that God desires you to be and whose life and personal joy become your reward, your trophies in this life!

There is a difference between a trophy one wins in a competition and a trophy wife though. A trophy won in a competition is placed on a shelf and dusted off periodically as it is viewed from afar. A trophy wife on the other hand is to be loved and cherished, adored and cared for moment by moment, not just dusted off occasionally but washed and cleansed daily. The apostle Paul wrote in the book of Ephesians, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word". The Word of God has cleansing power and as husbands we do well to speak and read the Word to and with our wives. Its one thing to attend church together (and that's good!) but its even better to have church together where the husband leads his wife through sacrificial service and loving care.

The battle most couples face in marriage is in putting their spouse first. Preferring others better than ourselves reminds me of a cute story. I laugh every time I hear the story about the Mom fixing breakfast for her two boys, Kevin who was seven and Johnny who was four. The mother fixed pancakes and thought she would teach the boys a life lesson about love and caring for one another and what it means to prefer the other better than ones self. She put the first plate of pancakes in front of her boys to see how they would respond and immediately they both went for the plate, pulling on it and yelling at each other to let go. Mom stepped in and took the plate and said to Kevin her oldest son, "Kevin, don't you think Jesus would let his brother have the first set of pancakes?" Kevin smiled and looked up at his younger brother and politely said, "Johnny, you be Jesus" and then he immediately grabbed the plate for himself and started in on the pancakes."

The call of God in marriage and in the family home is for husbands to love their wives like Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. You might say God is saying to husbands today, "you be Jesus for your wife". As a guy who loves adventures and sports and winning too, marriage provides me everything I can handle and more. To wake up each day and know God has called me to win my wife's heart causes me to sit and get counsel from my bible, "the playbook of life" on just how I might win her each day. Did I say, each day? Yes, friend, every day is a new day, an opportunity to experience victory no matter how bitter the defeat might have been just twenty-four hours before. Remember the mercies of God are new every morning. It's a new game you might say of today, so get back up and get in the game! You won her heart once, you can do it again. Today's a new day!

Remember, in marriage your wife is the prize, as scripture reminds us, a good wife is the trophy you are seeking to win. The good news is, every man can have a trophy wife, all he has to do is love her like Jesus loves the church (And that's impossible to do without God's help). You might be thinking, "Where do I begin?" Start by loving her like you love yourself. Put as much effort into loving her as you do into loving you. Give her the same considerations you give yourself. Instead of thinking first, "What's in it for me" think instead, "Whats in it for her?" Consider her and her needs as much as you think of your own and you will win!



The apostle Paul went on to say in the book of Ephesians, "Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." The message to husbands is clear as it is to the wife too. To your wives, Let your husband win! Don't penalize him for trying to love you. Honor him, respect him and he will move mountains in his attempt to win you again and again. There is nothing a man wants more in marriage than a trophy wife, a woman he can look at, hold close and celebrate that she is his and he is hers.

So, whats the strategy for winning, for having that trophy wife? We just read it but in case you missed it, the winning strategy for a trophy wife is this. Husbands, love your wives and wives, respect your husbands because when we do everybody wins!


"So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself."

Ephesians 5:28


I LOVE YOU!

Continue reading
  110 Hits
  0 Comments
110 Hits
0 Comments

"Going All The Way"

image1
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her"

Ephesians 5:25


At a high school summer camp the speaker had just ended his teaching on sexual purity which usually sparks more conversations in the evening devotionals back at the cabins before bed. This time it would be no different. A young man and his girlfriend wanted to speak to their youth pastor that night most likely to confess that they had engaged in premarital sex which the bible calls fornication. As the young boy and girl sat talking with their youth pastor the assistant youth pastor was sitting in the next room listening in in hopes of learning himself how to deal with such sensitive matters.

The young couple immediately shared with their youth pastor that in fact they had been engaging in premarital sex but the tone of their confession seemed that they were proud and not remorseful. Their youth pastor sensed the pride and asked them to explain to him just exactly what they had done and the young man looked at the youth pastor as if to say, "are you stupid, I just told you we went all the way." The youth pastor said he understood what the young boy had stated but the youth pastor wanted to know what the young couple actually meant by what they said as many times when you are dealing with people, especially youth, what they say and what they mean don't necessarily line up so its best to not assume. The assistant youth leader who was listening in was thinking too that the youth pastor must be kind of dumb for asking the question in the first place. After all wasn't it obvious what they kids were talking about? After all, everyone knows what going all the way means, don't they?

The youth pastor asked them what they meant by their answer and this time the young girl spoke up and said to her youth pastor, "We are just saying that we went all the way" to which the youth pastor responded, "You think that is going all the way?" Now the young kids were confused as was the assistant youth leader listening in from the next room. The youth pastor continued. "You think that is going all the way do you? I'll tell you what going all the way is. Going all the way is my neighbors across the street from where I live. Mr. and Mrs. Taylor. They have been married for almost 60 years now and in recent years Mrs. Taylor has not been well. Every morning before the sun comes up Mr. Taylor can been seen sitting in the bay window of their home with his bible open, hands clasped, praying over his wife and her needs. When she awakes the first face she sees each morning is his waiting on her hand and foot. He prepares her meals each day and serves her and cares for her. He helps her to get up and to get dressed. He reads to her from the bible and prays with her every day. He talks to her about life, their children and grandchildren and especially the love he feels for her after all these years and how fortunate he is that she said yes to him when he asked her to marry him so many years ago.

