Friday, January 29, 2021

God's Peace What It Is And What It Is Not

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled… —John 14:27

 “As long as we try to serve two masters, ourselves and God, there will be difficulties combined with doubt and confusion. Our attitude must be one of complete reliance on God. […] God’s mark of approval, whenever you obey Him, is peace. He sends an immeasurable, deep peace; not a natural peace, “as the world gives,” but the peace of Jesus. […] If you are acting on your own impulse, or out of a sense of the heroic, to be seen by others, the peace of Jesus will not exhibit itself. […] Any problem that comes while I obey God (and there will be many), increases my overjoyed delight, because I know that my Father knows and cares, and I can watch and anticipate how He will unravel my problems.” [Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest]

What is your expectation of God with respect to your faith and everyday living?  Do you think that God is obligated to make certain that you do not have to endure hardship?  That nothing “bad” will happen to you or the ones you love?  No injury, no heartbreak, no death, no failure, no loss?  That is a problem.  The Bible does not promise that … God’s theme song might be “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden!” In fact Jesus said (John 16:33) “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Our peace is in Jesus – supernatural peace … peace in spite of the circumstances you find yourself in this world you live in .. a world full of sinners.  Peace is a fruit of the Spirit .. in spite of your circumstances … Because of your spiritual perspective you see life, as it happens, differently. Oh, you wanted to avoid experiencing anything unpleasant and was hoping that your rebirth would provide that for you.  Sorry!  But that does not mean that you can’t experience joy while your feet are still on terra firma.  Joy, another fruit of the Spirit.  Are you hoping the world will somehow get better over time?  Not going to happen.  Sin begets sin.  Hurt people hurt people.  The answer is Jesus.  He is the Hope of Heaven.  James said (James 1:2-4) “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

Look!  All of us have experienced and are experiencing difficulties in this life.  Remember that God showed His grace and mercy by sending a Redeemer – Jesus. And then He sent a Spiritual Helper – the Holy Spirit. And through Jesus, He established the Church.  The world wants to snuff out your candle.  To replace Jesus with its god – money. Let your light burn brightly.  Let people know that our Redeemer lives! He is Jesus the King.  He is the Christ.  The Son of God.  Who takes away the sins of the world.  Shout hallelujah! And thank God for His wonderful gift … (Ephesians 2:8-9) “…saved by faith … it is a gift from God”

Be encouraged. Walk by faith. Be willing to step out of the boat. Shine Bright my friend and give God the glory He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Don’t Take The Credit When You Walk On The Water

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?” – 1 Corinthians 12:12-19

<Journal Entry Jacmel Haiti 30 Sep 2011> Here we are on the eve of the culmination of my 2 + months in Jacmel – my involvement is about to be eclipsed by the arrival of the orphans – the orphanage staff is coming with more frequency – I am starting to get in the way – so I must move aside for those who will bring Espwa Timoun Yo (Children’s Hope) to its fullest purpose – our place has always been ministry enablement – I sometimes look at that as if it something less than what others do for the kingdom. To say everyone should have the same ministry would be in error – the word is clear on that – one Body many parts – I don’t have a clue what the guys are doing this morning – maybe they don’t either! Hope the rumblé (fill dirt) shows up today. Well it is off to the races! Gentlemen start your engines! <End of Entry>

Have you ever felt that you were something less than other Believers when comparing your gifts or service? It is a natural thing to do.  We can acknowledge that God created us for His purpose, but have a difficult time accepting the fact that our role is, well inconsequential from a temporal or eternal point of view. There are two possibilities, I think. One is that we have not yielded to God’s call and purpose. Having been called but believing that we cannot possibly do what God has put before us. The second, that we are not satisfied with the plow to which God has put our hands. We think that we should be more than we are.  We are envious of what others do. Both are a product of our carnal thinking. The first is lack of faith and the second is pride and jealousy. These excerpts from my journal represent truly significant acts of God and my day to day struggle with keeping proper perspective. My struggle with keeping spiritual perspective.

I may have shared this before – a prominent Haitian pastor would often visit the worksite. Near the beginning he asked me when the building would be complete. I responded, “October first”. He laughed and said “Nothing happens quickly in Haiti!” To which I replied, “Pastor, Sarah laughed!” and said no more. There are always people who will cast doubt on the possibility of the impossible happening.  All they can see are the hurdles the world puts in front of us. They don’t acknowledge the mighty God who is at work. Perhaps because of their small faith – they are sceptics.  I was well aware that what I has trying to do was impossible or at best improbable.  When I was asked to do the work and was told when it needed to be done, my reply was, “The only way that will happen is if God is in it.”  Well, it did happen. There is a lot more to the story, but to the point – my involvement in establishing that ministry in Haiti is all but forgotten. The question is – does that matter – really. Our tendency is to embrace the accolades for something the God has done through us. I tell people that the only thing that I can or should take credit for is saying “yes” to God. The rest was all Him. If I have any abilities, intelligence, spiritual gifts – they all come from the Creator God. God should receive all of the glory for any accomplishment. So you see – when we doubt or when we envy – we sin – we miss the mark – God’s intent and will are subverted.

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” – Matthew 6:1-2

Be encouraged. Walk by faith. Be willing to step out of the boat. Shine Bright my friend and give God the glory He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Stop Worrying About The Carpet

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.– Matthew 25:34-40

<Journal Entry Jacmel Haiti 26 Sep 2011> Quite a weekend – spiritual warfare – struggle with the flesh – strong attacks – must be getting close to a stronghold – I know that the very gates of hell will not prevail against me – Jesus is the Victor. I suddenly feel very tired – when I stop for a rest that happens  - so long as I keep moving, I am OK. There is a chicken that comes by looking for a handout. Can we look past the exterior of people – maybe even the really ugly parts and see what Jesus saw – the heart? I am waiting for the guys to show up – volunteers from Alabama who are going to help us push through the “wall”, the last few miles of the marathon. – got interrupter – two goats walked in the back door – I told them they had to play outside – OK – got to get moving or take a nap – the second is not an option.<End of Entry>

Reading what I had written that day – it seemed so disconnected – Moments in my life that would have been lost when the sun rose the next day.  It reminded me of the fact that I was alone – in a different land – on mission – doing that seemed impossible to many – but possible to God. The chickens and the goats wandered all over the compound. Just yesterday I was concerned about some weeds growing in our back yard. What is significant – important to us – has a way of changing – depending upon our circumstances.  But – at the same time – the significance does not really change – just our response to it does. I recall two churches in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. We had gone there the same week that Katrina landfall. Trained by the Red Cross, a group of us had gone from our church to help set up a shelter there. In the church where the shelter was established – we had an emergency medical clinic – right in the main hallway. People would come in bleeding on the carpet seeking treatment. I remember commenting, “This is the Church in action.” Not the building – but the Body of Christ.  The Sunday school rooms had cots in them. The fellowship hall was converted to a warehouse filled with food and supplies for the local residents. The kitchen ran 24-7 receiving hot meals from the Salvation Army and feeding anyone who needed food. The gym was filled with cots for the volunteers. The church property was ringed with camping tents. Nurses were sleeping in the sanctuary. And just down the road – another church was willing to help, but made it clear that people could not come into the church – they had just installed new carpet.

