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Pick a Side

(Luke 9:55 – But he turned and rebuked them and said, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of).

Choosing sides can be tricky business. If you choose one side, people will slap you on the back and say, “We like her, she’s one of us.” If you choose the other, those very same people will turn on you and say, “We don’t care for her, she’s not on our side.” Choosing sides just naturally seems to create hostility in the heart. Even Jesus’ disciples fell prey to the hostility produced by choosing a side. When Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem, he entered a village of the Samaritans and they didn’t welcome him there. It seems they weren’t on his side. His disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven and consume them but Jesus rebuked them saying, “You know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” The disciples were on the right side but they were of the wrong spirit. If we’re not careful, we can be too. Jesus doesn’t just want us to be on his side; he wants us to be of his spirit.

The same spirit influencing the disciples that day lies behind the hatred influencing people’s hearts today. Fear, force and intimidation are the means the enemy always uses to control people. Jesus wanted his disciples to know that was not his way and was not of his spirit. God doesn’t use fear and intimidation to force people into bowing in compliance with his wishes. You can be sure that anything that uses force and intimidation as the means to acquiring its end is not being led of the spirit of God. James 3:16 cautions, “For where envy and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” As we are witnessing today concerning many issues, envying and strife only serve to breed evil works and Jesus doesn’t want us joining ourselves to anything that is breeding evil works.

Tony Evans (The Tony Evans Study Bible) writes, “God does not come to take sides, he comes to take over.” Thank God and Amen to that! When God was about to deliver Jericho into Joshua’s hands, scripture says Joshua looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Not knowing which side the man was on, Joshua approached him and said, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” In other words, “Which side are you on?” He replied, “Neither. I have now come as commander of the Lord’s army.” God doesn’t come to take sides; he comes to establish his side. He intervenes in the affairs of life on behalf of his agenda alone. He doesn’t take sides on behalf of worldly issues, he takes sides on behalf of kingdom issues. Tony Evans further notes, “When you bring the world into the word, you’re asking God to bless something that is contrary to his kingdom. He won’t do that.” God’s only desire for mankind is to create one new race in Christ, thereby bringing an end to all division between men. Galatians 3:26,28 tells us, “For through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus.” That’s God’s side and he wants us all to be on it.

Jesus said in Mathew 12:30, “Anyone who is not with me is against me, and anyone who does not gather with me scatters abroad.” That should make our choice of sides in this world pretty clear. God’s word also tells us that we are to, “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God.” (John 4:1). We are to test the spirits behind those who are to be leaders in our nation and ask ourselves: Are they promoting God’s kingdom agenda or their own? Is the side we have aligned ourselves with gathering our nation together in the gospel of Christ, or are they scattering them apart from him? If you are a Christian, whichever side is working toward the freedom to spread the gospel of Christ and to make this nation a nation under God again, that’s your side, because that’s God’s side. To be sure there are a lot of issues going on in our nation today, but as one faithful servant of Christ wisely concluded, “Making America born again is the only way to make America great again. Nothing else matters until Jesus matters.” So get out there and make your choice but remember what spirit you are of and try not to rain down fire from heaven on anybody!

Two Toolboxes

Recompense to no man evil for evil.  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”  (Romans 17,18)


Father’s Day is coming up and that got me to thinking about toolboxes, and toolboxes got me to thinking about this broken world we live in.  Toolboxes and Father’s Day just go hand-in-hand for some reason.  Every father has one and they are usually filled to the brim with just the right tools for just the right task, because every father knows you can’t fix something that’s broken unless you have the right tools.  Not every father has the same tools in their toolbox, however.  Some fathers have better tools than others.  The father who has the superior set of tools is much better equipped to properly fix what’s  broken than the father who does not.  This world we are living in is broken and we need the Father with the superior set of tools to fix it.

Fixing this world is a big project and there are a lot of workers working on it, but they’re not all using the same tools and sometimes those tools can get a little mixed up in the process.  We need to be sure we’re not using the wrong tools from the wrong father’s toolbox.  Anything that kills, steals and destroys, is not from our Heavenly Father’s toolbox.  These tools are only used to tear things down, not build them up.  Our Father’s tools are easy to recognize; here’s just a few of them:  “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  “Everyone should look out not only for his own interests but also for the interest of others.”  “Pursue what promotes peace.”  “Forgive one another as God has forgiven you.”  “Mercy triumphs over judgment.”  “As much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”  “Do not follow a crowd to do evil.”  “Love covers a multitude of sins.”  And the number one all-purpose tool in the box, “Above all put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”  Those are some good tools from a good father’s toolbox.

These tools are intended to be used for the building up of one another in love.  They are not meant to be used for one side over another.  The only side God takes is good over evil.  That’s the side we need to make sure we’re on, because sometimes we might think we are, when in reality we are not.   We are told in I John 3:15, “Everyone who hates his brother or sister is a murderer.”  God has determined that hatred in the heart of a person makes that person a murderer in his eyes.  We’ve all seen the evidence of that on both sides of this issue.  Hatred in the heart of a man leads to murder.  It’s what led to the very first murder of a man.  According to God, anyone who has hatred in their hearts is capable of murder.  Examine your heart and check your tools!

