Monday, August 31, 2015


2 Corinthians 10

 We are human,

     but we don't wage war with human plans & methods.

4 We use God's mighty weapons,

      not mere worldly weapons,

      to knock down the Devil'sstrongholds of human reasoning

      and to destroy false arguments.

5 With these weapons we break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God.

With these weapons we conquer their rebellious thoughts & ideas,

     and teach them to obey Christ.

Paul, one of the greatest missionary's of all time, talks here about how the reach out to people in the places they go, teaching them about Jesus.

Paul views this work as a war against the devil.

And he indicates he doesn't rely on his own cleverness, but on God's ability to work in him & through him.

I wonder if we depend too much sometimes upon our own cleverness to be & do what we know to be & do, rather than depending on God's direction & plans to make it happen.

We figure if we figure it all out, & make a plan & work the plan, then we can expect to succeed.

I'm not sure if that Biblical thinking.

So many times in my life, my reaction to God's leading is "you want me to do what?!".

(Doesn't that make me sound "holy"? LOL)

All we can do is obey, being & doing what He leads us to be & do,

     & depend on Him to come through.

And Paul says we can poke holes in the clever, worldly thinking of those around us.

We seem to have an abundance of people these days who think they are so ever-lovin' clever & wise...

    it's thinking that keeps them, & those who listen to them, separated from God.

What's the take-away from this?

Don't depend on only our own cleverness to make things happen, & more on the cleverness (& leading) of God

     as we interact with people & try to point them to Jesus.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

a song of priase for a Sunday

Psalm 8

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

  Your glory is higher than the heavens.

 You have taught children and infants

  to tell of your strength,

silencing your enemies

  and all who oppose you.

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

  the moon and the stars you set in place—

 what are mere mortals that you should think about them,

  human beings that you should care for them?

 Yet you made them only a little lower than God

  and crowned them with glory and honor.

6 You gave them charge of everything you made,

  putting all things under their authority—

 the flocks and the herds

  and all the wild animals,

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

  and everything that swims the ocean currents.

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

Saturday, August 29, 2015

so, there we have it

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.'

         38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

39 A second is equally important:

        'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

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

So, there we have it...

The bottom line...

The whole enchilada...

All she wrote...

Jesus forever defined what are the most important things to God - basically in 4 words...

Love God...

Love others.

4 words - 2 of which are identical.

Love God, love others.

And how much time do we spend trying to make it far more difficult?

Love God. Love others.

What would our world be like...

     if those of us who claim to follow Jesus actually lived out an expression of those 4 words in our daily lives...

     instead of all the other things people are constantly telling us is the way to live as a Christian?

What would our world be like if we simply lived out those 4 words?

Friday, August 28, 2015

holding on

You will keep on guiding me with Your glorious 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


For God is not unfair.

He  will not forget how hard you have worked for Him

     & how you have shown your love to Him by caring for other Christians,

     as you still do.

Our great desire is that you will keep right on loving others

     as long as life lasts,

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

Hebrews 6:10-11


And when you are old, I will still be there,

     carrying you.

When your limbs grow tired,

     your eyes are weak,

     & your hair a silver gray,

     I will carry you.

     as I always have.

I will carry you

     & save you.

Isaiah 46:4 (The Voice)


Those are 3 of the 5 passages I believe God has given me to hold on to during 2015.

You have know idea how they've kept me for going crazy, more than once.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Think about this verse today as we move through the various areas of our life.

This is Jesus, talking to His disciples.

And think about what it would mean if we put this verse into practice.

Matthew 20:26b-27

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

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

Whoever wants to be your leader must be your servant. 

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

Whoever would be great among you must be your servant,

     & whoever would be first among you must be your slave. (ESV)

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

     and if he wants to be first among you he must be your slave. (J.B. Phillips)

Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

     & whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. (KJV)

Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.

     Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. (The Message)

whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,

     & whoever wants to be first must be your slave. (NIV)

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

     whoever wants to be first must bind himself as a slave. (The Voice)

How should we implement this in how our lives?

What would our individual lives look like if we did?

What would be the practical application(s) of the thinking in these verses?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

towering statement

Paul once again makes a towering statement about Jesus, the impact of His coming to earth, & what that all means...

2 Corinthians 5
14 Christ's love controls us.

Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.

15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves.

Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.

At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view.

How differently we know him now!

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.

       The old life is gone;

       a new life has begun!

18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.

And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

19 For God was in Christ,

      reconciling the world to himself,

      no longer counting people's sins against them.

And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

20 So we are Christ's ambassadors;

     God is making his appeal through us.

