Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Unlocked Door

There is something inviting about a door that has been left open or unlocked. It's almost like we are being invited in. It can also be like some event in life that hasn't quite finished yet because the door hasn't been shut. But it can also be a sign of hope, like there's still a chance for us.

This past Saturday was Ruby's Pantry - a local food distribution center for those who are in need. I volunteer there each month, pre-registering those who wait in line. I get to know the people who come there. What a blessing that is to me.

Hundreds of people go through the line the third Saturday of each month. Some are regulars, others are coming there for the first time. The door is always open. Well, until 10:30 when it's time to close the doors for the day.

So, as 10:30 rolled around this past Saturday, I found myself heading down the long, long hallway towards the front door. Time to go home and get some rest for us weary volunteers. That's when I saw a black pickup pull into the parking lot.

I watched as a woman opened the passenger side door and got out. I smiled and began to unlock the door I has just locked and opened the door for the lady.

"Is there someone I can talk to?" she asked.

"Sure," I replied. "What do you need?"

"The IRS took all of my husband's paycheck and we don't have any money for food or gas for the truck. We were hoping you might have some food."

"Sure. Come on in," I smiled again.

You see, I knew something this lady didn't.

Earlier that day as I was getting ready to leave home for Ruby's, I put $20 in my pocket for my friend Tom - a Vietnam veteran who had also been experiencing money problems. He usually shows up at Ruby's via taxi because he has trouble walking. I was planning on paying for his share of food that day (Although the food is always free, the diesel fuel for the trucks that haul it is not). The interesting thing was, my friend didn't show up.

I was smiling that day because I still had Tom's $20 in my pocket when this lady showed up. I smiled because, once again, I was allowed to witness God at work in someone's life. Providing for their needs. Opening doors. What an amazing God we serve. :)

There was an offer of prayer in the hallway. The lady accepted. As I said Amen and she continued on her way down the hallway, I smiled yet again as I remembered this verse that Jesus delivered to us all in the Book of Revelation.

"20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me." - Revelation 3:20

I got to open the door that day when somebody knocked. They were hungry - wanting to eat. Did Jesus meet this lady at Ruby's Pantry that day? Did He dine with her? I don't know. But it made me smile to think that He promised us He would do just that if we let Him. If we hear His voice.

There is always an open door with God but He has also told us that one day the door will be shut and locked. The question is which side of the door will we be on? Inside, where all the food is? Or outside in the cold, looking in.

Someone's At The Door - Nathaniel Bassey

Monday, February 19, 2018

Touch My Scars

Have you ever had to bury one of your children, been addicted to drugs, battled cancer, spent time in jail, gone through a messy divorce or had to deal with a loved one's suicide? There's a job waiting for you if you want it. And only you can do it.

After Jesus died, he re-appeared in front of His disciples. Not as a ghost, but as actual flesh and bone. Jesus taught Thomas something and He taught US something well. Keep your attention on His scars and what they did to those He showed them to.

"19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord." - John 20:19-20

Jesus showed them His scars. His disciples were overjoyed. Now watch what happened when His disciples tried telling Thomas that they had seen The Lord.

"24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” - John 20:24-25

Thomas didn't believe them. Even though they had seen Jesus and were excited about it. Thomas hadn't seen the physical evidence for himself. He refused to believe. But then . . .

"26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

"27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” - John 20:26:28

Thomas saw the scars and he believed. You and I can tell people about Jesus but they won't believe us unless they encounter Him for themselves. Another thing they need to see in the scars. OUR scars.

We NEED those scars. If we try telling someone what it's like to battle cancer but haven't gone through the chemo and radiation ourselves, it's hard for someone to believe us when we tell them they can do it. But if a cancer survivor speaks to a cancer patient in the hospital, suddenly there is hope in the new patient for getting through the trial because he or she is listening to someone tell them it IS possible. They see "the scars."

We can tell people about Jesus but unless people see evidence of Him in our lives they won't believe. People need to see our scars. And to really have a lasting, permanent effect on someone, let them "touch" your scars. Let them feel the pain you went through. Let them see your tears, your emotions.

I got saved when a friend showed me HER scars. She was crying as she told me how her husband didn't go with her to church. I felt convicted as I saw her weeping over it because not going to church with MY wife was something I was guilty of too. I went to church with my wife the very next Sunday and met Jesus there while sitting with her in a pew.

