Empty-Handed

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Speak

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

Our conscience is our inner sense of right and wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Let’s not wait.

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

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

And When They Are Old

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

Balm in Gilead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are living in troubled times.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stand Up

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

This Man Jesus

I’ve been thinking about this man named Jesus. When he was born, there were some who recognized who he was. And they saw who he was not. They knew he was the Son of God and not Joseph’s son. He was one of a kind. One could say. But he was perfect. And that’s hard to say. Because there has been no one before him who was perfect and no one since. And no one else will be. After all, he never sinned. No one else can say that about themselves.

As he began his ministry, he spoke words that were different from what people expected to hear. He was followed by many, but hated by many more. He said he had not come to bring peace. He came to bring a sword. A man would be against his father, a daughter would be against her mother. Family would be against family. But why?

He came to bring division.

He said he did not come to bring peace, yet he was called the Prince of Peace. He came to bring a sword, yet he provides a suit of armor. His message was radical, yet he is the long awaited Messiah. He died on a wooden cross, yet he was the Great Healer. He promised eternal life, yet he died a physical death.

This man Jesus is a mystery to some, and a Savior to all who call on his name. He performed many miracles, yet he didn’t save himself from torture and pain and death.

He causes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good. He sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. He is the chief cornerstone and the Rock of Ages. He was despised and rejected by men, but he died to save all of mankind.


This man truly was the Son of God!
Matthew 27:54


Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household! Matthew 10:34-36

The message of Jesus Christ started a revolution, and it is still going strong today. Both the message and the revolution. There are times of revival and there are times of rebellion against his message. Many have repented of their sins, and many have fallen away.

Jesus was a Jew, but his message was for all people. Jews. Gentiles. Everyone. He was not partial. His message was for men and women. He spoke truth to all people at all times.

His wounds healed my sinful heart. His death gave me eternal life. And when he arose from the dead on that third day, he made the way for my sins to be buried in the deepest sea.

He submitted to his Father’s will and left heaven. He was born a baby and grew to be a man. His earthly life lasted 33 years. But he packed a lifetime into those years. His ministry was only three short years, but in that time he upended tradition and the Jewish laws. He appeared to be a rebel, yet he spoke only truth. His message was not for the faint of heart, but for those seeking the Way. His life was prophesied and fulfilled. He was the final answer for a sinful world.

This man Jesus died for me. He literally breathed his final breath as a promise of eternal life in exchange for my repentance. He was God, yet he gave his few years to a human life on this earth and experienced all the temptations that mere mortals face. Yet he never gave in. He never submitted himself to those temptations. He was without sin. He was God in human form. Oh, the day before he hung on that cross, he begged his Father for his life. He asked to be given a pass on this act of sacrificial love. But God, his heavenly Father, said no. My will, Son, is for you to hang on that old rugged cross and die for the sins of all mankind. Just this once. And once was enough. He paid the ultimate sacrifice with his human life for my human sins.

Jesus is the Word of God incarnate, and yet he submitted to the Scriptures.

Michael Horton

Jesus paid it all. All to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.

Never Stop Praying

I think of the prayer requests that I’ve received recently. And I’m reminded of how fragile life really is. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but we know who holds tomorrow.

There’s the one who lost his father from a tragic fall. There’s the child who’s having surgery. I think of the one who’s been unfairly accused and faces an uncertain future. Then there’s the one who has health issues that seem never ending. The one who recently started chemo. And another who’s finishing chemo and preparing for the next steps. 

I think of the one who was in a car accident. And the family whose loved one is in hospice care. I think of the sister whose faith has taken a turn toward recklessness. The son who is fighting depression. And the daughter who is still struggling with health problems months after her accident. I remember the one who received a daunting mental health diagnosis. And the one who hasn’t yet received a diagnosis. And there’s the one who is struggling with health issues and is searching far and wide for relief.

Another one feels they must lie in order to avoid combative conversations. I think of the one who apologized for possibly offending another. I recall the one who has a bad attitude about their work situation. They all need to pray, and they need others to pray for them.

Her loved one is dying. He doesn’t have long to live. His days are numbered. She isn’t sure how to talk to him. She isn’t sure what to do. I said all we can do is pray. It sounded so helpless. But wait. Prayer isn’t helpless. Prayer is the act of turning over our troubles and concerns and struggles and needs to an Almighty, All Powerful God. It isn’t an act of weakness. Prayer is one of the most powerful acts a believer can do.


Never stop praying. 1 Thessalonians 5:17


I wonder why we use prayer as a last resort, instead of as our first line of defense. Or offense. God is always available. He is ready and willing to hear our prayers. Prayer is power.

Have the habit of prayer, turning your thoughts into acts by connecting them with the idea of the redeeming God.

(Coleridge, Notes on the Book of Common Prayer)

Prayer. The act of talking with God. Sharing our concerns and needs and gratitude and praise. It’s a time to bare our souls and just lay out all our fears and desires. But we can’t forget to offer thankfulness. God is so good to us. He has blessed us beyond measure. He knows everything we will do and what we won’t do. He knows everything we need and everything we want. God can do more than we ask or imagine. We must remember to thank God for everything.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6

There’s the sinner’s prayer asking for forgiveness. There’s the prayer of thanksgiving. God hears our every prayer. He answers our prayers in the way he sees fit. For that, we should be thankful. 

We should pray seeking wisdom as we make decisions. And for speaking words of truth. We must pray for discernment. And whether we like it or not, we should pray for our political leaders and for those in authority. We need to pray for those who are against us, not just for those who are for us. We must pray for others, and not just for ourselves.

We must pray. Because when we pray, we draw closer to God. We don’t pray to change God. Prayer actually changes us, even when we are praying for others. Prayer moves God to work in our lives. We can and must pray boldly, and God will hear us. We must not be afraid to pray for anything and all things.

And when those prayers aren’t answered in the way we want or expect, we must still cry out to God. We must still bring our requests to him knowing that he always hears us. God’s will is always accomplished. We must ask ourselves. Are we praying for God’s will or our own? Regardless of the answer or lack of, we must pray. Regardless of how long we wait to see heaven move. We still pray.

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. Romans 12:12

Clean House

Our internet service was slow, and we needed help. The appointment was scheduled for the very next day. And I wasn’t going to be home the morning of the appointment.  Of course.  There was no time to do a deep clean of the spaces where the technician would have to work. At least that’s what I told myself.

The technician knocked on the door. He had arrived whether I was ready for him or not. Now mind you. I know I’m not the world’s best housekeeper. I’ve never claimed to be. And I don’t plan to change anytime soon. But there’s a problem with that way of thinking.

As I stood in the room with the man, I looked at the space through his eyes. It wasn’t pleasant. It was cluttered and untidy. There was too much unnecessary stuff lying around. Power tools. Computer equipment. Clothes. The closet door was open. It was embarrassing, to say the least. 

Then I walked into the next room he would need to visit. All I could see was the dust. And the crumbs left on the floor by my dog. I hurriedly grabbed a paper towel and dusted as best I could. I picked up crumbs off the floor. I straightened the magazines. I threw away trash. It looked a little more presentable, but it made me uncomfortable. I realized that my laziness was something that couldn’t be easily dusted away in a couple of minutes. My house needed a deep clean. 

Oh sure. There are areas that I do clean each week. I clean the bathrooms. I keep my kitchen clean. I vacuum. I keep things picked up. For the most part. I just don’t typically allow guests to see the places that a repairman would need to see. After all, he needs to see the spaces that hold wires and outlets and other electrical things. Apparently, that’s the least tidy area in my house. 

I’ve come to realize that I’m perfectly comfortable with having a tidy house. It doesn’t have to be spotless in order for me to feel accomplished.


Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. Hebrews 4:13


I know there is One who sees every room of my heart. I’ve opened the door of my heart to him, so he lives here and has free reign in my life. He walks through my heart on a daily basis. He sees the room where I feed my soul. He knows if my spiritual diet is healthy or if I fill my mind with junk food. Because what comes out of my mouth comes from my heart. He is not fooled.

As the One who knows me enters the door to my heart, He sees the cobwebs that cover the unused spiritual gifts that he has bestowed on me. He sees me when I rise and when I sleep. He knows the way I take. He knows when I obey and when I don’t. He knows me for who I truly am. There is no doubt I’m made in his image. He knows I don’t always represent him as I should.

The clutter of bad attitudes, unrepentant sins, words of gossip, ill feelings, unkind thoughts and many other acts of unrighteousness make the passageways of my heart uninhabitable. There’s no wonder that fear and worry and anxiety fill me at times. If I don’t keep those passageways clear, there’s no way I will be able to sense the leading of the Holy Spirit. He may decide that he’s no longer welcome.

I have to ask myself how I thought there could ever be room for God when all my priorities and moments are planned solely for myself. I need to clean out the closets and declutter my heart. I need to reprioritize and make room for daily Bible reading and prayer. I must sweep the cobwebs from the corners of my mind and air out my soul. I need to clean house and clean it now.

God doesn’t just stop by when I schedule an appointment or make himself available only on Sundays. He lives in this heart. I invited him in to stay, so He always sees and knows the contents of this beating vessel. My heart needs to be clean at all times, because it’s always in full view of the One who created it.

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Sometimes I feel unfulfilled. I think I need something new and exciting in my life.  I feel like something is missing, and I search for that missing piece. So when that happens, I go on a hunt. I try to find something to fill that void. So I take a walk through my house to see what can make me happy. But is happiness what I’m looking for?

As I walk through each room of my house, I check to see what I can change that might make me feel fulfilled. Something that might change my mood. Something that will give me a sense of satisfaction. Something that will refresh my spirit.

I look at the kitchen. Do I need to rearrange the items on the open shelves? Would colorful dishes look better than all white plates? Would a new plant look nice on the island? Are the cupboards filled with enough food? And if I look in the freezer, I’ll find the new stash of chocolate I just bought. Can’t run out of that. And when I bite into a piece of the chocolate, do I stop to ask myself how happy it makes me? Is one piece ever enough?

I look over at the living room. How does it look? I check to see if the decor is starting to look dated. Is the paint color fresh? Do the plants look healthy? Is the rug faded? Maybe I need to redecorate with new pillows. I just bought a beautiful new wall hanging. Maybe that will be enough change for awhile.

I check out the dining room. The runner on the table is several years old. Perhaps a new one is in order. The tray in the center of the table is one of my favorite pieces. But maybe it’s time to freshen up the look.

Then I walk into my closet. And what do I see? A rack of clothes. I wonder how often I wear each item. Then I remember that these are just the clothes for this season. If I walk into another room, I’ll find another closet full of clothes for the next season. And shoes? There are more than I need. That’s for sure. And how many do I wear on a regular basis? That’s a question I don’t even want to answer. Oh. I just bagged up a trashbag full of scarves and sweaters to donate. But I wonder how many more items from the closet I should also donate.

I open the door to the garage, and I examine my car. I know it’s not the latest model. It’s eight years old. It’s not as new as other cars I see. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles you would find in the latest models. It isn’t a luxury brand. Never mind that it’s paid for. It hasn’t been high maintenance, except for the expensive tires. I’m not embarrassed to be seen in it. Does it impress others when they see me drive up in it? Does it matter?

I walk outside to look at my flowerbeds. I see a lot of shady areas, but there’s also a little space for sun. I wonder if I can find room for a couple more flowerbeds. I envision lots of blooming flowers, but I realize I must be realistic about what will attract deer and what will repel them. I also must be realistic about how much work it will take to keep the flowerbeds looking nice. Can I get enough flowers in the little space I have? Or will it be too much work?

I log onto my bank account. I check the balance of all my accounts. Is the market up today or is it down? Is my money safe? Am I financially secure? Am I prepared for retirement? Can I pay my bills? What will it take to satisfy me? Am I looking for meaning in all the wrong places?


You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. Psalms 63:5


Feasts are known to be satisfying. But that satisfaction doesn’t last. It leaves a longing for more. The thing about the feast. It’s not meant to be a last meal, but perhaps a celebration. It is not meant to fulfill every last longing that someone has. It is a moment in time that will last in memories for a lifetime. But it doesn’t bring lasting fulfillment.

Then it dawns on me that I’m looking in the wrong place. Food and clothes and cars and flowers and money are all good things. I don’t need luxury. I don’t need fortunes. I don’t need fame. They don’t provide lasting peace and fulfillment. But what I do have is peace. Peace of mind. I have a calm assurance that all is well with my soul. I have deep abiding peace.

I know that my relationship with God is the most important part of my life. But I sometimes get sidetracked by other things. I realize the the peace I have because of God’s forgiveness is the calming I need in my life. I realize that as I faithfully read and study God’s Word, I have a greater knowledge and wisdom for making life decisions. I don’t need to search for a quick fix to boredom and discontentment, because I am content in the knowledge that I am deeply loved by a God who knows my name. He fights for me. He died for my sins. He is my Savior. The joy of the Lord is my strength.

The world may try to satisfy that longing in your soul. You may search the wide world over but you’ll be just as before. You’ll never find true satisfaction until you’ve found the Lord, for only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

Only Jesus can satisfy your soul. Yes, only He can change your heart and make you whole. He’ll give you peace you never knew, sweet joy and love and heaven, too. For only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

If you could have the fame and fortune, all the wealth you could attain. Yet, you have not Christ within, your living here would be in vain. There’ll come a time when death will find you, riches cannot help you then. So, come to Jesus, only He can satisfy.

Only Jesus can satisfy your soul. Yes, only He can change your heart and make you whole. He’ll give you peace you never knew, sweet joy and love and heaven, too. For only Jesus can satisfy your soul. Yes, only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

Lanny Wolfe