Friday, January 31, 2014

A little louder

"As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" Jesus stopped and called them. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked. "Lord," they answered, "we want our sight." Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him." -- Matthew 20:29-34
I grew up in a world where you could find a local Deli on just about every corner.  As the years passed I could be found in one of these fine eateries almost every morning ordering up a large cup of black coffee. The only trouble I ever had was occasionally getting a "regular" cup of coffee contaminated with milk and sugar. The clerk just didn't hear my order for "black, no sugar" coffee. Sometimes you just have to speak a little louder.
Along with all the teachings our Lord gave about prayer, we find a perfect example on this occasion. Two blind men would not give up, nor would they tone it down. They wanted to see, and Jesus was able to do the job. They shouted and the crowd was irritated, but the Lord had compassion. He honors those who pray clearly, without ceasing, and give it all they have. Sometimes you just have to speak a little louder.
Have you gotten the wrong kind of coffee too many times? Do you wonder if your prayer life is what is should be? Pray, and don't give up. Pray, and open you your heart to the full. Keep on asking, seeking and knocking; for the Lord will have compassion when the world would have you give up. Sometimes you just have to speak a little louder.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


"Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last." - Matthew 20:15-16
You arrive at the Doctor's office early and the receptionist calls three latecomers before you...unfair!  You wait for twenty minutes to pay for your groceries and the aisle closes just as you arrive...unfair! You made hotel reservations months in advance, but when you arrive your request has been lost...unfair! For whatever the reasons, life is full of occasions that seem to be "unfair".
What exactly is "fair" in this life? And on what basis do we believe that everything should be "fair"? The account that Jesus relates in this passage clearly reveals the freedom that God has to deal with his servants as he chooses. He is generous beyond belief and yet there are those who will always complain that the Good Lord is somehow "unfair". The Lord's call is to be faithful and his promise is to provide for our needs. While "the last will be first, and the first last" may seem "unfair", in everything the Lord is always generous.
Who knows our needs better than the Lord who created us and shows us his care? The Scripture says it best in Romans 8:32, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" Be careful when you accuse the Lord of not being "fair" my friend. He loves you and pours out his grace every day with divine generosity.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Eternal Values

"Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions." -- Matthew 19:21-22
When once asked, "How much money is enough money?" John D. Rockefeller replied, "Just a little bit more." As for this extremely wealthy man, he believed that his purpose in life was to make as much money as possible and then use it wisely to improve the lot of mankind. From his very first paycheck, he tithed ten percent of his earnings to his church. As his wealth grew, so did his giving, primarily to educational and public health causes, but also for basic sciences and the arts. All told, Rockefeller gave away about $550 million. While Rockefeller possessed great wealth, his wealth never possessed him.
Jesus set a rather high standard for the young man in our reading. His demand was quite personal due to a heart condition. The young man was righteous in his actions, but his worship was compromised. His roots were tied down to his great wealth and in many ways it had become his god. He lived for the possessions of this life so much that he lost sight of treasure in heaven through spiritual pursuits. Unlike Rockefeller, this was a man who was possessed by his wealth.
Your salvation is a free gift my friend. Jesus never asks us to purchase eternal life. Yet, our belief in the saving grace of our Lord Jesus demands a total trust in him alone. He desires our uncompromising faith and worship. Furthermore, our spiritual growth and ministry will only be a strong as our focus on eternal values. Life and all that comes with it is to be possessed and used for the Glory of God.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ -- Matthew 18:32-33 
What's the difference between a silk flower and a real one? A lot! Depth and texture are hard to reproduce, but some have come close. Yet, the distinct floral fragrance is just not going to happen. The real deal has a God given scent that most people find quite pleasant. Silk flowers may look nice, but you'll never get out, what hasn't been put in by God.
In the same way, forgiveness is a Christian fragrance. Paul gave instructions to the believers in Ephesus to, "live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:2) God loved us so much that he forgave us for a lifetime of sin. When we face the offense of another, shouldn't we have mercy as the Lord has had on us? This is one significant difference between a religious person and a true believer. The believer has been forgiven in love and exudes a fragrance of loving forgiveness toward others.
Are you a forgiving person? Just as you can't find fragrance in a silk flower, you'll never have a fragrance of forgiveness if you're just religious. But, if you're the real deal, you have been given a scent of loving forgiveness as the Lord forgave you, "while you were still a sinner". (Romans 5:8) If you refuse to forgive, one of two facts are true. You have never been born again as a forgiven child of God, or you are living in sin. Be a flower from God every day my friend and "live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

