Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The God Of Possibilities

"And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:31-37).

The story of the birth of Jesus is stuffed with impossibilities. An elderly, barren woman is found to be with child. A young virgin becomes pregnant. A star leads some wealthy magi on a long journey to the very place where the Promised Child lived with his father and mother. A poor peasant family eludes the murderous plans of a jealous king. At every turn, impossible problems are overcome. Time and again, impossible situations work out. Many of those involved in the drama had to be scratching their heads. How does that happen? Only when the God of possibilities is involved!

Perhaps you are facing an impossibility of your own at the present time. I don’t pretend to know how, when, where, or if God will work in your specific situation. But if you are a child of God, I do know that the God of possibilities is on your side! You may not see a way out, but don’t give up. God specializes in overcoming the impossible. Give Him an opportunity to do that at which He excels! “How can this be?” Because we serve the God of possibilities!

God loves you!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An Inheritance For A Stray

“A 4-year-old stray cat that was rescued from the streets of Rome has inherited a $13 million fortune from its owner, the wealthy widow of an Italian property tycoon. Maria Assunta left the fortune to her beloved kitty Tommaso when she died two weeks ago at the age of 94. The feline's new-found riches include cash, as well as properties in Rome, Milan and land in Calabria. As her health began to fail two years ago, Assunta, who had no children, began to seek out a way to see that Tommaso was properly cared for after she died. In November 2009, she bequeathed her entire estate to the alley cat that she'd rescued. Initially, Assunta had instructed her attorneys to "identify an animal welfare association or group to which to leave the estate and the commitment of looking after Tommaso," according to the Daily Telegraph. Unable to find a satisfactory association to see to it that Tommaso was loved and cared for, Assunta decided to leave all her money to the cat via her nurse, Stefania, who cared for her until her dying day” (Kevin Dolak, ABC News Blog, 12-12-11).

My initial reaction to this article was negative. Why would anyone leave an inheritance to an animal? How can a cat be worthy of such a gift? Wouldn’t the money be better used for something else? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I am a lot like that cat. God has shared an incredible inheritance with me but I am so unworthy of such a gift. Others could look at me and wonder why God would be so generous with a sinner like me. Aren’t there better things that God could do with His resources?

Thankfully, qualifying for God’s inheritance doesn’t depend on my own merits. If it did, I would be in trouble. My only hope is to be made eligible on the merits of Christ. It is God who qualifies me to share in the inheritance of the saints of light (Colossians 1:12).

God loves you!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Seasons of Life

Well, it finally happened. I received my first “senior” discount Sunday evening. The family and I stopped at Wendy’s for dinner after visiting Bethlehem Village in Fair Oaks. Initially, I didn’t order a drink with my meal. But after sitting down and starting to eat, I changed my mind. I went back and asked the young lady at the counter for a 99 cent soft drink from the value menu. She said that seniors received that drink free of charge. Knowing that there HAD to be some mistake, I said, “I doubt I am old enough to qualify for that. How old do you have to be?” “Fifty” she replied. I’m sure I had a stunned look on my face as I thanked her for the free drink and returned to finish my meal. When did I pass that milestone? Since when do I qualify for “senior” discounts? Aren’t those just for “older” people?

Time truly stops for no one, but it is seasonal. “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven. A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; a time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

Lord, please guide me in discerning and embracing the seasons of life.

God loves you!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fence Straddling

"Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:14-15).

In spite of their promises of allegiance to God at Mt. Sinai, apparently some of the Israelites had reserved room in their suitcases for their old gods. Why would they do that? Perhaps they were just trying to cover all the bases. You know, in case this “God in heaven” thing doesn’t work out? Maybe they were finding it difficult to distance themselves completely from ancestral worship traditions. After all, to totally abandon these other gods might reflect badly on grandpa and grandma. Whatever the reason, Joshua challenges the people to quit straddling the fence. Make a choice! Pick a deity and put away the rest! Divided loyalties always result in lukewarm devotion.

But its so hard to loosen our grip on the old gods in our lives, isn’t it? Perhaps our “god” is a sinful attitude or action that we continue to nurture. Maybe it’s a relationship we encourage even when know better. It could be a sinful desire in our heart that we never fully eradicate. But whatever it is, it is a “god” that competes with our professed loyalty to the true God.

It can be very difficult to make a clean break from the past. But it is absolutely vital if we want to have a close relationship with the one and only true God. It was the Son of God Himself who clearly said: “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). The call of Joshua echoes down through the centuries to each of us today. Make a choice. Don’t straddle the fence.

God loves you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Are You Ready?

“The young preacher rose to give his first sermon. Since the title of the lesson was ‘Behold I Come Quickly’, he decided to demonstrate it as he announced it. Standing some four paces behind the pulpit, he rushed forward and, at the same time, announced in kind of an eerie voice, “Behold, I come quickly!” When he couldn’t remember the first point in his introduction, he repeated the process and rushed forward announcing his subject, this time with more enthusiasm. Again, he was still adrift from his first major point, so, backing away, he rushed forward saying, “Behold, I come quickly!” Tripping over a small throw rug, he knocked the pulpit over, did a flip and landed right in an older lady’s lap, and they both went to the floor. He was embarrassed beyond words and, trying to help her up, offered his apology. “That’s alright, sonny boy,” she said. “You’d done warned me three times and I should of had enough sense to have moved” (Jack Exum, “The Art of Illustrating,” pp. 145-146).

Be ready. It is a common refrain in the pages of Scripture. “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (1 Timothy 6:18-19). “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed” (Titus 3:1). “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).

It has been said that “...heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.” Are you ready?

God loves you!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Unfailing Words

"Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed. It shall come about that just as all the good words which the LORD your God spoke to you have come upon you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the threats, until He has destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you” (Joshua 23:14-15).

In chapter 23, Joshua is sharing some final words with the leaders of Israel as the time for his passing draws near. He reminds them of all that had been accomplished because God had been fighting for them. He encourages them to remain true to God and to avoid the tempting allure of pagan influences. He clearly warns them of the consequences of disobeying God. And, according to Joshua, all of his reminders, encouragements, and warnings are rooted in a foundational fact: God keeps His word.

A God who keeps His word can be a mixed blessing, depending on one’s relationship with Him. If I am seeking to love God and cling to Him in my life, I have nothing to fear from a God Who keeps His word. But if I choose to cling to the world and reject His instructions, I have every reason to dread a God Who keeps His word. The same God who speaks words of blessing and comfort to the faithful also speaks words of threat and warning to the unfaithful. And rest assured that He will keep every word -- good or bad. God issues no idle blessings or idle threats.

Lord, please help me to live my life in such a way that I will never have to live in fear of any word You speak. Thank You for being a God who honors His Word.

God loves you!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Good Looks

“Most people assume being good-looking gives you a career boost. But just how much does it help? A lot. Good-looking people charm interviewers, get hired faster, are more likely to make more sales and get more raises. Daniel Hamermesh, an economics professor at the University of Texas in Austin, measures out the benefits in his book, "Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful." According to his research, attractive people are likely to earn an average of 3% to 4% more than a person with below-average looks. That adds up to $230,000 more over a lifetime for the typical good-looking person, Dr. Hamermesh estimates. Even an average-looking worker is likely to make $140,000 more over a lifetime than an ugly worker” (Sue Shellenbarger, “On the Job, Beauty Is More Than Skin-Deep,”, 10-27-11).

This research is not surprising to me. We live in an image-conscious society. We want our movie stars and athletes to be good-looking. Supermodels are used more often in advertising than those with average looks. Some factor in attractiveness as they choose a candidate for political office. Gone are the days when grandfatherly types like Walter Cronkite could get a job as a news anchor for a major network. Now we demand those who can deliver the news and look good doing it. The toxic message were are sending to our young people is that, unless they are good-looking, they can never be popular or financially secure. They are being convinced that if they aren’t one of the “beautiful” people, they will always be second rate.

How thankful I am that my relationship with God does not depend on my physical appearance. How grateful I am that God doesn’t see as the world sees (1 Samuel 16:7). Apparently there was nothing physically attractive about Jesus (Isaiah 53:2) and He still changed the world. That means there is hope for me! With God’s help, I can make a difference in my little corner of the world even if I don’t look like a movie star.

God loves you!

