Don’t Lose It

I don’t always understand everything I read. I don’t know why. I know I’m not the smartest person who ever walked the earth. But I do have common sense. I also don’t remember everything I read or that I’m told. So I need to pay close attention when I’m hearing words that can make or break me. I need to know when I’m hearing constructive criticism or just plain negativity.

When I consider all the sermons I’ve heard in my lifetime, I should probably be a biblical scholar by now. When I remember that I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover more than once, I wish it all would have sunk in. When I hear Bible teachers and read authors teaching biblical truths, I want to place as much of the truth in my heart. But I’m human. There’s no way I can remember everything I’ve heard or learned. There’s no way I can be perfectly fluent in principles I don’t know.

But. I can choose what type of hearing I have when I hear truth spoken. I can choose to ignore it and go my own way. I can pretend to follow the truth, but then act the exact opposite when I think no one’s looking. I can claim to follow the truth, but then turn from it when I’m faced with what seems to be an insurmountable challenge. Or I can follow the truth I’ve been given and live a thriving, productive life. The choice is mine. Once the seed is planted in the soil of my heart, I must choose how to maintain it.

I think of the work that I do. I recall the training I received when I was new on the job. My boss gave me specific instructions on what to do and what not to do. And she told them that all mistakes were fixable. No need to panic. I know that in this job the buck doesn’t stop with me, but I help move the buck along. I need to heed the words of advice I’ve received. If I go rogue, then at some point I’ll find myself unemployed. I can’t close my ears to the truth of her instructions or I’ll be given the boot.


To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. Matthew 13:12


Some say truth is subjective. It changes with our moods or our feelings. But really. It doesn’t. The truth always stands strong. How can truth change just because my mood is cloudy today? Truth is solid. We can count on it to remain firm. We’re the ones who have moved the needle on truth. We move it to fit our circumstances. Our wishful thinking. We redefine truth so we can feel comfortable with our choices. And when we move truth to something it isn’t, we move our hearts further from God. We’ve then chosen to live a lie.

The longer we ignore or avoid the truth, the more it is distorted. And when truth becomes distorted, it’s hard to recognize at all. Or is it? Is the truth just staring us in the face, even though we’ve denied it? Do we recognize the truth and just glaze over because we deny it? Or. Do we really believe the lies that we’ve accepted as truth? When the truth pricks our conscience, we don’t want to hear it. Because then. We have to do something about it. Ignore it and go on our merry way. Or accept it and make a change. Truth demands action.

By continually ignoring truth, we harden our hearts to it. We no longer even seek it out. We accept whatever word is spoken without investigating the facts. It makes life more convenient and comfortable, as long as it pleases us. Because. As I said. Truth requires action. And the longer we tune out the word of truth, we forget what it is. Lord, help us.

But know this. There is still time to turn a hardened heart back to God. Today. There is still time. We can repent and bow our knee to God Almighty. Let’s not wait. Time is running short. Let’s accept the truth of our sin and run back to God who is waiting with open arms.

Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. Hebrews 3:12-14

Living Truthfully

Daniel and three of his friends were taken captive when the Babylonian army invaded Jerusalem. They were among many young men of the royal family and other noble families who were forced to serve in the Babylonian king’s court. Yet they were foreigners. They spoke another language. They worshipped a different God. They followed different customs. They observed Jewish holidays. They ate a restricted diet. Yet God allowed them to be placed, exiles though they were, in a precarious situation.

Early on in their new roles, these four young men faced challenges. Their Jewish names were replaced with Babylonian names. Yet they chose to continue to follow the customs of their Jewish heritage instead of abandoning it for the sake of fitting in to a new environment. Instead of hiding their dietary customs, they chose to speak up and ask for a different food allotment. And it was granted for a period of testing. Of course. God was with them during the test, and they passed with flying colors. Their act of bravery, unbeknownst to the king, gave them favor with the chief of staff, the king and most definitely with God. They dared to speak up without knowing the outcome. With this test diet, they outperformed all the other trainees. And as they continued in their training, their wisdom and knowledge far surpassed anyone else’s. They remained true to their faith, yet they were given choice positions in the king’s service.

Later, the king built a gold statue for everyone to bow to in worship. Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, refused to bow. They served the one true living God and would bow to no other. Someone reported this act of defiant bravery, and they were thrown into a hot burning furnace. Yet they survived the fire. In fact, an angel of the Lord joined them in the fire. Although the king acknowledged the presence of the living God, he didn’t declare his allegiance to God.

