Tuesday, September 30, 2014

all things to all people

1 Corinthians 9

 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.

 When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ.

When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law.

     Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law.

21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ.

But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.

  22 When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness,

        for I want to bring the weak to Christ.

Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.

23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.

  24 Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize?

So run to win!

 All athletes are disciplined in their training.

They do it to win a prize that will fade away,

     but we do it for an eternal prize.

26 So I run with purpose in every step.

        I am not just shadowboxing.

27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.

Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

How many of us try to establish "common ground" with people, like Paul says here, so we can have enough rapport with people that they will actually listen to what we have to say about Jesus?

And how many of us seldom make that effort, either through laziness or arrogance, and "simply share the claims of Christ" like some drive by shooting?

Paul was the epitome of "lifestyle evangelism".

He would go to a city, get a job, make friends, live his life as a loving Christ follower, become a part of the culture, & tell people about Jesus.

Hmmmmm... sounds like a formula for high impact - impact that lasts after he's gone...

Monday, September 29, 2014

a ray of hope

I woke up worrying this morning.

Ever been like that?

Sometimes I think I'm going crazy, or under Satanic attack - or both!

Anyway, I woke up worrying this morning. As I walked from our bedroom to the other side of the house where the "holy" room is, I kinda sorta told God I really needed some sort of word from Him or I thought there was a good chance I'd go crazy.

(I have to confess I really didn't think I'd get a word from Him - sorry, just keepin' it real here.)

(Btw, I call the back bedroom the "holy" room bc that's where I go in the early mornings to read the Bible & be "holy" ;-) LOL)

In the sequential reading that I do in psalms each day (me & Billy Graham ;-) LOL), I was supposed to read Psalm 34.

I won't underline what verses stood out to me (quite a few!), but will just let God speak to you however He wants.

If you've lost hope, or are burdened with life &/or worry, this psalm may be just for you today...

(read it all)

Psalm 34

 I will praise the LORD at all times.

  I will constantly speak his praises.

 I will boast only in the LORD;

  let all who are helpless take heart.

 Come, let us tell of the LORD's greatness;

  let us exalt his name together.

4 I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me.

  He freed me from all my fears.

 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;

  no shadow of shame will darken their faces.

 In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened;

  he saved me from all my troubles.

 For the angel of the LORD is a guard;

  he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

8 Taste and see that the LORD is good.

  Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

 Fear the LORD, you his godly people,

  for those who fear him will have all they need.

 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,

  but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.

11 Come, my children, and listen to me,

  and I will teach you to fear the LORD.

 Does anyone want to live a life

  that is long and prosperous?

 Then keep your tongue from speaking evil

  and your lips from telling lies!

 Turn away from evil and do good.

  Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

15 The eyes of the LORD watch over those who do right;

  his ears are open to their cries for help.

 But the LORD turns his face against those who do evil;

  he will erase their memory from the earth.

 The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help.

  He rescues them from all their troubles.

 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;

  he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

19 The righteous person faces many troubles,

  but the LORD comes to the rescue each time.

 For the LORD protects the bones of the righteous;

  not one of them is broken!

 Calamity will surely overtake the wicked,

  and those who hate the righteous will be punished.

 But the LORD will redeem those who serve him.

  Everyone who trusts in Him will be freely pardoned.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

a rarity

Ya know, we seldom hear this psalm used in sermons, or see it quoted, but it is such a fine expression.

Read it slowly & absorb some of the beauty shared in it.

Psalm 33

1 Let the godly sing for joy to the LORD;

  it is fitting for the pure to praise him.

2 Praise the LORD with melodies on the lyre;

  make music for him on the ten-stringed harp.

3 Sing a new song of praise to him;

  play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.

4 For the word of the LORD holds true,

  and we can trust everything he does.

5 He loves whatever is just and good;

  the unfailing love of the LORD fills the earth.

6 The LORD merely spoke,

  and the heavens were created.

He breathed the word,

  and all the stars were born.

7 He assigned the sea its boundaries

  and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs.

8 Let the whole world fear the LORD,

  and let everyone stand in awe of him.

9 For when he spoke, the world began!

  It appeared at his command.

10 The LORD frustrates the plans of the nations

  and thwarts all their schemes.

11 But the LORD's plans stand firm forever;

  his intentions can never be shaken.

12 What joy for the nation whose God is the LORD,

  whose people he has chosen as his inheritance.