Monday, October 31, 2011


“A Maine man and his car are celebrating a million-mile milestone. Joe LoCicero was given a 2012 Honda Accord at a parade in the city of Saco on Sunday after surpassing the million-mile mark on the odometer of his 1990 Accord. He reached the milestone last Thursday. A Honda spokeswoman tells The Portland Press Herald it's the first time the manufacturer has documented an Accord reaching one million miles. LoCicero says he bought the car in 1996 with 74,000 miles. The former mechanic did much of his own work. The secret he says is following maintenance schedules, using quality parts and driving safely. He swears the transmission and engine are original. Now that he has a new Accord, he's not sure what he'll do with the old one” (, “Honda’s First Million-Mile Accord,” 10-24-11).

How does a car reach such an incredible milestone? Many factors must come into play. As the article mentions, it is going to take careful maintenance, prompt replacement of broken or worn parts, and driving responsibly. No motor will last that long if the oil is never changed. Leaving broken parts unrepaired will eventually stress other critical components. A vehicle that is abused by it’s driver will never last as long as one that is driven properly. But there is another important factor that must be present for a car to reach a million miles. It is simple, yet vital. To reach a million miles, a car must go one mile farther than the last one. A million miles is accomplished one mile at a time. A car will never make a million miles if it is parked at any point short of that goal.

A life of faithfulness to God is accomplished the same way -- one mile at a time. It’s getting up each day with a renewed resolve to live for God regardless of past mistakes or future obstacles. It’s putting one foot ahead of the other even though you would rather quit. Mile after mile after mile until we reach the goal.

God loves you!

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Promise...

“So the LORD gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. And the LORD gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hand. Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass” (Joshua 21:43-45).

Have you ever been the victim of a broken promise? Or have you ever been the promise-breaker? If you have lived for any length of time at all, you can answer “yes” to at least one, and probably both, of those questions. We live in a world that is littered with the debris of promises that were not kept. It’s so commonplace that we have almost come to expect it. The current political climate is a case in point. Candidates of every political stripe make extravagant promises to get elected and then seldom keep those promises. And, worse yet, we accept such antics as business as usual. We even joke about it: “Do you know how to tell if a politician is lying? Look to see if his lips are moving.” Now, are all politicians liars and intentionally deceptive? Of course not. But it happens often enough to make us cynical to the point of joking about such important matters. How sad!

Perhaps it is our experiences in this world that make it difficult to trust in God’s promises. We find it hard to believe when we read: “Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.” We instinctively begin to look for loopholes. We prepare ourselves for the eventually let-down. But it doesn’t come! God is completely faithful to every promise He makes! “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

God loves you!

Monday, October 17, 2011

What Did You Say?

“Accused bank robber Thomas Love may want to invest in a typewriter or a computer printer. He was arrested Saturday shortly after he slipped a note to a teller at the WSFS Bank in New Castle, Del., demanding money, but no dye packs, police said. The teller handed him back the note. “After receiving the note, the teller could not decipher what Love had written, and handed it back to him, and asked that he rewrite it so that it could be re-read,” said a news release from the Delaware State Police. Love, either panicked or frustrated, took back his note and left the bank with no money. After he fled, the tellers conferred and determined that it had been a robbery attempt. They called the police and a description of the suspect was given to state troopers and New Castle county police. A police officer located Love and arrested him for attempted robbery. Love was unarmed and no one was injured during the incident” (Christina Ng, ABC News blogs via Yahoo News, 10-12-11).

This story illustrates the need for clear communication. In this case, poor communication had a good result -- the failure a bank robbery. But in the vast majority of cases, a lack of communication causes problems. When people don’t communicate clearly, everyone suffers. Marriages are fractured. Churches are split. Friendships are destroyed. Businesses go under. Nations go to war. The fallout can be devastating and far-reaching.

One who desires to communicate clearly will avoid empty words (Ephesians 5:6, false words (2 Peter 2:3), arrogant words (2 Peter 2:18), and wicked words (3 John 10). To a citizen of God’s kingdom, a “yes” means “yes and a “no” means “no” (Matthew 5:37). To borrow the words of Paul as he dealt with the struggle in Corinth over speaking in tongues: “...unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken?” (1 Corinthians 14:9).

Lord, please help me to communicate clearly in every area of my life.

God loves you!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Give Me The Hill Country

“Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken” (Joshua 14:12)

I am always impressed when I read these words of Caleb. The past forty five years of his life had been spent enduring the wilderness wanderings of his people and fighting the battles necessary to conquer the land of promise. Now, at age eighty five, the time had finally come for him to receive his own inheritance in the land. Seems like a great time to slow down and let someone else do the hard work. For once, do the easy thing. Pitch your tent on a quiet cul-de-sac out of harm’s way and cheer others on to victory.

Not Caleb. He is still volunteering to do the difficult thing. “Give me the tough job,” he says. The sense I get from reading the text is not that everyone else declined the task, so Caleb reluctantly says, “Well, I guess I will have to do it if no one else will.” No, it appears that he was anxious for the opportunity. What a great example!

The Lord could use some “Calebs” yet today -- servants who volunteer for the difficult tasks. Instead of waiting for someone else to step up, let’s challenge each other to step out of our comfort zones. Teach the Bible class that intimidates you. If you don’t know how to teach, then learn! Support the missionary or the one training for ministry even though funds are tight. Commit yourself to being there for your spiritual family even if it is inconvenient. Reach out to that hurting person even if you don’t know them well.

Lord, please help me learn to ask for “the hill country” in my service to you. Give me the courage not to shy away from the difficult things.

God loves you!

Monday, October 3, 2011

A World Of Hurt

A soldier called his mother from San Francisco Bay,
Said, “Mother, I’ll be coming home, but hear me when I say,
I want to bring a buddy, please Mom, if you don’t mind,
He has one leg, one arm, one eye, and he needs your love so kind.”
The mother told her soldier with a harsh and bitter tone,
“No, don’t bring your buddy here; find him another home.
We just don’t have a place for him, and if it’s how you say,
We sure don’t need a handicap to be here in the way.”
Then later came a telegram; the soldier boy was dead.
He took his life; they found a note, and this is what it said,
“No, don’t bring your buddy here,” his mother’s words were they,
“We sure don’t need a handicap to be here in the way.”
At last the wheels stopped turning, as the mother met the train.
She came to get her only son with tears that fell like rain.
She stared into the cold steel box to kiss her son goodbye,
And there he was, a handicap -- one leg, one arm, one eye...
(Author Unknown, The Art of Illustrating, pp. 105-06)

May we always remember that sin has disabled ALL of us. Everyone bears the battle scars of life. The body of Christ should be a refuge for the spiritually weak and crippled, not a shrine to the strong and capable. Let’s acknowledge our disabilities and support each other as we seek the Great Physician!

God loves you!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Get Even God's Way

“A Christian lady owned two prize chickens that got out of their run and busied themselves in the garden of an ill-tempered neighbor. The man caught the hens, wrung their necks, and threw them back over the fence. Naturally, the woman was upset, but she didn’t get angry and rush over and scream at him. Instead, she took the birds, dressed them out, and prepared two chicken pies. Then she delivered one of the freshly baked pies to the man who had killed her hens. She apologized for not being more careful about keeping her chickens in her own yard. Her children, expecting an angry scene, hid behind a bush to see the man’s face and hear what he’d say. But he was speechless! That chicken pie and apology filled him with a burning sense of shame. But she wasn’t trying to get even. Her motive in returning good for evil was to show her neighbor true Christian love, and maybe even bring about a change of heart” (

It is very difficult not to want to take revenge on those who mistreat us, isn’t it? For most people, the urge to “get even” is strong. We feel justified in responding to any negative action or word directed toward us with an equally negative action or word. After all, fair is fair! Sound familiar?

There is a better way! “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21).

“Kill” them with kindness. They won’t know what hit them!

God loves you!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What Is Your Grade?

In a recent article in MoneyTalksNews titled “8 Reasons Why You Are Getting An F In Personal Finance”, Len Penzo shared several factors that can lead to financial failure. Following are the reasons he listed in his article: (1) You don’t have an emergency fund, (2) You don’t know how much you have in your bank accounts, (3) You don’t understand the difference between a want and a need, (4) You don’t know how much money you spend, (5) Your tastes exceed your spending capabilities, (6) You can’t say no, (7) You’re an impulse shopper, and (8) You worry about what others think about you. You don’t have to be a financial wizard to see the wisdom in the words that Penzo writes. Fiscal freedom isn’t rocket science! If I want to avoid financial ruin, I need to be prepared, aware, informed, and disciplined. It really is as simple as that!

