Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Do you have joy in your life? No, I'm not asking what type of dish washing soap you use. I'm talking about JOY!!! The kind we feel in our hearts when we are extremely happy.

Before I get started with by discussion about joy, look at the picture at the left. According to the manufacturer of Joy dish washing liquid, there are apparently several levels of "joy." There is now ULTRA joy, as if plain old ordinary joy were not enough. And just to make sure you are really joyful, your ULTRA JOY is lemon scented (sigh). But that raises and interesting question. Is there a level of joy beyond what you are now experiencing? Is there some as yet undiscovered "ultra" joy out there just waiting for you to find it? Ponder that for a moment

So, what represents joy in your life? Is it your family? Your husband or your wife? Maybe it's your children? Or perhaps it's a pet. Or a best friend, a brother or a sister. Mmm. All those are special. Those are all the things I think of when I think of the word joy . . . except for the pets. Just kidding. But what else? Can we think of any other things that bring us joy?

Hey, maybe it's your job. Most of us work because we have to - to earn money so we can "live in the style to which we've become accustomed." But some people love to do what they do to earn a living. Do yo know someone like that?

Does music bring you joy? It does for me. But there are people who really enjoy making music and obtain great joy when their music brings joy into the lives of others.

Let's get a little deeper with our joyous thinking. Do you obtain joy in serving others? We should. Joy is one of the fruits of the spirit.

"22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness (gentleness), temperance (self control): against such there is no law." - Galatians 5:22-23

What that means is that, if we are a Christian, if we are truly born again, we should exhibit these characteristics of the Holy Spirit.

Do you find joy in suffering? Me neither. I can be pretty mopey if I'm not feeling good or I am having a really bad day. But, according to the Bible we are supposed to feel joy in our suffering.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." - James 1:2-4

Yeah . . . Umm, I have to work on that one. It's kind of like going to the dentist of getting an innoculation. Short term pain for long term gain. In the long run we're better off.

Is there joy beyond the joys we have already experienced in our lives? I think yes. Look at this verse. How great must the joy, His reward, have been that Jesus endure all the things He did . . . for us.

"2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." - Hebrews 12:1-3

There IS a greater joy that awaits us in heaven. We have no idea what that will be like. But Jesus endured the cross for it. How can our everyday struggles compare to that? Are you ready to experience the "Ultra Joy" that a life in Christ offers us?

I have found that God's Holy Spirit enhances emotions in our lives. He makes our joy greater. He makes the love we feel for others greater. He makes the joy we feel in our willingness to serve others greater.

"5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” - Revelation 21:5

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” - C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Thank you for reading. May the joy that awaits you through a faith in Jesus be quick in coming and slow to leave.

I've Got The Joy - The Cedarmont Kids

Persevering In The Pursuit of Joy - a sermon by Matt Chandler

Monday, April 28, 2014


There is a difference between reading about something and actually doing it. For example, I can read about building a house but until I actually BUILT one I really had never actually done it.

Do you remember Drives Ed? Maybe it's not called that anymore, I don't know. It was a class I had in high school where we learned how to drive a car.

First, we had to read "the rule book." It was fill with laws of the road, what it means to "yield the right of way" and "coming to a complete stop."

Do you come to a complete stop at a stop sign? Truth be told, I tend to slow WAY down to the point where I am ALMOST stopped . . . but not quite. Perhaps it's the rebel in me, law-breaker that I am. Or perhaps I just want to get to where I am going and coming to a complete stop would be contrary to my goal.

Actually, I think the only time I come to a complete stop is when I am at an intersection and want to turn but there's traffic coming that doesn't allow me to. Or when there is a cop car behind me and I want to make sure I come to a complete stop because I don't want to get a ticket.

During the winter months, when there is a major snow storm going on, I don't even stop at traffic lights. I kind of look around to see if anyone's coming and kind of "roll" through. I figure it's better doing that than coming to a COMPLETE stop, not being able to get going again, and becoming an obstacle to others.

I actually got pulled over once for rolling through a stop sign. I told the officer that I DID stop (sort of) and was kind of rolling and looking because my vision was blocked by some trees (which was true). He let me go because he never say whether I stopped or not. The trees were in HIS way too. Yet the fact remained, although I slowed down, I never ACTUALLY stopped. So I guess you could say I lied to the cops!

When you get right down to it though, I am just as much a law breaker as some of the people I've seen driving on our nations freeways.

Have you ever driven around Chicago on US-294? That whole city is filled with law breakers! The posted speed limit on the freeway is 55 miles per hour. Yet, if I actually drove 55 I am sure I would get run over. When I drive around Chicago "with the traffic" and look down to check my speed I find I am often going 75 or even 80 miles an hour! Yet "everyone" is doing it. But does that make it right?

I tried using the "everybody's doing it" excuse before. It doesn't work. When I tried using it with my mom as I was growing up she would say something like, "If EVERYBODY was jumping off the Mackinac Bridge, would you do it?" Rats!

For the past few years I have been trying to drive the speed limit. You know, be obedient to the law. People go FLYING past me on my way to and from work. The speed limit is 65 on our local stretch of freeway. Yet people regularly pass me doing 70, 75, even 80. They must be from Illinois! But I look down and my speedometer and feel good about myself when it reads 67.

However, if we commuters are to be judged by the radar gun, we are ALL speeding. We are all breaking the law. It doesn't really matter how fast we are going over the speed limit, we're all guilty of speeding. We're all guilty of breaking the law.

This past week I saw someone next to me at a stop light actually take off and go through the half dozen glowing, glaring red lights telling us to stop and speed off on their way. I shook my head in disbelief. Yet, just a few months earlier, I had been basically done the same thing during a snow storm.