Everybody has a father, but not everybody has the same father.  We now have DNA tests that can prove who the father of a child is beyond a shadow of a doubt.  I John 2:3 tells us, “Everyone who does what is right is born of him.  See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children.”  On the other hand, in John 8:44, Jesus said of the religious leaders who challenged him, “You are of your father the devil and you want to carry out your father’s desires.”  Jesus knew who his father was, but they didn’t realize who their’s was.  The NKJV Commentary observes, “Their hatred of truth, their lies and their murderous intentions indicated how much control the devil had over them.  They were tools in carrying out his plans.”  The desires of our hearts to do good or evil is our spiritual DNA.  It proves who our daddy really is.  When I was a young girl and would misbehave my mom would often say, “You’re act’n like the devil.”  That could be said of a lot of people right now.  Some people want unity and peace, others just want to stir up strife and run around act’n like the devil.  Two fathers – two sets of toolboxes.  One pursues the things that make for peace, the other the things that kill, steal and destroy.  At the end of the day, people are not a skin color, they are simply good or evil with skin on them, born of different fathers.  I hope all the fathers out there have a happy Father’s Day and I hope you all get a new set of tools.  This broken world needs fix’n, and it needs fix’n right.


Two men in their hatred stand, face-to-face, man-to-man
One born black, the other white, and over this they fight their fight
One born free, another slave, sins of the past that won’t go away
The color of skin all they see, neither wanting the other to be
And so they boldly take their stand, face-to-face, man-to-man
Unaware they’ve been deceived, for they both belong to me
Both my slave, neither free, born into my family
Some born here, some born there, many my children everywhere
One no better than another, all a sister or a brother
Some born rich, some born poor, some with less some with more
Some are noble, some despised, all are equal in my eyes
I show no partiality, the color of skin matters not to me
I don’t care if you are black or white, if you kill or if you fight
You can hate and you can despise, you are all equal in my eyes
For no matter the color of your skin, you all belong to the family of sin
Each child born equally unto me, members of my family
So hurt each other every day, I love it when you act this way
I love to watch you quarrel and fight, your hatred is my heart’s delight
I love it when you stir up strife, bring division and destroy a life
I love it when you kill, steal and destroy, it makes my heart overflow with joy
And I don’t mind if you don’t lay claim, to relationship with my name
But our relationship hard as you try, simply cannot be denied
You have but to take a long, hard stare, to see my reflection there
The proof of me lies inside of you, in every hurtful thing you do
For hatred in the heart of man, is where murder first began
So kill each other if you please, no difference does it make to me
For I delight to see my face, reflected on the human race.

Affectionately Your Father,







Wretched, Pitiful, Blind & Naked

There would be a far greater turning to the Lord if in the preaching of the Gospel the coming of the Lord were preached.”  T. Austin Sparks.


Most  of us know the preparation that’s put into company coming for a visit.  We stock the refrigerator, clean the whole house from top to bottom, and then we anxiously await the time of their arrival.  The great theologian T. Austin Sparks wrote:  “There would be a far greater turning to the Lord if in the preaching of the Gospel the coming of the Lord were preached.”  He’s right about that.  Company is coming and we need to get ready.

In warning the Laodicean church of their unreadiness for his return, Jesus tells them, “For you say ‘I am rich; I have become wealthy and in need of nothing,’ and you don’t realize that you are wretched, pitiful, blind and naked.”  Up until just a few months ago, this nation was boasting the same thing about its economy.  Almost overnight, however, it is singing a different song and dancing to a different tune.  Over the years, this nation has grown increasingly confident in the belief that it is rich, wealthy and in need of nothing; including God.  But perhaps just as the Laodicean church, it has been wretched, pitiful, blind and naked all along and just didn’t realize it.

Much like the Laodicean church, our nation has grown rich in material possessions but hasn’t noticed itself steadily drifting away from the absence of God’s presence.  T. Austin Sparks again writes, “God is holy and he has made holiness the moral condition of His universe.  The holiness of God, the wrath of God, and the health of the creation are inseparably united.”  The health of a nation depends on the holiness of that nation. That obviously goes for the church as well.  Jesus was being merciful in pointing out the condition of the Laodicean church’s heart to them;  He wanted to give them time to repent.  Maybe God is doing the same for both his church and our nation today.  Maybe he’s trying to awaken this nation, as well as the lukewarm church, to the mistaken belief that it’s doing just fine without his presence.

The belief of the Laodicean church of themselves to be “in need of nothing” had caused its believers to become lukewarm in spirit.  They had become neither cold nor hot in their commitment toward the holiness of the Lord.  Much like many churches and believers today, they stood for nothing and accepted everything.  T. Austin Sparks rightly observed that believers have “learned to live with unholiness and come to look upon it as the natural and expected thing.”  This is the cause of the decline of morals in both the church and the world today.  When sensitivity to the holiness of God does not exist, the fear of God does not exist.  And as evident in both the lukewarm church and the world today, “the fear of God is no longer a deterrent when the fear of God is gone.”  (Sparks).

Just as Jesus cautioned the Laodicean church he cautions the church today as well;  he will not settle for a lukewarm spirit.  He tells us, “As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline.”  Because he loves us, he will not leave us wretched, pitiful, blind and naked.  He will not leave us blind to the spiritual condition of our heart.  The uncommitted, indifferent, compromising Laodicean church and the world have much in common today; neither are prepared for the coming of the Lord.  T. Austin Sparks further writes, “The decline of the knowledge of the holy has brought on our troubles.  A rediscovery of the majesty of God will go a long way toward curing them.”  Amen to that!

Author Vaneetha Rendall Risner (The Scars That Have Shaped Me) writes, “God sometimes permits what he hates to achieve what he loves.”  We just might be witnessing the truth of that in our world today.  But Lamentations 3:31 comforts, “For the Lord will not cast off forever:  But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.  For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.”   Luke 1:16 tells us, “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”  Making ready a people prepared for the Lord is the goal of God’s heart for us, and we should make no mistake, he will permit what he hates to achieve what he loves in order to do so.  He loves us way too much to leave us wretched, pitiful, blind and naked.