13 The LORD looks down from heaven

  and sees the whole human race.

14 From his throne he observes

  all who live on the earth.

15 He made their hearts,

  so he understands everything they do.

16 The best-equipped army cannot save a king,

  nor is great strength enough to save a warrior.

17 Don't count on your warhorse to give you victory—

  for all its strength, it cannot save you.

18 But the LORD watches over those who fear him,

  those who rely on his unfailing love.

19 He rescues them from death

  and keeps them alive in times of famine.

20 We put our hope in the LORD.

  He is our help and our shield.

21 In him our hearts rejoice,

  for we trust in his holy name.

22 Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD,

  for our hope is in you alone.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,

     who lives in you & was given to you by God?

You do not belong to yourself,

     for God bought you with a high price.

So you must honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

This was written by Paul of Tarsus to his friends, the group of Christ followers in Corinth.

The Holy Spirit, the Powerhouse of God, the One who raised Jesus from the dead, lives inside of us.

I'm not really sure how that all works. I mean, the Holy Spirit is an infinite being. So, I'm not sure about the practicalities of all that.

I just know He does, bc I'm aware of His presence in me.

And no, I don't know how to quantify "in me" - I just know what my life was like before He came to live in me & what it's like now.

All I know is all I know.

"You do not belong to yourself..."

Hmmm... that kinda goes against the grain of today's popular thinking of "I am the center of my universe" self-absorbed living.

What was the price God paid?

Jesus coming to live a sinless life,

     then being murdered by the very people He came to reach,

     & then saying to God,

        "I know _________ is a pretty sinful person.

        Here's my sinless life in exchange for this person's sinful life."

"...honor God with your body."

I don't know how much of this goes on these days.

I see a lot of us honoring themselves w/ their bodies.

I also see a lot of us dishonoring their bodies through a seemingly endless list of abuses.

I've lived too long & seen too much - I'm always amazed at how creative we all are when it comes to dising God w/ the way we treat our bodies & abuse them, & use them for our own glory.

You know what I'm talking about - I don't have to spell it out, do I?

The Holy Spirit lives inside of us.

We don't belong to ourselves.

And we can honor God by the way we treat our bodies & how we use them.

Three things to think about today...

Friday, September 26, 2014


Don't throw away this confidant trust in the Lord,

     no matter what happens.

Remember the great reward it brings you.

Patient endurance is what you need now,

     so you will continue to do God's will.

Then you will receive all that He has promised.

Hebrews 10:35-36

So, take a new grip with your tired hands,

     & stand firm on your shakey legs.

Mark out a straight path for your feet.

Then those who follow you,

    though they are weak & lame,

  will not stumble & fall,

  but will become strong.

Hebrews 12:12-13

Still holding on to this...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

4 words

Mark 12

 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate.

He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked,

     "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"

  29 Jesus replied,

     "The most important commandment is this:

        'Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD.

30 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart,

            all your soul,

            all your mind,

            and all your strength.'

 The second is equally important:

        'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

No other commandment is greater than these."

  32 The teacher of religious law replied,

        "Well said, Teacher.

        You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other.

        33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself.

This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law."
 34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him,

        "You are not far from the Kingdom of God."

And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

So, there you have it...

If you boil down what Jesus told the man about the two greatest commandments, you can sum it all up in 4 words...

Love God.

Love people.

If you think about it, if you really & truly love God with everything you've got & in every way you know how, everything about a relationship w/ Him falls into place.

And if you really & completely love people with everything that's in you, everything that God would want you to be & do in regards to your relationship w/ His other children will also fall into place.

Love God, love people.

4 words say it all.

Now, the tough part starts...

   ...living it out.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

growing crops

1 Corinthians 3

 Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn't talk to you as I would to spiritual people.

I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life.

2 I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren't ready for anything stronger.

     And you still aren't ready,

     3 for you are still controlled by your sinful nature.

You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other.

     Doesn't that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature?

     Aren't you living like people of the world?

4 When one of you says, "I am a follower of Paul," and another says, "I follow Apollos," aren't you acting just like people of the world?

5 After all, who is Apollos?

     Who is Paul?

We are only God's servants through whom you believed the Good News.

Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.

6 I planted the seed in your hearts,

    and Apollos watered it,

but it was God who made it grow.

7 It's not important who does the planting,

     or who does the watering.

