Saturday, June 29, 2013


"Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray The Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray The Lord my soul to take."
Now THERE is a prayer every young child should pray before they go to bed. "If I should die before I wake?" Yikes! Are you kidding me? But back when I was a kid I didn't really think about it. It was just something to say before going to bed. There was no meaning behind it.
Do you ever pray the same things over and over? I have been in worships services where the pastor prays a series of short prayers. After each prayer segment, the congregation says, "Lord have mercy, here my prayer." They sound like a bunch of drones or zombies praying. Prayer must have meaning behind the words.
So what about praying The Rosary? Isn't that repetitious? Doesn't that become kind of meaningless after a while?
Before Jesus told us how to pray The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), he said this.
7 And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them," - Matthew 6:7-8
So when you pray The Lord's Prayer is there always meaning behind the words you pray or does that prayer sometimes slip into meaningless repetitiveness?
Prayers are meant to be offered sincerely, from the very soul of God's people.
"28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 29 He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven." - Psalm 107:28-30

Why do we pray at all? Doesn't an all-knowing, all-seeing, omniscient God know our every thought and desire? Why even bother to pray at all? I mean, what's the point? Read on my friend. :)

Here's something that has always bothered me. If I was to ask you who prays more, Muslims or Christians, what would your answer be? That's an easy question to answer in MY mind. It's Muslims. They pray five times each day - before dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and after sunset. How are we Christians doing when compared to a prayer life like that? Yeah . . . not so good.

So why do we pray?

When I think of prayer I can imagine several kinds. The "atheist in a fox hole" prayer for example. When something happens in our lives that's bad, we usually don't like it very much. We want to feel better. And when we can't fix they problem ourselves we cave in and pray to God for HIM to fix it. He wants to see us happy, right? So he'll fix it, right?

"And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men," - Isaiah 29:13

God ain't no genie! He doesn't come in a bottle or a lamp, waiting for is to rub His belly and to do our bidding. God is not a spare tire to be used only in case of emergencies. No. The only way we will be allowed into the presence of God one day is to do so cowering behind the robe of Jesus. God is to be respected and honored and worshiped and we should do so in our prayers.

We should never begin our prayers by asking for something, except maybe asking for His forgiveness. No words exist to describe how undeserving we are to come before God with a list of demands.

When Job was going through his trials back in the Old Testament, he was lamenting to His friends about all this things that had gone wrong in his life. In chapter 38, God finally had enough and began straightening Job out, reminding him just who was in control.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?" - Job 38:4

Yeah, it does take much to be humbled when we start thinking we're more important than God. When we pray we must remember who we are approaching with whatever requests we bring into His presence.

Lately, with the two Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage, the president of these United States telling us he has now changed his mind and supports it as well, with mega-church pastors preaching a false gospel, there certainly are many things to pray about. My knees are getting too sore and stiff to kneel much anymore.

Here's a good reminder from Noah Webster who came up with this definition back in 1828.

PRA'YER, n. In a general sense, the act of asking for a favor, and particularly with earnestness.

1. In worship, a solemn address to the Supreme Being, consisting of adoration, or an expression of our sense of God's glorious perfections, confession of our sins, supplication for mercy and forgiveness, intercession for blessings on others, and thanksgiving, or an expression of gratitude to God for his mercies and benefits. A prayer however may consist of a single petition, and it may be extemporaneous, written or printed.

Do you see an acronym in there somewhere? How about ACTS?

How many times have you prayed to the point of tears? The prayer Jesus offered before his capture and crucifixion resulted in sweating drops of blood, they were so intense. When we pray we should do so with real meaning, not just repeating words learned in Sunday school. We are also to pray in secret, not on public display for other to see and be impressed with  our many words. Pray as if no one is watching. Pray to "Our Father, who art in heaven" and pray that God's "will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," not our own.

"15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." - James 5:13-16

May our prayers always have meaning. May they be according to the will of God and not of our own, and may they always be filled with Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I have been on several mission trips. How about you? Have you ever traveled to a remote location
and served God by serving others? I've been to Mississippi, Louisiana, and northern Minnesota. Others I know have ventured as far as Venezuela, Romania, Turkey and even Iran. Mission trips can be a wonderful experience. But do we need to travel large distances to make the experience worth it? Interesting question.

The church I am currently attending has determined that taking a trip to Northern Minnesota is not worth the distance traveled for the result gained. Yet every year or so we choose to send a group of adults and teens to Venezuela. What's the difference? Why is one destination more important than another? I'm not complaining, just wondering.

I attended an area church recently - one of those larger ones where nobody really knows your name. It wasn't until after the worship service, as I was leaving the building, that I noticed the sign over the doors. "You are now entering the mission field."

I stopped and stared at the sign, letting the message soak in, as dozens of people flowed around me like I was a rock in a river. I am now entering the mission field . . . . hmmm. "The mission field is right outside these doors?" I thought to myself.

In the Book of John there is a story entitled "Jesus and the Woman of Samaria" - aka The Woman at the Well. You can read it here. Jesus went on a trip to Judea and was headed for Galilee next. To do so he had to travel through Samaria. Jews and Samaritans did not get along to well from what I read so why even go through that area? But that didn't stop Jesus. He was on a mission . . . a mission trip. His entire LIFE was a mission trip! But let's focus on this one part for a moment.

After Jesus had spoken to the woman at the well he was talking to his disciples who had just returned from their search for food.

"34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest."