We speak for Christ when we plead, "Come back to God!"

21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,

        so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Sometimes, we just need a little encouragement.

Paul had a tough life.

He travels all around the know "civilized" world.

He message about Jesus often got him in trouble with the local populations.

He was beaten up, run out of town, & basically vilified & castigated.

Sometimes I'm sure quit looked good for him & all who traveled with him.

And yet, he could write these encouraging words...

2 Corinthians 4

 Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way & this new life, we never give up.

2 We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods.

We don't try to trick anyone or distort the word of God.

We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.

3 If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing.

 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe.

     They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News.

     They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

5 You see, we don't go around preaching about ourselves.

     We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord,

     and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus' sake.

6 For God, who said, "Let there be light in the darkness," has made this light shine in our hearts

     so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

7 We now have this light shining in our hearts,

     but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.

This makes it clear that our great power is from God,

     not from ourselves.

8 We are pressed on every side by troubles,

     but we are not crushed.

We are perplexed,

     but not driven to despair.

9 We are hunted down,

     but never abandoned by God.

We get knocked down,

     but we are not destroyed.

10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus,

        so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies.

12 So we live in the face of death,

       but this has resulted in eternal life for you.

 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said,

        "I believed in God, so I spoke."

 We know that God,

        who raised the Lord Jesus,

        will also raise us with Jesus

        and present us to himself together with you.

15 All of this is for your benefit.

And as God's grace reaches more and more people,

     there will be great thanksgiving,

     and God will receive more and more glory.

 That is why we never give up.

Though our bodies are dying,

     our spirits are being renewed every day.

17 For our present troubles are small

      and won't last very long.

Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

18 So we don't look at the troubles we can see now;

        rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.

For the things we see now will soon be gone,

        but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Monday, August 24, 2015


It is not that we think we can do do anything of lasting value by ourselves.

Our only power & success come from God.

2 Corinthians 3:5

The longer I live, & the more I watch my life & the lives of others, I have come to a simple conclusion.

Anything that we are able to be or do is completely dependent on the favor of God.

No matter how much we plan,

     or how educated we are or become,

     or how in tune & connected to people we cultivate,

   in the end, it all comes down to God's favor as to whether things works.

I'm not saying that planning, educating, or connecting don't count.

What I am saying is that in the end of it all, God is the one who makes things happen.

Especially in the last 5 years I've seen that if God doesn't want something to happen, it ain't gonna happen.

And when God chooses to favor something we're trying to be or do, it's going to work out.

Just think about that today...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

3 passages, 3 thoughts

Psalm 1

 Oh, the joys of those who do not

  follow the advice of the wicked,

  or stand around with sinners,

  or join in with mockers.

 But they delight in the law of the LORD,

  meditating on it day and night.

 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,

  bearing fruit each season.

Their leaves never wither,

  and they prosper in all they do.

Life is a series of seasons, some good, some not, some fulfilling, some difficult & overwhelmingly challenging.

I'd read Psalm 1 quite a few times over the years until one day I was struck by those 4 words in verse 3 - "bearing fruit each season".

It was as if God seemed to point out to me that no matter what circumstances seem to be, if we follow after Him, we will bear fruit of some kind in every season of our lives.

I needed to hear that when He revealed that to me.

I still do.


Matthew 16

 Then Jesus said to his disciples,

       "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ambition,

        take up your cross,

        and follow me.

25 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?

When I hear about someone dying, especially someone who has enjoyed lots of media attention, I think about verse 26.

And I wonder what each of them who had lived such seemingly glittering lives would say to us now.

People like Julian Bond,

     or Bobbi Kristina Brown,

     or Leonard Nimoy,

     B. B. King,

     Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah,

     Bob Simon,

     Frank Gifford.

What would each of them say to us now, if they could, about the truth contained in verse 26?


1 Corinthians 2

 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ's triumphal procession.

      Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.

15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.

But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.

     16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom.

But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume.

So remember this basic fact...

By simply being ourselves & walking in our faith & trust in Jesus, our very lives make people who do not follow Him VERY uncomfortable.

Paul uses a very graphic & appropriate analogy - to God, our lives are a sweet thing, but to non-believers we stink - iow, we are repugnant to them in some level, in some for or fashion.

They may not say it,

     they may not label it,

     they may say that we are all kinds of unacceptable things,

     but the bottom line is that our very lives, without us saying or doing anything, really bother them, at some level.

That's why we should treat everyone with gentleness & compassion, just like godly people treat each of us before we came to the point of following Jesus.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

4 words

I can't seem to get away from this verse...

Who needs to hear this besides me?