Jesus warned the Laodicean church, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.”  Jesus is coming again to claim his church, and whether we like to hear it or not, he will spew us out of his mouth like a lukewarm cup of coffee if we’re not ready when he returns.   Company is coming!  Are you ready?

(I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face:  in their affliction they will seek me early.)

Consider Your Ways

James 4:7-8 – Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; purify your hearts, ye double-minded.  


Whenever I would get into some type of trouble as a child, after a thorough scolding, my mom would sit me somewhere all by myself and tell me, “Now, you just sit there for a while and consider your behavior.”  Today we call it having a time-out.  In Haggai 1:18, God twice speaks to his children, telling them, “Consider your ways.”  God wanted them to take time to consider their behavior in hopes that they would change their ways.  The people had let their priorities get confused and had become distracted with doing their own thing rather than doing what God had commanded them to do.  As a result, God’s blessing was withheld because they no longer put him in first place.  I can’t help but feel like we’re being put in a time-out today as well, in order to consider our ways.  If that’s the case, then we need to seriously consider them, or we could find ourselves sitting in time-out for quite a while.

Speaking of being scolded, it seems to me as if that’s just what James is doing when telling us, “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.”  As I thought about this, I began to notice some interesting parallels between scripture and our present-day situation.  For instance, uncleanliness is what started this nasty virus in the first place, and washing our hands is the number one means of preventing ourselves from being contaminated by it.  In II Corinthians 6:17, God tells us, “Come out from among them and be separate and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”  Ironically, separating ourselves and being careful about what we touch is another means of preventing ourselves from being contaminated by this virus.  When God says to “touch not their unclean things,” he is referring to our participating in things in the world that don’t reflect his holiness.  And when he tells us to “come out from among them,” he is referring to our being set apart in conduct from those in the world who are being led by the flesh and living according to the ways of the world.  He makes it clear that his receiving of us is conditioned upon our doing these things.  Psalms 24:3,4 asks, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?  Or who shall stand in his holy place?  The answer:  “He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart.”

James warns those who are double-minded to purify their hearts.  A double-minded person is of two opinions.  He’s half in and half out.  In other words, he’s a hypocrite.  An all holy God says half-way holiness will not do.  God’s desire for his children is to be holy as he is holy, to live, “as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in your ignorance.” (I Peter 2:14).  My Bible translates “not fashioning yourselves as “shaping up your way of living.”  Walking in holiness requires that we shape up our way of living.  When James tells us to purify our hearts, he is telling us to get rid of the impurities in our hearts that have come through mixing our hearts with the unclean things of the world.  This virus is the result of a clean, healthy person coming into contact with, and subsequently being mixed with, an unclean source.  A pure heart is undivided and unalloyed with impurities, much as gold is before it is refined in the refiner’s fire.  The purpose of the refining process is to produce 24-karat gold containing no impurities that would lessen its value.  A pure heart cannot contain mixture with that which is impure.   When Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, he said to them, “Peace be with you!  As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  Through the breath of Jesus, God imparted eternal, spiritual life through the Holy Spirit.  This is perhaps the most important parallel of all.  Just as we need pure, clean oxygen to help us fight this virus, we need the pure, clean breath of the Holy Spirit to breathe God’s life into us to hep us fight against the sickness of sin in our hearts.  Only in the breath of God is there life.  If we are breathing in the things of this world, we are breathing in death, just as  surely as we are breathing in death from this virus.

The same problem Haggai had, we have today.  Our priorities are out of order.  People are more concerned about the pleasures this world has to offer than they are pleasing God.  Could it be God is saying to us, as he did the people of Haggai’s day, “Consider your ways?”  Could it be he’s giving us a time-out because we are running out of time?  The word “time” in Hebrew (Greek) means, “a window of opportunity; a season of opportunity; strategic, opportune time.”  I know I am not alone in seeing the invisible hand of God in all of this.  There are many today who are saying that God is giving us a wake-up call.  A wake-up call is when someone notifies you of the time in order that you don’t miss some pre-scheduled event.  I believe God has actually been nudging us for quite some time now and we just keep refusing to wake up.  It’s kind of like when your mom tried to wake you up for school and she would come in a couple of times and nudge you, but as the time for you to go to school drew closer, she no longer nudged you, she shoved you and yelled, “Wake. up!”  “You’re going to be late!”  I  feel the shove of God’s hand upon us today as never before saying, “WAKE UP!”  because it’s getting very, very late!

One final parallel between this virus and scripture.  The whole world is searching for a universal cure that will rid the whole world of this sickness.  John 1:29 gives us that cure: “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”  Jesus is the only hope for man and he is the only cure for the sickness of sin in the world.  For those who will serve the Lord, Exodus 23:25 gives us this promise:  “And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.”  For our own good; it’s time to wake up and consider our ways.

The flesh appeased, our hearts deceived
To be entertained our greatest need
Give us your goodness world we pray
That among you we might stay
Offer us your decency in exchange for enmity
with our Holy risen Lord
We choose the world for we are bored
Hearts filled with hypocrisy
compromised now to believe
In the world we can remain
and bear reproach our Savior’s name
Come ye out we hear him say
Choose whom you will serve this day
To whom will you bow your knee
The God of life or your T. V
The Devil comes but to deceive
Unfaithful hearts who will believe
Search your heart that you might know
To whom you cling, to whom let go

(James 4:4 – Adulterers and adultresses!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.)