Monday, January 27, 2014

Our brother's keeper

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." -- Matthew 18:5-6
America was built on the independent spirit. Worldly success is based on personal effort at any cost. If someone is offended or led astray in the process, it doesn't matter if we achieve our goal. The way of the world is as old as the world. As Cain said to God, "... am I my brother's keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) The question remains; Are we our brother's keeper?"
Jesus taught a simple message for life. Be receptive and caring of others. Take special care in all that you do, not to cause someone to sin or stumble. This is the Biblical basis for "no man is an island". The Lord never meant for us to live so independently that we lose sight of one another. In answer to the above question; yes, we are our brother's keeper.
There are others that look up to you and follow your lead my friend. You may not realize this truth, but your conduct, in some way influences someone. As you take each step, ask yourself how it will affect others and practice 1 Corinthians 10:24, "Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor". May we never lead our brothers or sisters astray, because it matters a great deal to our Lord. We have been given a trust to be our brother's keeper.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Voice

"He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."" -- Matthew 17:5
In many circumstances there is the need for only one voice. The orchestra needs one voice of the conductor. The football huddle needs one voice of the quarterback. The flight crew needs one voice of the captain. The surgical team needs one voice of the surgeon. Whether a symphony, game, flight or surgery, the voice to which we listen makes all the difference.
The disciples were overwhelmed with the presence and voices of three persons. Jesus, Moses and Elijah were impressive in their own right and Peter wanted the moment to last and the voices to linger. Yet, they were directed by the heavenly Father to listen to only one voice. "This is my beloved Son... listen to him". Whether it is our personal walk or ministry walk, the voice to which we listen makes all the difference.
There are many voices for us to listen to today. There are voices of the past and voices of present renown. The choices are unending and there seems to be a special voice for every situation. But, the writer of Hebrews tells us that " these last days he (God) has spoken to us by his Son." (Hebrews 1:2) Be wise my friend and remember... the voice to which we listen makes all the difference.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Signs of the times

"He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times." -- Matthew 16:2-3
It's quite amazing to see how many people are experts on the weather. They must be experts since they talk about the weather so much. Conversations begin with the current weather and continue on, focused on the forecast, as well as the weather patterns from last year at this time. They know the paths that the clouds make, but they don't know the Maker of the clouds.
The times have little changed since the days Jesus walked on the earth. There were those who were well versed in the movement of the heavens but they were completely unfamiliar with the Maker of the heavens. They could monitor the coming storm, but they were unable to recognize the coming Spiritual storm. As then, so now, people all around are blind to the "signs of the times".
While you may find it easy to start a conversation by discussing the weather, remember that the clouds of today will soon give way to the thunder of prophecy. We are watchmen my friend, and as the weathermen warn others that dangerous weather is approaching, so we need to warn our world that the judgment of God is riding the winds with certainty. Watch and point others to the "signs of the times" for their spiritual safety.

Friday, January 24, 2014


"Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way."" -- Matthew 15:32
How short our attention span is these days. If a movie is too long it gets bad reviews from the critics. If a classic book is too long it will come out in an abridged edition. If the Baccalaureate speaker is too long-winded he gets booed off the platform. We have become a people who just can't stay focused for very long. Attention takes effort.
Think about the scene before us in this passage. Great crowds came to the Lord for healing and they spent three days with him. His works and words were taken in like water by the parched tongue. One must believe that these people had homes, families and responsibilities, but they found someone who was worth spending unlimited time. They lingered and listened, weary and hungry. Their attention took effort, but was rewarded.
How much time do you spend with the Lord my friend? Do you run in and out of his presence each day with so much on your mind that you can't really concentrate? Are you in a hurry to "wrap it up" on Sunday mornings during the worship service? When was the last time you spent three days with the Lord? Maybe you could start by spending a good quality hour with him. If you make the effort to give him your attention the reward will be great.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