The entire world is a mission field. It's where you work. It's where you go to school. The mission field not only exists outside the very walls of your church but within them as well. And the people we are to reach are ready (white) for the harvest. (grains of wheat turn white when they are ready to be harvested). People have BEEN ready for thousands of years! There are ALWAYS people waiting to hear the gospel. "The POOR you will always have with you" (Mark 14:7)

So why do churches travel great distances to "reach people with the gospel" when those just outside the doors of our church are hungry for the word of God? Good question. Could it be that "the journey" is what makes the destination more meaningful? Again, not complaining here. Just asking a question.

If we say, "My church went to South Dakota this year to spread The Word." Why is that more important than,  "I went and talked to a homeless guy living under the railroad bridge behind WalMart."

Maybe I am wrong but I think many mission trips these days are more about "us" than they are about "them." I feel mission trips serve a purpose, especially youth-based trips, but are those ON the trip more important that those encountered along the way?

The point of this blog post is NOT to bash mission trips. But the intent IS to make sure that the "mission" of the trip is spreading the Gospel, WHEREVER the mission field is.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," - Matthew 28-19

If we are to "make disciples of all nations" that obviously will involve a little travel. But let us not forget those in our own communities who need to hear the Good News we have in our hearts. That we are born sinners and therefore eternally separated from God, who demands perfection. We can never provide that on our own. "But in stepped Jesus." (See Propaganda video below) The only way we can make amends to a Holy, Righteous God is through a sacrifice - the sacrifice of a spotless lamb. Jesus WAS that lamb and He was sacrificed for our sins. That gift, that grace, is available to ANYONE who believes in Him, the Son of the Living God.

So, wherever you are, wherever you go today, think of yourself as being on a mission trip for Jesus. Who will be your "Woman at the Well? And what will you say? Who will you speak to about Jesus? Because THAT should be the TRUE meaning of ANY mission trip. Jesus!

The G.O.S.P.E.L. - by Propaganda

Monday, June 24, 2013


I'm not sure why this is happening to me. What did I do to deserve this torture, this punishment? Why has this image, this vision been placed in my head? That I would be driven insane by its' tauntings? The hauntings? Why, oh why, . . . do I have a Lionel Richie video stuck in my head!?!

Thoughts about today's topic go back several years to a 2009 song by Brandon Heath called Give Me Your Eyes. In that song, Brandon asks God to be able to see things through HIS eyes, not Brandon's own eyes. That was an interesting concept to me, so I began to pray that - that I would be able to see situations as they are being unveiled, to know they are of God and that I am supposed to act in that moment.

An example of that occurred today at church. I was sitting at a table, talking with some teens, when a lady came up behind me and whispered in a prayer request in my ear. Most people, including myself, would probably have said "Sure, I will pray" and then maybe later we'd do that . . . or . . . maybe not. But in that moment, seeing through God's eyes "for just one moment," I asked my friend, "Do you have five minutes? Let's pray right now." And so we stood there in the post-church fellowship area, surrounded by dozens of people, and I prayed over my friend.

I pray for moments like that. To be aware. Not that I hope my friends have trouble, but when they do, that I would see things through God's eyes and to do the things that Jesus would do.

When we don't see things through God's eyes we run the risk of seeing them through OUR own eyes Not the best of lenses. We begin to filter what WE see through the lense of our life's experiences. Again, that's not always a positive thing.

Back in May I wrote a story called Perception. In it I related a short tale of a father and his children and an irate bystander on a bus. The bystander interpreted things through her own eyes and assumed she was seeing an uncaring father and his unruly children, when actually, she was witnessing something else, a grieving father and his inconsolable children coping with the loss of a wife and mother. Did the bystander see that situation through God's eyes or the world's?

I'd like you to watch a video. It features a tender, loving situation as a man prepares a surprise dinner for the love of his life. Yet, when that very special lady comes home, she sees an entirely different picture. She does not see things through all-knowing eyes, but rather, she sees things through her own eyes and she makes an incorrect assumption.

Don't judge too quickly!

Alright. I have delayed the inevitable long enough. Now that you have watched THAT video, here is that Lionel Richie video I promised you. I know you're excited. It features a teacher and a student who he has fallen in love with but is afraid to tell. The student is blind. At the end of the video the student does something rather amazing and then says, "This is how I see you." She was blind but was still able to see. Reminds me of the song Amazing Grace . . . "I once was lost but now I'm found, twas blind but now I see."

Hello by Lionel Richie

How do we see the world? Do we see it through eyes trained and shaped by the world? Or do we see through the perfectly clear lense of God's eyes. Do we pray for things that WE want? Or do we pray for things we know GOD would want?

One last question for you today. If you saw a blind man walking towards a cliff, would you say something to him? If you saw a child playing near a busy highway, would you caution that child or ignore the situation completely? If you saw someone crying in your church, what would you do? Would you ignore someone's pain and pray that someone else might help them? Or would you ACT like Jesus and reach out in compassion during those moments in life when we encounter opportunities to serve our King?

Okay, that was more like four or five questions, but whatever your answers were, one thing is for sure. We will all answer to Jesus for our answers to lifes questions, for what we have done and for the things we have left UN-done.

"So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." - James 4:17

Father, may we always do what is right in your eyes. May we always see the situations you place before us and may we always be willing to be used by you to be Jesus in the lives of those we meet along our way to You. Amen.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


I am writing this blog post from Northern Minnesota, sitting directly under a cell tower. Oh, what incredible reception!! After spending most of yesterday driving, I was really looking forward to some quiet time writing in a nice hotel room in the Duluth / Superior area last night. Never happened.

