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.

Points of Light

A former President used a phrase in different speeches that called for organizations spread throughout the nation to do good. He asked for people to get involved. He called for a thousand points of light. After he left office, he founded an organization with the same name.

Here’s what he said.

I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good. We will work hand in hand, encouraging, sometimes leading, sometimes being led, rewarding. We will work on this in the White House, in the Cabinet agencies. I will go to the people and the programs that are the brighter points of light, and I will ask every member of my government to become involved. The old ideas are new again because they are not old, they are timeless: duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in.

George H.W. Bush

It’s a great idea. A thousand points of life. But what does it mean? Does it make any sense? Does it have any meaning in light of current events? This man was on a mission to find willing men and women who would work together to do good.

I am on a mission to find believers who are willing to be a point of light in their neighborhood. In their schools. In their communities. In their churches. Are there people who will stand for truth at all costs?


In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16


As a believer, we have many opportunities to let our lights shine. When we serve the poor, our light is shining. When we give to the needy, our light is shining. When we are persecuted for standing for truth. When we speak words of truth in a conversation filled with lies. When we share our God-given gifts. When we live a biblical life, our light is shining. Let’s shine our light for the world to see.

Duty. A Christian must pray. We must pray about everything. We must pray that the lost seek a relationship with God. We must pray for those who hurt us. We must seek forgiveness for our sins. We must pray for our spiritual, business and government leaders. Whether we agree with them or not. We must pray for our nation to return to God.

As believers, we can’t live this life without God’s help. We can’t do it on our own. We must turn to God on a regular basis to seek His will and His guidance. We can’t serve God alone and in our own strength.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

As Christians, we must forgive those who have wronged us. We must lay down our desire for revenge and forgive others. Forgiving others isn’t an option for those who call themselves believers. We must ask God to give us a heart of forgiveness, grace and mercy.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Sacrifice. We must give ourselves to serving God, at all costs. We must stand strong against the false teachings that are being shared these days. We must live a holy life. That means putting aside the desire to be accepted by those who don’t follow Christ’s teachings. There must be an obvious difference in how we conduct our lives. In the words we say. In the activities we participate in. In the ways we spend our money. What sets us apart may cost us everything in this life, but will reap us an eternal reward. Are we up for the challenge?

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

Commitment. Be faithful to God. As believers, we must grow in our relationship with him. We must commit to doing the things Jesus would do. Love others. Forgive. Serve others. At the end of our lives, we need to be able to say we have fought the fight. We have finished the race. We have kept the faith. Our lives must be consistent with Christ’s teaching.

And may you be completely faithful to the Lord our God. May you always obey his decrees and commands, just as you are doing today. 1 Kings 8:61

Patriotism. We on this earth are looking for a homeland. We are strangers and exiles on this earth. Heaven is our home. We must stay true to biblical principles. We can’t let scoffers and mockers dismantle our beliefs. Let’s hold our light high so others can see that our faith won’t be swayed by the evil deeds and words of others. Read the Bible. Attend church. Spend time with those of the faith. Spend much time in prayer. Faithfully support our church with financial offerings.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20

As Jesus is the light of the world, so too must we be a light.  We must never try to hide our light when we’re being ridiculed or mocked. In this day of trouble, others are looking for the light but they don’t recognize it. We must be that beacon of hope for them. 

This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine.

This is a Test

Do you think God trusts you? No, really. Do you think God trusts you? Has God ever tested your faithfulness to him? Would you know it if he has? Do you think you passed the test? Hmm. Let’s think about this for a minute.

If you read the Bible, you will find that God tested people. And he didn’t let them know their struggles were a test. A test of their faithfulness. Imagine the nerve. But he did it anyway. After all, God alone is God. He knows our hearts. He knows if we will turn to him in those moments of darkness. And he knows if we will turn away from him.

In Exodus 15, God decided to test the Israelite people as they were settling into a new camp. Oh. He didn’t tell them about his plan, but he mapped out the requirements for the test.

  • Listen to the voice of God
  • Do what is right in God’s eyes
  • Obey God’s commands
  • Keep all of God’s decrees

Seems simple, right?

Listen to the voice of God. What does God’s voice even sound like? Have I ever heard him speak? Have I heard his voice? Would I know it was God if he spoke to me?

Now. God may have spoken audibly to Moses. But God also spoke to Moses through a burning bush. He has never spoken to me in an audible voice. And I’ve never seen a burning bush.

However, I do have a conscience. I know when I do right. And I know when I do wrong. I know when my heart is pounding out of my chest and I have to choose which path to take. Which words to say or not to say. That is God speaking to me. I must listen closely and not close my ears and heart to God. I must listen to God.