The point of all this traffic talk is to remind us that we are ALL guilty of breaking the law. Whether the laws are big or small, we have broken the law. So, how do you think we are going to do when we stand before a holy and just God on judgement day after breaking HIS laws? How will we fare when we stand in God's courtroom, trying to explain why we had lusted after that man or woman in our hearts (adultery), why we had run those copies off at work (stealing), or why we had gotten angry at a friend or co-worker (murder). Guilty! Guilty!! GUILTY!!!

When it comes time to pay our fine in heaven, whether it's for stealing millions of dollars or a single paper clip, and we are standing in line awaiting our punishment - eternity in hell - how would you feel if you saw someone come into your holding cell and begin pulling people out to be set free. We'd want to go too, right?

"Take me with you!! Please!!!"

"I'm sorry, do you know Jesus? Our records indicate that you don't. You'll have to stay and receive your sentence with the rest. The God I serve is extremely strict and He doesn't let just anybody off without punishment. That is, unless, you are a follower of Jesus."

One day it will be too late to become a believer. That day will most likely be when you die. Can you tell me when that will be? No, you can't. Few people actually KNOW that. We must prepare our hearts BEFORE we die. So, if none of us knows when that will be . . if none of us knows the day of our death . . . wouldn't we want to prepared today for what could possibly even happen tomorrow?

Before it is too late, consider your sin, as I consider mine. Look to the future and consider going before that judge without a saving faith in Jesus. It's kind of scary, knowing that we are all guilty. We think that maybe, if we can convince the judge . . . you know, talk our way out of it, that we can escape the punishment that awaits us all. No. Jesus IS the judge.

If we admit our sin BEFORE we die, if we turn from our life of sin and "Go, and sin no more," and place our faith and hope in Jesus, we will be saved. Our deserved punishment was to be nailed to that cross. Jesus took our place. Our punishment was to go to hell, the destination of ALL sinners. Jesus went their in our place . . and conquered it. Our only hope is to know the judge and to . . . to STOP at the intersection, if you will. To STOP our sin and begin living a life of obedience. Seek Him. He has told us that if we seek, truly seek Him, we WILL find Him. Please, seek Him today.

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace."
- Romans 1:1-14

Here's a song that you've heard before. I encourage you to listen to it as if it were sung by God to His people. Thank you.

Stop, In The Name of Love - The Supremes

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Last weekend we celebrated the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus. Throughout Old Testament history there were sacrifices for various offenses against a Holy God. The sin offering required blood - blood of a bull or . . . a spotless lamb. Jesus, the Lamb of God, WAS that sacrifice for OUR sins. It is through our belief in Jesus, our faith in Him, that we receive eternal life.

Look at the ministry life of Jesus through the eyes of His disciples. He was their teacher, their mentor. They followed Him wherever he went. They spent three years of their lives with Him, learning from Him, praying with Him, worshipping Him. But all throughout their time with Him I think they still had some doubts. I point to Peter as my justification for this belief.

Peter talked the good talk. When Jesus told his disciples that they would all leave Him, Peter denied it saying, "I will never fall away!" They ALL said the same according to the scriptures.

31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same." - Matthew 26:31-35

Yet, on the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested the disciples all scattered like roaches when the lights go on. NO ONE stayed with Jesus. They all hid in the shadows . . . waiting . . . wondering.

Then Jesus died - nailed to the cross. Their King, their Lord, their teacher and friend . . . dead. What now? What do we do now?

I think all that occurred up to this time was pretty normal. People die. People we love. It's part of life. They must have been devastated. And talk about a testing of one's faith. Yikes! The person who had said He was the Son of God was now dead and buried. What must have been going through their minds. The disillusionment. The disbelief. But then something happened that changed the world. Jesus rose from the dead.

Have you ever had one of those life-changing events? Something devestating happened and you didn't know what you would do from that moment on? Tragedy, although very traumatic and painful at the time, can draw us closer to God.

I was at the funeral of a friend once who had died of cancer. He was in the military so they had full military honrs at his funeral. Impressive to say the least. Incredible moving. As I stood there watching the honor guard folding the flag from the coffin my boss came up to me and said, "Wow. I really need to get my act together. What do I have to do?" I told him, "You have to surrender." He shrugged his shoulders and walked away.

Another aquaintance of mine had lived kind of a wild life. Partying drinking, working late hours. One day this man had a heart attack. As he was lying there in a hospital bed he spoke to his wife about God for the first time since their wedding day. He thought about God and he thought about changing his lifestyle. But that's where it ended. He returned to his sinful lifestyle where he cheated on his wife, leading to a divorce.

Our biggest problem, our biggest shortcoming as humans is . . . we talk the talk, just like Peter and his disciples. But when the poo hits the fan we turn and run, fearing for our very lives. Our biggest problem is ourselves.

"I  don't want to volunteer at Ruby's Food Pantry this morning. It's raining and I'm tired." Or, "I'm not going to church today. I want to sleep in." It's statements like that, by professing Christians, that really tell the tale of who they are . . . and in whom their faith resides.

The disciples were just like that. Just like us. On the night Jesus was betrayed, Jesus asked them to keep watch while He went off to pray. Did they obey their teacher, their God? Nope. They fell asleep. And so it is with us. We are asleep while God tells us to keep a watchful eye on OUR enemy . . . Satan. Yet we don't. We fall asleep. We haven't changed in 2000 years. We're still disobedient, selfish sinners. What will it take for us to change all that? How can we truly be resurrected from this life of sin we are living?

Look to The Cross!! Look to the empty tomb!!

Jesus rose from the dead conquering death. Triumphing over the darkness that is tightening its grip, ever-increasing it's domination of our world. It's almost to the point now where it's too late. What can we possibly do to escape the coming wrath that sin and this world has to offer. Well, honestly and truthfully, the only way out of this mess we have created is . . . to die.

We must die to self. We must repent of our sins, not just some; ALL of them, and run to Jesus. DO not walk! Be like John and Peter, who when they heard the news of Christ's resurrection, they RAN to the tomb! So it should be with us. Jut like I told my boss that day at my friends funeral. We must surrender our "selves" life Jesus surrender HIMSELF in the garden. He became  a representation & sacrifice for OUR sin. He died. But then came the resurrection.

If we, our current sin-filled selves, truly die, and place our faith in Jesus, then shall we live. We will become resurrected, just like Jesus. In our death we shall find new life. If you have never surrendered all . . . think about the direction your life is currently taking. Is it truly the direction that God has asked of you? Or have you fallen asleep? Surrender to authority and savior of the world, Jesus, today. Only then will you die and be reborn. Only then can there be a resurrection in YOUR life.

I encourage you to read First Corinthians 15 for Paul's thoughts on the resurrection. You can read it here.

I Surrender All - Israel Houghton

The Cross - Billy Graham's Message to America

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I was reading along through Deuteronomy this past week, my third time reading through the Bible. I have literally read every bit of God's Word TWICE. It's not that big of a deal. I know people who have read The Bible a couple dozen times. But you'd think I would have remembered reading what I read at the end of Deuteronomy before. The words just seemed to jump off the page to me this time through. Here's the setup.

Moses had led the Israelites to the Jordan River and they were getting ready to cross when the Lord spoke to Moses.

"48 On that same day the Lord told Moses, 49 “Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession. 50 There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people. 51 This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites. 52 Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel.” - Deuteronomy 32:48-52

God told Moses that he (Moses) was going to die and that God wanted him to do so on Mount Nebo. If you were told by God that you were going to die on a mountain would you climb it? Would there be any hesitation? Would God allow me time to say goodbye to all my friends and family members? Mmm, I think not. I bet you Moses didn't hesitate at all. And neither should we when that day comes for us. Let's get back to the text. Deuteronomy 34.

"Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, 2 all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, 3 the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. 4 And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” 5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, 6 and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. 7 Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. 8 And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended." - Deuteronomy 34:1-8

There is was. My little revelation. Who buried Moses? Sounds to me like GOD buried Moses. Moses "went up from the plains." It doesn't say he took anyone with him, nor does it say that he didn't. I guess someone could have gone with Moses but at the end of verse six is says that "no one knows the place of his burial to this day." If someone would have gone up the mountain with Moses, SOMEONE would have known.

So let's just agree that God buried Moses. My next question is HOW? Burial usually involves some kind of hole that someone had to dig out or excavate. Did God come to earth and physically do that? It would be more god-like to just raise a hand and suddenly there was a hole. Or maybe God lifted up an entire mountain and placed it over Moses. For sure no one would find him then.

However, the point is not HOW God buried Moses. The point is that He DID. He cared enough about Moses to do that. Moses honored God ever since God called him. In return God honored Moses with a fitting burial. God honors obedience.

That made me wonder . . . . have I led a life of obedience, honoring God enough with my life, that God would reward me in some way? That God would honor me? That's an easy question to answer. The answer is no. The next question I must ask myself is, "Why not?"

Well, my selfish desires maybe? Or perhaps it's my responsibilities that keep me from totally committing to God. Or is it fear? Fear of what might happen if I do. Would I lose some of my friends? Would I lose my most treasured relationships? All valid fears and concerns. Or are they?

Are we to have ANY excuses when it comes to being obedient to God's will? I don't think so. There are numerous examples in The Bible of people coming up with excuses NOT to do what God wanted. Remember Jonah? The guy in the whale?

"Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord." - Jonah 1:1-3

Jonah didn't want to go to Nineveh. It was a big city, possibly the biggest in the world at that time. Nineveh was a city filled with idolatry and Jonah wasn't interested in doing what God commanded. Yeah . . . that didn't end well. Three days in the belly of a whale. THEN he went to Nineveh. Ha!

It is never a good idea to ignore God when He calls us. There must be no excuses. No detours. No procrastination. We have seen what awaits us should we chose to be disobedient. So why do we still disobey? I think it's because we no longer fear God. Moses was disobedient once in his entire life and it cost him his chance to enter into the promised land. Jonah disobeyed God's command and it cost him three days in the bowels of a stinky fish. What punishment awaits US for our disobedience?

God loves us and He expects us to listen to Him, but when we don't heed His words our loving Father is going to discipline us. That's what good fathers do. Should we expect anything less from a Holy God who demands perfection? God still loves us. God rewards us when we please Him. But unless we want to spend three days where the sun don't shine we'd better think twice about disobeying his commands and listen to what He has to say.

[This message was written to myself. To get myself off my butt and begin following Him rather than seeking my own way. If it found a home in your heart too, that's good, but I really wrote this out of frustration with my own disobedience.]

In The Belly of The Whale - Newsboys

Monday, April 21, 2014


When I was a kid I used to think of Easter as being a holiday something like Christmas. And it actually was, in several ways. Instead of presents under the tree there were Easter baskets "hung by the chimney with care." Instead of the anticipation of Christmas morning there was the hunt for Easter eggs. And always, with both holidays, there were Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls . . . and church.