Matthew 11:28

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.(NLT)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (NIV)

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (ESV)

Come to me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest. (ERV)

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls. (Amplified)

Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! (J B Phillips)

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. (The Message)

Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (The Voice)

No matter who translates or paraphrases that verse, they all have something in common, something that is always the same, words that always state something in exactly the same way.

They all have the same 4 words in them.

Words that Jesus says to each & every one of us...

3 words of those words are...

"Come to me..."

Jesus, who is God, says to each of us to come to Him.

He wants us to come to Him.

No disclaimers, no prerequisites, no judgements, no requirements, no anything.

No matter what's going on in our lives, He says the same thing.

He just says come here to me.

And what will happen if we do?

He quantifies nothing.

He just says if we come to Him we will be given something - no if's, and's, or but's.

Jesus says He will give us something - He'll give us the 4th word that each translation uses...

"rest" defines "rest" this way...

1. the refreshing quiet or repose of sleep: a good night's rest.
2. refreshing ease or inactivity after exertion or labor: to allow an hour for rest.
3. relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs.
4. a period or interval of inactivity, repose, solitude, or tranquility: to go away for a rest.
5. mental or spiritual calm; tranquility.

How many of us need some rest in our lives?

It is pivotal that we understand that no matter what our situation, Jesus says to come to Him, & if we do, we will find the rest we long for.

I don't know how He'll do it.

I don't know how it will impact our individual situation.

All I know is what He said.

We either believe Him, or we don't.

So let's come to Him, & see what happens.

Friday, August 21, 2015

our j.o.b.

Be on guard.

Stand true to what you believe.

Be courageous.

Be strong.

And everything you do must be done in love.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Paul is wrapping up his 1st letter to the people in the new church at Corinth.

You now how in that situation we try to cover a lot of stuff rather quickly?

That's what Paul is doing in chapter 16.

I was struck this morning with the part I underlined.

Over & over again these days, I'm struck with that fact that we as Christ followers aren't thought of as people who love.

We are thought of as a lot of things, mostly not good, but seldom are we characterized as people who are loving.

Didn't Jesus Himself say that we were to be known foremost as people who love others?

I've seen this quoted on Facebook a lot lately, but I think it applies - it may be an oversimplification - or maybe not.

"The Holy Spirit's job is to convict.

"It's Jesus' job to redeem.

"It's God the Father's job to judge.

"And it's our job to love."

I think it applies here.

Just a thought...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Matthew 11

 Then Jesus said,

      "Come to me,

       all of you who are weary

       and carry heavy burdens,

       and I will give you rest.

Who of us, besides me, needs to hear those 3 words Jesus said...

     "Come to me..."

Are you overwhelmed?

Jesus says to you, "Come to me..."

Are you in a real mess?

Jesus says to you, "Come to me..."

Do you feel like there's no way out?

Jesus says to you, "Come to me..."

Are you in trouble?

Jesus says to you, "Come to me..."

Is life about to crush you?

Jesus says to you, "Come to me..."

Are you really, REALLY clueless about your life?

Jesus says to you, "Come to me..."

Are you really sick?

Jesus says to you, "Come to me..."

Are you just sick & tired of being sick & tired?

Jesus says to you, "Come to me..."

Do you not know what to do?

Jesus says to you, "Come to me..."

No matter what is going on in our lives, Jesus says to each and every one of us, "Come to me..."

So, go to Him, talk to Him, listen out for what He may whisper to you.

If Jesus said "Come to me...", then He's waiting for us to do just that, with whatever weighing us down.

And He promised that if we come to Him, He will give us rest.

Who needs to hear that besides me?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

real love

Love is a cheapened word these days.

We say we "love" so many things.

We pretend to love people, or individuals, or things.

But for some people, it seems love is a sometime thing...

     we can "fall in love" with someone, while a little later just as easily "fall out of love" with someone.

But it seems to me that the more we talk about love, the less we really know what it is.

Here's what Paul has to say about what love is - this is the standard by which all love should be measured...

1 Corinthians 13

 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels,

     but didn't love others,

     I would only be a noisy gong

     or a clanging cymbal.

2 If I had the gift of prophecy,

     and if I understood all of God's secret plans

     and possessed all knowledge,

     and if I had such faith that I could move mountains,

     but didn't love others,

     I would be nothing.

3 If I gave everything I have to the poor

     and even sacrificed my body,

     I could boast about it;

but if I didn't love others,

     I would have gained nothing.

4 Love is patient

     and kind.

Love is not jealous

     or boastful

     or proud

 or rude.

It does not demand its own way.

It is not irritable,

    and it keeps no record of being wronged.