I would add one more reason to Penzo’s list of contributing factors to financial failure: (9) You are leaving God out of your financial plans and decisions. While I’m confident that my financial health is not God’s primary concern in my life, He does take an interest in how I handle money. “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10). “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU" (Hebrews 13:5). “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Let God help you improve your finances. His advice is free!

God loves you!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Space Junk

It seems that the “last frontier” is rapidly becoming a junk yard. “Space junk” refers to the growing collection of debris that is currently found in orbit around our planet. It includes things like spent rocket fuel boosters and satellites that have become useless. Then there are the remnants of collisions between satellites and anti-satellite weapons testing. Astronauts have lost gloves, tools, and cameras during space walks that are now orbiting earth at tremendous speeds. One monitoring agency reports that there are approximately 22,000 objects in orbit that are large enough to track from the ground. Left uncounted, of course, are the numerous pieces to small to be tracked.

This may not seem to be a huge problem until you realize the danger it poses to current space missions. If a piece of debris hits a manned space vehicle, lives could be lost or critical components could be irreparably damaged. A working satellite could be rendered useless by one piece of junk. And it doesn’t even take a large piece to do some damage. A fleck of paint hit the front window of the space shuttle in 1983 and left a pit over 1 millimeter wide. As the junkyard grows, so does the potential danger (Sources: Yahoo News and Wikipedia).

That sounds like life, doesn’t it? There is a lot of “junk” that comes with living my life in this modern world. Some of it is avoidable -- some is unavoidable. But the more of it that I allow to accumulate, the more dangerous it becomes. When I allow “junk” like bad attitudes, hurtful words, and selfish ambitions to remain in orbit around me, I am flirting with disaster. A stray piece of debris can damage my ability to fulfill God’s mission in my life. I can’t afford to hoard my own trash. I can’t afford to become a dumping ground for others. I need to be diligent about cleaning up the “space” around me. How about you? Is your “space” in need of cleaning?

God loves you!


There is a new addiction that should be of concern to those who fly commercially. Researchers refer to it as “automation addiction.” Due to advances in electronics, modern airliners have the ability to almost fly themselves. Typically, autopilot is turned on about a minute and a half after takeoff and is turned off about a minute and a half prior to landing. In flight adjustments, when needed, are made by the pilot entering data into the computer rather than physically touching the controls. “Look Ma, no hands!”

But even though all of this automation has been beneficial in many ways, it has also resulted in some problems. An over-dependence on automated flight controls has apparently weakened the skills of some pilots in reacting to in-flight emergencies. There have been some fatal errors in judgment and reaction when parts of the automated electronics failed or gave false readings. We are learning that pilots who spend less and less time in actual control of the plane begin to lose some important flying skills. As one official with the FAA said, “We are forgetting how to fly” (“Automation In The Air Dulls Pilot Skill,” Joan Lowy, Associated Press, via Yahoo News).

Did you know that “automation addiction” can also be a threat to our relationship with God? It happens when we put our discipleship on autopilot. You’ve seen it happen. We sing the same songs. We pray the same prayers. We hang out with the same crowd. We hide behind the same excuses. We do the same things. We don’t do the same things. We go through the same motions. And when life is running along smoothly, autopilot can get us by. But, slowly, bit by bit, we forget how to fly...

God wants us to soar. “Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:11). Turn off the autopilot! With God’s help, you can really spread your wings!!

God loves you!

Monday, August 29, 2011

On The Run

William Walter Asher III has spent most of his on the run. In 1966, when Asher was 20 years old, he was convicted and sentenced to 7 years to life for his part in the robbery of a San Francisco bar during which a bartender was killed. He spent several years in prison before escaping from an inmate fire camp in El Dorado County in 1975. At that point, he began his career as a fugitive. Asher began using other names and worked as a truck driver. He married and raised a family. He managed to elude authorities for 36 years. Until last Friday, that is. Using a tip regarding a secret phone number and other phone records, the FBI eventually located Asher at a home in Salida, California and finally took him into custody.

Its hard to imagine being on the run for 36 years. Always looking over your shoulder. Always having to be careful about what you said and to whom you said it. Maybe it got easier as the years past by. Perhaps Asher eventually began to believe that he had really gotten away with it. Who knows? It is reported that Asher didn’t say too much during his arrest, although he did keep asking, “How did you find me?”

Life on the run is a difficult way to live. Sadly, there are those who spend their lives running from God. For whatever reason, they decide that trying to hide from God is better than facing Him. Perhaps they think that if they ignore God, He will just go away. Whatever the reasoning, let me remind the spiritual fugitives out there that you can’t run from God forever. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13). God knows where you live. He knows what you have done and He still wants to forgive you. Why not surrender to Him now before it is too late?

God loves you!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Its A God Thing

My family and I were blessed to be part of Family Camp 3 at Yellowstone Bible Camp in Montana recently. Some great friendships have been forged over the past 17 years. We get to catch up with other families who have also attended for several years. We see each other only one week each year but its almost as though we haven’t been apart. We also get to meet new families who are trying Family Camp for the first time. At first, they are a bit reserved because they are not sure what to expect. But by the end of the week, they have become another part of the YBC “family.” It truly is a piece of heaven on earth.

The camp experience for me this year was a bit different because I was chosen to be the teacher for the week. Fifteen class sessions in six days kept me a bit busier than normal. It was humbling to be asked to share God’s word with so many good friends that I love and respect. Since we are not around each other except for one week a year, I really had no idea what each heart needed to hear. I didn’t know the struggles each family was facing.

But God did. On several occasions, fellow campers would approach me and say something like: “How did you know I needed to hear that?” “It seemed like you were talking directly to me.” I could honestly say that I didn’t know and I certainly wasn’t speaking directly to any individual person or situation. But, thankfully, God DID know and He WAS working directly on specific hearts and situations.

The experience reminded me, once again, that God is the only One who can change lives. He may use me or any other servant He chooses as a conduit but it is HIS message that makes the difference. It is still HIS word that is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). Thank you, Father, for making a difference!

God loves you!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bumper Car Theology

I learned something at the amusement park the other day. No, I didn’t learn that I can’t tolerate wild rides. I learned that at an EARLY age and I have NEVER forgotten it. Just watching others ride on a roller coaster that spins you around, turns you upside down, and hurtles you at break-neck speed through a maze of metal makes my stomach queasy. I always stand at a safe distance with my feet rooted firmly on the ground and admire the foolish courage of others.

But I did learn that it has been too long since I have been in a bumper car. Bumper cars have always been one of my favorite amusement park attractions. They are safe, stable, and, although they do spin, it is at a much slower rate than other rides. I have never lost my lunch, or seen anyone else lose their lunch, after driving a bumper car. So as Taylor, Tessa, Emma, and I waited in line for our turn, I had a sense of anticipation rather than a sense of dread.

The ride operator opened the gate and we all chose our cars. Everyone was poised for action. And we were off! Everyone but me, I mean. I sat helplessly turning the steering wheel back and forth, but not moving an inch. Spectators and participants were all probably wondering, “What’s wrong with the old man? Why isn’t he moving?” Frankly, I was wondering the same thing. About half way through the ride, I discovered the little metal pedal under my right foot. Sheepishly, I pressed the pedal down and began wreaking bumper car havoc on the rest of the smart-alecks who hadn’t forgotten how to make their cars go.

It got me to thinking about the times I have forgotten about how to propel my service for God. There have been times in my walk with God that I have tightly gripped the steering wheel and turned it back and forth but nothing happened. Then I remembered the Power Source! Praise God for His indwelling Spirit!

God loves you!

I Want To Die Running

A Wall Street Journal article from October 31, 2008 shares the story of marathon runner Joy Johnson. Lots of people compete in marathons each year, but what makes Johnson unique is her age. At the time the article was written, she was 81 years of age. She won her age division of the New York Marathon the previous year and had set her sights on winning it again in 2008.

Being a competitive marathoner is hard work at any age, but especially so when you are in your 80’s. Muscles, ligaments, and circulation begin to work against you. But Johnson works hard at maintaining her edge. Disappointed with her winning time of 7 hours in the 2007 event, she committed herself to shaving some time off of that pace. “Throughout the summer she ran 50-55 miles each week instead of 30-35. She ran hills and bleachers at the local high school football field, and she worked to build up her core strength at a running camp in Minnesota.” Incredible!

What I find most amazing about this energetic senior citizen is her attitude toward the activity she loves. She is quoted as saying: “I want to die running. That’s my goal...I’ve told my friends if I die here on this track, do not call 911 because I do not want to be revived...I say, wait a half an hour, maybe 45 minutes, then call the mortician. That’s the way I want to go.”

