Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Brett Favre, quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, wasn’t able to play for his team this past Monday night due to a shoulder injury. Normally, that would not be very newsworthy because players on every NFL team routinely miss games because they are hurt too badly to compete. Professional football is a notoriously rough sport in which players are injured every weekend. It is difficult for anyone to go through an entire season without missing some playing time. It is just the nature of the sport.

The fact that Brett Favre is missing a game is making the headlines because this is the first time it has happened in 19 seasons. He started a game on September 27, 1992 and, for the next 297 regular season games (321 including playoff games), he has shown up, put on his pads, laced up his cleats and did his job. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports summed it up well: “Favre has played through countless broken bones, torn muscles, concussions, battered ankles, banged-up knees and every other calamity that would fell most mortals. For years on end, the best (or easiest) job in football was Brett Favre’s backup. You collected an NFL check, you got your own uniform and you never got hit while you held the clipboard.” Favre has other well-documented shortcomings, but you can’t doubt his heart and commitment to his team.

I’m thankful for every Christian who shows this same kind of heart and commitment to the body of Christ. You know the kind of disciple I am talking about. The disciple who refuses to run at the first sign of struggle. The disciple who perseveres through times of difficulty. The disciple who hangs in there through thick and thin. The disciple who continues “playing” even when hurt. The disciple who can be depended on by the rest of the team.

Could your church family use this kind of a disciple? Why not begin your own consecutive game streak today? Make the choice now to be there for your spiritual brothers and sisters! Do it for YOUR team!

God loves you!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

An Iron-clad Guarantee

“Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are – the Holy One of God!" And Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!" Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him” (Mark 1:23-26).

This encounter in a synagogue in Capernaum is interesting for its portrayal of the vulnerability of the demonic world in the presence of Jesus. Let’s notice how this servant of the prince of darkness cowered before the Son of God. First, the demon was timid in the presence of Jesus. “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth?” He uttered no threats nor issued any challenges. One gets the sense that he was just fearfully awaiting Jesus’ declaration concerning what would happen to him. Second, the demon understood the mission of Jesus. “Have you come to destroy us?” Apparently he knew better than many others that Jesus came to earth to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). All he could do was surrender to the inevitable. Third, the demon clearly recognized and acknowledged the identity of Jesus. “I know who You are – The Holy One of God!” There was no doubt in his mind regarding who Jesus claimed to be. Fourth, the demon had no choice but to obey the command of Jesus. When Jesus said, “Be quiet, and come out of him!”, he resisted but did as he was told. There is no debate as to who was in charge in this situation!

This text should be a comfort to anyone who is concerned about the evil that seems to fill our modern world. The Son of God who cast out a demon in Capernaum is the same Son of God who continues to terrify the forces of darkness today. Good will ultimately triumph over evil. Jesus guarantees it!

God loves you!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Courage For The Road Ahead

“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased’” (Mark 1:9-11).

Jesus was standing on the threshold of His earthly ministry. The next three years of His life would include much conflict and turmoil. There would be victories but also many setbacks. Eventually, He would be betrayed, abandoned, and crucified. The view of the road ahead was enough to make even the most courageous man tremble.

Considering the task before Him, what was it that Jesus needed most at this point? An army to help Him conquer His enemies? A well-oiled public relations team to help break down resistance to His message? Political allies who could open doors to advance His agenda with those in power? As Jesus began His life’s work, we find that He had none of these “advantages” – in fact, He actively avoided them.

What was it that Jesus needed most? The affirmation of His Father. And that is exactly what He received as He stepped out on the road to the cross. “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” How those words must have helped to calm whatever anxieties Jesus may have been experiencing! How reassuring it must have been to know that He had the unqualified backing of His Heavenly Father! Is it any wonder that Jesus took everything the world could throw at Him and still completed His mission?

As children of God, we also enjoy the affirmation of our Father. We are emboldened to complete our own missions, even in the face of struggle, because we have the backing of our God. We will overcome, not because of who we are, but because of Whose we are. Paul’s words still ring true: “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31)

God loves you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Point The Way To Jesus

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, I send My messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.’” John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:1-4).

John appeared on the scene in the first century A.D. as the promised forerunner of the Messiah. With his distinctive dress and diet, he called to mind the stories the people had heard of the great prophet Elijah. His words were bold and uncompromising: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2). He challenged his listeners to make the needed changes in the lives. With humility, he unselfishly pointed others to Jesus. Hearts needed to be prepared to receive the Coming One, the Son of God Himself.

There is a sense in which every Christian shares in the ministry of John. Part of our calling is to help prepare hearts to receive Jesus. Make no mistake -- God is the only One who can change hearts. But we have the privilege of participating in the preparatory work! Notice how Paul reminds us of our place when it comes to saving souls: “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:5-6).

Planting and watering is preparatory work. We do it when we speak an encouraging word to others. We do it when we share the burdens of those who are hurting. We do it when we stand up for those who are oppressed or defenseless. Anything we can do to soften hearts helps to pave the way for God’s miraculous work. As we interact with our world this week, let’s look for opportunities to point the way to Jesus!

God loves you!


“But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation. Thus you shall say to them, ‘The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’ It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom; and by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens. When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and He causes the clouds to ascend from the end of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain, and brings out the wind from His storehouses” (Jeremiah 10:10-13).

In chapter 10 of Jeremiah, the prophet is trying to convince his people of the utter foolishness of their idolatrous practices. He does so by contrasting their idols with the real God of heaven. In every way, God proves to be infinitely superior. God is everything that an idol is not. In the verses above, Jeremiah notes four specific areas of contrast. First, God is “true.” There is nothing untrustworthy or unreliable about Him. In comparison, idols are false and represent a system of lies and deception. Second, God is “living.” He is the very source of life. In comparison, idols are dead. They are inanimate objects that are symbols of a lifeless deity. Third, God is “everlasting.” He is ageless and eternal. In comparison, idols are temporary. They are crafted of material things and, consequently, they experience the decay that is common to all material things. Fourth, God is powerful. According to his great might and wisdom, He spoke the universe into existence and continues to direct its operation. In comparison, idols are powerless. They are humanly-devised, humanly-crafted, and depend on human power to do anything.

Why worship a created thing when you can worship the Creator Himself? It is an undeniable fact: “There is none like you, O Lord” (Jeremiah 10:6).

God loves you!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


“Who is the wise man that may understand this? And who is he to whom the mouth of the LORD has spoken, that he may declare it? Why is the land ruined, laid waste like a desert, so that no one passes through? The LORD said, "Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice nor walked according to it, but have walked after the stubbornness of their heart and after the Baals, as their fathers taught them" (Jeremiah 9:12-14).

It really is pretty simple, isn’t it? Perhaps we make it more difficult than it is because we don’t want to face the truth. But the choices are crystal clear. We can choose to forsake the instructions of God or we can accept them. We can choose to listen to God or we can ignore Him. We can choose to follow God’s way or we can chart our own course. But choose carefully because judgment comes to those who forsake, ignore, and refuse to follow God! Why can’t people see it? Why don’t they make better choices? Because they are stubborn!

How do I know this? Not only because God said it but because I battle stubbornness in my own life. I know the precepts of God but I find it so tempting to make my own rules. I know what God says, but, too often, I find it easier to listen to myself. After all, I always agree with me! I know that following God is the best way to live, but I struggle with wanting my own way. My stubbornness keeps getting in the way.

I am called by God to present myself as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:2). But the difficulty with being a living sacrifice is that there is always the possibility of crawling off of the altar. My own stubbornness prompts me to do that too often. Lord, please help me to die daily as I seek to follow You (Luke 9:23-24).

God loves you!

Monday, October 18, 2010


Brooks Conrad, a professional baseball player for the Atlanta Braves, became an instant celebrity last Sunday. No, it wasn’t because he hit a game-winning home run. It wasn’t due to a diving catch that prevented a key base hit. He didn’t pitch a perfect game. Conrad can only wish that his notoriety was based on any of those heroics. No, he had the dubious honor of committing three errors in one playoff game. His third and final error of the game, when a ball skipped by his glove and escaped between his legs, allowed the opposing team to take a one-run lead in the ninth inning and, ultimately, win the game.

Negative reaction to Conrad’s miscues, especially the last one, was swift and strong. Many of the hometown Braves fans booed him mercilessly. Following the game, a hoard of reporters cornered him at his locker and peppered him with questions regarding the costly mistake. To his credit, Conrad didn’t make excuses. He was quoted as saying: “It’s completely embarrassing. I feel like I let everybody down. It’s a whole lot to swallow, but I’ll do my best to get over it. I probably won’t for a long time, if ever. I wish I could dig a hole and sleep in there.” Regardless of all the good things he has accomplished as a baseball player, if the Giants go on to win the series, he will likely be remembered for his errors in this one game.

I can sympathize with Brooks Conrad. Not because I am a professional baseball player, but because I am a player in the game of life. I live in a world that tends to remember my errors instead of my successes. Too often, my errors end up being costly and disappointing to others. Thankfully, I serve a God who specializes in forgetting my errors (Hebrews 8:12). As a child of God, while I may deserve getting booed, I am not defined by my mistakes.

I hope Brooks Conrad gets another chance. I know God continues to give me one.

God loves you!

Monday, October 11, 2010


“Thus says the LORD, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls.’ But they said, 'We will not walk in it.' And I set watchmen over you, saying, 'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But they said, 'We will not listen.' Therefore hear, O nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. Hear, O earth: behold, I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their plans, because they have not listened to My words, and as for My law, they have rejected it also” (Jeremiah 6:16-19).

Judah had not navigated wisely on her spiritual journey. She had come to a crossroads and chosen the wrong path -- one that led her away from God. Her chosen path was characterized by sin, stubbornness, and rebellion. Mercifully, God had been pleading with Judah to correct her course -- to make a u-turn and find “the ancient paths.”

What are these “ancient paths?” These are roads that lead toward God, not away from Him. The ancient paths are characterized by repentance and submission, not rebellion. The ancient paths encourage reverence for and knowledge of God, not arrogance and abuse. Godly people since the beginning of time have charted their course along these paths and have enjoyed the blessings of God. But Judah would have none of it! Like an insolent child, she stamped her foot and declared, “I won’t do it! I won’t listen!”

Periodically, I have to re-calibrate my spiritual G.P.S. (Godly Path Sensor). Like Judah, I regularly face the temptation of choosing a road that takes me away from God instead of toward Him. I must choose carefully because the wrong path can appear so appealing. I must remember that the “new” road isn’t always better than the “old” road. God has clearly marked out the safe path to a relationship with Him. The question is: Will I follow His directions or stubbornly insist on my own?

God loves you!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Just Walk Away

The Texas Rangers secured their place in the Major League Baseball post-season for the first time since 1999 on September 26 with a win over the Oakland Athletics. Not long after the win, the victors gathered in their locker room for the obligatory team celebration. If you have seen these events on television, you know what goes on. Players are yelling and laughing, slapping each other on the back. The aches and pains of a long season are temporarily forgotten. And, without fail, large quantities of alcoholic beverages are sprayed or poured on everyone in the room. Some is consumed as well.

Josh Hamilton, one of the best Ranger players (as well as one of the best hitters in all of baseball), was noticeably absent from the locker room revelry. Hamilton celebrated with his team on the field after the last out but changed out of his uniform in an area away from the party in the locker room. Why? Does he think he is better than everyone else? Not at all. You see, Josh Hamilton is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. A few years ago, his addictions nearly ended his promising career just as it was beginning. It has been an incredible battle for him to try to clean up his life. He has had some embarrassing setbacks. The temptation of alcohol and drugs will always haunt him. So he made the difficult choice to steer clear of the locker room scene even though he wanted to celebrate with his teammates. The risk was just too great.

This example illustrates a basic principle regarding whatever addiction we may be facing. Instead of drugs or alcohol, our struggle might be with addictions to money, power, pornography, etc. Whatever it is that threatens to destroy us, let’s avoid it! Let’s keep our distance from sin’s entangling web (Hebrews 12:1). Often it is best just to flee from situations that may lead to a relapse in our battle against sin (1 Corinthians 6:18; 10:14; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22).

God loves you!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Spiritual Deafness

Jeremiah was a reluctant draftee into prophetic ministry. He didn’t think he was qualified to confront His people about their sin (1:6). But God convinced him otherwise. In some ways, he was just the man for the job. He knew them as well as anyone because he lived among them. He was devastated over the impending judgment that was coming upon Judah (4:19-21). He was aware of just how stubborn they were and even made excuses for them (5:3-4). He was appalled at how far they had strayed from God (5:30-31). Is it any wonder that the frustration level of the prophet finally bubbles over? “To whom shall I speak and give warning that they may hear? Behold, their ears are closed and they cannot listen. Behold, the word of the Lord has become a reproach to them; they have no delight in it” (6:10).

The problem with refusing to listen to God is that, sooner or later, the time will come when you cannot listen to Him. Many in Judah had reached that point. They had stubbornly ignored the word of God for so long that they had become spiritually deaf. And the inability to hear God had dangerous consequences. They eventually came to view the word of God with contempt. What had been a delight became a reproach to them.

Avoiding spiritual deafness requires focus and determination. A preventative treatment regimen is found in Psalm 1:1-3: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” Lord, I pray that Your words will always be a delight to my ears!

God loves you!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bragging Rights

Two farmers, one from Nebraska and the other from Texas, happened to be sitting next to one another on a recent airline flight. After introducing themselves, the talk quickly turned to their shared profession. Not long into the conversation, the Nebraska farmer began to notice a disturbing trend. No matter what he mentioned about his farming operation, the Texas farmer always claimed to have something bigger or better. It didn’t matter what they were talking about -- crop yields, herd sizes, profits, or football -- the Texas farmer always found a way to brag. Frustrated by the direction of the exchange, the Nebraska farmer finally picked up a magazine from seat pocket in front of him and pretended to read it. Undeterred, the Texas farmer asked, “How big is your farm?” Dreading the inevitable comparison, the Nebraska farmer muttered, half under his breath, “I farm 800 acres all together.” “Why, that’s nothin’,” the Texas farmer countered. “My spread in Texas is so big that I get in my pickup in the morning and I don’t make it to all of my fields until the sun is going down!” A grin slowly spread across the Nebraska farmer’s face. Finally, he had him! Turning to the Texan, with an expression of mock sympathy, he said, “I’m so sorry to hear that. I used to have a pickup truck like that myself...”

If you hang around children long enough, sooner or later you will hear them comparing their fathers. “My dad is richer than your dad!” The claim may or may not be true. And as far as playground bragging rights go, it is probably not a big deal. As children of God, we can truly claim to have universe’s richest dad. He owns the earth and everything in it (Psalm 24:1; 50:10-12). In view of that fact, I must ask myself some questions. Does my life reflect the wealth of my Father? Do I doubt His ability to provide? Do I really believe He has the resources to meet my needs? I wonder...

