Life

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My Two Friends

I have two of my friends that approach life in Christ quite differently. My one friend has an insatiable thirst for Christ in his life. He spends a lot of time listening to sermons and diligently reading and memorizing the Scriptures. He loves the book of Romans and always finds a way to talk to people about Jesus. He is a church elder and often preaches. I sincerely enjoy and respect him. I am blessed to have him as a friend.

My other friend has focused on Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12). He deeply understands the Scriptures, but he rarely quotes a verse exactly when we chat. Still, for the past forty-five years, he has hosted individuals and families in his home for extended lengths of time and consistently seeks out people to share the Gospel and demonstrate genuine love, no matter what it cost him. I sincerely enjoy and respect him. I am blessed to have him as a friend.

My Contemplation

I began contemplating how does Jesus want me to live? For the first 1,500 years of Christianity, most Christians never possessed a Bible; many churches didn’t have one. So, Christians certainly didn’t read through the Bible each year, and they never had the opportunity to use a cross-reference, concordance, or commentary. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit was active in them, so lives were changed, and Christians thrived; massive numbers of people around the world turned their lives over to Jesus. That same Holy Spirit is still actively working today.

So, should I be like the saints of old and not possess a Bible? No! God has given us His Word for our spiritual health and our ministry to others. Why did God not allow Mr. Guttenberg to be born 1,500 years earlier? I have no idea. What I do know is that throughout history, God has continually broadened people’s opportunities to hear the Good News and repent.

Head and Feet

Relief from condemnation and true inner peace is what everyone longs for, but only those who receive God’s salvation acquire them. From the Bible, we learn how we can live with childlike inquisitiveness and how to discipline our bodies like athletes. Is one of my friends more right than the other? No!

19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

1 Corinthians 12:19-21

Good News

The keys to life in Jesus are faith and obedience. We are not faced with a contradiction between striving to live as an athlete for Jesus or living inquisitively as citizens in God’s kingdom. Whatever we do, we must do it in faith and without selfishness. The athlete must not judge the inquisitive citizen, and the inquisitive citizen must not judge the athlete. If we do as Jesus desires, then all of us will receive the “light burden” He promised, and we will know how we are to live our lives for Him.

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Between My Ears


As Christians, we often speak of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus, the Son of God. But, if asked, can we give an immediate, concise answer? A dear friend and spiritual mentor taught me to always have a one-minute, five-minute, and twenty-minute “message in my pocket.”

His thinking and I found it true, was that at a moment’s notice, I may be called upon to testify to a person, speak to an ad hoc group, or be called upon to preach a message. In those situations, I had no time to prepare.

I saw this displayed on a street in Cluj, Romania. As a small group of us were walking along a wide city sidewalk, we came upon a young Eastern Orthodox priest. He stopped us because he heard us speaking English and wanted to find out if we could understand him. To his delight, we did!

With that out of the way, we began an enjoyable conversation. At one point, he asked how our belief was different from his. My friend had the answer. Within five minutes, the young priest was energized and uplifted. But when my friend asked if he could pray for the priest, the veil of orthodoxy fell, and the priest immediately took off down the street.

It’s never our job to force the outcome from a divine appointment, but it is our job to be ready with an answer. (1 Peter 3:15) Speaking of answers, here is the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

3 The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, 4 and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.

– Romans 1:3–4 NLT

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Stupid The Word Stupid Scrabble Tiles

Are You Stupid?

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates reproof is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1

The New Living Translation states this verse as: “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.” Proverbs 12:1

Imagine if you never learned from the corrections your parents and teachers tried to teach you when you were in K–12 schools. You would be of little value to yourself or society. As my dad would threaten me when I was obstinate, “You’ll grow up to be a ditch digger!” [Ditch digging is now a profitable profession, but back then, it was the bottom rung of work.]

This same truth needs to be embraced by every Christian. Besides local church congregations, there are just many Christians in leadership positions who have rejected discipline. As a result, their understanding of Christianity is like Swiss cheese; it’s full of holes.

Consider these statements from Proverbs, chapter twelve:

12 … but the root of the righteous bears fruit.
13 … but the righteous escapes from trouble.
15 … but a wise man listens to advice.
16 …but the prudent ignores an insult.
18 … but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
20 …but those who plan peace have joy.
22… but those who act faithfully are his [God’s] delight.

God has given us marvelous promises, but they all depend on His conditions. We must be righteous. We must be wise. We must be sensible. We must act faithfully. We must have the foresight to make plans that we accomplish. All of these promises are predicated (dependent) on a history of faithful service to God from the person.