"But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ he is not to ‘honor his father’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition." - Matthew 15:5-6
Contracts and many different legal documents are not always as binding as one might believe. Those who are well versed in legalize can often find ways to get around the most rock solid guarantee. The reasons for seeking to void a contract are many and varied. For personal gain and benefits, no matter how much the law is respected, people make every effort to find a loophole.
How sad to find careless attitudes with those who were called upon to teach the Scriptures and protect them from misinterpretation. Within the law commandments were given to benefit the family and promote compassionate care for those in need. Such laws were given from the heart of God to promote a healthy community in spite of mans sin nature. But in time, even loving devotion was cast aside for selfish gain through an inventive loophole.
What does this passage say to us today my friend? The Word of God speaks to us in every area of life and relationship. It provides commands and counsel to promote selfless living and compassionate care for others (Leviticus 19:18/Matthew 22:39-40). Before we set aside our God directed responsibility for those in need (Proverbs 3:27-28) through some reinterpretation, lets stay true to the Word, freely give as we have freely received (Matthew 10:8) and close up the loopholes. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Great Results

"They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.”... And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over." - Matthew 14:17-18, 20
Ray had only a small workshop and a few tools. But, every now and then a new addition would appear in the small church that I pastored in the seventies. The additions may have seemed small, but to our congregation they were huge blessings. I always marveled at how God took the simple hands and skills that Ray offered and brought about great results.
What was the greatest blessing on this day? Was it a hungry crowd receiving strength for the long journey? Or was it the visible compassion of the Lord for the multitude? Or could it be the way in which the blessings were achieved? When Jesus was given a small and simple offering, he brought about great results.
Consider the following my friend .... great results are in the balance


A basketball in my hands is worth about $19. A basketball in LeBron James' hands is worth about $39 million.
It depends whose hands it's in.
A baseball in my hands is worth about $6. A baseball in Derek Jeter's hands is worth $17 million.
It depends whose hands it's in.
A tennis racket is useless in my hands. A tennis racket in Andrew Murray' hands is a Wimbledon Championship.
It depends whose hands it's in.
A rod in my hands will keep away a wild animal. A rod in Moses' hands will part the mighty sea.
It depends whose hands it's in.
A sling shot in my hands is a kid's toy. A sling shot in David's hand is a mighty weapon.
It depends whose hands it's in.
Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in my hands is a couple of fish sandwiches. Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in God's hands will feed thousands.
It depends whose hands it's in.
Nails in my hands might produce a birdhouse. Nails in Jesus Christ's hands will produce salvation for the entire world.
It depends whose hands it's in.
As you see now it depends whose hands it's in.
So we can put our concerns, our worries, our fears, our hopes, our dreams, our families, and our relationships in God's hands because --


Whose hands are you in today? 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


"And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief." - Matthew 13:58 
On a more temporal level, a physician or counselor can only accomplish as much as the patient believes can be done. Belief is what carries someone through the most difficult procedures and necessary prescriptions. Belief enables one to see beyond the impossibilities and move forward in hope. But unbelief is devastating.
For the passage at hand we see our Lord Jesus, the very Creator and Sustainer of the universe not doing mighty works in his own hometown. As a carpenter and tradesman he had provided for family and friends successfully for years. But now, when he came as a spiritual power and presence, the community was offended. Suddenly confidence and acceptance slipped away. Unbelief was devastating.
This subject remains an issue throughout life as we read in James 1:6-7, "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord" As we begin our walk with God through belief in His Son, so we must walk by faith (Hebrews 10:38) if we ever expect to see mighty works. Unbelief is devastating.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The End of the Age

"The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels." - Matthew 13:38-39
I well remember my father-in-law's sage advice when it came to fads or quirky ministry ideas. "Just give it time" he would say. I learned a great deal from my pastoral mentor. He taught me that God keeps the books and in time "wisdom is proved right by all her children" (Luke 7:35 NIV84). We need to stay on point and leave the rest to Him until the end of the age.
Early on, weeds will have the appearance of wheat. It's not until the wheat sprouts that the truth is known. But, what then? Are we called to be "weed police" or to be "wheat producers"? The answer is obvious when we hear our Lord's slightly different analogy to Peter in John 21:15, "Feed my Lambs". Stay on point by producing wheat and leave the rest to the Lord until the end of the age.
Harvest time always comes at the end of the season. As with the farmer, so should we patiently work the field in which we have been placed. Weeds of all sorts will pop up and occasionally appear to be the real deal with great success. Don't get flustered, just produce the wheat by feeding His lambs. It's not harvest time yet, so leave the rest to the Lord until the end of the age. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Did you HEAR that?

