Tuesday, October 30, 2018


If one were to move away from the misconception that God is so distant in His status and truly understand, as Christ so often pointed out, that God is wanting a relationship with His people, then I venture to say that many would finally understand the heart and nature of our God.  Yet it is, though, that so many see God simply as the abuser, the precursor to a profane phrase, and the downer to all they consider grand.  To look at God as Father can be a hard accomplishment for many based on a relationship shared with their own earthly fathers.  For Jesus, though, His over 200 references point to not only the works of God, but the character of God.

            Addressing first the attributes of God, Jesus speaks of His being of Spirit in John 4:24.  As such, Jesus also notes when speaking to the woman at the well that He must be worshiped in spirit and in truth.  Jesus also points out that God is omnipotent and that He is not limited like man in His being able to accomplish the impossible (Mt 19:26).  God is all knowing, and Jesus again points out this fact when speaking in Matthew 10:29 of how the sparrow does not fall without God’s knowing.  God Himself speaks of His holiness in Leviticus 11:44-45, as He challenges the people of Israel to be holy as He is holy.  Yet His holiness was even confirmed by Jesus on many occasions.  And finally Jesus spoke of His Father’s love in John 3:16, where He notes that it is this love for the people that gave the world Jesus as a way of salvation.

            One key factor to remember when looking at the Doctrine of God the Father is simply that, He is a Father.  Not only is He Jesus’ Father, but He is our heavenly Father as well.  In looking first at God as Jesus’ Father, we read of Jesus in John 20:21 commissioning His disciples, sending them out as He Himself was sent out by His Father.  We read also in John’s writings of the honor the Father gave His Son (Jn 8:54), of the love the Father has for the Son (Jn 10:17), and of the glory the Father gives His Son (Jn 17:1-5).  Looking in John 8 again, verse 29, it is evident that the Father is satisfied with His Son, Jesus.  Because of the love the Father has for His Son, it is understood that the Father exalts His Son (Phil 2:9-11) and made Jesus the head of the Church (Eph 1:22-23).

            Lest we should think that is all, let us consider how God is the Father for all believers.  I think it important to first point out God’s love for us, as for His own Son.  For those who believe, 1 John 3:1 speaks of His love for us.  In John’s Gospel, Jesus shares that there is blessing that comes over the disciple, and that this blessing comes from God their Father.  Hebrews 12:5-10, while some may think it abusive, speaks of God’s correction for His children.  But read in context and true understanding, this passage speaks that a father will only discipline his children, and that in love.  To be disciplined by God is not abuse, but rather evidence of His great love for us. 

In all this, God is a great Father.  Where our earthly fathers may fail, God never will.  Where our earthly fathers may be unloving, God is full of love for His children.  Where our earthly father may deny, God blesses and raises up.  1 John 4:8 states, “God is love.”  What an awesome attribute for our Father to possess.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018


Growing up as a child I heard many things spoken by adults that over time I have learned are not true.  Fact is, though, I have told them on my own children.  You know the myths I am talking about.  "Gray hair is a result of too much stress."  This is actually not true.  According to research done, stress can cause hair loss, but the graying is simply a sign of aging and can begin as early as 30 years old for some.  Does that mean that every bald person has stress, though?  No, but it makes one scratch his head in wonder.  Or how about "Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis", "If you keep crossing your eyes they'll get stuck", and "If you pick up a toad you'll get warts on your hands".  The fact is these are just not true.  (I apologize if you still believe them).

          My personal favorite, however, is that "Drinking coffee will stunt your growth".  I have been drinking coffee for thirty years now and I am happy at 5’7”, haha.  Joking aside, I remember as a child being at church and hearing both my dad and the older people in the church telling me this as I would work to sneak a cup of joe in hopes that no one was looking.  Many times it did not work to my advantage.  But there is no true research to support this.  Truth be told, at one time people believed that caffeine was the reason for osteoporosis, which receded bone mass and height.  And if that was true, then why did parents deny children coffee but offer them soda?  I'll let you 'brew' that one around for a minute.

          While coffee may not stunt our growth, there is one thing that comes to mind which has that power.  That thing would be sin.  Now obviously the growth I am referring to is not a physical height per se, but our spiritual growth.  In looking at the younger days of the prophet Samuel in I Samuel 2:26, we see that he was dedicated to the LORD's service and lived with Eli.  In time he began to grow in stature (his physical frame) as well as in favor (pleasure) with the LORD and men.  He was found with favor specifically before God because he put aside sin and chased after the righteous ways of God.  Was he perfect?  By no means.  But he saw the benefit in saying no to sin and yes to God's commands.