God loves you!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Danger In Doing Nothing

The U.S.S. Olympia is a 5,500-ton cruiser-class battleship that was built for and used by the United States Navy. She was launched on her maiden voyage in 1892 from San Francisco, California. She was chosen to serve as the flagship of the Asiatic Squadron during the Spanish-American war. She played a pivotal role in the Battle of Manila Bay in 1899 which resulted in the sinking or capture of the entire Spanish Pacific fleet. She saw duty during World War I and took part in the 1918 Allied landing at Murmansk during the Russian Civil War. Her final mission was bringing home the body of World War I's Unknown Soldier from France in 1921. This sturdy vessel was decommissioned for the final time in 1922. For nearly thirty years, the Olympia took all that the enemy could fire at her and proved to be unsinkable.

Oddly enough, it is inactivity and inattention that are proving to be the Olympia’s downfall. Since 1945, she has been sitting idle in the water near a dock in the Delaware River near Philadelphia. Her steel hull has been badly corroded. Some patching has been done, but the cost of the necessary repairs and restoration needed to keep her afloat are prohibitive. But if something is not done soon, she will sink where she sits. Ironically, what two wars and enemy attacks failed to do, rust now seems poised to accomplish (Sources: en.wikipedia.org and news.yahoo.com).

While I have no statistics to prove it, I’m beginning to believe that inactivity causes more Christian casualties than the wounds of spiritual warfare. Sitting on the sidelines can actually be more dangerous to faith than engaging the enemy. When children of God begin to pull back from active involvement in the body of Christ, spiritual rust starts to eat holes in the hull of their faith. To be useful, faith needs to be exercised, not mothballed. Could that be why we are encouraged to be “...always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58)?

God loves you!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Drive Carefully!!!

Not long ago, a news service compiled a list of the most dangerous roads in the United States. The results were listed by county and individual rankings were based on a percentage of the overall total of 562,712 fatal automobile accidents that occurred between 1994 and 2008. Those of us who drive regularly on the roadways of California probably won’t be surprised to learn that roads within our own home state filled up 50 percent of the list.

According to the study, the most dangerous stretch of road in the country is I-15 in San Bernardino County in Southern California. During the study period, this one section of highway recorded a total of 834 automobile accidents, resulting in 1069 fatalities. Using only the criteria of total deaths recorded, this one stretch of road is twice as dangerous as the second place road (I-10 in Riverside County, 515 fatalities). On average, 6 people have died every month in traffic accidents on I-15 in San Bernardino County in each of the last 15 years.

Let me tell you about a much safer road. The Bible calls it the “Highway of Holiness” and it is referenced in Isaiah 35:8-9: “And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there. Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts. There will be no other dangers. Only the redeemed will walk on it.”

Charting a course through this wicked world can be a daunting task. We must be careful to choose the right roads. Glittering road signs tempt us to take the on-ramp to Broadway, which will take you at freeway speeds to Destruction (Matthew 7:13). Once you are on Broadway, it can be very difficult to find an exit. Take an alternative route. The Highway of Holiness is much safer and leads to a better destination.

God loves you!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Strength Of Weakness

“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

I suspect that Saul of Tarsus was a driven individual, what we today might call a “Type A” personality. When he made up his mind to do something, he aggressively pursued that goal with all of his strength and ability. The trail of destruction left behind him as he endeavored to stamp out Christianity as a young man testifies to this part of his character. It was a part of Saul’s personality that likely endeared him to his associates and made him a rising star in Judaism.

But it was a character trait that God had to root out of His chosen messenger. The apostle Paul would never reach his full potential for God as long as he depended on his own power, knowledge, and ability. He viewed his “thorn in the flesh” as a hindrance to his task, but God viewed it as an helper. To Paul, it was an antagonist; to God it was his ally. And as difficult as it must have been for him, Paul ultimately learned that true strength is found in weakness.

In a world that applauds the strong, the flashy, the influential, and the attractive, it is easy for us to loose our focus. We begin to trust in our own power and ability. We start to compare ourselves to others. We glory in our accomplishments instead of glorifying God. We boast in our strengths instead of our weaknesses. We brag about our victories instead of our defeats.

Father, like my brother Paul, please weaken me so that I can be strong for You.

God loves you!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Making The Right Decision

Kevin Slowey, a pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, was pulled from a recent game against the Oakland Athletics after throwing a no-hitter through the first seven innings. The home-crowd of over 40,000 fans voiced their disapproval, raining down a chorus of boos as the pitching change was made. The question that begs asking is: Why in the world would a manager replace someone who was obviously pitching so well? Does he not like the guy? Does he have something against no-hitters? This makes no sense! Or does it?

There were other factors at work that prompted Ron Gardenhire, the Twins manager, to make the difficult and unpopular choice. Slowey had recently had arm problems that caused him to miss his last start. In such situations, the pitch count is limited when the pitcher returns to action to prevent further and more serious damage to the throwing arm. If care is not taken, a career-ending injury can take place. Slowey had reached his pitch limit in the game. Gardenhire was quoted saying: "We're not going to come close to risking this guy. It's the way it is. It's sad. I'd be booing too because I want to see a no-hitter, but I also know I'm responsible for this guy's arm."

Making the right decision is often difficult. Reading this story made me think of another difficult choice (Philippians 1:21-26). The apostle Paul wanted to leave the struggles of this world and be with God. But his continued presence would be better for others. What a difficult choice! What did Paul choose? When faced with the decision between doing what was best for himself and what was best for others, Paul chose to benefit others.

Ron Gardenhire made the right decision even though others didn’t like it. Paul made the right decision even when he wasn’t sure if he liked it. God, please give me the wisdom and strength to make the right decIsions, even when they are difficult and unpopular.

God loves you!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Rock-Solid Faith

“Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance -- all who seek the Lord! Consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were mined. Yes, think about Abraham, your ancestor, and Sarah, who gave birth to your nation. Abraham was only one man when I called him. But when I blessed him, he became a great nation” (Isaiah 51:1-2).

Not everyone among the nation of Israel who heard the prophecies of Isaiah was stubborn and rebellious. While most did refuse to hear, there was still a faithful remnant who listened to God and desired to do His will. But even this small group was becoming disheartened as they considered Isaiah’s messages of judgment and destruction. Perhaps they had reached the point where they thought all hope was lost. Maybe they had begun to believe that even the faithful were doomed. Could it be that things were so bad that even God would be helpless to straighten the mess out?

God’s answer to those whose faith was weakening was to point them to the past. He is a specialist when it comes to taking seemingly hopeless situations and doing something incredible. The writer of Hebrews describes God powerful work in Abraham and Sarah’s lives this way: “It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead -- a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them” (Hebrews 11:11-12).

When we are faced with a situation that seems hopeless, I believe God would remind us of the same thing. “Consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were mined.” May we all experience the blessing of being “...living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple (1 Peter 2:5).

God loves you!


“But I am trusting in you, O Lord, saying, ‘You are my God!’ My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly” (Psalm 31:14-15).

The writer of this Psalm 31 was experiencing a very difficult time in life. While the specific problem isn’t stated, the text gives us some insight into what was going on. There was the potential of being disgraced (v. 1). Enemies were seeking the writer’s ruin (v. 4). Stress was taking an emotional and physical toll (vv. 9-10). A sense of estrangement and isolation was taking root (vv. 11-13).

Life was a mess for the psalmist. And things appeared to be going from bad to worse. Have you ever been there? Sure you have! You’ve experienced the savage winds of the storms of life, haven’t you? You have felt the sting of betrayal. One after another, the hits keep coming. A unexpected death in the family, a scary diagnosis, too much month at the end of the money. What do you do when life seems to be caving in? Where do you turn?

The psalmist turned his problems over to the God of the future. When life is going badly, the tendency is to believe that things will never get better. The struggles of the present blind us to the possibilities of the future. The root issue here is control. Am I willing to surrender my past, my present, and especially my future to the One who can truly control such things?