People seek honesty and truth. We can tell people something honestly yet they still won't believe us. We can give them books to read. We can give them a Bible, but unless they see the truth lived out in our lives . . . until they touch the scars . . . they simply will not believe.

Do we have what it takes to let a stranger touch us in such a way? We have the scars. Let us use them for God's glory. Doing so will help US heal at the same time.

Why Jesus Kept His Scars

Saturday, February 17, 2018

As For Me

It is less than six months now until I retire. People have been asking me what I'm going to do when I no longer have to go in to work. I'm not sure what they're expecting me to say because, when I give them my answer, they look at me funny. "I'm going to work!"

The way I see it I'm going to work harder AFTER I retire than I ever did before. That's because I'm going to love what I'll be doing. I'll be serving the Lord. Full time. And honestly, I can't wait.

Right now I always have my job in mind before committing to a meeting with someone or before volunteering somewhere. After I retire that commitment to work will no longer be there, so I can spend more time, and be more flexible with that time, serving Jesus.

I'm kind of excited at the prospect. Shouldn't we be excited for something like that?

Some guys I know do a lot of fishing when they retire. Some guys play a lot of golf. But as for me, I can think of nothing I'd rather do than make God smile.

14“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” - Joshua 24:14-15

I don't think there can be anything better to do with one's time than to serve God in whatever capacity we can. And while I can serve God even while I am at work, I can serve God MORE by working less and serving more. Does that make sense?

May God's Holy Spirit keep after me and protect me from Satan's slothful desires for my life. We should work hard no matter what we do. It's just easier to serve . . . if it doesn't become work. :)

As For Me And My House - John Waller

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Have you ever been poisoned? Or maybe had an overdose of some substance to the point where it threatened your life? While some might answer yes to that question, for most of us our answer is no. Or is it?

Examine the definition of poison - a substance that is capable of causing the illness or death of a living organism when introduced or absorbed.

Think about that for a minute. Poison is something absorbed or introduced into our bodies that causes death. Remember Adam and Eve in the garden? Eve was talking to the snake (Satan). He convinced her to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. And what happened? Sin came into our lives. Sin = Death. They were poisoned!

The Apostle Paul writes "23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 6:23. Each one of us, from Adam and Eve right on down the line, absorbs this world we live in. We are organisms absorbed in our sin and by sin. Sin is a poison in each of our lives. What we need is an antidote. Thank God there is one! His name is Jesus.

In the video at the end of this story Indiana Jones is poisoned by his rival. Indiana is desperate to get the antidote. Why don't WE all act that desperately when sin is poisoning u s?

We basically have two choices when we sin. We can do nothing and die, or we can't surrender ourselves to Jesus and live. Seems like a no-brainer to me but the choice is up to ys. I already have the antidote living inside of me. How about you?

Antidote - Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Call To Anguish

I'm going to ask you to watch something kind of graphic today. In fact, someone dies during the video you are about to watch. But I want you to get the feel for my topic today. Anguish.

Roger Williamson and David Purley were both Formula One race car drivers back in the late 70's. They also were best friends.

During the Dutch Grand Prix of 1973 Roger Williamson crashed. His car burst into flames and flipped upside down. His friend David Purley stopped to help but was unable to do so. The frustration and anguish Purley experienced that day is quite evident in the video. As you watch, please pay attention to what you are feeling.

Roger Williamson and David Purley

Where does our passion come from? Why do we feel stronger about some things than we do about others? What do YOU feel passionate about? Is our passion birthed out of anguish? Some pain hurts us so deeply that we can't help but be moved to action. The question is, Are we moving?

Look back at your life and see if you can find a time when you were in anguish. A time when you were so upset about something that it changed you. What was it?

For me it was the abduction and murder of a nine-year old girl in our community named Cora Jones. As the father of a daughter who was the same age and went to the same church as Cora, the pain of what her father went through really hit me hard. Her loss fueled my entry into youth ministry. To this day I have a passion for teens, that they would come to know Jesus and thus be saved.

A ministry born in anguish.

We have many things we care about in life, but few of them carry with them our consuming passion. I think God wants us to have a passion for something. Him. A passion that is sometimes born in anguish.

Look at the life of Jesus for example. And look at God, the Father. The Old Testament is filled with stories of God's anguish over His people Israel. He sacrificed His only Son for them (and us) and still they did not believe.

The Rich Man and Lazarus is another example. An evangelist born out of anguish.

‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ - Luke 16:27-28

The Christian faith was born out of anguish. Close your eyes and think about Jesus on the cross. Think about His love for us and His obedience to His Father. Where is OUR anguish for those who do not know Jesus?

I listened to the following message by the late David Wilkerson yesterday. It touched me deeply the first time I heard it several years ago. It touched my heart again yesterday, convicting me that I am not desperate enough or passionate enough for the lives of those I love. I am not passionate enough for Jesus. I encourage you to listen to it. Keep track of how his message makes your heart feel.

Will this message be YOUR call to anguish?

We are called to love God and love one another (Mark 12:30-31). May the anguish Jesus went through for us drive us forward in our faith and our convictions. To God be the glory!

A Call To Anguish - David Wilkerson

Saturday, February 10, 2018


Do you recognize this man?  Some will. Most won't. Perhaps the arrows behind his right shoulder will give you a clue. This is Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood. But did you know he was also playing another role at the same time?

It had been some time since I watched this movie so when my wife and I watched it this week I noticed something I hadn't even considered before - that the Robin Hood character, in addition to being a wonderful story in English folklore, the character also bears an amazing resemblance to Jesus of Nazareth. I encourage you to watch the movie yourself sometime and see if you don't agree. Examine the cast of characters.

Robin Hood as Jesus. Robin was always serving the poor and defenseless as they struggled against the tyranny of King John (Satan). There were many battles. The poor were killed and tortured by the ruler of their world. They rejoiced for THEIR savior, Robin Hood.

King Richard as God. Richard, The Lionhearted was an honorable king. Always doing what was best in the eyes of His subjects. Richard and Robin were men of great character, almost as if they were father and son.

King John (Richard's brother) as Satan. History records the real King John as "the most evil monarch in Britain's history. In the movie, John was always scheming and looking for ways to capture and kill Robin.

Sir Guy as The Antichrist. Always battling Robin Hood throughout the movie, Robin eventually kills him. Sir Guy was always under the command of John (Satan). Guy also coveted Maid Marian (The Church) and did what ever he could to keep her from him.

The Bishop of Hereford as The False Prophet. Another one of King John's puppets, The False Prophet we read about in the Book of Revelation, is thought to be the head of the one-world religion during the end times.

Maid Marian as The Church of Christ. Dressed in darker colors for most of the movie, Marian is dressed in white near the end. The bride of Christ, Marian loved Robin (Jesus) deeply. Though they spend time apart through out the movie, in the end they are re-united and are married at the command of King Richard.

It was amazing to watch these characters interact with one another in light of The Gospel story. Watching this movie with eyes focused on Jesus made my watching of this classic all the more enjoyable.

Now, listen to the words of Maid Marian (The Church) as she delivers a message to King John (Satan). She was caught defying him and was about to be sentenced to death. You and I are sentenced to death for our sins, crimes against OUR King. What we need is a Savior to keep US from such an hour. We should thank God He gave us one in Jesus.

"18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share," - 1 Timothy 6:18

Maid Marian's Speech

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Shot of Hope

That's the needle angling down on the left, just about to touch the bone.
I had an ultrasound yesterday. Yeah, that's right - an ultrasound. No . . . . I am NOT pregnant! But I DID feel a "contraction" when the doctor shoved the needle into my shoulder.

I had a shot of cortisone in my shoulder yesterday - the first step in what hopefully be the restoring of my shoulder to full operating condition. The doctor said, "It will hurt later on after the injection. Yeah, he was right. Why do we put up with all of the pain we experience in life? I think it's in hopes that things will get better. Doctors can fix SOME things, but they can't fix everything.

Where would we be without hope? If we had nothing to look forward to, what point is there in continuing on and going through all the pain life offers?

Many choose to opt out of life rather than go through any more pain. Why? Do they have no hope? If hope if the answer, where do we get it? It must be available somewhere to justify a word in our language. Where do we get the hope we need to help us get through the pain?

I have a  friend at work who told me a few years ago about her best friend Julie who had cancer. Her friend placed all of her hope in her doctors. She placed no hope at all in God. Julie is dead now. Doctors can fix SOME things, but they can't fix everything. If she died without Jesus by her side there is truly no hope for her.

Jesus has proven that death has no power over Him when God raised him FROM the dead. He has also promised triumph over death to those who believe in Him. If you were about to die, where would you place YOUR hope? In doctors or in Jesus?

Sadly, it is mostly our pride that keeps us from that saving faith in Christ. We refuse to believe because WE think we have it all figured out. We read some book or we came to our own conclusion that He doesn't exist. Well, what if we're wrong like my friend's friend? To die without hope just doesn't make sense.

One way to prove whether He truly exists or not is to ask Him. Many people have come to faith in Christ by simply asking earnestly, "God, if you're real, please reveal yourself to me. Let me know that you are real. I hope . . . that you are."

What we need is a shot of hope in our hearts. The syringe is Jesus and the healing serum in His Holy Spirit. Please, don't die without hope . . . without Jesus.

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains -
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth."
-Psalm 121:1-2

My Life Is In You, Lord
I Have This Hope - Tenth Avenue North
This Blessed Hope -  Pastor Jack Hibbs & Amir Tsarfati

Monday, February 5, 2018

Solving The Puzzle

My wife took a picture of me and our grandson.  We're trying to put a puzzle together. As I looked at her picture I thought, "Aren't we all trying to do the same thing in life?"

Here's how my grandson and I do a puzzle. First we find all the border pieces and corner pieces. We put those together first. Then we look at the picture on the box. Well, we should. We don't. We just try stuff.

It would probably be easier if we looked at the box. It shows what our puzzle should look like when it's done. That would be way too easy though.

It was fun watching our grandson figure out which puzzle piece goes where. Last year, he'd just try joining one piece with another. If they didn't fit he would get frustrated and pound the puzzle pieces, even though they didn't match.

This year though he began to look for the correct piece. "Where's the piece with the star on it Grandpa? I don't see it. OH! Here it is!" And he'd pick it up and drop it right into place. Smart kid.

Our lives are like puzzles. We try fitting different pieces together. Work, family, relationships. When they don't fit we pound on them, trying to make them fit and conform to OUR will. When they don't, we get mad and give up on them.

What we need to do is look at the key to the puzzle - the picture on the box. For us humans the key to the puzzle of life is the Bible. The Bible tells us how the puzzle pieces of relationships and life should fit together to create the amazing finished image that God desires - the image of our God. You and me.

"This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one." - Ephesians 5:32

Are you have trouble putting the pieces of life's puzzle together? Talk to the puzzle master. And if our grandson is not available, talk to God. He is the one who created all of the pieces in the first place.

Mystery - Selah

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Invisible Things

When I was in the Boy Scouts and we'd go on camping trips, we would hear ghost stories around a campfire at night. The one about The Ultraviolet Monster was memorable. Invisible to human eyes, it would kill its unsuspecting victims, usually young teen boys, as they sat around campfires in the woods. Wait! WHAT!?!

Naturally, we all slept well after THAT story. Not! Every sound was amplified ten times as we knew for sure that we would be its next victim. Invisible monsters. Ha! Ridiculous. Right? That's what I always thought, until I read the Bible and found out they actually do exist. The Apostle Paul writes these words about Jesus. No, He's not the monster. LOL! But He DOS create things we can't even see.

"15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence." - Colossians 1:15-18

Did you catch those words in bold print? God created invisible things! The devil is invisible . . . to us. He prowls around, not only at night, like that ultraviolet monster, but he also creeps around during the daytime too.

"Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." - 1 Peter 5:8

The ghost stories of my youth were frightening at the time but they sure seem tame now compared to the forces that are work in the world we live in today. How can we be saved against such powerful forces whose only desire is to devour us?

Stand tall, stand firm, and call on the name of The Lord. The Ancient of Days will protect us. All honor and glory to our eternal, immortal King!

"Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen." - 1 Timothy 1:17

Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise - Jaron and Katherine Kamin

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What Do You Want?

From an early age most of us were taught how to pray. "God bless mommy and daddy, God bless Grandma and my puppy." I saw something recently though that made me question the way that I pray. Do you do this?

Our childhood prayers before meals get a little better than those bedtime prayers with "God is great, God is good" - directing our prayers vertically rather than horizontally. When we become adults though, do our prayers really change all that much from those childhood prayers?

I saw a meme on Facebook recently that caused me to re-examine my prayer life. Perhaps it will do the same for you. Here it is.

