Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Acting Childish 10/30/2012

"But Jesus called for them, saying, 'Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.'"  Luke 18:16-17

By this time, Jesus had become quite famous.  Everywhere he went he attracted both detractors and the hopeful.  In this case, worried and distraught parents were bringing their children to him to be blessed and healed.  Unfortunately, it was Jesus' own disciples that took on the role of security guards (rather than facilitators) when they began to rebuke the parents for presumably wasting the Savior's time.  Jesus used this opportunity as an object lesson for all.

Children are so wide eyed as they experience the world.  There's is a faith that is so fundamental that they are not even aware of alternative explanations or perspectives.  Their entire point of view is a combination of their own experience and what they have been told by loving parents.  Based on these two things, they just accept.  Watch small children as they interact with others like themselves on the playground or in the play room and you will see love and sharing.  It is also at this stage of life when they are the most obedient and have not yet learned to talk back or premeditatedly misbehave.  And finally, they are completely dependent upon their parents for everything from the basics of food, water, clothing and shelter to education, health care, affection and love.  It is all a little one needs.

Beloved, when Jesus mentions receiving the kingdom of God like a child, he is talking about nothing less than these things.  As adults and followers of Christ, we must shed our rebellion and faithlessness and understand that he provides for every one of our needs.  We must love the Lord with the nearly blind faith and absoluteness of a child.  All other alternatives must seem otherworldly.  To do less than this endangers our ability to gain the heaven we all seek.  If there is any area in which a grown, hard working, responsible adult should be childish, this is most certainly it.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Monday, October 29, 2012

The Best Predictor of Future Performance 10/29/2012 (rp)

"Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying." Matt 28:5-6

One of the many responsibilities of human resources professionals is to evaluate candidates for potential employment. This is a critical task in every business. The HR professional must evaluate a previously unknown individual to determine whether they would be an asset or a liability to the company. One of the most important tools used to accomplish this is known as behavioral interviewing. The theory behind this practice is, "The best predictor of future performance is past performance."

Beloved, we play the role of HR professional in our lives every day. The only reason we get on planes is because we've seen them take off and more importantly, land safely. We eat at restaurants where we do not actually see our food being prepared, because of the health department rating in every window. We believe in Jesus because he did what he said he would.

Jesus frequently told his disciples that he would give up his life but that he would take it up again. Though they did not fully understand it at the time (and Thomas not believing it all until he saw the ressurected Savior), they continued to follow him. They had seen him heal the sick, feed the hungry, minister to those in need, withstand hypocritical authorities and perform miracles never before seen. His performance lead to the establishment of their faith. They believed him so much that they completely changed their lives and began to live for him.

Jesus has said, "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:2-3. On those rare occasions when your faith may get a little shaky, remember his past performance and look forward to his future performance. Jesus will do just what he said he would just as he always has.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Friday, October 26, 2012

Upgrade 10/26/2012 (rp)

"For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven." 2 Cor 5:1-2

It is no secret to any of us that we are but mortals. None of us in our current form will live forever. In fact, death is as much a part of life as living is. Though we experience fear, mourning, despair and sorrow at the thought of passing from this life, we also know that it is necessary in order to gain the next. The interesting thing is that as much as we may fear leaving this life, so many of us are dissatisfied with it.

Beloved, Jesus has told us that he has gone to prepare a place for us. Paul has informed us that the "perishable must put on the imperishable" in order to gain heaven. These two facts alone should fill us with confidence that where we are now is not where we will ultimately be. Though we were placed on this earth for a time and given things we must accomplish in the service of the Lord, this life is nowhere near what is ultimately meant for the Christian.