“I want to die running.” That’s the motto I want to adopt in the spiritual marathon that I am running. Nobody crosses the finish line of the race of life until they die. That’s why I must die running. If I want to “finish the course”, I have to kept putting one foot in front of the other until I rest in the arms of Jesus.

In case you are wondering, Joy Johnson did win her division in the 2008 New York Marathon in a time of 6 hours, 5 minutes, and 58 seconds.

God loves you!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Have You Ever Noticed...?

Have you ever noticed that nearly every Christian wants to be part of a church family that has a lot of activities but not as many are interested in being that active?

Have you ever noticed that nearly every Christian likes to see a full church building but not as many are interested in being with their spiritual family on a regular basis?

Have you ever noticed that nearly every Christian speaks of their love for the word of God but not as many are interested in opening their Bible between Sundays?

Have you ever noticed that nearly every Christian believes that it is important to have a strong educational program in a congregation but not as many are interested in participating?

Have you ever noticed that nearly every Christian sees the need for effective and knowledgeable leaders in a church family but not as many are willing to commit and train themselves to be that kind of leader?

Have you ever noticed that nearly every Christian wants a closer relationship with God but not as many want to do whatever is necessary to make it happen?

A healthy church family is built by those who have the faith and courage to step beyond the comfort zone that is home to “nearly every Christian.” Can we take that step together?

God loves you!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I picked up a rental car at the airport the other day. Because I’m cheap, I had reserved an economy model. All rental fleets have their “economy” line -- just basic, no frills, cheapest, get-from-point-A-to-point-B transportation. As I approached the counter, I braced myself for the inevitable sales pitch. Every rental car sales associate I have ever encountered has tried to get me to “upgrade” to a sleeker, more luxurious (read that “more expensive”) model. In fact, it just so happened that they had some special deals going on right then. What luck! But after saying “no” and a bit more arm-twisting, she handed me the paperwork and sent me out to the lot to choose a lowly economy model.

When I handed my paperwork to the lot attendant, she looked it over and said, “Sir, we are all of our economy models are out right now. Go ahead and choose any car from the full-size line.” Initially, I thought it was just another trick to pry more money out of me. So I turned to her with a skeptical look in my eye and asked, “For the same price?” “Yes, for the same price” she said. I still could hardly believe it. I was so surprised that I just jumped in the first car in line without even looking at what else was available. I had to get out of the lot before they changed their minds.

I wonder at times if that might be my reaction when I get my first glimpse of what God has in store for the faithful beyond this life (assuming, of course, that I remain faithful until the end). The figurative descriptions in the Scriptures of dwelling in the eternal presence of God likely do not do justice to the literal reality. When comparing this existence with that existence, all Paul could say is that being with Christ is “very much better” (Philippians 1:23).

What an upgrade! It may seem too good to be true, but it isn’t! Life with God is first-class, not economy-class!

God loves you!


“I set a snare for you and you were also caught, O Babylon, while you yourself were not aware; you have been found and also seized because you have engaged in conflict with the Lord. The Lord has opened His armory and has brought forth the weapons of His indignation, for it is a work of the Lord God of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans” (Jeremiah 50:24-25).

Babylon was the military super-power of its day. Its army had the finest technology and armaments available and used them with devastating precision. No one had successfully withstood the advance of the Chaldean military machine. But as so often happens, Babylon’s superiority went to her head. In her pride and arrogance, she picked one battle too many. She chose to engage in conflict with God and that proved to be her downfall.

You see, the problem with doing battle with the Lord is that you are automatically out-manned, out-gunned, and out-resourced. You may have lots of soldiers, but God is the “Lord of hosts (armies). Are you sure you want to do battle with heavenly battalions? You may have an impressive arsenal, but it can’t match what God can unleash when He opens His armory. The overflowing coffers of the kingdom of Babylon may be available for your use, but the God of the universe has much deeper pockets.

You never win when you choose to do battle with God. Throughout history, kingdoms and nations have declared war on God, but all have failed. Many individuals have waged their own personal war with their Maker with the same result. And yet, every generation has nations or individuals who are arrogant enough to think that they will be the one who will finally defeat Him.

Think carefully before you engage in conflict with the Lord. He has put together an impressive string of victories!

God loves you!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Quench Your Thirst

“With its founder dubbing it the Bentley of bottled waters, Bling H2O promises to quench consumers' thirst for both "award-winning" spring water and the luxe life. Part of a wave of high-end bottled water launches in recent years, Bling's elixir starts at $20 for a small bottle and can run as much as $2,600 -- if you opt for a 750-milliliter vessel hand-encrusted with more than 10,000 Swarovski crystals. (Display case and white gloves included.) The bottle might scream L.A., but the water comes from a more humble source: the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. The company that bottles the water for Bling says its water is sold under about 90 brand names in the U.S. -- including one that prices its bottles at $2.49 each, available at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store locations. (Drinkers who prefer a glass bottle, which better preserves taste, can buy the Tennessee water under yet another name, for $35 a case.) Bling's founder, Kevin Boyd, doesn't dispute that his company's water comes from the Tennessee bottler but says the "couture" packaging justifies its price, especially with its hand-applied crystals and customizable designs. "I'm not just selling a water," he says, "but a lifestyle.”” (“Dumb Money: Six Products That Aren’t Worth It,” SmartMoney, June 29, 2011).

Although a $2600 bottle of water is disturbing on several levels, one of the biggest drawbacks is that you will eventually get thirsty again. Why not seek for refreshment than will quench your thirst forever? Jesus offers water that can do just that. Speaking to a woman at a well, Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14). You know the best part of all? It’s free! (Revelation 21:6; cf. 22:17). Stock up on it now!

God loves you!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Price Of Pride

As states scramble to balance their budgets, I suppose it was inevitable. In a Wall Street Journal article, Nancy Keates reports the following: “After years of selling vanity plates as a modest sideline—charging as little as $5—states think there's more money to be made in whatever drives people to buy them. Facing budget crunches, states are raising surcharges or proposing annual fee hikes for custom plates. Texas has gone a step further. It hired a private company to raise $25 million over the next five years by auctioning off vanity plates. "People like to express themselves, especially in Texas," says a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. This year, at the nation's first such auction, Texas sold 33 plates for $139,400...Other countries have already mined this vein, with big results. A businessman in Abu Dhabi bought a license plate with "1" at an auction for $14.3 million in 2008. Last year, in England, a retired businessman bought "1 RH"—his initials—for about $400,000. Hong Kong sold a plate that read "STORAGE" for $12,000” (

In modern usage, vanity is defined as… “excessive pride in one's appearance, qualities, abilities, (or) achievements” ( And the price of such an attitude has ALWAYS been high. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling. It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud” (Proverbs 16:18-19). “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor” (Proverbs 29:23). “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think ; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3).

Is it a sin to have a vanity license plate? No. Is it dangerous and costly to be consumed with pride? Yes. Can you afford it???

God loves you!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Leslie Faith Anderson

Last Wednesday,  June 29th, our second granddaughter was born at home to our youngest son, Lane and his wife, Sandra.  We now are grandparents of three.  Leslie instantly has cousins,  Connor and Cadie.   The overwhelming joy we felt at our first grandchild's birth is duplicated over and over.  What a wonderful layer to this thing called love.  Leslie seems to be a very laid back baby and already sleeps very well.  We are blessed beyond words to be able to be close to all our children and grandchildren.  One more tiny person to love, one more to pray for, one more to hug, kiss, read to, play with and teach about things eternal.  Thank you Father for grandchildren. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Thanks to everyone who gathered last evening at the memorial service for our dear sister Charline Yerian. Many people shared how their lives were touched by this remarkable servant of God. Several remarked about how she was such a great example of faithfulness, kindness, and generosity. Although the blue chair with armrests at the back of the auditorium is now vacant, the influence of her example will continue to be present among us.

While Charline can never be replaced, we continue to need godly role models just like her. Who will have the courage to be the next model of godly service and faithfulness in our spiritual family? Who will choose to step up and be the humble disciple that younger disciples can safely imitate?

We may be tempted to say, “That’s not for me! I don’t want to be an example for others.” But we are an example to others whether we like it or not. The only real choice we have is regarding what kind of example we are going to be. Will we be an example that inspires others to greater Christian faithfulness and service or will we be an example that does the opposite?

The baton is being passed in the marathon of faithfulness. Who will run the next leg of the race? While it is never too late to start, it is also never too early to start. This is not just a job for senior saints. There is always a pair of younger eyes watching how we live and serve God. Let’s rise to the task before us!
“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

God loves you!

Promises, Promises...

“Then they said to Jeremiah, ‘May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with the whole message with which the Lord your God will send you to us. Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will listen to the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, so that it may go well with us when we listen to the voice of the Lord our God’” (Jeremiah 42:5-6).

Promises of faithfulness come easiest when God’s people are most desperate. Those who survived the destruction of Jerusalem were fearful of Babylonian reprisals in response to the assassination of Gedaliah, King Nebuchadnezzar’s appointed governor over Judah. They began making plans to run to Egypt, but they paused long enough to ask Jeremiah to seek God’s will in the matter. “Please tell us what to do, God! We promise we will do it -- even if we don’t like it!”

Ten days later, Jeremiah gives the people God’s unpleasant answer. It was God’s will for the people to stay in the land of Judah and trust His protection. But that wasn’t what they wanted to hear. God’s words were barely out of Jeremiah’s mouth before they refused to honor their promise to listen to Him and do whatever He says. “So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces, and all the people, did not obey the voice of the Lord to stay in the land of Judah” (Jeremiah 43:4).

All cultures understand it. The Chinese say it this way: “Talk doesn’t cook rice.” The Arabs say it this way: “A promise is a cloud; fulfillment is rain.” Our own Benjamin Franklin said: “Well done is better than well said.” However you say it, actions do speak louder than words. Promising to listen to God whether you like what He tells you or not is a grand intention. But true faithfulness to God is best measured by actions, not words. Faith without works is STILL dead!

God loves you!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Word Games

“...Then all the remnant of Judah who have gone to the land of Egypt to reside there will know whose word will stand, Mine or theirs” (Jeremiah 44:28).

God had mercifully spared a remnant of His people from the destruction that fell upon Judah and Jerusalem. One would think that these individuals, more than any others, would understand the importance of hearing and obeying the words of God. But instead of remaining in the land of Judah as God told them, they fled for refuge in Egypt. And even in that foreign land, God continues to reach out to His rebellious children through the prophet, Jeremiah. He reminds them of what they had already seen and experienced (44:2-6). He confronts them concerning their own stubborn rebelliousness and warns them of the consequences (44:7-14). Incredibly, the people claim they were better off doing things their own way! They had convinced themselves that life was better when they carrying out their own words (44:15-19). God closes the chapter by saying that He is not going to argue with them over the matter. They would know soon enough whose words would stand the test of time.

My words are no match for God’s words. In a contest of words with God, I’m unarmed and disqualified. God’s words will stand long after my words are forgotten. Therefore, when I read Jeremiah 44, I am amazed at the audacity of the Judean refugees in Egypt. How dare they exalt their own words over the word of God! But when I am honest with myself, I have to admit that the temptation is there. After all, am I not “entitled” to my opinion? Not when that opinion contradicts, ignores, or exalts itself over God’s words! Aren’t my words important? Not in comparison to God’s words!

When I am tempted to play word games with God, may I be ready to echo the words and actions of Job: “Behold I am insignificant; what can I reply to you? I lay my hand on my mouth” (Job 40:4).

God loves you!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Big Picture

Researchers at the University of Alabama are using modern technology to uncover ancient ruins. Instead of digging and sifting through tons of dirt by hand, these scientists used satellite images taken by powerful infrared cameras orbiting some 400 miles above the surface of the earth. These images have allowed the researchers to “see” the ruins lying underneath the earth’s surface. So far, they “...have located seventeen lost pyramids, 1,000 tombs and more than 3,000 ancient settlements in Egypt.” Already being referred to as “space archaeology,” this new technology holds a lot of promise for efforts in studying the past. A lead scientist on the project was quoted as saying: “Indiana Jones is old school, we’ve moved on from Indy; sorry Harrison Ford” (Source:

The implications of these new techniques for the field of archaeology are truly staggering. But in a more general way, this article reminded me again of how greater insight is often gained by stepping back rather than getting closer to any particular situation. As the old saying goes, “sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees.” This is true in family problems. Those most directly involved in a family issue are often unable to deal with it in an effective way because they are too closely involved. Sometimes assistance from one not so closely involved is necessary to help the family step back and see the big picture. Congregations can also have the same struggles. We get caught up in the day-to-day issues and problems of life because that is where we live. If we are not careful, we can become so narrowly focused that we also miss the big picture.

When we view the work of God from “satellite distance”, some amazing things start to happen. We begin to see opportunities we have never seen before. Problems and fears begin to shrink when they are compared to the plans and desires of God. Let’s take a deep breath, step back, and look at the big picture.

God loves you!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Did You Miss Judgment Day?

If you are reading this article, a false prophet has been exposed once again. Harold Camping, a Bay Area radio preacher, has been boldly predicting that the Judgment Day of God would occur on Saturday, May 21, 2011. His own website ( clearly describes what was to take place: “On May 21, 2011, two events will occur. These events could not be more opposite in nature, the one more wonderful than can be imagined; the other more horrific than can be imagined. A great earthquake will occur -- the Bible describes it as "such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great." This earthquake will be so powerful it will throw open all graves. The remains of the all the believers who have ever lived will be instantly transformed into glorified spiritual bodies to be forever with God. On the other hand, the bodies of all unsaved people will be thrown out upon the ground to be shamed. The inhabitants who survive this terrible earthquake will exist in a world of horror and chaos beyond description. Each day people will die until October 21, 2011 when God will completely destroy this earth and its surviving inhabitants.” In answer to the question “What if May 21 ends and nothing occurs?”, the website gives this answer: “The Biblical evidence is too overwhelming and specific to be wrong...God in His mercy has revealed the vital information needed to know the day. Judgment Day on May 21, 2011 will occur because the bible declares it.” So...since it didn’t happen, I guess God and the Bible are to blame, not Mr. Camping!

Time will tell what excuses Camping offers for HIS failure. Sadly, some of his disciples will become disillusioned and give up on God altogether. Others will continue to blindly fund his ministry, enabling him to continue to mislead others. And the world will laugh at the rest of us who believe in God and endeavor to teach what the Bible really says. Sigh...

God loves you!

Monday, May 16, 2011

You Talk Funny

Karen Butler hasn’t been the same since she had oral surgery a year and a half ago. While the swelling and numbness didn’t last too long for the Newport, Oregon woman, an unexpected side effect has remained. Butler came out of anesthesia with a foreign accent. That’s right -- this native Oregonian now sounds like she grew up in the British Isles or Australia. Doctors have diagnosed her with a neurological condition known as “foreign accent syndrome.” It is quite rare, with only 60 recorded cases over the last 100 years. Normally, it is caused by strokes, but it has also been linked to migraines, head injuries, and multiple sclerosis. In Butler’s case, doctors are puzzled over what brought it on, since the normal factors don’t appear to be present. Regardless of the reason, oral surgery changed Karen Butler’s life. She no longer speaks like she once did.

When God operates on our hearts, our speech is expected to change. “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices” (Colossians 3:8-9). “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6). “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). “...(A)nd there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks” (Ephesians 5:4). “...(F)rom the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way” (James 3:10).

May we all be afflicted with spiritual “foreign accent syndrome.” May the words we choose and the way we talk reveal us to be foreigners (Philippians 3:20).

God loves you!


“After having dug to a depth of 10 meters last year, Scottish scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors had a telephone network more than 100 years ago. Not to be outdone by the Scots, in the weeks that followed English scientists dug to a depth of 20 meters. Shortly thereafter, headlines in the English newspapers read: ‘English archaeologists have found traces of 200-year-old copper wire and have concluded their ancestors had an advanced high-tech communication network a hundred years earlier than the Scots. One week later, The Kerrymen, a southwest Irish newspaper, reported the following: ‘After digging as deep as 30 meters in peat bog near Tralee, Paddy O Droll, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing. Paddy has therefore concluded that 300 years ago, Ireland had already gone wireless’” (Glad Tidings of Good Things, Vol. 30, May 6, 2010).

The humor in this fictitious story is strengthened by the real-life rivalries between the countries involved. Most of us have a competitive streak at one level or another and a good-natured rivalry can be beneficial in many ways. But rivalries can also become unhealthy. Jesus had to deal with an unhealthy attitude of rivalry among His own disciples. “John said to Him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is for us’” (Mark 9:38-40).

In the midst of our efforts to advance the kingdom of God, let’s remember that every disciple of Jesus Christ is on the same team. We are not rivals. There is no need to oppose or denigrate the efforts of a teammate. If you are not against me, you are for me. Serving Christ is a community effort, not a competition.

God loves you!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Little Is Much

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Do not deceive yourselves, saying, “The Chaldeans will surely go away from us,” for they will not go. For even if you have defeated the entire of Chaldeans who were fighting against you, and there were only wounded men left among them, each man in his tent, they would rise up and burn this city with fire’” (Jeremiah 37:9-10).

We are impressed when we read the biblical stories of how God’s people were able to win unlikely victories over more numerous and better equipped enemies. By the power of God, they were able to overcome great odds. I’m thinking of men like Gideon who, with God’s help and a small army of 300 men, routed the combined forces of the Midianite and Amalekite armies (Judges 7). Who can forget the young shepherd boy who, with God’s help and some skill in handling a sling, became a giant slayer (1 Samuel 17)? In fact, during the reign of King Hezekiah, God defeated the entire Assyrian army without a single soldier of Judah going to battle (2 Kings 19)! The size and strength of the enemy doesn’t matter when God is with you.

But we also need to remember that the opposite is true. The size and strength of the enemy doesn’t matter when God is opposed to you. In the time of Jeremiah, God brought the Chaldean army against His own people to discipline them for their rebellion. Jerusalem was under siege and the people of Judah were doing what they could to survive the onslaught. For a brief time, the Chaldeans lifted the siege to engage the Egyptian army that was coming to Judah’s aid. Those in Judah were encouraged by this turn of events. Maybe they would escape! But God warns them not to get their hopes up. He tells them the Chaldeans would accomplish their God-given task even if their army was reduced to just a handful of wounded soldiers.

Little is much when God is in it...regardless of whether you are for Him or against Him.

God loves you!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Burning Words

“Then the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it out of the chamber of Elishama the scribe. And Jehudi read it to the king as well as to all the officials who stood beside the king. Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning in the brazier before him. When Jehudi had read three or four columns, the king cut it with a scribe’s knife and threw it into the fire that was in the brazier. Yet the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they rend their garments” (Jeremiah 36:21-24).

King Jehoiakim of Judah heard difficult words on that cold winter day long ago. As Jehudi read God’s words of warning to His people, the king was faced with an important choice. Would he listen to the words and make the necessary changes in his life as his father Josiah had done (2 Kings 22:8-20) or would he continue to ignore God’s appeal? Sadly, Jehoiakim chose the latter. In fact, he brazenly displays his defiance by destroying the scroll itself -- as if destroying the words would somehow alter his responsibility to heed them.

The authority of the word of God is not found in the ink or the paper on which it is written but in the God Who spoke it. You can shred every page and burn every book in which the words of God are recorded, but you cannot evade the God behind the words. Isaiah reminds us that “...the grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8). You can’t change the word of God by slicing it, burning it, or ignoring it. “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). You can ban the word of God but you can never ban the God of the word. Instead of burning the word of God, let it kindle a fire in you!

God loves you!

Monday, April 18, 2011

I Am An Addict

I attended a seminar hosted by a local church recently that was designed to share information about how concerned individuals and organizations can be involved in reaching out to hurting segments of society in El Dorado county. Presentations were given by county agencies, support groups, private enterprises, and churches about how they were helping those who were homeless, those who were suffering with mental problems, and those who were battling addictions. Speakers included some with advanced degrees in their field of expertise as well as others with no letters after their name but with a wealth of experience in reaching out to help others in desperate circumstances. Each one spoke about their specific efforts to help and shared practical information regarding what works well and what doesn’t work very well.

I was particularly impressed by the group representing Narcotics Anonymous. Their presentations weren’t as polished as some of the others. In fact, you could tell that they were nervous but they still did a great job of telling us about how they help those who are fighting addictions. But as good as their information was, I was most impressed by how they introduced themselves. The first words spoken by all three were these: “Hi, my name is ________________ and I am an addict.” I realize that such statements are part of their recovery process, but what courage it must take to stand before others and admit to your own struggles! It appeared that they had all made great strides in conquering the addictions that had nearly ruined their lives. But they remind themselves and others often that they will always battle the temptation to relapse.

Would my life as a Christian change if I started introducing myself like this: “Hi, I’m Mike and I am a sinner”? Perhaps an on-going reminder like that would make me more vigilant against temptations, more patient and forgiving when wronged, and more thankful for My Savior. I just might be less prideful, less impatient, and less judgmental. What do you think?

God loves you!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Man's Best Friend

On Friday evening, April 1, a toddler (not quite two years of age) wandered into a densely wooded area near his South Carolina home. Young Tyler Jacobson was dressed only in a T-shirt and diaper. When his mother and her boyfriend discovered that the child was missing, they called authorities and a frantic search was begun. The search effort continued throughout the night as temperatures dropped to within a few degrees of freezing. It was Saturday morning before a volunteer heard the youngster crying. He was found some 200 yards from a road about a quarter of a mile from his home. Other than a few scrapes, he seems to be doing fine.

How did he survive his ordeal? Apparently, you can thank the family pet! When Tyson was found, the family’s Labrador mix was by his side. It is surmised that the toddler curled up with the dog to keep warm during the long, cold night. “I think the dog wanted to make sure the boy was all right,” said Chief Marvin Brown from the Kershaw County Sheriff’s office. “We found the boy and the dog was right there with him. The dog went missing the same time the boy did” (source: “Dog Credited With Saving Missing S.C. Boy,” Edmund DeMarche,

There’s something to be said for a friend (human or animal) who won’t leave your side when you need them most. But it is even more important to have a God Who promises to never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). You see, every so often I wander off, spiritually speaking. It seems like a grand adventure at first, but then the forest closes in around me and, suddenly, I can’t find my way home. Its then, like little Tyson Jacobson, that I cry out for help. What a comfort it is to know that the God who was near in times of safety is also near when I have wandered off. He hears my cry and gently leads me back home.

God loves you!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spoiler Alert!

If you read movie reviews, you have likely encountered the phrase “SPOILER ALERT” at the beginning of some articles. In case you haven’t seen the particular movie under discussion, the writer is warning you that he or she will be revealing details about the plot that may “spoil” your experience as a first-time viewer. So be forewarned! If you don’t want to learn of the movie’s twists and turns ahead of time and if you don’t want to know how the movie ends, do not read any farther!

If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, I have a spiritual “spoiler alert” for you. But I dare you to read on because this is knowledge can actually help you. Okay. Get ready. (Stop reading NOW if you don’t need any assistance in your spiritual life!) Here it comes.... GOD WINS!!! In the on-going battle between the forces of good and evil, God wins. In spite of all the struggles of this cinematic drama we call life, God wins. When it appears that the “bad guy” has the upper hand, God wins. Just when the scenes get dark and scary, God wins. There you have it. The cat is out of the bag.

If we are children of God, that makes us winners as well! When we know how the movie ends, it can change the way we live. Because God wins, we have an antidote for fear in the scariest of situations. Because God wins, we have hope even when all hope appears to be gone. Because God wins, we have an anchor point that will hold in the roughest storms of life. Because God wins, we have a power source that strengthens us in times of desperate weakness.

Isn’t it great to learn that God wins before the movie is over? Now we can enjoy the show! No matter what happens, we know how it will all end. When the credits of our lives begin to roll, we know that God gets all the credit. Isn’t it great to be spoiled?

God loves you!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

You Asked Me To Do What, God???

“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7).

As a result of the discipline of God, a large number of the citizens of Judah had already been taken to the land of Babylon as captives. Everything familiar had been stripped away and they were now forced to live as captives in a foreign land where very little was familiar. How the captives must have longed for home! It is easy to see why they were eager to listen to some prophets who began to tell them what they wanted to hear -- that they wouldn’t be in Babylon for very long. But Jeremiah’s message from God was very different. He told them to get settled in because they would be there for 70 years! They might as well assimilate themselves into Babylonian society because they would not be going home any time soon (Jeremiah 29:5-6). Tough message, huh? But it was about to get tougher. Not only does Jeremiah tell them to settle in for the long haul but then he tells them to pray for good things to happen to their captors! Tough message indeed!

As a child of God, I am also called to do some tough things. I am instructed to love my enemies and do good to those who hate me (Luke 6:27). I am told to pray and be thankful for governmental leaders, regardless of the kind of people they are or the ideas they promote (1 Timothy 2:1-3). I am called to regard others as more important than myself (Philippians 2:3). I must refuse to let any unwholesome word leave my mouth (Ephesians 4:29). Tough instructions? Every last one of them! Hard to do? No doubt about it! But God didn’t check with me first to see if I wanted to do them or if I thought they were fair. He just tells me to do it. Will I or won’t I???

God loves you!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Like A Vapor

The pictures of the devastation experienced by the nation of Japan recently as the result of earthquakes and tsunamis are terrifying. Walls of water, mud, and debris raced across the landscape, destroying everything in their path. Entire houses, cars, and boats floating along like toys in a bathtub. I couldn’t help but think that people were losing their lives as I watched. There must have been families in some of those houses. There must have been workers in some of those buildings and fields. There must have been some passengers in some of those cars and boats. Some had time to escape but others didn’t. But my guess is that probably everyone got up that morning and thought that the coming day would be just like any other day. Little did they know that the coming day would be unlike any other day they had ever experienced.

I do the same thing. My waking thoughts are never filled with visions of a coming catastrophic event. I can’t remember ever starting a day with serious doubts as to whether I would live through it. Usually, I’m thinking about what I am going to do and where I need to be (James 4:13). I naively move from moment to moment as if they were owed to me. But they are not. Maybe next time, it will be me swallowed up by water and mud. Perhaps my life will be cut short by a natural (or unnatural) disaster. Maybe the drunk driver will hit my car or maybe it will be my heart that skips one too many beats. Who knows???

I realize the tone of this piece is a bit dark, but from time to time I need a heavy dose of reality. What happened in Japan is one of those reality checks. It re-emphasized for me that life can be a fragile and fleeting thing (James 4:14). And I am reminded that, while I can’t control the future, I can be ready for whatever the future brings. Jesus Christ is disaster insurance!

God loves you!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Good Part

Last Sunday, I watched as my five-year-old grandson was eating his snack of frosted mini-wheats. He had several pieces of the cereal lined up in neat rows, frosting side up, on the chair next to him. I also noticed that there were still some pieces of cereal in the plastic baggie. As I continued to watch, it became clear what was happening. He would pick up one of the mini-wheats from the chair, eat the frosting off of it, and then return the now un-frosted portion back to the bag. I picked up the plastic bag and, sure enough, each piece in there had the frosting gone. I almost said something to him about the need to eat all of the cereal but then thought better of it. After all, there isn’t any law that says you have to eat every last bit of your mini-wheats, is there? I’m sure it made perfect sense in his young mind. Why eat the dry, unappealing part when you can go straight to the “good” part?

It is a strategy, by the way, that would earn a stamp of approval from the Son of God. Luke tells of a time when some friends of Jesus disagreed over some priorities. During a visit by Jesus to their home, Martha was “distracted by all her preparations” (i.e. the “wheat” part of frosted mini-wheats). On the other hand, her sister Mary was seated at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him teach (i.e. the “frosted” part of frosted mini-wheats). In answer to Martha’s charge of a lack of concern, Jesus praises Mary’s choice of going straight to the “good” part. He reminds Martha that “...only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).

Yes, the unappealing parts of life must be given our attention. But let me encourage you to go straight to the good parts from time to time. Ignore the wheat and head for the frosting!

God loves you!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


The last U.S. veteran of World War I died last Sunday at the age of 110. Frank Buckles was born in Missouri in 1901. In 1917, he joined thousands of his fellow Americans in seeking to enlist to serve in the “war to end all wars.” But there was one little problem. At age 16, Buckles was too young. He lied about his age when he tried to enlist with the Marines. He said he was 18 but was told he needed to be 21. He went back a week later and told them he was 21. He was rejected because he didn’t weigh enough. Buckles then tried the Navy but was told he had flat feet. Undaunted, he moved on to the Army. When challenged to provide a birth certificate, the teenager said, "I told him birth certificates were not made in Missouri when I was born, that the record was in a family Bible. I said, 'You don't want me to bring the family Bible down, do you?'" Buckles said with a laugh. "He said, 'OK, we'll take you.'" His official enlistment date was August 14, 1917 and Buckles served in England and France, working mainly as a driver and a warehouse clerk. Although he never saw combat and the armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany on November 11, 1918, this underage soldier answered his nation’s call. Thank you, Frank Buckles (and all other veterans), for doing your part. I am a grateful beneficiary of your courage and service (Source:

I am also reminded of the indebtedness I have to the spiritual soldiers who have gone before me. There are many who have helped to secure my spiritual heritage in Jesus Christ. The spiritual battles they have fought in their lives are an example and inspiration for me. Let’s all remember to thank the spiritual veterans in our lives before it is too late. Some final food for thought: Who will rise up and take their places in the trenches for the next generation?

God loves you!

Dealing With The Consequences

I recently received a mailing from a kind of business I never even knew existed. The name of the company is Aftermath and they specialize in crime scene and tragedy clean-up. Here is an excerpt from their brochure that describes their mission: “Dealing with the death or serious injury of a family member, loved one, or co-worker is perhaps the most difficult and stressful situation most people will ever face. When that event is the result of a violent crime, tragic accident, or suicide, dealing with its consequences can be even more demanding. Its at times like these when Aftermath is the only choice for comprehensive and reputable biological remediation and clean-up services... Aftermath has extensive experience in responding to and cleaning up following situations such as homicide, self-inflicted injury and death, and unattended death.”

At first, I couldn’t imagine doing something like this for a living. Day in and day out, you would be dealing with the remnants of human tragedy. Who could handle such a thing? Would it be possible to go home from work and leave the scenes and events of the day behind you? But as I thought more about it, I had to admit that there was a need for such a service. After all, how could one expect a traumatized family to attend to such details? It is a job best left to others who do not have emotional ties to the tragedy itself.

Picking up the pieces of shattered lives. That describes the work of companies like Aftermath. It also describes a large part of what we do as followers of Jesus Christ. Those who were hurting were attracted to Jesus. The Savior welcomed those who were dealing with the tragedies of life. As we make our way through this world, we will also encounter those who need help cleaning up after traumatic events. Will we be ready to step in and help? No, it won’t be pretty. Yes, it will be difficult. But if we wish to be like Jesus, it is our calling.

God loves you!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lend A Hand

“But the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, so that he was not given into the hands of the people to put him to death” (Jeremiah 26:24).

Jeremiah had already endured much in his efforts to share the message of God with his rebellious countrymen. He had been beaten and put in stocks. He had become a laughingstock and a mockery. Even his friends and relatives had turned against him. But now the opposition had turned deadly. The false priests and prophets of Judah pronounced a death sentence upon God’s prophet and incited a lynch mob to support their cause. Some officials of the king arrive on the scene as the crowd encircles Jeremiah. They hold an impromptu hearing in hopes of getting to the facts of the case. The leaders of Judah continue to call for the death of God’s prophet. Jeremiah refuses to back down in the face of their threats. The elders of Judah try to inject some sanity into the proceedings with a historical perspective. You could cut the tension with a knife.

But then, a single, courageous individual stood by Jeremiah in his darkest hour. The rest of the Scriptures tell us precious little about Ahikam. But this one act on his part speaks volumes about the kind of person he was. He was willing to put himself at risk by taking the side of someone in desperate need of a friend. Who’s to say that the crowd wouldn’t turn on him as well? Wouldn’t it be more prudent to just stay out of the way and not get involved? Not for Ahikam!

Is there someone you know who could use some help standing firm in the face of life’s struggles? Lord, please help me to have the courage to lend my hand to those in desperate circumstances. Please help me to have the conviction to stand with others who are struggling to stand on their own. May I resist being swayed by the fickle court of public opinion.

God loves you!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


The headline in the sports section of the Columbus Dispatch revealed the bad news in large font: “Trail Blazers 111, Cavaliers 105: Futility mark belongs to Cavs.” On February 5, the Cleveland Cavaliers earned the dubious distinction of setting the NBA record for consecutive losses in a single season. Their loss to the Portland Trailblazers marked their 24th consecutive loss in a row, vaulting them past the 1997\98 Denver Nuggets. Apparently, the post-Lebron James era for the Cavs has been, to put it mildly, difficult. The opening sentences in the previously-mentioned article were painfully blunt: “The losing streak has been long, painful and embarrassing. It's now historic. The Cleveland Cavaliers have the NBA's record for futility all to themselves.”

The even-worse news is that the human race can sympathize with the Cavaliers. We have our own long, painful, and embarrassing record of futility. Ever since the failure of Adam and Eve, we have been amassing an unbreakable record of consecutive defeats. We’ve earned every bit of the negative press we have received. One “reporter” put it this way: “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Romans 3:10-12). How do I know all this? Because I have contributed my own fair share of sinful defeats to the losing streak.

The good news is that we don’t have to be known as losers forever. We can become part of a winning team. The Son of God has a winning streak that surpasses our losing streak. In fact, He has never been defeated. Mercifully, God has provided a way for humanity’s embarrassing record of futility to be removed from the record books. By God’s grace and through my faith in Him, I am on a winning team. I am a child of God. Even though I still fail, don’t call me a loser! I am a winner in Jesus!

God loves you!


“How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal? The prophet who has a dream my relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 23:26-28).

We need dreamers in our world – visionary men and women who are not afraid to think “outside of the box.” We are all beneficiaries of advances made in numerous fields because someone dared to do what others believed was too difficult or even impossible. We have cures for diseases today because someone dreamed of the possibilities and did countless experiments and tests until a breakthrough was made. We have technology that allows us to instantly communicate with each other at any point on earth because someone dreamed of the possibilities and kept working to make it a reality. Thank God for the dreamers among us!

Dreamers are also valuable in the kingdom of God. We need those who can see beyond our human weaknesses and help us to look with eyes of faith at the possibilities before us. But a caution is called for at this point. It is possible that our dreams for God’s people may not be God’s dreams for His people. That was one of the problems in Judah in Jeremiah’s day. False prophets were sharing their own dreams instead of God’s word. Remember – just because someone claims his dream comes from God doesn’t necessarily make it so.

There is a clear difference between our dreams and a “Thus saith the Lord.” It’s like comparing straw with wheat. That doesn’t mean that God is against our dreams. God isn’t opposed to visionaries. You and I can share our dreams for the people of God. Just don’t baptize them with divine authority.

God loves you!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Do I Know God?

“Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness and his upper rooms without justice, who uses his neighbor’s services without pay and does not give him his wages, who says, ‘I will build myself a roomy house with spacious upper rooms, and cut out its windows, paneling it with cedar and painting it red.’ Do you become a king because you are competing in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me?” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 22:15-16).

Surely King Jehoiakim of Judah knew the Lord, didn’t he? Is it possible to be king of the people of God without knowing the God of the people? According to God, the answer is “Yes.” Sadly, it is common for human rulers to build their empires on the over-burdened backs of those they are leading. Jehoiakim was no exception. What makes it worse is that he had convinced himself that “competing in cedar” (i.e. accumulating material wealth at the expense of others) was the mark of godly leadership. God wastes no time dispelling such a wicked notion. He reminds Jehoiakim that his father, King Josiah, made a name for himself in a different way. Sure, he also enjoyed the privileges that come with being a king, but he was also careful to give attention to issues that matter to God. Issues like justice and righteousness. Issues like standing up for the afflicted and needy. Truly knowing God is evidenced by a life that seeks to honor His standards for godly living in every area of life.

That is a powerful lesson which we would all do well to learn. It is so tempting to claim to know God but live in ways that ignore Him. Jesus continues to ask us a penetrating question: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Fair question, isn’t it?

God loves you!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

An Alien Place

“...Behold I am about to bring a calamity upon this place, at which the ears of everyone that hears of it will tingle. Because they have forsaken Me and have made this an alien place and have burned sacrifices in it to other gods, that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind” (Jeremiah 19:3-5).

The Bible speaks of Jerusalem as the “holy city.” It is so designated because it had been set apart by God for special purposes. It was home to the Temple, the location God had chosen for His name and presence to dwell. It was recognized as the center of worship and government for the people of God. But by the time Jeremiah spoke the words of God recorded above, Jerusalem had become spiritually unrecognizable. As the prophet and some of the leaders of Judah stood in the southern part of the city overlooking the Hinnom valley, an strange landscape filled their eyes. Perhaps the acrid smoke of idolatrous sacrifices rose to fill their nostrils. Perhaps chants of devotion to false gods rose to fill their ears. The holy city had become “an alien place”, something far removed from the original plans and purposes of God.

What happened to Jerusalem can also happen to human hearts. A heart devoted to the service of God is a “holy place.” It is a dwelling place of the Father. But when wickedness is allowed to enter and grow, the landscape begins to change. Bit by bit, God is forced out. And before long, a heart once devoted to God becomes “an alien place.”

Lord, please help me never to let my own heart become a place that You would not recognize.

God loves you!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The "Hughes" Approach

“In April 2003, National Public Radio aired a news story about a standoff between an angry mob of Iraqi Shiites and a heavily armored patrol from the American 101st Airborne Division. Fearing that the soldiers were about to desecrate their holy shrine, hundreds of unarmed civilians pressed in toward the soldiers, waving their hands and shouting defiantly. Although the patrol’s intentions were peaceful, the standoff would most likely have ended in tragedy – had it not been for the quick thinking of U.S. Lt. Col. Christopher Hughes. The commanding officer that day, Hughes picked up a loudspeaker and barked three simple commands to his group. First, he told them to take a knee; second, to point their weapons toward the ground; and finally, to look up and give everyone in the hostile crowd a friendly smile. Within moments of obeying his orders, NPR reported, the troops saw the crowd’s demeanor transform. Hostility and defiance melted away, as smiles and friendly pats on the back replaced shaking fists and screaming voices” (Doug Pollock, Outreach, July\August 2005).

What a great model for interacting with those who need to hear about Jesus! Our efforts to share the good news with unbelievers can get off on the wrong foot when we approach them in a “hostile” way. No, I’m not talking about threatening anyone with physical violence if they don’t listen. That would obviously be ungodly as well as unproductive. But “hostility” can be conveyed in less overt ways. Such as refusing to listen. Such as assuming an “I’m right and your wrong” attitude. Such as using the Bible as a club. Such as ridiculing cherished religious traditions. These kinds of tactics just close minds and close doors.

Why not try the “Hughes” approach of outreach? Approach others with a sense of humility (kneel down). Don’t interact as if you are looking for a fight (lower your weapons). And look for opportunities to share how God has made a difference in your life (smile). You may be surprised just how well it works!

God loves you!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2).

Right away, in the first two verses of Scripture, we begin to learn something very important about the God of the universe. We learn that God is interested in bringing order to chaos. When God set out to fashion our world, did you notice what He started with? It is described as formless, empty, and dark. The rest of Genesis chapter one speaks of how God took that chaotic turmoil and set it in order. He took the formless and gave it form. He filled the emptiness. He brought light to the darkness. And by the time He was finished, the final product bore no resemblance to the starting point. The world God provided for the human race to fill and govern was “very good” in every way.

May I suggest that what God did with our physical world in the beginning is also what He desires to do in our personal lives? He wants to bring order to the chaos. The ravages of sin make a real mess in human lives. We suffer from the emptiness and darkness that come when we are alienated from our Creator. We struggle to bring some sense of order to our fractured lives but soon realize that our best efforts are futile.

Only God has the ability to straighten out the mess we have made. Only God can take the chaos and transform it into something beautiful. When we choose to become a child of God by grace through a living faith, we receive forgiveness and the gift of God’s Spirit. And that same Spirit “hovers” over our lives from that point on, as the Instrument of God’s re-creative and transforming power. “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

God loves you!

Monday, January 3, 2011

This Isn't Mr Roger's Neighborhood

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish.”

During a bible study, a friend shared this reading of John 1:14 from The Message, a modern paraphrase of the Bible. While not a literal translation of the words of the original text, this version often does a pretty good job of putting the message of the Scriptures into a modern way of speaking.

One particular phrase captured our attention. The verse speaks of how the Word of God took on human form and “…moved into the neighborhood.” Think about that for a moment. Why didn’t the Son of God just remain in the heavenly realms and invite mankind to come to His neighborhood? Property values are obviously much better there. Crime is non-existent. There are no taxes. You will find no potholes in golden streets. On the other hand, why would Jesus leave the splendor of heaven to move to our side of the tracks? Talk about moving to the slums! Talk about the need for urban renewal! Our neighborhood is a good place to get mugged. Just ask Jesus!

Why did Jesus leave his neighborhood? Because it was our only hope of ever getting out of our neighborhood. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Left to our own devices, we could not even dream of living in God’s part of town. But because Jesus came to live with us, we can live with God (John 14:2-3). From the projects to Park Avenue! From the ghetto to a gated community (Revelation 21)! To borrow the words of Paul in another context: “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

God loves you!