Ira Stamphill had it right in 1950 when he wrote the first verse of his well-known hymn: “I don’t know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day; I don’t borrow from its sunshine, for its skies may turn to grey. I don’t worry o’er the future, for I know what Jesus said; and today I’ll walk beside Him, for He knows what is ahead. Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand; but I know who hold tomorrow, and I know who hold my hand.”

God loves you!

Yellowstone Bible Camp

One of our favorite place to go is YBC in Montana. In fact we like it so much we've been there 15 times! It is a wonderful spiritual retreat away from technology and the world. We highly recommend it! This year was quite different in that only those who live in our house ;) were able to go. It was strange traveling with only one vehicle, needing only one hotel room and sleeping in a small cabin. We truly missed all our family that could not go with us this year and they missed going. But next year, Lord willing, we will all be there! On the way to camp we cut thru Yellowstone park and actually saw a grizzly bear right off the edge of the road! However I could not get my phone out fast enough to take a picture. We visited Chico Hot Springs for the second year in a row- a new family favorite, and on the way home went back thru Yellowstone. This time I had my camera ready and although we didn't see a bear we did see a bison walking right down the middle of the road! We stopped at Mammoth Hot Springs, to pacify me, and did the short walk. The pic of the twins on the bench is very near the start of the trail and the first bench they saw....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I Dare Not Boast

“For by God’s grace, I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit. So I have reason to be enthusiastic about all Christ Jesus has done through me in my service to God. Yet I dare not boast of anything except what Christ has done through me, bringing the Gentiles to God by my message and by the way I worked among them” (Romans 15:15b-18; NLT).

Boasting is a common human malady and religion is not immune to the disease. Preachers can be especially susceptible to the virus. Resumes are filled with impressive lists of “look what I have done” (degrees held, meetings conducted, number of conversions or responses, lectureships attended, books written, etc.). Sadly, churches have encouraged such a mindset. After all, when we set out to hire a minister, we want someone who can “produce the goods.” So there is a subtle (and, sometimes, not so subtle) pressure to “look better” than the next guy. The same spirit is also seen in the competition between congregations. Groups seek to attract attendees by touting their size, their programs, their soundness, or their worship experience. Too often, the message seems to be: “Look at us! Look at what we have to offer!”

In the face of such boasting, it is refreshing to consider the attitude of the apostle Paul. He could certainly compare resumes with the best in his profession. Yet, when he considered his service for God, all he could humbly utter was: “...I dare not boast of anything except what Christ has done through me...” For Paul, it was not about what he had done or what he could offer. The focus was to be on Christ, not on Paul.

“Usually the greatest boasters are the smallest workers. The deep rivers pay a larger tribute to the sea than shallow brooks, and yet empty themselves with less noise” (W. Secker).

God loves you!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


On July 6, 2010, the Colorado Rockies engineered one of the greatest comebacks in major league baseball history. The visiting St. Louis Cardinals took a 9 - 3 lead into the last half of the ninth inning. The Rockies were down to their final 3 outs. Rarely does a team ever overcome such a large deficit in their last at-bat. But Colorado defied the odds on that day. After struggling to put just 3 runs on the board through the first 8 innings, they exploded for 9 runs in the last half of the 9th for the win. Not many teams have ever accomplished such a feat. In fact, according to those who keep track of such statistics, it was only the third time in major league history that a team scored nine or more runs in the last inning of a walk-off win. The other two both occurred way back in 1901. What an amazing comeback!

May I share with you the story of an even greater comeback -- the greatest comeback of all? The battered body of Jesus was lying in its borrowed tomb. Some friends had given the body of their Master what little attention they could before the Sabbath and then gently placed it in darkened recesses of Joseph’s burial chamber. They would return after the Sabbath to complete the burial preparations. The disciples of Jesus were scattered, fearful for their own lives. Most among the Jewish leadership were likely glad to finally be rid of the blasphemous impostor from Nazareth. And Satan himself must have been been sporting a devilish grin, thinking he had finally triumphed over God Himself. Game over, right???

Wrong! God wasn’t done yet. He had one more at bat and, by the time the dust settled on that eventful weekend, the score would be reversed. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the power of God, defeating sin and death in the process. No extra innings needed in this contest! The saved of all ages can lift the banner of Christ high and truly proclaim: Game over!

God loves you!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"The Lord Kept His Word..."

Abraham was 75 years old when God called him to leave nearly everything familiar and go to a land he knew nothing about. God’s promise to transform Abraham’s tiny family into a great nation and to use him to bless all the families on earth must have seemed incredible to him at the time, but he launched out in faith anyway.

At a later point, when God speaks again concerning His promise, Abraham reminds God that he still doesn’t have a son. To his way of thinking, it is pretty hard to be a father of a great nation when you are not even the father of one child. He even tried to “help” God out by having a child with a servant in his household.

Nearly 25 years go by before God finally tells Abraham that Sarah will become pregnant with the the long-awaited child of promise. When he hears the news, Abraham stifles a laugh and thinks to himself: “How could I become a father at the age of 100... And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?” (Genesis 17:17). Abraham thinks that the window of opportunity had passed them by. When he suggests to God that Ishmael, the child born to him by the servant Hagar, become the child of promise, he is refused. God clearly tells Abraham: “But My covenant will be confirmed with Isaac, who will be born to you and Sarah about his time next year” (Genesis 17:21).

Well, what happened? “The Lord kept His word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would” (Genesis 21:1-2).

Why do we doubt the promises of God? Like Abraham, it is often because we dwell on our own circumstances or set our own time table. Lord, please help me to strengthen my own faith so I can fully trust in Your promises.

God loves you!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Is Your Religion Burdensome?

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light’” (Matthew 11:28-30; NLT).

Contrast Jesus’ perspective on serving God with that of the religious leaders of His day. According to Jesus, the scribes and the Pharisees “...crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden” (Matthew 23:4; NLT). Their burdensome rules regarding tithing fostered neglect of more important matters (Matthew 23:23-24). They were so busy creating numerous regulations concerning external hygiene that they ignored internal purity (Matthew 23:25-27). Because of their influence, the joyful task of serving God had become unbearable. What Jesus offered as an easy yoke and a light burden had become unrecognizable.

It is so very easy to make serving God a burdensome endeavor. It can happen when we have the best of intentions and it can take many different forms. Human plans and programs begin to rise to the level of Divine mandate. Guilt becomes the prime source of motivation. Faithfulness is judged according to human criteria instead of God’s standards. Success starts being measured in increments that impress us (like numbers, programs, and flashy worship) instead of what impresses God (like spiritual growth, humble service, and love).

When serving God starts becoming burdensome, it is time to re-evaluate our religion. Perhaps we are going about it all wrong. A religion that promotes and produces weariness is not the religion of Jesus Christ. Will a faithful disciple want to do things for the Master? Sure, but it is activity that should produce calmness and peace. It is service that should be refreshing rather than draining. Remember, we don’t have to impress our Savior. He offers rest, not more weariness.

God loves you!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Delayed Gratification

This past Christmas we got the twins a puppet stage. I thought it was the perfect gift and one they would absolutely LOVE. So we set it in the dining room while they weren't looking and with all the family watching said "Taylor and Tessa, you have one more gift!" Tee Hee I was *so* excited! They came into the dining room and said "Oh!" translated "what is it?" "It's a puppet stage!" I said in my excited mommy voice. "OH!" and off they went to play other things..... oh well you win some you lose some... but part of the gift was a book on making sock puppets and finally they have "caught the vision". They spent the better part of three days making puppets and here are pictures of the first puppet show! Ahhhhh, it was a good gift!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1).

At first glance, this seems like a no-brainer. Why would any thinking person willingly trade an eternal reward for the temporary thrill of peer approval? But that is the root of the problem, isn’t it? Far too often we don’t stop to think about the consequences of the choices we make.