Do what is right in God’s eyes. If I’m listening to God and obeying him, then I am doing right. If I’m not listening to God, all bets are off as far as what I may or may not do. And if I’m not listening to God, then who am I listening to? And does the speaker I’m following speak the truth? Would I know the truth if it hit me smack in the face?

Obey God’s commands. I think immediately of the ten commandments (Exodus 20:3-17).

  1. You must not have any other gods before me
  2. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind
  3. You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God
  4. Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy
  5. Honor your father and mother
  6. You must not murder
  7. You must not commit adultery
  8. You must not steal
  9. You must not testify falsely against your neighbor
  10. You must not covet

But those aren’t the only commands God gives. There are many, many commands that God gives in the Bible. God commands us to avoid certain things, to beware of specific evils. We are commanded to do things and not to do things. The Word of God is full of commands. We only need to look for them.

Keep all of God’s decrees. According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, the decrees of God are his eternal, unchangeable, holy, wise, and sovereign purpose. They comprehend all things that come to pass. What does all of that even mean? One of God’s decrees that pretty much sums up everything says: Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. Ephesians 1:4

It was there at Marah that the Lord set before them (the Iraelites) the following decree as a standard to test their faithfulness to him. He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.” Exodus 15:25-26


And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28


And then there’s Job. God told Satan to test Job. And he gave clear instructions on how the test was to be conducted. He told Satan what he would allow and what he would not allow. So Satan obeyed and carried out those tests as if it were his only job. He made Job’s life miserable and destroyed everything Job had worked for. He killed all of Job’s children and his livestock. Only a handful of servants were spared. Yet Job persisted in his faith in God. His faith held firm. His trust in God withstood every test that Satan threw at him.

How do I know that some of the troubles that come my way aren’t designed by Satan? Under God’s approval. I’ll never know this side of heaven. I’m not sure it matters who designs the test. God or Satan. The point of the test is to prove my faithfulness to God. I wonder. Would I be found as faithful as Job if I were put to the limit, as he was? I pray that I will be found as faithful as Job. Will you?

Uncharted Waters

John was sent to live in exile on the island of Patmos as a result of anti-Christian persecution. His crime: he preached the word of God and he lived his life as a testimony for Jesus. He lived and survived alone on that island. All alone.

But he wasn’t alone.

During John’s exile, God was close to him. God was all he had. God spoke to him through a vision. John wrote down everything he saw in the vision. The name of his book is Revelation. It is the last book of the Bible. It’s a unique book full of visions and prophecies. God spoken words in a time of aloneness but never alone.

What does a man do all alone on an island? How does he spend his time? How does he survive? What goes through his mind? Will he be bored with only God to talk to? Does he have God’s word stored in his heart? Can he can dig through the reservoir of his mind and find strength and comfort from his knowledge of Scripture? When all has been lost, is his faith in God alone enough?


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12


We may feel like we’re living in exile at this moment in history. But we’re not. Some of us are living with family. Some are alone, but they keep in touch with family and friends. If you know someone who is truly alone, reach out. Check on them.

This time in history is a first for everyone. Uncharted waters for even the best of us. Now is the time to gather your family close. Those who live with you. Those you can be with. Keep in touch with family and friends. The contact means so much.

Oh. Things have changed. We can no longer shop in stores. visit a salon. eat in a restaurant. go to a movie. Sure. These closings are temporary, but they’re new to us. We’ve never experienced anything like this. This change will continue without an ending in sight. Who knew?

Private funerals. Private weddings. Even close family members can’t attend. Hospital patients alone without family or visitors. Everyone needs to stay in place.

Oh. It’s easy to be frustrated. My hair appointment was only 5 days away when it was canceled. My grocery store was out of potatoes. The bakery that makes my dogs favorite treats has been out of them for weeks. I’ve had to start working from home. Petty inconveniences.

Lean in. They say. Hold your loved ones a little closer. Look across the room at the one who stole your heart. Think back to the reason they won your heart. And pause. Remember the moments of first love. And recall the reasons you chose to say “I do”. Make the most of this time with your loved ones.

Watch your children as they do homework. Oh. You may have never planned to home school, but now you are. Make the most of it. Be patient. Extend grace. Show mercy. Have fun. Let these days be the good times your kids look back on when they are older.

Allow yourself to become bored. This could spur you on to learn a new hobby. A hobby that could be life changing. Or not. But who knows what change can do for you. Be willing to explore. Read a book. Take a walk. Try a new recipe. Let your hair grow. You have no choice in the matter. Embrace it.

Pay it forward to the grocery worker. Pharmacy staff. Delivery drivers. Bankers. Healthcare workers. First responders. City, county, state and national employees. Everyone needs a break every now and then. Don’t judge a person’s politics. Embrace differences. But keep your convictions.

Lasting self confidence is built in pure faith in God. Trusting and obeying God in the hard times of life builds a strong reliance on him that produces an unmatched strength of character. 

In Christ alone I place my trust. 

This period of isolation may be the time in your life where you reap the greatest blessings from God. This may be the season where you find life’s true meaning. Trust the master of the uncharted waters to lead you to new depths in your walk with him. 

Read a book. Study the Bible. Memorize Scripture. Live out the Beatitudes. Honor those in authority. Pray. Really pray.

That money you would typically spend at a restaurant or sports event or concert. That money you would use to pay for a haircut or a massage or a pedicure. All that discretionary money you aren’t spending right now. Put it into savings. Or give to a needy nonprofit organization. Send an extra check to your church. Give to others in need. After all, how many new clothes or shoes do you need if you’re staying home all day? How much food or toilet paper do you need to hoard when others can’t pay their rent? How do you expect charities to help when they don’t have the funds coming in? How is a church supposed to help in times of crisis if believers aren’t faithful in giving their tithes and offerings?

Be generous. Be the giver. Be the gift. Chart new waters.

Faithful Father

Imagine being Joseph.  His fiancee runs off to visit her cousin.  She’s gone for three months.  And when she returns, she breaks his heart.  Oh.  She isn’t dumping him.  She tells him she’s pregnant.  Makes a man wonder what his girl has been doing for those three months she was visiting her so-called cousin.  He knows without a doubt that the baby isn’t his.  Because they haven’t.

She says the baby’s father is God.  How is a man supposed to believe that?  Can he trust her?  After all, they’re engaged.  Not married.  Should he just break up with her and move on?   Even though they aren’t married, breaking up would still signal a divorce.  Because he knew.  He knew if he agreed to marry her, the people of their village would spread the rumors.  Oh.  That couple.  They didn’t wait until they married.   But they can’t prove they were waiting.  Because now there is a baby on the way.

What if God asked the impossible of you?  Would you be willing?  If God asks you to move out of your comfort zone, would you?  How far out of your comfort zone are you willing to go, even if it is God who’s doing the asking?

The baby wasn’t his.  He knew it.  She knew it.  Did everyone else know it? He wanted to divorce her.  Quietly.  Not make more of a public spectacle of her than she already was.  He could.  You know. 

But the dream was so real.  The angel was right there.  Marry her.  He said.  She speaks the truth.  She has been faithful.  This child is God’s.  Name him Jesus.  Joseph actually heard from God in a dream.  So he did it.  He married her.  Knowing what everyone would say.  


What is impossible with man is possible with God.  Luke 18:27


This man.  Joseph.  His betrothed was carrying the Son of God.  How was he to be a father to God?  He wasn’t qualified.  He was just a carpenter.  How could he do this?  Would this child want to become a carpenter?  If he and Mary were fortunate enough to have their own sons, how would they compare?  Would others be able to tell the difference between God’s son and Joseph’s sons?

How is one to be faithful when the world says to run the other way?

Joseph didn’t know God’s plan.  Joseph didn’t know that God’s Son was to be born in the lineage of King David.  Joseph was in that lineage.  God’s plan worked out perfectly.  No.   Joseph wasn’t the biological father, but he fulfilled the plan God had laid out for him.

Oh.  It wasn’t Joseph’s place to be in the spotlight.  He didn’t have the leading role.  But support roles provide stability and depth for the leading role.  It wasn’t his birth that was announced to the shepherds.  It wasn’t his death on the cross.  His role may seem small, but really.  His role was father.  Role model.  Family leader.  Bread winner.  Not much is written about him, but words aren’t enough.  He did everything by being faithful to God’s plan.  What seemed impossible for him was made possible through God’s purpose and leading.  

Sure.  Joseph doubted at first.  He even considered saying no.  But when that angel appeared in the dream, he realized this was God at work.  God was fulfilling the promise and prophesies that had been passed down for so long.  And Joseph was part of the plan.  God was using Joseph to raise this God child.  

Oh.  My role may not be as leader.  I may be the supporting role in a much bigger plan.   There are times I don’t feel worthy of the role I’m playing in God’s plan.  There are times I would choose to step aside.  But God who calls is also faithful.  If he calls, he equips.  And in that equipping and following the plan, I find that God is so much more than a word so often used in vain by many.  God makes the impossible possible.  All I must do is believe and trust.  And obey.