It amazes me how many Christians don’t know their own local church’s statements of faith. Or they don’t know that Christianity grew from a handful of believers in Jerusalem to millions of Christian believers when, for the first 1,500 years of the Church’s history, the average Christian didn’t have a Bible and may never have owned even a single copy of one of Apostle Paul’s letters. And they don’t know that there were times when the Protestants and Anabaptists killed people for their Christian beliefs, just as the Catholic inquisitions did. There is so much we, as Christians, need to learn!

For us to learn and grow, God’s conditions require us to receive correction from Christ and His leaders He has placed in His Church – pastors, teachers, elders, deacons, and others that God has anointed to mentor His children. If we try to go it alone, if we try to be our own council, if we reject the people that God puts in our lives to correct us and disciple us through sermons, teaching, and cleaning toilets, then we are stupid.

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Don’t Go Back

During my career, I was at the genesis of the explosion of software development. There were fifty jobs for every experienced developer. As a Christian, this became a stumbling block for me. Was the job offer from God, or was it worldly wisdom?

We Can’t Find Our Future by Looking Back

I can’t recall how many times I prayed fervently for God’s will and wisdom in making life-changing decisions. Some jobs would double my salary, but was it God’s time to leave? Several times I made wrong decisions. But, for the most part, God protected me and guided me through His wisdom.

On the second day of one of my jobs, I sat in my car at noon and prayed that God would release me and let me return to my old job. Have you ever made a life-changing decision and then wanted to go back? It’s like buyer’s remorse. I have a feeling that many, but not most, people have felt that deep desire to return back to sometime.

Going Back Won’t Move Us Forward

In today’s text, we see that the Israelites wanted to return to their merciless taskmasters in Egypt instead of going to where God called them. God judged them for their lack of faith.

But our ancestors refused to listen to Moses. They rejected him and wanted to return to Egypt.

Acts 7:39

Faith Moves Us Forward

It takes faith to go forward instead of backward; honest, active faith. Even if we went back, it wouldn’t be like it was. The euphemism, “Better the devil you know than the one you don’t know,” is a homemade scripture. It’s not in the Bible, but it’s something many of us may have felt.

The Apostle Paul addressed this trait of human nature in Phillipians 3:13-14.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14

Good News

Notice in this passage of Scripture the word “upward.” This is how God calls us; upward is closer to God. He calls us to higher places, spiritually. There is no promise of worldly comfort or a new house, but how spectacular it is to be known by God and chosen to be closer to Him!

As King David wrote, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

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The Tree That Almost Died

Our yard is a blessing. My wife and I have a yard full of flowers, trees, and things that she says I must not mow over. And in God’s wisdom, He had the builder construct our home, back in the 1950s, so that the backyard faces East; this makes it almost impossible for me to sleep in! I thank God for waking up early for His new mercies each morning.

Well, in our biosphere, we have a medium-sized tree that, for three years, gave us fits. Saplings kept bursting forth all around the tree. By the time I saw them as a problem, they were too big for a weed-whacker. They had to be cut back.

At War with a Tree

By the third year, my wife went to war against this tree. We are not fans of weed killers, but my wife was determined to “fix” the problem. She sprayed a copious amount of weed killer saplings. Confident that the problem was solved, we waited; no saplings; great.

In the spring of year four, our trees began waking up. Buds, new limbs, and green leaves in all of our trees, all that is but that tree. It looked dead. As the weeks went by, we only saw a dead tree. Since it was dead, we were ready to remove it, but it wasn’t dead.

Long after our other trees had reached their glory, our sickly tree began to show some life. One branch had some green on it. I investigated and found a few buds. Slowly, our “dead” tree began to outwardly show the healing that had been taking place over the past year.

Our trees are now at their zenith. Still, our injured tree has not returned to its full glory. One side is slightly dead, but the other has leaves and looks nearly healthy.

Jesus is the Vinedresser

This tree reminded me of a parable Jesus taught about the Vinedresser – a person who prunes, trains, and cultivates vines.

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.’

Luke 13:7-9

Perhaps, your life has been like my poisoned tree. As a Christian, you were healthy. You had a hunger for hearing from God and doing what He laid on your heart to do. But something happened. You were poisoned. Maybe it was from an abusive pastor, maybe by a personal tragedy, maybe you were betrayed by a friend. That poison nearly killed your spirit.

In your damaged condition, you may have said some things and done some things that looked like death; they looked like you’d returned to the world. Friends may have looked on the outside of you and judged you harshly. They didn’t see the healing Jesus was performing on your heart, your mind, your spirit.

As you healed, you may have written Ichabod (used to express regret for departed glory) on your life. You may have thought you’d be sidelined until God called you home.

Jesus Can See Life When None Is Apparent

Even now, you may be disappointed with some people because they haven’t seen the healing taking place in you. They are still looking at what is obvious instead of what God is doing in your life.

