Narratives and Notes



Telling a good story is really a work of art. Taking a thread here, weaving into it a thread from over there, over and over repeating the process, and pretty soon, you have a good yarn.  Whether humorous or sad, true or fiction, real or not, the making of the narrative is complex.  Like any work of art, the reader (or listener) determines the value of the story being told.  I’m a sucker for a good tale, saga or anecdote.  My uncle Wylie used to tell some of the biggest “cock-and-bull” stories I’ve ever heard.  I laughed until my sides hurt, and my mouth wouldn’t quit grinning.  His long rambling mannerisms and sayin’s are part of my favorite childhood memories.

I also like reading a good work of fiction from time to time. My two favorite fiction authors are Jeffrey Deaver (Lincoln Rhyme novels), and J. A. Jance (J.P. Beaumont novels) each writing crime stories, but each very distinctly different in their writing styles.  A close third for me would be Lee Child, and his hero, the misfit ex-military cop, Jack Reacher.  All these books have served me well, for countless hours of decompression from a busy and hectic world, filled with work, and the stuff of life.  For a good getaway any of these are fun options.

From a spiritual standpoint, there is one book that has affected and effected my life in a substantial way for many years.  Written by Dr. M. R. De Haan, The Chemistry of the Bood is an excellent read, which atheists or agnostics would most certainly call a “yarn.”  Dr. De Haan describes the correlation between Scripture and science.  In a wonderful exposition of the Bible, where he explains quite well, the mysteries of Jesus being fully divine, while at the same time being fully human.  Because the “life” as he points out, is in the blood.  Other chapters in the book include, “The Chemistry of Tears, The Chemistry of the Bible, The Chemistry of Man,” and other important truths.

Some of the stories included in the Bible also fall into that category of “yarn” for those who don’t believe it as the Word of God.  A 9 foot tall hardened warrior giant, brought down by a stone, cast from a shepherd boy’s sling, come on!  The creation of the world in 6 days, come on!  The birth of a baby from a virgin, come on!  One man’s death covering the sins of all mankind, come on!  The same man planning to return to earth, because he was resurrected, and went back to heaven; but now he’s coming again, come on!  Then he is going to judge us for not believing any of these yarns, come on!

Well, there it is my friends.  The Bible is full of narratives and notes, but for any of them to have an impact in your life, you must believe they are true.  You must decide that you will live as though your life depended on them being true.  You can’t just read the Bible for the entertainment value of a good story.  You can’t just pick and choose the stories you like.  It’s an all-or-nothing proposition.

Isaiah 55:11
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

God’s word is like a giant tapestry, weaving together the greatest story ever told, by the Master Weaver of thought and communication.  In fact, there is another great read which was important in my Doctoral studies at Seminary.  Written by Ravi Zacharias, The Grand Weaver describes how every dimension of our lives – from the happy to the tragic to the mundane – is part of a beautiful and purposeful design in which no thread is wrongly woven into its perfect place.

It’s more than a good yarn.


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Eau de Extravagance



One of my memories from the 70’s is the powerful impression of colognes.  Here are a few of the 15 flowery perfumes women of this era donned on their persons.  Rive Gauche, Aliage, Diorella, Charlie, Ciara, Tatiana, Cinnabar, and Enjoli.  I always wondered about the intrigue of each scent and what drew a woman to one or another of these fragrances.  For me, and this is just a personal preference you understand, I found some of them odious either from scent, or quantity used in the heavy handed applications.  Don’t get me wrong, I never complained at the time, I was in my late teens and twenties, and just being close enough to smell them was heaven for me.

For all the women out there reading this article, I realize men were just as offensive in both categories.  Here are a few of the top men’s colognes from the same time period.  Brut, Jaguar, Jovan’s, Sean, Ginseng, Old Spice Musk, Aramis, Hi Karate, and Musk by English Leather, were the most popular where I lived.  I knew guys from those days who thought putting on a splash of Brut was the equivalent of taking a shower.  Guess again.  The application of the liquid, in a generous and enthusiastic manner, did not otherwise hide something that should have been taken care of previously.

In a general sense, the consensus seems to be that we should blame the Egyptians for all this nonsense.  They used these concoctions in everything from religious ceremonies and burial preparations, to every day wear.  Some say certain scents demarcated social status, which is evident in Persian history.  One perfume factory was unearthed by archaeologists in Cyprus, dating back to 2,000 BC, which produced coriander, laurel, myrtle, rosemary, and lavender.

It’s fascinating to me to see how this word “perfume” applies across cultures and time.  Perfumes and the use of them are clearing seen in both Old and New Testaments in The Bible.  Here are a few words of wisdom about perfumes from the wisest man who ever lived.

Proverbs 27:9
Oil and perfume make the heart glad, so a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.

Ecclesiastes 7:1
A good name is better than a good ointment, and the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.

Did you read that one and say, “How strange!”?  Was Solomon just off his game when he came up with this one?  Why would God inspire Solomon to say such a thing?

There is a great story in the New Testament which can make sense out of Solomon’s words if we allow.  It’s two days before Passover, so that makes it Tuesday the week of this Feast and celebration.  Jesus was in Bethany because his best friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived there.  (For context read John 11, about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.)  He is actually staying in the home of Simon the leper, when a woman came with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume.  Watch what happens…

Matthew 26:7
… and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table…

His disciples were appalled, perhaps Judas (John 26:14-15) cried out the loudest, that this was such an extravagant waste of money.  Even then, perfume was a valuable commodity.  Image as the sweet smell of perfume wafted through the house.  It began on His hair, but there was so much perfume that it ran down and into his beard, further down His throat onto his chest, and soaked the clothes Jesus was wearing.  All this just days before His body would stink from sweat, and blood, and death.

What an extravagant show of love!  From a believer to the Savior… from the Savior to us. Now back to Solomon and his wack-a-doodle statement in Ecclesiastes 7:1.

A good name is better than a good ointment… ointments can act as a balm or salve, easing pain, but seldom act as a cure.  In the NAME of Jesus we are not just eased from the pain of sin and death, but we are cured.

… the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth … For Jesus His death accomplished what His birth began, salvation for humanity, He said “It is finished!”  For us, upon our death we see the Master, if indeed we are IN HIM by faith.  It makes Solomon’s words true, for Jesus, and for us.

Eau de Extravagance… the blood of Christ, shed for me.


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Tuckered vs. Knackered

Daily Post: Knackered


My uncle Wylie had two pet “sayin’s” for when he was tired.  He’d say, “I feel like I been rode hard and put up wet.”  Or he’d say, “I’m plumb knackered.”  Now as a kid, I thought this was funny, but only because I didn’t know what knackered meant.  Turns out it means the same thing my momma would say, “I’m plumb tuckered out.”  Basically this is the word version of the war for independence.  “Knackered” is the British version, “tuckered” is the North American version of the same concept:  being just too tired to move, or exhausted.

You ever have days like that?  I still do.  I used to get up early and start buzzing around, drinking that morning brew to get the juices flowing and the synapsis firing.  After getting prepped with fuel, washed with soap, and driving through the war zone that is commuter travel, I’d work more hours than I care to think.  I’d wonder as I got back in my worn out auto, if I had the strength and resolve to actually make it back through the jungle to my home, where a hot meal and warm bed waited for me.  I’d often look like the kid in this picture; just plumb knackered.  Then things changed and my commute was about 30 yards from my bedroom to my office, and at the end of some days, I’d still look like the kid in the picture.  Now things have changed again, and I’m semi-retired, and yep, you guessed it, I still look like the kid in the picture.  It happens.

The kid in the picture is doing exactly what the Creator designed our bodies to do, when they’ve played hard or worked hard, at the end of the day, we need sleep.  It’s part of the mystery that is the human body.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, here’s a list of how much sleep is recommended for each age group:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

I guess I’m grateful some foundation took the time to research all this, and give us this valuable information, but my thought is, that we are born with this knowledge, because it’s programmed into our DNA.  Our “circadian rhythm,” the natural sleep/wake cycle, God Himself programmed into us, with His own breath of life:

Genesis 2:7
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Some will argue, there’s nothing in the Bible about sleep cycles, or Adam and Eve sleeping in the garden!  Well, how about that, you’re right.  However, there is a great deal of sleeping going on in the Bible, and it points to God’s design.  I’ll give you just one verse here, then you go get your Bible and check out all the others.  David’s morning prayer, declaring his trust in God, includes this statement:

Psalm 3:5
I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me.

David became knackered with being chased by his son Absalom, and “tired to the bone,” he stopped to get some sleep.  He trusted God to protect him during this sleep, and give him the strength to do it all again the next day.  We’re wired this way.  And sleep works this way, when we put our trust in God.

Are you knackered?  Maybe what you need is a good night’s sleep.


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The Mantle Was Still Warm



One of the things I remember vividly about my grandmother was all the quilts around her house.  When we would go to visit, it was like going on an adventure.  My Granny’s house had nooks and crannies, and rooms that took hours to explore.  It was a hodgepodge of interconnected spaces with one overwhelming characteristic on winter nights… it was cold.  Hence all the quilts in every room with a bed or sitting area.  We stayed warm by snuggling down into the bed, covering up with those mantles of love, sleeping blissfully, peacefully, until we heard the bacon frying in the morning.

Today, the A/C in my home works very well.  The walls and roof, properly insulated, keep out the drastic changes in the weather, whether hot or cold.  I still like it on the cool side, so we keep the thermostat set lower than most folks.  This allows me to relive my childhood and keep a blanket on my bed year round.  Today I woke up to the cool breeze, produced by the ceiling fan, on my face.  Yet, I was all snuggly and warm, because of the two blankets, one light, one heavier that stays on my bed.  Today, now writing this story, I look back fondly on those childhood memories of staying over at Granny’s.

A mantle, or blanket, can carry such strong memories, and have significant meaning for some folks.  There is one particular story in the Bible which has this effect for those who have ever been in leadership.  For Pastors, Teachers, Worship or Sunday School leaders, there is a certain burden of responsibility that is carried like a mantle on your shoulders every time you’re exercising your gifts and calling, to serve God. At times it weighs heavy there, other times you barely notice its presence.

Elijah was God’s prophet.  He stood in the gap between God and Israel, and Israel and Ahab, and his wife Jezebel (a priestess of the pagan god Baal).  Baal was the Canaanite god who controlled rain, thunder, lightning and dew.  In a great standoff, challenging this pagan god, Elijah does spiritual battle with 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.  Two altars are built, the prophets of Baal go first, Elijah second, to see whose god was really God.

