Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Most of us realize when we purchase a car, that it won't just run indefinitely just by fueling it up. We have to also maintain it. If we don't, it won't be long before the engine stops working or the brakes fail.

The most routine maintenance, and yet the most vital is a regular oil change! It is recommended every 3,000 miles or up to 5,000 for the newer synthetic oils. If we are not diligent to check our milage, the old dirty oil will eventually give out and our car's engine will seize up.

Imagine a car with a permanent oil change!

Bring it in ONCE - whether you drive the car 50,000, 100,000 or 200,000 miles, you will never have to change the oil again! It would revolutionize the auto industry and make a lot of busy car owners very happy!

God presents us with a similar offer for our hearts!

I WILL GIVE YOU A NEW HEART AND PUT A NEW SPIRIT WITHIN YOU; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Hebrews 8:10


Having a new heart means much more than we may often realize! It is not a fresh start, a blank check or God completely erasing the blackboard of our lives. Those who have received new hearts from God know that it will not be long before the blackboard needs to be erased again!


That's right - you will never have to change your heart again! We could get into semantics about what the heart means. Most are aware that we do not mean the physical organ that pumps blood into our arteries. It can be confused with our feelings, emotions or intuition, i.e. the expression "My heart is saying..."

For our purposes, we are discussing the innermost being, or the spirit, of man. The Bible declares that the heart of every fallen man is DEAD - not sick, inferior or faulty - but DEAD! All men may not be serial killers but all will naturally rebel against God and His ways. In fact, we cannot even understand His ways! No wonder the world is in such a mess!

The Bible uses words such as rebirth, regeneration, made alive and salvation to describe the experience of BEING GIVEN A NEW HEART FROM GOD.

Even as Christians, we often speak of "our hearts not being right with God" or "sin was in my heart." But sin can never exist in the new heart! The new heart that God gives us is perfect, sinless and immune and impervious to evil!

Then why do we still stumble once we have this new heart?

It is because we still follow wrong thinking, we still believe the wrong things or we still allow the desires of our flesh to rule over us.

This is why Paul encourages us to straighten out our thinking:

6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
Romans 6:6-7, 11-12

If we have truly been given these new, regenerated hearts, we will sin but our hearts will always be in tune with God's heart!

2 Corinthians 5:17-18a

We Christians are always trying to change our hearts. There is no need - they have already been permanently changed by God forever. There is no routine maintenance needed - ever! Once we have truly received the new heart, we should no longer think of ourselves as being bad by nature!

We now have to learn how to feed our new hearts with God's Word and allow God to grow the fruit of His Spirit in our hearts. We must learn to reject wrong thinking and follow God's ways. We might still allow bad people, ideas or habits into our lives if we are Christ's, but we are now free to reject them!

I remember a pastor saying years ago, "There's no such thing as a bad Christian!"

Of course, this truth can be misused as an excuse to justify sin. God said that a good tree bears good fruit. Bad trees can imitate good fruit and good trees can still be in a stage of growth where their fruit is not budding yet.

Some trees look ready to die but can be revitalized because their roots are still alive!

Once God has planted the seed of the new heart in us, we are God's children by nature. We may have to reevaluate our spiritual nutrients at times or rid ourselves of weeds or harmful insects but our hearts are now, by nature, one with God - and that can never be changed!

3 As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature...
2 Peter 1:3-4a 

If you have already received that new heart from God, the next time you find yourself caught up in sin or have drifted away from following God, do not seek a new heart. Instead tap into the life that God has already placed there. Feed it, cultivate it and remove whatever is blocking the sun!

If you agree, disagree or would like to add an insight or comment…

Thursday, October 24, 2013


The early church had few resources but had great power.

How did they do it? They had no computers, tablets or smart phones, yet thousands were saved at a time as they preached the gospel. Multitudes were healed and filled with the Holy Spirit! They did have one resource that made them so powerful:

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And THEY REALIZED THAT THEY HAD BEEN WITH JESUS.
Acts 4:13

They had been with Jesus!

How wonderfully simple and yet, profound - THEY HAD BEEN WITH JESUS!

Can it be that the key to an overcoming Christian life be that simple for us today?

