Monday, March 30, 2015


Since becoming a believer in Christ nine years ago I have learned many amazingly wonderful truths. One of thee most beautiful things I have learned is about the love God has for those He calls to be His children. I have been humbled and blessed to be one He has called. I pray He does the same for my friends and my family members.

My wife and I just got back from a weekend in Michigan with family. On the way back and later in the evening we talked about "family" and the joy that is to be found in a healthy family relationship.

There are many who do not have this in our world. Many who have been orphaned, divorced, estranged, separated, disowned or lost. Families often have clashed, personality traits that don't mix well with others. There are SO many variables that can cause disagreements amongst family and friends.

So what's the difference? Why do some families succeed and others fail? Why do some relationships last a long time and others end like a bottle rocket in the night sky? I believe the answer can be found in the Bible. More precisely, the answer can be found . . . in God.

Look at any failed relationship. What are the basic problems?

  1. Selfishness - Some ONE doesn't get what THEY want. This is where the "irreconcilable differences" phrase comes from in many divorce cases. Basically it's "You don't like the same things as me so we're done.
  2. Abuse - Physical or sexual abuse is just a further extension of selfishness. Someone doesn't get their way and they take it out on another. Not good.
  3. Sexual Infidelity - Someone's not getting what THEY want at home to they go searching elsewhere to find what they want. See #1 above.
I am probably oversimplifying things here but the main problem in most failed relationships is SELF.

So what does the Bible say about such matters? Let's start with the golden rule:

"31 Do to others as you would have them do to you." - Luke 6:31

If we followed this truth alone there would be very few divorces. Very few broken relationships.

Here's another verse that holds the key to successful relationships. Love one another!

"7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God." - 1 John 4:7

And what is the Biblical definition of love?

"4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. " - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is what holds us together. It is essential for our survival. But the love I speak of is not the kind of love the world offers. It's the kind that God offers. The key to this verse is found in verse five above.

Love is not self-seeking.

This kind of love keeps no record of right or wrong. It is not easily angered. It protects. It always trusts, always hopes and ALWAYS perseveres.

Do you have relationship problems? You need this kind of love.. You say you ARE a Christian and are still having relationship problems. You must do YOUR part. You can't change anyone else. Love one another because love comes from God. Pray for those who wrong you. Examine yourself for any wrong-doing. And then pray your butt off because only Christ can save. Give Him control of your relationships. Life other up top Him in prayer. Trust. Hope. Persevere. Love never fails.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Road The Damascus

It seems like every night or so there is a news story about terrorists killing Christians. We act like this is incredibly barbaric, which it is, and we react like these atrocities are something new. They are not. Rewind 2000 years or so. Stephen had just gotten done with an amazing speech to the religious rulers of his time, which started in Acts 7, verse one. It ended in verse 53. By verse 58 the crowd was rather angry, took Stephen outside of the city,  and began stoning him. But this story in not about Stephen.

"58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he (Stephen) called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep." - Acts 7:58-60"58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep." - Acts 7:58-60

Saul was a rather ruthless man and he had a "thing" for persecuting Christians. Kind of like what is going on in the news these days in the Middle East. Early Christians were constantly persecuted and Saul was rather good at it.

In Acts 9 Saul headed for Damascus seeking Christians, people of "The Way," so he could bring them before the religious leaders in Jerusalem. Stoning Stephen was just one of many "treats" Saul had. Saul loves persecuting Christians.

"But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem." - Acts 9:1-2

Saul rather enjoyed what he was doing. One could even say he was obsessed with his persecution of Christians. Again, it sure sounds like something from the evening news these days, but there is something drastically different in Saul's story and his persecution of Christians - the Road to Damascus.

"3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." - Acts 9:3-5

Saul met Jesus and an incredible transformation took place. From that moment on Saul, whose name was changed to Paul by Jesus, began preaching the Gospel rather than persecuting Christians. The difference between our enemies of today and the enemiies of Saul back then  . . . . was Jesus.

What does Jesus ask of us concerning OUR enemies?

"43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[a] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." - Matthew 5:43-48

Only God has the power to change our enemies. There is no treaty, created by man, that will ever work. Not without the approval of God anyway. Only God can change the world in which we live. You and I need to pray.

Here is a question for you. I encourage you to examine yourself. Have you had "a Damascus road moment?" Was there a point in your life where you became transformed? Has there been a Damascus Road moment in which Jesus transformed YOUR life?

Here's another question. Whom are you persecuting today? Think about it. Are you "persecuting" Jesus Christ today by the way you live your life?

Looking at myself, before I had my Damascus Road moment, I WAS living a life contrary to God's will. I was only interested in what I wanted. I was only interested in satisfying MY needs. I was my own worst enemy. I was my own Saul - living a life that would only lead to death.