Apparently, unbeknownst to this weary traveler, a rather large marathon is being run in the area today. All of the hotel rooms were booked. And I DO mean all!! I spent hours driving around Duluth and points north, looking for a hotel room. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

After talking to the nice lady at the last place I checked, I was told I was the 17th person to stop in that night, searching for a room after all had been taken. On my way out the door, the 18th person to be denied walk in. It was a long night for lots of folks. I spent the remainder of last night in the hotel packing lot - TRYING to sleep in my little Focus.

Have you ever been really looking forward to something only to have things go terribly wrong. Like nothing was working out no matter what you did? Did you ever wonder if that was from God? Or from Satan? I did last night.

I found myself examining what I was doing . . . at 2:00AM . . . and came up with a few thoughts I thought I'd pass along.

  1. Comfort. Being away from all the comforts of home really makes me appreciate them (although this cell tower location is amazing!). Being comfortable is good, except when we are talking about our faith. Comfort in one's walk with Jesus indicates complacency, in my opinion. Don't get "comfortable" with God. Allow yourself to be pushed and stretched by Him.
  2. Love. When I was driving around last night, searching for a place to stay, my wife and a young friend were my constant companions. I am grateful for their concern and their love. Again, going through tough times really make our true, caring friends stand out. God has blessed me with some great friends.
  3. Appreciation. This is closely related to the first two but this one is directed towards God. We truly can never appreciate all the things God has done for us, Provisions, sometimes appearing out of nowhere, remind us of just Who is in control and how much we are truly loved.

As we sleep-walk through this life, I pray that each of us would be awoken in our walk with Jesus. Let us never be too weary to thank our Savior and Lord for what He is about to provide.

"36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” - Matthew 26:36-46

Don't let yourself be found sleeping when God has commanded you to do something.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Back in the late 60's, when I was in high school, one of my favorite TV shows was Star Trek. The
special effects were pretty lame compared to those of today but none of us nerds really cared. Star Trek was kind of a cutting edge show in other areas though. It was one of the first television shows to feature an inter-racial cast and was also the vehicle use to present the first-ever inter-racial kiss on television. Shocking!
One of the shows main characters was Spock. He was from the planet Vulcan. He had pointy ears and a weird way of saying hello. "Live long and prosper," he'd say as he held his hand up in the traditional Vulcan greeting. I can't tell you how many times I showed that sign to my nerdy friends back in the day. I was pretty weird. WAS? How about a little Vulcan physiology to start you day off with a bang . . . a BIG bang! Ha ha! This picture from the TV show Big Bang Theory . . .
Spock was not your typical humanoid. Other than the other obvious feature differences like his pointy ears, Spock's biggest difference, the main difference between ALL Vulcans and us "illogical" earthlings, was that Spock's blood . . . was green. Spock was a copper-based life form. Our earthly bodies, every human, every animal, even the plants, our systems are all based on carbon.
How old do you believe the earth is? NEW earth? Or OLD earth? A simple Google search reveals what "the world" thinks. They say that the earth is 4.54 billion years old. Yet that doesn't seem to line up with the Biblical account, which is more along the lines of 6,000 years.
I'm not going to spend time here trying to convince you one way or another. I'll leave that to the experts I have links to at the end of this post. But what I AM going to be discussing today is a more basic concept of Christianity . . . and that is the inerrancy of scripture. Do you believe what The Bible says or not?
There are churches who believe that God's Word contains errors and contradictions while others believe it all is God-breathed and that all of it is useful for teaching. I am in the later camp. I believe the Bible is inerrant, without error. I believe God can do anything, even things beyond our imagination. He parted the Red Sea, He stopped rivers from flowing, He created the universe, He caused life to appear in the womb of a virgin. God can go anything!
I believe what the Bible says. Who am I that I would doubt what it says. If one part of the Bible is "in error" then what OTHER parts are wrong? No! I take God at His Word. I believe it to be true because God cannot lie. In the very first verse of John we can find some words of truth.
"1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." - John 1:1
When I hear of schools teaching our children that the earth is very old I get concerned. When I hear them teaching that we all came from a random puddle and are descended from apes, I get concerned. I get concerned because these statements are based on theories and not facts. What are we teaching our children? My facts, my truth, comes from God. Like this one . . .
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." - Genesis 1:1
That works for me!
Do you have any questions about your faith that you would like answers to. Search God's Word. Talk to a pastor or one who walks in the ways of the Lord. Here are a few websites that might help, especially - answers to questions by a board of pastors.
How old is the earth? by
Father, I pray that we depend only upon you. Maybe you be our only source of truth in this world. There are so many "experts" claiming this or that. Maybe we filter through all those and listen only to YOUR voice, God - the Voice of Truth.

Voice of Truth - Casting Crowns

"Live long and prosper" is a wish that can only be accomplished through faith in The One True God. The active word there is FAITH - "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." - Hebrews 11:1

Monday, June 17, 2013


Driving home from work last Friday was fairly uneventful. I had taken off a bit early so I could pick up some pictures of a wedding I shot last weekend. I was hoping they turned out well. I was tempted to reach over into the passenger seat where the envelope was sitting and take a peak. Nah, I'm driving. Probably shouldn't.

It was a beautiful day. Highway 10 was a little busier than normal. Lots of people heading up north for Father's Day weekend I guess. I am blessed to be able to live where I do. A state park right next to our subdivision, lots of beautiful lakes and scenery. God spent a little more time in Waupaca I think than he did creating most places. I don't have to "go up north." I'm there already. :)

Suddenly, I began to see brake lights turn red on the cars ahead of me. Not just one car but several we applying their brakes. The next thing I knew we were all at a complete standstill. Suddenly, a truck appears in my driver's side mirror - red lights flashing on top. A first responder heading for the scene of what I assumed was an accident up ahead. It was. And quite an accident too. One fatality, three others injured. The Flight For Life helicopter landed on the highway. Yeah . . . not good. Here's the full report if you'd care to read it.

Accident report by Wisconsin Rapids Tribune

When I watched the news about the accident on the TV the following morning I was able to see the contents of the car the woman who died was driving. A piece of luggage, a ball, some clothes. It was obvious the woman was headed someplace - some destination. That got me to thinking.

It could have been anyone in that SUV. It could have been me, It could have been you. "No one knows the day or the hour" as Jesus once said about the time of his return. I think the same statement holds true for our deaths. With very few exceptions, no one knows exactly when they will die.

Think about the woman who perished in that car. Maybe she was someones grandmother, heading up north to be with her new grandson, hence the ball. Or maybe she was a mom just returning from a business trip and now there's going to be a single dad trying to raise a child on his own. One thing's for sure. There is one less life in this world. The big question is, "Where are they now?" Their body is probably in a morgue someplace awaiting an autopsy, but where are they spiritually?

Life can hit us pretty hard sometimes. It hit that woman's family pretty hard this past week. Are we ready for events like that in OUR lives? Probably not.

My wife and I just got the first draft of our will in the mail a few days ago. Stuff like wills and
fatal crashes should really make us think. We begin to think about answers to questions like, "Who gets our stuff? Do we want to be buried, cremated or cryogenically frozen until a cure for what killed us can be found? Do we want a DNR (a do-not-resuscitate clause) in our will somewhere?

Those are all important questions to those who remain behind but I'm sure the person who just died couldn't care less. The important question for the dead, like the lady who died in the SUV, was "Do you know Jesus Christ and is He your Lord and Savior?" That is a VERY important question to have answered BEFORE it is YOUR time to go.

I KNOW that I am ready. My answer to the DNR question is "absolutely not!" I am SO ready to go it's scary. But what about my son and my daughter? Are they ready, spiritually? How are all of YOUR friends and relatives? Is everybody good to go in YOUR life? If not, like a few question marks in MY family, we've got some serious prayin' to do! And are we ready to explain to people the reason for the hope that we have? Do you have your testimony ready to tell?

"13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit." - 1 Peter 3:13-18

Are we ready to explain why we have hope in the face of death? Can we explain the Gospel in such a way as to make someone who is perishing understand it? And will we be gentle and respectful in delivering those truths as Peter tells us to? Someone's eternal soul may depend on God using us as His witness. No pressure.

According to the Waupaca County Sherriff's Department, the woman who died was a 28-year old mother from West Bend. She was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the car when it rolled. Her 8-year-old daughter survived the crash and must now go through life without a mom. Did the little girls mother know Jesus? I certainly hope so. If not, then it was truly a very sad day.

I'd like you to read something from the Book of Ezekiel . . .

"The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4 then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. 5 Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.’ - Ezekiel 3:1-6

Heavenly Father, may there be no blood on OUR hands from failing to tell someone about you. I pray that we all would have the courage and the foresight to tell someone we love about your gift of grace and that we would do so today. You, God, have life-saving powers beyond our comprehension. Let us not suddenly find out that we were too late.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


This past week I have been cruising through the Book of Ezekiel. God used Ezekiel to deliver some not-so-nice messages to his people back in the day. Ezekiel liked to start off each of these messages from God with these words: "The word of the Lord came to me. Son of man . . ." and then he would proceed with a message about how God's people had disappointed their Creator. Ezekiel had a very unappreciated job. Nobody listened to him. But Ezekiel did what God commanded him to do. He was obedient.

Chapter 23 in the Book of Ezekiel is entitled Two Adulterous Sisters. Now there's a title worthy of a Movie of the Week. Sadly, it sounds like a top ratings getter. The two sisters in the story from Ezekiel, Oholah (which means "her tent") and Oholibah (which means "my tent is in her"). The story of these two naughty girls was really a parable of sorts, Oholah and Oholibah really represented Samaria and Jerusalem respectively. And oh, how those two ladies liked their men. You can read the whole story here. It's kind of R-rated, depending on your imagination. Parental Guidance suggested.

When I think of "sisters" I often think of my wonderful sister, or I think about my wife and her two sisters, but somewhere along the line, any thoughts of "sisters" usually ends up these two ladies - Rose Mary Clooney and Vera Ellen - who sang this line in a song during the 1954 movie White Christmas.

"Lord help the mister that comes between me and my sister, and Lord help the sister who comes between me and my man."

Although these two girls flirted around with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye during the story of White Christmas, they never approached the transgressions of the two O's from the book of Ezekiel.

Question . . . If we look at our relationship with God as a marriage, how adulterous are we? Hmm.

How often do we men go off on fishing trips and leave our wives at home? How often do we work nights and weekends to satisfy our bosses but leave our wives waiting for us at home? And you ladies . . . how many romance novels do you read and how many chick flicks or soap operas do you watch? Let's face it. Most of us don't give our spouses the kind of attention they expect from us. Or, quite frankly . . . and biblically, the attention and devotion they deserve.

If we look at our relationships with our spouses or our friends like God tells us we should, I wonder what the divorce rate in this world would be. How many of our earthly friendships could be healed? Honestly, if we all loved our spouses like Jesus loved the church, our divorce rate would be zero. The biblical model of a marriage is found in the book of Ephesians.

"22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." - Ephesians 5:22-33

Honestly, most of us guys probably wish the chapter ended with verse 24 but it doesn't. Relationships are NOT one-sided. They're not even two-sided. Ideally, any relationship should really be THREE sided.

I'd like you to open your Bibles to Ecclesiastes, the fourth chapter. You are about to read my favorite verses (v9-12). I want you to pay attention to the numbers mentioned in the text.

"9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Every time the number one is mentioned, the surrounding words are all about "falling down" or trying to "keep warm alone" or about being "overpowered." But when there are two committed people in a relationship, as opposed to a one-sided relationship, it is "better", they "help the other up", "they will keep warm" . . . two "can defend themselves."

Is that how our earthly relationships are? Are they TWO-sided? Or do we shut everyone else out, keeping our relationships superficial, trying to stay warm all by ourselves? Do we sacrifice everything for those in our relationships? Or do we just suck the life out of them and move on to the next source of self-focused love? Is that how our relationship with God is? One-sided? Do we give GOD the kind of attention HE deserves?

Go back and read the last sentence of verse 12 in Ecclesiastes again.

"A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

The first few verses were all about one's and two's. Then, at the very end, the numer switches to three. Why is that? You can probably figure that one out. All relationships will turn out for the best if there are THREE involved, the third being God. Or should I say, the FIRST.

If you have never seen the movie Fireproof, I recommend you watch it. Although the movie was about marriages, it deals specifically with "a cord of three strands" that should be present in ALL of our earthly relationships. Why do you think stools with three legs are the most stable. It's because they have THREE legs. They are VERY stable.

ANY relationship without Jesus as one of its legs is doomed to die. But with Christ in our relationships, we will stay warm, there will always be someone there to pick us up. Our relationships will live . . . forever.

From the movie Fireproof.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


No, this isn't a tribute story for the 70's Swedish pop band, ABBA. This post is about our relationship with God. Is it reverential? Or is it casual?

The idea for this post came quite a while ago actually. It was during a prayer of adult and student leaders at our church. Our youth pastor asked one of the students to pray and they led off their prayer this way . . .

"Hey, God . . ."

The first time I heard that I thought "Hey? Isn't that just a little informal?" I mean, we're praying to the King of the Universe. The Holy and Righteous One who destroys nations with a thought, who pours out his wrath on a disobedient people (whom He loves) and who offers up and sacrifices His one and only Son so that WE might be able to share our lives with Him in heaven. He allowed His Son . . . to die! "Hey, God?" No.

I was watching Wretched TV the other day, one of the few television shows I actually watch. Host Todd Friel was talking about the word "Abba." He spoke of how, in recent times, the evangelical church has embraced the word Abba and defined it as meaning "Daddy" or "Poppa," implying that that's how our relationship with God should be. However most scholars now say that Abba means "Father, dear Father."

Remember when Jesus taught his disciples how to pray? It wasn't "Hey Dad! What up?" No. It was "Our Father which art in heaven. HALLOWED be your name."

We as a people seem to have lost our FEAR of God. Not that we should be AFRAID of God but . . . well . . . yes, now that I think about it, we should be. Too often my prayers reflect someone praying to a genie rather than to . . . well, someone like "The Great and Powerful Oz!"

Remember in the movie the Wizard of Oz? Dorothy, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion all stood before The Mighty Oz. Dorothy was very respectful. Then, when the Tin Man spoke to the Wizard rather casually, Oz yelled, "Silence! You clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk!" Yikes!

I think that's because, for the most part, when our prayers are met with silence, we tend to think we're all good to go with God. When in actuality we may be on the very brink of blasphemy. Humbling ourselves before the Lord should be the norm, not the rarity used only when we REALLY want something.

I went walking with my friend the other day and we spotted a rather large ant crossing the path ahead of us. My friend went out of her way and stomped the ant out of existence. God has the power to do the same thing to us if we wishes. Yet, even though we disrespect Him, God still takes the abuse. Why? I think it's because God is VERY patient. And He actually DOES love us.

Our lives are a mere speck in time. We are VERY insignificant. We are VERY small. Yet we as a people tend to act just like we are just the opposite. We act like we're the boss of our own lives and we can do whatever we want. That is the wrong attitude people! We should consider ourselves as slaves (Romans 1). We should do God's bidding and obey every command.

Have you ever said something like this? "I don't feel like going to church today." Or what about, "I was too busy to pray this morning." Oh, and here's MY personal favorite. The one I use WAY too often. "I just didn't FEEL like praying today."

No, you get down on your knees and pray. Now BOB! We are commanded to pray, people. It is NOT an option!! It is not left up to our discretion or to when we feel like.

So, my question for today is this . . . what will it take for us to fear God again? A national disaster? Yeah, that would work! A tornado seems to get people praying. Or an earthquake! Yeah, an earthquake! Seriously? Let's get real. What would it take?

How about this for an idea. What if we TOTALLY made Jesus Lord of our lives. And I mean TOTALLY. Make God the focal point of every activity instead of a footnote and the end of the day. We need to give God our first fruits, give Him our best. It's in the Bible!! We need to humble ourselves before the Lord and fear for our very lives - because HE is God. WE are not.

The God we SHOULD be worshipping is NOT the God most people worship today. We live in a "Christian" world where Jesus WANTS us and He NEEDS us. We must "die" to that world and become transformed (Romans 12:2) into a world where God is everything, the ONLY thing. We should NOT be worshipping a politically correct, all roads lead to heaven, your best life now Jesus. God is NOT politically correct! God is God!

Yes, God loves us. Why do you think he gave up His one and only Son to die for us? Let's live like we appreciate what was done for us! Let us not live the "Yeah, but what have you done for me lately" life we seem to be living today.

I'd like you to watch this video. It's part of a Voddie Baucham sermon on this very topic. It is an excellent example of where we have come to as a people and an example of where it is we need to get to.

A Sissified Needy Jesus by Voddie Baucham

Monday, June 10, 2013


Do you recognize the two men in this picture? They were both very popular actors in their day. Both were president of The Screen Actors Guild in Hollywood. Both were Democrats in their early years but then both became Republicans in their older, wiser days.

The man on the left is Charlton Heston, best known for his role as Moses in the movie The Ten Commandments. The man on the right is Ronald Reagan, best known for his role as the 40th president of these United States. Both men were strong leaders, both men were strong Christians, and both men died from Alzheimer's Disease - a disease that robs men and women of their memories and eventually leads to death. Truly a very nasty disease.

I was home, sick, this past week and watching some television shows I had recorded - specifically Wretched on the NRB Network. Wretched is kind of an in-your-face show, mixing a bit of sarcasm with conservative Christian theology. It can be a little "out there" but I like it. Most shows deal with current events, controversial teachings and evangelism but this particular show was different. It was very . . . touching.

The shows host, Todd Friel, discussed Christian music and then did a spot on Alzheimer's Disease, specifically the case of Glen Campbell who was diagnosed with the disease in 2011. Glen Campbell has sold over 45 million records in his 50-year career and even dabbled with some acting in the movie True Grit with John Wayne. But these days Glen Campbell doesn't do much. He quit touring. He stopped living his life, or should I say Alzheimer's stopped it. But he did record this video which speaks to his career and to the disease which ended it.

These Days by Glenn Campbell

Death is the inevitable outcome of Alzheimer's and I guess it struck home for me as I watched it. I began to think of those in my life who have the disease, specifically my father. He told us he had the disease several years ago when we were at our family farm. It didn't really hit home then because I didn't really know much about it and we couldn't see any signs of it in my father. But eventually things became noticeable . . . and the disease became all to real.

I remember one day when I was at our home in the Milwaukee area. I was helping to get my parents house ready for sale so they could move to Michigan, nearer to my sister who is a nurse. Everyone has defining moments in their lives and for me it was that day, the day my dad couldn't remember my name and referred to me as "the man in the basement." That was tough. What a devastating disease Alzheimer's is.

Shortly after watching that Glen Campbell video, and after wrestling with the topic of death and Alzheimer's, my wife called to me from our sun room.

"A precious baby!!" Oh, come see! It's just been born!"

A mother deer had just given birth to a wobbly-legged fawn, right in our backyard! How wonderfully glorious is our God! I had been watching a show about death and dying, then God provided his blessed reassurance through a new creation. He gives and takes away (Job 1:21). His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23)

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” - Job 1:21

The wretched TV show ended with the following song. It is a reminder that, for the Christian, death is not an ending, it is a beginning. And so I smile on this day because whether today bring happiness or sorrow, I will praise Him. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Not Death to Die by Sovereign Grace

Saturday, June 8, 2013


There is nothing quite like being physically sick to feed our innermost desire to FEEL good, to be pampered and to be taken care of. Those feelings probably emanate from our youth sometime - a time when we were ill and our mommies provided for our needs. Greater love hath no one then a friend or family member who loves us while we are sick. Nothing says "love" quite like someone holding our head while we throw up in a toilet.

As you might have guessed already, I was home, sick when I wrote this. Sore throat, headache, tired and achy. I'm not very good company, as our two cats will attest to. They are keeping their distance. Smart kitties. However, the cats are my only companionship today. My wife is at work. So are all of my friends. I'm home, alone, having to fend for myself when I don't really feel like "fending." Poor me.

Do you suppose God ever gets sick? I'm thinking probably not. Are there germs in heaven? Mosquitoes? Do people throw up in heaven or have pounding headaches? So many questions, and I don't know any of the answers. But I DO know this: God is compassionate and loving and God heals the sick and raises the dead back to life.

"But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them" - 2 Kings 13:23

"The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love." - Psalm 145:8

"When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick." - Matthew 14:14

I see sickness and illness as opportunities for others to show love and compassion for one another. Jesus, our example, showed compassion & grace to thousands. Can the same be said of us?

When Mary anointed the feet of Jesus he said to those present, "The poor you will always have with you." What prompted Jesus to say that? Why will we ALWAYS have the poor with us?

Was Jesus speaking to our lack of compassion as a people? Did he know we would never be willing to help everyone who needs it? Here's an even bigger question. Are "the poor" and "the sick" always with us so that we will have opportunities to be compassionate? To serve our fellow man?

If this life is truly a boot camp of sorts as I wrote about in my post Soldiers, what good would our training be if there was no one to help?

Tonight my wife will come home from work to find her husband asleep in a living room chair. She will show compassion and concern because of her love for me. And that will be a good thing. She will draw nearer to God through her compassion for others (me) and that's why we are here.

"28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him" - Romans 8:28

It's not fun being sick. I am missing the joy I always feel upon seeing my best friend at work. And tonight I will miss visiting with another good friend for a chat at the local Dairy Queen. But when my wife walks through the door and, "in sickness and in health", she begins to take care of her poor, sick husband, I will be glad. Not because I am sick or because I will be pampered or comforted, but because God is using my illness to bring someone closer to Himself. And that makes this headache and the sore throat all worth it.

Here's a short video which shows Jesus having compassion on a Roman Centurion. Because of the centurion's faith, Jesus answered what was really his enemies request. His enemies prayer for healing.

Jesus Heals The Sick Servant

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


So what happens to us when we become followers of Jesus and we place our trust and faith in our Lord and Savior? Well, . . . Shhh!! Pssssttt!!! We get . . . presents!!! It's true!!

More on those in a moment.

God's Holy Spirit is THEE least understood entity in the Trinity. The entire Bible is about God and about Jesus but the Holy Spirit gets a few mentions here and there. I mean there are stories and parables about Jesus but, except for a massive showing by the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts, stories about Him are pretty much hit and miss. But boy, does that guy change lives!!

Paul Washer was talking with Todd Friel (of Wretched TV) at some event and related an experience where he spoke God's truth to a man in Alaska. Simply by having the man read John 3:16 a few times, and then think on it's meaning, this man received God's Holy Spirit the instant he believed. Watch this video of that story. John 3:16

A question for you. Is water baptism essential to getting into heaven? There are many denominations that say YES. Infant baptism IS practised by more than just a few churches. But is it essential? Can we get into heaven without water baptism? The answer is . . . YES.

Remember when Jesus was being crucified? The thief on the cross? There was no baptism in his case. The thief was nailed to a cross! Oh, and for all of you who think you have to say a sinner's prayer to get into heave? Nope. A prayer is not required to get into heaven either. No prayer was offered by the thief. Just a request.

"42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 Jesus answered him,Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” - Luke 23:42-43

No a sinners prayer was offered. Oh no! And if we'd stop and think about it, having to say a prayer would mean that getting into heaven would depend on something WE did. That's not faith. That's like . . . well, witchcraft - something we say conjuring up spirits and making them do our bidding. No.

Look back at what the thief said. He acknowledge that Jesus was the Son of God "when you come into your kingdom." In verses prior to these two the thief had said he deserved his punishment and that Jesus was innocent. The thief figuratively laid himself at the feet of Jesus. And THAT is when the thief changed. That's when he gained access to heaven  . . . when he believed and he repented. And God's Holy Spirit did that.

You know, there is one thing that is lacking in The Bible. Much like a letter or a text message, what's missing in the Bible is the inability to relate emotion or emphasis to what was spoken but then recorded in words.

When Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus about being born again, Jesus says, "no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit." I tend to think that Jesus actually said, "You must be born of water AND the Spirit." Emphasis on the SPIRIT! Nicodemus was very familiar with water baptism and perhaps was thinking that was all that was needed. But it kind of sounded like Nicodemus was not familiar with baptism by the Holy Spirit and Jesus was trying to tell him this. Does that make sense? Of course it does! Now, . . . about those presents . . .

"12 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

"4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines." - 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

I am amazed that more people are flocking to Jesus. The benefits are "heavenly!" Free room and board . . . for-e-ver. A supernaturally enhanced gift to use for the glory of God and absolutely no cost. And as if that's not enough, when this life if over, we get to walk with the creator of the universe and the author of the Bible. Imagine what it will be like to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear him tell a parable or two. I absolutely cannot wait!

I posted this song on a friends Facebook page this week. It's a good song to end this blog with.

I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe

Monday, June 3, 2013


This morning on my way to work I witnessed something I have seen several times in my lifetime – a red-winged blackbird attacking a crow as it flew from one place to another. I’m sure you’ve seen that too. Or maybe it was a big hawk flying low, followed by two or three red-winged blackbirds. The birds appear so mean but all the blackbirds are doing really is protecting their nests from would-be predators. We just never see the nests.

The scene of the dive-bombing birds reminded me of the movie Memphis Belle, a story the famed World War II bomber crew of a B-17. The B-17, also known as a Flying Fortress, carried bombs and a crew of brave machine gun wielding men. But, as big and powerful as the B-17 was, it was slow moving and vulnerable to attack by smaller, more nimble fighter planes. Much like those red-winged blackbirds and that crow I was talking about earlier.

Recently, my friend and I were on one of our lunchtime walks on a trail near our work when suddenly, “Whoosh!!”, a red-winged blackbird swooped down, right over our heads. We never saw it coming but after that first attack our heads were on swivels when we passed through that area on our return trip. That’s when I discovered something about red-winged blackbirds. They won’t attack you if you are looking right at them. They only come after us if we are unsuspecting and unprepared. I wonder why that is. Because it's safer for them if they can attack without being seen.

That is just how Satan works. He likes to work in the shadows where no one can see him, where he can go undetected by his next unsuspecting victim. He always excels when no one is watching. That's when he does his best work. He loves to put doubt in the minds of those he is attacking. Take Eve for example. From to book of Genesis . . .

"3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say . . . ?”

He just slithered around the garden, asked leading questions, and placed doubt it Eve's mind. He led her astray and she sinned. How many times will that happen to US today. Will we come under attack when we least expect it? You can count on it! So what do we do when we come under attack from the master of lies? Here's a little first Peter for you this morning . . .

"6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."
- 1 Peter 5:6-11

So as we walk through this world, and we come under attack, shall we cower in fear of what might happen to us? Shall we succumb to the schemes of the father of lies? Where could we possibly find hope in our despair? Who will come to our defense in time of need? Who will stand by our side in whatever battle we may face? Let us turn and face the evil one with Jesus by our side. Let's see how we face our daily attacks with the King of Glory next to us. Who then shall we fear? :)

Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Hi there!  Do you feel like doing a little detective work today? Of course you do! Take a look at this picture. What can you discern about what's going on? Can you figure out what's happening?

Well, I'm not the smartest guy who has ever written a blog but for starters, my first guess is that the guy in the white shirt is on some kind of trouble. And, judging by the number of other individuals in uniform, I'd say he's in trouble with either the police or the army . . . or both! And it's somewhere in a Far East. China maybe? Hmm. Are there any more clues?

Well, the guy in the foreground is reading something. It could be a letter of commendation but I kind of doubt it. No one is smiling. He could be reading everyone one of my blogs. That would explain the sad faces. But more likely, I think he's reading the man in the white shirt the charges that are being leveled against him. "These are the charges against you. How do you plead? Guilty or NOT guilty?"

Really though, nothing is all that unusual in this picture. One could walk into any police station around the world and see similar things going on. So, what is so different about this picture that I would be writing about it in my blog? What makes this guy so special? Well, what if I was to tell you that the guy in the white shirt is a Christian and an elder of . . . an underground church.

There are two types of churches in China from what I read on the Internet. There is the state-run church, called The Three Self Church and then there is the underground or house church.

The Three Self Church is run by the Chinese government. The three "Self's" in the Three Self Church are self-governance, self-support and self-propagation.

There are over 57,000 of these churches in China. The following are some of the criteria for the Three Self Church, taken from

•  The Communist Party is the head of the church in China (Three Self churches report to the Three
     Self Patriotic Movement, which reports to the State Administration for Religious Affairs, which is
     controlled by the Chinese Communist Party).
 •  The Communist Party decides how many people can be baptized per year.
 •  The Communist Party has the final decision on who can preach and what can be preached.
 •  Preaching should focus on the social rules and the social benefits of Christianity.
 •  Preaching about resurrection and the second coming of Jesus is forbidden.
 •  Preaching against religions that deny the deity of Jesus is forbidden.
 •  Preaching that atheist communist heroes went to hell is forbidden; good communists go to heaven
 •  Preaching against abortion is forbidden.
 •  Gathering to worship outside Three Self churches and official "meeting points" is forbidden.
 •  Preachers cannot preach at a Three Self church other than the one to which they were assigned.
 •  Evangelizing or giving out tracts is forbidden.
 •  Importing Bibles is forbidden, even if they are given away for free.
 •  Printing Bibles is forbidden, even if they are given away for free.
 •  Government officials cannot be Christian.
 •  Teachers cannot be Christian.
 •  Soldiers cannot be Christian.
 •  Police officers cannot be Christian.
 •  Children and teenagers cannot be Christian.

The man in the white shirt in the picture is a Christian, standing firm in the face of a government that is persecuting Christians, REAL Christians, not government controlled, government worshippers.

"Well," you might say, "that's way over in China. I mean, that's too bad that they have to go through all that but at least we don't have to worry about that happening here. How about Australia?

"In December 2004 two pastors were convicted under a hate crimes law in Victoria, Australia. The case stems from a seminar that Daniel Nalliah and Daniel Scott of Catch the Fire Ministries conducted in March 2002. The two pastors lectured on the differences between Christianity and Islam and quoted information about Islam directly from the Quran. They were accused by the Islamic Council of inciting hatred, and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal sided  against them, even though the judge admitted that they quoted the Quran accurately. The cost of defending themselves against the accusations surpassed $150,000." - source, (

How about Canada? It's getting a little closer now. Did you know that in Canada a pastor cannot speak out against Islam, homosexuals or any "group" in Canada because it has been deemed hate speech? How would you like to be a pastor in THAT country? Read this and find out.

This WILL happen in America. It's only a matter of time. And when it does . . . welcome . . . to the underground church. People are already moving in that direction, my friends. They are fed up with church politics and "the way we've always done things." They are tired of the mega-seeker-emergent, all-inclusive, everyone is welcome, "smorgasbord Christianity." They long to get back to the basics. They long to get closer to God, and quite frankly, so do I.

Please read this article by a former Presbyterian pastor. If you are tired of the church of today and would like to get some insight into the church of tomorrow (and the Acts 2 church) that article may be just the information you have been looking for.

So if you see me out in the back yard late at night with a shovel and a flashlight, I will most likely be preparing for what I see as the way of the future for us believers - going underground. Christians, in the years ahead, in these last days, we are going to to find it getting more and more difficult to worship our God. We are becoming handcuffed with rules and regulations, we are being told what we can and cannot say, we (especially our brothers and sisters in China and Korea) are even being to tortured and killed for worshipping the God we believe in.

Perhaps it is time . . . to dig!

A final word from Paul who, wrapped in chains, wrote this to the church in Philippi . .

27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have." - Philippians 1:27-30