Religious activity does not automatically impart power to us - unless we make contact with Jesus!

There are many theological experts who know the words of the Bible inside and out - but do not know Jesus.

Many in the world pray profusely and consistently - but do not know Jesus.

Bible study and prayer are only effective if they are a means to an end. That end must be to make contact with The Living God! That is not to say that seeking God is never a discipline or will always yield a spectacular, personal visitation from Jesus. But our mindset in seeking Him must lead jus to Jesus!

This quest to be with and know God, of necessity, includes the willingness to be absorbed by Him!

James tells us that the attitude in prayer is paramount to its effectiveness! 

The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].
James 5:16b

Many strive to seek God on their own terms. Some want God to be available like the genie in Aladdin's  lamp. Others attempt to press God to mold the world according to their personal point of view. Still others hope to be rewarded for their religious efforts but do not surrender to His will. If we are to truly experience spiritual intimacy with Jesus, there must be a willingness to yield to God and be changed, molded, and transformed by His Spirit, 

We can only seek God with this mindset! If we want God to be at work in our lives, we must surrender our own ways and allow His ways to permeate our hearts. Bible study can be misused as ammunition to argue our personal world view. Prayer can be an attempt to master God and twist His arm to do our bidding. But it simply does not work that way!

It is only when we make contact with The Living God through Jesus that we will begin to understand the Bible and be effective in prayer.

We can easily fall into the trap of learning the rules of church. We know what the Bible says on various issues. We have our prayer times. We know how to act and what to say - but have we been with Jesus lately?

The disciples were uneducated men but THEY HAD BEEN WITH JESUS!

Education can be a wonderful tool. There are educated men and women who have been with Jesus and regularly spend time with Him. There are also men and women, highly educated in theology who do not know Jesus at all. Others may know Him but have drifted toward resting on their accomplishments and have forsaken personal time with Jesus!

If you and I really want to experience the power of the Christian life, the secret is simple.


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Sunday, October 20, 2013


Daniel was exiled to Babylon with many others when he was a young man. He lived in a foreign country where ungodliness was rampant. Yet he was so faithful in his walk with God that it made even the kings take notice!

1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom;
2 and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss.
3 Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because AN EXCELLENT SPIRIT WAS IN HIM; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.
Daniel 6:1-4

Daniel had an excellent spirit in him!

Do we strive for the same kind of excellence in our walk with God? It is likely that many of those who were carried off with Daniel had accepted more of a "middle of the road"position in their faith. There was a lot of pressure to bow to the idols of Babylon. Sometimes to disobey was to risk one's own life. Living more of a private, "politically correct" kind of faith could easily be justified, without much criticism from most.

Yet Daniel never backed down! The other governors and satraps, his fellow rulers, were jealous and wanted Daniel out of the way. So they conned King Darius into creating a law stating that, anyone petitioning or praying to any other god or man for thirty days except the king, would be thrown in the lions den. King Darius unwittingly signed the decree, not realizing it would be used against Daniel.

How might we respond today? Would we obey the law? After all it's only thirty days and we are commanded to obey the laws of the land. Would we continue to pray privately, in secret so we could please both God and the King?

Daniel's response was uncompromising and unhidden!

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
Daniel 6:10

Three aspects jump out about Daniel's response to the decree.

1. He proclaimed his faith boldly!  Daniel did not try to hide or cleverly disguise his faith to make it acceptable to unbelievers. He did not petition the king to change the law.  He went to pray with his windows opened toward Jerusalem, letting the whole world know that he would obey God rather than man!

When Jesus' disciples were commanded by the religious leaders of their time, not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, they responded in a similar way:

18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.
20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
Acts 4:18-20

2. He continued to pray! It is one thing to proclaim you believe something. It is quite another to act! Daniel may have avoided the lion's den if he had merely disagreed with the decree not to pray. At that point, it is merely academic - a matter of discussion. But when one crosses over the line to disobey a man-made law, based on personal convictions, the stakes can become much higher!

What if Rosa Parks had merely "disagreed" with the preferential treatment of whites on her famous bus ride in Montgomery? What if she had voiced her disapproval, but then proceeded to give up her seat to a white person? It was her action that changed American history so dramatically - not her words!

