Sanctuary City

I live in a city that is committed to providing sanctuary to anyone who is not a documented citizen. We’re told all are welcome. My city has pledged to open the doors to all peoples regardless of immigration status. They want to provide opportunities to everyone who lives in this fair city. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Actually. I’ve read that there is no legal definition of a sanctuary city. Each city can create their own definition. Sounds convenient to me. So that means my city doesn’t come right out and declare sanctuary. But the mayor’s executive order from a few years ago reads pretty clearly. If you ask me.

Sure. Our city has been filled with immigrants and refugees since the day the city was founded. What major city isn’t built that way? But what happened to honesty and fairness? What happened to standing in line and waiting your turn? Some good things take time and effort. Not everything should be a free giveaway. In our latest election cycle, an issue to stop non-citizens from voting in local elections was on the ballot. The citizens of this city voted to allow only citizens to vote. Non-citizens must become citizens in order to have a legal say in the laws and leaders of this city. And rightly so.

Sanctuary means that anyone has the opportunity to reach for success. To get a job. Have a family and provide for them in assumed safety. Anyone can pursue a higher education and reach for their dreams. It means that those who are exiles will be treated the same as those with lifelong citizenship.

What if all followers of Christ lived in a city that decreed everyone live in opposition to biblical beliefs? What would happen to those whose politics leaned the other way? What if all dissenters of the current establishment moved away? What then would happen to the city? Would it implode in lawlessness and anarchy? Would terrorism completely reign if all believers in Jesus Christ moved to a “safe” place? I doubt that everyone would get along just because the Jesus freaks were out of the way. People can always find a reason to disagree. And if the law is that there is no law, then anything and everything is fair game.

So. As believers, do we run and hide? Do we leave the cities and states that are leaning politically toward an agenda that stands against Christianity? Do we run to avoid all controversy and persecution? Do we stay and stand for biblical values? Do we stick around in hopes that our faith can be a shining light in a world gone dark?

We read in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 that once the Holy Spirit is removed from the earth, basically all hell will break loose. Satan will be able to wreak havoc on the earth. For a short period of time. But today isn’t that day. We believers are still on this earth. And we still have work to do. We must continue to share the good news of salvation. And we can’t run when faced with opposition. We must stand strong for truth and be prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have.

And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes. For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way. Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15


This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:4-7


When the Jewish people were taken captive to Babylon, they had no choice but to be uprooted. They were forcefully led from their homes and marched to a new country that had no belief in God. Their new home was not founded on the law of Moses. It was founded on idol worship and human sacrifices. This new land had no fear of God or his people. They were the ones to be feared. That’s what they thought. And they took their enemies captive for seventy years.

This captivity was approved by God. He allowed his chosen people to be punished for their sins against him. They had ignored him. They had forgotten him. Overlooked him. In an attempt to run their own lives, they chose to walk away from his hand of blessing. And it backfired on them. Big time. Sure. The backfire was many years in the making, because God is slow in exacting judgment. But the day had come. God had given his people a final warning. A final chance at repentance. And they still rebuked him. God allowed his people to be taken captive to a foreign country by a foreign king for seventy years.

But in their punishment, God didn’t forget them. He gave them a command to live their lives. To build homes. Marry. Have children. Eat well. Prosper. Although the Israelites were the outcasts, God implored them to live their lives well even when they lived in opposition to their captors. They were foreigners in a distant land, but God had their best interests in mind. They couldn’t run away from the fact that they were prisoners. So God commanded them to enjoy their lives.

The same rule applies to Christ followers today. We are living in exile on this earth. This world wasn’t meant to be our final destination. God has so much more planned for us in eternity. But while we’re on earth, we must do well. We must keep in mind that this isn’t our forever home. But we also mustn’t be intimidated by those we disagree with. We must be in the fight for truth. We must be in the fight for God-centered families and businesses. We must be in the fight for the appropriate education for children. We must learn how to counter strategies to brainwash vulnerable children and adults. We can’t do that if we run and hide. We won’t accomplish any change if we run only to safe places. We must stand and be accountable. And we must hold others accountable.