Who are we willing to help and at what cost. Do we care more about our earthly treasure and less about the people in need? There is always a tension between the flesh and the Spirit. God asks us to to what is contrary to conventional wisdom.

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ  and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” – Philippians 3:7-10

That was Paul’s attitude toward earthly gain! Is that something that you can embrace? Not intellectual agreement, but practical application in your life? Writing of such things to people who live in a culture of plenty – most living in a bubble, protected from the world of want and hardship is hard to clearly communicate. The question is not have you, but would you? Like those two churches – for one their willingness to lay theirs lives down seemed limitless. For the other – there has a hard line that they were not will to cross – we will do this but no more. They would not surrender all! A picture of the Body of Christ.  We all know what is expected – we all nod our heads in affirmation to its truth and rightness, but balk when comes home and lands our doorstep. The two greatest commandments – love God and love others – like Jesus asked Peter after Peter had denied Jesus – “Do you love Me, Peter? Feed My Sheep!” Or – stop worrying about the carpet!

Be encouraged. Shine Bright my friend and give God the glory He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Jesus Saves – Let You Life Shout It Out

“Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:3-5

<Journal Entry Jacmel Haiti 21 Sep 2011> Got past my Blah’s – someone must be praying for me! Missing my wife. We just about have all of the wood up. I can see more to do – I guess that is what happens when you design in your head. The Lord is teaching me much – about Him and about myself. I sense the Lord wants to use me – but there can be no pride in my heart – no desire for the praise of men. He brings people across my path who have exaggerated amounts of those traits to show me what I look like to Him with just a hint of pride or seeking affirmation from others. Thank you Lord for showing me, teaching me, guiding me – Give me strength Lord to fulfill your purpose in my life – You are good and Your mercy endures forever. Amen <End of Entry>

Are there people in your life that you find it difficult to be around? That was rhetorical – of course you have – we all have – in fact we may one of those someones in somebody else’s life. The Lord gave me a different perspective on “those people.” In Matthew 7 there are two aspects to consider.  The first is that there is only one judge and it is not me or you. We see the imperfections in others and can become almost indignant toward them because we are not anywhere near as bad as they are. As if that somehow makes our little bit of badness acceptable. Saying I may be bad but I am not as bad as you does not make me good! The second is something that psychologists call “projection” [Psychological projection is a defense mechanism in which the ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves by attributing them to others.] I am not suggesting that every wrong you see in someone else is a reflection of the same wrong in you. But I have found that the Lord uses others to get my attention about something in my life. Unfortunately, that requires my paying attention and having spiritual perception to see beyond the circumstance. He doesn’t allow that to discipline me but to shape me – conform me into the image of His Son.  I must admit that I have missed a lot of opportunities to learn. There is nothing like a difficult person to bring the old nature out of us. Now, I can appear tolerant on the outside – restrained – but can be fuming – condemning on the inside.

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:27-28

Just because we don’t express on the outside what we are feeling on the inside does that mean that we are innocent. Have you ever told someone that you mind is made up and you are not going to change it? Even if you have not said it – you have thought it. Don’t be self-righteous I think because you don’t say it or do it, you have not sinned before a holy God. So many times I have been “sleeping in class.” The Lord has been showing me something for my benefit and I completely missed it because my flesh got in the way.  Oh that we would be quick to show grace and mercy to others and slow to judge and condemn. Why are we dismayed at the sin that rages around us? Have we forgotten why the Father sent the Son? In 2018 there were over 10,000 children born every day in the United States. 10,000 new sinners that need Jesus. Friends, we are surrounded by sinners – why should we be surprised by sin. It is natural that can only be changed by the supernatural.  And we are ambassadors on this earth to be lights of hope – representatives of the King of Heaven – with a message of Good News. Jesus Saves!

Be encouraged. Shine Bright my friend and give God the glory He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Monday, January 25, 2021

Sit - Walk - Stand

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season…” – Psalm 1:1-3

<Journal Entry 15 Sep 2011> So – the clock is ticking – all I can do is be steady and let God be God – yes, I am lead here – but I serve Jesus – sounds like I am an independent spirit – maybe I am – but I know my Lord and I know my place – Talking to a volunteer I see someone who cares about people – he struggles with perspective – he is too impressed with himself (drinking all those bottles of water) It’s pretty hot today. My goal is to get the Pantry framed and maybe the end of the Kitchen – then we will be ready for screen and plywood – then the dorms – then the bathrooms – then the kids – oh the drainage ditch – got to get it done. Time to get up and get after it – Jonas ( a Haitian helper) likes long lunches I think. <End of Entry>

When you find yourself outside of the boat on the waters of faith – you become very aware that what you are doing is beyond you. A saying that I have heard and seen recently is “Faith or Fear” having to do specifically with the COVID pandemic.  It is a statement but also a question. And it is really a good question – for everything in life. Do we trust God or trust ourselves. You don’t have to be in a third world country to be challenged in life – there are plenty of opportunities to choose to either trust God or yourself every day, right where you live. It really requires no less faith.  Whether it is an issue of surviving the threat of COVID or choosing faithfulness to who we are in Christ versus bending to the pressures of our culture or our own old nature. Our new life requires faith. Faith requires that we maintain our devotion and focus on the Lord.

Watchman Nee, a Chinese Christian scholar, evangelist and author, and martyr wrote a number of books that proved useful in shaping my faith and encouraging my growth. One of which is Sit, Walk, Stand -  a book on Ephesians. I bring that up because I am looking at a picture that is above my desk of Jesus giving counsel to a 20th century man in an office painted by Harry Anderson. The quote beneath the painting from Psalm 1 is under the picture. Walking, standing and sitting – sitting, walking and standing – it is like Psalm 1 tells us what we should not do and Ephesians tells us what we should do. I would encourage you to read the book by Watchman Nee – The Normal Christian Life is another. But more than that, I would encourage you to Sit, and rest, in your position in Christ; Walk out your new life in the world; and so Stand against your spiritual Enemy.

