Difficult Decisions

It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was reading a novel. My cell phone rang, and I saw the name pop up. It was someone I had a business relationship with, not a personal friend. I wondered why he was calling me on a Saturday. I mean. After all. He didn’t work on Saturdays. I wondered if he had called my number by mistake, but I went ahead and answered. He let me know that he had resigned from his position. That means he was immediately out of work. Oh. He had a new employer. But in his business, once you resigned you were out. No chance to get any information about your former clients. No two week notice. Termination is immediate.

He didn’t ask me to move my business to his new employer. He couldn’t. But we scheduled a meeting. A couple days before the meeting, I began my research on his new employer. I mean. I trusted him enough to continue doing business with him. But I wanted to find out some information about his employer. Did I agree with their business? So I did some digging. Actually though, I didn’t have to dig. A link to an article on the front page of their website told me enough. It told me that I didn’t agree with their core values.

I could see from indications on their website that our beliefs and values didn’t align. Now I have a decision to make. Can I live with myself if I continue working with this man who now works for a company that stands for things I stand against?

I have to admit. A similar thing happened a few years ago. I had gotten laid off from an employer that I loved and trusted. Then I got a new job. After the first day, I thought I would love it more than the previous job. But by the end of the first week, I knew that I couldn’t work there. After going through new hire orientation and learning more about what the company actually stood for, I realized that I didn’t believe in the business my employer did. Oh. It wasn’t illegal. But from my point of view, it was an ethics issue. And I knew it. But, of course, I couldn’t say those words aloud to my new employer. Or I would once again find myself unemployed. So I kept my mouth shut and waited it out. A few months later, I did find another job.

How do I get myself in these situations? It’s important to have convictions that I must uphold. Because, if not, what then?

Difficult convictions call for difficult decisions which call for difficult conversations. At some point, those difficult conversations must take place.

But then I consider other companies I do business, even though I disagree with their core values. I can’t have private conversations with them. And the same afternoon that I received that phone call, I saw a social media post from a company I support endorsing something else that goes against my beliefs. What am I supposed to do? I have to do business with someone.

How do I live my convictions and not be hypocritical? Is there such a thing as a pure life? I don’t think so. It seems that everyone is compromised in some area, whether we know it or not.

How am I supposed to know where to draw the line? How am I to know which hill I’m willing to die on? How am I to decide?


The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. Daniel 11:32


If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. Luke 9:23-26

Honesty is always the best policy. I know that. Sometimes saying those honest words is very difficult when you’re saying them to someone you care about. You know those honest words may cause the relationship to end, and you don’t know how that person is going to take your message. Oh. They don’t have to take it very well, and you may not present it very well. But it’s always in everyone’s best interest, as you’re speaking honestly, to speak kindly. Because how a person handles difficult conversations says a lot about them.

Lots of words can be said. Emotions will run wild. People will become sad and upset. People may say things they regret. And some people, even though they’re being honest as the messenger, upon seeing and hearing the other person’s reaction, may cave. And they may say, well, maybe it’s not so bad after all. I can go ahead and do the thing I said I wasn’t going to do. I’ll go ahead and do the thing that goes against my conscience. Just to please a person.

And when we stop to think about those kinds of actions and the results of those actions, how do we live with ourselves? Which is easier to live with? Pleasing people? Or pleasing God? Because, basically, that’s what it comes down to. If I have a conviction about something, and I act on it and tell the other person that my convictions mean that I can no longer do business with them. If I cave just to maintain that relationship, what kind of message am I sending to them? What kind of witness do I have if I cave just to make them happy? They aren’t my God. They aren’t the one I’m going to stand in front of on judgment day to give an account of my life.

Sure. Its important to build relationships and take care of them. Friendships and strong relationships are very important. But the relationship that should be most important is the one that has eternal consequences. It’s the relationship that says, at the end of the day, that my heart is right with God. And that my actions are speaking for God instead of against him. At the end of the day, do my actions match my convictions? And if they don’t, why not?

These are the questions I’m having to ask myself as I face this decision. Do I continue doing business with this person or not? And honestly, deep down I know the answer. It’s just that he left the house in an awkward goodbye. And we all felt it. In fact, a few minutes after he left the house, he called and apologized for the awkwardness. Because he did not expect our response to his decision to change employers. He didn’t expect us to say we may have to walk away from doing business with you.

Honestly, I never expected that either when I first got his phone call. And quite honestly, I don’t want to quit doing business with him. We’ve built up a strong relationship with the man. We trust him. Now, if we choose to go with another business, we have to start over with someone new. We have to develop trust, because it’s a relationship that requires trust in the person making decisions for you.

Consider the biblical principles for which the martyrs of the Reformation stood to the death.

Now consider the biblical principles about which we say, “Meh. No big deal.”

Michelle Lesley

I see more difficult decisions coming ahead for me in the near future. With different people. As I have other decisions to make. Other plans to make. And it’s hard. It’s hard to speak the truth when you know it may offend others. It’s never the point. It’s never my point to offend others. If I don’t stand for truth. If I don’t stand for my convictions, no one else will. Because they’re my convictions.

I have to live my life pleasing God, not pleasing people. Doing the right thing doesn’t always make you popular. Speaking truth doesn’t always make you popular. In fact, nowadays, it’s quite the opposite. Truth is lies and lies are truth. Right is wrong and wrong is right. Good is bad and bad is good. There’s so much of that going on that we feel like we have to silently protect our convictions.

I read articles and I watch videos of people who have stood for the right thing. They have stood for their beliefs. Some of them have lost jobs. Some have lost social positions. Some have lost friends. Money. Possessions. Just because they dared to speak the truth, in a world that has diluted the truth. And when you dilute the truth, it is no longer truth.

There are a lot of gray areas in life, but truth is black and white. It’s either right or wrong. Good or bad. Left or right. Up or down. We’ve been told that the truth will set you free, but how many times today does it bind up people? The recipients of truth today are binding it up, making truth look ugly and undesirable. And those speaking the truth are sometimes bound to be persecuted and canceled, because this culture is a selfish one. We want what we want. And we want it our way. And we want it now.

So I have decisions to make. And I’ve been much in prayer, because I want to make the right decision. I don’t want to make a snap decision, but I also don’t want to postpone it indefinitely. So my prayer is that God opens the right doors, closes others, gives me discernment and wisdom to know right from wrong. That he will give me the ability to speak truth in a way that is kind and honorable. And that I do the right thing. In God’s eyes.

Out of the Mouth

I’ve been reading through the book of Matthew this month, and you would be surprised at what I’m learning. I’m finding that this book of the Bible has much to teach me. And I must be open to learning these truths. Earlier this week, I read chapter 15 and wow! It says that whatever is in our heart is what comes out of our mouth.

Jesus gives us examples of the types of evil that are in our hearts that then spew from our mouths. Everything gets its start in our hearts. Here we go. Evil thoughts. Murder. Adultery. All sexual immorality. Theft. Lying. Slander. Greed. Wickedness. Deceit. Lustful desires. Envy. Pride. Foolishness. Just to name a few. Jesus says that these things defile us. That means we are polluted and unclean.

When we act and speak in sinful ways, the finger of guilt will point back to our heart. It’s because evil is in us. The words that come out of our mouth are sometimes well thought out. In other words, they are premeditated, the same as other acts of unkindness. But there are also words and acts that are spontaneous. Spur of the moment. Impulsive. And either way. If they’re premeditated or spontaneous, they still come from the heart.

But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you. Matthew 15:18-20

It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you. Mark 7:20-23

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. Genesis 6:5-6

God knows that we’re only evil all the time. That was not his plan for us, but we have disregarded his truth and have charted our own paths. We live as if we are our own god. When God saw all the evil on the earth, he created a plan to clean it up and start over. He caused a flood to fill the earth. It destroyed every living and breathing thing. Animal and human. But before the flood, God had commanded Noah to build an ark. Once the ark was completed, every kind of animal walked onto the ark. Male and female. One of each. And Noah’s family. Noah, his wife, their three sons and wives. They were the only survivors. They were the start of a new people on the earth.

And yet. Here we are. Over time, the earth has once again filled with people. And wickedness abounds. I wonder if God is once again sorry that he put us on the earth.


It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth. Matthew 15:11


I was driving home from the grocery store. For the past few weeks, one section of the road has been under construction. I’m not sure what type of work is being done, but it eventually closes down three lanes to two and then from two lanes to one. So, as you’re driving you have to continue moving into the next left lane. And then you find yourself and every other car in the only open lane.

So, of course, we all know what happens when there are lane closures. The people in the lanes that are closing have to move over, and those in the open lane have to make way for all these extra vehicles trying to squeeze in. Now the problem comes when people in the lanes that are closing wait until the very last second to merge into the open lanes. So when I turned left onto the road with construction, I remembered that the lanes ahead were closed. So I immediately got into the far left lane. That would mean I was in the only open lane until I turned at the upcoming light. I wouldn’t have to try to squeeze into a busy lane of traffic. But, of course, not all those coming behind me did as I did.

As we inched forward, we got past the first lane closure. Then up ahead, the second lane was closing. And, of course, up came a big vehicle wanting to get into my lane. This driver wanted to be in the exact spot I was in, and I couldn’t move. They waited until the very last second to try to move into the last open lane. And the car in front of me wasn’t allowing the vehicle into our lane. So, I begrudgingly thought to myself. I’ll let the vehicle in. So I waved him in. At the same time, here are the words I said in the safety of my car. Come on over, you idiot.

And then up came another car quickly trying to get into my lane. He would have moved ahead of me, if I would have allowed him the space. I decided no. I’m not letting a second car in. The car behind me can take their turn to let this bully car in. So I just continued on and didn’t allow the second car in.

Just as that happened, a parable in the Bible came to my memory. A father told his older son to work in the vineyard. He said no, but later felt guilty and went to do the work as his father asked. The father then told the younger son to work in the vineyard. The son said yes, but didn’t do it. Which son obeyed his father? The one who said no and did the work, or the one who said yes and didn’t work? The son who obeyed did so with a bad heart out of guilt. The other son was a liar.

You can read the parable in Matthew 21:28-32.

I found myself in a similar situation as those two sons. Which of my acts was worse? Pretending to be kind by letting the car in my lane, all the while saying unkind words with a bad attitude? Or not letting the next car in? Sure, I let the first driver in, but in my heart I was letting him know that he should have waited his turn like the rest of us. At least I wasn’t putting on an act with the second car. That’s what I tell myself. Oh. We can usually find a way to justify our actions. But that doesn’t make the act any better. An ungodly act or word is still ungodly. Nothing will change that.

I don’t know why I always have to be the example of what not to do. Just a few moments before the incident, I had been praying and asking God to forgive me for being so human. I asked him to forgive me of my bad attitude and judgmental ways. And I’d hardly spoken those words when I acted like a fool. Of course, the other driver didn’t know that. But God did, because he saw my heart. He heard my words.

I have much to learn. You would think that I would be closer to perfection. The older I get, the more I realize how much I need a Savior. I realize how much I still have to learn. There is much work ahead for this heart of mine, in this lifelong quest to be like God. It’s a never ending struggle. It’s a never ending lesson to learn.

What can and should change is my heart. Repentance. Humbling myself before my Creator, who knows my thoughts and actions. He will forgive. He is willing to clean up my ungodly heart, if I will only ask him. And then I must change the way I act and speak. And it is possible to change. The desire to be godly has to replace the desire to be my own god.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8

The Temptations of Christ

Matthew 4 tells us about Jesus being led into the wilderness by the Spirit, where he was tempted by the devil. So was that specifically the purpose of going into the wilderness? So the devil could tempt him? He spent 40 days and 40 nights there. He became very hungry. Obviously.

During that time, guess who came along? Satan. The tempter. The devil. The chief opposer of God. The number one enemy of God. And he tried to convince Jesus to tell the stones to become loaves of bread, so he could eat. He tried to get Jesus to break that fast. And Jesus refused. He said no, people live by every word that comes from the mouth of God. So when Satan realized that temptation wasn’t going to work, he took Jesus to Jerusalem. The holy city. And he took him to the highest point of the temple. He challenged Jesus. He said. If you’re the Son of God, then jump off this high point of the temple. And Satan had the nerve to quote Scripture to Jesus by saying he will order angels to protect you and they will hold you up with their hands, so you won’t even hurt your foot with a stone. Jesus responded right back and quoted Scripture, as well. The Scriptures also say you must not test the Lord your God.

Jesus put Satan in his place by reminding him that Jesus himself was God. And you don’t tempt God.

Satan still wasn’t satisfied. He took Jesus to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world. He showed him all the glory those kingdoms possessed, because kingdoms prove power. Each kingdom has a leader. And each leader is powerful. Satan told Jesus that he will give all the kingdoms to Jesus, if only he would just kneel down and worship Satan. So Satan was asking Jesus, the Son of God. God himself. To worship Satan, who had fallen from God’s grace. Satan, once an angel tried to be God, and God banished him from heaven. So Satan now was asking God to worship him. The nerve.

So Jesus commanded Satan to get out. And he quoted yet another Scripture to Satan. You must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him. So the devil left him. The angels then came and took care of Jesus.


And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13


To read the entire story of Jesus’ temptations, read Matthew 4:1-11.

When I read these short eleven verses, it lets me know that when I am tempted I too can resist Satan’s advances and evil schemes. What it tells me is that I need to know Scripture, so I can push back and throw God’s Word into Satan’s face. I need to have my heart and mind filled with God’s Word so I know how to respond to Satan. If I don’t know Scripture, how do I rebuff Satan’s advances? It’s no wonder we give in to temptation so often, because we don’t fight it. We need to fight temptation. We need to fight Satan. And that fight only comes if we are in God’s Word. If we are reading and studying the Scripture. Jesus knew these Scriptures. He learned them, the same as all Jewish boys.

So at those times when Satan was there pushing Jesus’ buttons, saying oh, I’ll give you this if you’ll just bow down to me. Or oh. I’ll give you all of these kingdoms if you only worship me. And Jesus was able to rebuff him. To push him away. Because he was centered in the Word of God. Oh. We may say well it’s because he is already God, so he already knew Scripture. He could rebuff these advances because he was God himself. But Jesus was human. When he was born into the world, he was a newborn baby. Helpless. Needy. He couldn’t talk or walk. He couldn’t care for himself. He was a human baby, and his mother had to care for him. And Mary and Joseph taught him. He was treated as any child, and he had all human emotions. He learned to resist temptation. Yes, he was a perfect child, but he was human.

Jesus had a choice to make. When he was in the Garden of Gethsemane before he was arrested, he was asking his Heavenly Father to remove this burden of physical sacrifice from him. He asked to be released from death on the cross. He knew the physical pain it would cause. And he begged for his life. And his heavenly Father said no. Jesus knew what it was like to suffer physical pain. He experienced the same temptations and desires we face. He was able to withstand those temptations that Satan threw at him. And he said no.

We, too, can say no. We must have our heart right with God and be willing to face the evils Satan may throw at us. God is bigger than Satan. God’s Word is holy and perfect. God’s Word can be the binding that strengthens us as we face temptation. We must hold God’s Word in our hearts.

Once that temptation is removed, we can be spiritually cared for. Jesus will draw close to us as we draw close to him. It’s only done by reading Scripture, saying no to Satan’s temptations and wily ways trying to convince us that he can give us anything we want. That isn’t true. Jesus is our only hope. Jesus is our only salvation. Only he can save us from our sins. Let’s stand in his strength.

I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalms 119:11

Practice the Truth

He said he felt sick to his stomach. Oh. I said. Are you not feeling well? Then he proceeded to tell me about an event his employer was planning for the community. This event was geared very specifically to support a group with a social agenda. And this man was sickened by the thought that his Christian employer might be getting involved with social justice issues that are not biblically based.

What does a person do? What does a believer do when they’re faced with a challenge such as this? When their employer, whether Christian or not, supports issues that go against the employee’s moral, ethical or biblical values. What do you do? How do you deal with that? How do you work within that system and remain employed? Do you keep the truth to yourself? Do you speak up? Do you build a campaign against the cause, creating your own cause? What’s the right thing to do? What’s the wrong thing to do?

How do we as believers today stand for truth at the risk of being canceled?

How do we speak biblical truth in a world that doesn’t want to hear it?

Have I now become your enemy because I am telling you the truth? Galatians 4:16

If someone shows no concern to submit to God’s commands, even— indeed especially—when these commands cut across our cultural ideas or our comfort, we must question the spiritual state of that person.

Unknown

As I was reading in 1 John last week, a verse jumped off the page at me. It said that if we claim to know Jesus but continue to sin, we are not practicing the truth. As believers, we must practice the truth. No matter the cost. To our liberty. To our status. To our career. To our livelihoods. Are we willing to pay the price if it comes down to it? It’s a sobering thing to consider. What would we rather lose, though? Every earthly possession? Or every eternal possession?

Our soul could be at stake if we don’t stand for the truth. If we give in to the lies that we’re being sold in social media, in the news, in Hollywood, in Washington. Where do we draw the line? What hill are we willing to die on?

Now we may not know what hill we’re willing to die on until we’re faced with it. And we may not know how we’re going to deal with it until that day comes. I totally understand that. Because honestly. I’ve not yet come to that hill in my life.

The question is. How do we as believers stand for the truth? How do we stand against certain social ideals that aren’t truth? They’re just others’ opinions, and those opinions are loud. They’re much more vocal than those who hold biblical truths but remain silent. How do we believers stand against those ideologies and maintain our Christian integrity? How do we maintain a strong relationship with God if we don’t speak up for his truths?

That’s the question we have to ask ourselves. How do we maintain that strong relationship with God, if we can’t stand for truth when the fight at this point in our culture may seem minimal? Our lives are not at stake. But at some point, our livelihood could be. How do we stand for that? How do we participate in the truth? How do we practice the truth without living a lie?

Because, the truth is, both sides believe they’re speaking truth.

Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6

We’re told we live in a postmodern world. That means that some believe truth is open to interpretation. Some view truth as a fluid, moving option. How can that be? How does truth change?


So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 1 John 1:6


It’s known that some individuals and corporations bend the truth instead of practicing it. What a shame. Why is truth not applauded and rewarded? Why is truth something we try to hide these days? Why do we seek a convenient and comfortable truth, when it isn’t truth at all?

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a restaurant with a friend. We were having a great conversation, when we suddenly lowered our voices. We were saying words that might be offensive to our neighbors at the surrounding tables. And it dawned on us. Why should we have to lower our voices when we’re having a private conversation about our faith, about our beliefs, and even about politics? Why should we have to lower our voice in public? Why can’t we speak truth around others who may not agree? Because, perhaps, the table next to us might be speaking their beliefs. And they might be in disagreement with ours. Why can’t we sit table to table and speak in private conversations without the fear of being persecuted?

This is America. This is a free country. But we’re living as if it’s not. We’re living in fear. Fear can be healthy. But we need to stand for truth, regardless of that fear. Our faith is important. Our beliefs are important. Our politics are important.

I’ve been reading about Christians in the underground church in Communist countries. These believers, who have developed a strong faith in spite of horrible persecution in their home countries, continue to share the Word of God with unbelievers. Because in those countries, people are hungry for the truth. They want to know the truth, and they’re willing to learn it at all costs. By meeting in private homes. By going out into the forest with a few people to share the gospel and to fellowship and worship in private, secluded areas. Knowing that they could be arrested at any moment.

But they do it anyway.

They share the truth. They live the truth. Even with the possibility of being arrested, persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, drugged and brainwashed. They’re willing to lose everything, including their lives, to continue standing for the truth.

I don’t know if I’m that courageous. But I know that I need to be. I know that I need to be willing and able to stand for biblical truth with the realization that I could lose everything that is most important to me.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. 1 Peter 5:8-9

We as believers in this country have had it easy for so long that we don’t know what it’s like to risk everything for our faith. Our churches don’t know what it’s like to be shut down. Our pastors don’t know what it’s like to lose their livelihood and be at risk if they preach a strong biblical message.

I fear that day is coming for us. When I see young children and new babies, I wonder if they are the generation who will be put to the test. I wonder if they’ll be the ones who will be persecuted and imprisoned and tortured and beaten and drugged and brainwashed because of their faith. Oh. I hope not. I hope they don’t meet that type of persecution. But as I look at their parents, I pray that they are strong in their faith today and are teaching their children the Word of God. I pray that they are teaching their children how to stand for truth, how to identify truth among the lies, and how to speak the truth. I pray that those parents teach their children to stand strong and to be bold, regardless of the cost. And I pray that they will realize the cost is worth it to stand for Christ.

I don’t know when that level of persecution will begin for us. I pray that we are prepared and ready. I pray for strong Christian parents to teach their children biblical truths and to engrain it into their hearts. And to have the biblical stories interwoven into their childhood memories, so they can pull out those biblical truths when they need them most. My prayer is they will be unopposed as they stand for truth. May God be with them and help them.

May God help us all.

Made to Last

Mental illness. We either have it or we don’t. Right?

I recently came across a thought that perhaps everyone suffers from some form of mental illness. Then the very next week, I sat with a couple friends. And one of them said that very sentence. Everyone probably suffers from a mental illness.

I don’t know if it’s actually true or not. But I wouldn’t be surprised.

Physical illness. It’s a fact that everyone will suffer from a physical illness during their lifetime. That’s typically what ends most lives. So we must be aware that we most likely will endure pain and suffering, at least for a season.

Spiritual illness. Some don’t ever stop and consider that they must care for their soul. The one part of each person that will live forever. The soul will live for eternity. And each of us has a choice as to where our soul will spend eternity. Heaven or hell.

Let’s think about this.

God created our human bodies. He created us in his image. What does that mean? After all, he doesn’t have a human body. He can’t die. He is perfect. He has always lived and will always live. He created the entire universe and everything and everyone in it.

Being made in God’s image means that we are made to be like him. We were created to be a visible likeness of God. God is invisible, and we’re his visible representative. How well do we represent him?


In whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind? Job 12:10


These human bodies that God created are finite. They won’t last. Oh. Some bodies have lasted over one hundred years. But that’s not so typical these days. Our bodies will break down. They will fail. Organs and limbs and parts slow down or stop working. Our five senses may become distorted.

These bodies were created to house our true self. Our soul. Our spirit. Our physical bodies are temporary shelters for the part of us that will live for eternity. It’s hard to grasp. We spend so much time maintaining this temporary shelter. We trim and we fatten. We color and we bleach. We strengthen and we weaken. We breathe in and we breathe out. We grow and we shrink. These physical bodies. We think they’re so special. But the special thing really is that they’re not meant to last forever.

Oh. These bodies are a work of art, all right. The Master of the Universe created these mortal bodies to serve him while we are on this earth. He didn’t plan for them to last forever. He has a permant body planned for each of us, if we surrender our lives to him. A new body will be given to us in the far future, when he creates the new heaven and the new earth. So for now, these bodies are the only ones we have. Let’s care for them.

These temporary shelters of our soul will fail. Our hearing will diminish. Our eyesight will dim. Our muscles will atrophy. Our steps will falter. Our minds will fail. But our soul will live on. Just as our physical bodies are mortal, our souls are immortal.

All the while this is happening, we must be strengthening our soul. I have to ask myself. Do I make sure I spend as much time strengthening my soul as I do strengthening my body? I feed this temporary body fruits and veggies, among other things. What do I feed my soul? Is my soul diet filled with junk food? What do I fill my heart and mind with? Do I ever trim the fat from my unhealthy soul? Do I exercise my soul? The part of me that will live forever. How healthy is my soul?

The soul of a human is the only part that is made to last for eternity. We feed our soul by building faith. We must guard our soul from Satan’s advances. He’s out to get our soul. We must fight for the health of our soul by digging deep into God’s Word. We must refuse to give ourselves over to Satan’s control. We must surrender to God and not give Satan a fighting chance. Oh. He’ll fight all right. But eternity is a long time to spend with someone who hates you. Jesus loves us. Spending eternity with him will be heaven on earth.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

Empty-Handed

It hit the headlines last week. The divorce of the millenia. One of the wealthiest men on earth and his wife of 27 years are divorcing. Oh. It wasn’t a surprise to him when she filed. It had been in the works for some time. Apparently. She met with divorce attorneys two years ago. Perhaps it took that long to divide the wealth they had amassed over the years. But at some point, long before the d-word ever came up, they had put in motion the separation plan. The backup plan. The disaster recovery plan that apparently couples think they need. But then again, when you’re talking about that much money and that much property and that much wealth, maybe a plan should be in place. I don’t know. That won’t ever be my issue. And I hope and pray that the d-word never comes out of my mouth as a threat or a promise to the man I vowed for better, for worse, till death us do part.

But now they’re divorcing. They’ve been living separate lives for awhile. He told his golfing buddies that the marriage was loveless. What does that even mean? How did it become loveless? Doesn’t a marriage become loveless when love is forgotten? When acts of sacrifice and forgiveness, when the sharing of ideas and plans, when the thought of being one is pushed aside? Did they not put as much time into their marriage as they put into making money? Over time, the marriage became loveless.

If what I’m reading in the news is true, the marriage started out on rocky ground. He had the gall to ask his wife if he could have a weekend each year with a former girlfriend. Who does that? That must have started the marriage off on the wrong foot. Why a wife would have allowed that is beyond me. Perhaps she had her own secret requests. That hasn’t come out in the tabloids, but other news have come out about his secret desires. His other women. I guess it’s safe to say that money doesn’t buy happiness or faithfulness. Is it true that the more you have, the more you want?

Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. Ecclesiastes 2:10-11

When we have conquered our financial and business goals, what other goals are left to conquer? Oh. He’s purchased the bulk of private farmland in this country. He has ownership in a couple of fake meat companies. He wants humans to stop eating beef. He’s willing to fork over money to try an experiment to block the sun. He wants us to become a cashless society. Meanwhile, I ask, will he continue eating beef while he is demanding that the rest of us remove it from our tables and diets? Will he vacation at the beach after he blocks the sun? Will he wish he had a wad of cash when his digital currency fails? Will we who have not amassed fortunes be used as pawns when we’re expected to do his bidding? And he calls only the marriage loveless, as he’s trying to control the rest of creation? Who does he think he is?


Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14


He is not God. Oh. He’ll face God one day, and he’ll give an account for all his actions. He’ll give an account for all those weekends with his mistress. He’ll give an account for trying to stop the sun that God created. He’ll give an account for all the money he’s made. Sure. He’s become a philanthropist. Because what else do you do with money that you don’t need. That you can’t spend on your own, because you already own so much. You already have the best of everything. And you vow not to leave your self-amassed fortune to your children. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, but aren’t his children more important to him than other people’s children? Sure. His kids have had the best advantages. The best of everything. I’m sure they’ve attended the best schools. I hope for their sake that they can do well and live the lives they’re accustomed to. That sure would be a drop in status and comfort if they can’t, if that’s important to them.

What about the mother of his children? Apparently, she’s appalled at some of the people he associated with. What was it that turned her to the divorce lawyers? I don’t need to know. Personally, I don’t want to know. It’s none of my business. But when you’re already so well known for your billions and for your donations, I guess it’s only appropriate to be knows for your failures and flaws, too. Because they won’t stay hidden forever. We can try to hide our failures and flaws. Our mistakes. Our annual trysts. But there’s one who’s keeping record of all that. And he doesn’t miss anything. He. Doesn’t. Miss. Anything.

And we live our lives as if no one knows the things we do or say or think. We live as if we’re immune or exempt from God’s judgment. We can fly under the radar for awhile. Sometimes. At different times in our lives. But we never fly under God’s radar. Someday, we’ll be seen on judgment day. It’s an important day that people choose to ignore. Or maybe they don’t know that a judgment day is coming.

Perhaps this man who’s gained so much and given so much also has much to lose. If on his judgment day, the right choice on his part was never made. That act of humility and repentance for his sins. If that was never noted in his life and written in his record. If all his sins have not been wiped out and erased, then all the wealth you can afford. all the houses. all the women. all the inventions. all the plans and dreams and schemes. all the philanthropy. will be worthless. They won’t matter. Because you can’t take any of that with you to eternity. Those things won’t impress God or change his mind. In eternity, you will stand bare before God.

We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. Ecclesiastes 5:15

So that’s what he has to look forward to, just as you and I do. It seems a little daunting. That day of reckoning. Because we all will be humbled as we are made to recall all of our good deeds and evil deeds. Good intentions and evil intentions. Good words and evil words. They will all be on display. Not for the entire world, but between us and our Maker.

So as I think about this man, some of his life that he thought was hidden is now being made public. Should he have been a little more cautious, a little more careful, a little more selfless? Some people say he’s selfless, because of his philanthropy. Philanthropy is one thing. Good morals is another. But he will stand before God. I’m not his judge. I don’t want to be his judge. My prayer for him is that he gets right with God and he bows to the Creator on his own will, before there’s no choice but to do so.

God Speak

Let your conscience be your guide. They say. But should you?

Our conscience is our inner sense of right and wrong.

I’ve often wondered how God speaks to us. There are many different ways He speaks to us. And I know I’ve said that God speaks to us through our own conscience. But then, in the back of my mind, I wondered is that really true? Is our conscience from God? Do we get cues from God through our conscience? I wasn’t really sure about that.

But then earlier this week, I was reading my Bible. And this verse jumped out at me.

They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. Romans 2:15

This tells me that God created my conscience. He shapes my conscience if I allow Him to work in my life. The only way that my conscience will continue to be pliable is if I seek truth. By seeking truth, regardless of the cost, my conscience will be nudged in a way that lets me know right from wrong. My conscience will let me know if I have wronged someone through my words or actions. If I continue to follow my own path, I have exchanged my will for God’s order for my life. Is that what I want?

Romans 2:16 says a day is coming when God through Jesus Christ will judge everyone’s secret life. That means my own thoughts are known by God. And that if I have evil intent in my heart, but I don’t speak it or act on it, I still will be judged on it. Because from the heart, the mouth speaks. From the heart, the hand acts. What is within me comes out. My conscience can be the red flag that speaks up. In a sense, to say hey, wait a minute. You were wrong to think that. You were wrong to say that. You were wrong to do that. So my conscience plays a huge part in my relationship with God.

If I allow God to continue to speak to me and to work in and through me, my conscience has to be very pliable and moldable. My conscience is not my God. It’s from God. He made my conscience to know right from wrong. And if I make it a practice to lie. To gossip. To slander. To judge. To blame. To hold grudges. Bascially, if I make a practice of sinning, my conscience will harden. My conscience will be corrupt to the point where I don’t recognize evil as evil. Because over time, it will seem good to me to put down others. To slander others. To point the finger of blame at someone else when I’m the guilty party. When I’m the one who says those wrong things or untruths about someone else. My conscience won’t even move. It will be so stiff as a board that it will not recognize the truth. So the health of my consicence is the thermometer on my relationship with God. It shows how close I am to Him or how far I am from him.


Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. 1 Timothy 1:19


Now I may be a sensitive person, and my conscience may nudge me very easily. Even if I’m not a Christian. There are good people who aren’t Christians. There are concientious people who know right from wrong and choose to do right. But if their sins haven’t been forgiven, they aren’t Christians. If they haven’t asked God to forgive their sins, they aren’t Christians. Yes, they have a conscience but that puts them in a different category. They’re good people. Good people aren’t always Christians.

We need to be moldable. We need to regularly read God’s word. We need to demonstrate that God’s law is written on our hearts. So our consciences will let us know when we are doing right and when we are doing wrong.

Let’s listen for God’s voice. Let’s stop and wait for that nudge of our conscience to let us know if we are on the right track or not. Or if there’s something we should be doing that we aren’t. Sometimes we don’t do the things we should. Our conscience will let us know that. Because we know right from wrong. At the end of the day, we know right from wrong. It’s our choice what we do. It’s our choice what we say. It’s our choice what we think. We are moldable. We are made in the image of God.

Have we become so dull as people that we can’t recognize wrong when we see it? When we hear it? When we think it? Have we become such hardened people that we don’t want to know the truth? That we don’t want to hear the truth? That we don’t want to think the truth? When we read something, can we separate the truth from lies? If we say something, do we recognize if we’re lying or if we’re speaking truth? When we see an act, do we recognize it for truth or for lies?

Have we become so dull that we can’t separate truth from evil? What have we gotten ourselves into if we only see wrong as right and right as wrong. If we see only lies as truth and truth as lies. How have we gotten this far from God? Can we get back to him as a nation, as a people, as an individual? We need to fall on our knees and repent. It’s not too late yet. But there’s coming a day when it will be too late.

Let’s not wait.

Our actions are our outer voice. Our conscience is our inner voice. Since we are created in the image of God, we have an inner law that guides our conscience. We have a moral law within us that will either accuse or excuse our moral choices. Perhaps it’s time to perform a checkup on our consciences. How we would rate?

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. Romans 8:5-8

And When They Are Old

This time of year, my mind always goes back home. It’s this time of year that I became an orphan. No. I wasn’t a child. Or a teenager. I was a self-supporting, happily married adult. And I still am. But seven years ago this week, my mother passed away unexpectedly. And eleven short days later, my father passed away. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of them.

No. We weren’t expecting to lose our parents so close together. It was unplanned. Unexpected. Unwanted. But there it was. And we were left reeling in grief. We had two parents to bury and one farm to sell. The sale was bittersweet but necessary.

My parents taught their seven kids about God. They loved God and lived for him. They taught us by example. No. They weren’t perfect, but they were godly.

Every night before bedtime, we gathered in the living room. My dad pulled out the old Bible story book and read us a story. Straight from the Bible. Then we knelt to pray. One night, my dad would lead in prayer. And then the family would recite the Lord’s prayer. The next night my mom would lead in prayer.

I can picture my dad sitting in his office each morning reading his Bible and spending time with God. I can see him preparing his Sunday School lessons. I remember seeing him writing his tithe checks. I can still hear my mother, through the closed door, praying for each of her kids by name during her morning devotions. I remember the day that my mom asked me, after I returned home from youth camp, if I had asked Jesus into my heart. I remember the day she suggested that I start having daily devotions. She was interested in making sure I had a close relationship with God. Both of my parents were.


Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6


I have lived faithfully for God ever since I asked Jesus into my heart as a child. I have read the Bible from cover to cover. I spend time in prayer. That’s what my parents taught me, and that’s what they did. I don’t do it to be like them, although they were good Christian examples. I read my Bible and pray so I can become more like my Savior, Jesus Christ.

My parents had their own personal relationships with God. Now I too have my own relationship with Him. My prayer is that my parent’s prayers and teaching will be honored by my faithful life. But my relationship with God is my own to develop and grow and maintain. I can’t expect their faith to save me. I must have my own faith.

My parents taught me well. Their godly example is stamped on my memory. I want to be like them. But, more than ever, I want to be like Jesus. They led me in the way I should go, so now that I’m older I won’t forget it. Their biblical lifestyle and teaching has led me down the path of godliness. I hope my life would make them proud. But at the end of the day, it shouldn’t be their approval that I seek. I seek only to know and be known by my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Now as I’m getting older, I find that I want others to see Jesus in me. I want others to see that my life lines up with the biblical teaching of my parents. I want others to see that I faithfully follow and serve Jesus Christ. Make no mistake. It’s a daily decision to follow God. I have to make the choice for myself to live a holy life. I can’t piggyback my faith off of my parent’s faith. My faith is my own. My faith is my responsibility. My parents were my teachers and mentors. Oh. Let all who come behind us find us faithful.

Balm in Gilead

I saw her walking up the sidewalk toward me. I was out with my dog, and I hoped we would move before she ran into us. I didn’t recognize her, at first. She looked sad. There was no smile of greeting or warmth on her face. But I didn’t know her, so I didn’t expect her to be enthusiastic about someone being on the sidewalk with her.

Then I heard a vehicle approaching, so I turned to look. It was a minivan. The driver waved, and I waved in response. Then I noticed the dog in the window. Oh. It was the neighbor a few doors down. And this was their teenage daughter. The family had come looking for her.

She crossed the street and the van’s side door opened. Before she entered the van, I heard the dad’s voice speaking loud and stern. Unsure of what was being said, and being more sure that I didn’t want to overhear the conversation, I turned my back and tried to hurry my dog along. This wasn’t a conversation I needed to hear.

But the van sat there for a few minutes. Hopefully, they were able to work through their differences enough to have a good evening. I guess I’ll never know. But I hope to see the family’s smiling faces as they walk through the neighborhood soon. They seem to be a pleasant family.

Doesn’t every family have their ups and downs every now and then? Your family life may look perfect on social media and to strangers. But what they don’t know may be what’s killing you. 

Just two days later, another teenage girl in my city ran into her house and grabbed a knife. She ran outside and saw one girl knocked to the ground and then began lunging the knife at second girl. Four shots rang out. The attacker’s life was ended by a police officer attempting to save another girl from being stabbed.

Trouble is running rampant in every city and town. Family members are at odds with each other. Neighbors harbor anger and bitterness against each other for no good reason. 

We are living in troubled times.


The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.
Psalm 24:1


The first brothers in the Bible were not alike. They both offered sacrifices to God. One was pleasing. One was not acceptable. So the brother with the unacceptable gift acted out. He was jealous. In his anger, he killed his brother. Cain killed Abel. Imagine being their parents. The first parents on earth suddenly had their family torn apart by an unnecessary act. Suddenly this family that was created by God was torn apart by evil.

Oh. We could say they had it coming, because Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the middle of the garden. The forbidden fruit. And that introduced sin and evil into the world. So we could blame them. Yes, we could. Ever since that day, evil has not stopped. It’s been running rampant throughout history since the moment they took that bite. So we could say Adam and Eve are to blame. And why shouldn’t evil touch their family in a terrible way after what they did to the rest of mankind. That’s what we could say.

But today, there is evil still running rampant all over the place. It’s swirling around us. Amongst us every day. Sometimes we can see the evil happen. Other times, we’re protected from it.

I think of the story of another family in the Bible. Another family with two sons. The younger son wanted his inheritance while his father was still alive. He wanted his inheritance now. So his loving father gave it to him. The son left home and spent all his money in evil ways. And just when he was out of money and hungry, having to eat food he was feeding to the pigs, he remembered his father. He went home. His older brother, in anger and jealousy, asked why they were celebrating his return. Two brothers who were different had different ways of showing loyalty and love to their father. They were both celebrated by their father in spite of their differences. One thought dead was alive. One who had been faithful was angry and confused.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. Genesis 6:5

Today in this world there is so much evil. It seems that it can’t be overcome, and it seems to be increasing. Words are said in anger. Attitudes go unchecked. Poor decisions are made. Evil intentions are stored in our hearts. It doesn’t have to be that way. But it is, because this world is full of evil and sin. Yes. It’s because Adam and Eve ate that forbidden piece of fruit. That was the start of the downfall of mankind.

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? Jeremiah 8:22

But there is hope. There is a Savior. There is a way to live above the evil. There is a balm in Gilead who sets the spirit free.

I know the Bible says we are only evil all the time. And yes, we are. But we have choices. We can choose to step around. To step over the evil. We can avoid evil. We can say no. Families are in trouble these days. This world is not safe. This world is unsteady. Even though this world keeps spinning around as was commanded by God in his creation. This earth and everything in it is the Lord’s. All of the people on this earth are the Lord’s. God’s intent was for us to be his and live for him. But because of that first bite from the piece of fruit, things changed. There is no going back to a pure world. But we can strive for purity in our hearts.

The answer is seeking God. Seeking God with all our hearts. Asking for forgiveness for our sins. Living a pure life. Reading and studying the Bible. Praying. Spending time with fellow believers, those who are as hungry to be in a relationship with God as we are. We can’t do it alone. We need each other. We really do need each other. But we need words of encouragement. Words of love. Words of correction. We need to change our attitudes and our intentions. We don’t have to be evil. We can fight the devil. We can say no to his ways and his schemes. We can end relationships with people who are out to hurt us.

We don’t have to buy into the negativity and destruction that’s happening in this world. We can look for truth. We can know truth and stand for truth. But the truth comes from God’s word. We will always find the truth in God’s word. God’s word never changes. God’s love never changes. He wants all of us to be with him in eternity. Let’s make that choice to live pure lives. To live above the fray of evil. We don’t have to get caught up in that web of deceit and lies and anger and hurt and confusion and fear. Yes, I know that life is uncertain. But God isn’t. God is always certain. God is always sure. God never changes. His love for us is eternal. Let’s give our lives to him so we can live with him in eternity. We are his. Let’s live like it.

Stand Up

The story is all over the news. I’ve read the account. I’ve watched the video. A black man was killed by a white cop. The video shows her saying she was going to taze him. Instead. She pulled out her service weapon and shot him. He did not survive. Two lives changed forever. Two families changed forever. Another city filled with rioting and violence. Some say the shooting was a misjudgment. Others say it was intentional. She’s already lost her job and been charged with a crime. Both families are in mourning.

There’s another person in the story who is trying to keep their head down. They’re trying to keep the focus off themselves. Initially, the city manager boldly and publicly stated that there would be due process in investigating the incident. But the mayor didn’t agree. So the city manager and the police officer have both lost their jobs. But these aren’t the individuals who are trying to lay low. They’ve already been laid low. They’ve been placed in a position they never thought they would be.

One of the council members said she felt the city manager was doing a great job. She liked his work. But when asked to vote whether he should lose his job or not, she voted to remove him. She placed her vote against him, because she was afraid she would be personally targeted if she agreed with him. She didn’t want rioting and persecution on her home front. So she voted to fire him. Even though he was just doing his job. Even though he had done nothing wrong. She voted to get rid of him, because her approval of him would bring unnecessary, unwanted attention on her. Apparently, she disagrees with due process.

Here’s the thing. She thought he was doing his job well. She supported his work. But in his moment of need. When he was doing what the law allowed him to do by giving his police officer a fighting chance to tell her side of the story. She voted no. This council member instead voted to protect herself. Her well being was more important than anyone else’s.


Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10


I read another story this week. It was about a man named Peter who had been traveling from city to city preaching the good news of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. He was telling others that this Jesus was the Son of God who died on the cross and rose to live again. He was sharing this story in all the Jewish towns. And then one day as he waited for lunch, he had a vision. As a Jew, he only ate certain animals that were considered clean. But God showed him in this vision that nothing was off limits. He could eat any meat he chose. As he came out of the trance, visitors knocked on the door.

A man named Cornelius lived in a nearby city, and also had a visit from God. God instructed him to invite this Jew into his home to hear the good news that he had previously only been sharing with Jews. He sent for Peter, who had just seen a vision from God. And Peter realized that God was telling him that the good news of salvation was for everyone, not just for the Jews. So he went to the nearby city and shared the story of salvation with Cornelius and those in his household.

What if Peter had said no? What if he said that he was afraid for his personal safety and wanted nothing to do with sharing the truth of God’s love to anyone in need? What if Peter had refused? What if he hadn’t obeyed God? The Gentiles, those who weren’t Jews, wouldn’t have heard the story of salvation.

Peter’s obedience and willingness to move outside his comfort zone opened the message to a lost group of people. His faithfulness in sharing God’s message of love and forgivenesss brought salvation to anyone who was not a Jew.

I wonder. How often do we keep quiet or vote for our own comfort, when we have the opportunity to stand up for truth and reason? How often do we put someone else’s need before our own?

Don’t we realize that there is someone else standing in the fire with us? There is someone parting the seas for us to walk through? Even during times of testing and persecution, God is with us. He never leaves our side. We must keep our eyes on him. 

Even when we are uncertain about what lies ahead, we know who is holding our hand. And we walk forward regardless of the consequences. Sometimes doing the tough thing is the best thing we can do.