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He Serves Humbly

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” He replied.  “Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what to do.”  Acts 9:5-6

I did not grow up in a strong, male-led home.  My father was a sweet man who worked a lot.  When he got home from work we ate dinner, he showered, and then fixed himself dessert and watched TV.  On the weekends we didn’t do family activities and outings.  He was just, well, there.  Not bad and not great.  He is an atheist who believes he can work through any problem in life in his own head.

So, when I met my father-in-law, I expected the same.  But I couldn’t have been more wrong.  One of my first encounters with John Shetter lives on in infamy.  And yet shows his commitment to humbly serving others.  You see, I was out visiting my then boyfriend and his parents and we took a short drive from their hometown into nearby Boulder, Colorado.  After a nice morning we had lunch, walked around a bit then headed back for the 20 minute drive home.  Suddenly, my lunch decided it wasn’t agreeing with me.  I whispered to my boyfriend that trouble was brewing.  He then turned to John, who was driving, and said I needed a bathroom – pronto.

The car seemed to have entered hyper speed and we may have turned into the driveway on two wheels.  The first out of the car was John.  He ran to the front door with keys ready and flew the door open for me.  I’m not sure if I have ever been more grateful in my life!

A funny tale for sure but John’s desire to make sure my needs were met as quickly as possible is his calling card throughout his life.

Dad is dedicated to Jesus’ teachings – he approaches all people with consideration, thoughtfulness and patience.  He has given himself in service to so many entities:  church, senior center, hospital, YMCA, underprivileged children.  To serve others, therefore serving God is in his DNA. 

Dan Shetter, youngest son

I didn’t grow up around any devoted Christian men in my life.  In fact, most of the men I’d been around, either through work or school, were not the “humble servant” types.  To see a strong, head of household with a job in the corporate world balance those roles with the character of Jesus is truly a great lesson for us all.

And he wasn’t alone.  I found, as I married John’s son and met so many of their family friends, that he was surrounded by men of humble servanthood.  Men who attended church regularly, went to Bible study, volunteered throughout the community, loved on their families, and talked comfortably about praying for others.  They are bankers and realtors, teachers and business owners.

John’s service to the community is something he prefers to “keep behind the scenes.”  His commitment to our church is exceptional as he has served in leadership, providing children’s messages, and many other tasks too numerous to mention!

Longtime friend, Chuck Allen

My younger daughter recently told me that one of her company’s core values was that everyone be willing to make the office coffee.  I love that.  It makes it clear that no task is too small for anyone throughout the organization.  During a particularly busy season they asked the corporate staff to give one hour a week to the production floor because they were behind on orders.  No job is too big or too small for even the CEO.

That’s how John sees his life.  A few years ago, he helped set up a warming shelter at his church.  On particularly cold nights they open their doors for the homeless to spend the night.  But he didn’t just help set it up.  I have been at their home when he headed off to his shift in the dead of night.  No bells or whistles.  In fact, I wasn’t sure where he was going at first.  Just off to serve the Lord’s flock.

“You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.”  James 2:22

He has even turned his favorite pastime into an act of service.  He loves historical stories, especially related to the old West.  He trained to become an official storyteller, a “Spellbinder,” just so he could go into schools and share his tales.  This imposing 6’ man sits in a tiny school chair and regularly spins yarns about Indian folklore and pioneer heroes.  All because he loves to see smiling little faces.

John doesn’t wait for someone else to fix a problem.  He turns to the Lord for direction and takes a step forward.  He may not always get it right but he knows he is always working from the right heart.  

There’s a lot of “Johns” out there in the world.  Men carrying the weight of their family.  Men on their knees praying for God’s guidance.  Men serving their communities and answering the call to, “feed my sheep.”  So many serve quietly and humbly and we might overlook them.  The noise today is that men are evil, men are self-serving, men need to be less like, well, “men.”  But it is on men, like Saul in our first verse, to whom Jesus placed the weight of the world to spread the Good News.

A humble servant.  A man of strength.  Those aren’t mutually exclusive.  They are an opportunity to achieve God’s holy balance.  


