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!


Friday, November 11, 2011


   This article has been a long time coming. I have to be honest with you; just the subject of “baptism” has been on my mind for some time (talking years, people). I also enter into this topic full well knowing that there is a HUGE divide among Christians on what it means to be “baptized” and exactly what that process is supposed to look like.
   What has made the topic so hot on my mind might require a little background. I was raised a very devout and strict Catholic. Without rambling on and muddying the waters, I parted from my Catholic background and searched out through the denominations of what I felt God was after; what I was after. I have found myself most comfortable in a “non-denominational” church. I have found that for me, by removing the denominations, you begin to remove most of the “religion”. (I’m going to take a short break and let you chew on that for a minute….).
   But most recently, our church was conducting a census and was asking those that attended to join in a “partnership” with the church and to fill out a form stating such. The form, however, had a couple small requirements.

1. Have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. (OK, I’m not having any problem with this.)
2. Have been baptized (or will be in the next 6 months) as a follower of Christ as a public declaration of my faith. (Check!)
3. Commit to being a partner by investing in what God is doing through the church. (OK, I’m in.)

   So I’ve read through this and am getting ready to sign; and it starts to gnaw at me. I was baptized as an infant according to my Catholic upbringing. But is that what they mean? Are they talking about a water baptism to include submersion? One that is done after a decision made after the “age of consent”? I’ve never done that! What do I do? Does that mean I can’t be a “partner” in this church? Am I really saved?! Am I going to go to heaven?!! Stand back…I’m gonna’ pop!!! (Moment to breathe…)
   After talking with one the elders about not being “baptized”; I was told it was not a disqualifying issue for membership and then it was dropped. BUT NOT FOR ME! I’m not getting off the hook that easily! OH NO! Not letting this go!
   So I set out on a search for answers. What does it mean to be “baptized”? Heck, I had even heard someone say that it was Christ’s commandment to be baptized. The questions just kept building up and I wanted to know if I needed to be baptized after nearly 25 years of “being saved”; and was I being disobedient to Jesus Christ because I had not been baptized?
   When I first started researching to write on this subject; the first direction I started was down the philosophical, theological, biblical…seminary, Bible College, “I’m going to set you people straight” approach. (Whew! That was a mouthful.) I researched the Word (Bible-for those of you who are new to the program). I studied from “Systematic Theology” by Wayne Grudem; which is a leading textbook in Bible Colleges. I got my hands on “The Documents of Vatican II” which is a comprehensive copy of the 16 Documents of Vatican II (that’s for all the Catholic’s). I took a thorough approach on solving this dilemma once and for all. After all, this very topic had divided entire religious communities! Denominations have been split and with strict interpretation of each denominations beliefs; how and when you had been baptized could be the difference between Heaven and Hell! WHAT?!
   After much research, much study and a whole lot of prayer; I came to a very clear conclusion as to what the Bible has to say about Baptism. And what I have found will certainly anger a lot of people, shock a few, and just plain confuse most; but hear it goes.

     I hate to go all WWJD on everybody; but as I looked closer at this subject, the question as well as the answers just kept coming to this: What would Jesus do? This is what I found:
   In John chapter 8; a woman who had committed adultery was brought before Jesus and as per the law was to be stoned. Jesus did not question the law, he questioned their hearts. “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
   In Matthew chapter 5; Jesus delivered what has become known as the beatitudes which over simply put, is an instruction on the condition of a humble heart.
   In Matthew chapter 6; Jesus is instructing his disciples on giving to the poor, praying and fasting. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Jesus strictly warns against public displays and charges them with the importance of the condition of their heart in their relationship with their heavenly Father.
   In Mark chapter 2 and into chapter 3; the Scribes and the Pharisees are challenging Jesus with the Law regarding; healing outside the law, not honoring the law on fasting, harvesting grain on the Sabbath and healing on the Sabbath. Jesus again did not challenge the law, but he challenged their hearts in their application of the law.
   In Matthew chapter 13; again the Scribes and Pharisees are challenging Jesus for his disciples not keeping the “traditions” of the elders. Again, Jesus responds by challenging their hearts and quotes scripture: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
   Jesus goes on to issue the “seven woes” to the Scribes and the Pharisees in Matthew chapter 23 which are all about the condition of the heart and actions verses real relationship with their Heavenly Father.
   In Matthew chapter 4, Mark chapter’s 1 and 2, Luke chapter 5 and John chapter 1: When Jesus called and invited his disciples there was no ceremonies, no rituals, no requirements; it was simply, “follow me”.