Be encouraged. Shine Bright my friend and give God the glory He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Friday, January 22, 2021

Sin Simplified

 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23

Have you ever had an epiphany? (a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something) I have a time or two. It is like being hit in the head by a baseball that you didn’t see coming. It is shocking but typically is not accompanied with the pain that a baseball would bring with it. Although, it might be disruptive to your habits or thinking depending upon what the manifestation or perception about that “something” was.

So do I have you on the edge of your seat? As I was winding my way through the hills of central Texas to celebrate our anniversary with my bride – POW! SOCK! There it was like a big bug hitting the windshield – the thought hit me right between the eyes. So here it is!

Sin – in its simplest form is nothing more than a variance or deviation from God’s will and creative physical, emotional, moral, and relational intent. God’s demand for compliance is unbending – without compromise – The consequence for comprise is separation from the Creator God. Our human – Adamic ability to satisfy God’s demand for compliance was lost in the Garden – but regained through the Cross by the Second Adam. Yet – though we are saved by faith – We continue to sin. That is a mystery – one which Theologians have struggled with for years.  For some – with respect to eternal life – sin after you are born again has no effect on where you will spend eternity. For some – unconfessed sin for the born again Believer at the point of their death will void their ticket and they will be denied entry at the Gates of Heaven. And for others – sin results in loss of salvation and they must not just confess their post re-birth sins but must be re-born again to get a new ticket.

But that is not the point of my writing this. It has nothing to do with my epiphany. No – what struck me was that – in large – the American Christian culture has embraced the idea that there is room for compromise. That the Word of God is open for debate. The question that was birthed in the Garden has gained momentum among those who call Jesus Lord and God, Father. What question? “Did God really say you will surely die?” That question.  Christians have yielded to what makes sense to them as the standard of compliance to the Word. What makes them comfortable around others – what they wish were true – what they wish God had said instead of what He has said. 

There is much talk about our country being in trouble – but I would say that the more important issue is that the Body of Christ is in trouble –

because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.” – Romans 1:21-25

A number of verses scrolled across my mind as I drove. My thoughts caused me to examine my heart and the compromises I have made in the name of tolerance, entertainment, and cordiality. It is one thing to not judge others and yet another to embrace their sin as acceptable and convince yourself that it is not “really” in conflict with the Word of God.  How to show the love of God toward the sinner without castigating them for the sin that they flaunt in God’s face.  My epiphany has brought me to a place of reflection – introspection – confession – but the real question is will it bring me to a place of change. It has brought me to a place where I hear the Prophet Nathan confronting David ….

So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!  And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.’ Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man!’” –  2 Samuel 12:5-7

Ugh! I remember the days just after my salvation. My insatiable hunger for the Word – like a new born baby is hungry. My amazement at what had happened and the feeling in my heart of peace and freedom. But so naïve and unaware about what was to come – temptation to return to what had been natural and reasonable. But oh how sweet were those days when …..

As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” – Psalm 42:1-2

How about you?

Be encouraged. Shine Bright my friend and give God the glory He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Staying In The Fight When You Feel Like Running!

And now the Lord says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength— he says: ‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’” – Isaiah 49:5-6

<Journal Entry 12 Sep 2011> OK, so maybe I am feeling a little bit like Elijah! – Rejoicing in the power and demonstration of the Lord one minute – and hiding in a cave the next. – Spirit fill me you’re your presence and power – that people would give glory to God for what is done – It’s not by might nor by power but by His Spirit!  What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus – He is the way to the Father – He is the Truth. Defining how we live, how we relate to man and God, He is the life – the only source of eternal life – no one comes to the Father except by Jesus.  The Word is showing up in my heart – maybe the volunteers are next! That’s all for now <End of Entry>

I had agreed to do the impossible and was struggling with the fact that the waves were building. Before we went to Mississippi we had a boat that we would use in the Gulf to fish. A small boat, but a boat nonetheless. I would not venture into the Gulf unless the wave forecast was 2 feet or less. A time or two the waves did not obey the forecast. We would pack it in and go back to the bay. We all have our limits on what we are willing to do. The place where we find it hard to trust God. The point where common sense kicks in and we say – “I can’t go any farther than this!” (Some readers might prefer the word “further” if so feel free to substitute it) I was alone at sea – having cast off from the shores of all I knew – facing an impossible task. Where we place our trust is a lot like flipping a light switch – one moment we are fulling trusting God and then “click” we are fully trusting in ourselves.

Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.” – Proverbs 3:3-8

I quote verses 5 and 6 often but it is so important that we remember the “book ends” for those verses. Hold fast to God’s mercy and truth – bind them around our necks – write them on our hearts. Don’t depend upon your wisdom but defer to the Lord’s.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

We might try to do good things – the right things – but lack the power of God to accomplish them.  There is a spiritual reality that the world cannot see because it is blind to spiritual things. There is a difference between a lost person giving someone a drink of water and a Christian doing the same. In the second, it is done with the power of God behind it. The spiritual cannot be seen – but it is at work.

I wrote those words yesterday but thought they fit in nicely today. As born again children of God we live a life of faith – which, at its core is trust. Dependence upon a God who we have not seen – but what we have seen is His inexplicable works through the lives of those He has called and adopted through their faith in His Son. Don’t let the light of the truth dim in your everyday going about – it can and will if you are not careful. That is why I write these devotions -for your encouragement – certainly – but for mine as well.

In two days Martie and I celebrate our 49th year of marriage – I used to marvel at couples that had been married for a long time – and now, here we are – looking back the vows we made on our wedding day have new meaning – we have lived through them – not just talked about them – imagined them. We have persevered – together. That is really what the vows are about – but for two 21 year olds – the reality of those words, then, escaped us – hoped but not yet lived – there would be many struggles not yet overcome. We are looking for many more days ahead  – how many only God knows – but we will continue to serve – continue to fight the good fight until the day the He calls us home.