Two oxen are slaughtered and put on top of the altars, and by noon the prophets of Baal began cutting themselves in panic, because their god hadn’t shown up yet.  As evening approaches, Elijah orders his altar saturated with 4 barrels of water.  When Elijah prays for God to demonstrate His LORDSHIP for all to see, suddenly fire falls from heaven.  The fire consumes the water, the wood, the sacrificed oxen, and the stones of the altar itself.

At this point Elijah demands the death of the 450 false prophets of Baal.  He prays for rain and the rain comes, ending the famine which plagued the countryside.  Jezebel the priestess is livid at the death of her prophets, so she threatens to kill Elijah.  This is where it gets interesting.  Elijah flees, ending up in a cave in Horeb, where God speaks to him asking, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  The mantle of leadership was weighing heavily on his shoulders.

Then God tells Elijah:  [1 Kings 19:11-14]

So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  Then he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”

God would continue to use Elijah for years, and in the process raise up another younger prophet to take his place.  If you’ve stayed with me this long, watch how this particular story ends.

1 Kings 19:19
So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, while he was plowing with twelve pairs of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth. And Elijah passed over to him and threw his mantle on him.

The mantle.  It represented God’s calling, to be the next prophet.  It wasn’t something Elisha was seeking.  It wasn’t something he asked for.  It was placed upon him, while the mantle still warm from Elijah’s back.  God was still using Elijah to stand in the gap, but soon the mantle, and the responsibility to be God’s prophet would be fully given to Elisha.

I’m wondering as I write these words, what God has placed in your life as your mantle.  Some are given leadership roles, others are given ministry roles that are never seen.  The mantle (calling) of the Old Testament is very much like Spiritual Gifts in the New Testament.  In the Old Testament God often used one person (prophet) to speak and lead the people.  In the New Testament age (the church) God uses every person filled with the Holy Spirit at salvation, to minister to each other, and the unsaved people around them.

What is the mantle (spiritual gift) God has placed on your shoulders?  Are you weary at times, of serving God in this way?  If so, listen to the words God said to Moses, Elijah, and every other person before you, who stood in the gap for God:

1 Chronicles 22:13
Be strong and courageous, do not fear nor be dismayed.

I say to you today, be the servant of the LORD while the mantle is still warm around you.


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Genesis, Patriarchs, and Eternity Past

Daily Post:  Roots

chicken and egg

Which came first the chicken or the egg?  It’s really a question about causality.  And this particular question can make your head spin.  Riddle’s are like that.  Luna Lovegood (the dotty witch from Harry Potter) when asked a riddle replied, “A circle has no beginning.”  The famous chicken/egg debate is circular riddle from any perspective.  In an article from MNN (Mother Nature Network), written in early 2013, Melissa Breyer answers the question by pointing to a video that for most atheist and agnostics works well.  It’s interesting, informative, scientific, visually engaging, and totally ignores the root of the problem.  Breyer alludes to the problem in her article.  The causality dilemma is really only a riddle, or problem, for those who don’t already know the answer.  The Genesis creation story solves the riddle with clarity, giving us the root or causation answer.  This answer is unsatisfactory for anyone who does not know God.  God created animals, not eggs.

Genesis 1:24-25
Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so.  God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

It’s the same question really as, “What came first, the Patriarchs or the Nation?”  Even in our wonderful USA culture we have originators who held the roots of an idea for freedom of religious expression.  We were not a nation at the time, yet became a nation when men chose to follow the Creator, rather than men,  The king didn’t like it, but there you go.  It was the egg (idea of religious freedom) that produced the chicken (the Republic), not the other way around.

Israel was not a Nation before God said to Abram, way back in Ur…
Genesis 12:1-3
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you;  And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
The root of this nation is Abram, when God changed his name to Abraham.

So we have to go back even further into Eternity Past and ask the question, “Who came first, God or Satan?”  Have God and Satan always just coexisted?  Are they equals, like two sides of the force in Star Wars?  Science fiction leaps in at this point and cries “yes!”  Only those who know the truth can answer this riddle, and the answer is no.  Satan, was Lucifer, one of God’s archangels who rebelled against God’s LORDSHIP.   He is pure evil, he is out to destroy God’s creation and rob God’s glory.

The ULTIMATE riddle is one that comes out of this understanding of causation.  The question is, “Why did God create a CREATURE (satan) who would ultimately attempt to rob God of this glory, and allow satan to corrupt mankind, allow satan to attempt to destroy the planet, or even exist in the first place?”  You see, that is a good question.  The reason it is so good is that while I have a theory about the answer, it is unprovable until the Creator answers it in person.

I’m going to ask Him one day, just so I can know if I’m right or not.


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Gray Bird

DailyPost:  Gray


We were on the very back of the ship, the first ship I’d ever been on, mesmerized by the thoughts of what lay ahead.  Walking around while waiting to disembark, I snapped one photo after another just trying to take it all in, attempting to preserve some of the magic of the first day.  I walked right up to this bird sitting on the rail.  It was as if this seagull was saying, “Ok, fool, here I am, take the picture already.”  The camera couldn’t have been more than two feet away, and the bird never moved a muscle, or in this case a feather.  With the overcast skies, the clarity of this image is one of my favorites from our trip.  The many shades of gray in this bird caused me to think of the wonder of creation.

The hues and shadows contrasted by that orange beak were incredible.  Along with this image are hundreds of others from our trip, each unique in its own way, yet all capturing the glory of God’s creative power.  I’ve never really thought of gray as a beautiful color, but this image changed my mind.  Beautiful or not, I realize these birds have a bad reputation.  Often they are referred to as “flying rats with wings.”  They are perceived as dirty, diseased creatures which invade homes, nest inside, and scavenge for food.   Whether true or not, they are also known as “thieves.”  Probably more from the movie “Finding Nemo” than any other reason, since they are portrayed as dumb birds, incapable of nothing more than the word “mine” as they chase anything and everything they see as food.  But they don’t just steal the chips from your plate, they also will take bits of fish from feeding whales, hence the thief perception.

When seagulls act in these ways, they are only behaving (if we can call it that) in the way God designed them to act in their DNA.  If they are scavengers, then God created them with this instinct, and regardless of how we feel about it, in this way they bring glory to God.  So this made me think, “do I bring as much glory to God in living out my design, as this seagull does in his?”

Perhaps at times we completely miss the fact that we are here not by accident but by design, with intention, and purpose.  The challenge becomes to know what our purpose is, and what God’s intention was in creating and designing us this way.  Consider David’s response:

Psalm 139:14
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it well.

Psalm 103:22
Bless the LORD, all you works of His, in all places of His dominion;  bless the LORD, O my soul!

So if I glean anything at all from the seagull within context of David’s observations, like the seagull, I too am a glorious creature of God’s own design.  And, I am to give thanks, praise Him, and bless Him, deep in my soul.

In the gray hues of the seagull, as well as the gray hues of my existence, we both are to glorify God in all that we do.  One does it by instinct, the other by choice and will.  We need to remember who we are, and act accordingly.


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The Sound of Time

Daily Post: Zip

time marches on

It marches on.  This indefinite existence of past, present and future events, all collectively assimilated into and regarded as a whole life.  Time waits for no one.  It’s so easy to say, “I’m leaving in a couple of hours to go play golf, then run by the store to pick up a brisket to put on the smoker.”  When the reality is, we actually have no control over anything in that statement except to say that is “the plan.”  We might intend these things, make schedules, keep calendars, even prearrange as best we can, but the future is yet unknown.  It arrives to quickly.  It arrives suddenly, in a zip, like the sound of a bullet whizzing by your ear, before you even know it has been fired in your direction.

We measure time.  The watch on our arm, or in our pocket, clicks along the smallest of units we can comprehend and the seconds turn into minutes.  Try to hold your breath for just one full minute and your lungs will tell you exactly how long that really is.  Try to smile for one full minute and the muscles required for the action will enlighten you as to how long sixty seconds really is.  Try to gain back the minute you just used to read the last few sentences, and you understand the limitations of  your existence.  It is impossible to go back.  So as not to waste our time, we plan, we calendar, and we ignore the fact that we are really not in control.

Your children are born, they grow up, they move away, they have children, and time has sped through years and years, but it still seems like your children are children.  It marches on.

You get your first job, get promoted, change companies, get a new territory, change companies, and time has sped through years and years… it marches on.

What is the sound of time?

Kisses in the dark.  Laughter in the park.
The wind in the night.  A scream from a fright.
The first born coo.  An elephant blast at the zoo.
That mockingbird.  The mooing cattle heard.
A grandchild’s cry.  A grandfather’s sigh.
The soft tearful wail, when time has prevailed.

The apostle Peter helps us with a single thought regarding the zippiness of time.

2 Peter 3:8
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 

People like to quote this verse to demonstrate the timelessness of God, that He is present tense all the time.  In God’s time continuum 1 day = 1,000 years; and 1,000 years = 1 day.  Do you see any logic in this statement?  It reads the same backwards and forwards.  These are not two separate thoughts, but one thought expressed two ways.  So in God’s world 1 day is 1,000 of our years.  Or 1,000 of God’s years is 1 day of our existence.  Which is it?  How could we possibly know?  I believe the expression is to help us get the idea that our time zips by, while God is the same… yesterday, today, and forever.  Because the context of this statement is about Jesus coming again to conclude human history.

If we understand these concepts, if we commit to their truth, it releases in us the importance of not wasting our days, hours, minutes, and seconds… with unimportant matters.  It turns our hearts toward the now.  Living this moment to its fullest.  Being alive, knowing we’re alive, and living in a way that brings God glory.

What is the sound of time?

1 Thessalonians 4:16
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

When we hear the shout, and hear the trumpet blast from the archangel of God, then we will know that TIME has just begun!


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The Zealous Nature



Have you ever known someone so exuberant, so passionately fanatical about something it made you feel apathetic or indifferent in comparison, even though you both were saying the same thing?  I’m always annoyed by those guys who can quote baseball or football statistics from 15 years ago, like it was front page news.  Who cares who hit .323 and is headed for the Hall of Fame as a 3rd baseman? Avid people do, apparently.

