June 2023

Rock climbers

Do We or Don’t We?

Some will look out at the ocean
But never set foot past the shore
While others set sail and never look back
And go where no man’s gone before

Anything’s possible if you have faith
Just keep your head up and stay in the race
Others before have known this is true
And now it’s time for you
To know anything’s possible, too

Gary Chapman, youtube.com

I love that song. It taps into a struggle we often go through in life; do we or don’t we? Sometimes we overthink a thing we know God wants us to do. At other times, we pray too little, seek no counsel, and throw around theologically inaccurate memes to whip up our human confidence while giving little attention to God’s will and our lack of effort to know it. Humans are a strange creation.

Anything is possible, but not all things are God’s will. Right now, I’m in my deer-in-the-headlights pose. It happens to me when God puts something in my hands to do, but I lack any natural ability to do it. Though I am in one of those problems right now, I keep reminding myself what the apostle Paul wrote:

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:8–10

The man Gideon had this same problem. Gideon was the poster child for weakness. Yet, God made him into a military leader for a battle to deliver the Israelites from the oppression of a neighboring country. Here is God’s first message to Gideon:

Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!’

Judges 6–8

God doesn’t see us the way we are. Rather, God sees us as how we will be when He steps into our story. We do not exist because of some mistake, some carnal act in the backseat of a car, or some foolishness. No, you and I exist for a divine reason. We exist to do some specific works that God planned before His Creation. God made a plan, and He is working His plan, and now it is your turn and mine. It’s time for us to do the things God created us to do.

You and I are part of God’s will that He planned for you before He created anything[1]. He isn’t going to let anyone or anything spoil His plan.

While writing this post, my heart has been changing. I have been frozen by what Christ Jesus has given me to do. But now, not so much. Writing this post has reminded my worried mind that I’ve been here before. Just as David said, “Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.[2]” I pray the Holy Spirit also reminds you.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

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[1]: Ephesians 2:10 NIV – For we are God’s handiwork, created – Bible Gateway.
[2]: 1 Samuel 17:34–36 ESV – And David said unto Saul, Thy servant – Bible Gateway.

Dry Canyon

Are You in a Thin Place?

If I ask if you are in a thin place, you may conclude that I’m either asking about dieting or ice skating. I’m not. I recently learned about thin places from a blog, “Between Fangs And Feathers” by Steve Lummer.

The idea of “thin places” traces back to Celtic Christians, but all of us have been in them; we just didn’t have a name for them. A “thin place” is where heaven and earth nearly touch each other. For example, my wife and I were at a church fellowship supper a while back. During a conversation with another couple, we learned that the wife had undergone a near-death experience; she was dead for several minutes. She told us she was overwhelmed by heaven’s stunning beauty, but God had her return to her dead body. That’s a thin place!

Mr. Lummer referenced the temptation of Jesus to help us understand “thin places.”

And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

Mark 1:13 ESV

Jesus was “with the wild animals.” He was in this bleak world occupied by wolves, lions, and other apex predators. At the same time, Jesus was ministered to by angels whose homes were in heaven. For Jesus of Nazareth, the separation between Earth and Heaven was small, a thin place. The same is true for Jacob when he wrestled an angel1 and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they were thrown into a blazing furnace2.

If you or I find ourselves in life-threatening situations – cancer, vehicular accident, imminent danger – we are in a thin place. But thin places are not only about death; they can happen during spiritual mountaintops. The Holy Spirit may reveal a deeper meaning to a passage of Scripture, or He may use His gifts through us:

7 The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That is for the good of all. 8 To some people the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. To others the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge. 9 To others the same Spirit gives faith. To others that one Spirit gives gifts of healing. 10 To others he gives the power to do miracles. To others he gives the ability to prophesy. To others he gives the ability to tell the spirits apart. To others he gives the ability to speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. And to still others he gives the ability to explain what was said in those languages. 11 All the gifts are produced by one and the same Spirit. He gives gifts to each person, just as he decides.

1 Corinthians 12:4–11 NLT

We become aware of thin places during extraordinary events in our lives. Knowing that there are such things as thin places can add to our courage. As Christians, if we pay attention and pray continually, we will find that we can constantly touch God while walking by faith through this world that seeks to devour us.

Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava

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[1]: Genesis 32:22–31 NLT – Jacob Wrestles with God – Bible Gateway. Biblegateway.
[2]: Daniel 3:16–28 NLT – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – Bible Gateway. Biblegateway.

It’s In the Details

Every Friday at 9:00 AM, a few men from our church meet for breakfast. [Hint: If you want to join us, we meet each week at the Coffee Cup on North Lafayette Ave. in Terre Haute, Indiana] The food is great, and the fellowship is excellent.

Recently, as we were talking, one of the guys made a comment that stuck with me. He said he always wears his “Mickey” hat when he is out in public. The hat is the kind that guys often wear when fishing, and it has a small Mickey Mouse® logo. It is very casual but distinctive.