(Mark 13:33 – “Take ye heed, watch and pray:  for ye know not when the time is.) 


Our day-to-day lives revolve around time.  It seems we are either complaining about having too little of it, or we are complaining about having too much of it.  Before the Coronavirus came along, most of us complained about not having enough time in the day to get things done.  Now that we are being forced to sit home all day, we complain about having too much time on our hands.  Either way, the general belief is that time exists to serve us.  But the truth is time doesn’t exist to serve us; it exists to serve God.  Every minute of every day exists to serve his will and to fulfill his ultimate purpose for man.  In the busyness of our day-to-day lives, I think we tend to forget that.  I get the feeling right now that maybe God wants us to remember it.

God’s word has a lot to say about time.  Ecclesiastes 3 tells us, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”  In the book of Esther, Mordecai poses the question, “Who knows whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  In Ephesians 5:15, we are warned, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  And Daniel 8:19 prophetically warns, “I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time, the end shall come.”  The word of God makes it clear that time is God’s servant, not ours.  He created time to serve his purpose and there will come a time when he has no more need of time.  We are all living on borrowed time, running out of time –  it’s just a matter of time.

I can’t get over how suddenly this virus happened.  One day everything is life as usual and the next we’re all quarantined in our homes hoarding food, toilet paper and hand sanitizer.  The word “suddenly” is another word we need to pay attention to in God’s word.  Ecclesiastes 9:12 warns, “For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.”  That certainly seems to hit home right now!   The most important use of the word “suddenly” in scripture is used by Jesus in Mark 13:35-36.  In speaking of his imminent return Jesus warns, “Watch ye therefore; for ye know not when the master of the house cometh – lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.”  In Proverbs 13:3, David prays to the Lord, “Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.”  David was asking God to open his eyes and give him a spiritual awakening so that he would not die spiritualIy.  In light of Jesus’s warning, that might be a prayer we all need to be praying right now.  I find it interesting how unprepared we were for this virus.  We weren’t taking the possibility of its’ coming seriously so we weren’t prepared for it when it came, even though we had been warned for years of its inevitable coming.  I can’t help but see the correlation here.  I seem to remember Jesus saying people wouldn’t be taking his return seriously,  and that in spite of being warned of it, they wouldn’t be prepared for it either. (Matthew 24:37-38).   Not only can I not help but see the correlation, I can’t help but see God in the correlation.

Don’t get me wrong;  I’m not suggesting that God sent this virus, but given that he is the God that takes what the enemy means for harm and uses it for good, he can certainly use it to his and our advantage.   In his infinite love he can use this virus meant for harm, to wake us from our slumber and remind us of how suddenly our belief that we have all the time in the world, can change.  He can use it to remind us that our times are in his keeping and not our own.  He can use it to wake us from our slumber “lest we sleep the sleep of death.”   To be sure, we are in perilous times right now, so like Esther, I want to obey what the Holy Spirit has prompted me to do in “such a time as this.”  I want to remind everyone that virus or no virus, time is short and death can come suddenly.  I want to remind everyone that we don’t have the time not to acknowledge God in our busy lives.  I want to suggest that maybe, just maybe, God is using this virus to wake us from our slumber and give us that extra time we need right now.  Time has an appointment made by God and we can be sure it won’t be late.  Even though we don’t know when that appointment is, we have been warned that it will come “suddenly.”  As horrendous as this virus is,  I pray that it might serve as a wake-up call “for such a time as this”  lest coming suddenly, he find us sleeping.

Time has an appointment which it is sure to keep
Suddenly it will arrive as steadily it creeps
We live our lives within the approaching of its’ day
We laugh, we cry, we live, we die, as time comes without delay

God holds within his sovereign hand, it is not yours nor mine
A time for every purpose, a purpose for every time
It is not a matter of if, but when it will arrive
From its’ appointed destination, there is no place to hide

As a time for every purpose heeds the voice of God’s command
Suddenly time will arrive to serve its’ Master’s hand
The wisdom of God’s prophets though spoken long ago
Suddenly will come to pass just as was foretold

Time pregnant with the word of God’s omnipotent command
Will in its’ time give birth to the eternal life of man
And suddenly time and no time will embrace as one
As the fulfillment of all time finally has come

Then at last we will know what we could not comprehend
The Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End
The Bridegroom will appear to claim His long-awaited bride
O’er the threshold of heaven’s door He will carry her inside

And time will then relinquish all that it has stored
Unto the omnipotent hand of its’ sovereign Lord
And like a faithful servant submit on bended knee
The purpose of its’ existence to all eternity

(Ephesians 1:10 – That in the dispensation of the fullness of the times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ – )




Blooming In The Rain

I Thessalonians 5:18 – In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  


With Thanksgiving just around the corner I am reminded that God’s word tells us to “give thanks in everything.”  I am finding out that sometimes that’s easier said than done.  It’s a whole lot easier to give thanks when things are going well than it is to give thanks when they’re not.  Thanksgiving is a time when we consider all the good things God has blessed us with and give him thanks for them.  Rarely do we consider giving thanks during the times in our lives when things aren’t  going so good.   It’s hard to give thanks “in everything” when everything includes suffering through difficult things.   I have to admit I was having a hard time with this scripture until I realized God’s word tells us to give thanks “in” everything, and not “for” everything.   I don’t think God expects us to give thanks for the difficult things we encounter in life, but he does desire for us to give thanks while in them, as difficult as that may be.