Pray for yourself today. Ask Jesus to transform YOUR life right now!

You say, I'm a Christian already. Why should I do that?

I examine myself daily to discover areas where I need to be transformed. In many ways I am still walking on that Damascus road, searching for things that I want to do. I need to repent of that, humble myself before God, and ask Him to transform MY life so I can be more like His Son, Jesus.

Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened.
Saul Proclaims Jesus in Synagogues

"For some days he (Paul) was with the disciples at Damascus. 20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ." - Acts 9:19-22

Transform YOUR life today by surrendering it to Jesus. Only God has the power to change lives. What God did for Saul He can do for you. Please, place your faith in Him today.

Homeless Veteran Timelapse Transformation

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Opportunity Costs

"I believe we have TWO lives; the life we learn with and the life we live with after that." - Iris Gaines, The Natural.

That is one of my favorite movie lines of all time. I like it because it is very true. When we are young we make quick decisions, often made without thinking. Decisions made in haste . . . well, let's let King Solomon say it.

"Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way." - Proverbs 19:2

When I was in college, which was a LONG time ago, I learned a few things in my economics class. First, I learned that economics is extremely boring. SO boring was it that the few gems of wisdom that came from that class stuck out like a sore thumb. Like this little nugget . . .

"Everything costs something. They are called Opportunity Costs."

College is a good example of that. When you go to college you give up four years of potential income at a lower paying job in hopes of making more money later on in a higher paying job with a college degree.

Having unprotected, premarital sex is another example of an opportunity cost. Not wanting to "wreck the mood" by stopping and putting on a condom can cost you later. Sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy are just a few of the more visible costs for not thinking before hand.

"28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?" - Luke 14:28

In this last verse Jesus was speaking about the cost of discipleship but the same is true of any decision we make. We need to think about the consequences BEFORE we act. Back to the example of me at college.

I got invited to a party by a few friends. One of the hockey players from the Badger hockey team was going to be there. It was a chance for us geeks to get to go to a really cool party! It was a wapatuli party, where everyone brings some booze. It gets poured it into a garbage can and then everyone drinks from it until they get drunk. I brought a six-pack of Coca Cola. Everyone frowned at me as I was pouring it in.

Then the hockey player showed up. Cool! It wasn't long before I smelled something unusual - marijuana. Even though I did not drink, the booze was legal. I was 18 and so was the drinking age back then. But the pot was NOT legal. I suddenly felt very uncomfortable so I left the party. Amazingly, unknowingly, I was counting the cost and I actually thought about something before it happened.

I'm not going to lecture you about stuff you should already know. But I am going to remind you, because we ALL need to be reminded, that all sin comes with a cost. Sometimes the cost can be extremely high . . . like your soul.

I have personally seen the massive toll left in the wake of a non-thinking person who commits suicide. Yes, that's right, the person who took their life was not thinking. They weren't thinking of the opportunity costs. They were not thinking that their loving mother would be the one to find the body and have an emotional breakdown. Of the person who discovers a once living friend laying on the floor, lifeless.

I have seen unwed mothers trying to raise a kid without the necessary presence of a father, all because they weren't thinking. They were hoping perhaps that the father WANTED to be a father and they would have a happy wonderful family together. Too bad when the guy splits and leaves them both behind. Too late to measure the cost.

But there is still hope for all of us non-thinkers. God still loves us no matter how many times we disappoint Him. He still forgives us. But He only does that IF we repent. IF.

God does forgive. Want proof? Have hope fellow sinners. Read this.

"9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." - 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Verse 11 is gold!!!

Such were some of you. That means that some of those early sinners repented and were saved. Keyword repented. It is possible to live a sin-filled life, repent at the last minute before you die, and be saved. The trick is knowing exactly when you are going to die. And then having enough energy left to pray. Risky.

Hmm. I wonder. Doesn't it make more sense to count the cost, NOW, as Jesus says in Luke? To weigh the opportunity costs, repent of all our bad decisions, and be washed and sanctified in the name of Jesus? I think so. God thinks so. What do YOU think?

Without Repentance A Man Cannot Be Saved - Todd Friel, Wretched TV

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lost Sheep

No one likes confrontation. I certainly don't. But then, I look at the life of Jesus and think, that guy was VERY confrontational! Wasn't Jesus supposed to be the peaceful man who taught us all to turn the other cheek? Yes He was. But He also had a strong love for God, The Father. The money changers and the merchants in the temple certainly would testify that Jesus had great "zeal" for His Father's house, as he turned over their tables and beat them with a whip.

Let me ask you a question. We all have people in our lives that we love. What do you do when you see someone you love doing something dangerous or reckless? Do you say anything to them?