6 It does not rejoice about injustice

     but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

7 Love never gives up,

     never loses faith,

     is always hopeful,

     and endures through every circumstance.

8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless.

But love will last forever!

9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete,

     and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!

10 But when the time of perfection comes,

        these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child,

         I spoke

        and thought

        and reasoned as a child.

But when I grew up,

     I put away childish things.

12 Now we see things imperfectly,

        like puzzling reflections in a mirror,

        but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.

All that I know now is partial and incomplete,

     but then I will know everything completely,

     just as God now knows me completely.

 Three things will last forever...



       and love...

     and the greatest of these is love.

Monday, August 17, 2015

hold on, or let it go?

If you cling to your life,

     you will lose it;

but if you give it up for Me,

     you will find it.

Matthew 10:39

I used to only see the sacrifice in the beginning of this verse, & not the rest.

I only saw that I had to give up my life - let it go - surrender.

What I've come to see is what I get as a result of the truth expressed in this verse.

If I hold fast with a death grip to my hope, dreams, expectations, etc., what I want & hope for isn't going to happen...

     ...simply because of the grasping nature of my attitude.

But if I open my hand to God & give Him all those hopes, dreams, & expectations, that basically opens my life up to whatever God has for me...

     ...iow, my life becomes an entity totally at the disposal of God.

This allows the God of the universes, Someone higher, holier, & more loving than I can ever imagine, to implement into my life the dreams He dreamed for me a gajillion years ago when He dreamed us all up.

So which makes better sense to put our trust in?

     The hopes & dreams of ourselves, equipped with limited vision & VERY finite minds?

     Or the God of the universes who is unimaginably infinite in every aspect of Himself?


Sunday, August 16, 2015

who ya hangin' with?

Matthew 9

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

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

So Matthew got up and followed him.

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

        along with many tax collectors and other disreputable & notorious sinners.

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

        "Why does your teacher eat with such scum?"

12 When Jesus heard this, he said,

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

13 Then he added,

        "Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture:

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

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

            but those who know they are sinners."

We modern day Christians are so precious & prissy.

Once we become Christians, we get all holy & don't want to hang around non-Christians.

Now, I've heard all the arguments about why we do that.

Most of them don't hold water for me.

Bottom line, if we don't cultivate non-Christians friends, how are they gonna hear about Jesus?

     From TV show? Now that's a happy thought!

     From Christians in the media, or in politics, or in pop culture? (I think I may spit up!)

No, the only way they're really gonna find out about Jesus is if we love them & show them.

And here's a thought - where would you & I be if the people who led us to think about Jesus had been as complacent about sharing Him as we are?

     (We all know the answer to that - we'd STILL be going slam to hell)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

temptations & sinnin'

Read this verse very slowly & very carefully.

You & I cannot say, "I couldn't stop myself."

Or "it was just too strong."

Or "I couldn't help myself!"

Or "_________ made me do it." (you fill in the blank.)

Paul says here none of us are so special that what we experience in this area is so terrifically unique...

     ...we're just like everybody else.

It's never too much.

And there's always a way out.

Memorize this verse - it'll bail your butt out more than once.

1 Corinthians 10

 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.

And God is faithful.

He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.

When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Friday, August 14, 2015

keep on

This is from chapter 7 of Matthew - it's the closing section of the Sermon on the Mount, a 3 chapter talk in Matthew that Jesus to a very large crowd.

It was a radical talk at the time, expressing ways of thinking & doing life that were completely different from the way people were behaving up until that time.

We're not aware of the revolutionary effects of these 3 chapters because these concepts have become such part & parcel to our collective psyches.

Lately, when I read this section of verses 7-11, I see less of what we're get if we do these things, & more of the fact that Jesus tells us to "keep on".

iow, that He's telling us to not give up.

Anybody besides me out there who's so tired & weary with the struggles of life that "quit looks good"?

Yeah... Jesus says keep on, don't quit.

Does there not seem to be any light up ahead, let alone an end to this tunnel you're walking through?

Jesus says in these verses to keep moving forward, don't give up.

Does nothing in your life make sense - are you like me & just plain clueless?

Jesus says "trust Me" & continue to obey me.

For if we can believe what Jesus says here...

     He'll give us strength to continue...

     He'll guide us to the end...

     And one day, we'll see the BIG picture & understand what was going on.

Matthew 7

 "Keep on asking,

      and you will receive what you ask for.

Keep on seeking,

      and you will find.

Keep on knocking,

      and the door will be opened to you.

8 For everyone who asks,


Everyone who seeks,


And to everyone who knocks,

     the door will be opened.

9 "You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?

 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake?

Of course not!

11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children,

        how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.


Here's all of chapter 7...

Now you can say to people this weekend, "Oh, yes... well, I've been reading the Sermon of the Mount this week..."

You have to say it in a highly pompous manner to effectively pull it off ;-) LOL

Matthew 7

Do Not Judge Others
1 "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.2 For you will be treated as you treat others.* The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.*
  3 "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye* when you have a log in your own?4 How can you think of saying to your friend,* 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye?5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye.
  6 "Don't waste what is holy on people who are unholy.* Don't throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.

Effective Prayer
7 "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
  9 "You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not!11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

The Golden Rule
12 "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

The Narrow Gate
13 "You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell* is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

The Tree and Its Fruit
15 "Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.18 A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit.19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

True Disciples
21 "Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.22 On judgment day many will say to me, 'Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.'23 But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws.'

Building on a Solid Foundation
24 "Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse because it is built on bedrock.26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn't obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash."
  28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching,29 for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


The longer I live, the more I'm forced more & more to hold on to these verses, especially since I am now in what is euphemistically called "the golden years" (ha!).

It comes from Matthew 6 - the middle chapter of what is known as "the Sermon on the Mount" - an account of a talk Jesus made to large crowd.

It was revolutionary - most of the thoughts He expressed were not in play nor considered acceptable.

We have 2000 years of these thought sinking into our collective psyche.

My mischievous nephew, Aaron Barth, once told me something that was like a lightning bolt...

     he said basically the whole of those verses 25-34 can be summed up in those 6 words I underlined in verse 25...

     "don't worry about your everyday life".

Anyway, here's a passage I'm holding on to during these "golden years"...

Matthew 6

25 "That is why I tell you...

        don't worry about your everyday life...

        whether you have enough food and drink,

        or enough clothes to wear.

Isn't life more than food,

     and your body more than clothing?

26 Look at the birds.

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

        for your heavenly Father feeds them.

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

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.


Here's the first 24 verses of the rest of chapter 6, in case you haven't read them lately...

Matthew 6

 "Watch out! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.2 When you give to someone in need, don't do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.3 But when you give to someone in need, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Teaching about Prayer and Fasting
5 "When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
  7 "When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.8 Don't be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!9 Pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,
  may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
  as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,*
12 and forgive us our sins,
  as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don't let us yield to temptation,*
  but rescue us from the evil one.*

  14 "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
  16 "And when you fast, don't make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.17 But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face.18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Teaching about Money and Possessions
19 "Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
  22 "Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.23 But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
  24 "No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

profound thinking

Matthew 5, 6, & 7 are the chapters commonly referred to as "The Sermon on the Mount"

It's a LONG talk Jesus gave one day to a VERY large crowd.

Since this collection of things Jesus said during that talk has been a part of our collective psyche for 2000+ years, we have come to accept readily what He said.

But the overwhelming bulk of what He said was fantastically revolutionary for the time.

Most of what He said represented profoundly new thinking - thinking that was not readily accepted by the religious leaders of the time (surprise!).

Here's just 10 verses, but they represent incredibly new thinking for people back then - thinking I wonder how many of us implement even now.

What would our world look like if we individually lived like this?

Matthew 5

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

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

39 But I say, do not resist an evil person!

If someone slaps you on the right cheek,

     offer the other cheek also.

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

     give your coat, too.

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

     carry it two miles.

42 Give to those who ask,

      and don't turn away from those who want to borrow.

43 "You have heard the law that says,

         'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy.

44 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.


Here's all of chapter 5, if you want to read it...

Matthew 5

 One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him,2 and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes
3 "God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,*
  for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
  for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
  for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,*
  for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
  for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
  for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
  for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
  for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

  11 "God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you* and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

Teaching about Salt and Light
13 "You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
  14 "You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Teaching about the Law
17 "Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God's law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
  20 "But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!

Teaching about Anger
21 "You have heard that our ancestors were told, 'You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.'*22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone,* you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot,* you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone,* you are in danger of the fires of hell.*
  23 "So if you are presenting a sacrifice* at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you,24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.
  25 "When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison.26 And if that happens, you surely won't be free again until you have paid the last penny.*

Teaching about Adultery
27 "You have heard the commandment that says, 'You must not commit adultery.'*28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.29 So if your eye—even your good eye*—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.30 And if your hand—even your stronger hand*—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

Teaching about Divorce
31 "You have heard the law that says, 'A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.'*32 But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.

Teaching about Vows
33 "You have also heard that our ancestors were told, 'You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the LORD.'*34 But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, 'By heaven!' because heaven is God's throne.35 And do not say, 'By the earth!' because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, 'By Jerusalem!' for Jerusalem is the city of the great King.36 Do not even say, 'By my head!' for you can't turn one hair white or black.37 Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will,' or 'No, I won't.' Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

And here's where today's verses at the beginning of this blog pick up & finish the chapter.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

honor God

1 Corinthians 6

13b can't say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality.

     They were made for the Lord,

     and the Lord cares about our bodies.

14 And God will raise us from the dead by his power,

        just as he raised our Lord from the dead.

15 Don't you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ?

Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute?


 And don't you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her?

        For the Scriptures say, "The two are united into one."

17 But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.

18 Run from sexual sin!

        No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does.

For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.

19 Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,

        who lives in you

        and was given to you by God?

You do not belong to yourself,

     20 for God bought you with a high price.

So you must honor God with your body.

Monday, August 10, 2015

2 verses, many translations

I've got 2 verses this morning. I thought I'd give you a few translations of both & let you interpret their impact on you.


Proverbs 19:17

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,

    and he will reward them for what they have done. (NIV) (I like this translation of this verse the best.)

Giving help to the poor is like loaning money to the Lord.

     He will pay you back for your kindness. (ERV)

He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord,

     and that which he has given He will repay to him. (Amplified)

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,

    and he will repay him for his deed. (ESV)

Whoever cares for the poor makes a loan to the Eternal;

    such kindness will be repaid in full and with interest. (The Voice)

Mercy to the needy is a loan to God,

    and God pays back those loans in full. (The Message)


Proverbs 19:21

You can make many plans,

    but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. (NLT) (I like this translation best.)

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,

    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (NIV)

Many plans are in a man’s mind,

    but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand. (Amplified)

People might make many plans,

    but what the Lord says is what will happen. (ERV)

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,

    but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (ESV)

We humans keep brainstorming options and plans,

    but God’s purpose prevails. (The Message)

The impulses of the human heart may run wild,

    but the Eternal’s plan will prevail. (The Voice)

Sunday, August 9, 2015


Proverbs 18:15

Intelligent people are always open to new ideas.

     In fact, they look for them. (NLT, 1st edition)

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,

    for the ears of the wise seek it out. (NIV)

Clever people go after knowledge to obtain it,

    and wise people attune their ears to hear it. (The Voice)

Wise men and women are always learning,

    always listening for fresh insights. (The Message)

Wise people want to learn more,

     so they listen closely to gain knowledge. (ERV)

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge,

    and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. (ESV)

The mind of the prudent is ever getting knowledge,

     and the ear of the wise is ever seeking (inquiring for and craving) knowledge. (Amplified)

Ya know, I looked & looked through the various translations on Bible Gateway of this verse.

        The ones I quotes are about a third or a fourth of all the English translations they provide.

I couldn't find a single version that softened what is being said here.

All my life I've heard the phrase, "we've never done it that way before", both inside the church, & in the world in general.

But it would seem that the attitude of keeping things as they are, or going back to "the good ol' days" in recent decades has been ascendent.

     (trust me, "the good ol' days" weren't all that good!)

I grew up on a farm in the 1950's & 1960's in southwestern Ohio.

We had chickens, registered Corriedale sheep, a vegetable garden, a grape arbor, pastures - you get the picture.

I learned many valuable lessons on that farm, but there is one immutable, universal lesson I saw lived out day in & day out.

Living things either change & grow, or they die.

There aren't any other choices or options to that situation.

There is no such thing as maintaining, keeping things as they are, or plateauing.

Living things either continue to grow, change, morph, or adapt...

     ...or they die.

We humans, as living beings, are the same way...

     whether we're talking about our bodies, or relationship with God, our connections with people, or work life, or our civic reality.

All must change & grow, or diminish & die.

What areas f our lives have we let grow dormant, stale, or non-productive?

Where are we allowing a maintenance mode rob us of really living?

Because no matter what area(s) we've allow it to happen, if we're not growing in it, we're dying.

There are no other options.

Saturday, August 8, 2015


A truly wise person uses few words;

     a person with understanding is even-tempered.

Even fools are thought to be wise when they keep silent;

     when they keep their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.

Proverbs 17:27-28

Last night I used a lot of words,

     words that were the raw, unfiltered, transparent truth.

It was starkly to no avail, again.

I'm choosing from now on to use very few words on the subject.

Friday, August 7, 2015

2 passages

I think it's safe to say most people have never read Proverbs, attributed to have been written by King Solomon, King David's son.

