Monday, February 29, 2016

4 mandates & a promise

Matthew 28

18 Jesus came and told his disciples,

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

19 Therefore,


& make disciples of all the nations,

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

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

And be sure of this:

I am with you always,

even to the end of the age."

Jesus spoke 4 operative words in this passage...

...a mandate for the disciples assembled with Him at the time...

...a mandate for each & every one of us ever since...





And He gave 1 simple promise, to them, & to us...

I am with you always.

There we have it.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

hold on

Who needs to read this today, besides me?

Let's take some solace, some refuge, some security in these words of Jesus, together, today.

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

(Matthew 6:25a)

Your Heavenly Father already knows your needs.

If you live for Him

& make the Kingdom of God your primary concern,

He will give you all you need from day to day.

(Matthew 6:32b-33)

Don't worry about tomorrow,

for tomorrow will bring its own worries.

Today's trouble is enough for today.

(Matthew 6:34)

9 more words, written by Paul to the followers of Jesus in Corinth...

Nothing we ever do for the Lord is useless.

(1 Corinthians 15:58b)

I carry these around on 3” x 5” cards in my wallet. They are part of the verses I feel God has given me to hold on to during 2016.

And trust me, I've learned over the years to hold on to them, hard.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

an incredible canticle

This is an incredible canticle of praise.

Here's is a vid of a choir anthem that does amazing justice the beauty of this psalm.

During the many years I was a church musician, the choirs I directed sang it many, many times.

I think it may be one of the best choir anthems of the 20th century.

Psalm 8

1 O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
  Your glory is higher than the heavens.
2 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—
4 what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
  human beings that you should care for them?*
5 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—
7 the flocks and the herds
  and all the wild animals,
8 the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,
  and everything that swims the ocean currents.

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

Friday, February 26, 2016

all I know is all I know

I offer no explanation or commentary to these two passages.

I just offer them as a contrapuntal perspective as to what our response should be to a segment of our society that is much maligned & castigated.

The first passage is a direct quote of Jesus.

The second is a directive from the author of the epistle of James.

Matthew 25

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

32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

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

  34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.

35 For I was hungry, and you fed me.

I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink.

I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.

36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing.

I was sick, and you cared for me.

I was in prison, and you visited me.'

  37 "Then these righteous ones will reply,

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

Or thirsty and give you something to drink?

38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality?

Or naked and give you clothing?

39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?'
  40 "And the King will say,

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

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

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

42 For I was hungry, and you didn't feed me.

I was thirsty, and you didn't give me a drink.

43 I was a stranger, and you didn't invite me into your home.

I was naked, and you didn't give me clothing.

I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit me.'

  44 "Then they will reply,

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

  45 "And he will answer, 'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'

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

James 2

1 My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?  
2 For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes.

3 If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, "You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor"—well, 4 doesn't this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?

5 Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters.

Hasn't God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith?

Aren't they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?

6 But you dishonor the poor!

Isn't it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court?

7 Aren't they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?

  8 Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures:

"Love your neighbor as yourself."

9 But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin.

You are guilty of breaking the law.

  10 For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God's laws.

11 For the same God who said, "You must not commit adultery," also said, "You must not murder."

So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.

  12 So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free.

13 There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others.

But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

great stuff

I don't know if you've ever read this passage, but there's just so much stuff in it.

I thought about underlining things that stand out, but then thought better of it. What stands out for me might not stand out for you.

Take your time, & absorb it as you read.

 James 1

This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  I am writing to the "twelve tribes"—Jewish believers scattered abroad.

2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way,

consider it an opportunity for great joy.

3 For you know that when your faith is tested,

your endurance has a chance to grow.

4 So let it grow,

for when your endurance is fully developed,

you will be perfect and complete,

needing nothing.  

5 If you need wisdom,

ask our generous God,

and he will give it to you.

He will not rebuke you for asking.

6 But when you ask him,

be sure that your faith is in God alone.

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.  

9 Believers who are poor have something to boast about,

for God has honored them.

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

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

11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers;

the little flower droops and falls,

and its beauty fades away.

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

  12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.

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

13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, "God is tempting me."

God is never tempted to do wrong,

and he never tempts anyone else.

14 Temptation comes from our own desires,

which entice us and drag us away.

15 These desires give birth to sinful actions.

And when sin is allowed to grow,

it gives birth to death.  

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

17 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father,

who created all the lights in the heavens.

He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

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

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

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters:

You must all be quick to listen,

slow to speak,

and slow to get angry.

20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

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

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

for it has the power to save your souls.  

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

You must do what it says.

Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

23 For if you listen to the word and don't obey,

it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.

24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.

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

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

then God will bless you for doing it.

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

you are fooling yourself,

and your religion is worthless.

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

caring for orphans and widows in their distress

and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

life verse

College was such a struggle for me – emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, & socially.

And all of you reading this who knew me back then will probably shout a hearty “AMEN!!!”


I think it was my freshman year, during a particularly difficult period...

What am I saying?! ALL of my freshman year was particularly difficult!!!

Anyway, during a particularly difficult period in that particularly difficult year, I was struggling with something – that would have been the fall of 1968, or the winter of 1969.

One afternoon, I was upstairs practicing piano (I was a music major).

We had a practice room one that hall that was set aside for prayer.

I remember leaving my practice room & going down there to pray.

I forget what it was specifically I was grappling with – there were SO many things!

But inside my head, I had this thought drop into it...

'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,' thus saith the Lord God of Hosts.”

Yeah, yeah... I was reading in the King Jame Version back then – when I read the Bible, which wasn't all that often.

But I felt like God had spoken to my heart – I'd never read or heard that statement before.

Some time later during my freshman year, someone quoted Hebrews 13:5b – I don't remember where – on a Sunday in a sermon? In chapel on day? In a Bible study?

Can you imagine how weird I felt when I realize what I'd heard in my head a while back was being quoted?

So I held on to that verse - & I've held on to the truth of which He assured me.

I still do.

And just so you know, He's never left me, He's never left me holding the bag.

He's always been with me, through it all.

And He always will be.

There is so little we can hold on to in this world.

I know, through experience, that what God whispered to me in a little practice room on the second floor of the music building at Asbury College in late 1968 or early 1969 is just as true now as it was then.

I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

God has said, “I will never leave you; I will never run away from you.” (ERV)

for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (ESV)

God has said: ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’. (J B Phillips)

God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” (The Message)

God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (NIV)

God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (NLT)

He has said, “I will never leave you; I will always be by your side.” (The Voice)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

4 words

Matthew 22

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

35 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."

There you have it.

If you've read this blog for very long you know what I'm going to say...

Jesus boils it all down here for us.

He boils down the who essence of our life into basically 4 words.

If we boil down what He said to the Pharisees, it comes out to this...

Love God, love others.

There you have it – that's what Jesus was saying.

Love God.

Love others.

That's all there is to it.

Monday, February 22, 2016


Hebrews 11

1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.
  3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God's command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.
  4 It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel's offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.
  5 It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying - "he disappeared, because God took him." For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God.6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
  7 It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.
  8 It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.9 And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise.10 Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.
  11 It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed* that God would keep his promise.12 And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.
  13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth.14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own.15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back.16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
  17 It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God's promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac,18 even though God had told him, "Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted."19 Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.
  20 It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau.
  21 It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.
  22 It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.
  23 It was by faith that Moses' parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king's command.
  24 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter.25 He chose to share the oppression of God's people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king's anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.28 It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons.
  29 It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned.
  30 It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.
  31 It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
  32 How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets.33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions,34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.35 Women received their loved ones back again from death.
  But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons.37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated.38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

This is commonly know as “the faith chapter”.

And it has a lot to say about the benefits, rewards, responsibilities, & consequences of living a life of faith, following the direction & guidance of the Lord.

Many individuals are mentioned to inspire us, encourage us to keep on, & to give us hope.

From verse 35 thru verse 38, the author of Hebrews mentions the people who didn't get to live stupendous lives of exceptional fame good fortune.

I've always wondered if the specific individuals mentioned here were the exception, not the rule, of a life of believing & trusting the Lord - even though they give us hope to continue to have faith?

The truth of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of us don't live the glittering & greatly admired lives of those held up as examples of a live lives trusting God to the utmost.

We live our lives from day to day, trying to trust God & live a life that glorifies Him.

ALL OF US are great examples of faith because each life, whether famous or stupendous, or regular & mundane, all glorify God & serve as valid examples of the eternal advantages of trusting God with ourselves & the guidance & direction He brings to our connection with Him.

Is any of this making sense? Many times I read back over what I write & wonder if people get what I'm saying.

Life in a connection with God is the only one that makes sense in this world. I've lived long enough to see all kinds of people live all kinds of ways. Trust me, listening to God & following His lead is the only way to go – all other ways of living & being just don't cut it.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

2 verses

Hebrews 10
35 Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord,
no matter what happens.
Remember the great reward it brings you!
36 Patient endurance is what you need now,
so that you will continue to do God's will.
Then you will receive all that He has promised.

Who needs to read these 2 verses? That is, besides me.
These 2 verses have been ones God seems to remind me of a lot,
especially in this present season of my life.
For some reason, during this season, 4 words keep reoccurring in the stuff I read...
“no matter what happens”.
I get the feeling some times that I'm just supposed to keep on keeping on,
never let up,
not be phased &/or discouraged by anything.
It's all about that trust thing.
For me, in my life, it seems that it’s is all about that trust thing, all the time.

Know what I mean?

Another phrase I keep hearing inside my head (that's how God talks to me sometimes)
“patient endurance is what you need now”.
I hear this inside my head most when I'm NOT being patient.
Btw, don't ever pray for patience
because that's when all the crazy people in the world,
or crazy situations know to us all,
will start showin' up in our lives.
Trust me on that – I've been livin' it too long.

And the kicker is that if we settle into this discipleship choice,
there's a great reward comin' (verse 35),
and it's gonna come because He's promised it. (verse 36)

Yeah, like I said, who needs to read these 2 verses besides me?
But if you absorb these 2 verses, make them your own, & feel like God is using these in you specifically, just remember there ain't a whole lot of wiggle room here.
The author of Hebrews doesn't issue any disclaimers with these 2 verses, nor does he offer any loopholes or back doors.
It is what it is.
Just sayin'...

(If you want the whole context, read verses 19-39 in chapter 10.)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

no if's, and's or but's

Psalm 1

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.

2 But they delight in the law of the LORD,
meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.

How many times have I read Psalm 1?

I don't know.

I know I've heard plenty of sermons using it (usually bad ones ;-) LOL).

When I was reading while back, there were 4 words that came hurtling up from the page that I'd never noticed before.

Could the Lord be pointing something new out to me?!


Anyway, those 4 words are “bearing fruit each season”.

The psalmist (King David we think) is writing in that verse that godly people “...are like trees planted along the riverbank,bearing fruit each season.”

I think of life as a series of seasons.

At one point, we can be in a season of going to school,

living in this or that place,

working that job,

being in this or that relationship,

or any number of time periods when something is going on.

The thing that struck me was the “bearing fruit” part of the verse.

I seemed like God was reassuring me that no matter where we are or what we are up to,

if we follow Him & try to do His bidding,

we can be sure that who we are & what we doing is in some way making an impact

even if we don't see it, feel it, or have it acknowledged.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Have any of you ever felt like you were “on the shelf”?

iow, it didn't feel like you were being or doing anything that mattered for God.

I know I've felt that way.

But those 4 words rocketed off the page for me – they still do.

...bearing fruit each season...”

The are no qualifiers in that statement.

There are no preconditions.

No if's, and's or but's.

No matter where we are or what we're being or doing,

if the focus of our lives is following His lead,

then God is using us, whether we see it or not.

At this point in my life, that's an important piece of information.

Maybe it is for you, too.