Let us remember that these fallible bodies, subject to all kinds of defects and breakdowns are temporary vessels to one day be replaced with perfect ones. The pains of this world will not last always. Let us remember that this fallible existence full of all kinds of discomforts, temptations and unwholesome desires will be replaced by the presence of the Father. Let us look forward to an upgrade that is out of this world.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Forgiven!! 10/25/2012

"There sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.  And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary." Heb 10:17-18

If we were to think about our needs and think beyond those things pertaining to the body such as food, air, water and shelter, we would sooner or later get around to our critical need for forgiveness.  Once we become aware that God exists and that He has expectations for us and once we realize that we operate outside of those expectations, we realize that we need forgiveness.  Once we fall in love with Him and realize He loved us since before we existed, we realize that we need forgiveness.  Once we realize that there are benefits for obedience and consequences for a lack of obedience, we realize that we need forgiveness.

In ancient times, this realization existed among the Hebrews.  Once understood, they obeyed God by sacrificing bulls, goats and birds to mitigate their sin.  It is important to know that full forgiveness was not yet available to them but simply rolled forward for them.  These practices were designed to pave the way for the coming and sacrificing of the Messiah, the only Sacrifice adequate enough to create the possibility of forgiveness.

Beloved, the amazing news is that Jesus the Messiah did come and did provide the ultimate sacrifice.  In so doing, he did away with the need to slaughter animals to mitigate our sins.  His one time sacrifice was perfect for all time and covers all who avail themselves of it by giving Christ headship over their lives.  When this is sincerely done through hearing the word, believing it, recognizing that we sin and repenting of it, confessing that Jesus is the son of God and our savior and being baptized for the remission of those sins, we do indeed receive forgiveness of those sins and become members of God's family. Once done, forgiveness becomes perpetual as long as we continue to pursue godly lives.  What blessed peace there is in knowing that our greatest need has been provided for by our heavenly Father.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Monday, October 22, 2012

Good News and Better News 10/22/2012

"So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." Heb 9:28 (NIV)

It is difficult for any human being to look upon Jesus' suffering on the cross as good news.  The gospel account is actually quite horrifying and humiliating.  Nevertheless, without it, humanity would be doomed to an an irreversible destruction. It is only because of our Savior's great sacrifice that we can be reconciled to the God who made us.

The one thing that mitigates the sorrowful treatment of God's son is the fact that he took up his life again.  With resurrection power, he arose and walked out of his borrowed tomb to verify the truth of his words and spread the good news of their meaning.  Having completed his work on earth, he returned to the heaven from which he came and now sits on the right hand of God.

Beloved, all of this is as if a cure has been discovered for a terrible disease to which we are all subject.  The goodness of the news does not reach its zenith until we are ourselves inoculated.  This will take place when the same Savior who rose into the clouds comes back in those clouds and reaps the harvest of all he has planted on earth.  That is when good news will get even better.

Let us be sure that we are part of that harvest.  Though he will return for those who are waiting for him, remember that we must be prepared in our waiting.  As the wise virgins had their lamps filled with oil, ready for the bridegroom to arrive despite not knowing the hour, we too must have our lives in order.  Only then we will be able to take advantage of the best news possible: the announcement that it is time to go home.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Friday, October 19, 2012

Who is Jesus? 10/19/2012

"And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." Heb 1:3

Most who call upon the name of Christ have a working knowledge of who he is. We understand what he has done and is doing for us, that he loves us and that we should love and obey him. But do we ever go beyond those surface facts. Scripture reveals some very powerful truths about our Savior.

It is important to know that Jesus is God in the flesh. There are many scriptures that bear out this critical fact. One well known example can be found in Phi 2:5-8. You are encouraged to examine this for yourself. This means that Jesus was not and is not just a "good man," "an excellent teacher," or a "wise prophet."

Jesus is God the Son and is able to, as the scripture says, uphold all things by the word of His power." For further insight into what this means, read John 1:1-3. Once this has been done, journey to verse 14 of the same book and chapter to understand who wields this power and to know that our Savior is indeed King of Kings who loved us enough to put on flesh and live among us.

Understanding these things, we must then become convinced that only his death could pay the price of our sin. The sacrificing of animals and agricultural products could never do. The death of any other person, no matter how righteous would accomplish nothing for him or herself nor the human race. Only God could accomplish such a thing. And now, his earthly work done, he has returned to the heaven which he left for us, and is preparing a place for us to be there with him.

