Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Sacrifice of Praise


We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.  For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp.  Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.  Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.  For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.  Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.  But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” – Hebrews 13:10-16

Jesus was the last bloody sacrifice God would accept.  The sacrifice He desires from us today is the praise of our lips. 
I had a conversation one night this past week with a dear daughter of God (you know who you are my friend J) and we both gave praise to God for the things He has brought us through in life.  He has set both our feet on solid rock, and just taken care of us in ways that are unmistakably Him.  It was a spontaneous conversation where we both just let our hearts pour out what He put inside – praise for Him. 

Nothing feels as good as reflecting on the good God has placed in your life, and sharing it with others.  It’s like bragging on your children – but better.  It’s like telling the love you have for your spouse – but stronger.  It brings more joy than singing the most beautiful song.  It’s the only time you will empty what is in your heart only to have it feel as if it is full to overflowing.

Do you have a praise to give God?  I’d love to hear it.  He tells us to “do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased”.  We grow in faith knowing what God has done for others.  Praise to God is seed planting.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Unknown God

"Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.  Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.  And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’  Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.  Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,  because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”  - Acts 17:24-31

The above sermon was given by Paul to the people of Athens.  Athens believed in many many gods and had temples throughout the city for every god imaginable.  But just in case they’d left one out – not to offend that god – they created an altar to “The Unknown God”. 
It’s not hard to understand how people left to their own resources would believe there were multiple gods.  Consider His attributes and His power.  It is unfathomably great. 

Who controls the seas?  God
Who controls the spin of the planet? God
Who controls the weather? God
Who gives life and takes life? God
Who created us? God
Who gives us our desire to love and be loved?  God
Who rescues us from our enemies? God
Who heals us? God
Who provides our food and clothing and shelter?  God
Who gives us wisdom? God
Who watches over us? God
Who guides us through the voice that only His can hear? God

The list is so long that it’s impossible to make a list without leaving something out.  Therefore, those who had never heard of our eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent God reasoned that no one god could perform all these things, and they created many gods to fill the various roles of God.
But Paul, being wise and lead by the Holy Spirit, was able to reach them by speaking of the Unknown God.  He explained to the people of Athens the God above all gods, the one true God, not made with hands, not living in a temple made by hand, but living in each of us who believe in Him as an intimate God.  He says “He is not far from each one of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being”.

I thought for a while this morning on what it would be like to have been a Roman, believing in many gods all appointed a specific delegation of power.  Can you imagine how hard prayer would be?  If you’re sick, you pray to one god.  If you’re having financial problems, you pray to another god.  If you’re having trouble within your family, you pray to another god.  The image in my mind of all this is total chaos.  
And then God reminded me that He is not the author of confusion and chaos but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).  And there you have it.  The attribute that our God gives over all other gods and even an unknown god is PEACE. He has given us His own son to allow us to come to Him even in our corrupt state.  Ephesians 2:14 says of Jesus, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one [us and God], and has broken down the middle wall of separation”, which was our sin of unbelief.

Praise God for the Prince of Peace!


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Fearing God .vs. Fearing Hell


The fear of the Lord PROLONGS LIFE, but the years of the wicked will be short.” – Proverbs 10:27

“The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is RICHES AND HONOR AND LIFE.” – Proverbs 22:4

“The fear of the Lord is INSTRUCTION IN WISDOM, and humility comes before honor.” – Proverbs 1:7

“But THE LORD TAKES PLEASURE IN THOSE WHO FEAR HIM, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” – Psalms 147:11

“But I will warn you whom to fear: FEAR HIM WHO AFTER HE HAS KILLED, HAS AUTHORITY TO CAST INTO HELL. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” – Luke 12:5

Somewhere along the way in Christian theology and teaching, we’ve strayed that tiny little bit to the left and missed the mark.  A good friend once told me that all it takes to miss God is just to get our attention side tracked that tiny little bit.  It’s like a man with a bow aiming at a target and then becoming ever so slightly distracted.  We may hit the target, but we’ve missed the bull's-eye.

I grew up hearing lots about hell, rather than hearing of God’s love.  It was scary stuff!  Gnashing of teeth in pain!  Fire that never ceased to burn us! The separation from our loved ones! Coals of fire and ashes that envelope us forever! Living forever in pain without God - and with Satan and his demons.  While that is all true, it’s a slight distraction. 

God’s word NEVER tells us to fear hell.  But time and time again it tells us to fear God.  What’s the difference you ask?  Fear of God is reverence toward Him, honoring Him with our submission.  Fear of hell is only fear, and God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love (2 Timothy 1:7). 

If you worship God out of fear, you are a slave to God, obeying orders out of fear.  But God does not call those that believe to be His slaves, but His children.  What’s the relationship between a parent and a child?  It’s based on love - not fear.  It’s based on respect, honor, trust, loyalty, commitment.  The difference in fearing hell and fearing God is the relationship formed with Him.  He wants your LOVE (Matthew 22:37). 

While fearing hell may save you from going there, it will do nothing for you in life.  Yet time and time again, God’s word tells us that if we fear Him (respect, honor, submission, love), we will be blessed. 

Friends, fear God only.  By fearing God, you gain a relationship with Him that is heaven on earth, as well as Heaven for eternity. He loves you and wants your love in return.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Copy and Paste This

“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 10:32-33

There seems to be a lot of concern regarding denying Christ before men.  In the past week or so I’ve been asked to “copy and paste” some sort of status regarding this many times.  I’m just going to be very blunt when I tell you I will NEVER copy and paste any guilt trip to prove my love for Christ.  If you don’t see it in my life, then I’ve failed.  If my life does not prove I am his, then I have denied him.
These verses mean so much more than stating that you are believers in Christ.  It’s so much more than the act of posting a status.  People watch your life – not your Facebook status. 

In the preceding verses of Matthew 10 Jesus explains what it means to deny Him.  He tells his disciples “whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light” and “whatever you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops”.  What Jesus is telling them is to ‘be my voice’.  He taught them well, and He needed them to be bold enough to preach. 
In the days of Christ’s ministry on earth the person who explained the Hebrew laws would always have an interpreter present.  He would whisper into the ear of the interpreter his words, and then the interpreter would speak them to the crowd.  We have a spiritual ear, an ear of the soul.  God’s word tells us that He speaks in a “still small voice”, a whisper (1 Kings 9:12).  He speaks to our very heart through His Holy Spirit.  When we do not share what God has given us in those times, then we deny Christ our voice.

He has asked us to speak it on the housetops.  In those days house tops were flat with a banister around them.  If you wanted to proclaim news to the public, that was your stage.  When Sabbath was to be honored by the Jews, there would be six trumpet sounds from the housetop to instruct them when to quit work in the fields and in the cities, and when to light the Sabbath candle.  The housetops were used to convey messages to large numbers of people throughout the Bible.  I cannot think of a better place to speak what God has given you than on your social media pages where you will reach thousands.  But, your life must speak the same message.  It is with your life, your day to day actions, the words that come from your mouth (even when you are angry), that you proclaim that you belong to Christ or deny Him. 

Nobody needs a watered down weak Christian.  We are called to be BOLD in our faith (Ephesians 3:12, 2 Corinthians 3:12, 2 Timothy 1:6-7, Ephesians 6:19).  If the only time you talk about your love for God and your faith is inside your church, you need to find your boldness.  It’s the people outside church doors that crave and need a relationship with God. 
So speak what He tells you to speak.  Be Christ’s voice in this world in your words and your actions.  Otherwise, you are denying Him.  God doesn’t need secret agents.




Monday, November 9, 2015

Protecting Yourself from Church Hurt

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:1-3

Church conflicts are satan’s favorite weapon.  They break down the body of Christ into clicks.  They split churches.  They cause pastors to leave.  They create animosity within the body to where it cannot function to its full potential. They cause devoted members to just quit going to church. 
Church conflicts are going to happen as long as churches are made of people.  We all have opinions, and we all think ours are right and everyone else’s are wrong.  We all want to get our way.  We all want our ego’s stroked from time to time, and we all go through times that we’re so unhappy with ourselves that we become easy game for satan to sow seeds of discord.  He may send those to your church to begin it with little talks behind people’s backs, little nasty attitudes, and discouraging words.  He knows all too well how to get the job done.  Many of you reading this are in, or have been in, such a situation with a family of church friends.

But God did not leave us helpless when it comes to church conflicts.  He provides instruction for our response to church hurts.  In Ephesians 4:1-3 he tells us how to keep the bond of unity and peace.
First, he tells us to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called”.  If you get out of the will of God, you’re asking for trouble.  Oh how satan loves to find you doing something you’re ashamed of!  Oh how he loves to poke and prod at that favorite sin until it takes over!  Keep yourself close to God by staying in His word, with His people, and away from the evils that tempt you.  When you abide in Christ, you have an umbrella of protection (Psalms 91).