Be encouraged. Shine Bright my friend and give God the glory He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Facing Life’s Difficult Moments

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

<Journal Entry 12 Sep 2011> Not many more weeks until the 1st of October. I am sitting here by myself today – that doesn’t mean I am idle – I have had a steady stream of visitors – all of them here for something other than to see me. Jonas (a Haitian worker) was here and then his head hurt and he would come back tomorrow. So much for plan A, B , C & D! I sense spiritual attacks after speaking at a local church yesterday. I must be ready for battle – the Lord is calling me to it. I sense a special connection with Davidson – I am suspicious of Samuel. With as authoritarian as XXXXXXXX (a missionary) seems to be I am surprised that he is reluctant to speak in front of people – I think he uses his brazen attitude to cloak his insecurities ( a good offense is the best defense) he thrives on affirmation. I am supposed to get volunteers from Calvary Chapel this afternoon.  The guys showed up – one – Charlie – knows how to use a saw – good attitude – only broke 2 jigsaw blades so far – got 2 left – Got the tractor running then the engine quit – who knows why? Well, maybe tomorrow.<End of Entry>

As I reread these journal entries – random thoughts about the events of the day, I am reminded of God’s provision. He is a just in time God. I am also reminded that you cannot take a picture of today and think that is what tomorrow will bring. It is in our nature to be  a bit pessimistic – some call it being realistic – Things don’t always work out – true, but God is always on the Throne.  Building the orphanage in Jacmel was a huge spiritual lesson for me – it was like a furnace testing my faith. There were days when I stumbled – taking my eyes off of Jesus, just for a moment – not long – and looked at the circumstances or the people – we all do it. God taught me that while life in this world is uncertain – He can be trusted – oh there are so many verses streaming through my mind right now. I think I will share two or three.

So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” – Matthew 14:29-31

Why do I doubt – why do we doubt – because we lose sight of Jesus and focus on our circumstances.

Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.’  Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.  And the evil spirit answered and said, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?’ Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” – Acts 19:13-16

We might try to do good things – the right things – but lack the power of God to accomplish them.  There is a spiritual reality that the world cannot see because it is blind to spiritual things. There is a difference between a lost person giving someone a drink of water and a Christian doing the same. In the second, it is done with the power of God behind it. The spiritual cannot be seen – but it is at work.

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed”— 2 Corinthians 4:3-9

What challenges are you facing today? Is God asking you to do more than you think is possible. Has He called you out of the boat? Are there people in your life that challenge your patience and perhaps your witness? Do you feel like you are alone – facing insurmountable odds? Things are just not going your way? This is a song by Don Moen based upon Isaiah 35:4-10

Say to those who are fearful hearted - Do not be afraid - The Lord your God - Is strong with His mighty arms - When you call on His name - He will come and save

Say to those who are broken hearted - Do not lose your faith - The Lord your God - Is strong with His loving arms When you call on His name - He will come and save

And He will come and save you - He will come and save you - Say to the weary one - YOUR GOD WILL SURELY COME - He will come and save you.

And He will come and save you - He will come and save you - Lift up your eyes to Him - You will arise again - He will come and save you.

He is our refuge in the day of trouble - He is our shelter in the time of storm - He is our tower in the day of sorrow - Our fortress in the time of war”

Shine Bright my friend and give God the glorify He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Monday, January 18, 2021

The Challenge Of Keeping Our Old Nature In Check

Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:5-7

<Journal Entry 10 Sep 2011> The crews from Alabama and Calvary Chapel (California)  are working well. Had to pay $500 to get tin for the rooves moved from Port au Prince yesterday. A tradeoff between work stoppage with the volunteers and the chance that the rooves would not be finished on time.  That is the rub – do we trust God to provide or do we act – is our action done in our own strength or is it God’s power in us. I think it is a heart issue. I talked to the Alabama team today about the Experiencing God – the fourth realities (God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes) I think they are a little put out with me -that’s OK – I want them to be safe & not lose their witness because they are tired and their flesh rises up. I was starting to see that in a couple of them – the leadership – hate using the shotgun approach to addressing problems with teams, but I thought it was appropriate this time.<End of Entry>

Whether we were in Mississippi, Haiti, or Texas, I always showed respect for the personal sacrifice people made to volunteer with us.  That meant making certain that they were busy helping people. It meant that the work was planned and resourced with materials and tools. I make it a point to keep the spiritual nature of what they were doing in focus. People underestimate what a spiritual, physical and emotional toll is taken when you serve on missions in another country – particular a 3rd world country. I could see that serving in Haiti would quickly wear through the veneer and get to the hearts of the volunteers. Stress does that. It weakens our ability to hide our true selves and feelings. For Christians, it should be like a claxon on a ship in the fog – it should get our attention that something is amiss.  Something spiritual. Something that reveals the condition of our hearts. This temple of the Holy Spirit has feet of clay.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

That means that we will struggle with our countenance, our attitudes, our witness.  Our flesh will want to rise up to dominate and often does. It should be a reminder that our new life is totally dependent upon the Spirit in us and not our ability to be good people.  We should not put any confidence in the flesh, our old nature, but we do. And when it does and the Spirit brings conviction which He will, we should not resist but confess and seek forgiveness – from God and from those we have offended. We should not respond with indignation and move on as if nothing happened.

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” – 2 Corinthians 5:14-19

When I write these devotions, I never know who reads them and I never know who they are for – for one – for many – or just for me. It matters not. I write them because I feel compelled to do so. Perhaps, as someone once said, I do it for an audience of One.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” – Micha 6:8

Shine Bright my friend and give God the glorify He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Friday, January 15, 2021

Don’t Be Too Quick To Drink The Water

The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind,” –Jeremiah 17:8-10

 <Journal Entry 30 August 2011> Started work at 5:30 am, trying to get a jump on the heat. It doesn’t take but a few minutes and you shirt is soaked from sweat. Doug and I straightened up a few boards and then Dede, Mican, and Jonas (Haitian workers) showed up – These are good men – I met a couple of other men who appeared to be good but their devotion to money was stronger than their desire to serve God. If I had kept them on, we might not be where we are today. Doug leaves tomorrow so he is pressing hard to finish the roof support posts and rims and wants to set at least on truss on the Kitchen. I have been part of the work – cutting materials to length – doing this – doing that – greasing the gears to keep the orphanage building machine running. I met Herb and Scotty – their dispositions emanate staffers – don’t know why I have an attitude about that type – well yes I do – “staffers” consume your time but don’t contribute to the accomplishment of the mission. I knew a lot of them in the Army. Maybe it will be different with them. Perhaps like so many from the United States, Haiti can be overwhelming – a shocking of reality when they venture out of the comforts of the United States. Maybe it will be different with them – Lord – You reign. <End of Entry>

My mom often quoted Jeremiah 17. Discerning the hearts of people is a spiritual gift – like all spiritual gifts – it demands submission to the Spirit of God. People can give the appearance of being one thing, but time will reveal the heart. Discernment gives you a glimpse of the heart without the waiting. You cannot explain it. I don’t try to, I just accept it. Discernment is not a form of judgement – condemning someone for what is in their heart – it is a form of recognition – exposing the heart. Pastor Greg Laurie said, “I am not a judge but a fruit inspector.” Calling an apple an apple is not judging the apple. Seeing that the apple is bruised or not ripe enough is not judging. I want to encourage you contemplate that analogy with respect to the people that you encounter.