The Bible testifies to the human propensity for foolish tradeoffs. The list of examples is long and embarassing. Adam and Eve traded a garden paradise for a bite of forbidden fruit (Genesis 3). Cain traded a living brother for a momentary fit of anger and jealousy (Genesis 4). Esau traded his birthright for a bowl of food (Genesis 25). Saul traded his kingdom for the opportunity to do things his own way (1 Samuel 15). David traded family harmony for a moment of sin with another man’s wife (2 Samuel 12). Solomon traded his full devotion to God for seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines (1 Kings 11). Rehoboam traded a united kingdom for a petulant power trip (1 Kings 12). Judas traded his Savior for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26).

It is tempting to look at this list and say, “Shame on them! How could they make such foolish choices?” But before I look too far down my nose at the tradeoffs they were willing to make, I should focus my critical gaze on my own less-than-sterling track record. If I am honest, I must admit that I have ignored eternal realities for temporary pleasures. I have damaged relationships because I have insisted on gratifying myself. I’ve sold out my Lord for less than silver. Upon further reflection, the words that should come to my lips are “Shame on me!”

God, please help me to learn, as Moses did, that the key to refusing “the passing pleasures of sin” is to keep “looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:25-26).

God loves you!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Who Is In Charge?

“So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy” (Romans 9:16).

Many of Paul’s fellow Hebrews struggled to accept the fact that God would welcome Gentiles into His kingdom on the same basis as Jews. The gospel of salvation which Paul preached challenged their prejudicial sensibilities. Early and often in the book of Romans, Paul assaulted the fortress of Jewish exclusiveness (cf. 1:16; 3:9,22,29). By the time we reach chapter 9, some could stand no more! How could “their” God do such a thing? Apparently, some even began to charge God with failure (9:6) and injustice (9:14).

According to Paul, the answer to such foolishness is found in the sovereignty of God. The accomplishment of God’s purposes doesn’t depend on the will or actions of man. The Author of the plan for the inclusion of the Gentiles didn’t ask the Jews for their opinion on the matter. It really didn’t matter what they thought, did, or felt about it. That some were upset with what God was doing didn’t cause Him to alter His plans or purposes. The clay is in no position to question the Potter (9:20).

Even today, some of God’s people still struggle with His sovereignty. While we would say that God is in charge, too many of us still act and speak as if it depended on us! I need to remember that God will accomplish His purposes with or without me. Does God desire my participation? Surely. Can God use me to implement His will if He chooses? Of course. But I am not so valuable that the work of God would grind to a halt if my plans, programs, or changes are ignored. While I am important to God, I am not indispensable. The success of God’s mission doesn’t hinge on my own success or failure.

Thankfully, God didn’t put me in charge of His world or His church. There is only one God and it is not me!

God loves you!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sowing and Reaping

The northern kingdom of Israel had rejected God as their Savior and Protector. In spite of all that God had done for them, they chose to trust in earthly alliances instead of heavenly ones. For some reason, ties to Syria were more valued than ties to God. So Isaiah the prophet was given the unenviable task of bringing a message of judgment against his own countrymen. The devastation would be comparable to what happened to the pagan nations when Israel first entered the land of promise. Only now, the judgment of God would be poured out on His own people. How could such a thing happen? Listen in as Isaiah reveals the answer:

“Why? Because you have turned from the God who can save you. You have forgotten the Rock who can hide you. So you may plant the finest grapevines and import the most expensive seedlings. They may sprout on the day you set them out; yes, they may blossom on the very morning you plant them, but you will never pick any grapes from them. Your only harvest will be a load of grief and unrelieved pain” (Isaiah 17:10-11).

Israel was experiencing the bitter fruit of what is called the “Law of the Harvest.” Simply stated, it affirms that you will reap what you sow. Paul referred to it in Galatians 6:7-8: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Israel had sown the seeds of the flesh and the time had come to pay the price for it.

No one is exempt from the “Law of the Harvest.” I must carefully consider the seeds that I plant in life. Will the crop that matures from the choices I am making bring me joy or sorrow? Lord, as I plant, help me to also to think about the harvest.

God loves you!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Don't Be Afraid

“As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the Lord, and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’” (Exodus 14:10-12).

Can you imagine the terror that the Israelites experienced as they realized that Pharaoh and his army were bearing down upon them and there was no way of escape? They knew first-hand how cruel Pharaoh could be and now he was really angry! Such fear in a seemingly hopeless situation clouded their thinking. They began to rationalize that it would have been better to remain as a slave than to trust God.

You could find yourself in a similar situation in life. You are hemmed in by a threat with no discernible way out. It might be a devastating disease or illness. It could be a severe financial setback. Regardless of the circumstances, you find yourself with your back against the wall and out of options. You stepped out in faith and, now, disaster has overtaken you. The temptation will be to believe that you were better off without God.

Notice how Moses responds to the fearful and desperate Israelites. “But Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.’” (Exodus 14:13-14).

Sooner or later, the time will come for all of us when we must choose between surrendering to fear or surrendering to God. May God prepare us for such a time. When my back is against the wall, I pray that I have the courage to stay calm, stand still, and watch God rescue me.

God loves you!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spiritual DNA

“I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you” (2 Timothy 1:5; NLT).

Mothers are hard-wired by God to develop a close, personal bond with their children. Childbirth is a transformational experience. Motherhood can turn a timid young woman into a fierce warrior whenever anyone or anything threatens to harm her child. While Dad is handy to have around, Mom is truly indispensable. She bandages hearts as well as knees. She builds character as well as sandcastles. She dries tears as well as clothes. She feeds souls as well as stomachs. She, perhaps more than any other, understands the meaning of sacrifice. She continually gives of her time, her energy, and her resources -- even if her own reserves are depleted -- because she wants the best for her children. Do you know a mom like that?

Lois and Eunice must have been those kind of mothers. Timothy was blessed to grow up in their loving care. Out of all they had shared with him over the years, one special gift stands out. They planted seeds of faith in his young heart and then nurtured that faith as it grew. While Timothy shared physical DNA with these women, it was the spiritual DNA that ran through this family that impressed Paul. It is possible that Timothy physically looked like his mother and grandmother. But it was the spiritual resemblance that caught the apostle’s eye.

Moms (and grandmoms), let me encourage you to remember that the greatest gift you can share with your own children is your faith. Other gifts can be good and important, but this is pre-eminent. May others look at your children’s faith and say, “You know, you look just like your mother (or grandmother)!” There is no better time to start than now. Begin today to leave a legacy of faith in the generations that follow after you.

God loves you!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Draft Day

The annual extravaganza called “The NFL Draft” is history for another year. Each year all 32 teams in the National Football League line up for the opportunity to select athletes from the current crop of eligible college football players. The selection process cycles through seven rounds before it is complete. Of course, excitement is highest during the first round, when the most gifted athletes are chosen. Teams spend months prior to the draft preparing for that first-round choice. No team wants to make a mistake with so much on the line. The fortunate few who do end up as first-round picks become instant millionaires.

The excitement begins to wane as you move into the later rounds. The marquee names are usually all gone by now. By the time you reach the seventh round, no one but the team executives and die-hard fans are paying much attention. Eventually, you come to “Mr. Irrelevant.” Who is that, you ask? “Mr. Irrelevant” is the last player taken in the draft. The title comes from the fact that a player taken this low in the draft is not expected to make much of a difference for his prospective team. He may not even make the roster. For the record, the 2010 “Mr. Irrelevant” is Tim Toone, a receiver from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah.

