Wednesday, August 31, 2011

God Lives In You-8/31/2011

"Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" 1 Cor 3:16

Beloved, please take a moment and re-read the scripture above. Then take a moment to close your eyes visualize yourself as God's temple. Take one more moment and consider what it means to you personally.

God has revealed a number of dwelling places among men throughout biblical history. We all know Him to reside in heaven. To be sure, He is still there, however we also know our God to be omnipresent; He is everywhere at the same time which allows Him to be within each and every one of us. In the past He has manifested himself in a pillar of fire and a cloud. His presence appeared on Mt. Sinai and He spoke to the people. He had Moses and the children of Israel construct a tabernacle wherein His presence occupied the mercy seat of the Ark resting within the "most holy place." Finally, His presence filled a similar place within the temple constructed by Solomon.

Now the bible tells us that we are that temple. God has moved from a common gathering place to an individual and intimate residence within each of us who have accepted Him through Christ. Imagine you personally being the dwelling place of God. Can you not quite get your mind around it? Then take it back one step and imagine God living in your house. What would your house look like? How clean would it be? What would you allow to go on in the house? Who would you welcome inside? What types of entertainment would you enjoy? What type of language would you use? What types of beverages would you drink and how much? What types of conversation would you have with others in the house or on the phone? Would you introduce your family and friends to Him? How much time would you spend with Him? Is there any place you would not invite Him to go?

To be sure, these are sobering questions but they are those that need to be considered by each of us. God does not live in the houses we live in, He lives in the houses that we are. Think on these things.

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, August 30, 2011


"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God." 1 Cor 1:18

Beloved, we all know people who do not share our faith. More and more it seems, people are turning to science, philosophy and psychology to explain human existence and thought processes. God is little more than a concept at best and a crutch for a weak mind at worst. Interestingly enough, even in biblical times, those who did not follow the one true God at least acknowledged and believed in something higher than themselves. Today, many believe just in themselves.

For this cause we have something called apologetics. This is not an apology but a systematic defense of the faith through the use of reason. In scripture we come into contact with this idea specifically in 1 Pet 3:15 which says, "Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be always ready to give an answer to every man that asks you for a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." The word "answer" in this passage is the Greek word "apologia," in English, apologetics.

Using apologetics, we are to defend the faith. It surely is under attack more and more each day. Through apologetics we also share the faith. For as many as there are attacking, there are vastly more who are seeking. And finally, we use the biblical knowledge that is apologetics to strengthen the church. It is only a strong church that can withstand attack, effectively evangelize and therefore grow, expanding the borders of God's kingdom.

You may never have heard the word apologetics in this context, but know it is an integral part of the Christianity we hold so dear.

Loving Like Jesus,


Monday, August 29, 2011

Running This Race-8/29/2011

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do: forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Phi 3:13,14

Let's take a closer look at this:

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended..."

A perusal of the previous verses will show that Paul's main goal is to win Christ, to know Christ intimately, to be found in him and to know and attain the power of his resurrection (vs 8-11). These are lofty goals indeed, but to Paul, goals are indeed what they are, for according to his word, he has not yet attained or apprehended them. He goes on to say in vs 12 that he is diligently pursuing this apprehension, the attaining of all aspects of a relationship with and true understanding of Christ. These are worthy goals for all Christians. I submit to you that we are all in the same state Paul was, having not fully grasped all that is Christ Jesus.

"...forgetting those things which are behind..."

Paul outlines his pedigree in vs 3-6. In it, he explains why he is a Jew of Jews, and had every right to brag on his lineage, upbringing, education, associations and accomplishments. The key is in vs 7 & 8, where he says he willingly turned his back on all of that and counts it all as dung compared to the quest for Christ! Too often we put more stock than we should on things that pump us up, even as we fail to give Christ credit for who we are and what we have. This interferes with apprehending him. Think about it this way: looking back often results in going back. Remember Lot's wife?

"...and reaching forth unto those things which are before..."