   I could go on and on giving examples of how Jesus handled different situations as he encountered them, but it ultimately all comes down to the question of rituals versus relationships; the condition of your heart. Now here is where most of you start revving up your engines and your blood begins to boil. “So you’re against baptisms then”. You’ll cross your arms, squint your eyes, set your jaw, look down at me (my favorite part), and quote me “the Great Commission” in Matthew 28:19 where Jesus says; “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…” Then you tell me it’s quoted again in Mark, however not acknowledging that from Mark 16:14 on is questioned by most Bible scholars as being written by Mark because it is not found in any early manuscripts. You also won’t quote or explain Luke’s writings in Acts chapter 1 when Jesus told his disciples that; “you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” You also won’t explain to me why there is no recording of Jesus performing any rituals, including a water baptism, anywhere in any scripture or any part of the Bible.
   Now before I get too far gone here. I want you to understand that I am not against baptisms. I also want you to understand that I believe that being baptized plays a very important role in the maturation of new Christians by making a public declaration of their decision to follow Jesus Christ. I believe that a physical display can help to cement the reality of the spiritual decision that is being made. I also understand that as broken and sinful human beings, we need such rituals to make our decisions real to us and to remind us of the commitment we are making.
   However; I just want to make clear as Paul wrote in many of his letters. We are justified by faith, not through an act, behavior or ritual. Just as the act of a baptism, circumcision, or display of spiritual gifts cannot guarantee your salvation. Any more than by not being baptized, circumcised or displaying spiritual gifts can prevent your salvation.
   Listen very carefully here. I am not writing this to cause dissention, arguments or controversy. I am not advocating one practice over another or placing one denomination or even one religion over another. I am simply pointing out that your Heavenly Father; our Lord Jesus Christ is simply seeking a relationship with you.
   If you are feeling led or an urge to be baptized and in that act it assists you in a better understanding of your relationship with Jesus Christ and furthers your growth. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest body of water and be baptized. Submerge yourself into what it is to die with Christ and be raised again as a new creature. Know what it is to be washed clean of all your sins and come out of the water a new son or daughter of our Lord and Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ. In that baptism I urge you to pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit; pray for all the power, blessings and strength that God has for you in the Holy Spirit. Do it, and do it soon!

But caution to anyone who mandates a ritual. For then we become those same Scribes and Pharisees that knew and practiced the law, but did not understand what it was to have a relationship with their creator, their Lord, their Heavenly Father; Jesus Christ.

May all the blessings and love of our Heavenly Father be with you always. May we walk in love as we all continue in our daily struggle against flesh to grow; not only in our understanding, but in our relationship with the one who sacrificed all; so that the penalty for our sins are paid. It is by His grace and in His name we pray; Amen.

Monday, April 4, 2011


You know, I have to tell you. I have taken much pride in including scripture references in all of the writings that I have made for my blog or in any of my teaching. But for the first time, and only GOD knows if it will be the only time, I am going to write without the use of a single scripture reference. I just don’t believe there is any reference to any scripture or religious writing that can help you with this topic. So let’s begin.

Every new Christian or any person who has not yet given their life to Jesus Christ but has begun attending church, or exploring their personal religious or spiritual beliefs; comes to a place where they begin to question the validity of the Bible. And if you are one of those who have found yourself in this place, do not think yourself a horrible person, know that everyone of us have or will ask the question, “Is the Bible true?”

Now to those that have or are currently asking that very question; there are a multitude of references that I can give you that point to the validity of the Bible. If you are interested, please e-mail me and I would be happy to send those references to you. However, after having many conversations with a great deal of people, I have come to realize that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what I say, it doesn’t matter what references I give, it doesn’t matter what I can prove. Eventually, every person has to face and make that decision of: Do I, or don’t I believe the Bible is true?

If you are struggling with that question, let me make it a little harder for you. To make your decision more complex, let me tell you something that makes your decision a little more difficult. The real question you need to answer is; is the Bible fiction, or non-fiction. Is the Bible fiction, which means false and made up; or is the Bible non-fiction, which means that every book, every chapter, and every word is the written word of GOD? Written word of GOD, written down by the hand of man as inspired by the Holy Spirit as directed by GOD.

