Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take

    or sit in the company of mockers,

2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

    and who meditates on his law day and night.

3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,

    which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither—

    whatever they do prospers.

4 Not so the wicked!

    They are like chaff

    that the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,

    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Maybe those who are wicked should be more aware of the consequences of their wickedness...

the way of the wicked leads to destruction.”

Just sayin'...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


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!

Monday, May 29, 2017

child like

Mark 10

13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them.

But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

  14 When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples.

He said to them,

"Let the children come to me.

Don't stop them!

For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.

15 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn't have their kind of faith will never get into the
kingdom of God"

16 Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

And what is the faith of a child like?

They don't ask why all that much.

They don't have to be filled in with all the details.

Their basic attitude is “whatever” because usually children are just glad to be with you, doing stuff.

Their trust & contentment are in direct proportion to how secure they feel with the persons they are with.

Maybe that's what God wishes for us & wants from us.

Maybe He just wants us to be in a “whatever” mode with Him, secure in the knowledge that He's gonna take care of us.

It's hard to trust Him sometimes.

But children seem to do all right with that level of trust if they persons they are with are trustworthy.

Think about it...

Sunday, May 28, 2017


Colossians 4

5  Live wisely among those who are not Christians,

& make the most of every opportunity.

6 Let your conversations be gracious & effective

so that you will have the right answer for everyone.

When did we quit being & doing this?

Was it lost along with our civility?

It seems we are defined these days be what we are NOT, not what we ARE...

NOT loving...

NOT gracious...

NOT merciful...

NOT understanding...

NOT humble...

(did I mention NOT loving?)

We have lost our way...

I don't know if we can find our way back...

Saturday, May 27, 2017

words to live by

Words to live by...

Colossians 3

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves,

you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy,




and patience.

13 Make allowance for each other's faults,

and forgive anyone who offends you.

Remember, the Lord forgave you,

so you must forgive others.

14 And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love.

Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.

15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.

For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.

And always be thankful.
  16 Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, fill your hearts & make you wise.

Use his words to teach and counsel each other.

Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

17 And whatever you do or say,

do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus,

giving thanks through him to God the Father.

Friday, May 26, 2017

hold on or let go

Jesus is speaking here, to His disciples, as well as a large crowd.

Mark 8

34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, (Jesus) said,

"If any of you wants to be my follower,

you must turn from your selfish ambitions,

take up your cross,

and follow me.

35 If you try to hang on to your life,

you will lose it.

But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News,

you will save it.

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

37 Is anything worth more than your soul?

38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days,

the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

In another recorded teaching, this time by mark, Jesus makes it plain that holding a death grip on your own wants & desires is a very problematic approach to life.

Jesus contrasts a life of “selfish ambition” to one of letting loose of our lives & basically telling God we're surrendered to whatever He has in mind for us.

Jesus also says in a straightforward way that the former attitude leads to a dead end, while the latter attitude results in a life we will be thankful to have led.

And then Jesus says in another account a statement that seems such an appropriate reminder...

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

We seem to have a plethora of people in the forefront of our collective consciousness who seem to have “gained the whole world”,

but also make one wonder if they are prime candidates to lose their souls in the process.

Basically, Jesus is addressing the folly of living a life so self absorbed & self centered.

It's a dead end.

It doesn't work.

He points out that a truly sustainable life can only be found in letting go of our lives

& trusting God to guide us through this mine field called life.

So the question for all of us is have we let go of our lives to the point where God is free to express the life He dreamed up for each of us a gajillion years ago?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

absorb that

Every once in a while, Paul comes out with these huge statements.

Here, in his letter to the followers of Jesus in Colossae, he makes a huge statement about who Jesus is & what His coming to earth means for us.

Colossians 1

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.

  He existed before anything was created

and is supreme over all creation,

16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.

He made the things we can see

  and the things we can't see—
such as thrones,



and authorities in the unseen world.
  Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
  and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
  which is his body.
He is the beginning,
  supreme over all who rise from the dead.

  So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ,

20 and through him God reconciled everything to himself.

He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ's blood on the cross.

  21 This includes you who were once far away from God.

You were his enemies,

separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.

22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body.

As a result, he has brought you into his own presence,

and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

Did you catch that last statement?

Because of Jesus, God doesn't see us as sinners.

He sees us as holy & blameless.

Jesus' sacrifice for us has washed away all our sin, as far as God is concerned.

Take a minute & absorb that...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Phil. 4

Paul wrote the followers of Jesus in Philippi a sweet & challenging letter.

The fourth chapter has some really strong words – words we can anchor ourselves to.

Here's the ones that really stand out for me...

Philippians 4

  4 Always be full of joy in the Lord.

I say it again—rejoice!

5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do.

  6 Don't worry about anything;

instead, pray about everything.

Tell God what you need,

and thank him for all he has done.