I am certain you have heard or read “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.” If you are in a life raft on the ocean, you cannot drink the salt water – it will be the death of you. What appears to be one thing is very often something else. Many relationships are like that. You are thirsting for a relationship – your emotions are crying out for the comfort of having a friend or more – you see the opportunity – the person has put on their best face – but have hidden a corrupt heart. But you yield to your emotions and choose to not wait on God. Like drinking salt water.  Many people have a trail of brokenness because of choices like that. God’s heart breaks for them. That is why He sent His Son. So many Christians – having been born again – made alive toward God by the Spirit – are in a constant struggle with their old nature – it says “Drink the water – it is what you need!” and yielding to the temptation we do – time and again.  And the consequence is sure.

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” – 2 Corinthians 5:14-19

Our citizenship is in heaven. Meaning our primary devotion is to God and our secondary devotion is to the world.  I received a t-shirt with the pledge of allegiance on it. I am committed to that pledge but only in the context of my primary commitment to God and His revelation through Jesus and the Word of God. When I joined the Army, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution and to obey the orders of the president, as commander in chief, and the officers appointed over me, but that was in the very same context.  We must live our lives in the context of that truth. What we do in this natural life must be consistent with our faith. We should view the events in this world from a spiritual perspective. You will always be faced with a choice – trust God or trust the world – spiritual or natural.  Sometimes they are in agreement and sometimes not. My encouragement …

“…. do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.” – Proverbs 3:1-8

Like drinking from Jacob’s well.  Choose the Living water.

Shine Bright my friend and give God the glorify He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Don’t Rob God Of His Glory

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

<Journal Entry 29 August 2011> Where has the time gone? We are making great progress on the orphanage. I have two days left after today with Doug – Lord, You know where we will be when he leaves to return to California.  You are still the Provider. This work reminds me of how weak I am when stepping out for God – it is like Peter walking on the water – he could so long as his focus was on Jesus & not himself – when it was – he began to sink – and so will I. It is a Biblical truth – a principle – like a natural law – that must be applied or failure will surely follow. <End of Entry>

When I arrived in Haiti the summer of 2011, I was asked to do the impossible – convert 6 shipping containers into a functioning orphanage in two months. A monumental task to be sure.  When I told a Haitian pastor when I planned to have the work completed, he laughed and said nothing gets done quickly in Haiti.  I looked him in the eyes and said “Pastor – Sarah laughed.” It is so easy to look at what God calls us to do in the weakness of our flesh and doubt. On the first of October the children walked through the gate of a completed orphanage. Was that because I am so good – so competent – No! It is because God brought certain events together that were impossible for me to orchestrate. I have marveled at what God has accomplished and will accomplish through willing hands and feet.  We must be careful to not take credit for what God has done.  I think about what was done in Haiti – the part I had in it and the fact that my name is no longer associated with that work. But God's name is. You see that is the difference. He is the potter and we are the clay. We are vessels to be used by God for His glory and the good of others. Often, we want to be remembered, but not for the right reason. I am thinking about when David numbered the people.

So the king said to Joab the commander of the army who was with him, ‘Now go throughout all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and count the people, that I may know the number of the people.’  And Joab said to the king, ‘Now may the Lord your God add to the people a hundred times more than there are, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king desire this thing?’ Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab and against the captains of the army. Therefore Joab and the captains of the army went out from the presence of the king to count the people of Israel. – And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.’” – 2 Samuel 24:3-4, 10

David had taken personal pride in his accomplishments, robbing God of His glory. It is such an easy thing to do – so common to begin to think that it is you and not God who has done what has been done. The only thing I can take credit for, in all that I have done is to say “yes” to God. We must be careful that we don’t think to highly of ourselves (Romans 12:3) but always acknowledge the truth that what God calls us to do is impossible without Him. The temptation is to forget that.  If you consider the two verses before that – Paul urged the readers to offer themselves and their pride of accomplishment to God – to lay themselves down as living sacrifices and not to be conformed to the worlds way of thinking. Everything that you do for God is done by the power of God. Try to not forget that. I remind myself of that every time someone wants to give me credit because of my service. Not a bad habit to have.

This is the word of the Lord …. ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts.” – Zechariah 4:6

Shine Bright my friend and give God the glorify He is due.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

It Is Not Our Voice, But The Spirit’s That Brings Understanding

Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. – Habakkuk 3:17-19

<Journal Entry 11 August 2011> It does not matter what may fail us – we will rejoice in the Lord, He is our strength. People really are the same everywhere.  One of the workers needed a shovel – pel – but because I didn’t know what it was – he said it louder.  Maybe I was hard of hearing – I don’t think it occurred to him that I did not speak Creole. So he made a shoveling movement with his hands and arms – Oh! Shovel! Communication is a wonderful thing when it happens. Not being able to communicate can be very frustrating.  Sitting here munching on my beef jerky (thank you daughter- Audrey) drinking my lukewarm – electrolyte loaded Culligan water – (thank you Doug Moyer and John Turnbull for the electrolyte tablets) I already went through the ones I really liked.  It is very hot again today – cho anpil. <End of Entry>

Being in a foreign country I had to remind myself that it was me and not them that had the communication problem. Funny how we think that others should accommodate us.  Thank the Lord for translators! But, as I transcribed that story from my Haiti devotional notes, I was reminded of the great communication problem that Christians have – no matter what language is spoken in the country in which they find themselves. We are referred to as sojourners. The world is not our home – we are just-a passin’ through as the old Gospel song goes. As such we speak a different language -  one filled with Spiritual truth.

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom.” – 1 Corinthians 1:20-22

Don’t expect the culture you live in to understand or embrace spiritual truth – it is impossible to understand and to embrace it for a lost person is like trying to hug a porcupine. Not going to happen so long as their hearts are not surrendered by faith in Jesus and inhabited – sealed by the Spirit of God. So why are we continued to be perplexed by their rejection? I guess because we hope somehow contrary to God’s Word, they will get it and embrace it – quills or not. But truth is truth. You can quote me on that! And speaking louder will not help them understand any better.

Shine Bright my friend and glorify God with your life.  

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Do You Know God Or Just Know About God?