What's important is that God makes the seed grow.

8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose.

And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.

(A little back story here... Apollos was a very strong evangelist / speaker / leader in the early days of Christianity. Paul was probably one of the defining personalities in the early church. Some folks were being divisive by saying that everyone should follow the things Apollos said, while others said the same thing about Paul. Paul wanted to put a stop to this, because he wantedpeople to follow God - he & Apollos were just the messengers.)

I grew up on a farm, so I know a little bit about growing crops.

Soil preparation is a TREMENDOUSLY important facet of growing crops. If the soil is not tilled right, or if not enough fertilizer is applied, the seeds planted just won't have a good enough basis in which to grow.

Someone has to come along & plant the seeds - & trust me, if the seeds are planted the way they should be, the crops aren't gonna grow right.

Then there's taking care of the crop while it grows. Someone needs to come along & chop out the weeds that grow in with the crop. Someone needs to keep the soil the right consistency so the crop will have the best situation to send down roots & grow vibrantly. And someone needs to make sure the crops have enough water at the right times.

Then there's the harvesting - going out there & getting the fully grown crop when it's life cycle has be completed.

Soil prep, tilling, & fertilizing takes a big chunk of time in the growing season.

Weeding, fluffing, & generally taking care of the crop during the growing season takes the biggest amount of time & effort.

And harvesting is the reward for all that hard work, and may be the shortest investment of time of the process.

For some reason, in our efforts to get people to be Christ followers (called for lack of a better word, evangelism) we seem far more focused on the  harvesting in that process rather than the preparation & caregiving.

It's like if we aren't harvesting we're not really doing much - if we're not getting people to decide to follow Jesus, we're just kind of missing the mark.

But let's think about our own story for a second...

I don't know about you, but there were a lot of people who influenced me in the early "soil prep" days of my life - when I was starting to turn my heart toward Jesus.

And there were even more people who came along & continued to pour into me, helping me to grow in my interest in becoming a Christ follower.

And then there were the ones who helped me walk from the room called "unbelief" into the room called "faith & trusting in Jesus".

We tend to think that where it's at is in that last stage - getting people to commit.

But that was just a VERY short stage, & never would have happened if the previous ones hadn't been done with care.

FAR MORE people expended energy in getting me ready to follow Jesus than those who walked me into actually deciding to believe.

In our connecting with people, we are each just a cog in the wheel, just a part of the process. We are called to influence people to follow Jesus at whatever point they may be in the process.

If we just focus our attention on walking people through committing themselves to following Jesus, making it the highest & seemingly only important facet of the process, we will waste our efforts & influence.

Because, like in growing crops, the end result (deciding to follow Jesus) is just a tiny part of the overarching process of getting people to believe in Jesus.

Do you understand what I'm trying to say here? I hope all that made sense...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

a BIG "but"

We always quote verse 9.

But actually, Paul goes on to basically say that that is not true for those of us that follow Jesus.

But don't believe me, read the whole thing.

Follow his thinking.

And you'll get what a stupendous thing Paul says in verse 16b.

It's an extraordinary statement - a statement that probably blew the minds of those reading it back then.

And it ought to blow our minds, too!

Follow carefully Paul's thinking here...

1 Corinthians 2

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard,

  and no mind has imagined

what God has prepared

  for those who love him."

(dan note: here comes one of Paul's BIG "but's"...)

10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit.

For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God's deep secrets.

11 No one can know a person's thoughts except that person's own spirit,

      and no one can know God's thoughts except God's own Spirit.

12 And we have received God's Spirit

      (not the world's spirit),

   so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

13 When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom.

       Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit,

       using the Spirit's words to explain spiritual truths.

14 But people who aren't spiritual can't receive these truths from God's Spirit.

      It all sounds foolish to them and they can't understand it,

      for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

 Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things,

       but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.

16 For,

       "Who can know the LORD's thoughts?

        Who knows enough to teach him?"

But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.

There you have it...

We can have the same mind that Jesus had.

Does that roll your socks down this morning, or what?!!!

Monday, September 22, 2014


Me & Billy Graham read a psalm every day. ;-)

Some days the psalm may talk about breaking the teeth of our enemies.

Other days they are rich & wonderful, like this one...


 The LORD is my light and my salvation—

  so why should I be afraid?

The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger,

  so why should I tremble?

 When evil people come to devour me,

  when my enemies and foes attack me,

  they will stumble and fall.

