mother-in-law

The Wonder of Mothers-in-Law

We had a big family reunion at my in-law’s home. While all of the kids and mothers and grandmothers scurried about, each with their own to-do list in their minds, I had the privilege of sitting with my mother-in-law, watching the activities. My mother-in-law is advanced in years but she still has spunk. Every once in a while she would nudge me and make a comment about the kids playing hide-and-seek or the grandmothers still chasing after kids. A few times, I answer her questions about the youngest ones; “What’s her name?” “Who does he belong to.”

For me, this was a marvelous time to just be with my mother-in-law. I’ve known her a very long time and she has never ceased to impress me with her Christian life and unrestrained hospitality, something she successfully planted in her five daughters. This quiet time with the mother of my wife is something I will never forget. Too often, we fail to give enough honor and love to our mothers-in-law. But, consider the apostle Simon (Peter).

“38 After leaving the synagogue that day, Jesus went to Simon’s home, where he found Simon’s mother-in-law very sick with a high fever. “Please heal her,” everyone begged. 39 Standing at her bedside, he rebuked the fever, and it left her. And she got up at once and prepared a meal for them.”

Luke 4:38-39

Notice that as soon as the Apostle Peter’s mother-in-law was healed, she started serving others. That’s the nature of my mother-in-law. Too often, mothers-in-law are the butt of jokes and disrespect, but as we see from Jesus, that’s just not right. I am immeasurably blessed by my mother-in-law, and I pray the same for each of you that have one.

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

Between My Ears


This morning I was reading in the book of Mark, chapter eleven. This chapter begins with the first-hand account of Jesus making His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. I had to stop and write this “note” when I came to these two verses.

As they were untying it, some bystanders demanded, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They said what Jesus had told them to say, and they were permitted to take it.

Mark 11:5-6 NLT

This verse may be surprising to us because we no longer have a society in which everyone participates. It is impossible to impose a civil society “from the top down” – this approach is called oppression. Only when a society has a unifying “good” can they experience peace and prosperity.

Notice that some bystanders challenged the disciples when it appeared that the disciples were stealing the colt. Israel had a unifying “good.” Their “good” was God and His Scriptures. These tenets were generally taught and accepted by the Israelites. This cohesiveness empowered average Israelites to be invested in the good of their country. America needs this.

We, as Americans, need to return to our “good.” Our “good” is God – “Only God is truly good.” (Mark 10:18) We find our good documented in our “Declaration of Independence.”

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

Declaration of Independence

Only when “these self-evident truths” are generally taught and accepted by Americans will we have sufficient cohesiveness to empower average Americans to be invested in the good of our nation.


Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

one way road sign

One Way

As I read Mark 8:34 today, I remembered how painful it was for me to “give up your own way.” In the beginning, and for many years this choice was a great battle for me. I have an occasional skirmish all these years later, for Jesus’ demand remains unaltered.

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your way, take up your cross, and follow me. Mark 8 34

One Way

How I love to get my way, striving to be who I want to be. But, if I choose selfishly, I surrender what is right and perfect for what is dull and mundane.
Indeed, the most important thing I can do is be filled with the Holy Spirit, overflowing with the presence of God. When God is freely alive in me, His love spreads to those around me.

16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

17 You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.2 Corinthians 2:16–17

Only One Right Way

Indeed, our cross will glorify Jesus, condemn the lost, and be a refreshment to the saved. Shouldn’t we choose the right instead of the good? We can do many good things, but only the right thing allows us to take up our cross.

Image by Christopher Strolia-Davis from Pixabay


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praying for others

Praying for Others

Welcome,

I don’t know how you pray, but I always add, “according to your will (1 John 5:14),” just to be on the safe side. Likely, in all of our thoughts as we pray, we remember the Apostle Jame’s warning, “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.James 4:3 NLT

We are all very skilled at “couching” our prayers. This is especially true when praying for God to heal someone. We pray cautiously, and we also give God lots of “loopholes.” We justify this, so the person prayed for will not have to reason to think God failed them – or we failed them. I know these thoughts all too well. But please allow me to give you something to help your faith.

3 Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” 4 Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.

Mark 3:3–4

Notice that Jesus equated healing the man with doing good deeds. Also, notice that Jesus is the one doing the healing. Unless we know that God doesn’t intend to heal someone, we can be sure that our prayer is a request for Jesus to do a good deed and for Jesus – not us – to heal that person. Let’s not put our faith in our faith; instead, let’s put our faith in Jesus. He’s the one doing the healing. And then let’s keep on asking, as the widow did to the judge (Luke 18:1–8).

Glorify God and enjoy Him forever,
Gary

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fisherman's net

One fish, Two fish, Good fish, Bad fish

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad.”

Matthew 13:47-48

In this passage of Scripture, Jesus is speaking about the End-Times judgment. The first question that I see from what Jesus said is, “How do you and I know if we are ‘good fish’?” Thankfully, the Holy Spirit provides us with ample promises in the Scriptures for us to know. For example, “The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” 1 John 3:24

Wide Net

Thankfully, the Church casts a wide net and draws into itself both true believers and believers in name only. It is the responsibility of the ordained leadership to deal with false Christians within the Church. This is an aspect of church governance.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

Acts 20:28

Church Governance

Great harm can be done to new, weak, or wayward Christians when the laity (the folks in the pews) assumes the role of church governance by taking it upon themselves to confront a person they’ve discerned as a ‘bad fish’ within their fellowship. By this, I don’t mean to imply that the laity is to take a “see no evil” attitude, but we all should operate within our commissioning within our church. “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. (Romans 14:1)”

The Church has a long history of “killing” its wounded. It takes divine discernment for each of us to distinguish between a weak Christian and a person that remains “of this world.” Thankfully, when the Church functions as Jesus intends, then the whole Church is blessed.

Photo by Eric BARBEAU on Unsplash


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robotic lawnmower

I Won’t Become a Lawnmower

As I was praying today, I realized that I often read my Bible like one of those instruction manuals you get when buying a new lawnmower. Too often read my Bible to learn how to forgive or praise God or repent for a sin. God’s Word tells us what to do, and I thank God for that, but the point of God’s Word is to feed us.

If we do a Bible study on feeding on God’s Word, we will find that it’s a “thing.” God wants us to consume His Word as food that changes us. We’ve trained our minds to focus on the pleasure we get from eating, but we know that what we eat changes our bodies. And if we stop eating, we will starve. We should have this mindset about the Bible, God’s Word.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Romans 10:17

I Won’t Become a Lawnmower

Faith is what we feed. And what we eat is “the word of Christ.” I won’t become a lawnmower if I read and study my new mower’s user manual. User manuals teach us, but they don’t make us. Jesus wants to make us, to make you, into a person that carries faith in God into everything you do and say. Jesus is the Father’s beloved Son. Out of Jesus’ unfathomable love, he desires us to continually become more like Him, so the Father is pleased with us.

Our faith will be weak if we skip our meals. Feeding on the word of Christ is something we need to become skilled at doing. When we eat a hamburger or a fresh tomato, we take time to chew our food. We instinctively know that chewing enables us to savor our food and prepares the food to be digested. The same is true with God’s food.

Reading the “Verse of the Day” is good, but we shouldn’t just gulp it down. We should chew it and store it in our memory. Then, we should bring it back throughout our day and chew on it. If we do this, God’s word feeds our faith, changing us.

The Bible is the best instruction manual ever created, but it is so much more. It is our pantry, our refrigerator, our lunchbox. To be who Jesus desires us to be, we need to eat right. Let’s practice savoring God’s word.

Image by Leo_65 from Pixabay


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Sheep Shepherd Young Man Portrait Human Animal

Check Boxes

Are you a list person? My experience has taught me that everyone can be categorized in one of three “list” categories. 1) People that live by “to do” lists. They make them and use them. 2) People that, with good intentions, make lists but never use them. 3) People that don’t make lists. I think Jesus likes lists. Not to help Him remember, but just for tidiness. Jesus had at least the following checkboxes on His list for His earthly ministry.

  • To proclaim His gospel. Gospel means “a good or joyful message – glad tidings.” Jesus declared that He was anointed by the Spirit of the Lord, anointed like that of a king, such as King David, to usher in the kingdom of God. And it was first, for the poor, remission of sins, comfort for the mourner. Luke 4:17–19
  • To fulfill the will of His Father. John 5:30
  • To fulfill all that was prophesied about Him. Luke 24:43–45
  • To pay the cost of our sin, provide our hope for resurrection, and become our righteousness and mediator. 1 Peter 3:18
  • To choose, train, and prepare the men He would use to lay the foundation of His Church. Mark 3:13–19, Ephesians 2:19–20
  • To preach and demonstrate His authority, validated by miracles from God, to the Jews, God’s chosen people. John 14:10–12
  • To expand His gospel beyond Israel and make His provision available to anyone that requests His salvation. Romans 9:25–26
  • To teach us about the kingdom of God and how we are to live as God’s children. John 18:36, Matthew 4:23
  • To send the Holy Spirit to be on the people of His Church. John 14:16–17

Parable of the Sower

 Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others.

Mark 4:13–14 NLT

Evangelism was always one of those checkboxes. In Christ’s parable of the sower, we see this found in Mark 4:13–14 NLT and Jesus’ Great Commission, located in Matthew 28:18–20. Jesus’ parable in Matthew 22:1–14 of the king’s banquet tells us, “And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

It’s evident in the parable of the king’s banquet that we are the servants. The King commands us to go and gather. He doesn’t tell us to go and test and choose. No! We are told to go out and bring in people. The Holy Spirit will call and bring into the kingdom those that hear and heed. Our job is to take God’s word to others. Jesus does the saving. Jesus said, “For the Son of Man [Jesus] came to seek and save the lost.Luke 19:10

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

Between My Ears


As I was praying this morning, I thought, “What should I do when I want more of God in my life?” As this rolled around inside me, I realized it was easier than I thought.

If I eat an apple, I bring it into me, and its substance feeds my body, contributing to my health. If I read the Bible, I am bringing Jesus, the Word of God (John 1:14), into me. God’s Word brings spiritual health to me, giving me more of Him in my life.

“Consuming” God’s Word renews my mind which then transforms me. Or, to quote God’s Word, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ” (Romans 12:2)


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

Between My Ears



33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him [Jesus] and told him what she had done. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.

 Mark 5:33–34 NLT

Do you have a need so great that your knees buckle from their weight? As I read Mark 5:33–34 today, I was reminded of imperatives. We pray about many things, and these are sincere prayers, but there are also imperative prayers, urgent and crucial prayers. This woman prayed an imperative prayer.

This woman had a crushing weight from her condition, and it compelled her to bow before Jesus and tell Him about her act of faith – prayers come in many ways.

Do you have a need that buckles your knees and compels you to bow before Jesus and ask Him to do the impossible? If so, then I have good news. When we ask Jesus to do what no one can, He often declares, “Your suffering is over.” He does this because He loves us and honors our faith. I find great comfort in Jesus; I pray that you also do.


Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

athletic track with the number 2022

Are You On Track in 2022?

We’ve been on a wild and challenging adventure for the last couple of years. Finally, we have faced something more difficult than what our parents faced. That and $4.00 will buy you a cup of coffee. 😀

Are You OK?

With the myriad problems we muscled through during the past 24+ months, I thought it might be good to check in on you. Are you doing okay? Spiritually, are you on track in 2022? Can you still say with confidence in your heart, “God is good!” That’s my prayer for you – yes, I pray for all who read these posts. Today that includes you!

God’s Word is full of running and racing metaphors1, but my question today is, are you undeterred from the life with Jesus? Notice that I didn’t ask about what you are “doing.”

Where’s the Track?

From “THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM,” question one is: “What is the chief end of man?” It’s probably good that I didn’t study this as a teenager. My answer would have gotten me tossed out of the class, which is sad because this is a tremendous question.

What is our purpose, our destiny? I’m just finishing up Hillsdale College’s lecture series, Introduction to Western Philosophy. It is excellent and free. I’ve learned that this question of the total and eternal purpose of man/woman is one that philosophers from 300 BC until today have struggled to know. But you and I know. The correct (Westminster) answer is: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

Every Christian knows this truth, even if we don’t know the right words. In our spirit, we know that we live and always shall live to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Notice that the primary (i.e., chief) purpose is not to build a church or lead 100 people to Jesus or give $1,000 to missions. Those are joyous ways to worship Jesus, but those aren’t our primary purpose.

What’s the Answer?

If we are Christian, then our primary purpose, which we were born for and will be doing forever, is to glorify (i.e., to honor and praise God as divine, as the one true God) God and enjoy God forever. That’s is why God created you and me, and it is how we should live our lives, and it will be fully realized when we arrive in heaven.

So, are you on track in 2022? Have you crossed into someone else’s lane? Are you running out of energy while running in your lane? Are you still on the track? Be encouraged:

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

It’s Okay to Wait

If you’re not on track, then wait for the Lord. He hasn’t forgotten you or your eternal purpose – Glorify God and enjoy God. Take some time to enjoy Him. After all, that’s your purpose in life.

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[1]: Hebrews 12:1, 2 Timothy 4:7

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