By the time Daniel was an old man, a new king had risen to power. Daniel had had great success in his career, and his coworkers were jealous. He was being promoted again, and he would serve over the entire Babylonian empire. Those green with envy were determined to bring him down. Oh. They knew his track record on the job was spotless, and there was nothing to criticize. They decided to fight him where it hurts. His faith. They knew his Jewish faith was the one thing that set him apart, so they set up a challenge. A diversion of sorts. They challenged the king to create a law that required everyone to bow down to him only for thirty days. Worship of other gods was forbidden, or the offender would be thrown into the lion’s den. Of course. Daniel continued to pray at his open window three times a day. Nothing changed for Daniel. But then they came for him. And he was thrown in with the lions. But God wasn’t finished with Daniel just yet, so Daniel’s life was spared. When Daniel was removed from the den the next morning, there was no sign of a struggle at all. The lions’ mouths had been shut by God.

For the full story of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, read Daniel 1-6.

Then there was Esther. The Jewish girl who was thrust into the harem of an ungodly king who was looking for a new queen. The current queen had refused to play his games and publicly humiliate herself. In her refusal, she humiliated the king. So he was on the hunt for a new queen. The audition: Give up your virginity to the king.

After four years of deflowering young women, the king still hadn’t found one he fancied. But then. Esther’s name was called. It was her night. And if she pleased the king, she would be crowned the new queen. In her humble act of selflessness, she won the king’s heart. Esther was now the queen. But the king didn’t know that his new wife was of Jewish descent. And when a mortal enemy of the Jews wrote a proclamation that all Jews were to be annihilated, the king gave his written permission. The law could not be changed. So Esther’s uncle went into action and let her know that her time had come to defend her people. And boy. Did she defend her people. Through God’s help, the enemy of the Jews was killed. And on the day the Jews were to be killed, they were allowed to defend themselves. No Jew was harmed on that day. Esther’s brave act of courage and selflessness saved the chosen people of God.

For Esther’s full story, read the book of Esther.


If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this? Esther 4:14


We as believers must be willing to face the consequences of living truthfully. Of living biblical lives not only in private, but also in public. We don’t know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. Do we trust our heavenly Father even when life is tough? When life calls for us to declare our faith publicly, will we stand? Or will we be silent and look the other way?

We don’t know what the cost might be, but we must be willing to pay it. Daniel was thrown into a lion’s den. And he survived. God spared his life. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace. And an angel of God joined them in the fire. They survived without a burn on their bodies. Not a hair on their head was singed. Esther was forced to give up her virginity to the king not knowing if he would choose her to be the queen. God used her impossible situation to eventually save her Jewish people.

These brave people didn’t flaunt their faith in public. They quietly lived their lives in obedience to God. They acted publicly on their faith at times when a tough decision was required. Esther kept her Jewish faith quiet for a long time, never letting her husband know of her heritage. She spoke up when her life and the lives of all Jewish people was at stake. She didn’t make a scene. She trusted that God would pave the way as she spoke and acted in faith.

We may think these kinds of situations will never come our way. Hopefully, they won’t. But other situations will arise. We are at a crossroads in this country, and we have no idea what lies ahead for us. We may be commanded by those in authority to bow to their gods and their demands. We too may have to choose who will will serve. Will we bow only to God? Or will we dip the knee to a smaller, lesser fake god who can’t save us, let alone hear us?

Being faithful to living biblical truth doesn’t mean you won’t be burned in the fire. Or that you won’t be eaten by lions. Or be forced to give up a sacred piece of yourself. But being faithful at all costs will reap eternal benefits. And that is our ultimate goal. Regardless of how difficult life may get, God is in those days with us.

Life is difficult. You can’t do life without God. Take your pain, jump into his lap. Let him cradle you through it. Let him be your mighty warrior. Expect beauty out of ashes. There are God stories in each of our days.

Judy Squier

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

Practice the Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

But they do it anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God help us all.

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.

Two Sides of the Story

There are always two sides to every story. Like it or not. If it’s your story, you will tell your side. And someone else will tell theirs. How often do both stories match? It’s hard to say. Stories are open to interpretation.

 Both sides of the story can hold truth. It’s not that one side is all lies and the other side all truth. There could be a little of both woven into each story. Or perhaps one party is just outright lying. And they aren’t concerned about getting the facts right.  Perhaps their motives and allegiances are less than honorable.