"But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." - Matthew 13:23 
Have you ever walked through the grocery store and been aware of various announcements? Do you really listen? They may be alerting someone that their deli order is ready or it may be a "today only" special. Then again it could be an announcement that YOUR car is on fire. In the midst of your focused shopping spree, what you HEAR determines what you do.
Every believer can do great things for the kingdom of God. Some believers respond to the Word of God with incredible drive and accomplish a hundred-fold and others sixty or thirty-fold. No matter how busy with work, family and personal interests, followers of Christ are expected to be productive. But, it all begins with the listening heart... what you HEAR determines what you do.
The issue isn't just how much of the Bible you read daily or how often you sit under the preaching and teaching of your Pastor. It all boils down to how well you listen. There's quite a difference between the "today only" special and YOUR car is on fire. God speaks to us every day and what we HEAR determines what we do!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Good Fruit

"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit."  - Matthew 12:33
During our dating years and some time after we were married I would often mow my father-in-law's yard. As the summer waned, the yard would be covered with lovely apples. These little gems often looked tasty but were you take a bite, what a bitter experience! If you haven't guessed, these were crab apples. The tree looked promising, but one taste from the fruit told the tale. It's a simple fact; bad fruit comes from bad trees.
Jesus developed this thought by saying, "How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." If our words are to be good, our heart needs to be good and God alone makes the heart good. The Lord promised in Ezekiel 36:26, "And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you."  So, once the heart is good, the words are good. In contrast to the evil heart; good fruit comes only from good trees.
If you have never received a new heart from the Lord, now is the time put your faith in Jesus. But if you have a new heart and want to live a good life, then consider the words of Solomon in Proverbs 4:23, "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." Remember, good fruit comes only from good trees. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Family Ties

"For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." - Matthew 12:50
Being a member of any family comes as a result of birth or adoption. One is not expected to work or contribute funds to join up. A family is not a club, but in most cases those who are members of a family show visible evidence of their connection. Family members will often bear a physical resemblance. They will also have certain mannerisms that are shared by the rest of the family. And finally, those who are members of a healthy family will make every effort to please and honor the family head.
The above mentioned picture is exactly how the family of God works. We are born into His family by faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. This birth is a gift from God and it is eternal in it's nature. While we can never work for, or contribute funds to join the family of God, we should live worthy of the calling. Children of God are those who reflect the image of our elder Brother, Jesus, and they make every effort o do the will of their heavenly Father.
Just because we are given the gift of a heavenly family tie, doesn't mean we are free to live like other families. We are told in Romans 8:29, "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." The family likeness is seen in the faithful efforts to  be like Jesus, by pleasing and honoring our heavenly Father in doing His will.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28–30
I've worked for a good number of  "bosses" over the years. Some have been a real pleasure to work for and others, not as great. Those who were kind and considerate made the job enjoyable on the very worst day. You always had support and encouragement, even when you made dumb mistakes. Their forgiveness and willingness to help you get things right made all the difference. These were people that were "easy" to serve.
After we considered the passages from the last two days a disciple's life could seem quite hard. But, then we step back and take a long focused look at the One who promises "rest" to the weary and burdened. Jesus invites us to take his yoke and learn from him. He is not just the Master Teacher, but he is gentle and humble in heart. In other words, Jesus is "easy" to serve.
Before you get too discouraged in the spiritual battle and worn down by the daily labor for God, turn your eyes upon Jesus. Every morning, noon and night, see his arms open wide as he extends a fresh call to find rest for your soul. As you take on his yoke remember that he is working with you side by side. The work is lighter since He understands and meets our needs with a gentle and humble heart. So... Jesus is always "easy" to serve.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Equal Treatment

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household." - Matthew 10:24-25
Playing on a New York Baseball team can be a really difficult experience. New York fans are highly supportive, but just as critical. When the team is losing, the head coach is on the chopping block all the time. But, the fans are equal opportunity critics. The coach and the players are treated the same.
Jesus was never hesitant to paint the picture of discipleship clearly. He was careful not to suggest that the path ahead was going to be easy. If our Lord was criticized and maligned, it follows that all who follow him will be treated the same way. The Master and disciples are treated the same.
This passage was never meant to warm our hearts. It holds a message of truth to prepare us for every spiritual conflict and verbal humiliation that comes our way. Many Christians have the belief that their path should be socially acceptable and that they should have public approval and applause. But, for those who are true disciples of Jesus, the opposition will be hard and there will be many who criticize and malign. Just remember, the Master and disciples are treated the same.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Dangerous Calling

