Responding to Evil


It is the middle of winter.  The pine trees have snow covered tips.  The ground is filled with the beauty of snow.  You are walking your dog and he is enjoying bouncing up and down in the white fluffiness of his surroundings.  As your walk ends, you enter into your warm home.  The radiators are teeming with beautiful heat.  You remove your jacket and snow covered boots.  The dog runs in circles showing his love towards being outside.  Your wife asks you if you want something hot to drink.  With a smile on your face and warmth in your heart, you acknowledge the desire for hot chocolate.  As your wife prepares your warm drink, you lean over to give her a kiss.  Then it happens.  ZAP!  The biggest electrical shock that can happen between two people occurs.  You both yell out “OUCH” and try to enjoy each other from a distance.

We shouldn’t be surprised at that story.  It is a little known fact that in the winter time, there are more electrical shocks due to static than other times of the year.  The air is dry.  The friction between warm clothes and our skin, combined with low humidity, creates an environment that can become…you know…a bit shocking.

There are times, we will experience things that hurt us.  Sometimes the hurt is small and sometimes the hurt is much larger.  But should we be surprised when the hurt comes?  Should we be shocked when the world does things that not only hurt us but hurt others who cannot speak for themselves?  Here is what the apostle Peter told churches throughout Asia during his time in ministry…

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.  Instead, be very glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” – 1 Peter 2:12-13 (NLT)

So where did Peter come up with this idea of not being shocked?  Why would he tell others that what is happening in and around their world should be of no surprise?  Here is what Peter heard from Jesus…

“Remember what I told you: A servant is not greater than his master.  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.  If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.  They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.  If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.” – John 15:20-22 (NIV)

Peter was simply passing along Jesus’ message to the churches.  Peter had been through a lot.  First, he left his livelihood to follow Jesus, said some things he shouldn’t have, denied Jesus, was restored to Jesus, learned to overcome his prejudices and was jailed and beaten for the Gospel.  Many of Peter’s experiences were hurtful ones, but not shocking ones.

We too should not be shocked when the world does things that are against the teachings of Jesus.  In fact, we should expect it.  And when they do these things, most likely, we or someone we know will be hurt by it.  We will feel the pain of suffering in those moments, but what should our focus be?  Should we focus on the disobedient and evil acts of the world?  Or, should we focus our attention somewhere else?

Jesus told his disciples, “They will treat you this way because of my name…”  This is why Peter said, “Instead, be very glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.”

It sounds contradictory but it is true.  As we see the entire world tumbling into chaos and disrepair, we should be glad.  Not because of the problems, but because we know that once this world ends, those of us who know Jesus Christ as Savior will be spending eternity with Him.  No more suffering or pain.  No more sickness or death.   Our gladness, our joy does not come from the circumstances around us or the experiences we may face.  It does not come from the ability to do things we never thought we could do.  Our joy and gladness comes from Jesus Christ.  Our gladness and joy in Jesus Christ allows us to focus on His work, on His end results.  It is Jesus who lets us see that whatever happens in this world, it does not affect the final outcome.

Does this mean we need to shy away from being involved?  Certainly not!  In fact, it means we need to be involved all the more.  We are a light on the hill.  We are salt given by God to the earth.  Therefore, our involvement in speaking up for righteousness and justice is still needed.  Voting for those who stand for what God says is right is more important now than it ever has been before.  But as we do those things and get involved in those arenas, we need to remember that our focus is still sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.  That is our primary goal.

We may serve in politics, but we serve God all the more.  We may work in public service, but we work by sharing the Gospel with those who are hurting.  We may be the owner of a business, but it is God who owns that business and expects us to use that business for His glory.  No matter what we do, no matter how we are hurt, we must remember Jesus’ words…”It is finished.”

Jesus completed the work we could not.  Jesus saves, we do not.  Jesus knows what is going on in the world, even if we do not.  Therefore, we should not be shocked or surprised about how the world is rebelling because Jesus is not surprised or shocked.

Instead of focusing on the issues that hurts, let’s focus on the Savior that gives life.  Let us all serve our country the best way we can by focusing our efforts on not just standing for what is right, but by serving others with our actions, showing them the love of Christ.

Let’s all do what is right, by sharing the Gospel and showing the Gospel through our loving actions toward a lost and dying world.  And if the entire world decides not to respond any longer to the Gospel, don’t be shocked, be glad, for the Savior is on His way.

God bless and encourage someone today.

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The OUCH Moment


Imagine for a moment, that you are going through your closet and find a piece of clothing you haven’t worn in a while.  You begin by looking at it and imagine the good times you had with it on.  You decide that you want to have a good day, so you try that piece of clothing on and uh oh…it doesn’t fit any longer.  You suck in your gut…no good…it still doesn’t fit.  After 10 minutes asking yourself question after question you convince yourself the piece of clothing must have shrunk over time.  Then it hits you.  The clothing didn’t shrink…you grew… and not the way you wanted to.  OUCH!

Children have their ouch moment also.  They are happily playing or riding their bicycle, when WHAM!… they fall down and scrape their knee and elbow.  As a loving parent, you run over to them, pick them up and tell them that their alright as they scream/cry, “IT HURTS…”  You comfort them and bring them inside so that you can clean up their wounds.  You sit them on a chair, break out the ointment and Band-Aids.  They see this and scream, “DON’T TOUCH ME!  IT STILL HURTS!”  You know that their wounds need to be cleaned, so you carefully and lovingly begin to clean their wounds as they scream, “OUCH! OUCH! OUCH!  YOU’RE HURTING ME!”

We all have our OUCH moments.  We all have times where we are shocked by our circumstances.  We are shocked that we’ve gained weight.  OUCH!  We are shocked that we are in debt and are having a hard time getting out of it.  OUCH!  We are shocked that our relationships aren’t working out the way we expected them to.  OUCH!  What is your OUCH moment?

As time goes on and we have these moments more and more, we begin to start asking ourselves, “Why is this happening to me?” or “Does God hate me?” or “Why can’t my circumstances change?”  We begin to wonder if everyone is out to get us or if this world has nothing good in it.  As we question, we begin to become anxious.  Our anxiety turns into anger and our anger turns into regret.  If only we had done this or that in our past.  If only we had not said in anger the things we said to the ones we lost.  If only we hadn’t done this or that.  If only.  If only.

If only becomes the chant of regret.  Regret becomes the feeling of sadness and sadness becomes depression.  And once we’re depressed, we have a tendency to isolate ourselves, convincing ourselves that we don’t need anyone and no one needs us.  In the end, we become lonely, heartbroken and hurt-filled people.  All of this begins with how we handle the OUCH moment when it comes.

Yesterday, I had an OUCH moment.  I wanted to get a new suit jacket as my old ones appear to be “shrinking”.  As I was in the store, I couldn’t find any jacket that fit.  Even the size I thought I was didn’t seem to fit properly.  I then, might I say reluctantly, picked up the next larger size and tried it on.  Unfortunately, it fit.  Now I could have blamed all of the clothing manufacturers for improperly manufacturing every single jacket, but the OUCH moment hit me like a ton of bricks.  It wasn’t the jacket that that was shrinking, I was just getting larger.

How do we handle the OUCH moments?  We could stew in the thought process which leads to regret and depression.  We could get angry or disappointed in ourselves and vow to change.   We could reach out to our friends and family for support and ask them what they think we should do.  We could cry and scream to God, asking Him why He is allowing this to happen.  But no matter how we think we would handle it, there is one thing that remains…this is our turning point.

When our OUCH moments happen, our turning point begins.  What is a turning point?  Well according to the dictionary, a turning point is a moment in time at which a decisive change in a specific situation occurs, especially one with beneficial results.  It is the place where we are, desiring for a change, while looking at the place we need to be.  But how do we get there?  How do we proceed so that the results we desire are the results we receive?  What if I told you that giving up was your answer to the OUCH moments?

I am not talking about not changing.  On the contrary.  I am talking about changing during the process of giving up.  Notice I said, ‘during the process of’.  Giving up does not mean you don’t do anything.  Giving up simply means not bogging your mind down with needless worry and anxiety over situations you may or may not have the power to change.  The giving up process allows our OUCH moments to become more like praise moments.  In fact, giving up was exactly what Jesus asked his disciples to do.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.’” – Matthew 16-24-25 (NIV)

First, Jesus said if we want to be his disciples, we must first deny ourselves.  What exactly does that mean?  The word deny here implies that we give up our own interests and goals for someone else’s interest and goals.  We no longer live for ourselves, but for someone else.

Second, Jesus tells his disciples that if they want to have life, they will only find it if it is lost because of Him.  This one is a bit more interesting.  Literally speaking, Jesus tells his disciples that whoever wants to save their life (live for themselves) will lose it.  The word for lose here is to be completely destroyed.  Think about that.  Jesus tells them, if you want to live for yourself, your life will be completely destroyed.  OUCH!

This message is completely contrary to what we are being taught in our society.  Our society says:

  • If you want to live a good life, have a positive mental attitude.
  • To change your body, you must think positively.
  • As you live your life, go for it! Only you can change you.
  • The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new (Socrates).

If we were to change these sayings to reflect what Jesus told His disciples here is how it may read:

  • If you want to live a good life, live for Me.
  • Don’t worry about changing your body, rather transform your mind.
  • As you live your life, follow Me! Only I can change you.
  • The secret of change is to focus all of your energy on Me.

Do you see the difference?  Our society says, “It’s all about you.”, while Jesus said, “It’s all about Me.”

To combat the negative feelings of our OUCH moments, the only thing we need to do is focus on Jesus Christ, His goals and desires and do what He has called us to do.  So what has Jesus called us to do?

First, He has called us to tell others about Him and what He has done for them.  In Matthew 28, Jesus first says, “Go and make disciples of all nations….”  Jesus wants us to share our lives with others focusing on sharing the Gospel.  It doesn’t matter if someone’s life changes from the worst to the best, if they don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ.  You could have lived the most positive life on this earth but if you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, when this life ends and the next life begins, your life will be completely destroyed.  However, if you have that relationship with Jesus Christ and you focus your complete energy on sharing His message of salvation, then it matters not if people see your life as a failure.  What matters is that Jesus Christ sees you as His child.  When our focus in on ourselves, our lives will be completely destroyed.  When our focus is on Jesus Christ, our lives will be found.

Second, Jesus calls us to live a life that is different than everyone else’s.  Matthew 5 is typically called “The Beatitudes”.  It is the sermon Jesus spoke to help us live life differently than the rest of the world.  Jesus talks how we need to be like salt and light.  We need to shine His light and speak His tasty Word.  He speaks about how marriage is between one man and one woman, how God has joined them together and how God hates divorce, even though it was allowed.  He speaks on how if we look at someone with lust-filled eyes, we have committed adultery with them in our hearts.  Jesus confronted society’s allowances and ideals and tells us to life differently.  When we focus our lives on Him, we will live our lives differently than the rest of society.

Lastly, Jesus calls us to server others, even if they don’t appreciate us.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’.  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:44-45 (NIV)

”…and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave (servant) of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:44 (NASB)

As we serve others, it won’t all be peaches and cream.  There will be times, we are serving someone in some capacity only to gain their wrath of hatred and distain.  We will do everything right, yet the reaction of those we serve may be anger, hate-filled words or even physical attack.  This is where our OUCH moment becomes our praise moment.

When we focus all of our energy on Jesus Christ and His message, we no longer care about our life and its problems.  We praise Him even when life is difficult.  We praise Him even when others come against us.  We praise Him when we feel lonely.  We praise Him when we feel lost in the dark.  We praise Him because we love to praise Him.  Our OUCH moments can easily turn into PRAISE moments.  All we have to do is simply change our focus on us and place it on Him.  When we do that, our supernatural reaction is to praise Him.

Don’t allow your OUCH moments to bring you to a place of rejection, despair and depression.  Allow your OUCH moments to be praise moments.  If you gained weight and are saddened by it, then praise Him for giving you a healthy life.  If you are upset that someone lied about you, praise Him for knowing the truth about who you are.  If you are depressed because life seems against you, praise Him for giving you this life and ask Him how you can help others see His light.  Turn your OUCH moments into PRAISE moments and when you do, life will become more joyous than you can ever imagine.

God bless and encourage someone today.

Better Together


Over the last number of weeks, there has been a reoccurring theme in my everyday life…unity.

Everywhere we look, there is something or someone trying to divide us.  Whether it is CNN versus Fox News, who is for versus who is against the President, Republican versus Democrat, or one of my favorites, those who are tolerant versus those who are intolerant.  No matter where you look, there is a “spirit” of division that is increasing in strength and power and for evangelical Christians, this is becoming an increasing problem.

What problem you may ask?  Well, if you’re in any church regularly, you will find those who stand on one of the sides of the political/social fence.  The problem comes in when those same people decide to take a stand for one of those sides.  Once someone does that, another person comes around to argue how wrong the other party is.  Then over a very short period of time, this argument increases in intensity and frequency causing a division among those who are supposed to worship together.

When outsiders come in, they don’t see this behavior right away, but as they come week after week, some of them make the assumption that our churches are divided just like the rest of the world.  They question whether they should they keep coming or just stay home?  They hear about who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for them, but in reality, they see people who are supposed to be joyful and changed, but those same people argue over divided topics of the day.  The actions of individuals taint the Good News for plain old regular news.

So how can we change this perception?  What can we do to ensure the Good News stays good?  We need to be better together.

In John 13, we see Jesus serving his disciples by washing their feet.  Then during the Passover meal, he lets his disciples know that Judas was going to betray him.  Judas immediately leaves and the rest of the disciples stay with Jesus.  Right after Judas leaves, Jesus communicates the following:

“A new command I give to you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35 NIV

Did you notice something?  This is a command, not a suggestion.  Jesus knew that his disciples weren’t going to agree on everything.  In fact, Jesus, being God, knew that over time, there would be various denominations based on how people interpret theology.  Unfortunately, He also knew that over time, the “love of most will grow cold.”  It is because of this love growing cold that division reigns and grows stronger.

So how do we love one another?  How can we show the world we aren’t like the rest of the world?  We can do what Jesus did.

Remember, right before Jesus tells them to love each other, He goes out of his way to wash their feet.  This action of washing their feet was a representation how to love, forgive and serve others.  Jesus wanted to display the kind of love we need to have with others.  First, as his new command was to love each other, he also wanted us to forgive each other as well.

Peter tried not to have his feet washed by Jesus, but Jesus told Peter that if he didn’t allow him to wash his feet, Peter could not have any part with Jesus.  Then Peter said, “Then wash my whole body.”  Jesus then reminded him that only those who are dirty over their entire body need to be cleansed.  Peter only needed his feet to be cleansed.

What Jesus was telling Peter was, “Son, I have already made you clean.  You don’t need that.  What you need is forgiveness in your daily walk.  That is why your feet are dirty.”  Isn’t that a wonderful application?  Our walk in this life is not a clean one.  Many times, we do things or say things we regret.  We shout when we should be silent.  We act when we should wait.  We look towards when we should look away.  No matter how you dice it, our daily lives need daily forgiveness.

This is where the command of loving each other comes in.  Just as Jesus washed the disciple’s feet, signifying daily cleansing, Jesus also did the washing.  When we forgive others for their sins towards us, we wash their dirty feet.  When someone forgives us for something we said or did, they wash our dirty feet.  We display our love for each other by forgiving each other.

We also display our love by forgiving the sins of others outside of the church.  If you look at any social media outlets, you will find millions of postings pointing the finger of negative news from one person or group of people to another.    We hear things like, “It’s Obama’s fault” or “It’s Trump’s fault”.  We read posts which invoke hatred rather than love.  We see images of condemnation rather than forgiveness.

Prior to Jesus’ death, he was asked, “How many times should we forgive others?  Seven times?”  In biblical times, it was thought that forgiving the same person for the same sin seven times was enough grace and mercy.  However, Jesus had a different idea towards this.  His reply was, “Seventy times seven.  This is how often you need to forgive.”  It wasn’t the number that was important but the idea of forgiveness.

We can’t keep track of how many times we forgive others, especially, if it is continual.  Jesus knew this.  So he gave the disciples a number they couldn’t comprehend, according to their tradition.  The disciples immediately knew that forgiveness should be unconditional and ever present.

What would our society look like if we stopped all the division and presented a pattern of forgiveness?  Forgiveness to those who sin against us over and over again.  Forgiveness to those who display hatred towards Christ and His church.  Forgiveness that is unconditional and ever present.  How would our neighbors react if our display of love went beyond those who look or act like us?  Forgiveness is not just for those who attend church, but it is also for those who are lost.

We also display our love towards others by serving them.  Jesus served his disciples.  He didn’t want them to wash his feet.  He wanted to wash theirs.  This meant that as a leader, He was willing to do the dirty work, while others reap the benefits.

Imagine if churches today, served their communities.  What if the church went out of its way to serve the community they worship in?  In biblical times, the temple was the epicenter of society.  Everything revolved around the temple.  Markets were all around the temple for travelers who couldn’t bring their sacrifice.  People met, worshipped, talked and lived around the temple.

In Acts 2, we find the early church serving their community while meeting in the temple for worship.  What would our communities look like if we centered everything we did around the church?  It used to be.  What would happen if we tried this again?  How would the people in our community react?

Down the block from my church is a Sheik Temple.  No matter what time of the day or evening, there is always hustle and bustle around their temple, why?  Because they believe in community living.  They live, work and shop in places owned by them.  They know that if they support each other, they also support their local temple.

This was the early churches mindset.  The early church went out of their way to help others.  They took care of those who were left for dead.  They adopted unwanted children.  They gave to those who were in need.  They supplied the needs and cares of those they lived among.  Why don’t we do the same today?  It is because we have forgotten the new command Jesus gave to love each other.

When we love each other, we will have a tendency to forgive and serve each other.  Once we do that, we then move into our communities and forgive and serve them as well.  In this way, we display the kind of love Jesus commanded and when outsiders see this, they will know we are His children.

However, when we share hateful, hurtful or condemning words, we prove to the world, that our form of Christianity is no different than the rest of the world.  Our calling was not to stand up for one political agenda or another.  Our calling goes beyond the boundaries of the United States.  Our calling goes into all the world.  Our calling is to love one another and love the lost.

We are called to live lives that are different than the rest of society.  One way we can display that difference is in loving each other, loving outsiders and serving our communities.  Once we get a handle on that, then we can discuss the differences.  Only when we display our love towards all and serve all, can we understand that the things that divide us are not meant for our good, but are meant to destroy.

Live different lives.  Live better lives.  Live unified.  Know that we are all better together when we love others just as Jesus Christ loves us.  God bless and encourage someone today.

Love (w)Holy?


The video played.  My notebook was opened ready to take notes on the next section of Church History.  Anticipating the amount of sentences I might write, did not allow me to fully understand the scope and complexity of what I was about to watch.  As I took notes, I would freeze and unfreeze the video, ensuring my notes were detailed and accurate.  It wasn’t until, I watched the video a second time, that I realized my anxiety and worry over life’s turbulence, awarded me the gold medal of “How small am I” champion.

The video series, I am currently studying has little to do with the people involved, rather, it is how those same people suffered in encouraging ambition as they await the fate others had for them.  The two main characters which the videos centered around were Polycarp and Perpetua.  Two Christians who, lovingly and willingly allowed themselves to become martyrs for the faith we continue to live by today.

Polycarp was a student of John, the author of Revelation.  It wasn’t until his later days, that the proconsul of his region and the people of the arena called for Polycarp’s demise.  Although Polycarp tried to avoid capture, it wasn’t until a Roman soldier beat a servant boy into telling him where Polycarp was living.  What struck me was not the brutality of the Roman soldier, nor the intention of proconsul, but the response by Polycarp to the soldier.

It was said, that Polycarp invited the soldier into his home for some food and water.  He was kind toward the soldier, only desiring to fulfill the law of Christ to “love your enemies”.  Polycarp then asked the soldier if he could spend some time in prayer, which allegedly took around 2 hours.  It was after this encounter that Polycarp was brought before the proconsul for judgement.

When the time came for Polycarp to suffer the consequences of his commitment to Christ, he displayed his gentleness toward the soldiers, letting them know that no matter what they do to him, God will give him the strength he needs to suffer patiently through this temporary painful experience.  His gentleness, his humble demeanor and the words spoken showed me that no matter what ills of life may come, nothing can compare to the inexplicable desire to leave this world and bow before the God of creation in humble thankfulness.

The second person my study was focused on was Perpetua.  She was a woman who was highly educated, knowing Latin and Greek and able to clearly write her thoughts in a way for everyone to understand.  What drew me to her most was her willingness, her love toward everyone, including those who desired to do her harm.  While in prison, she cared for her baby and others as they needed.  She was able to keep a diary, thereby documenting her experiences while imprisoned, awaiting her judgement.

However, it was her words which struck a chord within my very soul.  All the while she was imprisoned; she expressed her love toward her father, who begged her to turn her heart away from Christ.  She could not do such a thing.  She then expressed her own desire to live a life just as Christ lived, even unto death, a holy life filled with love toward everyone, including her enemies.  Up until the very end, she showed love and compassion toward others, even the very one who would drive a sword through her neck.  She did not feel condemnation or worry, but satisfaction in knowing that her life was being taken because of something Christ said, “If they hate me, they will hate you as well.”  Yet, she also held to the command by Christ to “love your enemies” and “pray for those who persecute you.”

Both of these people, lived a holy life, desiring only to complete the mission given to them by Christ, to make disciples.  They had a desire not only to complete this mission, but also to ensure they heard, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  They felt honored to be one’s who suffered for the Gospel.  They did not worry about the temporary pain and suffering.  They worried not about their own future.  They did not worry about what career path to take.  They simply desired to life a holy life, filled with a holy love, even for those who wanted to do them harm.

After all this, a question popped into my mind, “Do I concern myself with the command of Christ or the worries of what this life has to bring?”  If I am going to be fully honest, I care about this life more.  Like others, I worry about silly things, in a silly time for an unholy life rather than concerning myself with a holy life, using holy love to reach an unholy people.

How foolish my thinking has been.  How wicked are my thoughts and actions concerning this life.  This life is not about what I can gain, but rather, what He can gain through me.  This life is not about how much I can acquire, but rather, how many lives He can acquire through me.  As I study Church history, I have been given the gift which cannot be repaid, the gift of understanding why Christ suffered so.  That same love, that holy love can conquer anything.  Our fears, our anxieties, our illnesses, our depression can all be obliterated when we accept and life using the holy love given to us through His Holy Spirit.

We cannot express any holy love unless the Holy Spirit enables us to do so.  The Holy Spirit enabled our ancient brothers and sisters to display a holy love and He desires to continue to display it through us as well.  Can we all take a single moment to thank God for those who showed that holy love despite what circumstance they faced?

Lord, thank you not only for saving my life through Jesus Christ, but also enabling us to love others, even though they do not love us.  Keep us from hatred and lead us toward the holy love displayed through the actions of Jesus Christ.  May your holy love be displayed to a world that needs You.  Amen.

God bless and encourage someone today.

If You Don’t Think Your Loved….Read This


Have you ever felt you weren’t loved?  Did you ever have the feeling that the world was against you?  Was there a time in your life you doubted anyone could understand what you were going through?

Many people go through life feeling like no one understands their problems or circumstances.  They think God has some sick plan to torture their life while blessing others.  Depending on our circumstances, maybe we feel lost, lonely and afraid.  Well in this blog, I will show you how much your loved.

The Bible starts out with a book called Genesis, which basically means “the beginning”.  It the start of a series of books that have stories spanning thousands of years.  What became interesting to me was that during the first chapter we see God not only creating the entire universe and life contained within that universe, but we also see God desiring to make human life.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God, he created him; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27 (NIV)

He had just created all the stars, planets, galaxies, birds, fish and beasts.  Instead of having his own little zoo, he creates people.  Why would He do that?  As we read we find out that God created a man He called Adam.  As God brings the animals to Adam to name, he also observes how Adam interacts with them.  This is when Scripture shows us some insight.

“But for Adam no suitable helper was found.” – Genesis 2:20b

God noted that Adam needed someone and not something.  He saw how Adam interacted with His creation but decided that Adam having no suitable helper was not a good thing.  So God puts Adam to sleep and creates a woman out of Adam’s rib.

Now we have all probably heard this story before, but you may be asking how this shows love toward you or how someone else understands your circumstances?  Well, God saw that Adam needed a helper, not wanted but needed.  There was an unmet need in Adam’s life, a need for a relationship.  Adam desired to be loved.  He desired to have someone else respond to his love toward them.  So the only suitable helper for him was a woman.

Why would God decide to go down this road, especially this way?  Later on, we find Adam and Eve being tempted by a serpent.  After both Adam and Eve sin they hide and cover their nakedness.  Then the Bible says this…

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” – Genesis 3:8

Did you see that?  Both Adam and Eve knew the sound of the Lord.  They knew what God sounded like.  Although not stated, it is a logical conclusion to understand that God, Adam and Eve must have spent some time together.  They knew what His steps sounded like.  For a short time, Adam, Eve and God had a relationship that was right and perfect.  Once Adam and Eve sinned, that relationship was tarnished.

We see more examples of this in Scripture.  We see God calling Abraham into a relationship with Him.  We see God calling a group of people as His own, the Israelites.  We see God spending time guiding His people for forty years in the desert.

In Ezekiel, God gives Ezekiel a mission, to be a watchman for Israel and Judah.  He was told to warn them about their sin.  He tells Ezekiel to be in a relationship with God’s people and take care of them.

Why would God want to create a universe, where one planet has creatures made in His image that rebelled against Him, yet at the same time seeks them out to have a relationship with Him?  Simply, because He loves YOU!

He loves us so much that He sends Jesus to live with us, eat with us and discover life with us.  He loves us so much that Jesus made a conscience decision to live a servants life knowing He would one day have to die a horrible death.  He loves us so much that on the cross, Jesus cries out to God and says, “Father forgive them, because  they don’t understand what they are doing.”  Jesus actually cries out to God to forgive those who tortured Him.

After Jesus died and rose again, he told His disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit.  Once the Holy Spirit came to the disciples, they were commanded to leave and tell others about Jesus.  Jesus felt it was so important to have a relationship with us that He sent the Holy Spirit to guide us, teach us, discipline us and talk with us.

In fact, Scripture says that Jesus suffered all of what we experience so that we would not be alone in our suffering.  The New Testament commands Christians to be in a relationship with others, telling them about Jesus.

When we look at Scripture as a ‘one story at a time’ view, we miss the actual picture, God seeks to have a relationship with us.  When we look at our circumstances as “one story at a time”, we fail to see how those bad circumstances can be used for a much larger purpose than us.

This past year, I lost a close friend of mine to cancer.  Until his very last breath, he always smiled, praised God and asked everyone who saw him if they knew Jesus.  This was a testimony of God’s love toward mankind.

In the past month, another friend of mine ended up doing things that landed him in prison.  Time after time, people talked with him about the love of God, yet he chose the opposite path.  A day or so ago, his mother told me that he is now reading the Bible, seeking God and “testing the waters” to see how much God loves him.

Two very different stories, with different outcomes, yet one purpose.  To tell the love of God toward mankind.  No matter how bad things get in this world, whether sickness, poverty and even death, God loves us.  He allows each of us to suffer in unique ways for the purpose of sharing His love toward mankind.

Don’t ever give up!  Don’t ever think you are alone.  You are not alone.  Someone out there is going through the same type of suffering as you are.  Just ask God to bring them into your life and show you how much God loves you.

God Bless and encourage someone today.

I Might Be Joyous, But I’m Not Happy!


In our culture today, many times we equate happiness with joy.  We have this tendency to think that if someone says they’re joyous, their also happy.  However, is this true or can someone be joyous and NOT be happy?

Personally, I have heard sermons where someone says, “I might be joyous, but I’m not happy!”  They explain that joy is a state of mind, while happiness is just a feeling.  Typically, you hear, “Jesus will give you joy, but He doesn’t promise happiness”.  This is one point that I strongly disagree.

The definition of joy is “a deep emotion of pleasure, gladness” and “a thing that causes delight”. So if joy is a deep emotion, does this mean it is equal to happiness?  Well, if we look at this definition, we must also look at the word emotion.

An emotion is “an intense mental feeling, as love or hate”. So what does this all mean?  Joy is something that is so intense and ingrained within us that it cannot be changed.  This deep emotion of pleasure and gladness is so deep and intense that it becomes part of who we are.  So then, what is happiness?

Happiness can be defined as “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment”.  To be happy means that you are showing a sense of pleasure or contentment.  It is like you are opening a birthday present as a child.  You jump up and down, rip open the box and find the one thing you always wanted.  You then react by saying, “Thank you” with a smile that goes from ear to ear.

So the question remains, can someone be joyous and not be happy?  Paul wrote the following to the Galatians (5:22-23 ESV):

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Paul told the Galatians that one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is joy, but did you notice the progression?  First comes love.  Then joy.  Once you love, you then have joy.  Once you have joy, there is a peace that enters.  Once a peace enters then you become patient.  Once patience takes control, you become more kind.  When you become kind, you do good things.  When goodness takes over, then you become faithful.  Once faithfulness overtakes you, then you become gentle.  Once gentleness comes over you, you become self-controlled.  None of these can happen unless the Holy Spirit is in control in your life.  You don’t do this alone, but with the Spirit of God alone.

Logically, ask yourself this question.  If I love and have joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, then why wouldn’t I be happy?

On a number of occasions, I go through a state of “depression”, where I don’t look happy, don’t care what others think and go into “my own little cave”.  As I am there, I feel lonely, sad and helpless.  Usually, I don’t read or write, except that which I have to for work.  I don’t ask others how they are doing and don’t want others to ask me.  I slowly go down into the dark, deep cavern hoping that no one will find me.  However, it is also at those moments (or days) that God reaches down from heaven, stretches out His hands and asks for a hug.  Then as a father holds his hurting child, He hold me, whispering, “Life isn’t always good, but remember how much I have done for you”.

Although, I try to fight, He holds me tighter and tighter.  He continues to whisper how much he loves me.  He tells me that I am special and meant to do things no other human being can do.  He tells me that even though I am “feeling” horrible emotions, He still loves me and will never leave me.  It is in those moments, that my heart begins to race, my breath becomes short and tears shed from my eyes.  Sometimes, my body shakes because of the intense understanding that I am not worthy, but God still loves me.  I cry and cry because God sees me through the eyes of Jesus.

Once I mentally come to that realization, a feeling of contentment and inexpressible joy enter my heart and mind, which results in the expression of being happy.  You see, joy is not just a state of mind, but who we are in Christ.  If we are not happy with life, then we must ask ourselves, are we joyous?  If we are not joyous, then we must ask ourselves, do we love Christ?

Remember, we love Christ, because He first loved us.  When we love Christ, he gives us joy.  When we have joy, then we have the “peace that passes all understanding”.  Once peace enters, we become more patient with others.  When we become more patient, we are show our kindness to others.  When we express kindness, we understand that what God is doing is good.  Once we understand how good God is, we dedicate ourselves to Him, becoming faithful to His Kingdom, desiring for others to come along with us.  When we desire others to come into the Kingdom, we are gentle with others.  Finally, when we become gentle, we realize that God is doing something beyond what we can do, so we give ourselves to be controlled by God, allowing Him to continue His work in us.

So, when Christians are not gentle, kind or patient with others, then we must ask ourselves, “do we remember what God did for us?”  We must examine our lives and ask God to change us from the inside out.

In this century, the ‘bride of Christ’ can become the most influential body, this world has ever seen.  Cultures will change.  Countries will change.  People will desire to seek God, simply because we have allowed God to give us what we cannot do on our own.

We cannot be joyous and not be happy.  If we allow joy to enter our lives, then happiness is the expression of that joy.  Be joyful in the Lord and show others how much He loves them as well.

God bless and encourage someone today.

Don’t Be an Ostrich, Be an Eagle


It was once widely thought that the ostrich would bury their heads in the sand when frightened because they cannot fly.  This belief was brought on by Pliny the Elder who wrote about an ostrich burying it’s head in a bush.  However, this was not true.  In fact ostriches are not timid creatures.  They will attack when they feel threatened.  Ostriches also have a ‘mean’ look about them when they are confronted or threatened.  In some ways, ostriches cannot be trusted.

Eagles, on the other hand, are birds of flight.  They soar high above the mountain tops, can see with their God-given vision.  Eagles have been known to see mice on the ground during a flight so high that cars appear to be the size of mice.  They place their eggs among the clefts of the rocks to protect them.  The baby eagles may not like where they are, but it is for their protection.  When a baby eagle needs to fly, the eagle takes their young, flies high above the mountain tops and just lets go.  If the mother eagle sees their young cannot fly yet, they swoop down, catch their young and try again another time.  The baby eagle is fearful but knows the mother eagle will not let them die.

The same can be held true of Jeremiah the prophet.  As I have been reading thorough this book of the Bible, I have noticed some interesting points, I never took notice of before.  In Chapter 38, Jeremiah had the job of bringing bad news to the king of Judah.  God told Jeremiah that Judah would be handed over to the king of Babylon.  The officials of the king who heard this immediately took Jeremiah and placed him in an empty, muddy cistern.

Do you think Jeremiah liked where he was at that time?  For me, I would have been so angry that screaming and cursing could not express my emotions toward those who did this to me.  Although there is an indication that Jeremiah didn’t like his situation, he also knew that God had allowed him to be placed their.

One of the officials told the king what had happened to Jeremiah and what a wicked act it was that the king ordered Jeremiah to be taken out of the cistern and placed under house arrest.

Later on, the king of Judah secretly asks Jeremiah to explain what God had told him.  As Jeremiah is counseling the king, he says, “They will not hand you over.  Obey the Lord by doing what I tell you.  Then it will go well with you, and your life will be spared.  But if you refuse to surrender, this is what the Lord has revealed to me: All the women left in the palace of the king of Judah will be brought out to the king of Babylon…”

The king of Judah was given a choice.  Obey God and live or disobey God and die.  By today’s standards it seems like a simple choice.  Most of us may even think we would choose to obey because we fear death.  Very few people would think they would choose death because of their disobedience.  However, later on, many of the officials that Jeremiah had spoken with decided to not listen.  They decided to bury their heads in the sand instead of soaring above with God.

Scripture says that when we are obeying God’s will for us, we will soar like eagles.  We will be able to see what we need, when we need it and not wonder Who is in control.  Our eyes will be opened to see what is happening around us and God will allow us to see our sustenance in ways we could never do on our own.

When we disobey God, we decided to bury our heads in the sand or attack because we feel threatened.  Jesus said, “You will be hated because of me.”  Those who don’t like what Scripture says have a tendency to lash out against those who believe.  They hate their sin being exposed for what it is.  How do I know this, because I get nauseous when my sin is exposed.  I physically and emotionally hurt when God reveals that sin in my life is stopping me from the next assignment He has for my life.  Hating what is true and right is the natural reaction because we are sinful human beings.

Our world is filled with people who need to hear about the love and mission of Jesus Christ.  They need to hear that Jesus willingly left heaven, had a real earthly life, was tortured and died a real death but also is really physically living today.  We have the authority, through Jesus Christ, to lead others to the Creator of all things.  We have the honor of bringing this message of hope, love and forgiveness to a sinful and dying world.

Gut check.  How are we doing with that?  Are we sharing the love of Christ in our words  and deeds?  Do we stop when someone is hurting or hungry and feed them both physically and spiritually?  Or do we think it is someone else’s job?

Someone once told me that if I didn’t even consider adopting a child, don’t even attempt to share the love of Jesus with them.  They refused to believe God loved them because of another child’s plight.  Although, they may have been mislead to some degree, there is a bit of truth within that statement.  People will only listen to the message of Christ, when they see the children of God doing what we have been called to do.  Are we feeding the hungry?  Are we taking care of the poor?  Are we consoling the widows and those who are hurting?

Until we decide to take our heads out of the sand, people won’t listen.  When we obey God and His commands to live like we preach, only then will we soar like eagles.  This week, let’s work on living a Godly life rather than just speaking about it.  I will ask myself this question, “What do I need to change in order to live like I preach?”  What will you do to change?  For me I will have to lessen my time on the computer and TV.  This way my mind is fresh and my eyes keen to see who needs help.  Only when we sacrifice something important to us, will we see what God has in store for our lives.

Share your stories with me of how God is working to change others through you.  Don’t bury your heads in the sand, soar like an eagle.  God bless and encourage someone today.