Beloved let us always keep in mind that Jesus is not just a slogan, an idea, a historical figure or a quaint notion. He is the Master of the universe and the personal savior of all who call upon him.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Thursday, October 18, 2012

GPS 10/18/2012 (rp)

"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

We live in a choice driven world. Everyone seems to want to either blaze their own trail and go their own way or chose from a plethora of trails to get to a common destination. We seek to distinguish ourselves by being different than the next person. For this reason standards become diluted. Whereas this human trait may be responsible for many of the advances we have achieved, when it comes to salvation, there has only ever been one way.

Beloved, Jesus is the doorway through which we must enter in order to gain our heavenly home. He emphatically states in Jn 14:6, "I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father except through me." Though we change, the Way does not. The Hebrew writer offers, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." The standard has been established and is accessible to everyone who chooses to follow Him. Many will espouse different ways to reach paradise but make no mistake, the only road map, established by God, gives one route and one route only. Let us follow the ultimate GPS (God Positioning System) and share the directions with others.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Works Do Not Save 10/16/2012 (rp)

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." Eph 2:8-9

For those who know me personally, you are aware that I am currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Religion with an emphasis in Biblical Studies. With all of my other responsibilities, you might correctly imagine that it is very demanding. So if you see a tad bit of inconsistency in timing and delivery or an an unusual amount of reposts, prayerfully you will understand why. I give praise to God, however, that I am learning something new every day. Some of that learning is shared with you through this and other forums.  Thankfully, I am very near the finish line.

Having said all of that beloved, I thought I'd share with you a not untypical assignment from a course on apologetics. My classmates and I were asked to discuss the relationship between works and salvation from an apologists (evangelistic) point of view.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


If works do not provide salvation, then what role do they play in the Christian life?

Most individuals are taught from an early age that in order to obtain a desired thing, status or way of life, it must be earned through work. After the fall in the Garden of Eden, God established the necessity to work, even to eat, when He said to Adam, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground.”[1] The desire of the eye, the needs of the body, and the demands of the ego are not to be confused with the way to salvation. Despite the fact that some teach that salvation is to be earned through works, no works can be done that can accomplish what Jesus has already done, however works can and should be done because of salvation and these will be rewarded on earth and in heaven.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses boast a membership of over six and a half million.[2] Each of these individuals have been taught that, “Door-to-door witnessing, conducting Bible ‘studies’ and remaining obedient to the ‘faithful and discreet servants’ (leadership of the Watchtower) are all necessary for salvation.”[3] The Jehovah’s Witnesses are just one example of a salvation by works theology. An examination of the scriptures reveals this type of doctrine to be false.

It is only through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus the Christ that salvation can be obtained. Romans 5:8-9 reveals that it was Christ’s death that provides us with justification and salvation from the wrath of God. Further, Paul writes, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”[4] Isaiah presses the point of the uselessness of righteous acts by stating, all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.”[5] Scripture frequently points out that salvation cannot be earned by human effort but only through that which Jesus accomplished on our behalf.

Though works themselves do not save, works can and should be pursued because of salvation. Paul wrote to the saved Christians at Philippi with instructions to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purposes.” The Greek word for “work out” (katergazomai) means to fashion or render one fit for a thing. In essence, Paul, in his letter to the congregation is telling them that while he is gone, they are to continue doing the things that God has placed in them as His children that He may be pleased and that they may be an example. This would help them live up to the salvation which they had already received.

Although works do not save, there is a beneficial earthly and heavenly reward that can be obtained through them. Timothy was told to, “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasures for themselves as a firm foundation for that coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”[6] By doing good works, Christians not only obtain the good feeling of helping others, they also add to their promised reward. The point is further made in Eph 6:7-8 when Paul writes, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.”

There is certainly a value to doing good works; however, salvation is not the result of them. An everlasting existence with the Father is only available through the atoning work of Jesus, but works should be pursued because of salvation, as well as the earthly and heavenly benefit. The human psychology of earning what a person gets is admirable. This is also a biblical teaching in that it is written, “if any would not work, neither should he eat.”[7] This doctrine does not, however, extend to salvation. To teach that it does devalues the life, teaching, death, burial and resurrection of the son of God.


Hindson, Ed, and Ergun Caner, eds. The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.

Horton, David, ed. The Portable Seminary. Grand Rapids: Bethany House, 2006.


[1] Gen 3:19 (NIV).

[2]David Horton, ed., The Portable Seminary (Grand Rapids: Bethany House, 2006), 419.

[3]Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner, eds., The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 292.

[4]Titus 3:5.

[5]Isa 64:6.

[6]1 Tim 6:18-19.

[7]2 Thes 3:10.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Maturing in the Faith 10/9/2012

"And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." Phi 1:9-11

Are you still believing and doing the same things you did yesterday? Do you still think what you thought a year or two or five ago? Are you still running with the same crowd and getting into the same stuff you always did? These may be strange questions to ask the Christian because a "yes" to any or all of them could be a good thing. In fact, a "yes" could also be a bad thing. A "yes" means that there may have been no growth in your spiritual life.

Paul first tells the church at Philipi that he prays for their growth in knowledge and discernment. The only way that we can acquire more knowledge is to seek it by studying our bibles, attending classes and worship services and surrounding ourselves with the spiritually mature. This will in turn give us a greater ability to know how to recognize and navigate around stumbling blocks that could trip us up. This discernment will also give us the ability to gravitate toward that which is godly and to make wise choices concerning our opinions, activities, habits and relationships that will reflect his presence in our lives. Achieving this (which is a constant process), we can be fully prepared for the return of our savior and please God in the process.

Beloved, it is not enough to sit on the pew on Sunday and simply nod at all the things the preacher says with which we agree. It is imperative to pursue a personal relationship with the Lord and to grow that relationship every day. In so doing, we prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God, Rom 12:2.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Monday, October 8, 2012

The Outer Expression of Inner Truth 10/8/2012

"If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." Gal 5:25

One of the hottest singing groups in the 80's was a duo called Milli Vanilli. Their first album went 6 times platinum and they won a Grammy that year for Best New Artist. The only problem was that the members of the group were not the actual singers. This was discovered during a concert at which the recording jammed and continued to play the same line over and over. The duo continued to lip sync for a while but ultimately ran off stage in humiliation. It was the scandal of the decade in the music industry.

Beloved, as Christians, it is critical that our Christian faith not be just a profession but a heartfelt Spirit filled lifestyle. Otherwise put, our video must always match our audio. To proclaim a relationship with the living God but live a life that is outside of His will and way is hypocrisy that does not fool God at all despite the fact that others may be influenced and enamored by what they see.

More important than what others think is being honest with one's self. Paul affirms that if we "walk in the Spirit, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want" Gal 5:16-17.

In short, if we claim to be children of God, let it be true on the inside and shown on the outside in both word and deed.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Friday, October 5, 2012

Watch Your Mouth 10/5/2012

"But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matt 12:36-37

Most of it find it entertaining, telling or even tragic when one of our political leaders is caught saying something we would not normally associate with them near an open microphone. Many have been embarrassed by such utterances and find themselves having to spend a lot of time spinning the statement or doing damage control. The truth is, once something has been said, it can never be unsaid.

It is not just those who are in the public eye that are subject to these dangers; in fact, we all are. It is important that Christians know and understand that God is omniscient and omnipresent. "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do" Heb 4:13. In short, God sees and hears everything.

Beloved we must be thoughtful about the things we choose to say. It is not nearly as much of the purposeful things we say as the idle ones that indicate our character. Have you ever been walking down the street, seen some one poorly dressed or in a diminished state of hygiene and said something derogatory about them to a companion? Are you critical of and vocal about others who may not agree with you? Do you engage in gossip? These words ultimately condemn the speaker rather than the object of them. Paul said, "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person" Col 4:6. We are children of God and ambassadors of heaven. Every word that proceeds from our mouths should reflect this.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Will You Be Healed? 10/4/2012

"When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, 'Do you wish to get well?' The sick man answered Him, 'Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.'” John 5:6-7

Jesus comes upon a desperate man who had been suffering for thirty eight years. What must have been maddeningly and tragically frustrating is that he was in close proximity to a cure but it might just have been a million miles away. Scripture states that there was a pool in a place called Bethesda that an angel would visit from time to time and disturb the water. The first person into the water would be healed. The Great Physician asks if he desires to get better and the man begins to explain the situation. Some might otherwise term this "making excuses."

Beloved, Jesus asks us that same question today; "do you wish to get well?" Do you wish to be freed from the slavery of sin? Do you wish to have peace in a world full of turmoil? Do you wish to stop the aching in your soul that comes from a lack of connection with your Maker? Do you wish to be free of that which corrupts? Do you wish to be made whole spiritually? When considering these questions, too often we begin to explain the situation. We tell the Lord we are not good enough, not ready, unable or that we do not know how. These are all excuses. Jesus is not taking a survey, he is offering healing. All that it is necessary to do is to say yes. He is making a house call. We just need to let him in.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Admitting When You Are Wrong 10/3/2012

"Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, " How could you do this?" For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. So they said to him, "What should we do to you that the sea may become calm for us?" — for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy. He said to them, "Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you." Jonah 1:10-12

Have you ever been dead wrong and known it? Of course this is a rhetorical question. We all have at some point in our lives and this has surely happened multiple times. The real question is about how we handle it. For many, the automatic response is to continue to bull our way through and stand on our manufactured correctness no matter what. It must be asked what this accomplishes. Among the answers are estrangement, deterioration of trust and credibility, damaging of relationships, ostracisation and being labeled a liar.

Suppose instead that we humble ourselves and admit our error? We are all human and subject to the same mistakes. 1 Cor 10:13 reveals to us that "no temptation has overtaken us except that which is common to man." None of us are busy creating new ways to be wrong. Character and integrity, however, are revealed in how we handle the realization that we are outside of where we need to be.

Beloved, Johan knew that he was wrong. Seeing the affect of his actions on others, he immediately owned the problem by identifying himself and explaining that he was to blame. Further, he accepted responsibility by instructing his shipmates to throw him overboard and let God deal with him. In so doing, he confined punishment to where it belonged, upon himself. He caused the lives of the innocent to be spared. He gave them information that influenced them to worship God. And he ultimately received forgiveness for the mistake that he made.

Let us always pursue the freedom that accompanies truth by acknowledging our errors, admitting our fault and taking responsibility for our actions. God blesses these humble acts with forgiveness. We may similarly find that our neighbors will too.

Rejoicing in the Lord,


Monday, October 1, 2012

A Little Help From Our Friends 10/1/2012 (rp)

"My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." James 5:19-20

The Beatles are famous for penning a lyric that states, "I get by with a little help from my friends." This points to the fact that none of us exists on an island or in a bubble. By necessity, we interact with and depend on one another. This is true of people that we know as well as those with whom we may not be acquainted. In Christian relationships, the importance of this increases exponentially. Why? Because we are talking about nothing less than our relationship with God and our eternal souls.

Beloved, God placed us in each other's lives for a reason. As siblings, we are to be a family. As His family, we are to care for one another in as near an approximation as we can to how He cares for us. We need to both celebrate and sorrow with one another. We need to fellowship in the glow of having Jesus in common. We need encourage one another. And sometimes we need to save each other.

Like the lost sheep that has wondered away from the flock, Christian family members sometimes go astray. It is at times like these when a little help is needed. Gal 6:1 famously says that "If a man be overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness." In so doing, we prevent one who has been won from being lost again. Not only is it important that we provide this loving and compassionate service to our brothers and sisters but we truly need to count on the same from them if and when we find ourselves going a bit astray.

When we realize that any of us at any time is subject to losing our grip on constantly living a godly life, a little help from our friends is more valuable than gold and is as critical as breathing. Once restored to the fold, we can pick up the Beatles' next bit of wisdom, "I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends."

Rejoicing in the Lord,