          Psalm 119:1 reads, "Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD."  In walking according to His law, we are growing and reaping the benefit of blessing.  Psalm 1:3 confirms this in saying about the one walking in God’s ways, "That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither - whatever they do prospers."  What does water do for a tree?  It helps in the growing process.  But on the flip side, walking in the ways of sin will only have us finding that our spiritual growth is stunted, for as Psalm 1 goes on to say, those who are not like the tree planted by the stream, those who are not growing, are like chaff which the wind blows.

          Now I am not here to condemn you in what I say, for it was just this morning on my way to work that God challenged me with this same thought.  I want to see the effects of growth in my life.  But in order for growth to happen I need to remove the obstacles that are stunting my growth.  I need to remove the sins as God is showing me.  And it isn't that I need to get rid of only a little sin in order to grow, but rather I need to get rid of all sin in order to grow.  As long as I leave an open door for sin, sin will continue to romance me from God.

          It is time we realize the perhaps hidden truth of this myth.  While coffee will not stunt our growth, physically or spiritually, sin most definitely will stunt our growth in the spiritual.  But I don't want to be stunted.  I am pretty sure you do not want to be either.  What must we do?  In the spiritual we must stop drinking our coffee of sin.  We must stop drinking in sin and suffering its effects, but instead allow ourselves to be like the tree planted by the stream - planted and growing firmly with our roots fully in God and His ways.

Friday, September 28, 2018


Fall is in the air again and I must admit that one of my favorite fall past times is going for a hike.  I have noticed, however, that there are two ways to hike.  I can go it alone, finding my own way on the path, hoping to not get lost, and being so focused on the trail that I miss the details.  More often than not this is what I do.  But I can also go with a guide, one who is experienced and knows the trail so well that while leading, he is still pointing out the best views, the splendors of nature, and the finer details I would normally miss.  If I was honest with myself, as much as I want to do it alone, I much rather prefer being led by a guide.

Sadly enough, I have tried this same tactic in my walk with God.  As I have take steps in my walk with God over the years, I have seen where in time I have moved from baby steps to steps of maturity.  Probably much like you, when we first allow God to be the head and master of our lives, He starts us out with small steps, such as changing a behavior, beginning a daily devotional time, and plugging into a church body.  Over time, though, as we grow we find ourselves being rooted deeper into His ways, wanting to do His will and hopefully wanting to be led by Him.  Without a solid foundation in those baby and toddler stages of our walk with God, however, we can be easily swayed.  The voice that we are trusting to lead us can actually be the voice of one trying to hurt us. What exactly do I mean by this?

Do you remember the tale of Pinocchio?  The wooden puppet wanted so desperately to be a real boy that he began listening to wrong voices.  In the Disney cartoon, the cricket was there to be his guide, but soon he found himself being swayed by the voices of the foxes, the great puppeteer, and others.  It wasn’t until he began turning into a donkey that he began to see the error for not following the wisdom of the cricket.  But we as followers of God have one greater than a cricket to guide us.  We have the Spirit of God.  Saving us from transforming into donkeys ourselves is the one He gives to help us and direct us on our path.  The question is if we are following His Spirit, or listening to the foxes and others who secretly are working to take us down.

In Galatians 5:16-18, we are frankly told to live by the Spirit. “So I say, live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.”  It is in living by the Spirit that we are able to say “no” to the desire of sin.  True, sin promises us the world much like the foxes promised to help Pinocchio to become a real boy.  But sin’s boast is a lie.  The Spirit, however, does not lie.  As the Spirit guides and directs us, so it also brings us to the truth we have been promised, the truth of a deeper and fulfilling relationship with God.

The Father knew we would need help.  He knew the foxes would come and we would be tempted by the smooth talking that follows.  But instead of leaving us to fend for ourselves, He sent His Spirit to guide us and direct us.  The challenge, however, is knowing the Spirit's nudging, and allowing the nudges to lead us.  The promise is, though, that when we live by the Spirit we will not satisfy the desires of the flesh.  Perhaps we should change who we are following.

