Saturday, February 28, 2015

you want me to do what?!!!

Judges 6

 The Israelites did evil in the LORD's sight.

So the LORD handed them over to the Midianites for seven years.

 The Midianites were so cruel that the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds.

3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, marauders from Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east would attack Israel,4 camping in the land and destroying crops as far away as Gaza.

They left the Israelites with nothing to eat, taking all the sheep, goats, cattle, and donkeys.

 These enemy hordes, coming with their livestock and tents, were as thick as locusts; they arrived on droves of camels too numerous to count.

And they stayed until the land was stripped bare.

 So Israel was reduced to starvation by the Midianites.

Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD for help.

  7 When they cried out to the LORD because of Midian,8 the LORD sent a prophet to the Israelites.

He said, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of slavery in Egypt.

9 I rescued you from the Egyptians and from all who oppressed you.

I drove out your enemies and gave you their land.

10 I told you, 'I am the LORD your God. You must not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you now live.'

But you have not listened to me."

  11 Then the angel of the LORD came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer.

Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites.

 The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said, "Mighty hero, the LORD is with you!"

  13 "Sir," Gideon replied, "if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us?

And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about?

Didn't they say, 'The LORD brought us up out of Egypt'?

But now the LORD has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites."

14 Then the LORD turned to him and said, "Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!"

  15 "But Lord," Gideon replied, "how can I rescue Israel?

My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!"

  16 The LORD said to him, "I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man."

And that's exactly what happened - Gibeon did what the Lord told him to do, & he got rid of all the Midianites.

The story of Gibeon & his leading Israel to get rid of the Midianites is in Judges 6-8. Give it a read when you get a chance.

Israel was in an impossible place - the Midianites were an evil bunch.

And the Lord called Gibeon, who saw himself as the least important, the least able person in the weakest tribe in all of Israel.

iow, he thought he was the least of the least - the most unlikely person to lead Israel against the Midianites, a really rough crowd.

And the Lord says 5 words to him that changes everything.

"I will be with you."

And Gibeon ended up doing exactly what the Lord told him he could do.

Now, we may criticize Gibeon for not trusting the Lord.

But then, we know the end of the story.

Gibeon didn't.

So it's understandable that Gibeon would find it hard to believe he was going to pull off what the Lord had told him to do.

Like Israel suffering under the Midianites, many of us seem to be in an impossible place.

And in that impossible, God tells us to be & do something.

And we look at the impossible thing(s) He tells us to be & do.

And we look at the impossible place we are in.

And we see how much impossible it is for someone as weak & inferior to be & do what He wants us to be & do.

And all God says back to us are 5 little one syllable words.

"I will be with you."

And that makes us able to be & do what He calls us to be & do.

I know Mother Teresa felt just like Gibeon.

So does Billy Graham.

Pope Francis does too.

And so did Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ.

Louis Giglio, founder of Passion, does too,

and Chris Tomlin, singer / song writer

and David Crowder, singer / song writer,

and a lot of other folks,

and me.

But if God calls us to be & do something for Him, all of us, including you, can hang on to those 5 words...

     "I will be with you."

And we can trust that He will be.

And we become capable as a result.

How do I know?

I've experienced it.

Friday, February 27, 2015

have your read some of the things He said?

 Matthew 16

 Then Jesus said to his disciples,

     "If any of you wants to be my follower,

        you must turn from your selfish ways & ambitions,

        take up your cross,

        and follow me.

 If you try to hang on to your life,

     you will lose it.

But if you give up your life for my sake,

     you will save it.

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

      Is anything worth more than your soul?

Vs 25 goes SO MUCH against the prevailing socially acceptable selfishness that seems to infect & permeate all of our cultural norms.

We're constantly told to look out for ourselves,

     that no one is going to look out for us but us,

     to be who we are regardless of what that might impact others,

     & the rights & privileges of the individual are most important.

But Jesus says that's not the way.

     He says to let loose of our lives,

     trust Him to take over the essence & direction of our lives,

     and as a result, we will each find the life that is designed for us by the God of the universes a gajillion years ago.

That's why when people say to me that they don't believe Jesus to be the Son of God but just a good teacher who had good things to say, I always wonder...

     ...have you read some of the stuff He said?
 verse 25?

I think they are just thinking of some of the warm & fuzzy things they think He said.

Vs 26 is one I think about especially when someone of note dies, someone who has a significant media presence, whether good or bad.

People like Robin Williams,

     Joan Rivers,

     Bob Simon,

     Mario Cuomo,

     the terrorists who did the killing at Charlie Hebdo in Paris,

     Shirley Temple,

     and hundreds more.

I wonder what they would all say to us, right now, if they could speak to us?

Jesus said plainly how futile it is to make your focus anything else other than connecting with Him & being & doing what He leads us to be & do.

I just wonder what the hundreds & hundreds of people who have passed on would say to us about the truth contained in vs 26.

Of course, once again, our culture thinks & believes otherwise...

     how many of us have heard this thought postulated...

     "the one who ends up with the most toys, wins."

I wonder what Steve Jobs would say right now about that kind of thinking?

And I wonder if the people who believe Jesus was just a good man & teacher have read vs 26, too?

It's no small wonder to me that the world actually thinks Christ followers are nuts - most of what we think & feel about things appears to be that way, if juxtaposed to their thinking.

The longer I live, the more I realize that as followers of Jesus, all that we are & think goes against the grain of the rest of the world.

And I've come to expect that we will only get stronger & stronger negative reactions to it.

Don't know where all these thoughts came from this morning.

I'm not trying to be bleak, maybe just looking at the realities of life as we know it these days...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

a big chunk of truth

Here's another one of those sections in Paul's letter to the Christians in Rome.

It has so many HUGE things to declare.

And the real kicker comes in the last 3 words of the passage.

Read this section slowly...

Romans 5

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

     we have peace with God

     because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

2 Because of our faith,

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

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

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

      for we know that they help us develop endurance.

      4 And endurance develops strength of character,

      and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

      5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment.

For we know how dearly God loves us,

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

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

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

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

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

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

     he will certainly save us from God's condemnation.

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

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

11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God

      because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

cut some slack

Matthew 15

 Then Jesus called his disciples and told them,

     "I feel sorry for these people.

     They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat.

     I don't want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way."

 The disciples replied, "Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?"

  34 Jesus asked, "How much bread do you have?"

  They replied, "Seven loaves, and a few small fish."

  35 So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground.

     36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish,

      thanked God for them,

      and broke them into pieces.

He gave them to the disciples, who distributed the food to the crowd.

  37 They all ate as much as they wanted.

Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food.

38 There were 4,000 men who were fed that day,

        in addition to all the women and children.

39 Then Jesus sent the people home, and he got into a boat and crossed over to the region of Magadan.

In Matthew 13 there is a similar account of Jesus feeding a large group of people.

     then is was a crowd of 5000 men, in addition to women & children.

     & there were 12 baskets of food left over.

I would like to think that if I'd seen Jesus feed those people in chapter 13, when the situation happened again, I would look Jesus in the eye & just tell him if he could perform a miracle feed those folks in chapter 13, He could certainly do it again in chapter 15.

But before we give the disciples down the country for their lack of  faith, or their thick headedness, consider this...

On more than one occasion, God has pulled us out of some pretty tight situations.

     He has come through with some pretty amazing stuff, stuff we've known could only have come because of His favor.

But we're just like the disciples - when faced with a tough situation, we still fret & worry about whether He'll take care of us like He has before.

How many times does the Lord have to come through for us before we just naturally trust Him to do it?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

big statement

Sometimes Paul, the apostle, just bursts out in a huge statement about who God is & what He's done for us.

He does that here in the 3rd chapter to the Christians in Rome.

Read this slowly, more than once, & let it sink in...

Romans 3

 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law,

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

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

And this is true for everyone who believes,

     no matter who we are

     or what we have done.

  23 For everyone has sinned;

        we all fall short of God's glorious standard.

24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous.

He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.

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

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

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

God did this to demonstrate his righteousness,

     for he himself is fair and just,

     and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

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


   because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law.

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

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

Isn't he also the God of the Gentiles?

Of course he is.

30 There is only one God,

      and he makes people right with himself only by faith,

      whether they are Jews or Gentiles.

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

Of course not!

In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.

Monday, February 23, 2015


Paul, the apostle, wrote this to the community of believers in capital city of Rome...

The day will surely come when God, by Jesus Christ, will judge everyone's secret life. Romans 2:16

Think about that.

Maybe we should think about the person we are when no one is around,

     the person we are inside, where no one sees, that no one knows.

And one day, that life we all keep secret with seen & judged by God.

Think about it today, & how should that fact impact the way we live?

Sunday, February 22, 2015


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

It is the power of God at work,

     saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.
This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight.

     This is accomplished from start to finish by faith.

As the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life.

Romans 1:16-17

"God makes us right in his sight."

So, let me get this straight....

even though we are sinful - we are things & do things that are contrary to the very nature & essence of who God is...

even though we are sinful,

     because of Jesus & His sacrifice of Himself,

     God forgives all our sins,

     & everything is made ok between us & God?

just like that?

no matter who we are or what we've ever been or done?

That too simple.

That's so unlike the rest of our live experience.

Nothing's that simple.

That is the scandal of the possibility of reconnecting with God through Jesus.

We don't get what we deserve.

We experience the grace of God,

     & His mercy,

     & His forgiveness,

     & His love for us.

"And God makes us right in His sight."

Saturday, February 21, 2015

come to Me...

Then Jesus said,

     “Come to me,

         all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,

     and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you.

Let me teach you,

     because I am humble and gentle at heart,

     and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy to bear,

     and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

I went to & checked a number of different translations.

Each one of them had one common thread...

     they all translated part of what Jesus said here as "come to Me..."

Those are the words that stuck out for me right this morning.

"come to Me..."

Jesus, who is God, says to us "come to Me".

He doesn't say, "get yourself clean up,

     or get yourself straightened out,

     or being perfect,

     with your life put together."

He just says, "come to Me".

     no disclaimers.

     no expectations.


     just like you are.

How many of us need someplace, someone who will just say to us in a wide open, accepting, loving embrace, "come here"?

Jesus says that to each & every one of us.

     no matter what kind of mess we've made.

     no matter what kind of stuff had been done to us.

     no matter how hopeless,










        &/or impossible things seems,

     Jesus says, "come to Me..."

So, let's go...

Friday, February 20, 2015


"If you cling to your life,

     you will lose it;

but if you give it up for Me,

     you will find it."

Jesus, in Matthew 10:39

It was right before the beginning of 2008 that I felt like God had given me this verse as one of the verses to hold on to for 2008.

My initial response to that impression was, "oh crap!"

Yeah, I'm REAL holy.

You see, I reacted that way because all I saw was the don't cling to your life part...

     iow, all I saw what that I was prolly gonna have to give up a lot of stuff that I hold dear.

Such a deeply spiritual response, too, don't ya think?

I didn't see the 2nd part - if you give up, you'll find your life.

Well, as it turned out, at the beginning of 2008 I felt like that God wanted us to move the 20something ministry I was a part of (not leading) out of the church & to a downtown location.

What's more, we were also supposed to start a Sunday morning satellite congregation of the church too.

I knew no one in their right might would let me do that.

All during 2008 as I thought about that mandate, looked for a place to meet, & just tried to put feet & legs to that, I would always worry & fret about all the kinds of changes to my life that would occur.

Every time I got in that mode, God would whisper to me, "don't cling to your life...".

I've learned that life is a series of seasons, so good, some awful, some challenging, scary, fulfilling, or amazing.

If we are truly following Jesus as a servant, we are expected to be in a "whatever" mode with Him...

     ...whatever He leads us toward, we have to walk toward it...

     ...that's what serving is...

     ...being & doing whatever you're instructed to be & do.

That's why the line to sign up for servanthood is so short.

And I've also learned that we can't cling to the former season.

We have to let it go (I feel a song coming on...)

We have to move on to whatever God has next for us.

That doesn't mean we forget the former seasons - we just don't get stuck there - we move on.

As it turned out, everyone in charge seemed fine with what I thought God wanted us to do.

We moved the 20something ministry & started the satellite congregation, & I ended up leading them both!

Crazy, huh?

But you know what's REALLY crazy?

That year & a half we spent down there were some of the most wonderful, crazy, fulfilling, halcyon days of my life.

And if I'd clung to my life as it was at the beginning of 2008, I would have missed it all.

Now, letting go of your life isn't always glamorous.

In 2010, God started getting me ready to leave all that & move into the next season.

We moved to Blairsville in September, 2010 with some ideas as to what we might be about up here.

None of that has come to fruition, yet.

We're still pretty clueless as to exactly what & for whom we are here.

We may never know.

But one thing is for certain...

     ...this is where God wants us for this season.

And as a follower, Lynn & I obey.

And we live in a beautiful place, & we love & care about a lot of people,

     we've made contacts w/ some very interesting folks through the food pantry,

     & we serve God by pointing people to Him as best we can when we can.

And we take it one day at a time...

I'm not sure if many people think this was the right move for us - maybe Sheila Hayslip does - she's ALWAYS been supportive as well as prays for us all the time.

All I know is all I know. Here we are. Someday God will move us on to the next season. Who knows what it will bring.

God help me to not cling to my life, because in letting go, I continue to experience the life He dreamed for me a gajillion years ago.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


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."

During these decades I've lived in the evangelical world, I guess I've heard this passage used as a catalyst to inspire, challenge, & call people to overseas missions.

And it's certainly a good one to use.

It should be noted that Jesus spoke these words when He was traveling about his own country.

During the 1970's, my wife, Lynn, was a medical missionary in western Kenya with the Southern Baptist Church.

During the 32+ years we've been married, she has often said being a missionary isn't about location, but about a state of the heart.

If we love & care about the lost, we'll love & care about them wherever we are.

Lynn saw folks in the 9 years of her missionary life (& since, too) who were only missionaries when they were in foreign countries.

That's not the way it works.

Being concerned about the lost isn't something we "do" - it is something we "are" - no matter our location.

Going overseas doesn't kick in that love & concern - that love & concern for others should be ever present as our identity.


What Jesus said is true - no matter where we find ourselves, we are surrounded by people who are in a disconnected state with God.

That can be at home, in our neighborhood, in the place we work, in the stores or restaurants or gyms or medical & leisure facilities that we frequent - in short, everywhere.

And Jesus challenges & calls us to be Him wherever it is we are.

And before you think this is a "do as I say, not as I do" kind of thing, the longer I live, the more I realize how many opportunities I'm given each day to be Jesus to someone.

Now I'm not suggesting we go around like some "Bible banger" constantly hitting people over the head with the Gospel.

What I am suggesting is that we simply be who we are & let the reality of being a Christ follower come out.

And 1 more thing...

Before we turn our noses up at the prospect of opening our lives up to people, where would you or I be if the people who impacted each of us to follow Jesus had decided it was something they could or would not be & do?


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

worry 3.0

So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have it's own worries.

     Today's trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:34

For the last couple of days I've been snagged on Matthew 6:25-34 - it's the section about "the lilies of the field & the birds of the air" thing...

     it's where Jesus addresses worry by starting off in saying, "...don't worry about your life."

And we all know I'm a worrier.

And we all know is basically a lack of trust.

Well, yesterday something happened that kicked my butt.

I've had a situation lately that's really worried me. I've speak a lot of time fretting over it, fantasizing in the negative (iow, thinking of all the most terrible things that could happen), & just being way too focused on it.

Btw, ny wife, Lynn, who I believe possesses the spiritual gift of faith, was taking it one day at a time & waiting for God to take care of it.

Well, the long & the short of it is that yesterday I had one conversation about this situation with someone & as a result, everything has fallen into place.

Yeah, I feel stupid, again.

Yeah, God seems to have worked all things out without me.

How many times does He have to do this before I trust Him completely?

(Don't answer that question!)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

seek first, then

Matthew 6:33

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (NKJV)

 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (NLT)

What you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what he wants you to do. Then he will give you all these other things you need. (ERV)

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. (Amplified)

Set your heart on the kingdom and his goodness, and all these things will come to you as a matter of course. (J. B. Phillips)

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too. (The Voice)

Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (The Message)

I can't seem to get away from Matthew 6:25-34.

I read chapter 7 today, because that's what I was supposed to do.

I just can't seem to get away from those last 9 verses of chapter 6.

Maybe God is trying to get me to trust Him more, because that's basically what worry is...

     ...a significant lack of trust in Him & that He'll be & do what He says He'll be & do.

Or maybe He's trying to get me to chill about the future?

The bottom line truth here is one I've seen worked out in my life before & in the lives of  others...

   ...if we spend the balance of our time trying to get into a closer, more intimate, more transparent relationship with Him, all the rest of our lives seem to take care of themselves.

Now, trust me on this - whenever anyone reminds me of this, I want to throw my hands up in exasperation.

I know, I know - it makes no sense, especially since I've personally experienced the true of this verse!

But I get frustrated because I'm usually trying to work things out on my own.

And that's because I want things to work out like I want them to work out.

(Did I just say that out loud?!)

Well, there you have it - the butt naked truth of the matter.

I'm more in control if I'm spending more time on making things happen than getting closer to Him & trusting Him to take care of things...

     ...because the way He might work things out is not necessarily the way I want things to totally work out.

(Did I say that out loud, too?!)

The hilarious thing about all this is that LOTS of times if I'm talking to someone who griping & complaining about wanting things to work out, & how do they make that happen, & what should they do, & they're so confused, guess what I end up telling them?

"As crazy as it sounds, it you just spend more time getting closer to Him, all those things have a way of working themselves out."

Yes, I see that statement for me is more of a "do what I say, not what I do" kinda thing.

Yeah, I'm a hypocrite - put it on my name tag.

Maybe I could just take it one day at a time & try to be more like I suggest others be during that day, maybe I could develop a habit of thinking that way...

Monday, February 16, 2015

don't worry about your life.

Matthew 6

 "That is why I tell you, don't worry about your 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?

27 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.

34 "So don't worry about tomorrow,

        for tomorrow will bring its own worries.

Today's trouble is enough for today.

Aaron Barth is someone very dear to me. In early January, 2008, he said something to me that kinda changed my life.

He came one day to the early morning prayer the staff at Christ Chapel Macon had each weekday morning.

He mentioned that at that time he'd been studying the Sermon of the Mount for the last few days. That's found in chapter 5, 6, & 7 of Matthew.

Aaron shared with us that he'd realized that we catch the full meaning of the above quoted section by reading those first words of Jesus...

   "...don't worry about your life."

I realized that what Aaron had just shared was an amazing truth.

"...don't worry about your life."

I was going through a transition at the chapel (when wasn't I?! ;-) ) & I needed to hold on to that truth - don't worry about your life.

Almost every day for the next couple of years, God seemed to whisper to me: don't worry about your life.

I reminded myself of the truth every time I started getting worried or scared about the transitions I was going through.

And, ya know, Jesus was right. Looking back, I realize that I didn't have anything to worry about. God walked with me through those transitions & I experienced on of the most halcyon seasons of my life.

I am ashamed to admit that lately I have forgotten to rely on this simple truth.

It's easy to let the ups & downs, cares & woes of life to blur or dim basic truths we've learned to trust.

I'm gonna hold this passage in my heart again. I need the rich & stable truth it simply communicates.

Maybe you need to linger over this passage, too? Maybe you're overwhelmed by life, or "can't see the forest for the trees", or maybe just don't know what's what anymore.

Let's hold on to this passage together, then?

"...don't worry about your life."

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Matthew 5, 6, & 7 are the 3 chapters some call the "Sermon on the Mount".

It is a major talk by Jesus to a large group of people on the side of a mountain.

It is jammed full of all kinds of good stuff.Every time I read it I see something differently.

Here's just a small 6 verse section of it, but just those 6 verses can change the trajectory of your life & thinking.

Mathhew 5

 "You have heard the law that says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy.

 But I say, love your enemies!

        Pray for those who persecute you!

45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.

For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good,

    and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?

     Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.

47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?

    Even pagans do that.

48 But you are to be perfect,

     even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

How different would our lives be,

     the paradigms we move in & through,

     & in turn, all of our world,

     if we lived these 6 verses

Saturday, February 14, 2015


You will keep on guarding me with 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 may grow weak,

But God remains the strength of my heart,

He is mine forever.

Psalm 73:24-26

Ok, let's check something...

Do we each believe that the Bible is the Word of God?

   iow, that when we read it, that what we're reading is God speaking to us?

Because if we believe the Bible is the Word of God, then how should those two verses I just share affect our lives?

How should we live?

How should we act?

What should our reaction to those verses be?

that is, IF we believe the Bible is the Word of God...

Friday, February 13, 2015


my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord...

     the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness & love.

Acts 22:24

Paul, the apostle, spoke these words to elders of the believers in Ephesus while he was on his way back to Jerusalem.

Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, appealed to Caesar, & was sent to Rome - he never saw the believers in Ephesus again.

Paul saw what He was supposed to be about, no matter where he was, or with whom, or when.

His mandate from God was to tell people about how God had provided a way of reconnecting with Him, because of Jesus.

We all have the same mandate on our lives.

No matter where we are,


     with whom,

     no matter what jobs we may have,

     or whatever is going on in our lives,

  we have the same mandate as Paul did - tell others about Jesus.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

closed ears

Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need. Proverbs 21:13

There is such a strong contempt for the poor, in part encouraged by the Objectivist writings of the Russian atheist, Ayn Rand, which feature, among other things, socially acceptable selfishness.

If the Bible is the Word of God to His people, then it  would follow that concern for the poor is something that should be a part of daily life.

Of course, that's a pretty big "if" because we all know that many do not believe that the Bible is the ultimate authority.

If concern for the poor isn't a part of everyday thinking, the writer of Proverbs indicated "what goes around, comes around"...

     iow, when the tables are turned & we are in need, whether that is financially, spiritually, emotionally, or psychologically, we will be ignored.

Ms Rand passed away in the early 1980's.

I wonder what she would say to us today if she could speak?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

the past

This morning I read through chapter 1 of the gospel of Matthew, which has the ancestry of Jesus through Joseph, who adopted Jesus as his son.

Of the people listed, there are 5 women mentioned.

Tamar, Judah's wife, was really his childless daughter-in-law. She tricked Judah into having sex with her by pretending to be a prostitute.

Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho, but married a Jew, Salmon, who was Boaz's father.

Ruth was a non-Jew, from Moab, an idol worshiper of Chemosh, a god in Moab who demanded human sacrifice. She became a believer in Jehovah because hermother-in-law, Naomi, was Jewish. Ruth also ending up marrying Boaz.

Bathsheba was the wife of King David. David saw her taking a bath on her rooftop, had her come to the palace, had sex w/ her, & she got pregnant. Only problem? Bathsheba is married to Urriah the Hittite, one of David's loyal soldiers. David had Uriah killed in battle so David could have Bathsheba.

Mary was the physical mother of Jesus.

4 of those 5 ladies lived very colorful lives.

I guess the rest of the wives were regular Jewish women?

What does that say?

Does it say that God can use anybody for His purpose, no matter what their past might be?

And if that is so, what does that have to say about God being able to use anyone, any of us?

Does that mean that if we are surrendered to Him, He can use us, no matter what our past may or may not be?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

what's required

"Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved..." Acts 16:31

Paul & Silas were in Philippi, had been arrested, beaten, & locked up.

While they were singing & praising God (yeah, after been severely beaten), there was an earthquake, every prisoner's chains fell off, & the doors to the cells & the gates to the prison were knocked open.

The jailer, fearing the prisoners had escape, was about to kill himself, because the authorities would have killed him for letting them get away.

But Paul yelled out they they were all still there.

The jailer then said, "What must I do to be saved?"

And Paul answered him with the above verse.

Believe on the Lord Jesus & you will be saved...

iow, if you believe Jesus' perfect life, death,& resurrection is the way God provided for us to reconnect with Him, then that is all that is required for us to reconnect with God.

And "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ & you will be saved" is a complete sentence.

We like to tack a lot of other things onto that statement, some of which are our own likes & dislikes, while others are just the way things are in our culture.

We want people to conform to what we are comfortable with when thinking what a Christian has to be & do to be reconnected with God.

Not so.

The thing we must do is believe Jesus is who He said He is.

That's what "gets us on the bus."

Now, after we become reconnected with God, He will certainly start the process of recreating us into the image of Himself.

But what "gets us in the gate," what makes this reconnection possible, is something so scandalously simple that many people just can't believe that that is all there is too it.

I remember informally talking to a small group of college students out in the hall during a conference we had at Christ Chapel Macon one weekend.

They were asking me if they were this kind of person or that kind of person, would they go to hell.

I told them that, correct me if I'm wrong, but reconnecting with God, being "saved", is all about believing in Jesus - that's what "gets us in the door".

And that's all there is to it.

Then, from the start of our belief in Jesus & trust in His provision for our reconnection to God, God will be trying to make us into what He dreamed & created us to be & do.

Monday, February 9, 2015

look out

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23

If we don't think we need to constantly be guarding our heart,

     guarding against the temptations the devil is constantly flinging at us,



     we are at our most vulnerable.

     We are more than likely gonna sin, big time.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for those who follow Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

This is one of the verses I feel like I'm supposed to hold on to during 2015.

Boy, the "always be thankful" part is a tough one.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

some proverbs of Solomon

Proverbs is such a rich & interesting book. Each time I read it I find something different.

If you haven't read it, give it a read. The first few chapters can be tedious, so just wade through them, or start reading at chapter 10. That's where the typical "proverbs" kick in.

Here's some particularly good ones from chapter 16. A lot of them talk about the favor of God & who's really in charge are here ;-)

Proverbs 16

vs 1 We can gather our thoughts, but God gives the right answer.

vs 3 Commit your work to the Lord, & your plans will succeed.

vs 8 It is better to be poor & godly than rich & dishonest.

vs 9 We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

vs 18 Pride goes before destruction, & haughtiness before a fall.

vs 19 It is better to live humbly with the poor than to share plunder with the proud.

vs 20 Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be happy.

vs 25 There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.

vs 31 Grey hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.

vs 32 It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city.

vs 33 We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


Here on earth you will have many trials & sorrows.

But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

This is Jesus speaking to his disciples the night before He was killed.

I would think in that situation, Jesus would be cutting to the chase about everything.

He didn't have much time left with his disciples, so I would think that we was saying a lot of things to them, a lot of important things.

Here He says something succinct, while at the same time huge.

All of us experience all kinds of rough stuff.

     Some of us have a real sack of rock to tote.

     And some of us just seem to have one crazy, crappy thing after another happen to us.

You know people like that.

     You may be one of them.

Jesus says something here that I don't think we buy into very much, given the worry we all live with.

Jesus, who is God - the God of the universes - basically says to us here that He knows & understands that we're gonna have all kind of bad stuff thrown at us as we walk this life here on earth.

And then He says very simply that He's got our backs.

We don't have to be overwhelmed, overcome, or over stressed by all the bad stuff that happens to us & to people we know & care about.

He's got this. He's gonna take care of us.

Why don't we believe this & rest in it?

Is it another trust issue?

Do we just not believe He's gonna come through?

Or do we carry the load of our "trials & sorrows" ourselves for control reasons?

Or is it we just don't think we're worthy of that kind of caregiving from God?

Something tells me there are a lot of different reasons why we don't trust Him with all things hard stuff we endure.

But the bottom line is that Jesus, in the last few hours with His disciples told them He had their backs.

All we have to do is trust Him on it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

John 15


John 15 is such a powerful chapter, especially verses 1 - 17.

The margins in my Bible are full of dates when God spoke to me prophetically about upcoming things.

And I ain't talking 1 or 2 times - more like 8 different times.

These very hold so much, so very, VERY much.

Read them with an open heart & an open mind.

God may choose to not only speak to you about something out of the box for you, it may entail you throwing away your box for it to come into fruition.

John 15

 "I am the true grapevine,

     and my Father is the gardener.

 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.

 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.

 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.

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

8 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.

 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!

 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.

 You are my friends if you do what I command.

15 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.

 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.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

John 14

sometimes it's hard to figure what to share. John 14 is like that - choke full of stuff.

Read it slowly, & more than once...

John 14

 "Don't let your hearts be troubled.

Trust in God, and trust also in me.

 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.

 And you know the way to where I am going."

  5 "No, we don't know, Lord," Thomas said. "We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

  6 Jesus told him,

        "I am the way, the truth, and the life.

        No one can come to the Father except through me.

 If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.
       From now on, you do know him and have seen him!"

  8 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied."

  9 Jesus replied,

      "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don't know who I am?

      Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?

 Don't you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.

11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.

       Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.

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.

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

 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.

18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans - I will come to you.

19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me.

Since I live, you also will live.

20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father,

       and you are in me,

       and I am in you.

 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me.

And because they love me, my Father will love them.

And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them."

  22 Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him,

        "Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?"

  23 Jesus replied, "All who love me will do what I say.

My Father will love them,

     and we will come and make our home with each of them.

24 Anyone who doesn't love me will not obey me.

And remember, my words are not my own.

What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.

25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you.

 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told 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.

Monday, February 2, 2015

what's our job?

So now I am giving you a new commandment:

     Love one another.

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

This is Jesus speaking here, during the Passover meal the night before He was killed.

I would think anything Jesus said that close to his death was pretty uber-important.

But every time I read these two verses I am so embarrassed.

Because when the world thinks of Christians, they don't think of us as people who love.

There's a lot of things they think about us, but loving is not one of them.

And they are right in their assessment of us.

Loving is usually the last thing we think of to be.

Why is that?

Maybe it's because we love the power as a group that we think we have?

Maybe it's because we've gone whoring for political influence?

Or that we've imbued our middle class values on a reality that is antithetical to such thinking?

It would be hard to say - it's probably all three, plus a whole lot of other things.

Maybe this is an oversimplification, but I read something lately that made me stop & think...

     "It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict & empower.

     "It is Jesus' job to redeem.

     "It is the Father's job to judge.

     "And it is our job to love."

I wonder where each of us would be if the people who influenced us & took the time to show us the way to the Father had treated us the way that seems to be endemic today of Christianity?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

wet feet

Joshua 3

 Early the next morning Joshua and all the Israelites left Acacia Grove and arrived at the banks of the Jordan River, where they camped before crossing.

2 Three days later the Israelite officers went through the camp,3 giving these instructions to the people:

      "When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, move out from your positions and follow them.

 Since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you.

      Stay about a half mile behind them, keeping a clear distance between you and the Ark.

      Make sure you don't come any closer."

  5 Then Joshua told the people,

        "Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do great wonders among you."

  6 In the morning Joshua said to the priests,

        "Lift up the Ark of the Covenant and lead the people across the river."

And so they started out and went ahead of the people.

  7 The LORD told Joshua,

        "Today I will begin to make you a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites.

        They will know that I am with you, just as I was with Moses.

        8 Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant:

            'When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.'"

  9 So Joshua told the Israelites,

        "Come and listen to what the LORD your God says.

        10 Today you will know that the living God is among you.

        He will surely drive out the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites ahead of you.

 Look, the Ark of the Covenant, which belongs to the Lord of the whole earth, will lead you across the Jordan River!

        12 Now choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe.

 The priests will carry the Ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth.

        As soon as their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will stand up like a wall."

  14 So the people left their camp to cross the Jordan,

        and the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them.

 It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks.

But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river's edge,16 the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan.

And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry.

Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho.

  17 Meanwhile, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the LORD's Covenant stood on dry ground in the middle of the riverbed as the people passed by.

They waited there until the whole nation of Israel had crossed the Jordan on dry ground.

These thoughts are original with me, but for the life of me I can't remember who I heard them from. Maybe John Wood at Christ Chapel Macon?

Remember the last time the Israelites had water parted for them?

Yeah, at the Red Sea, when Pharaoh's was coming to get them.

Moses held his staff over the water, the sea parted, & the people walked across on dry land.

iow, the Lord did the miracle before anyone made a step forward in escape from Pharaoh's army.

This time, the guys carrying the Ark had to step into the water before the miracle happened.

Have you ever seen a flooding river - one that has overflowed its banks?

It can be pretty compelling.

There's usually vast amounts of water, covering huge amounts of land, & the water is running incredible fast with a strong current.

It can be kinda scary - all the unrelenting, unstoppable power.

So,the Jordan River was in flood stage, overflowing its banks.

It wasn't the normal sedate, placid waterway.

And Joshua told the guys to carry the Ark into that river - to step out into the river.

How would you have liked to have been one of the guys carrying the Ark?

Yeah, scary stuff, stepping into a river in flood.

But they did - they stepped into the water.

And when they did, the water started "piling up" (whatever that means), opening up a passageway across the Jordan River, enabling the Israelites to walk across on dry land.

Pretty amazing stuff, huh?

Imagine what the guys carrying the Ark thought!

Here's what I heard suggested with this passage...

Sometimes we need something spectacular to happen - we need a miracle from God to proceed or to survive. We can't continue without one.

And sometimes, He just goes, Bingo! & makes the miracle happen, Wham!, & then we proceed.

But sometimes, we have to step out in faith, seemingly without any changes, & the miracle happens as we proceed, as we move forward, as we "get our feet wet" in the matter (no pun intended).

Somebody needs to hear that today.

Somebody needs to know that the miracle you seek, the way made you need, the possible occuring in an impossible situation, will only happen as you take a step forward into the very thing you need, want, or know needs to happen.

How do I know that God will come through if we get our feet wet?

I've experienced it, more than once.

So, whatever it is you're feeling like God is leading you toward, step out, step into it, & get your feet wet.