September 2021

Between My Ears

A pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

This is where I add notes and thoughts as I study the Bible. Please feel free to comment.

There’s an old SNL joke about something that smelled disgusting. So, each person in the room past it to the next and said, “Smell this. It’s horrid.” And each person did. Well, I’m about to do the same thing to you. I just read a quote that both shocked and saddened me. Here, read it:

Sleep is good, death is better, the best thing would to have never been born at all. 

Heinrich Heine

Is it better to not have been born and lose out on God’s marvelous love? Of course not. Life is hard, more for some, but some for all. So let me speak plainly: There is nothing on earth, below the earth, or in heaven above, that is better than to be known by Jesus and to be on the receiving end of God’s love.

It is better than having never been born. Far better than death (separation from God), and way, way better than sleep – and I highly regard sleep! As my father-in-law would say, “It’s better than a sack of $100 bills!”

Receive Jesus. Receive God’s love. Receive that joy unspeakable and full of glory! Don’t think like Heinrich Heine! And don’t forget to pass this along to the next person. 😉

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

man yelling

All Truth

All truths are not always spoken to all people. Truth is true wherever you find it for all truth comes from Jesus. You may find truth in a secular song, a novel, or just in everyday conversations. But remember, Jesus is the source of truth for He said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ” (John 14:6) The challenge for us is to know when to share truths with others. It’s always proper to tell the gospel, but there are more profound truths in God’s word that should only be shared when mentoring someone or digging deeply with a mature brother or sister in the Lord. Here are some verses that confirm this truth:

Matthew 7:6: Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Matthew 16:20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Matthew 17:9 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Mark 1:43-45, Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

Mark 5:41-43 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Revelation 2:17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

Truth is True

Truth is true wherever you find it for all truth comes from Jesus. You may find a truth in a secular song, a novel, or just in everyday conversations. But, remember, Jesus is the source of truth for He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ” (John 14:6)

Christ’s statement about truth is absolute like in trigonometry when we talk about axioms, that’s what Jesus is telling us. The challenge for us is to know when to share truths with others. It’s always proper to tell the gospel but there are deeper truths in God’s word that should only be shared when mentoring someone or digging deeply with a mature brother or sister in the Lord. Here are some verses that confirm this truth:

From Matthew Henry’s Commentary, we find: All truths are not to be always spoken to all persons, but such as are proper and suitable to their present state.” and the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:23, “I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything“–but not everything is constructive…Therefore, it is imperative that we remember our calling and not be drawn into needless disagreements. If we are to be mocked, abused, or killed let it not be because we are speaking truths that are not for the weak or unsaved but let it be for preaching Jesus and Him crucified.

Don’t Trip Over Words

I’m sure we all know someone who lives to create arguments about the Bible and Christianity. They argue for the sport of it, not to turn the conversation to them to the good news of Jesus even though it says in 2 Timothy 2:14, “Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.

I confess that I have been guilty of worthless disagreements. Today I confess and repent of this sin. I pray that we will not be drawn into these useless disagreements but, instead, live in peace and tell the good news.

Photo by Gem & Lauris RK on Unsplash

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Between My Ears

A pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

This is where I add notes and thoughts as I study the Bible. Please feel free to comment.

4And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”

The first time I heard about paraprosdokians, I liked them. Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected and is frequently humorous.  (Sir Winston Churchill loved them) A favorite of mine is this: If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.

Today’s passage isn’t humorous, but the end was surprising to the crippled man. This passage fits with a great devotional on The Devotion Cafe’ titled, “Everything will make sense later.” God’s paraprosdokians sometime span a few sentences, or centuries, or millennia. Still, I’m sure He finds humor in them.

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

Two men hugging at church, greeting

Today is Hug a Christian Day!

Greet one another with a holy kiss.2 Corinthians 13:12

I did a Google search and didn’t find a day set aside to hug a Christian, so I decided to create one. Each year, on September 27th, is “my official” hug a Christian day.

You may ask, “Why do we need a special day set aside for this?” That’s a good question. I don’t mean that we can only hug a Christian on September 27th. It’s just that I have observed that some Christians seem to fall through the cracks. And the cohesive nature of Christianity compels us to not social-distance. Community cannot be maintained without human contact.

