Sticks and Stones

via Label

label maker

There was a time when I thought label makers were so cool.  Seeing that thin piece of film coming out the end, printed so finely with tags for all my files, was comforting in that now I could actually read the titles at the tops of my most important information.  You know, files like: Golf Scores, Favorite Restaurants, Dog Groomer, etc.  My handwriting is something my mother often referred to as “chicken scratching,” saying she could neither read it or make sense of it.  So the label maker saved my bacon when she came to visit and saw my office filing system.

Unfortunately, some people tend to designate, describe, or hashtag their own labels for other people, becoming in the act, a living – breathing label maker.  Sure I enjoyed having my files labeled, that made finding my stuff easier.  I don’t so much enjoy being branded by those who barely know me, or those who think they know me but don’t, or those that don’t know me and know they don’t know me… as something that I’m not.  You want to know a good label for me?  Here it is:  Sinner saved by GRACE through Jesus.  This is the only label I will wear without hesitation.

Why?  Because I know exactly how true it is.  Because of my sinful condition, (thank God it is only temporal and not eternal), I know some other labels that fit me.  These labels are not the total me, so if you see only this part, then you don’t know the rest of me.  For example, one label that fits is “Failure.”  I’ve failed in a marriage, as a father, as a pastor, as a friend, at business, at being a son, brother, and teacher.  Not all the time.  Not my whole life.  Because in my past and present it would also be right to label me as “Successful.” I’ve been successful in marriage, as a father, a pastor, friend, son, brother, teacher.  I’ve been successful in business, having recently written, and offering for purchase, my first Bible study book on Revelation.  “You see Timmy”, not every label has a “this is all he is” kind of accuracy.

A person can hashtag on their mobile devices all day long, in an instant opinion world where the “optics” are the only thing that matters, and still not be accurate or insightful in these opinions or observations.  Reading between the lines of any one person’s life-story, is impossible to do without divine knowledge.  I’m pretty sure no person surrounding me today, or in my past could be mistaken as divine.  They are pretty much like me in the “sinner” category.  In my mind at least, that makes us all equal.

Some people today use their personal version of verbal label making to assassinate another person’s character.  Lashing out verbally, or on social media, they imitate a group of people from the Bible that Jesus went toe-to-toe with a bunch of times.  The Scribes and Pharisees were supposed to be the spiritual leaders of Israel, and lead the people into divine truth as revealed to them from God’s written word.  The problem was, by the time Jesus began His ministry in the first century, many of these men no longer relied on God’s written word to guide them.  Instead, they turned to the opinions and interpretations of men down the ages who preceded them, reading and citing tradition and opinion rather than the actual words of God.  So when they heard of Jesus speaking, interpreting, and proclaiming the ACTUAL word of God, they became instant human label-makers.

In so doing, they verbally labeled Jesus in front of the masses as a Law-breaker, for eating without ceremonially washing His hands first.  Jesus responded one time this way… Mark 7:6-15

“Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written:

These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.  They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.  Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men.

You completely invalidate God’s command in order to maintain your tradition!  For Moses said: Honor your father and your mother; and Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death.  But you say, If a man tells his father or mother: Whatever benefit you might have received from me is Corban” (that is, a gift committed to the temple), you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother.  You revoke God’s word by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.”  

Summoning the crowd again, He told them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 

At other times, these men called Jesus: heretic, blasphemer, a devil, a liar, they said His miracles were from Satan.

Now, here’s the thing.

Jesus told His disciples that in this world, if they (or we today) decide to follow Him whole-heartedly, we will not only face persecution, name calling, labels, or slander… we could even face death.  This is why it is getting so much harder to follow Jesus in a perverted and twisted society with instant access to social media.  The sticks and stone do hurt don’t they?  The constant barrage of hashtag hate that permeates our society is sickening to our Heavenly Father, I’m sure of it.  But there will always be a cost to following Christ.  What’s a person to do?  I know I gave you this verse just yesterday in my blog, but allow me to emphasize it by reminding you of it here.

John 16:33
I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.

Don’t worry about the labels people place on you.  Only, constantly remember the correct label you wear:

Sinner saved by GRACE through Jesus.


If you liked this blog post feel free to share it on your Facebook page. Send me a “friend” invite on my FB account or sign up by email to follow my blog!





via Conquer

Nike is a giant-slaying footwear manufacturer, who’s slogan is famous and known around the world.


Do you know what the word “Nike” really means?  The word is Greek, and the verb form is νικάω = nikaó (nik-ah’-o).  According to Strongs Concordance the short definition is “I Conquer.”  The use of this verb implies a battle.

I was going to write about famous conquerors, quote them, then make some typical practical application of how these actions apply in our life today.  What happened along the way of my creative process was a complete 180 in my thinking.  I was suddenly taken back to my days as a boy in Sunday School, in a little country church near our home.  I remember sitting there while the teacher talked about the shepherd boy, David.  This young boy fought and killed a giant, conquering the Philistine army in that one-on-one battle. I remember thinking, “how could he do that?”  The question for me that day, and almost every time I’ve heard the story, or taught the story since has been, “wasn’t David afraid?”  I still believe the answer is “yes.”

I’m going to take a lot of grief for saying that here, just as I have at other times when I put humanity back in it’s place contextually.  Think of it like this, as Nelson Mandela is famous for saying it, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”  Once we can grasp the idea that fear doesn’t have to mean defenseless or powerless, we can begin to understand how a young shepherd can conquer a giant.  The point of this story being in the Bible records of Hebrew history in the Old Testament is not as much about whether David was courageous or cowardly, as it is about David’s complete dependance on God’s providential care in every circumstance of life.  It’s more about David’s conquering faith, while squaring off with a man so skilled in the acts of war he was considered a one-man army.  It’s about knowing through previous personal experiences that regardless of what life brought into David’s path, he could and he would act courageously while fearfully trusting in Yahweh to provide what David needed in the heat of the battle.  Courageous David would run through his own fear into the valley of death where the giant stood bellowing insults at Israel.  Listen to David’s own words:

1 Samuel 17:26
Just who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

When Jesus was about to die, He met with His disciples on Passover and gave them instructions about how to go forward without Him.  John, the one whom Jesus loved, wrote the most complete narrative of all the dialogue between Jesus and the twelve that night at the supper.  John chapter 16 gives a warning, a promise, a prophecy, and a command.  Jesus warns them about persecution coming to them for following Him as their Master.  Jesus promises them they will have help to face whatever comes, because He will send the Holy Spirit to empower them for their mission.  Jesus prophecies of the actions of His impending death and resurrection.  And in the end, Jesus commands them [John 16:33]…

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.

Here’s the Jim Wilkins version…

Jesus to me (a disciple): “Peace of mind is knowing I’m still in charge, even when you don’t see me.  Peace of mind is believing that I’m still working behind the scenes to make My Father’s will completely perfect in your lives.  You’re going to suffer, and this causes you to be afraid.  Don’t be. I’ll send help in the exact moment you need it most.  So take courage through your fear, and throttle the thing that will attempt to take your life.  I am about to give you a model for how to do exactly that!”

Paul’s letter to the Romans was designed to bring this same kind of confident life action and motivation.  Chapter 8 is a description of all the things in life that may come at us, that tries to separate us from God’s loving grace.  Paul wraps us His long explanation of deliverance from bondage to the world, and our victory in Jesus, with these words:

Romans 8:37-39
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Don’t miss the word in verse 37: conquer.  νικάω = nikaó (nik-ah’-o) =  Nike!

It’s more than just a shoe company.


If you liked this blog post feel free to share it on your Facebook page. Send me a “friend” invite on my FB account or sign up by email to follow my blog!