I really like playing golf.  In fact I probably would be called “avid” by people who don’t like golf.  However, as avid as I might be about the sport, and while I do have opinions which I tend to be passionate about regarding the game, I’m not zealous about it.  Well, let me think about that again.  Maybe I am.

Some of the synonyms for zealous include: devout, dedicated, hard-core, enthusiastic, card-carrying, intense, and fierce.  So, does being a card-carrying member of the USGA (United States Golf Association) make me zealous?  Does talking about the sport to anyone who’ll listen make me zealous?  Does joining a Senior Men’s Golf Association to play golf every Tuesday morning at 8:00am make me zealous.  Ok, I’m zealous.  But I’m not a Zealot.  I’m an avid golfer.

A Zealot is a fanatical partisan, but more specifically a religious zealot.  When applied to a specific group a Zealot was a member of a fanatical sect of Jews in Judea during the first century A.D., which opposed the Roman domination of Palestine so much they regularly planned assassinations of key Roman leaders in the middle east.  Today we would call them Terrorists.  The Zealots were the most radical of rebels within Israel, finally making a stand against Rome at a great fortress called Masada.  Here some 1,000 Zealots fought for a time, and when it became apparent the Roman army was going to overtake them, committed suicide rather than be captured alive.  Zealot came to mean someone who is passionately dedicated to some cause.  They weren’t just avid in joining the opposition to Roman rule, they were zealously called Zealots.  It rings of “give me liberty or give me death!”

The apostle Paul was zealous, yet not a Zealot in this political sense.  Paul was so passionate about convincing everyone he came into contact with, that Jesus was the Living Christ, that his whole existence was devoted to this cause.  Paul ate the job, talked the job, walked the job, slept the job.  Paul was the job.  If the job is “making disciples” like Jesus commanded us all to do (Matthew 28:19-20).  Paul’s overwhelming commitment to the task, makes me look like an amateur playing against the professionals.  Paul’s eloquence about Jesus makes my puny little articles seem like kindergarten text.

Even though my life-long goal has been to speak, teach, preach, and now write in such a way that people come to know God better, and entrust their lives to Jesus, compared to Paul, I seem like just an average avid “fan” of God, rather than a “fully-devoted follower of Christ.”  I hear in Paul’s words a message of encouragement to keep trying though.  Paul really doesn’t want me, or you, or anyone to compare ourselves to him.  He wants us all to use what we have, do what we can, and leave the results up to God’s own Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.  To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.  To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.  I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

There are very few people today who can live the zealous lifestyle of the apostle Paul, making their life-focus the gospel of Jesus, becoming all things to all men, so that by some means God will save some.  Yet, God doesn’t call us to be Paul.  God calls me to be me.  God calls you to be you.  And in this calling, God wants to use you to bring Him glory, experience His grace, and do whatever is necessary so that He can win some, save some, around you.

My desire is to become as zealous about speaking out for Christ, as I am about discussing golf.

What about you?


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The Stuff of Fellowship



There is a certain balance, or symmetry, in the coordinated efforts of an orchestra and chorale, being lead by a brilliant conductor, producing the mellifluous tones of the original composer’s intent.  Whether the classical works of Beethoven, Brahms, and Mozart, to the musings and arrangements by Ray Chew and his new band on Dancing With The Stars, the tight harmonies produced along with the familiar melodies touch us somewhere deep within.  This alone makes the human being distinctly different from all other creatures on our planet.

The first title used for a congregation of believers in the first century was “church.”  It actually comes from a Greek word: ἐκκλησία  (ekklésia) pronounced (ek-klay-see’-ah).  The first appearance of this word is found in Matthew 16:18, based on Peter’s profession that Jesus is “The Christ (anointed One, Messiah), the Son of the Living God!”

Jesus response was:
“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”

This verse has lots of great teaching material but the word today is “harmony,” so where is this idea seen in what Jesus proclaimed?  Easy; those who truly know Jesus, and follow Him as Lord, they will allow Him to lead, and they will follow Him, which build’s the church that belongs to Jesus.  Each person working in harmony with the others, like the image Paul gave us, like a body following the lead of the head in all matters.  A hand doesn’t act independently of the foot, or the intestines of the eyes, because all engage in their own part as the head leads.  Every part of the body works in unison to achieve the great glory God deserves for our human presence on earth.  Which brings us to another word, which to me more clearly states “how” we function as a body.

1 Corinthians 1:9
God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Fellowship is really the “how” of a church identity.  When the conductor (Jesus) directs and leads the orchestra and chorale (members), each faithfully providing their contribution in work according to the composer’s (God’s) design and will; what happens is the most pleasing, peaceful, participation that it can only be described as Fellowship.

This word used in scripture comes from a Greek word: κοινωνία (koinónia) pronounced (koy-nohn-ee’-ah).  In Greek it means:  participation, communion, fellowship, but more literally PARTNERSHIP.  We are partners together with each other to follow Christ as our leader, to build His church.  Too many individual believers, and way too many pastors or teachers have fallen under the spell of believing it is “their” church.  But it’s not.  The Church belongs to Jesus.  We are privileged to be alive inside this body of believers, and to participate in God’s glory.  But the church is not ours… it is His.

Having had the great joy of singing with world-class voices, on stage in front of thousands, accompanied by a world-class orchestra, lead by a brilliant conductor, I never once thought of it as “my chorale”, or “my symphony”, or my “stage.”  I remember feeling so insignificant it brought tears to my eyes just realizing I was really there.  These memories still live and breathe within me, touching me to the core of my being.

Next time you join in a congregational gathering (fellowship) for worship, ask yourself, “Am I in harmony with what God wants to have happen in this place today?  Am I a willing participant?  What do I have to offer that would demonstrate I’m willing to bring God great glory today?”  These thoughts, from every member, bring harmony in the worship of our Creator, Savior, and Lord.


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Of Skewers, Pitons, and Stakes



Life today is so interesting.  Combine technology with the English language and you find a myriad of meaning in just one word:  Spike.  I did a simple Google search on “spike,” then clicked on “images,” and found hundreds of pictures beyond the one above I screen-captured.  My favorite definition of “spike” was #2 under “noun” which reads: “a sharp increase in the magnitude or concentration of something. (i.e. the oil price spike)  The Google definition search went into great detail with how spike can be used as a noun, a verb, along with its origin, and specific allusions to sports usages.  Gotta love the English language.

A spike might be a skewer, used to make my famous steak kabobs on a sunny spring afternoon.  A spike might also be piton; a peg driven into a rock or crack in the rock to support a mountain climber or rope.  Different from a skewer, or a piton, a spike might also be a stake the mountain climber uses to secure his tent on the side of the mountain.  All three things could just as easily be called a spike.  A rose by any other name, right?

I can’t image how folks from other countries, who learn English as a second or third language, make any sense out of how complex our communication becomes just by using words which all mean the same thing, but have different “monikers” to distinguish them within the group.  I’m not sure I’m smart enough, and it’s the only language I speak.  Unless of course you count “Texan,” then I’m fluent in both.  Here’s a brief sample:

  • “y’all” is “you all”
  • “howdy” is “hello”
  • anyone who lives North of the Mason Dixon Line is a “Northerner”
  • a “looker” is an “attractive woman”
  • to do something “fast” is “right quick”
  • “dinner” is “supper”
  • a “tank” is a “pond”
  • “big hat. no money” means “all talk, no money”
  • “eat up” means to “overtake something”
  • any type of “soda” is a “coke”
  • “tuckered out” means “exhausted”
  • “over yonder” means “over there”

Sometimes the words people use in church are just as confusing as the Texas slang examples above, because many of the things said, come right out of the Bible, but paraphrased a bit.

Are you washed in the blood?
You been sanctified?
Are you born again?
Do you have the Holy Spirit in you?

None of these sentences would anyone use in the normal context of human existence, except that someone found expressions in Bible terms, then attempted to turn them into catch phrases that sound religious.

To the church the Apostle Peter wrote: 1 Peter 1:2
… according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

Jesus was attempting to explain a spiritual truth to Nicodemus when He said, John 3:3
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.

See, I’ve only used 2 verses of the 31,102 verses in the Bible, (23,145 OT + 7,957 NT).  Yet, in just these, I’ve found 2 verses to support all four of the questions in the example.  For those who think they understand the Bible and all its many facets of knowledge, they have been skewered by their own ego, living in the delusion of such a belief.

Not only that, but the Texas slang above is pretty much fixed, or stable.  You can go to any part of Texas and those words are almost always the same.  But to have context for Biblical understanding requires understanding the language of the document (whether Hebrew or Greek), comprehension of the culture and age of time it was written, but most importantly, a relationship with Whom the document is about, God.

Like a stake through the heart, like a piton into the side of the hardest rock on earth, the Bible has the ability to skewer our minds with truth.  It reveals.  It convicts.  It enlightens.  It empowers.  Yet the revelation, conviction, enlightenment, and power come only to those who know the Author.  Not Moses, John, David, Peter, or Paul… no.  These benefits of the Word only come to those who truly know Jesus.

The apostle John is the only Gospel author who doesn’t discuss or diagram the birth of Jesus on earth, instead focusing on His pre-birth position in heaven.

John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The Spike (truth) with which God impales the world today is His WORD – Jesus.

John 14:6
I am the way, the truth, and the life; and no one comes to the Father but through me.

It’s really this simple:  Know Jesus? Know the Word!


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Just Fry It?


salmon in airfryer

One Texas tradition I’ve always enjoyed is fried foods.  It may just be a southern thing to some folks, but being a born and bred Texan, I’m like a lot of others with this background who just feel nobody “fries” stuff like a Texan.  The State Fair of Texas is always a big crowd pleaser for their contest promotion of crazy and new concoctions of fried foods.  Here are the eight finalists who competed for the awards of Best Taste and Most Creative on August 28th at last years State Fair:

  • Deep Fried Bacon Burger Dog Sliders on a Stick
  • Down Home Chicken Pot Pie Pocket (with ham’n cheese dip)
  • Fried Jell-O
  • Deep Fried Pulled Pork “Funyun” Dings
  • State Fair Cookie Fries
  • Southern Fried Chicken & Duplin’s
  • Caribbean Pineapple Korn-A-Copia
  • Injectable Great Balls of BBQ

Best Taste went to Ruth Hauntz for Fried Jell-O, and most creative to Isaac Rousso for State Fair Cookie Fries.

