Saturday, May 31, 2014


Most of us would look at the picture to the left and think, what a nice looking couple. A good-looking groom and his beautiful bride. It's hard to believe that the woman is a criminal. Yet she is currently serving time in prison awaiting her execution.

Execution? "What did she do? Kill somebody?" we ask ourselves? No. Well, it must have been pretty serious to warrant the death penalty. It must have been something major. Maybe she was a spy and betrayed her country. Treason is punishable by death here in the U.S. Maybe it was that. Nope. She is not from this country, but her husband is. This beautiful young woman, a mother of two, has been sentenced to die because she is a Christian and refuses to renounce her faith. You can read the full story by clicking on the following link.

Sudanese Woman Sentenced To Death

One of the things we tend to do as Americans is to let things slide, to not get involved. We procrastinate. We put things off. When things don't actually affect us directly we tend to shrug them off with an "Oh, well" or a "Oh, that's too bad" and we never really do anything about it. We simply refuse to act. That's sad.

We have laws against inaction in this country. They are known as "Good Samaritan" laws. That in itself is sad. We have laws forcing us to do what we should be doing anyway? Why do we need a law for that? Well, it's because we often refuse to act when a particular situation warrants action. Good Samaritan laws basically say that, if you see someone being beaten up for example, and you do nothing about it, there is a price to pay. I would submit to you this morning that the price we pay for our inaction is also measured in heaven, not just here on earth.

"5 I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me. 6 I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth." - Isaiah 63:5

It doesn't take much effort to help someone. It doesn't take much time. Consider reaching out and making a difference in someone's life. The "Christian majority" in this country has been silent for too long. It's time we did something for our Lord and Savior. Please, won't you take five minutes and send your congressman an e-mail. Here are some links to make it easy.

Find Your Senators and Representatives

You might need the additional four digits on your zip code (I did). You can find that here:

Look Up A Zip Code

Thank you!!

Here's a few encouraging verses to help us get off our butts.

"14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." - James 2:14-17

"6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury." - Romans 6:6-8

After I wrote the post above I read the article below. It appears that if we DO take action we WILL be heard.

US "fully engaged" in case of Sudanese woman sentenced to die for Christian faith

Our God is a great God. We who call ourselves His children are also soldiers called upon to fight for Him. Let's sound the trumpet and join in the battle today!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


I thought I'd start things off a little backwards this morning. Usually I have links at the end of my messages. But today I would like you to watch this first before I get rolling on redemption.

Redeemed - Skit Guys (song by Big Daddy Weave)

Have you undergone a change in your life? A dramatic change. What caused that change or led you your life suddenly changing? Was it the death of a loved one? Or perhaps it was a birth? Did you suddenly come clean from an addition? Or did you finally get that job you've been waiting for?

I know one man who reflected on his OWN life after seeing a friend die from cancer. He began to think that he had better get his OWN life in order . . . just in case HE died suddenly. What caused him to think that? Why would he be concerned about getting his act together/ That implies that he KNEW his life needed repair . . . improvement.

There is another man in my life who struggled with alcoholism for many years, yet to day he is as clean as can be, although he still battles the yearnings. Where did this man get the strength he needed to stop that addiction? It could have been a failing marriage. It could have been his children watching him stumbling in the door one night and witnessing his shame.

Another man I know was addicted to drugs. He SOLD the drugs to support his own habit. He knowingly sold kids drugs, getting them dependent upon him for their supply. He gradually turned them on to harder drugs so they would keep coming back for the more expensive means of getting high. Why would this man suddenly stop doing that, give it all up, and lead a more productive and legal life?

Each of those men met Jesus. They finally reached a point in their lives when they reached rock bottom. They were finally willing to try "anything" - even Jesus!! And when they did that, when they finally got so desperate that they turned to Christ they discovered the cure for what was controlling their lives. They left that life behind and began following Jesus.

"24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds." - Matthew 16:24-27

If we go through life without God's Holy Spirit to guide us and convict us of our sins, what hope do we have of being saved? Absolutely none! God gives us the power over sin. We can conquer anything through Christ!! Any addiction, any situation, any trial or pain. We can defeat our enemies through the blood of Christ. When Jesus died on the cross He took away our punishment, he defeated our deserved future, death, for us. It is through our faith in Him that we can truly live. It is through the love of Christ that we have been . . . redeemed.

"13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13

For examples of how people have defeated their demons through their faith in Christ check out I Am Second.

Monday, May 26, 2014


As I sit here this morning on this Memorial Day, a day set aside for remembering those who have given their lives defending our country, I can't help but think of the families of those soldiers. How they must weep when they see us forget to mourn for the family members who have died. Instead we have picnics, we go fishing, we mow the lawn.

Where I live the white bass are running on the Wolf River. There will be places where one could easily walk across the river by stepping from boat to boat. For many Memorial Day has become simply a day off from work rather than a day of remembrance. Our focus on what this day is all about has become lost.

I am guilty of this myself. I enjoy the fact that I don't have to go in to work today instead of those who worked 24/7 defending our freedom. I like sleeping in rather than remembering those who slept in foxholes. I enjoy eating brats, hot dogs and hamburgers, hot off the grille rather than those who ate cold C-rations in a damp, dark jungle as the enemy tried to kill them.

Yet the soldier we are supposed to be honoring today willingly gave their lives as a sacrifice for us. And we thanked them by spitting in their faces when they returned from war (Vietnam).

The similarities between the selfless soldiers who gave their lives and our Lord Jesus are many. They would rather not have died yet they did so. How many soldiers, in desperate situations, asked to "have this cup pass from me" but sacrificed themselves on our behalf. How appropriate it is that the graves of our fallen soldiers are marked with a white cross.

What better day to remember not only those who died defending our freedom but those "soldiers" who died defending our faith.

I encourage you today to attend a Memorial Day service where you are. Spend some time standing over the grave of an unknown soldier. And spend some time praying, giving thanks for the martyrs who were killed simply because of their faith. Our soldiers AND our martyrs should be honored, not only on THIS day, but every day, for the sacrifice they made . . . defending our country or for refusing to deny their faith and our King.

Pray . . . give them honor . . . and may their sacrifice never be lost us we who remain.

"12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." - 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Prayers for the Fallen Facebook Page

Voice of The Martyrs Website

Saturday, May 24, 2014


There is a peace that faith in Jesus brings. There is a calm. A knowledge down deep inside that, no matter what happens, everything is going to be alright. Perhaps it's God's Holy Spirit that creates that calm. Or perhaps it is simply the knowledge, the understanding, that God is in control. God is on His throne and He always will be.

I had many reasons to be frustrated this week. A friend of mine had been "uninvited" to speak at a large festival near Madison when some of the city council members learned that my friend was a Christian and took a pro-life stance. The organizers of the event then pulled back their invitation, calling him a "controversial activist." The only thing "controversial" about my friend is that his smile is too big for his face. He's a big teddy bear.

It was a frustrating day at work as well. At least it could have been. Work piling up. Deadlines approaching. Not enough time to get things done. Have you ever felt pressure in the workplace? It is VERY easy to get frustrated. However, I have found that my frustration level has decreased since I placed my faith in Christ.

I don't want to create the wrong impression here. Jesus is not someone who makes us feel better, like he's a chiropractor or a massage therapist. No. The reason I feel better is because none of the pressure at work matters to me anymore. Yes, I want to do a good job. Yes, I want to get things done on time. But I give all that pressure to Jesus - in prayer, in my service to others. I just relax and work until the job is done.

In Paul's letter to the Philippians, Paul tells them to chill out and place their faith in Jesus. We should do the same. :)

"7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:7

I went on a high ropes course with our youth group once. Several of the women leaders were freaking out about the possibility that they might fall. Trying to calm their fears I said, "Hey, what's the worst that could happen? You'd fall, the safety harness would fail and you'd plummet to your death. But then you'd get to meet Jesus!"

I thought what I had said was encouraging. Apparently not. I received an evil glare and this:

"No. Falling and dying is not the worst thing that could happen. Falling, living, yet getting horribly disfigured and handicapped for the rest of your life."

What an optimist!

Sometimes we do get frustrated though. We get scared and worried and think we might fall, even though Jesus tells us not to.

"Fear not." - numerous people, literally hundreds of verses in the Bible

"Do not worry," - Jesus, Matthew 6:24-35

We are pitiful at following Gods directions. But if we do? If we can relinquish all our fears and worries to Jesus, guess what awaits us? His Peace . . .

"27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." - John 14:27

Last night I received a text from my sister, carrying with it some bad news. Someone in our family is dying. So how do we handle it as Christians?It is going to hurt. It is going to cause worry and fear. The death of a loved one is one of those time when we see what we are made of . . . what we truly believe.

 So this morning I pray for my brother-in-law and the battle his mother is facing this morning. I pray for "the peace that surpasses all understanding" to rain down on him and his family. And for his mother I also pray for peace . . . the peace that comes through faith in Jesus. I pray that Jesus would have mercy on her and lavish her in His grace. And that she would receive Him into her heart, even at this late hour. May God bless you and keep you. Amen.

I Will Bring You Peace - Daniel & Catherine Lovett

Thursday, May 22, 2014


"24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” - John 20:24-29

We are so much like "doubting" Thomas in this world. Unless we can see something with our own eyes we often refuse to believe it. I have encountered many "Christians" this past year who claim the faith but are hesitant to discuss the topic. Personally, I am so excited about Jesus I could talk about Him all day. Why aren't other believers as excited? I am not judging here. I am simply wondering.

When I came to believe and the scales fell from my eyes I was beyond excited. I think that excitement about one's faith is a spiritual fruit. Just my opinion here. My opinion has no scriptural basis. But if the God of the universe sacrificed Himself for you, wouldn't you be JUST a LITTLE joyous?

Actually, it is quite simple for true believers to recognize their brothers and sisters . . to know. We might as well have a signs stamped on our foreheads. And one day we will. We will be sealed, and therefore protected.

"They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads." - Revelation 9:4

But what about now? Are we sealed? How can we KNOW for sure? God's Word tells us.

"In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." - Ephesians 1:13–14

Knowing that we are saved is a wonderful thing. There have been some people I have been introduced to and have instantly felt a bond with them. I KNOW that our conversations will be all about God. It's awesome! Look at things this way.

When we walk through an orchard and look at all the fruit hanging on the trees it is easy to tell one type of tree from another.

"That's an apple tree! There is a pear tree!" As Jesus said, we can tell the tree by the fruit it bears . . .

"15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them." - Matthew 7:15-20

We Christians are suppose to bear good fruit. Jesus is telling us in this text to examine other people's fruit to see whether or not they are part of His kingdom. But what do we do if we see someone who professes to be a Christian yet they have no fruit?

First, we as believers must be VERY careful about what we say or do. People get very defensive when we tell them they might be doing something wrong. Yet the loving thing to do is to tell them. It's a very tricky situation.

We must assume that, even though we don't see any fruit, we cannot KNOW whether they believe or not. That is something only Jesus knows. We must assume they are Christians if they say so.

The next thing we need to remember is that we are ALL sinners. All of us.There's not one of us who is sinless. That creates credibility issues if we tell someone they aren't bearing any fruit when OUR OWN fruit doesn't smell to good.

What I usually do at this point is pray. There isn't really anything I can do about any given situation but God can if He has a mind to. Knowing that should be very calming.

To know we have been set apart (hadiadzo) by God is a tremendously wonderful thing. It bring new meaning to the phrase, "to know Him is to love Him." Remove any doubts you may have about your salvation by trusting in the Lord. Even if you have surrendered yourself to Him already, do it again. It is a good reminder of who we are and WHOSE we are.

To Know Him Is To Love Him - Amy Winehouse

Monday, May 19, 2014


Have you ever gone to one of those big car wash places? You know the kind. Where you just get out of your car and walk inside and the attendants take care of the rest. They vacuum out the trunk and the inside of the car. They wash the windshield, inside and out and you can watch the entire process. It's fascinating. You can see your car getting washed by oscillating jets of water. You can watch as a protective layer of wax is applied. You can even watch half a dozen high school kids swarming all over it, wiping it clean. When your car finally comes out of the car wash it's all clean and shiny. It's almost like it's a brand new car! Cool!!

I've got a question for you. Would you be upset if, when your car emerged from the car wash, it was still dirty? I sure would be. After all, I brought my car there specifically for the purpose of it becoming clean. If it basically looked the same way coming out as it did going in I'd demand my money back!

There are quite a few similarities between the ineffective car wash I just described and our youth groups of today. Too many similarities to be discussed here I'm afraid. So today, let's just talk about one of them . . . confirmation.

What exactly is confirmation? And what exactly is it that's being confirmed? How come some churches have confirmation and others don't? Is it important? Is it required? Is it useless? This is from Wikipedia:

"Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, and many Anglicans view Confirmation as a sacrament. In the East it is conferred immediately after baptism. In the West, this practice is followed when adults are baptized, but in the case of infants not in danger of death it is administered, ordinarily by a bishop, only when the child reaches the age of reason or early adolescence. Among those Catholics who practice teen-aged confirmation, the practice may be perceived, secondarily, as a "coming of age" rite."

In Protestant churches, the rite tends to be seen rather as a mature statement of faith by an already baptized person. It is also required by most Protestant denominations for membership in the respective church, in particular for traditional Protestant churches. In traditional Protestant churches (Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran etc.) it is recognized by a coming of age ceremony. Confirmation is not practiced in Baptist, Anabaptist and other groups that teach believer's baptism.

When I was a confirmation teacher in a Lutheran church confirmation was a fairly big deal. It was the culmination of a child's "training." Kind of a Sunday School graduation ceremony. People dressed up really nice, there were gifts and cards and parties to attend. It was important. But why? What IS confirmation anyway?

Confirmation is supposed to be the "confirmation" of one's faith in God. The "affirmation of baptism" as the Lutheran church wants to call it. That's all well and good, but I know several people who went through confirmation simply to appease their parents. They are now practicing agnostics or atheists. So if they did not really "confirm" their faith during confirmation why were they allowed to "graduate"? The only conclusion I can come up with is . . . somebody lied!

I do know of some kids who were NOT allowed to be confirmed. They didn't finish enough assignments or take enough sermon notes. My question is, what are we humans doing trying to determine whether a person actually believes or not? That's impossible. That's God's job. So why do some churches place such emphasis on being confirmed? How do we actually know that our son or daughter is really confirming their beliefs? Because they've taken a class?

Do you think I am being to critical? Read this opinion by one Martin Luther and see what he thought about confirmation.

"I do not say this because I condemn the seven sacraments, but because I deny that they can be proved from the Scriptures. Would to God we had in the Church such a laying on of hands as there was in apostolic times, whether we called it confirmation or healing! But there is nothing left of it now but what we ourselves have invented to adorn the office of the bishops, that they may have at least something to do in the Church. For after they relinquished to their inferiors those arduous sacraments together with the Word, as being too common for themselves, -- since, forsooth, whatever the divine Majesty has instituted has to be despised of men -- it was no more than right that we should discover something easy and not too burdensome for such delicate and great heroes to do, and should by no means entrust it to the lower clergy as something common -- for whatever human wisdom has decreed has to be held in honor among men! Therefore, as are the priests, so let their ministry and duty be. For a bishop who does not preach the Gospel or care for souls, what is he but an idol in the world, having but the name and appearance of a bishop? (1 Corinthians 8:4) But we seek, instead of this, sacraments that have been divinely instituted, among which we see no reason for numbering confirmation. For, in order that there be a sacrament, there is required above all things a word of divine promise, whereby faith, may be trained. But we read nowhere that Christ ever gave a promise concerning confirmation, although He laid hands on many and included the laying on of hands among the signs in Mark 16:18 "They shall lay their hands on the sick, and they shall recover." Yet no one referred this to a sacrament, nor can this be done." - Martin Luther, 1520 treatise, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church

All of the denominations we have in the world today offer us differing opinions on what they feel is right and true. Confirmation is required in some churches and not required in others. So, what is right? What is the truth? Let's go to the Bible to find out.

"14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit." - Acts 8:14-17

These days confirmation is nothing more than a graduation ceremony of sorts. It represents the culmination, in the church's opinion, of a students training. Whereas "confirmation" in the days of Jesus meant the receiving of the Holy Spirit, that is not the case today. The danger comes when parents THINK their children have received the Holy Spirit when in actuality they haven't. Their children are in danger. Eternal danger.

Parents are responsible for the training of their children, not the youth pastors. Pastors teach, parents train.

"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

It is SO important for parents to take the lead in the training of their children. It is literally a life and death situation.

So, how can parents tell if their children have been "confirmed" in the Biblical sense of the word? How can parents be sure that their children have received the Holy Spirit? Examine their "tree" for fruit. Parents should look for spiritual fruit in the lives of their children. We need to become fruit inspectors!