The Bible uses “draft language” to describe God’s interest in us. “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). The difference between the NFL draft and the choosing of God is that it is the “draft order” itself that is irrelevant! The last one drafted is just as important to God as the first one drafted. “...He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world...” (Ephesians 1:4). God has no “Mr. (or Mrs.) Irrelevant” on His team! Thank you, God, for choosing me!

God loves you!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Can God Handle It?

“Why do the nations rage? Why do the people waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the LORD and against his anointed one. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they cry, ‘and free ourselves from this slavery.’ But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them. Then in anger he rebukes them, terrifying them with his fierce fury” (Psalms 2:1-5).

I need to read these verses periodically. In a world that seems to be spinning out of control, I tend to forget that God still runs the universe. It seems that there is always some nation plotting the destruction of some other nation. Another terrorist attack is a very real possibility. Every day brings further drift from the godly underpinnings that are vital to the success and well-being of any civilized society. God is openly mocked and His followers are caricatured as ignorant peddlers of medieval superstitions.

When faced with such a world, I often feel the need to defend God. So I begin rage against the “rage-ers.” I make battle plans against the “battle-ers.” I form plots against the “plot-ers.” After all, if I don’t do something, this country will fall completely in the gutter.

But then I read verses like Psalm 2:1-5 and I am forced to re-think my way of dealing with the world I live in. I must answer some important questions. Does God need me to defend him? No. He laughs at those who think they can overthrow Him. Can He run the universe without my help? Yes. He did it before I was around and He will do it after I am gone. Has God called me to change the government? Not unless it involves helping to change the hearts of those involved in government.

Instead of developing ulcers, perhaps I should turn the world over to God and concentrate on being who God has called me to be in spite of the world around me.

God loves you!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Could God Be Here?

Jacob was on his way to Paddan-aram to see his relatives and, hopefully, find a wife. Recent events at home had been disruptive to say the least. His mother had convinced him to deceive his father and steal his twin brother’s blessing. Now, Esau was threatening to kill him because of it. The more distance he put between himself and his murderous brother, the better.

The sun was setting as Jacob stopped to make camp for the night. Not long after leaning his head against a stone pillow and closing his eyes, he drifted off to sleep. But this night would not prove to be very restful. Strange dreams filled his mind. He saw an enormous ladder stretching from earth all the way up to heaven. Angels of God were going up and down the ladder, with God Himself standing at the top. As the dream unfolds, the Lord extends the same covenantal promises to Jacob that He had offered to Abraham and Isaac.

Jacob awoke with a start. While he may not have understood the full significance of what had just happened, there was no doubt in his mind as to Who had just communicated with him. He blurts out: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” (Genesis 28:16). It appears that Jacob certainly never expected to encounter the God of heaven at a lonely campsite in the wilderness.

God has a knack of showing up in the most unexpected places. He could show up in a fiery furnace. Just ask Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. You might find Him in prison. Just talk with Joseph, Paul, or Silas. He could be in the midst of terrible pain and struggle. Ask Job. He was with Jeremiah in a cistern. He was with Elijah in a cave. He was with Stephen in a barrage of stones. He was with Jesus on a cross and in a tomb.

Be on the lookout! Keep your eyes wide open! You never know where you might encounter God.

God loves you!

Family Feuds

“Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart” (Matthew 12:25).

Jesus had just healed a demon-possessed man, allowing him to once again see and speak. The crowd who viewed the miracle was amazed at such power and began to discuss among themselves the possibility that Jesus was their long-awaited Messiah. The Pharisees, of course, were adamantly opposed to such a suggestion. They viewed Jesus as an impostor and a threat to their influence among the people. To stem the tide of increasing support for him, they actually accuse him of being in league with Satan himself. “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons” (Matthew 12:24). Jesus responds with the words that began this article. His point is that it would be self-defeating for Satan to empower someone who is working against him. Even the devil is smarter than that!

The principle Jesus states is universally true. Any group that is characterized by infighting and discord is doomed to failure. It is true of nations. A country that has resorted to shooting at each other will ultimately destroy itself. It is true in athletics. A sports team can have superior athletes, facilities, and funding, but if the same team doesn’t work together, it can be defeated by a “weaker” opponent that is united in purpose. It is true in business. If the board of directors are fighting among themselves or if management and employees view themselves as adversaries, a company will never reach its potential.

What is true for nations, sports teams, and businesses is also true for congregations of God’s people. Any group of Christians that cannot work together for the common good will eventually wither or self-destruct. A divided church is a doomed church. Family feuds may provide a good game show format, but they will never be the basis of effective ministry for God.

God loves you!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Have You Asked God?

“So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the Lord” (Joshua 9:14).

God had been very clear about how Israel was to deal with the pagan influences they would encounter when they entered the Promised Land (Exodus 23:32-33; 34:12-16; Numbers 33:52-56; Deuteronomy 7:1-6, 16-18, 25-26; 20:16-17). With God’s help and guidance, the Israelites experienced a convincing victory at Jericho. After some costly lessons, the same results were achieved at Ai. As one would expect, news about the conquering Israelite forces traveled fast among the Canaanites. Most began to combine their armies in hopes of surviving. One group, the Gibeonites, decided to employ a more devious defense. They sent emissaries to Joshua who were cleverly disguised as travelers from a distant land and asked to make a peace treaty with Israel. God’s people were initially skeptical, but the Gibeonites played their ruse to the hilt. The Israelites examined all the evidence at their disposal and fell for the trick. One critical step was left out of their deliberations – they forgot to include God as a part of the process!

We all make decisions every day. How shall I spend my money? Whom shall I marry? Which job should I take? Where should I live? How should I raise my children? On and on the list goes. And we live in a time when we have a seemingly unlimited amount of information available to help us make our decisions. At the click of a mouse, we can instantly have more than we care to read on any subject at hand. A trip to the library can provide an armload of books written by well-credentialed experts. The airwaves are full of gurus that claim to have all the knowledge that you will ever need to succeed.

In the face of such an informational onslaught, it is easy to overlook the one Source that is more important that any other. Like the Israelites, we can also fail to “consult the Lord.” And any decision made without God’s input is just asking for trouble.

God loves you!

Monday, March 29, 2010

You Do The Math...

Goliath was an imposing warrior. He stood over nine feet tall. His armor alone likely weighed more than most of his opponents. It would have been work for normal men to even carry his weapons – imagine trying to throw a spear whose tip alone weighed 15 pounds! These are just a few of the reasons why Goliath was undefeated in combat. In fact, the rest of the Philistine army was so confident in his fighting abilities that they were willing to pin all of their hopes on him. Do you recall his boastful taunting of the Israelite army? “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!” (1 Samuel 17:8-10, NLT).

Perhaps it was this over-confident view of himself and his abilities that caused Goliath to become so incensed when a young shepherd came to engage him in battle. To his way of thinking, this was the ultimate sign of disrespect. “Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. ‘Am I a dog,’ he roared at David, ‘that you come at me with a stick?’ And he cursed David by the names of his gods” (1 Samuel 17:41-43, NLT). He then boastfully predicts a swift and bloody demise for the presumptuous lad who dared to challenge his supremacy. ‘Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!’ Goliath yelled (1 Samuel 17:44, NLT). But the story doesn’t end as Goliath predicts. By the end of the day, the boastful giant lay dead at the feet of youthful shepherd.

Goliath boasted in his own abilities. David boasted in the abilities of God (1 Samuel 17:45-47). You do the math…

God loves you!

Exercise Can Be Bad For You!

The soldiers of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had fulfilled their commitment to their fellow Israelites. Although they had asked for and were granted a territorial inheritance on the east side of the Jordan river, they had promised Moses that they would go on to help their brothers possess their own inheritances which lay on the western side. After many battles, it was time to go home to their families. As they made their way home, just before they crossed the Jordan, they paused to build an altar. Little did they know just what an uproar this altar would cause (Joshua 22:1-10).

