Saturday, October 31, 2015

who He is, & who we are

James 4

7 So humble yourselves before God.

Resist the devil,

and he will flee from you.

8 Come close to God,

and God will come close to you.

Wash your hands, you sinners;

purify your hearts,

for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

9 Let there be tears for what you have done.

Let there be sorrow and deep grief.

Let there be sadness instead of laughter,

and gloom instead of joy.

10 Humble yourselves before the Lord,

and he will lift you up in honor.

Sometimes I wonder we are overly familiar with God.

We live in such a state of grace that we sometimes forget who it is we're hooked up with.

I get the feeling sometimes while listening to someone talk about God,

or if I actually listen to my own words & thoughts,

that we kinda have kinda identified God as some kind of celestial grandfather,

all warm & fuzzy.

Perhaps it would be prudent if we remember:

we're connected to Someone who is so blindingly & eternally holy,

were it not for Jesus,

if we came close to Him, we would disintegrate.

Perhaps we should we are called daughters & sons by Someone who is so powerful

that He basically snapped His & the entirety of all creation,

galaxies, universes, & all contained therein,

came into being.

We are intimately connected to Someone who knows everything,

that He sees the beginning of time,

the end of time,

& everything in between.

He sees the total picture, all at once,

because He operates outside the time continuum.

Therefore it is easy to see why James mandates us to “humble ourselves before God.”

We're not messing around with Someone who is our equal.

Whereas James does tell us that if we

Come close to God, and God will come close to you.”

at the same time in verse 9 James uses words like:



deep grief”,

& “gloom”

These words are used in conjunction with the sins we have committed.

At the same time, James basically tells us in verse 10

if we realize who & what it is we are sinning against,

& are really, REALLY sorry for all that,

that God will “lift us up”.

iow, He'll restore us into the a relationship of equanimity.

In short - whereas, through Jesus, we are accepted as daughters & sons of this all-everything God,

let's not forget Who He is,

& who we are & all we've sinned against Him.

Friday, October 30, 2015

He cares

What would our lives be like if we really, REALLY took this to heart,

believed it is something specific to each of us as individuals,

& actually did what Peter is suggesting here?

And consider this, there is one thing that comes out in each of the translations (The Message is a paraphrase)...

God cares about you (& me).

Peter wanted people to know – he wanted you & me to know – that God cares about each of us, individually.

The God of the universes care about each of us specifically.

Anybody need to hear this today, besides me?

1 Peter 5:7

Give all your worries and cares to God, 

     for He cares about what happens to you. (NLT 1st edition)

cast all your cares [all your anxieties,

all your worries,

and all your concerns,

once and for all] on Him,

for He cares about you

[with deepest affection,

and watches over you very carefully]. (Amplified)

Give all your worries to him,

because He cares for you. (ERV)

casting all your anxieties on Him,

because He cares for you. (ESV)

You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon Him,

for you are His personal concern. (J. B. Phillips)

Live carefree before God;

He is most careful with you. (The Message)

Cast all your anxiety on Him

because He cares for you. (NIV)

Since God cares for you, let Him carry all your burdens and worries. The Voice.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


John 15

1 "I am the true grapevine,

and my Father is the gardener.

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

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

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

4 Remain in me,

and I will remain in you.

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

and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

  5 "Yes, I am the vine;

you are the branches.

Those who remain in me,

and I in them,

will produce much fruit.

For apart from me you can do nothing.

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

Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.

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.

I think I've been pruned back level with the ground.

I don't know if I've been pruned back to grow back or pruned back to eliminate me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


James 1

5 If you need wisdom;

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

ask our generous God,

and he will gladly tell you.

He will not resent you for asking.

6 But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect Him to answer.

Do not waver,

for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.

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

8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world,

and they are unstable in everything they do.

So, here's the deal...

If we want to know what God wants us to be & do, all we have to do is ask.

And He'll tell us.

But we have to be prepared for the answer.

And how will we know what God is saying for us to be & do?

I'd say it would help if we read the Bible every day, without fail.

Since I've started doing that, my track record with knowing what to be & do has seemingly gotten a whole lot better.

That doesn't mean what I see to be or do is a comfortable thing.

Sometimes it seems crazy.

But then, I don't see the BIG picture – I only see what is now.

God is the one with the BIG picture.

I feel like there are people reading this who need to know it.

God really will let you know what to be & do if you ask Him.

Just be prepared for whatever He was say

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

the word that describes us

John 13

34 So now I am giving you a new commandment:

Love each other.

Just as I have loved you,

you should love each other.

35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."

These days I always find these two verses SO embarrassing.

When the world thinks of Christians today, what is the word they automatically associate with us.

When the world thinks of Christians, & ultimately Jesus, do they think of us as people who love with a unique & outstanding quality?

I think not.

Want to do a very interesting & revealing google?

Type in “what does the world think about Christianity”.

Then go to all the links listed on the first page of the search.

It's very disturbing.

The world doesn't think of us as loving.

Be that as it may, you & I can change that perception, at least with the people we come in contact with.

This doesn't mean just our friends & family.

It means the cashier at the grocery,

the server at the restaurant,

the mechanic who fixes our car,

the people who live across the street from us,

the most obnoxious & annoying person (people) we know,

In short, everyone.

We may not feel or believe we can change the world,

but we can become known as a loving person if we simply love the people we run into each day.

And the ripple effect of that loving will go on forever.

Monday, October 26, 2015

ripple effect

So take a new grip with your tired hands

& stand firm on your shakey legs.

Mark out a straight path for your feet.

Then those who follow you,

though they are weak & lame

will not stumble & fall

but will become strong.

Hebrews 12:12-13

Does anyone have “tired hands” or “shakey legs”?

I remember not too long ago when this verse really stood out for me.

I was in my 50's, & was trying to function in ministry with the “tired hands” & shakey feet” that come with that age.

I remember it touched me significantly, because tired hands & shakey feet were my reality, a new reality I'd never experienced before.

Since then, my hands have gotten more tired, & my feet more shakey.

And I've tried even more diligently to see after God so my direction & actions are more in line with the “path” He would have me walk.


The stakes are too high.

There are too many people who feel the ripple effect of our life.

For many, our influence has primary impact, whether they acknowledge it or not.

I would say many or most are unaware of it.

It is influence that not only helps them in their day to day lives,

but helps them gather strength from God.

Our task is simply – we are to love God, & love people.

And in loving people & pointing them to God's love & personhood, we contribute to them finding strength & courage to face life as it comes.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

lives of faith

I've always found Hebrews 11 a curious chapter in the New Testament.

It's the section in the Bible called “the faith chapter”.

The author of Hebrews talks about all these different people in the Old Testament who lived stupendous lives, experienced tremendous acts of faith, and were something of the outstanding people held up for us all to emulate.

Over the span of my life, I've heard lots of sermons referencing the people of great faith in this chapter.

I've never heard a sermon on these verses at the end of the passage...

Hebrews 11

35b But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free.

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

36 Some were jeered at,

and their backs were cut open with whips.

Others were chained in prisons.

37 Some died by stoning,

some were sawed in half,

and others were killed with the sword.

Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats,


and oppressed

and mistreated.

38 They were too good for this world,

wandering over deserts and mountains,

hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

Over the millenia, millions & millions of people have lived lives of faith,

but their lives never made the “top 20” of the Bible, or any other publication.

They simply lived their lives & went about following God in the truth they knew.

Maybe we should also celebrate the incredible lives of faith of people all around us,

lives that are often misunderstood,


or just thought to be plum crazy.

All of us are called to take steps of faith, & are recognized for it.

The overwhelming majority don't.

Let's look around this week for people in our lives who live lives of simple, dynamic faith in ways no one ever sees.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

hold on

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

no matter what happens.

Remember the great reward it brings you!

Patient endurance is what you need now,

so you will continue to do God's will.

Then you will receive all that He has promised.

Hebrews 10:35-36

Who wants to quit?

Who just doesn't see any tangible reason to think God is still active in their life, let alone guiding it?

Who thinks that because of the incredible stress, & the unrelenting & unending nature of the trials or suffering they are enduring, they are going to lose their minds?

The writer of Hebrews says don't throw it all away, even if quit looks good – no matter what happens.

Those are 4 words God has laid before me again & again since December 24, 2009... matter what happens.

And a lot has happened since then.

Over & over again, as all kinds of things have occurred, the words keeps coming back...

no matter what happens.

We say our highest desire is to “do God's will”,

but sometimes when being or doing what God wants us to be or do doesn't quite fit our concept of what either should be,

we want to throw or hands up in the air & throw in the towel,

or worse, become whining martyrs – poor, pitiful, put-upon people being abused by God's intentions.

Now, I'm the first to say I'm not a patient person.

I don't suffer fools well.

Nor do I like to wait - & it's my last name!

But Hebrew's author says that even when life gets ridiculously difficult, maddening, crazy, discouraging, or chaotic...

...keep going, son we can be & do what God wants us to be & do.

Now, how in the round world are we gonna do this?!

I assume it is the way we do anything...

...through the power of the Holy Spirit in us.

What do you think is holding me together?!

We just gotta ask the Holy Spirit to sustain us, give us the power to take life one more step.

And before any of us blow this off as just silly, consider this...

...what other choice do we have?

...who else is gonna help us? there any thing that can do the job for us, other than the Holy Spirit?

I think not.

Just for today, let's just simply ask the Holy Spirit for enough strength & power to make it through the day & not disgrace ourselves, or Him.

And see what happens...

Friday, October 23, 2015

how it works with Jesus

Here in a few verses is one of the best explanations of how Jesus makes it possible for us to connect with God.

Yes, I know this is a tedious passage.

It's just 28 verses.

Read it slowly & let your mind wrap around it.

Read it more than once.

Why is this important? Why can't we just accept the grace God gives & not try to figure out how it works?

Well, we live in a world that's always asking “why”.

We also live in a world that does believe in much.

If we understand how all this works with Jesus as our means to connecting with God,

we can understandable to those who want to believe.

Just read it an absorb it – it may take a while for it to all fall into place.

Hebrews 9

1 That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth.2 There were two rooms in that Tabernacle.* In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place.3 Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room* called the Most Holy Place.4 In that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron's staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant.5 Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark's cover, the place of atonement. But we cannot explain these things in detail now.  6 When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room* as they performed their religious duties.7 But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.8 By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle* and the system it represented were still in use.

  9 This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them.10 For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies—physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.

11 So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come.* He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world.12 With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.

  13 Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people's bodies from ceremonial impurity.14 Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds* so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.15 That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.

  16 Now when someone leaves a will,* it is necessary to prove that the person who made it is dead.*17 The will goes into effect only after the person's death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect.

  18 That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal.19 For after Moses had read each of God's commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats,* along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God's law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool.20 Then he said, "This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you."*21 And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship.22 In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.

  23 That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals.

  24 For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf.25 And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal.26 If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age* to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.

  27 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment,28 so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

a sinner & Jesus

John 8

1Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple.

A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them.

3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery.

They put her in front of the crowd.

4 "Teacher," they said to Jesus, "this woman was caught in the act of adultery.

5 The law of Moses says to stone her.

What do you say?"

6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him,

but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.

7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said,

"All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!"

8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest,

until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.

10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman,

"Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?"

11 "No, Lord," she said.

And Jesus said,

"Neither do I.

Go and sin no more."

What does this say about Jesus?

What does it say about how he views sin?

What does it say about what Jesus thinks about us sinners?

What is going on here?

And does that affect our relationship with Jesus?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

thirst quenched

John 7

37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds,

"Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!

38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink!

For the Scriptures declare,

'Rivers of living water will flow from the heart of those who believe in Me.'"

39 (When he said "living water," he was speaking of the Spirit,

who would be given to everyone believing in him.

But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)

As I move through my day,

or connect with people on social media,

or observe the world thru TV,

I see a lot of people who are thirsty,

don't you.

We live in a world that in the last few years has become markedly more “anything goes”.

Another axiom that has widespread impact is

there are no absolutes other than there are no absolutes”.

But even with the ability to be & do just about anything, I don't see that many truly satisfied people.

Listen to what the people around you are saying – those at work, or the gym, or at the stores you go to, the eateries you frequent.

Watch their lives, listen to what they say, how they say it, their body language, their facial expressions.

And watch out for the things they don't say or do.

If you'll do this, I think you'll find what I see a lot of the time – people are longing for “something” & can't seem to find it.

They certainly won't seek it in Christianity – it has too much baggage right now, too much of a bad reputation.

I find it counterproductive to talk to people about Christianity or “the church”.

I do find it useful to talk about Jesus & the difference He's made in my life.

People will listen to a story, a personal experience...

not some much something we “know”,

but rather something that we've experienced,

or seen others have happen to them.

What Jesus says here is the very thing all those people around you & me want to hear...

that longing you have, that 'thirsting' for something else?

Whatever it is you long for, you can find in Me.”

Because the connection we have with God ultimately is NOT a religion.

It is a one on one relationship with the God of the universes.

I don't follow Jesus because it's a kool religion with “pie in the sky by & by”.

I'm a Christ follower because of this person who is God called Jesus, who loves me like NOBODY else can or does.

As we go about our day today, I wonder what the impact would be if we didn't talk about “the church” or talked only about Jesus?