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." - Matthew 10:16
Law enforcement is a stressful career. The officer needs to understand the lifestyle and techniques of criminals, but at the same time remain righteous. Such people live and work in the shadow of evil and darkness of deceit. Sadly, there are some who fall prey to temptation and end up as sheep to the slaughter. The calling is dangerous.
Choosing to follow Jesus is an exciting step in the beginning. The future looks bright and the adventure is challenging. But, in time the Christian disciple finds out that they are facing spiritual wolves that want to cause havoc. The threat is real and the schemes from the evil one are treacherous. (Ephesians 6:11) The calling is dangerous.
Peter told us in 1 Peter 5:8, "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." We are the presence of righteousness in a world of evil. We are "sheep in the midst of wolves". Therefore, we need to be wise to the ways of the world, but walk in the ways of the Lord. The calling is dangerous. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Harvest Time!

"Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” - Matthew 9:37-38
A number of years ago we ministered in a community that was devastated by flood waters. People lost their homes and were living in motels for quite some time. Our church had the opportunity to provide food and supplies as needed for a few months. The work was demanding, but it was made easy and even fun by the good number of volunteers who gave their time. Families and friends were in need and it was harvest time.
As Jesus gazed upon the crowds that came to him for healing, he was moved with compassion. He saw the need and knew it would take a great amount of effort to make a difference. People were "harassed and helpless" and they were looking for someone who would care enough to help. The souls were many and the volunteers were few, so he encouraged his disciples to pray for laborers because... it was harvest time.
Look around you my friend. Are there not crowds of people that are "harassed and helpless" toady? People need the Lord more than ever, but the volunteers to show them the way are few. It's no time to procrastinate until another day. You will notice that in the next passage (Matthew 10:1-7), Jesus called and sent the disciples into the field. As you pray for laborers, be ready to go yourself because ... it IS harvest time!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What's inside?

"For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?" - Matthew 9:5
Which is easier for the auto industry, to build a slick looking exterior or create a powerful but energy efficient engine? Yet, for a good many customers, the exterior is what catches their interest first and foremost. They tend to forget; slick looks won't get you home at night, but a good running engine will. It's what's inside that counts.
Some good friends brought a paralyzed man to Jesus for physical healing. They wanted his body to be strong and healthy. But, Jesus looked at the deeper and greater need. While it's easier to heal inactive muscles; a healthy body won't get you home to heaven, but a forgiven healthy soul will. It's what's inside that counts.
Are you looking for God to do great things for your health and wealth? Will everything be much better if all the tangibles are improved and you're wading in an abundance of material blessings? Remember well the words of our Lord in Matthew 6:19-21: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." With life and eternity,  it's what's inside that counts. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The most significant choice

"And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm." -  Matthew 8:26
What are your greatest fears?  Spiders, snakes, heights, dogs, flying or germs? Maybe you have a more exotic fear such as Arachibutyrophobia; the fear of peanut butter. Those of us that have such fears make life choices as a result. I wear cowboy boots, so I have no fear of snakes. I travel by car, so I have no fear of flying. In many ways fear directs us to make significant choices.
The disciples had no other way to travel than by boat. The waters they traveled were unpredictable at best and when their boat became swamped to the point of sinking they were afraid. There were no other life choices to make than to call on Jesus. They learned in a moment of desperation that having faith in Jesus is the best and most significant choice.
You're in the boat of  life my friend. It's the only way to travel and storms are definitely brewing. Yes, the unpredictable troubles will overwhelm, but why fear when you can have faith in the One who still calms the winds and waves? This is the best and most significant choice. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

His way is perfect

"And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed." - Matthew 8:2-3
"Getting the Health Care You Deserve"... So reads the logo for a current health care provider. If this isn't enough, you can get "The BMW You Deserve", "The Media Attention You Deserve", or "The Body You Deserve". The message is made loud and clear that we "deserve" everything we want in life. So, when in need, don't we deserve the same provision and care that others have received? Shouldn't we just "name it and claim it" from God?
We read about a poor man who was a social outcast and physical wreck. He heard about the many great works that Jesus was performing for others. Didn't he deserve to be healed? But, with a humble and worshipful heart he came to Jesus and asked "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean". The leper had complete faith that Jesus could do the job, but only if he was willing. He "named it and committed it" to God.
While the answer we are always looking for is "I will, be clean", it doesn't always come. When this happens those who "name it and claim it" are devastated. They feel that they have been cheated from what they deserved. They forget that we are sinners, and all we deserve  is condemnation. But, since "by grace you have been saved through faith" (Eph. 2:8) and "God's "grace is sufficient for you". (2 Cor. 12:9) we can quietly rest in "Lord, if you will". Just "Name it and commit it" to God, because "This God - his way is perfect" (Psalm 18:30) .

Thursday, January 9, 2014

All about who?

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." - Matthew 7:12 
Lord of the Flies was a novel written by William Golding and published in 1954. The book is still often found on the required reading list in many schools. It tells how unchecked human nature and selfishness brings damaging results to others. The missing element for peaceful community living was, "it's about others first".
When people live with the rule "every man for himself" chaos reigns. Jesus taught a lifestyle of thoughtful consideration of others and careful evaluation of self. All this is neatly wrapped up in the above verse. These words are also stated with clarity and conviction in Philippians 2:3-4, "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others". The timeless message says; "it's about others first".
When you see the delivery man fumble at the business entrance, are you quick to open the door? When you see that mother with an arm full of groceries and a baby in the other, dropping her purse, do you reach out to help? The opportunities are plentiful to show the simple love and sincere compassion of God in a lost world. In the words of the Law and the Prophets, Jesus and Paul... "It's about others first!"

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Consider the Lilies

"But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" - Matthew 6:30

The snow has covered the ground completely, more than once this season. The temperatures are so low Chicago was colder than the South Pole this Monday. Winter is upon us full throttle and the thought of warm breezes and fresh mowed grass is far, far away. Last summer is now just a faint memory, but has the change of season changed the heart of our heavenly Father?
Stop for a moment and take in the beauty of the lilies. What do you see? Warmth, radiance, purity, hope, and the fresh reminder that we have a life of even greater promise. Our Father knows our every need and He is ever devoted to meet those needs "far more abundantly than all we ask or think." (Ephesians 3:20) 

The promise of Isaiah 35:1-2 is: "The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing." Whether we are in a dry land or the depth of winter... start each day with the lilies. And rejoice in the One who gives beauty to His lilies and blessing His children.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Rain Must Fall

"... For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." - Matthew 5:44-45 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote "In every life a little rain must fall". Such words of wisdom were put to music some years later by the "Ink Spots and Ella Fitzgerald. Whether writers or singers, soldiers or salesmen, young or old, we all understand this great truth. So why do we ask... "Why me Lord?"
The knowledge that God brings a little rain into every life is a good place to start when we face discouragement. While James tells us to count it all joy when the rain comes, he quickly says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." (James 1:5) Rather than asking "why me Lord?", the better question "what can I learn?"
The Lord also makes His sun to rise on every life, and every child of God will find that - "The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning" (Lamentations 3:22-23) Before we grieve over too much rain, may we ask for wisdom to make sense of it all and look with great expectation for the morning when "the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings." (Malachi 4:2)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Taught or caught?

"Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 5:19
Being a mentor or life coach is quite the rage today. Principles are taught and guidance is provided along with potentially wise counsel. Eventually the student becomes a reflection of the coach, much like a child grows to be like the parent. Change and growth is expected, but no matter what may be taught, more is caught.
The passage before us presumes that all followers of Jesus are to be mentors, or life coaches. This truth centers on the expectation that every believer is in the process of passing on the faith to someone. Lessons may be abundant along with hours of insightful counsel, but whatever may be taught, more is caught.
As children mimic their parents, students will always mirror the practice of the teacher. While you are wholly committed to communicating Biblical truth, remember to be a mentor that does, as well as teaches. After all, more is caught than taught.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