7 Then you will experience God's peace,

which exceeds anything we can understand.

His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

  8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.

Fix your thoughts on what is true,

and honorable,

and right,

and pure,

and lovely,

and admirable.

Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

11b I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.

19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

But this verse stands out more than the others for me.

Maybe it's a verse I need to claim for especially this season of my life.

Here's how more than one translation / paraphrase presents it...

verse 13 

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me the strength I need. (NLT, 1st edition)

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency] (Amplified)

Christ is the one who gives me the strength I need to do whatever I must do. (ERV)

I am ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within me. (J B Phillips)

Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. (The Message)

I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength. (The Voice)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Just read it again & think about how it applies today...

Psalm 37

1 Don't worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong.

2 For like grass, they soon fade away.

  Like spring flowers, they soon wither.

3 Trust in the LORD and do good.

  Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart's desires.
5 Commit everything you do to the LORD.

Trust him, and he will help you.

6 He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

7 Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act.

Don't worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.

8 Stop being angry!

  Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper - it only leads to harm.

9 For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land.

10 Soon the wicked will disappear.

  Though you look for them, they will be gone.
11 The lowly will possess the land and will live in peace and prosperity.

12 The wicked plot against the godly;

  they snarl at them in defiance.
13 But the Lord just laughs, for he sees their day of judgment coming.

14 The wicked draw their swords and string their bows to kill the poor and the oppressed, to slaughter those who do right.

15 But their swords will stab their own hearts, and their bows will be broken.

16 It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich.

17 For the strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the LORD takes care of the godly.

18 Day by day the LORD takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.

19 They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.

20 But the wicked will die.

  The LORD's enemies are like flowers in a field - they will disappear like smoke.

21 The wicked borrow and never repay, but the godly are generous givers.

22 Those the LORD blesses will possess the land, but those he curses will die.

23 The LORD directs the steps of the godly.

  He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.

25 Once I was young, and now I am old.

  Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.

26 The godly always give generous loans to others, and their children are a blessing.

27 Turn from evil and do good, and you will live in the land forever.

28 For the LORD loves justice, and he will never abandon the godly.
He will keep them safe forever, but the children of the wicked will die.

29 The godly will possess the land and will live there forever.

30 The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong.

31 They have made God's law their own, so they will never slip from his path.

32 The wicked wait in ambush for the godly, looking for an excuse to kill them.

33 But the LORD will not let the wicked succeed or let the godly be condemned when they are put on trial.

34 Put your hope in the LORD.

  Travel steadily along his path.
He will honor you by giving you the land.
  You will see the wicked destroyed.

35 I have seen wicked and ruthless people flourishing like a tree in its native soil.

36 But when I looked again, they were gone!

  Though I searched for them, I could not find them!

37 Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.

38 But the rebellious will be destroyed; they have no future.

39 The LORD rescues the godly; he is their fortress in times of trouble.

40 The LORD helps them, rescuing them from the wicked.
He saves them, and they find shelter in him.

Monday, May 22, 2017


Mark 4

1 Once again Jesus began teaching by the lakeshore.

A very large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat.

Then he sat in the boat while all the people remained on the shore.

2 He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

  3 "Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed.

4 As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it.

5 Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock.

The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow.

6 But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn't have deep roots, it died.

7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain.

8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!"

9 Then he said, "Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand."

  10 Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant.

  11 He replied, "You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God.

But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders,12 so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled:

'When they see what I do,
  they will learn nothing.
When they hear what I say,
  they will not understand.
Otherwise, they will turn to me
  and be forgiven.'"

  13 Then Jesus said to them,

"If you can't understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables?

14 The farmer plants seed by taking God's word to others.

15 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away.

16 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.

17 But since they don't have deep roots, they don't last long.

They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God's word.

18 The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God's word,

19 but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life,

the lure of wealth,

and the desire for other things,

so no fruit is produced.

20 And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God's word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!"

I've wondered if this parable is Jesus telling us what our lives will be like as we try to share with others this new life with have in Him?

I've also wondered if it is something of a summary of my life in ministry during those 30 years as a Methodist music minister, those 10 years with House of Grace, & these 7 years here in Blairsville, as well as whatever lies ahead.

And I wondered that this parable not only is indicative of my life, but describes each of our lives, yours included, as we walk this journey, loving God & loving others.

We have such a success orientation here in our white evangelical middle class world in regards to most everything, including sharing with others about Jesus.

Maybe Jesus was alerting us to the basic fact that no matter what we say & do, some people are not going to choose to accept the grace & mercy offered by God through Jesus.

And that some who initially connect will simply not go the distance.

But those who lock on to Him & abandon themselves to Him will find an abundance is who they are & what they do.

Perhaps Jesus is reminding us that our job is to sow, but when all is said & done, success is not always a guarantee, in view of the plethora of dynamics involved.