Daniel knew that his prayers, with his windows open, would be heard by those jealously trying to trap and destroy him. But who else may have heard him praying? How many who heard may have been strengthened in their own faith by Daniel's bold decision to obey God rather than man? Perhaps some only heard it secondhand or read about it many years later!

I have never met either Daniel or Rosa Parks but their bold actions can still inspire me today!

3. Daniel continued in his ways! Daniel had a custom of praying three times a day from his early days! You can't have an excellent spirit, as Daniel had, by only making an effort to pray when there is a crisis!

Daniel's excellent spirit sprung from a lifestyle of consistent prayer. Daniel also was a student of the  Word of God:

...I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
Daniel 9:2

Daniel's willingness to proclaim his faith, take action to continue to consistently and faithfully seek God, resulted in spiritual excellence!

More than a celebration of Daniel's excellence, it is a challenge to all of us today!

Do we want to allow the world to press us into its mold? Do we want to be "middle-of-the-road," "politically correct" Christians who have little real influence on the world? Or do we want to change the world by having an excellent spirit as Daniel had?

That is a question that each one of us must ask ourselves! It is impossible to know how truly important that choice might be for some of us!

How might our world be different if the Daniels and Rosa Parks of this world had chosen differently?

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Monday, October 14, 2013


David made some strong statements about God in Psalm 23. As Christians, most of us have heard and repeated them many times. 

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
2 He makes me to lie down in GREEN PASTURES;
   He leads me beside the STILL WATERS.
   For His name’s sake.
Psalm 23: 1-3

David presumably made these statements to proclaim to himself, and others, God's role as the  Shepherd of His people. Jesus called Himself "The Good Shepherd."

Like David, we proclaim these statements of faith to remind ourselves that God is watching over us, providing our needs and will keep us in line as we trust and obey Him!

But are they true? Or, are merely repeating them even though we know they are not true?

David proclaimed, "I SHALL NOT WANT," but is there truly never any want in our lives? David said, "The Lord MAKES ME LIE DOWN IN GREEN PASTURES and BESIDE THE STILL WATERS." Is the place we are in right now a place of such great provision and peace?

What about those of us who may be facing great trials at this very moment? Are we really naive enough to think that all true Christians never suffer and are consistently experiencing the blessings of Psalm 23 that David wrote about?

Or are we Christians simply being dishonest and denying the facts as many accuse us of doing?

To answer that question, we must see with our eyes open!

Sheep are known to be dumb by nature! Sheep naturally go off the path! Sheep cannot lead themselves!

The shepherd knows his sheep and knows where he is leading them. He is leading them to blessings. He is leading them to a place where their needs will be met - to the green pastures and still waters.

The problem is, that along the way, the sheep looks around and doesn't see what he or she is longing for. The green grass and pure still waters may not be in sight yet. Perhaps they are around a bend or hidden by mountains. The sheep may see only dry grassless desert land and no sign to food or water anywhere in sight!

He may begin to have doubts about whether the shepherd can be trusted providing for his needs. Perhaps he should take matters into his own hands!

He takes his eyes off the shepherd and begins to look around. There in the distance he imagines he sees water but what he actually sees is what we commonly call a "mirage." It looks very much like water ahead but as one approaches, he realizes that it is merely a figment of his imagination!

ARTIFICIAL GRASS can never feed sheep and IMAGINARY WATER can never quench the thirst of sheep!

"But it looked so real!" the sheep says to himself. As he realizes the water is merely a mirage, he comes to himself and finds he is far from the flock! The other sheep, who kept following the shepherd, patiently waiting for his provision and trusting his ability to lead, have drawn closer to the place where their needs will be met. Perhaps by now they have even arrived! Yes!

This is the place the shepherd promised to lead them - the place where there is REAL GRASS to feed on and REAL WATER to drink - THE PLACE WHERE THEY DO NOT WANT!

Perhaps you have taken your eyes off of The Good Shepherd recently!

Looking around at your surroundings, you don't feel contentment or see your needs being met! You see nothing but wilderness and dry desert. Scanning in the distance as far as your visual abilities allow, there is still no sign of hope on the horizon! You feel you MUST get off of the path you are on.

