Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Parable of The Mini Van

When I was growing up my dad bought our family a minivan. It was a great vehicle. We took it on vacations, we hauled autumn's leaves to the dump with it (yes, they were inside the van). We beat the living tar out of that car and it kept on running and serving our family for many years. But I never thought a minivan would teach me a valuable life lesson.

After leaving home as a young man I always made jokes about minivans. I'd say stuff like, "I would never be caught dead in one of those things" or "the only time you'd ever see me in a minivan was if my casket was in the back." You know, encouraging things like that. A little prideful perhaps?

This past week I met with a young couple. They have a young daughter and another child on the way. They currently have no place to stay of their own. They have no vehicle and, until recently, they no jobs. Times were tough. But God is doing an amazing things in their lives.

A while ago the young mom, a former youth group kid, reach out to me. She was in need of some food. Then earlier this year there came another reaching out. This time for housing. And now this week came another need - transportation to get to those jobs. All these things, opportunities to serve, were directed towards me.

But who am I? Some might say "He's an easy target." My reply to that would be, "I'm more like a willing servant."

This morning in my prayers it occurred to me just what was taking place here. It's not about me and me swallowing my pride to buy a minivan. It's about Jesus. It's ALWAYS about Jesus. This is a freaking parable!!

All of humanity is represented by this young couple. We are ALL in need of a savior, so we reach out in desperation! We reach out in hopes that someone can save us.

In this parable of the minivan I suddenly find myself in a role that is WAY above my pay grade - playing the role of Christ in someone's life. No pressure, right? Oh, dear Lord! How incredibly humbling.

"Who am I Lord, that you should be mindful of me?" - Psalm 8:4

Purchasing a minivan for someone is a small, earthly gesture compared to what Jesus did for us on the cross.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." - Mark

Lord, you came to our rescue what you willingly died for us. You gave us everything we ever needed that day on the cross. May we shine brightly, reflecting the love You gave us, into the lives of ALL we meet. We reach out in desperation to you, Lord. We thank you and praise you for reaching YOUR hands . . . on the cross.

Mighty To Save - Hillsong

Monday, August 28, 2017

Supply Lines

Every day we get up out of bed and face a new day. Some people bounce right out of bed, excited for what lies ahead. Then there's me. I no longer "bounce". It's more of a "creak".

We all have to get up sooner of later and, when we do, what do we do? Many head right for the coffee pot. Gotta wake up, right? I head for the bathroom. Others turn on the computer (me) or the television. Many check their phones. What do you do?

 We all are connected to something. Something that gets us, and keeps us, going. Sometimes that connection is good. Sometimes we plug ourselves into something bad. What do we do if we become addicted to something sinful or evil? Well . . .

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell." - Matthew 5:27-30

In our battle against the enemy - Satan - we must constantly examine ourselves and our defenses. Where are we prone to sin? Where are we straying off the path? All of us need help in this area.

Take a close look at the picture to the left. What can you discover about it? Well, it's a black and white photo so it was taken before the 1960's when color photography became popular. The soldier in the foreground (a German Nazi) tells me this was taken in World War II. And indeed, this is a picture of a German supply line heading for the Eastern Front.

One of the tactics our enemy Satan uses is to get us addicted to something so our focus is taken off God and placed on ourselves. We become obsessed with OUR desires rather than God's. My question this morning is, "What are our sinful supply lines?"

For some it might be alcohol. Others might get consumed by gambling, pornography or work. Maybe it's idolatry - like worshiping our phones. When that happens, when we lose our focus on God, we lose ourselves in the process.

So, what can we do about our sin? Our temptations? Our addictions? We need to do what the guy in the picture of this de-railed train did. Destroy the enemy supply lines. Cut off the supply of alcohol. Get some help through Christian addiction counseling like Alcoholics Anonymous. Don't drive by the liquor store on your way home from work. Get rid of it, cut it off, whatever it is that supplies you. Then fill that void in your life with Jesus.

Turn off your television. Don't go to that party. Turn off the computer. Quit staring at the woman at work with the big boobs. And those are just some of the obvious things we can do to break up the enemy's supply lines to our soul. And turn of that phone! Then, we can go on the offensive by augmenting our supply lines that come from God.

Read your Bible more, listen to messages from trusted pastor on YouTube. Christian music can uplift the soul, not through the melody but through the words. Remember what "Supply Chief" John the Baptist said,

30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth." - John 3:30-31

We must attack the enemy supply lines to our hearts. God lives there! Our heart is HIS temple. Close the doors to sin. Blow up the bridges the enemy uses to supply the war Satan is waging on you and on God. We must emerge victorious in our daily battle with Satan. He is very good at what he does. But God is better. WAY better.

I leave you today with these words of advice from 70's folk singer John Prine.

"Blow up your TV, throw away your paper
Go to the country, build you a home
Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches
Try and find Jesus on your own."

Amen! And pass the ammunition!

Spanish Pipedream - John Prine

Saturday, August 26, 2017

War Of Souls

What I am about to tell you is only known to a few. It is not a secret in the traditional sense – something kept quiet by a few “in the know” people. Rather, what I am about to tell you is more of an undiscovered millennia-old truth that lies hidden in plain sight. Are you  ready? We, my friends, are in a war.

I’m not talking about our nation’s presence in Afghanistan or Syria. Nor am I talking about all the terrorist activities we’ve been seeing around the world and in our own backyard. This war is waged in the realm of the unseen and . . . the un-dead.

Here's what I mean.

In any war there are usually two sides - us against them, back against white, rich against poor, slave against free. Even the Bible seems to tell us that. Read this words from Jesus.

"Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." - Matthew 12:30

Are you with Jesus?

Did you know that you and I are living in enemy territory? It's true. We are living behind enemy lines. In the following text, Paul tells Christians of his days that they used to be held by the enemy - the ruler of the kingdom of the air. That's Satan. He's the general of the opposing army.

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved." - Ephesians 2:1-5

We were born behind enemy lines, living in sin. Our soul belonged to Satan so to speak because it didn't belong to God. But God is a far better general than Satan. He sent His Holy Spirit to rescue us and wake us up from our "slumber". Now, as we fight our way through enemy territory, when we "cross over" to God's side, our eyes are opened and we can see the battle field for what it is.

What used to be so comfortable for us now gives us chills. We look at people we don't know with caution. Remember, whoever is not with God is against Him. And that is our challenge as soldiers in Christ's army. God wants us to interact with the enemy soldiers of this world and share the good news with them.

God's side is the winning side in the end. And Jesus is the one we follow. And for those who think that Jesus is just a wimpy, peaceful God who wants you and needs you, read this:

"11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True (That's Jesus). With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

king of kings and lord of lords.

We ARE at war. Whose side are YOU on? You and I have been given a mission. To go back, behind enemy lines and tell Satan's prisoners of war about our King - Jesus. We must tread cautiously because "the world" hates us, but in we must go. We have been commanded to do so . To rescue those whose desire is to harm us.

"15 If you love me, keep my commands." - John 14:15

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

You and I were once prisoners of war. God set us free. He saved us and then He trained us. We are now His. He equipped us with His weapons - a double-edged sword, which is the Word of God, and He gave us love, which is our battle plan. Let our love be the proof, the proof of YOUR love, Lord.

The Proof Of Your Love - For King and Country 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Thousand Words

It is said that a picture is worth 1,000 words. What do you think? I think it's most definitely true. At least 1,000 words. I also think that in some pictures we can see into the future. Look at this picture for example. What do you think is going to happen in the next few minutes after Santa asks this little boy what he wants for Christmas?

When the apostle Paul was in prison near the end of his life, he wrote a few letters to his young protégé, Timothy. In his second letter Paul used some important word pictures to get a message across about how Timothy should pursue his faith in Jesus. Open your Bibles to 2 Timothy 2 and let's read part of that letter beginning in verse one.

"You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others." - 2 Timothy 2:1-2

Paul calls Timothy his son. They must be very close. Paul wants Timothy to carry on in his absence, teaching others. Paul was in prison and about to die. The word pictures begin in the third verse.

"Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus." - 2 Timothy 2:3

What words come to mind when you think about a soldier? Honor, Duty, Bravery, Sacrifice, Strength, Courage. Paul wants Timothy to be all these things . . . for God.

There are other word pictures in 2 Timothy 2. Six of them to be exact. Here they are.

A Soldier - 2 Timothy 2:3-4
An Athlete  - 2 Timothy 2:5
A Farmer - 2 Timothy 2:6
A Worker - 2 Timothy 2:15
A Vessel - 2 Timothy 2:21
A Servant - 2 Timothy 2:24

Paul wanted Timothy to have the characteristics of all these. WE are to be like all these as well. We are to train ourselves like an athlete, plant seeds and water "the crops", we are expected to work hard for the Lord and be a vessel containing God's Word and His Holy Spirit. And we are to be a servant . . . a slave, and God is our Master.

