Sunday, November 30, 2014


Matthew 17

 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."

 Jesus said, "You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me."

 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?"

  20 "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."

So, does this mean whatever we ask we'll be given?

I don't think so.

God is not a vending machine.

So what does it mean?

Could it be that Jesus was talking more about how little faith we have in Him, how we don't REALLY believe all this seemingly hocus pocus stuff about Jesus & believing in God?

I know one thing- we underestimate God all the time - maybe that's what Jesus was talking about here?

You tell me what you think...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

if we could

Then Jesus said to his disciples...

If any of you wants to be my follower

     you must put aside your selfish ambition,

     shoulder your cross,

     & follow Me.

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.

And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world

     but you lose your own soul in the process?

Is anything worth more than your soul?

Matthew 16:24-26

I wonder what Robin Williams would say to us about those 3 verses, if he could speak to us today?

     Or maybe Steve Jobs?

     Or Phillip Seymour Hoffman?

     How about Joan Rivers?

     Maya Angelou?

     Jan Hooks?

     Oscar de la Renta?

I wonder what they would tell us about what is really important in life,

     & what's just "dust in the wind"?

I wonder what they would tell us they would have pursued during their lives if they knew then what they know now?

And I wonder how they would advise, counsel, and encourage each of us, individually?

If you are around my age (64) what 3 questions would you ask them?

If you're young - teens & 20's - what 3 things would you like to know?

And if you're middle aged (whatever that is now!), what are 3 things you'd like input on?

If you'd like, share those in the comments belong.

Jesus said that real life was found is letting go of our lives & trusting Him with them.

Do you know someone who has done that?

Ask them what it's like.

Just a thought....

Friday, November 28, 2014

the scandal of grace

Grace is scandalous.

We get forgiven.

We get another, undeserved chance.

We get off the hook.

We get set free.

And we get imbued with the very powerful essence of God.

When you're as big a rot-gut sinner as I am, that's pretty scandalous.

Paul writes to Titus, a co-laborer in the spreading of the Gospel, & lays it all out for us, expresses something of the inexpressible called the grace of God

Titus 3

 Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient.

We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures.

Our lives were full of evil and envy,

     and we hated each other.

  4 But - "When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love,

        5 he saved us,

        not because of the righteous things we had done,

        but because of his mercy.

He washed away our sins,

     giving us a new birth

     and new life through the Holy Spirit.

 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.

7 Because of His grace He declared us righteous

     and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life."

8 This is a trustworthy saying,

     and I want you to insist on these teachings

     so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good.

These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone.

yeah... scandalous...

Thursday, November 27, 2014


No matter what happens, always be thankful; for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

holding on

Even in old age (the godly) will produce fruit;

      they will remain vital & green.

Psalm 92:14

Holding on to this, no matter what happens, even though sometimes it doesn't seem like it...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

just read it

I need to read this psalm every day.

Maybe you do too?

Psalm 91
1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 This I declare about the LORD:

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;

    he is my God, and I trust him.

3 For he will rescue you from every trap

    and protect you from deadly disease.

4 He will cover you with his feathers.

  He will shelter you with his wings.

  His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,

    nor the arrow that flies in the day.

6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,

    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.

7 Though a thousand fall at your side,

     though ten thousand are dying around you,

  these evils will not touch you.

8 Just open your eyes,

  and see how the wicked are punished.

9 If you make the LORD your refuge,

     if you make the Most High your shelter,

10 no evil will conquer you;

  no plague will come near your home.

11 For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.

12 They will hold you up with their hands so you won't even hurt your foot on a stone.

13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;

  you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The LORD says, "I will rescue those who love me.

  I will protect those who trust in my name.

15 When they call on me, I will answer;

  I will be with them in trouble.

  I will rescue and honor them.

16 I will reward them with a long life

  and give them my salvation."

Monday, November 24, 2014

3 words

This is Jesus speaking here...

Matthew 11:

28 Then Jesus said,

     "Come to me,

         all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,

     and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you.

Let me teach you,

     because I am humble and gentle at heart,

     and you will find rest for your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy to bear,

        and the burden I give you is light."  (NLT)


“Are you tired?

     Worn out?

     Burned out on religion?

Come to me.

     Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.

     I’ll show you how to take a real rest.

Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.

     Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.

Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (The Message)


28 “Come to me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry.

I will give you rest.

29 Accept my teaching.

Learn from me.

I am gentle and humble in spirit.

     And you will be able to get some rest.

30 Yes, the teaching that I ask you to accept is easy.

The load I give you to carry is light.” (ERV)


28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened,

     and I will cause you to rest.

     [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]

29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me,

        for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart,

        and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.

30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant),

     and My burden is light and easy to be borne. (Amplified)

Ya know, I checked a lot of other translations at

They all translated or paraphrased different parts in different ways.