 Time will tell which story is true. Perhaps the truth isn’t made know in the time frame needed. But there will always be a day of reckoning. Sometimes sooner. Sometimes later.

There are those who don’t seek the truth. They’re looking for ideas of convenience.  Stories that suit their evil intentions. They don’t care who is harmed or whose life is ruined. Revenge is fair game. In their mind. 

I see that happening in a story I read recently. A man was unfairly accused of an act he didn’t commit. Many believed the false charges. Others helped bring him down. In fact, they killed him. By throwing stones at him. His dying wish was that they would not be held accountable for their actions.  Such forgiveness.  Such mercy coming from a dying man. There was another man in the crowd.  He stood by silently watching. He held the coats of those throwing stones at the innocent man. His deafening silence was approval. 

Perhaps if he had spoken up, the man’s life could have been saved. But it wasn’t to be. He remained silent. I wonder if that scene ever kept him awake at night.

You can read the entire story in Acts 6-8:1.

I wonder how many times I have remained silent when I should have spoken up. How many wrongs could I have helped right by moving out of my comfort zone. By putting my reputation on the line. By telling the truth when lies were being spread.

I see this world. This country. In chaos. We’ve lost sight of our Christian values. Why have so many of us who live those values kept them to ourselves? What are we afraid of? Being canceled? It is a real thing. Speaking in opposition to current cultural norms can ruin a person’s livelihood these days. 

Sometimes coming to the truth is a process. It’s a study of the evidence.  Not giving up or making a decision until all the facts have been presented and weighed. 


Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12


Stephen was one of seven men chosen to help distribute food to the widows. In doing that, he had opportunities to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. He spoke the truth and was arrested. Some men began to lie about him. They invented stories and accusations against this man who was living in obedience to God. And then he spoke the story of God’s love and plan of redemption for his people. He shared how his Jewish ancestors had followed God’s plan at times. And other times, they deliberately disobeyed him. Stephen pointedly called the Jewish leaders heathens and stubborn people. He accused them of being deaf to the truth. He reminded them that they had deliberately disobeyed God’s laws. Obviously, they were outraged. They seized him and had him stoned to death.

Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. Acts 8:1

I am struck by this Bible verse everytime I read it. It speaks so of humanity. Thinking we’re doing the right thing when we’ve not accepted truth. We’ve accepted information that doesn’t give us pause. We choose convenience over fact finding. We obey lies and are comfortable doing it. Shame on us. We must ask ourselves some hard questions. What if speaking the truth causes persecution? What if we suffer for speaking biblical truth? Are we up for the task? Oh. Scripture says we will suffer. We’ve been exempt for so long that we bristle at the thought of being on the wrong side of the law when we’ve not committed a crime. But it can happen. It already is in some places.

I speak only for myself when I say I’m happy with an easy life. I enjoy being comfortable. I don’t want to be persecuted or canceled. I don’t want to be on the wrong side of the law for being obedient to Christ. But what if it comes to that? Will my faith hold strong? Or will I wilt under pressure? I pray my faith holds me to the end.

For Saul, it seemed simple. At first. He hunted and persecuted those who believed that Jesus was the Promised Messiah. He did not believe, and he fought it with all his might. Then a strange thing happened. He had a roadside experience where the truth was revealed to him by none other than Christ himself.  It was so powerful that he couldn’t deny or ignore it. He realized he had been living a lie. He had been hunting and killing innocent people. Oh. The remorse. But he was now a changed man. He was one of them. He was a believer. As he studied and examined the Scriptures, he learned the error of his ways. He now made it his mission to tell others the Good News. Regardless of the cost. And it did cost him. He was imprisoned. He was beaten and stoned. He eventually paid with his life. All for the sake of Christ.

Choosing the easy way may pay for a time. But when eternity is at stake, let’s choose to pay the cost. There’s no turning back once we cross the finish line. We’re in eternity for eternity. There’s no going back. Let’s get our story right and stick to the truth.

Praise be to God for his indescribable gift.

Who To Believe

I get massages on a regular basis. Out of need. Of course. I have a scar that has built up scar tissue, and it causes much tightness in my shoulder. So, of course, when the massage therapist advised me to get monthly massages, I obliged. Who wouldn’t? I also have some trouble with my right foot. The muscles get tight, which makes walking uncomfortable. She suggested I keep my feet in their natural state as much as possible. Basically, I shouldn’t wear shoes.

I love this massage therapist. She pursues training in new massage techniques. She uses several different methods to help provide relief to my tight and aching muscles. She seems to work magic. I walk away from her sessions feeling relaxed and renewed.