Due to an illness I have been going through, things aren’t going well in my life right now.  But God has been revealing some much needed truth in my illness and for that I am thankful.  I have always given God thanks for what I considered to be the big things, the important things in my life.  Seldom did I consider giving him thanks for the little things, until the little things became big things.  I now realize that every little thing in life is a big thing.  Knowing this, I now give God thanks for everything, and I do mean everything!  I give him thanks for simply being able sit in a chair, to comb my hair, to sweep the floor, to walk out the door, to stand on my own, to not be alone, to tie my shoes, to put them on, to face the day even when I am afraid, to keep being strong when the day is long and the pain so strong I don’t want to go on.  I thank God for hearing my prayers, for calming my fears, for seeing my tears.  In spite of all the suffering and the pain, I give God thanks for every little thing.  I thank God for helping me to see that life is not meant to be centered on me, and for this truth that I now see, I give God thanks for revealing it to me.

God assures us in his word that, “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  We might not understand why things happen in life, and we might not like the things that happen in life, but if God says that all things work for good, then we can be assured that somehow what we are going through will ultimately work together for good in our lives.  I Peter 5:9-10 encourages, “May the God of all grace who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you.”  Sometimes God allows suffering in our lives in order to perfect, establish, strengthen and settle us in our walk of faith – just ask Job.  Fortunately it is only “for a while.”  God will bring all suffering to an end in his timing.  Suffering in any way is never any fun, but if God allows it in the life of one of his children, we can be sure it’s merely an instrument in his hand for good.  So, I give thanks, not for the suffering, but for the good that my Heavenly Father desires to bring about in my life through it.

It’s a rainy day today and as I looked outside my patio door, I noticed my Hibiscus flower was blooming in the rain.  It’s not easy to bloom in the rain.  It causes us to droop a little, much like my Hibiscus flower is doing today.  But we have the assurance of God’s word that the sun will shine again and we won’t always be drooping in the rain.  Ironically, the same rain that causes my Hibiscus flower to droop, will also be used by God to cause it to grow and bloom again.  I am so thankful to know that if God will cause the sun to shine on my Hibiscus flower and send the rain to help it grow, he will most assuredly cause the sun to shine on me again and use the rain to help me grow.  This Thanksgiving I hope we all realize that we have much more to be thankful for than just the big things, and that we take a moment to consider all the little things we take for granted every day.  This Thanksgiving I hope we “give thanks for everything – for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us.”

It’s hard to be a flower blooming in the rain
And it’s hard to give God thanks when you’re suffering and in pain
But we have a heavenly promise that all suffering will one day end
And the rain that fell upon us will cause us to bloom again
So in all things give God thanks for he works all things for our good
And often times of suffering we have misunderstood
But if we will but be patient we will one day see
The Son once again come out to shine on you and me

Knock-off Love

Psalm 51:16 – “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts.”  


It seems like every name-brand product out there has a knock-off version that tries to look like it and perform like it.  Some can come very close to looking like the real deal and if we’re not very familiar with the original, they can sometimes fool us.  Knock-offs have the appearance of the original item and offer the promise of being or doing the same thing but never quite live up to the standard of the original.  The saying “the devil is in the details” couldn’t be any truer when it comes to recognizing knock-offs.  This is especially true when it comes to recognizing a knock-off of God’s love.  Without a doubt God is love, he’s the real deal, but is all love God’s love?  Many today seem to think so, but have unfortunately been fooled by a knock-off version; one in which the details don’t quite measure up to the real deal.

John Bevere (Drawing Near) touches on a very relevant issue in the church today when he asks, “Have we created a knock-off Jesus?”  The Apostle Paul was concerned about this very thing in his letter to the Corinthian church in saying, “If someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”  The Corinthian believers were in danger of settling for a knock-off version of Jesus and were easily putting up with it – many today are as well.  Bevere wisely points out that the body of believers was easily misled, not by a false god or religion that denied Jesus’s existence, but by their belief in a different Jesus.  The same holds true concerning God’s love today.  People aren’t denying that God is love, but are accepting a different love than God’s love.

All knock-offs have something about them that gives them away; so does a knock-off of God’s love.  A product must be in complete keeping with the original design for it to be authentic.  John Bevere (A Heart Ablaze) writes, “Kindness, sympathy, tenderness, and patience can all have the appearance of being godly love, but if these virtues are outside of the truth, it is a counterfeit love.”  The absence of truth is what gives knock-off love away.  Whenever love is not balanced with the truth of God’s word, it creates a knock-off love.  As a knock-off love void of truth is increasing today the true love of God, demonstrated by walking in the truth of his word, is decreasing.   When meeting opposition of the truth by the Galatian believers Paul asked, “Have I therefore become your enemy by telling you the truth?”  The answer to that question unfortunately is yes.  Speaking the truth will make you an enemy of those who reject it.  Oswald Chambers (My Utmost For His Highest) writes, “The preaching of the gospel awakens an intense resentment because it is designed to reveal unholiness.”  Jesus said of his disciples, “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world.”  In being “not of the world” we will always face opposition and risk creating resentment when speaking the truth of God’s word, but that should never keep us from speaking it.  As Paul said, “Do I now persuade men or God?”  Or do I seek to please men?  For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”

Christian speaker Tod White gets straight to the heart of what leads to a person rejecting the truth and creating a knock-off version of God’s love.  He states, “When you start disobeying your convictions more than you obey them the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit will get quieter and the enemy’s voice will get louder …. Then you’ll start justifying your behavior and call it grace.”  Which in turn will lead you to justify ungodly behavior and call it God’s love.  Any love that enables or encourages someone to remain in bondage to sin is not God’s love, it’s a knock-off love.  Oswald Chambers wisely cautions, “Never tolerate, because of sympathy for yourself or for others, any practice that is not in keeping with a holy God.”  James 5:19-20 tells us, “If anyone wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”  Love is not only evidenced in kindness, sympathy, tenderness or patience, but in truth spoken in love.  And truth must be spoken in love, because if love is not in it, God is not in it.

We can fulfill the description of love by being kind, patient, sympathetic and tender, but if we leave out truth we are leaving out a very important feature of God’s love.  Those who value the quality of the authentic product know the real deal when they see it and won’t settle for a knock-off version.  Most authentic products are going to cost us more than the knock-off version.  God’s word tells us all who would live godly in Christ will suffer persecution.  That’s the price of possessing the authentic love of God.  It’s going to cost you more than the knock-off version but as I’ve come to learn, the real deal will always prove to be superior to the cheap knock-off brand.   There are a lot of knock-offs out there today that will fool us if we’re not careful.  Don’t let God’s love be one of them.  We need to intimately know every detail of the authentic product if we don’t want to get fooled by the knock-off.  The devil really is in the details.

(Malachi 2:17 – Ye have wearied the Lord with your words.  Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him?  When ye say, everyone that doth evil is good in the sight of the Lord and he delighted in them; or where is the God of judgment?). 

I went to the store one day to buy my favorite treat
unfortunately they were all out  but I wanted something sweet
I saw another product that looked to be the same
and so I settled for it hoping my sweet tooth to tame
I anxiously looked forward to taking my first bite
But right away I knew that something wasn’t right
And then I read the ingredients of the two to compare
But there was one essential ingredient that simply was not there
The absence of this one ingredient completely changed the taste
Making the whole product a disappointing waste
And then I heard the Lord quietly to me say,
The devil is in the details child of how the product is made
You will never satisfy your sweet tooth with an inferior substitute
nor can you have my love if you leave out the truth

Leaving the Table

table-791167_1920(Psalm 34:8 – Taste and see that the Lord is good.). 



Have you ever sat at a table that wasn’t serving anything you wanted to eat?  What was being served there just wasn’t to your taste and what tasted good to everyone else didn’t taste so good to you.  I recently read a quote that brought strong conviction to my heart about this.  The quote read, “You must find the courage to leave the table if respect is not being served there.” (Tene Edwards).   I couldn’t help but relate this to the many tables we sit at today where respect isn’t being served for the One who is deserving of all honor and respect.  Jesus said, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters abroad.”  In light of that, I had to ask myself, “How can I be with Jesus if I am sitting at a table that is serving that which is against him?  How can I respect and honor him if I am sitting before things that do not?  There is no getting around the Lord’s instruction to “Come ye out from among them, be separate and touch not their unclean things.”  The NIV Life Application Study Bible reminds, “The gospel is not only what we believe but also what we must live.”  Living the gospel requires separation of ourselves unto the gospel.  While most of us would agree that we desire for the evil in this world to be overcome by good, we fail to realize that the overcoming of evil begins with us.  It begins with our choice to leave the table of the world if respect for Jesus isn’t being served there.

There are many types of tables of disrespect from which we can choose to sit down and eat, but I think perhaps the table of entertainment seats more than all of them.  Every table we sit down to in life belongs to someone.  One sure way to recognize whose table you’re sitting at is to take a look at what’s being served there.  One look at the menu will tell you if you’re sitting at God’s table or the devil’s.  Seldom will you find respect for Jesus being served at the table of entertainment and once you sit down at it, finding the courage and conviction to leave the table can be challenging.  Eating certain foods sometimes requires an acquired taste. We can develop an acquired taste for the things of this world as well, and before we know it something that once left a bad taste in our mouth can begin to taste better over time.  Our taste buds can become dull to what once offended them.  The longer we sit at the tables of entertainment, the less offended we are by what’s being served on them.  We’ve all sat down at these tables, hoping they will serve us something good to eat, but they rarely do.  Let’s face it, you can’t hope to get good food at a bad restaurant.  The difference is if we get bad food at a restaurant, we at least have the good sense to eventually stop eating at their tables!

Sometimes we just go ahead and eat the food set before us at a table, even though it may not be all that good.  We can do this in regard to the entertainment that’s set before us as well.  Even though we don’t particularly approve of the content of a movie we’re watching or a book we’re reading, we continue to reluctantly eat what’s set before us, even though it may leave a bad taste in our mouth.  I have come to realize that there are really only two choices – remain at the table and reluctantly eat of the disrespect for Jesus that is being served there, or leave the table.  In II Corinthians 6:14, Paul asks, “For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?  That’s a good question; one I need to ask myself the next time I pull up a chair at the table of entertainment.  I’m  pretty sure I will never find Jesus and the devil sitting in harmony at a table together, so if I know I wouldn’t find Jesus sitting there, I probably shouldn’t be sitting there either.

In his word, God invites us to eat at his table.  He has “prepared a table before us in the presence of our enemies,” and he invites us to pull up a chair and join him there.  Almost like a mother trying to encourage her child to taste something they’ve never eaten, our Heavenly Father encourages us to “taste and see that the Lord is good” and “promises that he “satisfies thy mouth with good things.”  There’s no chance of getting a bad meal at His table!  I don’t know about everyone else, but that’s the table I want to have a lifelong reserved seat at.  As for all the other tables out there, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask to be excused.  Why continue sitting at a table if it’s serving food that’s not to your taste?

