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

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

Between My Ears

who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

2 Timothy 1:9

I admit that I’m a magnet for phrases. I have no explanation; it just happens. One that is stuck in my brain is from the movie “The Blues Brothers.” It’s when, in unison, John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd yelled, “We’re on a mission from God!”

If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you have a holy calling. You’re on a mission from God. How wonderful is that! We must not covet anyone else’s calling. That would be insulting to God.

God energized me when I read this passage this morning. I pray He does the same for you.

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Between My Ears

Tested by God

10 For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried

12 you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.

Psalms 66:10,12

We know that, from time to time, God tests us. In today’s passage of Scripture, we see the word “tested.” This word means “to test, to investigate.” Like in British Police shows, God assigns us to difficult cases, ones that test our moral fiber and faithful obedience while facing insurmountable odds.

Unlike imaginary tv shows, God’s tests are real and they often tear at our faith as God investigates whether we have true faith or cheap imitations. God investigates us, not for His knowledge, but for ours. He wants us to know if we are obedient to Him in spite of suffering and loss. Will we be like Jesus or fall back into worldliness? We need to know us.

Just as refining puts silver into immense heat, causing the impurities to leave the silver and flow to the top, where the refiner removes the dross, so God’s tests often put us under immense pressure to bring out our impurities to be removed. In the end, if we pass God’s test, He brings us out to a place of abundance. God is so good to us. He cares more about our future than we do!

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Fitness Room Fitness Equipment

Spiritual Sweat

If I asked you why you sweat, you’d likely answer, “To cool my body when I’m overheated,” and you’d be correct. However, there are many other reasons why we sweat.

Benefits of Sweat

Beyond cooling, our sweat detoxes our bodies of heavy metals, such as mercury found in all seafood. Our sweat also helps eliminate dangerous chemicals, such as the traces of cyanide found in spinach. And our sweat helps to cleanse us of harmful bacteria.

As we see, our sweat not only works to keep our bodies from overheating, it also pushes harmful things out of our bodies. Sweat is pretty impressive, and it can serve as a metaphor to help us understand how we become more Christ-like.

Spiritual Sweat

We know that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). My metaphor is not intended to condemn but to teach.

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

2 Timothy 2:21

Finding the Dishonorable

We can’t clean it if we don’t know it’s there. So, how do we find the dishonorable things in our lives? We find them primarily through the blessings Jesus has given us: loving God and people, prayer, the Bible, worship, fellowship, helping others, sermons, our local congregation, and so forth.

All of these help us find any dishonorable things in our lives and learn how to cleanse ourselves. But there’s more. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit alive in us, and He brings His fruit into our lives. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22–23)

Set Apart as Holy

As we walk in faith, the Holy Spirit causes His fruit to grow in us, and this expansion pushes out the spiritual toxins and chemicals and heavy metals that have been building up in us our whole lives. The Holy Spirit’s expanding fruit in us pushes the harmful stuff out, similar to our bodies’ sweat.

Just as sweat cleanses our bodies, the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual sweat so we will be a clean vessel, set apart as holy.

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Between My Ears

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Proverbs 4:23 NLT

Amy Grant, one of the founders of Contemporary Christian Music, wrote the successful pop song “Every Heartbeat” in 1991. However, her gospel roots can be found in this song. Consider the following lyrics:

No exception to this rule
I’m simple but I’m no fool (I’m no fool)
I’ve got a witness happy to say
Every hour, every day

Every heartbeat bears your name
Loud and clear, they stake my claim
My red blood runs true blue
And every heartbeat belongs to you

Amy Grant

This message holds for every member of the body of Christ. Our joy is found in living “in Jesus.” My prayer for you and me is that every hour, every day, our every heartbeat belongs to Jesus. Amen!

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

Between My Ears

Today, I had a memory just pop into my conscious thoughts. Why do memories of long-past mistakes, failures, and sins pop up in our minds? The memory may be something as small as forgetting to shake someone’s hand to something that was very ungodly. I know many Christians struggle with memories. I’m not referring to problems rooted in medical conditions.

