Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Keep Worry Far

I've been spending time in Brian Simmon's passion translations and have really been blessed by them. Brian's heart is to bring out the real passion and fire that sometimes gets buried beneath inculcated religious tradition and concepts. He's eventually going to translate the whole Bible but has already done a good bit. You can get more information at It really is great for bringing a new, fresh perspective to the Word of God while maintaining the integrity of scripture.

I was going through Brian's translation of Psalm 37 this morning and was struck by the wording in much of it, but in particular, Psalm 37:8: "Stay away from anger and revenge. Keep worry from you, for it only leads you into lies." The usual translation of the end of this passage is evil or evildoing, but the phrase here "into lies" brings a little extra light on the subject. Worry and fear are liars that poison the soul. Worry and fear also pervert our actions and can lead us to make foolish, rash and unwise decisions. Moving into lies would be the case when we move into disagreement with the Word of God.

In John 8:32, Jesus said, "You will know the truth and the truth will make you free." If the truth makes us free then lies will bring us into bondage, It doesn't matter how sincere we are or even how nice we are. Living in a lie is living on shaky ground and will catch up to us. That's why we need to keep worry far from us. Jesus commanded us not to worry, but it can be a difficult thing to do sometimes. It is vitally important that we pay attention to our walk with the Lord and do those things that edify. We need time with Him. We need time in the Word. We need to pray and worship and to bring our requests before God! He is the antidote, but it does require something of us. Too many times what we call fellowship with God is basically just a series of whine sessions. Take your eyes off your problems, your weakness, your failures, your frustrations and put them on Jesus. It'll take some work and some discipline, particularly when you are just starting out, but the end result will be worth it. It will end in a deeper walk, a deeper trust and a deeper faith!

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

Friday, October 25, 2013

What is Love?

"Arms Wide Open" by Misty Edwards. What a powerful song. Enjoy.

Monday, December 17, 2012

God With Us

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, "God with us." (Matthew 1:23)

God with us. The tragedy in Newtown, CT this last week brings these words into stark relief. God with us. We watch that kind of evil unfold and ask why? We wonder how such things could happen? We get a glimpse into the darkness that resides in the hearts of men and find ourselves shocked at what we see. But we shouldn't be. The whole sordid tale of humanity is marred by a whole lot of ugliness. We cry out for answers and for safety. The anti-gun crowd and pro-gun crowd are gearing up for the inevitable clash over gun regulation. I read an article this morning about the connection between psychotropic drugs and school shootings. Investigators are looking at the shooter, his mother, his family, his background and his mental illness for an answer into why. We want answers and we want to see that it never happens again.

It will happen again. Sin is, unfortunately, a present reality for the human experience. We don't like to talk much about sin anymore -- not even in churches, but it is what it is. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?" We tend now, in our culture, to judge God according to the standards of man. God can't be good or even real because people are judged. I wonder how many people who don't believe in Hell are now hoping that Hell exists -- at least for Adam Lanza anyway. This kind of event knocks us off of our easy platitudes and wishful thinking. Man struggles enough with Jesus. The history of man without God is ugly.

God with us. God help us, because we so desperately need Him. Culturally we seek to marginalize God until tragedy strikes. We don't want Him in the public discourse. We don't want Him in our schools. We don't want Him in our politics. Have your religion, but keep it to yourself. We tell kids that they are just animals like all the other animals and then we wonder why they behave like animals. You're just another monkey off the family tree, not a very special person, created in the image of God.  We make life cheap by killing some 50,000,000 unborn babies and we wonder why people don't value life. Morality and virtue are outdated and subjective. The United States of America has never been a theocracy, but it has been a nation with a God consciousness for most of its existence. Despite revisionist history that is just the truth. If you don't believe me forget what some people now say and go back and read the history -- it's all there in black and white and pretty darned clear.

God with us. That's what Christmas is all about. The answer was not in the law or in the hearts of men or the strength of men or the goodness of men. God became the answer, in part, because there is no other answer. Never has been. In a sin riddled world the answer to the question is still Jesus. What question? Every one that matters. Sadly, Jesus was the answer for Adam Lanza. Jesus is the answer for these children who have gone to the presence of God. Jesus is still the answer for those who are left behind. 

In Jeremiah 8:22 the prophet asks the question, " Is there a balm in Gilead?" In Matthew 12:20 we read about Jesus: "A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench, Till He sends forth justice to victory." Our prayers are with those left behind in Newtown. Our hearts go out to them. There are lots of victims here. As we search for answers, maybe, just maybe some will find the real answer.  

'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Distractions, Distractions

"And He was giving orders to them, saying, "Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod."They began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart?" (Mark 8:15-17)

Jesus was talking to his disciples as they crossed the Sea of Galilee. The disciples, according to Mark's account, had only one loaf of bread between them. Jesus began to talk to them about the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod. Leaven was a well known euphemism for sin. While the Pharisees would have been mightily offended at being included in a conversation about sin (they would have understood the reference) that involved them and Herod, in their own way they exhibited a hardness of heart no less than Herod's.

As Jesus was talking his disciples either missed the point or were not paying attention. They missed the point a lot so that would not have been surprising, but it is also possible that they were hungry and forgot to bring bread and were not really paying attention as Jesus was talking. Jesus jars them back to reality by asking, "Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart?" 

It's easy for us to miss the point. Sometimes we do have a hardened heart and just don't want to hear it. We want to be angry or bitter. We don't want to hear about forgiveness. We have a finely tuned theology and we don't want the Word of God to interfere with that. A hardened heart can blind us to a truth that is right in front of us. A truth that will set us free if we will only let it. Selfishness, anger, sin, and pride all contribute to a hardened heart.

But sometimes we are distracted too. Ever been in a conversation and someone was talking and you realized you had zoned out and just missed a big part of what they were saying? It happens to just about everybody at some point. Sometimes we're just distracted. I think the disciples were distracted. They were more focused on the fact that they forgot bread than on Jesus. If they had been paying attention to Jesus they wouldn't have been worrying about bread. Ironically, this was right after Jesus had fed 4000 with seven loaves of bread and a few fish.

The enemy will try to get you into hardness of heart, but he works in distraction too. He has a lot of weapons available.  He'll use life, good things, bad things, fear, worry, resentment, entertainment -- the list could go on and on. He wants to rob us of the powerful and get us hung up on the mundane. I'm reminded of the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. Martha was hustling and taking care of everyone while Mary was sitting at Jesus' feet and listening. Martha complained to Jesus that Mary wasn't helping. In Luke 10:41-41 we read Jesus' response, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

Sometimes we do have to get things done. That's obvious, but the dishes and the cleaning and the food or whatever Martha was doing could have waited. She was so focused on the mundane that she was missing a powerful moment.  We're not told Martha's response. I like to think she threw down her dishrags and sat down next to Mary. Hopefully she didn't go off grumbling about how Jesus just doesn't understand.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


"Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons." (Deuteronomy 4:9)

It helps so much to be reminded of what the Lord has done in our lives. When we're going through a tough time or struggle it can really be encouraging. The Israelites would build stone monuments at places where important events happened. They were visual reminders of what the Lord has done.

Takes some time today to meditate and be thankful on the good things the Lord has done in your life! It will bless and encourage you!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Alabaster Jar

Alabaster Jar by Gateway. Love this song. Enjoy and be blessed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Small Changes

"He presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches." (Matthew 13 :31-32)

Never despise small beginnings or little changes. Sometimes things in life can seem so daunting we don't think we will ever get there. Thankfully all things are possible through Christ, who strengthens us. This is a really powerful principle. Just start somewhere. Maybe you want to be more consistent in your Bible reading and you've been frustrated in maintaining a reading plan. Try something less demanding -- maybe start with a chapter or two per day. Then trust the Lord to help you. Better to read a little a day that sinks in and effects change than to blaze through large portions just to fulfill a reading plan. There's nothing wrong with reading plans, but the purpose is relationship and growth, not to mark off a check list.

This is a principle that we can apply to any area or struggle of life.  Thankfully we have a wonderful heavenly Father who wants to help us. We tend to look at the big picture and get frustrated that we're not getting results fast enough, but the real question to ask is "Father, what can I do now?" He will show you the next step. Sometimes it is just to pray. Sometimes the only thing to do is rest and trust. The Holy Spirit always knows the most efficient path. Trust Him. Don't despise where you are today. Trust the Lord to walk you through.