Jesus is the Vinedresser; He can recognize life when none is apparent, He can make life where none exists. He sees life in you and your potential to be fruitful. Like my recovering tree, you will recover. You will be glorious again. You are in the hands of the giver of life; Jesus will restore you.

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Between My Ears

Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.

John 12:26 NLT

Jesus spoke this text shortly before He was arrested, tried, crucified, and then resurrected. Forty days later He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:1-3 NLT). His message to us is straightforward. We must obey the spiritual law of sacrifice. Our goal is to be made useful and serve Jesus where He is working – this is our reasonable sacrifice (Romans 12:1). To follow Jesus leads us straight to the cross. To serve Jesus we must die to the ways of this world and be born again. Only then can we serve Christ Jesus in His work in this world, and someday serve Him in heaven. If we are obedient to these things then the Father will honor us. How amazing is that!


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check list

Jesus’ Check List

[✔︎] Descend from heaven. John 3:13
[✔︎] Be born of a virgin. Luke 1:26–38
[✔︎] Go to people of my natural nationality. John 1:11
[✔︎] Do these miracles: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Luke 7:22
[✔︎] Tell people how vital it is for them to put their faith in Me. John 12:44
[✔︎] Help people understand that My Father, I, and the Holy Spirit are One God. 1 Timothy 2:5, Matthew 28:19, Matthew 3:16–17
[✔︎] Communicate that the first step towards forgiveness is repentance. Matthew 4:17
[✔︎] Preach the kingdom of God. Matthew 4:17
[✔︎] Build a team that will become a community and grows to be My Bride. Matthew 4:18–22Acts 2:1–4Revelation 19:7
[✔︎] Teach people that love is never optional. Luke 10:25–37
[✔︎] Let people know that I often give second chances. John 21:15–25
[✔︎] Make it clear that my actions are fulfilling all of the prophecies about Me. Luke 13:32
[✔︎] Tell people that there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. Matthew 7:13–14Matthew 10:28
[✔︎] Reveal to people that believers have a home waiting for them in heaven. John 14:2
[✔︎] Teach people that this life is full of troubles. John 16:33
[✔︎] Help people know the value of differed gratification – Luke 14:33
[✔︎] Ask My Father to send the Holy Spirit so my believers will not be left as orphans. John 14:16, John 14:26, John 14:18
[✔︎] Be humiliated, cursed, spit upon, nailed to a cross, receive the wrath of My Father, be separated from My Father for the first time in all eternity, become sin so My Father cannot even look upon Me, and die as a sacrifice to provide the way for sinners to be forgiven and reconciled to God. Matthew 27:32–56
[✔︎] Rise up from death to become the resurrection for my followers. Luke 24
[✔︎] Ascend back to heaven. Acts 1:9
[ ] Return a second time to gather my people. John 14:3


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Between My Ears

Sometimes, I come across a passage in God’s Word that compels me to stop reading and meditate on those words. I’m sure you experience the same thing. Well, today, I was reading in the Psalms when I came upon this verse:

Precious in the sight of the Lord     
is the death of his saints.

Psalms 116:15

I know Jesus delights in His own when we exercise faith. And I know that I will be with Jesus when I pass; however, I hadn’t given a lot of thought about our Lord’s frame of mind when we die. How liberating God is. He has all of the bases covered for our lives. So, when our appointed time comes, the time He established before creation, He sees our death, not from this world’s view, but from His view from the throne of heaven.

He sees us as athletes that have crossed the finish line and now enter our rest. So it makes perfect sense that God sees our death, our crossing of that finish line, as something precious in His sight. We teach our kids this song:

Red and yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

How marvelous it is that this song is true for His own when we pass.


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Between My Ears

If you have ever listened to a classic rock playlist or radio station, you have probably heard the song “We Are Family,” sung by Sly & the Family Stone. It’s a catchy toon. For believers, we are family. The old saying, you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family is true about the Church. “The church is a family, the “household of God” (1 Timothy 3:15)

Now you may have had bad experiences with your natural family and some in the Church. Here’s the difference. You only have your natural family for a short while. Don’t love them to get love; love them to be love to them. As for your spiritual brothers and sisters, you have them for eternity, so do as God’s Word declares: “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Have a great day!


Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

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

Between My Ears

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.

Ecclesiastes 11:5 NLT

Oh how often we want to know the mysteries of God. When we are crushed, we cry out to God, “Why?” When our lives seem to be unraveling, we cry out to God, “Why?” When doors of opportunities for good deeds are shut, we cry out to God, “Why?” But God seldom tells us why. In these times, what God desires is trust. In our darkest hour, we should remember Psalms 16:8 KJV, “I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

When confronted with events that make no sense to you, don’t allow doubt to come into your life. Don’t be moved by circumstances. Trust in Jesus, the only one that can mediate your condition to our God whose activities cannot be understood.


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