"Johnny! You shouldn't be cleaning out the lawn mower with your bare hands . . . while it is still running!!"

"Umm, the sign says 35 mph for that curve up ahead. You're doing 90!! What do you think about slowing down a bit. Like NOW!!"

Sometimes the things we do are not always so obviously dangerous or stupid. What if you saw one of your friends taking some drugs at a party? Would you intervene? Would you say something? And what if you did? Would they confront you and ask you to butt out of their lives? What would you do?

Here's a tougher question. When you see a professing Christian, a brother or a sister, doing something contrary to God's Word, do you try talking to them? Have you ever tried pointing out someone else's sin? There are verses that tell us we must make sure we are not guilty of our own sins before confronting others. And rightly so. But we sometimes need to go to our brother or sister in love. Read the parable of the lost sheep that Jesus told us in the Book of Luke.

"Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him (Jesus). 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." - Luke 15:1-7

There are several people in my life who have made some not too wise decisions recently. Like myself for example. I have made plenty of mistakes. But then I met this guy named Jesus and things really changed. No, not that fast. I still make mistakes only now I regret them when I do. I feel bad because I know I have disappointed Jesus and that makes me feel sad. After all the things He did for me, I just hate disappointing Him. So I try harder not to disappoint the next time.

I'd like you to read some more words from the Bible. This is John taking dictation from Jesus. Pay attention to this Word of God. This is New Testament truth now.

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
- Revelation 22:14-16

In that passage Jesus tells us who will not be getting into heaven.  The dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters and everyone who loves lying and living a lie.

So who are "the dogs?" According to my study Bible they are "anyone of low moral character, unfaithful leaders, and homosexual prostitutes." Do you know anyone who fits that description? There are plenty of unfaithful "Christian" leaders on TV. They are lost sheep. We need to go after them. We need to pray for them. And they need to repent.

How about sorcerers. Who are they? Anyone involved in "seances, witchcraft, incantations, and cavorting with mediums." You know that movie Ouiga? Yeah, that stuff.

The sexually immoral you can probably figure out for yourself. Just in case, this is from

"In the New Testament, the word most often translated “sexual immorality” is porneia. This word is also translated as “whoredom,” “fornication,” and “idolatry.” It means “a surrendering of sexual purity”, and it is primarily used of premarital sexual relations. From this Greek word we get the English word pornography, stemming from the concept of “selling off.” Sexual immorality is the “selling off” of sexual purity and involves any type of sexual expression outside the boundaries of a biblically defined marriage relationship."

I think just about everyone of us knows someone in these categories. Perhaps it's even ourselves. Are you having pre-marital sex? Do you lie when you speak to people? DO you lie to yourself? Are you in a same-sex relationship? And adulterous affair? Mysticism? Witchcraft? Idolatry? Idolatry is a big one. Probably THEE biggest, most often utilized sin. Are the Packers more important to you than God? March Madness basketball? Writing a blog? The answer should be, and must be, no. Is your wife or husband more important than God? Your father? Your mother? No! Nothing is more important than God. That's what it means when God COMMANDS us, "Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul, mind and strength."

My friends, we are all lost sheep of one sort or another. If you were lost wouldn't you want someone to come after you? And find you? That all depends I guess on who your god is. If it's pornography or drugs maybe you'd just as soon stay lost. That's exactly when Jesus leaves the 99 and comes after you. He loves you and cares about you but you must give up all the stuff that is mentioned here and desire to return to the flock. Otherwise you will be left outside the gate. That translates to your not getting into heaven. Comprende?

If you are lost, please, call for help. Talk to someone. Talk to a pastor, send ME a message. We are all willing to help but we need a clue. We are not mind readers. Send up a flare. We'll see it and respond. God loves you so much! But we must turn from our wicked ways, repent, and follow. Or we, the idolators, the sexually immoral, . . . the dogs, will find ourselves on the wrong side of the gate. Oh, Lord . . . I fall on MY knees and humble myself . . . an unworthy, hopeless soul . . . totally . . . in need of a Savior. In need of a Good Shepherd.

"I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance."

The Lost Sheep (Spoken Word) - Nick Vitellaro

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Be Thou My Vision

The clock may have changed to Daylight Savings Time but it's still pretty dark when I drive to work at 5:00 AM. It's been a while since I have seen the sun in the morning. It's also been a while since I have played any music on the CD player in my car. I usually drive in silence or I drop in a CD from an audio Bible and listen to John or Acts. But the other morning I dropped in an old worship CD I had burned several years ago and was amazed at how the songs seemed so new and fresh.

There was a time in my Christian walk that these songs brought tears to my eyes. Their words reminding me of the goodness of God, His loving promises and, of course, the death of His Son. I love listening to Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art and Great Is Thy Faithfulness. Any of those songs could be played at my funeral and I would be singing along with them from heaven.

