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Rest

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

After a busy Thanksgiving, taking relatives to the airport, and doing some holiday shopping, my husband, older daughter and I took a day off from all the busyness and played golf.  I suppose you could call what I played “golf” even though it didn’t go so well!  But it was nice to get out with them and enjoy a relaxing, beautiful day.  

For a long time, I struggled with resting.  With just doing something fun that had no goal.  Before kids, my husband and I would spend Saturday running around doing errands.  Come Sunday I would start stressing out about Monday’s workload!  When my kids were younger, we always had sports on the weekends with tournaments lasting from Thursday until Sunday afternoon.  These last couple of years I’ve finally taken to heart the idea of resting.  Resting and enjoying all the blessings that God has gifted us.

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2

Toiling and striving and anxiously lying awake thinking about how we can toil some more the next day!  It’s not good for our health and it’s not the life God intended for us.  It’s so sad that two major companies in the United States who made the choice to stay closed on Sundays have received so much grief for that decision.  But the leaders of those companies are Christians who take the message and gift of the Sabbath to heart.

I still catch myself feeling guilty for resting.  I have to remind myself that it’s not a luxury.  It’s a requirement by God.  Whether we are rich or poor, with children or not, retired or still working, God wants us to be rested, ready to do His good works when needed.  

I’m so thankful for this gift of rest.  It shows how much God loves us and wants the best for us.  He wants us to be recharged and energized followers of Jesus.  Not burned out, overworked, stressed and therefore unable to see how beautiful this world is He created.  Unable to stop and help someone in need.  So today on this Sabbath day take this gift of rest freely.  Take time for yourself and enjoy.

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Celebrations

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.  John 2:1-2

Today is my birthday!  I’m not embarrassed to say I have reached the ripe age of 57 because, to be honest, it’s with the grace of God I’ve made it this far.  I love birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, 4th of July, Valentines’ Day, baby showers, you name it.  If it’s a celebration I’m in.   

Maybe it’s that my fellow celebrators have decided, like me, to take a few hours off from the trials and tribulations of the world.  For our annual celebrations, it’s also a way of thanking God we’ve made it through another year with His grace and provision.  

God certainly made us a people intended to celebrate.  In the Old Testament there are seven major festivals for the chosen people to celebrate.  That didn’t even include weddings and births. On top of that, the Sabbath, was in effect, a weekly celebration to take time and honor God.

For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:5

If you’ve never watched the show, The Chosen, you should definitely check it out.  There are so many great episodes but one of my favorites is the famous wedding in Cana.  To watch what Jesus would have been like at such a blessed time and see his disciples join the celebration really brought home the human side of Jesus.  

It’s unfortunate there are Christian sects who consider celebrations sinful.  They certainly haven’t read the same Bible I have which as we progressed through the events of the New Testament, we were given the opportunity celebrate our Lord’s birth, Easter, Pentecost, and baptism.  

Today I will rejoice that God took good care of me this last year.  I will celebrate in the knowledge that He is good and considers me one of His own. And I will thank Him that He is a God who loves to celebrate with His people the joys of life.

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Sojourners & Exiles

No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 2 Timothy 2:4

We Christians are sojourners and exiles.  This is not where our ultimate allegiance lies!  

David Van Drunen, Politics After Christendom

We certainly aren’t lacking in opportunities to engage in political discourse these days.  From mask wearing to vaccine mandates and budget crises to abortion laws the world around us is in quite a turmoil.  But when, as Christians, are we to engage?  When are we called to join the fight and stand resolutely in our faith?  These next two posts will look at our life as Christians and the political realm.  First, starting with what role the church, and therefore Christians, play in our common citizenry.

But let’s back up a bit.  For those of us living in the United States we’ve seen a serious deterioration from our Christian-held values over the last 70 years or so.  Not long ago almost all businesses were closed on Sundays and you certainly couldn’t by alcohol on that day.  Now, a business that makes the decision to not be open on Sundays because of their beliefs is vilified.  I’ve heard different arguments about whether or not the United States was a special project by God.  Whatever stance you may take on that we can be certain that every single nation was formed by God.  Every single head of state has been placed in their position by God and therefore is subject to His expectations and final judgment.

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17

That the United States was founded with God and the idea of His sovereignty at the forefront should not, however, be in dispute.  Besides the federal founding documents, all state constitutions, except one, reference God and His oversight of said government in the beginning of those documents.  It was then left to the citizens, as it has throughout the history of the world, to maintain that stance.

When you get deep in to C.S. Lewis’ great Christian apologetic book, Mere Christianity, you’ll find the concept of a Moral Law.  Through every empire, every phase of human existence we turn to this moral law for guidance.  We know what basically is wrong (ie: killing another human for gain or pleasure) and what is right (ie: helping a widow or orphaned child).  And, as Mr. Lewis argues, no matter your faith or lack thereof those concepts have been placed in our hearts and minds by someone.

But as a society drifts further away from a common faith, as in the case of much of Europe, North America and South America, we create new ways of working around what we know to be right and wrong.  We bend the moral law to fit the desires of our flesh and we seek to be accepted by the world.

You cannot make men good by (man-made)law; and without good men you cannot have a good society.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

And so, as Christians we watch as one of the last bastions of religious freedom, the United States, which also built upon that with many other freedoms, begin to crumble.  And we can so easily misplace our fears on our elected officials and the laws they create. 

So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. 2 Timothy 1:8-9

At the time Paul wrote this letter to Timothy the Romans ruled with an iron fist.  Anyone that did not submit to their laws was imprisoned, tortured, killed, or pushed out of everyday society.  And Paul reminds not just Timothy but all of us who read this message that we have one commander to whom we must be most concerned – God and His son Jesus Christ.  We are set apart to be holy and live a holy life.

We are reminded that our role in this world is a sort of dual citizenship – to the country we call home and the home that waits for us.  It’s a balancing act that the disciples knew all too well.  We are to obey the laws of our government as good guests yet remembering we have limits based on God’s expectation of our adherence to His moral laws and knowledge of the final judgment.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles,to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:11-12

It may come as a surprise to many Christians in the United States but it isn’t our role to create a “just society.”  It is our role to seek justice for those in need in our communities but we can’t right every wrong.  We need to be comforted that God is in charge and we can, as individuals and corporately do His good works.  But Jesus, time and again, never sought regime change.  He sought heart change. He sought obedience by His followers to God’s expectations.

Being a sojourner did not require isolation from surrounding societies.  Abraham seems to have understood the need to exercise prudential judgment about how, when and with whom to share common activity.  One approach did not fit all cases.

David Van Drunen, Politics After Christendom

So does this mean we shouldn’t try and affect our government’s choices or laws?  No, it’s just remembering who we serve first, resolutely.  It’s remembering the difference between violently protesting a wrong and speaking out within the framework of how God wants us to act.  It’s figuring out where God and the church stands on an issue (ie: abortion) and where something may not be biblical at all (ie: the federal budget).  It’s making sure our heart and mind set firmly with God, not the world.

Believe me, I’ve struggled with these issues a lot.   I’ve stood on street corners waving my country’s flag and promoting a candidate.  I’ve stood up to politicians who have demonstrated a lack of moral character. Neither of which are wrong for a Christian.  I vote in every single election. Which is, in a way, expected as a Christian. But as my faith progresses, I’m taking a new view of my place on this big blue planet.  When I firmly set King Jesus as my authority, as my hope, as the Lord and Savior not just of my world but of every single human that has existed and will exist, my perspectives change.

As Christians we cannot continue to say we trust God, we know God will judge in the final conflict and still scream in outrage at people who disagree with our political opinion.  That message speaks loud and clear to non-believers that we don’t trust God.  That we haven’t set Him as our authority. That we have no concern for eternity. 

It’s time, fellow sojourners, to pull out our passports and remind ourselves of our future travel plans.  To stand resolutely with the one King that will judge everyone for all ungodly acts.  He has not appointed us commissioners of that judgment.  Yet, we are also not called to be passive in our worldly citizenry — sitting back and watching the world fall around us. He has appointed us as soldiers to exhort others to follow Him before it is too late.

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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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Retire Our Gavels

Therefore let us stop 
passing judgment on one 
another. Instead, make 
up your mind not to put 
any stumbling block or 
obstacle in the way of 
a brother or sister. 
Romans 14:10 

A prayer to not be judgemental of others

Holy God, we live in a world that judges us on a photo that gets scrolled by in an instant, our decision at the ballot box, the type of car we drive, or even the color of our skin.  I am guilty of making snap judgements about the people I encounter throughout my day.  But in your world, LORD, we are all equally loved.  I have discovered the uniqueness of your message through Jesus – that you are the father, king, counselor, protector of ALL people.  You are at work in all of our lives, believer and non-believer.  Through the life lessons of Jesus and the prompting of the Holy Spirit I will be the type of person who loves first, rather than judges first.  I want to be loved and accepted for who I am uniquely made to be and I will see others in that same light.  I pray this in your Son’s name, Amen


Recently, my BSGs were talking about why the world’s major religions continue to reject Jesus.  We had a great discussion about the belief systems of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews.  It was great to see how knowledgeable the group was from either taking classes or reading up on the topic.  What stood out to me is how much more restrictive these other religions truly are and how much work they require of their followers to attain their end goal.  And when we start requiring people to work for their salvation it seems to inevitably lead to hierarchies or even caste-type systems. 

You, then, why do you judge 
your brother or sister? Or 
why do you treat them with 
contempt? For we will all 
stand before God’s judgment 
seat. 
Galatians 6:10

Jesus swept this type of contempt away.  In one painful death, we are all promised salvation through belief in Him.  That’s it.  No crazy ritual.  No particular way we dress.  No matter our family background.  No matter our wealth or lack thereof.  No matter our origin of birth.  No need to pray at certain times a day looking in a certain direction.  No flowers and incense placed for offering.  Just, “I believe Jesus is God and my savior.”

What that one act does is it sets us all on even ground.  Because one day, the truth is, we will all die.  Our wealth, status, family tree, how many followers we have on Instagram will not matter one bit.  Therefore, to God, it doesn’t matter right now.  He cares about one thing and one thing only – the salvation of our soul.

So why do we feel the need to judge differently?

Stop judging by mere appearances, 
but instead judge correctly.” 
John 7:24  

Jesus made this statement in defense of healing people on the Sabbath.  The crowd called him “demon-possessed.” He stated that if a boy can be circumcised under the Law on the Sabbath why did they judge Him so harshly for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath?  Jesus wasn’t doing the things the way the crowd demanded they be done so therefore He was a borderline lunatic or heretic.

When I embarked on what I called my “Sparkly New Life” a few years ago I realized my greatest issue at the time was my relentless judging of people based on “The Rules According to Kris.”  It’s easy to get angry and frustrated when people don’t obey all your rules of life.  The statement, “I hate people who….” Or “I hate it when…” easily rolled off my tongue. 

I have noticed this, that when a man is full of the Holy Ghost, he is the very last man to be complaining of other people.

D.L. Moody

The topic of judgement has really got us Christians into hot water over the years.  It seems our history of judging harshly while not loving others really turned people away.  And now, we have flipped to not using judgement at all.  All behavior seems to be accepted at a number of our large denominations.  As a regular ole Christian, the topic of judgement has been difficult to define.  I know I’m to love others but what does loving someone who is actively sinning against the Word look like?

James has two helpful hints on how to treat people:

  1. My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2:1
  2. My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. 5:19-20

In other words, treat the rich man and the poor man with the same respect.  And when we see a fellow Christian on the wrong tract we are to, with the help of God, try and guide them back to the Word.  

Notice there is a distinction between judging the behavior of our fellow Christians and those who don’t know the Word.  It’s unkind and unhelpful to expect behaviors from people who either don’t know what they’re doing is wrong or just don’t believe in God and His consequences.  But no matter the situation we are to act like Jesus – with lovingkindness.  And for us non-perfect people, with the recognition that the log in our eye is our first priority.  

I am so thankful for the grace that God affords me and the love He piles on me.  The days I leave the house looking like I should never have left my bed.  The days I can’t find my smile.  For the days when my beat-up VW bug was my only transportation.  For the days when I couldn’t afford the coolest jeans.  For the days when my child was screaming bloody murder in the store and I couldn’t quiet her.  All of it – my good side and my not so great side that I present to the world – God loves me no matter what.  I want to be like that for others.  A person who sees what God sees in others. 

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!

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The Law of Love


Even though I can pretty much talk to anyone at anytime I don’t particularly like to talk to people when I’m coming home on an airplane from visiting my daughter.  I only get to see her about 4 times a year and when I leave her, I’m sad and contemplative.  I prefer to put my headphones on and read a book.  On one trip home, I sat next to a man who immediately started talking to me.  I’m not sure how we got on the subject of God, the Bible and faith but he was prepped.  He was ready to make sure I knew how much he knew about the “truth” of the Bible.  He could quote any scripture that would back up his point of view.  The trinity was false, according to him, because it promoted multi-theism.  And on and on he went.  When I would disagree, gently, he peppered me with more questions for which he already had answers.  He was looking for ways to “catch” me with improper theology.  It didn’t bother me.  I’m always interested to hear more about the Bible.  And I’m sure he wasn’t completely wrong.  He just seemed to be taking scripture out of context.  Towards the end, he started telling me about his church journey.  He jumped from church to church based on obscure theological differences.  He went from a large church, to a medium one, to a small gathering.  He finally landed on his perfect church – the church of one.  He called himself a “sabbathist.”  He didn’t practice the sabbath on Sunday.  It had to be Friday through Saturday.  So, if you were thinking you could join his group of one, you’d better make sure you worshipped and followed the rules on the right day.  

When we arrived in San Diego and exited the plane, I had one thought.  I had just met a real life, modern day Pharisee.  I had one regret.  I realized, squeezed into that packed airplane there had to have been multiple people hearing our conversation (or at least him talking since he did most of it).  The opportunity I missed was to stop talking doctrine and scripture and ask him the most important question, “But do you love Jesus?”    In that 3 ½ hours on the plane he never spoke of being a true disciple of Jesus.  He only spoke of following the Mosaic law.  I missed the chance to introduce him to the Royal Law – the Law of Love.

Pharisees cared more about strictly following Mosaic rules than they did about the idea behind God’s Word

This week James takes us through additional, difficult subjects: favoritism (yes, we all do it), loving our neighbor (even the gay couple), mercy (we all want it), and deeds (without being a “church lady”).  He recognizes that when we try to live by Mosaic Law alone, it’s like playing a game of “whack-a-mole.”  When we stop doing one thing another sin pops up.  We can never feel fully successful at living a sin-less life.  But what we can do is love one another.

Warren Wiersbe says this about James 2 and the steps we are to take to go from being a “baby Christian” to a mature Christian:

“Immature people talk about their beliefs, but the mature person lives his faith.  Hearing God’s Word and talking about God’s Word can never substitute for doing God’s word.”

Warren Wiersbe, New Testament Bible Commentary

Each of last week’s topics — trials, wisdom, listening, and living a clean life — were the personal building blocks for what James calls us to this week.  Without faith that God is ever present in our trials, without wisdom to discern what God calls us to, when we don’t listen to God, and when we give into immoral situations we continue to live by this world’s standards. 

“Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith BY my deeds.”

James 2:18

James tells us we are called for something better.  We need to be living outside the box, not trapped inside.  First up tomorrow we will delve deeper into what following Jesus’s Law of Love looks like when we treat people like God does – equally.

Have you ever met a modern-day Pharisee?  What was your reaction?  Do you find yourself trying to adhere to scripture but forget that one of the most important commandments is loving others?