Are we all those things? We should be.

I don't think I spend enough time training myself for battle or living like a slave with God as my Master and I am His servant. I need to spend more time living like Paul who spent his last days living in chains because he refused to change his ways. He refused to stop preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are followers of Christ, not the world or the church or some preacher. We are followers of Jesus. Are we following? Are the images we are creating in other people's minds about the way WE live, are they God-honoring images?

May we walk through this world as followers of Jesus Christ, not Joel Osteen, Deepak Chopra or anyone else. We are followers of Christ! Let's take Him by the hand and walk.

Walk With Me - Jesus Culture
10,000 Reasons - Matt Redman

Monday, August 21, 2017

My Depression Cure

It never fails. When ever I am feeling down or depressed, or feeling sad in some way, there is a cure I have discovered that will snap me right out of the lowest possible funk. Want to know what it is? I bet you do. So would half the people on the planet.

Well, the solution, at least for me anyway, is rather easy. Here is my simple four-step program for getting rid of depression.
  1. Become a Christian. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit." - John 3:6. This is essential to combating depression (in addition to a ton of other amazing things). Why? See reason #2.
  2. Receive God's Holy Spirit. When you do you become changed . . . well, things change! Your whole LIFE changes! "the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one" - 1 Corinthians 12:7
  3. Receive your spiritual gift and the "fruit of the spirit". Everybody gets at least one gift. What's yours? We all receive the fruit of the spirit. That is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control." - Galatians 5:22-23 but what is your gift?
  4. Find a place to use that special gift for God's glory. Not your glory, God's glory. "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace". - 1 Peter 4:10
That's it!

Now I know that many people suffer from depression. I'm not saying this will cure everybody. After all, Charles Spurgeon, the "prince of preachers", suffered from depression. I don't mean to make light of the condition in any way, but my depression cure really does work. At least it does for me.

By becoming a Christian we are supposed to humble ourselves and become a servant to God and to others. We are to place everyone's needs above our own. There should be no thinking of ourselves or our condition.

When we receive God's promised Holy Spirit we DO become changed. We actually WANT to be humbled. We want to grow closer to God and to serve Him. And to know that God loves us and knew us in our mother's womb . . . how can we be depressed when we remember that!

Using our spiritual gifts to honor God is tremendously uplifting. My gift, for example, is the gift of mercy. When someone is hurting my first instinct is to come along side them and walk with them through whatever storm they might be going through. Need someone to talk to? I'm there. Need some food? Let's go to the store. I try to honor God by serving others in this way. It makes me feel good.

I use my spiritual gift at work, I use it at home, I use it at Ruby's Pantry where I volunteer each month. What about you? Where and how do use YOUR spiritual gift(s).

Do you have the gift of leadership or teaching? Perhaps you should lead a Bible study or teach Sunday school. The gift of service can be used in many places. Find your gift and use it . . . for God.

A pretty good listing of spiritual gifts can be obtained by reading Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. Check it out. You might just find you don't feel so bad after your done reading. :)

Discovering Your Spiritual Gift - Pastor John MacArthur

Saturday, August 19, 2017

I Died This Week

On my way home from work Thursday night I had an opportunity to relive the head-on, roll-over car accident I had in May. I was nearly home when a small red car drifted into my lane as it was coming towards me. Four or five FEET into my lane. I swerved onto the shoulder and avoided that accident. That was good. Then something interesting happened.

I didn't talk much at home that night - reflecting on what could have been. That near crash effected me more than I thought it would have. My wife was concerned. So was I. Then yesterday morning on my way to work I turned on the radio and was listening to a message by Chuck Swindoll. It was entitled, "What If You Were To Die Tonight?" Can you sense an underlying theme taking shape here?

Pastor Swindoll related the story that Jesus told his disciples about Lazarus and the rich man. You can read it here:

The Rich Man and Lazarus

I found it interesting that in verse 31 Jesus said, "they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead". And that is exactly what Jesus did . . . and He was right - many did not listen to Him.

What this near-accident event did was it got me thinking. Is God trying to tell me something? Or is Satan trying to stop me from doing something? I don't know the answers to those questions. I know that I am more appreciative of life after this recent reminder. I told my wife and friends at work that I love them. But I think there is more to it than that.

If this second "vehicular encounter" WAS a message of some sort, what am I supposed to be hearing? What am I to glean from this reminder? Well, this is what I got out of it.
  1. Life is precious. Treat it that way. Don't spend your life pursuing unworthy things. Life is a gift!
  2. Life is fleeting. Don't waste a minute of it. If you have something to do, get after it. Time is short.
  3. Life is for living. Don't spend your time wasting the very thing God has given you. Live it for Him! Return to God the same thing He gave you. Life! Give yours to Him today.
  4. Life is for loving. The world needs gallons and gallons of love and each of us is a drop in that bucket. Love someone today! "Not as the world loves but as Christ loved us." - Ephesians 5
Yesterday at work I hugged as many people as I dared too. I also told them that I loved them. They may have thought I was weird or looked at me strangely but they also knew that I loved them. And maybe that's it. Maybe that's the whole point of this story. To spread the love of Jesus Christ in ALL situations and in all places. We sure could use it with all of the tragic events happening lately.

Here's a question for you. When each of us dies one day, how will we be described at our funerals?

"He was a good man. He loved his wife and was a good father to his children." Will that be it? I hope not. Let us be known as people who loved the Lord . . . with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Let it be said of us that we loved our neighbor, looked after the widow and the orphan.

We can best live by dying. Sound confusing? It's not. My sinful nature died a little this week as I was reminded of life's fragile nature. May the part of us die that keeps us from closely following Jesus and let the part of us that loves others grow and flourish.

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels - a plentiful harvest of new lives." - John 12:24

The Blessing - John Waller

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Nightly News

There is an old saying that goes, "No news is good news." These days, watching the local or national news at night, I'd have to say that's true. There is nothing good, it seems, on the evening news. And what's there when we DO watch it, is it REALLY "news" at all?

My wife and I just got done with a wonderful vacation. Most of the time we spent together was filled with walking and shopping, eating and moaning (after all the food we ate). There was no news. And we had a wonderful time!

Still, just because there is no news in our lives doesn't mean stuff wasn't going on. When we got back we heard all about the mess in North Carolina - protests, fights, shootings, damage to historic monuments. All a rather disgusting display of humankind. We were not made for this!

I am just entering the Book of Jeremiah in my reading. Chapter One begins wonderfully - a description of how God called Jeremiah.

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart." - Jeremiah 1:4-5

Wonderful words from God to Jeremiah. The next several chapters however feature anything but love and praise from God. The headings in my Bible read, "Israel Forsakes God, Unfaithful Israel, Disaster From The North, Not One Is Upright." Am I watching the nightly news here?

What we are seeing happening around us is nothing new to God. We have been a disobedient people since Adam and Eve. There are SOME good people around us, but there are not enough of them.

"Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest." - John 4:35

There is not one of us that couldn't use a little more Jesus in our lives. Sure, some could use an extra portion or two, so let's do something about it. Let us pray for this nation. Let us pray for humanity. That we might ALL become more knowledgeable in the ways of the Lord so that things might go well with us as a people. Because things are not going well right now, and things will likely get worse.

"1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." - Psalm 121:1-2

The Man and The Birds - Paul Harvey

Monday, August 14, 2017

Good Samaritan

It seems like these days there are fewer and fewer examples of what Jesus called "The Good Samaritan". Someone stopping to help someone else. But I saw one on Mackinac Island this past week. I saw the whole thing.

It started off with a mother of four trying to get all her kids on their rented bikes. Where the dad was, I have no idea. She was buckling helmets and putting water bottles in baskets. Her own bike was heavily laden with a diaper bad, purse, her own bicycle helmet, and a map.

She was just about done buckling the last of the kid's helmet when her own bicycle fell over into the street. Her stuff flew everywhere but she kept working on her kids, getting them ready.

Now the Mackinac Island road that runs in front of our B&B is a busy street. There are horse-drawn carriages and bikes flying by all throughout the day. Everyone kept speeding right by, swerving to avoid all of her spilled items.

As I watched from our room, a man slowed and then stopped. He picked up the lady's bike and set it back on the sidewalk. He then went out into the street and picked up all of her stuff. The lady didn't even notice him at first. She was still busy with her kids.

When she finally turned around the man was getting back on his bike to resume his travels. She looked at her bike and then at the man. Then, running towards him, I could read her lips, "Thank you!" as the man rode off.

The world is filled with bad examples. There are plenty of people with bad manners and think more highly of themselves than they do of others. It is refreshing to see an example of Christ-likeness walking the earth from time to time and it restores our faith in . . .


I was going to say it restores our faith in mankind but I don't think that's right. This example reminds us how we ALL should act. It demonstrates how the world would be if we "did unto others as we would like to have done to us."

Everyone should be a good Samaritan. There should be no exceptions. But we do not live in a world where we all believe the same way. There are criminals, terrorists, we are "inventors of every kind of evil" according to Paul in Romans 1.

No, faith in humanity is not something to be desired. Faith in Christ, however, is the only faith that saves and restores. There are millions of people in this world. Many do not believe in The One True God OR Jesus. But, what if they did? Imagine the love and peace that would fill the world!

Paul finishes his letter to the Romans in chapter eight and begins it this way . . .

"8 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." - Romans 8:1-6

Good Samaritans Compilation

Saturday, August 12, 2017


Every once in a while we meet someone who changes our lives. As we watch them living their own lives they make us stop and think about how we are living OUR lives. They encourage us in some way. They can even make us alter how we walk with Jesus. One of those people, for me anyway, lives on Mackinac Island. Her name is Rosie.

My wife and I recently spent several days on Mackinac Island. We go there every four or five years, usually on milestone anniversaries or on special occasions. When we go to "the Island" we usually stay at the Bay View B&B. If you ever find yourself on Mackinac Island needing a place to stay, we'd highly recommend it. But back to my story.

We first became aware of Rosie about ten years ago. I was new in my walk with the Lord and was struggling to find a reason to enjoy being in a place that speaks "money". Huge houses, expensive yachts, the Grand Hotel are prominent features on Mackinac Island. We were just about to eat breakfast when I heard a voice singing in the kitchen. It was Rosie, although we didn't know it at the time.

"What was she singing?" I wondered, as I listened and ate my breakfast. Then I heard something familiar. Something angelic. It was a hymn. She was singing a hymn! Suddenly life on the island began to take on a whole new meaning. God had provided "the voice of one crying out in hte wilderness". That was lesson number one I learned from Rosie. Rejoice in the Lord, no matter where you are or what you are doing. Rejoice!

"4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:4-8

Rosie does just about everything at The Bay View. She cooks and bakes, she waters the plants. We even watched her heft our huge suitcase onto a bicycle to be taken to our boat! But the most memorable moment with Rosie was the day before we left when we talked about our faith in God on the front porch. That was special.

She shared how she had been adopted at a young age by a relative who was also a minister. After our talk I began to reflect on how ALL believers are actually adopted sons and daughters and just how special that is.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved." - Ephesians 1:3-6

I always enjoy how God brings people together for His ultimate glory and not always in the way we expect. But always in a way that is memorable. For example, one morning I had gone downstairs, hoping to speak to Rosie, but she was gone. Instead there was one of her helpers in the kitchen - Geneen.

Geneen is from Detroit. I asked her if she was there earning money for school. She said no - that she was from Detroit and was hoping to build a community center for her troubled city. What an amazing thing for a young person to want to do. And God had placed her at the Bay View under the watchful eye of Rosie - a willing mentor.

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

Rosie, you are an amazing woman. Your faith springs forth like rays of sunshine after a rain. You mentor the young ladies who work with you, you are are a humble servant just like Jesus was, and you touch people, like you did me, simply through the sound of your voice singing God's praises.

Before we left the island, Rosie, my wife and I exchanged hugs. She called me "baby" and called my wife "baby girl". I simply call her amazing . . . and "sister". Love you Sis. :)

Amazing Grace - Anne Murray

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What Do We Say?

Facebook is a window through which we are allowed to see into the lives of other people. At least we see as much of their lives as THEY want us to see. Sometimes . . . often times . . . we see MORE than we want to see.

Should we do anything when we see somebody saying something demeaning on Facebook - kipping someone apart publicly for example. That's not on the list of "Best ways to win friends and influence people."

And what do we do when we see someone who professes a faith in Christ acting contrary to God's beliefs. What should be do then? Should we say nothing? Should do anything at all?

Well, it never hurts to pray. Praying is the first and best thing we can do for our friends and relatives in need.

Let's say someone in our family doesn't know Jesus. How do we talk to them about Him? How do we approach the topic? Or what if someone is caught in sin and refuses to repent? What do we do? Anything?

After we're done praying, before we do anything at all, we should take a good long look at ourselves. Where are WE sinning? What are WE doing that might warrant someone else talking to US?

I saw a Facebook post recently by a young friend of mine who asked an interesting question - very similar to what I am asking today.

"Is it better to lose a friend for being honest, or to hide something and keep your friend?"

What would you do? What would JESUS do? Well . . . the woman at The Well found out.

"16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” - John 4:16-18

Jesus just caught her in sin - having sex outside of marriage.

I think we have a certain biblical responsibility if see another Christian sinning. See Matthew 7:3-5

"first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

But as for the non-believer, all we can do is pray. We are not to judge them. We are to leave that up to Jesus. However, we CAN confront them in an evangelical effort.

I guess what I am trying to say is PRAY first in all situations. Speak lovingly to a brother or sister if, after careful examination, if feel they are sinning. Love the unbeliever by asking them questions, just as Jesus did with The Woman At The Well

Remember, they will know we are Christians . . . by our LOVE. Let us love one another as Christ loved us when WE first came to believe.

By Our Love - For King and Country

Walking The Path - Morpheus, The Matrix

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Parable of The Faithful Servants

UPS delivery on Mackinac Island
As my wife and I sat eating our dinner in one of the many downtown restaurants on Mackinac Island I was impressed be the faithful behavior of two of the animals we saw.

One was an old, grey-muzzeled black lab who was walking along the sidewalk with his master. The leash was limp. There was no need for it really. Wherever his master went, he went. Whenever his master stopped, so did he. The dog was an amazing example of obedience.

The second example was a pair of horses hooked up to a freight wagon in front of our restaurant. Their driver was loading up empty LP tanks which the horses would then be hauling somewhere to be filled.

The horses just stood there, patiently. There were hundreds of people and bicycles flying around them in every direction, yet they stood still. Just their tails and heads moved to swat away the occasional fly.

When the load was ready the driver climbed aboard and with a quick click of the tongue and a tap with the reins, the horses were plodded off, pulling the wagon down the street. They had clearly done this before. They new the drivers commands and the obeyed.

Can we say the same in our obedience to God's commands? Are we always that obedient as we wait for God to answer our prayers or to tell us what He'd like us to do in a certain situation? Yeah, probably not.

I think we have a lot to learn from the example of obedient animals.

When the dog lies down at night he is fed and petted on the head. The horse is fed his oats and watered. They are both excellent examples of obedience. Their masters are also excellent examples of our Father in heaven - caring, loving and appreciative as they guide and train. So God is with us.

There are all kinds relationships. Husband and wife, the relationship between two best friends, the relationship between a servant and his master. Our relationship with God is ALL those things. May our relationships with Him be one of love, respect, obedience and faithfulness. If it is, our relationships, ALL relationships, will flourish.

"But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.' - Jeremiah 7:23

Obedience - An Essential Part of The Christian Life - Sade Burrell

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Only The Young

I have had this Journey song in my head for the past several days now. Usually, in order to get the song out of this ancient brain of mine, I simply play the song and it leaves . . . but not this time. The chorus just keeps echoing, over and over again. "Only The Young Can Say." So I began searching for a meaning to this madness. I found it in John 3 when Jesus told Nicodemus, "You must be born again."

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ - John 3:6-7

When we are born again we become a new creation. We become young once more.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." - 1 Corinthians 5:17

What is it like to become new again? To become changed? What is it like to have God's Holy Spirit living inside you? So many questions! But guess who has the answer?

"Only the young can say." Only those who have been truly born again can really say for sure.

Hmm. The song is still rattling around in my head. Maybe there's something else I missed? Hmm, as the song winds down we hear these amazing words of theological wisdom from Journey, "Is it heaven or hell? They know very well. Only the young can say . . ."

God's children DO know very well, if it is going to be heaven or hell. IF we truly believe, the answer is . . .heaven!

This week at work my friend and I have been talking about some of the young adults in our lives. We see them making rash decisions, having sex outside of marriage, doing drugs, getting drunk - and many of these "children" profess a faith in Christ. Yet, they don't act like it. Again I hear those words echoing in my head.

"Is it heaven or hell? They know very well."

Do they REALLY know? When someone becomes born again there is a change! There has to be! We just read about that in 1st Corinthians. The new has come, the old self is supposed to die. IF we remain unchanged after saying we believe, is that cause for concern? I think it is.

There are several possibilities for why we might remain unchanged after professing a faith in Jesus.
  1. Lack of Biblical knowledge. We don't know we've been changed. We repented of our sins and placed our faith in Christ but then no one is there to tell us what to do next. We say we believe but then we backslide into who we used to be. The pull of the world is too great and we get sucked back into it. We forget about Jesus as He gets pushed aside for our worldly desires.
  2. We walk away from God. Something happens in our lives. A death perhaps or some other really bad event, that makes us wonder if God really loves us or even cares about us. "How could God let my grandma die?"
  3. We get lost in religion. If we've been going to church "all of our lives" but have never fully trusted in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, have we become lost in the very thing that we thought was supposed to save us. God hates our vane repetitions in church (Matthew 6:7-9). Jesus detested the religious leaders of His day (Matthew 23).
  4. We never really believed in the first place. I had a kid once tell me that the reason they got baptized was "because everyone else was doing it and they didn't want to stand out" as someone who didn't "go along." That is not a valid reason!
Jesus told us that we must change and come to Him like little children. What did He mean when He said?

"3“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 18:3-4

Is our heart born again? Are we young, as a child, in God's eyes - our faith unobstructed by a "worldly" world view? This is important stuff here! It's heaven or hell, remember?

May we all approach God with a childlike heart and a faith that is not filled with conditions or laws. God is our Father, in heaven, and we are His children. Should we act like it then? No. We shouldn't be acting! Our faith should be real! God loves us . . . massively! Can we say that we love Him the same way? Like He is everything to us? Who can possibly live a life like that!?!

Only the young can say.

Only The Young - Journey

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Right Thing

Lewis Hamilton
This past Sunday my wife and I witnessed something that we humans never get to see much of these days - someone displaying integrity, sacrifice, honor and gratitude in a world where all four of those things are in short supply.

This public example happened on the very last lap of the Hungarian Grand Prix as the third place car, driven by three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, slowed and allowed his teammate to pass him on the very last corner.

Formula One is all about glitz and glamor. It's all about the rich, and partying and spending millions of dollars just so one team can beat another. It's all about winning. Everything that the world says is good. It's the last place you'd expect to see an example of sacrifice, one man giving up HIS interests for those of another.

There are two teams battling for the top spot in Formula One this year - Ferrari and Mercedes. The teams compete in a Constructors Championship and the drivers compete for the individual drivers championship. The team comes first. The number one driver (Lewis Hamilton, in this case) gets priority over the number two driver (Valteri Bottas) who is often asked to slow down and let the number one driver past. Sadly, that very thing happened on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton leads Valteri Bottas
Each team consists of two drivers and both Ferrari drivers were in the lead on Sunday. The Mercedes number two driver (Bottas) was third and their number one driver (Hamilton) was fourth. Part way through the race the Mercedes number two driver slowed and allowed his teammate to pass him - giving up a certain podium finish as he did so. All this to allow his teammate a chance for victory.

Wow. Talk about sacrifice!

But the neither of the Mercedes cars was a match for the two Ferarris that day and Lewis Hamilton was going to have to settle for third. But instead he mysteriously slowed down in the last corner, allowing his teammate to pass him. By doing this he basically was saying, "Thank you for your sacrifice so that I had a chance to win.

Wow. What an example of gratitude and maturity. Placing the interests of someone else ahead of his own. What an example of Jesus and what our response to the Gospel should be!

Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross so that WE might have a chance for victory - forgiveness of sin, eternal life, no more pain or suffering. Victory! How should we respond?

In light of what Jesus did for us, what do you see in this example of Lewis allowing his teammate to pass? What should OUR response be to what Jesus did for us as He sacrificed His life?

For me it is to offer MY life as a sacrifice for Him. I see a responsibility in my response to the cross to lay down my life for the one who sacrificed Himself for me. That is what Christianity is about - obedience, sacrifice, mercy and grace.

My wife and I love to hate Lewis Hamilton. He always does well and usually wins his fair share of races. We have always cheered whenever he fails to finish a race. We have loved it where he doesn't win. But all that changed on Sunday with one act of doing what was right.

Each of us must respond to the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. It is right and honorable to do so. The question is will we make that response before the end of OUR race here on earth. Or will we cross the finish line of life without recognition of the One who sacrificed Himself on our behalf?

"12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." - Romans 12:1-2

At The Cross - Chris Tomlin
Lewis Hamilton Post Race Interview