When Mr. Taylor must go out to get groceries and his wife's medication he has one of their children come and sit with their mother as he hurries about his business so he won't be gone too long and cause his wife to worry about him. When he returns home he immediately finds her and comes to her side and whispers in her ear, "I love you, I missed you" even when he was only gone a short time." With a tone that resembled that of a southern Baptist preacher the youth pastor pounded his fist on the table in front of him and with eyes like steel he looked at this young couple and he said firmly, "That's going all the way". What you have done has not even come close. What you have done animals can do with no love at all. What began as a proud moment for two teenage kids bragging about their lack of sexual purity had turned to a moment of pure humility when they were made to consider what real love looks like and the sacrifices that true love willingly makes.

Yes, loved one, "going on all the way" is not measured in a moment but over the course of a lifetime. If you are single let me remind you today to keep yourself pure, date as if you are dating someone else's future husband or wife and if you are married, fulfill your vows. Remember the promises you made when you stood at an altar promising your love and devotion to one another and remember what you said joyfully that day, "Until death do us part". Going all the way is about lifelong commitment and devotion, unwavering dedication through thick and thin. Going on all the way is saying in effect, "I have always loved you and I always will" as going all the way is both practical and prophetical. Practical in that love is lived out in real life and in real time, day by day, in the moment and as well it is prophetical as it is a promise and a vow regarding the future, that no matter what we go through I will keep loving you and I will always be here for you until such a time as we are separated by death. That my friends is going all the way!

"'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."

Matthew 19:5-6

I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  124 Hits
  0 Comments
124 Hits
0 Comments

"Sweetly Broken"

image1
"and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me."

1 Corinthians 11:24

Listening to the song, "Sweetly Broken" the words and the beat are easy to follow along with, that is in the song anyway. Real life on the other hand, now, that is hard, at times seemingly impossible. Yet we do well to remember that with God, nothing is impossible. What Jesus brings you too, He will see you through! Listening to the song "Sweetly Broken" brings to mind a story by John Collinson that serves as a great reminder of what true brokenness is and though extremely painful when we are going through it, the end result truly is sweet as we come out on the other end looking more like our Savior.

I appreciate what John Collinson wrote, "brokenness is not easy to define but can be clearly seen." I share it with those of you today who are in the process of being "sweetly broken". May your hearts be encouraged knowing the pain cannot compare to the glory that is one day going to be revealed both to you and in you!

This Is Brokenness, by John Collinson

"Sometimes it is asked what we mean by brokenness. Brokenness is not easy to define but can be clearly seen in the reactions of Jesus, especially as He approached the cross and in His crucifixion. I think it can be applied personally in this way:

WHEN to do the will of God means that even my Christian brethren will not understand, and I remember that "Neither did His brethren believe in Him" (John 7:5), and I bow my head to obey and accept the misunderstanding, THIS IS BROKENNESS.

WHEN I am misrepresented or deliberately misinterpreted, and I remember that Jesus was falsely accused but He "held His peace," (Matthew 26:63) and I bow my head to accept the accusation without trying to justify myself, THIS IS BROKENNESS.

WHEN another is preferred before me and I am deliberately passed over, and I remember that they cried, "Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas" (Luke 23:18), and I bow my head and accept rejection, THIS IS BROKENNESS.

WHEN my plans are brushed aside and I see the work of years brought to ruins by ambitions of others and I remember that Jesus allowed them to lead Him away to crucify Him (Matthew 27:31) and He accepted that place of failure, and I bow my head and accept the injustice without bitterness, THIS IS BROKENNESS.

WHEN in order to be right with my God it is necessary to take the humbling path of confession and restitution, and I remember that Jesus "made Himself of no reputation" and "humbled Himself unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8), and I bow my head and am ready to accept the shame of exposure, THIS IS BROKENNESS.

WHEN others take unfair advantage of my being a Christian and, treat my belongings as public property, and I remember "they stripped Him… and parted His garments, casting lots" (Matthew 27:28,35), and I bow my head and accept "joyfully the spoiling of my goods" for His sake, THIS IS BROKENNESS.

WHEN one acts towards me in an unforgivable way, and I remember that when He was crucified Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34), and I bow my head and accept any behavior towards me as permitted by my loving Father, THIS IS BROKENNESS.

WHEN people expect the impossible of me and more than time or human strength can give, and I remember that Jesus said, "This is My body which is given for you…" (Luke 22:19), and I repent of my self-indulgence and lack of self-giving for others, THIS IS BROKENNESS."

What an awesome God we serve! And to think, loved one, He bids us to follow Him if we dare, to deny ourselves and pick up our Cross and follow Him daily on the road of brokenness, not to brokenness. The end result of brokenness is wholeness, holiness and when the Lord is done with us, it will be glorious, like nothing we ever imagined or thought was even possible. It is by far the road less traveled, the narrow and difficult way but oh the joy to know how we will look at the end of our journey, a reflection of the One whose image we were created in and for from the beginning. There really is nothing like being sweetly broken, loved one, nothing worthy this side of heaven that we can even compare. To God alone be the glory for the great things He has done and is doing in you! Don't forget, you are His masterpiece, He's not through with you yet!


"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Matthew 11:28-30

I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  177 Hits
  0 Comments
177 Hits
0 Comments