 Though a mighty army surrounds me,

  my heart will not be afraid.

Even if I am attacked,

  I will remain confident.

4 The one thing I ask of the LORD—

  the thing I seek most—

is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,

  delighting in the LORD's perfections

  and meditating in his Temple.

 For he will conceal me there when troubles come;

  he will hide me in his sanctuary.

  He will place me out of reach on a high rock.

 Then I will hold my head high

  above my enemies who surround me.

At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,

  singing and praising the LORD with music.

7 Hear me as I pray, O LORD.

  Be merciful and answer me!

 My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me."

  And my heart responds, "LORD, I am coming."

 Do not turn your back on me.

  Do not reject your servant in anger.

  You have always been my helper.

Don't leave me now; don't abandon me,

  O God of my salvation!

 Even if my father and mother abandon me,

  the LORD will hold me close.

11 Teach me how to live, O LORD.

  Lead me along the right path,

  for my enemies are waiting for me.

 Do not let me fall into their hands.

  For they accuse me of things I've never done;

  with every breath they threaten me with violence.

 Yet I am confident I will see the LORD's goodness

  while I am here in the land of the living.

14 Wait patiently for the LORD.

  Be brave and courageous.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

lose to gain

Mark 8

 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, (Jesus) said,

"If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your selfish ambition,

     take up your cross,

     and follow me.

 If you try to hang on to your life,

     you will lose it.

But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News,

     you will save it.

36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?

      37 Is anything worth more than your soul?

38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days,

        the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

I've said this before - with Jesus, the paradox is that it is only it letting go of our lives that we truly find them.

Iow, if we let go of our lives, God is able to finally fully implement the life He dreamed for us.

And which makes better sense...

     ...to implement a life that we have thought up as appropriate with our skewed, finite, sinful, selfish minds?

     ...or allow the infinite God of the universes free reign to create in us the life He dreamed for us a gajillion years ago?


Saturday, September 20, 2014


Psalm 25
 O LORD, I give my life to you.

   I trust in you, my God!

Do not let me be disgraced,

  or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.

 No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,

  but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.

4 Show me the right path, O LORD;

  point out the road for me to follow.

 Lead me by your truth and teach me,

  for you are the God who saves me.

  All day long I put my hope in you.

 Remember, O LORD, your compassion and unfailing love,

  which you have shown from long ages past.

 Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.

  Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,

  for you are merciful, O LORD.

 The LORD is good and does what is right;

  he shows the proper path to those who go astray.

 He leads the humble in doing right,

  teaching them his way.

 The LORD leads with unfailing love and faithfulness

  all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.

11 For the honor of your name, O LORD,

  forgive my many, many sins.

 Who are those who fear the LORD?

  He will show them the path they should choose.

 They will live in prosperity,

  and their children will inherit the land.

 The LORD is a friend to those who fear him.

  He teaches them his covenant.

 My eyes are always on the LORD,

  for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.

16 Turn to me and have mercy,

  for I am alone and in deep distress.

 My problems go from bad to worse.

  Oh, save me from them all!

 Feel my pain and see my trouble.

  Forgive all my sins.

 See how many enemies I have

  and how viciously they hate me!

 Protect me! Rescue my life from them!

  Do not let me be disgraced, for in you I take refuge.

 May integrity and honesty protect me,

  for I put my hope in you.

Friday, September 19, 2014

living or dying

Romans 14

 For we don't live for ourselves

     or die for ourselves.

8 If we live,

     it's to honor the Lord.

And if we die,

     it's to honor the Lord.

So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

9 Christ died and rose again for this very purpose...

     ...to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.

What does this passage say to you?

Write what you think in the comments.

I'm curious what's your take on these verses.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

back to life

Don't be afraid. Just trust Me. Mark 5:36b

Jesus said this to Jairus, right after Jairus' servants & had to tell him that his daughter was dead.

Jairus had come to get Jesus, believing Jesus could heal his daughter, who was deathly sick at the time.

And it would make sense for the servants to come tell Jairus not to bother bringing Jesus, because Jarius' daughter was dead.

I mean, when you're dead, you're dead - right?

But Jesus had different plans...

So, he went to Jairus' house, went into the daughter's room, took her by the hand, & brought her back to life.


How many of us have something dead in our lives?

Or maybe how many of us feel just dead inside?

