Tiger Woods staring down a putt at Innisbrook Valspar Championship was an awesome sight.  The resurgence of a career many if not most had all but deemed completely over just 6 short months ago.  However, given a few more laser iron shots like he hit in the first three rounds, or given a few chips that went in, or just a couple of putts that should’ve rolled out a few more inches, and the trophy was within his grasp.  I agree with Randall Mel of the golf channel, and his rant yesterday about these young guns on tour wanting Tiger to come back strong.  These boys need to be careful what they wish for.  To me the most telling stat in his article is Tiger’s record when holding or sharing the lead after 54 holes… Tiger won 47 out of 50 tournaments.  Those like myself who have always been a Tiger fan (his spiritual life or morals notwithstanding), if it’s golf you like to watch, at the top levels of how golf is to be played, then Tiger Woods is the guy.

Why would I say this?  It’s just math really.  Some, and perhaps rightly so, would say that Jack Nicklaus is the greatest golfer to ever play the game.   Many say this based solely on the Major championship titles held by Mr. Nicklaus, which is a staggering 18 titles.  Once again some have wondered if Tiger could ever achieve this height, along with all his other accomplishments.  Like…

  • PGA Tour titles = Sam Snead, 82… Tiger,79… Jack Nicklaus, 73
  • Tiger’s 142 consecutive cuts made over a 7 year stretch, Nicklaus – 105
  • Most seasons winning five or more times, 10 seasons;  Nicklaus – 8
  • Winning percentage to starts, 27%;  Nicklaus -12%

So, it’s got to be more than just Majors right?  But what if it isn’t?  What if the only stat that matters in determining the greatest golfer, is number of Major titles won?  Is this really within Tiger’s grasp?  It’s been ten years now since Tiger won the 2008 U.S. Open, so does he have the stuff of Major Championship golf?  Maybe we should wait until this weekend and watch him at Arnie’s place before we decide.  But as we think on this matter consider this.  Tiger is 42 years old, and true he has had health issues, but he looked as good this weekend as he did when he was winning big time.  So how much does age factor in the Majors?

In 1978 Nicklaus won the British Open at age 38;  in 1980 the U.S. Open at 40; in 1980 the PGA Championship, again age 40; and for his 18th title, Jack won the 1986 Masters at age 46.  This means Tiger Woods has 16 more majors in the next four years to win 4 times to tie Jack… winning 5 gives Woods the all time record.  What if he plays competitively more years than just the next 4, to age 46?

Within his grasp?

Check my facts if you must, but I’m pretty sure they are correct.

But in the end, Tiger’s looking awfully good for the possibility of doing something never done before (again)… by challenging Jack Nicklaus’s Major Title number.

I think it’s within his grasp… I’ll let you decide.





My basic understanding of the word “compromise” is when two people in disagreement each make concessions (altering their position) and a settlement/agreement resolves the dispute.  Here are some of the greatest compromises in human history…

  • The Christmas truce of 1914, when the troops on opposing sides of World War I had an unofficial ceasefire, each crossing into no-man’s land, and exchanging holiday greetings.  A showing of human decency in the midst of the most brutal conflict the world had seen up until that point.
  • When a populace in search of security, in compromise yields more of its liberty than is required.  Benjamin Franklin said: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty, nor Safety.”
  • And perhaps the most famous of all, the compromise made by Pontius Pilate, giving the choice over to the crowds of people over whom to condemn to death, Barabbas or Jesus.

While each of these examples have specific outcomes, and each event has been written about, dissected, and discussed ad nauseam, all three are good examples of compromise, where concessions must be made to achieve resolution of a conflict.

Compromise, as far as I’m concerned has a negative impact in the life of a true Christ-follower today.  That’s because we are constantly being harangued to modify our beliefs to appease those who un-appeasable.  Trust me when I say that nothing short of abandonment of your beliefs will be good enough for many in our pagan unbelieving culture today.  However, if you want to be a true Christ-follower, it is time to take an uncompromising stand about your faith.

Uncompromising faith is not an easy stance, and you should not take me to mean that God will automatically bless you, or make you successful, or even protect you from those who would destroy you for taking this uncompromising stand.  Yes, there is a whole host of characters written about in Hebrews 11, great Bible characters who remained faithful and uncompromising in their service to God.  And down toward then end of the list, the writer suggests he just doesn’t have time to list them all, but lumps the faithful all together saying…

[11:33-35] …who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; 

It’s easy to want to be like these and know that our uncompromising faith might have these same kinds of effects.  But here’s the thing.  It’s a semi-colon, not a period at the end of this thought. And then the writer goes on to say…

[11:36-38] …and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

And the bottom line for the author, regarding those who live faithful uncompromising lives is… all gained God’s approval through their faith.

It’s easy, and yes perhaps too easy when times are good, successful, and happy to sometimes be lulled into thinking I don’t have to try so hard to speak the truth, in a loving, but uncompromising way.  After all, why stir the pot, right?  Anyone who thinks this way is thinking contrary to Scripture.  Just two more passage of Scripture for your consideration, before you decide if I’m right or not.

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

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

Neither of these passages are written as a recommendation, or as a debatable thought.  Each is written as an absolute truth.  Each is a fact that cannot be compromised.  Paul urges every true Christ-follower not to be conformed but to be uncompromising in their stand against the ideologies of this world.  And Jesus Christ says the only way to accomplish this is to place uncompromising faith in the fact of His claim to be the true Messiah.

Today I challenge you to live an uncompromising faith before your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers… and rely on God to glorify Himself through your life.




Many of you, depending on your age, may remember the “black screen of death,” or some of you may have suffered this fatal error recently.  It’s just a term that defines what happens when a Microsoft Windows based computer suffers an internal error causing the whole system to shut down.  Often when this occurs, because the system didn’t shut down properly, the user experiences great emotional pain and intellectual suffering when the computer fails to restart.  “According to Wallace McClure of, the phrase was originally coined in mid-1991 by Ed Brown, a technician with The Coca-Cola Company‘s IT department in Atlanta, GA. He reports that the company was rolling out Windows 3.0 within the Global Marketing group and when the users would attempt to run WordPerfect, they would randomly receive a black screen.” (click on restart, for more information.)

Missing files, compressing files, or running certain software programs, were all thought to be reasonable starting points for the random, and eerily unpredictable event, which would most often occur at the most inopportune time. Imagine working for hours, then reaching a critical point in a data set, or proposal due by 8:00 a.m. the next morning, and suddenly with a single key-stroke, your computer screen goes black (or blue, depending on the operating system software version), and you’ve lost hours and hours of work.  Hence, the other phrase people who work with Microsoft based systems are familiar with today, “Save, and save often.”

One of the most unpredictable aspects of human existence is the timing of an event we also call “death.”  Like the computer systems which just go black, at some point along our human journey, our bodies, the human system will also just go black.  How morbid, right?  How unthinkable, right?  The fact remains, human existence on this planet is not guaranteed for anyone, and trying to predict the moment of a terminal/fatal event or action is impossible.  Many have tried to answer the questions, “Is that all there is?  When it’s over, it’s just over?  There isn’t anything else?”  The logical answer for those who disavow the existence of God, the salvation of Jesus, the eternal bliss of heaven, or the eternal punishment of hell remains, “yep, that’s all there is.  There is no re-boot, or restart.”


For those seekers of truth who remain far from God, but are open to the facts regarding life here, as well as life after death, I offer you great hope.  This topic of death not only doesn’t have to be morbid or macabre, but the reality of going black here, for some really does mean stepping into the Light.  For those who believe the Bible is the authoritative guidebook for a journey through this life, and the next, see the event of death as the hope of eternal bliss.

While sitting at your computer, it would be great to be able to predict when the screen would turn black, but again that is impossible.  Likewise, it would be great to know the point of our human demise, so we could be “ready” when it happened.  The only guarantee for your data to remain on your computer, is to save what you are working on regularly.  The only way for you to experience a true restart, of life as it was intended to be lived, is to be “saved” by stepping over the line of faith into Jesus.

Like malware hiding and lurking in the corners of your computer, just waiting to create chaos and destruction, and ultimately the black screed of death… sin is hiding and lurking in the corners of your mind and heart, just waiting to wreak havoc and destruction on your soul, and ultimately separate you from God for eternity.

Is there something more?  Of course there is!  Life with God, as God intended us to live all along.

How do you find it?  Restart.

How do you restart?  See, that’s the right question!  And here is the answer…

Romans 10:9-10
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.






Imagination is more to me than just the ability to form new ideas, or images or concepts.  To imagine might be considered a gift by those “vision”-challenged individuals who are governed by literal thoughts and senses.  Those weak in the art of imagining remind me of Missouri’s U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver, who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1897 to 1903. Vandiver attended a banquet in Philadelphia, where in a speech, he stated, “I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.

This is the attitude of many literal or legalistic minds when challenged to think outside their box and imagine a different world, a different model, a different direction, or a different solution.  It’s not unlike the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, when they were constantly asking for a “sign” that would authenticate the words He spoke, and the things He taught.  Yet, the absence of signs was not the issue, for they were too numerous to mention.  The issue was a stubbornness that would not be softened by truth or signs.  The men who opposed Jesus so vehemently, had no spiritual vision or imagination.  In this way they were blinded to even imagine that Jesus could be Messiah.

Long ago, in ancient days, the prophet had spoken the words that would condemn them, and it dealt with imagination…

Zechariah 8:16-17
These are the things that you shall do; Speak you every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates; a
nd let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbor; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, says the LORD.

The imagination they did have, was only evil thoughts and ideas about how to rid themselves of this person who was confusing the people with claims to be the Son of God… even if it did mean drumming up false charges, with false testimony to serve their agenda to kill him.

But to those who would see the spiritual truth, and commit themselves by faith to Christ, their minds would be transformed by the very power of God.  In this mind-transformation process, God’s Spirit would reveal things unimaginable by the normal, stubborn, human mind.

Paul encouraged his friends in Ephesus, to allow this imagination transformation to be the focus of their lives.  He prayed for it all the time.

Ephesians 3:14-21…  For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend (imagine) with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge (or imagination), that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (imagine), according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Imagination, spiritually speaking, is the ability for God’s Spirit to teach us the reality of things we do not see, we do not know, and we cannot understand, without His enablement to comprehend them.  Yet, these are exactly the things God wants to do for every person who calls Him LORD, believes in His Son, and trusts in His Spirit to lead them.

Today, be opposite of those who constantly ask for a “sign”, and instead, imagine that God has already given you everything you need… to know God personally, know His will and purpose for your life, and to live for His glory.  God can’t “show you” anything, until you imagine it possible.  It reminds me of the old hymn…

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light!



After wandering around for 40 years in a primitive wasteland, where God provided both food and water when none could be found otherwise, the chosen Hebrew nation was at their defining moment once again.  As a people group, they could decide once and for all to live as God called them to live, in a Promised Land… or they could reject the words of God, and wander in the wasteland forever.  Their leader, Joshua (not Moses at this point), said to them:

Joshua 1:7  Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.

The people chose to listen and heed these words, at least for a period of time, and God blessed them greatly… as long as they did.  The law of God was the equivalent of God’s divine voice, given through Moses, as the instruction manual for maintaining the covenant relationship God had established with them.  When they began abandoning these words, things turned against them.  When they returned in repentance to God, seeking forgiveness and restoration, heeding once again His instruction manual, God reconciled with them and began blessing them once again.

By the time Jesus arrived in Galilee and Judea hundreds and hundreds of years later, the words of Moses and the law of God was so misconstrued that few of the leaders, and most of the people, looked very little like the trusting Hebrew nation that came out of the wilderness.

They needed a new word from God.  They needed a new covenant.  So God (the Son) left heaven to come and reconcile all mankind, not just the Hebrew nation, back to Himself.  He spoke the divine voice of God again, with new instructions about a new covenant.  His authority was established in mighty ways, through signs and miracles, through which He demonstrated His authority, control and presence as “God with us.” (Immanuel)

One night as the disciples were crossing the sea of Galilee, a storm threatened to sink their boat, and in the process they would all die in the depths of the raging waters.  But then, suddenly, out of nowhere, Jesus comes walking to them on the waves.  They cower in fear, thinking they see a ghost.  Now hear the words of Jesus, to these fearful expert fishermen:

Matthew 14:27
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Courage then, from the Old Testament and the New Testament, could be defined as the RESULT of faith in action, placed in the divine voice of God, instructing us to NOT BE AFRAID.

Not so easy to do in this world today is it?

Not when those given the task to protect us… allow innocent lives to be taken, when it could so easily have been averted.

Not when those given the task to rule and lead us… constantly politicize the event rather than deal with the real issue of accountability of the humans involved.

Not when the society we live in constantly belittles and condemns our leaders who have the courage to stand for their faith in God, and vocalize it publicly.

But here’s the thing…

Neither God the Father in the Old Testament, nor Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in the New testament… said it would be easy.  Remember what they did say…

“Be strong and very courageous…!”
“Take courage… it is I; do not be afraid!”

Think of it this way…

It is not courage, if it is easy.
It is not courage, if you are not in danger.
It is not courage, if the core of your faith is not challenged in any way.
It is not courage, when you say, or do, or think… like everyone else.

Courage is living out your faith in Jesus…
Living as He lived, by yielding every moment of every day, to the glory of God the Father.

What does courage look like… for you?





An easy definition for mnemonic is:  “a device such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something.”

I saw this “Word of the Day” prompt, and immediately thought this is something missing in so many Christ-followers today.  Somehow we’ve forgotten some of the most important things designed to keep our daily relationship with Jesus fresh.  However, there is a simple mnemonic I learned years ago which I still use often these days to refocus my mind on the major elements of my faith.

When I’ve taught folks as new believers how to pray Biblically, I’ve these letters:  A.C.T.S. It goes like this…

A= adoration

All too often the first thing out of our mouths/minds towards God’s throne in heaven is, “help” or “could you please…?”  While God is interested in hearing our heart-felt cries for help, the fact that we begin our prayers this way is telling us something.  Maybe we haven’t quite figured out what our relationship with God entails.  We serve the God of the universe who has all authority, is in control of everything, and has promised us His eternal presence here and now in our lives today, not just in heaven when we get there.

Knowing this about God should generate a more appropriate response of adoration, and a desire to bring God glory with the praise of our lips.  We should exalt Him for what He has done, is doing, and will do in the future to glorify Himself in Jesus Christ, and in us.  Seeing and knowing God these ways should result in a specific response.

C = confession

What a realistic view of God usually does for the true Christ-follower is very humbling.  Like the apostle Peter in the boat when he realized Jesus was the true Messiah, Peter basically shouted “get away from me Lord, I’m a sinner!”  Acknowledging our failures and sins before our Savior, and feeling the need to run and hide, is the very point at which Jesus pulls us into Himself.  With fabulous forgiveness and glorious grace multiplied daily by our confession, we continue to walk in His spirit, bringing light and salt into the world around us.  It also generates another response.

T = thanksgiving

The basic difference between adoration and thanksgiving is the understanding between God’s nature and God’s actions.  We adore Him because He is God, and deserves to be glorified, exalted and adored.  We offer our thanksgiving for how He acts toward us, and the world. The best and easiest way to do this is found in the old hymn “Count your blessings.”  This song is not to be confused with the famous “White Christmas” song, “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep.”  That’s a great song, but has a totally different meaning.  The one I’m referring to goes like this…

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

And finally, after we’ve adored God’s nature and character, confessed our sins before Him, and offered our many thanks for all God has done, we’re prepared, in humbleness to approach the throne of Grace with…

S = supplication

I realize this is a word not many 21st century believers are even familiar with.  So, again, a little definition.  Supplication: the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.  Perhaps the keys words in this definition are “earnestly or humbly.”  Too many people I know, start their prayers here, and in their voices all I hear is “God, look at all I’ve done for you… you owe me this.”  They approach the throne of grace without knowing who God is (Adoration), knowing who they are (sinners), or with a grateful heart for how God has blessed them in the past (thanksgiving).  They just jump right in, as though God is some cosmic slot machine, they throw up their many requests, and pull the handle (“in Jesus name”) and expect God to deliver whatever it is they want.

I’m pretty sure it saddens God’s heart when lost people do this.  I’m convinced it grieves God’s heart gravely when He hears His own children act in this unbecoming way.

If you want to turn around the relationship you have with God in Christ, to be the living, vibrant life you truly desire spiritually, and Jesus described as “life more abundant”, then fill you prayers daily with:   A.C.T.S.

Remember: who God is, who you are, all your blessings, then make your petitions…

The results will astound you.



Enroll: choosing to sign up

Here’s a poem I wrote three years ago, published as a newspaper article.

“One of these days,” the old saying goes, that infamous trite, of favor and woes,
“I’ll this or I’ll that,” whether it’s my “ship will come in” or “I’ll get rid of this fat!”
January comes, and February follows, then slowly but surely the promises hollow.
The doldrums return, the vision almost lost, humans fail to see the infinite cost.

“He’s a man of his word,” an interesting phrase, the sum of his actions, given in praise.
Just think were it true of the many, not the few, would peace, love, and harmony ensue?Most people aren’t, because words are just cheap, good intentions to be burned on the rubbish heap.
The thing left undone, lies rotting and wasting, a carcass of words, for the scavenger’s tasting.

“I’ll get around to it” oh, certainly you will, the timing’s the thing, like cash in a till.
Good intentions aside, it’s action He seeks, not tomorrow, the next day, or even next week.
Now is the time, what prevents such a thought? Time itself cannot be borrowed or bought.
Words, words, words, words, spoken and unheeded, the fallow field left unseeded.

“The crux of the matter”, the truth yet untold, most flounder and flutter, and the promises get old.
Transformation is required for most human wills so not to be caught in a broken-promise swill.
Transformation cannot be learned and taught, yet in such knowledge life can be fought.
Winning battle after battle against mediocre living, action in life given, and keeps on giving.

To whom does one go for this transforming power, the life-giving knowledge kept in high tower?
Only one source exists which answers these needs, found only in One man’s words, and His deeds.
“The crux” in fact is the cross of our Christ, without which the enemy achieves a great heist.
To steal the will and soul of man, is his singular focus, his ultimate plan.

“The Old Rugged Cross,” through thousands of years, still now is the resource dispelling our fears.
The man who hung there, with transforming power, now offers a reason no longer to cower.
A trade so simple a child can engage, an action so strong no enemy can upstage.
Invitation to transformation, take it fully in stride, change words into action no darkness can hide.

But a heartbeat away, a choice from inside, to engage the Creator, in His arms you’ll reside.
Do it now, no waiting, no hemming and hawing, do not hesitate, no time now for fawning.
For darkness increases, it’s almost over, even now skies wilt, and there’s no more clover.
Grains of sand draining away, holds time itself in absolute sway.

One choice remains, trust Him completely, rely on His grace, His forgiveness implicitly.
These actions alone, and no other words, will secure eternal life only He affords.
Call on His name, rely on His word, and “one of these days,” will be yours in the Lord.
“He’s a man of His word,” trust it for sure, life which He gives is the life that endures.





At times I become so passionate about the message, that I go way over the top trying to make a point.  In an extravagant, gushy way, I over-speak, or over-teach, because I want to make sure I get through to my listeners or readers.  Recently I’ve discovered, sometimes less is more.  Like when Jesus asked the simple question of his listeners:

Luke 6:46 – “And why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

So, in the interest of brevity, I want to challenge those today, who feel the discord and division of our political climate, and the social consequences of these problems.  The conservative minds, the evangelical minds across our country, need to listen closely to the words of Jesus and not get caught up in the hate-mongering, judging, critical rhetoric coming from antagonists stirring the pot.

Luke 6:27-28  – “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Those who are blind, but think they see; those who see themselves wise, but are merely self-deluded by their own agendas; those who would mock us, belittle us, or worse silence us… are the very ones some would call enemies… and the very ones who need our prayers most.

So, Christian… true Christ-follower… I call on you today to love those who hate you, bless those who curse and mock you… but mostly pray for those who want to silence you.

Father, this person will never understand how much they have hurt me, until you give them sight and understanding. My prayer for them, is for You to bring light and life into their heart and mind. In coming to know you, help them to be transformed by your power. And help me to love them as You do, as though this has already happened.”

I call out to the persecuted, the hated, the judged, the condemned… for all those who are the “underbelly of America” because you want to trust God instead of politicians to rule across our land.  I call out to you to pray.  Pray for our President, our elected officials of both parties, our judges, our military leaders and soldiers, our governors, our mayors, our town councils, our police and first responders… pray for the person who disagrees with you most about Truth… pray that God will transform our country into a nation state that brings Him great glory.

Luke 6:46 – “And why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?


Silhouette of Faith

silhouetteWhat does faith really look like?  Is there a way to pinpoint it with any accuracy?  The image here is offensive to some, but represents the saving power of God to others.  Paul the Apostle wrote, “For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” [1 Corinthians 1:18]  Faith then, is an action on our part, evidenced by the resulting transformed life of the true Christ-follower, by the power of God.  What does that even mean?

This silhouette of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary captures for us in black and white, the sacrifice of our Lord, paying the penalty for our sin, offering each of us the grace of forgiveness and eternal life.  When we accept this reality, stepping over the line of faith into Jesus, His own Holy Spirit is implanted in us.  Then, day by day, as the power of this saving love begins to shape our lives, the more we obey His words, keep His commands, trust the Holy Spirit to lead us, guide us, provide for us, we become… more and more like Jesus.  Paul also wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”  [Galatians 2:20]  In this way, faith is not a once-and-done action.  No, faith is a step, followed by another step, followed by another step… of faith.  “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” [Colossians 2:6]  Well, how did you receive Christ? [by faith]  Then we are to walk [live]… by faith!

So what happens over time, when we walk in faith, step by step, continuing to yield more of our lives to the Holy Spirit’s control?  The proof is in the pudding, right?  It’s not about judging someone else, or suggesting some Christians are more “Christian” than others, right?  It really is about self-examination, and it’s about understanding a way to tell if I’m really experiencing the transformed life, that should naturally occur (by God’s supernatural power) if I am in Jesus.  So put yourself to the test… Galatians 5:22-23:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”  The fruits listed here are the RESULTS of a transformed life.  If you could paint a silhouette of what this looks like, it would look very much like the image above… The Cross of Jesus.

So tell me… what would the silhouette of your life resemble?




“Candid” Synonym for Truthful?


Do a Google search for “candid,” and you find this list of synonyms: “frank, outspoken, forthright, blunt, open, honest, truthful, sincere, direct, plain-spoken, straightforward, ingenuous, bluff.” Or, more informally: “unposed, informal, uncontrived, impromptu, natural.”

My first thought of the word “candid,” by word association, was a Television show, which began broadcasting in the 1940’s, with the show theme, “Smile, you may be on Candid Camera!”  The sole purpose of the show was to catch people doing things they might not ordinarily do, (on a hidden camera), in response to a “setup situation.”  The first episode aired on August 10, 1948, and revised episodes of the long-time, prank-oriented show have been seen on TV as recent as 2010, hosted by the creator’s son Allen Funt, and Mayim Bialik, one of the stars on The Big Bang Theory.

Sometimes I feel like my life is a series of Candid Camera episodes, with Satan himself as the producer/director in full-bore prank mode, setting me up in situations, just to see what I’ll do, or how I’ll react to some weird temptation he’s concocted to deceive me.  It isn’t frank, outspoken, or forthright… the setup is usually devious, deceitful, and potentially destructive.  His intrusions into my life are not truthful, sincere, or plain-spoken, they are contrived, planned, and designed to make me fail in my efforts to glorify God.  The saddest part, the most humiliating part, is that all too often I fall for the setup, and end up saying something, or doing something, or acting in some way that is so not what I want to do.  But there you go.  In the end, I’m glad I’m not captured on some cosmic camera for replay to a national or international audience.

It causes me to ask myself, “why do you so often fall prey to these crazy schemes of the devil?”  More importantly, “what can you do to not fall for these setups as often, or totally eliminate them altogether?”

The first answer is easy… because I’m a human being.
The second answer is easy too, I guess, but sounds like a cop-out… I can’t eliminate them.

It seems to me that the one primary objective of Satan, is to destroy human life, and rob God of His glory.  So he sets us up for failure, and when we act stupidly (sinfully) and in this he is successful in his plan.  In the Bible, the Apostle Peter, candidly warns us, then describes Satan, and his agenda:

1 Peter 5:8
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 

In the Bible, Jesus describes Satan as a liar, and the father of lies (John 8:44).  Satan will never be candid with us, if the synonym means “truthful.”  But James, the half-brother of Jesus is very candid with his insight about how to deal with these designs to entrap and destroy us.

James 4:7
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Look at the direct, plain-spoken, straightforward instruction in these words.  Only God can defeat Satan, so submitting  to God’s will, is the first step in avoiding Satan’s setups.

However, if you find yourself ensnared in the “setup” Satan has designed for you, there is still wisdom in James’ words… resist.  This doesn’t mean fight with the devil, you can’t win.  This doesn’t mean trying somehow to control the circumstances, that you can’t control.  This means very simply, when in the middle of the struggle with the one who seeks to destroy you… in submitting to God, you resist Satan’s setup.  You will never win, if you fight on your own, or in your own strength.

Today, let’s be candid.  The best we can ever hope to do is:  submit therefore to God!



An Agile Spirit


On the Orpolo firing range, in the southern region of Georgia (the country), on September 3, 2017, fifteen-hundred military servicemen participated in a multinational exercise involving offensive and defensive maneuvers.  The goal of the exercise was to increase “interoperability” between Georgian troops and other partner states (the United States, Bulgaria, Latvia, Romania, Ukraine and Azerbaijan), and improve “combat capabilities of the NATO Response Force” according to XINHUSNET. The military drill was perhaps aptly named, “Agile Spirit 2017.”

Military readiness training is essential to protecting the interests of the United States, both domestically and abroad.  It requires participating in these exercises on a regularly scheduled basis, with our allies across the world.

In this same way, SPIRITUAL readiness training is essential to every true Christ follower in order to be able, capable, and agile in response to the attacks which come from the spiritual forces of darkness.  As children of the light (John 12:36) we are encouraged by the apostle Paul to “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11

The apostle goes on to instruct (from a military perspective) the importance and description of each piece of this armor… belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes-gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  Each one of these articles intended for offensive or defensive purposes, is critical to implement in our walk of faith.  Without any single one of the articles, our life as a Christ follower is laid bare and open to attack.  If any of these areas is weak, or poorly instructed, or not exercised effectively, we are laid bare and open to attack.  Continual training in all these areas renders us “agile in Spirit” and then capable of surviving the struggle which comes at us hard, and fast, and when we least expect it.

None of this even makes any sense unless we understand who our enemy really is.  God doesn’t want us to be naive in this world, or uniformed about our reality, or vulnerability.  So God impresses on Paul to instruct us: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

You might notice, that in essence there is really only one offensive weapon, listed last among all these spiritual defense elements:  The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Belts, breastplates, shoes, shields, helmets… none of these are weapons, they are protection against attack.  Perhaps that is why when tempted by Satan, Jesus Himself never relied on anything other than God’s own Holy Word, to engage the battle.  He said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”  Matthew 4:4  The word of God, the sword of the Spirit, is what gives our faith the agile ability to resist the attacks of Satan.

James said it this way, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

Here’s the thing.  If we don’t know what God’s word says, we are vulnerable daily, to the attacks of Satan. We may be wearing the armor: belts, breastplates, shoes, shields, helmets… but all we can really do is be sitting ducks for the attack that will surely come.  To be agile in Spirit, and capable of engaging this spiritual struggle, demands we regularly and consistently engage in the spiritual exercise of training… in the Sword of the Spirt, the truth of the word of God.

In the now famous words of Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the Starship Enterprise…





Confession is not a Loophole


As defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, a loophole is “an opportunity to legally avoid an unpleasant responsibility, usually because of a mistake in the way rules or laws have been written.”  I saw this word “Loophole” as the word of the day, and it took me back to those preschool and elementary days when my three children were young, impressionable, and teachable.  As parents one of the things we wanted our children to know in real time, is the consequences resulting from each choice they make.  When they were obedient, they were blessed and often rewarded with an extra book at bedtime, etc.  When they were disobedient, they were punished in a way appropriate to the offense, like no reading of their favorite book at bedtime that night.  Even the word “punished” can cause some reading this article now to be offended in our modern world of “loopholes.”

In my observation of Christian circles over the last forty years, the concept of confession has been poorly taught, and loosely interpreted.  I know too many people who live in a world where 1 John 1:9 is used like a get-out-of-jail free card, and play it often as a loophole to presume on God’s grace with no consequences.  What does this verse actually say?

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Like a pig who spends all day wallowing in the muddy dung floor of their stable, when we disobey God’s Word or Will, we become dirty, stinky, and unclean in God’s nostrils. There is not only a penalty (punishment) for this action, but also a consequence resulting from the action.  Disobeying God’s will, in the simplest of terms even Adam came to understand in the Garden, results in (consequently) broken relationship with God.  Adam could not claim there was a “mistake in the way rules or laws have been written” because God’s laws are perfect. (Psalm 119:138) And for Adam there was only one.

While there seems to be a sense at some point in the Genesis story that Adam and Eve were repentant, and God acted to cover them and save them, their confession did not take away the consequence of their actions.  So, if confession is not a loophole, then what is it?  I suggest the answer is found in the “attitude” of how a true Christ followers wields 1 John 1:9.

The kind of confession found in 1 John 1:9 brings with it two distinct grace born benefits to the person who comes in true repentance to the words of their confession.  First, by seeing their disobedience as “sin” and owning it, when this person confesses they appropriate that forgiveness of God provided through Jesus death on the cross.  This appropriation of payment for their sin is required by law.  Hebrews 9:22 says, “And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”  (cleansing 1 John 1:9)

Second, in this attitude of true repentance, and turning back to God for their forgiveness, they not only are cleansed, but this confessing action results in restoration of their relationship with God.  Once again the Christ follower can walk and talk with God in joy, peace and contentment that the relationship is no longer estranged.

Neither the appropriation of God’s cleansing grace, nor the forgiving nature of restored relationship with God, circumvent consequences that result naturally from disobedience.  Sometimes the boat sinks.  Sometimes cancer strikes, homes are lost, children die, wars rage, divorce papers are served, and jobs lost… and sometimes it comes as a natural result of disobedience.

True repentance, resulting in true confession, will always have cleansing restorative power in our lives.

It is not a loophole to avoid the consequences of our choices or actions.


Why Study?


Well, now that’s a good question isn’t it, “why study?”  I wasn’t always the best student in high school or college, because I studied a lot… but mostly the things I wanted to study, and not all subjects equally.  It seems I had “favorite” courses where it was easy to immerse myself in the salient facts of the lessons, memorize them, and regurgitate them onto a “blue book” (yes I know this dates me).  Other subjects I took (some more than once, ugh!) only because they were required for my degree.  I needed that high school and college diploma to get into Seminary.  I thought that once I got to really dive deep into the things that interested me most (God’s Word) then I would have the time of my life.  Do you know what I discovered in Seminary?  It wasn’t all peaches and cream, like I thought it would be.

For one thing, just like high school and college, it turns out I had my favorites subjects in Seminary too.  I found myself falling into old patterns of studying well for what I liked, and not so well, for the things that were boring to me.  It’s sad, but true.  In the end, the course work for my Doctorate?  Yep, same thing.

So here’s the thing, is it possible there are many people just like me, who have a love for God’s Word, and study well those stories they love, and avoid altogether the passages they deem either too hard to understand, or just to offensive to their 21st-century sensibilities?

There is a clear mandate from the Apostle Paul that we should study the whole Bible.
2 Timothy 2:15
Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Word of Truth here is the whole Bible, and if we are approved by God, we will study the whole thing, and find application to our lives in this world today.

God really hasn’t changed His mind about this, from the time Joshua was leading the people of Israel into the promised land.
Joshua 1:8
This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.

Why should we study? So we can know what God expects of us, and do things His way, believing in His provision and protection in life.

The wisest man who ever lived (according to God), Solomon, said that knowledge for the sake of knowledge, was a grievous pursuit.
Ecclesiastes 1:13
And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven.  It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with.

Then, why study?

1 Thessalonians 4:1
Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more.

And there it is…that you may excel still more.

Don’t study just to acquire more knowledge or facts.
Don’t study in pursuit of wisdom, oh the folly of that pursuit!

Pursue the study of God’s Word for a closer and more intimate relationship with the author of the Book!
Pursue the study of God’s Word to be acclaimed “approved!”, and capable of instructing others with what you have learned by application in your own life.

Why study?

Because it is impossible to know the depths of God, the LORD we serve and love, without knowing what He says about Himself, in the Scriptures.

And trust me when I say, you won’t get it all in a brief and cursory reading from Genesis to Revelation.  In fact, it has been my life-long pursuit since the time I could read, and God’s Word reveals more of God to me every single time I open the book.

My prayer for me, and for you today comes from a Michael W. Smith song:


An Engraved Invitation


If I could carve it into something tangible like a mountainside for all the world to see, I would.  If I could afford to fly around the world in a crop duster to every city, town and village on earth, to write the truth in smoke against the deep blue sky, I would.  We need to understand that “Intelligent Design” is not the same thing as “Creationism.”

Intelligent Design” is a scientific method of empirically determining the “apparent design” in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists; that it is genuine design, and that the designer is God.  [click on the link for a full detailed explanation]

Now that sounds pretty good to most evangelical/true Christ-followers, but danger lurks in those thoughts and ideals.  Allow me to make just a few observations.  First, and maybe most importantly, the supernatural beings created for the purpose of worshiping God and doing God’s will (Angels), know that God designed and created this world.  Some of those beings were led into rebellion against God by God’s highest angel – Lucifer.  These angels turned demon (1/3 of the heavenly host according to John in the Book of Revelation), have spent all of human history trying to convince humanity that God either doesn’t exist, or that He has lost interest in them altogether.  Yet, when Jesus came to earth to reveal God’s full and complete loving plan for salvation, Satan (Lucifer) called Him “Son of God” because even Satan knew the truth about creation, and the Garden of Eden… he was there.  All the fallen angels of heaven recognize Jesus when they see Him, and cower in fear at His omniscient and omnipotent Creative nature and character.

Second, since these supernatural beings know and believe there is a God and are not saved by Him, we should not presume that just because someone says “I believe there is a ‘being’ of some kind greater than us, that created everything we see,” that this is the same thing as salvation belief.  Knowing and/or believing that God exists is only the first step in being in right relationship with your Creator.  Let’s use Hebrews 11:6 as our proof text:  “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”  Did you see the “and” there.  You might want to read that again.

The simple truth is that just because someone believes in an intelligent designer, does not mean they automatically believe that this designer rewards their efforts to know Him personally.  In fact some in this camp suggest that God “may” exist, and “may” be responsible for the design, but cares little or not at all about the humans now inhabiting this planet.  See the danger yet?

In the Bible, the authoritative, historically and scientifically proven document that reveals the Intelligent Designer Himself, truth regarding His nature and character is also revealed.  Like a huge engraved invitation across the universe of time and space, the words of Jesus ring out…

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  [John 3:16]

The truth is that not only did God design us, but He loves us so much, He is willing to die for us.  Which brings me to my last observation.

Finally, regardless of what the world may be shouting at us today, through any means available, there are NOT many paths to find this God of Salvation.  The Creator Himself has stated with authority, that only in Himself can a human being have a personal relationship with their Creator.  He said it this way:  “I AM the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the father but through Me.”  [John 14:6]

Believing there is a God, is not the same thing as yielding your life, your mind, your soul, your attitudes, your entire belief system to the authority of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  If you want to know the Designer of Life personally, Jesus says “Come!  And See!”

Jesus has already issued to you, your own engraved invitation… it is written in the scars on His back, the thorns in His brow, the holes in His hands and His side.

Come!  Come and see, and believe!  Come receive life… from the Creator of all things.



Think Funnel


Just suppose for a moment that the Creator had a grand plan for how humans would acquire spiritual knowledge of His existence, and of His desire to be in personal relationship with each human being on earth…

Somebody (Adam/Eve) messed that up for us, when they couldn’t just do the one simple thing the Creator said they must do.  The resulting consequence was that while the Creator would still work to reveal Himself and His grace to mankind, now it would happen outside the ideal conditions that would have made it so easy.  Don’t think “garden” here… think “obedience.”

Now consider that along the way, through the hundreds of years of disobedience by the human race, that the disobedience took humanity so far away from knowing God, that there was really only one thing God could do to remedy this horrible situation.  God determined He would come Himself (Jesus) and do whatever was necessary to restore the relationship between Himself and humanity.

What one man messed up for all of us, One Man/God restored completely, for ALL OF US.
Romans 5:19 – For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

When an individual person today, believes in this plan, and that Jesus came to be the Savior of humanity, God’s own Holy Spirit comes to reside within them, and teach them what God always intended them to know about Him.  Here’s where it gets a little tricky.  Because our minds today don’t work the way Adam’s mind did in perfection before the disobedience.  In the act of disobedience the original mental/spiritual connection between God and mankind was dissolved, this being just one of the ways that Adam died, even as God had told Adam he would.

However, when we come to Jesus in faith, and we are “in” Him in salvation, God’s Holy Spirit begins to re-establish this mental/spiritual connection with us.  The problem is, our minds have grown so dark, so crowded with our own petty lives, that there isn’t room enough for God to give us all He wants to give us, all at one time.  So what is it that allows for God to pour Himself back into us?  Obedience.

The apostle Paul says that we should take every single thought in our brains and hold it captive to the obedience of Jesus.  (2 Corinthians 10:5)  By doing this, we make room for God to pour more of Himself into our lives, which is what Paul meant by saying, “For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 2:16

To have the mind of Christ, think funnel, like the image above.  God, through the Holy Spirit, desires to give us so much more than we can receive.  Through the simple act of obedience, more of the clutter is removed from our life, and more of God’s Spirit can come into our life.  Most of the time, the receptacle (our hearts and minds) is too full of other things, for much of God’s Spirit to come in.  What is the answer?

Think funnel.  God is the pitcher full of grace, and knowledge of Him.  Our mind/heart is the size of the tiny end of the funnel.   How much of God can we get, if this is all clogged up, by disobedience, rebellion, stubbornness, and hard-heartedness?

Solution: Clean up the think-process, and turn in obedience to God’s Spirit.  Philippians 4:8 – Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable–if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise–dwell on these things.

This simple act of obedience, will open the funnel of God’s love and grace into your life in wonderful and exciting ways!  Don’t wait.  Do it now.

Go ahead, unclog the funnel.


The Win Some Factor


In our Bible Study, for the next several months, we are studying selected passages from the Gospel of Luke.  Luke acts as historian in his account of the life of Jesus, and desires to put everything in the correct order and accounting.  In our study we’ve only just covered the early years of Jesus birth, and the few verses describing His childhood and young adult life before His ministry.  Even in these less than detailed descriptions Luke says, “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” -Luke 2:52

This image is not of a madman, or a raving lunatic spreading myths and fantasies, or heresy.  The winsome nature of Jesus, His engaging smile, His attractive appearance, His appealing character, caused people in every village and town to come running to discover more about this Man.  In Luke 18 Jesus is teaching and people were bringing their babies to Him so He would touch them, and the disciples acting like sentries tried to stop the people.  It wasn’t because the babies were crying, or that the young children didn’t want to be there because they were scared of Him.  The disciples just thought Jesus too important to be disturbed in this way. Yet Jesus tells them, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” – Luke 18:15-17

No man, or woman, before or since, could appeal to the masses like Jesus.  It was His winsome nature that won them over.  And it causes me to pause and reflect on the words of the apostle Paul once again, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…” – Philippians 2:5.  Could it be that in this one phrase Paul has captured the very essence of the winsome nature of Jesus?  And could it not be said that what we should do, in fact must do if we truly want to reflect the light of love found only in Christ, that we must adopt this “Win Some” attitude found in Philippians 2?

Even a quick look around in many Christian circles today, it’s often all too easy to see judgmental, hypocritical, shallow attitudes of faith, poorly expressed, and dramatically ineffectual for changing our world.  These believers are not seen as “winsome”, like the Master they say they serve.  To the lost folk around them, these Christians are viewed more as a roach might view a can of “RAID,” and those lost folks run away in the opposite direction.  The lost are not attracted to this kind of faith, they are repelled by it.  Which might lend some understanding as to why Paul wrote to the church in Corinth,(who by the way, probably looked much like the description above), when he said, “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.” – 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Paul did his best wherever he went to have the attitude of Jesus, and be winsome with those he met, in order to win some to Christ in salvation.  Too many folks today, who I know are true believers in Jesus, just don’t communicate their faith well to those outside their circles.  They’re brash, and proud, and their condemning spirits precede them, and the world turns to run and hide.  This looks nothing like the winsome nature of Christ who said, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them…”

Only when we become childlike in our faith, trusting God’s Holy Spirit to lead us, trusting in Jesus’ power to save us, and allowing God’s miracle-working grace to transform us… will we truly become winsome in our nature and character, and begin to win some.



I have a Reservation


My wife and I are planning a bucket list vacation trip in May this year.  We’ll fly to Seattle, then by rail take a trip across the Rocky Mountains in Canada from Vancouver to Calgary. With stops and excursions along the way it will be 14 days of fun filled adventure, and great opportunity to explore my developing photographic skills.

We’ve been talking about it for awhile, and made our deposit a couple of months ago.  While the trip itself is still about 5 months away, the anticipation of what we will experience and see is growing almost daily.

This got me to thinking…

One of the foundational truths of Scripture is that this world, this earth, this realm of reality, was never intended to be our final destination.  What Jesus told his disciples clearly delineates this truth.

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.”

There are so many wonderful promises held in these three verses.

  • God’s sovereignty affords us the means to never fear what our future may hold, and never be consumed by past events or mistakes, but to trust in Jesus’ ability to deliver us into God’s presence.
  • Jesus, Himself, is doing the work that provides a place for us, so there is nothing else we need to “do” except trust.
  • But perhaps the most tangible present hope and future exciting expectation is that there is a “place” for me.  Jesus says so.

But there’s a catch, so don’t miss the fine print in this documentation of God’s promise. Hear the words of Jesus clearly:

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

Were I to try to individually make all the arrangements of travel, hotel, meals, and site seeing opportunities afforded me on this rail trip, I’d never make it.  I wouldn’t go.  I don’t have the skills, the knowledge, or the determination to do everything required for making this bucket list vacation happen.  But Rocky Mountaineer does.  They do everything necessary, and everything required to make this trip possible.  And I have my reservations!

In this same way, Jesus has done everything that is required by God to present you holy and blameless before God the Father, and initiate you into the heavenly kingdom of God as an eternal home. And there is a place specifically with your name on it.  Have you made your reservation yet?

Jesus is calling your name, right now… say “yes” to Him.




Extravagant Cost of Love

Extravagant - Raising of the Cross, by Tissot

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) wrote these words in 1707.  The music was written by Lowell Mason in 1824, and first appeared in The Boston Handel and Haydn Society of Collection of Church Music, third edition. (1825)  Legend has it Charles Wesley, famously known for his hymns, said he would give up all of his other hymns to have written this one.

The extravagant outpouring of God’s grace and love toward mankind, presented in this image, and captured in this hymn… demands my soul, my life, my all.

There’s really nothing left to say… except, maybe… “have you?”

Will you?



Cherish: The Greatest Treasure


It’s 8:25 a.m. at my home in Texas, and by now families with children have been up a couple hours doing “Christmas.”  The room where they gathered is trashed with torn paper wrappings, boxes, ribbons and bows.  Everyone’s smiling or frowning based on the joy or disappointment of a gift given or received, pre-determined by their expectations of what Christmas would be for them this year.  What I cherish today are the memories of Christmases past, where everyone in my family received something that brought genuine joy resulting in smiles and laughter.  Today I sat looking at the fire, and remembered fondly all those happy times.  In some ways I’m a very rich man, because I can still remember these things, and smile at myself for having been a part of it all.

The greatest treasure is knowing God is not finished with me yet.  I’m making new memories now.  The road is not less difficult or challenging, as anyone who has adult children also knows.  It’s just different, that’s all.  Things change.  People change.  Circumstances change.  But one thing never changes.  God’s love, demonstrated in such a tangible way, with the baby in a manger, who became the man on a cross.  God announced to the universe His great love for all mankind.  And God is not finished with me, or us, yet.

When is Christmas really over?  When the presents are all unwrapped?  When the tree comes down, the decorations are stored, and the house is back to “normal?”  When the returns are made, and you’ve gotten for yourself what you wished for?

For me, Christmas is never really over.  I’m not one of those weirdos’ who keeps decorations and trees up year round, that’s not what I mean.  I mean, I’m only too aware that Immanuel means “God with us.”  I get that when I stepped over the line of faith into Jesus and His grace, the greatest gift to mankind ever offered was mine to enjoy forever.  In that moment the Holy Spirit of God came to abide in me, to set up a permanent dwelling in my heart and mind.  And here’s the thing…

The Grace given at Christmas when this child was born, is the same grace God expects me to dish out lavishly on the people I meet on this grand adventure called life.  Each and every time I answer insults with a kind word, receive each anger charged look and return it with a smile, or give a cup of coffee expecting nothing in return, I’m living out the expectation of God for me. Grace giver.

I may be the only form of Jesus some people ever see, and if this is true, what do they see?

Today, I cherish the idea that Christ did it all for me.  Those who know me, know I don’t deserve this great gift.  But the love God has for me personally, is the greatest gift I’ve ever received, one I will always treasure.  I want to share it with the world; with anyone who will read or listen, that’s what this blog is really all about.

Join me in the process if you agree with me.  Share this blog on your FaceBook, send it in an email, or just share the love of God with someone today.  Be a grace giver.




At this time of year, during the Christmas season, the word “Miraculous” gets passed around more than chips and dip at a Super Bowl party.  I’m convinced few people really have any clue what it means.

The reason I say this is that by definition, whatever event or occurrence this word is used to describe, the word demands the person using it believe in a supernatural power to intervene, and the “miracle” is the manifestation of that power.  It is used to describe the highly improbable, the extraordinary, the “only possible” through divine intervention.  And it usually includes a favorable outcome or consequence to the event.  Since many people using this word don’t believe in God, much less Santa, there’s a bit of hypocrisy in the over-use of this word.

A man and a woman come together to share in the creation of another human being, well that’s a natural thing.  How that process works inside the human body, the design and fulfillment of another human being born into this world, now that’s miraculous.

But think about it from a larger perspective.  That God would use a man of the Old Testament to prophesy about a young girl from a no-name town, who would have a male-child (even though she was a virgin), and then for it to come true 400 years after the prophecy is revealed, now that’s miraculous.

Go larger, and see it from Jesus’ perspective.  The Son of God, in eternity past, before the world was ever created, looking across the eons of time, chose to come and be this male-child Savior of the world.  Emptying Himself of His God-ness, and shrouding Himself in human flesh, this baby became a young child who became the Man of God to stand in the gap for humanity.

Now that’s miraculous.

But if you or I were to be able to ask God one question, and actually have the opportunity for God to answer this question, I believe my question would be, “Why did it happen this way?”

And I believe God’s answer to be, “It’s what I do.”  God does things differently than humans.  We define God’s actions to be “miraculous.”  Yet, from God’s perspective, it’s just what God does.  They are supernatural, inexplicable, unaccountable actions that define who He is, and what He does.

Ephesians 1:4
He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. 


Thank you God, for the miraculous work of salvation, found only in Jesus.






Bliss: Not Ignorance


Even if angels sit atop our trees, adorned with Christmas ease, all is not necessarily blissful this time of year.  It’s amazing to me that the Son of Man would come to offer grace and forgiveness for a lost world steeped in sin.  I know only too well, that this precious gift is not offered so easily by one human to another human, that’s what makes Grace – a God thing.  But forgiveness is within our reach, if we will but embrace the love He has shown to us in the birth of Jesus.

What a blissful thought…

That this Christmas might be filled with receiving and offering forgiveness, with a touch of grace, because we know the LORD.

This is my Christmas wish.  It is not ignorance, or naivete; just a blissful Christmas wish.



Weekly Photo Challenge: Ascend

Psalm 24:3
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

The golfer who would play this game in Breckenridge, Colorado, must ascend into the mountains of God’s splendor.  This shot taken August 10, 2016 at 10:05 a.m. and what a glorious day it was!






In the stillness, late at night, when I look at the crackling fire, the twinkling lights, the reindeer, and the presents all lined up under the tree, my heart glows like the bronze hues of this still and silent image.  These moments are filled with contentment, happiness, and joy that comes from knowing God sees me right were I am.  He knows me.  And He knows that I know Him, so His Holy Spirit comforts me, in those parts of my heart that are not so joyful.  You don’t need to know what those parts are, you have your own un-joyful parts to deal with this year.

My prayer today is that you heart will be filled with God’s goodness this year, during this great Christmas season.  Open your mind and spirit to the call of Jesus, and let Him warm your inner being with His very presence and bring light to the dark places.

John 8:12
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”



To What Degree?


There is an unresolvable mystery surrounding the Christmas story.  It has to do with the illogical proposition that Jesus was fully human, and yet also fully God.  It has to do with the fulfillment of prophecy spoken by the Prophet Isaiah, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (7:14) Matthew’s Gospel tells “Immanuel” means “God with us.” (1:23)

For me there are many mysteries about the virgin birth, the signs of God, the shepherds, the angels, the wise men, the star, Herod’s role, and the trip to Egypt then back to Nazareth.  All of this as a part of God’s plan of salvation, just takes my breath away.  But when I consider the duality of the life of the Man/God Jesus Christ, I’m almost speechless.  Notice I said, “almost.”  I am, after all, a pastor/teacher/writer, and you can ask anyone… I am seldom caught speechless.

The question I ponder all year long, but most intensely at Christmas is, “To what degree was Jesus a man? To what degree was Jesus divine?”  It’s easy to take a Sunday School approach, like a child just learning “facts” by repetition, and answer, “Jesus was 100% human, 100% divine.”  These are indeed the facts as presented in Scripture.  Therein lies the mystery.

At age 12 Jesus has traveled with His parents to Jerusalem for Passover, but on the way back home they discover He is not in the caravan.  Going back to the Temple, they find Him sitting with the teachers (Sanhedrin), “both listening and asking them questions.”  When questioned by His parents “why have You treated us this way?”, Jesus responds, “Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?”  So, even at this young age, Jesus was self-aware of at least some of His own nature of Sovereignty.

From what point during His childhood, did Jesus start becoming self-aware of the duality of His nature?  Scripture teaches that He was “tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin,” and this temptation was directed at the MAN – Jesus.  At the same time, the Bible says that Jesus claimed, “I and the Father are one.” so the MAN-Jesus claims to be God-Jesus.  Anyone who spends much time considering the implications of these two phrases, will find themselves in a mystery so rich and deep it cannot be fathomed.

A few years ago, I was introduced to a Christmas song, that has become my absolute favorite.  I listen to it often every year around this time.  It speaks to me.

To what degree was Jesus a Man?  100%

To what degree is Jesus God? 100%

It is a…


The child was born on Christmas day
Born to save the world
But long before the world began
He knew His Death was sure
The pain and strife secured

Mystery… how He came to be a Man
But greater still…How His Death was in His Plan
God predestined that His Son would die
And He still created man
Oh what Love is this
That His Death was in His Hands

The Christmas trees they glow so bright
With presents all round
But Christmas brought a tree of life
With Blood that sacrificed
The greatest gift in life

I am just a man
And can’t begin to comprehend
When You look into this traitor’s eyes
What do You see that justifies the Lamb

God predestined that His Son would die
And He still created man
Oh what Love is this
That His Death was in His Plan




click on the Title – “Mystery” above, then watch and listen on YouTube.



Gorge: The Deep Divide


The two images, set side by side above, were taken within moments of one another.  While taking the Royal Gorge Route Railway Tour a few years ago, I was struck by the deep gash into solid rock, punctuated by a river at the bottom of the gorge.  As we stood on the flatbed railcar to take photos of our trip, I was able to gain some perspective of the moment, and of my life. And while looking up at the people standing on the bridge high above us, some spiritual clarity descended into my mind.

Here’s a great description from the website for this tour:

West of Canon City the Arkansas River cuts through a high plateau of igneous rocks forming a spectacular steep-walled gorge over a thousand feet deep. At its narrowest point shear walls on both sides plunge into the river creating an impassible barrier.”

It is those two words “impassible barrier” that grab my heart.

Every day during this wonderful month of December, right up to the day we designate to celebrate the birth of Jesus, I’m reminded of why He came.  My SIN once separated me from God, like the bare 1,000 foot sheer rock divide of this gorge.  I had no way of crossing over to God, nothing I could do or say would change my condition or position.  But God.  Don’t you love those words?  Romans 5:8  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

The impassible barrier between God and me was overcome by Jesus coming to earth as a human baby, wrapped in cloths, and laid in an animal feeding trough.  I looked up and out of this gorge into the blue sky, and saw the bridge.  In my mind I saw the cross where Jesus died for me, spanning the great divide my sin had caused.

The birth of Jesus in inextricably connected to the cross of Jesus.  We can’t have one without the other.  For in this wonderful image we are saved by the Grace of God.

The gorge no longer has any power to hold me separate from God.  It has been conquered by the only One who could.

His name is Jesus, and He came to save us.





Relocate: Nazareth to Bethlehem

relocationYes, there are many reasons people relocate their residences.  They move to be closer to their families.  They move to take on a new employment opportunity.  They move for a change of scenery.  People move.  People change.  In the case of Joseph and Mary, they really had no choice.  Based on an edict from the reigning Caesar (Augustus), Joseph and Mary walked the 70 miles or so from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be counted, and pay the census tax.

We’ve dreamed up a pretty good story, that makes for a great children’s tale, but perhaps a look at the facts will help us some here.  The story of Jesus’ birth is told in Matthew’s and Luke’s gospel records.  Neither of them mention where Jesus was born, just that it wasn’t in the Inn, because the owner didn’t have any more room.  He wasn’t evil, he wasn’t being rude, he didn’t have a hidden agenda… there just wasn’t any more room.

Manger is the Greek word phatné (fat’-nay… φάτνη) and it translates into English, “feeding trough.”  The fact is that these troughs are found anywhere animals are sheltered or kept.  It could have been a stable, a lean-to, or a cave.  The bible doesn’t say where Mary gave birth, only that she wrapped the baby Jesus up, and laid him to rest in a feed trough.

We like the image of the crèche we’ve grown comfortable with, including the different figurines in the story.  However, the moment of Jesus birth is held as a very private matter and closely guarded secret.  The Bible doesn’t describe hovering angels, stinky shepherds, or wise men in attendance.  All those elements came afterward.  The Bible doesn’t describe God’s voice from heaven.  The Bible implies that it was Joseph, Mary, and the smelly, noisy animals holed up for the night, and a feed trough.  In my mind, representing the most primitive conditions on earth for a young girl to give birth to the Savior of the world.

By the decree of the Emperor, Joseph and Mary left the comfort of their home in Nazareth, traveled 70 hard miles relocating in Bethlehem just in time to deliver the child.  In Luke 9:58 it says, “The Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head...” This was never more true than at the moment of His birth, when Mary laid his head (body) in the smelly trough the animals ate out of.


Because… “although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”  Philippians 2:6-7

Jesus relocated from Heaven to Earth, by way of Nazareth to Bethlehem, to accomplish a single task.

“By bearing our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” 1 Peter 2:24

We, through His great love and life, relocate from darkness to light, from death to life.

This is the Relocation story of Christmas.



Sparkle: Don’t Blink

Woods returns 11-30-17

For those with even the slightest amount of moral balance, it’s easy to look at Tiger Wood’s fall in the world of professional golf, and judge the man harshly.  Tiger has struggled over the last few years on and off the golf course, and many, including Golf Channel host Frank Nobilo, didn’t want Tiger to come back to the PGA competitively.  And we all know that one round of golf doesn’t make a season or a career, yet, Tiger played yesterday at Albany like the Tiger of old.

At times his game sparkled like the sun beating off the clouds in this image.  Like the #2 iron he striped from 269 yards to within 25 feet of the hole.  Other times, chipping for instance, well let’s just say there’s still some work to do, huh?

Love him or hate him, we can all learn some things from the very public roller coaster ride we’ve been on watching Tiger Wood’s life.  I mean, we often learn through our on mistakes or successes, but all too often miss the lessons from someone else’s mistakes and successes.  And with Tiger, there’s lots to learn.

Here’s one thing, accepting that Tiger isn’t perfect isn’t very hard for any of us.  But, accepting that Jesus Christ died for Tiger’s SIN, just like he died for yours and mine, is just so hard for some folks to choke down.  Take a moment and let that sink in, because it has implications you might not have considered.

Since Jesus died for all Sin, for all humanity, did that not include Tiger Woods?

Spending some time in chapter 5 of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome will help you understand this better, but for now just consider the concept of reconciliation, in Colossians chapter 1:20…through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

What Jesus did on the cross for me, he did for Tiger Woods.  If I was reconciled to God at the moment of Jesus’ death on the cross, so was Tiger Woods.  If through this act I can move from death to life in Jesus Christ, so can Tiger Woods.

When you look at the man, Tiger Woods, do you see a low-life womanizer, drug user, foul-mouthed professional athlete who is beyond redemption?  Take another look in the mirror, we’re the same in God’s eyes.  Yet, because of the great love of God, Jesus reconciled us all to Himself, and to God.

Is Tiger Woods saved?  Not that I can see.  There is no evidence that he has received or accepted this great gift of reconciliation, or sees any need to do so.

So, here is the final thing to learn.  And we really need to get this.  It is not Tiger’s foul-mouth, past marital sins, or drug and alcohol abuse that will cause him to suffer at the wrath of God.  The one thing, the only thing, that will condemn any man, including Tiger, is to refuse to accept God’s free offer of grace, found only in Jesus Christ.

We are all reconciled through Jesus.  We are not all saved, until we individually choose (on God’s terms) to receive his gift of life.

Tiger’s back.  Good for him.  I love to watch his ball-striking brilliance.

One day, Jesus will be back.  Tiger better figure it out before He comes, because by then, it will be too late.

In the sparkling twinkle of an eye, Jesus will return.

Be ready.



Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene

Oh to be at peace like the sweet little Sugar!
Sitting relaxed and watching the world go by.
Doesn’t it make you want to reach out and hug her?
Or just go stretch out beside her, and look at the sky?

This is how we should be, day by day,
As we trust in the LORD, into His arms we lean.
Listening quietly to all He has to say,
Brings with it a sense of being totally serene.


Serene:   Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.




Snippet: He Is!


So many books, so little time.  Think of the Bible as a collection of books, instead of one big book.  Now imagine that these 66 books are linked with a theme, all communicating the same message, all pointing to a singular event in time.  Do you know what that theme is?  Do you know what that time is?

The event that the whole bible (all 66 books) points to is the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  There is a great song titled ‘He is” which helps us see this truth.  It goes like this…

He Is

In Genesis, He’s the breath of life
In Exodus, He is the Passover Lamb
In Leviticus, He’s our high priest
In Numbers, the fire by night
Deuteronomy, He’s Israel’s Guide
Joshua, He’s salvation’s choice
Judges, He’s Israel’s Guard
In Ruth, the kinsmen’s redeemer
1st and 2nd Samuel, our trusted prophet
In Kings and Chronicles He is Sovereign
In Ezra, He’s the true and faithful scribe
In Nehemiah, the re-builder of broken walls and lives
In Esther, He’s Mordecai’s courage
In Job, the timeless redeemer
In Psalms He is our morning song
In Proverbs, He is our wisdom
Ecclesiastes, He’s the time and season
In Song of Solomon, He is the lover’s dream
In Isaiah He is Prince of Peace
In Jeremiah, the weeping prophet
Lamentations, the cry for Israel
Ezekiel, the call from sin
Daniel, the stranger in the fire
Hosea, the forever faithful
Joel, the spirit’s power
Amos, the strong-arms that carry
Obadiah, the Lord our Savior
Jonah, the great missionary
Micah, the promise of peace
Nahum, our strength and shield
In Habakkuk and Zephaniah, He’s brings revival
In Haggai He restores that which was lost
In Zachariah, He’s our fountain
And in Malachi, He’s the son of righteousness rising with healing in His wings
And that’s just the Old Testament

In Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, He is God and Messiah
In the spirit filled book of Acts, He is the reigning fire from Heaven
In Romans, He is the grace of God
Corinthians, the power of love
Galatians, freedom from the curse of sin
Ephesians, our glorious treasure
Philippians, the servant’s heart
Colossians, He’s God and the trinity
Thessalonians, our calling King
In Timothy, Titus and Philemon, He’s our mediator and our faithful pastor
In Hebrews, the everlasting courage
In James, the one who heals the sick
In 1st and 2nd Peter, our faithful shepherd
In John and Jude, He’s the lover coming for His bride

And in the Revelation, in the very end, when it’s all over, said and done, when time is no more. He is and will always be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace, son of Man, Lamb of God, The Great I am, Alpha and Omega, God and Savior He is Jesus Christ the Lord he is everything that you need.

You want a fun adventure this Christmas.  Get out your Bible and go find these truths on your own… one snippet at a time.