Into The Deep

I’ve been reading a book by 17th-century Roman Catholic friar Brother Lawrence titled “Practicing the Presence of God.” Brother Lawrence, himself, is an interesting guy; You can read his story here.

Some people will cancel this devotional because I’m writing from the other side of the aisle. – Brother Lawrence was Roman Catholic, and I’m a Full Gospel Protestant. But I have learned that all truth is God’s truth. There is no such thing as truth apart from God. So when we find truth, we should indulge in it, for we are indulging in God.

For Brother Lawrence, the presence of God is “a simple attentiveness and a general loving awareness of God… or to speak better, a silent and secret, constant intercourse of the soul with God.”

“It consists in taking delight in and becoming accustomed to his [God’s] divine company, speaking humbly and conversing lovingly with him all the time, at every moment, without rule or measures; especially in times of temptation, suffering, aridity [dryness], weariness, even infidelity and sin” (21).

Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

I had the privilege of being a friend and co-worker with a man who continually practiced the presence of God. When we were quiet, he sang; when we traveled, he taught; when he rested, he dreamed about God’s will. I learned from my friend and from Brother Lawerence what Jesus meant when He said, “ For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost1.”

As believers, we know that “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth2.” But I wonder if we understand how true this verse is. If we turn our attention to Christ’s sermon on the mount, we read Him saying, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.3” There is no “action” here, only thought. Likewise, we sin when we ignore the Holy Spirit’s revealed actions or changes required of us. The New Testament is basted [cooked in the juices] in this truth.

Consider this often misunderstood verse:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,4

Some Christians abuse this verse by trying to justify bad behavior. They seem to miss the part about “fear and trembling.” Only God and you know the depths He is calling you into in His kingdom. I can think of few disciplines more needed in our lives than practicing the presence of God. Be in His presence at all times, and you will be blessed.

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  1. Bible Gateway passage: Romans 14:17 – King James Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from ↩︎
  2. Bible Gateway passage: John 4:24 – English Standard Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from ↩︎
  3. YouVersion Staff. (n.d.). Matthew 5:28. YouVersion | The Bible App | Bible.Com; YouVersion. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from ↩︎
  4. Bible Gateway passage: Philippians 2:12 – English Standard Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from ↩︎
Baptism Chukotka Evangelical Christians

Who Did You Say Jesus Is?

Years ago, I worked with a software architect that made a trip to the headquarters of Microsoft® in Redmond, Washington. While there, he emailed our development team, giving us a first-hand account of a fictitious encounter with Bill Gates at a local Wendy’s® restaurant. His story was entertaining but insightful and pointedly honed to speak to some bad thinking in our group. His email was masterfully written.

A Different Jesus

When we look at the Apostle Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth, we find a similar but far more adept message to those Christians and us. At one place in his letter, he wrote:

You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.

2 Corinthians 11:4 NLT

The apostle Paul was writing to Christians. There are now, and always have been, people trying to lead believers away from the solid truth of the Gospel of Christ Jesus, the Son of God. Let’s not become weary or confused or abandon God’s work in us for the “next amazing thing.” Let’s cling to these words:

3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all.

Ephesians 4:3-6

We shouldn’t search to find what God has already given us: our place, purpose, and life in the true Jesus. If someone is preaching a new “Jesus,” they have been tricked by the enemy. As firm believers in Jesus, our Savior, we must remain like military guards, keeping out enticements that misrepresent Jesus. You know Jesus; rest in Him. You can search the world and never find more than the Christ who found you where you were. Who did you say Jesus is? For those that are His, He is our Savior, Shepherd, Redeemer, Ransom, Resurrection, Brother, and Friend.

Image by Vyacheslav Grin from Pixabay

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1: “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues.” – Matthew 10:15-17 NLT

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False Peace

Selling Peace

If you’ve spent time on Facebook, you know from their ADs that many companies are trying to sell you “peace.” From spas and Eastern meditation to counselors and clinics, business is booming for the peace merchants. However, true peace isn’t the same as being dead inside.

False Peace

For the vast majority of people, they will never be saved. They will never know what true peace feels like. They are eternally estranged from God. They are like babies that are never touched or coddled. They will enter their graves having never felt the presence of God, the warmth of the Holy Spirit, or the comfort from Christ.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14 (English Standard Version)

Right now, you may want to take up stones to stone me; I guess the modern thing to do is cancel me. But, before you do, consider these words from Jesus:

For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.Matthew 7:14

Few find it. An equivalent statement is, “most people never find life, so they die in their sins.” Therefore, as a Christian, you are the exception; you are graced by God and kept from the eternal punishment awaiting most people. God chose you! So consider the following verses in this light:

Rebekah… gave birth to twins [Esau and Jacob]. But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes; he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.)” – Romans 9:10–12 (New Living Translation)

True Peace

I’m sorry if this is confusing to you. But how can God be God unless “He does whatever pleases him.” (Psalm 115:3) This verse makes perfect sense. God is the highest moral authority. Therefore, what pleases God is of the highest morality. He saved you for a purpose. He chose you, much like adopting parents used to choose their baby. He didn’t consider the good or bad things you had done. He didn’t consider whether your parents were saved or wicked. What pleased God was for you to be saved from eternal punishment.

You are in a very exclusive group of people. The Holy Spirit of God gives you an understanding of spiritual things. He opens God’s Word so that you can understand what His verses mean. You have Jesus, your Savior, that mediates between you and the Father. The very God of all is alive within you. God has given you promises, answered prayers, and healed your wounded heart. You are special to Him.

Good News

Love as God has commanded you. And rejoice, for you are special in His sight.

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Integrity is What God Desires

Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity
than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.

Proverbs 19:1

It is never okay to sacrifice our integrity on the altar of wealth. The bountiful blessings that come from living a life of honesty are like a farmer planting corn. We have to wait for the value to become apparent. Once our integrity has “ripened,” God’s blessings will overflow into our lives. It will be evident to people that God has flooded us with His good favor.

There was a time in my life when I struggled with God. I owned a business, and we were getting by, but it was a daily struggle to ensure that I had the money to pay my employees. On one specific day, I drove by one of my suppliers. I knew the man that owned the company because I had used his service for many years. He was a crude, raunchy person but ran a good business and had fair prices.

As I drove by his company, I got angry at God. I spoke to Him and said, “Look at his guy. This ungodly man is prospering while my company barely makes it from payroll to payroll.” Thankfully, God loves us. And He is strong. He can take our anger when we need to vent. He did that for me that day.

Proverbs 19:1 framed my condition. God was included in every aspect of my company. I can confidently say that God was the CEO, and He employed me. Yet, all I could see were crooks and fools becoming wealthy.

It took a while, but I accepted God’s promise, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

So, I now understand that some of God’s people are poor and some are wealthy. Yet all of us must obey God and walk with integrity; to be honest in all things. Sometimes it is costly for us to walk in Godly integrity; nevertheless, there is no other way that enables us to be free from the bondage that comes from people that are crooks and fools.

Proverbs 19:1 reminds me of the passage in God’s Word where Jesus commented on how the kingdom of God works:

24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”Matthew 19:24–26

The New Testament does not use financial wealth as a litmus test for godliness. What is essential is to be honest in all that we do.

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Think on These Things

Think on These Things


Before we consider transcendent things, let’s define transcendent. This word means “existing apart from and not subject to the limitations of the material universe.” To set your mind at ease, the transcendent traits of God have nothing to do with false religions such as transcendental meditation. Now let’s consider the following verse.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8

This verse has always been difficult for me to understand. It’s God’s Word, yet I find it difficult to think deeply about these things. I always change “think” into “do.” It’s easy for me to read this verse as an action verse. For example, I’m amazed how God used John Bunyan, the author of “Pilgrim’s Progress,” to live his life, raise his family, and enrich the Christian world. But I’m thinking about his works, and that’s not what today’s Scripture is about. So, I dug into this verse, and there’s more to it than I expected. What the Apostle Paul lists are transcendent traits of God. And we are told to think about these things. Here’s an example to show the difference between transcendent traits and dependent actions:


Two soldiers serve valiantly during their deployment. Both have earned honors, but this doesn’t mean that the world has run out of “honor.” Millions of people may earn honors, but the world will still have the same amount of honor. Whether no one receives honor or millions receive honors, honor is transcendent, while acting honorably is a dependent action.

God is Training Us

Now that we understand that “true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy” are transcendent traits of God, we can better understand that Godly actions depend upon Godly traits. A person may do something excellent, but excellence is the transcendent trait of God, while the act of excellence is an action that comes from God’s trait.

So, the Apostle Paul is telling us this: when we consider dependent actions – someone does something lovely – if we think about it, this lovely act will lead us to find and consider the true nature of God’s transcendent characteristic of loveliness. The Holy Spirit is training us, teaching us, and transforming us by renewing our minds. (Romans 12:2) This is the point of this post.

Trained Like a Hound Dog

When we consider things that happen in our lives or the lives of others, we have an opportunity to discover the transcendent trait(s) of God in these events. The more we “think on these things,” the better prepared we are to know if something is “of God” or “of the world.” It’s as if God is training us like hound dogs. We learn to smell the scent. Is it of God, or is it of the world? Does it have the aroma of life or the aroma of death? (2 Corinthians 2:16) As we learn to “think on these things,” we learn to find God’s loveliness easily or quickly discover worldly impostors of loveliness.

Good News

We are changed when we “think on these things.” As we learn to see God’s traits and to recognize worldly imposters, we will marvel at these traits of God. And, when we consider them, each one leads us to transcendent wonder and beauty, which are also traits of God. As we “think on these things,” the Holy Spirit will help us to see life from God’s perspective, and that’s good news.

Image from Pixabay

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cartoon of a man and a woman both saying that each is right

Yes, I am Intolerant

Yes, I am intolerant, and I pray that you are too. This seems to fly in the face of love! Aren’t Christians supposed to love everyone? Yes, we are. But love and intolerance are not mutually exclusive. The question is, “What are you intolerant of?” If you are intolerant of hate then you can love and be intolerant. Right?

We are an Intolerant People

Today, I am referring to the intolerance that we have towards compromising the truth of Jesus. As Christians, we are single-minded towards the life, teaching, and ministry of Jesus. We must be intolerant when it comes to what Jesus taught. We wholeheartedly believe Jesus when He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) The same is true for what is written in the next chapter in the book of John. Jesus said:

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 15:18–19

A Chosen People

Jesus chose us! It’s a great feeling to be chosen. To be picked to be on a baseball team, chosen by a company to become one of their employees, to be proposed to for marriage, but none of these come close to being chosen by Jesus:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 2:9

So, after having been redeemed by Jesus, how could we compromise His truth and His promise. God made one way for humanity to be saved and that is by Jesus, God’s Beloved Son. So we must be intolerant.

There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.

Acts 4:12 NLT

An Unshakeable People

Our unshakeable, steadfast, uncompromising faith that only Jesus saves makes us an intolerant people and serves as a cause for people to hate Christians. But let us remember: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)

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Jesus Action Figure

The Brand or the Man

I’ve written on this topic before but felt I should touch it again. Back in 2020, I wrote Building Our Brands. Today, I want to bring out another facet of this subject.

Son of Man

Jesus and His work resonated with the Israelites, but here’s a vital difference between Christ’s agenda and the Israelites. The people wanted Jesus to be a king that would immediately defeat Rome. But Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man during His earthly ministry. In fact, Jesus is referred to as the Son of Man eighty-eight times in the New Testament. This title carries great meaning. There’s an excellent post titled, What does it mean that Jesus is the Son of Man? If you want to learn about this topic, I recommend this post.