Secondly, he tells us to live in “lowliness and gentleness”.  Don’t get an ego!  When we start feeling like we are somebody then we open ourselves up to letting our pride get hurt.  Trample your own pride so that satan doesn’t get a chance to.  Do those things that you think are ‘beneath’ you.  Be the servant – love the master.  Be gentle in your words to others as well.  Remember that everyone has the capability of getting their feelings hurt.  Don’t let satan use you to do that job.  Let your words be few, and let them be harmless as doves, wise as serpents (Matthew 10:16).
Lastly, we’re told to be “longsuffering, bearing with one another in love”.  Be “longsuffering”, meaning don’t wear your feelings on your sleeve.  You WILL get your feelings hurt eventually, regardless of what you do.  Learn to be forgiving – immediately.  Guard your words about the matter because they only further sow discord.  If you can’t get over it in silence, then quietly talk to the person who offended you about it.  If they will not ask for forgiveness, forgive them anyway.  You need forgiveness in order for God to hear your prayers (Matthew 6:14-15, Colossians 3:13). 

Find something to love about even the most unlovable.  You can find it if you try.   1 Peter 4:8 says “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”  When you love someone, truly love from your heart and not your head, you will forgive the things they do that offend you.  1 Corinthians 13:7 says that “love bears ALL THINGS”.  It’s a safe zone we give to others in the body of Christ, and a zone we are offered by those that love us in return.  Even with the best intentions in the world, and a heart of gold, you are going to eventually screw up!  You need the safe zone of Christian love.  Nurture it, grow it, offer it to those you fellowship with.  Otherwise, it won’t be there for you when you need it.
You get to pick what offends you and what you will forgive.  It is a choice to be offended.  Choose wisely.  Choose what God would have you to feel.  And when you struggle with it, read Matthew 18:21-35.

You may think this sounds like you have to be a doormat for others.  Yes, you sometimes do.  BUT IT’S WORTH IT!  When the bond of love and peace surrounds you in your Christian fellowship, the Holy Spirit is present.  In His presence, you’ll enjoy the love and peace, and be easy to dismiss any distractions of hatred and strife that satan wants to offer you.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Get Back Up!

 Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people.” – 1 Samuel 12:20-22

 We all fail God.  We do it daily.  Sometimes it’s in the big monstrous things that we feel shame and guilt over.  But most commonly, it’s in the smaller things that we just habitually do because we’ve never really considered them to be against God’s will.  We stretch the truth, we overeat, we use bad language, we talk about people, we act on our anger – there’s a long lists!  We do these things remorse, almost as if we expect God to just accept the fact that we’re filled with faults.   Yet God has said “Be Holy, for I am Holy.” (1 Peter 1:16).  God would never ask us to do something outside our ability.  He provides the strength for us to overcome our habits and failures.  We just have to accept that strength and reject our own will to do what we know is wrong.

 Samuel gives some great advice to us after we’ve failed God repeatedly.  He was talking to the Israelite people who begged for a King and in so doing rejected the Lord as their head.  To paraphrase what he says in 1 Samuel 12:20-22, he says, “You screwed up! Repeatedly! But don’t let that be where your journey ends.  Follow God with all your heart because everything else will only leave you empty and unsatisfied.  God hasn’t forsaken you because of your sins.  Because you are His people, and He has chosen you to be His.  He’s not going to ruin His reputation by walking away from you.  So don’t walk away from Him.” 

There’s a quote that says it’s not how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up that counts.  Don’t let sin bury you.  Get back up.  Keep following God because His love for you doesn’t end at your mistakes.  You mean more to Him that what you’ve done.  His plan for you doesn’t end at your failure.  Keep on living His plan because nothing else will ever satisfy a soul that has tasted the joy of His salvation.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Be the Gate Keeper

Abstain from all appearance of evil.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:22

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

I just don’t get it.  This time of year I see good solid Christians who are willing to participate in haunted houses, who are willing to watch horror movies, and they just don’t seem to see a problem with it.

Yet God’s word tells us to abstain from even the APPEARANCE of evil.  Even if it’s just a guy in a mask carrying a bloody chain saw to pretend, it is the appearance of evil.  It’s the appearance of murder, which we all know is sin, but somehow want to make it entertaining at this time of year.  How is that okay?  How do we reconcile God’s word to this?  You can bend it, twist it, scramble the words, but it still says ONE thing – abstain.

His will for us is that we do not live in fear.  That’s why He says 365 times – yes, once for each day of the year – in His word, “Fear Not”.  Yet some will watch horror movies and even say before hand “I’ll probably have nightmares over this!” Really?  So you invite fear into your life?