I want to encourage you to read a chapter a day - there's 31 chapters, so it will take you a month.

To give you some idea what Proverbs is like, here's just some verses of what's in just chapter 16...

Proverbs 16

 We can make our own plans,
  but the LORD gives the right answer.

2 People may be pure in their own eyes,
  but the LORD examines their motives.

3 Commit your actions to the LORD,
  and your plans will succeed.

5 The LORD detests the proud;
  they will surely be punished.

6 Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin.
  By fearing the LORD, people avoid evil.

7 When people's lives please the LORD,
  even their enemies are at peace with them.

8 Better to have little, with godliness,
  than to be rich and dishonest.

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

16 How much better to get wisdom than gold,
  and good judgment than silver!

17 The path of the virtuous leads away from evil;
  whoever follows that path is safe.

18 Pride goes before destruction,
  and haughtiness before a fall.

19 Better to live humbly with the poor
  than to share plunder with the proud.

20 Those who listen to instruction will prosper;
  those who trust the LORD will be joyful.

21 The wise are known for their understanding,
  and pleasant words are persuasive.

22 Discretion is a life-giving fountain to those who possess it,
  but discipline is wasted on fools.

24 Kind words are like honey—
  sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

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

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

32 Better to be patient than powerful;
  better to have self-control than to conquer a city.

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


Now, I want you to read this passage from 2nd chapter of Paul's first letter to the church in Corinth.

People have quoted lots of the verses in it, but I'm not sure we really understand what is the power statement in the section.

The power statement comes at the end - I underlined it.

I've heard lots of sermons preached on some of the verses in this passage.

I've never heard one preached on the verse I underlined.

And it's the most important verse in the whole section - it explains everything Paul says beforehand - it was what he was working up to all along.

1 Corinthians 2

 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
  and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
  for those who love him."

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

     For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God's deep secrets.11

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

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

12 And we have received God's Spirit (not the world's spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

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

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

     using the Spirit's words to explain spiritual truths.

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

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

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

 Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things,

        but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.

16 For,

"Who can know the LORD's thoughts?
  Who knows enough to teach him?"

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

So Paul says that if we're connected to God, with the Holy Spirit living inside us, we have the mind of Chirst.

     In short, we think like Him.

     iow, we are then able to think like God, reason like Him, & understand like Him.

Think about that today - that if the Holy Spirit lives in us, then we can think like the God of the universes thinks.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

what do you think?

Ecclesiastes 4
 I observed yet another example of something meaningless under the sun.

8 This is the case of a man who is all alone,

      without a child or a brother,

      yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can.

But then he asks himself,

     "Who am I working for?

     Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?"

     It is all so meaningless and depressing.

9 Two people are better off than one,

      for they can help each other succeed.

 If one person falls,

      the other can reach out and help.

But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.

11 Likewise, two people lying close together in bed can keep each other warm.

      But how can one be warm alone?

12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated,

     but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.

     Three are even better,

            for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

1 Corinthians

 Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.

8 He will keep you strong to the end

      so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.

9 God will do this,

     for he is faithful to do what he says,

     and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

the poor

"There is a way that seems right to people, but it ends in death."

Proverbs 14:12

There is much going on now that we have rationalized as okay.

The poor are despised even by their neighbors, while the rich have many "friends".

Proverbs 14:20

It is a sin to despise one's neighbors,

     blessed are those who help the poor.

Proverbs 14:21

Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker,

     but those who help the poor honor Him

Proverbs 14:31

We all know what the prevailing attitudes are toward the poor here in America.

How do we square what the present attitudes toward low income / no income people in view of what it says here in Proverbs?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Romans 15

 May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other,

      as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.

6 Then all of you can join together with one voice,

      giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you

      so that God will be given glory.

Oh my...

I don't think we're even in the same galaxy on this.

There's just too much judging of each other going on.

Is there anyone who's been around as long or longer than me that can shed some light on whether or not we seem to be far more judgemental than we used to be?

Is it just me, or did I just not notice back in the day how much we judged each other?

Have we always had set up all kinds of hoops for people to jump through before we accept them into our live, our circle of friends or influence, or in our churches?

If you grew up in the 50's or before, let me know what you think.


Romans 15

 My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard,

      rather than where a church has already been started by someone else.

This is something I've always wanted to do - take the Gospel somewhere where people have never heard about Jesus before.

Don't know if I'll ever get to do that...

Monday, August 3, 2015

2 things

I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me because of their testimony.

My prayer for all of them is that they will be one,

     just as You & I are one, Father;

     that just as You are in Me & I am in You,

     so they will be in Us,

     & the world will believe You sent Me.

John 17:20-21

This is Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane a few hours before He was killed.

He was praying not just for His disciples,

     He was praying for us, too.

He was praying we would be a connected people, to each other, & to them.

I would say we've kinda fallen short on the being connected to each other.

And I'm not really sure how well we've all done on the part about being connected to God.

But it is incredible to know that Jesus was praying for us that night.


For we are not our own masters when we live or die.

While we live, we live to please the Lord.

And when we die, we go to be with the Lord.

So in life & in death, we belong to the Lord.

Christ died & rose again for this very purpose

     so that He might be Lord of those who are alive & of those who are dead.

Romans 14:7-9

So, in light of these words of Paul to the Christians in Rome, what does this have to say about things like end of life issues?

And don't be deceived...

     end of life issues will continue to be issues...

     we need to think about what we believe about them,

     because there's good reason to believe that will be one of the next big issues we are going to have to struggle with.

Just a thought...

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Here on earth you will have many trials & sorrows.

     But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

John 16:33b

Jesus said those words to his close disciples the night before He was killed.

I don't think He was speaking in some theological hyperbole...

     I doubt if any of us would if we know we were going to be brutally killed the next day.

Jesus was giving the disciples something to hold on to,

     because He knew they'd all abandon Him as well as fall into a pit of DEEP despair.

I don't think those words apply just to the disciples.

If those words apply to the disciples, the apply to us.

(Trials is defined as "a test of faith, patience, or stamina through subjection to suffering or temptation.")

Think about all the stuff in your life, or maybe will be in your life, that you could categorize as "trials"...

(go ahead, list them in your head for a second...)

(sorrow is defined as "a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others.")

Now, think of all the stuff that has happened in your life that has brought you a lot of sorrow...

     ...or maybe some of the stuff you know is gonna happen in your life...

     ...or your worry will happen in your life.

(Overcome is defined as "to get the better of in a struggle or conflict; conquer; defeat; to prevail over; surmount; to gain the victory; win.")

Now absorb this fact...

Jesus says that's what He's done about those trials & sorrows.

He didn't qualify nor quantify that statement.

He just said I've overcome them - period.

So, if what Jesus says here is true, how then should we look at those trials & sorrows that plague each of our lives?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

lots of stuff

Read the Bible every day, without fail.

Yeah, I say that a lot. Would I say something like that as much as I do if I didn't completely believe it?

Some days, I read, & there's lots of good stuff, but nothing really stands out. One those days it's like God's just reiterating His truth.

And then there's days when there seems to be a lot that stands out.

Here's what stood out today (there hasn't been this much stand out in a while)...

You didn't choose Me.

I chose you.

I appointed you to go & produce fruit that will last,

so that the Father will give you whatever you as for, using My name

John 15:16

So Jesus chose me before I chose Him? He reached out to me first, before I reached out to Him?

And He wants me to be & do things, to go where he wants me to go?

And the results of this being, doing,  going will have results that will last?

Is that what He's saying here?

...give your bodies to God.

Let them be a living & holy sacrifice;

     the kind He will accept.

When you think about what he has done for you,

     is this too much to ask?

Romans 12:1

So we give our bodies, in reality our lives, to God, to use for whatever - we are at His complete disposal?

So whatever He commands us to be, or do, or go to is all part & parcel of the basic relationship that we have?

He calls the shots, we obey?

Don't copy the behavior & customs of the world,

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

Then you will know what God wants you to do,

     & you will know how good & pleasing His will really is.

Romans 12:2

So, we don't measure our lives by the yardstick of what the friends, family, or cultural evangelical church norms thinks we should be?

We have to be so open to what God directs, that we allow Him to really change the way we think, feel & operate?

And if we allow Him to change us & the way we think, or expectations, our hope, our dreams, & what we think is the norm, we will understand  a little bit more the overarching reasons for His will for each of us?

Be honest in your estimate of yourselves,

     measuring your value by how much faith God has given you.

Romans 12:3

So, even though we may not think we're all that stupendous,

        we can have a better idea how we're doing in this thing call "following Jesus"

        if we honestly look at how much we step out in faith & be, do, or go the ways He directs?

Be glad for all God is planning for you.

Be patient in trouble,

     & always be prayerful.

Romans 12:12

So, we're supposed to be okay with whatever He's got going for us, even when it doesn't make sense?

And when things get tough, we're just to keep on keeping on?

And keep on communicating with Him through it all?

Don't let evil get the best of you,

     but conquer evil by doing good.

Romans 12:21

I wonder what our world would be like if Christ followers REALLY put this into practice?