The flesh appeased our hearts deceived
to be entertained our greatest need
at the table of the world we take our seat
hoping to receive something good to eat
between the world and our risen Lord
we choose the world for we are bored
Come ye out” we hear him say
“choose whom ye will serve this day”
to whom will you bow your knee
the God of Life or your T. V.
search your heart that you might know
to whom you cling to whom let go
and before you take your seat
remember you are what you eat!

(Psalm 101:3 – I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.   I will set nothing wicked before my eyes to see.) 

The Narrow Road

(Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” – Matthew 7:13)


I recently watched the nail-biting high wire act of the Flying Wallendas as they perilously walked a narrow 1300-foot long tightrope 25 stories above New York’s iconic Times Square.   As I observed the intense level of focus given to each step taken by them along the narrow tightrope, I was reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:13 when he said, “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  Seeing all the people below on Times Square gave perspective to just how narrow the tightrope was in comparison.   Looking at the world around us from the elevated view of God’s word, gives us a good perspective of the narrow road God calls us to walk as well.  Like the Wallendas, we too are called to walk a narrow path that requires us to be careful of the steps we take – also much like the Wallendas, Jesus tells us “only a few” will attempt to walk it.

We have but to look at the world we live in today to see just how broad the road that leads to destruction is becoming, and that there are many who are entering through its gates.  Sadly, there are many who profess to be of the Christian faith that can be found walking that broad, open road today as well.  Many have traded the truth of God’s word to walk with the changing culture of the world, but just like Lajana Wallenda’s tragic misstep two years prior that resulted in a serious fall, it will prove to be a costly misstep.  The wisdom of Proverbs 17:15 serves to remind, “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.”  As Oswald Chambers (My Utmost For His Highest) so wisely observes, “There is no heaven that has a little corner of hell in it,” and there is no room on the narrow road for the things of the flesh and the world.

Many assume that the finished work of Jesus immediately and automatically perfects them in the sight of God, regardless of whether or not Jesus’s life is being formed in them, and regardless of the fact that just about all of New Testament scripture teaches to the contrary.  The Apostle Paul exhorted believers to “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”  If we are automatically perfected in the sight of God, without bearing any evidence of His life being formed in us, what purpose would Paul have in exhorting us to work out our salvation, and why should we do so with fear and trembling?  Hebrews 4:11 reminds, “Since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have (fallen) short of it.” Just like the Wallendas after taking the first step onto the wire, the walk across the tightrope remains to be completed and each step thereafter must be carefully taken if we want to safely reach the other side.

In Revelation chapters 2-3, Jesus reprimands His seven churches, telling them, “I have not found your works perfect before God.”  He warns them individually saying, “hold fast and repent” …. “I could wish you were cold or hot, so then because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth” ….  “You say ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing, and do you not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.”  That doesn’t sound like perfected people to me!  Although Jesus was addressing the seven churches, he was reprimanding people, not denominations.  The people of each church were cautioned by Jesus to “overcome” in some area where they had “fallen short.”   Ephesus was told, “You have forsaken your first love.”  It had lost its zeal for God and had become complacent.  Smyrna feared suffering persecution for the sake of Christ.  Pergamum had fallen victim to false teaching through its open-mindedness and compromise with the ways of the world – some in the church were tolerating those who taught or practiced what Christ opposed.  Thyatira, “by her teaching,” was “misleading others into sexual immorality” and many were “unwilling to repent.”  Sardis was infested with sin – its deeds were evil and its clothes soiled – there were no words of commendation for this church – it looked good on the outside but was corrupt on the inside – had a “reputation for being alive but was dead”- was warned to “Wake up!”  Philadelphia was praised for having kept God’s word and not denying his name,” but they needed to  “hold on” and “persevere” – to overcome the temptation to turn back.  Laodicea was lukewarm and indifferent – was “neither cold nor hot” – didn’t take a stand for anything – was material minded – focused more on material possessions than possessing Christ – chose the temporary over the eternal – thought themselves to be rich and “had need of nothing.”  Jesus warned that all the believers in these individual churches were in danger of “falling away” due to the missteps they were taking.

In Matthew 7:21, Jesus warns, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘Depart from me, I never knew you.'”  Jason Henderson (Not I, But Christ) writes, “Those who think to dismiss themselves from His yoke and burden, His cross and example, and secure themselves by praising Christ for His having done all for them (while He has wrought little or nothing in them, nor have they parted with anything for the love of Him) will finally awake in a dreadful surprise, at the sound  of the last trumpet, and this sad and irrevocable sentence, “Depart from Me you workers of iniquity, I do not know you.”  As Christ makes unmistakably clear in the Book of Revelation, it is not he who is overcome, but he who overcomes that shall not be hurt by the second death.

Due to Lajana Wallenda’s serious fall in a previous act two years ago, the Wallendas chose to use a safety harness this time around – a smart choice, although the lesson was learned the hard way.  Thankfully, we too have a safety harness to protect us as we endeavor to walk the narrow path of life.  Jude 24 assures us that Jesus is “able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy.”  Just as the Wallendas executed their walk without fault and ended it with great joy, Jesus wants us to as well, but it took careful discipline and  intense focus on their part for them to do so.  If we stumble along the way, our safety harness will be there to catch us if we fall and enable us to get back up and keep on walking, but if we deliberately choose to step off walking the narrow road in order to join those who are walking on the broad one, the destination of that broad road will become ours as well.

(Proverbs 4:14-15 – Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil.  Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on.).