My dad, er, I mean the Easter bunny, did a real good job of hiding Easter eggs. They had to be visible of course. They couldn't be INSIDE anything, not visible at all. They had to be able to be seen. Some were relatively easy to find. Some were impossible! But all were visible, depending on your viewpoint.

Sometimes, my parents had to help us with the really hard-to-find eggs. "Your getting warmer. Oh, now your getting red hot!" Our relative hotness or coldness eventually guided us to the promised land and we were able to find all of our eggs.

Another more recent example of viewpoint was the total lunar eclipse we had last week. It was visible here in North America but if you were living in Germany for example, your viewpoint was such that you couldn't see it.

Our faith is like that. Some of us were raised in Christian households so our Christian faith is all we have ever known. That's simply the way it's always been. We have always been Christian so our viewpoint is through a Christian lens. But there are other faith-based viewpoints in this world to consider.

There is a Muslim viewpoint, a Hindu viewpoint, a Buddhist viewpoint, even the viewpoint of the atheist. Faith, or lack thereof, can be seen from different viewpoints.

The resurrection of Christ is pivotal to the Christian faith. As Paul told the Corinthians in his first letter, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile . . ." - 1 Corinthians 15:17

So how do we know which viewpoint is correct? What evidence is there for our beliefs? Is our religious viewpoint the correct one? Or are we wrong?

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." according to Hebrews 11:1. I think that is true for all faiths. All religions around the world are based in faith. So what makes Christianity different from any other religion on the planet?

All faith have their gods - Buddha, Muhammad, Hindus have many gods. Christianity however has a unique one - one God in three parts. But what sets Christianity apart from all other world faiths is the morning of the third day after Jesus had been crucified. They day that Jesus was risen from the dead. No other faith that I am aware of claims a central figure who was dead and buried, but then was raised from the dead. And what's really unique, Jesus post death life was witnessed by hundreds of people. So it was true . . . and there were witnesses!

Those witnesses still exist today. They're not the SAME witnesses. There are new ones every day. Hundreds, thousands of different viewpoints, all coming to the same conclusion. That Jesus Christ died, was buried, and on the third day he rose from the dead. He humbled himself and by taking our place on that cross, offered a totally new viewpoint on this life and what it means and what death means - not an end, but a new beginning.

The world in which we live has its own viewpoint. It is different from our own. Do you remember the 1965 Christmas TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas? It featured a poignant reading of the Gospel of Luke where Linus uttered those famous words upon completing his reciting those verses from memory. "That's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown."

My wife just watched a 1994 Easter TV special called It's The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown. Nowhere in it's 30-minute length did the show mention God or Jesus or the TRUE meaning of Resurrection Sunday. The viewpoint of the world has changed. And not for the better in my opinion.

What is your viewpoint like? Is it like the world's? Ignoring Christ and his sacrifice on the cross? Or do you see the world through God's eyes? Is your heart broken by the things HIS heart hurts for? The widow, the orphan, the outcast and the poor of spirit.

Believing what we choose to believe out of The Bible is not acceptable. We must become like Christ in our thinking, in our interaction with the world. We must love others as HE loved us and we must love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We must have the viewpoint . . . of Christ.

"4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked." - 1 John 2:4-6

His Eye Is On The Sparrow - Imani Bradford

Saturday, April 19, 2014


My real world job is that of an architectural draftsman. I draw plans for buildings so other people can get an idea of how to build them. One of the phrases I use when I label things is N.I.C. which stands for Not In Contract. That way when people see things on the plans I create they will know that that particular object is not included in the job they are about to perform. They know what it is but they don't have to do anything with it. That's one example of NIC.

Nic is also a name. I have a few people in my life named Nic. One hiked the Appalachian Trail last year. The other is going to be marrying one of the coolest young ladies I know this summer. Her name is Meghan . . . and you spell his "Nic" with a 'K' at the end of it. There is Saint Nick, Nicholas Cage, Nick Nolte, Nicholas Sparks, Tsar Nicholas . . . both the First (I) and the Second (II). There are lots of Nic's in this world . . . whether they are included in the contract or not. But today I'd like to write about and another Nic - Nic O. Demus - and the topic of false converts.

First of all, false converts are those people who consider themselves "religious." They go to church, they put money in the offering plate . . . or not. They SAY they know God or Jesus but they really don't. It's like they know OF Him but their lives do not reflect a true belief.

I'd like to show you an example of a false convert in the Bible, Nicodemus, and how an encounter with Jesus changed his life and change his false beliefs for the truth.

Nicodemus was one of the religious chief priests, scribes and religious rulers; the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin as they were called. He was very much about following the law of Moses, sticking to the rules. In other words, he went to church, he knew about God, he did everything right in terms of what he believed. But then he heard about this man Jesus and his teachings so he went to investigate for himself.

"Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony."
- John 3:1-11

At this point, "Nic" had heard about Jesus but was still living in a religion he had believed all of his life. "I've always had faith in my life," he might have said. But now Nic was asking questions. He went right to the source and asked Jesus about what He (Jesus) was saying. And Jesus delivered The Gospel. This third chapter of John is where we hear John 3:16, the most famous verse ever spoken, the "Bible in a single verse."

“16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

At this point Nicodemus is without excuse. He has heard the Gospel message right from the source! Now he must wrestle - this new message vs. his current lifestyle and belief system. What will he do? Later on in scripture we get a hint. He's still playing it safe, but he's beginning to come around.

"45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”

46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied.

47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.”

50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”

52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”
- John 7:45-52

Nicodemus "kind of" came to Jesus' defense but still clung to his position as a religious leader. All that was about to change. After the crucifixion, the body of Jesus had to be removed from the cross. Who did it? Most people remember Joseph of Arimathea. But Joesph was not alone that day.

"38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.” – John 19

Let me ask you a question. Do you think that Nicodemus was born again? Verse 38 said that Joseph was secretly a disciple of Jesus. It also said that his status was "secret" because he feared the Jewish leaders. Well, if he feared the Jewish leaders so much, what was he doing there with Nicodemus - one of the Jewish leaders!?!? It HAD to have been because Joseph trusted Nicodemus not to betray him and his faith in Christ. That trust could only have existed because Nicodemus was also a disciple. A brother, in Christ.

This Nic, a religious leader of his day, was a false convert who placed his entire faith in the law. But then he became born again and lives a life devoted to Christ. I look forward one day to hearing the testimony of Nic and how specifically things happened. I wonder how many self-professing Christians of today are like Nicodemus was. Trying to live a life under the law, trying to do their best, going to church . . . religiously. Doing this, doing that. That's all worked based. The faith of a Christian is NOT ABOUT WORKS! It's a about grace through faith.

As we remember the death of our King on the cross - a death required because of OUR sin - let us offer our lives back to Jesus for the price he paid. Joseph of Arimathea did, so did Nicodemus. They both faced potential persecution, even death, for their beliefs and faith. Still, they both made the conscious decision to follow Christ . . no matter what. The question of the day is . . . have you?

Were you there?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


My friend and I were out walking one lunch hour where we work when we came upon this lovely piece of sidewalk art. I boldly predicted, "Something is going to be happening here in the near future!"

"Gee, how can you tell?" my friend responded sarcastically. "What are you, a prophet?"

"No, but I'm pretty good at interpreting signs. You see these markings here? They were left by three men. Each was wearing a hard hat and they were carrying spray paint. They drove a white pickup truck with a flashing yellow light on top, a Ford if I am not mistaken. One of the men had a beard. Another walked with a limp."

"Wow! You can tell all that by reading these signs on the sidewalk?"

"Well, actually, the men are right over there taking a break on the tailgate of their white Ford F-150. The one with the flashing yellow light on top."


We humans can be pretty good at reading signs. Have you ever heard this one? Red sky at night? Sailor's delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning. It's easy to figure things out and know what's about to happen if one just observes the signs of the times.

When certain birds return to our area we are assured that spring is right around the corner. When the tassels appear on the sweet corn at the farm near our house we can know for certain that there will be corn on the cob for dinner in a few weeks. When we see a flash of lightning in the sky we know that in a few seconds we will be hearing a clap of thunder. There are all kinds of signs out there.

Speaking of signs, did you see the blood moon Monday night? Or should I say early Tuesday morning? It was amazing! A total lunar eclipse. I took this picture in my front yard at 2:20 AM. Some say a blood moon is a sign.

Do you believe in signs? Actually, that's not the correct question. Do you believe that God provides signs for us to see? Signs of forthcoming events? How about the star that guided the three wise men to find Jesus. That was a sign. Much of the Bible is prophesy. Jesus was a prophet. He predicted many things. We believe Him, right?

Turn with me in your Bibles to the book of Joel. Jesus didn't say this. It's an old Testament text, but I'd like you to consider something - a possibility - about Jesus.

"30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. 32 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls." - Joel 2:30-32

One of the signs we are to watch for in the last days, the days before Jesus returns, is for the moon to turn red, to turn to blood. That's what the moon did Tuesday morning. Yes, there have been "blood moons" before. But this year offers something very rare. There will be FOUR blood moons in close proximity to one another (it's called a tetrad). The total eclipse Tuesday morning, and the last of the four blood moons which occurs during this time in 2015, occurred on the first day of Passover. And the second and third blood moons? They just happen to occur during the Feast of Tabernacles. Coincidence? Or is it God's design?

Do you remember what Passover signifies? You've watched the movie The Ten Commandments before right? What did Joshua do to the door frame on Lilia's house the night that greenish smoke flowed through the city streets, killing the first born son of each family? He smeared lambs blood on her door frame. In the New Testament, The Lamb - is Jesus. The "blood" moon is used in scripture to signify the coming of the Lord, Jesus. Passover is a remembrance of the day that God's wrath "passed over" the houses of those who believed in God. And so it will be for those who place their faith in Jesus Christ.

"Many religious people believe that the upcoming tetrad has special significance because the eclipses coincide with important Jewish festivals. The two April lunar eclipses in 2014 and 2015 occur at the same time as Passover, while the October and September eclipses occur during the Feast of Tabernacle. Astronomers and scientists however do not believe that this is of any significance." -

We will not know the day or the hour of the coming of our Lord. Only God knows that. But isn't it exciting every time there is a lunar eclipse, a blood moon? One day, and perhaps it will be soon, there will be a blood moon carrying tremendous biblical significance. And Jesus will return to claim His bride. That's us by the way. Whether it is this blood moon or the next or one that occurs 100 years from now, our only concern must be are we ready? Well, are we?

If you would like to know more about the biblical significance of blood moons, all this information is in the Bible. I would encourage you to read Matthew 24, The Book of Revelation, and the books of Daniel, Isaiah and First Thessalonians. There are signs everywhere. All we have to do is have eyes to see and ears to hear. But when that final blood moon comes, oh, what a glorious day that will be.

What A Day That Will Be - The Gospel Plowboys

Monday, April 14, 2014


There are very few movies that my wife and I will watch over and over and over again. One of those movies is U.S. Marshals, staring Tommy Lee Jones, Wesley Snipes and Robert Downey Jr. And it doesn't matter if we come in half way through it. We will sit right down and watch it until it's done.

In the movie Mr. Snipes plays a former Special Ops soldier and now U.S. special agent named Mark Sheridan. Sheridan was falsely accused of murdering two fellow agents. Of course, he was innocent, trying to prove that innocence throughout the movie, all while being chased by U.S. Marshall Tommy Lee Jones. During the films final scene, agent Sheridan, having been proved innocent, is surrounded by a group of reporters on the courthouse steps. One of the reporters asks, "Mr, Sheridan, how does it feel to be in from the cold?"

Sheridan replies, "Righteous. Very righteous."

Do you know what it means to be righteous? Merriam-Webster describes the word righteous as "acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin." In the case of Mr. Sheridan, he was returned to a right standing with the agency he worked for. Rather that being on the outside, he was once again on the IN side. He thought of himself as being "righteous." But was he? Really? And what does being righteous in today's world really mean anyway?

Abraham (formerly Abram) was seen in God's eyes as being righteous . . . because of his faith. That begs the question, how are WE doing? 

"After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness." - Genesis 15:1-6

If Abraham was considered righteous, how are WE doing? Are we seen as righteous in God's eyes? How many of us are good enough and have a faith like Abrams? Check out this from the book of Ecclesiastes 7, quoted by Paul in Romans, to find out.

“None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. 13 Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. 14 Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known. 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.” - Romans 3:11-18

Uh oh.

So how can we ever have any hope of getting into heaven if none of us is good enough to make the cut? Still got your Bible handy? Keep reading in Romans. You won't have to read far before you hear the good news.

"21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it - 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." - Romans 3:21-26

We become righteous in God's eyes through our faith in Jesus! To become righteous in God's eyes we must realize we are sinners and repent of our sins. We must receive the gift of salvation through our faith in Jesus as Lord, and we must receive His Holy Spirit who will give us the power to change our lives. It's not us, it's Him. Make that change today.

So this week when somebody asks you, "How are you feeling today?" You can smile at them and say, "I feel righteous. Very righteous."

We sang a song by Matt Maher in church yesterday. In it there is a line that perfectly describes our situation as an unrighteous people. It goes . . .

"My one defense, my righteousness. Oh God, how I need you!" - Matt Maher

We have absolutely no defense apart from Christ. When we stand before God one day He will look at us and judge us for what we have done. Most will be judged unworthy. And so would we who place our faith in Jesus. However we will be see as righteous in God's eyes because of our faith in His righteous Son, Jesus. That is why the song says, "My one defense, my righteousness. Oh God, how I need you!"

Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher

A Superseding Righteousness - A sermon by Matt Chandler

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Having spent a lot of time with youth over the past few years I have developed quite a few wonderful relationships. It is enjoyable to me to see these teens mature into young adults, especially if they are growing in the ways of the Lord. But many are those who fall off the radar, who drift into nothingness and they are slowly, and fatally, absorbed into the world.

As high school graduation looms large in our community, a month or so away, I find myself thinking of those young lives about ready to enter the world. But are they ready? Are they truly prepared for what awaits them? The answer, at least in MY mind is "uncertain" . . . leaning towards "probably not".

Several of my young friends from the youth groups I have been a part of have chosen the military for their post-high school careers. They have gone off to boot camp already. It's fun to see their pictures on Facebook, selfies in their military garb, their bodies changing shape right before our eyes as they train and exercise, preparing for whatever might come their way.

Think about that for a moment. The first thing a new recruit does when he joins the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines is . . . train. They get ready. Ready for what? They get prepared, both physically and mentally, for battle. Battle in an ever-changing and uncertain world.

According to The Barna Group, most of today's young Christians will leave their faith upon exiting high school. (see Barna Survey). Why? Well, in my opinion, and in the opinion of J. Warner Wallace (more on him in a moment), it is because the church is not TRAINING their youth for when they hit the real world. What's that verse?

"6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." - Proverbs 22:6

The Bible says TRAIN! We are to train our children, not entertain them, not goof around with them, not even TEACH them. Although teaching is very important it is not the same as training.

If you were going in for open-heart surgery would you want a doctor who has been trained in the operation he was about to perform, or would you rather have someone who has only read a book about it. It's no different with our faith. Our teens go off to school, untrained in the ways of the Lord, and the first atheist professor they encounter removes what little faith that student ever had.

So who's at fault? Youth pastors? Nope. WE are. The parents. We turn our children over to youth pastors thinking they will do the job and we no longer have to. Really? They see our kids one, maybe two hours a week. Can't get much training done in that short amount of time.

Training involves lots of time. It involves sacrifice. It involves selfless individuals willing to learn and be taught. For the soldiers on this page, and also for us, without that desire to give up one's self in an effort to be made stronger, there is little hope of surviving in battle.

Now, about J. Warner Wallace. I was listening to a Christian radio talk show the other day and this guy was on. He was talking about training our kids rather than simply teaching them. [His words inspired me to write this story] He turned TRAIN into an acronym which stood for Testing, Requiring, Arming, Involving, Nurturing.

We must test our children to find out what they do and do not know. We should require them to read, memorize scripture, and serve others in the community. We need to arm our kids so when they venture out they are prepared - arm them with the truth of God's Word and the ability to deliver the Gospel. Get them involved with opportunities, not only to serve but opportunities to share the Gospel and defend their faith. And we must nurture our children. When they experience a battle and get wounded we must love them and allow God to heal them through us.

The enemy we face "prowls around like a roaring lion," searching the herd for the weakest target he can find. Then, in a moment they are not expecting, he attacks and kills his prey. We must not be weak when the attack comes. We must be strong. We must . . . train.

"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

People Get Ready by Jim Cole

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Boys fighting with each other over possessions, girls gossipping behind closed doors, people talking trash about each other, women stealing another woman's boyfriend, men dumping their girlfriends for something more attractive. Sound like your local high school or workplace? It sure does! Yet all these examples of drama were taken right out of the The Bible!

There is a lot of drama in this world. There is drama EVERYWHERE!! I'm not talking about what we see on the stage or the screen, although there is plenty of drama there too. No, I'm talking about our daily lives. There is drama when we wake up in the morning, drama when we get to work or to school, and there's drama when we hang out with our friends at night. Drama, drama, drama!! Isn't there anything we can do about it?

I was reading my Bible recently when I came across a book that was filled with good advice about how to combat drama in our daily lives. Check it out!

  1. Be grateful in your struggles - "2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." - James 1:2-4
  2. Learn from your experiences - "5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." - James 1:5
  3. Avoid temptation - "13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed." - James 1: 13-14
  4. Listen before speaking - "19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires." - James 1:19-20
  5. Get rid of the bad - "21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." - James 1:21
  6. Live like you'd like to be treated - "22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." - James 1:22
  7. Treat everyone the same - "My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism." - James 2:1
  8. Love everyone - "8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right." - James 2:8
  9. Speak only encouraging things - "7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison." - James 3:7-8
  10. Don't brag about yourself - "14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." - James 3:14-16
  11. Be content with what you have - "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight." - James 4:1-2
  12. Never think you are better than anyone else. - "6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble." - James 4:6
  13. Don't bad-mouth anyone - "11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it." - James 4:11
  14. Always be helpful - "17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them." - James 4:17
  15. Don't complain - "9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!" - James 5:9
  16. Be patient with others - "10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered." - James 5:10-11
  17. Always be truthful and keep your word - "12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear - not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned." - James 5:12
  18. Have compassion for others - "19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins." - James 5:19-20
Wow! That's quite a list! Here's a question for you. How would it be with no "drama" in our lives? Hmm. Pretty nice I'm thinkin'. Hey, if these things work, if we tried them out for a few days would it be worth it? Would people actually notice a change in us? Would we suddenly find ourselves with more friends than we did before? Simply by honoring God? It's worth a try! Be courageous! Listen to the sound of God's voice. You will be blessed! :)

The Sound of Your Voice by Third Day

Monday, April 7, 2014


The weekend before last, my chunk of the Hall family converged on Battle Creek, MI for our annual March Birthday Weekend Extravaganza! That sounds impressive, like some major city-wide festival, but it's really just a couple dozen people getting together and talking and eating . . . and watching grandchildren and grand nieces swarming all over the place.

It takes most of the day to get there. We leave our home shortly after breakfast and drive until it's time for supper. But despite the trip there and back, the journey is always well worth the time spent in the car. That's because at the end of our travels we get to see people we love and that makes journey more than worth it.

There are dangers on the roadways though, especially driving through Chicago as we do. Lots and lots of cars, many of them driving WELL beyond the speed limit. One has to be ever watchful. Side mirrors, rear view mirrors. Always watchful, always protecting.

While we were in Michigan I noticed something about our grandson. He is on a mission. A mission to get his hands on as many things as he possibly can! He literally runs around the room, eyes darting back and forth, looking for things to play with or to destroy. Somebody's phone, a wireless mouse for great grandma's computer, a dog . . . MY laptop!

I'd sit in the family room, writing a story, while my phone sat on the arm of the chair - an open invitation for my grandson. As soon as he noticed it sitting there, seemingly unprotected, he would start coming towards it, full speed ahead. His sudden motion usually caught my eye and I would pick up the phone at the last minute, simultaneously denying my grandson the pleasure of a new toy and denying myself the cost of a new phone. My grandson just likes to explore is all. He likes to seek. But I always have my eye on him because I know that sometimes he can get himself into trouble . . . without even knowing it.

My son took HIS son outside for some father/son playtime and some fresh air. My son let HIS son explore and seek things on his own. He slid down snow banks, ate some snow, but always with his father's supervision. "You don't want to eat the YELLOW snow" is a helpful tip for an inexperienced young snow eater.

For a young boy seeking to discover things, there are certain things he is not ready to find yet. The road at the end of the driveway for example. Our grandson is not capable of understanding that big cars drive on that road and they can be dangerous. The stream that runs through my parents backyard is another danger for little boy who don't know how to swim yet. Water can be a fascinating thing to play with but it is also dangerous. And my grandson's father was there all the time, watching, protecting.

God is like that but He will let us get into all kinds of trouble, lots of trouble, just so we will REALLY learn the lessons He wants us too.

Have you gone through a struggle lately? What did you learn from it? How many friends came along side you when you needed it? Did God reach out to you in some unexpected way? Life is filled with lessons, opportunities and challenges. How do we handle them? Do we throw up our arms and wonder, "Why is all this happening to me?" or do we pause and think, "God, what do you want me to learn in this?"

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

"For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity." - Proverbs 24:16

"Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come." - 1 Corinthians 10:11
Here's a video of a talented guy, a guy who struggled mightily until God got his attention one day . . . and changed his life.

Christian Hosoi - I Am Second

Saturday, April 5, 2014


We have two of the most annoying cats you could possibly imagine. One of them, which I have lovingly nicknamed "The Scrawn," loves to get into things. He grooms himself so much that there is a bald spot on his back. And he likes to clean his nether regions right in the middle of the living room floor with his hind leg held high in the air for all to see. He also loves my wife's lap. Wherever it might be, there shall he be also (That almost sounded like a Bible verse!) He loves my wife's attention!

Our other cat is kind of slow, both physically and mentally. His favorite thing is to sneak up behind us when we are in the kitchen and just sit there, waiting for one of us to trip over him. His other favorite trick is to simply fall over. That must take REAL skill! But late in the evening, after we have put both cats in the basement for the night, he loves to sit at the top of the stairs and meow. He almost yowls, it's so loud. He doesn't like to be separated from my wife.

I tell you about our two cats and their affection for my wife because they have something that many of us, including myself, lack in our faith lives. Devotion.

When I think of the word devotion I always think of those little booklets you can get at church. Devotionals are those little daily, encouraging stories we can read each day. We read the three or four paragraphs and the Bible verse at the bottom of each page and think, "There, now I'm good to go for the day." That is NOT devotion.

The 1828 Webster Dictionary defines "devotion" magnificently. There are eight different usages of the word. Read them all and let the meanings soak in. Do we live as though we are devoted to our God?
  1. The state of being dedicated, consecrated, or solemnly set apart for a particular purpose.
  2. A solemn attention to the Supreme Being in worship; a yielding of the heart and affections to God, with reverence, faith and piety, in religious duties, particularly in prayer and meditation; devoutness.
  3. External worship; acts of religion; performance of religious duties.
  4. Prayer to the Supreme Being. A Christian will be regular in his morning and evening devotions.
  5. An act of reverence, respect or ceremony.
  6. Ardent love or affection; attachment manifested by constant attention; as, the duke was distinguished by his devotion to the king, and to the interest of the nation.
  7. Earnestness; ardor; eagerness.
  8. Disposal; power of disposing of; state of dependence.
How often should we be devoted to God? Five minutes each day? An hour?

Let us live our lives in devotion to God. Not by simply reading a few lines of encouraging text each morning, but by living out our daily lives, each day and every day, totally devoted to God.

Today, instead of picking up that romance novel, pick up the Bible and spend some time with God or with someone you love. Instead of turning on the television, leave it off and call someone on the phone and tell them you love them. Bring honor to God by devoting yourself to Him today.

God gives us these days as gifts to be used to bring Him glory. Let's do that, as long as it is called today.

"12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end." - Hebrews 3:12-14

If you do not have a devoted relationship with God, get one today. To do that we must repent of our sins, acknowledge that Jesus truly is who He said He is, the Son of God, and surrender your life, your heart, your devotion, to Him. He died for you, accepting the punishment for YOUR sins on Himself. How deoes one repay a gift like that? Devotion would be a good start.

Devotion by Hillsong United

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Perhaps it is my love for God and His Word that makes the two latest movies from Hollywood - Son of God and Noah - so disgusting to me. The Bible is what it is, the breathed out Word of God. Yet people think they can exercise creative license and CHANGE its words, it's meaning? That makes me mad. I'd be willing to bet that it makes God angry as well.

There are places in Hollywood or in novels for fiction but it is my opinion that any movies about the Bible or God or anyone in the Bible should be truthful. Taking the story of Noah for example and morphing it into a fictitious tale about man destroying the environment and having giant rock people help build the ark is sacrilegious in my opinion. What's REALLY scary is that people will recognize this movie as a story from the Bible based on the title and they will assume that it is true.

To show you what I mean, take a look at this picture, an ad from the movie's producers. Notice anything that's umm . . .  not quite right? The first thing I noticed was that everyone is wearing pants! According to Wikipedia pants first appeared in recorded history during the 6th century BC. Noah was born in 2704 BC, and although he lived to be 950 years old, the men of his era most likely would have been wearing robes of some sort.

Look closer. The guy behind and to Russell Crow's left, under the "NO" in Noah. What's HE wearing? Well, in addition to the pants, this man is also wearing a rain poncho! And boots! They're ALL wearing boots!!

Here's another thing. There is no mention of God in the movie. The phrase "Creator" is used and while that DOES apply, I find it strange that God's name is not used at all. There is also no mention of why God chose to start over with us humans. It was because of unrepentant sin that God chose to "let it rain." Yet, according to the movie mankind was destroyed because they were hurting the planet. Read the truth of God's Word.

"5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord." - Genesis 6:5-8

"Every intention" of the thoughts of mans heart was evil . . . continually. Can I ask you a question? Do you think we as a world are far behind the people of Noah's day in their sin? To be honest, I think there is a lot of good in may people, but every one of us sins. "The wickedness of man was great." I guess you could say the same thing about us today. Everyone sins. Everyone is deserving of God's Wrath as witnessed in the days of Noah. The words of Jesus . . .

"37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." - Matthew 24:37

And speaking of Jesus, did you know that the story of Noah is a foreshadowing of Jesus and His death on the cross? The story of Noah is really about the sins of man leading to their ultimate death and about how mankind was saved through the act of one righteous man. Sound familiar? And here's something else to think about - God's ten commandments were carried in an ARK  - the Ark of The Covenant? Interesting.

The Bible says there will be false teachers in the end times. The false teachers are here and some of them are making movies. We need to look to the skies and to God's Word instead of looking to movies and television for our theology. Let our hearts be filled with truth, God's truth, not Hollywood's. But I am going to use one final movie quotes to end this story. As Clint Eastwood said in the movie Pale Rider, "For what we are about to receive, let us be truly thankful."

I would like you to watch a 30 minute movie. It contains FACTS about Noah and the End Times and it shows what people today think about Noah and what they believe to be the truth. However, when they are confronted with the REAL truth . . . God's Word, they soon come to realize that they have been living a lie.

Noah by Living Waters Publications