My enthusiasm for fried food notwithstanding, I didn’t try any of these fried food inventions this year, and the simple reason is… I didn’t go to the State Fair.

This past year I’ve been on a wandering mission to find myself, and the next phase of my life, and where God will send me to spread His Word.  I know that statement may be out of left field, but it applies to the topic, I promise, just stay with me.

Part of being a believer in Christ, and a part of the family of God, is believing the whole Bible, not just the favorite parts we like to read, or quote.  Sometimes believers get bogged down reading the Old Testament, where God gives the Hebrew people all these laws which we don’t understand today.  There have been a good many books written about food, and dietary restrictions given to the Hebrew people in the Old Testament.  “Kashrut” comes from Kaf-Shin-Reish, meaning fit, proper or correct.  You may be more familiar with “Kosher.”   One common misconception is, there is no such thing as “kosher-style” food, because kosher is not a style of cooking.  Chinese food can be kosher if it is prepared in accordance with Jewish law.  Yet, here’s the thing, the short answer as to why Jews observe these laws is:  because the Torah says to.  God didn’t give explanations as to why these rule came into existence for Israel.  They are just the law.

This is why Jesus would say, when the Pharisees attacked Him because He and His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands…

Mark 7:14-15
After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand:  there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.

Is Jesus negating thousands of years of Hebrew Law, and going against the commandment of God here?  NO!!!  Jesus is only explaining what I said a few minutes ago, that Kashrut is about obedience.  But oh be careful here!  Stubborn compliance born out of legalism can be just as displeasing to God as not following those laws in the first place.  Jesus says, obedience is a HEART issue.

Which brings me to my wandering mission.  This year I’ve learned to cook in a way that allows me to have “fried food” flavor, but without all the grease and harmful things that come with deep fried foods.  I discovered the “Air-Fryer.”   There are many versions of this now available both retail and on-line.  I purchased mine through  It may sound odd, but I discovered this year that I can have fried meals quicker, with less mess, while not sacrificing taste in the process!  And… it can help me fulfill a great scripture as I cook:

Colossians 3:23-24
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

“Do your work heartily…”  is about being obedient in a way that pleases God, honors God, and brings glory to God.  When I cook, I want to be healthy, wise, and eat well.  The image above is a great Salmon recipe, that I cooked in my Air-Fryer!  How amazing is that?  I’m delivering Fried Chicken wings, Baked Potatoes, French Fries, and a host of other foods… all without the grease of deep frying.

Have I given up Chicken Fried Steak at Cotton Patch Restaurant?  Nope.  I’m not perfect.


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Just for Giggles


so funny

I have to be honest.  The minion movies are some of my favorite kid flicks for all time.  Somehow they just tickle my funny bone, and I giggle, chortle, titter, tee-hee, snicker, and guffaw throughout the whole movie.  When I laugh like this I feel better afterward.  When I chuckle and giggle for an hour and a half, I come out the other side feeling refreshed and alive, and my burdens seem a little lighter.  Intended or not by the film makers, I know this is God’s design.

The wisest man to ever live said,

There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven…
A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance…
[Ecclesiastes 3:1-4]

The Creator of the Universe once appeared in human flesh as the Son of God.  When He taught the people he said,

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh
[Luke 6:20-21]

When King David was a little anxious of his enemies, he remembered the God he served with these words,

They return at evening, they howl like a dog, and go around the city.
Behold they belch forth with their mouth; swords are in their lips, for they say, “Who hears?”
But YOU, O LORD, laugh at them; YOU scoff at all the nations.
[Psalm 59:6-8]

One more, from King David, helping us trust in the LORD,

The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes at him with his teeth.
The LORD laughs at him, for HE sees his day coming.
[Psalm 37:12-13]

What do we glean from just these verses?  The Creator laughs at us when we fret over things which He controls, and we do not.  The Creator also created us to be able to laugh like He laughs, so we can get over our fears and anxieties.  The Creator has given us His word that He is in control, that He has the authority, and that He is ever-present with us.  What’s not to laugh?

I’ve done this all my life, and I’ve been ridiculed, mocked, or judged for this simple response to the pressures of life.  When something bad happened, when I’ve gotten bad news, when someone abandoned me, when some enemy came at me strong, my first reaction often was an almost silent chuckle.  Some people, and rightly so, would call this a defense mechanism.  In defining my action this way, they suggest I’m weak.  However, I believe with all my heart that this reaction is a gift to me for my faith in the Creator.  For I have an overwhelming assurance that nothing can come at me from heaven or earth that will ever separate me from Jesus my Savior, God my Father, or the Holy Spirit my comforter.  [Romans 8]  The silent chuckle is my great defense, because in that moment I am reminded who loves me the most.

I believe this truth so strongly that when faced with pain, loss, frustration, or temptation, I can just chuckle, and know My God will deliver me from this too.  When I look into the eyes of my enemy.  I’m more like Kevin, the minion above, … “You are so funny!”


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Through a Glass Darkly


iron age mirrorIron Age mirror   Copyright: Wessex Archaeology
Archaeologists look back in time and help us discover life-like conditions of days gone by.  Stone, pottery and glass hold up pretty well over the centuries.  However, if something was metal, only gold comes out of the ground in pretty much the same condition as when it was buried.  Copper and iron will corrode or completely disappear because of acids in the soil.  Same thing with bone, which keeps well in alkaline soil, but is eaten up in clays or sands which are acidic.  Wood, leather, or other textiles may only be found in waterlogged soil, which reduces decay.  On the other hand if something has been burned, the charred or burned sections may preserve well.  For example a 1,000 year old Anglo-Saxon bread roll was found in Suffolk, in the old remains of a burned house.
Looking backward through the earth’s treasure chest, we can glimpse into the past, before there was YouTube and Instagram.  We don’t have the privilege of the digitalized version of life, instead we get the dark opaque view with little detail beyond the artifact itself.  Which is a great metaphor for life itself.
We hang pictures on our walls to remind us of relationships, places, events, or days now long gone, which we want to memorialize in some way.  With each passing day, the person, place or event grows dimmer in our minds, becoming more and more opaque, the image in the picture becoming just a reminder of the past.  In many ways much like the Iron Age mirror seen above, it gives tangible proof that I lived in those moments.
As human beings we are bound by this present moment.  Memorabilia from our past helps us have context for who we are, and how we got here, and for many people that is enough.  Others however, want to know more.  Many people want to look into the future and see things that we are not capable of seeing either.  We do not have a magic mirror like Belle in Beauty and the Beast where we can ask to see someone or something distant from us.  We long to know, will I be happy?  Will I be successful?  Will I marry?  Will I have children?  How many?  Will I live a long time?  Is there anything else after all this?  We can’t know any of these answers, except in the present – as we live them.
When the Apostle Paul wanted the church in Corinth to understand the importance of Love as the dominant force of life, he wrote about how love acts in real time – the now.  One catching phrase that I remember from my childhood was, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.  now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am known.”  (1 Corinthians 13:12 – KJV)  The opaque nature of human existence is seen so clearly in these words.  I cannot know my future.  Except to know, that if I am in Christ Jesus, when I do see Him face to face, I will know things, I will be aware of things, that are beyond my view or perspective today.  This will be because I’m no longer bound in my preset present tense limitations humanly.
Will I know everything?  Not hardly, I’m not God.  But I will know more than I do today.
In the same way archaeologists help us look backward, prophets help us look forward.  And we end up with just about the same amount of information forward as we do backward.  What we know of the future is that Jesus is coming again.  We know what this will look like, at least from a description standpoint, even if we don’t know the details of when or how.  Scripture says He will come in the clouds.
We know that when He comes the earth’s shape and function will change, that He will be sovereign King of the planet for a time, and that judgment will be the end of human history after that.  We know that after the judgment, God creates (or re-creates) earth and heaven into what His original design called for, and there we will live eternally as God’s family.  In this place there is no war, no death, no starvation, no political upheaval, nothing but the perfect and complete will of God – resulting in peace and love forever.
Like to know where you find all this stuff?  Click here.
Just because we live opaque lives in the sense of looking backward or forward, does not mean we can’t live the vibrant and brilliantly shining life of love right now – in this moment.  We remember the good times, and block out the bad.  We look forward to the happy, bright future, not the tragedies that may come.  We have a hope and a future, because of Jesus.  Live for today, and quit trying to look through that dark glass for happiness.  It will come, soon enough.
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Shock Factor



It’s Monday.  To me it’s just another day of the week.  For many it’s the start of another work week after a weekend of decompression.  For those going back to work, Monday creates a noise in their souls,  like gears grinding against each other, as a giant clock once again gongs every hour, for eight, ten or twelve grueling hours.  I get out of bed, walk 30 feet to the coffee pot, hit the switch; walk another 30 feet to my office, and raise the blinds.  I sit at my desk and touch the keyboard and my computer is jolted back to life.  I check my email, check the news, flop around FaceBook for a few minutes, all the while listening for  the sound I long to hear … the beep… beep… beep… that my coffee is finally ready!  This beep jolts me to my feet as I almost run to the caffeine.  Monday… or every other day of the week… this is my normal routine.  I’m not really awake until I’ve experienced the shock factor of my morning brew.

I read an interesting article this morning about alternatives to coffee that offer you a morning jolt.  Matcha is a powdered Japanese green tea. Licorice tea is an herbal tea made from licorice root.  Wheatgrass is suggested as a natural energy booster.  Chaga Mushroom tea, traditionally used as a Chinese medicine.  And finally, Yerba Mate which apparently is very popular in parts of South America.  To read the article and benefits of each drink click here.

Here’s the thing.  None of these options sound good to me, and even the details in the article don’t really jolt me into attempting to find in them an alternative to my morning coffee.  I like my coffee.  I add a little sweetener, but I’m not a cream or fancy coffee guy.  What works, just works, and I don’t really like messing with it.  At times I’m shocked I’ve become so set in my ways.  But it happens.

The first day of the week, in the Jewish culture of the 1st century, that day was Sunday.  What the Jewish Sanhedrin didn’t know… because they were all probably still sleeping at the time… was that they were in for a big jolt of reality.  It would really help if we could watch a live video feed as word of the empty tomb of Jesus spread throughout the city.  First to the Jewish community, then to the Roman cohort who took place in the crucifixion on Friday.  These folks were going to have a really bad first day of the week.  They would need something stronger than a caffeine jolt to get them through it.