Now I'd like to introduce you to the race analogy that Paul is employing. The Olympics in Greece were a big thing during this time and everyone could identify with athletic competition, particularly running. In fact, athletes were the rock stars of their day. The thought is that everything, the gaze, the legs, the arms, all reaching forward toward the goal, with great intent and never looking back. The Greek word here indicates stretching and straining. How often do we slip into remembrances and old habits that distract us from moving forward in our Christian lives? How much effort do we really put in to "winning" Christ?

"...I press toward the mark for the prize..."

The Greek here refers to the speed and effort. It conveys that he is doing everything to win. We know that the race goes to them that endure rather than the swift, nevertheless, you must cross the line in order to win. Paul wants to win, but what he wants to win is the prize of the high calling of God. What is that we are hoping to win? Popularity, wealth, fame, or heaven?

"...of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

The high calling is nothing short of the upward calling. It conveys not only that we need to lift our lives, lift our spirit and lift our way of living, but that we attain that which is above. God has been calling us home since Adam and Eve got thrown out of the garden. We can only make it home through Jesus (John 14:6). Godliness and our final reward should be the goal of all Christians and it should be seen in the lives that we live.

Beloved, consider your own favorite scriptures, why they are your favorite and what they truly mean to your life. Study those scriptures and attempt to extract every bit of meaning from them. I assure you that the longer you live and the more you go through, the more God's word will have to say to you.

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, August 26, 2011

Perspective- 8/25/2011 (rp)

"This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Ps 118:24

Perspective is an interesting thing. It goes a long way in determining how we interact with environments, individuals and situations. The great thing about perspective is that many times we can choose the one we will employ. An example is the classic question of looking at a glass half empty or half full.

This leads me to the following question: have you ever had a bad day? Without a doubt we all endure challenging circumstances from time to time. The unforeseen happens all of the time whether we are prepared for it or not. It is not unusual for this things to seemingly move in a direction that is not in our favor. This in turn has an effect on our mentality and our outlook. If you are anything like me, once things start to go down hill, you probably bring a lot of other things that have nothing to do with it into the situation since you are headed that direction. I even have a name for it. I call it the "vortex."

My personal issues aside, I realized some time ago that I have a choice in how I view and react to things. I can look at them as inconveniences, problems I do not want to deal with and shout to the rooftops, "Why me Lord?" or I can look at them as opportunities to apply my faith, help others, be an example and (gasp) thank the Lord.

Beloved, as easy as it is to decide that we are having a bad day, we can decide that it is a good day. It is one more day that the Lord has given us to live, to laugh, to love and to glorify him. If we decide not to do that because of our circumstances or situations, it is no fault of his. He gave us another beautiful glorious day and let us decide how we use it. If you were told that today would be the last one you had, how would that affect your outlook? How would it affect what you do with the time? What would your perspective be then?

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, August 25, 2011

They Which Die in the Lord-8/25/2011

"...Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them." Rev 14:13

Beloved, Betty Hawkins, a member of the congregation I am privileged to serve, has gone to be with the Lord. In that we were particularly close, it took me back to one of the first times I was faced with the passing of a member and brother in my current capacity. In tribute to her and perhaps to provide a bit of comfort to all who read that have lost someone, I offer the words, thoughts and emotions experienced on that occassion. They are nearly identical in circumstance.


I've just returned from a trip to Orlando. During a portion of the time I was there, I found myself doing what nearly anyone who visits would do while in the area: standing in line at an amusement park.

What made this time different than any other was the phone call I received from Debbie, our church's secretary. She wanted to know if I had received the email regarding the death of Jack Booker.

I hadn't.

Everything surrounding me: time, place, sounds, smells, and the anticipation of getting on one of the world's best roller coasters, all broke apart and fell to the ground like so much shattered glass.

My friend and brother in Christ, Jack Booker, had gone to be with the Lord.

Debbie gave me all of the details she could, but it seemed that blood filled my ears, preventing me from hearing with any clarity, the words she was clearly speaking to me. My mind raced with emotions, memories and thoughts about what I should do. I had flashbacks.

"Hello preacher! How are you today?"
"I'm going to get you a copy of 'Last of the Dogmen.' It's the best movie ever made."
"Hey brother! I heard it was a good message today, but I don't know because I was asleep," he would joke.
"Lee, you are a blessing to this congregation and we are glad to have you." These were the last words Jack ever spoke to me.