When this massage therapist moved away a few years ago, I had to find another. I had to find someone else who would be able to provide as much relief for my problems as she had given. It was a difficult task. But I found someone who worked in different ways to achieve the same results. This massage therapist is a man with much strength. He is determined to remove all the tightness from my muscles. His massages aren’t relaxing, but they are effective. They are just what I need.

But he gives different advice. As he was working on my tight right foot the other day, he asked if I wore shoes. I said no. Since I’m working from home, I only wear shoes when I leave the house. He didn’t seem pleased with that news. He acted as if my feet would be better off in shoes, rather than in their natural state.

Who am I to believe? Why wouldn’t allowing my feet to be in their natural state be better than being boxed into a shape formed by man or machine? Would my feet be better off walking on more padding? Should I choose what feels more comfortable or what is easiest for me? How am I to know what is right?


My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. Psalms 73:26


I think of my daily walk with God. What words am I feeding my soul? Am I getting a daily dose of God’s word in my diet? Or am I filling my mind full of words written by man about the Bible? There is a lot of truth out there. But there is also a lot of false teaching. My first line of defense must always be God’s word. It’s time to put away the junk food and feast on banquet food.

As I consider how best to care for my feet, I have a choice. What is easiest or what is most effective? Am I willing to pay the price now to have healthy feet, or do I just slip my feet into flimsy flip flops and be carefree? Because later, after years of neglect, there will be a much heavier price.

When I think of my spiritual life, I must consider the price I’m willing to pay today in order to be welcomed into the pearly gates of heaven one day. Is the price today so high that I forfeit it for comfort and pride? If I don’t pay the price today, I will pay it for eternity. The price today is a bargain, really. Serving God faithfully. Obeying his instructions. What do I have to lose? That seems to be the question these days.

I’ve never suffered for being a follower of Jesus. I’ve never been inconvenienced for my faith. I’ve never been persecuted or threatened because I attend church or read my Bible or pray. I’ve never been denied the basic comforts of life because I’m a Christian.

Could that day come? Yes. Will it? Only time will tell. But as for today, I will live for Christ regardless of any discomfort I may face in the future. My hope is in God Almighty and the salvation he freely offered.

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all in all
Here, in the love of Christ, I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save
‘Til on that cross, as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin, on him, was laid
Here, in the death of Christ, I live

There in the ground, his body lay
Light of the world, by darkness, slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave, he rose again
And as he stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am his and he is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from his hand
‘Til he returns or calls me home
Here, in the power of Christ, I stand

Keith and Kristyn Getty

Almost Divorced

Mary and Joseph. The couple who almost weren’t a couple. They planned to marry. But before they officially started their life together, it almost ended. Due to no fault of either of them, their marriage would forever be marked by scandal.

Mary was pregnant with a child who wasn’t Joseph’s. 

Imagine Joseph’s fears. The concern. The shame. Knowing he had done no wrong but unable to prove his innocence. Could he trust his bride? Was she being honest?

Imagine Mary’s concerns. Knowing she had done no wrong, but unable to prove her innocence. But who would believe her? Would Joseph trust her? Would her family believe the news the angel spoke? Would Joseph still want to be her husband? Would she be an outcast? But she knew what the angel had told her. And she believed.

It would have been easy for Joseph to win the case in court. Mary was pregnant with someone else’s child. They both knew that. The evidence was stacked against her. What man wouldn’t have dumped her?

But the angel who spoke to Joseph in a dream had a most convincing argument.  But how could it be possible that his Mary had been chosen to birth the Son of God? The Promised Messiah was the babe in her virgin womb. How would they sell that story?

Oh sure. Every Jew was taught that they were awaiting the coming of the Messiah. But why Mary? Why now? So Joseph did the unthinkable. He believed the angel. He kept his vow to Mary. He moved forward with the marriage. He would raise her child. 

The right decision paved the way for Joseph to raise this child in a safe and stable home. Oh. It wasn’t easy. I’m sure. But Joseph could sleep well at night. He could have peace within. He had trusted the all seeing, all knowing God to an unknown future. He willingly accepted the life God laid out for him and his family.

Even Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, recognized who lay in Mary’s womb. And so did the child in Elizabeth’s once barren womb. Mary didn’t need to be vindicated.  But her word and God’s word proved true even before the child was born. And then multiple times after his arrival.  