And how many of us have well meaning friends & family who tell us don't bother talking to Jesus about it?

I mean, what's dead is dead - right?

But Jesus has different plans for us.

He wants to come into our lives, into the most private places of our hearts & lives, & bring life to those areas of our life we've thought were long dead.

How do I know this?

He's done it for me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

buckle up!

Brace yourself!

Here's Paul's thinking written in Romans 12.

Oh. My. Gosh.

It's chock full of all kinds of stuff that will kick your butt!

Proceed with caution...

Romans 12

1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.

Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable.

     This is truly the way to worship him.

2 Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world,

     but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.

Then you will learn to know God's will for you,

     which is good and pleasing and perfect.

3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning:

     Don't think you are better than you really are.

     Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves,

        measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function,5 so it is with Christ's body.

     We are many parts of one body,

     and we all belong to each other.

6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.

So if God has given you the ability to prophesy,

     speak out with as much faith as God has given you.

7 If your gift is serving others,

     serve them well.

If you are a teacher,

     teach well.

8 If your gift is to encourage others,

     be encouraging.

If it is giving,

     give generously.

If God has given you leadership ability,

     take the responsibility seriously.

And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others,

     do it gladly.

9 Don't just pretend to love others.

     Really love them.

Hate what is wrong.

Hold tightly to what is good.

10 Love each other with genuine affection,

       and take delight in honoring each other.

11 Never be lazy,

        but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.

12 Be glad for the plans God has for you.

Be patient in trouble,

     and keep on praying.

13 When God's people are in need, be ready to help them.

Always be eager to practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you.

Don't curse them;

     pray that God will bless them.

 Be happy with those who are happy,

        and weep with those who weep.

 Live in harmony with each other.

Don't be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people.

And don't think you know it all!

17 Never pay back evil with more evil.

Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.

18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

19 Dear friends, never take revenge.

Leave that to the righteous anger of God.

For the Scriptures say,

"I will take revenge;
  I will pay them back,"
  says the LORD.

20 Instead,

"If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
  If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap
  burning coals of shame on their heads."*

21 Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

clueless, obey, trust

Roman 11

 Oh, how great are God's riches

        and wisdom

        and knowledge!

How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!

34 For who can know the LORD's thoughts?

  Who knows enough to give him advice?

 And who has given him so much

  that he needs to pay it back?

36 For everything comes from him

        and exists by his power

        and is intended for his glory.

All glory to him forever! Amen.

When I read passages like this, it helps me feel better about being clueless about some parts of mylife.

God let's us in on the reasons for things on a "need to know" basis.

Lots of times it seems we don't "need to know" about a lot of things.

It's all about obeying, isn't it?

It's all about trust.

Monday, September 15, 2014

who wants to be with us?

Mark 2

 Then Jesus went out to the lakeshore again and taught the crowds that were coming to him.

14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax collector's booth.

"Follow me and be my disciple," Jesus said to him.

So Levi got up and followed him.

15 Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests,

        along with many tax collectors and other notorious sinners.

        (There were many people of this kind among Jesus' followers.)

16 But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples,

        "Why does he eat with such scum?"

17 When Jesus heard this, he told them,

        "Healthy people don't need a doctor—sick people do.

        I have come to call not those who think they are righteous,

        but those who know they are sinners."

If anyone reads these blogs of mine very long, they've read what I think about this passage...

There was a quality of Jesus' love & connection with people that even those who were considered "uber-sinners" wanted to be around Him.

And so, in regards to this passage, my question has always been the same...

Is there a quality in our lives,

     a singleness of acceptance,

     a thoroughly guilelessness to our love for people,

     in general, & in specific,

      that people just want to be around us?

Jesus REALLY loved people & connected with them.

Is that what people think of each of us who say we follow Jesus?

Are we so hooked up with Jesus that His love for people & His caring about them come out of us?

And where would each of us be if those who loved & connected with us while pointing us to Him had been more like us & our unwillingness to love & connect with even "notorious" sinners?

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Mark 1

 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed.

        "If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean," he said.

41 Moved with compassion,* Jesus reached out and touched him.

        "I am willing," he said. "Be healed!"

 Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.

 Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning:

        44 "Don't tell anyone about this.

        Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you.

        Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy.

        This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed."

45 But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened.

As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus,

     and he couldn't publicly enter a town anywhere.