The shock factor of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is still compelling.  The facts of it are hotly debated even in religious seminaries across the world today.  The suggestion that it is a myth fabricated by the disciples to carry on the legacy of Jesus, is often adopted by those who find this explanation more palatable than the shocking truth that jolts them to the core of their existence.  Coffee doesn’t cut it for them either.

The shock factor of the angels, waiting on the women who came early to this tomb to tend the body of Jesus, jolts us into that cross over realm between our reality and God’s spiritual realm and the kingdom of heaven.  We have trouble comprehending the disciples reactions when Jesus appears to them, arrives in their company, when they know they locked the door after every one arrived.  Like a heavy jolt of shock therapy, the narrative opens the eyes of any seeker to see the total picture.  The story of Jesus includes: being born by a virgin, living 30 years as a carpenter’s son, and learning that trade, ministering for three years, being crucified on a Roman cross, being buried in a borrowed tomb, and three days later… reclaiming His life to demonstrate His power over death.  This narrative is electrifying!

No coffee in the world can shock you like this.  No matcha, licorice, wheatgrass, chaga mushroom, or yerba mate tea will do the trick either.  The jolt that comes from seeing the Divine acts of God intervening in human history, is like none other in the world.

But if you think this is shocking… God has reserved in His plan of redemption, another coming advent from the Son of God.  One day, Jesus is coming again.

The world is not ready for the jolt of reality this second coming will bring.

Are you?


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Higher Ground


higher ground

For just the basics in mountain climbing gear you need the right mountaineering boots that have spikes, front points, and crampon straps.  Other gear includes: the right pants with leggings, ice ax, ice screw, hammer ax, clock, piton-carrier, mountaineering shovel, carabiners, climbing harness, rope, parka, hood, knapsack, and a helmet, with a helmet lamp.  This list makes me tired.  People who climb mountains are a rare breed, the few of the few.  People who climb the world’s highest mountains, represent an even smaller pool of the few who climb mountains in general.  Those who reach the summit of the world’s tallest mountains are the rarest of this rare breed.

I can say with some assurance, there is a hill where One man stood alone, and of His own free will, He rose to higher heights than any other climber has ever been on this earth.  This Man stood, while nailed to a Roman cross of crucifixion.  This Man died in the process, and was then buried in a nearby borrowed tomb.  This Man ascended from His deathbed three days later, and climbed out of that tomb alive again!!!  When He left this planet, THIS MAN rose to His rightful place in the heavens.

The man in the mountain climbing picture above has climbed to the peak, and was rewarded with a view that only the few will ever witness.  Perhaps he nearly sacrificed his own life to attain this height.  I don’t know what hardship he faced, how long it took, or if there were others with him.  I don’t know his name, his relationship with the people in his life.  I don’t know if he is rich or poor, educated highly or simply, political or not.  The only thing I know of this man, is that he climbed that mountain.  It is what I see.

Some people only see Jesus on the cross.  This is a mistake.  It’s easier perhaps for them to accept a historical narrative of a real man, Jewish in origin from the tiny village of Nazareth, who stirred up trouble in Jerusalem around 33 A.D. and was put to death for His actions. Then they can say when asked, “sure, Jesus was a real person.”  But this doesn’t tell the whole story does it?  It’s much harder to accept other parts of this narrative as fact.  The parts of the story which come after the death of Jesus are critical in the total package.  For without the resurrection and the ascension, the crucial element of Jesus having power over death and hell, is lost.  He died to pay our sin debt.  But if it gets paid, then Jesus never is resurrected, the debt is not cancelled as soon as it is paid.  And we still bear this burden.  Don’t take my word for it.  Listen to the Apostle Paul…

1 Corinthians 15:12-19
Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.  Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

The empty tomb stands as the ultimate symbol of the ability of Jesus to keep His promises.  In John 10:17-18 Jesus says, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.  No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

The empty tomb, if we take the time to focus our attention there more than one day a year, gives us the confident assurance that Christ will make good on all His promises!  And that includes…

John 14:1-3
Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

Revelation 22:12-13
Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

These promises give me the power to climb out of bed everyday.  These promises allow me to not just see Jesus on the cross, but to see Him climbing out of the tomb, ascending back to the Father, and ONE DAY… coming to take me to live with Him forever.  I don’t need a lot of mountain climbing gear to scale the heights of this planet.  I have faith that takes me to the far reaches of the universe!  I have Jesus.

Happy Easter!  He is Risen!

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Cranky Doesn’t Cover It


fork in the road

It seems to me that some people become irritable and ill-tempered over such petty or pathetic reasons.  I mean, I get that if you miss a meal you might be a little hungry and that makes you a little angry, so you end up being “hangry.”  Been there, done that.  I get that if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your brain can keep misfiring, and coherency and communication end up being tossed out the window like the proverbial bathwater. However, the eccentric and strange culmination of “cranky” that is seen so predominate today, seems inbred into a culture of “I want it my way, and I want it now.”

This is a problem not unique to the human creature, an Arch-angel apparently suffered from this kind of cranky malady first.  The Bible tells us that for some reason being beautifully made, being one of the most powerful creatures ever made, wasn’t really good enough for Lucifer.

God used the Prophet Isaiah, speaking a prophecy regarding the king of Babylon, to metaphorically describe what happened in heaven before the earth was created, and what will happen when Satan is finally defeated.

In eternity past…

Isaiah 14:12-15
How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north.  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”  Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit.

Satan seemed a little cranky about his station in life, sound familiar?  So he set out to take from God that which he had no right to take.  Power and glory are base desires of creatures who want to be God, but will never be Him. So what happens in the future when God is done with all this crankiness?

Some future date…

Isaiah 14:9-11

Sheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come; it arouses for you the spirits of the dead, all the leaders of the earth; it raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones.  They will all respond and say to you, “Even you have been made weak as we, you have become like us.  Your pomp and the music of your harps have been brought down to Sheol; maggots are spread out as your bed beneath you and worms are your covering.”

Now that is a nasty sight.  But what can we learn from such a story, such an image?

Yogi Berra was giving Joe Garagiola directions from New York to Yogi’s house in Monclair when he said:  “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”  He explained later that it simply didn’t matter which route a person took on the road, left or right, each fork lead to his house.

Perhaps the lesson here is that God created us to have a relationship with Him.  Lucifer/ Satan was created to live in a certain relationship with God the Creator as an archangel.

All relationship roads lead to God.

When we choose to live according to the path He set for us, living in such a way as to glorify the Creator, we end up in right relationship with God and are rewarded eternally in heaven.  However, if we so choose, we can live instead, by taking another fork on the road.  Thinking all the time the pursuit of things that I want, and wanting them now, doesn’t really matter.  The fact is, that path too leads to God, just in a way we wouldn’t expect, because mostly our desires have blinded us.

Revelation 20:11-15
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Cranky doesn’t begin to cover it, when we see what the Bible says God’s response is to those who follow Satan’s rebellion, and want to go down whatever path they choose to improve their station in life.

Cranky?  Please?!  All our paths lead to God, and there is only ONE WAY (path) on which to go, and not expect to experience God’s cranky side.

Jesus said:
I am the way, the truth, and the life; and no one comes to the Father but through Me.


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Full Measure



The only people who walk around calling themselves by their own name are sports maniacs, politicians, or overstuffed actors. No normal person says, “Jim is going to write an article, then have breakfast, and after that Jim is going to play golf.”  A normal person says “I am…” regarding these activities.  In English we call this speaking in the third person.  Not first, not second… but third.  Names are essential but only exists for the benefit of the outsider.  They are like handles to help the outsider identify a person.  A coffee mug has a handle, but holds no coffee.  The purpose is to allow the holder to have a relationship with the mug, which allows the holder to partake in the coffee.  Names are relationship handles.

As human beings we don’t have a relationship between our identity and our name, but those around us do.  My dad’s name is James, my son’s name is James, there is a man in my Sunday School class is named James.  So when I think of the name James, I don’t think of myself, I think about one of these other men I know, named James.

In the Old Testament the Hebrew people never called God by His true name, and if it was written down it was: YKVK.  Absent any vowel sounds this word is impossible to pronounce correctly.  It was never spoken so no one really knows what it sounds like.  Some have tried to say Yahveh, but even that is purely speculation.  The name YKVK represented the infinite aspects of God which are beyond our human understanding or comprehension.  This name is actually a combination of 3 Hebrew words: Haya, Hoveh, and Yeheyeh, which mean past, present, and future.  The concept isn’t just that God was, is, and always will be.  The concept is that God transcends time itself, and that God is present, was present, and will be present … simultaneously.

Whether in the first century or in the twenty-first century, Jews refer to God as Hashem, which literally means, “The Name.”  It is forbidden to speak God’s true name (YKVK) so The Name became the expression for the essence of the Jewish relationship with God.  To them it was the same thing as saying “Dad.”

Jesus was a Jew.  He understood these concepts better from a human perspective than any of his Jewish brothers.  He also got into big trouble because He explained these concepts as though He were talking about Himself.  At one point He said plainly and boldly, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) On another occasion Jesus said, “But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent me.” (John 8:16)

These radical statements by Jesus threw the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem into a rage.  This attitude was inflamed when on several separate occasions Jesus invoked a name or moniker, previously used for God, and took that title for Himself.  These statements began with the words: “I am…”  The very name God told Moses to use when speaking to Pharaoh in Egypt.  Listen to what He told them:

John 8:24
Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.

John 8:28
When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.

John 8:58
Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.

John 6:35
I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

John 8:12
I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.

John 10:7
Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

John 10:11
I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

John 11:25
I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.

John 14:6
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

John 15:1
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

When Jesus was born, God instructed Joseph to name this male child Jesus.  We lose so much understanding because we are not Jewish.  In fact His name in Hebrew and Aramaic (the languages which Jesus spoke), He was called “Yeshua,” which means salvation.  For His whole life Jesus was known in His own culture and world as Yeshua!

When Jesus lived on earth, kings were given authority in ceremonies where they were anointed with olive oil.  Yeshua became known as the “Mashiach” (Messiah) or “Anointed One.”  He was anointed with God’s authority, and so became known as Yeshua Ha Mashiach, Yeshua the Anointed One.

So why do we say His name is Jesus Christ as though referring to His first and last name? New Testament manuscripts written in Greek translated Yeshua (Hebrew) as “Iesous” (pronounced yay-soos).  This Greek word translated into English is “Jesus.”  The word for Mashiach (Anointed One) in Greek is “Christos” (anointed).  In English “Christ.”

