Bite Your Tongue

It was a conversation that wasn’t going well. We disagreed, and no one wanted to take responsibility. He said words. I said words. Then he walked away. I went back to washing the dishes. Nothing was resolved, and I felt horrible. Why did my last words of the conversation have to be so judgmental? Why do I always lean toward negativity? Why not pause and think before I speak? Or, why not just say nothing? Why? Oh. Why?

And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. James 3:6

Someone else talks about others as if talking is going out of style. She shares intimate details about her own life with others. And she shares any and all details she knows about others lives. Nothing is sacred. And no one is off limits. She talks out of both sides of her mouth, so one day you’re in and the next day you’re out.

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:7-8

There is another who speaks lies. She tells the largest and grandest stories. Unsuspecting hearers might never know that the stories she tells are all fabrications. She tries to outdo anyone who is telling their story. She is competitive and she must win. At all costs. I wonder if she even knows what’s true anymore.

Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. James 3:9

He says vulgar words intertwined throughout his business conversations. I always wonder why that one word is such an important part of his vocabulary. But the word comes out without a second thought. I wonder how he turns that word off and on, especially when he’s talking to his customers.

The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:4

There’s the woman who could cut your throat with her words. At times, she could be kind and generous, and then out of nowhere hack you to pieces with her choice of words. Her words can be brutal and vicious. They are said out of fear and loathing. Loathing of herself, not of the victim. And fear of not being the one in charge. But the innocent party doesn’t know that. They have just received the worst verbal lashing in history. And can they recover?

And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! James 3:10

Words are everything to the hearer. They can stir the pot or they can calm the storm. We can soothe a soul or break a heart. With just a word or two. Our words are powerful. Why don’t we use them to build up each other. Once spoken, words can never be unsaid.

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1


Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. James 3:2


How do we stop the words that shouldn’t be said before they’re said? How do we stop lying, gossiping, cussing, nagging and stretching the truth? Oh. We must turn to the One who spoke the first words. The one who hears all words. And knows the intent of the words. We can only break the habit of using hurting words by reading the Word. With much prayer and discipline, the words can be stopped. We can bite our tongue and refrain from offending and abusing others. We must want to change before we can change. God help us.

I must ask myself. Is there a pattern of using inappropriate words in in my life? What are the triggers that take my words down a path they shouldn’t go? Is it pride? Or revenge? Is it anger? Or greed? Or fear? What is the motive for my words? To hurt someone? To get even? To make my point at all costs? To get my way? Do I care if my words offend or annoy someone? Do I care?

We say the Lord is Holy, and he is the giver of all gifts. How can ugly words come from the mouth that also speaks praise? How can the mouth that speaks truth also speak lies? How can the tongue that speaks compliments also spew evil?

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29

Heaven Stands

These times are troubling. That’s for sure. Evil is real and is coming out of the woodwork. But really. That’s not new, because times have been evil ever since people started disobeying God.

Some thought 2020 was the worst year of their life. And others thought January 6th was the worst day ever. And things really aren’t looking up.

Just when we think things are worse than they’ve ever been, they start going even further downhill. And yet we wake up still breathing every day. We’re still here. Wondering what’s next. Wondering what else is going to happen. But we go about our days, doing the things we must do. We go to work. We raise children. We eat and sleep. We’re still going about our lives the best we can. But that doesn’t mean that we agree with what is happening in our world. That doesn’t mean we agree with decisions that are being made. But we just do the next thing that we must do.

This country is appalled and trembling at the events that are happening in another country. These events are very troubling, because they signal a shift in the strength of our country. It makes us question the ability of our elected leaders, if we weren’t already. Now our enemies and allies are watching, because they see weakness in our leadership. We see it, too.

The table is being set for evil to run even more rampant in the world. We must be on guard. We must be prepared spiritually to face persecution and very troubling times. We cannot begin to think that things will turn back to the way they used to be. No. Those days are long gone.

Oh. We can have hope. And we should have hope. But we know that with each passing day, we’re one day closer to eternity. We’re one day closer to Jesus coming to take all his followers to heaven. But before that day comes, things will worsen for those on this earth. So we must take heart. And we must prepare to meet Jesus. We must be ready for eternity.

I’ve read about the country now being wrecked by terrorists. Christians are being threatened and watched and killed. Some are in hiding. I’ve read that some Christians in that country know that they will most likely be meeting Jesus face to face within the next two weeks.

Imagine. Imagine that happening in our cities. What would we do? Would our faith stand?

When our world is shaking, heaven stands.


Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God. Psalms 90:1-2


During Job’s difficult days, he didn’t lose faith. He didn’t run from God. He didn’t turn his back on the One who created him. Even during the worst time of his life, he knew that God was in control. He still trusted God. Perhaps Job didn’t know that he was really fighting Satan. Oh. He had questions for God all right.

