Here's A Thought...

Here are some "THOUGHTS" that will hopefully answer some of the questions that you may have about what the Bible has to say about our everyday lives. These articles are here to provoke thought; provide answers, guidance and resources; all in an effort to bring you into a closer relationship with your Heavenly Father!


Saturday, November 27, 2010


In a recent study series that I have been in, I was confronted with a question that has plagued me most of my life. The most amazing part of all of this is the Edison moment (light bulb going off) that I received. What an epiphany it was to come to the realization, the understanding, the identification and unveiling, answering the question of where’s my joy! (I lament)

The study series that I was in that led to this huge moment in my life was on the subjects of Faith and Hope. Believe it or not, in the study of these questions, it ultimately led me back to the question of why I and so many Christians seem to be so devoid of joy. Where is the joy of the Lord? Shouldn’t Christians experience joy? Does the bible not promise joy? Or does it? So I began to read; and to read very carefully.

Through much study, thought and debate, I have chosen to study the Word (Bible) using the English Standard Version (ESV). And in that version, the word “joy” appears in 171 verses. (Yes, I read them all). And in not one of those verses is “joy” promised.
Are you kidding me?! Imagine my surprise to find out that there is no promise of joy in the Bible. Who lied to me?! Somebody shoot me!
So once I had calmed down and really began to understand what I was reading; it became crystal clear that even though there is not promise of joy; joy is right there in front of us. Let me explain.

The circle and whirlwind of questions that led me here comes from my own internal struggle with anxiety; particularly my anxiety over the future. In various times and stages in my life, I have attempted to get involved, become active in, or serve in a church. I found that I would quickly become discouraged and impatient when I felt that things weren’t progressing fast enough or to be quite honest; when things weren’t going my way. Things work out, they don’t work out, churches split, I get angry…what is going on…why are things happening the way they are…who is in control here…what is my purpose. The questions go on and on. It is easy to get so wrapped up in attempting to understand and explain or even fix, that we lose our focus. We become so engrossed and consumed in our problems that we develop tunnel vision or just become blinded in our struggles and in our trials.

Who, what, why, when, how? These are not bad questions, not by any means. But to what degree do they consume our lives? I hate to go all “glass half full” on you, but really. How much do we focus on the negative? Look at the media of today, we have become a people of pain and drama junkies. The news is a constant stream of well…bad news! We can’t get enough. Who watches a car race just in hopes to see a crash? Really?! So I ask the question; where is our focus? Where is our joy?

So let’s begin our study. If your focus is on things that our not of God and are of things of this world; your joy is temporary if not a complete deception all together. A new car might bring you a sense of joy, until you have to make the first payment. Spend and buy, mountains of debt; pleasures of the flesh, lifetime or eternity of regret. Have we become such a society of introspection and self-service? Has our vision become so short sighted that more and more of our daily thoughts are consumed with making us feel good? Is the growing epidemic of addiction in this country and around the world more about our desire for instant gratification? Where is our focus? What are we trying to satisfy: is it our needs or our lusts; is it our needs or our desires; do we want true joy or just a quick fix? (There are a couple commandments that warn us about coveting.) Where is our focus!?

In a search for answers to these questions, I turned to God’s Word, to the bible. Again; 171 verses that contain the word “joy”; here are just a few:
You (LORD) make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalms 16:11)
Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalms 32:10-11)
The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectations of the wicked will perish. (Proverbs 10:28)
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

Jesus said; “I am the true vine, and my father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:1-11

We are not promised joy; we are given promises of where our joy lies or can be found. Our joy resides in His presence; our joy is found in Him! Sure, things happen in this life that bring us joy, but those things of this world are short lived. I cannot express my joy in my children, but my joy cannot depend on my children. Children get hurt, they get sick, they rebel, they become teenagers, they get angry, and they eventually leave to live their own lives in Christ. Things can bring us joy, but there is only one joy that is eternal!

Then why is there so much pain? What a good question, but again I am going to defer to our primary question; where is our focus? When we focus on the pain of our circumstances, we are unable to see the value in the lesson. When I was at Paris Island (Marine Corps Boot Camp), my only focus was to get through as fast as I could, not realizing the benefits of the physical, psychological, and emotional training I was receiving for combat and well, for life. Pain promotes growth. Look at it solely on a physical level. Here are some physical training mottos: no pain, no gain; pain is weakness leaving the body; and so on. Pain is necessary for physical growth, for physical improvement. The same principles apply to emotional growth. It is only through emotional trials that we are able to obtain emotional growth. Knowledge comes from learning, from studying, from painful effort. Wisdom comes from experiences, some from good, but most from bad!
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (James 1:2-3)
I will be the first to admit, there are a lot of pains that I do not understand. But if I can keep my trust in God, maintain my faith in Him, keep my Hope in His promises; maybe I can get through the pain learn His lesson, to see His glory!

I leave you with these final thoughts. Spend time in the Bible, for it is the written thoughts and commandments of God. Where is your focus; is you focus on God’s word?
Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16)

What is your focus; do your actions reflect your focus?
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, division, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

If we keep our focus on Him and in Him, there too will we find our joy!

Friday, November 5, 2010


I have noticed that in and around my life, dealing with conflict has been consuming more and more of my time and effort. I have noticed that most of the people I know have also been dealing with increased conflict in their lives as well. With more than 20 years of dealing with conflict in law enforcement and as an Emergency Room nurse, I would like to share just a couple of thoughts that have become staples in my philosophy with addressing conflict resolutions.

First, I want to speak on a spiritual level. When confronted with a situation of conflict or when we are about to knowingly enter into a tense situation; we need to be in prayer, stay in prayer, and finish in prayer. Paul wrote in Ephesians chapter 6; “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) We have to understand and recognize that there is a spiritual battle that is going on around us. We need to engage in prayer so that we can call into play God our father, His son Jesus Christ, His Spirit and all the Angels in heaven to be involved in this spiritual battle; for we have no power or no authority in this realm. We need to turn it over to God and pray for His intervention.

Next, I want to speak to three items of importance when dealing with our flesh and conflict. First, we need to remove our emotions from the situation. We have to remember that when dealing with conflict, it is not personal. Most conflict is born of lack of information, misinformation, miscommunication, anxiety, stress, and/or fear. The confrontation or conflict then is a result of someone acting out in response to their emotions. I urge you; do not enter onto the battlefield of emotional conflict; no one wins. Both parties get angry and both parties get hurt; no one wins. I urge you to check your emotions at the door; that leaves you better equipped to discern the source of the conflict which moves you quicker towards a resolution.

Second, stay calm. When we are confronted, our natural fight or flight mechanisms begin to kick into gear. Our adrenalin begins to pump; our heart rate increase and we begin to breath faster; we develop tunnel vision as our brain transitions from cognitive mode to reflexive mode; this is all as our body prepares to enter into physical battle or the run to safety. I urge you; when you feel this begin to happen, physically make yourself calm down, slow and deepen your breathing. The writer of Psalms 46 reminds us that; “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:1, 10) Calm down, be still and know that it is in God’s hands. Engage your brain and do not react out of a reflexive response to the situation.