There were the shepherds who heard the news from the angels. The old man, Simeon, stood in the temple and recognized the baby immediately as the Son of God. And Anna, the prophet, also confirmed the 8-day old baby as the Promised Messiah. Later, the bright star that shone in the east led the wise men to seek this child.

These were no coincidence. These incidents were all by the hand of God. He was moving in his chosen people. The long awaited Messiah was now among them. Carried in a virgin womb. Wrapped in swaddling clothes. Delivered in the town of Bethlehem. Born to be the Deliverance of his people.

 The proof of Mary’s innocence and virtue were in place, if one was looking. 


“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord . “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9


How many times have I almost taken the wrong step, even though the right step was the road less traveled. The wrong step would have been the path of least resistance for Joseph. But the right decision looked foolish in the eyes of his family and neighbors. Who could fault him?  How could he explain the situation to those who asked? Mary and Joseph knew they were in for the long haul. But they didn’t really have a clue what life would be like living with the God Child. 

In our times of uncertainty, it’s easy to choose the obvious path. Especially when it’s what everyone else would do. But I’m not everyone else. And when God clearly says to take the least popular approach, then the response should be just as clear. I wonder how often I have chosen the easier path instead of the one designed by God. No one else has to know. Right? Except for God. But isn’t that enough to make me pause? God knows everything. He knows his plans for me. He knows when I follow his plans and when I don’t. So who am I fooling?

 A life of obedience to God’s will over the ways of the world can be the only choice. It is His perfect plan, even when it doesn’t seem the perfect solution. Even when friends and neighbors offer their unsolicited advice. Turn the other way. They say. Don’t stir up trouble when you don’t have to. Look out for yourself.

But God’s ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. His plans are perfect.

Division

He was a killer. He was a tyrant. A bully. A fighter. Oh. I’m not sure that he actually killed anyone out right. But he approved of Stephen’s killing. He stood by while an innocent man was stoned to death. And then he moved on. Looking for more victims. You see. He was looking for believers. Men and women. He would drag them from their homes and families and put them into prison.

He was a man who thought he was working for God, but instead he was working against God. He looked to bring down anyone in opposition of what he stood for. He was trying to destroy the church. He frightened anyone who came near him. His reputation preceded him. Those who had heard of him would do anything to stay out of his path.

Why was he being such a brute? His victims were believers of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He believed in God, but he didn’t believe in the risen Christ. He stood against everything they stood for. And he was determined to take down that group of believers. Oh. The devil had his soul, all right. And he didn’t care.

Who was this man?

Saul was a Pharisee. He had studied the Hebrew and Greek Bible. In his day, he would have memorized many Scriptures. He knew the law inside and out and obeyed it religiously. He once said that he was the best Jew one could find. He was a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin. His heritage could not be denied. So, why was he against this group of believers?


Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 1 John 3:18


There was another man. He was Stephen. He was a man of God. A follower of the Way. He was a member of a group who believed that Jesus Christ, the Messiah had been born and then died on a cross. He was among a group of seven chosen to distribute food to the widows. And with this responsibility came boldness. He boldly preached the new message of salvation.  He even performed miracles. He was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.

So it was widely known that Stephen was a believer of the message of the Messiah, just as Saul was well known for hunting those believers. They were on a collision course. One fateful day, their paths met and it changed the course of history. Stephen’s physical life ended and he entered heaven’s gates. Saul continued on his path of destruction.

At some point, Saul took his beliefs too far. That’s when he started persecuting Christians. He was out for blood. He was a zealot for revenge. What was he trying to prove? He was trying to protect the traditions of his ancestors instead of seeking salvation from the Savior.

History shows that Saul disagreed with the message Stephen was preaching. They stood on opposite sides of an argument that no human could settle. One group of Jews believed in the Messiah and others didn’t. They had never met, but they couldn’t agree to disagree.

Saul belonged to the group who didn’t believe in the Messiah. Stephen believed in the Messiah, the risen Savior.

So there stood Saul. Standing guard over the coats. Some might say he was minding his own business.  But really. He was an eyewitness to a murder. He could have stopped it. Or he could have gone for help. He could have spoken up. But no. He watched Stephen die. The man was stoned to death. I wonder if Saul even flinched when he saw the stones made contact.

Saul stood up for his beliefs and others paid with their lives. Stephen stood up for his beliefs and he paid with his life. It didn’t have to be that way.

You can read the full story of Saul and Stephen in Acts 6-8.