"22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." - Galatians 5:22-23

Has your child suddenly become more patient? More kind? Do they exhibit self-control after submitting their lives to Christ? If they have become changed in such a way it's a pretty good indicator that God's Holy Spirit has been confirmed in them. Evidence of that fruit is truly a cause for celebration and praise. Evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is all the confirmation anyone really needs.

Here's another scripture reference for you fruit inspectors out there:

Saved? - Bob's Lifesongs

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Have you ever wondered what it's like to be blind? I guess we could walk around with our eyes closed to find out. But that's not really being blind. We can still see light through our eyelids. What if things were totally dark?

My family went to Mammoth Cave when I was in high school. When you're down in the cave one of the things they like to do is turn out the lights to you can "see" how dark it is. Man, it is REALLY dark! I bet that's what it's like to be blind. Absolutely no light what so ever.

I am currently reading a book to my wife. No, my wife is not blind. It's just something we do. She takes a bath and I read to her. Anyway, I'm reading a book called Homer's Odyssey, a birthday gift for my cat loving bride. It's a story about an eyeless cat and how he manages to get through life . . . totally blind.

The author pointed out something interesting early on in the book . Homer, the eyeless cat, has never known what it's like to see. The cat probably doesn't even know it's handicapped. It has never known anything else. The sad thing is, that cat will never know what it is like to see.

My Grandma Johnson was blind. We used to visit her at her small house in Michigan. She grew violets inside and had racks of beautiful looking plants in her house. How she kept them looking so good was beyond me. She couldn't see them!

She had a rope that ran from the front door of her house out to the mailbox at the side of the road. She couldn't see the mailbox but she knew she would find the it if she just followed the rope long enough.

One day we were told that my grandma was going to have an operation. It could potentially restore her eyesight. I didn't pray back then when I was a kid but I was sure hopin' she would be able to see again. And she did! That was SO cool!!

What is it like to be totally blind and not even know you are blind. It's just life as normal I guess. And, on the opposite end of things, what is it like to suddenly see?

There are people in this world who have never heard of Jesus. They have no clue at all that there is a God who loves them, who cares about them and has a gift waiting for them. But how will they ever hear about Him unless somebody tells them? Unless someone "opens their eyes" so they can see.

A surgeon opened my grandmother's eyes by transplanting someone else's lenses, replacing her defective ones. We can't do that with people in our lives who don't know Jesus. As much as we would like to give sight to those we love who are "God-less," that is something that God Himself must do through His Holy Spirit.

As someone who had his spiritual eyes "repaired" late in life I can tell you it is a wonderful experience to suddenly see all of the things I missed. They were actually all around me. I just could never see them. But the scary thing is . . . I didn't know I was blind. I had no clue.

We who believe have been given a command from God - to deliver the Gospel to those who are blind. God's Holy Spirit is like the surgeon who repaired my grandma's eyes. He will take care of the important part. All we need to do is deliver the blind people in our lives to the eye doctor.

"As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing." - John 9:1-7

When we place our faith and trust in Jesus we receive God's Holy Spirit. Our lives become changed. I speak from first-hand experience. When we come before His throne and lay our sins at His feet, He picks them up and throws them away. He has already paid the price for our sins on the cross. Having paid the ultimate penalty for our sins we are suddenly set free and given new life, in Christ. Where once we were blind, we suddenly can see. If you have never placed your faith in Jesus and come before Him, guilty, and seeking His forgiveness, please do you today. You would not believe the things you can see through your new eyes as a child of God. Sin, repentance, forgiveness and faith. It's a simple formula. Go to Him today . . . and see. :)

Amazing Grace - Elvis Presley

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Music has got to be one of the most beautifully wonderful creations that God has ever made. Majestic mountains are good, beautiful sunsets, a new-born baby. There are many wonderful things that God has created but somehow music just makes them all seem a little bit better.

Everyone has a favorite song or a song that brings some special memory to mind. One of those songs in my life is Right Here Waiting by Richard Marx. It's one of those "big hair" 80's songs that people used to slow dance to. And that is exactly the picture I always get in my mind whenever I hear it.

I think it was at my cousin Roberta's wedding. We were at the reception when this song began to play. My daughter and my niece, both quite young at the time, maybe seven or eight, had a crush on my cousin Mark, a handsome young man in his 20's. Well, when the song began he asked them if they would like to dance. They ran into his open arms and he picked them both up - one in each arm. He began swaying back and forth as they blushed. It was a very special moment in the lives of those two young ladies and it is a memory that has stuck with me all these years.

I listened to that song today as I began writing this story and I heard something within its words that gave that old song a new meaning for me. It was the chorus. That moment when all songs transition . . . change from the "everyday" to the "extraordinary". The chorus reminds me of how God waits for each of us to come to Him.

Soon, thoughts of how God patiently waits for us came to mind. Though I was old when I came to believe, I ran to Him just like a little kid. Just like my daughter and my niece ran into the arms of their cousin.

Do you get that feeling when you come before God in prayer? Do you anxiously wait for the next time you can "dance" with your King? Do that this morning. Run to Him and melt into His arms. Give Him thanks and praise for all He has done and all He has yet to do. It's time to remember the chorus of that old song . . .

"Wherever you go, whatever you do, I will be right here waiting for you."

What songs bring you closer to God? Is it a hymn? Is it a good ol' country song or a rock ballad? Whatever it is, play it! Put it on repeat until it's lyrics and melody echo in your head. And then get down on your knees in prayer. He is patiently waiting for you.

"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." - 2 Peter 3:9

We must recognize our sinful nature and come to Him in repentance. He will forgive our sins. And then we can dance. What are we waiting for? He's right there . . . waiting.

Right Here Waiting - Richard Marx

Monday, May 12, 2014


There are times we feel frustrated. I wrote about that just this past week. I was feeling frustrated. But there are also times we can feel incredibly blessed. Such was this past weekend. A weekend God showered the blessings down.

Saturday I went for a long walk. My wife and I are blessed to live right next to a state park. She and I spend hours there - walking, hiking, swimming. What a blessing it was as I went for my first extended walk of the year, just a shade over 13 miles.
I always lug all of my camera equipment along . . . just in case I see something worth remembering. I was glad I did.

I spent a lot of time early on looking for the male black bear that others have seen in the area. Nothing. Oh well. Maybe next time. But what I was really hoping to see was some early spring flowers. We had a terrible winter - long and cold. Very depressing. The sun shining brightly on Saturday was a welcome sight . . . and so were the blossoms on the forest floor.
I didn't see them right away. I had to walk for several miles before I saw any blossoms but the wait was worth it in the end. I walked through areas of the forest where oak wilt had killed many of the trees. The DNR had fenced off the area to keep the deer out. It was sad to see acre after acre of death. But out of death comes life.

This weekend I received an e-mail from our church's missionary in Turkey. His name is Brian Phipps. Brian reported that one of the men he had been witnessing to recently converted from Islam to Christianity.

Anyone see any similarity between the two pictures in this post?

We can go through seasons of drought in our lives. Being frustrated with how things are going. But when those blessings come, whether springing forth from the forest floor or rising up out of a pond of water . . .

Blessed be the name of the Lord!!
"24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." - John 12:24

Saturday, May 10, 2014


Mothers have very special relationships with their children. They feel their babies growing within them. They love their children before they are even born. Mothers go through tremendous pain to bring their children into the world. They nurse them, giving their children the life sustaining nourishment they need to survive.

Mothers give of themselves every step of the way - from conception, they carry their children with them. Only upon the birth of their new baby do mothers become physically separated from their children.

As children grow and develop into adults, their mother's love never fails, never falters. Mothers still have that maternal desire to nurture their children and take care of them - to see them succeed in life and to be safe. How deep must a mothers grief be then when they lose a child?

And yet, when I think about Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the love she must have had for her son, and I contemplate what it must have been like to see her son, AND her God, hanging on that cross, dying, I can't help but marvel at the words of her song that appears in the book of  Luke.

"46 My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name." - Luke 1:46-49

That gives me chills.

And, for as beaten and bloody as Jesus was, as He hung on that cross He took the time to speak to His mother, making sure she was taken care of for the rest of her life.

"Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son,"  and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home." - John 19:25-27

How blessed was Mary to give birth to the Son of God!

Many of today's mothers have jobs. Just like men, their focus can often turn to their careers or to their social life. I think I heard some place that women now have just as many or more heart attacks than men do. What of their children then? Who is nurturing them? Their iPads and smart phones? Blessed be the mom's who stay at home, who teach their children well.

This weekend our country celebrates mom's. One day out of the year? I think that's wrong. We should be celebrating mothers EVERY day. Not to the point of worship. That would be idolatry. But simply, in appreciation for all they do. For without our mothers, where would any of us be?

We should celebrate our moms. Let's take them out to dinner, give them the night off, send them a card, a gift, or give them a call. But let us not forget to give thanks to God for His provision and His creation. How beautiful are His ways.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


This morning I find myself feeling frustrated. Have you ever felt that way? Some days it seems like absolutely nothing can go right. But today, for some reason, I feel especially frustrated. I actually woke UP feeling frustrated. And what's really frustrating is . . . I'm not sure why. Frustrating!!

It's easy to get frustrated in today's world. Just turn on the news. The economy, although it seems like we are making a comeback of sorts, is still shaky. Our government is still printing money it has nothing to back it up with. The U.S. dollar is losing respect around the world. More and more countries are switching to the petrocurrency, rather than relying on the U.S. dollar as their common standard.

Muslim extremists frustrate me too. They are VERY frustrating. There is nothing like blowing up random people to show the stupidity of their actions . . . and, if I may say, their "faith." I listened to a recent sermon by Pastor John MacArthur the other day and he laid out who he felt the Antichrist was. Guess who. It's Muhammad. You can listen to his message here. It's excellent.

Another thing that gets me frustrated is television. I've written about that before. Nothing gets me frustrated like wasting time. To me anyway, television's whole purpose seems to be occupying our time - as much of it as they can get. TV networks will do anything, stretch any envelope possible to get more people to waste their time watching their shows over someone other network. Frustrating.

Political correctness? Don't get me started.

But the one thing that frustrates me the most are churches that don't preach the gospel. Whether it is during "normal" worship services or during Wednesday night youth groups. It is frustrating to me that people are walking out of the doors of their church without the complete truth.

I've written about Joel Osteen before. That guy has the biggest "church" in the country and he is probably responsible for send more "Christians" to hell than anyone. He preaches an incomplete Gospel. He refuses to talk about sin and repentance. He can't even find the words to agree with Jesus when our God said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one come to the Father except through me." Listen to this interview with Larry King.

False Teacher Joel Osteen on Larry King

The caller has more knowledge of the Gospel than Mr. Osteen, yet he is the one leading America's largest church. Frustrating!

I see so many people walking around saying the same things these false teachers are saying - that all roads lead to heaven, that there is no hell. They will find out soon enough I guess. But what can be done in the meantime? Like I ask the youth in our church - "What are you going to do about it?" This is what I would recommend.

  1. Pray. Take all the frustrations and place them at the foot of the cross.
  2. Read. Spend time reading the Bible. The best defense is a good offense. Increase your knowledge about what God says so that when someone else tells you differently you can discern truth from lies.
  3. Pray. Pray for opportunities to speak to others about Jesus. Pray for boldness to jump into conversations when you hear something "not quite right." Our silence can easily be construed as agreement.
  4. Speak. Get the words out about the lies that are being taught by some of these wolves in sheep's clothing.
  5. Pray. Pray that these false teachers would repent and follow Jesus. That they would then lead the flocks they shepherd to the promised land, just like Moses led God's people, Israel.
When I hear false teaching the first thing I do is shake my head, followed closely by prayer. There is really nothing I can do BUT pray. Pray for people's eyes to be opened, including the eyes of these pastors. Pray for the sheep, blinded by false teaching, that they might awaken from their slumber and follow THE ONLY TRUE WAY to heaven, Jesus, the Christ.

The following is a video by one of my favorite bands. They too are rather frustrated and "sick of it." Their solution is the same one I offered in  - to "raise your hands" to the only one who has the answer. Watch what happens in the video when people get frustrated to the point where they search to help. They "raise those hands" and turn to God.

Sick Of It - Skillet

Monday, May 5, 2014


Snow has finally left our part of the country. Things are beginning to get a little more green. There are more and more signs of life with every passing day. Most of the birds are back - the Red-Winged Blackbirds, the Sandhill Cranes, The male goldfinches are changing color from their blah winter color to that bright yellow and black color they are known for.

The streams are still swollen with the run-off the the winter's melting snow. And over at Turner's farm Market they are beginning to plant their crops. Tis the season for planting.

Sunday morning at church our pastor was preaching about the end times, the end of the world. He specifically used the text from Matthew 24. As he read the text to us we were reminded of signs to watch out for, the signs that will tell us Jesus is about to return. Jesus compared these signs to a fig tree and how we are able to tell what season it is, simply by looking to the signs it gives.

"32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near." - Matthew 24:32

As I left the church there was a large cardboard box by the front doors. It was something for us to take home with us. Guess what was sin it? It was seeds! Seeds to plant in our gardens. Carrots, radishes, lettuce, squash. Many different seeds to plant and ultimately food to eat.

"6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building." - 1 Corinthians 3:6-9

Take a look at the picture at the top of this page. You and I are the seed planters. We're the little things that are sticking onto the ground. God in the tractor. Without Him we can do nothing. He gives us the power through His Holy Spirit. Our job is simply to plant seeds in the hearts and minds of those we meet as we walk through this world.

Who in your life needs to have some new life? Is there anyone you know that could use the saving grace of God, our Father? Plant some seeds in their lives today. And then pray for rain! :)

Did you know that King Solomon wrote the lyrics to a 60's rock song? He did. His words were put to music by a band named the Byrds. With the exception of a few minor words changes the words are taken straight from the Book of Ecclesiastes, the third chapter. King Solomon also recognized a time to plant. That time is now!

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."

We have been placed on this earth for a reason. We have been called by God to "spread the Gospel to all nations." We have been called to plant seeds.plant sees. May the seeds we plant today fall on fertile soil and produce a bountiful crop at harvest time.

Turn, Turn, Turn - The Byrds

Saturday, May 3, 2014


May 1st was our countries National Day of Prayer, although I never would have noticed if my friend hadn't said something to me at work. I didn't see any news stories but that's not really a fair criticism. I don't watch much TV. But it doesn't seem like our country gets into praying much.

So I decided to "take things into my own hands." I wrote a little note early Thursday morning and placed it on everyone's desk at work. This is what the note said:

"Today is the National Day of Prayer. We encourage you to take time today and pray. Prayer is the main way we communicate with God. We seek His forgiveness, ask for His healing or for His intercession in the lives of those we love. There will be a group of us praying today at lunch in the Team Room. Please come join us. If you cannot participate, please let any of us know your prayer requests and we will be happy to pray on your behalf. Thank you."

I handed out over 80 of those little notes. The response was, shall we say, underwhelming. I got one e-mail thanking us for praying but that was it. No prayer requests. None. That's okay I guess, but I was expecting at least one. Hopefully, people took the time to pray on their own. Maybe it's just the skeptic in me but . . . I don't think they did. At least not here at work.

To hedge my bets on the note option I also sent out a few text messages to some of my friends, most of them brothers and sisters in the faith, requesting things I could pray for in their lives. I received a 60% return on my investment!

However, I received more than just simple prayer requests. I received encouragement. I received validation. There WERE other people on the planet actually willing to be prayed for! I'm just kidding. But I did receive a lesson.  A lesson in selflessness.

Almost all of those who responded requested prayer for someone else. A mother with cancer, a wife, a husband, parents. There were prayer requests for God to heal relationships, to allow for increased time for someone to pray and worship. Everyone was grateful to be lifted up in prayer. And everyone . . . EVERYONE, ended their message with, "How may I pray for you?"

Are you a part of a faith family? A church? A small group of some sort? Do you have a prayer partner or an accountability partner. Someone to keep you honest and to help you stay on track? Fellowship is SO important. We need to spend time with our brothers and sisters . . . with God.

My friend and I pray together every day at work. We keep each other accountable. I have several friends like that. The road to heaven is narrow. That's why we need our brothers and sisters to help keep us on it.

"9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken." - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Taking those we love to the Lord in prayer is an honor. We love them and we would love to help them in any way we can. Yet often we, by ourselves, cannot help our friends and loved ones in the ways that are needed. So we pray. We humble ourselves before the Lord, get down on our knees, and pray.

We Jesus was nearing the end of His ministry He humbled Himself. He got down on His knees and assumed the role of a servant.

"It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
- John 13:1-9

Not everyone likes to be served. Not everyone likes to pray. Not everyone believes in God. Should we then not take them to the Lord in prayer? Should we not become selfless and serve those who cross our paths? How will you love your neighbor today?

What If His People Prayed - Casting Crowns