Jesus Christ is … the Great “I AM”… the full measure of God’s revelation … of His nature, character, deity, authority, sovereignty, and grace.

Do you know His name?  What is your relationship with Him?


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three crosses

The key to success is to be in “the right place at the right time.”  History has shown this adage is true more often than not.  This trite phrase is second only to “it’s not what you know, but who you know that counts.”  It seems to me that my uncle Wylie related to each of these quotes by saying “Why is it I’m always a day late, and a dollar short?”  Timeliness is a universal principle regarding opportunities won or lost.

The week of Passover was about winning the war.  In ages, eras, and eons past, the great battle for sovereignty between Satan and the Creator was waged in the heavenly realm, before the earth and all of creation ever existed.  Satan wanted the power; wanted to be God.  Scripture declares he was one of the mightiest angels God ever created, but he was not God.  Satan’s pride and refusal to submit to God’s authority resulted in his being cast out of heaven to inhabit the earth along with God’s lesser creatures.  The battle continued on earth, with the fight for human souls.  Sin entered the world because Satan wanted to rob God of His glory by causing God’s highest earthly creation to rebel against God too.

The history of the Old Testament is about how these battles were fought through the Hebrew nation; and the promise that one day, a Messiah would win the final battle dealing with Sin.  The four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell us the story of Jesus’ life, the Messiah.  It was a life which served as the final battle ground regarding Sovereignty and Authority, and just who will have the final victory to be called God.  The battle plan was simple:  in order for Sin to be forgiven, a sacrifice must be made.  A debt must be paid.

As far as the Jewish leaders were concerned, the timely death of Jesus was the only solution allowing for them to remain in power over the people.  Jesus had grown too influential among the masses.  Jesus was arrested, taken to Annas, then to Caiaphas.  The Apostle John gives this telling insight into the mind and thoughts of the former high priest.

John 18:14
Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people.

So, manipulating Pilate, Herod, and the Roman state, these Scribes and Pharisees were in the right place, at the right time, with the right claims of “crimes against the state.” They were successful at ending the life of Jesus, because they said “He claimed to be a king!”  It was timely.  It was successful.  So they thought.  God seemed to have other plans.  In hindsight, they probably wished they’d listened closer, had keener insight into what God was busy doing.  We have this same view, (hindsight through the written Word of God), to help us understand the significance of the death of Jesus.

Romans 5:6-8
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

At exactly the right time, pre-ordained by the Creator Himself, Jesus carried His own cross to the place of the Skull, and was crucified.  This action was part one of the final battle plan to win the war for Sovereignty, once and for all.  It was done out of LOVE.  It was done because God’s sovereign desire is that everyone come to know Him, have a personal relationship with Him, then come to live with Him eternally.  Satan would have destroyed this plan if he could.  But God’s timely presence, His providential care, demonstrated with absolute clarity, the lengths to which He would go to save those who would believe.

Perhaps its timely that you’re reading this article.  Perhaps today is your day to believe, and become part of the family of God.

Frayed and Threadbare



The Dead Sea Scrolls consist of 900+ manuscripts or fragments containing historical, religious, and linguistic information.  Significant because they include the 2nd-oldest surviving manuscripts found later in the Hebrew Bible canon.  They also include extra-biblical material giving evidence of a diversity of religious philosophy during what is called the “Second Temple Judaism,” which is another way of describing the mindset of Jewish leadership at the time of Jesus Christ in the 1st century.  While most of the texts are written in Hebrew, there are some in Aramaic, and others in Greek, and one on copper.

Because of the threadbare condition of some of the scrolls, many remain unidentified.  The scrolls were discovered in twelve caves at the site known as Wadi Qumran near the Dead Sea along the West Bank of the Jordan River.  From 1946 to 1956 Bedouin shepherds led a team of archeologists to the site of 12 separate caves and recovered fragments like the one in the image above. [The Psalms Scroll (11Q5)]

This one image is a good metaphor for what was happening the week of Passover at the end of Jesus’ ministry.  After arriving in Jerusalem to the sounds of people shouting “Hosanna!” (Come let us reason), things began to unravel for the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem.  Jesus demonstrated His authority by driving the money changers from the Temple (Mark 11:15-17).  Mark’s gospel tell us “The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.”  (11:18)

As Jesus began to move about the city, coming and going into the temple compound, these Jewish leaders began aggressively challenging His authority, seeking to entrap Him, and find a validation for their murderous intentions.  As the feast of Passover approached, His own disciples commented one day, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”  To which Jesus replied, “Do you see these great buildings? Now one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.” (Mark 13:1-2)  Jesus was in the role of prophet here, because in fact in 70 A.D. the Roman government came and tore the Second Temple down stone by stone, and it lies in ruins today.  The Jewish Old Testament system of worship was unraveled within 40 years of the statement Jesus made in Mark 13.

It was necessary.  It was part of the sovereign plan of God.  Salvation for all mankind came from the nation of Israel, but not in the manner they thought it would come.  They believed Messiah would come to destroy Rome, when in fact He came to bear the weight and full penalty for mankind’s Sin.  They thought Jehovah would never allow them to lose their power or position in the world, when in fact Yahweh was about to leave them powerless in a hostile world.  Things unraveled quickly; in the context of how long Israel had been blessed by God, protected by His hand, and given mercy time after time.  When the nation commissioned to bring LIGHT to the nations, decided instead to kill the Light of the world using the Roman government of its murderous tool, the unraveling process was almost complete.

On the day when Jesus died, the path to God was made clear, as the curtain in the temple separating all mankind from the Holy of Holies was rent in two, from top to bottom. (Matthew 27:51).  The words of Jesus to His disciples were fulfilled literally, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6).

The Dead Sea Scrolls are documentation of a time when God chose Israel to be LIGHT to the world.  They are frayed, fragmented, and threadbare.  But the truth of those documents remains.  They are part of the sovereign plan of God to do what this nation could not accomplish.  Light came to the world in the form of God Himself.  The Old covenant was replaced by the New.  The old system of sacrifice, was replaced by one complete for all the balance of human time.  The old priestly system of having a mediator to offer my sacrifices, is replaced now by the One who is both Priest and Sacrifice, for the Sin of the world.

The old unraveled.  The NEW will last for eternity.

Come Let Us Reason


anyone listening

This morning I sat staring blindly out my window.  It’s overcast.  Noise from the passing traffic on Morris, and the din from my sleep machine in the bedroom were the only sounds I heard, when I was finally aware that I was typing this article.  The reverberations of the keystrokes finally broke the silence in my head and the blindness of my eyes.  I suddenly wondered… “is anyone out there listening?”

Do you ever have those days when you “wake up” at work and don’t really know how you got there?  Obviously you made your way out of bed into the shower, stopped at Starbucks for your favorite brew, and fought the morning traffic.  You probably said hello to people when you arrived at the office, but then suddenly, you were at work.  Blindly, you went through hours of existence, without conscious thoughts beyond the mechanical processes you’ve done a hundred million times before.

It may have been this way for the thousands of people walking on the road that morning, making their pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Passover.  Scholars say that in the year Jesus was crucified, perhaps as many as one million people would travel to the center of the middle east to celebrate their heritage, make their sacrifices, and worship Yahweh.  Jesus and his disciples were among the throng who had come early, deciding to stay in the town called Bethany just a short distance from Jerusalem.  After spending the weekend with His close friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, Jesus and his troop began their approach to the Holy city.

Along the way the multitude became aware of His presence, and blindly joined the choruses of those around them, like a flash-mob at the local mall, adding their own voices to the words being lifted to the heavens.

Matthew 21:8-9
Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road.  The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting,

Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!

The crowds that day were fulfilling the ancient prophecies regarding how the Messiah who would come into Jerusalem.

Psalm 118:21-26
I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me, and You have become my salvation.  The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.  This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.  This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  O LORD, do save, we beseech You; O LORD, we beseech You, do send prosperity!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; we have blessed you from the house of the LORD.

Looking back on this scene, through the open eyes of historical record, and the word of God, we know absolutely, these folks were not reasoning logically.  They were not believing in the revelation of Jesus as Savior.  They were blindly following the traditional belief that Jesus would come as king of the Jews, deliver them from Roman rule, and re-establish their autonomy as the nation of Israel.  They believed Jesus would sit on David’s throne, and rule till the end of time.  They blindly sang and waved their tree branches.

Yesterday in worship, I wondered how many people in the room were blindly going through the motions of expected activity for 21st-century worshipers.  Our worship team did a great job leading everyone in the room to a place where they “could” worship God in Spirit and in truth.  Yet, I found myself wondering how many were doing this.  I wasn’t distracted by someone’s pretentious acts, in fact I can honestly say I wasn’t looking around at all.  It was just a sense of contemplation, wondering how many in the room were actually present, alert, and reasoning together… and how many were blindly asleep. I pondered whether they woke up during some part of the service and thought “how did I get here?”

Now hear the words of the prophet, and wake from your sleep.

Isaiah 1:18
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.”

Jesus came to seek and to save, those who are lost.  He came to wash us clean.  He came to make us family.  He came, so we might go … and live with Him forever!

Is anyone out there listening?

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It’s rather easy to spot this majestic bird, with its white head, brown body, and hooked yellow beak.  We know it as Haliaeetus leucocephalus, or the bald eagle, our national symbolic bird since 1782.  The average 7ft. wing span, and weighing an average of 7-15 lbs., this bird is one of the largest raptors in the world.  It feasts on fish, ducks, snakes, and turtles.  The eagle can fly up to 10,000 ft in the air.  It can soar for hours using the thermal currents, and can cruise around about 40 mph.  In this way, this bird of prey, seems, at least to a commoner like myself, indefatigable.

What you observe in the eagle’s flight is a great spiritual metaphor for the tenacious, tireless, determined and unwavering grace of God.  We humans can’t soar like this eagle.  We often wish we could. Yet God, who does not grow weary or tired, offers us something more than just human will, or human resolve, or human tenaciousness.  God, the Creator, pursues us relentlessly with indefatigable persistence, because He loves us.  The very idea of Jesus coming to be the Savior of mankind is wrapped up in the concept of wanting us to soar.

I’m not making this up.  Listen to God speak to His family through the ancient prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah 40:26-31

Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God?”
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.  His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.