The lyrics of one song in particular caught my ear this week. One LINE from that song actually. The song was Be Thou My Vision. It was the very last line of the song. . .

"Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all."

Heart of my own heart - the deepest part of our hearts, our very soul, must belong to God. He has promised us that He will never leave us or forsake us. He loves us unconditionally, eternally and without doubt.

Whatever befall - now matter what happens. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. His love never fails. Love wins. There is nothing we can do that will separate us from the love of Christ.

Still be my vision - This has got to be the key line of the entire song. The writer is singing in the previous words about struggle, pain and all the bad things that can happen to us. Yet the writer is saying he still wants God. God is everything, now matter what happens. It still bothers me that some churches and pastors have "vision meetings." Why? God provides our vision. Not man.

O Ruler of all - Like I just said, God is everything. He is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega. God IS all and rules over all. Nothing happens that is not known to Him. He spoke and heavens were created. One day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

And think about the title of the song - Be Thou My Vision. What if our eyes could see what God sees? What if we knew the causes of a hurting heart? What if our eyes could see the lonely woman contemplating aborting her baby? What if we could see the young man's heart as he puts a gun to his head? What if we allowed our hearts to love like God's heart so we could be God's instruments in this world?

This world needs Jesus. There isn't a single problem that couldn't be solved by having more Jesus in it. The middle east, cancer, suicide, depression, hunger, loneliness, disease. You name it, God can fix it. Would you please pray with me this morning?

Father in heaven, give us your eyes to see the hurting and down-trodden of this world. May WE love them as YOU love them - unconditionally. May you grant us the wisdom and patience and perseverance to see each opportunity that comes our way. And may we ALWAYS share the truth, in love, for those who need to hear it. May your glory be pronounced in every household and in every heart. Lord, please, be our vision as you send us out, messengers of the truth, lights in the darkness - always hoping, always trusting and always loving those whom you place in our lives. May you be praised for YOUR vision. It is ALWAYS perfect. Amen.

Be Thou My Vision - Sandi Patty

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


When you think about slavery, what words pop into your head? Black? White? Abraham Lincoln? Civil War? North? South? Cotton? Plantations? Underground Railroad? Chains? We all have these images in our heads about what slavery is, many of them negative. It was a dark time in our country when people OWNED other people. But today, I think that slavery is just what our country needs.


What did I just say? Do I have your attention yet? Calm down. Let me explain what I mean.

I was listening to a message by Dr. John MacArthur a few days ago (originally broadcast back in 2008) about Slaves. I thought that was a weird enough title for a sermon so I listened to it. Boy, was I glad I did. His message changed my outlook on what it means to be a follower of Christ. I hope it does the same for you. Let's begin this blog post with a little scripture.

"20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." - Romans 6:20-23 KJV

The word "servants" in this passage is from the Greek duolos, or some form of that word. But duolos does NOT mean servant. According to my Greek Interlinear Bible it means . . . slave. There are over 150 uses of the word duolos, or some form of it, in the New Testament. Except when the writer is talking about actual slaves, the word duolus is translated as servant. Question. Why didn't the translators simply say slaves then? Well, perhaps because of the negative connotation throughout history. Who knows. The fact remains that the word "servant" should really be translated as "slave." And that gave me a whole new understanding to my role in God's Kingdom. I am not a servant. I am to be a slave!

What characteristics do slaves have? Well, for one, they have no rights at all. They have been purchased by someone. They follow orders, doing just what their owner demands. Here is a list gleaned from the MacArthur sermon.
  1. Exclusive Ownership
  2. Complete and Constant Availability and Obedience
  3. Subject to One Alien Will
  4. Complete Dependence on the Master for Everything
  5. All Discipline Comes from that One Master
These are characteristics of slaves. But I'd like you to read that list again. Couldn't they also be a list of charateristics for . . . Christians?

Are we "owned" by someone? Yes. "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it." - Psalm 24:1

Are we to be obedient to God? Yes. "If you love me you will keep my commands" - John 14:15

Are we subject to God's will? Mhmm. "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." - Matthew 6:10

Do we depend on God for everything? Yes. "19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:19

Does our discipline come from God? Yes. "It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?" - Hebrews 12:7

Have we been purchased for a price? Yes. "19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price." -1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Servants have options. They can quit their jobs if they want to. They earn a wage. They pay taxes. They are NOT slaves. Being a slave, to Christ, is an entirely different commitment level! This is huge in my eyes. Being a slave to Christ is a MAJOR commitment WAAAAAAY beyond saying a prayer and "accepting Jesus into our hearts." Being a slave to Christ is surrendering all we have - all our possessions, all our rights. It means surrendering control of our very lives. It is surrendering our hopes and dreams for our hope is in Christ, our dreams become God's will. We are nothing. God is everything.