Not everyone can run. Not everyone can leave their job. Their city. Not everyone can pick up and start over. Perhaps we are the ones to stay behind and stand for doing the right thing. Perhaps God is calling us to stay and fight for truth. Because truth is always right. Even if there’s a cost.

We must make sure we’re following God’s lead when we decide to stay or go. He doesn’t call everyone to go somewhere new. He calls some to stay put and live courageously when no one else is. We can’t always take the easy way out and call it God’s will.

Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. Philippians 1:28-29

Building the Kingdom

He was a shoddy worker. Oh. When he worked, he could accomplish tasks. But his work was never complete. He left tasks undone. Someone would have to come behind him to finish the work. To clean things up. He didn’t seem to mind or notice that his work was below par. He thought he was doing a great job and should get a promotion. And a raise, of course. He always seemed to have an excuse to miss work. He missed more days that was allotted. He was written up. He was reprimanded. Yet he never changed. Those who came after him saw his neglect. They picked up the slack. They knew his work ethic was below par. But they also knew that, at the end of the day, the work must be satisfactory. They re-did his work on multiple occasions. And somehow through all that, he kept his job.

It may not be all his fault that he’s a poor worker. Perhaps he had poor examples as he was learning to be a worker. Perhaps there were no strong role models he could mimic. Perhaps no one ever pulled him aside in the early stages and coached him about building a strong work ethic. Regardless of the reason he is where he is today, he is showing a less than stellar performance at work.

There are those now who are trying to coach him. They’re trying to encourage him to think before he speaks or acts. They’re encouraging him to consider all the steps he must take to completely finish an assignment. But it’s hard work to undo the poor training or lack of interest from the past. Only time will tell if his work ethic improves.


I recently read that the preaching of a popular pastor of a megachurch is controversial. In other words, his preaching is contradictory to the Bible. He denies certain biblical truths and speaks out of line. I also read of another pastor who is sharing mixed messages concerning heaven. These pastors don’t necessarily know how their words are impacting their hearers. They may not know the spiritual foundation of those hearing their words. The hearers of their message may not be on solid ground and can’t discern biblical truths. Perhaps, it would be good for those pastors to go back and read the Bible with a new lens. Their teaching may be laying shaky foundations or adding shifty layers to an already unstable foundation in the lives of innocent people. These men will be held responsible for their teachings.


Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15


We are builders. We’re all building something. We build a life. A career. A family. A home. A nest egg. A legacy. We build our lives one layer at a time. And the strength and stability of each layer determines the strength of the next layer. If one layer is weak, the entire effort can fail. And then we must decide the next steps. Do we start over? Do we make repairs and continue down the same path? Do we just walk away? These are hard decisions to make.

The same goes for our spiritual lives. There are layers to our growth as a follower of Christ. Each layer must be secured in the foundational teachings of Jesus Christ. If they’re not, then we can develop weak faith. A faith that crumbles when trials come around. We may develop a shallow faith where strong roots can’t develop. Then what happens when the storms of life hit us out of nowhere?

As followers of Christ, we all build into the lives of others. We are called to use our gifts to help others find their faith or to strengthen it. Each gift is unique to each person. We must use our gifts wisely. In order to use our gifts in a way that honors God, we must prepare. Our gifted foundation must be strong, so we can build into others’ lives in a way that pleases God. Otherwise, the faith of those we encounter will be shaky. And our testimony will be watered down. We must seek to know God’s Word so we can share it confidently with others we meet. We must be wise and humbly build solid foundations in the lives of those we are called to disciple. We will be held accountable for our leading.

Our work will be tested. God will examine and judge our work. We are builders. Jesus is the foundation, which is indestructible. But how solid is the rest of the building? We builders will give an account of our work. Oh. We may not be lost if we produce shoddy work. But we won’t receive a full reward. 

Let’s not settle for half truths or unfinished work. Let’s create a masterpiece. For on the day of final inspection, we don’t want to be found in violation of any of God’s codes.