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, God wants your mind to be pure, free from thoughts that are harmful to you, that welcome evil into your heart and mind.  But you have to be the gate keeper and abstain.  Will you do that for Him?  Will you do it for yourself? Protect your mind and your heart.  Don’t let fear enter your heart.  Don’t plague your mind with evil thoughts.  And for God’s sake, protect your children as well.  Not every form of entertainment this world offers is worthy of your time.



Sunday, October 25, 2015

Detoxing from Life


Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” – Psalms 143:7-8

Yesterday afternoon I had the rare chance to just sit and think and enjoy being outside.  It’s in those quiet times when I can unload the cares of life and just sit and enjoy the life around me.  Sitting there and listening to the crickets chirp, the squirrels jump from tree to tree, and an occasional bull frog croak, something occurred to me.  While we are covered up in the events of life and all its burdens, life is still going on around us in this peaceful manner that we sometimes neglect. 
While I may be stressing over a bad work day, crickets are happy to just rub their legs together and communicate with each other.  While I’m trying to fit more into my schedule than would fit a 30 hour day, leaves are gently falling in a beautiful dance of flips and twists and floating turns.  Life is not supposed to be a hurried race of full schedules and anxiety!  It only becomes that when we step away from the real plans God has for our lives and become consumed by life itself. 

Jesus says in Matthew 11:28 when He is praying for us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  He understands the work we have to do to get by here on earth and all its burdens.  But he also understands that the rest we need won’t come from a weekend off.  It comes from Him.  He gives rest, “rest for your souls”. 
We get side tracked, derailed even.  We bury ourselves in things we need to do, think we should do, or others think we should do.  Yet in 1 Peter 5:6-11 Peter tells us that we should cast all our worries on God because HE CARES for us.  And immediately after that he tells us that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking to devour us!  There is a relation.  Being God- minded gives us the ability to drop our worries and turn to Him for strength, where that being world-minded only causes us to implode, to be completely overwhelmed by life. 

Nature is a great detox for the stress of life, and for good reason.  Nature reveals God’s invisible attributes (Romans 1:20) through all that He has made.  Throughout His word it is through nature and analogies of nature that He tells us He loves us.  The grass of the field is taken care of – and so will we be (Matthew 6:31). The birds of the air are taken care of – fed daily – and so we will be because we’re even more valuable to Him that they are (Matthew 6:26).  He lays us down in green pastures, beside the stillness of calm water (Psalms 23:2).  It is through nature that God reveals so much of Himself.  Even on the mountain with Moses, it was through thunder, lightning, winds, fire, and earthquakes even that His presence was known. 
King David felt the stress of life on many occasions.  Some of the most passionate prayers recorded are his to God to remove the stress and worrisome situations he endured, which are found in Psalms.  Time and time again, David sought God’s help in prayer.  Psalms 23 is one of those, but Psalms 143:7-8 reveals something slightly mentioned, but of great importance.  David says “Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to THE PIT. Let me hear in the morning of your STEADFAST LOVE, for in YOU I TRUST. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I LIFT UP MY SOUL.”  David feared “going down to the pit”, which was not hell, but based on the Hebrew word “bowr” means a dungeon, a prison, a well or an empty cistern.  David was describing a deep, dark place.  He feared depression and anxiety.  What did he request as the antidote?  He asked to hear God’s steadfast love, and to God, and God alone, he lifted up his very soul. 

We all get to pick and choose what rules our lives, to what or whom we “lift up our soul”.  Truly it is a choice.  But it’s a choice that we must consciously make - or life will make it for us.  We can choose to let God control our lives and turn over our cares to Him, or we can walk through life trying to do it ourselves and let the pit become our home. 
Friends, take time to slow down, relax and enjoy the life that goes on around you.  Come out of the comatose state of work and worries, and look up in prayer.  Get outside! Look at the great works He does every day.  Let Him lift your head.  Let Him show you the peace of life that comes from trusting Him with all your worries, and leaning into His great love.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sand on the Sidewalk

“So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” – Zechariah 4:6

It’s easy to say you have faith in God for some things.  But when we must have faith in what seems impossible to our simple minds for God to do, our faith sometimes is blown away like sand on a sidewalk. For example, we can believe God for healing of the common cold.  It happens all the time, and we’ve all experienced that healing.  But when it comes to believing God for healing of something greater, like cancer, our faith is easily scattered.  When it comes to believing God for forgiveness of your wrongs by another, when it comes to believing God for the return of your children to the way they were raised, when it comes to believing Him for your financial security, or even when we must believe that He will restore our marriage, our faith can be blown as thin as sand on a sidewalk.