So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go back to its own place, so that it does not kill us and our people.” For there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. And the men who did not die were stricken with the tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven…. Now the ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months. And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we should send it to its place.” So they said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but by all means return it to Him with a trespass offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why His hand is not removed from you.” Then they said, “What is the trespass offering which we shall return to Him?” They answered, “Five golden tumors and five golden rats, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines. For the same plague was on all of you and on your lords. Therefore you shall make images of your tumors and images of your rats that ravage the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps He will lighten His hand from you, from your gods, and from your land. Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts?” – 1 Samuel 5:11-12, 6:1-6

<Journal Entry 9 August 2011> The Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant – suffered under God’s hand – acknowledged it was Jehovah God – returned the Ark – but did not turn to God. What is it about man that he can acknowledge God with his mind but not his heart. – it is because his heart belongs to another god and he is totally devoted to his god in spite of his knowledge about Jehovah God. I have been watching an old man tend his cow – taking it from patch to patch to graze. That seems to be the sum of his responsibility – his horizons – his future –  probably the source of his livelihood – simple – totally dependent upon the earth to be faithful & provide grass for his cow – the Lord actually – he may not know it – another thing he may not know is that we are putting up a fence so there will be no more open range. <End of Entry>

Actually that was not the end of the story.  I allowed him to continue to bring his cow on the property and after I had the well operational, he also watered his cow also. Before he had to walk the cow to a water source some distance each day.  A simple thing really. An act of mercy and grace.  He had not entitlement to access the property but he was granted access. How many times have I missed the opportunity to demonstrate the love of God through a simple act of kindness. We must resist the temptation to take credit for the kindness – instead we should remember that we love because God first loved us. (1 John 4:19). The grass and the water consumed by the cow was a trivial thing to me, but vital to the man and his family.  I learned his name but have since forgotten it. No matter – God knows it.

But I digress – back to the Philistines. They way that they responded to their knowledge of God is not different than today.  I am not suggesting that God has sent COVID as a punishment, just that we live in a country that rejects the Creator God. The Bible speaks to principles – like natural laws – they can be denied or ignored, but they are no less true – one of which is that we will reap what we sow.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” – Galatians 6:7-10

This is the scripture that came to mind – it is about God’s children and not about the lost.

“ … they have transgressed My covenant And rebelled against My law. Israel will cry to Me, ‘My God, we know You!’ Israel has rejected the good; The enemy will pursue him.  They set up kings, but not by Me; They made princes, but I did not acknowledge them. From their silver and gold They made idols for themselves— That they might be cut off. Your calf is rejected, O Samaria! My anger is aroused against  them—How long until they attain to innocence? For from Israel is even this: A workman made it, and it is not God; But the calf of Samaria shall be broken to pieces. They sow the wind, And reap the whirlwind.” – Hosea 6:1-7

It is a call to repentance. The Bible is a story about the Called of God. It is a love letter to His children. It causes me to examine my heart and my ways. Have I let other gods capture my heart’s devotion? Something that we don’t want to think about – but a temptation that started in the Garden that led to sin by the first Adam. A sin that was overturned by the second Adam – Jesus. 

We are so easily tempted – just like Adam was. Did God really say …. That is wrong … when so many say that it is right? The temptation to embrace what the culture says is right in preference to what God says is right and true. It is a slippery slope. Think about that in terms of 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Shine Bright my friend and glorify God with your life.  

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Monday, January 11, 2021

Trust In God Is More Than A Motto

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant [through Jesus] with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” – Jeremiah 31:31-34

I listened to a sermon yesterday – two actually – when I do my goal is to be spiritually alert – anticipating the Spirit of God prompting me with the words of the preacher.  What is said may or may not be intellectually interesting – but there are always a few spiritual nuggets that can be  gleaned from any sermon. It is all to easy to be drawn to the personality and presentation style – the performance if you will and not the spiritual truths meant to be communicated. Ah, but that is not what this devotion is about. It is about the spiritual nugget.  In one sermon that pastor showed the back of a 100 dollar bill. On it was written – “In God We Trust”. In recent years there were movements to remove the ten Commandments from public buildings – did you know that only three of the Ten commandments are upheld by laws in the United States? The commitment to following Jehovah God by faith in Jesus has never been mandated in this country – freedom of religion has been foundational since its inception.  Many of the original settlers came to this country to be free to worship and believe differently from the mandates of the government.  So what is my point? Although the Christian faith has had an influence on the course of the history in this country, although there are remnants of the influence even on our currency and in some public buildings -  they are not reflective of the society and the morality it embraces on the whole.

A motto written on a building, currency, or even a bumper sticker does not make it so. It is the “motto” written on our hearts that makes the difference. Inscriptions on buildings are not effective in testifying about Jesus to a lost world. Hand someone a 100 dollar bill and I can almost guarantee you that they will be looking at the numbers and think about how they can spend it and not that they should obey the inscription on the back and trust in God. The most effective spiritual influence we can have on others is the testimony we give in the way we live and love. We cannot change hearts – only God can do that through faith. But we can show Jesus to the world by the way we live. People may act differently around us out of respect for our faith, but that does not mean that they embrace the Word and serve our God.  But then again, they may not show us respect. In fact they may resent us for what we stand for. Something that is contrary to the life they embrace and have declared to be good. One of the pastors yesterday shared Psalm 56 which I am going to share in its entirety.

Be merciful to me, my God, for my enemies are in hot pursuit; all day long they press their attack. My adversaries pursue me all day long; in their pride many are attacking me. When I am afraid, I put my trust  in you.  In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? All day long they twist my words; all their schemes are for my ruin. They conspire, they lurk, they watch my steps, hoping to take my life. Because of their wickedness do not let them escape; in your anger, God, bring the nations down. Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll— are they not in your record?  Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me? I am under vows to you, my God; I will present my thank offerings to you. For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” – Psalm 56

David wrote that Psalm while he was being pursued by King Saul. Perhaps you can identify with  David with all the mess that is going on around us. Don’t trust in a political party, don’t trust in your retirement fund or bank account, don’t trust in the government – trust in God. Make it more than a motto. Just do it!

We must look to the hills from whence our help comes (Psalm 121) and wait on the Lord.  In the meantime, shine Bright my friend and glorify God with your life.  