The Reason Why

I know that in our culture, the idea of a holy kiss is repugnant to many people. This is why I didn’t designate today as kiss a Christian day, but feel free to do so if the recipient grants their consent, in writing, and said document is officially notarized. 😉

Here’s the real reason that I’m serious about this day. We have allowed the body of Christ to be drawn and quartered by every crisis du jour. Jesus’ body on earth is divided and weakened because we’ve allowed the cares of life to overrule the commands of Christ.

but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Mark 4:19

Cast Off Selective Devotion

Our selective love and devotion must stop, and the best way to say, “no more” is to have human contact with fellow Christians. To hug each other and encourage each other through the washing of spiritual water (Ephesians 5:26).

Please join me today in celebrating our brothers and sisters in Jesus. Let us find our best and closest friendships within the body of Christ (Romans 12:4–5). If there is anything that hinders our love, we must crucify that thing. What good is it if we gain the whole world but forfeit our souls (Matthew 16:26).

C’mon, Hug a Christian Today

Will we go to hell if we hate our fellow Christian brothers and sisters? I don’t know, but how can we be so callous? So let’s rejoice in the body of Christ. Let’s be bold and courageous in this world of fear. Please join me, as we step out in faith and hug a Christian today. I think this might just catch on!

Photo by Erika Giraud on Unsplash

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Between My Ears

A pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

This is where I add notes and thoughts as I study the Bible. Please feel free to comment.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14

I just learned this. Notice the order of the Persons of the Trinity. Nearly always, St. Paul wrote, “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (e.g., Romans 1:7)” But here he reverses the order. Not only does this verse affirm the Trinity of God, but this verse also shows us the equality of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

the passion of Christ

Is It I?

Playing the Part

At the Last Supper, Jesus told His disciples He knew one of them would betray Him. Each asked Jesus if it was him. The Pharisees had paid Judas to betray Jesus, yet in Matthew 26:25: Judas, who would betray him [Jesus], answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him,You have said so.

Judas was still playing the part of an apostle while having no understanding that Jesus knew everything. Judas was saving face by parroting what the other apostles asked Jesus – “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.Proverbs 16:18 So when Jesus said, You have said so, was Judas surprised? I mean, how blind was Judas?

Spiritual Amnesia

Do we sometimes find this same spiritual amnesia crippling us? Do we “say grace” over our meals at home but refrain from doing so in restaurants? Do we tell co-workers, “Good luck” but tell fellow Christians, “I’ll be praying for you?” Do we cheer at sporting events but stoically sing, “Amazing Grace?”

If not amnesiacs, then perhaps we’ve learned to be chameleons, not even aware that we take on the color of our surroundings. I include myself in this problem. One of the outstanding characteristics of my dad was that if you knew him, you knew him. He was the same person as a university professor, a member of the faculty senate, a deacon in his church, a Sunday school teacher, a farmer, a business partner, a dad, and a grandpa. He was not universally liked. He was a Christian. It was your choice how you reacted to him.

Is it I?

As a child of God, I need to be acutely self-aware. In every situation, and among all people, I need to be “all in” for Jesus and His Gospel. May I never ask Jesus, “Is it I?” when I know it is.

Between My Ears

A pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

This is where I add notes and thoughts as I study the Bible. Please feel free to comment.

As I grow older, my brain becomes quieter. Yes, for now, my ability to recall life as it happens is still effective. But what I’ve discovered is that, in the quiet, I can hear more clearly God’s “still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). And I recall blessings from God’s hand.

My life is built upon those blessings. Where would I be without God’s mercy? Had God not extended His compassion to me, and called me, you would see a life shipwrecked, tangled in the rocky crags of this lonely, wicked world. But my life isn’t that. I am a man recovering from wreckage by the love, strength, and power of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

a picture of two diamonds

A Very Rare Thing

If you get an opportunity, please pray for my sister-in-law. She is getting a new knee today.

If the Bible reveals God’s will for me to do something, then I need to get off my backside and do it. If He’s already said it, he will not likely show me a sign or write it in the sky.

Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.

John 4:48 NIV

Under faith

I often fail to act on my faith in Jesus because I over-think and under-faith the thing about which the Holy Spirit is speaking to me. The well-known Christian author, Oswald Chambers, said:

“Waiting on God to act is fleshly unbelief. It means that I have no faith in Him. I wait for Him to do something in me so I may trust in that. But God won’t do it, because that is not the basis of the God-and-man relationship. Man must go beyond the physical body and feelings in his covenant with God, just as God goes beyond Himself in reaching out with his covenant to man. It is a question of faith – a very rare thing.”

Mr. Chambers makes an unusual statement in this quotation. He says, “I wait for Him to do something in me so I may trust in that.” Ouch.

A Rare Thing

I know there have been times in my life when I was guilty of seeking to put my faith in an act of God instead of God. It’s the Gideon’s sheepskin trap (Judges 6:37–39). Gideon lived long before Jesus paid the ultimate price that allows God to live in us. Gideon needed to see God work, but as Christians, we already have experienced God work. Let’s not forget what it means for Jesus to be our “Lord.” We need nothing more.

Image by Grown Diamond from Pixabay

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Between My Ears

A pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

This is where I add notes and thoughts as I study the Bible. Please feel free to comment.

Did you know that, as Christians, we should be praying that Jesus puts us in manure? Really. You may feel like you have enough, well, manure in your life; it’s not so! If we are to be productive in God’s kingdom, we need His manure. Just read Luke 13:6-9:

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.  And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’  And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

sun rising over a hill

In the Morning

And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate.

Mark 15:1

Wicked People

This is the way people do evil. They create committees. God always calls and uses a person to birth remarkable things. It’s been my experience that rarely anything great comes from a committee.

So, in Mark 15:1 we see the wicked creating a committee. The committee was initiated by the chief priests. But it seems that they didn’t feel like they had enough authority to go by themselves to Pilate, the fifth governor of the Roman province of Judaea. Therefore, the chief priests formed a committee that included the elders, scribes, and the whole council.

Committees are usually created for two reasons: to spread the blame if things go badly and create the perception of a broad constituency that support the decision of the committee. (I know I’m being rather hard on committees, but in my personal experience some, but few, make positive contributions.)

In the Morning

The chief priests believed that their newly formed committee had the power to get the Gentiles to kill Jesus. Notice that verse one says, “And as soon as it was morning.” So, these wicked chief priests had done their dirty work at night, packing their committee with people that hated Jesus and would vote to have Him killed. Then, as quick as a wink, early in the morning they had their committee.

That’s how the wicked work. They don’t trust people and they don’t want justice. They want to pack the committee, pack the pews, pack the universities with people that will follow their leadership rather than the path of justice.

So, for the chief priests, they had an evil coalition that voted to use all their political capital (influence) to affect an unfair, violation of justice, and have Jesus condemned to execution by the Gentiles. Their authority did not include executions. So, they had to persuade the person with the authority to condemn Jesus to death, and they did.

A Perfect Plan Becomes a Pickle

The chief priests’ plan was perfect but would land them in a pickle. And it would have worked if Jesus had been just a man, but Jesus wasn’t what they thought Him to be. The chief priests’ perfect plot played pitifully into Jesus’ plan.

Before Jesus died on the cross, the sky was darkened and when He died there was an earthquake. To these natural testimonies pointing to Jesus’ divinity, the chief priests’ exclusivity to the Holy of Holies was taken from them. And adding insult to injury, dead people were miraculously raised from their graves as a testimony to Jesus being the Messiah (Matthew 27:51).

The chief priests and all the members of their evil committee’s defeat began when Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) At that moment, the “Holy of Holies”, accessible only by the chief priests, was ripped wide open, from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). This act by God removed the separation between God’s chosen people and God, Himself – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Then, the chief priests’ perfectly plotted plan went poof because, early in the morning, on the third day, Jesus was raised from the dead! They should have remembered that proper prior planning prevents puzzling predicaments. Christ’s resurrection was more than a puzzling predicament, it was abject agony for all the members of the chief priests’ committee!

In the History of Decisions

It seemed that everything that could go wrong had gone wrong. Instead of ending the people’s infatuation with Jesus, Jesus was back, and continuing to do the things their Messiah was prophesied to do. In the history of decisions, the chief priests’ decision is easily the worst. Just as Jesus had said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”. (John 12:24) Jesus is the promised Seed (Galatians 3:16). He died and was buried. And from His death He arose (Luke 24:34) and is still bearing much fruit; the latest count is over two billion living souls. I hope you are one of them.

Photo by Sara Barros on Unsplash

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