Now, fiction books can be based on actual events, set in places that actually exist, but the stories are made up; just quite simply not true. And I have to tell you, there are a lot of people that place the Bible in that category. Or there are those that have chosen to accept some parts of the Bible as being true and other parts as being made up. What you have done, intentionally or not, is just place the Bible in the category of fiction.

Let me give you just a quick example of how dangerous it is to just believe in just parts of the Bible. Muslims believe they are the descendants of, and followers of Abraham. Muslims believe in Jesus as a great profit, just not the son of GOD. They believe in Mary and the virgin birth; in fact there is more written in the Koran about Mary than in the Christian Bible. The very second you start picking and choosing what you do and don’t want to believe about the Bible, you have just placed the Bible in the category of fiction and started down a very dangerous road of lies and deception. (Which I might add, is exactly where the devil wants to lead you.)

This is a foundational, fundamental challenge that all Christians, me included, have had to address, face and overcome. GOD exists, and the Bible is true! The air I breathe I cannot see, but every breath is a testimony to its existence. The universe around us is a testimony to the existence and power of GOD and to those who have chosen to crack the pages of the Bible and allowed it to change them is a testimony to its validity.

There is a Bible verse that continues to ring in my mind when I find those who don’t believe the Bible or choose to only believe parts of the Bible. [Here comes the scripture reference. I knew I couldn’t do it, so I lied. Write my pastor!] “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 for listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4

The Holy Bible is the truth. It is the written word of our Heavenly Father. Your decision to accept or reject it does not change its truth. Here is another fact that I have found to be very true. Most of those that I have talked to that most strongly challenges the validity of the bible…has never read it!

So to those who want to challenge the validity of the Bible, I issue a challenge of my own. Before you come to me and want to question whether or not the Bible is true…read it. Not just a couple chapters or a few pages. Read the New Testament, read the Old Testament. Read it from front to back or just pick a book and go. There are a million references out there on “how to read the Bible in a year”. [I have to say that I get a giggle from the people that will read a 600 page “Harry Potter” book in a week, but need a year to read the Bible.]

In addition, to those who have read and/or studied the Holy Bible and still question; or for heaven’s sake preach that parts of the Bible are “only stories”. I must remind you that the written word of God, our Bible is there for 2 primary reasons. One: to provide a resource for you to grow in your knowledge, understanding and ultimately your relationship with your Heavenly Father. Secondly: to serve as a reference for you to share and teach others. If you are one who believes they have been saved by Jesus Christ and have been accepted into the Body of Christ and your eternal salvation is secured, but you question any part of the Bible. I strongly encourage you to re-evaluate your relationship and therefore your understanding of, and with your Heavenly Father.

May the GOD of the universe and the Lord of Lords, our Heavenly Father bless you and bring you to a place of relationship and better understanding of who He is and a better understanding of His written WORD!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Prayer is personal communication with God.

Prayer includes; request for ourselves or others (intercession or petitions), confession of sin, adoration, praise and thanksgiving, and also God communicating to us indications of his response.

Why does God want us to pray? Prayer is an expression of faith, an acknowledgement of His existence, an expression of trust. God wants us to love him, trust him, and have fellowship with him. Our fellowship is in our prayer, our investment in the relationship is through our prayer.

Why do we ask?
You do not have, because you do not ask (James 4:2)
Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)

References in Matthew
How to pray; Mat 6:5-15
Reassurance; Mat 7:7-11, 21:22 (ask and it will be given)
Story of faith; Mat 8:5-13 (centurion’s servant)
Parable of Sower; Mat 13:1-9, 18-23
Prayer changes God; Mat 15:21-28 (faith of Canaanite woman)
Jesus Prays; Mat 26:36-46

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16)
Pray for all people. (1 Timothy 2)
The prayer of faith. (James 5:13-18)

Friday, January 28, 2011


I find it very ironic; just a few moments ago, while I was taking a break from researching to write this article, I was chuckling to myself as I was eating cake and ice cream that was left over from my wife’s birthday yesterday. Cake and ice cream while I write about fasting; keep that in mind about my own shortcomings as we continue forward. Know that I am not perfect and know also that these articles have done for me and my search for greater understanding and greater relationship with my Heavenly Father than they will probably do for you!