Zechariah’s vision from God was one to increase his faith and to refocus his vision.  The Israelites had been returned from their 70 years of captivity in Babylon by the mighty work of God.  But seventy years is a long time, and for Zechariah to have been told that the temple would be rebuilt, he pondered just how that would be possible. 

God anticipated his doubt even at the point Zechariah was born.  His name means “Yahweh remembers”.  Remembers what you ask?  He remembers His promises!  God had promised that out of the tribe of Judah would be born a savior, and God had not forgotten His promise.  Rebuilding the temple was only one part of a larger plan, and God was constructing the plan step by step.  To Zechariah, having human eyes and no vision of the future, seventy years was an eternity, no doubt filled with questions about God’s will.  Was it still God’s will to provide a savior?  Was it still His will to use the bloodline of the idolatrous Israelites to deliver the King?

God spoke to Zechariah in this fourth vision of one night of eight visions to address his doubts.  God said, “Not by might”, meaning not by your strength or armies of strength, “nor by power”, meaning not by any authority you have or your government or other sects have, “but by My Spirit”.  God intended to provide the strength and power Himself to not only rebuild the temple, but to provide a Savior. 

God answers to no man or power for He is ALMIGHTY.  There is none more powerful, no one in charge of any part of His universe other than Him.  Friends, as your faith may waver in times when you cannot see how God will accomplish what He has planned, understand you do not have to have the answers to the how, when and why to have faith that God will do exactly what He has promised He will do.  God keeps His promises.

So let the wind blow the sandy grains of faith you have right off your sidewalk.  God knows where it went, and He will still accomplish what He has promised.  Thank Him for His faithfulness, and rest in the fact that He does not lie, and He is trustworthy.  He will not break a promise. 

“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments” – Deuteronomy 7:9 

Monday, September 14, 2015

It's Called Respect!

I’m not going to sit in a corner this morning praying weak prayers for God’s comfort to those families who are grieving over the murder of a 31-year old KSP Trooper assigned to protect our county.  I am angry, and I’m doing something I don’t often do.  I’m writing angry.  For once, I’m speaking up in an effort that SOMEONE will hear and take notice.  And I’m going to warn you – I will talk back if you give me smack.  If you can’t take the heat, get your tail out of this kitchen.

Friends, we have an epidemic in our society that is killing us.  I don’t care if it’s black on black, black on white, or white on white violence.  I don’t want you telling me this life matters or that life matters.   In fact, I’m sick of the whole slogan because it is WRONG.  EVERY life matters because life does not come from ourselves but from God.  Children, regardless of color, are a gift from God (Psalms 127:3) and we all start as children.  If you want to start labeling violence by color, then I’m going to call you a racist. When God looks at us he does not look at the flesh but the heart!  Our hearts are all the same.  If you’re standing for the rights of any color, you’re blind to the fact that we are ONE society – not divided by color.  We go to ONE school system, we have ONE government, we nave ONE protection system, ONE work force. 

It’s not even the violence that’s the problem.  If you find a weed in your garden, do you snip the weed back? No! You dig it out by the root! At the root of this problem is a lack of respect for authority.  God has clearly said we are to be subject to our governing authorities (Romans 13:1).  Yet, we do not teach that at home.

Here’s how I see it.  Little Johnny (or Janie) gets to be a toddler.  We tell them “NO!” and they do it anyway.  We smile, throw up our hands and say “Boys will be boys”.  Fantastic.  Now you’ve given them an excuse rather than punishment. 

Then little Johnny throws a fit at the grocery store because you won’t buy him candy.  What do you do?  You buy him candy to shut him up.  Fantastic.  Now Johnny knows that being angry will get him anything he wants.  Be sure you enjoy it because you’ll get a replay of this behavior the next time you go shopping.  Unless you decide that you just can’t take Johnny shopping.  Yes, that’s right.  You can just throw your hands up and quit.  That won’t solve the problem, but it does end your frustration…for now.

Then little Johnny is at the Doctor’s office.  He refuses to share with another child one of the toys left in the waiting room.  “Johnny, stop being selfish!  I’m going to count to three and you’d better give it back! One…two…two and a half…THREE…Johnny, I said give it back! Just wait till I get you home!”  And when you get home Johnny has worn your nerves to the bone and you don’t have the energy to fight any more. 