In Matthew 12:14, we learn, “But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.” and in John 6:57, “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me” and in John 6:66–67, “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?'”

Not a Brand, but the Son of Man

In these verses, we see that the people surrounding Him didn’t influence Jesus. He didn’t live to be a brand; He lived to be the Man, the Son of Man. He lived to annihilate what satan had done to God’s creation. In this act, Jesus provided a way of escape for the children of Adam.

Fast forward to the 21st century. I’m not judging Christmas or the traditions of Christmas. We see Jesus as the Brand on almost everything marketed to Christians for Christmas. However, we can’t choose to pray to “baby Jesus” (a nod to Talladega Nights).

Jesus is not a product. His actions are motivated by love for us. Perhaps we should start using, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” as our Christmas tagline. That would draw the lost towards the Son of Man (Romans 6:23) and away from Jesus, the action figure – 9 Christian action figures you won’t believe exist. By the way, how could a kid play with Jesus, the action figure? I can’t wrap my head around that!

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The Whole Commandment

When Moses, through God, had led the Israelites to the edge of the promised land, he spoke these words to them:

The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers.

Deuteronomy 8:1

Notice that God’s criterion for living and multiplying and possessing the land was for the Israelites to keep “the whole commandment” that Moses had spoken to them.

Throughout God’s Word, He tells us over and over that we can’t accomplish all of what He wants to do with us and for us unless we give our ALL to Him. It’s like when a small-town high school Hoosier basketball team defeats a top-ranked team. The announcer always says that they won the game with their heart. They were all in, all of the time, and played all of the game until the final buzzer rang.

The Israelites were going into a war zone. Their mission was to take the whole land that God promised them. The Israelites were told to be all in, to obey the whole commandment and they would win. Likewise, as Christians, God’s Word tells us that before we enter the “war zone” He has assigned us to, we must put on the “whole armor of God.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Ephesians 6:11

God tells us these things because He loves us. He has plans for us. We were born for a purpose, for the purpose Almighty God made uniquely for us before there was even one star in the sky. Anything less than receiving God’s all means receiving less than God intended for us. If I want to make some scones (I love scones!), I need all the ingredients. I can’t have scones without flour.

How easy it is for us to bypass the whole Word of God and feed on the “Cliff Notes®1”; those popular verses that are repetitively quoted, tickling our ears. We need to acquire everything that God makes available to us. If God thinks that we need it, we can be certain that we do!

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  1. Cliff Notes®

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old letters

Return to C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.

Proverbs 21:2

C.S. Lewis wrote the Christian satire, “The Screwtape Letters” in the early 1940s. What he wrote is, sadly, still true.

“Screwtape” is employed by the “Lowerarchy” of Hell, and acts as a mentor to Wormwood, his nephew. Wormwood is an inexperienced and incompetent tempter. In the book, God is called the “Enemy” and the person that Wormwood is trying to lead away from God and to the devil is called “the Patient”. – Wikipedia

The opening paragraph

My dear Wormwood,
‘I note what you say about guiding your patient’s reading and taking care that he sees a good deal of his materialist friend. But are you not being a trifle naïf? It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy’s clutches. That might have been so if he had lived a few centuries earlier. At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it. They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as the result of a chain of reasoning. But what with the weekly press and other such weapons we have largely altered that. Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily “true” or “false”, but as “academic” or “practical”, “outworn” or “contemporary”, “conventional” or “ruthless”. Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. Don’t waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong, or stark, or courageous—that it is the philosophy of the future. That’s the sort of thing he cares about.’

Notice C.S. Lewis’ point that, “They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as the result of a chain of reasoning.” People today are completely unwilling to change, even when they think through the logic and see that something is true; they still call it false. That is the nature of humanity.

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Revelation 22:20

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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.

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