When the rest of the tribes heard about the altar, they gathered together and prepared to go to war with their brothers whom they suddenly viewed as traitors. Thankfully, they halted their battle plans long enough to send a delegation to confront the rebels. To the leaders of the western tribes, this was a clear-cut case of rebellion against God. Was not the God-ordained altar at Shiloh enough for these rebels? The foolish presumption of the eastern tribes was going to bring judgment on the entire nation (Joshua 22:11-20)!

The rapid-fire accusations stopped long enough for the incredulous easterners to explain their actions. Their altar wasn’t built for sacrifice but as a memorial. They would never run competition with God’s altar! Upon hearing the explanation, the delegation of western leaders softened their harsh rhetoric. After learning the facts, they realized that the situation wasn’t what they had initially imagined (Joshua 22:21-34).

Jumping to conclusions. Sadly, it is the only spiritual exercise some believers get. Someone hears something about someone else (usually second- or third-hand) and before you know it, war is declared. Sinful motives are assumed. Characters are assassinated. All before any time is taken to discover all the facts in the matter.

Jumping to conclusions is a dangerous exercise! Let’s stop before we hurt ourselves and those around us.

God loves you!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Equal Opportunity

A significant part of the early chapters in the book of Isaiah is devoted to warnings concerning the coming judgment of God upon human sin. Some of the most pointed words of rebuke are reserved for God’s own covenant people. Due to the rebellion of Judah and Israel, the discipline of God was imminent. But surrounding nations also come under the scrutiny of the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. Assyria, Babylon, Moab, Ethiopia, Egypt, Edom, Arabia, Tyre – each receive their own personal word of warning from the prophet of God. In fact, the jurisdiction of God over the nations of earth is so complete and far-reaching that, by the time you reach chapter 24, the judgment of God is described in global terms: “Look! The Lord is about to destroy the earth and make it a vast wasteland. He devastates the surface of the earth and scatters its people” (Isaiah 24:1; NLT).

Notice, though, what the text goes on to say about God’s judgment: “Priests and laypeople, servants and masters, maids and mistresses, buyers and sellers, lenders and borrowers, bankers and debtors – none will be spared” (Isaiah 24:2; NLT). We learn that everyone who persists in rebelling against God will experience his judgment, regardless of their place in human society. The wealthy won’t have an advantage over the poor. The powerful won’t have an easier time than the weak. All rebels stand on equal ground before the God of heaven. In that sense, God is an equal opportunity Judge.

But, thankfully, the opposite is also true. God is also an equal opportunity Savior (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28). Racial, economic, or gender distinctions are irrelevant when it comes to God’s deliverance. The poor are just as valuable to God as the wealthy. The weak are just as welcome to salvation as the powerful. Remember, God “…does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9; NLT). We can also affirm that all redeemed rebels will also stand on equal ground before the God of heaven. Thank God for that!

God loves you!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Agony of Defeat

With God’s help, the Israelites had just conquered the mighty city of Jericho, the first obstacle in taking possession of their inheritance. The sight of the crumbling fortifications was still fresh in their minds. The rumble of the collapse was perhaps still ringing in their ears. What an incredible boost this must have been to their confidence! Who could stand against them with God on their side?

They were so confident that they didn’t even send all of their fighting men to the next stop on the campaign – the city of Ai. But this day of battle ended far differently. This time, the Israelite army was routed and forced to run for their lives. We are told that they “…were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away” (Joshua 7:5).

Joshua and the other leaders of Israel agonized over the defeat. They appealed to God and He revealed the cause of their troubles – someone had disobeyed by taking some of the spoil from the defeat of Jericho. God said: “Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you” (Joshua 7:13).

I wonder how often hidden sins keep us from realizing victory in our own lives? Some brothers and sisters in Corinth were using their assembly times to promote their own greed and exclusivism. When they ate together, some refused to share their food with others. This greediness spilled over into their attempts to honor the death of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. Paul charges them with “…sinning against the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27). These sins caused the Corinthian brethren to fall under the judgment and discipline of God (1 Corinthians 11:30-31). The Corinthians church was experiencing defeat because they were harboring sin in their midst.

May God help us to remove every sinful attitude or action from our own lives that prevents us from experiencing the victory He desires for each one of us!

God loves you!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Home Security

I read this week of a home in the hills overlooking Los Angeles that some claim could be the safest house in the world. Jack Bauer might even break a sweat infiltrating this place! “The heavily fortified and super secure residence occupies an easily defended promontory with 360-degree views. The well-defended dwelling stands five stories tall, measures almost 8,000 square feet and includes 32 rooms that all sit atop a virtually impenetrable batcave-like garage that will hold six, preferably armored, cars…The home’s real luxury is, of course, the ensured safety of its inhabitants. Should an intruder manage to breach the extensive exterior safety measures that include comprehensive surveillance abilities, there are two hidden panic rooms and two architecturally invisible ‘safe cores.’ The safe cores consist of entire sections of the residence that can be isolated from the rest of the home and where the homeowner can retreat in complete safety – not to mention luxury – from an outside threat that might include an intruder, a natural disaster, or even a nuclear, biological or chemical attack….While it can be tough to put a price on the safety and security of one’s family, in this case the tab is $7.25 million” (finance.yahoo.com, 2-22-10).

May I share with you a better way to secure your home? It really has nothing to do with steel, reinforced concrete, surveillance cameras and ‘safe cores.’ It has everything to do with who you are rather than where you live. Jesus tells us that ‘…everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).

True security is found in submitting to God’s will for your home. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

God loves you!

Monday, February 22, 2010

First Stone

Jack Exum passed away on February 7 at the age of 81. Brother Exum is probably best known for the gospel meetings he held around the country called “Three Unusual Days.” I never met him personally but was privileged a few years ago to watch a video series that included several of his lessons. His wit, wisdom, and illustrative ability made him an engaging and effective communicator.

Brother Exum wrote a column for the local paper in Lake City, Florida, where he lived. In the Sunday edition of February 14, the publisher and editor of the Lake City Reporter, Todd Wilson, reminisced about his relationship with his late friend. Wilson shares the following story that illustrates the heart of this servant of God:

“Jack was quite a salesman, explaining in great detail how important his column was, why it needed a consistent place in the newspaper and how he would never miss a deadline. It was never about him; it was about his message and his readers. He sat in my office talking in his calm, baritone voice, and he smiled, even though he was firm in his position on how he believed his column should be presented to our readers. In one of his large hands, he clutched something that took up most of his palm. At the end of our meeting, he opened his hand and gently placed a large rock on my desk, a present he said he had customized especially for me. It was a brown river rock, odd-shaped with one flat side perfect to sit upright. In a black permanent marker, he had written me a message: ‘Todd…First Stone.’ ‘Every writer should have one of these, so they can think about the impact all words have,’ Jack said. ‘This one’s for you.’ He smiled, thanked me for my time, and excused himself from our meeting. To paraphrase John 8:7: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” (lakecityreporter.com).

Jack Exum understood that words can be powerful tools for good or evil. Therefore, they should be used very carefully.

God loves you!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Does The Walk Match The Talk?

“John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’ Jesus told them, ‘Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.’ ” (Matthew 11:2-6).

I find Jesus’ answer to John’s question here intriguing. When asked to provide evidence for His claim to be the promised Messiah, Jesus doesn’t offer a lengthy discussion of deep theological truths (although He would have been totally capable of doing so). He doesn’t provide a laundry list of all the ancient prophetic predictions concerning the Coming One that found fulfillment in His life and ministry. He doesn’t mention his genealogical links to prominent Hebrew forefathers. He does none of these things. Instead, Jesus simply points to the results of his work: “…the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor…” The greatest evidence He could provide was found in the fulfillment of his mission.

A wise old saying reminds us that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” In other words, good food is best identified by how it tastes, not by how often the chef tells you it is good. In like manner, identification of the Annointed One of God is best established by words coupled with actions, not by words alone

My own profession as a follower of Jesus is hollow and useless without the practice to go along with it (John 13:35; Matthew 7:17-20; 12:33; John 15:8). Lord, I pray that you will help my walk to match my talk.

God loves you!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

We live in a culture that is saturated with the excesses of self-promotion. You don’t have to look far to find people who are more than willing to tell you that they are the best athlete, the best actor, the best politician, or the best ____________ on the planet. Publicity agents are hired for the express purpose of keeping their client’s face and name before the public as much as possible. Self-promoters have honed their craft because they have learned that the pinnacle of success in any profession is a precarious perch. They know that there is always a self-promoting newcomer seeking to replace them.

Do you find it difficult to be all you can be for God without surrendering to the desire for self-promotion? When I am tempted to exalt myself, I need to remember verses like those listed above. Peter calls me to humility instead of self-promotion. “But, Peter, you don’t know what it is like in my job. If I humble myself, I will get run over! I will never get ahead!” Peter tackles that kind of anxiety by reminding me of three key facts about God. First, He has the power to protect me. I must remember that my security is grounded in God’s “mighty hand” (i.e. His strength and abilities), not my own. Second, He knows when the time is right for me. He will exalt me “at the proper time.” And, third, He wants what is best for me. I can trust His decisions because He “cares for” me.

May God help us all to learn to trust in Him instead of ourselves. May we seek to promote Him through our words and actions instead of promoting ourselves. May we join Paul in proclaiming: “…to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21)

God loves you!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Memorial Stones

“Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’ ” So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the LORD your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:1-7).

Let me encourage you to build some memorials to God’s presence in your own life. You can begin now to find various “stones” to use for construction materials. One “stone” may represent a great victory that never would have been possible without God’s help. Another “stone” might be a reminder of when God blessed you with a time of incredible joy and happiness. But remember that not all memorial stones you find will bring a smile to your lips. Some “stones” will be markers of times of pain or grief. Perhaps a particular “stone” will remind you of the death of a loved one and how God carried you through the dark days you faced. Maybe a different “stone” will bring to mind how God provided for you during the loss of your job or some other setback.

Use all of these various “stones” in your life to set up a spiritual monument to God. This marker will stand as a testimony to God’s faithfulness when your own faith is being tested.

God loves you!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Don't Tease The Lion!

“When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the LORD. Abel also brought a gift—the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The LORD accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. ‘Why are you so angry?’ the LORD asked Cain. ‘Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master’” (Genesis 4:3-7).

The temptation to sin is not an enemy that waits passively until we just happen to stumble upon it. In the text above, God pictures sin as an active predator who eagerly stalks its victim. This description fits well with what the Bible reveals in other places about the devil and his tactics. In another vivid word picture, Peter tells his readers: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

No one in their right mind messes around with a hungry lion. And yet, people continue to play around with sin. You don’t have to look far for examples, do you? We are all surrounded by people who are foolishly making this grave mistake in their lives. We shake our heads sadly over neighbors, friends, relatives, or business associates who are taunting a ferocious beast and are about to be attacked.

But if I am honest, I must admit that there is a closer and more familiar example of the problem – me. I convince myself that I can tease the cat and get away with it or that my sins are not as bad as other people’s sins but it is a self-delusion. Lord, please help me to stay as far as possible from the lion that seeks to devour me!

God loves you!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


“What have you done?” (Genesis 3:13). How those words must have reverberated in the stillness of Eden. There is no way to know what tone God used as He uttered these penetrating words to Adam and Eve. Perhaps you imagine God speaking angrily with a booming voice. That is certainly possible. When I read the question, I’m more inclined to believe it was spoken in a quieter way, tinged with sadness and regret.

Standing before God in their fear and shame, the parents of the human race had no clue as to the full significance of what they had just done. After all, this was the first case of human sin. Adam and Eve had no benchmark from which to assess the potential fallout from their actions. In fact, they were already beginning to think of the feeble excuses they would offer to the Father for their sin.

But God knew. Only God could fully comprehend the consequences of that initial act of rebellion. As a result of that one act, an entire world would change. Weeds would grow. Pain would increase. Relationships would be altered. A sin-free world suddenly became infected with a deadly virus. The apostle Paul described it this way: “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned” (Romans 5:12). And only the death of God’s own precious Son would reverse the curse and provide the antidote for the spiritual plague.

Every sin has consequences. But it seems to be so difficult to remember that fact when I am faced with an appealing opportunity to disobey God. Do you suppose Adam and Eve would have still chosen to sin if they could have foreseen the problems that it would cause? Maybe or maybe not. Who knows? But I do know that I make better decisions when I pause to consider the consequences of my choices. Perhaps I can avoid the question “What have you done?” if I learn to first ask myself “What might happen if I do?”

God loves you!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Being Right With God

“For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people” (Romans 2:28-29; NLT).

Paul certainly knew something about taking pride in his “Jewishness.” There had been a time in his life when he could have compared pedigrees with the best of them (Philippians 3:4-6). As Saul of Tarsus, he had been well-schooled in all of the externals which many Jews believed afforded them a special relationship with God. But Paul learned, at great personal cost, that his belief in what it took to make himself right with God was misplaced. He learned that all the externals in the world were useless without a change internally. Perhaps that is why he speaks out so strongly and clearly as a preacher of the Good News against the dangers of trusting in anything other than the finished work of Jesus Christ to make us right with God.

This is a lesson that I have to continually take to heart. Just because I don’t deal with the same specific issue that Paul and his contemporaries faced doesn’t mean I can’t make the same mistake in other ways. I need to remind myself that my relationship with God doesn’t depend on my ability to keep His commandments. It doesn’t hinge on whether I worship correctly. It doesn’t rely on my understanding of Bible. I am made right with God by God’s effort, not my own.

Do I want to obey God? Of course! Do I want to offer worship to God that pleases him? You bet! Do I want to understand the word of God? Certainly! But my success or failure in any of these areas doesn’t determine my standing with God.

God loves you!

Rust-out, Burn-out, or ???

“But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and great multitudes were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray” (Luke 5:15-16).

“But Jesus, don’t you know there is work to do?” “But Jesus, don’t you know there are people who need help?” “But Jesus, if you don’t do it, who will?” “But Jesus…” I don’t know if our Lord ever heard comments like this, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he did. Surely Jesus felt the pressure of having more to do than hours to do it. Surely Jesus experienced the stress of an unrealistic workload. And yet, He made time for rest and fellowship with God.

I’ve heard others say, speaking of their service to God, that they would rather burn-out than rust-out. I think I understand what they are trying to say. And if burning-out and rusting-out were the only two choices, I suppose I would agree. But I believe that there is another alternative for those who are devoted to the service of their King.

It blesses me to read that even Jesus took a break now and then. Even when confronted with pressing needs, he “slipped away” for awhile. Sure, He could have driven Himself to emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion in His service to others, but such a burn-out could have jeopardized His overall mission for God.

Surely no serious disciple desires to rust out for Jesus. But perhaps you have been called by God to burn-out in His cause. If so, then by all means do it with all your might. But it is also possible that others may be called to serve-out their lives instead of burning-out or rusting-out. God still uses the long-term testimony of a lifetime of steady, faithful service for Him. Such lives may not flash with the brilliance of a burn-out, but they do offer a steady beacon that shines for Christ day after day for a lifetime.

God loves you!