After Debbie gave me a number to contact Genia who was at the hospital with Charlene, I began to ask myself what I was doing in Orlando. I needed to be home, to be with the people I've come to love, during this very important time. All I could manage was a phone call to let them know that my heart and my prayers were with them all. It felt inadequate. Very inadequate.

During the time I've served at O'Fallon, there have been three passings. Though I've been touched by them all, I knew Jack best and feel that we had a personal relationship. That makes this particularly difficult.

How do I feel?
What should I feel?
What do I say?
What should I say?
How do I care for the congregation?

I'm a "new hand" at this sort of thing, but I suspect you never become an "old hand" at it.
We've lost a dear loved one.

But medicine for me is medicine for others. And that which I know is this:
"...Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them." Rev 14:13

It is not mine to determine the worth of Jack's life, the quality of his walk, the quantity of his work or the sincerity of his heart. That is the Lord's domain. But I will say, that I found him to be a quality man, a tireless worker for the Lord, a constant encourager, and an example of Christian faith.

Though the sadness in our hearts is inevitable, we of like faith cannot help but to celebrate his life and his home going. As Christians, it is ultimately to what we all look forward and that, with great anticipation and hope. Jack has gone where we all want to go...into the hands of a just God.

So to my brother and friend,
"Farewell. I thank God for the brief time we had together, to walk along the path of this Christian journey, to run on the track of this Christian race, for the conversations both spoken and unspoken. I pray that we will again see one another. Rest well from your labors. Your work has truly followed you. You are already missed.

Loving Like Jesus,


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What Christianity is all About-8/24/2011

"but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;" 1 Pet 3:15

There are many things that set Christians apart from non-Christians. Foundational to them all is the acknowledgement of Jesus' existence, sonship and ultimate sacrifice for all humankind. The direct result of these beliefs is a voluntary agreement to demonstrate love to him through obedience to his commands, chief of which are to love God with all of our hearts, souls and minds and to love one another as ourselves, Matt 22:37. Failure to do so is to blur the line between ourselves and those who neither know or accept him.

Beloved, we are called upon to be distinct as a body of believers. It is only through this that we have the credibility to share our faith with others. People are never curious about sameness, but in fact are attracted to differences. The peace, well being, faith and willingness to sacrifice for something greater than ourselves generate inquiries. When our loved ones and acquaintances ask about why we do what we do and believe what we believe, it is an opportunity to obey yet another of the Lord's commands. It is an opportunity to share our faith. It is important for us to know that when we do this, we "turn a sinner from the error of his way (and) will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins" James 5:20.

Simply believing is only part of the formula. We must also be the beliefs that we claim and be equipped to take advantage of every opportunity we are given to expand the number of those who call Jesus Lord. As we were once introduced to Christ, it becomes among our chief responsibilities to introduce others. This builds our relationships with each other and our savior. This is what Christianity is all about.

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stay in the House- 9/23/2011

"For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them." 2 Peter 2:21

I remember very distinctly my mother getting my sister and me ready for church in our Sunday best and instructing us to sit still on the couch until she and my father were ready to go. The idea was that we were not to get restless, go outside, start playing and through some course of events, get our "church clothes" dirty. I also remember what happened when I disobeyed. It only happened once.

Beloved, as Christians, we have been saved from all of the things that pollute us and contribute to our destruction. It took nothing less than the sacrifice of the Son of God to accomplish this miraculously loving deed. Once we have been washed clean in his blood, we must guard against going outside (of his loving protective commands) and getting dirty (willfully sinning). The apostle goes on to compare this to a dog returning to his vomit and a washed pig returning to the mud. This not only discusses the utter futility of such actions but also of our proclivity to do so. This is why we must steadfastly guard against slipping back into our old condemned selves.

We have been equipped with an innate sense of right and wrong. We instantly know when we have crossed the line. Today, the encouragement is to stay in the house until it is time to go.

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, August 19, 2011

Faith on Faith-8/19/2011 (rp)

"So the other disciples were saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." John 20:25

Have you ever met anyone like Thomas? I'm not talking about those who have no belief at all. I'm not even talking about those who might need some help with their unbelief. I'm talking about those who have walked with the Lord and talked with the Lord but when they come into contact with those who are claiming miraculous blessings, they fold their arms over their chests and demand proof. You've met them. Some of them sit in the pew next to you. Some reside in your mirror.