But there was one part they all handled in the same way.

Each one had Jesus say the same words...

Come to Me.

Maybe that's the most important here...

that Jesus is saying to each of us the same thing - "Come to Me"

Sunday, November 23, 2014

don't cling to your life

If you cling to your life,

     you will lose it;

but you give it up for Me,

     you will find it.

(Matthew 10:33)

This is a very we all kinda sorta dread.

I think it's because we only see the first part - the giving up.

We don't see what we get if we do what the first part says.

If we hold on to our lives, the best we can attain is what we can manage to create or procure.

If we hold onto our lives, we're really the ones responsible for them.

And if we hold on to our lives, we're the ones who have to come up with the power, wisdom, & foresight to make our lives happen.

But if we let go of control of our lives....

if we tell God that whatever He wants is ok - whatever, with whomever, wherever, whenever, however,

then we are placing our lives, their direction, their function, their very essence into hands of the God of the universes.

Now tell me, when we think about it, who is better at handling our lives?

     we who are very finite, full of issues, hangups, hurts, dysfunctions, prejudices, fears, & mixed motives...?

     or the high, holy, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, be-all-and-end-all Creator God of the universes...?

When we let go of control here's what happens...

The God of the universes is able to implement the life He dreamed up for us LONG AGO, a life that fits into the overarching master plan for humankind.

Now, yes, I will admit there are times when we won't understand what's going on, or why things are as they are, or any of a thousand other things.

     That certainly has been the case in my life - boy, howdy!

But then, we either trust Him with ourselves & our lives, or we don't.

     Trusting Him a little bit seems to me to be kinda like being a little bit pregnant...

     that's kinda impossible...

     you're either pregnant, or you're not....

     we either trust Him, or we don't.

For my money, I'd rather trust Him with my life, no matter what happens, that try & pull it off on my own.

I've tried it both ways...

The former is much more preferable than the latter.

I speak from experience.

Think about it...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

hangin' with the scum

Jesus asked a tax collector to be his disciple.

Tax collectors were on the very bottom of the social ladder - they collaborated with the Romans while getting rich off the people they taxed.

I can imagine the fact that Jesus asked one to be in his inner circle made some of the Pharisees' heads explode!

Matthew 9

 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector's booth.

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

So Matthew got up and followed him.

10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests,

        along with many tax collectors and other notorious sinners.

11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples,

        "Why does your teacher eat with such scum?"

12 When Jesus heard this, he said,

        "Healthy people don't need a doctor;

        sick people do."

 Then he added, "Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture:

        'I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.'

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

     but those who know they are sinners."

Jesus' rep wasn't very good among the Pharisees, the supposed spiritual leaders & authenticators of the time.

Their attitude, much like the attitude we encounter in Christians here in America, that "holy people" should only hang out with other "holy people".

Back then, if someone hung out with sinners, they were defiled & couldn't worship at the temple.

Nowadays, I think it may be a combination of religious snobbery & just a lack of love & care for people who lack a connection with God.

        It's kinda like if we hang out with "notorious sinners" people will think we must be one, to.

But Jesus pokes holes in that kind of thinking.

And what He says makes sense.

Why should He hang out with people who either have their act together with God, or think they do.

I believe Jesus was giving the Pharisees a slap in the face...

     He didn't say He had not come to call those who ARE righteous...

     He said that He hadn't come to call people who THINK they are righteous.

Anyway, here's the deal - are we the kind of Christ follower that people are inadvertently drawn to?

Is our focus on those who need Him in their lives the most?

Or are we such snobs we don't want to hang with sinful people?

(I wonder where each of us would be today if the very people who influenced us to follow Jesus had felt that way about hanging out with us?)

Jesus said something further along in the chapter that indicated His further concern for "notorious sinners" & not those who fancied themselves the spiritual elite.

Matthew 9

 Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area,

        teaching in the synagogues

        and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom.

And he healed every kind of disease and illness.

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless,

        like sheep without a shepherd.

37 He said to his disciples,

      "The harvest is great,

          but the workers are few.

38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest;

       ask him to send more workers into his fields."

Friday, November 21, 2014

the rich

Paul is writing to his adopted son,Timothy, in 1 Timothy.

In the 6th chapter, Paul gives Timothy some final instructions, as he closes out his letter.

In these 3 verses,Paul says something of note about rich people.

Before we turn our minds off, let's remember that the rest of the world considers us to be a country of rich people.

And, compared to the rest of the world, we are - it may not seem so, but we are.

Let's read & heed these words of Paul...

1 Timothy 5

 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud

        and not to trust in their money,

        which is so unreliable.

Their trust should be in God,

     who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.

18 Tell them to use their money to do good.

They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need,

     always being ready to share with others.

19 By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future

        so that they may experience true life.

" in good works..."

"...generous to those in need..."