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Friday, January 8, 2021

Being Faithful In Our Waiting

 “Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols), therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. So I will forsake the remnant of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become victims of plunder to all their enemies, because they have done evil in My sight, and have provoked Me to anger since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.’” – 2 Kings 21:11-15

 <Journal Entry 5 August 2011> So the Lord reviled  Manasseh and Amon. He said He would bring judgement on Israel (Judah) – but it did not happen in their lifetime – God does not use the same clock that we do – I would have thought that the Lord would have caused Manasseh to fall during his lifetime, instead it was under Jehoiakim’s reign – just because we do not suffer a consequence  in this life or in the immediate future does not mean that there is not consequence – generations have missed the Lord because they chose to worship other gods – just as it is today! Just had my breakfast – a peanut butter sandwich and a bottle of water with ½ tab of electrolyte flavor – yum! I need to get motivated! Framing in doorways in “Kay Tifi” (the girls house) and make a plan for the windows. I really don’t like the fact that Martie is not with me, but I think this time is to be used for firming up our focus and scope of ministry here (Jacmel, Haiti)  <End of Entry>

I was asked to convert 5 – 40ft storage containers into an orphanage.  That was the first of two orphanages I would oversee the construction of in Jacmel. That is another story and lesson that Lord would teach me for another time.  God intervenes in our lives and just as there are physical laws that do not change on this planet -  gravity for example – there are truths about God that prevail over time as we know it – for eternity – that do not change.  We seek God asking Him to intervene in the here and now – not in the next generation. We watch injustice and generations that have shunned God – chosen or at least accommodated other gods – we have cried out to God to intervene in our generation and set right the wrongs – but God has been apparently silent. If you think about it – there were many nations that worshipped other gods in the old testament – but the focus was not on them, for the most part – I am thinking about Nineveh and Babylon – but His focus was on His chosen people.  We want God to fix the other guy – to change their hearts and bring judgment on them. Many people make reference to 2 Chronicles 7:14 as their go-to verse for restoring this country to whatever they think it was. It is not about this country – it is about us, His children, His people. This country certainly has its merits – but it also has it demerits. We would like to think that this country has been set apart by God – like a new Israel – but, in my view, it has not been. God is concerned about the faithfulness of His children – those saved by faith the blood of the Lamb. So many have carnal hearts cloaked with a Christian wrapper believing that God can be turned on and off like a light switch. It is not a new problem.

Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.” – Matthew 23:25-26

As Christians, we are all struggling with where this United States has been and is morally – politically – socially. Hoping for God to intervene in our generation to supernaturally set things right, as if the affairs of this country are somehow more significant than those of other countries. We are a remnant living in a foreign land – not the promised land. The very fiber of our faith is being tested. Hearts that are far from God are being revealed. I was speaking with someone yesterday who was lamenting over the fact that spiritual leaders that she respected were speaking as it they were carnal.  She didn’t think that was in their nature and was discouraged.  Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45) These times will test the spiritual mettle of us all – and is.

We must look to the hills from whence our help comes (Psalm 121) and wait on the Lord.  In the meantime, shine Bright my friend and glorify God with your life.  

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Salvation Is More Than Having A Ticket To Ride

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

<Journal Entry 1 August 2011> Sitting here waiting on Ephesian (the Haitian responsible for overseeing the property before I arrived) to find the tractor key. Learning Creole is a challenge – my brain is not as quick as it once was – Kle pou tracte la – Key for the Tractor – is about it for now. Who to help – Those who come to our fence and cry “You!” because they see an American and want to ask for help. Or the children behind block walls and an iron gate who long for the comfort of a mother they don’t have – a meal to answer the call of an empty stomach – as in the middle ages – being overweight is a sign of wealth and lacking for nothing – especially food – I am a walking billboard for opulence and a life of abundance – some of the Americans that I see here boast in the sacrifices they made to come to this country – it is actually the inconveniences they encounter that they consider hardships – do I do that as well? Lord help me if I do. Do I wear the fact that I have been called to serve and endure hardship like one of the battle ribbons I wore on my Army uniform? Lord forgive me. It is not about what we have done, but about what God has done in us and is doing through us. I see Americans wanting to create “little Americas with all of the amenities and comforts they are used to – a cultural and economic bubble. Am I describing myself? I think the Lord has given me a mirror so I can see my reflection (Matthew 7:3-5)  – not being hard on myself but being alert to the temptation – self-glorification is only a short walk from right standing and right thinking. I must remain vigilant.   <End of Entry>

It is easy to focus on yourself and allow that focus to supersede or become more important to the task that the Lord has called you to. We are called to be living sacrifices (Romans 12:1) and to sacrifice, by definition, means that you must give something up. It might be living in austere or primitive conditions. It might be as simple as turning away from worldly affections and practices. Being a Christian comes at a cost – first it is possible only because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Jesus asked the Father if there was another way –

Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” – Luke 22:42-44

There was only one choice to be made – obedience or disobedience. God’s will is perfect – but it requires a sacrifice. Second –  living the Christian life requires the surrender of our will and a willingness to go and do what God requires for His purpose and glory and not our comfort. Pastor Rick Warren said, “God is not interested in your comfort but in your character.” That is a hard sell to many Christians in this country.

Our new life requires faith – sacrifice and obedience.  It is the life that Jesus lived – the life we that we are called to when we are born again. Salvation and our new life in Christ is more than a ticket to heaven.

Shine Bright my friend and glorify God with your life.  

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Time To Pray Is Now

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

<Journal Entry 31 July 2011> Went to a church today. When I arrived the people were praying- how did I know? They were all praying out loud. I imagine that is what God hears from Heaven – so many voices – it was beautiful – no faking it – just closing your eyes and thinking about lunch – if you are not speaking then you are not praying – pretty simple – not charismatic – biblical! A woman stood up and shared for about 15 minutes – everyone showed respect – next a man stood up and thanked the church for praying while he was in jail – next they sang songs – then the pastor preached on being willing to die for Jesus – not about physical death but dying to self. Then we had communion – with “real” wine. Another missionary responded the same way our granddaughter did when we were in visiting a church in Northern California when they used wine for communion. She thought that it was not right. I was reminded of Jesus speaking about the cup, it is not what man puts into his body that makes him unclean. (Matthew 15:10-11)<End of Entry>

I preached at Pastor Bichotte’s church one Sunday a month. Just a small church within walking distance of the people who attended.  Pastor Bichotte would tell the people – “Priye – Priye – Priye” which is to say “Pray – Pray – Pray” when the church would enter into corporate pray. It was not like being in a classroom when the teacher would step out of the room.  Everybody talking at once – the word that comes to mind is cacophony – (caw – cough – oh – knee). An unpleasant mixture of loud sounds. Instead it was something that was warming to my spirit. 

I was in a meeting the other day and someone spoke about their spouse having COVID and the ensuing physical problems they were having. I could see they were troubled. Someone said that they would pray. I suggested that we pray then and not later. I said “Don’t walk past an opportunity to pray. Don’t tell someone that you will be praying for them – pray for them, then and there, and then pray again later.”  All to often our promise to pray is an empty promise.  The most we do is have a well intentioned thought and then our minds refocus on the next thing.  I won’t enumerate the verses in the Bible that tell us to pray – there are many.  What I will tell you is that if it is in the Bible so many times, it must be a significant part of our relationship with one another and the Father.  Prayer in most churches is a relatively minor part of the service.  When I taught Sunday school in Alabama, I made a point to go around the room before the teaching and ask for prayer requests.  When one was given – I would ask for someone to pray right then and there. Sometimes we did not get to the teaching – but actually – I was teaching – well discipling is probably more correct.

