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Promise Keeper

“Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40

Faithful Father, you have never lied and you never will.  I believe you.  Amen

I had a Christian woman tell me this once: “I know God has forgiven me.  But it’s hard for me to believe it.  It’s too hard for me to forgive myself.”  That’s why I nodded along when I heard a Christian teacher once say that there’s too many of us out there that have accepted our Lord as Savior but we just aren’t living our lives like we believe His promises.  It’s even hard for me sometimes when I look in the mirror to see what God sees.  To believe He loves me, blemishes and all.  It’s hard to believe He will take care of me without my striving and worrying.  But He will.

“You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

He has never, ever lied my friend.  He never, ever will.  What might happen, however, is that He will fulfill a promise in ways you didn’t expect.  Or in ways you may not agree or understand.  In fact, when I was doing a bit of research about God’s promises I found a blog that refuted God fulfilling promises.  In truth, the person sounded very wounded.  He also sounded poorly educated about God’s character and His ways.  His first example was of Genesis 2:17 when God admonishes Adam and Eve not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, “…for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”  The blogger explained that not only had they eaten the fruit but they went on to live for more than 900 years.

What he missed is 1) their immediate death was a loss of the close spiritual relationship with God and their sinlessness and 2) they did, in fact die.  You see, when we look at God’s promises without a knowledge of Him and through our own broken lenses we can miss God at work.  If we, instead, believe that God is the only perfect being to exist and His ways are always right then we ask better questions and submit to Him in trust.  

I recently had a conversation with a godly woman about women as pastors.  Having become more educated about scripture I felt confident in holding my own – as she said the Bible has conflicting lessons about this topic.  My first comment was this: “God’s Word is never in conflict.  If you see conflict you are either misunderstanding context, historical meaning, or having translation issues.  Understanding that parts of God’s will and God’s promises may be difficult to accept also helps us to realize our sinful desires rarely line up with God.

Friend, if you are struggling to accept that God will not back out of a promise to you, turn back to His Word.  He is faithful.  More faithful than anyone will ever be in your life.   And for that we can celebrate with glory to Him!

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Where Our Loyalty Lies

"Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness."  Psalms 115:1

“Heavenly Father, when I enter into worship with you help me not be distracted by worldly pursuits.  I want to praise you with all my heart and mind – not as a divided servant.  In my busy day I carve out time to give you glory of which you are deserving of so much more.  So LORD, especially while I am in your house of worship I lift all glory, honor and praise to you and you alone.  Amen”

About a year ago I tried out a new church.  The people were very friendly and the staff welcoming.  We were asked to rise at the beginning of the service and the doors to the worship center opened.  As a color guard entered the room with the United States flag the small band played a patriotic song.  And I thought, “I love this place already.”  

We sang songs calling us to action and freedom and my heart swelled.  When the pastor began his sermon, he was riled up!  He launched into a religious-political speech like no other I’d heard before.  Now, granted many of the churches in my area were shutdown.  This church was in defiance of that action – something I was looking for.  And this pastor was fervent about pushing back against the oppressive state.

I left electrified and full of thoughts of civil disobedience.  It was all right up my alley.  Until I went to my current church’s life group meeting that next week.

I hadn’t even brought up the topic and yet God wanted to speak to me about “church” and where my loyalty lies. He did so through another member.  She, seemingly out of the blue, started talking about her past church searches.  And she said this, “I want to go to a church where the sole focus is on worship and learning about God.  Not about praising a country.”  Whoops.  Now I know some of you may take issue with this.  But notice she didn’t say she’s not a patriot.  She didn’t say praising a country is wrong.  She said she wants what goes on in the House of God to be about….God.

"Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

This simple statement by this woman suddenly shifted my perspective on who and what I was worshipping.  I was placing country first then God somewhere down the line.  

I recently heard a rumor that the church I am attending doesn’t have an American flag on the worship platform because the pastor worries it would be offensive to black Christians.  It sounded a bit odd so I shot off an email to a staff member seeking clarification.  One of the pastors replied with this:

“The reasons we do not fly a flag on our platform have nothing whatsoever to do with the pastors or elders feeling it might be offensive to black Christians (who I think would find it offensive that people would think they would find it offensive).  Our general philosophy for worship services is that we do not want to have anything on the platform that wouldn’t be on the platform in heaven, if you will. Second, we try to only sing songs that we would also sing in heaven. We have no problem with patriotic songs or the American flag, but we do not feel they have a place in a worship service where we have gathered to worship God.”

Friends, I’ve come to realize having a country flag is not the issue (would we be annoyed if we didn’t see a French flag on the church podium in France?).  It’s always about where our attention is focused.  It’s always about turning our hearts and minds completely over to giving glory to God – especially during set aside times of worship.  Having a country flag in our churches isn’t wrong but if there isn’t one, should we really care if the reason is to put our laser-like focus only on God?

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The Singing Warrior

“At this they tried to seize Him but no one laid a hand on Him because His hour had not come.”  John 7:30
“Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” Exodus 6:22

My church is in the midst of a study of Genesis and a few weeks ago we landed on the story of Noah. Christians and non-Christians alike are very familiar with this famous Bible story.  How often do we see cute children’s books, artwork, decorations that take up this story showing all the cute animals piled into a tiny boat riding out the storm with a rainbow overhead?  

During the sermon I was struck with the thought that this is not a sweet story at all.  It’s a story of total depravity on the part of man versus the faith of one warrior for God.  The face-off between a world bathing in the flesh and one, lonely soul swimming against that tide.  The ark was a last chance lifeboat built by a soldier, an obedient servant who loved God.

For anyone who has ever seen the movie, “Evan Almighty” – a theatrical depiction of a modern-day Noah – the result of being a warrior for God, even a reluctant one, is shown in all its technicolor truth.  Friends, family, neighbors, the media, and even the government may come against us.

“When you give your best to the Lord, it’s not unusual to be criticized by people who ought to encourage you.  Moses was criticized by his brother and sister.  David by his wife, and Mary of Bethany by an apostle.”  

Warren Wiersbe commentary on 1 Samuel

During the extreme lockdowns of 2020 there were many “warriors for God” who found themselves on the receiving end of much criticism from Christians and non-Christians.  Pastors and even Catholic bishops who insisted that churches needed to remain open and serve their flocks were impugned by church authority, the media, non-believers, and parishioners.  In some states the government brought the full force of the law down with arrests and extravagant fines.  

Now, some might still say churches should’ve been closed to protect people from illness.  But these flock protectors felt called by God to bring healing to people’s hearts and minds and souls.  Church attendance has never been a requirement for anyone.  And they believed those who needed church should be allowed to partake in its offerings.  Parallel arguments about keeping people from getting sick included the admonishment to obey governments based on Romans 13.  And yet the clarification of hierarchy of obedience is spelled out in Acts 5.

"The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!” Acts 5:27-29

About a few months into the lockdowns, I started seeing a confident warrior for God pop up in my Instagram feed.  This young man had originally run for a state office in Northern California.  He ran as a conservative Christian in a heavily liberal area and lost.  I had donated a small amount to his campaign about a year before and had apparently “followed” his account.  He is a musician by trade, a devout family man, and a fervent follower of Christ.

And when our churches shut down in California, he stepped out onto a stage bigger than he’d ever imagined.  Compelled by visions given by God, he would show up at a beach with a local pastor, his family, a few other musicians and put on a revival meeting of sorts.  As word grew, each time he held a “Christ concert” more people would find their way to listen.  More people asked to be baptized in the cold ocean waters.  And more people started harassing them.  And fines by local authorities started piling up.  And he wouldn’t stop.

You may have heard by now about Sean Feucht and his merry band of “Let Us Worship” team.  They’ve since led large worship services all over the United States, including Washington DC.  Sean may have lost a politician’s job but he gained so much more. Throughout the pandemic their small pastoral team helped lead thousands to give up fleshly addictions and find Christ.  All the while, others would show up at these events screaming demonic words, throwing blood on them and even accosting his pregnant wife.  

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Matthew 4:10

I can only imagine how many times Sean and his family have reminded themselves of this statement by Jesus to Satan.  I’ve watched the videos of Sean’s meetings in Portland and Seattle.  It’s some of the most disturbing things I have seen in terms of demonic possession of people.  You may raise an eyebrow at that statement but truly, I have never seen anything like it.