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Jesus Mindset

“But we have the mind of Christ” 1 Corinthians 2:16

We so often hear the phrase, “To be like Jesus” but what does it really mean in our everyday lives?  My BSGs were in a deep conversation on Revelation about whether or not we believe in the rapture.  And, more importantly how does either position effect our lives.  History and our current world are full of scholars who know a lot more about the details of the Bible than probably you or I will ever grasp.  But there’s a difference, which is a deep and wide crevasse, between knowing and living out the qualities of Jesus.

“We, therefore, desire to copy his character and put our feet into his footprints. Be it ours to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes. What says our Lord himself? “Follow me,” and again, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls.” Not Christ’s apostle, but Christ himself, is our guide; we may not take a secondary model, but must imitate Jesus himself.” 

Charles Spurgeon

Imitation is not knowing of something but molding ourselves into an almost exact copy.  I say “almost” because of course, Jesus is God and we are not.  We walk the Jesus drawn path toward His perfection but we are always in a human mode my friend Betsy calls, “imperfect progress.” 

Our modern view of Jesus seems to be stuck in one quality, however.  And truth be told, if we could regularly live out that one quality it’d be a great step forward on our path.  That quality?  A loving friend.  

We hear the word “love” over and over in our churches, in our faith songs, on our Christian social media.  But what about Jesus’ other characteristics?  How many of us are willing to take on being Jesus the Warrior, Jesus the Servant, or Jesus the Counselor?  If we have hesitated is it because we know that once we decide to move along in our sanctification journey, we will encounter more and more resistance from the outside world?

Are we prepared, like the disciple Stephen, to be a martyr for God?  Are we prepared to state unequivocally that we must obey God rather than human beings? (Acts 5:29)

And so, we return to the original question, what does believing in the words of the Bible and Jesus mean to our lives?  It means we are to be in constant preparation for His coming.  It means we love our neighbors, we share the gospel whenever possible, we humble ourselves, we seek reconciliation and not revenge, we encourage and lift up our fellow travelers, we carry the message of Jesus throughout every generation, and we stand up for the truth of His Holy Word.  It means we make a perspective shift on every single aspect of our lives because we believe that one day soon our “age of grace” will turn to the “age of judgment.”  

Jesus expects us to be working on that preparation. It’s why He came – not to just leave us knowing God loves us – but living like God knows and loves us.  He came to be our example for gathering up residents of the future Kingdom come. 

Join me in this journey of looking at the different qualities of Jesus as we delve into His mindset so that we can become His imitators.  We will be challenged to accept all of His qualities, not just the ones with which we feel most comfortable.  Along the way we will meet some people whose lives are examples of those characteristics. 

Jesus was a great disrupter – possibly the greatest of all time.  Let’s let Him disrupt and reshape us.


As we begin this series take a moment to pray this confession found in Rick Renner’s, Sparkling Gems from the Greek:

“I boldly declare that I am a new creature in Christ.  Old things have passed away and all things have become new!  I am not who I used to be anymore.  I don’t think like that old person; I don’t see like that old person; I don’t talk like that old person; and I don’t behave like that old person anymore.  Now I am in Jesus Christ, and I think like Him, see like Him, talk like Him, and behave like Him.  I have come alive with vibrant life because of His resurrection power that works in me! I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!”

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His Will Be Done

Lesson #11: God is sovereign over all, even unbelievers

“The day of the LORD is near 
for all nations.” 
Obadiah 1:15

There’s a song one of my previous churches used to sing a lot that goes, “Our God is an awesome God.”  That refrain is sung over and over throughout the song.  I’ve always thought that wording was a bit odd.  If we have “our God” then which “god” does anyone else have?  Once, after a service, I went up to the pastor and asked him that question.  I said, “Shouldn’t that song just say, ‘God is awesome?’”  He replied that he’d never thought about it before.  So again, there I was asking the weird questions.  As someone who not only likes to talk but also write,  I sincerely believe that words matter – even words we sing.

In our verse today from the prophet Obadiah he makes it clear throughout the prophecy that there is no “our God” or “your god” but only one God – the God of the Universe, God the Creator of All.  

“The God who made the world and 
everything in it is the Lord of 
heaven and earth and does not live 
in temples built by human hands. 
And he is not served by human hands, 
as if he needed anything. Rather, he 
himself gives everyone life and 
breath and everything else. From 
one man he made all the nations, that 
they should inhabit the whole earth; 
and he marked out their appointed times 
in history and the boundaries of 
their lands.” 
Acts 17:23-26

As Christians it can be dangerous to fall into the trap of “our God.”  It leads us to forget that God’s judgement comes to all, eventually.  So, we get outraged over the seeming lack of justice in our human concept of time.  We forget that God doesn’t just have expectations of us, as His faithful believers, but also of those who have chosen not to believe.  Non-believers don’t get a “free pass,” in the realm of eternity. 

Were there even one datum of knowledge, however small, un-known to God, His rule would break down at that point. To be Lord over all the creation, He must possess all knowledge. And were God lacking one infinitesimal modicum of power, that lack would end His reign and undo His kingdom; that one stray atom of power would belong to someone else and God would be a limited ruler and hence not sovereign.

A.W. Tozer

Even when I was, as a what can only be called a “Christian-lite,” I had to laugh when people put limits on God’s authority and ability.  If you listen to an atheist, you’ll hear all the limits they wish to place on a being that is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. Their expectation is if they can’t figure it out then it just isn’t true.

“It is only the loyal soul who believes that God engineers circumstances. We take such liberties with our circumstances, we do not believe God engineers them, although we say we do; we treat the things that happen as if they were engineered by men.

Oswald Chambers

The atheist can be forgiven because, for whatever reason, God has yet to open their eyes to Him.  But for the Christian to place limits on God is to deny His sovereignty.  As stated in the above quote by Oswald Chambers, we Christians sometimes opt for the “coincidence” excuse when God answers our prayers.  Or we take complete credit for the win or the loss.  Or worse yet, we just assume God won’t or can’t answer our prayers.

So much of our issue with God’s sovereignty comes back to our limited sense of time.  We live in a blink of God’s eye.  And yet we have the gift of looking back over the history of God’s work in our human existence and see His hand throughout.  I heard a good analogy of how God’s timing works along with the issue of free will:

“Perhaps a homely illustration might help us to understand. An ocean liner leaves New York bound for Liverpool. Its destination has been determined by proper authorities (God). Nothing can change it. This is at least a faint picture of sovereignty.

On board the liner are several scores of passengers (Mankind). These are not in chains, neither are their activities determined for them by decree. They are completely free to move about as they will. They eat, sleep, play, lounge about on the deck, read, talk, altogether as they please; but all the while the great liner is carrying them steadily onward toward a predetermined port.

Both freedom and sovereignty are present here and they do not contradict each other. So it is, I believe, with man’s freedom and the sovereignty of God. The mighty liner of God’s sovereign design keeps its steady course over the sea of history. God moves undisturbed and unhindered toward the fulfilment of those eternal purposes which He purposed in Christ Jesus before the world began. We do not know all that is included in those purposes, but enough has been disclosed to furnish us with a broad outline of things to come and to give us good hope and firm assurance of future well-being.” A.W. Tozer

One of greatest prophesies in the Old Testament is Isaiah 53 and one in which all Christians should be well versed.  He writes of the coming of God’s Son, Jesus.  Isaiah was called into ministry in 739 B.C.  And when you read his prophesy of Jesus you can’t help but be amazed of the details which came true.  That’s because God has a plan.  He has a plan for every single one of us – believer and non-believer.  He uses bad circumstances to bring us closer to Him, if we choose.  He never makes a mistake. He never has a “Plan B.”  

Our human story that started with Adam and Eve was not a mistake.  It is all going according to plan.  It may not seem, in our small timeframe, to be going all that well right now.  But that is the beauty of faith.  Today, during a meeting of my BSGs, we shared how during this pandemic there has been some amazing blessings.  Yes, a lot of not so great things have happened.  But each of us could share how God has used this terrible time as a means for sanctification in our lives.  

His sovereignty means we can hold on to all of the promises He has made.  God is not a covenant breaker.  If anything, it’s us that likes to break covenants.  Our ocean liner is on a steady path to the glorious port He has waiting for us.  It’s up to us to decide to have faith in our captain that He will get us through any squalls.  Some of us will jump ship thinking we know better.  Some might even try to take over the ship and turn it around.  But God’s will never fails.  So, let’s enjoy the ride and know He will bring us home. 

“Good is not always God’s will, but God’s will is always good.” 

Watchman Nee
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Be A Heart Changer & Soul Saver

Life Lesson #9: Christians are in the job of changing hearts and saving souls.

Perhaps this is the reason he was 
separated from you for a while, 
so that you might have him back 
forever, no longer as a slave but 
more than a slave, a beloved 
brother—especially to me but how 
much more to you, both in the 
flesh and in the Lord. 
Philemon 1:15-16

When I was in college, I was approached by two missionaries on campus.  I believed in God, to an extent, but didn’t know anything about Him or Jesus.   I asked the typical questions – “Why does God allow bad things to happen to people” and “Why did He give us free will instead of just making us all good people?” I’m sorry to say they couldn’t give me even a best guess.  I wonder if you were tasked with talking to a friend about Jesus would you be ready with passable answers to these questions?

I heard a talk by Joyce Meyer the other day where she took up the question of why evil things continuously happen in the world.  She’s seen some pretty bad situations in all of her world-wide missionary work.  She prayed this question one day.  The answer she got back was, “I’m waiting on my people to obey me and take care of each other.”

The righteous know the rights of 
the poor; the wicked have no such 
understanding. 
Proverb 29:7

I’m currently doing a study that takes me through the entire Bible.  It’s fascinating to see in Leviticus how sin offerings are adjusted for the poor.  Even thousands of years ago God was making sure the downtrodden were taken care of.  But notice you won’t find in the Bible that the Israelites or Christians are told to take up arms to eliminate poverty.  Verse after verse we are tasked to do one thing with the poor – to help them.

In Joppa there was a disciple named 
Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); 
she was always doing good and 
helping the poor. 
Acts 9:36

As social justice issues go, the poor are always on the lips of “social justice warriors.”  Their desire appears to be to eliminate poverty and all social injustice via legislation, protests or even through violence.  But as Christians we are shown a different approach.  Take the issue of slavery, as discussed in the letter from Paul to Philemon.  The subject is the slave Onesimus.  Notice in the introductory verse that Paul does not chastise or demand of Philemon the release of his slave.  Paul, instead, appeals to faith principles.  He reminds Philemon that as a faithful follower of Jesus our hearts and therefore, our minds are changed.

“To me, a follower of Jesus means a friend of man.  A Christian is a philanthropist by profession, and generous by force of grace; wide as the reign of sorrow is the stretch of his love, and where he cannot help he pities still.”  

Charles Spurgeon

By teaching slave owners about the power and love and salvation found in following Jesus, the disciples were slowly changing the hearts and then minds of people who, not only owned slaves, but behaved in any number of sinful ways.  The new Christian is tasked with living in a new loving and giving nature.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, 
the new creation has come: The old 
has gone, the new is here! 
2 Corinthians 5:17

Had the disciples come into new cities preaching about abolishing slavery (let’s remember too that slavery in that time was mostly more like indentured servitude) they certainly would’ve been met with resistance.  Slaves were costly commodities – just as they were in the early years of the United States.  To preach that people had to give up much of their wealth in order to follow Jesus would not have been as successful as first telling of the Good News.

Last year, I watched as protests and violence broke out in cities across the United States by self-professed social justice warriors.  To be honest, at times I wasn’t even sure what some of it was about.  In Portland, Oregon, the young people rioting just seemed to hate everyone.  It was a perfect time for the church to rise up and do what we should do best – show love and help change hearts.  I hoped and prayed that in communities hit by violence that God’s people would come together and form prayer chains around the cities – enveloping it in God’s love.  Instead, I watched as pastors led more protests and took to microphones and megaphones yelling about injustice, pointing fingers at different races.

“It is easier to make laws than to make Christians, but the business of the church is to produce Christians and everything else is a by-product of that new creation.”

Vance Havner

The people of Jesus’ time expected a Messiah to come and bring justice.  They wanted punishment of those who had wronged them.  They wanted to see governments and whole groups of people destroyed.  But Jesus was not that kind of social justice warrior.  From town-to-town He cared about one thing – changing people’s hearts.  He did out-of-the-box things like sit with sinners, touch the leper, heal on the Sabbath, talk with the outcasts.  He brought the bread of life and the refreshing water of the Holy Spirit.  

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks 
this water will be thirsty again, but 
whoever drinks the water I give them 
will never thirst. Indeed, the water 
I give them will become in them a 
spring of water welling up to eternal 
life.” 
John 4:13-14

How amazing would it have been if, when our churches closed down in March 2020, they instead remained open.  Not just open but open 24 hours a day with a sign out on the street that said, “Need someone to talk to? We’re always open and ready to listen.”  I know this idea is radical.  And you’re probably thinking of all the reasons why your church can’t do this. But the work of Jesus and His apostles was radical.  So is the work of every Christian you probably admire.

“Behave at them.”

Ken Blanchard

As Christians we are not tasked to be worldly “social justice warriors.”  We are commissioned to be God’s soldiers.  When we are tempted to join a protest march and carry a sign we should first think how we can directly help those for whom we are marching. God’s plan for the world will only be accomplished through our active showing of love, grace, charity, and forgiveness of others — while espousing His truth. The spreading of the message of Jesus brings the changes we so long for – maybe just not as fast as we like.   He designed us this way.  

I do get outraged by many things going on in the world.  And then I remember to pray to God for peace in my heart so that I can listen for my marching orders.  When I feel overwhelmed by the problems we face, I remember that God works out-of-the-box in radical ways.  It’s up to me and it’s up to you to be in the heart changing business when God puts opportunities right in front of us.  We will always find ourselves on the right side of “He who is most important” when we obey God.

The Apostle Paul worked on one rich, slave owner at a time.  And over time, our Christian faith has led to a world-wide abolishment of sanctioned slavery.  What small step can you do today to help change one heart?

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Seek Koinonia

Life Lesson #8: Seek deep and long lasting communion with other Christian believers

I pray that your partnership (koinonia) with 
us in the faith may be effective 
in deepening your understanding of 
every good thing we share for the 
sake of Christ.
Philemon 1:6

When I began my Christian journey, I didn’t have any Christian friends.  My parents were not Christians either.  My husband had grown up in the faith but wasn’t really connected at the time.  My only real guides were my in-laws, who I saw infrequently because they lived in another state.  I relied heavily on the once a week lessons taught by the pastor.  If it didn’t make sense to me, I just figured I was not smart enough or even faithful enough to understand.  I wasn’t encouraged to attend a church Bible study until much later in my journey while at another church.

Every day they continued to meet 
together in the temple courts. They 
broke bread in their homes and ate 
together with glad and sincere 
hearts, praising God and enjoying 
the favor of all the people. And 
the Lord added to their number daily 
those who were being saved.  
Acts 2:46-47

My BSGs just finished the Bible study book, Everyday Theology.  In the week study titled “Church” we were asked to read the verse above and then talk about what makes a “good” church.  What we all included was a type of fellowship that goes beyond just being friends.  In various places of the Bible the Greek word “koinonia” is used.  That’s the kind of partnership or communion we saw as being important as a Christian.

koinōnía (a feminine noun) – properly, what is shared in common as the basis of fellowship (partnership, community), the share which one has in anything, participation

Strong’s Concordance

If you search the word, “koinonia,” it’s interesting to see that it’s attributed to Christian fellowship.  Meaning we are again set apart with a special communion and partnership with each other.  We are to take responsibility for spurring each other on in our sanctification journey.  We show each other love and truth.

In his letter to Philemon, Paul starts out reminding Philemon of the importance of koinonia and how he has seen it at work in the Colossian church – the church which met regularly in Philemon’s home.  Why does he remind Philemon?  Because Paul is about to ask him for a favor – one that will reveal the true state of Philemon’s heart.  He asks for the forgiveness and accepting back of a man who stole from him.

And let us consider how we may 
spur one another on toward love 
and good deeds, 
Hebrews 10:24

How many of us have surrounded ourselves with fellow believers who will help us in our pruning journey?  Not just a nice, “hello” at church or even an occasional dinner date with some church friends.  But a true, deep partnership with people we know have the same measuring stick as their guide.  With people we know that won’t give up on us and we won’t give up on them?

As I look back at the beginnings of my faith journey, I see the times I really could’ve used a few Christian friends.  Instead, my circle helped me, even encouraged me, to live a life which God would not be pleased.  And when I was truly in need I was frequently abandoned.

Do not be misled: “Bad company 
corrupts good character.” 
1 Corinthians 15:33

I had a friend in college that I saw almost every day because we had a lot of the same classes.  We studied together and ate together.  One day I came upon her at a grassy area on campus with some other students.  She was smoking a cigarette.  I had never seen her smoke before!  I asked her about it and she said, “Oh ya, when I’m around my friends from Spain I smoke all the time!”  We have to admit that our friends (and family) have some influence over us.  So, in the choosing, as Christians, we are advised by Jesus and the apostles to choose wisely.

That’s not to say we aren’t to have non-believers in our lives.  Those are the folks God has put in front of us to bring to Him!  But we should actively seek out koinonia with other believers.  They are the ones with whom we should feel safe when we need to confess our sins.  They are the ones who can help us to show grace and forgiveness.  They are the ones who will show us compassion.  We know this because they are on the same faith journey as us.

For where two or three gather 
in my name, there I am with them. 
Matthew 18:20

So often we make our friends by chance – through our kids or spouses or through a hobby or activity.  When was the last time you sat down and evaluated your friendship circle?  When was the last time you actively worked to build a different circle?  

Your love has given me great joy 
and encouragement, because you, brother, 
have refreshed the hearts of the 
Lord’s people.  
Philemon 1:7

Fellowship, koinonia, with other believers helps bring us closer to the love, joy, and grace that God wants for us.  I’m thankful that I have built a small group of friends that hold my feet to the fire and will also wash my feet when I am in need – and I am willing to do the same for them.   I started building this circle by first joining a Bible study and then offering to lead one. I found myself then helping create Bible study curriculum and joining other church committees. Each time, I gathered up more Christian friends. Until finally, I asked a couple ladies at my gym, whom I had heard talking about church, if they’d like to do a Bible study with me. And so my BSGs (Bible Study Girls) were formed. Each God-directed step has taken me closer to koinonia, not only with fellow believers but, with the Holy Spirit.

If you don’t have fellow Christian friends, today is the day to pray that God will send you in the right direction.  And when He opens the door, step through it.

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Amazing Directives

Saul’s Conversion

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

 The men traveling with Saul stood there amazed; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.

Acts 9:1-6


These last 11 months my BSGs have completed four different Bible studies. We have to laugh now after every question that asks something along the line of, “What does God expect of us?”  The answer is always to obey.  If only we humans could figure that part out.  Yes, at times Jesus’ teachings seem a bit fuzzy.  In fact, during His last few hours His disciples were very confused.

At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”

John 16:17

And as Jesus continues in John 16: 28 with, “I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father,” the disciples reply with “Ah, now you are speaking plainly!”  So often we may think that Jesus is only the figurative speaker.  And we need to pray on and discern what He may truly want from us.  But by studying the Word and therefore the character of Jesus we find His is more the plain speaker than not.

When Jesus told Saul, “Now get up and go into the city” there were no ifs, ands, or buts.  Do it.  Obey.  Yes, Saul had the choice to do it or not.  Thankfully, he listened and obeyed Jesus’ amazing directive.   Twice I have had God speak to me in very loud, definitive terms. Once in hearing His actual voice convicting me to true action in my spiritual life.  And once in a vision directing me to do His works.  And I obeyed.  And yet there are many, many other times when I have heard His quieter voice directing me and I questioned or even ignored Him.

How many times has He clearly told you to stop and speak to someone and you refused?  How many times has you told you exactly what you need to do to lose weight, stop smoking, stop hating, stop doing something destructive and start living out His Word?  In one of my Bible studies this week a friend told me of a vision she once had.  Her relationship with Jesus has been tumultuous because of family issues.  She leans a lot on Eastern religions.  In this vision she was being loved as a baby and coddled by the Dali Lama.  And then Jesus approached and the Dali Lama handed her over to Jesus.  She screamed “NO!”  What I found so fascinating about this and all the times I, myself, have refused to obey, is how we humans so easily place ourselves above the Divine.  You realize that is exactly what we do when we ignore the amazing directives of Jesus?  We think we know better.  But we can never see the whole story of our lives.  We can never fully understand how interconnected all our actions or inactions are and the impact they may make.

About three months ago my friend Caroline was asked to obey an amazing Jesus directive.  While walking through the patio at church she saw a young woman sitting by herself.  Jesus said, “Go talk to her.”  Now, my friend is not some uber, outgoing person so this made her feel a little uncomfortable.  But because of the Bible study we were doing at the time she said, “ok” and sat down with the young woman.  During the conversation she found out that this young woman, who recently moved from out of town to go to college nearby, was in fact a college classmate of her own daughter.  She passed along her daughter’s phone number.  The tasks being obeyed, the young woman and my friend went about their lives.  Fast forward to yesterday.  This is the text my friend received from that young woman:

“Hi!! I know this seems so random but I’m actually heading back to Hawaii for Thanksgiving until January and I’ve just been doing a lot of reflecting on all the amazing people I met here in the last 3 months and feeling so grateful! I just wanted to say thanks for reaching out to me that one night, I remember feeling kind of uncomfortable but it was so special and such a gift from God that I was able to chat with you and see that we had so many connections already!! Anyways, just wanted to say thank you again and I’m so appreciative of that time that you took to chat with me!”

My friend obeyed Jesus’ directive of a simple act of hospitality and a life was changed.

Trusting God means looking beyond what we can see to what God sees.

Life Principle 9, Charles F. Stanley

Jesus says to, “Follow me.”  It’s an opportunity for us to obey.  And as my faith journey this year has evolved, I realized my growth spurts have come each time I have listened to an amazing directive and obeyed.  Each time my trust grows is each time His trust in me grows.  Yes, His trust in me.  Because until we can be trusted to obey His small directives, like helping the person in the grocery store parking lot, He won’t entrust with something bigger.  And I don’t know about you but I want Jesus to trust me enough that I will do His amazing works till the end of my days.

Today when you hear that whispered directive from Jesus, obey.  You know His voice.  You know His character.  He and satan are clearly differentiated.  So stop questioning Him.  Obey.

bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

Our Amazing Influence

Simon the Sorcerer

Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.”They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, amazed by the great signs and miracles he saw.

Acts 8:9-13


It’s my guess that before many of us heard Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:39,  “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”, we all thought we were some level of great. 

It’s okay, you can admit it. I will too. Before knowing Jesus, our lives were centered around the greatness of self. Achieving selfish desires and seeking after things that would fulfill and establish a name for ourselves. I know before I knew Christ, I was on a slippery slope of idolization of self-value and worth – mainly in what others thought of me. I so desperately wanted to be like Simon. I wanted to be looked upon by those low and high with great respect, reverence and awe. I thought that if I could just attain a certain level of status with those I looked up to most, then certainly, I would be fulfilled. 

As described in the text, Simon had great fame amongst the people of Samaria. Those who knew him even thought he was god-like. He had all eyes on him, all the time. He knew how to command a room and keep their attention with amazing and impressive acts of sorcery and magic. Surely, this was the peak of Simon’s life. He had great influence over those who looked up to him. The people listened to him and were continuously amazed by him. 

Are you looking for glitz to influence or God?

But one day, Simon found the attention of the people was no longer in the palm of his hands. Someone else was stealing the show…

Philip had stolen the attention of his audience with the truth of the gospel. Now all of a sudden, the people were more interested in hearing about Jesus, rather than seeing Simon’s sorcery, and Simon was too. 

Miraculously, Simon was also among the many who were touched by Philip’s faithfulness to share the gospel everywhere he went. Simon became a follower of Philip and chose to no longer be a chief producer of propaganda for himself, but a disciple of Jesus, and one who laid down his “greatness” to serve the one and only Great God.  

Many of us look at Simon’s life before Christ and think, “Man, he had it all.” I mean, being a magician is no noble or holy position, but he had the love and respect of the people — two things every human being deeply long for more than anything else. The fact of the matter is, the influence Simon had on those people was superficial, surface level and would only last for a while until they found their next source of entertainment. His influence didn’t have deep roots in their hearts, it wasn’t truth-centered. 

The same goes with the superficial influence many of us THINK will make a lasting impact on others. We want the status, the attention and the glamour, but in reality all of that, will amount to nothing. 

True, deeply-rooted influence on others takes time. It takes a gospel-centered approach that puts the others’ hearts and souls first. It takes laboring in love, sacrificing time and resources and really listening to what the other person has to say. Simon may have captured the attention of the townspeople, but it didn’t take much for someone like Philip, who brought both truth and love, to steal their attention. 

Now, loving others and sharing the gospel is certainly no popularity contest. But, establishing effective and genuine and amazing influence is key to making strides for the Kingdom. 

So, what kind of influence have you been attempting to have on others? Do you seek glitz and glamour like Simon? Or, have you sought genuine, amazing relationships that are truth-based like Philip? 

Consider those around you who look up to you and think of how you can take one step towards influencing them towards Christ-centeredness today. 

bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

Amazing Grace

At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.

Acts 9:20-22


Apart from the amazing miracles of the Messiah, these verses tell one of the most amazing stories in the Bible. 

Saul of Tarsus was a wretched man. He was the LAST and I mean THE LAST person in Israel who would’ve been saved. The disciples and all Christians feared Saul for he was responsible for murdering and slaughtering anyone who professed belief in Christ. He was infamous amongst the Christians – comparable to terrorists in ISIS today. Saul was the head honcho terrorist to the Christians. 

And then he was saved. 

Whenever I read about the conversion of Saul, I always like to immerse myself in what it truly would’ve looked and felt like to see a man who I so deeply feared, now confessing Jesus as the Messiah. To say I would be amazed would be an understatement. I wouldn’t believe my eyes, in fact, I could see myself rubbing them to make sure I was not dreaming – maybe even pinch myself. To the Christians AND the Jews living in Damascus, they couldn’t believe their eyes either. How could this man go from murderer to disciple in a matter of days? 

The answer? His amazing grace. 

You see, it had to be Saul (Paul). There was no one else so broken, so poisoned by bitterness and revenge who would’ve fallen to their knees any harder than Paul did. God chose the most feared man in Israel as His ambassador to show His people that EVEN Saul, the Christian Killer, could be saved by His amazing grace. Now the housewife, the common man, the prostitute, the tax collector could look upon themselves and consider what the Lord did with Paul and see that EVEN they could be saved by His grace. Again, it had to be Saul. 

Saul the Persecutor

We may not all be murderers or terrorists, but I know many of us look upon ourselves with the same attitude as Paul did. “I was the last person people would’ve thought would be saved.” Maybe you were an outsider in your family, a rebel amongst your friends, or even an enemy of God’s for a time being. The fact is He is still saving Pauls each and every day. He saves people like you and me for the great testimony we have to tell to those who do not believe. He uses the wretched to display his amazing grace. He uses the broken to shine His redeeming light through. That’s pretty amazing. 

Saul the Saved

Because of the sins Paul committed, he carried his salvation with great responsibility. He lived his life after Christ with a great thorn in his side – a thorn I believe (though many have their theories) symbolizes the guilt he feels for all those he was responsible for murdering. Because of this thorn, Paul lived his life like it was not his own. He lived his life for Christ because he knew that it was Christ alone that gave him a second chance at love, joy, peace – eternal life. The fact of the matter is, Jesus did the same for us. Our salvation, while maybe not as dramatic as Paul’s, is the same as Paul’s. We were wretched sinners, in need of a Savior and Jesus gave us that second chance. For that, I pray we all realize that our lives are not our own, but the one who reached down and pulled us out of the sinking sand that was engulfing us. 

Go in that amazing truth today and pray that you find ways to continually lay your life at His feet, just as Paul did.