Thursday, November 20, 2014


It seems there's a lot of judging going on here in America, judging of people, attitudes, events, & motives - no matter what the issue, no matter what viewpoint a person has, or which side of a situation a person may be on.

Jesus had something to say about that kind of behavior...

Matthew 7 (New Living Translation)

 "Do not judge others,

       and you will not be judged.

2 For you will be treated as you treat others.

The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

  3 "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own?

4 How can you think of saying to your friend, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye?

 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye;

     then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye.

6 "Don't waste what is holy on people who are unholy.

        Don't throw your pearls to pigs!

        They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.

here's what the paraphrase from the authors of The Message offer as what that same passage says...

Matthew 7 (The Message paraphrase)

1-5 “Don’t pick on people,

        jump on their failures,

        criticize their faults;

unless, of course, you want the same treatment.

That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.

It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.

Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt?

It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part.

Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face,

     and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

“Don’t be flip with the sacred.

Banter and silliness give no honor to God.

Don’t reduce holy mysteries to slogans.

In trying to be relevant, you’re only being cute and inviting sacrilege.

I've tried to find out if Billy Graham actually said this next statement. In googling it, I haven't found anything that indicates that he did NOT say it. But in any event, the statement is still true...

It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict people...

It is God's job to judge people...

And it's my job to love people.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

don't worry

This is Jesus speaking here, during a long teaching he gave that is often called "the Sermon on the Mount" Those 3 chapters (5, 6, & 7) are FULL of all kinds of meaty stuff.

Matthew 6

 "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life;

         whether you have enough food and drink,

         or enough clothes to wear.

Isn't life more than food,

     and your body more than clothing?

26 Look at the birds.

       They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns,

        for your heavenly Father feeds them.

And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are?

 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

  28 "And why worry about your clothing?

       Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow.

       They don't work or make their clothing,

       29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.

30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow,

        he will certainly care for you.

       Why do you have so little faith?

  31 "So don't worry about these things,

          saying, 'What will we eat?

          What will we drink?

          What will we wear?'

32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers,

        but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

33 Seek the Kingdom of God* above all else,

        and live righteously,

        and he will give you everything you need.

 "So don't worry about tomorrow,

        for tomorrow will bring its own worries.

Today's trouble is enough for today.

My mischievous nephew, Aaron Barth, once told me an immense truth...

He told me once that he'd been studying these verses.

And then he said,"ya know, you only have to read the first part - "don't worry about your life" - all the rest of it is just illustration.

yeah, all we really have to absorb is the kernal of truth - don't worry about your life.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

what do we do with this?

this is Jesus speaking,

     in that three chapter section in Matthews gospel,

     in the 5th chapter.

     these three chapters are called "the Sermon on the Mount"

In is, Matthew records a number of pivotal,& revolutionary, things that Jesus shared for the first time with people.

what do we do with this passage, in view of our world today?

Matthew 5

 "You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury:

        'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'

39 But I say,

        do not resist an evil person!

If someone slaps you on the right cheek,

     offer the other cheek also.

40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you,

        give your coat, too.

41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile,

        carry it two miles.

42 Give to those who ask,

       and don't turn away from those who want to borrow.
38 "You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'*39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile,* carry it two miles.42 Give to those who ask, and don't turn away from those who want to borrow. - See more at:

Monday, November 17, 2014

one way

There is only 1 God & 1 Mediator who can reconcile God & people.

He is the man Christ Jesus.

1Timothy 2:5

well, so much for the thinking of "all faiths lead to God".

the thing is, for some odd reason we've developed this arrogant, winner take all attitude w/ this reality.

it's kind of like "we know the only way to God, so nanee, nanee, boo, boo..."

whereas for me, it is plain to see that God came to live among us in the person of Jesus.

and as a result, because of Jesus' life we are able to have a connection w/ God.

and as far as I can tell, this is the only religion that offers a proactive God who succinctly offers a means for us to intimately relate to the holy God of the universes.

but I don't quite understand why many of us are so bloomin' arrogant about it.

it would kinda be like walking into the Georgia Dome with an SRO crowd of people

     all of whom were suffering from the final stages of cancer,

     where each & every one of them had less than 2 weeks to live,

and saying to them over the PA & jumbotron...

     "y'all are trying all kinds of treatments for your cancers, but I know what is absolutely & positively the sure fire one & only cure - I'm all that & a bag of chips!"

what any sane person would do is humbly start giving it to the first person they meet, & then the next, & then the next, & then the next until every last one of those people had been introduced to the cure.

doesn't it make sense that we who know Jesus as The Way act in the same way,

     sharing this incredible truth in a humble way,

     since we aren't the ones making the way for all to connect with God,

     we are just the messengers of the One who makes the way?

(I hope all that made sense...)