Some Christians fear that these sudden memories come from the enemy, and this may be true if the memory was triggered by one or more of our five senses. However, we need to remember that the enemy is not like God. He is not a mind reader.

If we are believers in Jesus Christ, our Lord, these unexpected memories are often from God for our good. God may be showing us something for us to rejoice in because God has forgiven and delivered us; we are no longer that person. Most of us have many “bad memories” that can be a cause for us to rejoice in Jesus, our Savior. How marvelous it is to discover that we are no longer that person!

Now, God may remind us of memories because we need to deal with them. Have we removed the moral weakness that was at the root of a “bad memory?” Do we need to be reconciled to someone? Is there a pattern in those memories that point to some moral weakness in our character?

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”
Edmund Burke

Because of God’s love, He will remind us of things that we need to deal with. The good news is that because God loves us, He shows us what can be conquered in us by Him! He is for us and not against us. Those that don’t know their buried issues are doomed to repeat them.

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Worry and Fear

A Fish Story

I once was fishing with another guy when his hook snagged me while casting. It stuck right in me, and pain exploded when he dropped his pole to “help” me. As I face today, I have some needs and many desires. All of these have snagged me like fishing hooks.

Worry About Worry and Fear about Fear

When I pray, do I allow thoughts and feelings that deny God’s provisions? Fear that our government will fail. Fear that my income will become worth-less due to inflation. Worry about a church that God laid on my heart. Worry about a former pastor that fell into sin. Worry about how much longer my car will last. Worry about worry, and fear about fear. How can I be this way!?

You see, in a much less important way, I am acting like the Apostle Peter when he got out of the boat and walked on water. But, seeing the storm, he began to sink. My condition is not life or death, but my concerns are: Can I just rest in Jesus? Can I write more? Am I being redundant? Am I a good teacher:

He [Jesus] said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.

Matthew 13:52

Good News

Jesus is my friend that sticks closer than a brother. He mediates for me to Father God. And my Father gave me the Spirit of God to live in me. Jesus has made sure that I am fully equipped and have an open line to Almighty God. I have access to anything I need to do the will of God. It’s all at my disposal. And by faith, I can receive it. Therefore, I lack nothing.

I know my concerns are foolish. My good news is that the Spirit of God is helping me. He adds to my groanings and delivers to God articulate, faith-filled prayers from me. I know because my mind is being transformed and less cluttered, and my faith is being rejuvenated. This old man is still strong in my spirit; my faith in God has not wavered. And, guess what, the same is available to you!

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Between My Ears

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 8:11

God’s compassion is boundless. As I grow older, my brain becomes quieter. Yes, for now, my ability to recall life as it happens is still as effective as ever. But what I’ve discovered is that, in the quiet, I hear God’s still voice (1 Kings 19:12). I recall blessings from long ago. Blessings from God’s hand.

My life is built upon those blessings. Where would I be without God’s forgiveness? Had God not extended His compassion to me, and called me, you would see a life shipwrecked, tangled in rocky crags of this lonely, wicked world. But my life isn’t that because it isn’t mine; it belongs to Jesus. I am a man rescued by Jesus Christ, my Lord, and Savior. And that same Spirit will do the same, and more, in you.

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Chevrolet Truck Blue Hot Rod Vehicle Old Retro

Would We Council God?


When I was a young man, I had a good friend that was a naturally gifted artist. His specialty was painting murals. I never ceased to be amazed when he’d start sketching out a picture on a roll of butcher block paper that ran the length of a room.

Perhaps the fascinating aspect of his work on murals was that he didn’t start in one corner and work from right to left or left to right. He typically started somewhere entirely unexpected. Maybe he began with the nose of the central character, or he might start by sketching the fender of a car. It made perfect sense to him, but no sense to me.

Image if I’d watched him start a mural and then said, “Tim, I think you are drawing the nose too big.” Ignoring me, Tim continued to draw, and soon I discovered that he’d been drawing the rear fender of an old Chevy pickup!

Council God

Christ’s apostles did this kind of thing several times. Take, for example, when two of the three apostles of Christ’s inner circle suggested to Jesus that He kill some people.

When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?”

Luke 9:54

Perhaps, we should recall when His disciples designated themselves as crowd control and blocked parents from bringing their children to Jesus to be blessed.

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

Matthew 19:13

We mustn’t forget when the Apostle Peter decided to give Jesus some “sound council.”

Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

Matthew 16:23

The Big Picture

We should consider ourselves before we rush to judge those that laid the foundation for the Church[1]. Do we ever tell God what He needs to do? Have we ever been deeply hurt because we felt that God failed us? Has fear ever won out in our actions?

Here’s the thing, we may look at our life and see what looks like a big nose, but that’s only because we don’t know the picture in which God has included us. Later, maybe only after we are in heaven, we will see God’s mural. That nose wasn’t a nose; it was the rear fender of a classic Chevy truck. Let’s not rush to judge God’s actions.

We can be confident that nothing God does to us, through us, or by us is done so without love, for “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (1 John 4:16)

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  1. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. Ephesians 2:20  ↩
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Foolish Confidence

When I was a kid, one of my uncles had a large farm in central Indiana. I always enjoyed our visits there, partly because of the terrain. When we reached the turn-off to his home, we were confronted by a one-car (wagon) wide path that was quite long. The fun part was that the path started at the top of a large hill and immediately went down, like one of those thrill rides at a county fair! At the bottom was my aunt and uncle’s home and barn.

The Family Reunion

One summer day my aunt and uncle hosted a family reunion at their farm. While the menfolk waited for the reunion feast (this was a long time ago) they played horseshoes and all of the cousins played in the lush grass at the bottom of the hill. At some point, one of the cousins suggested that we ride bicycles down the side of the hill – every kid is crazy, some just hide it better than others.

The idea was to go a little way up the hill and then fly down on the bicycles! This sounded fun since the long grass made for difficult peddling. There were two or three bicycles so more than one kid could go at the same time.

Going Down the Hill

I was among the youngest of the cousins, not counting babies. Still, even at six or seven, I knew I could do this despite having not yet learned to ride a bicycle – silly rabbit. So, when it came to my turn, I took the bicycle all the way to the top of the hill. I was going to have the ride of my life! I nearly did.

I felt no fear. When I walked the bicycle to the top of the hill I pointed the bike towards the bottom, jumped on, and pedaled (as if I wouldn’t have enough speed from gravity). Down I went, fast and faster. Quickly I couldn’t keep up with the rotation of the pedals. Then the handlebars started wobbling. Finally, about halfway down, I flipped. The bike was riding me down the hill!

When I reached the bottom of the hill I was a beat-up little kid. No significant injuries. but the bike had “taken the starch out” of me. That was the day I learned about foolish confidence.

Foolish Confidence

As I was reading my Bible today I came across this passage:

“This is the path of those who have foolish confidence;
yet after them people approve of their boasts.”

Psalms 49:13

How many times have we heard people boast about how they will live after they die. I heard a song by Willie Nelson called, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.” There is no doubt that Willie has great talent and seems to be a down-to-earth guy, but the message of this song is foolish confidence.

My point is not to pick on Willie Nelson. Instead, my point is that we need to be on guard against foolish confidence. “Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.'” (1 Corinthians 1:31) And, let’s not forget “The Seven Sons of Sceva.”

In Acts 19:11-20, Luke records an event where seven unsaved sons of a Jewish priest tried to cast a demon out of a man using the name of Jesus. It didn’t go well. The demon told the son, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” After that, things rapidly went downhill for the sons of Sceva.

Good News

For Christians, we are called to walk in faith, share the Good News of Jesus with everyone, and learn the voice of the Holy Spirit. If we do these things then we will act in faithful confidence instead of foolish confidence.

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