Sunday, December 25, 2011


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 

"How would you know?  You've never been through this?"  How often has a well meaning, would-be comforter had these words flung back in their face?  Often the honest answer can be little more than an honest admission that the one offering comfort has indeed not experienced that particular trial or difficulty.  Our God longs to comfort us in our trials, as the God of all comfort.  This comfort comes through our relationship to Christ Jesus.  Our trials are an opportunity to grow in our relationship with Christ.  They enable us to comfort one another by pointing each other to Jesus with the comfort and confidence of one who found comfort in Him.

Monday, December 19, 2011

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 
John 1:16 NASB

One of the simplest definitions of the word 'miracle' I have ever heard was, "Supernatural forces interfering with the natural order of things."  This time of year we celebrate "The Great Interference".  Apart from this Interference man is without hope, lost, and condemned.  Yet when God chose to interfere with His creation He chose the most intimate, personal and costly way imaginable.  All because of His great love for rebellious mankind.  (Romans 5:6-8)  Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Smell Test

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.  We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our hearts before Him, in whatever our heart condemns us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. 1 John 3:19-22

Before I married April I was a bachelor.  As such I had a very complex laundry system.  My laundry system started with "the smell test."  In this highly scientific analysis an article of clothing was carefully selected from the floor of the room and smelled at arms length for offensive odors.  If it passed this test it got the "close up smell test."  The results of this test were entered into a larger equation that took into consideration where I would be going that day, who I would be with and how likely it would be that I would be in close enough proximity to be smelled.  Marriage is a good thing for people like me.  In his first epistle John gives us a "smell test" for our faith.  How can you know if you are walking in the Lord?  Evaluate your feelings towards your brothers and sisters in Him.  If bitterness, envy, frustration, fear and hatred dominate your thoughts towards fellow believers you can know without question that you have taken your eyes off of Jesus. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011


And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.  Luke 2:25-26

Think of this man, Simeon.  He spent his whole life looking forward to this coming Messiah.  The Lord let him know that he would get to see the Messiah before he died.  When he saw Joseph and Mary in the temple he knew.  He held the Hope of all humanity in his arms and he praised the Lord.  Having beheld the Lord Jesus Christ, Simeon was ready to die in peace.  His entire life was building up to the chance to HOLD the Savior.  And this One, whom Simeon rejoiced to cradle in his arms, you and I have the opportunity to KNOW, personally and intimately.  Even as we are known and loved by Him.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 28, 2011


Turning to the disciples, He said privately, "Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see, for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them." 
Luke 10:23-24

Each year I anticipate my first glass of eggnog.  So creamy, rich and smooth.  I go out and buy a quart of it the minute I find it has hit the shelves.  It matters little that I have never (to date) had a second glass from the quart of this holiday beverage, as it really too rich for me.  I throw it away every December 28th, knowing full well that I will be bursting with anticipation next November 15th when it hits the shelves again.  Certainly, it is a silly example of anticipation, yet how tremendous the anticipation of the event that we are celebrating.  To think of the generations of people that waited with eager longing, waiting for the Messiah to come.  Spend time this Christmas season in thankful adoration of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


 Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, the LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land. Joshua 1:13

Joshua was given a monumental task.  The taking of the Holy Land.  At the outset of this undertaking God reminds Joshua that He had already given them the land, all that was left to do is for the children of Israel to take it and possess it, trusting in God through the process.  There is an interesting parallel in the life of the believer today.  It is most interesting that Jesus name, in Hebrew, is also Joshua (Yeshua).  God has seated us in Christ (Colossians 3:1-4), He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3) and given us everything that we need for life and godliness in Jesus (2 Peter 1:3).  What is left for us to do?  Much like Joshua who had only to receive the land which the Lord had given them, we are to lay hold of the life of Christ that has been given to us, trusting in Him every step of the way.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Big Claims

"Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." 1 Corinthians 11:1

This always seemed like a large claim to make.  Is Paul claiming to be the perfect follower of Christ?  Clearly not.  He affirms his humility constantly throughout his writing (Philippians 3:12; Romans 7; 1 Timothy 1:15).  So what does he mean?  Paul obviously continued to struggle with his flesh, with sickness, with physical want, with different people.  Yet his constant goal and affirmation was to seek after "walking in the Spirit."  Undoubtedly he failed at times, but he would not despair, rather continuing to look to Christ and rely on His grace.  This is the example that we need.  We need this same example in each other.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
 Galatians 6:14

Boasting is ugly.  Many people spend their entire lives accruing accomplishments  like a resume that no one will ever read.  As followers of Jesus we are to be so enamored with Him and His accomplishments that we are freed from our own desire to impress others with our accomplishments.  When we understand that we have died to the world, we are free to understand that we are no longer obligated to attempt to impress the world.  The mark of our value is found in the fact that Jesus Christ loved us, and gave Himself up for us.  This frees us to be simple, to respond in love, and to content ourselves with His greatness.  That is freedom indeed!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