Sunday, November 16, 2014


This is Paul, writing in his first letter to his adopted son, Timothy...

1 Timothy 1

 This is a trustworthy saying,

     and everyone should accept it:

"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"

and I am the worst of them all.

16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners.

Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.

17 All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.

Paul did some pretty tough stuff before he met Jesus in a flash of light on the road to Damascus.

He persecuted Christians, had them put in prison (not a Club Med experience back then), & probably had them killed.

     He was at the stoning of Stephen, & approved of Stephen's death (if you're not familiar with that event it's recorded in Acts 7).

That's why when Paul first became a Christ follower, Christians didn't trust him or believe him.

They thought he was trying to trick them into leading him to other Christians so he could throw them in jail.

Sometimes I feel like Paul - a pretty big sinner.

Now before you try to convince me otherwise, let's be real here - you ain't inside my head.

Trust me - I'm a sinner, big time.

But I know that God, because of Jesus, views me otherwise (go to 1 Corinthians 1:30 to see about that).

The important thing here isn't that Paul thought of himself as a bad sinner, or that I see myself a a bad sinner.

What IS important is that Jesus came to live among us to save EACH & EVERY ONE OF US  from our own sinfulness.

And as a result, we can all say to those who have not started becoming a Christ follower that if God has made a way for me to connect with Him, then He's made a way for them, too.

We're all alike - sinners.

And we're all made able to connect with God the same way - because of Jesus.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

3 words

now I will relieve your shoulder of its burden;

     I will free your hands from their heavy tasks.

You cried to me in trouble,

     & I saved you.

Psalm 81:6-7a

I don't know who that's for today, but I feel like someone needs to read that this morning, especially those first two lines.


the Lord is faithful; He will make you strong & guard you from evil.

2 Thessalonians 3:3

and that's for someone, too - maybe the same person, maybe someone different


...never get tired of doing good.

2 Thessalonians 3:13b

and yes, I feel like this is for someone, too - maybe the same person, or someone different.

Friday, November 14, 2014


So far, it kinda sorta looks like these are verses God wants me to hold on to during 2015.

I'm gonna let them kind of bubble & boil around in my spirit & see if it feels right for them to be the ones for next year.

Please understand that I don't feel like I pick these - I depend on God to lead me to verses I think He wants me to hold on to.

I don't engage my preferences.

He knows what's ahead for me in 2015.

So I want HIM to pick the verses so I'll have something substantially power to help me walk through whatever in ahead.

This is the 12th year I've sought verses like this.

Trust me, I never would have made it through any given year's events if it hadn't been for the verses I feel He gives me.

Don't worry about anything;

     instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need,

     &thank Him for all He has done.

If you do this, you will experience God's peace,

     which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.

His peace will guard your heart & minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

You will keep on guiding me w/ Your counsel,

     leading me to a glorious destiny.

Whom have I in heaven but You?

I desire You more than anything on earth.

My health may fail,

     & my spirit grow weak;

   He is mine forever.

Psalm 73:24-26

No matter what happens,

     always be thankful,

     for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 4:18


And these next 3 passages are hold overs from this year, 2014...

Don't throw away this confident 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 w/ your tired hands,

     & stand firm on your shaky legs.

Mark out a straight path for your feet.

     The those who follow you,

     though they are weak & lame,
     will not stumble & fall

     but will become strong.

Hebrews 12:12-13

By His mighty power at work within us,

     (God) is able to accomplish

        infinitely more

     than we would ever dare to ask

     or hope.

     Ephesians 3:20

Thursday, November 13, 2014


this passage is from Paul's 2nd letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 1, verse 11-12

And so we keep praying for you that God will make you worthy of the life to which He called you.

And we pray that God, by His power, will fulfill all your good intentions & faithful deeds.

Then everyone will give honor to the name of our Lord Jesus because of you,

     & you will be honored along with Him.

This is all possible because of the undeserved favor of our God & Lord Jesus Christ.

It was early June.

House of Grace was meeting downtown @ The Warehouse.

Our worship leader at Christ Chapel has come with a big team to lead that night.

One of the campus pastors was there to speak.

And that was the night our numbers spiked & held - we had a ridiculous amount of people there that night.

It was a magical night, the genesis of a magical season - halcyon days I'll never forget & for which I'll always be supremely thankful.

I remember toward the end of worship wondering how in the world I was gonna transition out of worship.

Now let's be honest here - I was known & love by those who were a part of House of Grace, but we all knew that I didn't have a whole lot of gifting when it came to doing transitions.

So as I'm standing there, waiting for worship to wrap up, I'm getting more & more concerned, because that night our worship was pretty fine, pretty focused, & really, really well led.

And right after worship, the person who was to speak was pretty good at that.

So let's just say I was feeling a like an onion in a tulip patch ;-) LOL

But this voice inside my head reminded me of part of a verse I'd read a few days before.

"...God will make you worthy of the life to which He called you..."

Well, I thought at the time, well, you'd better, God - I'm running with the big dogs right now.

So, when worship finished, I walked up to the mike & started to talk.

I was almost immediately aware that i wasn't the one doing the talking - God had chosen to favor me & really speak through me.

     (iow, He hauled my butt out of a sling, again!)

What was so hilarious was the faces of some of those 20somethings who came every week.

They kept looking at me, & at each other, with this startled look of "what in the world?!!!"

We ALL knew it wasn't me who was talking - It was God.

After worship, we took a short break to reconfigure the platform.

More than one person can up to me during the break & laughingly said things like, "where in the world did THAT come from?!"

And we all agreed it had to be God, because I ain't that good.

One guy, who loves me dearly & is tremendously mischievous, came up to me & said, "Well, I guess if God can speak through Balaam's donkey, He can speak through you.

We both laughed...

...I also hit him


I said all that to say this...

I don't know your situation.

Maybe you feel totally inadequate, like I felt that night.

God doesn't call us to be &/or do something & then leave us out there to fend for ourselves.

He can, does, & will "make (us) worthy of the life to which He called (us)".

All we have to do is walk toward what we believe we're called to be & do for Him, & He will work in & through us.

How can I be so sure of that?

Because I've been living it for over 4 decades.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

walking with Him

No matter what happens...

NO MATTER what happens...

No Matter what HAPPENS...

...always be thankful...

...ALWAYS be thankful...

...always be THANKFUL...

...for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

...for THIS IS GOD'S WILL for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

...for this is God's will FOR YOU who belong to Christ Jesus.

...for this is God's will for you WHO BELONG TO CHRIST JESUS.

no matter what happens,

   always be thankful,

for this is God's will

     for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

This is the verse that God gave me on December 23, 2009, & used to walk me through a season of restlessness that culminated in us moving to Blairsville.

I carried in my heart (& wallet) for 2010 & 2011.

Sometimes it was hard to be & do what it said.

It still is.

In a month in which we hear a lot about being thankful, maybe we should not forget the 4 words that are as important, or maybe more inportant in regards to being thankful...

... no matter what happens...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

holding on

Sometimes we need to just read some verses that talk about nothing my God's love & support...

Psalm 139

 O LORD, you have examined my heart

  and know everything about me.

 You know when I sit down or stand up.

  You know my thoughts even when I'm far away.

 You see me when I travel

  and when I rest at home.

  You know everything I do.

 You know what I am going to say

  even before I say it, LORD.

 You go before me and follow me.

  You place your hand of blessing on my head.

 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

  too great for me to understand!

7 I can never escape from your Spirit!

  I can never get away from your presence!

 If I go up to heaven, you are there;

  if I go down to the grave, you are there.

 If I ride the wings of the morning,

  if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

 even there your hand will guide me,

  and your strength will support me.

 I could ask the darkness to hide me

  and the light around me to become night—

   but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.

To you the night shines as bright as day.

  Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

  and knit me together in my mother's womb.

 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

  Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,

  as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

 You saw me before I was born.

  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out

  before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.

  They cannot be numbered!

 I can't even count them;

  they outnumber the grains of sand!

And when I wake up,

  you are still with me

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;

  test me and know my anxious thoughts.

 Point out anything in me that offends you,

  and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Monday, November 10, 2014

4 & 2

1) Don't worry about anything;

2) instead, pray about everything.

3) Tell God what you need,

4) & thank Him for all He has done.

If you do this,

1) you will experience God's peace

(which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.)

2) His peace will guard your hearts & minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

(These words are from Paul in his letter to the new group / church in Philippi, chapter 4, verses 6 & 7 - the enumerating is mine.)

So, let's look at these 2 verses.

Paul says here that if we do 4 things, 2 things will happen.

He doesn't quantify the who, what, where, when, & how if it.

He just says that if we do the first 4 things, the second 2 things will happen.

Let's remember that Paul was most likely in prison when he wrote this - prison was NOT a Club Med experience back then.

So, if we believe that God speaks to us through this letter, then what Paul was writing is true.

If we do the 4 things, the other 2 will happen.

Are any of you willing to give this a simple test this week?

I know that none of you are world class worriers like me, but humor me on this, will ya?

Any of you want to test this with me this week?

So, here's what we might do this week...

Instead of worrying & fretting, trying to figure things out, & generally trying to make things happen, what if we did what Paul says here this week?

Iow, whenever we run into something that worries us, we just tell God what's worrying us, & what outcome we hope will occur, rather than the outcome we worry will occur.

And then, we place the whole thing is His hands & thank Him ahead of time for whatever the end product might be as a result of us trusting Him to handle it.

(I think the being thankful may be a key component here.)

And then let's see what happens.

Let's see if a sense of quiet comes over us, a quietness that not only happens in the moment, but continues in the succeeding days.

I'm serious about this.

I'm not suggesting we adopt a concept of God as some sort of celestial vending machine.

I'm suggesting we try this out & see what happens?

If you want to give this a whirl this week, tell me that in the comment section below.

And write down your experiences with it - not for me, but for yourselves.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

not appropriate for today

Here's some curious things that stood out for me today...

Do not twist justice against people simply because they are poor. Exodus 23:6

That was written back during the exodus of the Jews from Egypt.

That probably was for written just for back then & has no relevance or bearing on how we treat the poor today, would it?

Do not oppress the foreigners living among you. Exodus 23:9a

This was an instruction for those Jews leaving Egypt.

This certainly couldn't be a directive that would be appropriate today for us to model towards immigrants living here in America...

     no... certainly not!

It is God alone who judges; He decides who will rise & who will fall. Psalm 75:7

We all know those were words were obviously written for back then.

When this psalmist wrote those words he was talking about the Jews of the time, who were so rude & arrogant because they fancied themselves God's chosen people & Israel as God's nation.

That certainly would have no bearing on our lives today.

Work for 6 days, & rest on the 7th.

     This will give your ox & donkey time to rest.

     It will allow the people in your household to be refreshed. Exodus 23:12

We all know this instruction was appropriate for the Jews back then because most of them had to do backbreaking manual labor.

That obviously wouldn't have any connection to the way we live today.

And besides, we all have to work harder now to make ends meet!

Live wisely among those who are not Christians,

     & make the most of every opportunity.

Let your conversation be gracious & effective

     so that you will have the right answer for everyone. Colossians 4:5-6

Well, Christians back then had to learn to contend with non-Christians because, well, I mean, there were SO FEW Christians back then.

Nowadays there's LOTS of Christians, so we don't have to mix & mingle with non-believers unless we have no other choice.

I mean, we mustn't hang out with people who don't believe in Jesus, or in God for that matter, because, well, it might tarnish our reputation or taint our witness.

And of course, we know that the devil will use just about anything or anybody to trip us up!

We all know that spending time with people who don't believe exactly like we do the devil might use to slowly & slyly infect us with their unbelief to the point we just might lose our sanctification... or maybe even our salvation!!!

I'm SO glad I was able to share these curious verses with you & clear a few things up about them & how they couldn't possibly relate to us in today's world.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

how to live

Paul was always good at cutting to the chase.

He does it here, telling the young church in Colossae how to go about this new life they have as followers of Jesus.

It applies as much for us today as it did back then for the folks in the Colossian church.

Colossians 3

 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand.

2 Think about the things of heaven,

     not the things of earth.

3 For you died to this life,

     and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.

4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

  5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.

Have nothing to do with sexual immorality,



     and evil desires.

Don't be greedy,

     for a greedy person is an idolater,

     worshiping the things of this world.

6 Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming.

7 You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world.

8 But now is the time to get rid of anger,


     malicious behavior,


     and dirty language.

9 Don't lie to each other,

     for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.

10 Put on your new nature,

       and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

11 In this new life, it doesn't matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile,

        circumcised or uncircumcised,




        or free.

Christ is all that matters,

     and he lives in all of us.

  12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves,

     you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy,




        and patience.

13 Make allowance for each other's faults,

      and forgive anyone who offends you.

Remember, the Lord forgave you,

     so you must forgive others.

14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love,

      which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.

For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.

And always be thankful.

  16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.

Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.

Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus,

        giving thanks through him to God the Father.

Friday, November 7, 2014

vine, branches, pruning, fruit, & loving

This is just the first half of the 15th chapter in John's gospel, but it is so full of all kinds of life changing stuff.

Remember that these words of Jesus were spoken the night before He died, so He's trying to get a lot of important things told to the disciples.ey applied to the disciples.

But remember that these verses apply to you & me just as much as th

John 15

 "I am the true grapevine,

      and my Father is the gardener.

2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit,

     and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.

3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.

4 Remain in me,

     and I will remain in you.

For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine,

     and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

  5 "Yes, I am the vine;

        you are the branches.

Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.

     For apart from me you can do nothing.

6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers.

     Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.

 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!

 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples.

This brings great glory to my Father.

  9 "I have loved you even as the Father has loved me.

        Remain in my love.

10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love,

        just as I obey my Father's commandments and remain in his love.

11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.

        Yes, your joy will overflow!

12 This is my commandment:

        Love each other in the same way I have loved you.

13 There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.

14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

 I no longer call you slaves,

        because a master doesn't confide in his slaves.

Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.

16 You didn't choose me.

        I chose you.

I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit,

     so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for,

     using my name.

17 This is my command: Love each other.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

2 sections

Ok,John 14 is another part of the set of things Jesus told His disciples the night before He was killed.

So, remember it would stand to reason that these would obviously be crucial words in Jesus' mind.

John 14 is full of all kinds of stuff. Here's some of the stuff that stands out for me - & maybe for you...

John 14

 "Don't let your hearts be troubled.

     Trust in God,

     and trust also in me.

2 There is more than enough room in my Father's home.

If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?

3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

6 Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.

     No one can come to the Father except through me.

12 "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done,

        and even greater works,

        because I am going to be with the Father.

13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it,

        so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.

14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

15 "If you love me, obey my commandments.

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.

        17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.

The world cannot receive him, because it isn't looking for him and doesn't recognize him.

But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

27 "I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart.

And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.

So don't be troubled or afraid.

Notice that during this sharing, Jesus told His disciples not once, but twice, to don't worry or be afraid.

Ya think maybe Jesus is saying the same thing to each of us?

And how many of us rest in that encouraging word from Jesus?

Over & over again Jesus continues to basically tell us to chill - He's got this.

So I guess that undermines our basic normal response to life of worrying, fretting, & obsessing about what life is or may throw at us.

That's me - I'm a worrier - and we know worrying really is simply a lack of trust.

But Jesus says over& over to me to not worry about stuff, to not be so afraid - He's got this.
* * * * * * * *

Paul has a way of cutting to the chase & then dumping some enormous truth on us.

Check these out from his letter to the church in Colossae...

Colossians 1

 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son,

 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.

  He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,

16 for through him God created everything

  in the heavenly realms and on earth.

He made the things we can see

  and the things we can't see—

such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.

  Everything was created through him and for him.

 He existed before anything else,

  and he holds all creation together.

 Christ is also the head of the church,

  which is his body.

He is the beginning,

  supreme over all who rise from the dead.

  So he is first in everything.

 For God in all his fullness

  was pleased to live in Christ,

 and through him God reconciled

  everything to himself.

He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth

  by means of Christ's blood on the cross.

  21 This includes you who were once far away from God.

You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.

22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body.

As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too.

And this is the secret:
     Christ lives in you.

This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.
Did you catch what Paul says in verse 22?

Because of what Jesus did for us, making it possible for us to connect with God, God doesn't see us as heinous sinners.

     We appear to Him as people who are not tainted by our sins - He sees us as clean people.

I hope you can absorb that fully, because when I look at my life & all the embarrassing & humiliating sinful things I've been & done, it still is more than I can fully understand that the holy, omnipotent God of the universes doesn't see all that. He sees me as clean of all that.

And if He sees me that way, He sees you that way.

Whew! That's huge!

And if this is so, how then should we live our lives as people whose lives are seen that way by God Himself?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2 different thoughts

In the gospel according to John, He records Jesus saying a lot of things to His disciples the night before He died

In that kind of crunch moment,I would think Jesus was saying a lot of things to them that He wanted them to really remember, after Jesus had died, as well as in the years ahead of them.

I wouldn't think this was a time for frivolous conversation.

Here's one of the many things Jesus said to them...

So now I am giving you a new commandment:

     Love each other.

Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.

John 13:34-35

Ok, so... Jesus says that the world will know we are His followers by the very fact that we love each other?

So... think of the people around us here in America who do not self-identify as followers of Jesus...

     would they say that about those of us who claim to follow Jesus?

     that at the end of the day, our greatest proof to them that we are hooked up w/ Jesus is that our quality of love for everyone is the most outstanding aspect of our lives?

We both know the answer to that.

I don't think that's what they'd say.

No... I afraid they would identify Christians in many more unflattering ways.

So, what should we do about it?

I believe Jesus said it all...

    love each other.


Anyone who's read these notes for any length of time knows how often I've said that by reading the Bible every day has made it possible for God to speak directly to me, a lot of the times in ways that are VERY uncomfortable for me ;-)

This morning I got up with a lot of stuff on my mind, most of which is the stuff that concerns me on an ongoing basis.

I love Paul's letter to the Philippians - it'sjust jammed full of all kinds of good stuff - & it's just 4 chapters long!

In my normal sequential reading, I was supposed to read Philippians 4 this morning, a morning when I'm weighed down more than usual w/ stuff.

And here's what was waiting for me in chapter 4...

Don't worry about anything;

     instead, pray about everything.

Tell God what you need,

     & thank Him for all He has done.

If you do this, you will experience God's peace,

     which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.

His peace will guard your hearts & minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

No if's, and's, or but's - a straightforward expression of what God extends to me.

All I have to do is believe it...

     ...and practice it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

good stuff

Paul wrote his letter to the church in Philippi while he was in prison. It's a short letter, & Paul has a lot of marvelous things to say in it.

Here's some of what he says in the 3rd chapter...

Philippians 3

I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God's law,

     but I trust Christ to save me.

For God's way of making us right with Himself depends on faith.

I focus on this one thing:

     Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,

     14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

18b ...there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ.

 They are headed for destruction.

     Their god is their appetite,

     they brag about shameful things,

     and they think only about this life here on earth.

20 But we are citizens of heaven,

      where the Lord Jesus Christ lives.

And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior

21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own,

        using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

Monday, November 3, 2014


The primary definition of "humble" at is "not proud or arrogant; modest".

In a society & culture whose primary focus is very "me first", how many people do we each know that we could honestly say are truly humble?

I'd say, not that many.

Paul says we should model the humility of Jesus - the all powerful,all knowing, holy God of the universes chose to come & live among us.

I hearing or reading many years back that a very finite illustration of Jesus' coming to live among us would kinda sorta be like trying to jam the intellect of Einstein into the brain of an ant.

Here's what Paul had to say about Jesus humility...

Philippians 2

 Don't be selfish;

     don't try to impress others.

Be humble,

     thinking of others as better than yourselves.

4 Don't look out only for your own interests,

     but take an interest in others, too.

  5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

6 Though he was God,

  he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.

 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;

  he took the humble position of a slave

  and was born as a human being.

When he appeared in human form,

   he humbled himself in obedience to God

  and died a criminal's death on a cross.

9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor

  and gave him the name above all other names,

 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

  in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,

  to the glory of God the Father.

How then can we model Jesus' humility?

     By serving others?

     By not being self absorbed?

     By not thinking we "all that & a bag of chips"?

     By acknowledging that we're still a sinful person, just like everyone else, connected to God only because of Jesus?

How can we move through this day & be like Jesus?

Think about it, & then make it happen.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


You have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him.

Philippians 1:29

Paul wrote this warm & faith filled letter to his friends in the church at Philippi while he was in prison.

Remember that prison back then was hardly a Club Med experience.

But Paul used it to make connections with people, including the palace guards who were imprisoning him - connections he used to share with people about Jesus & the new life He can bring them.

We won't know until we get to heaven the full extent of the ripple effect of his life & love for Jesus in those prison days.

The church in Philippi was under attack - people didn't like them, want them, & some were afraid of them. So the Christ followers in Philippi were having it hard.

And Paul tells them it is a privilege to suffer for being Jesus' followers.

And it's as equally true now as it was then...

Sometimes we go through tough times simply because we're being obedient followers of Jesus.

I know this is an uncomfortable thought for most Christians in America.

     we have such a success orientation to what we consider a "blessed" life of servanthood,

     while erroneously equating the American Dream as an obvious fruit / favor evidence of our lives of discipleship.

But sometimes we are called upon to be salt & light in what can be called very, VERY difficult situations.

Sometimes how we handle the hard stuff of life has more impact & influence on the people around us than by being constantly "blessed & highly favored".

We seem to have it backwards sometimes.

We think that our lives should always be "blessed & highly favored" like the "stars of the show" we read about in the Bible.

Maybe we should look upon those people as something of an exception.

Maybe we should realize that, for the most part, the overwhelming majority of Christ followers don't live glittering examples of all that's good & pure in the world.

Maybe we should accept the reality that most of us live lives in the trenches, slogging it out every day, simply trying to love as Jesus loves & be salt & light in whatever situation we find ourselves.

For that is where most of us find ourselves - living our lives in ordinary days in ordinary ways, loving stubborn, self-centered, sinful people the Lord brings through our lives.

Perhaps we should identify with the fact that most of life is lived being light in a world that can be very dark with our own sinfulness as well as the sinfulness of all those around us.

Perhaps we should quit thinking we're the next Billy Graham, Christ Tomlin, Kari Jobe, & Beth Moore, & focus more on being ourselves & reaching out to the desperately lonely people who surround us ALL THE TIME & simply love & connect with them in small ways.

While at the same time knowing that a lot of the people we try to love for Jesus won't respond, & many will be openly hostile.

Remember that Jesus didn't go around doing stupendous miracles all the time.

He just connected with people, zeroed in His attention on them in the brief moments in which he had direct contact with them, & in truth, changed their lives through those brief connections.

Whew! I'm not sure where all that came from! I hope it made sense! ;-)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

suit up

Paul was well traveled & had seen what the world in Roman times could fling at a person.

He also knew first hand what kind of Holy Spirit power we have backing us up & sustaining us.

Here in his letter to the church in Ephesus he speaks to both conditions.

The same Holy Spirit & His power are available to us.

Ephesians 6

 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

 Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.

 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies,

       but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world,

       against mighty powers in this dark world,

       and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

  13 Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.

        Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth

       and the body armor of God's righteousness.

 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.

16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.

17 Put on salvation as your helmet,

        and take the sword of the Spirit,

          which is the word of God.

  18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.

Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.