Why would God make this fantastic promise?  Why would God reveal Himself as powerful enough to make us soar, then keep us locked and bound to planet earth?  What provision did God make to allow this promise to come true for us?  I’m glad you asked.

2 Corinthians 1:20
For as many as are the promises of God, in Him (Jesus) they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.

If the God that Isaiah heard was never tired or weary, and the claims of Jesus to be God the Son are true…  then this ancient yet enduring promise is indefatigable… and it is always “YES!” in Jesus.

I want to fly… do you?!!


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Mugwump and other Nostrums


Patent medicine (do not confuse this with Pharmaceutical patents) can also be called a “nostrum.”  Nostrums are often widely advertised, purported to be over-the-counter solutions (medicine) with little regard as to actual effectiveness.  The wide-spread fraud resulting from snake oil (liniment) salesmen resulted in the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration instituting serious regulations to prevent fraud.



For those who’ve read “Li’l Abner” comic strip, Sagwa was the nostrum which inspired Al Capp’s “Kickapoo Joy Juice.”   Mugwump, Sagwa, and Swamp Root, are just a small sampling of the early 19th century patent medicines, which (contrary to popular belief) did in fact have results, although many times with very dangerous results due to the ingredients of the elixir.  One example is a medicine advertised as “infant soothers,” which contained opium, as it was legal at the time.  An ingredient often used was “catarrh snuff” which contained cocaine, also legal at the time.  Nostrums were purported to cure just about everything from tuberculosis to cancer.  Every manufacturer always included a published list of testimonials regarding their product.  The illnesses they claim to be healed were (most of the time) almost always self-diagnosed, which makes every claim highly suspect.

As you might expect, it reminds me of a story regarding The Healer, where those observing the obvious miracle which took place, tried everything in their power to debunk the truth of it.  It goes like this…

Jesus and the disciples are walking along one day and passed a blind man.  Naturally, the inquisitive disciples posed the question of their Master, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?”  You see the mindset here right?  Every malady known to man, must be the result of sin, at least that’s seems to be what their question implies.  But watch what happens with the answer Jesus gives.

John 9:3-5
“It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.  We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.  While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”

As the narrative goes Jesus spat on the ground, used the spit to make a couple of clay mud salve pies, and put this on the blind man’s eyes.  Then he told the blind man to go wash in the pool of Siloam.  When the man obeyed this simple command, the Bible claims, “He came back seeing.” (vs.7)  His friends, his neighbors, and his family were so shocked by what had happened, they could not believe it… “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”

The Jewish leaders cast dispersions on his character, and Jesus’ character, suggesting they were both just con men, deceiving the people with their lies.  Long story short, this man born blind had to defend his experience so many times he became exasperated with the process that he gave this amazing and glorious testimony of exactly what happened to him.

John 9:30-33
“Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes.  We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.  Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind.  If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.”

Why did Jesus heal this man?  Jesus told us why right up front.  It wasn’t about advertising false nostrums.  Jesus said this healing was to be done, “so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”  Jesus authenticated His own claim to be God’s Son, when he healed a man who was born blind… no one else has the power to do that!

Why is this important?  Even the man born blind had to deal with the reality of this truth.  So Jesus asked the man, after it was all said and done, after the leaders had dismissed him… “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  The man answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus explains, “… the one who is talking with you.”  In that moment the man stepped over the line of faith and declared, “Lord, I believe.

What ails you physically today may not be curable with modern scientific technologies or drugs.  What ails you spiritually can be cured, by the One who calls Himself … the Light of the world.  This is no nostrum.  This is a fact captured in the now world renown favorite hymn, Amazing Grace.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now, I see! 

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One is the Loneliest Number



The number 1 (above) “lies outside” a group of similar numbers, and statistically stands out as an aberration in the set; it is an “outlier.”  In this sense, it’s lonely.   If it had emotions it would be asking, “why me?”  “Why can’t I be like the others?”  “Why doesn’t anyone like me?”


Humanly speaking, when you’ve had a good run, and almost everyone who had gathered around you, supporting you for several years, turns and abandons you… you really are an outlier.  Regardless of their reasons, abandonment hurts, always has… always will.  For those reading this blog who think I might be in some selfish, agonizing, self-destructive downward spiral, I’m not talking about myself.  I’m talking about Jesus.

We tend to forget that Jesus was the original outlier.  If God had wanted to save the animal kingdom He would have come to earth as an Elephant or Tiger or some other animal.  But God created humans to have relationship with Him, and since we basically screwed it up, He had to fix it.  So God became a human, yet not subject to Sin, since His father was the Father’s Holy Spirit.  This indisputable fact is the baseline for believing Jesus was fully God, and fully human, while here on this earth.  It’s an interesting and challenging thought.

All His life, childhood through adulthood, Jesus contended with emotions just like every other human.  Yet in all the pains of these periods of life, He was perfectly aligned with Gods’ will, way, and purpose.  I believe this was to demonstrate to the hosts of humanity, that when aligned this way, we too can be empowered (by the Holy Spirit) to deal with any emotionally upheaving circumstance that comes our way.  Without Him, it’s virtually impossible.

Now, fast forward to the Passover and we understand just how different this ONE man was.  He knew ahead of time that his closest friends, the disciples, were each and every one going to abandon Him.  He told them so before it was ever true.  Yet, He loved them anyway.  He still went through with the plan of salvation.  They traipsed along to that Garden in Gethsemane, one gospel says singing songs together. [Mark 14]

The four biographies of Jesus’ life tell differently the passover/garden/betrayal story.  In John’s gospel we have a lengthy prayer from Jesus to the Father, which is not included in the other narratives.  All four of these authors describe the betrayal and abandonment by the disciples.  Jesus knew of which He spoke.  And there He stood – the One.  The outlier.

He stood alone before Caiaphas.  He stood alone before Pilate.  He stood alone before the Jewish people in the courtyard of Fort Antonia.  He stood alone while the soldiers mocked Him.  He stood alone as they scourged Him.  He was alone – the One – the outlier.

On the cross, He was the One of three who could effect change in the world.  Still the outlier.  One man knew he deserved to die the death He faced, and asked Jesus for mercy.  The other was in denial, so he mocked the One as delusional.  In a set of three, crucified for crimes against the state, Jesus was the outlier.

Why would He do it?  Why knowingly put yourself through this enormously painful existence?  God, the Son, did this to prove once and for all the extravagant lengths to which He will go, to establish right relationship with His highest creation – humans.  It was modeled for us 2,000+ years ago, and still there are those who laugh at the cross with derision.  Like the other man hanging next to Jesus that day, they say to all who believe in the One, “You guys are nuts!”

One day, either soon or far away (I do not know), this same One – this outlier – will return to planet earth to establish a kingdom that will never pass away.  In theological terms we call this the “consummation” of human history.  The last book of the Bible speaks to the events that happen during this time.  But here’s the thing.  Revelation tells the story of Jesus.  Revelation helps us see that the same kind of self-sacrificing motive that lead Jesus to the cross, is demonstrated by God in the extravagant lengths to which the Father will go, to save all those at the end of time – who will believe in the Outlier – Jesus as their savior.

The whole book, the Bible, points to Jesus.  His earthly existence was a lonely One.  He did it all to have a family, so we could all be ONE.  Praise to the Outlier.  He is our only hope and salvation!


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I Am Not An Ostrich


Ostriches get a bad rap from people who don’t understand them.  The unfounded myth is that ostriches bury their heads in the sand when they’re scared or threatened.  I’ve heard it here and there since I was a kid.  When I would see an ostrich at the zoo, they’re the ones that scared me.  A full grown ostrich can be 7 to 9 feet tall, but they are aggressive, and not a friend of mine.  The truth is though, the male ostrich digs a hole (sometimes 6 to 8 feet wide, and 2 to 3 feet deep) to place the eggs when he and Mrs. Ostrich decide to have babies.  Each parent ostrich take turns getting their heads down in that hole and with their beaks rotate the eggs during the incubation period.  The illusion they create with this posture however is a great metaphor for denial.


I’ve known some well educated, sophisticated, reasonably likable people who live in constant denial of something.  Whether it’s a disease they are fighting, a relationship that’s broken, an addiction they can’t control, or some fearful circumstance of life that they simply can’t deal with… denial is an unmistakable symptom of a much larger issue.  When faced with these kinds of dilemmas many people seem to just stick their head in the sand, like the proverbial myth about the ostrich.  One might think they would search endlessly for a solution to their situation.  Yet, rather than seeking wisdom or spiritual counsel or Biblical solutions, many just pretend the thing that causes their hiding action simply doesn’t exist.

One of the hardest things a pastor/teacher does from time to time is preach or teach about lostness.  The human condition of being “lost” without Christ.  It truly isn’t a “religion” thing, it is a “relationship” thing.  The Creator knows us, He created us to have personal relationship with Him.  But Sin encroached on this relationship, creating distance and communication issues between humans and their Creator.  Since the very beginning, humans have tried lots of different ways (mystic and religious) to solve this issue because we are hard-wired in our DNA for this relationship to function properly, and when it doesn’t we know it… even if we deny it.

Regardless of how hard mankind tries to find its way back to God, every attempt falls short of what God intended.  This is why Jesus came.  To re-establish this relationship allowing for the human creature to find His way back to God.  Don’t miss this next part.

We are so far removed from this event, the Jesus event, that many people actually deny at the top of their voices that it ever even occurred.  Those who hold this view, deny their own personal need to acknowledge any god other than themselves.   They, like William Ernest Henley in Invictus, believe undeniably that:

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Granted, Henley wrote this poem while recovering from an amputation due to complications of tuberculosis.  It is a tribute to that “stiff upper lip” concept of self-discipline and gut-wrenching fortitude of fighting against the odds of adversity.  Unwittingly I fear Mr. Henley has captured the essence of the attitude of many people today, who don’t feel or believe in the need for salvation.  They are the master of their own fate, the captain of their soul.  They use the creed to position themselves diametrically opposed to the teaching of Scripture.

This kind of denial is the hardest challenge to face for those of us who are believers who care about people’s eternal destiny.  Brow beaters, and Bible thumpers have tried for hundreds of years now to snap the denying souls out of their sleepy mindset to see their true “need” for God’s grace.  How has this been working so far?  I’m not in denial here, this very article might wreak to some of “brow beating” or “Bible thumping.”  It’s not my intention, however.  My point is that while we love people who are lost, whether they are friends or loved ones, we cannot make them believe in their own need to be saved.  We cannot coerce them, or chain them up until they “confess.”  Many have tried, doing more harm and damage than I fear any of us know.