Respect for authority must begin in the HOME – not the school.  God said in Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”  I interpreted that a little bit different for my kids by telling them, obey me - or you might not live so long! 

There is NOTHING wrong with disciplining your children, and EVERYTHING wrong when you will not.  Proverbs 13:24 says “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”  Don’t tell me you love little Johnny and let him walk all over you, shouting, throwing things, punching you, biting you.  Instead, give me little Johnny for a day and I’ll give you back a child who knows that if they bite, they’ll get their tail set on fire.  And you know what – they won’t do it again!  How do I know that to be true?  My kids don’t bite and neither do I.  We want to rewrite what discipline should be, but God has already TOLD US what it should be.  Do we think somehow we are wiser than God?  He said not to spare the rod.  He never said to beat your child, but to discipline them.  Get a brain! It’s swift, it’s to the point, and it’s remembered.  And not once did I leave marks on my children – that’s not discipline, that’s abuse.  You CAN discipline your children the correct way, but only if you’re willing to listen to all knowing, all wisdom GOD.  Take a look around you at the kids who are well behaved.  How are their parents disciplining them?  I’m betting their doing it the way God designed because I don’t know of any other method that is as effective. 

The fact of the matter is that so many want to be their kid’s friend instead of their kid’s parent.  You don’t have that choice!  And it’s far better to be a parent than a friend, because that’s what your kids need.  Kids need boundaries if you want them to grow up to be happy adults.  If you think they’ll respect you if you are their friend, think again! 

Then little Johnny goes to school.  The teacher tries to discipline little Johnny, but all she can do is pull his “card” from green to yellow because she isn’t allowed to make him obey her rules.  She sends him to the Principals office.  There he’s told not to do it again, and maybe the next step of discipline is taken.  He’s sent to alternative school.  My son described it as “it’s not so bad, they even bring you your lunch!”  He didn’t get to enjoy that privilege after that.  I believe this disciplinary design was more about taking the distraction of a disobedient child out of the room than disciplining them. 

If little Johnny becomes a persistent problem in school, he then gets suspended.  Well, now that’s just wonderful.  Little Johnny can either take to the streets and make his own way, or his parents can take him to another county to go to school.  Yes, that’s right.  It’s just like Cuba sending their convicts to the U.S. back in the 70’s.  Our school system gets those kids. 

So how did Johnny go wrong?  When the teacher tried to discipline little Johnny and pulled his card, the parent calls up the teacher and gives her what was probably the last piece of their minds, since by that time little Johnny has torn their home up by doing whatever he wants.  And what does the teacher do? She gives up on Johnny because she can’t deal with him, just like the parent did.

Then little Johnny is playing ball and the coach shouts at little Johnny.  In a scene from my memory I’ll tell you that Dad takes to the ball court and cusses out the coach.  Great job Dad.  You’ve now taught three lessons in one!  Johnny now knows that he doesn’t have to respect the coach, he doesn’t have to obey the rules, and he can use foul language at the coach as well.  And oh yeah, when he comes home and gives you that foul language too – remember you taught him and pat yourself on the back.

My kids have often had teachers and coaches they didn’t agree with.  But when they came home with their story of Mr. or Mrs. Teacher said so-and-so, my response was for them to speak up if they were in the right, otherwise, take the discipline!  If the coach won’t play you – tough cookies.  I’m not talking to the coach for you either.  It went so far in middle school that I actually told my son’s principle to wear his back side out the next time he was disrespectful, or I’d come down there and do it for him.  He finally did, only once, and that was the end of his problems at school.  Without consequences to actions, no child will change. 

Little Johnny becomes a teen, he gets a license to drive, and now he’s got a curfew.  But little Johnny seems to never know what time that curfew is.  You’ve told him over and over, and just as he went out the door you said “Don’t forget – you need to be home by 11:00”.  But Johnny says “I’ll be home at 12:00”.  So…12:00 it is.  You’re just thankful he’s setting a curfew.  But does he make it by 12:00?  No!  And you lie there in your bed wondering if this is the night you’ll get the call that he’s in an accident.  You lose sleep over a child that will not obey you – and never has.  Sometime around 1:00 Johnny stumbles in, obviously under the influence of something other than God.  You tell yourself “He’s just sowing his wild oats!” But here’s the thing.  Some of those wild oats grow up to be given names, and live in homes without their father.  Do you want that for your grandchildren? 

Consider this.  Exactly what do you think there is for a child to do around here after 11:00 at night?  Now, do you want your child doing that?  Then you set a curfew.  If it’s missed, they don’t get to drive for a week.  When your teen has to ride the bus to school, you’ll find they don’t mind a curfew at all.

Finally, little Johnny becomes Big John.  He’s grown up and now out in society.  Maybe by some amazing grace from God he’s now graduated high school and he’s made it to adulthood.  John gets pulled over for a DUI.  When he gets to the jail, he calls home and the parent rushes to get him out.  That’s right.  Cause you know we cannot bear to see “little Johnny” have to endure discipline.  I mean, he’s never had any!  It’s so cruel to have him locked in a cage!  Oh how I wish when parents showed up with bail money they’d lock them up in their children’s place! 

John continues down his road of rebellion, knowing now that even the cops that pull him over aren’t going to be able to keep him.  His parents will bail him out.  Then one day he hurts someone.  It may be a wife, a child, a police officer, but eventually the rebellion and hellion in him grows to full fruition because you did not pull it out by the root!  Then you cry into your pillow wondering where you went wrong.  The bail is set too high now for you to afford, and Johnny is looking at prison.

Parents, I ask you, is this the life you want for your child?  If you have a child that’s in any part of this process of life, my question to you is – where is God in their lives?  Respect for authority begins with respect for God.  People who respect God do not take other people’s lives.  How many murders do you see going to church?  Moral code begins with an education in who God is and who Christ is.  Where do you think we got our laws from anyhow?

My second question to you is – how’s your discipline at home?  Does your child respect you?  Or do they talk back, do things you ask them to do on their own schedule, or completely ignore you?  Friends, as long as that child is in your house, your job is to discipline them.  Even if they are taller than you – your job does not change, though the methods of discipline will need to change.  Take the cell phone, take the keys to the car, and deny them access to their room!  I once changed out the door knob on my daughter’s room and locked her out of it for a week because she refused to clean it.  And when she got it back – she cleaned it without saying a word.  When she missed the bus, I took her phone.  She stopped missing the bus.  Without actions against bad behavior, what you put up with will continue – and get worse!

You must do whatever it takes!  Discipline them or they will bring you more heartache than you can even bear.  You will be that parent who fears their own child entering their home in the middle of the night.  You will be that parent that fears the phone call in the middle of the night.  You will be that parent that just wishes they’d done things differently when they had the chance.

For far too long we’ve had generations of parents who choose not to discipline their children, or not to do it effectively.  How’s that working out?  Take a look at our society!  Young men beating up their girlfriends.  Girls aborting their babies or even worse, killing them and throwing them in dumpsters.    

Parents, for God’s sake, start teaching your children respect for authority.  Sit them down.  Explain it.  They have to respect God, You, their teachers, their coaches, the bus driver, the older people in the checkout lane, police officers, the IRS, everyone in authority!  If they don’t learn it from home, where else will they learn it?

“He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” – Proverbs 13:24

One last question parents.  Do you love your child enough to demand their respect?    




Saturday, September 12, 2015

Give Till You Love

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

If you feel like you don’t have enough – give, because God sees your giving as “sowing”, and will allow you to “reap bountifully”.
If you feel like you don’t want to give – give, because the love of money is the root of all evil.  Letting go of it ensures it does not become your idol.

If you feel like you cannot give cheerfully – give and then give more, because eventually the cheer will come when you lose your love for money.
If you realize your motivation for giving is only to receive more from God – keep giving, and learn to love the feeling of showing love to others more than being selfish.  You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. 

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.”  Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8-12

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Living in the Shadow of His Hand

For You will light my lamp; The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.” – Psalms 18:28

We all go through times in our lives that it feels like we have a black cloud over our heads.  We feel like our lives are an empty pit of sorrow.  The stress of everyday living just sucks the joy out of us.   Everything just gets jacked up on two wheels.  We feel like we’re dredging through life.  There are days filled with tears, and days where we are too low to have any emotion at all.  In those days of darkness you sometimes just pray to sleep through the day because in all honesty you don’t want to live it.
The old song says “the sun will come out tomorrow”.  Hearing those words on one of those dark days may make you want to smack somebody because they obviously don’t understand how you feel.  But as cliché as it may sound, it is true. 

We relate those down days as “dark days”, and the good days as “days of sunshine”, which is an analogy that the Bible uses.  In the Bible, the sun represents light, and light is used to represent God and good.  But darkness is used to represent evil and times of sorrow.  Here’s some verses that show that representation:

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” – Isaiah 5:20

“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” – John 3:19

“But when I looked for good, evil came to me;  and when I waited for light, then came darkness.” – Job 30:26

In Him [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” – John 1:4

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:5-7

For children of God, there can only be days of shadows, not utter darkness.  While we may feel like God has left us, abandoned His children to the darkness of life, the truth is – it’s only a feeling.  His light remains in us, and His light overcomes darkness.  In fact, it is the only thing that can.

In Genesis 1:4 it says that “God divided the light from the darkness.”  This isn’t just a statement about the universe and the sun and moon.  God separates good and evil through His Holiness.  He is the one that determines what is holy and what is evil.  And just as you cannot have pure good and pure evil at the same time, you cannot have pure light and have pure darkness at the same time. 

But you cannot have shadows without the presence of light!  If you have His light, in your darkest days, you’re only living in the shadow.  He has promised “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).  His light is in our hearts - His Holy Spirit.  For the child of God, there are days of shadow, but never days of true utter darkness.  The sun really will come out again (don’t slap me!).  His promise is for joy and peace, not sorrow and depression. 

We can accept the shadows because the light never leaves us.   As Michael W. Smith says in his song 'You Won’t Let Go', “No shadow comes without the light making a way”.  God allows us to endure the shadows from time to time.  In those times, our response should be to draw closer to Him.  Only light overcomes darkness.  Only good overcomes evil. 

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” – John 8:13

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” – Ephesians 5:8

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” – 1 Peter 2:9

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” – Psalms 23:4

For You will light my lamp; The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.” – Psalms 18:28

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” – John 16:3

Back in 2004 when God first asked me to write for Him, He gave me a title for what I then thought would be a book and later became this blog.  The title was “Living In The Shadow of His Hand.”  It was only today that He showed me the true meaning of “living in the shadow of His hand”.  I praise God that I only live in the shadow of darkness, and know that utter darkness will never overcome me.  He is with me, and will never leave me.  His light overshadows my life, and floods my soul.  I love you Father God.  You are an ever present help in time of trouble, the love of my life.

Friends, if you don't know Him as you Father, seek Him.  Seek out who He is, not just to know Him by name, but to KNOW Him and be known by Him.  He promises that if you do, you will find Him.  He is our source of joy, of hope, our light in the darkest of times.  Only when we embrace Him and His love do we really know what love is...unfailing, undeserved, unconditional love.  God be with you is my prayer for everyone who reads this.

Sunday, August 9, 2015


“He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.  Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” – Psalms 46:10

It’s funny how God can take a memory and bring it to mind with a verse that seems absurdly separate in meaning.  This morning in my time with Him He brought to mind the three rules of the Genie in the movie Aladdin.  I know them by heart, thanks to two small children that could watch the movie day after day without blinking an eye while it was playing. 

The three rules of the Genie were:
1. He couldn’t kill anybody.
2. He couldn’t make anybody fall in love with anybody else.
3. He couldn’t bring people back from the dead.

(The video is below if you want to hear it in the words of the Genie, Robin Williams, as I did.)

As human beings, we have an innate nature to try to control things, to step in and fix things – even if they’re not broken sometimes!  As Christians, we feel like we have to always be DOERS of the word.  Yet there is a time that we should just BE STILL, as God tells us in Psalms 46:10.  There are times that things are out of our control.  In those times we are dependent on God to fix them. 

One of those times is when you love someone and you just cannot understand why the love isn’t returned.  Another is when you want to choke the living daylights out of someone, and just like the Genie, you can’t kill nobody…and you shouldn’t want to.  The other is when you want so badly to have that one more conversation with someone who has passed away. 

These are all heart problems, and nothing we can do can change a heart – not even our own.  You can’t make someone love you, you can’t stop loving someone even when they’re gone, and sometimes, you just can’t find the way to forgive and turn off the anger you feel toward someone. 

But God can.  With God nothing is impossible (Matthew 19:26).  God can create a clean heart inside a person (Ezekiel 36:26), and it is okay to ask Him to do that (Psalms 51:10). 

Psalms 46:10 says that He makes wars come to an end.  When we hear the word “war” we usually perceive it to be between nations.  But a war can occur on a much smaller level, in a family, in a job, or even in a single heart.  None of those are omitted from the wars that God can end.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is peace.     

So if you’re hurting from the need to resolve one of the Genie’s three rules in your life, reach out to God in prayer.  Ask Him to do what you cannot do.  Instead of asking him to take the wheel, ask Him to just take the whole thing.  And then, BE STILL.