He had to stay out in the secluded places,

     but people from everywhere kept coming to him.

There are people all around us who are dying for someone to pay attention to them.

     No one speaks to them,

     no one values them,

     no one makes them a priority.

It is so amazing to me that if we simply listen to people, & they know we are really listening, they will tell us everything about themselves.

But a word of caution...

Like Jesus, if we open our ears & hearts to people,

     & they find out we really care about them & listen to them,

     we will be inundated with people who want us to listen to their stories.

I don't want to discourage anyone from connecting to people - there are far too many all around us who need a listening ear.

But word will get out about our willingness to listen, & many will come looking for those listening ears & open heart.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Every once in a while, Paul breaks out in his writings & comes up with something that can only be described as monolithic.

That's what this chapter from Romans is to me - monolithic, epic, something that resounds through the millennia...

Romans 8
 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature.

So God did what the law could not do.

     He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have.

     And in that body God declared an end to sin's control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.
4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us,

     who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.


 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things,

     but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.

 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.

But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.
7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God.

     It never did obey God's laws,

     and it never will.
8 That's why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature.

You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.

     (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)
10 And Christ lives within you,

     so even though your body will die because of sin,

     the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.

 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.

And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 
 For if you live by its dictates, you will die.

But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature,

     you will live.

 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

  15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves.

     Instead, you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.

     Now we call him, "Abba, Father."

 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children.

17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs.

          In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory.

But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.
19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.
20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God's curse.

     But with eager hope,
21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay.
22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory,

     for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.

We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children,

     including the new bodies he has promised us.

 We were given this hope when we were saved.

     (If we already have something, we don't need to hope for it.

25 But if we look forward to something we don't yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.

     For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for.

     But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying,

          for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will.

 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

 For God knew his people in advance,

     and he chose them to become like his Son,

     so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him.

And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself.

And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these?

If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all,

     won't he also give us everything else?

 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own?

     No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.
34 Who then will condemn us?

     No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us,

     and he is sitting in the place of honor at God's right hand, pleading for us.


 Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love?

Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity,

     or are persecuted,

     or hungry,

     or destitute,

     or in danger,

     or threatened with death?

 (As the Scriptures say, "For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.")
37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love.

     Neither death nor life,

     neither angels nor demons,

     neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow;

     not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love.
39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below;

     indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Friday, September 12, 2014

the war inside

Romans 7

 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.

I want to do what is right,

     but I can't.

19 I want to do what is good,

     but I don't.

I don't want to do what is wrong,

     but I do it anyway.

 But if I do what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong;

        it is sin living in me that does it.

21 I have discovered this principle of life...

       when I want to do what is right,

        I inevitably do what is wrong.

22 I love God's law with all my heart.

23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind.

This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.

24 Oh, what a miserable person I am!

Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?

25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

So you see how it is:

     In my mind I really want to obey God's law,

     but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

Who feels like this describes them,beside me?

Thursday, September 11, 2014


 Romans 6

 Since we have been united with him in his death,

     we will also be raised to life as he was.

 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives.

     We are no longer slaves to sin.

 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.

 We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead,

     and he will never die again.

     Death no longer has any power over him.

 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin.

     But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God.

 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

12 Do not let sin control the way you live;

        do not give in to sinful desires.

13 Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin.

        Instead, give yourselves completely to God,

        for you were dead, but now you have new life.

So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

14 Sin is no longer your master,

        for you no longer live under the requirements of the law.

        Instead, you live under the freedom of God's grace.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

a radical statement then & now

Just read this...

it's a bold statement by Paul, the apostle, to the Christ followers in Rome...

lots of ideas expressed here that were uber-radical for the time - as well as today, I guess! ;-)

Romans 5

 Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith,

      we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

2 Because of our faith,

      Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand,

      and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory.

3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials,

      for we know that they help us develop endurance.

 And endurance develops strength of character,

      and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

      5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment.

For we know how dearly God loves us,

     because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person,

      though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.

8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

9 And since we have been made right in God's sight by the blood of Christ,

      he will certainly save us from God's condemnation.

 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies,

      we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

things to come

This is one of those sections in the Bible from which a LOT of things are quoted at different times about different things.

Read through it slowly - these reason being we can all say, "oh, that's where that quote comes from!"

Matthew 24

 As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various Temple buildings.

 But he responded,

    "Do you see all these buildings?