As in the day of Saul and Stephen, today’s church isn’t a perfect place. It’s filled with people who have differing opinions and beliefs. Many today have opposing thoughts and convictions about so many topics. There will always be rumblings of discontent. In the church and outside the church walls. Some believe one way. Others believe another way.

The question is. Do the beliefs point back to Scripture? Are the opinions and rumblings based on Biblical teaching or personal preference? Are we holding on to the traditions of our ancestors when they only followed rigorous laws and rules? Or are we following the teachings of the Messiah and seeking redemption for our sins?

I wonder. When we can’t agree to disagree, are we holding onto an idol of our own making? Are we more concerned with having our way instead of building up the church? If believers can’t agree, what message does that send to those who are questioning their own faith?

As believers, we really do need each other. We need to build up one another. Support and encourage each other. We must pray for each other. Times are tough. They may be tough for a long time. We’re not guaranteed an easy life. So, during these times of uncertainty and uneasiness, let’s pull together and support one another.

And if we disagree, let’s agree that we disagree.

The heart of the gospel should be the gospel of the heart.

Your Truth

Paul and Barnabas had been preaching the message of salvation to the townspeople. Many people believed the message that Jesus Christ died for their sins. They repented of their sins and became followers of The Way.

But there were those in the town who didn’t believe the message and began poisoning the minds of the new believers. They were trying to sway the people from believing this new message. But Paul and Barnabas continued to boldly preach the good news. They moved from town to town. They even performed miracles, which caused some people to proclaim that they were gods.

One minute the townspeople were wanting to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas because they thought they were gods. Then the next minute, troublemakers came along and confused the people, turning them against Paul and Barnabas.  So, instead of worshiping Paul and Barnabas, they stoned Paul. Fortunately, he lived to tell about it. 

To read this story of Paul and Barnabas, read Acts 14.

Just as these townspeople quickly turned on the truth, our beliefs can change at the drop of a hat when we aren’t grounded in biblical truths. We can go from one extreme to the other.  Not searching out the truth. Just believing what anyone tells us. Do we really want to know the truth? Will it require change? Or action? Will we have to give up some things we hold dear? Those things that may be sinful?

Is it too easy being comfortable?

It’s easy to latch onto a message that doesn’t require anything from us. But when it looks like sacrifice or persecution might be involved, we back off.  We’re looking for the easy way to heaven. If it calls for change or true repentance,  then forget it. We just want feel good Christianity. But that’s just it. That’s not Christianity. 

If we call ourselves Christians, we need to know what we believe. Let’s not be surface Christians. Let’s be authentic. Standing up for biblical truths. But before we stand for truth, we have to know what truth is. We can only find that by reading God’s Word. Deep Bible study. An intentional prayer life. God will speak to us. He will prune us. He’ll develop us into someone just like him. If we give him the chance.


Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15


Do you know if your truth is biblical truth? Do you want it to be? Do you assume that it is? When’s the last time you opened the Bible to compare it to what you believe and say? What would you do if you discovered you were wrong? Would you automatically assume you were right and God was wrong? Whose side are you on? Whose truth is really truth to you?

I’ve read that “your truth” is a combination of your experience and your opinion. Does that make it truth? What if your truth is a lie you’ve been telling yourself so long that you’ve started to believe it? It still doesn’t mean it’s true.

Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.

Blaise Pascal

Do we say amen to the sermon on Sunday? But then, come Monday morning, live like we didn’t even hear the sermon. Hmmm. We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there.

When you read a book written by a Christian author, do you assume that their words are biblical truth? Or do you just read words that make you comfortable? I mean, after all. Who wants to be convicted about our thoughts or our attitudes or our actions? Isn’t it ok if I just be me? Who am I offending?

Do you listen to the critics and enemies of Christ?  Or do you listen to Bible scholars? To those who are so in love with God and his Word. or to those who hate him — either publicly or privately? Why not research the writers before reading them? Why not find out what their beliefs and values really are? Let’s not just take someone else’s word for truth.

I recently heard someone say there is a problem with truth telling these days.

The truth of God is true for everyone, regardless if they believe it or not. Because one day, every knee will bow before God.

God’s truth is true in all times and in all places.

Owen Strachan

Father, help me to always seek Your truth. Not my truth. Not what’s easy or convenient for me. Not my opinion. Not my experience. But Your never ending, everlasting truth. I ask for your mercy to rain over me when I am seeking truth. Guide me to your truth first and foremost. Shelter me from the confusion and doubt that others’ truth can place in my heart. I want to see You and only You. I want to seek only Your truth. Amen.