You feel an urge to run. You must have missed it somehow. You must be honest enough to admit that God is not your shepherd. He is not providing. You DO want! You ARE hungry and thirsty! Others who don't even follow the Shepherd have their needs met! You saw them smiling and happy while doing the things the Shepherd commanded you not to do!

The problem is our vision! You and I can't always see the contentment, green pastures and still waters where The Great Shepherd claims He is leading us!


Our spiritual vision is limited just as our natural vision is limited! I can see around me using my eyes alone. To see anything miles away, I need a telescope. To clearly see other planets, I must use a much more powerful telescope.

A microscope reveals the tiny unseen world which was once unknown to us. Before the discovery of this unseen, but very real world, medicine was baffled about the causes of disease and employed methods which have long been discarded. An X-ray, CT scan or MRI "sees" that which is obscured by our outer skin! These tests merely reveal things which existed beforehand but were not able to be seen using mere natural vision!

Perhaps the place where your needs will be met is beyond the scope of your vision!

And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

John 10:4

This place may be too far ahead to see with your natural vision. Perhaps your provision is all around you but is too small to see, much like the microscopic world. Perhaps it is around the bend and obscured and can't be seen without "X-ray vision!"

The Good Shepherd has perfect eyesight!

Superman has X-ray vision. Geordi La Forge has a high tech visor which can collect data, allowing him to "see" much more than others can see with their natural human vision! (Non-Trekkies - you will have to google it!) 


The Good Shepherd can see things too far away for us to see! He can see things taking place right around us that are too small to see! He can see around and through objects!

He can collect, analyze and understand all data in time, space and human relationships! He can hear the prayers and know the hearts and minds of the more than six billion people who live in our current world!

Who should I trust to lead me - a dumb sheep such as myself with limited vision, data, knowledge and wisdom - or the Creator and Mater of the Universe who sees, knows and understands everything?

"Hmmm - let me think about that." It's a "no-brainer if there ever was one, isn't it?

A doctor uses tests to analyze what he cannot see with his eyes. He trusts those tests to diagnose and treat a medical condition, even at the risk of the life of his patient, rather than insisting to depend only on what he can see with his naked eye!

How much more should we trust The Great Shepherd to lead us in the right direction, to the right place, even if we don't see or understand what He is doing!

Follow The Good Shepherd!

He knows us. He knows our needs and WILL lead us to beautiful places of contentment and provision!

We should't presume that David is claiming that this state of contentment is a permanent residence. God sometimes provides "manna" for us. Our contentment may last for a moment, a day, a month or years at a time. 

But ultimately Psalm 23 is absolutely true because God will lead you to many places of contentment and rest in your lifetime and ultimately HE IS  LEADING US TO THAT PERFECT PLACE OF IN HIS PRESENCE. There we shall truly be able to say for all eternity - I SHALL NOT WANT!

Don't give up! Keep following! Good things are coming!

Resist the urge to run off to follow a mirage which is certain to disappoint!

Trust in HIS PERFECT VISION and not your own!

3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass.
Psalm 37:3-5

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Saturday, October 12, 2013


(In this article, I am using the word "church" in the sense used commonly today, as a local group of believers or as the place or building where that group meets. The truth, of course, is that all true believers in Christ constitute the church of Jesus Christ!)

In recent years, the purpose of the church in America has been reexamined. The result is that many churches "updated" and redefined their purpose. Most American churches were deemed"too traditional" for our modern culture.

It was suggested that churches should be modernized and repurposed!

Church members were seen as too comfortable. Many wrote that it was unfair that those in the American church should hear the message of the gospel many times while those outside the church had little or no opportunities to hear the gospel.

The obvious conclusion in the minds of many leaders was that we must make churches more suitable for unbelievers so that they too would be able to hear the gospel and turn to God.

I cannot help but wonder if this approach has actually created a more shallow and less powerful church!

Am I wrong in thinking that in the past, the church existed mainly for believers rather than unbelievers? Evangelism was not primarily done in the church but accomplished outside. The impetus of evangelism was not a church built on the premise of making the outsider comfortable but in a church whose members had spiritual depth and fire for God!

This high degree of spiritual depth and fire highly motivated the body of believers to reach out to win the world for Christ!

Certainly keeping useless traditions can be erroneous. Some traditions can and should be updated. Pipe organs, hymnals or a certain style of outdated dress should not be equated with a high level of holiness or spirituality. Many who have fond memories of these traditions often mistakenly want to cling to them, thinking that if we repent and return to them, we will usher in a spiritual awakening in our churches!

But some traditions should not be so easily discarded!

The secret behind the church's power success has always been the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit and the  ability of the individual Christian and body of believers to grasp the things of God. Although we have many newer methods of communicating the word of God today, perhaps we are not as proficient in studying, understanding and applying it to our lives!

The depth of our Christian lives seems to have been replaced by issue-oriented theology and quick answers which do not require us to be as personally acquainted with God and His ways! We are fluent in the correct way to deal with the issues of life but instead of flowing from a deep, personal relationship with God, it comes secondhand from Christian leaders!

Have we adopted an older theological position in which we believe that the only the Christian leaders can actually understand God and the Bible? They are sometimes viewed as "experts" who will tell us how to live.

Modern celebrities are often asked their opinions on issues of the day. Fame and a degree of measurable, outward success seems to validate their opinions. It often baffles me that it is so important to us to know their views. Playing a psychiatrist in a movie does not qualify anyone to treat a patient, nor does playing the president on television give an actor any special insight into leading the country!

Do we also apply this same mindset to Christian leaders today? If a Christian leader is famous for writing books,  "starring" in videos, pastoring large churches or broadcast on radio or TV, do we consider them to have a God-given authority to speak to us on Christian issues?

The power of winning the lost world to Christ does not come from creatively thinking up clever ways to relate to them. It comes from being endued with power from on high!

I am not arguing against using varied methods and creative means to reach the world for Christ. These can and should be utilized as the holy Spirit directs.

I am merely repeating what has been stated by so many great men of God - that the power comes from within - not from our outward methods and programs!

Some churches with pipe organs may still worship God with all their hearts! If your church does not have one, I would not suggest purchasing one as a means to revival!

I do however believe that we need to return to seeing the primary purpose of the church, which is to to facilitate and inspire the growth of believers, rather than to evangelize unbelievers or make them comfortable. As genuine believers grow in depth of relationship with Christ, they will also grow in becoming equipped and inspired to evangelize the world!

Certainly we should continue to evangelize and preach the gospel regularly as a vital part of our church mission both in and out of the place where the congregation meets!

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ
15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 
16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
Ephesians 4:11-16

If we water down deeper spiritual truths to win the lost, we are diluting the greatest source of power we have in our churches - the true believer who is ever growing in maturity, strength and relationship with God!

Monday, October 7, 2013


FINGERPRINTS AND SNOWFLAKES! The older I grow, the more I have come to realize that we are all different from one another. Just as there are no two fingerprints or snowflakes which are exactly alike, there are no two people who are exactly alike!

In our day, we are often more of a number than a person! 

I was surprised when my children were born that they were immediately given a social security number to identify them. When I was young, social security numbers were not given out until a person was ready to begin his work life, at the age of fifteen or so, solely for the purpose of tracking employment!

We have drifted from the familiarity with others which we once enjoyed. Today many determinations are made in a person's life based on documentation rather than familiarity with a person's character!

I wonder if we do not often do the same in the church! 

Do we interact with others in our churches based on their unique circumstances and personalities or are they merely a number to us in which we can provide everyone blanket  formulas for success in their Christian lives?

Are all the same or should some considerations be made in some cases?

If so, what considerations might be given?

1. Seasons
Some can be in a very dark place in their life for any number of reasons. As fellow Christians, we should learn to discern, and be sensitive to, the seasons of a person's life. We should not make the same unbending demands of everyone and make no consideration to a person's circumstances or state of mind.

Perhaps there has been a death of a family member or friend. Perhaps a person has just lost his job. Some may be simply depressed for no apparent reason.

Do we make the same demands on all of them or give them all the same advice?

Do we make an attempt to know what season a person may be in?

This is especially true inwardly! Do we not often talk to each other on a surface level about our outward circumstances rather than about our inward or emotional state?

What is the correct answer to the question, "How are you?" "Fine" is the authorized response,of course ! Are we really asking or merely exchanging pleasantries? As Christians, should we not delve deeper to learn the true state of others?

2. Extreme differences of personality

We cannot always judge all equally. We must allow God to open our eyes to see that one person's reaction to circumstances can be vastly different from another's.

Some may be very close to a loved one who dies and be completely devastated. Others may have had a more distant relationship and therefore may feel somewhat indifferent to the loved one's death.

When a husband or wife dies, the remaining spouse may have a high-paying job and merely need to make some minor financial adjustments. Others have no marketable skills and face losing all!

One may be stronger than another and have abundant emotional reserves to cope with such a loss. For others, this may be the last straw which plunges them into a deep depression!

Perhaps one who loses his job has an enough money saved to keep him going for quite some time. For another, the loss of income will result in the loss of his car, home and more!

Perhaps one who loses his job hated it anyway! He is thrilled to be on unemployment for a while! One may have family support while another is alone. One may have many friends to encourage him while another has none!

One may have been raised with a great dysfunctional, overwhelming sense of fear and the loss of the job for them is pushing them to the emotional brink. Another has been raised with a strong faith that all will work out in end and has no such sense of dread of the future.

Do we see them all the same? Do we perhaps assign a point system based solely on outward circumstances and assume that all should and will react equally and have the same emotional response?

3. The past 
I once heard a man criticize another in a church for smoking. He said, "I never smoked a day in my life!" Isn't that the point? The man was in his seventies and had never smoked! How could he possibly possibly understand the struggle to quit of a man who had smoked for many years, perhaps decades, from his youth!

We must then ask ourselves if we are guilty of following the modern trend of seeing others as a "number" rather than a unique, individual person!

Do we tell people to follow steps a,b and c and all will be well?

God's way will work for everyone! But it may take longer for some than others because of their past! Many begin the race far behind. Can they be expected to catch up in a moment of time?

Someone once said that our lives are like knots in a fishing line. Every fisherman knows that you cannot simply pull as hard as you can on a knotted line to untangle it. You have to patiently undo one part of the knot at a time. This knot leads to that knot and finally you get them untangled.

We look at our lives and see that they are knotted. Our tendency is to jerk at them and correct them so that they will be smooth again and ready to be used - free from all the tangles of the past.

But God knows and we must learn that only He can undo the knots in our lives in the correct sequence! When I try to untie a the knots in the sequence I see fit, it becomes tighter and more tangled!

I must patiently allow God in His wisdom to untie the knot He thinks is most important right now. 

In the proper time, all of the knots will be untied and untangled. I must allow God to choose the sequence in untying he knots in my life. I must also allow God to choose the the sequence and timing of untying the knots of other's lives!

Ask God to help you see people as unique individuals rather than as numbers! We all have seasons in our lives, God-given personalities and pasts which determine who we are right now - in this moment.

We are not numbers which should all be expected to act and be the same!

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Hebrews 12:1

God sees us as individuals and has set an individual, customized race before us. He does not see as "numbers" - all the same and expected to run the same race at the same speed!

As children of God, we should do the same - making the effort to know and understand others intimately enough to see each as they really are - each of us in a particular season, with all of our peculiarities, weaknesses and the baggage of our pasts!

Friday, October 4, 2013


Which is most important - solitude and communion with God or being connected to a body of believers?

Jesus gave us an example to follow:

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.
Mark 1:35

15 However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities.
16 So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.
Luke 5:16

A few decades ago, the church in America seems to have awakened to the need for closer community. This can definitely be a blessing and I have never met a consistent Christian who is not part of a church!

At the same time, I wonder if "connection"and "community" in the church have become substitutes for solitude!

We must never lessen the quality or quantity of our times of solitude with God for the sake of community! Again, I absolutely believe and agree that connection and being part of a Christian community are vital to the Christian life, but I also wonder if community has now ascended above personal time with God in the eyes of many today!

35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying,
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

Notice that Jesus places LOVE OF GOD above love of neighbor!

Does this indicate that if we are engaged in religious activities, we can disregard our neighbors?

Of course not - the Bible clearly condemns this kind of wrong thinking!

Love of God is FIRST because the quality of my relationship with God will determine the quality of my relationship with my neighbor - NOT VISA VERSA!

Many reverse the two great commandments and view love of neighbor as the means to the love of God but that is not so! A multitude of good works to our neighbor, without first knowing, seeking and growing in God will not draw us close to Him! But a close, genuine relationship with God will eventually always result in an increased ability to love our neighbors!

Notice the progression in Jesus' life:

Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
Luke 6:12

17 And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases,
18 as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed.
19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.
Luke 6:17-19

Jesus continued all night on the mountain in prayer… When he returned, a great multitude came to hear Him and be healed… power went out from Him and healed them all!

Jesus put His time of seeking God above people! That almost sounds like blasphemy to some! But the result was that many came to hear Him and be healed and power went out from Him!

Do you see how Jesus loved people enough to separate from them to seek God!

Do you want to be more loving? Spend more time with God! Do you want to be a better neighbor? Spend more time with God? A better spouse, parent, child? To prepare for whatever we are called to do, we must FIRST learn to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength!

Afterward, when we do come together in connection with people, the time in secret we have spent with God will be of much greater benefit to those around us!

Human nature tells us to put people first but that is like a physician attending to his patient without first preparing his bag of medical supplies. He might say, "My patient needs me. I cannot spend time checking my bag when his need is so great." However sincere he may be - however much he may love his patient and desire healing for him, he will be helpless to do so unless he first carefully and methodically  fills his bag with the proper supplies!

Do you have a desire to reach, help and heal your neighbor? Perhaps you are attempting to do so with an empty bag! If so, go to God FIRST! Love Him and spend time in His presence. Ask Him and He will fill you with the necessary supplies to go out to meet the needs of those around you!

4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 
5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

8 shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 1:4-5,8

The progression is clear: WAIT ➔ RECEIVE POWER ➔ GO!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013



9   But as it is written:
     “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
 nor have entered into the heart  of man

      The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
10  But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.
      For the Spirit searches all    
      things, yes, the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10

If we stretch the envelope of our imagination as far as it can go, we cannot begin to conceive of the glory of God!

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Romans 8:18

Whatever you are going through, whatever pain you may feel at this moment, however confused or uncertain your future may seem, think on these wonderful truths!

No child of God who crosses over to be with Him in eternity will ever survey the glories of heaven and declare that their suffering while on earth was too great to make it worth being there!

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Paul has a lot of nerve calling our afflictions light, doesn't he? He has no idea what you or I are going through right now!

It isn't because Paul took his or our afflictions lightly and neither does our Heavenly Father!

God is not flippantly saying that you should "cheer up" or "life is just a bowl of cherries" as an old song goes. He is well acquainted with our sufferings! He is close to us in the good times and in the bad.

The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to use phrases such as "light afflictions" and "but for a moment" to encourage us in our heavy burdens.

Yes our burdens can seem very heavy and weigh us down and God feels our pain!


When we finally cross that final bridge from this world to the eternal life God has planned for us,  WE WILL VIEW ANY PRICE WE MAY HAVE PAID AS SMALL AND ANY SUFFERING WE MAY HAVE ENDURED AS LIGHT!

Paul makes it clear that, correct perception in comparing our present reality with the eternity God has planned for us, is an important key to victory in trials!

...while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18

We must constantly renew our minds and choose to look at the unseen eternal things of God rather than the seen, temporary things of this world. This is not some kind of Jedi mind trick but it is a purposeful decision to keep our eyes on God and eternity rather than on the problems of today!

This mindset is the pursuit of a lifetime rather than some "mantra" we repeat to cheer ourselves on bad days.

Growth in exercising an eternal perspective is cumulative. As we grow in the knowledge of God and in our relationship with Him, as we hide His word in our hearts and develop a quality prayer life, our capacity to see as God sees will also grow!

Then our eyes will be increasingly opened to see that the eternal weight God's glory is infinitely greater than ANY afflictions or suffering we may experience right now or in our lifetime!