     I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!"


 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, "

     Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?"

4 Jesus told them, "

     Don't let anyone mislead you,
5 for many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Messiah.'

     They will deceive many.

6 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars,

        but don't panic.

     Yes, these things must take place,

        but the end won't follow immediately.

7 Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.

     There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world.

8 But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

9 "Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed.

You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.
10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other.
11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people.

 Sin will be rampant everywhere,

        and the love of many will grow cold.

 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world,

        so that all nations will hear it;

        and then the end will come.

15 "The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about—the sacrilegious object that causes desecration* standing in the Holy Place." (Reader, pay attention!)

 "Then those in Judea must flee to the hills.

 A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack.
18 A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat.
19 How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days.
20 And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath.
 For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began.

And it will never be so great again.
22 In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive.

But it will be shortened for the sake of God's chosen ones.

23 "Then if anyone tells you, 'Look, here is the Messiah,' or 'There he is,'

        don't believe it.
24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God's chosen ones.

25 See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.

26 "So if someone tells you, 'Look, the Messiah is out in the desert,' don't bother to go and look.

Or, 'Look, he is hiding here,'

don't believe it!

 For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes.
28 Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.

29 "Immediately after the anguish of those days,

the sun will be darkened,
  the moon will give no light,
the stars will fall from the sky,
  and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.*

30 And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens,

        and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth.

And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet,

        and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.

32 "Now learn a lesson from the fig tree.

When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near.
33 In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door.
34 I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place.
35 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.

36 "However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself.

Only the Father knows.

37 "When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah's day.

 In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat.

 People didn't realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away.

That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.

40 "Two men will be working together in the field;

        one will be taken, the other left.
41 Two women will be grinding flour at the mill;

        one will be taken, the other left.

42 "So you, too, must keep watch!

For you don't know what day your Lord is coming.
43 Understand this:

     If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into.

44 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

45 "A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them.
46 If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward.
47 I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns.

 But what if the servant is evil and thinks, 'My master won't be back for a while,'49 and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk?

 The master will return unannounced and unexpected,

51 and he will cut the servant to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites.

     In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Monday, September 8, 2014

one way

Here is a towering statement of faith that definitively lays out what it God has provided for all of us through Jesus.

This is the apostle, Paul, writing the church in Rome the capital of the empire...

Romans 3

Now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law,

        as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.

22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.

        And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

23 For everyone has sinned;

        we all fall short of God's glorious standard.

24 Yet God,

        with undeserved kindness,

        declares that we are righteous.

He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.

25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.

People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.

This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,

        26 for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time.

God did this to demonstrate His righteousness,

      for He himself is fair and just,

      and He declares sinners to be right in His sight when they believe in Jesus.

27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God?


   because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law.

   It is based on faith.

28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

29 After all, is God the God of the Jews only?

Isn't He also the God of the Gentiles?

Of course He is.

30 There is only one God,

        and He makes people right with Himself only by faith,

        whether they are Jews or Gentiles.

31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law?

Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

4 words

Matthew 22

 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again.

35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question:

        36 "Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?"

37 Jesus replied,

        "'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.'

38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

     39 A second is equally important:

             'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

     40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."

There you have it - the whole of being a Christ follower in 4 words...

Love God.

Love people.

Now THAT will tattoo.

A friend of mine has it tattooed on each forearm in BIG letters.

On one forearm it says "Love God".

On the other it says "Love others".

Now THAT'S commitment to a truth.

But that what Jesus said when asked what is most important.

Love God. Love people.

I'd consider getting that tattoo.

Anybody got a suggestion for a design?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

simply believe

 Romans 1

 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ.

It is the power of God at work,

       saving everyone who believes;

       the Jew first and also the Gentile.

 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight.

        This is accomplished from start to finish by faith.

As the Scriptures say,

     "It is through faith that a righteous person has life."

So it's all about simply believing?

Simply believing...

Believing that because of Jesus' sacrifice, we can reconnect to God?

     Not cleaning ourselves up.

     Not saying or doing the right things.

     Not buying into a dogma.

     Well, not anything we can do - it's not about us taking action - it's about God taking action.

     We have to completely believe that our connection to God is made possible only because of Jesus.

Can you imagine the scandalous &/or whacko concept this was back then?

What am I saying....

It's a pretty scandalous & whacko concept today.