So how do we reach, those who seem most unreachable, the denying masses?  What form of communication can we use to reach down into that hole where they have stuffed their spiritual head, and speak truth to them in a way which will yield a positive response?  What would God have us do?

Don’t deny the answer, for it too is denied by many, if only for its simplicity.  Love them.  Live out your love for them in such a way that you “earn” the opportunity to discuss spiritual matters.  Until you earn their trust, and keep their trust, nothing you say or do will help them get past their denial and listen to your message.  Oh, but love!  Love indeed conquers all.  When someone sees you willing to sacrifice yourself for them, like Christ did for you, then they “might” be open minded enough to listen.

Ephesians 4:15
But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, Christ.

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The Champ



H.G. Bissinger’s book Friday Night Lights is a non-fiction story about my home town Odessa, Texas, and the cross-town rival high school football team, The Permian High Panthers.  I had some really good friends who lived in the school district zoning that fed Permian High School.  We went to church together, hung out together, dated, and sang in church choir together.  Some of us all went to college together.  But on Friday nights, from a football perspective, we were mortal enemies.  I never let the hype of football define me as a person, but I know plenty of people who did.  Consequently, this book rings true for what I remember of how things went down.  At one point, I remember my best friend’s little brother was the panther mascot, running around inciting the fanatic crowds into a frenzy every time their team scored.  Since 1959 this football team won or tied the State Championship Game more times than I can count using all my fingers and toes… so I quit counting.  Those evil, crosstown rivals dominated football across Texas, but in Odessa they walked around like kings.  For such they were.  They were beaten occasionally, but not often.  They lost some battles, but seldom lost the war.  They were champions.

It makes me think about the world today.  Looking around this ole world, it would be easy to think that Evil is winning the battle, and the war.  Between the political unrest, the sexual identity craze, the dark-net, ISIS, and nuclear threat from North Korea, it’s a little unsettling to read the paper in the mornings.  Which is why I don’t read the paper, I actually click on my computer to a news source I semi-trust, and read headlines.  If the headline entices me, or pricks my interest, I’ll read the story.  Seldom do I read the whole story, before my mind says, “It’ll be ok.  Don’t worry.”  Now why would I say that?

Daily I remind myself that my life is based in a simple truth.  I believe that the true Champion of all things is Jesus Christ.  The world around us is filled with evil things only because God allows it to be so.  The “god of this world” according to Paul, has been at work a really long time.  He seems un-defeatable.  But hear me carefully.  This is a lie.  He has already been defeated.  Satan remains in power (limited by God) to fulfill God’s timetable for the redemption of mankind, and God’s creation.  His defeat was sealed at the resurrection of Jesus, and his destiny is judgment, and the destination for his punishment is the Abyss first, then The Lake of Fire.  I know it.  I can prove it.  Scripture teaches it.

Satan’s mojo will come to an end.  Revelation 20:1-3

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.  And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

Revelation 20:10

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Revelation 20:11-12

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.

Who is “Him” in verse 11?  Jesus Christ, the King of kings, the Lord of lords…



Find out more about this Champion by clicking here.


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The Perspicacious Judge



I practically wore out my copy of the Beatles album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the track “With a Little Help from My Friends.”  With over 50 cover versions of this song, it rivals as one of my top five all-time favorite Beatle’s songs.

With a Little Help from My Friends

What would you think if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me.
Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song,
And I’ll try not to sing out of key.

I get by with a little help from my friends,
I get high with a little help from my friends,
Going to try with a little help from my friends.

What do I do when my love is away.
(Does it worry you to be alone)
How do I feel by the end of the day
(Are you sad because you’re on your own)

No I get by with a little help from my friends,
Do you need anybody,
I need somebody to love.
Could it be anybody
I want somebody to love.

Would you believe in a love at first sight,
Yes I’m certain that it happens all the time.
What do you see when you turn out the light,
I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine.

Oh I get by with a little help from my friends,
Do you need anybody,
I just need somebody to love,
Could it be anybody,
I want somebody to love.

I get by with a little help from my friends,
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends,
With a little help from my friends.

Songwriters: John Lennon / John Winston Lennon / Paul Mccartney / Paul James Mccartney
With a Little Help from My Friends lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Friends? That person who knows you, supports your cause; is on your side, familiar and helpful to you, would be a good starting definition.  I’ve had a few who fit this bill, but not many.  There are those who thought they knew me, supported my ministry, were on my side, familiar and helpful, until I unveiled a few lifelong struggles that caused them to abandon me completely.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not Jesus, and I know it.  Although I have at least an inkling of an idea how He must have felt, when those closest to Him all walked (or ran) away, after His arrest that night in the garden.  So, is just sticking around during the tough times what makes a true friend?  Well, maybe.  Maybe not.  People are human, and humans are, even in the best of times, not the best perspicacious judges of who’s going to stick around.

The prudent thing would be to seek friendship in the One who will never leave you, or abandon you.  A wise choice would be to offer your heart and life to One who can not only enhance your life, but give it meaning and purpose.  The sagacious move would be to invest in eternal wealth rather than earthly gold or silver.  The careful, cautious, shrewd act would be to have the insight to trust Jesus Christ the Lord, as Savior.  And hear Him call you “friend.”

John 15:13
No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:15
I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.

Just as God said to Joshua, Jesus says to you:  Joshua 1:5
No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you.

God called Moses “friend.”  Jesus called His disciples “friends.”  He will call you “friend” when you trust in Him completely.  I get by with a little help from my friends – God my Father, Jesus my Savior, and the Holy Spirit who empowers me to live for God’s glory.

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Silent Interludes



One of the best things I like about watching movies at home instead of the theater is the “Pause Button” on my blue ray player.   Phone rings, hit pause.  Drinks need refreshing, hit pause.  Nature calls, hit pause.  All good things that make the movie watching experience much better for me than the alternative at the movie theater.  “What did I miss?”  “Shhhhh… you’ll spoil the movie!”  Ugh.

However, sometimes the silent interludes of life can be maddening.  When nothing seems to be happening, when you’re waiting for something to conclude but it doesn’t, and you can’t see what the hold-up is, can often be the source of a strong emotion vented in the wrong direction.  Perhaps you’ve just yielded your loved one to the surgeon in the OR.  Whether it has been 30 minutes or 3 hours, the silent interlude is a crushing weight on your soul and spirit as you await the outcome.  If someone doesn’t come talk to you soon, what was a mild irritation at being kept in the dark becomes an exasperated agitation.  There is such a fine line between vexed anger, and unhinged violent angst, the waiting room may actually be the most dangerous place in the hospital for some people.

Isn’t it amazing how this word “pause” can have such a breadth and height of meaning and expression?  Now, allow me to offer a more existential observation about the pause of silent interludes.  My readers know by now that I take every word offered through the “Daily Post” at, and find some corollary or application spiritually from the Bible.  I like to see how this one word applies today in my life, or the lives of Christians around the world generally.  So, today the word is “pause.”

Did you know that the Old Testament, and New Testament in the Bible, is divided by 400 years of silent interlude?  From the close of the book of Malachi, to the first lines of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, describing the coming of Jesus, there is 400 years of complete silence from God to His people.

When God’s people are last seen in Malachi, they are back in Palestine but still under Medo-Persian rulers.  The temple Solomon built was destroyed when they were taken captive by the Babylonians.   But by the end of Malachi a new temple has been constructed, although smaller and less ornate.  The priests from Aaron’s lineage were still making sacrifices.  But the royal line of David was gone.  According to Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, David’s successor was Zerubbabel, the royal prince.  Yet, he was not in power because Israel was a puppet nation under Persia.

When we open the New Testament in Matthew the world has changed dramatically. Rome is the dominant power of the world, ruling the land we call the Middle East today.  The power center of the earth is now Rome.  The land of Palestine is still a puppet state, but now under Roman rule.  While the Jews retained some sovereignty, their king is a puppet king from the lineage of Esau and not Jacob.  His name is Herod the Great.  The priests serving in the temple are all now appointed, instead of descended from the line of Aaron.

This is the scene in Jerusalem when God speaks again.  He does not choose a spokesman, a prophet to speak for Him.  He comes from heaven to speak for Himself.  Jesus, The Son of God, comes to deliver the truth that God wants revealed to humanity.  The silence of 400 years seemed harsh, cruel even.  Then suddenly, when Jesus appears into this spiritual vacuum, not only are the people suspicious of His message, their leaders see Him as the enemy.  The leaders truly believe Jesus is sent from Satan to deceive them, and destroy their power center in Jerusalem.  So… they plot to kill Him.

After a brief 33 years of life, and 3 years of ministry on earth, Jesus is crucified.  He remains in the tomb 3 days.  Then is resurrected, appears to over 500 people alive in a 40 day span, then ascends back to heaven and His rightful throne.  This time the silent interlude lasts only a few more days.  Jesus promised His disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came to them in His name.  This Spirit would empower them to become the founders of the church.  Not a denomination.  Not a religious system.  The church.  The church age is the last silent interlude.

Silent, in that God has nothing new or different to say to us than He has already said in the words of Jesus, the Ancient prophets, or the last prophet, John.  We have the complete record of all that God wants humans to know about the beginning of the world, the history of the world, and the consummation of that history in the book of Revelation.

What causes in us this restlessness today, is that we want to know things we cannot know.  We want God to speak again, explain things in Revelation that seem about to happen, but because we can’t see the meaning of things, it frightens us.  The mystery of the images of Revelation seem hard to comprehend, they alarm us by their presence in the book, without a context to understand them.

It is my sincere belief, there are things that God wants us to know and understand through the reading and studying of the Book of Revelation.  These will serve to stem our anxious suspense in the silent gap between Jesus to the preset, and the present until the end.  One of those things we need to understand is clearly spoken, time and again, from ancient days until Jesus spoke the words to John.  And they are meant for us today.

Revelation 1:17-18

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying,

Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. 

Listen to these words and know… we have nothing to fear.  Jesus is still in command and control, all the time, past – present – and future.


For a deeper and well written explanation of the history of the Silent 400 years between the Testaments, written by Ray Stedmon click here:  Silent Interlude

If you would like more information on a Bible Study for the Book of Revelation click here.

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