Then God turned around and said he would answer Job’s questions, but first Job had to answer his questions. And God said he wanted answers. Here were God’s questions to Job.

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness? Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east? Have you made daylight spread to the ends of the earth, to bring an end to the night’s wickedness? Have you explored the springs from which the seas come? Have you explored their depths? Do you know where the gates of death are located? Have you seen the gates of utter gloom? Do you realize the extent of the earth? Tell me about it if you know! Where does light come from, and where does darkness go? Can you take each to its home? Do you know how to get there? But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced! Have you visited the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of hail? (I have reserved them as weapons for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war.) Where is the path to the source of light? Where is the home of the east wind? Who created a channel for the torrents of rain? Who laid out the path for the lightning? Who makes the rain fall on barren land, in a desert where no one lives? Who sends rain to satisfy the parched ground and make the tender grass spring up? Does the rain have a father? Who gives birth to the dew? Who is the mother of the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens? Can you direct the movement of the stars— binding the cluster of the Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion? Can you direct the constellations through the seasons or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens? Do you know the laws of the universe? Can you use them to regulate the earth? Can you shout to the clouds and make it rain? Can you make lightning appear and cause it to strike as you direct? Who gives intuition to the heart and instinct to the mind? Who is wise enough to count all the clouds? Who can tilt the water jars of heaven when the parched ground is dry and the soil has hardened into clods? Can you stalk prey for a lioness and satisfy the young lions’ appetites as they lie in their dens or crouch in the thicket? Who provides food for the ravens when their young cry out to God and wander about in hunger? Job 38:4-41

Oh. God could step in and right every wrong with one swoop of his hand. He could call ten thousand angels to deliver us from evil. He could thwart the plans of those intent on harming the innocent. He could make a way of escape for those trapped behind enemy lines. 

And we don’t know that he hasn’t done some of those things. We can’t see behind the scenes. We don’t know God’s plans. We only see what he allows.

But know this. God is in control. He has not forsaken his people. God’s word tells us that we will have trouble in this world. So we can’t live our lives as if trouble will never touch us. We aren’t exempt. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. We must ask ourselves if we believe that God is with us no matter what.

We cannot control the decisions of others. We can’t trust their decisions. We can’t control life. But God knows every heartbeat and every intention and every decision. He knows the how and why and when of all of life’s circumstances. He allows good and evil. We may be fearful. Times may be uncertain. But our certainty is in God and God alone.

God is in control. We may question the happenings on this earth. We may be bewildered by men’s decisions. We may lose everything. But if we follow God, we have all we need.

There’s only one foundation that is unshakeable, and that is the unchanging Word of God.

John Cooper

Spitting Image

Parents talk about their kids. They talk about how the child looks just like his father. He acts just like his grandfather. He walks like all the other men in the family. He’s as stubborn as his mother. He’s made in their image, because he has their DNA. They say this child of theirs is the spitting image of someone they dearly love. And they’re proud. They’re proud to see that the family genes show strong in the next generation. They’re happy the similarities are plainly obvious. They’re quick to point it out to anyone who will listen.

Who wouldn’t be proud? Who doesn’t want the strength of a gene pool to shine through in the upcoming generations?

I’ve been reading lately about how I’m made in the image of God. I come from a strong gene pool of spiritual perfection. I mean. How do you top that? But here’s the thing. You’re made in God’s image, too. Every single human being is made in the image of God. There’s no way around it. And we don’t have a choice.

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. Genesis 1:26

So what does that really mean?

When we were being formed in our mother’s womb, God was there. He was knitting us together in that nine month period. He planned the number of our days. He knew the course of our lives. From the moment of conception, he knew us. And he never forgets us. Just as God values each human life he creates, we too must value life. God made each of us unique and to fulfill a specific role on this earth. He created us with special gifts and talents that suit our personalities. He made our bodies to be complex, but each part works in sync with the next. Each organ and muscle, bone and ligament are needed. Our brains and each heartbeat are necessary for life to continue. Even those who are born with bodies that don’t work as planned or with minds that aren’t whole are designed by God for a special purpose. He knows and loves each and every one of us.

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

God created us with a soul that communes with him. He knows our every thought and desire. He knows our dreams and plans. He knows when we want to please him and when we refuse to acknowledge his existence. God created our soul to live with him in eternity. But he gave us a mind and a will, so we can choose to live for or against him.


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


Oh. We can choose to ignore that we’re made in God’s image. People do that all the time. They decide to live in a way that dishonors him. They choose to make decisions that leave him out of their lives. They live as if they are God. But it doesn’t change the fact that they are made in his image. They too will stand in front of him one day and give an account of those decisions they’ve made.

God has invisible qualities. He can’t be seen with the human eye. But we can see evidence of him and his handiwork. His eternal power and divine character are known. But people choose not to believe. They choose not to know God.