My friend said, “This hat is genuine. It’s from Disney®. I wear it so people remember me. They “know me.” They see what I do, where I go, and what I buy. Of course, this is a two-edged sword. They’ll know if I mess up.” His comment resonated with me.

Over the years, I’ve written several times about the good and bad of developing brands (The Brand of the Man, Building Our Brands, The Real Deal, etc.). I’m the guy that usually wears an unbuttoned denim shirt over a plain, colored T-shirt, jeans, and white tennis shoes. I learned from my wife that what I wear is called my “life uniform” – they have names for everything now!

We must not forget that Jesus told us what we are to be known for:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

John 13:34–35 NIV

Unfathomable love is how we must love. Jesus also told His disciples to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves1“. These two truths are not in conflict. We are confident of this because God’s Word states:

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.

Psalm 37:23

The “every detail” brings us back to my friend’s statement. Few people live their lives in the same town, work decades for the same company, and live their adult lives in the same home. So, as followers of Jesus, we need to be noticeable. It may be a brief time that they or we will be in the same community.

As we love people with love coming through us from God, we need to pay attention to the details in our lives. God delights in every detail of a godly person; we need to be those persons.

From people that work in restaurants, service stations, and mail delivery to educators and government workers, all should learn to recognize us and see the consistent, unalterable compassion, humility, and love that is unlike anything they ever witness from the world.

There’s a song that has received a lot of air-play on Christian radio stations. It’s titled, “God is in this story.” Here’s the first part of the chorus.”

God is in this story
God is in the details
Even in the broken parts
He holds my heart, He never fails
– Song by Big Daddy Weave and Katy Nichole, YouTube video


God is in the details. I love that message. We need to pay attention to how we live, thinking about what we say, what we do, and where we go. The apostle Paul wrote, “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.[1]It is good for people to recognize us. When they see us, they should see us loving in the way that Jesus loves[2]. After a while, we will be known by them for our love.

Photo by On Shot

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1: Ephesians 5:15 NLT – Living by the Spirit’s Power – Bible Gateway
2: John 13:34 NLT – So now I am giving you a new – Bible Gateway

Family, Baby, Crawling image.

For Joy!

The Commands of Christ – A Book of Joy

From time-to-time, beginning with this post, I will be sharing excerpts from my next book.


Love God and People

I was drinking a cup of coffee and writing a devotional a while back when I read this verse: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments1.” So, I stopped to think about what Jesus said. The first thought I had was the reply Jesus gave to the “lawyer”:

And he [Jesus] answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.

Luke 10:27 ESV

I thought I was “good to go,” but I again stopped and lingered on what Jesus meant by keeping His commands. I remembered that two of the ordinances (special commands) Jesus gave His Church are baptism and the Lord’s Supper-Communion-Eucherist. That’s two specific commands. Hmm.

Jesus Also Gave Us Specific Commands

When we study the New Testament, we find nine of the ten commandments carried over from the Old to the New; nine, not ten. The only commandment not included in Jesus’ New Covenant is the command to observe the Sabbath day2. Concerning the Sabbath, we find:

So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths.

Colossians 2:16 NLT

So, in Jesus’ reply to the lawyer’s question, He told him (and us) what is needed to show love for Him. But why should we study the many specific commands that Jesus gave if we can fulfill all the commands by loving God and People?

It’s Like a Car

Allow me to use a car as a metaphor. Think back to the time you received or purchased your first car. I’m sure a parent or friend told you, “Be sure to take care of it!” “Take care of it” is the command you received, and it’s true. But how do you take care of it?

Is keeping it clean enough? Is changing its oil regularly enough? Well, the answer is no. You must do many things to fulfill the command “take care of it.” Replacing worn tires, worn breaks, old batteries, and so forth.” The same is true in Christ’s commands to love God and your neighbor. To help us, Jesus told us the specific commands we need to fulfill the two greatest commands.

Christ’s Commands Give Us Joy

When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.

John 15:10–11 NLT

If you are a Christian, you are seated with Jesus in the heavenly realms3. You, too, can bear your cross4 for the full joy that awaits you in your heavenly home. It is God’s good pleasure for us, His children, to enjoy our new life in Him. “In this world, we will have trouble5,” but in Christ, we have peace and His joy. Because the New Testament overflows with good things – joy, peace, love, and so forth. I have written this book to help us to gain more of God’s joy. This book is not about making new laws for us; it certainly is not about burdening our lives more than the “light burden6” Jesus gives each of us.

The Commands of Christ were given for the lost to be saved and the saved to be full of joy7. In these commands, we learn how to break free from worldly lives and prepare to live eternally in the kingdom of God. We are on this adventure because Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey His commands8.

Image by serrano1004 from Pixabay

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[1]: John 14:15
[2]: Are the Ten Commandments repeated in the New Testament? | GotQuestions.org
[3]: Ephesians 2:6
[4]: Matthew 16:24–26 ESV
[5]: John 16:33
[6]: Matthew 11:28–30 NIV
[7]: Romans 15:13 ESV
[8]: John 14:15

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