True Love

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 1 John 5:1

I love my children.  I am enamored with them.  I love them when they please me and when they upset me.  I don't love them for what they do, I love them for who they are.  When we look at our brothers and sisters in Christ we are often tempted to think about all of the reasons we love them.  We love them because they encourage us, bless us. Perhaps we are even tempted to love them less when they cost us something, or hurt us.  The true love between believers is rooted and grounded in Christ.  We love each other, not for what we do for each other, but for what Christ has begotten in each of us.  That is the love of Christ - pure, unconditional and undefiled.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Let nothing be done

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 
Philippians 2:3-4

The first words of these verses are striking: "Let nothing be done".  The English translation softens the Greek which reads: "NOTHING through selfish ambition or conceit".  Our motives are of the utmost importance.  If you are doing some service to God for your own glory do yourself a favor and quit.  If you are serving the church for the round of applause you are hoping for, just stop.  If you are helping someone with a feeling of disdain for them, don't.  The only valuable service to the Lord is the service that is done by Jesus Christ through you, for His glory.  Jesus Christ is our example in this, having given up His privileges as God, submitted himself to the humiliating death on the cross to save us.  When you are able to serve with His life it will look like His work and you will be glorifying only Him, and it will be good.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Eye Has Not Seen

But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." 
1 Corinthians 2:9

This verse is often abused to inspire the hearer to think about all of the great physical wealth that we might be brought into by the television preachers.  But we have seen physical wealth.  To suggest that monetary prosperity is what is being discussed here sells the cross and power of Jesus Christ hopelessly short.  What God has prepared for us in Christ is far greater than anything we can ask or imagine.  We are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.  This reality outdistances any idea of prosperity, any desires in this perishing world completely.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Playing the Best

For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.
Romans 7:11

On a internet reality show I watched recently the main characters challenged two of the Harlem Globetrotters to a 2 on 2 game.  They were slaughtered.  Each time a point was scored they got up and tried again until the game eventually ended.  Had that game gone on for all of eternity the characters in the show would never have had a chance.  In Romans 7 Paul describes a similar situation.  His sin nature is the player that he could never beat, the Law is the game that he never could win.  In Romans 6 he realized that Christ had won this game for him, in Romans 7 the sin nature temps him back on the court.  And he loses, every time.  It isn't a flaw in the game (the Law) it is a flaw in the player.  The minute we step on "the court" (the Law) with our sin nature we lose.  No matter how good our intentions, no matter how strong our resolve.  Our only hope for salvation was to look to Jesus, our only hope to be saved from our Sinful Nature now is to keep our eyes firmly fixed on Him and the reality that He already won this game at the cross.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Taking His Place

"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?  Tell me, if you have understanding"Job 38:4

Success in life depends very much on knowing who and where we are at any given moment.  If a linebacker on the football team thinks that he is the quarterback there will be problems in the game.  Employees often grumble about their boss's decisions because they lack the perspective of the leadership of the company.  Musicians who refuse to follow the conductor can make a beautiful piece of music a complete muddle.  This is the problem that Job and his friends fell into.  Upon his great trial Job showed perseverance of character and trust in God.  Yet, in his more audacious moments (and due to the unjust provocation of his friends) he got too big for his britches and wanted to take his case before the Lord.  Job's friends wanted to usurp the place of God and assume they knew everything that was going on in the life of Job.  Yet God's rebuke to each of them is similar.  He alone is God.  Trying to assume His place only brings heartache and trouble.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pass It On

And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
2 Timothy 2:2

In preparing to run a relay race athletes practice the baton hand-off again and again.  A fumbled, or illegal, baton pass can disqualify the entire team from that particular race.  Once a very strong runner was substituting the first leg of such a race.  Knowing that he could run the whole race faster than any of the opposing team could run their sections he refused to pass the baton.  Finishing well ahead of the next place runner he beamed at his coach, looking for approval only to find that he had, single-handedly, lost the race for his team.  This is what Paul tells Timothy: "Don't just train runners- Train baton passers."  The Church doesn't need more heroes, it needs more believers passionately passing "the baton" of God's word through the day by day process of discipleship.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Looking Past It

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith...
Hebrews 12:2ab

In 4th grade we were taught how to juggle.  I worked hard to get proficient at it: practicing at home, reading books, and watching instructional movies.  The real breakthrough came when I realized where I was looking.  I had been trying to focus on each ball individually as I threw and caught.  Being unable to focus on more than one thing at once failure was inevitable.  I learned that if I focused on a still point past the balls I could keep them in the air with relative ease.  Focusing on our individual problems and situations causes everything else to tumble.  As we focus on Christ, in whom we are seated, He is able to do all things through us!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Choosing Sides

For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal?  
1 Corinthians 3:4

We so often read this verse with a sort of hypocrisy.  We think, "If I had lived then, I wouldn't have been a part of this kind of silliness."  We then turn around and talk about the writers and theologians, churches and schools, that we follow.  It is comical that with this very verse in the Bible there are yet churches called "Lutheran", "Calvinist", "Wesleyan" and the like.  We don't need to hitch our wagon to Augustine, Calvin, Luther, Chafer, Osteen, Warren, or anyone else.  We need, as individuals and as a church body, to look to Jesus Christ and His word alone.  For He alone was crucified for us.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Not for You

And He said to them, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father has put in His own authority." Acts 1:7

In examining church history (and even the last two years) this may be one of the most tragically ignored statements Jesus ever made (right behind, "As I have loved you, so love ye one another.")  Whether Karesh, Camping, Heaven's Gate, 2012 or anyone else we prove that people are irresistibly drawn to those things that cannot be known.  There is, however, another side to the Lord's injunction on His special messengers (the Apostles) as He prepares them to be sent out.  They are to focus on what they DO know.  That is what a witness is, not one who conjectures about the unknown, but one who testifies to what he has seen.  Better news yet...the apostles then, and we today, are not witnesses of what we know, but Who we know.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Who is on your side?

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:31 NKJV

As humans we are quite easily confused. Stalin became terribly paranoid later in his horrific reign. He suspected everyone of trying to steal his position. When he finally did decide to trust another world leader he chose Hitler, who promptly betrayed that trust. We are easily duped into misinterpreting reality. We mistake our foes for our allies and vice-versa. The Scripture declares that, if we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ the Lord is always our ally. When we walk well and when we fall. He is FOR us. He doesn't want to see us punished or "payed out" (He already punished His Son in our place). He wants to see us turn and rest in what He has already done for us. His goal is to conform us to image of His Son, Jesus Christ, and He will not fail in that goal. When we fail He isn't wagging His finger at us, nor shaking His head. He is holding out His hand. Offering the life of Christ as our provision for every need if we would but trust Him.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Quiet Things

That you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Sensationalism is the message of our society. Gadgets, food and drink are advertised by promising an experience that "out of this world." Movies and television seek to wow us constantly to keep our attention. Gossip magazines keep us abreast to the most intimate details (true and false) of the "great people" in entertainment and politics. If we buy into the world system we may believe that success is measured in such ways. Yet success is quite different from God's perspective. While we are impressed by the affairs of those we think of as "great" our Lord values something else entirely. A simple life, honest work, one that loves others with the love of Jesus Christ. This is valuable, wonderful. This is what would make the front page in Heaven's Daily Gazette.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Not Fearful

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

Fear is one of the most destructive influences on our lives. Fear is rooted in faithlessness, in a lack of trust in the character or ability of our loving Father God. The Lord would have us live a life that is fears nothing on earth. Neither men, nor need, nor government or death. The secret of this fearlessness is keeping our eyes firmly fixed on Christ in whom we are permanently positioned. With our eyes on Him we grow to understand how we can live beyond the limitations of fear.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Making the Very Best of It

You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first.
Gal 4:13 NKJV

A good mystery is tough to beat. It is easy to look at the verse above and get stuck in the question, "What was Paul's physical infirmity?" Rather than concern ourselves too heavily with the unclear parts of Scripture, we have the opportunity to concern ourselves with what is incredibly clear. Paul had some physical pain or difficulty that was certainly an inconvenience to him. God, however, had a plan for that difficulty. God's plan included the gospel going out to people who were ready to hear it. God's plan also included those people giving the occasion for one of the most important letters ever written (the Letter to the Galatians). That's what the Lord did through Paul's infirmity. What will He do through yours?

Monday, August 1, 2011

There WILL be a Test

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, thought it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7 NKJV

I have always hated timed tests. My palms and forehead sweating, chest constricted just waiting for the teachers mark to turn over the paper and complete the test in time. Ever since then the idea of someone "testing" me was not something that I appreciated. Yet we are told that God tests our faith in 1 Peter 1. Look closer, God tests our faith as a goldsmith tests gold. That process is interesting. The goldsmith buys gold hoping that it is pure, that he can approve all of it as useful. He heats the gold to the melting point and the impurities rise to the top as "dross" which is scraped off and discarded. This is the picture of how God "tests" our faith: with a view to approval, that we may be useful to Him. He is not looking to "fail " us, but rather to use us as tools for His own glory. This is a description of every trial you will ever have.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


...lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
2 Corinthians 2:11 NKJV

So many books and movies turn on a good surprise ending. The best surprise endings are the kind that cause you to look back at the story and say, "Of course! Why didn't I see it before?" There are times in life where we, as believers, are surprised when we have no business being taken aback. We are surprised when our health gives out, yet we know that since sin entered the world decay became the norm. We act surprised when the world system is godless, cruel and unjust. We shouldn't be. We know the god of this world (Satan), and we know his goals, power and tactics. We act surprised when trusting in our sin nature causes monumental pain and spiritual loss. We shouldn't be surprised at that, we know that our sin nature is capable of no more than death and destruction. Rather than being surprised by our three fold Enemy (the Flesh, the World and the Devil), let us see them for what they are, and trust Christ and Christ alone as our only hope to escape the power of sin and death.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Posture Problems

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father... Ephesians 3:14

When a superior officer walks into a room all of the soldiers snap to attention. Their posture is one of obedience, alertness and respect.

When you tell your friend about something that is very important to you he leans in, put's his hand on his cheek and locks his eyes on you. His posture tells you that he is listening.

We are Spirits connected to bodies, and when these bodies are gone we will be given new bodies. As long as we have bodies (and Scripture tells us we always will) our posture is important. Paul, the Apostle of Grace, says that he took time to bend his knees and kneel before the Father in prayer. What does this posture say? To kneel is to put one's self in submission, kneeling is a sign of humility. Of course we can pray regardless of our posture. For many of us kneeling may not even be possible, approaching the Lord with the humility and knowledge of our true position is always possible. For Paul prayer was so important that he set everything else aside and knelt on the ground, while chained to a Roman guard. He was unashamed to physically show his humility before his loving Savior God.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Great Ministry

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,

Colossians 3:23 NKJV

So many tasks make up our day. Small tasks like washing dishes, cutting the grass and going about the duties of our various jobs. These duties can easily become familiar, or seem trivial. Yet, the Lord offers us another viewpoint on them. Those tasks before you are exactly what the Lord has for you to do this day. If you do them with the strength He provides, He will be glorified in them. God's glory shining through a repaired sink, a well prepared meal, or some paperwork that is filled out with care! Imagine that! As we go about the small tasks that make up our days this week let us remember that each task is an opportunity for us to glorify the Lord and display the life of the Lord Jesus Christ in us to a dark world. View each task with the dignity that the Lord gives it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hope that is Sure

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5

Elie Wiesel survived the Nazi concentration camps. He gives an account of a man who was sure redemption was coming on a certain day. That day passed and his anticipated liberation did not arrive. The very next day that man died. He had endured incredible physical distress, but when his hope was lost, he died. It is clear that humans are not designed to operate without hope. We can endure incredible duress and difficulty, but hopelessness destroys us. God created us with this need for hope, and He supplied this great need for us in Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ alone. Where is your hope? In your pain, in your stresses, in your difficulty there is only one Hope that will not disappoint. That Hope is in Jesus Christ. That is not just hope for the future, it is hope right now in His indwelling Holy Spirit. Hope in Him, and Him alone.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Remain Seated

"even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus... (Ephesians 2:4-5)

"Please remain seated until the ride comes to a full and complete stop." Boomed the voice overhead as the roller coaster eased its way into the station. I had my doubts as to whether I would be able to get up once the safety restraints were removed. The roller coaster had spun, slammed, whirled and twisted so quickly that all sense of gravity was ripped from me, leaving me quite dazed. I could call it "fun" because there was a safety restraint holding me. Were I to be responsible to hold myself in the cart it would cease to be fun and be only horrible, terrifying and likely fatal. Our relationship with Christ is similar. If we remember in Whom we are seated we can enjoy the ride in faith that we will ultimately arrive at the destination He has set out for us - being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). Remain seated in Christ this week.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Healthy Words

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine...
Titus 2:1

As a culture we are quite concerned with the idea of "health". Many restaurants will have a portion of their menu dedicated to "healthy choices". Many television shows and writers have a steady following in promoting "healthy living." The word translated "sound" in Titus 2:1 carries the connotation of "healthy" and is the basis for our English words "hygiene" and "hygienic". We seek to understand and teach the Bible correctly, not so that we can be "right" or puffed up, but because a correct understanding of the Bible brings about spiritual health. We find that when our words convey the true message of the the word of God a healthy spiritual life flows naturally, both for ourselves and for those to which we speak. May our words be healthy words that spur ourselves and others on to a relationship with the Living God through the completed work of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ready for Battle

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
Ephesians 6:17

Each of us pursues excellence in our respective field (or fields) of expertise. The excellent tradesman is constantly refining his technique, caring for his tools and learning about new products. The excellent parent is considering constantly how they might better "train up a child in the way that he should go." The excellent gardener spends hours watering, weeding and considering what plants will thrive in a given garden. Soldiers spend hours learning how their weapons work, and how to use them with accuracy and control. As we looked at Psalm 19 we saw the wonderful perfection and power of God's word in the life of a believer. It is unthinkable that a painter would show up to a job without brushes, rollers and sprayers. It is yet more unthinkable that a soldier would come to a battle without his weapon. It should be most unthinkable that any follower of Jesus Christ would allow him or herself to be separated from the Scriptures...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day this in remembrance of Me.
Luke 22:19

Happy Memorial Day! I hope you have had some time on this holiday to consider those who fought and died for this country. Those who gave their lives to preserve the freedom that we enjoy deserve our respect, gratitude and admiration. It is hard for humans to remember things aright. For the Children of Israel it was easier to remember Egypt's easy meals, rather than their miraculous deliverance. It is always easy to forget the incredible blessings and character of God when enticed by worldly things. Christ's message to the church at Ephesus was just that, "REMEMBER the height from which you have fallen" (Revelation 2:5). I hope you had an opportunity today to remember the courage of those who died for the sake of this country. However, I hope we take time every day to remember your First Love. He who loves you and gave Himself up for you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lover of the Lost

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
2Peter 3:9

Jesus loves the lost. The Lord's heart for the lost is clearly stated in Scripture (Matthew 28:19-20; John 10:16; Romans 5:8). In order to reach them He is doing amazing things. He draws all people (John 12:32). His Holy Spirit convicts all of sin (John 16:8). He desires that none would perish (2 Peter 3:9). He has given all the witness of His amazing, ordered, beautiful creation (Romans 1:20). Along with all of the other amazing things that He has done to call the lost to Himself, there is at least one other thing. This is a remarkable comfort to those of us who care for the lost who are in our lives. He has placed Himself in their lives, personally and you.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Soil Check

"Behold, a sower went out to sow." Matthew 13:3b

Today I got to spend most of the day in the garden. Most of my time was spent working different soils. The soil in the far back was hard, thick clay which I broke up with a shovel, and water to softened it. On the side of the yard I spent some good time digging weeds out (all the way to the root, thank you!). In the front planter box, the soil had dried out completely and had almost become sand, so I lovingly massaged in water and more good soil. The real delight was the planter box! I got to plant that with brand new, fresh and springy potting soil. Naturally my thoughts drifted to the parable of the soils (Matt. 13:3-9). How's your soil?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Built Together whom (Christ) you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:22 NKJV

How many support beams can I take out of your house? Would you be willing to let me remove some of the frames upon which your dry-wall is hung? Okay, if I can't take those, can I take some of your roof away? Not over the master bedroom, but just over the kitchen, or perhaps the living room. Summer is coming up, you probably won't miss it. No? Why not? It is interesting how we would never let anyone take the beams and pieces out of our house, yet we would take ourselves out of fellowship with the Body of Christ, we who are the very parts and pieces of this temple of His Holy Spirit on Earth. That is how much we need each other.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mother Love

But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.
1 Thessalonians 2:7 NKJV

Nobody had to tell my wife to love our children. An infant does very little but take. Mother's milk, mother's time, mother's sleep and even mother's sanity on some occasions. Yet a mother takes this difficulty on with a courage that would make the soldiers at the battle of Thermopole look faint of heart. A mother's love is one of the pictures that the Lord gives us to show us how great His love is. We see in mother's a love that is insanely self-sacrificing; and we dare to ask, "Lord, is that how you love me?" And the reality is that our Lord's love is so great that a mother's love is a mere shadow of the reality of the perfect love that He has for you. This week thank a mother for boldly displaying an amazing love in a dark world. And realize that He longs to exercise that "much more" love in and through you, as you are in Christ.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Still and Fill

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
Psalm 46:10 NKJV

Sometimes our heads get spinning so fast we feel like we are caught in a blender. That panicked feeling that we have to keep moving just to keep our feet off of the blades. The world may tell us to "slow down" but offers no real consolation. Yet the Lord calls us to a rest and and to recognize Who He IS. When we find our world is spinning it is often because we have moved to believing we are the center of it all, which we were never meant to be. That is acting as if we were God. The reminder? Be still and realize that you are not God, HE IS GOD. His exultation and glory are sure, and He has chosen to share that glory with you, not the other way around. Take a moment to be still, and move into your rightful orbit around the Son.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Have you been properly introduced?

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Rom 5:8 NKJV

Introductions are an interesting custom in any society. When talking to a person while waiting in line you will very seldom introduce yourself. The relationship you have is based on standing in a line together, and will not likely outlast the wait. However, when you meet anyone in a capacity that implies a long lasting relationship formal introductions take place. The word translated "demonstrates" in Romans 5:8 has the sense of "introduces". God formally introduces us to His love here: at the Cross. He loves you, and He has proven it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Risky Faithlessness

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:11

Imagine a person jumping out of an airplane. He has a parachute strapped to his back and is jumping with a friend. The friend screams, “Pull your rip chord! Release your chute!” to which the first person says, “I don’t trust my parachute!” He then begins furiously flapping his arms like wings, and consequently plummets to his death. This is exactly what Christians do when we try to do battle with our sin nature on our own power or might. We ignore what Christ has already done for us and then wind up as a messy spot on the spiritual pavement.

Have a great week!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Who is in View?

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2
I was talking to one of my dearest friends, who spent some time as a waiter. This man could balance 4 plates (with full servings of food) on one arm and a big tray of food and drinks in the other. It was quite an impressive feat! When I asked him how he did it he replied, "I couldn't do it until I stopped looking at the plates, and my arms, and just looked at where I was going. As long as I keep my eyes locked on my destination the plates and drinks never spill." Undoubtedly, each of our lives is something of a balancing act, when we attend to each of the individual issues everything has a tendency to spiral out of control. However, if we fix our eyes on Jesus, and not on our problems, our fears, or relationships, everything else falls into perspective.

Monday, March 28, 2011

That They would be one...

The plea for unity in the Church could not have come from a higher source. Christ prayed for the unity of the church, as recorded in John 17. Paul was writing about the same accomplished fact when he penned Ephesians 4: 1-7 ("one Lord, one faith, one baptism..."). But notice, this is a target that the church cannot hit by aiming directly at it. If we aim at unity for unity's sake we invariably end at comprise, and before long all is lost (as occurred with the Quakers, Unitarians and now the "Emergent" Church). The only way for the church to live out the unity that Christ has won for us is to keep our eyes firmly fixed upon Him, as He is revealed to us in His word and His indwelling Spirit (Who, among other things, illuminates the Bible to the believer). We are only truly walking with each other when we walk towards Him.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Show Us...

In John 14:8 Philip makes an amazing request. Jesus has been doing and saying strange things all night: washing His disciples feet, telling them that where He is going they can't follow, and promising that He goes to prepare a place for them in His Father's house. The disciples are markedly perplexed. Thomas asks for clarification, he wants Jesus to point it out on a map (v. 6). Jesus tells Thomas the HE (Jesus), himself, is the way. Philip asks for the insane. He asks for what Moses was denied: a glimpse of the Father. Was their exasperation in His voice when He responded to Philip? Philip was looking for a sign and was missing The Miracle. Are you holding your breath for a miraculous sign, when all you really need to see is Jesus?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Walking by Faith

Imagine being Noah and starting the long task of building the ark. Or Abraham, leaving his homeland and everything that he knew because he was called out by God. Moses, walking back into the Pharaoh's court and wondering, "Did that really happen, or did I dream that?" Better yet, imagine being the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant up to the banks of the constantly flooding Jordan. Sure, Joshua SAID the waters would stop, but it's easier to say that when you don't feel your sandal sinking into the mud. How would you like to be Elijah standing in front of a thrice soaked altar and thinking for that one fleeting moment, "This is either going to be the best moment of my life, or the last!" Peter, stepping out of the boat and finding that the water doesn't give way under your feet? Stepping out of our comfort zone seems to be part of the Lord's prelude to doing something amazing. Where will your feet go today?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Draw Near

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

When Adam and Eve sinned, everything changed. Before God walked with them in the cool of the evening, after that they were driven from the garden of Eden. The rift between God and man was great. And few walked with the Lord thereafter. When God appointed Moses and used him as His tool to redeem the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, he alone had personal fellowship with the Lord God. When he went up on the mountain to speak to God, not one other person was to go near. Not even an animal should be allowed to tread across the mountain and live. God's holiness is too great. The people knew that His perfection would destroy them, so they asked Moses to be the one to represent them to God and God to them. And so it continued.

The Law continued this pattern. Only on very specific occasions was anyone to enter into the Holy of Holies. Only once a year was anyone allowed to go so deep into the temple. The dividing curtain was thick and forbidding, and clearly illustrated the reality: Under Law you are separated. No access. The Ark communicated this repeatedly. When a well-meaning bystander meant to brace the Ark from falling he died immediately. Even in our best intentions access is denied to the Sacred, to the Holy. In the book of 1 Samuel the Philistines capture the Ark and its very presence causes them continual suffering: tumors growing on them. In the end they had to return it. Access denied.

So what changed? Did God become less holy? Surely not! Did He decide to compromise His otherwise perfect standards? Never. How then can we even imagine being able to "draw near with confidence" when so many saints before were destroyed by this Holiness? The answer, of course, lies in the person of Jesus Christ, and our relationship with Him. We may easily confuse confidence with "self-confidence" for the two words are often used synonymously, but in this case, they are antonyms! We draw near with confidence exactly because it is NOT self-confidence! We draw near because it is confidence in Jesus Christ, His character, His nature, His righteousness. If we ever imagine we approach on any other grounds we place ourselves amongst the most deluded and pitiable people alive. Because of what Jesus has done, we may come to the Lord with confidence. Praise the Lord! What a privilege!

Monday, February 28, 2011

On the Red Carpet

The Academy Awards have come and gone. The striking importance of the Red Carpet to our society is remarkable. Celebrities plan for months, hire advisors, get their hair done, spend amounts of money that could feed a small country for just a few moments in the limelight as they walk into one awards show. Most of them are forgotten, and most of the outfits are forgotten in a few short years. We think of these people as important, their accomplishments as noteworthy, and in a sense, they may be. These "special celebrations" prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Scripture is true against all the world's deception.

"For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you." 1 Peter 1:24-25

As the glory of mankind is paraded around before us it draws into sharper focus the distinct dependability and perfection of the Lord. Studying the Bible is an eternal investment. Sharing the Gospel is a greater act than any thousand major motion pictures. Loving the people in your life with Christ's love is taking part in the Life of Him who is eternal and will endure forever.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Real, The False, and the Hyper-Real

Let no one deceive you with empty words... (Ephesians 5:6a)

From diet, to entertainment, to music, to marriage the world has painted some striking pictures. While media streams forth promises of "the best", "the biggest" and the "real thing" through our lives by TV, billboard and magazine adds we never stop to wonder where the deception stops. Restaurants make impossibly delicious foods, in obscenely large portions and load them down with fat, salt and sugar promising an experience that regular old meat and potatoes simply couldn't provide. Movies offer a view of love, life and marriage that is no where near to reality, and when people stop feeling what the movies promise should always be there, they want out.

Sadly, this is no less prevalent in the modern church. Supped up, hyper-marketed church programs promise results that regular old fellowship, prayer and Bible teaching simply can't provide. Just like that hamburger advertisement, they promise the world and just leave us fat. These programs are like a "12 hour energy drink" being marketed to the people who are rather to be flowing with Living Water! (John 4:10) Perhaps the worst part of this programmatic thinking is that it doesn't add to what we need, it seeks to supplant it. Just as the hamburger advertisement seeks to tell you that the greasy hamburger is far more satisfying than a healthy normal dinner that you could make for yourself, so these super programs promise better results than "the old way."

What was the old way? It was awfully simply, far too simple to market and put a "christian famous" face on and sell for $15.99 at Borders. Beholding the Lord Jesus Christ through His Word. It meant spending time with other believers, looking at Jesus together. It involved knowing each other, befriending each other and walking alongside each other. Spurring one another on towards love and good deeds. It was day-by-day, one foot in front of the other, growth. Like a good solid oak tree, not like an instant breakfast. It meant praying together, sometimes disagreeing and learning how to forgive and love one another through difficulty and disagreement. It is the privilege of being involved in each other's lives, sharing the Good News freely, and growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. God does extraordinary things through the most ordinary means.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Putting Lipstick on a Pig

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

In 1952 E. B. White published one of his best known works: Charlotte's Web. In reading this to my daughter I was struck with something special. Charlotte's Web is the story of a runty pig named Wilbur who was not worth allowing to live, not even worth feeding. But Fern, a young girl, valued his life for no other reason than that she loved him. She believed he was special, even though he had no objective value or ability of his own. He then meets a spider, Charlotte, who befriends him. She writes wonderful things about him in her web. Cryptic messages like "Some Pig" and "Radiant". Wilbur is then objectively judged, and found wanting. He is neither as big or as valuable as the other pigs at the show. However, the final effort of Charlotte achieved it's goal and Wilbur was not made into a Christmas dinner. Wilbur was no great pig, but he was greatly loved.

Perhaps this week you also feel like "no great pig." Heading into this week I hope you learn that you know that you are severely and intensely loved and valued by the Creator of Heaven and Earth. That love was demonstrated for you at the Cross, 2,000 years ago. That love makes you more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus your Lord. That love has placed you in Christ, and identified you with Him in His death, burial, resurrection, ascension and seating at the right hand of the Father. That love will see you conformed to the very image of Christ. Though we had not a thing to offer Him, though we were powerless to help ourselves, He as loved us this much. Don't forget.

Monday, February 7, 2011

His Grace is Enough

And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

It is often far easier to take an inventory of the reasons not to do something, than to find the reason to do it. It is so easy to see our limitations, our difficulties and our challenges as evidence that the Lord can't do anything with us. As we count up all of the reasons "why not" we fall into one of the subtlest traps our three-fold enemy sets out for us: self-centeredness. If our eyes are found looking to ourselves, even to take account of our inability, our eyes are ultimately fixed upon us and our inability and not our Lord, who IS ABLE!

What would the Lord do through you this week? Who would you share the gospel with? Who would you call to comfort or encourage? What would you take part in if failure were not possible? If you know that you could never do this on your own, you are in just the right place to start! Paul penned these words only one chapter after listing off all of his qualifications, he defended himself for the sake of his message that was given to Him directly from the resurrected Christ. But before anyone could wonder if Paul was used of God because of his great qualifications, he gives them a clear illustration of the reality: God uses us in and through our weakness. If we think we can serve from our own strength, our own strength we will waste. The Lord is interested in working through those who know best that is it He and He alone who is doing the work.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The First Lie...

And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said..." Genesis 3:1

Genesis records the first lie to touch our race. The very bearer of this first lie was himself a lie and a liar. He took the form of a serpent, which was not his created form. Satan came in a form that would not alarm Adam and Eve, nor surprise them, but deceived them even though he did not belong in Eden by a long shot. This liar's first lie started off by challenging the truth, "Did God REALLY say..." This immediately tempted man to take the wrong place as the judge of God. This challenge was meant to draw Eve to a place of believing that she had the right to question God and His command and His character.

In response to this challenge Eve adds something to the original command of God, or it could be that Adam added it in repeating the commandment of God to her. She added the phrase, "nor shall you touch it". This was not in God's original command to Adam and shows that legalism soon followed the original command of love. The fact that Eve didn't know exactly what God said may have been an encouragement to Satan that he could bend these frail humans to his will.

Finally, the denial of God's word and his character. Satan convinces Eve of two things. Firstly, that God isn't capable of carrying out the consequences that were laid out. Secondly, that God is not looking out for her best interests, but rather for His own. And this lie has never left the face of our sin torn planet. Lies have proliferated and continued destroying relationship after relationship, keeping person after person from knowing their loving Savior Jesus Christ. May each of us, this day, live in and behold The Truth and trust in HIM always.

Jesus said to them, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wonderfully Made

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:14

The complexity of the human body continually defies understanding. Each day that passes new journal articles and books are written charting the latest discoveries and observations about how the human body works and what the different parts do. Doctors of uncharted brilliance spend their entire lives in the study of one organ, piece or part of the puzzle and never fully unravel it's mysteries. As long as the Lord allows us to remain on this planet one thing is clear: we will never fully understand or appreciate the statement of the Psalmist. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

However, as we turn to the New Testament we see further depth and intricacy to this reality. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that if anyone is in Christ he is a New Creature, new in kind rather than new in time. If at all possible this new act of creation was more astounding yet. I order for this new creation to occur, Jesus Christ put on a tabernacle of flesh. He lived among us, died on the cross for us, and was raised from the dead. He was then ascended and seated at the right hand of the Father. When we put our faith in Christ we were identified with Christ. This new act of regeneration (Titus 3:5) forever placed us "in the Beloved". The very power used in resurrection Christ is used towards us as the saints (Ephesians 1:18-20), and it is by this very grace that He again is able to call us his workmanship, His beloved masterpiece. We are, once again, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In the Beginning

"One who really believes Genesis 1:1 will have no difficulty believing the rest of Scripture."

Genesis starts the great love story of Earth's History. As we look around at the Earth and the Cosmos we are blown away by all that now exists. The beauty and ferocity of the mountains, the overwhelming power of the oceans, the mind-blowing depth of space and the beauty of the starlight. The more we learn about the symphony of creation and the influence of the moon on the tides and the exact placement of the earth in relationship to the sun we are even more overwhelmed with the power with which everything is held together (Col. 1:17). As we consider it all we realize that when we consider God and His power and ability we are far beyond our ability to comprehend.

This is the God who has promised to save all those who put their faith in Jesus Christ. His power is displayed in the work of creation. The physical world is a toy in His hand, and He can manipulate them as He pleases. It is He who created, He who sustains and He who will consummate this world. It is also He who loves you, He who calls sinful humanity to Himself to forgive and give eternal life. It is He who made the perfect provision because He desires to be in a relationship with us. He alone is able, and we are to be occupied with Him, with Jesus Christ, because He alone is worthy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Right Prescription

Getting the wrong medication can be inconvenient, painful, and even life threatening. Even the wrong dosage of the right medication can be disastrous. Furthermore, many medications come with a list of side effects as long as your arm. What are we to do? Sometimes it seems like the cure is worse than the disease! Fortunately this is not the case in our spiritual life. As we continue to move on towards maturity and growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. His word is a precision scalpel, cutting to the heart of our need (Heb. 4:12). What is more the Lord is able to engineer ever circumstance, every difficulty, every trial to our exact needs. We can look at every day, every trial, every difficulty with the firm and confident assurance that this is the Lord's tool in my life to draw me closer to Him. Whether it is in my life by His permissive will, or His explicit will it is exactly what He is going to use to draw me to Him. That is an assurance, as we never need to ask if our prescription is correct. Praise the Lord, who cares for each of us!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Of Lepers and Leopards

"While he was in one of the towns, Jesus came upon a man who was a mass of leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he prostrated himself before him and begged, "If you want to Lord, you can make me clean." Luke 5:12 (J.B. Phillips)

I don't know how long it took me to figure out that Jesus wasn't a veterinarian. Or at least to learn that veterinary medicine wasn't his primary occupation. Yet, I had to respect a fellow who cared for leopards, but then, who wouldn't heal a talking leopard if the chance was given to him? Then someone explained leprosy to me. I'm quite sure it was my father, he always has been good at straightening out such difficulties without drawing too much attention to the error!

The Law of Moses gives a great deal of information about skin disease. There were procedures for determining if skin disease was dangerous. Once the determination was made that person was ostracized from their life, society and family. Even their possessions had to be ritually cleansed before they could be used by a clean person. How heartless it seems that the Law of God would have these sick people sent out from the camp, separated from everyone else, left to die among themselves. Yet, this is all the power that man has. We cannot heal ourselves. Disease is a result of the fall, a result of Sin. Sin affected everything: physical, emotional and spiritual. Whenever a person was ostracized from camp because of their sinfulness it was not the fault of the Law, it was the fault of the brokenness that entered into the world through Adam. It is a perfect demonstration of our own helplessness.

Yet, the leper of Luke 5 had a hope. Seeing that the religious leaders were helpless to save him, that he was unable to save himself, he knew that he was doomed to a life without community, physical contact or access to God through the temple. Then Jesus came through his town. This leper finds Jesus and his faith is so great that he doesn't ask, "Can you cleanse me?" but, knowing Christ's power, only makes known his great need. Christ's compassion shines through the words, "Certainly I am willing. Be clean." That is why He came. All we could ever manage on our own was to dissociate from sin, sickness and disease. Jesus Christ came and cleansed, healed and forgave. That is who is at work in you.