Sean is just a man.  A man with a family to protect.  A man who is trying to make his way through this world just like you and me.  He didn’t start serving the Lord suddenly during the pandemic, he has a quiet history of spreading God’s Word including countries outside the United States.  He has led missionary trips to Afghanistan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.  He is obviously a man used to trusting God.  And isn’t it fascinating to know that he went to those dangerous places to share the gospel seemingly as preparation to lead thousands into worship in a “safe” place like the United States?

We won’t all be warriors for God just like Sean but every person who chose to attend one of his meetings during these difficult times was a warrior in their own way.  Today, every person who hears God’s urging to step out in faith and stand for Him takes up the armor and can call themselves a warrior.  We have a lot of good soldiers who have paved the way for us, to drawn on how they trusted God to protect them until their time was done.

As God always does, He has placed quite a lot of podcasts, sermons, and Bible studies in front of me in the last few weeks on this very character trait of Jesus.  I wanted to share with you a prayer from Sparkling Gems from the Greek to help spur our warrior character on.

Lord, help me start seeing myself as a might soldier in the army of God.  You have provided every weapon I need to prevail against the enemies that come against my life, my family, my business, my friends and my church.  I want to stand tall and firm against the wicked plots the devil tries to exert against people’s lives whom I love and need.  Holy Spirit,  give me the power and strength I need to successfully resist every attack and to drive all dark forces from my life and from the lives of those close to me!   I pray this in Jesus’ name!

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Identifying The Enemy

Lesson #13: To win a battle you first need to identify your adversary.

For certain individuals whose condemnation 
was written about long ago have secretly 
slipped in among you. They are ungodly 
people, who pervert the grace of our God 
into a license for immorality and deny 
Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. 
Jude 1:4

About 10 years after I started at my first professional job out of college, I decided I needed a new experience.  So, I accepted a job at one of our vendors.  I was worried that I wasn’t as experienced as the other professional staff because I had only worked at one job.  But almost instantly I was able to identify the warring factions.  

You see, the fire I went through starting a new public relations and marketing department at the age of 21 prepared me in more ways than I had realized.  While others at my new company struggled with office politics I already knew how to work around the “up, in your face, dragon lady” and the “she speaks sweetly to your face and then stabs you in the back.”  These two women were powerful forces who worked solely for their benefit and at the expense of others.  Had I not quickly assessed the situation I would’ve been tossed about in turmoil like the rest of the staff.

They are wild waves of the sea, 
foaming up their shame; wandering 
stars, for whom blackest darkness 
has been reserved forever. 
Jude 1:13

A number of the letters written by Jesus’ disciples include warnings to churches about the enemies within their midst.  It’s appropriate that our next mini-letter, written by our LORD’s half-brother Jude, is a call to arms against the infiltrators.  Why? Because it also is the last book before Revelation.  It’s almost a final warning to secure the gates, gather the brethren, and stand strong against the enemy before Christ comes.

These people are blemishes at your 
love feasts, eating with you without 
the slightest qualm—shepherds who 
feed only themselves. They are clouds 
without rain, blown along by the wind; 
autumn trees, without fruit and 
uprooted—twice dead. 
Jude 1:12

So how, as Christians, are we to discern who the “blemishes” are in our churches and protect our hearts and minds from them?

Let’s first state that every false teacher, every apostate comes from Satan. He is the enemy. As the Great Liar, Satan has plenty of fodder to create chaos in our midst. When our motivations stem from fame or popularity, greed, lust, and more, Satan is quite happy to make us like yeast — using us to spread his lies about God and Jesus.

I am currently looking for a new church.  But I’m going about it much differently than in the past.  For the first time I’ll be able to truly evaluate whether the teachings of a church are biblically based.  It’s amazing how what God has led us through in our lives always serves to prepare us for the next trial.  I could never had known that starting a small Bible study over a year ago would be one of my greatest weapons against falling prey to apostasy.  

apostasy uhpos-tuh-see ]

a total desertion of or departure from one’s religion, principles, party, cause, etc.

When I first started going to church, we selected the church of my husband’s family.  I trusted my in-laws’ choice and therefore felt comfortable with attending the same denomination.  As for the theological ins-and-outs, I really didn’t understand them or care to know much about the details.

And there lies the dangers.  Satan loves when we are ignorant about God. Sometimes we take more effort dissecting the ingredients in our cereal than what is taught to us from a pulpit.  We think, “Hey, they’ve got training and approval from someone higher up so they must know what they’re talking about.”  And for the most part that’s probably true.  But there’s plenty of churches that have few ties to standard, accepted, religious teaching. There are also all the authors, TV and radio preachers, podcasters, Instagrammers, and yes, bloggers.

Dear friends, do not believe every 
spirit, but test the spirits to see 
whether they are from God, because 
many false prophets have gone out 
into the world. 
1 John: 4:1

My younger daughter was mentoring a new, young member of her church.  This young woman was distraught and thought she had failed God.  Why? Because she couldn’t speak in tongues.  Her church, in which she had grown up, taught that every single person who truly is a follower of Jesus speaks in tongues.  In one short conversation based on scripture this woman’s life was changed.  Because of the truth of the Bible. 

My parents are in their 80s.  I find that when they speak to their doctor, they treat what he says with almost reverence.  They don’t question a word any doctor says.  I keep telling them that doctors are just people.  They also don’t always have the best bedside manner.  So, questions go unanswered.  And fears and missteps with their health abound.

The same is true with faith leaders, be they pastors, priests, elders, deacons, Bible study leaders, famous authors, or church committee members.  They are all people.  Yes, they may have at some point received a calling but they are still people.  And people sin.  Some get greedy.  Some lie to protect themselves.  They all make mistakes.  It’s our responsibility as Christians to know the Word of God enough to question if something doesn’t sound right.

The short letter of Jude has an emphasis on sexual immorality and its promoters who have burrowed into our Christian lives.  How many of us are willing to say to our pastor search committee that our applicants must not be living with someone outside marriage or can’t be homosexual?  In fact, our major denominations have decided neither of those is a “big deal.”  And I ask, is that biblically based?  

If we want to escape the (Christian) struggle we have but to draw back and accept the currently accepted low-keyed Christian life as the normal one. That is all Satan wants. That will ground our power, stunt our growth and render us harmless to the kingdom of darkness.

A.W. Tozer

The struggle, the battle, the enemy.  The Christian life is not a playground.  Yes, we have peace in the fact that Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit have our backs.  They direct us and empower us.  But to truly live a complete Christian life is to face the enemy.  We are to be always on watch for those that would twist the Word of God.  

It sounds harsh to say but according to the renowned Bible commentator Warren Wiersbe an apostate is not a true believer who has abandoned his salvation.  Instead, it is a person who said they accepted the truth but then turned away from the truth.

These are the people who divide you, 
who follow mere natural instincts and 
do not have the Spirit.  
Jude 1:19

As Christians we want to live by Jesus’ admonishment to love one another, especially our brethren.  But at the same time, he called out the “den of vipers.”  Jesus has never asked us to forgo the truth in the spirit of getting along.  Our first steps are to be honest as to who our adversaries are and to acknowledge that Satan is always at work creating chaos.  Only then can we pray for direction and preparation for any battles that may ensue.

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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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Mighty Growth

A few weeks ago, I told my husband the following: “I can’t wait to get back to the way things were before the pandemic.”  And then I stopped.  I realized that wasn’t really true.  My good friend and I were having lunch this week and I shared this moment with her.  I went on to explain that yes, there’s a lot I’m hoping will “get back to normal” in the coming weeks but God uses every single moment in our lives for His purpose – good and bad.  He uses non-believers and believers.  I heard a pastor the other day explain that we shouldn’t be asking “why” to God when faced with difficulty but rather, “what can I learn about God or what does God want me to learn about myself?”

My BSGs (Bible Study Girls) were asked recently to draw a sanctification growth chart.  Sanctification meaning our faith journey toward being more like Jesus.  I drew some small spikes, a few flat lines, and then two large spikes.  From the day I clearly recall my daughter (about 2 years old at the time) spurring me to answer her questions about God and angels to today I can thankfully say my growth chart has well, grown.  The two large spikes include a large test Jesus put me through when He asked me, through a vision, to drop much of what I thought was important in life and instead feed the homeless for a year.  The second spike?  It started in February 2020 – the start of the COVID pandemic.  

My church shuttered their doors.  My old Bible study group went on-line.  And then all other communication with my church ceased.  Yes, they offered a weekly video but that is not fellowship.  A cold, impersonal video just isn’t “church.”  It’s not a communion of the saints.  

My new BSGs, however, stayed in constant contact.  Some of us came together in person with walks and distanced lunches.  And together we made a commitment to not let each other go and to help each member delve deeper into His Word.  We have been open about our sins and our dreams.  Our hopes and our failures.

But more than just this group, I have fallen often on my knees in prayer.  Sometimes crying out in fear and sometimes in sadness.  Other times in thankful hallelujah.  Had I been left to attending Sunday church for one hour a week I’m not sure I would’ve made the same progress.  But I can tell you this, of all the things I’m most grateful for over the past year is what I now understand to be the most important – God’s never ending love for me.  

His Word has been revealed to me in so many amazing ways.  I’ve discovered the majesty of the Lord and His faithful promises.  I’ve learned about the perils of disobedience and the joys of freedom that obedience brings.   Through His Word I’ve learned how to hold the line of faith and to recognize when the devil is trying to loosen my grip.


While reading Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on the book of Jude I came across this powerful yet simple message to Christians everywhere:

Every Church = Bible Institute

Every Christian = Bible student

Every Pulpit = Teach the positive words of Biblical truth AND denounce error

Are you a student of the Bible?  We are well-versed in so many other unnecessary aspects of life: the details of every episode of Downton Abbey (or pick your favorite show), the stats of our favorite baseball (golf, basketball, etc) player, the ins and outs of Joanna Gaines’ life.  You get the picture.  But can we say the same about every single book in the Bible?

My same friend I mentioned earlier asked me what I thought about the books that weren’t included in the Bible.  I told her, “To be honest, if I could just become extremely knowledgeable about the ones in it, I think I’d be doing pretty good.”


And that’s I why I chose for my next series, Tiny But Mighty: 15 life lessons from the Bible’s smallest books.  If you have never read these five books you could tackle them in about an hour (or less).  But I’ll be honest, my first read through these left me thinking, “There’s a lot more than 15 lessons here.”  

During the next 5 weeks we will discover more about how to confront a difficult situation, why love is obedience, how to really make social change, the effects of disloyalty, our role as God’s soldier and much more.

So, jump on board, join me in this sanctification journey!  We may be just one Christian on this path to glory but God is sure to use us and the more we know about His will, the more He can do with us.  We may be tiny but we sure can be mighty.

Christian Church, christian encouragement, Uncategorized

Our Primary Purpose


This letter was written May 2020 after a number of attempts to sit down with my pastor or even an assistant pastor about my concerns over closing up our churches. Instead I was met with silence. Absolute silence. You see, I believe Christians are being put to the test. God’s threshing room is operating at full throttle. The wheat and chaff are being separated.

In conversations with my Christian and non-Christian friends I have made this argument: When a corporation, charity, educational institution, government, mother/father, pilot, pastor, soldier, or whatever job you can think of forgets what their primary, intended purpose is they go astray. Christian churches’ primary purpose is to bring the Word of God to people who need to hear it. It is to have Christians and searching non-Christians be in communion with each other to praise God for our salvation. It is to serve God and God’s people. The primary purpose is NOT to keep people from catching a virus. Now, that doesn’t mean that safety and security are thrown out the window. Just like our schools, whose primary purpose is to teach our children — not keep them from catching a virus — our churches must stay focused on God’s plan. I laud those corporations and small businesses who have not forgotten their primary purpose — to bring goods to customers. Somehow they have figured out how to also keep their customers and employees safe. Christian churches should place themselves at least on the same plane as Costco or Walmart. I, for one, think our churches have a much greater role to play in God’s universe.

After I sent this letter to my church and church leaders I waited for the storm to come. And it did. I found it interesting that the people we all see as “plugged in” at our churches were the most offended. In fact, I was told by one that Satan was working in me. I also got the “who do you think you are?” But it was regular, church-going people who spoke to me with shouts of “hallelujah!” We “regular Christians” are begging for communion. We NEED each other. We need to see each other raising our hands to God in praise. If you are a pastor and reading this, we need you.



“I told my friend today that I’m about to commit a “Jerry Maguire.” For those of you who haven’t seen the movie here’s what I mean.  Jerry, a sports agent at a large firm, has a “come to Jesus” moment one night about the nature of his business and how it has become de-personalized.  He writes a manifesto and shares it with all his colleagues.  And while they all think what he says is great, they turn against him, shunning him.

            My manifesto is not about a job, it’s about Faith, or the lack of it from our churches.  In these uncertain times we have allowed Satan to use all his dirty tricks against us.  And we have willingly followed him like the Pied Piper.  We have failed at God’s biggest test since Jesus’ crucifixion.  And we’ve failed gloriously.  We have been Judas in the garden willingly pointing out the rule breakers.  We are Peter denying Christ out of fear of punishment.

            Just as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:14, the devil has masqueraded as an angel of light.  His deception has been as cunning as with Eve.  Our churches have closed and our pastors have hidden away under the guise of “saving people.”  We have allowed the realm of worldliness to define the role the church plays in our Christian lives.  We have deemed ourselves “non-essential.”  All the while our role of bringing people to the one true Savior has diminished.  We are no longer in the business of saving souls. 

            In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul says he will keep on with his ministry in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about – saving people. He goes on to say, “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ.  Unlike today’s churches, Paul describes the Macedonian churches as giving everything they had during severe trial just for the joy and privilege of sharing in the service for the Lord’s people.  We can count on one or two hands the churches in the news that have shown this same fervent love for the gospel.

            But what have been Satan’s works?  I’m sure if you’ve read to this point you have already spoken a few of them in rebuttal.  Let’s start with the most prevalent.  Romans 13 clearly convicts us to obey the government because they rule only under God’s authority.  Rebelling against authority is considered rebelling against God.  So therefore, when the State tells churches they must close, we must obey.  Ah, but the devil loves to cherry pick scripture.  What he has done here is take advantage of the Christian desire to do what is right, to follow laws, and to be good citizens.  What he doesn’t want you to do is dig deeper.  Is the law just in the first place, in the eyes of God?  Backing up to Acts 5 we see the apostles being persecuted for performing signs and wonders among the people.  The Pharisees were angry and claimed the law prohibited them from teaching.  “We gave you strict orders not to teach in his name,” the Sanhedrin says in verse 28.  And the apostles’ response? “We must obey God rather than human beings.” (v29). Where were our major denominations at the outset of our shut down standing firm that churches are essential?  Where was their conviction that God calls us into service during times of trouble? And where have they been since?  It’s one thing for a church to have said on the outset of the shut down, “Let’s close for a couple of weeks and see what this is all about.  We will clean our facilities and come up with safe practices.  And then open.”  But allowing government to tell us that we are not even allowed to do that goes not just against one of the basic rights of this country but of God’s laws.

            But what is wrong with keeping people healthy?  You now entered into Satan’s second lie.  To accept this premise, you have to believe that our churches are irresponsible, unnecessary and incapable of keeping people safe while attending church.  Somehow, we have a greater respect for our grocery store management than for our church management.  I laud those few pastors who have found creative ways to do church – beyond the impersonal video exchange.  Drive through confessionals, drive up church, drive through prayer time, and more.  The bold few have even ripped the veil off one of Satan’s other lies – that going to church is somehow not a choice.  So, they open their churches to anyone who chooses to attend.  Do they still adhere to safe practices, of course, because God doesn’t call Christians to be stupid.  He calls us to trust and to obey Him.  Why have we expected more from Walmart than from our church?  Why have we put ourselves on equal footing with our gyms?