So . . . let me ask you . . . . are you a slave? For Christ? From this day forward, I am.  Lord, help me surrender my WHOLE self . . . to You.

In the movie The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader got down on one knee in front of the Emperor. Vader asked, "What is thy bidding, my Master?" Have we ever asked God that question? Or do we give God a laundry list of requests in our prayers. Perhaps if we became slaves instead of servants we would hear these words from OUR Master.

"Well done, good and faithful . . . slave." - Matthew 25:21

Slaves For Christ - John MacArthur

You Can Have Me - Sidewalk Prophets

Monday, March 16, 2015


If I had to select one word to describe my Christian walk these days it would have to be "frustrating." I never used to feel that way but lately I'd have to say I feel frustrated most of the time. My prayers are deeper, I have more biblical knowledge, I know more about God than I ever did, yet I find myself more frustrated than ever before. Why? That's easy.

I have a tremendous passion for youth - reaching youth, by whatever means necessary for Jesus. My frustration comes with their disbelief. It comes with the hypocrisy I see in their alleged faith in Jesus - telling my they are Christians, all while living as the pagans do. That is VERY frustrating to me.

I love these kids greatly and have been trying to figure out different ways to reach them, all of them. MOST of my ideas fall flat as a pancake. Why? Well, honestly, it's because they are MY ideas, not God's.

It seems as if today's teens are all born with A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder). They are easily distracted and, I believe, it is because they have been raised that way. Subliminally trained in the art of self-distraction. Or better put, self-ALLOWED distraction. Many young adults are afflicted with the same debilitating disease.

The biggest culprit in their A.D.D. training has got to be the "smart" phone. Since its invention back in 1973, our attention has been increasingly diverted to answer the phone. Everyone has a cellphone these days. And everyone snaps to attention as soon as their phone lights up or vibrates itself, pleading for attention. As soon as that signal arrives, our focus switches gears and whatever we were thinking before stops in favor of the new thought - "Someone wants to talk to me." It's all about us these days.

My wife and I went out to dinner with our daughter Saturday night. We went to a local bar and grille - the Saturday night before St. Patrick's Day. Probably not the wisest choice. As we sat there, I saw several people I knew. One kid who used to come to youth group was tending bar. Two others came in with dates. Each of them has tattoos now. I am not preaching today about "the evils of getting tattoos" but the ones I saw were not very Godly and it seems as if tattoos are all the rage these days.

I just shake my head in wonder. Tattoos, piercings. God gave us bodies, bodies He created specifically for us, and somehow we feel the need to customize them. Aren't they sufficient already? This is frustrating to me.

All three of these "kids" are professing Christians. All have been baptized by water. I wonder if the Holy Spirit has made a visit in their lives from what I observe. Nothing says "Jesus" like a tattoo of a skull in the middle of your back. I'm getting off track here.

Frustration is probably not the perfect word of this blog post. Perhaps it should be "Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth" because that is what I am feeling as I watch these young people, and older ones too, walk down a path that leads to destruction.

As a Christian, I am constantly examining myself to make sure I am not straying off the path. If I find anything in question I repent of it and try to change what I am doing. I do not embrace the sin, like I see so many doing these days. Frustrating.

I don't want anyone to think I have everything all figured out. I struggle like everyone else. But I don't want to live in my sin. It offends my God! So I repent. I pray for all of us as we walk through this world - to be in the world but not part of it. I go out of my way to meet with these young adults to remind them WHOSE they are. I ask them questions to make them think. They are the same questions I ask myself.

When Jesus was speaking with his apostles he told them this:

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." - John 15:18-19

That verse reminds me that I was chosen out of the world. I am to be holy as I walk through this place. That means "set apart." I should look different than those who do not believe. I should stand out. I should be different.

I'm just like everyone else. I get sucked into watching movies that are not God-honoring. I have thoughts go through my head that are not very God-honoring as well. They disgust me. I turn the TV off, I clear my head of impure thoughts and fill them instead with scripture. Still I fail. It's frustrating. So what do we do?

We live our lives, we love our neighbors and we continue to walk our sanctification paths towards Jesus. As we go through this world we walk arm-in-arm with our brothers and sisters. We reprove and rebuke like Paul told Timothy to do. We walk side by side, in love, with other believers and hopefully they will do the same with us. In that way we will grow rather than break down, encourage rather than DIScourage. One day we will no longer feel frustrated in our walk but delighted instead. We have been called into God's family. We should act like it.

. . . in my opinion.

But God . . . (those two words are amazing all by themselves) . . . but God has removed my frustration and replaced it with something. More on that next time. Until then, may God enlighten your time in this world - enlighten it with His Word. Read my friends, read. Read out loud!

"4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing."
- 2 Timothy 4:1-8

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Black Hole

Sin is a nebulous thing. We know it exists. There is evidence all around us but often we cannot see it - at least in ourselves. It is just a part of who we are and what we do. But it is in us to be sure; it's biggest proponent, Satan, likes to lurk in the shadows. Sin is like a black hole; a whirlpool of death where things go in but they never come out.

Black holes are thought to "eat" everything around them. They consume entire stars as they get sucked into their murky depths. They destroy.  They literally ARE darkness. Nothing good happens if you get caught in the grip of its pull.

Look at the picture above. Do you see how this black hole looks like a whirlpool? The stars at the outer edges barely know they are in danger. The pull is weak but it is still there. The stars closer to the center are as good as dead. There rapidly increasing journey into darkness is happening quickly. Soon they will be totally dead. Without hope. Without chance of rescue. They are eternally lost; consumed by the darkness that surrounds it. Sad.

Now, let me tell you to Jesus. He is the opposite of a black hole.

"5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." - 1 John 1:5

As I began writing this I was reminded of the story where Jesus walks on the water. Let's read it together and then, as we do so, I will point out a few things that are ALWAYS good to remember.

"22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

"28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus."

Did you catch that? PETER actually walked on water too! But then, just like we ALL do in our "perfect" little lives, we took our eyes of Jesus. And then guess what happens . . .to all of us. We begin to sink.

"30 But when he (Peter) saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”

Christians believe in one God, existing in three separate parts - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus WAS a man but He also was fully God at the same time. When Peter began to sink into the depths of the sea Jesus could easily have lifted His hand and placed Peter in the boat through His supernatural power. Yet, Jesus chose to grab Peter physically. Why? To make a point - a better mental image perhaps of someone actually in the act of physically saving someone else.

"31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” = Matthew 14:22-33

Are you sinking in a whirlpool of darkness right now? Are you caught in the grips of the deep, dark, black hole of sin? I am. We ALL are. So how can anyone of us be saved? Well, we must first do what Peter did. Verse 30. When Peter began to sink, "he cried out, 'Lord, save me."

Have you cried out to Jesus? Have you surrendered your life to Him? Or are you going to keep trying to handle things all by yourself? Guess what. You're going to sink into the darkness just like Peter did. And he was one of the disciples!

Jesus has promised to save us. If we would only cry out. We have to ask. Please, ask Him today. Even if you already believe, ask Him again. Please, cry out to Jesus.

Cry Out To Jesus - Third Day

Thursday, March 12, 2015


When my wife and I were in Upper Michigan this past fall we climbed Sugarloaf Mountain. It's not really a "mountain" but there is quite a view from the top!

On our way up to the top we noticed a tree growing out of a large rock kind of like the one shown below. How in the world could a tree grow right out of the rock like that. Well, go back in time a little bit. That tree wasn't always so large. It once was just a little seedling, searching for a way to grasp hold of the world in which it lives. As a small seed it sent roots out in search for soil, moisture, anything that would give it life. And when it found it in a small crack or opening, the seedling grew and grew into the tree we see today. But look at what happened to the rock along the way. It cracked! And in the future, the rock will totally split apart through outside forces (roots and water, freezing and thawing) that came into the rock, split it and ultimately will divide it.

I would like to use this tree, and the rock it actually caused to split, as an analogy for something very sad that is happening in today's church. Apostasy.

That sounds like such a nasty word. How could anything bad be going on in our churches? That's where God is. Anyone who goes to church is a good person, right? Right?

Let's go back to the beginning of the church. They spent time together exhorting one another in the teachings of Jesus. When anyone preached something different than what Jesus taught they were rebuked and corrected. In the Book of Galatians Paul talked about a time when he rebuked Peter (Cephas).

"11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” - Galatians 2:11-14

Sometimes I think I am too critical of the churches I attend. I analyze every word I hear to make sure it lines up with the truth of God’s Word. I question things. I send e-mails to pastors. But you know something ? I think we are SUPPOSED to do that.

"10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." - Acts 17:10-11

As Christians we are called to “be holy”  (Leviticus 11:44). Holy means “set apart.” Scripture tells us exactly what we are to believe and why. We are not to be adding things or deleting unpleasant scripture because it might be offensive. There are some churches that embrace homosexuality for example, despite it being contrary to God’s Word. This is wrong. When the Pope comes out and says that all sinners, even atheists, can get into heaven, he is sending the wrong message, contrary to the message Jesus brought to his church. Anyone who brings a different Gospel is to be called an antichrist. Am I sawing that the Pope is an antichrist? Yes I am, because he choses to deliver a message contrary to scripture.

"18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour." - 1 John 2:18

If we are to keep the rock, our church, intact throughout the years, we need to keep the trees and the weeds from taking hold in it and breaking us apart. Beware of entertainment in our churches. Examine every word that is preached. Ask questions of your pastor. Pray for your church and its leaders. They have a tough job, they need our help and prayers. Question when the secular world starts wriggling its way in the cracks. Mortar up the beaches in the church walls with the Word of God and hold off the attacks of the evil one who longs to come inside and make YOUR church his own.

This analogy, however, goes deeper than our churches. It applies to our souls as well. We must watch what we allow to enter our thoughts, our conversations, our eyes and our hearts. Every thought must be held captive or those tiny cracks will develop. If we allow sin to get a hold in our lives we will end up split in two, just like the rock my wife and I witnessed.

"19 And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book." - Revelation 22:19

Jesus is the solid rock. There are no cracks in Him. There were and there never will be. Place your trust and hope in Him. In so doing, He will fill the cracks in your life and make you whole in the eyes of God.

On The Solid Rock I Stand

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Commands of Jesus: Do Not Swear

[This is the fifth in a series of articles about The Commands of Jesus.]

This story is NOT about using "colorful" words in our speech. No. This command from Jesus is not to swear as in, "I swear by God in heaven" or "I swear on my mother's grave." It's about being honest and truthful in the things we say.

Do you know people who tell you one thing yet act out another? Maybe they tell you that they are your best friend and then the next day they steal your boyfriend or girlfriend. Would you trust them, even if they swore on a stack of Bibles? Hmm.

Jesus wants us to live honestly and truthfully. Look at the picture above. It was taken in 1985 when Ronald Reagan was "sworn in" as our 40th president. If you examine his life, the fruit of his tree, did he live it honestly and truthfully? Many would say yes. Would he then have really had to "swear" that he would perform his duties? Hmm.

How about you and me? How do WE live our lives? DO we live honestly and truthfully. When we say we are going to do something, do we do it? Is our word our bond? When we promise something to someone, do we deliver?

How about when we get married? Don't we promise God that we will love, honor, cherish and obey our spouses? If we truly lived as Jesus commanded us would be no need for divorce lawyers. There would be no divorces if we lived up to our promises . . . in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer.

33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil." - Matthew 5:33-37

"Do you swear to tell the truth? The WHOLE truth? And nothing BUT the truth? So help you God?" Do you take that approach in how you live your life/ Do you always answer truthfully and never lie? That's what Jesus wants us to do. That is his command to us. He wants our "yes" to be a yes. He wants us to live in such a way so that people will KNOW we are telling the truth because we have always . . . ALWAYS told the truth.

Honesty - Billy Joel

Saturday, March 7, 2015


"Loneliness cries deep from my soul. Keeps trying to tell me about the world growing so cold." - Loneliness, Grand Funk Railroad

Loneliness is something we all experience from time to time. It's not fun. Rarely do we get to experience any enjoyment from "feeling alone." But loneliness DOES happen. Even in this world we live in today we can feel alone despite all the cellphones, internet, Facebook, e-mail, FaceTime, Skype, etc. So why is that? Why do we still feel so alone in a world filled that has more with ways to stay in touch than it ever did?

I think that one reason we can feel so alone is BECAUSE of those means of "keeping in touch." Because it is now so easy to contact other people we seldom venture out of our houses! There is less face-to-face, eye contact conversations.

I had a text conversation with a young lady in our youth group once who texted me one thing when she really meant another. I would ask, "How are you today?" She responded with "Okay." Now, in my mind she was doing good. She was okay. But in HER mind she was having a really bad day and was being sarcastic. Electronic communication in NOT the pace for sarcasm. It is also not the place to "get close" to someone so you can really know them.

When I was a kidI never used the phone much. I'd always get in the car an just drive to someone's house. Gone are the days of ringing someone's doorbell and asking if Johnny can come outside.

But there is a deeper reason we all tend to feel alone. It is the same reason we have always felt alone.

There is a deep, inner yearning that we all have to feel loved. We long to be loved. We have always wanted to be loved since the day we were born, nursed by our mothers, and had our every need cared for. But than inner need for love goes back further than that. It goes back BEFORE we were born. Read what God once told the prophet Jeremiah.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." - Jeremiah 1:5

God knows us and loves us before we are born. Before we were even created we were loved! There is a deep desire in each of us to love and to be loved by others. Sadly, as that old country song goes, we are "looking for love in all the wrong places."

We might like someone at school and think we have found love but earthly relationships can end in failure. Sometimes we want to be loved so badly that we compromise our beliefs and morals to get that love. A young girl finds herself pregnant, the "dad" leaves the picture and suddenly a teenager is raising a baby . . . alone.