How many of us who have lived more than a couple of years have seen many people jump on the bandwagon of following Jesus just to fall away down the line.

And how many of us have come to realize that the number of people who actually ending up going the distance with God, abandoning their lives to His Lordship are actually few & far between.

It is so easy to settle – to choose to live the good life – but never embrace what is necessary to live the God life of abandon & adventure.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Here's something for all who read this whose life has become a heavy, heavy burden.

I know this psalm is read a lot at funerals – try to get past that.

I've always thought it was a psalm for the living, not the dead.

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd;
  I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.

3   He renews my strength.

He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.

Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.

You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
  My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

dark forces

This passage is Paul writing to the followers of Jesus in Ephesus.

Ephesians 6

10 A final word:

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

11 Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.

12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies,

but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world,

against mighty powers in this dark world,

and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

  13 Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.

Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness.

15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.

16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.

17 Put on salvation as your helmet,

and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

  18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.

Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

I think in our scientific, rational world, we downplay the possibility of satanic & demonic action in our lives.

Which, of course, is exactly what the devil wants us to think.

Lynn & I have been keenly aware of the actions of “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world”,” mighty powers”, & “ evil spirits”.

I know many of you will think I'm crazy to make that statement, probably thinking I see the devil or demons behind “natural” things that occur.

I've lived too long & see too much to not think so much of what we've had to quietly struggle against is anything but demonic attack.

Both Lynn & I have seen things going on in our lives for especially all our adult lives that can only be attributed to the devil & his cronies.

Enough about that...

The essence of this passage is that we have tools we can use to fight against the “dark forces” that surround us.

Those tools are truth,

God's righteousness,

the peace of God,


the assured fact of our salvation,

& the word of God.

That last one has enough power to scare off these dark forces.

By filling our heads will the truth of the Bible, we have one of the strongest tools to fend off the attacks of all the dark forces may fling at us.

Because within the Bible is the eternal truths of God, something that the devil & his demons can't fight again, because truth is foreign to them – their very essence is based on lies.

I know all this may be more than a little mystical for some of you.

The longer I live, the more I see things that can only be attributed to the evil forces that surround us & who subtly & not so subtly undermine & attack our lives & our thinking.

But Paul says in all of this that we do not have to be afraid – we have an infinitely power God who back us up with Himself, as well as His own angels who do “guard duty” over each of us.

I had no clue this missive would go in this direction this morning.

It's something I needed to remind myself about.

And I guess maybe some of you needed to be reminded of it too, or maybe even think about for the first time.

Friday, May 19, 2017

our job

Ephesians 5

1 Follow God's example in everything you do,

because you are his dear children.

2 Live a life filled with love for others,

following the example of Christ,

who loved us

and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

And God was pleased,

because that sacrifice was like sweet perfume to him.

Ya know, the longer I read the New Testament, the more I think our job as followers of Jesus is to love people.

There just doesn't seem to be any overwhelming evidence that a different attribute or behavior supersedes the mandate to just be a powerhouse & channel of God's love.

I just wonder when we're going to start being & doing that.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Matthew 28

16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.

17 When they saw him, they worshiped him...

but some of them doubted! (dan note: does that strike you as crazy as it does me?!)

  18 Jesus came and told his disciples,

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

19 Therefore,


and 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."

All my life I have heard this passage used as a major tool to get people to answer a call to be missionaries to foreign countries.

And we have to admit, it's a pretty good one.

Many of my friends who gave themselves to decades of missionary service consider this passage as a significant benchmark in their call.

I have thought for some time the most operative word Jesus says here is “go”.

Where that “go” may lead us is particular for each of us.

It may not mean we should become missionaries to “deepest, darkest Africa”.

{The hilarious thing about that is that Lynn & I would have LOVED for God to call us to deepest, darkest Africa! ;-) LOL)

What I have thought it means is that each of us must become active in reaching out to people who do not have a connection with God through Jesus.

And it is NOT an option to NOT do anything to point people to Jesus.

Jesus said “go” - & each of us has been mandated to actively pursue the people around us to believe in Jesus as Savior & to follow hard after Him.

This “going” is not an option – it's a mandate – it's a command.

We are not called to just live comfortable lives, drive SUV's, sip lattes, have season tickets to Disney World, & live the American Dream.

Jesus intends our singular focus to be reach people around us in the lives He has called us to – regardless of where that call locates us, or around whom that call leads us.

Where would any of us be if the people who influenced us to follow Jesus had been lax in their mandate to reach people for Him?

Yeah... I think our lives would be pretty grim without their influence.

No matter where any of us are in our lives...

...old, young, middle aged, working, retired, well off, low income, strong, weak, shy, or gregarious...

ALL of us have the same mandate on our lives – GO!

We can't hold back...

We can't be afraid...

We mustn't turn away from Jesus' directive for us all...