            Even our most trusted faith leaders have failed us.  While they preach on trusting God, they cower behind their computer screens.  Where is the trust?  Where is the bold faith?  Where is the healing of lepers and of the sick?  Where is the knowledge and belief that God is in our midst?  Who do you think God is smiling on – the church that closes and locks their doors or the church that is open to the sick, the anxious, the scared, the homeless, the alcoholic, the abused, the weak and the poor?  The other lie Satan tells us is that living in our impersonal, technology connected faith, God’s work is full, is enough.  We say things like, isn’t great we can connect with missionaries across the world during this time?  Isn’t’ amazing how we can still be together through a video screen?  If that were true, then why didn’t the apostles just rely on letters to the churches?  Why did they feel the need to enter into cities that were sure to persecute them, sure to throw them in jail?  Where are the pastors who say as Peter and John, who after laying hands on a lame man cured him, said to the Sanhedrin, “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man is healed.”  Yes, technology is great for those who can’t be with us.  But we’ve preached and preached over the last few years about the dangers of relying on technology and becoming less connected rather than more.   And what about the supposed connections we’ve made?  Besides videos, have our churches and our denominations reached out regularly to their parishioners via phone calls, letters, etc? Have they been regular guests on news shows teaching about ways to ease our anxieties?  Have our pastors personally reached out to people who have reached out to them about their concerns? And what about the non-members that attend our churches?  How have those people been personally connected?  What about the non-believer who one night, feels called by the Holy Spirit to enter a church and hear the Word?

            You see, the devil has used our goodness, our desires to do the right thing against us.  It’s time to gird our loins with Truth.  God does not want our churches locked.  He does not want us hiding in fear.  He wants those doors thrown open.  He wants us to welcome all who are lost, who are lonely, who are fearful, and who are spiritually sick.  We must stop allowing Satan to define God’s mission for us.  As my friend once said to me, “This should be a pastor’s ‘jam’.”  Meaning this time in the world is when the fight between dark and light should be most obvious.  It’s what we have been training for.  It’s the time to call for peace in His arms, for faith in His words, for trust in His love. “


Here’s the thing about what happens to Jerry Maguire. He wins in the end. He gathers up the believers. He tears down the old way of doing things. He renews faith. He remembers what his intended purpose is.

30daysofpraise, christian encouragement, Uncategorized

God Woos Us


During my years of attending church and going to bible studies I have heard many scripture verses surrounding love:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son.” John 3:16

“Love is patient, love is kind.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

“And now these three remain; faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

There are scriptures about how God loves us, how we are to love God and love our friends, neighbors and enemies.  We don’t, however, always equate this “love” with romantic love.  And yet, by all descriptions, the love the Holy Spirit has for us and wants in return is just that.  Intimacy, thoughtfulness, honesty – an embrace, a tight hug, and sweet kiss – isn’t that what we long for in our “romantic” relationships?  And the Holy Spirit is all about that kind of love.


A pastor at one of my previous churches wrote, what some considered a controversial book about the Holy Spirit, called, I’m In ❤.  Controversial because he is part of a corporate-style faith where we worship, but not too exuberantly.  We pray but not too boldly.  We love but out of reverence.  In the first chapter of his book he writes:

“Spirit wants to woo you into her arms in order to embrace you and whisper intimate truths.  Spirit offers to tutor you in vulnerability and joy.  Spirit welcomes you to trust her.  Spirit kisses you.  But this kind of love takes time to grow.  Will you let Her court you?”

Rev. Dr. Bruce Humphrey

So many of my conversations with my Christian friends focus on creating a personal relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Let’s face it, when you are intimate with someone you know exactly what they expect of you and if it’s a mutually respectful relationship you want to meet those expectations.  The Holy Spirit is who whispers to us.  Who winks so that we both are “in on the joke.”  She holds my hand when I am afraid to take the steps Jesus laid out for me. This “controversial” pastor goes on to write:

“Here is the truth: romance requires slowing down, listening, and spending time.  As mysterious as it is, there are some basic ingredients for love to flourish.  Romance requires intentionality.  Love is a choice.  You can decide to accept the Spirit’s love, or you can reject her embrace.  She will not force or compel you.  In other words, love takes commitment.

Rev. Dr. Bruce Humphrey

God is fully committed to loving you. Through the words of His son Jesus and the great counselor, the Holy Spirit, love abounds from the heavens.  Are you ready to embrace Him just as intimately? Share how God shows His love for you in the comments below!