Third, be patient. In our excitement to address or fix a problem, we can become very impatient and excited; then we act in hast when it may not be needed. Sometimes, when exercising a little patience, a situation will resolve itself or God will reveal His solution to the situation. I have been in a study and focus on Paul’s second letter to Timothy. In the 4th chapter, Paul is advising Timothy; “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

Conflict can be a very aggravating, stressful, a burden that becomes increasingly heavy; however, if approached with the right outlook and attitude; conflict can be handled with peace and ease. For those who work in the Law Enforcement or Security fields; even when physical confrontation is necessary to resolve a conflict; a calm controlled response is much more effective than a reflexive, emotional, chaotic response. Remember to pray, remove your emotions, stay calm, and be patient and you will find that you will more quickly identify the source of the conflict and move faster towards resolving the conflict before it becomes a burden.

Saturday, October 30, 2010



1 Corinthians 12:4-11 ESV
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another a gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 KJ
4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
JOE’S NOTE: There are many gifts of the Holy Spirit and I don’t think Paul intended that this be the entire list, but these are the gifts he chose to list when speaking to the church in Corinth. Paul is simply saying there are many gifts of the Holy Spirit and only by the Spirit are these gifts “empowered” on an individual basis. All are gifts of the Holy Spirit, NOT REQUIREMENTS!

1 Corinthians 14: ESV
2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.
14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful.
JOE’S NOTE: Paul makes it clear; speaking in tongues is for the understanding of your spirit and GOD. Not for the understanding of others, NOT EVEN FOR THE UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR OWN MIND.

1 Corinthians 14: 6-19 ESV
6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.

13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
JOE’S NOTE: The churches purpose is to prophecy; that is to instruct, to teach, to share the Word of God, to educate, to impart spiritual and biblical knowledge. And to prophesy; that is to build up, to lift up, to encourage, and to inspire. Speaking or praying in tongues is for the edification of your spirit, not the church body. Paul says clearly that he is thankful to God that he speaks tongues more than all he is addressing, yet he says equally as clear, [for the edification of the church, for the prophecy and prophesy of the church] he would rather speak five words with his mind (with his mouth in an intelligible language) than ten thousand words in a tongue (that no one may understand or be edified by).

Read 1 Corinthians 14:26-40

JOE’S NOTE: Yes, Paul speaks directly to that in his letter to the church in Corinth. But he clearly defines this ability as a separate gift that should be prayed for and sought after. But again, remember that not all the church body will possess all gifts so that no one should speak out loud in tongues with the assumption that there is someone present who can interpret.

The gift of tongues was first introduced with the imparting or gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:1-4 ESV
1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
JOE’S NOTE: It was this point when all the apostles were gathered and the Holy Spirit came upon them, blessed them with, and imparted upon them supernatural (1. Not of natural world; relating to or attributed to phenomena that cannot be explained by natural laws. 2. Relating to deity {Encarta Dictionary}) gifts of the Holy Spirit (discussed in 1 Corinthians 12) and from here they set out imparting supernatural wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, etc.. The gift of tongues was just one of the supernatural abilities granted to the apostles by the Holy Spirit.
Now enter the confusion, paragraph 2 of Acts chapter 2.
Acts 2:5-13 ESV
5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
JOE’S NOTE: First I ask you to try to take a moment to put yourself in that place and in that time; observing as an outsider, a non-Christian, and witnessing what was going on with the Holy Spirit through the disciples. What a total sense of bewilderment, amazement, confusion and WOW!
Understand there were a lot of miracles occurring at this time, but we are just going to talk about tongues. Paul say’s in 1 Corinthians that he who speaks in tongues, speaks in his spirit to GOD and not to man, that only his spirit and GOD understand. This would explain why some there in Jerusalem thought the disciples were “filled with wine” due to the strange utterances. But there were also many visitors from other countries who were not Christians or even Jews, who heard the disciples preaching “in his own language”, “the mighty works of God”. The disciples were preaching, and all present “hear them telling in our own tongues (language)”. This is yet another miracle. Were the disciple’s speaking in tongues and the Holy Spirit imparted to all present the gift to interpret their tongues, or were the disciples preaching in their own language and the Holy Spirit interceded to allow all to understand? I don’t know and you know, those present at the time probably don’t know the answer to that either. Who are we to speak on the power of the Holy Spirit?

For almost two thousand years, there has been controversy over the gifts of the Holy Spirit and speaking more directly to the gift of speaking in tongues. Paul had to address it when writing to the Church at Corinth due to mishandling of the gift, and churches have been divided on this issue to this day. There are two camps of people within the Christian community; one who think that the gift of tongues was for the Apostles, to be used by them as a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit as they spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that the gift of tongues died with the Apostles. The other side believes that the gift exists to this day. The argument is further confused on how you wish to interpret the following scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:8; “As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away”. But I will put this passage into context shortly.

I came from a small town of Lima, Ohio. One of the things that everyone from Lima will brag about is a local restaurant called Kewpee’s, and I am telling you that it is the best hamburger you will ever eat. When I was in the military and stationed in Texas for schooling, I ran across someone that was not from Lima, but had been to Lima and we immediately began talking about the Kewpee burger. We tried to tell those around us how good this burger was and they either chose to accept that it was the best hamburger ever, or they didn’t. When it comes down to it, the Kewpee burger cannot be explained, it has to be experienced. The Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues is the same. I can try to describe it and you can choose to accept it or reject it. But in the end, it cannot be explained, it has to be experienced.


The following is copied from my blog site (

We are called to love; the great commission is to love. Paul writes that, “faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1st Corinthians 13:13. Paul also writes in Romans the 14th chapter he warns against judging our neighbors and our fellow Christians and strongly cautions us against passing judgment.
Romans 14:1 “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.”
Romans 14:4-5; “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Romans 14:10-13; “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore, let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”
So I suggest to you, when confronted with a brother that may not believe as we do or behave as we do; whether in the body of Christ or not, that we first try to love. We don’t judge, condemn, convict or correct. Judgment we leave to God the Father through his son Jesus Christ. Conviction we leave to the helper of the Holy Spirit. And there is plenty of guilt and condemnation coming from hell and the devil. What we need to do is L.O.V.E…love!
Pray before you think, think before you act, and let your actions always reflect your love.

JOE’S NOTE: We are not to judge. If you believe in tongues, and others don’t, do not judge. If you don’t believe in tongues and others do, do not judge. We should all give praise and be blessed for the individual gifts and talents that we have been granted by God and the Holy Spirit. We should give equal praise for the blessings, gifts and talents that God and the Holy Spirit have given to others. For as we have been granted our gifts so that we may serve and others may be blessed, so much more others have been given gifts so that we may be blessed.

1 Corinthians 13 ESV
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect (Jesus) comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide (to dwell, to live or reside in a place-Encarta Dictionary), these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Paul encourages us in 1 Corinthians 14:1- Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.
If you desire any gift, or all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I encourage you to earnestly pursue and pray in faith. But to pray in faith is to believe. If you do not believe in a spiritual gift, the Holy Spirit cannot grant you a gift in which you do not truly believe.

Friday, October 22, 2010


There is no doubt that getting through life today is no walk in the park. For those of us who have chosen to accept our salvation through faith, the enemy has been ever strong and vigilant. In my last post, I wrote about loving our neighbor. For so many Christians, that just doesn’t seem to be enough. We get a burning desire to fight all that goes against what we know to be right and wrong. There are so many issues that face our society today; one might not know where to begin.

However, this is where I want to take a moment to just ask you to take some time to take a deep breath, think before you act and spend a lot of time in prayer. Seek out what God would have you do to further His kingdom. Be careful you don’t act out of furthering your own agenda.

There are many times in the Old Testament when God called on His people to enter into war, to fight battles, to conquer, to destroy and to eliminate. But remember, when those who were chosen to enter into battle, they were called by God. They acted under the direction of God and were only victorious because it was God’s will; God’s plan. Those that went to battle as part of God’s will; entered it in confidence that His will would prevail. They could stand firm on who He is.

In today’s world, there is not much call for conquering territory or obtaining land needed for survival. The issues that face us as Christians today are of civil liberties, religious rights and freedoms, social issues, and probably most sensitive, moral issues facing our society. There are growing issues that smack right in the face of Christian values; Godly values. As society continues its progressive move away from God, it attempts to change the laws to adapt to their want of a lack of accountability. To this I say, get involved, know what is going on in the legislature, know who is running for office, and get behind those politicians that support your point of view.

However I urge you to recognize, this is not a personal attack, and this is not about you. This is about removing God from society. No one can remove your personal convictions; no one can take away your accountability. Don’t get angry and certainly don’t hate them. It is from an angry and bitter heart that causes one to rebel against a God that has so much love for them. Fear and anger is not the way to confront those that are already hurt and angry; for that is no more that dumping fuel on a burning fire. We confront them with love and stand firm in our convictions.

When the Israelite’s were fleeing their captors in Egypt, Moses said to them; “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today.” (Exodus 14:13) When Paul finishes his 1st letter to the church in Corinth, he tells them; “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14) Paul writes again to the church in Ephesus, instructing them on preparing their spiritual armor; “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13) Paul wrote to the church in Philippi from his imprisonment in Rome; imprisoned for simply spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even while undergoing his own torment, he still wrote and instructed the church; “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents.” (Philippians 1:27-28)

We live in a time where we have more freedoms and liberties than any other time in history, yet we fear. None of the 12 disciples died of natural causes, all killed for their beliefs, for their faith and for spreading the good news of Jesus Christ; yet we live in fear and want to act out against those that challenge what we believe. Christ walked among us as an example of love and not of judgment, anger or fear. The bible that was written as a result of Christ; speaks of love and compassion. I urge you to seek to spread the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ; and I urge you to do so in love. For that is what we are called to do.

I leave you with words from Paul’s last letter to his spiritual son Timothy as he awaited his execution in Rome. “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:1-5)


Love Your Enemy

There are so many issues that we face in the world today that I know have the heart of God just breaking to have to see what we have become. As Christians, our hearts should also weep knowing the suffering that is in this world, and we should be even more saddened to look around and see so many that don’t know the love of Jesus Christ; so many that may spend eternity separated from their Father in Heaven.

I have come to realize that I differ from so many Christians on how these issues should be, and need to be addressed. Abortions, the homosexual movement, atheist and agnostics, social issues; these and so many others are issues that Christians are faced with every day. These are all issues that so many are ready to stand against, to fight against. But what is our role?

Christians should want to ban together, to increase numbers and be ready to combat all that interfere with the expansion of the Kingdom of Heaven. However; all these issues are no more than symptoms of simpler, yet overwhelming problem. All these issues that face society and Christians today are all issues of the heart; and because they are issues of the heart, they cannot be changed without changing the heart. An alcoholic will not change until he acknowledges there is a problem; an abuser will not change until he sees what he is doing to be wrong. All who stand in opposition to God’s laws, also stand in opposition to God’s love.

Think about it; do you really think that anyone who would kill their baby, does it not thinking it is the right thing to do? Do you really believe that someone would live their life as a homosexual if they didn’t believe in their heart what they were doing was ok? Do you really think that those who want to remove God from government, from society and from our schools don’t believe in their heart of hearts that they are doing the right thing? All these people believe firmly in their hearts that they are right. Do you think that simply telling all these people that they are wrong is going to change their minds or change their hearts?

So what are we to do? It really is not all that complicated. The bible lays out clearly how we are to combat the forces of evil, to fight all those that stand in opposition to God. We love them. (SAY WHAT!) We love them, and in doing so, show them the love of God and all that He has done through His son, Jesus Christ. “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this, you should love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) Paul writes; “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals on his head [spiritually speaking]. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:20-21)
Let me put it another way; you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.

Please don’t misunderstand; I am not saying to just lie down and let them have their way. Be strong and be firm. Be a wall; a brick wall never struck or hurt anyone, it just stands. If there are political issues, get out and vote on them. If you come across someone who is in opposition to God’s love, love them; and through that love becomes relationships; and through relationships you can show God’s love; and in God’s love and through the awesome power of the Holy Spirit, the heart can be changed.

No one can be bullied, intimidated, threatened, coerced, scared, beaten, dragged, forced or even brainwashed into accepting the love of Christ. And if that is what it takes, quite frankly, he doesn’t want it. Love your enemy, pray for them. There is enough condemnation in the world; conviction is the job of the Holy Spirit; we are called to love. Leave the judgment and condemnation to the world; we are called to accept, to support, to guide and above all….to love! “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone” (John 8:7).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Love vs. Judgment
It is an amazing feeling when we first get inspired to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our hearts become lit on fire as we burn with a desire to share the joy and the love that we now experience in our salvation and in our new or renewed relationship with our heavenly Father, His Son and His Spirit. It is a tremendous gift to feel a love for our fellow human beings and earnestly desire to give them every opportunity to be saved from eternal damnation. But what a slippery slope that is.

We become so passionate, we get excited and we become so in tuned to the prompting and the convictions of the Holy Spirit that we just want to share! And before we are even aware of it, we are telling the whole world what they are doing wrong. (What did he just say?)

We are called to love; the great commission is to love. Paul writes that, “faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1st Corinthians 13:13. Paul also writes in Romans the 14th chapter he warns against judging our neighbors and our fellow Christians and strongly cautions us against passing judgment.
Romans 14:1 “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.”
Romans 14:4-5; “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Romans 14:10-13; “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore, let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”

So I suggest to you, when confronted with a brother that may not believe as we do or behave as we do; weather in the body of Christ or not, that we first try to love. We don’t judge, condemn, convict or correct. Judgment we leave to God the Father through his son Jesus Christ. Conviction we leave to the helper of the Holy Spirit. And there is plenty of guilt and condemnation coming from hell and the devil. What we need to do is L.O.V.E…love!

Pray before you think, think before you act, and let your actions always reflect your love.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Not too long ago, I was presented with a question about salvation. The question was along the lines of when and how God grants his salvation and can He take it back, or can we lose it? The question in itself can be a very frightening one, but one that I think can be answered very easily.

First let us define “salvation”; the act of saving from harm, deliverance from sin through Jesus Christ (Encarta Dictionary). Next, let us define “grace”; the infinite love, mercy, favor, and goodwill shown to humankind by God, the condition of being free of sin (Encarta Dictionary). Finally, we also need to define “faith”; the belief in, devotion to, or trust in (Encarta Dictionary).

God the Father, in His “infinite love, mercy, and favor”, has saved us from the penalty of sin; through the sacrifice, suffering, and death of Jesus Christ His Son; requiring nothing more than our belief, trust and devotion to.

“But GOD, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses (sin), made us alive together with Christ -by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages, He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of GOD, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which GOD prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” –Ephesians 2:4-10

Our salvation is never in question; it is never, “not there”. Through His gift, through Jesus Christ, salvation exists for everyone, for all time. The only requirement, the only act, the only condition or prerequisite is our “faith”. All we have to do is believe, to accept, to trust; GOD says here it is, all you have to do is take it, and because of His infinite love that is many times beyond our understanding, he gives us the choice to accept it, or pass it by. He will never take it away; however, we can by our own decision, choose to turn from it and reject it. So, can we lose it, the answer is emphatically NO. Can we choose to turn from it, unfortunately we can.

Once in the body of Christ, once saved, once we have made the decision to accept our free gift of salvation from sin and death; it then becomes most important for us to stay in prayer, stay in the word, stay in our relationship with GOD and get in a family of fellow Christians, a family of support. Know this, Satan will stop at NOTHING to get us angry, frustrated and/or defeated using any method he can to get us to turn from GOD, to lose our faith, to turn from our salvation. But in GOD, through Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, in a simple act of faith, a simple act of trust, Satan is defeated and we are saved!

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Who knows best
Just recently my pastor at church was talking about the Holy Spirit and he touched on a passage that at the time spoke to me, but the longer it has sat on my heart, it has really began to move me. He was speaking from Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose”. The point he was driving home is that God knows what is best for me. On hearing this concept, it was not new. Of course God knows what’s best for me. That was no problem. God knows what’s best; all I have to do is just trust in God, right? No problem, piece of cake, just trust in God; trust. That’s when I hit the big wall.

Have you every completely trusted someone. Have you ever released all control of everything and turned it totally over to anyone else. Think of an amusement park and getting on a roller-coaster. We watch the ride, we see where it goes, we know what is going to happen, but we still get on the ride with a little fear and apprehension as they strap us in and we relinquish control. Is it so exhilarating because we give up some control? (By the way, I hate roller-coasters.)

Let me just say now that I have some major trust issues. Most of my life, I have felt that the only person that I could trust, was me. At some point, I have felt that everyone I have known has let me down. I have crawled into a shell of trusting only in myself and then no one can let me down or hurt me. So to say, trust in God, I find myself stopping and realizing that in order to do that, I have to give up my trust in ME! I have to admit, when that realization first hit me, I had a little panic attack!

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5. Say it, read it, sounds simple, but is it? Trust in the LORD with ALL your heart. I challenge you as I have recently challenged myself. Trust in the LORD, it is beyond all our understanding, but in that trust, relinquish control, turn it over to him. So I ask; where do we put God in our lives? Is he our first thought when we wake in the morning? Does he consume our every thought through the day? He wants to.

We need to turn it over to the Lord, trust in him, hand him the reigns and let him lead. All we do on our own or in our own name, is wasted time, wasted breath and wasted energy. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:1-2)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Sword of the Spirit
Paul finishes in his description of our Armor of God with, “Sword of the spirit, which is the Word of GOD.” (Ephesians 6:17) You may have noticed, and so have I, that with our Armor, this is the only offensive tool noted by Paul. Now the Roman soldier in Paul’s day would have, and carry a variety of weapons. The soldier would carry a broad sword, a half broad sword, daggers, darts, various lengths of spears, a bow and/or a sling; I’m sure I’m missing a couple weapons in there as well. But Paul felt all we needed was one sword, the sword of the spirit. Not only did he tell us the single weapon we would need to wield, but he gave us the single ingredient for its construction, the Word of GOD. Our sword, our offensive weapon, our tool of attack is quite simply, the Bible. The Bible, written by men who were inspired by the Spirit of God; the literal Word of GOD!
The power of the Word of GOD! The Universe and all it contains was created by the Words of GOD, “Let there be”, and there was! GOD spoke, and there was, it doesn’t get much simpler, yet any more powerful! “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our GOD will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8 GOD our Father has given us, provided for us, His written Word; black and white, there right in front of us, for our study, for our guidance, for our encouragement, for our light. As if that was not enough, he sent his only beloved, begotten Son to spell it out for us! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5) John was referring to Jesus as the Word! The living, breathing, walking, talking Word of GOD! We have Jesus as our example, as our light, as a living testimony to the Word of GOD!
Our sword; our weapon against the forces of evil, the forces of darkness, against our sinful nature, against our flesh; our sword provided to us through the Word of GOD. Any soldier, any officer of the law, any martial artist will tell you it takes years of intense practice before you can be considered a master of a weapon. How much time have we put into mastering our weapon? How much time have we put into the care of our weapon? How strong is our sword, how sharp is our sword? How well are we able to yield it when we need it, when confronted with our enemies? How well do we know our sword? What is our relationship with our sword, what is our relationship with the Word, what is our relationship with GOD the Father, His son Jesus and His Holy Spirit? The weapon has been provided to us, it is up to us to learn to use it, to become proficient with it, to know it inside and out! “For the word of GOD is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and the intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Helmet of Salvation
I guess, before I start talking about salvation or the “helmet of salvation”, let’s define it. Salvation is defined as one; the preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty or evil. Christians define salvation as deliverance from the power or penalty of sin. When David had been delivered from his enemies, he sang out: “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.” 2 Samuel 22:2-4
Jesus came into this world to simply deliver us from the penalty of sin. The price was high, the cost was great, the penalty….paid! Through simply accepting this completely free gift, our salvation is guaranteed. Throughout the bible, God our Father has given salvation, no matter what the challenge, no matter how great the battle, no matter what our perceived risk or cost, our salvation is guaranteed. “Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.” Psalms 118: 5-7 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
So what is Paul saying in wearing a helmet of salvation. I believe that what he is telling us, that we should know, I mean KNOW, is that in our minds, we need to know that God has already granted us victory. Salvation over our enemies, salvation in our eternity, our salvation from sin, our salvation from death; we need to know that it is done, salvation…granted!
Have you ever recorded a sporting event and then someone tell you the result before you have watched it? Have you ever had someone tell you the ending to a movie or a book before you have seen or read it? The mystery is gone, the suspense, the anticipation, all taken out of the equation. You may still indulge in the event, however, knowing the ending takes away the suspense, the worry of what will happen next! What Paul is saying is we need to put on the knowledge or the helmet of our known salvation. Is life still a battle, yes! 1 Timothy 6th chapter tells us to fight the good fight, but Paul reminds us that the movie is over, the book has been written, and the ending is known and WE HAVE WON! (Pause for effect!)
It kind of takes the fear right out of the battle when you know the results beforehand, doesn’t it?! The helmet of salvation; the knowledge of salvation; known results, known ending, known victory. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalms 27:1


Shield of Faith
Paul then calls us in Ephesians to “take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one”. “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all”. Isaiah 7:9 In the Gospels, Jesus healed many. There was not a place, it seems, that Jesus went that as part of his teaching and performing miracles, he healed the sick. But if you read the Gospels closely, and it is noted in each of the 4 Gospels, most that were healed, were healed not by Jesus, but by their faith. Faith in God, faith in his son, an unwavering belief that they would be healed; the Centurion that, “if you would just speak it so”; the woman who if she could just touch his clothing; on and on and Jesus repeated, “by your faith, you have been healed”. Jesus promised us, “if you have faith like a grain of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20 It is our faith that gives us strength and our faith that makes our shield strong. “So take heart, men, that I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.” Acts 27:25 Keep the faith; stay strong in the faith; renew your faith! “So faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17 “They were broken off because of their unbelief, (as a branch that does not bear fruit) but you stand fast through faith.” Romans 11:20
So then you ask, “How do I have faith, how do I increase faith?” This is a good question and one I have asked myself. We so much want for a huge philosophical answer, we want someone to explain the mysteries of the universe to us, and we want a complex answer to this complex question. I hate to break it to you, but it is simpler than we are willing to admit. Allow me to explain: You walk to your sink, you turn your faucet and you have faith that water will be there. You do not stop, you do not ask, you do not question; you KNOW that the water will be there. We are so certain that if water doesn’t come out, we will repeat the same maneuver multiple times in shock that the water has not come out. Jesus says with less faith than that, we can move mountains. The problems lie in; choice and doubt. When we turn the handle, we see the water, instant results and instant gratification. Unfortunately, we don’t control God and rarely does he give us instant gratification. So now were back to choice and doubt.
So ask yourself, honestly, how much do you doubt God? How many times in situations of hardship and trouble have you doubted God’s presence? How many times in prayer and study of the Word have thoughts of doubt about your “religion” entered your mind? I know that doubt likes to rear its ugly head around me from time to time. God understands this; it is in our flesh to question, to challenge, to seek proof. Conquering this involves just a few simple yet challenging steps. First is to acknowledge that you have doubt, it’s ok, the world may condemn you but your Father will praise your courage! Now that you have acknowledged that you have a weakness, it is about realizing and understanding that is now about a choice; to simply choose to have doubt, or to choose to have faith. It is that simple, it is we as human beings, under the sins of our flesh, under the pressures of the world that complicate this, but it is as simple as training yourself to CHOOSE to have faith over doubt. Now again, this does involve training. We have created in ourselves the reflexive response to questions and to doubt, it is only through training, study and prayer that a new reflex of faith can begin to enter our lives as we slowly train ourselves to ignore doubt. And last, you must acknowledge that you cannot go through this training without professional help. You must also acknowledge that it is not in you to handle this on your own and you MUST take it to the feet of Jesus and ask for His help and guidance. The world is too much for all of us and we must always acknowledge that without the help of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, WE WILL FAIL!
As simple as I have made it sound, I haven’t heard of any mountains being relocated on this planet anywhere, but I have seen spiritual mountains turned to piles of dust through a simple act of faith. So stay in prayer, stay strong in your faith and keep your shield at the ready. For with everything we have said here, know this, the flaming darts of the enemy are already in flight and headed in your direction.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace
Having “your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” is how Paul tells us we should walk. “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9) “You should follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 18:4) Think of it again as a journey. How far can you walk barefoot? How far can you walk when you have the appropriate shoes? Would you hike 10 miles in heels? Would you run a marathon in flip-flops? So we should be protecting our feet appropriately for the task at hand so that your journey can not only be made, but successfully completed. A journey completed with the least amount of pain, suffering and no more “blisters” than are necessary. Walking in sin, trouble, despair, hurt, anger, bitterness, deceit only causes us to stumble, stub our toes, cut our feet and hinder our journey. So walk not only in the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, but in our preparation, our knowledge, or faith in the Gospel, so that our journey can be great and long and most importantly, completed.
Paul wrote to the Colossians Church and I continue in his prayer that; “we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:9-14). Walk in the word, be prepared in the Gospel, know that your path is right and your feet are covered and protected. That is only obtained through study of the word and understanding that is granted by the Spirit through prayer.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Breastplate of Righteousness
John then tells us to “put on the breastplate of righteousness”. I believe that it is important to know and be righteous; I found 565 references in the bible to being righteous! Someone thinks being righteous is important! “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalms 1:1-2) “The Lord judges people; judge me oh Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to the integrity that is in me” (Psalms 7:8). “I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules” (Psalms 119:7) “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness and honor” (Proverbs 21:21). “He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from looking on evil” (Isaiah 33:15). “If a man is righteous and does what is just and right-if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully-he is righteous, he shall surely live, declares the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 18:5-9) “Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord” (Zephaniah 2:3) And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (Luke 1:6).

“If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, then ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference”. –Abraham Lincoln
Being righteous; the bible goes on and on about righteousness. Paul spends a good part of the beginning of his letter to the Romans talking about righteousness. In my study of Romans, I surmised that Paul was basically saying be right with God. Through the sin of Adam, we have all lost our righteousness with God, and only through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have all been made righteous again. God does not expect perfection, adversely he expects us to sin, He knows the sinful nature we are born in to. To be righteous is to be right with God. If you make a mistake, atone for it. If you sin against a brother, make it right. If you sin against God, seek forgiveness and seek penance, not as in 3 “Hail Mary’s” and 2 “Our Fathers” type penance, but seek to correct the behavior and take steps to prevent the behavior from re-occurring. If you have done, or do something that is not “right”, acknowledge it, correct it, and take steps to prevent it. Sometimes the only preventative step you can take is to give it to God and ask for help. But take action! I may have appeared to be rambling on the subject of righteousness, but in Paul’s illustration, it is our breastplate, as in our armor, it is what protects our chest, our vital organs, our heart, our lungs, liver, spleen…..VITAL ORGANS! Know that only through Jesus Christ have we been made right again and it is only through God the father, his Son Jesus Christ AND the Holy Spirit can we maintain our righteousness. Paul is saying that it is vital to our survival to be vigilant at making sure that our breastplate of righteousness is strong, free of tears of blemishes and well maintained so that we can be protected from those that oppose us!
Being righteous is not our ticket to salvation, for our salvation is granted and guaranteed through the sacrifice of God our Father, through his son Jesus the Christ, dependant only on our acceptance. However, to walk in unrighteousness, that is to walk in a way that we know to be not right with God, is to walk outside of his law. So you ask; “but if my salvation is guaranteed, why do I need to worry about righteousness”! GLAD YOU ASKED!
Why do your parents make rules for you growing up? Why do you make rules for your own children? Are you just trying to make things as difficult as you can for them? Are you just trying to protect them and keep them as safe as possible? Rules; don’t run with scissors, stay out of that cabinet, don’t go to bad places, those friends are no good for you, be in by curfew, etc., all in an effort to protect your children. So how much more would the perfect Father, your Father in Heaven want to protect you? How many times have you been in your Bible and started acting like a rebellious teenager as you read things that convicted you on how you live!? The Bible is the living Word of God, the voice of your Father, the voice of your parent telling you, warning you, guiding you, and protecting you. (See where I’m going with this yet?) When you attempt to be right with God, to live in righteousness, you choose to live within the guidelines that he has laid out to protect you from the enemy (Satan). When you choose to live in an unrighteous way, you choose to violate the rules or the Law that has been handed down by God to guide you and to protect you. You open yourself up to attack, to hurt, to injury, to pain.
Example: Don’t drink and drive. You choose to ignore the rule; you get in an accident, you or someone else in injured or maybe killed. Could you get in an accident and be injured without drinking and driving? Could you drink and drive and not get injured? Sure, but by breaking the rule that is put in place for your protection, your risk for injury compound significantly. There is no different in the application of righteous living as laid down by the Word of God in the Bible. If I have not been clear enough for you, let me make it simpler. The law of Choices and Consequences! Choose right living, choose righteousness and have righteous rewards. Choose to violate the Law, choose unrighteousness and the consequences are yours and yours alone. Blame God all you want to, but the choice was yours!
Breastplate of Righteousness; for behind it we find protection!


Belt of Truth
So let’s talk about our armor!
When we are confronted with the spiritual enemies, Paul calls us to stand firm. We should stand firm knowing that we have put on our spiritual armor having first “fastened on the belt of truth”. The King James says, “having your loins girt about with truth”. To me that implies protecting what is easiest vulnerable to injury! Know what it true, do not allow yourselves to be deceived with lies, distractions and falsehoods. “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation” (Psalms 25:5). “Teach me your way, oh LORD, that I may walk in your truth” (Psalm 86:11). “Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit” (proverbs 12:17). “I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness….I the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right” (Isaiah 45:19). “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). “So Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”“ (John 8:31-32). “When the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13). Jesus prayed for us to his father, “Sanctify them in truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in the truth.” (John 17:17-19). So in preparing for battle, start by tightening down your belt, cinch it tight and know that it is firm, know the Word, know what is true.


Armor of God
You know, one of my favorite passages of the bible is in Ephesians when Paul talks about the Armor of God. This is a passage that just resonates through me. The use of armor just conjures up in my mind a variety of pictures, scenes and images that span several hundred years of human history. When you talk about armor, maybe you immediately begin to get images of battle. Not only preparing offensively, but defensively. At least I start to get all kinds of pictures in my head, but they all are related to wars, to battles to combat and fighting. I think that Paul chose this analogy, not by chance, but very deliberate for he knows that as Christians, we are in a state of constant battle, constant warfare, a never ending fight.
Paul even says in Ephesians 6:12; “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil” (ESV). Paul is describing for us a battle, a spiritual battle. He then gives us the clues, the hint, the plan on how to be victorious in this battle. He instructs us to; “take unto you the whole armor of God” Eph 6:13 (KJ). This is when my mind starts to really take off!
The first image that comes to mind when I hear armor is that of the Middle Ages Knight. Sitting on a horse, covered in a polished full suite of armor. Head to toe, no skin exposed. What a site! Now understand that to the knight of the Middle Ages, his armor was probably his single most expensive asset. For most, it was probably more expensive than his home. This was it; this is what he invested everything he had into. It was what kept him alive. Being the most expensive thing that he owned, he made sure to take care of it. Also in the consideration of its care, again, it is what protected him; it is what kept him alive! If the knight was fortunate enough and wealthy enough to have a couple of servants, he may have 2 or three servants or “squires” whose full time job was the care of his armor.
Now really stop for a minute and gather the whole essence of this in your mind. A knight’s only way to make money was to fight wars or battles, sometimes for his king, sometimes just as a knight for hire. But his entire income, his livelihood was dependant on him fighting and surviving combat, surviving battles. His armor was everything to him. Without his armor intact, he would be vulnerable to injury or death. If his armor was not functioning properly and allowing him to move, he could not effectively move to defend attacks or move well enough to attack successfully. A knight made sure his armor was taken care of; he made sure it fit and he made sure it functioned flawlessly. As part of a knights armor was his shield and weapons. Again, these were the things that provided him a way to make a living, but most important to keep him alive! There were no cracks, crevices or dents in the shield. No holes or even weak spots that could leave him vulnerable. His weapons were also well maintained, no rust, always sharpened to a razor fine precision. Failure of a weapon in combat would leave him with the ability to only defend yourself or run……can’t see much running in a suit of armor, would be funny to watch though!
The next image that jumps into my head is that of the Japanese Samurai. Talk about an intimidating suit of armor. To the Japanese, the Samurai was the most feared of all warriors of the time. The word Samurai who’s root word means “those who serve in close attendance to nobility”, and in China and Japan, the Samurai was closely associated with the mid to upper echelons of the warrior class. The fancy full suits of armor would only be worn by the most elite and highest ranking. The suits would sometimes take a lifetime of additions and decorating. The suits were meant primarily for protection, but were also colorful, large, flashy and with masks all made to make the wearer appear more intimidating. These suits were also cherished by the owner and some believed that the suits had a spirit all its own. Some would be handed down from generation to generation. No greater honor than to dawn the suit of an ancestor.
The warrior of Paul’s time was no different. Everything that the Roman Legionnaire would have would be for maximum protection, maximum mobility, and maximum effectiveness. The armor and the weapons chosen and cared for could mean the difference between victory and defeat, between life and death. So when he uses the metaphor of putting on the Armor of God, it is not a passive euphemism, it is an accurate depiction of how we need to prepare for our spiritual combat, spiritual battles, for our spiritual survival; maximum protections, maximum survivability, maximum effectiveness against the enemy.
There is no doubt that to any warrior, it is vital to their survival that their armor is maintained. How much time, effort and care do you put into your armor?!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Celebrate the Victories! 06/15/2010

I was recently tasked with helping a friend through a difficult time in his life. He had lost a couple family members in recent years and was capped with the loss of his father. I began to ponder what it was I could say to him to help him through this horrific time in his life. It was quickly apparent to me that there was nothing I could say to in any way ease his pain.
I soon began to dwell on how I, how we as humans, we as Christians deal with our pain and an image began to unfold in my head. Most of us have seen the movie “Brave Heart”. Mel Gibson starred as William Wallace who led Scotland in a revolt against England during the Middle Ages. Anyway, the scene that came to mind was one of the big battle scenes of the movie. Each side starts on one or the other side of an open field, a charge is given and they meet in the middle for what amounts to hand to hand combat. It’s a gruesome scene that is quite graphic (definitely a guy scene in a guy movie). But what is really sticking in my mind is immediately after the battle. The camera goes to William Wallace, standing in the middle of this field, covered in blood and bodies lying all around him covering the field. He and others that fought with him then give out this loud yell. A scream, a cry….a victory shout!
They knew the battle was coming. For days anxiety and fear had to be mounting up inside of them. The anticipation prior to the battle had to be overwhelming. The battle itself was for your life, kill or be killed; the physical and emotional demands had to be exhausting beyond description. And when finished, the first thing done… is a shout of victory!
You cannot watch a single sporting event even to this day that when an event is won, hands go in the air and a shout is made. There is a celebration. A physical and emotional display of a hard battle fought and won. Now don’t get me wrong, soon after there is a debriefing, a reflection, review. Watch the tapes. What we did right, what did we do wrong, how can we get better. But before all this is a celebration. Even in battles, war, combat and in “Brave Heart”. There was time to reflect, to lament, to mourn the loss and bury the dead. But before all that was the celebration of victory won.
I have noticed that we as Christians spend a lot of time in reflection, hung up on all that we have been through and may have to go through. There is not a Christian alive who doesn’t make references to the book of Job in speaking of their own lives. And rightfully we should. Our journey is a challenge. In the letters of the New Testament, Paul often spoke of our journey not as a walk, but as a marathon. We are here on Earth, stuck between Heaven and Hell, not just in the physical, but in the spiritual. Our journey is not easy and is not meant to be. We should daily take time to acknowledge that we are in a battle and prepare ourselves accordingly. In Ephesians, Paul speaks of the “armor of God”, and how we should invest time in taking care of and making sure that our armor is battle ready.
What I have come to realize that I, that we as Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ, what we often forget to do, is celebrate the victories. It’s Sunday morning, it’s been a long week, just one day to sleep in, yet you get out of bed and make it to church, CELEBRATE THE VICTORY! You’re a young teenager, friends pressuring you to go partying, do drugs, drink, you say no. Don’t pout over what you may have missed, CELEBRATE THE VICTORY! Your church has just split, friends and family divided, feeling hurt, bodies lying all over from the battle, but you survive and your faith intact, CELEBRATE THE VICTORY! My friend has struggled to care for his father as he slowly deteriorated and eventually passed. The road was long and hard, few could have survived the battle, but days after his father passed, he gave his life to Christ. He survived the battle! And yes, time should be given to reflect, to mourn and to take account, but let’s not forget to take time to celebrate our victories.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Guard Your Heart 06/07/2010

I was visiting a very old friend of mine recently. He’s not old, just our friendship. I attended the church where he is a Youth Pastor and sat in on their Sunday Bible Study. The man teaching was talking about “guarding your heart”. Initially, I was attentive but really not getting anything out of what he was saying. Then the Spirit hit me. I began to get a very powerful image that I want to share with you now.
I began to get an image of a bank vault. Picture it in your head. Back behind closed doors. Maybe you have to take an elevator to get to it. Perhaps pass through an iron gate and metal detector to get to the vault. Guard standing in front of it, maybe two more out in the bank lobby, and a huge steel door with a ship steering wheel as a big lock. You know the image, you’ve seen them yourself or in a movie. “Ocean’s 11” come to mind for me! I want you to take a minute and really allow that image to evolve in your head and then allow me to start to input some thoughts into those images.
Lets start to think of the contents of our vault. If I had something of value that I wanted to preserve and protect, I would place it in a safe, maybe the bank or safety deposit box. What kind of things do I have that I would want to make that secure? What kind of things, if I had them, would I want to be guarded in a vault, a bank of that level of security? I wouldn’t empty my trash and take it to a bank for safekeeping. Would I take my old dirty underwear to the bank and ask to sign it in? What things would I hold to be precious, irreplaceable, what things of great value would I want in my vault?
In addition, what measures would I take to keep the contents of the vault from becoming contaminated? Would I trust a vault that wasn’t fireproof… waterproof? Would I want someone to put his or her old stinking socks in a drawer under my rare butterfly collection? Would I allow anything into my vault that was perhaps contaminated, poisoned or infested with disease or insects? Do you know what a goat could do to a stack of money? No goats in my vault!
What would the inside of your vault look like?……….
Now lets imagine for a minute, that our heart was our vault. What do we allow into our vaults. What elements of everyday life do we allow into our safe, our heart, our spirit, our soul. Is your vault full of anger and bitterness or does your, “heart overflow with pleasing themes” (Ps 45:1). Are your deposits to your vault full of garbage or do you fill your vault with things of value, things to be treasured. “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Ps 119:11). “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ears to my saying. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are the life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.” (Proverbs 4:20-24) What do you put in your vault? What is it you value, what is it you should treasure? What do the contents of your vault say about you? What do you treasure, what do you value, what do you hold sacred? What are you putting in your vault? “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of a man reflects the man.” (Proverbs 27:19). I have to tell you, in researching this, that last one hit me so hard my teeth hurt!
I, and I think anyone could spend years discussing what the contents of our hearts should be, but for the purpose of our conversation, I just wanted to start you thinking about what it is that is in your heart and what you should be guarding.
Well, I suppose that if we are guarding something, if we have something that we want protected, that we are obviously concerned about loss. If we weren’t concerned about something being taken, we would not lock it up. So the first question I would ask if I were someone in charge of security. What am I protecting? What am I protecting it from? (Long pause for effect.) We all have to acknowledge that there is a thief that is bent on robbing us not only of our eternal salvation, but of any joy that we could have while here in the flesh. We need the grace of Jesus and the protection of the Holy Spirit to guard our vaults, “and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal” (Ephesians 4:27-28). Paul warned Timothy to, “guard the deposit entrusted to you.” (1 Timothy 6:20) “Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked, whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.” (Proverbs 22:5)
The next part of our discussion of guarding our heart it discussing who is standing guard over the entrance of our vault? Who do we have installing our lock, who is in charge of our security, who is at the door monitoring what goes in, and what comes out? We must trust in and enlist Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to be in charge of the security of our vault. There is none other for the job, and no other that I would trust. We need to be vigilant in our effort to make sure that the security to our vault is in place daily. “So we do not loose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.” (1 Timothy 4:16) We must have God the Father, His son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in constant thought and prayer so that the thief does not get his opportunity. “Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalms 51:10)
There is one more thing that I want you to consider in the use of your vault or your bank. If you had obtained something of value, and had taken the time to get it secured in your safe, and made sure that the appropriate guard was on duty. Would you not be very wise in how you would care for and invest your valuable posessions? So I suggest to you. That if you want your precious possessions, your valued treasures to remain secure and to have an opportunity to grow, you should want to invest it, and invest it wisely. You would not take your retirement and place it in risky investments with a chance of loosing it all. You would take time to research, and with careful thought, consideration and planning (prayer), you would make sound decisions for solid investments. So think about what investments you should be making with your time, with your thoughts and with your heart so that the treasures God has given to you will grow. Read the parable of the talents, Matthew 25:14-30. A man gives 3 servants talents, 2 servants double what they had been given for the master; the third buried his in fear. Jesus tells of investing the gifts that we have been given and the consequences of poor choices.
Allow me to leave you with this final thought. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where the thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

Monday, May 31, 2010


Hypocrisy 05/31/2010

You know when you first say the word, I begin to conjure up all kinds of negative images and memories of negative encounters that I have had with “Christians”, “religious” people, or the church. I immediately begin to regale myself in stories of all the “evil” people that I have encountered that also “align” themselves with God. Christians who just can’t wait to smack you over the head with the Bible or with their own Christianity, yet clearly do not practice what they preach. What a bunch of, well………hypocrites!
After a while, one begins to wonder, are all of these people evil? Are they all just tools of the devil sent to every church I go to with the sole intent of frustrating me and just ticking me off? Why would God allow such people in His church? Were they ever saved? Are they just evil? The more I question, the more I have questions. So being the answer driven person that I am, I began to ponder.
I started with the question, who are we in God’s eye. The best place to answer that is the great resource (talking about the Bible, silly). After God had created the world and all that was in it, he beheld it and said it was “very good”(Gen 1:31). The Bible also says that we are created in his image (Gen 1:26), and that “everything created by God is good” (1 Tim 4:4). So that has leads me to the conclusion that in our creation, in our conception, that we are all basically “good”.
So how do a people of a basic “good” nature, who are attempting to follow as God has planned, to live in His word (Bible again), and by His example (Jesus Christ), in a community by His design (church), get it so wrong. The church by its nature is not evil. The people who attend church, for the most part, have a true heart to follow Christ. So what in the world is going on!
I have come up with some answers to the questions that may help you with your walk with Christ and perhaps help to prevent hypocrisy in your life. Maybe, if you are better able to understand the why and how hypocrisy occurs, you can be better able to prevent it from happening in your life, and to also help you to better identify, cope with, and address when it occurs in your church.
Ok, foundation. Before you can tackle any question related to God or religion, you have to have some basic understandings. There is a God, there is a devil, there is good and there is evil. The devil has been around since the beginning of our time. Since the temptation in the garden to tempting Christ in the desert, and his influence is ever expanding and growing to this day. If you don’t understand that there is an active force in this world that will stop at nothing to derail you from your path to God, you are already deceived and will always come back to the question, “why”. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12) So now that you at least have recognition of the spiritual struggle, we can begin to lay the foundation to understanding the “why”.
So we are created to be good, we have and evil force fighting against us, but why is it so hard? Easy, a loving God that gave us choice. If all we had to choose from was good, how is their free will? If we go to a buffet and all that is available is beans and carrots, we would live very healthy, but have no choice. There is no free will until someone throws some grease, fat and deserts on the bar. Now I have a choice, now I can exercise my free will. (If you can wrap your brain around that, you are much further than most philosophers.) If you choose a simpler explanation; due to original sin, we are all born with a sinful nature with expectations to fail. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Rom 3:23). And we are also given the “out” to be completely forgiven for all those sins, “and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24). Whichever explanation works best for you, understand that sin is part of this world, it is all around us and it is in us. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”(1Jn 1:8). Jesus promised the disciples when he said, “Temptations to sin are sure to come.” (Luke 17:1). If you choose to believe that sin is not ever present, you are as the ostrich with its head in the sand. He thinks that he is hidden and no one can see him. “Did you ever notice that if you stick your head in the sand standing up, you present a tempting target to the devil?” (Mike Warnke)
Here we are, created as “good”, with a nature to sin against God, and an invisible force that is giving us kidney punches. A force that is Hell bent (if you’ll pardon the pun) on frustrating you right out of Heaven. If you have been a Christian for a while, this is not news to you. If you are new to being a Christian and this is new to you, please sit down and breath before your brain melts! Being reminded of the why’s in life can help to put some things into perspective. And to all the junior philosophers out there, there is absolutely more to understanding all the whys, but for our intent and purposes, let’s roll over before we attempt to crawl or walk, shall we?
Now for the how, what is the hook, how are we so easily manipulated and pulled so far off course. Once you identify the “hook”, you can begin to avoid the bait. (Using fishing reference here……….we’re the fish.) There are many different lures, hooks, baits and traps the devil uses to draw us off course, to get us into his nets. If I can show a few of them to you, the waters might start to look a little safer.
I would like to start with the word expectation. When you hear the word, “Christian”, what images do you conjure up, what do you envision, what are your expectations. Before you became a Christian, what were your expectations? Did you hold Christians up to an unreasonably high standard? Did you hold Christians up to standards that you now realize, as a Christian, were unreasonable?
I have to admit, there was a time in my life, that all I did was look for the dirt, the chink in the armor. Introduce yourself as a Christian and I was going to find your flaw just to prove to you (and maybe myself) what a hypocrite you were. I would walk into a church, eyes wide open, ears at full tilt, mind in tuned to every movement, every sound. Observing the placement of every item in the church, the moods and the attitudes of each and every person present. Dissecting every word spoken or preached. I would not leave until I had revealed your “hypocrisy”. Were my standards maybe just a little too high, did I perhaps expect perfection out of a world that well…….isn’t. So who was the hypocrite?
Expectations. I recently had the great honor and privilege to lead a woman to Christ. I would love to take full credit, but I was just a lowly tool with Christ driving the hammer. It took a lot of chiseling to convince this woman that she needed Christ in her life. Interestingly enough, one of her hang-ups was, expectations. Not any expectations that I had placed on her, and certainly not any expectations placed by God or his son Jesus Christ. But she was hung up on the unreasonable expectations she had placed on herself. She didn’t believe that she could make what she perceived to be the necessary behavioral modifications to become a Christian. She didn’t think she could “act” the part. She didn’t believe that she could meet the behavioral expectations that she perceived others would place on her, just by accepting Christ! The thing that was preventing here from coming to Jesus was an unreasonable, perceived expectation of how she would have to behave. REALLY!! Now hang on to this, it is going to become very important shortly.
One more time: Good people, with good intentions, and an evil force at the ready, with unreasonable expectations…what’s next. In walks pride arm in arm with perception. (For those of you that didn’t just throw this down or walk out of the room, I will go on.) Pride (pause again allowing word to soak in…….). Pride is like salt. Just a sprinkle and it’s not too bad. Another sprinkle and the next thing you know; clogged arteries, hypertension, heart attack, stroke and death. (How many of you just thought about your salt intake…hmmm.) “It was just a sprinkle more..” read the epitaph! Pride is not a bad thing. Pride is what makes you bathe everyday…. and we all thank you. Pride is what causes us to do well in school or compete well in sports. Pride is what keeps your home nice (maybe), or keeps you from littering the streets or the church. Pride in proper context is not a bad thing. However, the Bible comes with some very strict warnings: “Pride and arrogance are the way of evil”(Prv 8:13). “Pride goes before destruction”(Prv 16:18). “One’s pride will bring him low.”(Prv 23:23). Jesus talks very plainly in Mark 7:14-23 about what defiles a person. Pride is right in there.
But what does that have to do with perception? I’m glad you asked. I have worked in several fields. Different jobs and careers that I have invested much time and PRIDE into becoming somewhat of an expert in my field. I was good at what I did, I knew my job and I did it well. Nothing, and I mean nothing would anger me faster than for someone to challenge my abilities in my job. I was good, I worked hard to be good and I wanted to be perceived as someone that was good at what I did. Bad characteristics, perhaps not, after all, what is wrong with wanting to be good at what you do? Doesn’t God promise to bless the fruits of your labor? But what if I’m not as good as I want to be perceived? What if I stretch the truth of what my abilities really are? I worked as a nurse, what’s wrong with wanting my patients to have confidence in me? I should want them to trust me, to look to me. That’s what I’m there for, right? What’s wrong with telling a patient I’m really good at starting an IV, then, three needle sticks later and I’m going for help! Has that patient just judged me as a hypocrite? Are they judging the whole department, or perhaps the hospital? “Don’t go there, they can’t even start an IV!” Perception!
We all want to be the best we can be. We all want to try to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. We all have, or should have a desire to be the best Christians we can be. We should all want to grow in our understanding of what it means to be a Christian. However, we all have sinned, we all struggle with pride. We all want to be the best we can be, or at least to be perceived as being….and there it happens.
We dress a little nicer because we don’t want anyone to know our financial struggles. We force on a smile before getting to church to hide the hurt we have from our every day lives. In an effort to deflect our own shortcomings, we quickly point out everyone else’s problems so that maybe, no one will see where we have fallen short. So no one will see that we are struggling. Oh no, if they see my struggles, then they will doubt my faith, they will doubt my beliefs. They will doubt my Christianity! So now I have painted on the veil of hypocrisy. Not in an effort to hurt, not to cause pain or to push people away from me, the church, or away from Christ, but in an attempt to hide, in an attempt to cover my own shortcomings, my own perceived failures.
We all have done it. How many times have you seen a fellow church member struggle, and instead of offering a hand, we offer judgment. Have we seen someone that may be hurting and just question their decisions or gossip about their struggles? Have you known someone that just stopped showing up to church and you never checked on them or even prayed for them. What about our pastors? Do we set them up on such unreasonably high pedestals, that it is just a mater of time before they fall? How much support do we offer, how much help do we give? Do we have huge expectations and then refuse to give the support for them to accomplish all the things we want? How do our expectations drive others into the ground? Do we force people into hypocrisy just to cover the fact that they can’t meet our expectations!
The problem with the veil of hypocrisy is that it has no substance. You can see right through it. It is a smoke screen, a distraction a magic trick. Jesus warned, “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore, whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” (Luke 12:1-3) Some people and some churches are very good at it. If you throw on enough screens, enough distractions, enough illusions, you can hide the truth. But eventually it fails. It is only through being open, honest, genuine and sincere in our love for Jesus Christ, can we then allow everyone to see us for who we are. So we can be seen as God sees us, as sinners, as lost sheep who are eager to find our Shepard.
We are called to simply love the Lord with all our hearts, with all our soul, and with all our minds, and to love our neighbors as we would love ourselves, to love, as we want to be loved. (Mat 22:34-40) It’s time to drop the veil. You’re not fooling anyone, and certainly not God. The church needs to be a place where we all can come and fall on our face and say, “I am not worthy, I have sinned and I have struggles”, and for us as individuals and as the church to respond, “Oh yeah? Me too. But let me help you up, because thanks be to God, Jesus suffered my stripes, took my beating, and hung on my cross, and He rose again, so that I can stand here today, in God’s grace, in the love of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, admit my sins and profess, it’s ok!”