Our problem can sometimes be that we will only believe God so far. We assign the finite to the infinite, the common and explainable to the miraculous and happenstance to blessings. We are quick to give credit for job promotions to a person's perseverance, intellect and perhaps even office politics rather than to God from whom all blessings flow. Why not give God the credit, especially because you have seen Him work in your own life?

Thomas was an apostle of Christ. Those closest to him should have been the first to believe, nevertheless because Thomas did not see his much predicted return with his own eyes, he refused to believe. It makes one wonder why he spent three years of his life following someone around who was evidently in his eyes at best an ideologue and at worst a liar. What must that say about Thomas? What must it say about us when we allow our faith to retreat? What kind of example are we setting for those with no belief at all?

Fortunately, the Lord is patient. He was patient with John when his faith faltered and he was patient with Thomas. He was in fact so patient with him that he returned and offered to have Thomas place his fingers into his wounds. Thomas was given the opportunity to have his faith verified by what he saw, however, we, beloved, must walk by faith and not by sight. Jesus put it better when he said, "Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." John 20:29b

Believe and you will see...

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pursuing God-8/18/2011

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." James 4:8

There is none among us who do not desire things. The things we desire are many and varied as are the ways we go about obtaining them. If we want better health, we curtail or drop unhealthy habits and see medical professionals regularly to guide us along the way. If we want better looking bodies, we push back from the table and pursue the gym. If we want greater knowledge, we pursue the books and other educational outlets.

The desire of every Christian is to gain heaven. The only way to accomplish this is to pursue a closer relationship with God. Much as desiring to drop a few pounds is useless without making the necessary sacrifices to accomplish it, desiring heaven and a closer walk with the Lord is an exercise in futility if we are not willing to expend effort. Let it quickly and firmly be said that heaven cannot be earned or deserved by works, but is the free gift of God through His grace and your faith, Eph 2:8-9. Like any relationship (and the obtaining of its benefits), it must be cultivated.

Beloved, our great Father has set the table for us. We have been invited to begin, develop and enjoy a rewarding and eternal relationship with Him. In that we were made beings with choice and free will, we must choose Him. Though He has given us every reason and ability to make that positive choice, He does not make it for us. Even the angels who He created far different from us have choice as evidenced by some chosing Satan. Many of God's beloved children have also made that same tragic choice.

You are invited to choose God. And while our intuition tells us that this is a one time message for non-believers, we are challenged to continually choose God in everything we do. Jesus advises us to take up our cross DAILY and follow him. It is only through this relentless pursuit that we will develop a close, warm, personal relationship with God. It is only when we exceed the rudiments of "going to church" that we begin to understand who God is, who we are in Him and the many benefits of a relationship with Him. If we would turn and seek after Him, we will find that He is ready, willing and desirous to welcome us and has Himself come far more than halfway. Like the father of the prodigal son, He is seeking us. When He sees us on our journey toward home, He will run out to meet us, closing the distance.

Loving Like Jesus,


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It All Works Out-8/17/2011 (rp)

"So Joseph's master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king's prisoners were confined;" Gen 39:20

The truth is that bad things do happen to good people. In this passage, Joseph, having been sold into slavery by his brothers, now finds himself in jail after having been wrongly accused by his master's wife. Particularly tragic is that the scripture records no instance of him doing wrong nor having a bad attitude about his plight.

Beloved, it is the way of life to have both good and bad occur in your life. We celebrate the good and lament the less than fortunate things. The admonition is to trust God, come what may. Likewise, should we find ourselves suffering, let it not be for doing wrong, but for doing what is right.

Though Joseph found himself in slavery, then jail, God was always with him and used these difficult circumstances to prepare him for His work. Throughout his life he developed a talent for administration, wisdom and the communication of God's will. He was loyal, brave, steadfast, honorable, trustworthy and committed. In the end, God rewarded him by elevating him to the highest heights of Egyptian life and through him, saved and grew a nation.

Let us follow his example. Let us not become weary in well doing. God has promised to lift us up as well.

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Entertaining Angels-8/16/2011

"Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." Heb 13:1-2

Many people read this scripture and at least mentally (and temporarily) adjust their attitudes on the off chance that they might really be dealing with an angel. This is reminiscent of behaving extra well when we were children, particularly around Christmas time.

First let it be said that angels may indeed appear to individuals to this day as they did during biblical times. There is no prohibition in the bible against it. It must be said, however that the incidents of recorded angelic appearances number less than 40 in the approximately 6000 years of biblically recorded history. When they did appear, it was for a specific purpose charged by God, typically an announcement (as it was to Mary, Joseph and the shepherds regarding the birth of Christ), a warning (as was the posting of the cherubim at the Garden of Eden), or a punitive action (like those at Sodom and Gomorrah). In fact, it is the account at Sodom and Gomorrah to which this scripture alludes. Lot, did not know that he was entertaining angels, but extended them hospitality that would shock us today.

Beloved, this passage is not to remind us to be good in case angels show up, but to continually love one another and to be hospitable. God has given us every accommodation and the ability to provide for others. In order for us to truly experience what it is to be a family of God, we must be welcoming to one another in order to build fellowship. More importantly, when there is one who is in need, we should be as welcoming if not more. Our mission is to grow the borders of the kingdom.

Let it be said lastly that no one in the biblical accounts really wanted to see angels coming. They inspired quite a bit of fear. And very few people saw them more than once. You may indeed see an angel one day, but let not that remote possibility be the reason for you to treat your fellow human being well...unless of course that's what it takes.

Loving Like Jesus,


Monday, August 15, 2011

Focus on the Heavenly-9/15/2011

"Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." Col 3:1-2

It is given to us to live on this planet. God created it for us and formed us on it. He gave us all things pertaining to life and we at one time were in want for nothing. Almost immediately, however, we began to be dissatisfied with what we were given. All the provision we were given began to pale in regard to the one thing that was prohibited. This was not only the introduction of sin, but of a particular kind of sin: greed.

Beloved what is greed but a desire to have exceedingly more than is needed? The accumulation of wealth is not in and of itself a sin, but the prioritization of it over all things, including God is certainly today's form of idolatry. Abraham was an example of a wealthy man who gave a 10th of his spoils to Melchizedek (the high priest of God), as well as allowing his nephew Lot the choice of land when it became time for them to separate. The opposite of this is the famous story of the rich young ruler, who rather than giving up his possessions in an effort to gain heaven, he kept them and left heaven behind.

The message here is not whether we are wealthy or not (which I assure you is relative considered on a global scale) but how we prioritize life. God has been generous in seeing to all of our needs and many of our wants. Let us not become distracted by them and make those blessings the object of our affection. Let us instead remember that opulence beyond measure awaits us in His heavenly presence. Rather than accumulating on earth, believers must focus on storing up riches in heaven where no loss can occur. The comparison between the earthly and the heavenly defies description.

Loving Like Jesus,


Friday, August 12, 2011

Take it to God-9/12/2011

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." 1 Pet 5:6-7

Having addressed the elders of the flock to lead with righteousness and humility, the apostle Peter turns his attention to the members of the body and gives them this twofold advice. First, we are to humble ourselves. This humility involves first becoming subservient to God. Too often we march to the beat of our own drum when it is neither our drum or ability derived from self to play it. We must remember the Lord in all things we do and do them as we are performing them both for Him and under his loving and watchful eye. This humility extends to those whom He has given charge over us, particularly in the church. "He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering..." Eph 4:11. We are to accept their headship as it relates to our spiritual lives because God has so placed them.

Peter then advises that all place their cares and concerns upon God. In truth, He is the only one that can handle them anyway. He is the source of all righteousness but He is also the source for all provision. There is nothing that is too hard for the Lord. When man lets us down, God is there. And though He will see to our needs (and many wants) in His own due time and in His own way, not one among us can look back and fail to see Him moving and working in our lives. In fact, we ought to be able to look into our present circumstances and see the same thing. This then gives confidence that He is already working out our future.

Beloved, we must strive daily to make God real in our lives. This is not to question His existence but to encourage us to bring Him from the theoretical to the actual in our own minds and hearts. Remember that Yahweh is self existent and does not need us to believe in order for Him to be. He is the great I AM, revealing that if there is nothing else that exists, He does. This, among so many other things, makes Him worthy of our trust and confidence. In all that we may do, experience or even suffer, know that He, as a mother of a new born infant, cares for us.

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Walking in Agreement-8/11/2011 (rp)

"Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Amos 3:3

Surely this represents one of scripture's most rhetorical questions. The prophet Amos was relaying a message to God's people that he was angry about their rebellion.

Beloved, too many of us feel that God is made in our image rather than the other way around. We therefore then feel that we can live life on our terms rather than His. We so easily and often pick and chose the parts of His word that are most advantageous and agreeable with the lives we want to live, leaving out the portions that are not so agreeable. We are sometimes so presumptuous as to pervert the word to fit our lifestyles.

Let us always endeavor to walk with the Lord. Our urgent desire is to be pleasing to Him. This can only be possible when we are in agreement with His way and not our own. "And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it" 2 John 6.

Loving Like Jesus,


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Let's Grow-8/10/2011

"Wherefore leaving the doctrine of the first principles of Christ, let us press on unto perfection." Heb 6:1

Beloved, it is expected that when we first come to Christ, there are many things we will not know. We have need of being taught of his ways. This is why the pattern set forth by Christ in Matt 28:19-20 (the Great Commission) follows the model of teach, baptize and teach more. Our education in the Lord never ceases, however, our ungodly behaviors should.

I'm sure that many of our mothers have told us that "when you know better, do better." Having been introduced to the elementary principles of the faith, it is incumbent upon us to grow from them. As children who learn not to stick objects in electric sockets, run out into the street without looking both ways and not to touch a hot iron, there are things that we have been taught that should prevent us from doing the same things we once did.

Our charge is to reach for and attain higher learning. Once we have understood and performed according to our need to hear the word of God, believe those things that are contained therein, repent of past wrong doings, confessing Jesus as the Son of God and our Savior and submit to baptism for the remission of our sins, we must build on that foundation and learn and perform what the Lord says about even larger things.

It may not occur to us to love our enemies for example, but when we learn that before He saved us WE were His enemies, that should make us more compassionate toward others. It may not occur to us to help out a person in need, but when we learn that He supplies all of our needs, even though we have been strangers to Him, it should make us more giving. And whereas we may begin our lives of worship as pew sitters who remain silent as we are taking it all in, we must move to a life of service, using the gifts that God has given in order that others might be moved to worship and then to become servants.

In short, we are expected by God, even as we expect of our children, to grow. If our teenagers continued to need bottle feeding and diapers (barring any developmental issues of course), we would be more than alarmed. Then let us not continue to live in the basics of Christianity, but let us grow into maturity in the Lord.

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

God's Gift to Men II: Loving Our Wives-9/9/2011

"She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: “Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates." Prov 31:27-31

It is elsewhere asked, "A worthy woman who can find? For her price is far above rubies." There are many things that a man values. We value our homes, cars, boats and other toys. These are all material things. If we are indeed truly blessed, we have been given something that exceeds fleeting objects. After life, God's first gift to man was a "helper suitable for him." Made from his own rib, the Lord prepared her and brought her to him, not as a possession but as a completion of his own self.

Beloved we so often take for granted this glorious gift. It is amazing that we spend so much time, effort and money attempting to woo the one who has captured our attention and stolen our hearts, but just as often relegate her to a status unbecoming of the part of us she truly is. Too often we think of her as someone meant to provide for our needs and to leave us alone when ESPN is on. That is not God's design. The Spirit reveals that we are to love our wives as we do our own bodies and that those of us who love them are truly loving ourselves.

Let us remember that without them, there would be no us, no sons, and no daughters. In our wives we have built in counselors, collaborators, advisers, co-creators, consciences, motivators, inspire-ers, co-producers, beauty outside of ourselves and best friends. Boats and cars are just recreation and conveyances. Homes are just houses without her. Toys can never take her place because they cannot aspire to what she is inherently made to be.

Guys, I'm sure we love and appreciate our wives, but every now and then, we need to be reminded of who she is, how important she is, how valuable she is and the gift of God that she is. Let us never lose sight of the qualities and value that caused us to make everything in life a distant second when we first met them. Put down the toys, turn off ESPN and let her know that without her, there is no you.

**Happy Birthday Michelle. I love you!**

Loving Like Jesus,


Monday, August 8, 2011

We Need Each Other-8/8/2011

"But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Heb 3:13

Beloved, we need each other. Each and every one of us knows what is like to go through this life and have trials, tribulation, troubles and turmoil. Though not the whole of life, it is an inescapable part. All of scripture prioritizes love of God first and immediately thereafter, love of one another. Even the 10 commandments can be broken down into these two critical categories.

God gave us each other in order to help one another. There are times that one may feel mighty in the Lord and therefore then be able to strengthen another. By the same token, that same mighty soldier may suffer a lapse that requires the encouragement of someone who is feeling strong on that day. If we are not there for each other, we could easily find ourselves taking our eyes off of God and the solutions (or patience)He designs and seek our own remedies. Not only is this a recipe for failure, but it displays a lack of faith in our Maker and constitutes sin.

Let us seek opportunities to encourage another. There is always something good, positive and uplifting that can be shared. One never knows when the right word will be spoken at the right time that will make all the difference in someone else's life. Certainly, that person in need could be you.

Loving Like Jesus,

Friday, August 5, 2011

Don't Fool Yourself-8/5/2011

"But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was." James 1:22-24

One of the saddest things in life is for those who were once enlightened to fall back into darkness. The loving Father has taken every necessary step to create a path back to Him from original sin. That path is paved with the blood of Jesus. Though many of us stumble from time to time, with the help of the Spirit, we get back up, brush ourselves off and keep moving forward. The tragedy is that there are those who wander off the path, head in the opposite direction or just wallow on the ground to which they have fallen. Sadder still, we will often rationalize our actions and decisions and somehow make God alright with the wrong we are doing because He is such a forgiving God. This is the essence of deluding ourselves.

There is a sobering bit of scripture for those who refuse to walk in the newness of life: "For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame" Heb 6:4-6. Beloved can any of us imagine being the soldier that nailed Christ to the cross. In essence, we are doing just that when we leave the faith and leave the Father for the alluring yet false promises of sins pleasures.

Still not getting the message? If one decides that this is the course of action that they wish to pursue, God will grant you an assist: "For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness." 2 Thess 2:11-12

Let us all endeavor to keep our eye on the prize, our nose to the grindstone and our feet on the path to glory.

Loving Like Jesus,


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Supporting the Cause-8/4/011

Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means. Luke 8:1-3

Many times when we think of Christ's ministry, we picture him and perhaps some or all of his 12 apostles going from place to place preaching, teaching, healing and feeding. What we do not often visualize is the contingent that actually accompanied him. It must have been like a modern day concert. Jesus was the main attraction and his words were the hit songs of the day. The crowds he attracted were both supporters and detractors. But there was also quite the supporting cast that facilitated the "performance" by arranging logistics, participating in food service (feeding the 4000 and 5000), marketing (72 sent out to preach), security (they even tried to keep the kids away) and various other functions.

Beloved, one thing that cannot be neglected is this was a non-profit enterprise. No one paid to hear Jesus. In fact, most, if not all left with more than that with which they came. It does not defy reason to understand that the whole operation had to be financed. Scripture reveals that among the entourage that accompanied him were financiers. It is interesting that the women are credited in particular with this role. More importantly however, is the fact that those who supported the cause where those who had benefitted greatly from it.

It stands to reason then, that we should contribute to that which we believe in and from which we have benefitted. Today many are participating in spiritual shoplifting, that is to say, taking away without contributing. It is not to be understood that Christians should pay for blessings because they are indeed the free gift of God, however, because we have been gifted, we should support the efforts to extend those blessings to others, particularly if we have been made able by the Lord. The administration of funds, the personalities involved in leadership and even the minute specifics of how contributions are used should not be the primary concern of the contributor (though we all have a responsibility to ensure God's funds are used responsibly), but instead, the giving to God out of love, faith and appreciation should be the focus.

Jesus' instructions to his apostles and by extension to us today are, “And as you go, preach, saying, ' The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. Matt 10:7-8

Loving Like Jesus,


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Be Careful-8/3/2011

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" Matt 6:22-23

What indeed is clarity of the eye? It is submitted to you that it is at least a twofold consideration. First, it is pure way of looking at things. It is approaching what is observed without preconceived notions or questionable motives. For instance, some will look at a beggar at an intersection and think that he or she is a huckster trying to take advantage of the general public, while others will just see the need. Secondly, clarity (and purity) involve avoiding that which is detrimental to the relationship with God. An example of this is the all to ready access to pornographic and other immoral material via satellite, cable and the Internet. One need not even seek it in that it often shows up as spam in our email.

Beloved, we must, to the best of our ability, control what we take in through our eyes and other senses. Unrighteousness is as insidious as sugar ants that seem to somehow get in to your home and start showing up everywhere from the kitchen to the bedroom. It takes diligence and discipline to avoid that which is popularly accepted by the masses. Failure to do so desensitizes us and will ultimately lead to rationalizing behaviors that we previously would have considered just plain wrong.

Once our eyes become compromised, so does everything within us. We were once in darkness but shown the light. Should we return to that darkness, the shades are infinitely deeper and the effect of the light is significantly diminished, tragically at times, so much so that we do not allow our darkness to be overcome. Perhaps it is best said in the truncated lyrics of a famous children's song:

"Be careful little eyes what you see
Be careful little ears what you hear
There's a Father up above
And He's looking down in love
So, be careful..."

Loving Like Jesus,


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Appearances Can Be Deceiving-8/2/2011

"But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7

God had commissioned his servant Samuel to go and anoint a new king. Saul, God's first anointed turned out to be an utter failure due to his lack of obedience. One of Saul's features was that he stood head and shoulders in height above all the people of Israel. He turned out to be, however, quite small on the inside. In the house of Jesse, there was another tall and good looking man named Eliab whom Samuel thought surely to be the next king. Eliab was not God's choice and Samuel was mistaken.

Beloved, have we ever made the mistake of judging a book by its cover? Do we see the way a person dresses, or appreciate their dimensions or hear the resonance of their voice and begin making assumptions? Conversely, do we see those who are poorly dressed, of extreme dimensions or discordant voice and disregard them? Who among us likes to be judged out of hand? Inevitably our response is, "You don't even know me!" Certainly this is a cry to look past appearances and see the heart before making decisions about the whole person. It is an unfathomable blessing that God does just that.

Samuel was directed by God to choose the youngest of eight boys to be the next anointed king of His people. He was not a soldier like his older brothers, but a keeper of the sheep and still a youth, It was David who had a heart for God (that gave him confidence before Goliath) and was a man after God's own heart.

Let us all seek spiritual discernment that we may see each other's heart rather than just outward appearances.

Loving Like Jesus,


Monday, August 1, 2011


"Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’" Matt 18:32-35

When one of his disciples asks Jesus about how much and how often forgiveness should be extended, he responds with a parable that relays concepts with which we can all identify. The story is told of a man who was in a greater debt to the king than he could ever hope to repay. Through pleading with his lord, he received forgiveness of his debt and freedom for himself and his family. This same fellow went out and found someone who owed him a relative pittance, beat and berated him and threatened to have him incarcerated.

Beloved, we may hear this story and think, "How awful!" We all maintain a righteous indignation toward an act so filled with ignorance and so bereft of compassion. It is important, however, not to miss ourselves in the picture of this scripture. God is the great King who through Christ, has forgiven us of all of our transgressions. It is we who were more sin indebted than we could ever hope to repay. We must then ask ourselves, are we guilty of failing to forgive those who are indebted to us? This is not just a financial consideration.Iin fact, it is hardly about that at all. Do we walk around with ill will harbored against our fellow man and do we remind them, covertly or overtly, whenever we get the chance? Are we holding grudges against others? Are we judging others?

God has said that without extending forgiveness to others, none should be expected from him, Matt 6:14-15. The point is mercy received should lead to mercy offered.

Loving Like Jesus,