Friday, September 5, 2014


Matthew 20:26-28

But among you it will be different.

Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,

     and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (NLT)

Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.

Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.

That is what the Son of Man has done:

     He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.” (The Message)

whoever among you wants to be great must become the servant of you all,

     and if he wants to be first among you he must be your slave

     just as the Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life to set many others free.” (J.B. Phillips)

Whoever wants to be your leader must be your servant.

Whoever wants to be first must serve the rest of you like a slave. 

Do as I did:

     The Son of Man did not come for people to serve him.

     He came to serve others and to give his life to save many people.” (ERV)

whoever wants to become great must first make himself a servant;

whoever wants to be first must bind himself as a slave

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served,

     but to serve and to give His life as the ransom for many.
(The Voice)

No matter how you translate or paraphrase these 2 verses, what Jesus had to say about those who lead came out the same - servanthood is the priority for those who lead.

And where, pray tell, is that kind of leadership style modeled in this country or in this world?!!!

Not anywhere, I fear.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

100 times

Everyone who has given up houses

   or brothers

   or sisters

   or father

   or mother

   or children

   or property,

   for my sake,

will receive a hundred times as much in return

& will have eternal life.

But many who seem to be important now will be the least important then,

     & those who are considered least here will be greatest then.

Matthew 19:29-30

Who besides me needed to be reminded today about those who've given up much for God?

We'll get a hundred times as much in return?

I'm trying to wrap my brain around that...

And does that mean during this lifetime, or later, when we've died & gone to heaven - or both?

I get the second part...

If any of us live more than a few years can see this.

There's a lot of us who think we're all that & a bag of chips (do people still say that?).

But when we get ot heaven we're gonna have a rude awakening as to how important we think we are.

And then we all know people whose lives have incredible influence & impact but they are completely unaware of it.

When they get to heaven, I figure they're going to be pretty surprised.

But that first part, the part about a hundred times, puzzles me.

What do you think about that?

What does that all mean? What was Jesus really saying there?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

bigger than me

Psalm 8

 O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

  Your glory is higher than the heavens.

 You have taught children and infants

  to tell of your strength,

silencing your enemies

  and all who oppose you.

3 When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—

  the moon and the stars you set in place—

 what are mere mortals that you should think about them,

  human beings that you should care for them?

 Yet you made them only a little lower than the angels

  and crowned them with glory and honor.

 You gave them charge of everything you made,

  putting all things under their authority—

 the flocks and the herds

  and all the wild animals,

 the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,

  and everything that swims the ocean currents.

9 O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Matthew 16

 At the foot of the mountain, a large crowd was waiting for them.

A man came and knelt before Jesus and said,

     15 "Lord, have mercy on my son.

     He has seizures and suffers terribly.

     He often falls into the fire or into the water.

     16 So I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn't heal him."

  18 Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy, and it left him. From that moment the boy was well.

  19 Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, "Why couldn't we cast out that demon?"

 "You don't have enough faith," Jesus told them.

"I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed,

     you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move.

     Nothing would be impossible."

What is Jesus REALLY saying here to the disciples?

Monday, September 1, 2014

losing & finding

Matthew 16

 Then Jesus said to his disciples,

   "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition,

       take up your cross,

       and follow me.

25 If you try to keep your life for yourself,

     you will lose it.

But if you give up your life for Me,

     you will find it.

26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?

The Message paraphrases it this way...

Then Jesus went to work on his disciples.

“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.

You’re not in the driver’s seat;

   I am.

Don’t run from suffering;

    embrace it.

Follow me and I’ll show you how.

Self-help is no help at all.

Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.

What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself?

     What could you ever trade your soul for?

I like how the writers of The Message paraphrase that opening line...

"Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.You're not in the driver's seat."

How many of us are willing to follow Jesus but we want to keep control of our lives, or at least have final approval?

But Jesus isn't saying that.

He's not only saying follow Me, but give me total control...

   ...iow, our wants, desires, plans, dreams, hopes are not the determining factor of the direction of our lives.

   ...it's whatever He has thought up that becomes the most important thing.

How many of us are really willing to do that?

Or are we more interested in figuring out what we want to be & do,

     or what we think God wants us to be or do,

     & then get God's stamp of approval?

It's all about trust.

It's always all about trust, isn't it?

We either trust Him with our lives, or we don't.

If we trust Him, we find life...

     if we don't...


     things get problematic.