Oh. May all who come behind us find us faithful. 

Speak Up

The man was on trial for a crime he hadn’t committed. But there were those who were out to get him. They wanted him dead. So they brought trumped up charges against him. They had false witnesses testify at his trial. They wanted to bring him down at all costs. They hated him. They despised the work he was doing. So they lied. They insisted that he be killed. They didn’t give him a legal trial. His trial was held in the dead of night. They convicted him before the public knew he had even been arrested.

It was as if they were on a witch hunt. Pursuing an innocent man, because they hated him. They were jealous of this man. This night was not the first time they were looking for reasons to kill him. They had relentlessly pursued him. Watching him in the temple as he explained the Scriptures. Watching for any sign that he was breaking Jewish laws so they could punish him. But he was always able to get away. Until now. On this night, he was betrayed by one of his own.

The thing is. Jesus knew the prophecies about himself. He knew what was in store. He had quoted those prophecies to his disciples, yet they didn’t understand the meaning of his words. Until much later. Until those prophecies had been fulfilled with his death and suffering and resurrection. Then their hearts were opened, and they understood all he had said was true.

And when the high priest asked if he should be freed, the people demanded that a murderer be released instead of this innocent man. The people. The crowd who stood by watching had just days before been praising and worshiping this man as he rode a donkey down the street. They were waving palm branches in his honor.

But oh. How their hearts had turned. When he who had taught a message of love and hope was on trial, they didn’t stand up for him. They wouldn’t dare speak the truth. Because if they did, they too might be brought to trial. And their fate could be the same as his. So they stayed silent about the truth. They demanded that he be killed.

This man. This innocent man was Jesus. They knew him to be the son of Mary and Joseph the carpenter. His brothers and sisters were known to these people. So when Jesus began teaching a message that directly opposed the ancient Jewish traditions, some believed publicly. Others believed privately. Others doubted his message. And still others revolted against him.

Jesus never shied away from teaching anyone who would listen. And actually, people followed him from place to place. They were eager to hear a message that spoke of love and humility. They were hungry to hear a message that spoke of treating others the way they want to be treated. They were amazed that a man who looked like them could perform miracles. He could heal the blind, the crippled, the deaf and the diseased. He could bring people back to life. He could calm a raging storm. They wanted what he had.

But were they willing to pay the price?

When Jesus was arrested that night in the Garden of Gethsemane, his followers scattered. Suddenly, his message seemed a threat to their lives. If they were found to be a follower of this man Jesus, what punishment awaited them? Would they too be brought to trial in a back room away from the courts and be declared guilty by false accusers? Suddenly this man with unusual teachings seemed more of a threat to their personal safety than they were willing to accept. They must protect themselves and their families. They thought. So they turned on him.

During the trial when asked what he was teaching, Jesus told them to ask the people who heard his teachings.  He said he hadn’t spoken in secret.  His message was public knowledge.  He wasn’t trying to hide the message of salvation from the crowds.  He was speaking loudly and boldly. He never watered down his message or shied away from speaking truth. He knew the cost and he continued this work his Father had laid out for him.

Oh.  There were times when he asked others who he had healed not to tell who had healed them.  But that was because his time had not yet come.  He wanted to postpone his arrest and crucifixion until more people had heard the good news.

But he definitely wasn’t shy about spreading the gospel of salvation.


The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. Luke 10:2


How many of us speak of our faith only in secret?  Only in the confines of our church on Sunday morning?  Or in our Bible study group? Or in the safety of our homes? Or with our Christian friends?  How many of us, instead of trying to win the world to Christ, try to shield our faith by standing silent in public? Even when we see and hear wrong being taught and applauded, do we stand silent? Or do we speak up?

I dare say that we’ve become too comfortable with keeping our faith to ourselves. We say that we pray for the lost. We give money so others can share the Good News. But do we put our faith on the line by speaking boldly about right and wrong.

Recently, I was talking to someone about current events. We were both disturbed by the way our culture is heading. This person mentioned to me that someone needs to do something. And I thought to myself. Why not you? Why not me? Why don’t we believers do something and say something? If not you, then who? If not me, then who?

Inside, the high priest began asking Jesus about his followers and what he had been teaching them. Jesus replied, “Everyone knows what I teach. I have preached regularly in the synagogues and the Temple, where the people gather. I have not spoken in secret. Why are you asking me this question? Ask those who heard me. They know what I said.” Then one of the Temple guards standing nearby slapped Jesus across the face. “Is that the way to answer the high priest?” he demanded. Jesus replied, “If I said anything wrong, you must prove it. But if I’m speaking the truth, why are you beating me?” Then Annas bound Jesus and sent him to Caiaphas, the high priest. John 18:19-24

You can read the full story of Jesus’ trial, crucifixion and resurrection in John 18-20.

Mission Field

The ones I work with cheat.  They speak ill of others.  They don’t respect authority.  They speak with crude words.  They lie.  They steal time from the company.  They look out only for themselves.

I wonder why I have anything to do with them.  Then I remember.  I’m one of them.  I’m no better than them.  Oh.  I work hard.  I do my best.

They are my mission field.  The ones I am called to serve.  To love them as Jesus does.  To care for them.  This is my battlefield.  To fight off Satan’s advances in a place where his ways are popular.  If I don’t fight Satan there, who will.  If I don’t share God’s love with them, who will.

I’ve worked with this type throughout the years.  It’s nothing new.  But I find that I must stay close to my Heavenly Father so I don’t become one of them.  Oh.  I’m not better than them.  I’m just like them.  But I’ve found the One in whom my soul delights.  I want to please Him rather than myself.  I want to serve Him rather than myself.

They’re lost to the truth.  They don’t know that God loves them.  They don’t know he’s the one true relationship they’ve been searching for all this time.  But I know it.  I know the truth.  I know the One they seek.  I can lead them to him.  I can help them find him.

After all.  Jesus didn’t turn away from those who weren’t like him.  He loved the unlovable.  He had dinner at the cheating tax collector’s house.  He struck up a conversation with a woman who was shunned by her community.  He stood with a woman caught in adultery.

Jesus didn’t spend time only with those who followed him.  He sought out others who needed what he had to offer.  He made himself available to those who didn’t know they needed him.


You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.  God is not a secret to be kept.  Matthew 5:14


He saw the tax collector sitting in a tree.  Jesus knew this man had gotten rich by cheating others of out large sums of money.  But he still invited himself to the man’s house for dinner.  This man turned his life around and gave half his wealth to the poor and returned money to those he had cheated.  All because Jesus took time for him and showed him the way of  love and forgiveness.

Jesus started a conversation with the woman with the questionable past.  He spoke first, asking for a drink of water.  He told her things about herself he shouldn’t have known.  He loved her in spite of the fact that she had had five husbands and was living with another man.  This woman who was shunned by her community ran to tell them about this man who knew everything about her.  She and her village were changed because of the simple message of love and forgiveness.

The woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus.  Her accusers were trying to trick him, but he didn’t play their game.  They wanted her stoned to death.  So Jesus suggested the one in the group who had never sinned should throw the first stone.  One by one they quietly walked away.  The woman’s accusers were guilty of sins, just as she was.  But Jesus didn’t condemn her.  Instead, in love he told her to leave her life of sin.  He showed her love and forgiveness.

So.  Who do I think I am that I shouldn’t spend time with those who don’t believe as I do?  Why should I surround myself only with those like me?  Why do I think I can ignore those I come in contact with who have sin written all over their face?  For I’m just like them.  I have sin written all over my face, but it’s been washed clean in Jesus’ blood.   I’m no better than them, but I’ve accepted the gift of eternal life.

Yes.  I must be Jesus to those I work with.  Perhaps they can turn from cheating.  From their gossip.  From self-centeredness.  But not only them.  I think of the one who delivers my groceries every week.  Does he need Jesus in his life?  I think of the one who cuts my hair.  My massage therapist.  What about my neighbors?  The people at the dog park.  Who can I be Jesus to today?