Wise Counsel

Kings 22:14 – “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.”


Uncompromising counsel is a rare thing to find in the world we live in today.  You can find a lot of people who will tell you what you want to hear, but very few who will tell you what you need to hear.  In I Timothy 4:2, the Apostle Paul warned that the time would come when men would not put up with sound doctrine, but instead, to suit their own desires, they would gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears wanted to hear.  Those who desire to be the arbiter their own morality will always reject truth.   You can attempt to counsel people apart from telling them the truth, but you must be willing to lie to them to do so, because to encourage someone in any behavior that is not in line with the principles of God’s word, is to encourage them in a lie.  Jason Henderson (Not I, But Christ), writes, “It is a lie to comfort someone apart from the truth; to present someone with a solution that is separate from the truth, to encourage someone in anything that has no place in Christ.”  T. Austin Sparks wisely observes, “You can’t blunt the sharp edge of the truth of God’s word.”  Only counsel that agrees with the principle of God’s word is wise and reliable counsel. Everything else is just a tickling of the ears.

The Word of God encourages us to speak the truth in love in all things that we might grow up into him who is the head, even Christ. (Ephesians 4:15).   To sympathize with the nature of Adam and aid in its existence is to oppose the new nature of Christ being formed in us.   A person’s soul cannot be filled with the light of Christ’s life if they continue to walk in darkness.   That is the harm of not speaking the truth in love.   Proverbs 10:17 warns, “Whoever ignores instruction leads others astray.”  To counsel others in anything that is in opposition to the instruction of God’s word, is to lead them astray.  Contrary to popular belief, we can’t just “love people into the kingdom.”  That might sound nice, but it isn’t very realistic.  We can love people straight into judgment if we are not careful.  A. W. Tozer writes, “It is altogether possible to practice deceit upon our own souls and go deceived into judgment.”  That is why the Apostle Paul encouraged the church not only to love, but to speak the truth in love.  Granted, it is much easier talking to people about the forgiveness of sin than it is talking to them about the forsaking of sin.  Counseling with both conviction and compassion takes a lot of courage, but giving in to fear when speaking the truth only leads to accommodation; never transformation.  God didn’t send Jesus just to have our backs, he sent him to have our hearts.   Just like truth and love, forgiveness of sin and forsaking of sin go together.   Proverbs 20:5 says, “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.”  A wise counselor, one of understanding, will not excuse your behavior but will dive into the depths of your heart to help you draw out the truth of it.

In I Kings 22, God’s word records that King Ahab, who was said to have been more wicked than any other king of Israel, asked King Jehosphaphat to join him in battle against Remoth Gilead.  Jehosphaphat’s reply was, “First seek the counsel of the Lord.”  King Jehosphaphat gave Ahab the best advice one person can give to another.  King Ahab, however, consistently chose to follow the majority opinion of the false prophets who surrounded him.  He “listened only to the prophets that gave good news and surrounded himself with people who encouraged him to do whatever he wanted.”   (NIV Life Application Study Bible).  Jehosphaphat knew the difference between these pagan prophets and God’s prophet, so he asked if a prophet of the Lord was available.  A prophet named Micaiah was the only prophet who remained true to the Lord at that time, but King Ahab said of him, “But I hate him, because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad.”  King Ahab didn’t want to hear the truth, he wanted his ears tickled.  The messenger who was sent to summon Micaiah tried to influence him to compromise speaking the truth, saying, “Look, as one man the other prophets are predicting success for the king.  Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.”  To Micaiah’s credit he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.”

We can follow the lead of the false prophets who counseled Ahab and speak favorably to people, letting our words agree with the majority opinion, or we can follow the wisdom of Micaiah and tell others only what the Lord’s word says.  Those who counsel in the name of the Lord would be wise to follow Micaiah’s lead, however.  In the end, the false prophets that Ahab followed ended up being instrumental in leading him to his ruin, as well as their own.  Seeking counsel from those who will tell us “only what we want to hear” will end up being instrumental in ours as well.    Jason Henderson writes, “The great false gospel in the days of the prophets was:  “‘Peace, peace”‘, when there was no peace.  It is the great false gospel today as well.  It is a gospel that tries to make peace with the wrong man, instead of experiencing Christ’s crucifixion and killing of that man, so that true peace is found in the absence of him and the soul’s freedom from sin that is contrary to God.”  That’s wise words and good counsel!  Those who are in Christ are not called to make peace with the nature of Adam that still tries to influence their behavior.  True peace can only be found in the absence of the adamic nature ruling in us, and walking in the freedom from that nature which is contrary to God.  Any counsel that suggests otherwise is unwise counsel.   T. Austin Sparks righty observes, “We must present Christ in totality, not just Christ in love, but Christ in purity, Christ in holiness, Christ in truth.”  As surely as the Lord lives, I can only tell you what the Lord tells me.


I once sought out counsel because my conscience was bothering me
I heard it loud and clear but didn’t want it’s voice to heed
I spoke to many counselors and their words rang in my ears
Until at last I found the one who said what I wanted to hear
Someone who would be sympathetic to what I had to say
Someone who would compromise and let me have my way
I knew all along the words I wanted to hear
I just needed to find someone to scratch my itching ears
I knew that what I wanted was the right thing for me
but from a guilty conscience I needed to be free
So I just needed to find someone who would agree with me
And now I am at peace with who I am within
Even though I know I have traded truth for sin
But I can live with that so long as I am free
To be the arbiter of my own morality

(Proverbs15:12 – A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise.)



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