Arrested and Set Free

Everything was pretty much normal for a Christmas Eve Service. There was good music planned and God inspired me with a dialog to share for the evening devotion. The service had been 'prayed over' and it was hoped that some who normally do not attend church would enjoy this service.

Everything was going well until one of the musicians took the platform to play his guitar. This gentleman is an excellent player and does not have music in front of him as he performs. As he started to play, his mind went blank and he could not remember the selection he was to play. After the third attempt, he apologized and asked what it was that he was supposed to play.

It was during this episode that I was arrested. During this disruption, God spoke to me about planning and wanting the perfect service that we became performers rather than worshippers. In submitting to Him in confession of my pride, out of His grace He set me free to genuinely worship. This was one of the best preparations I have experienced as I prepared to celebrate the Truth of God coming to earth and living with us!


The Forgotten Man

Many statements concerning Christmas have been passed from generation to generation. Most of us probably know that some of what has been passed along is not totally accurate but that is a discourse for another time.

In most of these accounts, there is one individual who is relatively obscure. While his name is often mentioned in connection with the events of Christmas, very little is attributed to him in the grand scheme of things. Matthew (one of the New Testament books) states that Joseph was a "righteous man" (chapter 1, verse 19). However, there is little stated as to why he is deserving this accolade. He is the husband of Mary and the step-father to Jesus.

Becoming concerned with this matter, it seems that there are two subtle reasons given for this compliment. The first is found in this same verse (19) and is the respect that is shown to Mary. According to the Jewish law, Joseph could have made Mary an object of public disdain and ridicule but he chose another path.

The second one is found in the 24th verse of the same chapter. In this verse, one sees an immediate response to God. As soon as Joseph has an opportunity, he put into practice what the angel of the Lord had told him to do.

In all of the theological definitions of "righteousness" there is something simple in the practical example of Joseph. If one is to respect people and respond to God, would this not give a vivid testimony of what it means to be righteous? From this account in Matthew, it seems that it is sufficient in the eyes of the Holy Spirit.


It's Not About the Economy

At the time of creation, God choose to create people in His image. After creating us male and female, we were placed in a pristine garden and instructed to enjoy all that was designed. The reason for the gender distinction was that humans were to find companionship with the other person.

While we cannot fully grasp the enormity of what it means to be created in this divine image, we do receive a few windows into what it might be. One of the main reasons is for companionship or fellowship. Jesus informed us in the seventeenth chapter of John that he longed to return from His journey on earth to the fellowship that the Godhead enjoyed prior to His mission on earth. Thus, we see that a key aspect of living in the image of God is genuine fellowship. We fill our longing for this type of fellowship with many futile ventures. We may gain wealth and not find fellowship. We may gain power and not find fellowship. We may gain fame and not find fellowship.

A distinct desire of humans that separates us from the remaining animal kingdom is a craving for peace. It is not found in the exchange of gifts at Christmas nor is it found in the festive occasions which frequent the holiday season. The only fulfillment is to live in fellowship with God. Jesus came to earth to give us insight to the nature of God (John 01:14—18). As Christ concludes His time on earth, He longs for the type of fellowship that is available through living in unity with God. This Christmas would be a perfect time to learn to live in this unity. The benefits will not be found in receiving the ideal gift but rather finding the perfect relationship.



Peter writes that followers of Christ are to always be prepared for the reason for the hope that they have. This is an intriguing verse as we look at it from a Western, logic mindset. What if we viewed it from an Eastern mindset, how would we understand this verse?

In the West, we follow the way of the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason, and attempt to provide sophisticated arguments for our faith. While this effort has produced some great information and sold a lot of books, of what value has this made in advancing the Kingdom of Heaven agenda?

It has been my experience that people who I would like to follow Christ, develop their own advanced arguments and at best, there is a stand-off between our viewpoints. It is easy to solace in the idea that we have mutual respect for each other but I want these people to see God and not me.

What if we would give a response for the reason for my hope as simply being, the "Creator" of the universe loves me. The Creator believes that I am significant. From my efforts, I have had many more people engage in genuinely seeking an understanding of the Christian faith by this answer than any of my "knowledge" about science, creationism, or logic.


Would Jesus Go There?

There are many places in the city in which I live that are dangerous to life and limb. As gunshots reverberate in the apartment complex which neighbors our property, what is my role as a Christian?

In receiving training to be a life guard, I was taught that in a rescue attempt to make sure that there were not two drownings. This meant that if you were unable to make the rescue without endangering your life, leave the victim. What may be wisdom for the lifeguard does not fit the follower of Jesus Christ.

There are places in Columbus that are dangerous in other ways. What is our Christian responsibility? Some thoughts that I have are:1. Jesus always went on His terms. In being led by the Spirit, He was not taken by surprise.2. Jesus feared no one and loved everyone. In being led by the Spirit, He was demonstrating the peace of God.3. Jesus never left the will of the Father. In being led by the Spirit, He was fulfilling the call upon His life.

It may have more to do with my preparation, obedience, and submission than intimidating circumstances. Thus, if I focus on what is visible to my eye, I will see the dangers. If I focus on what God sees, then I will see His hand.


Happiness Comes In Unexpected Ways

How much do we invest in 'doing' and miss living?

Observe a mature, elderly person, who is not "well to do." See how much they live. It is often stated that "Youth is wasted on the Young," but the converse of this might be "Wisdom is the result of experience." Just because I have many years behind me does not guarantee me 'experience.' But for the person who has lived rather than done just about everything the world presents as important, this person lives at peace with themselves.