Thursday, September 6, 2018


Teshuvah.  Whether it is a word you may or may not have heard before, I would venture to say its meaning is well known.  Teshuvah is from the Hebrew root shuwb (H7725 – shuv), meaning to return, turn back, repent, or to bring back.  More accurately, teshuvah can be defined as a turning back to God.  According to Jewish tradition, starting forty days prior to Yom Kippur and lasting until Yom Kippur itself, Jews are beckoned to turn from their ways of sin and return to a life committed to God.  While I am not advocating that each one should follow the Jewish customs, I do stand by the fact that taking a personal inventory of our lives to see where we may need to repent and return may be a wise decision for each of us.  Let me explain.

Perhaps there has been a time when you were driving down the road only to realize you went too far in your journey.  In that instance you made some type of turn around so that you could eventually end up at your desired location.  In my years of driving I can recall vividly one such trip when I was on the Interstate to work and focused on another thought.  By the time I realized it, my exit had been passed.  As a result I had to get off at the next exit and turn around.  This U-turn of sorts is much like the concept of teshuvah.

This same need for a turn-around can happen to us in our Christian walk.  We start on the right course, going down the path that leads us to God and then another thought takes us captive.  Perhaps it is a temptation that we are allowing to flood our mind, or a sin that continues to lure us.  Anything that has taken the place of God and become an idol in our lives can be looked at in this way and prevent us from continuing down the path God intends.  But God, in His patient, loving-kindness, allows us the opportunity to come back to Him; to make a U-turn and come back.  This is teshuvah.

We read of teshuvah quite a few times in the Bible.  The account of Jonah is a great example.  The people of Nineveh were about to experience God’s judgment for their ungodly and defiling actions.  Yet because of God’s love for them, He sent Jonah with a declaration that destruction was coming.  These words so moved the people and the king that the king even declared a fast.  In the end we read, “When God saw their deeds, that they turned (teshvah) from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it (Jonah 3:10).

The idea of teshuvah is seen also in the words of Jeremiah.  In Jeremiah 3, we find the prophet speaking on behalf of the LORD against the house of Israel.  He calls the people of Israel faithless.  The context here is that Israel had committed adultery against God by pushing Him aside and seeking relations with stone and wood, items which God considered sin.  God had fully desired Israel to come back to Him, but they never did.  The end result was a certificate of divorce for the backslidden nation of Israel.  But Judah sinned as well.  Continuing on we find that Judah was watching the sin of Israel and had begun to follow suit.  It was to Judah that God then named them the unfaithful sister.  Seeing the certificate of divorce given to Israel, Judah still had no fear of her own certificate.  The return that Judah would eventually offer was poor and only in pretense, being nothing more than a deceitful sham.  But here is what I want us to see from this passage in Jeremiah 3.  I want us to wrap our minds around the truth that God continued to desire that His people turn back to Him. In Jeremiah 3:12-14, we read the pleading of God as He beckoned for the faithless to return.

So what does this return look like?  Near the end of the seventy years of exile which Jeremiah had prophesied, we find an answer in the prayer of Daniel.  In Daniel chapter 9 we find a prayer written from the prophet as he has determined the time frame and the expectation.  Seventy years is almost done, but have the people's hearts changed and made the U-turn back to God?  Daniel's prayer shows his heart, and perhaps a blueprint for our own.  In his prayer he admit and teshuvah-ed for wrongs.  He made a point not to cast blame, but to take ownership.  Daniel related to the sin, looking internally at the damage it had done.  Daniel acknowledged that the shame being felt at this time was based on where they are, a place of forfeiting relationship with God, allowing themselves to be led astray, and seeing themselves only to blame.  As verse 19 would go on to note, Daniel was requesting that God not procrastinate is this request to hear His people’s plea for teshuvah and pardon them.  Daniel was asking God to heed this prayer and accomplish a sparing of His people.

I urge you to read the prayer of Daniel.  Just like the people of Judah, who were still God’s chosen people, we have sinned.  But like Daniel, if we call out to God and ask for forgiveness for the sins we have committed, He will forgive us.  He will spare us from more years of slavery if we only ask Him now to forgive us, and truly turn from any sin we have embraced.  The time for teshuvah is now, what will we do?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


Ring Ring

     "Hello Jonah."
"Yeah, this is Jonah.  Who's this?"
     "This is God."
"God?  God as in the big guy in the sky, or just another false ba'al god?"
     "God as in 'I am that I am'."
"What would You have me to do?  I am Your servant."
     "I want you to go to Nineveh, Jonah.  I have a message for the people of Nineveh, and I want you to deliver it for me."
"Yeah, that's probably not going to happen, God.  You see..., well..., those people are way too wicked."
     "I know, and it is their wickedness that has come to my attention.  I am sending you to go and preach against this city."
"...making static noises... What's that God?  You're breaking up.  I think we have a bad connection.  Call me later on a better line!"


     We all probably know the story, that when called to go to Nineveh, Jonah decided to run in the opposite direction instead.  His running, however, was met by a storm that rocked the boat until he was finally thrown off, only to be swallowed by a big fish and eventually vomited out on shore after three days time.  All of these experiences could have been avoided if Jonah had simply done what God was calling him to, right?  Now we know that eventually he did go to Nineveh.  In fact, we read after the fish vomit incident that in Jonah 3:3, Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh where he preached God's original message that the city was about to be overturned.  The people fasted and repented, and as a result the city was saved from destruction.  Happy ending, yea!!!

     But before we harp on Jonah for his original response to God's calling, perhaps we should take a look at ourselves.  God hasn't stopped calling His people, but like we read in Jonah's case, some people have decided to stop listening.  We vow, "God, I'll do anything!"  We plead, "God send me anywhere!"  We pray to be used by God, yet when the call comes in and the assignment is given, we run the other way because we do not like what or where He is calling us to be.  He is looking for that obedience we promised, yet finds us running the other way.

     Jonah did eventually do what God called him to, but at a cost.  Would it not have been easier for him to simply obey God from the start?  And wouldn't it be to our benefit to do the same?  How many more steps are involved in the task simply by trying to avoid the task?

     Perhaps God has called you.  Which direction are you running?  Are you running away from what He is asking of you, or are you running full steam into the calling?  Ring Ring.  Its for you.  Its God and He has a mission for you.  How will you answer?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


A while back, in the summer of 2012 to be exact, I took my kids to the local water park.  Now I will be the first to admit I am not the world’s best swimmer.  Keep that in mind as I tell my story.  My son (10 at the time) was in a tube, and my daughter (7) and I were sitting in another tube together.  I noticed that it wasn’t all that comfortable for her, the way we were sitting, so I decided I would get out and let her sit in the tube with me holding on to the outside.  The plan seemed wise but failed from the start.  The moment I went to lean out, the tube flipped.  She had arm floaties on but still I went to grab her closer to me.  As I reached to grab her by the floatie, I pulled her floatie off.

I began to panic because now neither of us was close to a tube and in water I could not touch the bottom of.  My thoughts went to getting her up out of the water as I knew she must be scared.  But in all my fighting to get her above water, I began to need help myself.  From under the water I could see my arms extending out putting her face above the water as I continued to gasp and cough and gulp.  I heard the whistle and knew help was coming.  Within 20 seconds I was being saved by a lifeguard.  My first thought was embarrassment.  I couldn’t believe that I was the one that had to be saved.  But after the humiliation wore off that a teenager had to save me, I felt relief.  I was relieved my daughter was alright and our lives were both saved.  I was thankful also that God was watching out for us.

Now I don’t go around looking for ways to get into trouble so I can make illustrations from my follies, but as I was driving past that water park last night, the memory of this event played again in my mind.  I remembered my gasping for air.  Never before had I been in a position where I was so desperate for air.  And then I heard this little voice in my spirit ask, “Are you that desperate for Me?”  What?  Of course I am.  “Are you so desperate for Me that you need Me as much as you needed air that day?”  Until I gave an honest answer, the question played over and over in my head.

It is from an honest heart that I share with you that I was raised in a Christian family, received the Holy Spirit, went to a Christian college, and did all the right religious things.  But the one thing I find that I struggle with at times is a passion for God.  I know that God loves me and has a great plan for my life, and I embrace that.  However, God wants me to have a desire for Him just as I had desire to breathe that day.  I was one track minded in that moment – get my daughter to safety and myself next.  I could not have been here today without this focus and determination to hold on for the help of a lifeguard.  But I cannot afford to live one more moment without a passion for God and His statutes either.  My life means nothing without God in it.

The challenge I lay before you today I first lay before myself.  Does my soul long after Him?  Do I linger in His presence, crave Him, desire Him, want nothing more than to be with Him?  Psalm 42:1-2 reads, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, Oh God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet God?”  Am I as desperate for God as I was for breath?  I can guarantee you that after not only my water park salvation, but also after having God ask me this question, my desire must change.  What about you?  Will you join me in making God your desire today?  But let's go one step further and answer the question of how.  We can vow change till we're blue in the face, but what will we do to make the desire to change a reality?  God is reaching out, like the lifeguard, and He has brought salvation to us.  What will we do?

Thursday, August 9, 2018


“[Hezekiah] removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan).”
II Kings 18:4

In reading the account of King Hezekiah again in II Kings 18 recently, I found myself asking questions concerning what I thought was precious and what is truly not.  Better put, I found myself contemplating trash.  Odd, right?  But let me explain.   In II Kings 18:4, we read about how this 25 year old king of Judah began to take a stand.  Idols had replaced God, as the people began to worship all the things that were not of God.  So then, Hezekiah made the demand and took the actions to remove the high places, smash the sacred stones, and cut down the Asherah poles.  He even busted the golden snake from Moses' time which they were still worshiping.  Following this in verse 6, we read that the young king held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow Him, keeping the commands as were originally given to Moses.  It was because of this that the LORD gave him success in all he did.

Now with this brief outline of the story, let’s talk ‘trash’.  This passage has me questioning of myself just how much 'trash' I need to take out.  Is it possible that in some way I too am worshiping or giving time to what I need to give up?  Very much so.  But how?  Let me explain it this way.  Back in March we purchased a home.  While the thought of moving into a new home is always exciting, the thought of packing for the move can be far from it.  Not only did we need to grab all the heavy furniture, but we also needed to go through everything as we were packing.  The more trash we got rid of in the process meant the more excess trash we weren't taking with us to the new home.  With a family of six, however, you can imagine this was a long process of sorting and throwing many things out.  But this cleaning was not for nothing, for in it we removed a great deal of what was no longer needed.  We had been holing on to it because we thought it was precious at the time, but in the end it waste we hadn't removed prior.  Still, isn't this the exact same thing we do spiritually?  We hold on to what we think is precious when all along it is a weight that simply holds us back from the freedom God wants us to have, and ultimately from God.  

In a way, this trash is nothing more than an idol.  Agreed, you may not be bowing down to it like the high places, scared stones, Asherah poles, and the the snake that Hezekiah dealt with, but anything that takes the place of God is indeed an idol.  Any trash that we fail to remove can also become an idol as it prevents our relationship with God.  In a season where I want to move freely in God's work, I find that I need to get rid of things in my life.  I need to 'take out the trash' so to say.  And in order to do this I am going to need to go through everything in my life, take an honest inventory of whether it is still needed or just assumed precious, and throw away the garbage.

What are a few of these "trashy" items that need to be tossed?  Consider attitude.  In all honesty I find myself battling (even at 43 years old) my attitude.  I want it my way and in my timing and in demanding this I am being selfish, putting me above others and above God.  For me, this is a high place in that I put myself in this high place of status and prominence.  Another piece of trash in my life is very easily my devotion to watching television.  You may not think this as an idol, but to me the ability to watch TV, and even control to a degree what is watched in the house, is a sacred thing for me.  This may even be a sacred stone in my own life that needs to be smashed.  And I think pride also battles for my devotion, a pole that needs to be chopped down.  While I go through the waves of esteem, I also battle with thinking I am better than others, be it spiritually, mentally, or in talents.  In taking this look into me, I see a great deal of trash.

But Hezekiah also dealt with the snake, Nehushtan.  Going back to Numbers 21:4-9, we see that Moses was told by God to craft a snake and put it on a pole to prevent the people's deaths when bitten by a snake.  These biting snakes, however, were a result of the people's words against Moses and the LORD.  They were instructed to look at the snake in order to live, but as John 3:14-15 points out, the intention was not to worship the snake but rather to aid the people to look up to heaven.  Years after Moses, this snake was still being looked at, and worshiped.  What in my life is the same, meant to have brought me to God but that I have turned into an idol?  Perhaps food.  I have become somewhat of a glutton.  While food is a gift of God to aid in our survival, I have allowed myself to be a little too cozy in my relationship with food, and have allowed it to lead me to areas of weight gain, health issues, and the like.

When Hezekiah got the kingdom right, and in essence took out the trash, what happened?  He received the benefit of God’s blessing.  Because Hezekiah got right, the LORD gave him success.  That is what I want for us.  I want you and I to be doing things right per God that even the sweat of our brow is blessed by God.  So this is why I feel that the trash must be taken out that has been crowding up our hearts.  We need to get out of the house the things that have managed one way or another to come in and are not of God.  We need to do it now so that we too can see the fullness of God's blessing like Hezekiah did.


If one were to move away from the misconception that God is so distant in His status and truly understand, as Christ so often pointed ou...