So many times I have prayed seeking God's help with something. Perhaps it's a prayer for a friend in need or a prayer seeking forgiveness for something I have done. But seldom have I prayed in such a way that I ask God what HE wants.

I love what that meme says! And it's true. True prayer I think is not asking God to come through for our laundry list of hopes and desires. True, worshipful prayer is asking God what He wants from US.

Instead of asking, "Please God, get rid of my cancer", what if we prayed, "Lord, how can I use this for your glory?" or, "Father, what is it you want from me?

When Samuel was being called by God Eli told Samuel to answer God in a particular way. It is good for us to remember the words of Samuel as WE pray.

"Then Eli perceived that the Lord had called the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” - Samuel 3:8-10

So many time we ask God to take care our needs instead of asking Him what we can do for Him. Are we afraid of what he'll ask us to do? Or are we afraid of how WE might answer.

What Do You Want From Me? - Pink Floyd

Monday, January 29, 2018

Lead Me

Deep within us something moves. There is no physical feeling of movement really. Rather it is a movement in our hearts. Our souls. It's a priority adjusting, sanctifying force that changes us from within. God's Holy Spirit.

I find it interesting how my perception of God's Word has changed each time I read it. The words have always remained the same but their meaning and importance seemed to change over time. Part of this is obtained from teachers, pastors, seminars, etc. But really it's the Holy Spirit at work, doing what He does best. Leading us into all truth.

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you." - John 16:12-14

He takes what is in God's Word and declares it to us. The Holy Spirit makes things known to us. Things we wouldn't otherwise know. And that's not all. He also helps us pray - interpreting our prayers - making them presentable to God.

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God." - Romans 8:26-27

This is great news!

Things effect me differently NOW compared to before I was a believer. What's different? The promised Holy Spirit.

Having that knowledge that God is indeed living IN us, doesn't that create a determination to live a more holy life? It should! But does it? Hmm. Hard to tell sometimes.

Here's what we should do. Before we read the Bible, pray. Pray that God's Holy Spirit would reveal to you the truth in Gods Word. It is a promise that He will lead us to that truth. Then Use that truth to examine everything else. Examine the news, examine other translations of the Bible, examine your pastor's teachings and the teachings of those pastors on television. You will be surprised how little truth actually exists in this world. Try it. And let the truth set you free.

Holy Spirit - Francesca Battistelli
What Does The Holy Spirit Do? -

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Relationship Advice From God

Everybody has relationship struggles from time to time in their lives. Disagreements, arguments, frustrations, even infidelity can take center stage. It doesn't have to be that way.

And before you think that this isn't "a Christian problem" you're wrong. Divorce rates between Born-Again Christians (27%)1 and non-Christians (12%)1 in this country are opposite from what we think they'd be. So what's the problem? And how do we fix it? The answer is easy. Go look in a mirror. No, not THAT mirror. The Bible!

Ephesians 5:21 says this, "21 Submit to one another." Think about that for a moment. Think about the ramifications of those four words and what they mean in our lives. If taken to the extreme, it would mean that none of us would ever get our way! That's correct. Now we are beginning to see.

Jesus and His disciples were walking one day and He told them this:

“Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” - Mark 9:35

That was good advice for the apostles and it is good advice for us in our relationships too. Here's an example.

When I come home after a long day at the office the first thing I want to do is put down my lunch bag and get out of my work clothes. Sometimes, however, my wife has ALSO had a long work day and wants to vent about it. So what do I do?

I could say, "Give me five minutes, will ya?" but that would be putting my self and my desires above those of my wife. So I stand there and listen while she tells me about her day. Is it really that big of a deal? My needs should come last.

God is a strong believer in self-sacrifice and unconditional love. Look what He did for us on the cross! The book of Ephesians tells us to imitate Christ.

"Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God." - Ephesians 5:1-2

Life can get frustrating at times but if we can remember to places other's needs above our own, our relationships will flourish and grow. And isn't that why we are here? To learn and grow?

Jesus once told His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" (Matthew 16:24-26)

If we are to "take up our cross" like Jesus did, doesn't that mean that He wants us to sacrifice OUR lives for the lives of others, just as He did for us? I think it does.

O The Blood - Gateway Worship

1 "Christians are more likely to experience divorce than are non-Christians," Barna Research Group, 1999-DEC-21, at: Barna no longer has this report online. However, a review of the report is at: