Tattle Tale, Tattle Tale

Oh. Their long wait was over. Seventy long years had ended, along with their exile to Babylon. The Israelites were now free to return home to their country. God had punished them for disobeying and ignoring his commands. So they had been conquered by the Babylonian army and moved to a strange land. Sure. God had spoken through his prophet, Jeremiah, who told them their stay would be only seventy years. And then they would return home. Seventy years seems such a short time once it’s over. But to be a young person at the start of those seven decades was one thing. To be on the back end meant your life had passed you by in a foreign land. Your life was lived not of your choosing. But you were alive. And now you were free to go home. So home they went. They were survivors. They were the chosen remnant.

But when they got home, they realized that others had moved into their land as it stood mostly empty all those years. There were squatters living in their cities. And those squatters had their own way of living. And it didn’t fall in line with what the Israelites knew to be true. So they were at odds. But one thing the Israelites knew was that they had been advised to start rebuilding the temple of God. So they began the work.

But there were those who just couldn’t stand it. The squatters were upset by this new development. Their new neighbors, who rightfully belonged in this city, were rebuilding the temple of God. And the usurpers of the land, those who had moved in while the Israelites were in exile, were upset that the Israelites were obeying God’s command. So the newbies did what immature people do. They tattled on their neighbors. They wrote a letter to the king and demanded that he instruct the Israelites, the chosen people of God, to stop their work on the temple. And their immaturity won out. The king demanded all work on the temple be stopped. And so it did. The Israelites stopped rebuilding the temple. For fifteen years, no more work was done on it.

And then the king died. And the Israelites resumed work on the temple. After all, that was the command they were given when they had returned to their country. Rebuild the temple of God and observe his commands. And yet they hadn’t been able to complete the work. Now was their chance to make things right and finish the temple.

But once again, the newbies complained. They wrote another letter, this time to the new king. And in their second complaint letter, they asked the king to research the court archives to see if there was any reference to work on the temple. Lo and behold! There was. The king told them in no uncertain terms that work was to begin immediately. And he told the newbies that they must pay for all the work. And all the supplies. Anything the Israelites needed to finish the temple was on them. And if they didn’t obey, their lives would be taken from them. Wow. So the newbies bowed to the commands, and the temple was completed.


You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. Genesis 50:20


I’m reminded of the many stories of the Israelites. Year over year, they refused to obey God. They refused to follow his commands. They ignored his threats of punishment and exile. Yet he still loved them. After all, they were his chosen people. But enough was enough. He wanted them to love him and pledge to him their allegiance. Oh sure. They did from time to time. They repented. But their humility and devotion to him was short-lived. And then they went back to living life their way. And when God had finally had it, the Israelites were once and for all defeated and taken as exiles to the foreign land of Babylon. Oh. God had promised this would happen unless they repented. And they never repented. So they were punished. He had promised seventy years of exile in Babylon. And that’s exactly what happened.

But God also knew that those who had defeated his chosen people and taken them prisoner were evil. He knew they needed to be punished for harming his chosen ones. Being against God’s chosen people was the equivalent of being against God. And that’s not a winning combination. So God made sure that eventually the Babylonians were destroyed. All because they defeated the Israelites.

Just know that Satan will always find someone to oppose God’s work. Someone is always gullible enough to do Satan’s bidding. But also. Just know that those who oppose God’s work and give in to Satan’s scheming will be on the list of those punished by God. Oh. God doesn’t forget those who oppose him. If they never repent and confess their sins, they will be exposed on judgment day. Make note of it.

And there’s more.

God had plans for the Israelites who had returned to Babylon. Although their efforts to rebuild the temple were stopped, God knew that the work would eventually be restarted. And so he had his people wait for fifteen long years. But he wasn’t worried. If they had continued the work, they would have paid for it out of their pockets. But by waiting, God turned their enemies plans on their heads. The squatters paid for all the repairs and supplies. The Israelites rebuilt the temple debt free. Thanks to God’s timely planning.

Oh. God doesn’t forget his people in need. When the people of God are being used and abused, he sees it. When his people are being tortured and tormented, he sees their pain. The suffering of God’s followers does not go unnoticed. In due time, God will repay those who harm his people. So when we think we can’t continue on in a state of abuse or oppression, know that our ultimate reward is eternity with God. All suffering will not be in vain. God is our redeemer.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

The human body is a work of art. Actually, it’s a masterpiece. It was designed by One who created everything else in the universe. And yet after all animals and plants were created, he knew that something was missing. Something important. He needed someone to fellowship with. So he created man. And boy. Did he think of everything in this creation. He not only created man. But he created woman. Two parts that together are whole.

And even before birth, God has specific plans designed for every individual. He doesn’t overlook anyone. From fertilization to the last breath, God has planned each moment of life. Each moment is designed to honor God. He knows how many breaths each of us will take. He knows those who will never breathe outside the womb. And he knows why they won’t. But his love covers all of us.

This artist’s work is complex. He created bones and ligaments. Fascia and muscles. Organs and follicles. Orifices and senses. He thought of everything a body would need in order to survive. Eyes for seeing. Ears for hearing. Nose for smelling. Skin for touching. Tongue for tasting. Brain for thinking. There’s nothing more or less that a body needs in order to do its job.

God knows his creation so well that he can read our minds. He knows our thoughts without them being spoken. He knows our intentions. And he sees our actions. He knows the movements of our body and the natural abilities we have. Who wouldn’t be in awe of this amazing masterpiece?

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalms 139:13-16


So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27


While it’s true that God created a masterpiece when he created the human body, we must remember that he never makes a mistake. When we’re unhappy with our body type or our facial structure, God isn’t. He didn’t create everyone to look exactly alike. He’s much more talented than that. He made each one of us unique. You may think your nose looks like a beak. And I think my short fat fingers look stubby. We don’t all need a slimline nose or long slender fingers. Stubby fingers can feel and poke the same as long ones. A beak of a nose can still smell the calming fragrance of lavender the same as a slim nose. Bald heads are just as attractive as full heads of hair. Gray hair tells a story that black, brown, red or blond hair can’t. We worry about the most senseless things when it comes to our appearance. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Some things are just better left untouched.

God only made two sexes. Male and female. You’re either one or the other. Nothing you or anyone else can do to your body can change that. Regardless of how desperate you are or what extremes are attempted, your sex was God ordained. Oh. Sure. We’re told that we can change our pronouns and our name. We can chop off body parts and create simulated ones. It doesn’t change our DNA. When we stand before God on judgment day, he’ll see us as he created us. Not as we’ve re-created ourselves. Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.

The two bodies need each other. Male and female. That’s the natural order of reproduction. It takes one of each to create another human. Only females can get pregnant and deliver a child. Man cannot. If a man gets pregnant and delivers a baby, then the one who says he’s a man is really a woman trying to be a man. It’s not rocket science. But it is science. God ordained science.

We may think we can fool mother nature, but we can’t fool our heavenly Father. He is the one and only Creator. When we mess with his design, we will answer for it. Because when God created mankind, he saw that his creation was very good. That’s what he saw. If he didn’t like what he saw, he would have done things differently. He doesn’t make a mistake. Make no mistake about it. God’s handiwork is perfection. Let’s not meddle with it.

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! Genesis 1:31

Life’s Declaration

She ascended to the throne at her quarter century mark. She spent the next seventy years serving her country. Oh. She’s a face that everyone recognizes. Her bright dresses made her stand out. As she wanted. She wanted to be easily spotted in a crowd. She was a private soul who was thrust into a position she never asked for, but she took it on with pride and dignity. She would have been happy living a quiet, simple life with her family. But no. It wasn’t to be. So she vowed to perform her duty whether her life be long or short. And indeed, it was a long life. Everyone knew who she was. Ninety-five percent of everyone living on this earth know of no other queen of England but her. She’s outlived most leaders. She’s met more world leaders than anyone else. She’s raised corgis and horses. She liked to drive fast. From the outside looking in, she lived a charmed life. Oh. If only walls could talk.

She often spoke publicly about her faith in God. She had a deep abiding and unwavering faith that may have surprised some. Even when tragedy and trials came to her family, her faith stood strong. I wonder if at times that was the only thing she could count on. After all, she was the queen. She couldn’t share her troubles with just anyone. She may have lived a godly life, but she wasn’t God. She may have been of the royal bloodline, but she wasn’t God. She needed God just the same as every one of us.

Her life had not originally been mapped toward becoming queen. Her father was the second born, and only the first born was in the line of the throne. But the first born abdicated, so her father unexpectedly became king. So her life’s trajectory was changed at an early age. And when her father was crowned the new king of England, her path was set. She was to one day be queen. And not just for a day. While on a trip, she learned that her father had suddenly passed away. And now she was the queen. How sobering. And how unnerving. Oh. She knew the day would come, but she never expected it to happen at age twenty five while she was raising a young family. But duty called and she answered the challenge wholeheartedly.

As she spoke to her country, she vowed a lifetime of service to them. And that is what she gave. Humbly. Quietly. Politely. A servant to her people. She was dearly loved and will be dearly missed by those who knew her and those who wanted to know her.

I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.

Queen Elizabeth II

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1


As followers of Christ, wouldn’t it be a reasonable thing to make a vow to serve God our whole lives? Wouldn’t it be great if all who claim to be Christians devote themselves wholeheartedly to the service of their holy God for as long as they lived? What if we who say we’re committed to following Christ actually keep that commitment for our entire lifetime? Whether it be short or long. It’s a daily commitment. One step at a time. One decision at a time to continue down the path of faithful, holy living. Because, after all, we are in the great imperial family of God. We are his servants. We are to humbly bow before him and his will. Each and every day. With each act we take, honoring God is our goal when we say we’re committed to following him.

Making no claims of royalty, we who are children of God must live as children of God. With holy purpose and intentions. Serving faithfully even when life is tough. Even when tragedy befalls us. God’s mercies are ever sustaining even when life seems cruel. When the rug is pulled from under us, God’s word still stands. He never changes. So why should our devotion and commitment change when life hands us lemons?

Oh. We may not have the royal crown on our heads just yet. But we can live as if we do. We can move in this world as heirs to the throne of grace. Because we are. We’ve been given the gift of eternal life with Jesus Christ our Lord. Let’s live with holy purpose.

And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Romans 8:17

You Never Know

Last fall, she succumbed to the virus that’s been making headlines for over two years. Her family and friends were stunned. She had two teenage boys. She had everything to live for, but her time was up. A few weeks ago, her boys were in an ATV accident. The younger boy was unharmed. The older boy, who turned eighteen the day after the accident, had massive brain damage. He has now been reunited with his mother. Nine short months and the family has been reduced by fifty percent.

It’s devastating. It’s unsettling. Family and friends once again gathered around this small family to grieve and mourn. A life gone too soon. No one knows the right words to say. No one knows the right things to do. Just be there. Share a hug. And tears. And a prayer.

My mother had a famous saying when she heard news of an unexpected death or serious illness of a family member or friend. Well, you never know. Is what she’d say. And it’s true. You never know what can happen in life. We need to be prepared to be unprepared for what life throws at us. Because you just never know.

I recently had to purchase a new vehicle. It was unexpected. But one of our vehicles was involved in a mishap that pushed the value of the car underwater. Plus, the expense of the repairs we were continuing to endure shouted that a new purchase was upon us. We didn’t want it to happen. We were planning to keep the car for a few more years and just deal with occasional repairs. Time was not on our side. So we traded up for a newer vehicle in the hopes that it will last for many miles and many years. Only time will tell. You never know.

Another time, we were caught in a flash flood. A rapid rise in water outside the restaurant left us stranded for hours inside the building, while our vehicle sat under water. The car never started again. It was a total loss. Unexpected. Unplanned. You never know.

She got the test results. It was unexpected to hear the word “cancer”. But it was true. She was diagnosed with a terrible disease and was unprepared for what lay ahead. Treatment. Surgery. Hospitalization. Long, slow recovery. Unclear prognosis. Only time will tell if she is in remission. You never know.

Three times in an eight-year period, I heard the devastating words. You are no longer needed in this job. You are done with this company. Three times I filed for unemployment, unsure of what the future would hold. Three times, after months of looking and applying for many jobs, I gained new employment. Hoping against hope that those words would never be said again to me. Only time will tell. You never know.


So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return. Matthew 25:13


We’ve been hearing the same warning for many, many years. Basically, all our lives. And even before our time, the word was out. Jesus is coming again to gather all believers who have repented of their sins. They will be with him in eternity. No one knows the day. No one knows the hour. No one knows when it will happen. Only God himself knows when Jesus will come back to take us out of this world. And at this very moment, he is preparing a place for us to be with him on that day.

Oh. Some think it’s a hoax. Some say it’s never happened yet, so we still have some time. Others believe the time will be upon us shortly. The Bible tells us that Jesus will return like a thief in the night. We will be going about our daily business, expecting life as usual. And then. Bam! The eastern sky will open and Jesus will appear. I imagine time will appear to stand still. And those who have bowed before God and confessed their sins will rise to meet him in the air. Everyone else will be left on this earth to fend for themselves. Rest assured, this will happen. And it will only happen once. So we must be ready for it at all times.

Jesus said his coming back to Earth would be like a thief in the night. No, Jesus isn’t a thief. He didn’t come to rob and steal and harm. He came to give eternal life. Oh, he’s coming back. The first time He came as a baby. We celebrate his birth every year. It’s called Christmas Day. We celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world. And people ignore the true meaning of Christmas. It’s all about the gifts, the parties, the decorations, the trees, the food and family time. How often do we stop to think about the baby in the manger and who he really is. He was God laying right there in a manger as a newborn infant, and he lived thirty-three years on this earth as a man. He was fully man but he was also fully God. So anything he did as a man he did it as God. When the Roman soldiers came and arrested him in the garden of Gethsemane, Judas Iscariot planted a kiss on his cheek to show who they were coming to arrest. Here’s the man who calls himself the Son of God. Jesus was handed over, and was tried at a criminal’s trial. Under the cover of darkness Jesus was convicted.

He was flogged and beaten. His clothes were stripped off of him and cut into pieces. Then he was forced to carry his own cross. He was so weak from the loss of blood that he stumbled, so another man was forced to carry the cross the rest of the way. And when they got to Calvary, the Roman soldiers laid that cross down on the ground and nailed his hands and his feet to it. Then they shoved a crown of thorns on his head making sure the thorns sunk deep. They posted a sign above his head that said King of the Jews because that’s who he was. And Pilate knew who he was. Then they stood the cross up in the hole in the ground and left him there to die. And Jesus, the God in human form died that day.

Oh, he rose from the dead on the third day. And then later, he went back to heaven to be with his father. And now he’s planning to come back again.

He will come back again to take with him all of those who believe in his name, who’ve repented of their sins and follow His ways. He’s coming back. We don’t know the hour or the day. But we must live ready at all times. We must live as Jesus would have us live so we can be with Him for eternity. He promised he would return, and he keeps all of his promises. There’s not one promise he will not fulfill. All of the prophecies that have been spoken about him will be fulfilled at the proper time. So we must be ready, because we don’t know when that time is. We must live a holy life that pleases God, because you just never know.

When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all. “And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building— until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed. On that day a person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. A person out in the field must not return home. Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it. That night two people will be asleep in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour together at the mill; one will be taken, the other left. Luke 17:26-35

Truth or Consequences

As I was reading Jeremiah 26-29, I read that the prophet Jeremiah had a message from the Lord for the people of Israel. And this message was that if they repent and return to God’s ways, he will revoke the punishments he has planned for them. And when Jeremiah shared that message with those in charge, they didn’t like the message. Jeremiah confronted the evil of the day, and they wanted to kill him. He had to defend himself against an angry mob. Some of the leaders agreed that he shouldn’t be killed. Then when someone else prophesied the same message, he was killed. But a courageous man named Ahikam stood up for Jeremiah, and Jeremiah’s life was spared.

Nevertheless, Ahikam son of Shaphan stood up for Jeremiah and persuaded the court not to turn him over to the mob to be killed. Jeremiah 26:24

Now there was another prophet named Hananiah who also shared a message he said was from God. Only the message was a bit different. This message said that once the Israelites were exiled to Babylon, they and all of the items removed from the temple would be returned to Jerusalem in two years. And that was in stark contrast to God’s message to Jeremiah that they would be held captive by the Babylonians for 70 years. And yet Hananiah said it would only be two years. Of course, the people wanted to believe Hananiah because a two year exile was much different from 70 years.

Jeremiah continued to tell the Israelites of God’s warnings and plans to punish them for ignoring him and turning their backs on his commands on how they were to live their lives. They disobeyed God and bowed down to idols. They worshipped the creation instead of the Creator. When Hananiah had given his message that their punishment would only be two years, Jeremiah told him that he had shared a great message. I hope you’re right. Jeremiah said. But the only way we know that if the message is from God is if it comes true, because all of God’s promises and prophecies come true.

This story reminds me of a story in the New Testament. A man named Stephen was sharing the gospel, the good news that Jesus Christ was the actual promised Messiah, the Son of God. Many people didn’t believe it and were hunting anyone who shared or believed this type of message. They would hunt them down, imprison or kill them. And when Stephen had the courage to speak up and share his testimony, the crowd went crazy. They grabbed him and took him outside the city gates. There they stoned him to death. As they were stoning him, a man standing by the wayside was holding the coats of the people throwing stones. He stood by silently watching these people kill Stephen. And as Stephen knelt on the ground being pummeled by stones, he looked up into heaven and said, Father forgive them. Don’t hold them guilty for this. He begged. Even in his final moments of life, he was still asking God to forgive these people of the damage they were doing by killing Christians. He didn’t want them held responsible.

And this man holding the coats of those who were stoning Stephen was just as guilty as any one of the stone throwers. He could have stopped them. He could have stopped the people from throwing stones. He could have stopped this death penalty verdict that was handed out so easily. He could have spoken up. But he didn’t speak a word. He agreed that Stephen should be killed.

People didn’t like what Stephen was saying. They totally disagreed with him, because he was preaching a new way. He was preaching that the Promised Messiah had come to earth already. And these other Jews did not believe it. So they were hunting him and others who believed that same message. They were hunting them down and Saul stood there in silence, approving this act of violence against an innocent man. And that day Stephen faced his eternity and found himself in heaven with Jesus Christ. His suffering was no more.

We know that Saul approved of the killing of Stephen. Saul was trained in the Jewish tradition by a sought after rabbi named Gamaliel. Saul observed the Jewish traditions. He could quote the Torah. But he hadn’t accepted the message that Jesus was the promised Messiah. He fought the truth when the truth was staring him in the face.

Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. Acts of the Apostles 8:1

Now in the Old Testament, Ahikam stopped the killing of Jeremiah the prophet. Ahikam, the protector of the prophet, came from a strong family line. His father was a prominent scribe, who also led the restoration of the temple. This family was well respected in their time. So it was right that this son stood up for the prophet, Jeremiah. And when he spoke, the people listened. Jeremiah’s life was saved.

We read in the New Testament of what happened to Saul when he approved the killing of an innocent man. We also know that Jesus spoke to him and called him to preach that Jesus was the Son of God. And Saul’s life was changed. He recognized that he was chasing innocent people. He was going after the wrong crowd, imprisoning them. He had a change of heart. He became one of the hunted instead of the hunter, because his message of forgiveness and redemption was powerful. He had first-hand experience of what a changed life was like when Jesus saves you from your sins. He lived forgiven and he shared the message that forgiveness and salvation were available for everyone. Saul realized that he had been wrong. He had been standing for the wrong message.


Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14


Who do you identify with?

So today, we also have a choice. Are we going to be like Stephen and Jeremiah who speak the truth? Are we going to stand up for biblical truth, for justice, and for right. When those who disagree with us want to cause physical harm, financial ruin, or job loss, are we still willing to stand? Or will we silently stand to the side?

Are we willing to stand as Jeremiah and Stephen did, or will we take the easy way out? Will we go with the crowd and stand by silently approving the harm of innocent people. People who are determined to be courageous in a fight for truth. We need to seriously consider how we’re going how we live our lives. What we’re standing for and what we’re standing against.

Truth seems to be a rare commodity these days. Something else that’s hard to find is those who will support truth tellers. Why is it so hard to stand for truth these days? Oh. We’ve never faced persecution and threats for speaking the truth, but the tide has turned. We may become the hunted. Are we prepared?

Will we stand with Ahikam for those who speak biblical truth or will we remain silent as Saul and overlook the persecution of believers? We have a choice. Will we find our voice before it’s too late?

Just so you know, Satan wants to bring God’s followers down. We too could be hunted and threatened. Are we willing to accept that? Oh, we say it’s not happening to us because we live in America. That doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen. It is happening in America today to people who stand against biblical truths. They are sued and repeatedly taken to court for daring to stand for their beliefs. Their faith has not wavered. Is my faith that strong? Am I that courageous? We need to stand true and strong to our beliefs. God help us.

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12

Repercussions

He walked into my office and chatted for ninety minutes. Yes. Ninety minutes. I lost an hour and a half talking to the big boss one morning at work. And he told me a story I’ll never forget. His friend in Florida, a minister by the way, was driving and hit a thirteen year old girl who was riding her bike. Instead of stopping, he drove away. It was a hit and run. And then he proceeded to drive an hour away to get his car repaired. The young girl is now in intensive care. He was apprehended and arrested. The fate of each of these individuals is in limbo.

The man telling me the story asked why. Why would someone do this? Just drive away? It’s a question for the ages. But it’s not the first time something like this has happened. And it most likely won’t be the last. But it still is a very haunting question. What makes someone do the unthinkable? Was he so panicked that he wasn’t thinking straight? Did he know what he hit? Was he intoxicated? Or unknowingly cognitively impaired? Or was he just paralyzed with fear? It was an accident. Now it’s a crime scene.

I don’t know what I would do in that situation. I hope that common sense would set in and I would stop to help the girl. After all, it’s another human being. But we never know how we will respond until the moment is upon us. And we may do the unthinkable, just as this man did. I’m sure he’s having many regrets as his liberty has been cut short. His twilight years may now be spent behind bars. His retirement savings may be used to pay for legal counsel. His aging wife will be alone. What was he thinking? We ask.


But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. Look down and have mercy on me. Give your strength to your servant; save me, the son of your servant. Psalms 86:15-16


As I was talking to the man, he mentioned that his wife was raised as a Communist. But then she decided to research and study Christianity. She decided that it wasn’t worth pursuing. And as she heard the story of this minister, she asked how a Christian could do such a thing. If that’s the way Christians act, she wants no part of Christianity. I told him that I was a Christian. He quickly assured me that he was, too. I wanted to ask for his definition of being a Christian, but decided that was a conversation for another day.

I went on to tell him that as humans, we all make mistakes. Some mistakes have serious consequences. We don’t always choose to do the right thing. Christian or not. Our mistakes don’t have to define us, but they sure can leave their mark on our lives and on others. Should someone who makes a mistake be punished for the rest of their life? I guess it depends on the severity of the situation.

We’re told it’s not our place to judge. Christian or not. And rightly so. Some mistakes are public knowledge. Others are private and never disclosed. Only God knows our intentions, and he will judge accordingly. Of course, remorse and repentance is always the path to take. We would ask for the same benefit of the doubt if the shoe were on the other foot.

As Christians, we know that God will be with us in our moments of mistakes. He’ll forgive our sins. We should learn and grow from each lesson in our lives. If we learned a valuable lesson and changed our ways after every mistake we make, our lives would be so changed that others would see the difference. But we’re human. We’re always prone to mistakes. We’ll never be perfect. It’s the long road of obedience to God’s commands that usher us forward into each new trial and test. Wisdom comes from learning from our past experiences and obeying God. Let’s show grace to others in their time of need and uncertainty. But let’s also consider others above ourselves and do the right thing. Regardless of the consequences.

Does Your God Fall Over?

The Israelites were at it again. They had turned their backs on God again. And again. And God kept reminding them through his prophets that if they didn’t repent and return to obeying him, they would be severely punished. But they didn’t listen. They made their own gods and worshipped them. But when life got tough. When the drought and famine came along, and neighboring countries defeated them, then they cried out to God. Where are you? They asked. Why aren’t you taking care of us? And all the time God had been speaking through his prophet to turn back to him, they had ignored him. And now they wanted his help.

“When you tell the people all these things, they will ask, ‘Why has the Lord decreed such terrible things against us? What have we done to deserve such treatment? What is our sin against the Lord our God?’ “Then you will give them the Lord ’s reply: ‘It is because your ancestors were unfaithful to me. They worshiped other gods and served them. They abandoned me and did not obey my word. And you are even worse than your ancestors! You stubbornly follow your own evil desires and refuse to listen to me. So I will throw you out of this land and send you into a foreign land where you and your ancestors have never been. There you can worship idols day and night—and I will grant you no favors!’ Jeremiah 16:10-13

We can’t just fall in step with the majority and worship the god of the moment. Whatever is visually appealing isn’t what should take priority in our lives. We see in Isaiah that the Son of God was not attractive at all. He was ordinary to a fault. Yet he was God. He was worthy of our praise, our adoration and our allegiance.

This is what the Lord says: “Do not act like the other nations, who try to read their future in the stars. Do not be afraid of their predictions, even though other nations are terrified by them. Their ways are futile and foolish. They cut down a tree, and a craftsman carves an idol. They decorate it with gold and silver and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails so it won’t fall over. Their gods are like helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field! They cannot speak, and they need to be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of such gods, for they can neither harm you nor do you any good.”
Jeremiah 10:2‭‭-‬5 NLT

I wonder what God would say to us today. Does his rebuke still stand? We in this world who have made our own gods out of so many man-made items. Do our gods stand on their own today? Or do they fall over?

As long as it’s still today, we have time to repent and turn from our false gods. What do you say we do that? Let’s not make unto ourselves any graven images. Let’s serve the God who is fully capable all on his own of doing anything and everything.

I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost; Christianity without Christ; forgiveness without repentance; salvation without regeneration; politics without God; and Heaven without Hell.

William Booth

The whole human race is foolish and has no knowledge! The craftsmen are disgraced by the idols they make, for their carefully shaped works are a fraud. These idols have no breath or power. Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies! On the day of reckoning they will all be destroyed. But the God of Israel is no idol! He is the Creator of everything that exists, including Israel, his own special possession. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name! Jeremiah 10:14-16

How many gods do we need? After all, there is only one true God who rules the universe. All other gods are man-made who can do nothing. They’re worthless. Why do we spend so much time worshipping them? They can’t hear us when we pray. They don’t know our needs. They do nothing for us but leave us feeling empty.

Look now, people of Judah; you have as many gods as you have towns. You have as many altars of shame—altars for burning incense to your god Baal—as there are streets in Jerusalem. “Pray no more for these people, Jeremiah. Do not weep or pray for them, for I will not listen to them when they cry out to me in distress. Jeremiah 11:13-14

I know, Lord , that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. Jeremiah 10:23


Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Isaiah 55:6


Why not worship the one God, the one true God who knew us before we were even born? The God who knows the number of hairs on our heads. He who created us knows everything about us. The number of days we will live. He knows everything we will do and say. He knows the good, the bad, and the ugly. And he still loves us. He’s ordained our lives from the moment of conception to our final breath. He’s created us to worship the Creator of life, not the creation. How often do we consider the One who created all things?

Does your god fall over? Can your god pick you up when you’ve been let down? When life is crashing all around, does your god comfort you? If you feel comforted for awhile, does the comfort last? When you need your god the most, is he available? Does he hear you? Or provide for you? Do you trust your god?

Come every one who is thirsty in spirit;
Come, every one who is weary and sad.
Come to the fountain, there’s fullness in Jesus –
All that you’re longing for; Come and be glad!

I will pour water on him that is thirsty;
I will pour floods upon the dry ground.
Open your heart for the gifts I am bringing;
While ye are seeking Me I will be found.

Child of the world, are you tired of your bondage?
Weary of earth-joys, so false, so untrue?
Thirsting for God and His fullness of blessing?
List to the promise, a message for you.

Child of the Kingdom, be filled with the Spirit!
Nothing but fullness thy longing can meet.
’Tis the enduement for life and for service.
Thine is the promise, so certain, so sweet! 

Lucy Rider Meyer

Persecuting Jesus

Saul and his crew were on their way to Damascus. After all, he had received written permission from the high priest authorizing him to hunt and arrest anyone who believed the message of Jesus Christ. As he traveled down the road in midday, a light brighter than the sun shone all around him. He was instantly blinded. Suddenly, he heard a voice from heaven. Jesus, the Son of God, asked Saul why he was persecuting him.

Saul was not searching for Jesus when Jesus called his name. He was searching for those who believed in Jesus. Oh. Saul knew what he was doing. He was persecuting those who believed that Jesus, the promised Messiah had come to earth to deliver his people from their sins. And Saul didn’t believe that. He was stuck in the traditional Jewish beliefs and traditions. He didn’t believe the prophecy about God’s Son had actually been fulfilled. So when Jesus called his name, Saul asked who was calling. And he then realized this Jesus was the one he had been denying.

Saul, Saul.  Why do you persecute me? 

Every believer that Saul persecuted was taking the place of Jesus Christ.  For all intents and purposes, Saul was persecuting Jesus Christ everywhere he went.  When he arrested and imprisoned those who accepted the Good News of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection, he was arresting and imprisoning Jesus himself. With every capture and arrest Saul made, he thought he was honoring God. He thought he was following God’s will. But instead, he was persecuting God’s son. He was fighting God, not obeying him. How could he have gotten it so wrong? 

What Saul didn’t realize was that he couldn’t hold back the Son of God from doing the work he was commissioned to do. Sure. The Son of God had returned to heaven, but his followers on earth were now doing his work. And nothing Saul could do could stop what God had started.

I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene. Indeed, I did just that in Jerusalem. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse Jesus. I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities. Acts 26:9-11

Saul was a learned man of his times. He had studied under the well respected Jewish scholar, Gamaliel. Saul knew the Scriptures. He was determined to punish anyone who dared to believe differently from the traditions. And yet, God had to bring him to his knees and blind him before he was willing to admit the truth that Jesus was the Son of God, born and died for every last one of Saul’s many sins.

To read the full story of Saul’s conversion, read Acts 9 and Acts 26.


Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Colossians 3:16


Soul, soul.  Why do you persecute me? 

What if my name was in front of that sentence.  Why do I persecute God?  Why do I challenge him and run from his ways?  Why don’t I automatically fall on my knees and worship him in adoration?  Why don’t I automatically choose to obey God? I who know the Scripture and have been taught from an early age to love and honor God. Why am I so careless with my faith?

Do we not do the same as Saul did?  Every time we act selfishly and sinfully, we are acting against God. When we reject Christ and his will for our lives, we’re persecuting him. Do we even realize what we’re doing? Do we take God’s knock on the door of our hearts seriously and open up to him?

What will God have to resort to to bring us to our knees in humble acknowledgment and repentance? Why do we run from him?  Why do we think our ways are higher than his ways? We who’ve been taught the Bible know the truth, yet we deny what we’ve been taught. We ignore the Scripture teaching us how to live an authentic Christian life. We do our own thing. We don’t look for God’s guidance. We become complacent. It’s all about us, we think. Not about God.

I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! Revelation 3:15-16

Anytime we sin, we’re nailing Jesus to the cross all over again. Our decision to deny Jesus and please ourselves puts him right back on that cross. Each time we disobey, the weight of our sins becomes heavier for Jesus to bear as he hung on that cross, causing him more pain and suffering. If we continue to run from God and disobey him when he’s calling our name, we’re persecuting him. Is that what we want?

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23

If we are the body of Christ, let’s wear the name in humility. We must consciously hear and obey God’s words. Let’s act on the promptings of the Holy Spirit and live in obedience. let’s listen well and listen thoroughly when God calls our name. Let’s not be surprised when God calls our name to follow and obey him. Let’s follow willingly.

Attracting Others

As Christians, our goal is to see others make the decision to live for God. To repent of their sins and live in obedience to God’s Word. In order for those who haven’t made that decision to get there, we must make Christianity attractive. But how do we do that? Because what they know of Christianity doesn’t appeal to them. If someone hasn’t read and studied the Bible, all they know about Christians is what they do and don’t do. What they stand for and what they stand against. They think it’s all about rules they don’t want to follow.

Look like this. Don’t look like that. Wear this. Don’t wear that. Go here. Don’t go there. Drink this. Don’t drink that. Say this. Don’t say that. Sleep here. Don’t sleep there. Rules like that don’t attract too many people. But what message are we sending when we say and do the same things they say and do? What sets us apart? What makes us different if we’re just like them?

And it really shouldn’t be an us or them kind of issue. Should it? But for this moment, let’s think along those terms. Just to see where it takes us. No judging. Just considering how to appeal to those who don’t call themselves Christians. Because really. We are in two sets of camps, based on our beliefs.

How do we make living a Christian life appealing to those who don’t want it? After all, the Bible tells us that we who believe carry the scent of death to those who don’t believe. Yet the aroma of Christ is sweet. But they can’t smell the sweetness. So why would they want it? Who is attracted to stink, after all?

Some people think they need to change. To clean up their lives before they turn themselves over to Christ. But he doesn’t require that. He invites you to come to him just as you are. He will let you know when or if he wants you to change.

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? 2 Corinthians 2:15-16

The gospel is offensive. It has always been offensive to those in rebellion to Christ. God isn’t going to change who he is. We need him to change who we are or face the consequences!

Samuel E. Tolley III

And those who haven’t accepted the message of salvation and repentance think we are fools for believing it. After all. If we’re good, isn’t that good enough? Some would say so. But for those who believe the Bible speaks the truth, we know that being good isn’t good enough. Because we’re never going to be good enough on our own. We need the saving blood of Jesus Christ to wash away our sins. We need to repent of our sins and ask for forgiveness. Then we, too, will be covered with the life-giving perfume.

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 8

So. If the gospel is offensive to those who don’t believe, how do we make it un-offensive? How do we attract others to faith in Christ?


You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Philippians 2:5


Of course. The Bible gives us some guidelines to follow in order to attract others to Christianity. We must show love to everyone, even when we don’t feel like it. And especially when others don’t deserve it. We must be joyful. Joy comes from a deep abiding peace that when we trust God in all circumstances. We must pursue peace with everyone. Even when it’s difficult. We must turn the other cheek, but we don’t have to allow others to walk all over us. We’re told that patience is a virtue, but it speaks volumes when put into action. Being kind to others should be a given. We think. But sometimes we have to try a little harder than expected, but the payout is worth it. Goodness and faithfulness. Gentleness and self-control. When others see these fruits of the spirit in our lives, they will wonder how it’s possible to live in such a manner. We have the opportunity to show that Christ living in us makes us more like him. And that he makes a difference in how we live our lives. We always have a choice as to how we live and how we treat others. And a godly lifestyle is attractive, even when others don’t know where the godliness comes from.

We always have a choice as to the type of employee or employer we will be. Go to work and do a good job. Be faithful. Be diligent. Speak up when necessary. And keep quiet when necessary. Others will notice. Be a good neighbor. Show kindness to those in need. Be generous, but not overly frivolous. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Don’t complain or argue.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. Galatians 5:22-26

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Philippians 2:14-15

We believers can do this. We can live a life that makes others want peace, joy, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Oh. We may not get it right every time, but let’s show the world that they need what we have. And let’s do it with grace.

Beauty, Truth and Goodness

I’ve recently read that today’s culture is not interested in Christianity. And that thought saddens me. As I continued to read, the author said that we Christians, we believers in God, and readers of His word must make Christianity attractive to those who are not believers today. And the question is, how do we do that? How do we make faith in God, a life lived walking in the will of God, attractive to people who’ve never wanted that before? To people who’ve never known the need for salvation? How do we awaken that desire in someone who isn’t interested?

This author went on to talk about how our culture has lost beauty, truth and goodness. And he talks about how the art work of today is not beauty. When compared to the classic artists like Michelangelo, da Vinci, Monet, Rembrandt and others whose works were inspired by God, contemporary art seems to have no inspiration. And consider today’s music. Can it be described as beautiful and inspiring? Many of the lyrics are vulgar. The sound is pulsing and suggestive. When compared to the classics of Mozart, Chopin and other composers who were inspired to write the great musical masterpieces, beauty has disappeared. There’s a reverence to the classical music pieces. They are timeless. There’s a depth to the classical artwork that isn’t in modern art. Anyone can draw squiggles or splash paint on a canvas.

I find as I’m going about each day I have no interest in listening to the noise of today’s music, which causes anxiousness and annoyance. Instead, I find myself drawn back to the old hymns that we sang in church as a child. As I listen to the instrumental hymns, I could sit and weep. The beauty of the notes and the chords is calming in a world filled with chaos. Recalling the words of those old hymns takes me back to a much simpler time. When life for me was easy. It may not have been easy for my parents, but it was fulfilling for them. And now I’m finding fulfillment in things of my youth. On occasion, I find myself listening to classical music, which I find to be peaceful and inspiring. As I listen to the instruments of the orchestra. Play the different parts. The key and chord combinations strike me as inspired by God. For a composer to be able to create such depth for all the instruments to play in harmony is a God given craft. And we should be thankful that exists in our lifetime. That it has not been removed from our libraries and taken from us. Let’s awaken to the classics. Let’s enjoy them. Let’s be inspired as they move us from deep within. Let’s awaken to beauty in our life.


And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. Mark 12:30


I find that truth is missing in our lives today. When I think of the criminal and civil trials that we hear of in the news and the lies that have been spread in order to create interest, I cringe. We need truth today more than we’ve ever needed it before because we are being fed lies from so many different media and news sources. We need to know and seek the truth that only comes from reading God’s word and being able to parse out the lies of Satan. We need to get back to Biblical truths. God’s word will stand forever, regardless of what others say about it. Regardless of what others say about God. People can reject him. People can burn Bibles, but God’s word will always stand. The truth cannot be denied. There will come a day when we all stand before God and we will be held accountable for all of our actions and our words and our thoughts. If they do not match God’s Word, there will be eternal consequences. We will be rejected from his presence. Let’s pray for redemption and salvation, not rejection. We need to get back to the truth.

And then there’s goodness that is hard to find in our lives and in our culture. Shouldn’t we have a desire to live for something greater than ourselves? And don’t we know that this deep seated desire is given by God? We want our lives to matter. And we think that comes by doing good and giving back to others. And rightly so.

We are a broken people. We’re looking for wholeness. Wholeness brings a feeling of goodness to our lives. Peace. Self respect. Unity. We all long for it. But we’re only whole when we find God’s healing in our lives.

It’s time to reclaim the goodness of life. It’s time to appreciate the goodness of God’s love and gift of salvation that is freely offered to everyone who has breath. It’s time to reclaim the goodness and beauty of nature at its finest in the fall and winter and spring and summer. There’s goodness in each season of life. We must look for it. We can’t hide the goodness. We need to seek it out. And brush it off. Hang it on our walls. We need to shout the goodness of God.

Let’s be bold. Let’s stand for truth and goodness and beauty. Let’s let God’s love shine out this season in our hearts and in our lives, in our homes, in our families, in our workplace and in our relationships. Let’s stand for God’s truth, beauty and goodness. It cannot be denied.

Beauty, truth and goodness are deep longings of the heart, and they can only be fully explained through the lens of Christianity. In order to define Christianity as good, we must identify it as true and satisfying. And then we must see the world as Jesus sees it.

Deep within the human heart is the longing for the way it is supposed to be.

Paul Gould