Wednesday, December 31, 2014

a thread

Stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Deuteronomy 5:33a

Psalm 128

 How joyful are those who fear the LORD;

  all who follow his ways!

2 You will enjoy the fruit of your labor.

  How joyful and prosperous you will be!

 Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine,

  flourishing within your home.

Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees

  as they sit around your table.

 That is the LORD's blessing

  for those who fear him.

5 May the LORD continually bless you from Zion.

  May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live.

 May you live to enjoy your grandchildren.

  May Israel have peace!

2 John

vs 5b ...we should love one another.

This is not a new commandment,

     but one we had from the beginning.

6 Love means doing what God has commanded us,

     & He has commanded us to love one another...

8 Watch out, so you do not lose the prize for which you have been working so hard.

     Be diligent so that you will receive your full reward.

It was on January 1, 2003 that God started waking me up early each day - 12 years ago.

It took me two weeks to finally ask if He was trying to say something to me.

(I'm a slow learner!)

He very clearly dropped this thought into my head - "Get up & read."

I did, & have been ever since. I don't remember the last time I didn't.

After about 6 weeks I discovered I could not NOT get up - reading every day had become the most vital, vibrant lifeline to God of anything - ANYTHING - I'd experienced with Him.

Of course, reading every day has wrecked my life.

God continues to put His finger on the very last parts of my life I want Him to call attention to.

He's gotten me to do things, & NOT do things, I would NEVER have dreamed I would do or not do.

Many people in my life complain about not knowing what to do & God never telling them anything.

I can't seem to get Him to shut up! ;-)

Since I'm going to be cremated when I die - no, I'm not making an announcement! - & have my ashes scattered in various places, I won't be needing a tombstone.

But if I was going to have one, I'd have carved in there these words...

"Read the Bible every day, without fail."

Today is the last day of 2014 - a crazy year.

I've been reading the Bible every day now for 12 years. I know the places I read today were not just a coincidence.

In the first place I read today, the last verse of the OT book came the direct mandate: "Stay on the path..."

Then in the psalm I'm scheduled to read it says, "Those who follow will be joyful & fruitful".

And then in the NT reading comes "doing what God commands us means loving people" & "watch out! don't screw this up or you'll lose what you've been working toward."

Mere coincidence I read all that on one morning?

     which also happened to be on New Year's Eve, as we face another new year?

I don't think so.

I know those passages were specifically for me today. I've been at this too long to believe otherwise.

They also might be for you.

Stay on the path, & joy & fruitfulness will follow, but be on guard bc if we don't, that which we've been working toward will slip away.

Not a coincidence I read that this morning, not a coincidence you're reading this now.

Think about it today...

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

in closing

When we write a letter or an email, somewhere along the line we have to wrap it up.

That's what John is doing in this chapter - wrapping up the Good News he has to tell people about.

He really shuts down the "all roads lead to God" concept, too.

Read & see what you think...

1 John 5

 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God.

And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too.

2 We know we love God's children if we love God and obey his commandments.

3 Loving God means keeping his commandments,

     and his commandments are not burdensome.

4 For every child of God defeats this evil world,

     and we achieve this victory through our faith.

5 And who can win this battle against the world?

     Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

  6 And Jesus Christ was revealed as God's Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross;

       not by water only, but by water and blood.

And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony.

 So we have these three witnesses

     8 the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree.

9 Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God.

And God has testified about his Son.

10 All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true.

Those who don't believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don't believe what God has testified about his Son.

 And this is what God has testified:

      He has given us eternal life,

      and this life is in his Son.

 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God's Son does not have life.

13 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.

14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.

15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.

 If you see a Christian brother or sister sinning in a way that does not lead to death,

      you should pray,

      and God will give that person life.

But there is a sin that leads to death,

     and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it.

17 All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death.

  18 We know that God's children do not make a practice of sinning,

         for God's Son holds them securely,

         and the evil one cannot touch them.

 We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.

  20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God.

And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ.

     He is the only true God,

     and he is eternal life.

  21 Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your hearts.

Monday, December 29, 2014


For some reason, it seems John had some sort of special insight into loving others & what it all means.

Here's one of his better passages about it...

1 John 4

 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another,

     for love comes from God.

Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.

8 But anyone who does not love does not know God,

     for God is love.

 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world

      so that we might have eternal life through him.

10 This is real love;

        not that we loved God,

        but that he loved us

        and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.

12 No one has ever seen God.

But if we love each other, God lives in us,

     and his love is brought to full expression in us.

 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us.

14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

15 All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them,

        and they live in God.

16 We know how much God loves us,

        and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love,

     and all who live in love live in God,

     and God lives in them.

17 And as we live in God,

        our love grows more perfect.

So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment,

     but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

18 Such love has no fear,

        because perfect love expels all fear.

If we are afraid,

     it is for fear of punishment,

     and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

19 We love each other because he loved us first.

 If someone says, "I love God," but hates a Christian brother or sister,*that person is a liar;

        for if we don't love people we can see,

        how can we love God,

        whom we cannot see?

21 And he has given us this command:

      Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


if anyone has enough money to live well & see a brother or sister in need & refuses to help - how can God's love be in that person? 1 John 3:17 (NLT)

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? (NIV)

as for the well-to-do man who sees his brothers in want but shuts his eyes—and his heart—how could anyone believe that the love of God lives in him?(J B Phillips)

Suppose a believer who is rich enough to have all the necessities of life sees a fellow believer who is poor and does not have even basic needs. What if the rich believer does not help the poor one? Then it is clear that God’s love is not in that person’s heart. (ERV)

if anyone has this world’s goods (resources for sustaining life) and sees his brother and  fellow believer in need, yet closes his heart of compassion against him, how can the love of God live and remain in him? (Amplified)

If a person owns the kinds of things we need to make it in the world but refuses to share with those in need, is it even possible that God’s love lives in him? (The Voice)

But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (NKJV)

If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. (The Message)

if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet  closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?

Ya know, I kept checking different translations to see if any one of them might let us off the hook here.


we live in a nation where our attitude stinks about the poor & the working poor.

it stinks, folks.


we have been manipulated very carefully to believe that if a person is poor or working poor, they are that way because they are sorry, or slackers, or "working the system."

I'm tired of hearing this crap.

sick & tired.

read that verse again at the top of the page.

I don't think when John wrote that the poor & the working poor back then were some sort of  "noble downtrodden".

They were poor for all the same reasons people are poor or working poor today.

John did NOT give us any disclaimers when he wrote that verse.

Nor did he add a footnote or extend a special dispensation that the situation would be different for people in America in the middle of the 2nd decade of the 21st century.

He said what he said.

How can God's love be in us if we don't help the poor or the working poor?

There aren't any qualifiers to that statement.

It doesn't say "if we think they're worthy of help".

Nor does it say "unless we think they're slackers, or working the system, or lazy, or sorry"

It quite succinctly says if we who have much - which is most of us - don't help the poor & working poor, the love of God does not operate in our lives.

Pure & simple.


Think about that as we close out this year & move into the next one.

If we believe the Bible to be the word of God, then we are to take it seriously.

And if 1 John 3:17 is the word of God, how is that mandate from God going to impact us this new year in our daily, affluent lives in mid-2nd decade, 21st century America?

Don't bother to flame me w/ the current rhetoric - I'll just delete it. I'm not in the mood for a useless & pointless discussion.

This is an uncomfortable truth that we all have been manipulated into thinking the diametrically opposite.

It's time we either believe & heed the word of God in the uncomfortable areas, or simple face the fact that the love of God does not live in us.

Saturday, December 27, 2014


So, it's all about obeying God...?

That is the litmus test? Or at least 1 of them?

We don't just get our "fire insurance", but we must actually lives our lives as Jesus did?


That kinda pokes holes in our white, middle class, smorgasbord concept of Christianity...?

1 John 2

 My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin.

But if anyone does sin,

     we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father.

     He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.

     2 He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins;
     and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

 And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments.

4 If someone claims, "I know God," but doesn't obey God's commandments,

     that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.

5 But those who obey God's word truly show how completely they love him.

That is how we know we are living in him.

 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you,

        for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.

16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure,

      a craving for everything we see,

      and pride in our achievements and possessions.

These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

17 And this world is fading away,

     along with everything that people crave.

But anyone who obeys God will live forever.

Friday, December 26, 2014


We live in a world that holds a lot of darkness...

     places where little of God's truth is see or heard,

     people whose hearts, attitudes, or activities are far from the truth Jesus reveals to us,

     & things that are wrong, harmful, degrading, or debilitating.

John says that for God, darkness is the antithesis of who He is.

iow, God is wide open, transparent, & real.

read on about this light...

1 John 1

God is light,

        and there is no darkness in him at all.

6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness;

        we are not practicing the truth.

7 But if we are living in the light,

     as God is in the light,

     then we have fellowship with each other,

     and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

 If we claim we have no sin,

     we are only fooling ourselves

     and not living in the truth.

9 But if we confess our sins to him,

     he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins

     and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

10 If we claim we have not sinned,

      we are calling God a liar

     and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

that night...

Luke 2

 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.

 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them.

     They were terrified,

10 but the angel reassured them.

        "Don't be afraid!" he said.

        "I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.

        11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!

 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger."

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 "Glory to God in highest heaven,

          and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased."

  15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other,

        "Let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph.

And there was the baby, lying in the manger.

17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.

18 All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished,

        19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.

20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.

        It was just as the angel had told them.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

my help

This is one of the most power psalms, speaking to both our fears & to where the love, support, & power that sustains us all comes from.

Read it slowly, read it more than once.

We live is SUCH precarious time in whatever arena we may choose to consider.

Within this psalm comes one strong word after another.

This morning, verse 2 sticks outs as the one that speaks the most to me - it may be different for you.

They're ALL great verses of hope.

Maybe we should all purpose to memorize this psalm?

It's just 8 verses.

Or maybe we should have it tattooed over our ribs?

Psalm 121

1 I look up to the mountains...

  does my help come from there?

2 My help comes from the LORD,

  who made heaven and earth!

3 He will not let you stumble;

  the one who watches over you will not slumber.

4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel

  never slumbers or sleeps.

5 The LORD himself watches over you!

  The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.

6 The sun will not harm you by day,

  nor the moon at night.

7 The LORD keeps you from all harm

  and watches over your life.

8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go,

  both now and forever.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

all she wrote

Jesus pretty much boils it all down for us here by summing up the very essence of what it is to follow Him...

Mark 2

 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.

And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.'
31 The second is equally important:

        'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

No other commandment is greater than these."

There you have it - the whole ball of wax - the whole enchilada - all she wrote...

Jesus says here the 2 most important things to remember is...

Love God.

Love people.

Jesus says that all there is to it.

4 words...

Love God, love people.

I have a friend who had those 4 words tattoed to his forearms in 3 inch high letters - Love God on the left arm, Love others on the right arm.

We make this whole thing about following Jesus so complicated.

Here, Jesus Himself boils it down for us, in 4 words.

Love God, love people.

I wonder what our lives would look like,

     I wonder what our world would look like,

     & I wonder what the perception of the rest of the world would be about Christians

     if we lived out these 4 words completely in our lives.

Monday, December 22, 2014

what if

So, humble yourselves under the mighty power of God,

     & in His good time, He will honor you.

Give all your worries & cares to God,

     for He cares about what happens to you.

1 Peter 5:6-7

What if we really believed this, & put it into practice in our daily lives?

What would our lives be like?

Sunday, December 21, 2014


If you are suffering according to God's will,

     keep on doing what is right,

& trust yourself to the God who made you,

     for He will never fail you.

1 Peter 4:19


Saturday, December 20, 2014


Salt is good for seasoning.

But if it loses it loses it flavor;

     how do you make it salty again?

You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves 

     & live in peace with each other.

Mark 9:50

Salt affects everything around itself.

"just a pinch of salt" can make a huge difference.

so, you can see the analogy here.

We affect people, no matter how much or how little we do.

Think about it as you move through your life today...

Friday, December 19, 2014

toGod be the Glory

Ok, I wanna tell about something that's happening to me right now. You can draw whatever conclusion(s) you want to.

On this past Sunday, I started getting that tickle in the back of my throat that said I was prolly gonna come down with a head cold, with a sore throat, cough, body aches, tiredness, laryngitis - you know - you've had the same thing too. It's one of those colds that I feel so bad I don't want to knit, read, or watch TV - you know I must be really sick if I don't want to do those!

It just was NOT the week to get sick. We had "Turkey Day" @ the pantry. Our coordinator's sorority has a program when they give out frozen turkeys & meal fixing to lower income people. I didn't want to miss that. Another organization would be giving out food boxes to families of some preschoolers.I needed to be around for that. Plus, this is the week before Christmas, so we know this week is one of the biggest weeks for food donations to the pantry.

Also, our daughter, Hannah is coming to see us & will have a friend of hers visiting with us.

This was NOT a good time to get sick.

I got all the symptoms, with a vengeance. I can't remember when I've been this sick.

Well, it all came to a head yesterday afternoon. I'm completely wiped out. I'd been struggling unsuccessfully to reduce the pain of my sore throat. I completely lost my voice. I sounded like I was coughing up a lung. I made it to 3:45pm, when I told Lynn she needed to either take me home or shoot me.

My throat was so sore I couldn't swallow. Coughing felt apocalyptic. No voice - gone. And I couldn't figure out how to reduce my symptoms.

So, I did the only thing I could do - I called in the cavalry.

I tweeted & FB a message that I needed people to pray for healing. I very, very seldom ask for this level of intercession - like I've done this maybe 3 or 4 times in my life.

I also texted a couple of dozen people who either don't do social media or don't get online very often.

My Twitter & FB friends all said they were praying right then.

By the time I had finished texting some of my friends, I became aware that my sore throat was getting better.

I still cough, but it's not the epic event it been the last couple of days.

I've still got laryngitis, but many might think that's a blessing ;-) LOL

And I just don't feel like crap all the time now.

I'd say I'm at about 75% physically now, but considering I was at -47% yesterday, that's quite an improvement!

Now don't worry, I'm not gonna try & leap tall buildings in a single bound.

But the worst of my symptoms are abating.

I just want to tell all those people who have been praying since yesterday afternoon.

It's always such a weird, humbling, & kool feeling when you actually can feel people praying for you.

And I want to thank God a gajillion times over & praise His Holy Name for this quiet miracle He's working in my life.

I don't want to insinuate that that we have a "venting machine God" - we put in the prayers, He dispenses the miracles.

But I was in a real jam yesterday, & I really needed Him to come through with some healing for me.

And He did, & He is.


Keep it up, I'm not strung out like I was, but I need all my cylinders firing over the next week.



Thursday, December 18, 2014


See to it that you really do love each other intensely with all your heart.

1 Peter 2:22b

How different would our world be if we simply did this one thing w/ some intergity?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

rich folks

James 5

 Look here, you rich people:

     Weep and groan with anguish

     because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you.

2 Your wealth is rotting away,

     and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags.

3 Your gold and silver have become worthless.

The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire.

This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence against you on the day of judgment.
 For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay.

     The wages you held back cry out against you.

     The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the LORD of Heaven's Armies.

5 You have spent your years on earth in luxury,

     satisfying your every desire.

You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter.

6 You have condemned and killed innocent people, who do not resist you.

You do understand that we are the richest nation that has ever been?

That most of us, most of the people you& I know, including ourselves, would be considered VERY rich in comparison to the rest of the world.

So, what is James saying to us here?

And what are we gonna do about it?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

draw close

Humble yourselves before God.

Resist the devil,

     & he will flee from you.

Draw close to God

     & God will draw close to you.

Let the be tears for the wrong things you have done.

When you bow down before the Lord & admit your dependence on Him

     He will lift you up & give you honor.

James 4:7-10

We live in such a period where grace is what it's all about.

And grace is paramount,

     but it's not all there is to it.

we are hooking up with the high & unimaginably holy God of the universes.

we ought to approach Him with a certain amount of humility, aware of how BIG He is, & how insignificant we are.

Just a thought...

Monday, December 15, 2014


To those who are open to my teaching,

     more understanding will be given.

But to those who are not listening,

     even what they have will be taken away from them.

Mark 4:25

I have a Life Application Bible. Here's what it says about this verse...

It's not what you've got or been gifted with that's important.

It's what you let God do with it that's the most important thing.

How many of us find this true, either what we see going on in the lives of people we know, or in our own lives?

How many of us know people who have all the right giftings & talents, but just never seemed to make a go of it?

And how many of us know people who are just kind of ordinary that God seems to extend huge favor upon?

The longer I live, the more I think it's less & less about giftings & more & more about God's favor.

That's been true in my own life.

And I've seen it played out in others, too.

Just a thought...

Sunday, December 14, 2014


whenever you speak,

     or whatever you do,

remember that you will be judged by the law of love,

     the law that set you free.

For there will be no mercy for you if you have not been merciful to others.

But if you have been merciful,

     then God's mercy toward you will win out over His judgement against you.

James 2:12-13

mercy: compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence

In our present political / cultural / national climate, we are pretty short on mercy, regardless of our predilections.

I'd suggest we read & heed, but I doubt if many of us would.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


There is just a whole lot of stuff in this first chapter of the book of James.

Read it slowly...

There's just a lot pack into these few verses.

Brace yourself, though because some of it will really kick your butt.

James 1

 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

4 So let it grow,

     for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

5 If you need wisdom,

      if you want to know what God wants you to do,

   ask him,

      & he will gladly tell you.

He will not resent your asking.

6 But when you ask him, be sure you expect him to answer,

     for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.

 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

     8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

9 Believers who are poor have something to boast about,

     for God has honored them.

10 And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them.

      They will fade away like a little flower in the field.

      11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers;

          the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away.

      In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.

 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.

Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say,

      "God is tempting me."

God is never tempted to do wrong,

     and he never tempts anyone else.

14 Temptation comes from our own desires,

      which entice us and drag us away.

15 These desires give birth to sinful actions.

And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

16 So don't be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.

 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.

He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word.

And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters:

        You must all be quick to listen,

        slow to speak,

        and slow to get angry.

20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives,

        and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts,

        for it has the power to save your souls.

22 But don't just listen to God's word.

        You must do what it says.

Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

23 For if you listen to the word and don't obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.

        24 You see yourself,

        walk away,

        and forget what you look like.

 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free,

and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard,

then God will bless you for doing it.

26 If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue,

        you are fooling yourself,

        and your religion is worthless.

27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means

        caring for orphans and widows in their distress

        and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

Friday, December 12, 2014

no matter what

I will never leave you or forsake you. Hebrews 13:5b

Sometimes I think it was a miracle I graduated from college.

For those 5 years,it was such a spiritual, emotional, & social struggle for me as I started dealing with my issues, hangups, or "stuff".

I distinctly remember in my freshman year when I was struggling with a bunch of issues, I went down to the prayer room on the second floor of the music building.

(I went to Asbury College - now a University - a Christian college in central KY, so we had prayer spaces around the campus.)

I don't remember what I was struggling with - it could have been any of a gajillion things ;-)

What I DO remember was that while I was praying & thinking, this thought dropped into my head...

     "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, thus saith the Lord God of hosts."

(Remember that the King James version of the Bible was still the universally used one ;-) )

I was my first experience of God speaking to me - it wasn't an audible voice - I probably would have died if I'd heard an audible voice. LOL

But this as a very distinct voice inside my head that I heard - it was a very definite strong thought that was dropped into my thinking.

You see, I'd never heard those words before, that I could recall, nor had I ever read them anywhere, as far as I can ascertain.

You can imagine how I felt & what went through my mind when somewhere during that freshman year at Asbury I finally did read them in Hebrews 13.

And so I have carried them around inside of me ever since - a kind of landmark in my life & connection with God - some might call it my "life verse".

In any event, it has been a truth that I've held on to through a lot of bad times, as well as good ones.

And I still do...

I know He will never leave me, or forsake me...

     ...He hasn't, & He won't... matter what.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

2 mandates

2 mandates...

One says, "GO!"

The other says, "hitch up your drawers & keep moving"

Both say people are depending on us.

Matthew 28

16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee,

       going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.

17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!

  18 Jesus came and told his disciples,

        "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.

        19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,

         baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.

And be sure of this:

     I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Hebrews 12

12 So take a new grip with your tired hands,

       & stand firm on your shakey legs.

13 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 .

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

everyday people

Hebrews 11

 How much more do I need to say?

It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets.

 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them.

They shut the mouths of lions,34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword.

Their weakness was turned to strength.

They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.

 Women received their loved ones back again from death.

  But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free.

They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.

36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips.

Others were chained in prisons.

37 Some died by stoning,

some were sawed in half,

and others were killed with the sword.

Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated.

38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

We spend a lot of time talking about the various people mentioned for their great faith in Hebrews 11 - & the somewhat glamorous lives they lives because of it.

They were the exceptions in this life.

In the second half of verse 35 through verse 38, the author of Hebrews talks about where most of us live...

     our lives of faith are not glittering, glamorous, or something that might mentioned in the Bible or the subject of a movie or a Netflix documentary.

We live believing - back then it was pretty dangerous to believe in Jesus - I mean, some got sawed in half?! Whoa!!!

And there are billions of us who have, & are, & will live lives following Jesus, being who it is He dreamed us to be, & never set the world on fire.

We are the overwhelming majority.

This is not to say we are unimportant.

It's just that I'm not sure if we are well served by only just looking at the lives of the famous people.

Most of us won't be famous Christ followers.

We will be Christ followers - & that matters.

But our contribution to God's overarching plan for humankind will not be spoken of in the media or a viral vid on YouTube.

It will be noted, & rewarded, by the One who really matters - God.

I guess that's part of what following Christ is all about - being & do what He created us to be, regardless of how our lives seemingly impact the world.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

keep on

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

I don't know exactly when God brought these two verses into my life - maybe in May of 2006? That's a date I have in my Bible.

The thing is, He's been gently reminding me of this truth ever since.

     Well, most of the time it's not so gentle - it's more like He pokes me in the eye with it!

I keep hearing Him drop the thought quietly in my head, "Don't throw away this confident trust in the Lord."

     Iow, don't quit.

     Don't doubt.

     Don't give up.

     Don't put your heart & mind in park.



I think that's what it's been all about these last 8 years in particular...


     Do I trust Him, or not.

     I either do, or I don't.

     A lot of the time I think trusting a little bit is kind like being pregnant a little bit - there's no such thing.

     I either trust Him, or I don't.

"no matter what happens" keeps coming up in my life - not just here, but in other scripture in other places.

     no matter what.

Iow, throw out that success orientation,

     quit equating a life of servanthood & discipleship as the same thing as "the American Dream",

     live with the fact that you live in a world that has been so sin-soaked for millenia that it is so far from the perfect world God created, no wrecked, so awry, so screwed up, that just about anything can happen, & probably will.

     our sinfulness creates something, & it ain't good.

It ain't gonna be an easy life.

It's just the way it is.


But there are some rewards to keeping on keeping on.

No, they're probably no gonna be a glittering life filled with recognition.

Shoot... most people won't remember the good we've done for very long - out of sight, out of mind.

Anymore, we've ALL got the attention spans of gerbils.

We must keep on so that we fulfill our part of the overarching purpose God has for each of us,

     a purpose that fits into the big picture called humankind.

We may not know the who, what, where, when, why (especially the why!), or the how.

We just know we have to keep moving forward, remaining within His will for each of us.

And there at the end of verse 36, the author says if we remain faithful,

     if we keep on,

     we'll see the reward for that faithful.

I've come to realize a big chunk of that reward I ain't gonna see until I get to heaven.

And yeah, I'm just as polluted with the instant gratification desires as everyone else in our culture & nation.

I might get to see some of the results of what it is He has for me to do.

But most of it I don't think I'm gonna see until later - like in heaven.

Now, of course, I'm so humble & holy that I'm perfectly content to wait until heaven to understand it all.

Yeah, right!!!

We all know better than that!

Anyway, read all of chapter 10 in Hebrews. You'll get the other stuff that will help you understand even more the importance & magnitude of what God is saying through this author.

(They don't know exactly who wrote Hebrews - most folks think Paul - but the author never identifies themselves - evidently back then they all knew who wrote it.

Sorry I started typing I couldn't shut up. Trust me, I didn't set out to write an epistle this morning.

Anyway, write these 2 verses down & carry them around for a few days or weeks. The encouragement & challenge just may help you walk through some things you'll face.

Monday, December 8, 2014

no more smorgasbord

What with all the rhetoric that flies around our conversations in America about "the poor" or "immigrants", I just can't get away from these verses in Matthew that record Jesus' thoughts on all that.

He doesn't present us with any disclaimers or qualifiers - It's pretty much an either / or situation - a pretty stringent either / or situation.

Unfortunately, this mandate seems to be one of those things that we here in America regularly decide to not choose to follow in the smorgasbord Christianity we buy into - where we pick & choose what we will be & do, rather than follow what Jesus as He mandated.

Matthew 25

 "But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne.

 All the nations will be gathered in his presence,

        and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

  34 "Then the King will say to those on his right,

          'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.

35 For I was hungry,

        and you fed me.

I was thirsty,

     and you gave me a drink.

I was a stranger,

     and you invited me into your home.

36 I was naked,

     and you gave me clothing.

I was sick,

     and you cared for me.

I was in prison,

     and you visited me.'

  37 "Then these righteous ones will reply,

     'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you?

     Or thirsty and give you something to drink?

     38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality?

     Or naked and give you clothing?

     39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?'

  40 "And the King will say,

     'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'

  41 "Then the King will turn to those on the left and say,

          'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.

42 For I was hungry,

     and you didn't feed me.

I was thirsty,

     and you didn't give me a drink.

43 I was a stranger,

     and you didn't invite me into your home.

I was naked,

     and you didn't give me clothing.

I was sick and in prison,

     and you didn't visit me.'

  44 "Then they will reply,

     'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?'

  45 "And he will answer,

     'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'

  46 "And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life."

Sunday, December 7, 2014

a butt whuppin'

How many of us are whiners?

How many of us feel we're not being treated right, by God, by others, by whoever & whatever?

We forget all the time the things God HAS done for us & IS doing for us.

Well, prepare to get your butt kicked.

Well, actually, it's more like a butt whuppin'...

That's what this psalm did to me this morning.

Just sayin'...

Psalm 103

 Let all that I am praise the LORD;

  with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.

 Let all that I am praise the LORD;

  may I never forget the good things he does for me.

 He forgives all my sins

  and heals all my diseases.

 He redeems me from death

  and surrounds me with love and tender mercies.

 He fills my life with good things.

  My youth is renewed like the eagle's!

6 The LORD gives righteousness

  and justice to all who are treated unfairly.

7 He revealed his character to Moses

  and his deeds to the people of Israel.

 The LORD is compassionate and merciful,

  slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.

 He will not constantly accuse us,

  nor remain angry forever.

 He does not punish us for all our sins;

  he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.

 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him

  is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.

 He has removed our sins as far from us

  as the east is from the west.

13 The LORD is like a father to his children,

  tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

 For he knows how weak we are;

  he remembers we are only dust.

 Our days on earth are like grass;

  like wildflowers, we bloom and die.

 The wind blows, and we are gone—

  as though we had never been here.

 But the love of the LORD remains forever

  with those who fear him.

His salvation extends to the children's children

   of those who are faithful to his covenant,

  of those who obey his commandments!

19 The LORD has made the heavens his throne;

  from there he rules over everything.

20 Praise the LORD, you angels,

  you mighty ones who carry out his plans,

  listening for each of his commands.

 Yes, praise the LORD, you armies of angels

  who serve him and do his will!

 Praise the LORD, everything he has created,

  everything in all his kingdom.

Let all that I am praise the LORD.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

all that, or insignificant

The greatest among you must be a servant.

Those who exalt themselves will be humbled,

& those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Jesus speaking in Matthew 23:11-12

This goes against everything we are taught by our culture & society.

If these words of Jesus are true, how then should we live?

Friday, December 5, 2014

2 things

Matthew 22

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

 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.'

 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 thing summed up in 4 words...

Love God, love people.

Sounds like a great tat to me!


I need to read this every day...

Hebrews 6

 For God is not unjust.

He will not forget how hard you have worked for him

     and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers,

     as you still do.

11 Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts,

     in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.

 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent.

Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God's promises because of their faith and endurance.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

pslam 100

Psalm 100

 Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth!

   Worship the LORD with gladness.

  Come before him, singing with joy.

 Acknowledge that the LORD is God!

  He made us, and we are his.

  We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;

  go into his courts with praise.

  Give thanks to him and praise his name.

 For the LORD is good.

  His unfailing love continues forever,

  and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

laid bare

Hebrews 4

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful.

It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword,

     cutting between soul and spirit,

     between joint and marrow,

     into our innermost thoughts & desires.

It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires;

     it exposes us for what we really are.

13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God.

Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes.

    This is the God to whom we must explain everything we've done.

Been reading the Bible every morning, without fail, since mid January, 2003

Trust me on this:

     the Word of God is like a very VERY sharp knife.

     it cuts right through crap we've layered on to protect ourselves & hide from God.

     it will cut right through to the very bottom of our personhood.

     it leave butt naked who we REALLY are & what our motives REALLY are.

We don't like to be naked - physically, emotionally, psychologically, or spiritually.

We gotta be in control.

We have to preserve a carefully crafted image that we project to the world.

But the Words lays those parts of us completely bare.

It's a painful process,

    but in then end we have the rot gut of our lives cleaned away

    & God starts recreating the life He dreamed for us.

Hebrews 4

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven,

        Jesus the Son of God,

let us hold firmly to what we believe.

15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses,

        for he faced all of the same testings we do,

        yet he did not sin.

16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.

There we will receive his mercy,

     and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Jesus understands EVERYTHING we think & feel, because He lived here among us for 33 years.

And add to that reality that He stands ready to help us, especially when we are at our weakest.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

flying "but's"

Matthew 19

 Someone came to Jesus with this question:

        "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?"

  17 "Why ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied.

        "There is only One who is good.

But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments."

  18 "Which ones?" the man asked.

  And Jesus replied:

     "'You must not murder.

     You must not commit adultery.

     You must not steal.

     You must not testify falsely.

     19 Honor your father and mother.

     Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

  20 "I've obeyed all these commandments," the young man replied. "What else must I do?"

  21 Jesus told him,

        "If you want to be perfect,

        go and sell all your possessions

        and give the money to the poor,

        and you will have treasure in heaven.

        Then come, follow me."

  22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

  23 Then Jesus said to his disciples,

         "I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

          24 I'll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!"

  25 The disciples were astounded. "Then who in the world can be saved?" they asked.

  26 Jesus looked at them intently and said,

        "Humanly speaking, it is impossible.

        But with God everything is possible."

What would happen if we did what Jesus told the rich young man to do...?

     ...sell everything we have,

     ...give the money to the poor,

     ...& follow him.

Now I can heard all "but's that are flying through the air...

     ...but how would we live?!

     ...but what would happen to the world if all Christians did that?!

     ...but what about my wife, children, family?!


you get the idea.

Just answer the question - what if we all did what Jesus told the rich young man?

What would happen?

The disciples did that.

Paul of Tarsus did that.

Francis of Assisi did that.

Mother Teresa did that.

you want me to go on?

What would happen if we did what Jesus said to do?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Kevin's illustration

Matthew 18

 About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked,

     "Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?"

  2 Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them.

3 Then he said,

     "I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.

4 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Every time I read these 4 verses in Matthew 18, I think of my really kool son, Kevin. I've shared before what he shared one time. It still blows my socks off when I think about it.

We were in a meeting together where we were going around the circle of those present & telling where we each were in our lives.

While this is going on, Kevin, who is sitting next to me, is looking through a file of pictures on his computer.

I'm thinkin' - 'What are you doing, dude?!"

When we got around the circle to him, he closed his computer & said this...

"I was looking at picture of my son, Trey" (Trey was a preschooler then.)

"In each of the pictures he's looking at me He's not looking around, he doesn't know where we're going, how long it's gonna take, what we're gonna do when we get there, or even why we're going where we're going. All he cares about is that is with me."

"I used to be like that with God. All I wanted to be was with Him. Now I feel like I need to know the who, what, where, when, & how of everything happening in my life. Like, I deserve to know."

"I wanna be more like Trey in my attitude toward God. I wanna get back to what I used to be.I wanna be just glad to be with Him, & trust Him for the rest."


Think about THAT today....