No More Secrets

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:14-16
Sen. Bernie Sanders, wrote Friday to the head of the Nation Security Agency demanding  to know if the agency secretly gathered intelligence on members of Congress. Hmm... could this mean that there are secrets in congress? The general idea of electing congressmen is to have someone who will openly express the concerns of the constituency. Representatives were never intended to do business in secret.
We are representatives of the Kingdom of God. As "ambassadors for Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:20)  we have been sent forth to be a light in our world. As Jesus taught, we are to let our light shine openly so others will see and glorify God. To be a hidden Christian is a contradiction of terms and goes against the general idea of our calling. Representatives of Christ were never intended to do ministry in secret.
As you move forward into the New Year, do you have plans to "Tell the World that you're a Christian"? Are people aware of your faith in the work place, classroom, neighborhood and family? Does your conduct and conversation shine for Jesus? Would it take a N.S.A. investigation to  discover that you represent the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Profit... or loss?

"Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ” - Matthew 4:8-10
From 1989 until its collapse in 1995, "The Foundation for New Era Philanthropy" raised over $500 million  from 1100 donors and embezzled $135 million. Most of the money was stolen from Christian organizations, including more than 180 evangelical groups, colleges, and seminaries. The scheme promised an incredible return on investments and even the most spiritual minded ministry leaders were led astray. The profit was tempting, but the loss was traumatic.
The tempter offered our Lord the whole world on a silver platter. The only string attached was a slight bend of the knee to worship the god of this world. The answer was short and to the point; "worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve". The choice was simple, choose the world for a tempting profit, but with that world would come a traumatic loss from a deceptive god.
Jesus gave further insight on two other occasions. "You cannot serve God and money." (Matthew 6:24) and  "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36) Yes, you can choose the tempting path to quick and promising profit, but when that pursuit leads you away from a life devoted to the Lord, your loss will be traumatic. As you enter a new year, choose wisely my friend.

Friday, January 3, 2014


"John would have prevented him, saying, 'I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?' But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. " - Matthew 3:14-15 
I often recall the soft spoken voice of Louis Rodriquez. He was my high school Sunday school teacher. Our church started in his home and his family was a significant and supportive presence in the ministry. While some people would revel in the notoriety, Louis happily accepted the role of teaching the way of life to a class of rowdy high school students.
John was born into the home of an Hebrew priest and an older cousin of Jesus. Yet, he was chosen of God to ride the wave of opposition against religious tradition as a latter day prophet. His was an arduous task that was thankless at best and led to an early death. While some people would have resisted such a life, John happily accepted his role as one who would prepare the way for Messiah.
Happily accepting the role that the Lord gives us is the first step in achieving great things for God. John prepared the way for the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) Of the few high school students that Louis Rodriquez taught, I personally know that one became a pastor, one became a seminary professor, one became a seminary president and one became an international evangelist. God accomplishes much through those who accept His will.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel. ’” - Matthew 2:6
Someone recently mentioned their plan to start a new business. The main reason was an unwillingness to work for "the man". Why wouldn't anyone be happy working for "the man"? Could it be that many bosses, managers, presidents, kings and various rulers are far from considerate and supportive? Where  can we find someone to guide our steps and lead us into the New Year with selfless love and care? 
It is most providential that Christmas immediately leads us into a  new year. What a rich and encouraging blessing to have the Shepherd of Israel to direct and rule our future days. Jesus is the good Shepherd, born in Bethlehem to die on Calvary's hill for his sheep. How wonderful to have "... our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep..." ever ready to "equip you with everything good that you may do his will" (Hebrews 13:20-21)
As we move into a new and promising year, is "THE Man" leading the way? Jesus said in John 10, "I am the good Shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (vs. 11) "The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." (3). Can you say with full assurance and true devotion "The Lord is my shepherd"? And... are you following HIM?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year Blessing

"She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." - Matthew 1:21
As we look forward to the New Year, we are filled with hope for new beginnings. But such hope is often dashed by our own human failings. Is there a new beginning that is sure and full of guaranteed blessing? Our passage for today is more than a Christmas message, it gives us all that we need, for hopeful days in the coming year.
We have Jesus who is "he" ... “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
We have Jesus who will "save" ... "Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”  (Hebrews 7:25)
We have Jesus, as "his people" ... “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession...” ( 1 Peter 2:9)
We have Jesus, who has forgiven our "sins" ... “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” – Acts 10:43
With such a Savior, we can face the year in the Name of Jesus, saved to uttermost, chosen to be a very special people of God and wholly forgiven.