So let’s begin by defining what fasting was in biblical times; that is, let’s put them into the context in which they were written. First of all, I must say that I could not find anything written in the Bible that specifically defines what fasting is; nor could I find any specific verses outlining how fasting was to be performed. So I will give you the references that I have found outlining how it was used then. I’m sure there are some great biblical scholars who will undoubtedly refute some of the details of what I have to say; and to them I say I welcome your knowledge, your insight and your wisdom.

Why there was fasting.
In biblical times, that is to say the times of the writings of the Old Testament, leading up to and through the writings of the New Testament, fasting was used for several reasons. For instance, fasting was used as a social custom as a standard part of mourning the death of a loved one. Depriving yourself of food was a way of showing your grief and sense of loss. When the Philistines defeated the army of Saul on Mt. Gilboa; Saul’s family had all fallen and he took his own life. All the bodies were collected, “And they buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh and fasted for seven days.” (1 Chronicles 10:12)
Fasting was used as a way of offering confession and supplication. Samuel called all of Israel to repent for their idolatry and; “So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the LORD and fasted on that day and said there, ‘We have sinned against the Lord.’” (1 Samuel 7:6) This passage also alludes to the pouring out of water being in addition to fasting food, water being the additional sacrifice. In the 9th chapter of Nehemiah vs. 1-5; Israel spent the day fasting, confessing, worshiping, praying and reading from the “Book of the Law of the Lord”.
Fasting was used as a way to offer up humility, prayer or emphasize the need for intervention. In 2 Samuel 12:16, David fasted in hopes of saving his son from death. In Ezra 8:21-23, Ezra declared a fast, “that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey…” on their way back to Jerusalem. In Ezra chapter 9, she fasted and prayed for guidance in dealing with interracial marriages. Nehemiah 1:4 was a prayer for the distress and destruction that was going on in Jerusalem. Esther chapter 4 describes fasting and prayer for protection from Haman in Persia who vowed to kill all the Jews.

How did they fast?
“Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord, their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the Lord their God…” (Nehemiah 9:1-3). King Darius, when faced with knowing he would have to cast Daniel into the lion’s den, “Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.” (Daniel 6:18) Daniel prayed for his people, “Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession…” (Daniel 9:3-4)

Fasting was a way to show mourning, reverence and humility or repentance. Also, fasting was used to seek Gods help, guidance, or forgiveness. Fasting was performed by abstaining from food for a meal up to several days. Typical ritual fasting was done for 1 day at a time on pre designated days. Refraining from water would be an added deprivation. In most instances of fasting was included wearing of sackcloth which would be comparable to burlap; an attempt to deprive the body of further comfort. The covering the head with dirt or ash also contributed to decreased comfort.

New Testament
The 4 Gospels refer to fasting on several occasions. In Matthew 4th chapter, Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert. In the book of Acts, at the church at Antioch, it was during fasting and prayer that the Holy Spirit called Barnabas and Saul into service. Acts 14:23, fasting and prayer was conducted over the elders selected for the church.

There are multiple warnings against fasting improperly.
The Bible cautions multiple times about true and false fasting; against fasting for ritual or appearance verses fasting in righteousness: Zachariah 7:1-14, Isaiah 58, Hosea 6:6 and Jesus warns us in Matthew 6:16-18.

Fasting is not mentioned much in any of the letters of the New Testament; however, there are many references to self-discipline and self-control. Galatians 5:23 mentions self-control as one of the fruits of the Spirit. In 1 Timothy 3:2 lists self-control as a quality of overseers. In 2 Timothy 1:7 Paul writes, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” In 2 Timothy 3, Paul lists lack of self-control as one of the signs of Godlessness in the last days. In Titus, self-control is listed multiple times in the 1st and second chapter as positive qualities.

I hope that I haven’t muddied the waters with attempting to give a little history of where and how fasting was used in the Bible. The real question is, do we fast today and how do we go about doing it.

Fasting in today’s world
It is mentioned throughout the Bible of our struggle between our spirit and our flesh; our spirit that desires the things of heaven, of service, of eternity and of GOD; and our flesh that desires things of this earth, selfish, self-serving and sinful. In Romans chapter 8 and Galatians chapter 5; Paul clearly outlines the differences in the results of either focusing our attention on our spirit or on our flesh. So how does that apply to fasting today.

When I pray and study about fasting, this is what the spirit says to me. Fasting has 2 necessary and equal elements. (1) The physical: depriving the body of a desire; and (2) the spiritual: spending that time in prayer. Let me explain:

The Physical – Denying the flesh:
The first element of fasting is about self-discipline and self-control. It is us taking control of our will and telling our flesh NO! In a world today where addiction, laziness, self-service, fast service, obesity, health problems and so on; we have become a people lacking in self-control (myself included). I suggest that any restriction we put on ourselves for any length of time is a needed exercise in self-control. Limiting any self-gratification is always a good exercise, but if you are looking for real spiritual breakthrough, I recommend a total restriction from the world. That is to say no food, no comforts, no electronics and no distractions; shut it all down! Start with just a few hours and 1 meal, build up to and shoot for 24 hrs. (If you have health problems, please take that into consideration.)

The Spiritual – prayer:
During your time of fasting, it is most important to spend that time in prayer. If you’re not sure how to pray, use the example Jesus gave us in Matthew 6. Acknowledge God for who He is, give Him praise and worship, ask for forgiveness for the things that you have done, let him know your needs and ask Him for His help, and thank Him for all that He has done for you. In your time of fasting, spend time in His Word. Read the Bible for crying out loud! It is the Living Word of God and the Spirit will speak to you through it!

These are the 2 elements necessary for a fast. Separately; they are good for you and will give you positive direction for your life. Exercised together and I promise you a real spiritual awakening.

How long should you fast?
Fasting is exercised in many ways today. Around the time of Lent, people will fast by giving up a small portion of their flesh for that season. I guess, let me be succinct; If you have identified (or the spirit has brought to your attention) an area of your life you need to get under control; STOP IT. Declaring you’re going to stop deserts for a week and then return to the same habit is hardly a productive exercise. If the spirit lays it on your heart to stop something you’re doing; STOP IT! The common response I hear is “I can’t”. Listen; I love you, your Father in Heaven loves you; but you can stop, you just don’t want to.

Go to your Father in prayer, spend some time fasting, be willing to listen to and follow what the Spirit has to say to you. You will find that you are capable of so much more than you have or will ever realize.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with GOD. For all things are possible with GOD.” (Mark 10:27)

For those who have never spent time in fasting and prayer, they will tell you that it is not a necessary part of your spiritual walk. For those who have, they will tell you that they wouldn’t be where they are without it. For me, I will tell you that you can never spend too much time with your Father; and sometimes it is necessary to shut off the world, shut off your flesh, and just spend a little time with Him.

God Bless; keep smilin’; and remember,
Your Father is calling!

Monday, January 24, 2011


It has been the topic of recent discussions in the small circle of people that I come into contact with. It never fails that when you are discussing religion or theology and the subject of “salvation” comes up, there always seems to be a difference of opinions. I am not God, and the Bible clearly states the only Jesus will be the one to sit in judgment of us when our Earthly life has expired. But if I may, let me tell you a couple of stories that might help with or change your perspective.

There was a man in who grew up loving a professional football team. His father and all his uncle’s loved and followed the team. At a very young age, he quickly adopted the family tradition of loving their hometown team. He knew all there was to know about his favorite football team. He could recite to you every player and their number that had ever played on the team. He was an encyclopedia of knowledge about the team’s history and background. He could rattle off statistics on each current player, so much so that he could tell you the names of their families and where they lived. The man wore their jerseys, had jewelry displaying the team logo. Everywhere he went all he did was brag on and praise the team. There was no greater fan or promoter.
It has since neared the end of his life and at the age of 75 years old, he requested a meeting with the current owner of the team. In that meeting he recited all his knowledge of the team and its history. He told of how loyal he has been and how tirelessly he had been promoting the team. He told of all the paraphernalia that he owned and never left his house without wearing something that represented the team.
Finally, after listening to several minutes of this man’s testimony, the owner stopped him and told him that he was flattered and appreciated the loyal support, but wanted to know what he could do for the man. The man paused only for a brief moment and said, “Sir, I have worked my whole life promoting and supporting this team. Now at the end of my life, I would like to be paid.” The owner paused and with a puzzled look on his face responded, “Sir, I appreciate your support, but you don’t work for me and I don’t know you.”

There was another man who met a woman and a short time after meeting, they decided to get married. It took no time to set up the wedding and the ceremony was very nice. They exchanged rings, he recited some vows out of a book and it was done.
Right after the wedding, the man continued to live as if he was single. He came and went as he pleased; worked long hours at a job that required a lot of travel; had relationships with many women. He stayed out all the time and would only come home about 4 times a month.
His wife was very patient and accepted the situation as it was; but after 20 years, she had enough and the man found himself standing in front of a judge. The man was stunned and pleaded with the judge, “But sir; I did the ceremony; I wear the ring; I pay my bills; I tell all I know that I’m married; I don’t understand!” The judge simply looked at the man and asked; “Do you have a relationship with your wife?” The man stood in silence….the divorce; final.

Our salvation is free and guaranteed. The price for our sins has been paid in full through the love of our Father and the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. Our eternal salvation has been bought, paid for, and guaranteed.
I would like to offer a word of caution. Do you believe that your eternal soul is resting on the fact that you were a good promoter, or you wear the jewelry? Do you believe that because you performed some ceremony or recited a prayer; the security of your eternal soul is locked in? Your Heavenly Father loves you. He has provided you every opportunity to enter His Kingdom. Search your heart and your soul. Do not find yourself standing in front of our Lord Jesus Christ on the day of judgment and hear him say; “But I don’t know you.”

If this describes you; I beg of you. Find a quiet place and get down on your knees and earnestly and honestly begin a relationship with your Heavenly Father. There is no magic prayer; there are no magic words or ceremonies. Just in your plain words; in your plain language…talk to Him. Get to know your Father, for He longs to know you!

Your Father is calling!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


A simple question, what does God want? What does he want from us, what are His desires for me? The more time that I have spent on this “simple question”, the more complicated it seemed. What does the Creator of the Universe want with me? Theologians, philosophers, great men of knowledge could probably spend days and even weeks speaking on the subject. Countless books have been written, page after page, chapter after chapter; but I believe I can sum it up in just a few short paragraphs. (Aren’t I the confident one?!)

Every time I come to a question of the character of God, I quickly become overwhelmed. How do I attempt to understand God, to understand the character of God? It has been helpful to me to imagine God in a context that I can understand. The words of Jesus have been most useful when he attempted to teach us a format or content of prayer. In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus tried to give us an understanding of prayer, one of the most impactful parts of that lesson for me, came in verse 9 when he referred to God as “Our Father”.

Having children myself, I can just begin to get an understanding of God our Father. God our Father, the perfect Father, the PERFECT Father, the one who created us, the one who looks after us, the one who waits for us….Father.

I have read many books from a variety of authors. All have provided great insight on the character of God. I have also found that there are countless books on how to find the plan that God has for us, to live up to our Christian potential, to be better followers of Christ. I don’t want to discredit, minimalize or make light of any of these books or their authors. I have found every one of them to be very helpful and enlightening and have been of benefit to me in my own Christian walk and I recommend reading them. I just think that sometimes, we can get so enthusiastic about getting people on the right path; we forget to acknowledge the foundation of the road or reason for the journey.

Those who don’t know Christ, see the road (following Christ) as a chore, a list of do’s and don’ts. Non-believers see Christianity as one major guilt trip or God as a supernatural control freak that brings nothing but shame and limitations. New Christians get so caught up in their desire to travel “the path”, it becomes an endless stream of service and performance; an attempt to get closer to God through work, through acts, by earning and achieving; caught up in an unfulfilled search for God’s plan; not God’s heart.

So what does God want then? The answer is simply a relationship.

God wants a relationship with you. Sure He wants you to succeed, He has a plan for your life, He has wants and desires for you, He wants you to have success. But whether you follow His plan, have success, prosper or fail, your perfect Father wants a relationship with you. As a father myself, I have desires for my children. But know that my greatest desire, no matter whether they succeed or fail, achieve or make mistakes; my desire is to have a relationship with my children and through that relationship, I will love them regardless of what they do or what they become.

How much more would the perfect Father in Heaven desire a relationship with you? Search out God’s plan for your life; but do it always in the context of desiring a deeper relationship with your Father. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalms 37:4) Your Father will be overjoyed in your service, in your achievements, in your desire to follow Him; but first He seeks your heart, he seeks a relationship.

Serve Him, work for Him; but never forget to spend time with Him. Don’t let a day go by without time in prayer and in His Word. For only through spending time with Him does your relationship grow; don’t, and your relationship WILL perish. God’s laws are absolute. Don’t spend time with your wife, your marriage will die. Don’t spend time with your Father and that relationship too will die.

I pray that your true heart’s desire is to have a deeper relationship with God your Father and that as your relationship grows; so does your understanding of your purpose. May the grace, peace and love of Jesus Christ bring you to a closer relationship with God, your perfect Father.

Go now…your Father is calling!

Monday, January 3, 2011


Well, I have found it to be difficult that when you spend any length of time discussing religion or theology, the subject of purgatory will eventually come up. In recent conversations with a friend of mine it has come up again. Being the opinionated man than I am, and to those that know me, I always have something to say (about everything); I felt obligated to attempt to give an answer to this question.

I was raised Catholic and even spent a summer at a Seminary School as I searched out the possibility of becoming a Catholic Priest. So to just give you an understanding of my upbringing and foundation; I was brought up in the Catholic faith and did complete all my sacraments. My full Catholic name is Michael Joseph Paul; talk about having names to live up to!

So anyway; the Catholic Church strongly believes in the concept of purgatory. There are several versus and references used to support this ideology. One is in the second book of Maccabees. (Before I go on, I must clarify that Christians outside the Catholic Church consider the book of Maccabees to be part of the Apocrypha, which is considered to be useful Hebrew text but not part of the accepted canonized texts of the Bible; however the books of Maccabees is included in the texts of the Catholic Bible.) In the 12th chapter of 2 Maccabees, Judas Maccabees had just led his army in victory against an opposing army led by Gorgias, governor of Idumea. After honoring the Sabbath, Judas went to collect and bury the dead per their custom. Upon recovering the dead he found each of them to be wearing an amulet sacred to a false idol Jamnia which was forbidden under Jewish law. They determined that because of their sin, that is why they had been slain during the battle. Judas then “took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice.” (2 Maccabees 12:43) “Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin.” (2 Maccabees 12:46) This reference is made to point to the possibility of a place between heaven and hell where sins could be atoned.
Ludwig Ott (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma) writes that purgatory is the place where the souls of believers go to be further purified from sin until they are ready to be admitted into heaven.
Scripture used is in Revelations 21:27, speaking of heaven; “But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” This passage is used to state that we are born of sin, live in a world of sin and therefore we are unclean and suggests that we must first be cleansed before we can enter into the Holiness of God’s presence, suggesting a need for a place like purgatory.
Other scriptures for your reference are; Mathew 12:31-36, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Revelations 20:12-13, 1 Peter 1:15-17 all point to a day of judgment. These are used to imply that with judgment, there will be a punishment which is used to imply a need for purgatory.

Those who do not believe in purgatory point to some of the following scriptures: Paul writes in the 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 referring to our Heavenly dwelling; “we would rather be away from the body and at home with the lord.” (2Cor 5:8) Paul writes to the church at Philippi (Philippians 1:18-30) while he was in prison. He was torn in his desire to serve in this life and his desire to be with Jesus in heaven. My favorite is in Luke 23:42; Jesus is hanging on the cross between two thieves, only one of which who recognized him as the Son of God. He simply asked Jesus to remember him and Jesus replied, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believed in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

My parents are Catholic and I have close relationships with a lot of people who believe whole heartedly in the idea of purgatory. Some have even adapted to believe that purgatory does exist but it happens in an instance at the moment of death as we enter into the presence of God.

This is what I believe; God is a just God, and where there is justice, there is choice and consequence. I believe there will be a day of judgment and we will stand accountable for every act, every thought and every word. I also believe in Jesus Christ. I believe he was sent by my Father to bear the punishment for my sins and in Him I have been made righteous. I am not righteous nor am I free or clean of sin. But in Jesus Christ, I have been cleansed and made worthy to enter into the kingdom and the presence of my Father. “For as by the one man’s disobedience (Adam) the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience (Jesus) the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)

In finishing, this is what I want you to take away from this. I am not her to praise or condemn one opinion or the other. Maybe I have given you some references to further your own research. If anyone that would tell you of your own salvation based on your belief on this subject should further search their own heart. If this subject is stumbling block for you; earnestly pray, prayerfully read, and ask the Holy Spirit to grant you discernment and peace. As our search is not for wisdom and answers; our ultimate goal is to seek a better understanding and a closer relationship with our Father.

May the Grace and Peace beyond understanding be with you as you further pursue a better understanding of God’s plan for you in this life and may all of God’s blessing be with us as we seek and desire a greater relationship with HIM!