I am sure you  have heard the term “Prayer warriors”. Praying is not a spiritual gift – it is a spiritual mandate.  One that applies to all of us. But, like living the sanctified life – some of us do it better than others. One last thought – praying is not about eloquence – you don’t have to speak in King James English to communicate with the Father. And if you still find it hard to pray – I will share this verse in closing.

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

Shine Bright my friend and glorify God with your life. And priye, priye, priye!!

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

You Are Not Alone

O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before You. Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of troubles, And my life draws near to the grave. I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength, Adrift among the dead, Like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom You remember no more, And who are cut off from Your hand.” – Psalm 88:1-5

In July 2011 I had gone ahead of Martie to Jacmel, Haiti to organize to begin the construction of the first orphanage in Jacmel. There was an RV on the property and I was sleeping in it at night – the only American on the compound – Martie was still in the States. 

<Journal Entry 30 July 2011> Sometimes it feels like we are on our own.  That God has turned His ear away from us. This is a reflective time for me – we [Martie and I] are turning a page. It makes me wish I was 20 years younger. The enemy is just around the corner – crouching – waiting – Lord be my strength – that the helmet of salvation would protect my mind. The breastplate of righteousness would guard my heart would shore me up and make me ready for spiritual battles that were ahead of me. Your Spirit will be my strength and resolve for this time.<End of Entry>

It seems like I always want to be twenty years younger. I was 61 when I wrote those words. Now I am 70 – thinking the same thing – It is a common failure on my part and perhaps yours.  Looking at the ability of the flesh in the context of what the Lord has called me to do. That is typically the first response of most Christians. What God calls us to do is to respond to Him in faith. The substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.  (Heb 11:1) His calling might be as simple as living a sanctified life in an unholy world – we often try to live that life on the strength of our will and not the Spirit of God. Or, it may be that you are called to Haiti or some other venture that requires you to put all you know and perhaps own, at risk to serve others. So you yield to the call and submit to His leading. Then doubt enters in when you encounter difficulties. You look to your abilities and feint at the thought that you cannot possibly do what you have committed to. And you will be absolutely right.

I was asked to do the impossible in Haiti, but it required total surrender to God for it to happen. I was mocked – resisted – undermined – challenged – given every reason to say “It is not worth it, it is too hard, the Lord has asked too much of me” and give up. God always calls us to do more than we can do on our own. What He tells us to do – no matter how mundane – always requires faith and trust in Him. There are times when it seems that we are abandoned – but we are not.

So he [Elijah] arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ So he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.’” – 1 Kings 19:8-10

The Lord went on to tell Elijah that he was not alone. That there were 7000 that Elijah did not know about that had not bent their knees to Baal. That was true in 2011 and it is true today.  It may seem like you are alone and the country your thought you knew is crumbling around you. That you are alone and God is not listening. Neither of those things are true. There are thousands who have place their trust in the Lord. Christians are always a minority – it is just that today we are facing adversity – not too far from persecution because following God and embracing the Word as truth means that we will be at odds with a culture that does neither of those things. Like Elijah.

I could share many verses from the Bible that reinforce that truth. But I won’t. I will tell you that we serve a God who is there and who is faithful and who is listening. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your body, and strength to your bones.” – Proverbs 3:5-8

Shine Bright my friend and glorify God with your life.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

Monday, January 4, 2021

Is Your Faith In Your Head Or In Your Heart?

if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9

There is a difference between knowing something and believing something. You can acknowledge Jesus is who He is and did what He did in your mind but knowing in your mind is not enough.  Head knowledge versus heart knowledge.  Many people go to church and fill their heads with information about God and faith, but it never makes it to the heart. Faith rests in the heart. It is that thing that causes you to act in ways that confound the natural world. To trust .. to have confidence when every natural thing around you shouts that you should not. Our mind is the gateway to our heart.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23

We used to have that verse sitting on top of our television. Our five senses are the means by which that which is external finds its way to our mind and eventually to our hearts.  Because of technology, what is on the outside has greater access to what is on the inside.  I must confess that I struggle with the enticement of accepting what I know to be contrary to the Word of God to enter my home and my thoughts. Before I was born again, profanity was a part of my vocabulary much like drinking excessively was part of my social life and private life. Typing those words seems like I am talking about someone else – I suppose in a way, I am.

“… do not give the devil a foothold… ” – Ephesians 4:27

That is all he wants – just a little bit of our attention – he will take it from there. Someone once said “Give the Devil an inch and he will become the ruler.” It is a full time job guarding your heart and your devotion to God. Your senses and your mind are bombarded with temptations to embrace the world.  The temptation to compromise your relationship with your Father. 

When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” – James 1:13-15

What may seem to be an innocent flirtation is actually the Siren’s song to sail your heart into the rocks.  What seems to be “really not a big deal” is actually your old nature being tempted. Think about this. When Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted (Matthew 4:1-11) it was Jesus – the man – that was being tempted because you know that God cannot be tempted. And so it is our old nature that is tempted – not our new nature.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

We must be careful that we do not let the things of this world, things that our old nature is willing to embrace, to find their way to our hearts. What is it that you are clinging to? Those things that if someone should tell you that what you are doing or saying is contrary to the new life you have been called to, make you defensive? Do you bristle up at the thought that someone – anyone, would challenge what you have decided is OK? When we first moved into the house we presently live in, the backyard was overtaken be peppervine.  Think Texas Kudzu.  We started fighting the plant at the point that is revealed itself, which was everywhere, but our daughter told us that we had to find the root ball.  The place where the plant originated with remove it. That is the way that the sins that we embrace are.  They are symptomatic .. they pop up in our lives but their root is what we must deal with. That which is giving birth to our sin.

Why am I writing this? Well, because I felt the Spirit prompt me to. Allowing the influence of the world into my life is something that I must defend my heart from. I imagine that you have the same struggle. Why is it important? Because we are called to be salt and light in a world that desperately needs Jesus.

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” – Matthew 5:13

We are living in a desperate time in our generation – our tendency is to focus on the trouble – but what we should be doing is focusing on being salt and light in a world that has no hope.  Look to Jesus. Guard your heart. Trust in the Lord and not your own understanding. In all your ways – that is all your ways not some of them – acknowledge God – and His right to be preeminent in your life. Resist the Devil.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” – Philippians 4:6-8

Shine Bright my friend and glorify God with your life.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone