In order to do a job right, you need to be trained for it. While you can be trained by being cast into a situation and forced to come up with something with your wits alone, but it isn’t the best way. Rather, everyone who undertake a new task or position is employed in some training to discipline themselves to follow a new protocol. However, with faith in Jesus, it’s a little different.

When you come to faith in Christ, it does seem like you are thrown into the deep end. Suddenly all these expectations are placed upon you: how you are to dress, talk, act, and witness. It’s not exactly fair, largely because most people in that position have not been properly trained even as the New Testament instructs. Jesus told his disciples this way:

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Mat 28:19-20)

Did you notice the sequence? First, as apostles, they go into all the world (technically, it is “as you go”, meaning that “as you go about the business of life”), then second, make disciples. Making disciples in those days meant finding those willing to learn and taking them alongside, instructing them and teaching them as you go about your work, much as Paul would working as a tent-maker. Then, once they have a recognizable commitment, third, you baptize them into the Name (of the Triune God, Father, Son and Spirit), and then fourth, teaching them everything to observe everything Jesus commanded of the Apostles, i.e., going out and making disciples.

So in this many of us I am afraid have made a few mistakes. We have tried for the “win” of the baptism or the prayer of faith or whatever your church does. We count that as a “salvation” and then expect that person to suddenly know what to do. We forget there is a time of discipleship, both showing and teaching what a Christian is, both what he believes and how he lives. These are both important, as many of our Christians today would rather not people follow them into the workplace. We are to be examples everywhere we are, so that others know how to become Christians everywhere they go.

Therefore as Christians, we could actively be teaching others about our faith, the reason for our beliefs, so that we can encourage others to become Christians and grow in turn to teach others. I believe that baptism can occur both early and late, as there is not set time to baptize a person in this process. But this process must include “counting the cost” of salvation in Jesus (which can be very costly for some coming out of other cultures), but also learning basic discipleship, prayer, Bible study, etc. When a person is finally baptized, they are not thrown into the deep end of the pool unprepared, but they are thrown into the deep end. It’s just that by the time they take the dip, they know how to swim.

Why do you think there is such rescividism among new Christians, especially in our culture where they quickly become Christmas-Easter attenders? Its because they’ve never had the chance to witness Christianity in a person’s life. It’s only been on Sunday morning. They didn’t follow the pastor home, or an elder home, or another believer to find out what it means to live as a Christian before they gave their life to Jesus. That is a critical and vital piece that has long been missing from our modern “revivalist” mentality in the Church. We yearn for the altar calls and the decisions, but we don’t take the time to make disciples.

And making disciples is painful. But as Jesus taught, if we are going to make disciples that make other disciples, we have to make disciples first. That starts with you. That starts with you living your life in an obvious way that shoes others what living in Jesus means. It takes time and deliverate effort, but it is worth it.

So heavenly Father, help me to grow in You and show others today how I have grown so that they will want what I have. Let Your Name be on my lips so that I can draw all men unto You who is lifted up in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Blanket Statement

Ever wondered about the exceptions to the rules? If you’ve read the Bible, you know it covers many topics about life, ethics, and morality. It speaks volumes about what kind of behavior that God expects of us. But what about the areas it doesn’t address, modern issues that seem to fall through the cracks? The Bible existed long before cell phones, internet, even the telegraph. What does the Bible say about these modern technologies, especially about how we ought to use them? How does the Bible address social media concerns about how we spend our time there?

For example, the Bible says nothing about blogging. You can look it up. You will not find the word “blogging” in the Bible. And yet here we are, enjoying another blog about the Bible and faith in Jesus. How is this even biblical?

While the Bible does cover aspects of life specifically, like marriage and divorce, there are areas that it does not specifically address, thus the blanket statement above. “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” No I don’t know about you, but that does speak to me. That tells me that whatever activity I find myself participating in, it must agree with the Name, and of course, the nature of the One Who has that Name. So whether it is blogging, social media, or anything else, it must agree with the revealed nature of the One for Whom I am called.

So how can I know what Jesus wants from my blogging? A couple verses come to mind. One comes from Ephesians 4, “speak the truth in love.” Another verse says that as Christians we ought always to build one another up. This blog is an attempt to do both. Because blogging is communicating by the written word, anything the New Testament (and Old) has to say about your words applies. Sorry social media, but that means you too. As Christians we ought to stand out in the social sphere, speaking the truth in love and speaking words of encouragement. It ought to be fairly easy to pick out those who believe in Jesus. Can I get a witness?

That said, anything else you find yourself do, though it may not be specifically covered by the Scriptures, is covered by statements like the above. All of our behavior, from whatever century, is to stand out because the One Who calls us is holy.

Dear God, I pray that today I will better illustrating my faith by my actions, in everything I do. May I give glory to You in all things? In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Love Is . . .

Not what I thought it was. When you are growing up as a young man, you think when you finally find that woman of your dreams and marry her, it will be love all the time. We will be all over each other. I will never have to wonder about sex ever again. Well, not so much.

This year my wife and I will have been married 25 years. There have been days like I imagined, and there have been days from Hell. Not gonna lie here. There are days where we have hated each other and couldn’t imagine going another day, and days where we thought our love couldn’t get any better. Thankfully, we were wrong on both counts. Over the years, you learn a few things, and you mature. And that’s where I learned that love isn’t about the roses and the candy and sex. Love is about bonding, staying rooted in each other, being present for each other. Love is caring, sharing, enjoying each other’s company. Love is all that the Scripture promised it would be. Mature love, real love is patience and kindness and joy and peace. But love is also sharing suffering and pain, hurt and loss. Love is being fully invested in another person, in their wins and losses, in their joys and sorrows. Love is being there when no one else will. Love is selfless giving, not taking. Love is offering, not seizing. Love is expressed in sexual intimacy, to be sure, but it is also expressed in weeping, in prayer, in working alongside, in listening. And this kind of love never gets old, stale or hollow. In fact, this kind of love continues to grow. This love grows deeper with each day. This love wakes up in anticipation of seeing your wife every morning, no matter what she looks like, because this love is from the soul.

Love is amazing, and love is taught to us by our Loving Heavenly Father. May you enjoy and experience this deep transcendant love for your spouse today and everyday. Don’t wait for once a year.

Dear God! Thank you for showing up this kind of love! Thank you for loving us so much that You sent Your own Son to love us, to give His most precious Life for us, to show us just how much we mean to You. Dear God each and every day teach us how to love, especially in loving our spouse, but also to extend this love to the unlovable. Show us your vision of people who need the gospel, who need good news. Thank You Lord Jesus for Your indescribable gift! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Care in the Pruning

Pruning feels a lot like discipline. Pruning feels like punishment. Pruning is not pleasant. And yet, the Lord sees fit to prune our lives from time to time. Things, people, professional possessions, from time to time God sees fit to prune away from us because they are not beneficial to us. Of course, we can’t understand this at the time it occurs. To us it feels like God is punishing us. It feels like He doesn’t love us. Yet God does it anyway, and demands that we simply trust Him. He is the Master Gardener. He sees our whole life at once. He knows what will help us grow. Like a good Gardener, He prunes back the branches from time to time to help us bear more fruit. He isn’t interested is us bearing more branches, because they can cause us to fall over in the storm when we are overbalanced. He knows exactly how big we need to be, what shape we need to be, because we don’t.

“Why did God allow this to happen?” People ask. How could a loving God let such things happen? Pruning is a painful act. But it is. Loving act. Discipline is a painful act. But it is a loving one. And sometimes they are the same. Bad things happen. Do not be surprised that the world hates you. You belong to the Lord. The world hated the Lord. They will hate you too. Sometimes God uses that hatred for your pruning.

When you are overcome, overwhelmed, and in need of hope, remember that this world is not our home. We are not judged on our possessions. We are not judged by our bank account. We are not judged by which church we attend. We are judged according to our faith in Christ and the works we have done in His name. We are judged by our fruits. And God wants to give us every chance to grow them.

God, help me understand why you are so hard on me. I have heard that I will not be given more than I can handle, but it seems You have an awful lot of confidence in me right now. Father I am not strong enough. On my own I cannot do this. I need you to empower me, to draw me to you. I need you. Please Lord. Amen.

Level Ground

I like level ground. Its so much easier to travel, but, it’s also pretty boring. If you’ve ever been on  a trip, traveling through hills and valleys, over rivers and even mountains is far more interesting than driving across long, level ground. My family and I had the chance last year to drive across Kansas on I-70. It is the very definition of level ground, and Kansas knows this. They’ve tried to spruce it up with several roadside attractions and tourist traps. I’ve not driven anything quite like it before.

So why would we want to Spirit of God to lead us across level ground? Simple. The same mountains and valleys that make travels interesting are the very things we want to avoid in our spiritual life. We’ve had the mountain-top experiences, and those are great, but we’ve also traveled through the valley of the shadow of death. Not so nice. In short, we would prefer the long, evening boring road led the Spirit to free us from the extremes of emotional and spiritual travel. That being said, we truly appreciate the highs and lows for those shape us to be who we are.

All of this is to teach us to do the will of God. I would much rather God teach me His will than have to force me along it. Let me learn by His gentle instruction than to have to be broken again and again until I listen. So as I live, let me learn what Your good, pleasing, and perfect will is.

Heavenly Father, I know I’ve messed up, and often. And often you have to teach me in ways I don’t like. Sometimes I have to take dark paths of sorrow and misery before I open my eyes enough to see the lessons you would have me learn. Help me Father to have open eyes and delight of heart when You bring me along Your will. Help me the path you would have me go, so that I will not wander but travel on the level ground you have prepared for me. Thank You Lord, In Your Son’s Name, Amen.

Guide my Feet

Not sure where your life is going today? It’s Monday morning and you are back to the same ground you’ve been doing for years. Nothing has changed. Monday is a painful reminder that your life has been put on hold indefinitely. Yes. It’s a job. Your family is cared for. Your needs are met. Your marriage is good. But it’s Monday and life is dull. It’s been this way for years and you just don’t know how to get out of this rut.

May I suggest something? The excitement you at looking for will not be in a new location, job, or marriage. It doesn’t really matter when you are the same. What needs to change is you. If you keep looking at the world through your own lenses, it will only be as exciting as you can imagine. Take a look at your world through God’s vision. What do you see?

God sees relationships and work that He is blessing. God sees a great foundation for ”greater works than these.” Imagine the contrast of a family if one element of your blessed life is removed. Good job but bad marriage. Good house but unreliable work. Food on the table but one child is hooked on drugs. Imagine if one thing was knocked out of your perfectly boring world. Doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?

Yeah, but I’m still bored. I’m sorry others aren’t as blessed as me, but that doesn’t change my situation. Maybe remind you of one verse in Philippians? ”Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Both of these drivethe engine of joy. Are you godly? Are you striving to be more like God every day? Do you appreciate and thank Gid for the blessing you enjoy every day? Do you bring the needs of others before God? Do you see others as God does? If you feel you have reached a plateau in your spiritual life, that’s not God’s fault. The depths and mysteries of God cannot be fathomed. If that doesn’t at least pique your curiosity, then you seriously need to work on your faith. Read more. Listen more. Get out of your own head. You already know everything in there. Submit to God in your daily activities and see what He can do with them. It’s not all about you.

Heavenly Father, being back to Monday isn’t what I had in mind for a good time today, but You remind me that life is more about my own needs. You remind me that I was put on this earth for You and Your purposes. Show me today what I can do to grow in my faith and not be so consumed my my own little world. Help me to grow past the dull and into the light. Show me the path. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


My wife will tell you that I do not move very fast. In fact this morning we arrived at church 20 minutes late and couldn’t find a seat. Good problem to have I guess. I have been told that my superhero name ought to be ”Sloth-Man”. While I happen to admire sloths, but I don’t have an affinity for them.

And maybe being slow is a good thing. This is one text that I can get behind. For I am always quick to listen, anger and speaking tend to be slower. I like to think before I say anything because my mouth has often gotten me into trouble. And since I’ve often made my living from the words I say, you can see how that would be a problem.

That’s not something that I knew right off. And it’s not a skill you can easily acquire. It takes time, experience, and patience, lots of patience. It takes maturity, which is why I think this book is later in the Bible. The books written here toward the end of the New Testament tend to be more difficult to understand and practice than the earlier ones. And they are more geared more for mature believers. This is a skill that Christians work up to as they grow to be more like Christ. This is something that is expected of you, but that you will need to grow into it.

Dear Lord, we pray this morning that as Christians you continue to call us forward in our faith. Help us to grow and mature as believers and become your disciples. You have called us to be salt and light in this world. May our witness reflect that. Help us to be quick to listen. Help us to be ready to listen and to hear first without judgment, that we may understand each other. Then Father give us the patience to work through what we have heard. And only then Father when we have heard and thought may we speak your truth, and apply anger when necessary. Let us give fair hearing and sound judgment when we speak and act. Thank you Lord for your grace in us. Let us be at least as gracious to others. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Pure Joy

Joy, joy, joy. Praise be the Lord who reigns on high.

Consider it pure joy. When? When you encounter various happy occasions? Nope. When you encounter various trials, for it is then you know your faith is being tested. Hmmm.

So I should consider an honor than I have been chosen to have my faith tested. I am certain many of us would just as soon pass. Surely God can find better ways of schooling us into maturity than trials and tests. But that’s not how we learn, is it? Were it not for the trials and tests, would we remember that our faith ought to be growing day by day? We should probably thank the Lord that He still loves me enough to test me, and that I am not a lost cause.

What I have found is that with each successful test, some new means of testing is found. When you have been found faithful in your Bible reading, you are tested in your prayer, or it might be your commitment to church, or your finances, or your marriage, especially when you think things are going great. One of your kids may suddenly have a crisis, or you find an unexpected visitor at your door, or something will come along that will test you in areas that you thought were secure, like your health. Ouch.

Even to talk about all these things could test you in another area: worry. Will you trust God to take care of the things you can’t? Would you let God do the worrying for you? Wow.

What James calls for is an attitude that anticipates God’s work in you and welcomes it. Remember, just as you are working toward maturity, God too is working in you. Consider it all joy. For it isn’t about being happy through your life, but joyful, a joy beyond circumstances.

May God bless you today!


I probably say this phrase 100 times a day. It’s my go-to for surprise and wonder, or just excitement. Yeah. I guess I’m old-fashioned. I probably use it so much it doesn’t have the same meaning. But for me it’s better than a lot of other words I could say. Mercy!

But what is being offered here? Mercy is being offered to those who share mercy with others. The preconditon is that you are merciful to other people, where they wrong you or offend you. Your reaction is to extend mercy. Maybe they didn’t understand you? Maybe they are having a bad day? Maybe they too are sinners and they need the love of Jesus? Mercy!

But how can someone have this quality of mercy? This depends on how you understand the Beatitudes. When I read them, I see a gradual progression, from “poor in spirit” which we all qualify for, to “persecution” which is what happens when you live authentically as a Christian. Each point along the way is a sign of maturity for the believer. “Mercy” occurs about halfway through this list. This mercy isn’t something you are expected to start off with, but something you will need to develop and mature. Mercy!

So when you are tempted to give someone the third degree, remember you are called to mercy. As we show mercy to others, God shows mercy to us. Something to think about on this Sunday.

God bless you today!


Are you worried that somehow the blood of Jesus hasn’t cleansed you? More often than not, I run into Christians that worry they are not cleansed, and still need to do some form of penance to be forgiven. This is an idea that is prominently Catholic, but you can find it in all forms of Christianity. It is the idea that somehow, God’s grace through Christ’s shed blood doesn’t extend beyond your baptism, all sins committed up to that point, and that in some way you must continue to beg for forgiveness after that point. I’ve even had someone ask me after the death of an individual if that person who died was forgiven their sins even if they forgot to confess some? Would that person now burn in Hell because he/she forget to confess a sin before they died?

Really? Is it that easy to lose your salvation? If so, then there’s no hope for any of us. What do you do with people who get dementia? What happens to the old, who sin just as much as anyone else, only slower? Trust me, I’m getting there. What happens when dementia sets in, and they forget? Does that mean Hell is yawning before them because they forgot to confess a sin they forgot about?

The real question is how powerful God’s grace is. Did Jesus die for all sin for all time? Yes. All sin. John also says in 1 John 3:20, “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” If you feel condemned before God, then ask for forgiveness, For Christ’s shed blood has already forgiven it. As an errant child, even though the Father loves us too much to condemn us, we still need to ask for His forgiveness for our own sake. But if we ask for His forgiveness, we also need to accept His grace freely given.

In chapter five, John says we know we are His children. There is no guesswork when it comes to grace. This passage in 1 John 1:7 is for our benefit. We can know we have forgiveness and cleansing from all our sin because we are children of God. He will not let us go easily.

Can a person lose their salvation? Yes. In the same way they received it. They ask for it. Well what person would ask to lose their salvation? A person who says that they no longer want Jesus to be their Savior. If they cast Him aside like dirty laundry and pursue sin with abandon, is there any hope for that person? Yes. If they put aside their sinfulness and once more pursue Christ. It is impossible for that person to be saved as long as they reject Jesus. But that is at the end of a very long road, where God has pleaded and begged for them to come back to Himself. God paid a high price for our salvation. He is highly invested in us. If we choose to follow Him, He does everything in His power to keep us, short of violating our free will.

God will put you through some tough times, both to strengthen your faith and to put you in a position where the only way out is with Him. Christians will suffer in this world, but that is because this world is where we are tested, for the Lord to know those who are truly His, and not merely paying lipservice. It took much labor to bring you into this world. It will take even more to prepare for the next. But take heart, this is the worst it will be. You will experience your worst suffering here, if you are His. If you are not, Hell makes your worst suffering feel like a stubbed toe by comparison.

You are cleansed from your sins, and if you are a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus, you have no fear to walk boldly into the throne room of grace. Ask for it, for it flows freely, but also accept it. Accept God’s forgiveness for even your worst sins, and work to stop sinning against Him. That is maturity. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you. Resist sin and you will grow in faith. Accept His grace and be at peace. You ought to feel anguish over sin, because you know the cost that saved you. You ought to ask for His forgiveness, but know that even if you forgot some, even if some forgotten sin has slipped your mind, He has still forgiven you. He loves you and wants you to be with Him.

God bless you today.