Thursday, June 30, 2016

4 passages

June 30 – we've completed 6 months of 2016. We're at the halfway point.

In 6 months, when this year comes to a close, I wonder where we'll be in the world, what things would have happened & not happened, & what the future will possibly seem to be holding for us.

As you know (or you may not know), there are 11 passages that I feel like the Lord has given me to hold on to during 2016.

Yeah, I know, 11 passages

Where's what some of them have meant...

Give all your worries & cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you. 1 Peter 5:7

This one has propped me up countless times so far. It's head & shoulders above every other passages for imporance for me to hold on to. This is the verse that when the hurrican winds of life have assaulted me, I'd tied a rope around me & around the verse, & held on for dear life.

I've held on to the the fact it states I can give ALL of the things to God that I'm bogged down by &/or crippled by – ALL of them.

And that God cares about me – I'm a nano-speck in the universes, occupying an eye blink in the overarching story of human kind – and He CARES about me.

The grace of God is with you, no matter what happens. 1 Peter 5:12b

no matter what happens...

no matter WHAT happens...

no matter what HAPPENS...

NO MATTER WHAT happens...

iow, whatever this year throws at me, His grace is with me.

And that grace is God's unmerited favor towards me.

...don't worry about your life... Matthew 6:25a

iow, God's got this.

He's gonna take care of me.

Let it all go.

Stay calm – He's got my 6.

Nothing you ever do for the Lord is useless. 1 Corinthians 15:58b

You ever feel useless?

I do, a lot.

But God keeps telling me I'm not.

So who & what I am, & what I'm about, is deemed of portent by God, the One who has the power & right to define me – not by the people in my life or who are around me, or even by myself.

God says that the things I do for Him, whatever those things are, are useful in His overarching plan for humankind – any... thing... I do for Him.

ALL of the passages are things I've found myself holding on to for dear life, all year long, so far.

How do people live who don't allow God to speak to them through Him word. How did I, all those years (52.5) ?!

The important thing is that these 4 passages apply just as much to you & your situation as they do to mine.

Hold on to them, stake you life on them, & believe them.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

lots of stuff

I don't know how many of you have read 1 Peter, let alone chapter 3.

If you're anything like me during my first 52 years, the reading of any of the Bible could most generously described as higgledy-piggledy.

There's a lot of stuff in chapter 3 - here are 10 verses that have interesting stuff to say about a number of things...

1 Peter 3

8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind.

Sympathize with each other.

Love each other as brothers and sisters.

Be tenderhearted,

and keep a humble attitude.

9 Don't repay evil for evil.

Don't retaliate with insults when people insult you.

Instead, pay them back with a blessing.

That is what God has called you to do,

and he will bless you for it.

10 For the Scriptures say,

"If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
  and your lips from telling lies.
11 Turn away from evil and do good.
  Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
  and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
  against those who do evil."

13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?

14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it.

So don't worry or be afraid of their threats.

15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life.

And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.

16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way.

Keep your conscience clear.

Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.

17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!

  18 Christ suffered for our sins once for all time.

He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God.

He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Luke 15

1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.

2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people...

...even eating with them!

I've always found this situation fascinating.

We know that Jesus was fully God – a part of the Trinity – making Him all powerful, all knowing, all loving, all holy, all everything.

And yet, we also know that He was fully man – iow, He experienced life here on earth just like any other man does.

So, this kind of a combination of personhood in someone must have presented some challenges for Jesus.

But even in the face of all of that, there was something about Him that even tax collectors & “other notorious sinners” wanted to be around Him.

Now, tax collectors were on the bottom run of society back then. They collaborated with the despised Roman conquerors. They were roundly hated by every level of Jewish society & culture.

I have often wondered what a “notorious sinner” would have been like – I mean, they lived in a world in which “anything goes” was the norm – kinda like today ;-)

And these people that most Jews considered to be “dregs of society” were drawn to Jesus.

They wanted to be around Him.

Evidently, wonder of wonders, Jesus enjoyed being around them, to the point that the Pharisees about it.

(The Pharisees were the mac-daddies of Jewish religion – uber-observers of the law.)

Jesus was so comfortable with them, & wanted to be with them so much that He even ate meals with them.

I wonder if the disciples did also?

You see, eating with such sinners would make you ceremonially unclean – not something you'd want to be classed as.

I've often wondered if we project a basic personality of love & mercy toward the epople we are around.

Of course, first of all, how many of us hang out with social outcasts & non-believers who are do bad that they have a reputation for being so?

We so careful to project our precious & prissy lives as special, holy, successful, & examples of everything good & pure in the world

We just don't allow ourselves to be around these kinds of people because we think that somehow they will taint us & undermine our reputation with the people we seek to authenticate us.

And we don't have to talk about how these notorious sinner view us – we are hardly viewed as someone these people want to be around, & make an effort to be with.

What can we do about all this?

Didn't Jesus tell us more than once that people will know that we are His followers by the quality of our love for others & the level of mercy we have for all of them.

But how may of us live like that?


So what do we do, practically speaking?

Maybe we should try to see people like Jesus does – people caught in a web of sin, the depths of which we simply can't imagine.

Maybe we should let God love them through us – this isn't as difficult as it sounds.

If we simply ask God to give us a love for His children, He will channel His love through us.

I can't explain how that works – it's supernatural – I only know that He does.

And maybe we should seek them out, making the effort to connect with them, & not treating them as just another notch on our belt, not just another “victory” to be won.

I know, I know... some of the people we're talking about here live pretty obnoxious, unpredictable, dysfunctional lives.

And people will probably wonder about us if they see us with people whose lives are more than a little sketchy.

But who cares what people think?

Jesus says more than once He hadn't come to gather up as many prissy & precious religious people.

Jesus came for the lost – you & me.

And how many of us would be followers of Jesus if the people who encouraged us to believe had communicated judgement, condemnation, unloving attitudes, & just a plethora of malaise toward people who aren't “like us”.


Let's open our hearts & lives to a few of the people we consider “notorious” & let's see what happens.

Monday, June 27, 2016

every. thing.

Luke 14:33

no one can become my disciple without giving up everything for me. (NLT, 1st ed.)

none of you can be My disciple who does not [carefully consider the cost and then for My sake] give up all his own possessions. (Amplified)

You must leave everything you have to follow me. If not, you cannot be my follower. (ERV)

any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (ESV)

only the man who says goodbye to all his possessions can be my disciple. (J B Phillips)

Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple. (The Message)

none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. (NASB)

those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. (NIV)

if you want to be My disciple, it will cost you everything. Don’t underestimate that cost! (The Voice)

Well, I looked through each different translation, looking and hoping for a little wiggle room.


If we are determined to be followers of Jesus...

If we desire to be His disciples...

it will cost us everything.

We have to give up, completely surrender to Him everything...

our hopes & dreams,

material blessings,

our plans,


all & whoever we hold.

As my friend & sister, Beth White, says,

Salvation is free. Everything else costs you everything.”

I was something of an “ah ha” moment for me.

We have to let go of everything to really follow Jesus.


That's why there isn't a long line of people waiting to become a follower.

Because becoming a follower is a death – a death to yourself.

Then God can implement fully His plans & dreams for us in the way we fit into the overarching plans God has for himankind.

Everything y'all...

every. thing.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

I submit this for your reading...

James 5

1 Look here, you rich people:

Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you.

2 Your wealth is rotting away,

and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags.

3 Your gold and silver have become worthless.

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

This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence against you on the day of judgment.

4 For listen!

Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay.

The wages you held back cry out against you.

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

  5 You have spent your years on earth in luxury,

satisfying your every desire.

You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter.

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

I don't know why these verses stood out today to be shared.

I don't know who this is for, or why.

I know it's not a happy or warm & fuzzy passage.

I do know that compared to most of the rest of the world, we here in America are considered rich.

I offer it as it is – the passage that stood out to be shared this morning.

I submit it for your reading...

Saturday, June 25, 2016

fear & worry

Luke 12

6 "What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins?

Yet God does not forget a single one of them.

7 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.

So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

22 Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said,

"That is why I tell you don't worry about everyday life;

whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear.

23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing.

24 Look at the ravens.

They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them.

And you are far more valuable to him than any birds!

25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

26 And if worry can't accomplish a little thing like that, what's the use of worrying over bigger things?

  27 "Look at the lilies and how they grow.

They don't work or make their clothing,

yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.

28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow,

he will certainly care for you.

Why do you have so little faith?

  29 "And don't be concerned about what to eat and what to drink.

Don't worry about such things.

30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world,

but your Father already knows your needs.

31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

  32 "So don't be afraid, little flock.

For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

There you have it.

How many times did Jesus say “don't be afraid” in these 2 passages?

How many times did He say not to worry about things?

And how many will let go of our fear & worrying after reading these 2 passages fromLuke 12?

Probably none of us?


Because we don't trust Jesus to come through.

We just don't think He will.

How many times does Jesus Himself say in the 4 gospels that we don't need to be afraid, & that we don't need to worry?

And yet, we don't trust Him.

We don't believe Him.

We think we've got to worry & be on guard (iow, be afraid), because we believe that nobody else is gonna take care of us.

Nobody's got our backs, least of all, Jesus.

It's a choice – to believe Him, or not.

Learning to not be afraid & not to worry takes time.

I didn't get the way I am overnight.

Neither did you.

I'm not going to quit being afraid or quit worrying overnight.

It's just a decision to consciously decide to try to not be afraid, & to not worry.

And allow myself to be put in fearful or worrisome situations

where I can exercise that conscious decision to not let fear rule my thinking

& to let go of all the worry about everything under the sun,

& just trust Him to come through for me,

even though I don't see how,

& to not worry & “what if” my life & energy away.

It's tough, but what are the alternatives?

A life that is jammed further & further into a little box, a mere shadow of what it could have been.

Friday, June 24, 2016

who do we look to?

In view of the decision of Great Britain in regards to their leaving the European Common Market, this psalm which I read just this morning, seems pretty appropriate...

Psalm 121

1 I look up to the mountains;

does my help come from there?

2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth!

3 He will not let you stumble;

the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.

5 The LORD himself watches over you!

  The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.

7 The LORD keeps you from all harm

and watches over your life.

8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

4 words, again

Luke 10

25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question:

"Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?"

26 Jesus replied,

"What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?"

27 The man answered,

"'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.'

And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

  28 "Right!" Jesus told him. "Do this and you will live!"

I've said it many times before in this blog, & I'll say it again...

Jesus boils the whole thing down here to 4 words...

Love God.

Love people.

Why do we make it so hard?

Why do we heap more & more institutionalized crap on what it all means to follow Jesus?

Why can't we just do this?

Love God.

Love people.

That's all there is to it.

All the rest is just cultural bias, institutionalized expectations, or personal predilections.

Love God.

Love people.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

James 1, in short

The first chapter of James has a lot to say about a lot of things.

I've provided some of the verses that particularly stand out to me, the ones that are underlined in my Bible.

James 1

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.

  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.

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.