The basis for whether or not we feel alone . . . is love. If we are loved and we know it we will never feel alone. Loneliness is nothing more than a thorn in our side, a reminder that we must draw closer to God. Listen to these words from Paul.

"7 Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." - 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Should we find joy in our loneliness? Yes! When we are alone, when we are sad, when are angry, what do we do? We plaster it all over Facebook! WE ARE LOOKING FOR LOVE IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES!! We need to turn towards God. "HIS grace is sufficient."

"My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God." - Psalm 84:2

Our complete and total joy is found . . . in God. Our loneliness disappears . . . in God. Our search for love is satisfied . . . in God. Peace, grace, mercy, compassion, love, companionship, joy, fellowship, completeness . . . are all found in God.

If you are feeling lonely, draw closer to God. If you are feeling hurt and broken,do what I did none years ago . . . cry out to Jesus. You will never be alone again. :)

Cry Out To Jesus - Third Day

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Commands of Jesus: Reconcile

[This is the fourth in a series of articles about The Commands of Jesus.]

There has been a lot in the news lately about the visit of Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his upcoming speech to the United States Congress.

You see, our president didn't invite him, congress did, or more specifically, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner. And now, battle lines are being drawn, several dozen democrats has said they will not attend because Boehner "snubbed" our president. Really? Children!! We must learn to play nice with one another.

I watched Netanyahu's speech to AIPAC the other day. It sounded to me like the Prime Minister of Israel had a better grasp of things happening in the world than our congress does. And he spoke more eloquently and passionately than many of our politicians. It almost sounded like Netanyahu was following the advice . . . of Jesus.

Matthew 5:24

"23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny." - Matthew 5:23-26

God loves relationships. He longs to see everyone in a loving, respectful, sacrificial relationships with one another. He ALWAYS sought after Israel's reconciling themselves to Him. Although He would punish them for a time because of their disobedience and stiff-necked attitude, He always accepted them back. And so it should be in OUR relationships.

I was talking with a young adult last week who said, "Say HI to Katie for me. I miss her." That person needs to look past any present day disagreements, or snubs, and look at the relationships that God has blessed her with. Netanyahu did that in his speech the other day saying "the reports of the demise of the Israeli - U.S. relationship is not only premature, they're just wrong!" We need to reconcile ALL of our relationships . . . today!!

Please, take the time to reconcile your relationships and do so today. Love one another as God first loved us (John 15:12). Doing so will bring glory to God.

Some closing words from Paul . . .

"9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." - Romans 12:9-21

PM Netanyahu's speech to AIPAC

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Commands of Jesus: Rejoice!

[This is the third in a series of articles about The Commands of Jesus.]

Did you watch the Daytona 500 last weekend? The Daytona 500 is the biggest race on the NASCAR calendar. All the drivers hope to one day win that race, and when they do they often celebrate and rejoice afterwards.

We get to see all kinds of celebrations on TV. Many people just watched the Oscars. I guess you could call it a celebration. But everyone was pretty much celebrating themselves.  It was kind of sad really. We all think we know what it means to rejoice but Jesus has a slightly different idea of its meaning. Read this from the Beatitudes, found in the book of Matthew.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." - Matthew 5:11-12

Do we rejoice when other pick on us because of our faith? I sure don't. I tend to get really defensive. Sometimes I am even afraid to say anything about my faith because I know it will make other people uncomfortable. But Jesus said that we are supposed to rejoice in it. Do YOU rejoice in persecution? Do you think the Coptic Christians in Egypt rejoiced when ISIS cut their heads off? Think about it for a moment. Right now the persecution they experienced in this world is over. They are rejoicing with Jesus, right now. Do you think they care anymore about ISIS, about their pain and suffering? They are with Christ!

I'd like to show you one more example of rejoicing from the Bible. It is found in the story about the Prodigal Son. Only this story is not about the son. It is about the father.

"18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." - Luke 15: 18-20

It kind of sounds like the sons father is rejoicing. This story is really a parable about the rejoicing our Father in heaven feels when wee come home to Him.

You can read the whole story here.

As Christians, we are expected to rejoice at the Good News we have received. We should rejoice at being chosen to be a child of God. And we SHOULD rejoice in the persecution we face in this world because, "to live is Christ, to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).

Blessed are we who have made Jesus the Lord of our lives. Blessed are we who face persecution, abuse, teasing, bullying, beatings, whatever, in the name of Jesus. We are not of this world (Romans 12:2). Our reward is in heaven. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! :)

Today Is The Day - Lincoln Brewster

Rejoice - Chris Tomlin 

I Am Second - Trevor Bayne

"4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice." - Philippians 4:4