Their priorities are unusual and their routines may be predictable, but they are of all people most content. Jesus once told a man to go and sell all that he had and then come and follow Him. Go and completely change your priorities and you will be able to enjoy what is genuinely important.


Fear God ONLY

The quote, "only thing we have to fear is fear itself" (Franklin D. Roosevelt) is apropos to the life of the Christian with a small twist. "The only thing we have to fear is God Himself."

Collectively we bemoan the state of the economy, the state of a decaying morality, the political climate, and many other problems which we face. The bottom line is in the midst of these uncertainties, do we fear God? Do we believe that God is willing to judge the Christian population of the United States as we have defined Christianity to fit our culture and guidelines?

Now is the day for the Church of Jesus Christ to assess the situation, locally, nationally, and internationally--and seek God above all of our presuppositions. God is wanting to lead the church in a new direction and the only thing that stands in His way is those of us who claim to have such a clear understanding on what this means.

I challenge us to unravel what it means to be an "American Christian" and learn what it means to be Christ-like? The difference could turn our world upside down!



As the United States pauses after the election of Barack Obama as our new president, it marks significant change in the status quo of American culture. We have before us the greatest opportunity to see the benefits of what has been called a "melting pot." In the past the leader of this melting pot has been a white male. Even though the parties and policies did vary, this nation has never been led by an individual whose background is as diversified as we will now experience.

How will we as a church respond? Before us lies the greatest opportunity to display grace, compassion, and acceptance or we can continue to alienate people over items of little eternal consequence. This is a time for the church to raise up leaders whose passion is a Kingdom of Heaven agenda. If we are convinced that God raises up those individuals for governmental leadership positions, we should be a the forefront of supporting and praying for our new leader.


Get To Work

As this week comes to an end, what can you look back and say that you accomplished for the Kingdom of God? Personal devotions and attending church are usually more beneficial for the person. Both of these are important and we are admonished to keep doing these things!

Whose life is different because they saw a picture of Jesus Christ as they crossed paths with you? What has changed in the Kingdom because you were alive this week?


Lost Focus

To date it seems as if little has changed since the time of the governmental bailout of the financial crisis. There have been some noticeable ramifications such as Wall Street has been unstable these past two weeks. Other markets around the world are also in disarray and other governments have stepped up to bail out financial situations in their countries.

As I observe people in Central Ohio (United States of America), it seems as if business continues pretty much as usual. The main topics of conversation focus on the Buckeyes and their football difficulties or the upcoming presidential election.

It is interesting that many people are opining that if people would not panic (concerning the financial problems), the necessary corrections would be in place to salvage Wall Street.

My concern focuses on the fact that God has been left out of the equation. It is as if we do not remember the admonitions that warn against placing our confidence in that which is temporal rather than eternal. The good news is that God is not finished with us at this time and that ultimately justice will prevail.


The Election Looms

We are weeks away from voting for the individual in whom we have confidence as the best person for the office of president of the United States. This is another election where neither candidate impresses me and are able to say with their behavior that they are the right person for the job.

If a candidate must resort to name calling and mudslinging, then this is not a person in whom I can place my confidence. Is there ever going to be a candidate who is able to state here is my track record, vote for me based on my qualifications and experience?

When a person continues to attack the record of another person, I see little or no hope for a bi-partisan effort to address the many problems confronting not only the United States but the entire world as well. Does any one have the backbone to address the greed and dishonesty that has led to the financial crisis that has crippled so many?

The solutions that have been proposed seemingly only reward those who have profited from their crimes. In a secular world system, one must accept that virtues, such as justice, will not be evident. A believer has the hope that there will be a day in which God's justice will reign. With this promise, we move forward in high calling which is ours in Jesus Christ.


My Heart Problem

How do you view people? Some appear successful as you assess their appearance and dress. Others act as if they are carefree and that nothing ever bothers them.

All too often, we become "respecter of persons" as we respond differently to a person who appears to be financially well to do as compared to our response to a person who looks like they are a beggar.

Jesus viewed people from a unique perspective and he did not entrust himself to anyone as he knew what resides in the heart of a person. All of us have a heart that is deceitful and wicked and have little power to control its desires.

The good news is that we are not restricted to this condition. God is willing to give us a heart after the heart of Jesus. It is the cure for the common greed that afflicts and affects us all.


Who Is In Control, Anyway?

Life is __________. We each fill in the blank as we see fit, with many circumstances affecting the way in which we would fill it. It is more fluid than many of us would like to believe. I like to consider myself in control of my life. However, God provides many situations which are sometimes gentle and sometimes blatant reminders that I am not.

If I live with myself in control, I learn that there are many areas and relationships on which I have little or no influence. These prove how little persuasion I actually possess.
One lesson I am learning is that the areas I want God to control—more accurately areas that I want Him to bless me are the areas in which He shows little interest. Finances, prestige, and power are not where God wants to bless me.

Rather it is in relationships—serving and loving—that God wants to bless as well as challenge me. Thus, the phrase needs to be completed like this, "Life is serving others." This is not my ideal, but it continues to prove that my thoughts and God's are on different levels.


It's GOOD News Today!

The good news is that I woke up this morning to face another day. To realize that nothing of consequence has happened in the past two weeks that affects my being. My family is still in tact. The people who I encounter are still cheerful and polite. The events of Wall Street are depressing but these can not overcome the joy of serving God through the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Even though the news is distressing and the continuing revelations are disturbing, my life continues as it has for the past fifty plus years. The exciting news is that in the midst of the financial market collapsing around us, that God sustains and keeps those who serve Him. Encourage one another with the news that God reigns in Heaven above!!!


The OPTIONS Are Limited

Are we facing reality? I received an e-mail that views the economic woes facing the United States as a minor inconvenience that would only be increased if the wrong person were to be elected as the next U.S. president. This e-mail placed the current down turn in the same vein as past recessions. The reality is that we have not had banks fail at this rate and that the remaining world markets have implemented preventative measures as they are being adversely affected by these events.

As I have stated before (in 2002-03) in a vision that I received that the United States would face a significant financial depression that would exceed the Great Depression. There are so many factors coming into play (Social Security, the incredible national debt, the amount of personal debt, and the health insurance crisis to name a few).

The only recourse that I see is for God's people to humble ourselves and pray and seek God's face. It is this action that God states that He would heal our land.


Weak Stewardship

What an unbelievable turn of events in my lifetime. As a child in the 1950's and a student in the 1960's, my generation was handed one of the greatest gifts of all-time, UNLIMITED POTENTIAL. The US was held in high esteem in most parts of the world. We could do almost anything we wanted.

As I am about to enter my seventh decade, I am troubled by the significant change in the gift that we are handing the next generation. Rather than "unlimited potential," we are leaving our children and grandchildren an extraordinary amount of debt. The US has dropped from respected to reviled in some parts of the world. We have left you with challenges that boggle my mind.

The good news in this predicament is that nothing has changed in heaven. God is still on the throne and will be faithful in leading the next generation. I trust that you will correct the excesses and sin of our generation.


Become a People Person

In beginning anew, my question is how am I going to glorify God during these next eight to ten months. As I look ahead I have identified a number of tasks that I wish to complete, and there is nothing wrong with the items on which I have placed my sight. However, I am guilty of not specifically planning how to glorify God with these objectives.

It is necessary that I review my agenda and first see what God would have me achieve. It is probable that He would have me focus more on relationships than accomplishments. Do I truly want to glorify Him enough that I am willing to change goals? This will be a challenge for a person who focuses more on projects and activities and prefers significant time alone.


Emminent Return

It has been quite a while (three and one-half months) since I have posted and I am planning to return to this communication medium next week. I look forward to the exchanges and the learning environment.


In Need of Down Time

The wheels have been going much too fast and I have not disciplined myself as I should. The words "Be still and know that I am God" are meant as a reminder concerning the pace we attempt to live life. When is the last time you took a respite? This means no book, no electronic devices, only your mind and the presence of the Lord.

We need these times to infuse a degree of sanity into our hectic pace. Without these rests, we may be able to maintain our physical energy and even our psychological strength BUT we are unable to maintain a sense of spiritual freshness. "They that wait on the Lord, shall renew their strength." These are the times we each need if we are going to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord.


It Is Not a Race, It is a Life

Did you walk at the normative Western Hemisphere pace today or did you walk in step with Jesus? A sure way of telling which speed you traveled is to reflect back on the number of needs you observed in others and whether or not you stopped to meet these.

Jesus never reacted to any situation as if it were an emergency and He had time for each interruption that He faced. If I am going to be Christ-like then this is an opportunity in which I need to be victorious. Not only does my spiritual growth depend upon it but the person that needs my attention may also be searching for someone to show them AGAPE love.


A TIME for Quiet

"Be still and know that I am God," the Psalms gave this advice a long time ago. This is difficult to remember to do in a day in which we pack our days as full as possible. With the constant barrage of activities and the relentless banging of sounds, it is as if we do not want to genuinely know God.

If I learn to know God intimately, the result is that He desires to make the deep changes within me that will conform me to the image of His son. This means my emotional crutches will be broken and I will have to lean on Him. My mind is cooperative in saying this is a good thing but the weakened self does not want to live outside of the walls and safety devices that have been constructed for protective reasons.

Thus, we continue to live at a frantic pace with constant noise. Even if we attempt to do many things for God, we never learn to know God because we can not tolerate the quiet that leads to this end.


First Option

How many times in the last twenty-four hours have I pursued God? Did I pursue God with my whole heart or did I seek Him only when a difficult situation arose?

If I am approaching the point where I pray without ceasing, then God will need to be my first option and not my fall back plan. I need to always be aware of God's presence. If I am able to see His hand at work in the small details, I may find Him using me for other tasks as my faith would be increasing.


LIVING In God's Blessing

To live in the blessing of God, which means I am experiencing His peace and joy, I must live in the will of God. All to often we miss the blessing because we think that we should receive a special gift that tells others of our uniqueness in God's eyes. I believe the blessing of God is simply His presence in our lives on a daily basis. In contrast the curse that is described in the Bible is not a hex placed on us but simply God removing His presence from us.

It appears to me that God’s intention is not to intimidate and force my hand but rather a loving notation to direct my conduct into consistency with His will. If I learn to be content with the 'materialistic blessings' that I have and focus on accomplishing the will of God, then I will be of all people one who is most blest.


Measuring Wealth

What is your view of money? Do you see it as a tool to purchase what you need and or want in life? Is it to be managed and budgeted so that you have the resources to purchase what you need or want? Or do you see money as something to be invested towards future necessities? No matter which of these is your approach to money, what are some Biblical views of money?

First, I want to remind us that the love of money is the root of all evil. That inward desire that keeps one from being content with what we have is an indicator of greed and materialism that is detrimental to living by faith. A pure heart does not attempt to hoard money but rather realizes that Scripture teaches that we are to use money to invest in those people who have needs (Ephesians 04:28).

Wealth is measured in relationships rather than in materialistic possessions with the greatest wealth being evident in a deep relationship with God. When a person lies on their death bed, a frequent observation that is mentioned is that I wish I would have spent more time with my family. I have never heard anyone state that they wished they would have worked harder or that they would have earned another dollar.


LOVING the People of the World

I spent the afternoon with persons in need of financial, food, and/or clothing assistance at a local ministry. In working with these people, it is important to remember these are human beings created in God's image. They are not to be looked down upon but rather as person's deserving of God's love.

It is imperative that the church learn to love all of God's people groups and that acceptance into God's kingdom is not contingent upon people becoming WASP's in their thinking. The issue is to help people, including those within the church, to accept the mindset of Christ as we go into the world.


It's Too Simple

The call of God is straightforward and simple -- FOLLOW ME and the result of responding to this call is also very simplistic, "I will make you fishers of men." We make the call so complicated and want to wrestle with ourselves and God but the call is FOLLOW Christ.

Rather than worrying about careers and activities simply approach people in the same way a fisherman approaches fishing.
1. Find a good spot.
2. Use tasty bait.
3. Take your time.
4. Work with the catch.
5. Repeat the process.


Water That Is Alive Makes Changes

Christ states that we are to be "living water". I like this translation, 'water that is alive' as I think of water running down a mountain side, falling over a cliff as a water fall, or bubbling up as an artesian well when I think of water that is alive.

With the energized and vitamin enriched drinks that are available, it is as if we are being told that plain water is insufficient. Well, Jesus had this thought first as He promised water that is alive. Water that is alive gives me the connotation that it can not be contained but is refreshing in sight, sound, and taste. We as Christian are to be this kind of relief for the people of the world.


Persuasion Is Not an Evangelism Tool

On occasion, we want to persuade someone to consider becoming a Christian at an intellectual level. While this is noble, decisions are made by humans at least at four levels. One is the physical, another the emotional, a third is the intellectual, and the fourth is the spiritual.

The issue is that we can NOT persuade a person at any of these levels to become a follower of Christ. It is only the Holy Spirit that can relate at this level as our job is limited to that of being witnesses. My task is not to persuade but to share a testimony of the work that God has brought about in my life.

IF my life has credibility with the recipient, then they may open themselves to allow the Holy Spirit to speak with them. While this advice runs counter to so much of the personal evangelism mentality, the essence of it is seen in the life of Jesus. He never pressured, coerced or forced a person towards Himself. Rather, He permitted potential followers to walk away. Do I concern myself with results and numbers or with faithfulness and obedience to God? The answer to this makes a significant difference for the people that I meet.


Appreciate 'Cinco de Mayo'

The celebration of "Cinco de Mayo" is a reminder that all people enjoy and appreciate their freedom and liberty. While political freedom is of value, spiritual freedom is of infinitely greater value.

We are not able to earn the inner freedom of the spirit which allows a person to be genuine in their love for others but it is provided as a gift by God through the person of Jesus Christ. This inner release brings a person peace and joy of an origin which is beyond human manufacturing. As the world seeks an inner sanctuary, it is time for Christians to share the peace that passes our understanding with them. It was shared with us and it is imperative that we extend it to others with our most generous expressions.


To Get More Done -- WAIT

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. Jesus affirmed this concept by telling His disciples that they should wait in Jerusalem until they are anointed with the Holy Spirit.

As an impatient people, we are not often ready to wait for anything. We view waiting as an interruption, something which prohibits us from moving forward. The Bible views "waiting" as proactive, a method of watching, discerning, and surrendering rather than bringing progress to a halt. This requires patience, which is a fruit of the Spirit. Thus, in our waiting we are more inclined to be working with God rather than implementing our own ideas.


The Old Brain Needs NEW Thought Patterns

A living sacrifice, which Paul states is the normative preparation for worship, is learning to live in two states at the same time. One is that the old nature is put to death while the new person is alive in Christ. This is impossible to achieve on one's own efforts and a challenge to maintain even when walking with the Spirit.

Paul continues by stating that one aspect of being a living sacrifice is that of not being conformed to the world. On the surface, it is easy to assume that this is not a major problem because I compare myself with the common person off of the street. However, to break my conformity with the world requires that I allow Christ complete control of my will, desires, and aspirations.

These are areas that I seldom surrender to God as I am able to impress people with my words that I am all that I should be in Christ. However, I may have never yielded at the deeper level where Christ wants to transform my thoughts and my goals. The true believer is the one in which there is little differentiation between their thought life and Christ's. Again, I repeat that I want the mind of Christ to control my decision making process.


I Know NOTHING But What I Was Told

God has chosen to reveal His nature and being to humans on a very limited scale. In light of this minuscule knowledge it is surprising how much we claim to know about God and the manner in which He works.
The bottom line is that we know very little.

One is that I know that God relates to us through grace out of His love. This love, when accepted compels me to respond with the same love. I also know that God is Holy and that nothing unclean or sinful can enter into His presence.

These two are known to me because God chose to let me in on it and not because my intellectual capabilities discovered it. If I could fully comprehend the implications of these two attributes, I would not need to know anything else about God. These surpass my aptitudes and will keep me busy as long as I traverse this planet.


The POOR We Always Have With Us

Jesus told us that we would always have the poor with us. It is easy to see that we indeed have many people who surround us and live in poverty. When Jesus talks about the poor was He referring to only those who are financially impoverished or did He include other types of poverty?

Of much greater concern to me is the number of people who are "poor in Spirit"--people who seemingly lack morals, values, and self-control. These are not necessarily virtues limited to Christianity but Christians should promote and endorse these components in their lives.

This does not excuse us from helping the financially poor but when we extend our hands of compassion we need to do more than just give a monetary or materialistic hand-out. We need to encourage people to live by moral behavior, value based decisions, and a willingness to exhibit self-control.


GRACE Never Fails

Grace never runs dry and that is one attribute that makes it so amazing. I strive to live as Jesus lived and yet all too frequently I miss the mark. When I realize my shortcoming(s), and ask for forgiveness, God does not disappoint but extends the forgiveness and simply states to me, "Go and miss the mark no more."

It is difficult for me to imagine what life would be without the attributes, such as peace, that accompany grace. Because I live in God's love--the good news is that I do not have to experience life without grace, patience, kindness, and peace.


Asking for Directions

How have I acknowledged God today so that He has directed my paths? If my paths have been directed by Him, has it been intentional or happenstance?

Just because I have not done anything "evil" or it has been a pretty good day does not mean that I have allowed God to direct my paths? If God led me, would I have chosen the same conversations, gone to the same places, or invested my time in the same ways? Until I learn to acknowledge God, I may continue to live in ignorance, thinking that all is well when in reality I am not letting God have control of my life.



There are many thoughts being communicated to the world as to what it means to be a Christian, what does a person who does not adhere to Christianity need to know? In my thinking it is that God is a God of love and does not want anyone to perish. A love that is willing to give its life so that others might live is foreign to the me first mentality of many Westerners.

Is the reason that people do not see this aspect of God because those of us claiming to represent Christ fail at this significant point, to love the people of the world with such commitment and devotion that we sacrifice our lives so that they might see God's love?

I hear many of us tell people that we love them but what do they perceive when they hear these worlds? Do they relate to a sacrificial love with their best interest at heart or to an a boyfriend that promises his love as he attempts to take advantage of a young lady or an abusive parent that intimidates and coerces their love? Let us not limit love to our words but let it be visible so that people can see our love and know that we are different from the rest of the broken visuals of love they have learned to accept.


Without Ceasing Communication

A lifestyle in constant communion with God through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, the presence of Christ, and the yielded human spirit seems to be the essence of what it means to 'pray without ceasing'. This challenge to us (pray without ceasing) is not about requests and intercession but rather about fellowship between God and we created beings.

If I abide in this communion, I then think and act as God would choose to act. At this level of communication, my response not only glorifies God but goes beyond this and allows people to see Christ in me.


Do You Have Enemies? LOVE Them!

It is easy for Christians to emphasize the statement, "We are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect." The immensity of the task causes many of us to retreat into a shell as we know that it is beyond my (our) ability to live a perfect life.

However, the context of this phrase is 'loving our enemies'. This perfection is not about our conduct but are we able to generate unconditional love for our enemies. This understanding frees us from worrying about our behavior and allows us to concentrate on loving those who strike us as unlovable. After all this is what God has done for me, and I am thankful.


It's About Investing

In reading a book on poverty, I learned that three groups of people view money differently. The impoverished person uses money as a means to an immediate end. The middle class person sees money to be managed and controlled and the wealthy person views money for investment.

This seemingly applies to one's walk with the Lord as well. The 'poor' Christian wants worship that satisfies their wants and religion to make them happy at the time. The 'middle class' Christian wants to control their religious experience and work it into their schedule as they would any other activity. The 'wealthy' Christian is one who wants to invest in others and sees the future (Heaven) as the reward.


The Reason: LOVE

Peter writes that we are always to be prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have within in us. This has been advocated as a reason to develop a highly sophisticated apologetical defense of the gospel.

However, I would advance that there is a much simpler approach. The reason that I have hope is not because of my intellectual ability but rather -- God loves me. Even if I could prove each and every facet of what I believe and why, these would not persuade a person to accept or reject Christ (Paul posits this as well in Colossians and II Timothy). If a person can realize the truth of God's love and internalize this love, then we will see people turning to Christ because this deep love is not available except from God. The world can offer intellectual stimulation but not this kind of love.


Live RIGHTLY Before God and Humans

Paul wrote, "there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ". Jesus said it this way, "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more." My literal take is "...go and live a life of righteousness" but it may be easier for people to grasp the idea of not sinning rather than living 'rightly' before God.

Jesus also stated that He came not to condemn but rather to save a world separated from God. What are the implications of these provocative thoughts to the manner in which I share my faith? Christ is talking about a religion in which one deliberately chooses to obey God and rules are not necessary because of our strong desire to respond in love.


Lo, I Am With You ALWAYS!

In the midst of some of our joyous occasions, sorrow is able to enter and disrupt these times. When one thinks that they have life figured out, then an unexpected event changes our perspective.

Life is not a program that we enter into our mental computer and expect that a desired outcome will ensue. Rather life revolves around constant shifts in our emotional state, leaving us distraught, overwhelmed, or rejoicing -- depending on the circumstances.

One man who received the adulation of the crowd witnessed an extreme about face as these same people that praised him, turned against him in a matter of a few days. Some of the last words of this man were, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the days." If Jesus faced these approval rating swings, we must assume that they are a part of life and accept His promise of being with us in all circumstances.


Improving My Vision

Scriptures tell us that without a vision the people perish. Since we speak and move, we do not realize that in the midst of our busyness, we can be perishing. I consider myself a person of reasonably good vision for the future and believe that I honestly desire that God would move in a mighty way in the midst of not only Living Hope FMC but also the Christian community around the world.

As I was praying today, the Lord let me know that my vision is good, HOWEVER; that does not make it His vision. He revealed that he desires to do exceedingly abundantly more than I could ever hope or imagine. This is exciting to see God step in after I finally realize that my thoughts are not His thoughts.


Loving With ALL MY Being....

One question hounds me occasionally and that is, "do I truly love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength?" If someone were to ask me that question, I would answer affirmatively because I know the correct response.

However, since God knows what is inside of people, would God confirm or deny my assertion? I often do not know my own limitations in extending love to another person. In my weakness, I am restricted to loving others to the degree that I am secure in peace and in love (I did not say feel secure but 'am secure'). If these are misunderstood or missing, my attempts to love take on baggage that clouds my expression of love. I believe that I am loving when in reality I may only be responding with what I know to be the right response as this is much easier than allowing God to cleanse and purify my heart and mind.



People scurrying about, heading both north and south on the road in front of the church, and yet we neglect that which is most important. The Psalmist reminds us to be still and know that He is God.

With our hectic pace, we only acknowledge God in our passing prayers and fleeting devotionals. We think these suffice, but the truth of the matter is that we do not KNOW God. Our knowledge knows about God but we still attempt to find fulfillment in maintaining a pace that draws the praise of others. God looks from afar and simply shakes His head and we continue, hoping that our pace will slow down, so that we can add another activity rather than a deeper relationship.



What's new? In a world in which so much remains the same, what is new? This paraphrase from Scripture, "His mercies are fresh every day" remind us that we have something new each day in our relationship with God. The Psalmist also tells us that these mercies are everlasting.
How does something of eternal stature become fresh everyday?

This is only accomplished by living in strong communion with God. Each day a fresh supply of mercy is available to sustain one through the challenges and opportunities of that day. These mercies will never fail while providing the necessary courage and assurance that God is walking along side of you. Confidently live with this expectation and your light should shine brightly in your corner of the world.



When Christ commands a disciple to go and sell all that he/she has and give it to the poor, does He mean everything? The tendency of we Americans is to horde incredible amounts of possessions, some with value but most have little value other than the concept that we are well to do because we have "stuff".

What could you rid yourself of today that would not affect your life? The fewer of this world's possessions one gathers, the freer one is to follow the call of Christ unequivocally. Christ stated that it is difficult to love God and have an unhealthy affection for the things of the world.


Controlling Your Mouth

Our mouths give accurate information of what is happening inside us. It is one thing to praise God and thank Him for the blessings that we enjoy and another to use this same instrument to express displeasure at one who is a part of God's creation.

I have been reminded how easily we can offend someone with our words. We may see these words as humorous and insignificant but if these words are derogatory and cutting to another person, then we have injured a friend or a loved one.

Paul writes that our words are to be beneficial to ALL who hear them and that they would be of encouragement to those who hear them. This challenge is one that we dare not neglect.


Are You A Good Farmer?

The neighborhood, which surrounds our church, does not appear to be 'white until harvest'. In walking through the apartment complex today, it was readily apparent that finances are difficult for many people, as I saw a significant number of eviction notices. Also, I was speaking with one of the workers, who had just been attacked by a group of high school teens.

It would be easy to assess that indeed this area is not ready for harvesting, however; if it is not ready for harvesting is it because we have not been sowing? Jesus reminds the disciples that the harvest comes because there has been seeds sown at a previous time. We MUST be either planting seeds or harvesting a crop, but we can not remain silent and uninvolved and expect to reap a harvest of 10, 30, or 100 fold.


Such Wondrous Love

We crave being loved and often times we take extreme measures or actions to receive this love but we only receive attention instead. The good news about Jesus Christ is that this love is extended without our having to impress Him.

The best definition I have for this God-like, unconditional love is "having such high regard and respect for another person that we work to do what is best for them". This is God's love for me, He works to bring me into relationship with Him through Jesus' dying on the cross -- that is what is best for me.


Avoiding this Age Is Challenging

Paul writes that we are not to be conformed to this age. It is easy to pick an aspect of our age, such as the drug culture or the sex industry, and pat ourselves on the back because we are avoiding these areas of our age.

As a Christian, raised in Western culture, I may be religiously able to sidestep these obvious degrading activities but how am I doing if I were to step away from Western culture. Will God see my participation in the materialistic greed as okay or will he raise the question to me, "what about the poor?"

I believe Paul wants us to do away with ALL aspects of this age and live rather to the standard of a Kingdom agenda. This causes me to daily evaluate my use of resources, time, energy, and emotions. I pledge, no matter how long it takes, to live to the expectations of the Kingdom culture.


Drawing Close to God

The person who flaunts the idea that they are growing closer to God is one who should cause another caution as to the veracity of the claim. In many instances when one claims this special bond forming with God, the emphasis is on one's self.

It is my observation that the closer one draws to God the more the focus is placed on others. I look for a genuine concern for others and specifically those persons who are overlooked by society in general. When one's emphasis is on these needs, I am inclined to think that this person is indeed drawing closer to God. The neat thing is they may not even realize it.


You Are NOT Normal

I hate to break the news to you (if you are unaware) that you are not normal. It is my belief that only two people existed in a normal state and that lasted until they ate of the forbidden fruit. Since that time each of us have been raised in a dysfunctional setting (you may contend with this assumption if you do NOT have a bellybutton).

As Christians, this means that we have the responsibility of growing in favor with God and man -- we have to mature emotionally as well as spiritually. I believe that we must accept our flaws and deal with them in a constructive manner. I believe that God is just as willing to heal us emotionally as He is spiritually. Sometimes it seems easier to neglect fully maturing and justifying our behavior because that's just the way I am.


A Change in the Concept of Worship

We face a challenge that is expressed in personalizing our thoughts about worship. Since we have determined it is about our feelings, we pick what suits my fancy and what will give me a sense of well-being. This, in my opinion, is an underdeveloped idea of worship. Paul states that true worship is learning to live in a state of 'self-sacrifice'.

If this becomes my approach to worship, I am worshipping twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. When I gather on Sunday morning, it is not worship Per Se but rather the public assembly of like minded people for public praise, prayer, and challenge/encouragement. If I am a 'living sacrifice' then I do not care what takes place during the public assembly because I have learned to worship in ALL circumstances.


Time Flys By

I wonder how many times today I preceded on a task because I wanted to and not because it would be God honoring and not necessarily productive. This comes to mind as I have had a difficult day focusing on tasks. (I have been able to stay busy and actually accomplish quite a bit.)

However, it is also one of those days when I have not concentrated on what God would have me be doing. When the night falls, will I have furthered the Kingdom of God by having lived today?


Mind Games

The mind is a wonderful thing as we can conjure incredible acts of kindness and encouragement. Paul challenges us to focus on those things which are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and anything that is excellent or praiseworthy and to focus our thinking on these items. This requires constant attention for me as my mind is easily distracted by things which are counterproductive to the attributes on this list.

Paul also admonishes us to take every thought captive. For those thoughts which are counterproductive, take them captive. Refrain from letting them take up a home in your mind and never yield to the temptation to verbalize destructive or negative thoughts. As Paul writes, as well, let this mind be in you which was in Jesus Christ.


New Wineskins With Old Lessons

These are challenging times and as I was praying about this, I was reminded that the transition we are experiencing may be as significant as the infiltration of Assyria and Babylon into Judea and Israel. I would like to think that I have a say in my own destiny but that is not often the case. The idea that everything that had become secure in their religion was being destroyed from these enemies beyond their boundaries caused doubt about God's care for the Israelites.

As the foundations of America continue to erode (not the fault of the politicians but I BELIEVE it is the judgment of God), we must redefine what it means to worship and obey. The future depends upon our learning from the despair of the ancient Israelites that even though circumstances are changing, God is still in control even if we lose the type of worship that has become so comfortable.


True Integrity

True integrity goes beyond human communication and involves the very Truth of God. We think we are being honest but it is easy to deceive ourselves into thinking we are truthful when in reality we are communicating at a level in which we think the other person is informed. When their questions or comments expose our limited expression of truth, we are forced to confess the truth or we hedge with comments or use avoidance that diffuse our masked truth in order to save face.

As we continue at this level of integrity, we are deceiving ourselves and the Truth continues to knock on our hearts and minds, calling us to repentance. If we ignore this call, we learn to live a life of partial truths, which compromise our witness. Christ is calling us to live at a higher level of Truth which is impossible without the anointing of the Holy Spirit.


Becoming Like Children

All that is good in life is found in a toddler who has been surrounded and nurtured with love. Their ready acceptance of people and their desire to please are attributes that should be maintained through out life. Their desire to learn and listen, constantly opening themselves to more knowledge, are focused on information but more importantly on relationships.

Even their acts of disobedience should be seen as attempts to learn. When one responds to these with loving direction, they learn trust and assurance along with their "discipline."

This may be one of the reasons Jesus stated that we should become like little children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.


Losing the Meaning of a Holy Day

We are approaching the most significant day on the Christian calendar, Easter.

Is this day any more than just another holiday, a day to have sometime off of work? Is it more than a day to mark the transition from winter to spring and the benefits of the season which are colorful as a multitude of hues sprinkle the landscape?

How will the populace know of the meaning of the resurrection of Christ, if we continue to separate the church population from the general public? It is no longer a time in which people will be attracted to the church but it is a time in which the church needs to be attracted to the people.

Christ's commands should ring true in our ears, "GO into all the world and make disciples!" He also challenges us to bid the populace to come, but they will not come unless we GO!"



Nature recovers from its long winter nap as we observe the signs of spring popping around us. The browns and grays of January and February give way to the greens and yellows of April and May.
If life were just this simple. We could take the current mess that surrounds us and allow it to die. Then after a period of time, when the past problems are no longer pressing, we could start afresh. It maybe this is why bears hibernate each winter.
If one were to believe the persons running for the presidency of the United States, it could be concluded that if they were elected as president, we would be gaining this fresh start. After a period of several years, all of the current problems would have disappeared. IF we benefit from any of their campaign promises, we would have few if any concerns for the future.
The challenge of the presidency—as compared to running for it—is the difference between feeling the heat of the sun on a warm spring day and attempting to live on the sun. If one is not facing the daily decisions of a president, one can expound on how things would be so much better if the buck stopped with them.
At the end of their term, the next set of candidates will change little in their rhetoric as they again promise us a fresh start under their leadership. The process is cyclical with the only changes being different candidates espousing their opinions and promises.
The good news is that there is a way in which the old can be put death and a person can experience newness in life. This promise was made by a person outside of the powerful, political elite. It was made without a national chairperson to oversee the process.
As Jesus made his claims, he emptied himself; he became death, so that we could experience life from a fresh perspective. This life is not lived in the public spotlight but rather in the daily relationships of family, friends, and neighbors. Rather than promises of plenty, we receive assurances of peace. Rather than promises of significance, we receive assurances of love. Rather than promises of cooperation, we receive assurances of life.


Servants of Christ GET BUSY!!!!!!

I can not help but reflect on a mother who took the life of her young child. Granted it appears as accident with the mother losing control of her temper. However, an entire family pays the price for one incident (at least as far as I know it is an isolated occurrence). Now four siblings and a husband will be without a mother and a wife, IF she is found guilty.

Those of us who adhere to being followers of Jesus Christ must lay aside so much of the busyness of the church as we have determined the work of the church to be and become involved in the lives of people. In a culture in which personal expression becomes increasingly vogue, it is mandatory that the church speak truth into the lives of people.

Jesus challenged the religious leaders of his day by noting that they win converts to their lifestyle rather than developing a loving relationship between God and people and between believers and our neighbors. It is time for church people to march in obedience to the work and calling of Jesus.


TENUOUS: Life is

The frailty of life is driven home each time I visit our local children's hospital. They handle some of the severest cases from around the state and they do admirable work. However, the sad fact remains, our children die from a variety of causes (some probably preventable) in a land that considers itself to be one of the most civilized nations on earth.

Is there not something that we can do to alleviate these dire circumstances? My hope in humanity continues to erode as we tolerate drunk drivers, abusive persons, child predators....I see only one hope for the human cause and it is the investigation of the person of Jesus Christ...not the Jesus of the Western church but the Jesus of the Bible! It is time for a renewed faith to permeate the Bride of Christ.


Integrity: Who Needs It?

Just what is integrity and why does it seem so important? At a time when a major American university addresses the issues of personal integrity with their basketball coach, the issue is raised why is integrity a concern? Articles have been written and pundits have opined that all coaches bend the rules to a limited extent so why focus so heavily on one.

In an age in which relativism is the guiding principle, the question of integrity is valid. However, if one holds to a mindset of truth, then integrity is a key foundational principle of this mindset. In observing the dilemma between a high profile coach at a school which expects championship caliber competition, and the ruling body which operates from a system of absolutes, then issues surface.

Integrity is one's consistency of action with what one believes without regard to circumstances. Relativism is one's actions consistent with what seems appropriate at a given time. These are two significantly worlds apart in their views of life.

From the perspective of this author, truth is a principle from which one operates their life and makes their decisions. Truth can not be altered by circumstances, although, it may be viewed differently by various persons. Death is a truth that can not be altered, all people will die. One can not take a relativistic view of death but one can put death in their own perspective.

The solar system functions from principles set in motion and is not relative. At the same time we observe that their are influences within this system. As an example solar storms affect weather on earth, however; these influences do not alter the truth by which the system operates.

This same principle seems applicable to integrity. If a person maintains a public personae of integrity but is unfaithful oe untruthful to his or her spouse, how do you know that they are above reproach in their public dealings? Integrity matters. Without integrity relationships crumble, trust erodes, and people isolate themselves because of fear in dealing with people. A person whose integrity is untarnished is a person who gains the respect, trust, and confidence of others.


They Will Know by Our Love

The concept of church has been around since the time of Christ and many concepts have been proposed as to what constitutes church. The Greek word which is translated as church means to “assembly” and “to be called out”.
Thus, a church would be an assembly of people who are called from the general population. Most of us may see this as a rudimentary definition of “church” and we would place additional explanations to define church.
In developing a concept of church, the logical starting point would be the “Bride (or Body) of Christ”. Within the confines of the basic definition of church it would then be an assembly which is called together for the purpose of being married to Christ.
This viewpoint is contingent upon grasping the implications of what constitutes a good marriage. Since we know that Christ is to be the head of the church, then it seems logical that Christ would be the lead partner and we would be the one who follows. This is consistent with Christ accepting the leadership of the Father as the Father sent the Son into the world.
While one cannot comprehend the fellowship which exists within the Triune God, the picture presented in Scripture defines an intimacy within the Godhead which is unattainable without Divine participation. As the Bride of Christ, the church should enter into this fellowship. Not only should the vertical fellowship be present, believers with the Godhead, but also should be horizontal, believers with other believers.
This fellowship is consistent with the statement of Jesus that people will know that we are Christians by our love. It makes little difference of all the add-ons that we use to describe the church, if we are not demonstrating love and fellowship; then we miss a key component of what it means to be a part of the Bride of Christ.


Tomorrow Isn't Here Yet

It is incredible how many people are inclined to worry about events days, weeks, or possibly even months in the future. As I spent time with an individual who has a number of medical issues, the doctors had significant concerns in performing a "routine" hernia procedure. While this concern is of course necessary in litigious society, as the events unfolded, the surgery was simple, unaffected by the remaining health issues.

This has been a reminder that tomorrow never arrives and many of the items which occupy my mind with worrry prove to be nothing more than a waste of time. The lesson is reiterated, take no thought about tomorrow for today will have enough challenges. If I live in the present and address the opportunities that I have, I will have a clear mind to confront the items that face me if and when they arise.


Opinions Are ONLY Opinions

I can not help but chuckle at the pundits who had all but crowned the New England Patriots as the Super Bowl Champions. This would have been an incredible achievement as they would have been only the second National Football League (NFL) team to accomplish an undefeated season along with winning the Championship game.

Political "experts" have picked the candidates who they were sure were going to win various of the state primaries held in the United States. On more than one occasion they have missed the mark with their prognostication.

Opinions are nothing more than one person's idea about how an event will turn out. As people attempt to pigeon hole other people, we must remember there will always be naysayers about what one can accomplish. Do not give extensive thought to what others would opine but rather work diligently to fulfill your dreams.


Peace That Passes Human Understanding

So much has happened in the last three weeks, that I did not realize how long it has been since I entered a post. Most prevalent during this stretch was a bout with pneumonia from which I have been healed (the only residual side effect is that I am easily fatigued).

Even though it has been very busy, I am having difficulty recollecting just how this time passed. It has been good to spend a considerable amount of time with my wife, Kathy, and learn afresh how beautiful a woman she is. Much of the time has been spent in prayer, with an emphasis on listening to God rather than talking. It is amazing the peace that accompanies in allowing God to speak to me. It is out of this world and confirms that in the midst of difficulties of life, all is well in Heaven.

The irony of this peace and assurance is that it does not come in measurable quantities. I can give you five pounds of peace or a gallon of assurance. It is the lack of earthly measurement that proclaims that these traits are not of human origin.