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Romans 1:20

Just as God rules over mankind, he made us to rule over the earth. We are to rule over every living creature. We have that God-given authority. There’s no need to abuse it, as some are in the habit of doing. We must be faithful in the work that we do. He created us with minds to think and plan and create. So let’s use those minds for good and not for evil.

To be made in God’s image means that I’m made to represent him. I must be willing to live within the limits that God placed on me, because He is God and I am not. I must do my work with excellence. In everything I do and say, I am representing Christ.

So, I have to ask myself. If I’m the spitting image of God, how well do I represent him? Do others see him in me? Am I an embarrassment or a joy? When others see me, do they see him? When I think of the words I’ve said today, are they words that Jesus would say? Has my attitude in the past day been the attitude of Jesus Christ? If I’ve misrepresented God, what must I do to become more like him?

Reach Out

She had been struggling with her job ever since the day she started. Two and a half years ago. She doubted herself. She felt inferior to her coworkers. She thought they talked about her behind her back. She never felt comfortable doing the job. She never spoke up. She tried to play by the rules. She wanted everything spelled out to her in black and white. She was afraid of the gray areas. She didn’t trust herself. She was afraid she would get fired. And last week, her worst fear came true. She was fired.

She’s embarrassed. She’s confused. She wants answers but doesn’t want to ask the questions. She wants to move on. But mostly, she’s relieved. She knows the position wasn’t right for her. But as she said, the demon you know is better than the demon you don’t know. So she never tried to find another job. Because sometimes, the fear of starting over is worse than the fear of continuing on a familiar, yet uncomfortable path.

She was told she was being let go because of performance issues. But no one in management had ever told her that her performance was lacking. No one had ever pulled her aside and shared their concerns. No one had ever rated her performance as below par. But, apparently, people had been talking behind her back. And not to her face.

Now she’s out of work.

I sat down with her this week. For four hours we talked. I shared my story with her. I let her know that I too had once experienced the same type of job loss. I too was told after years on the job that I was no longer good enough. I no longer had the right skillset. And in an instant, my job was gone. Unexplained. Unexpected. Unemployed.

I knew she needed to talk it out. To rehash the past two and a half years. What she did right. What she did wrong. What she might have misunderstood. We laughed about the fact that she never had to do that job again. And she sighed with relief. She is ready to move on.


All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4


I had another conversation this week. The grandma house sitting for her son’s family, who are on an extended island vacation. She’s the friendly sort. Even though she lives hours away, she knows more that’s going on in my neighborhood than I do. We always try to chat when she’s in town.

She said she doesn’t think her 70’s are going to go very well. She has diabetes. She now suffers from vertigo. She has glaucoma. And she’s undergoing tests for Alzheimer’s. If the Alzheimer’s test comes back positive, she will start to make alternate plans for her remaining years. She said she will give some of her money to her children. She will have to make arrangements for her house and other possessions. She’s afraid she won’t live to see 80. She’s in for an uncertain future.

And she still takes care of her elderly parents.

She seemed calm about the prospect of might lie ahead. But who knows the thoughts that go through her mind as she lays her head on the pillow each night. What fears race through her mind? What worries keep her awake? What disappointments cause tears to flow? What dreams will she never realize?

She says she’s lived a full live. She had a good marriage and children she’s proud of. She sees hope and promise for the future of her grandchildren. She believes they will have opportunities that she never had. She’s happy that her son found a good wife. She notices the physical strain placed on her daughter, due to the adoption of a special needs child. She worries about the health of her children and the choices they make. Yet she says she keeps these concerns to herself, because she doesn’t want to rob her children of happiness.

I told her that I would pray for her. She seemed to gain comfort from those words.

We never know what life will throw at us. And these two women don’t have the comfort of calling Jesus their Lord and Savior. They haven’t repented of their sins and committed their lives to following Jesus Christ. They don’t have the calm assurance that God is with them in every good and bad day of their lives.

Perhaps I’m called to be the light in their moments of darkness. Perhaps I’ll have the opportunity to share my faith and my trust in a loving God who knows their every thought and fear. He sees the paths of uncertainty they face. He holds their future in his hands. And he can hold them, too.

We see hurting people everywhere. We don’t always know the hurts they’re carrying. Because most people choose to remain silent. They suffer alone. But when someone opens up in a moment of raw need, those of us who have the hope of a certain eternal future must share the hope that we have. We can’t keep silent. We know the hope for our future. We must not be shy about sharing our faith. We can offer to pray for someone who is hurting or without hope, because God is attentive to our prayers. Our hope lies in Jesus Christ. Let’s help turn a hurting world to the source of all healing.

Believers Strong

We see everything that’s going on in the world today.  And we wonder why.  But really.  We shouldn’t wonder.  It’s written plain as day in the Bible exactly why the world is in moral decay.

The world.  The people of the world refuse to believe in God.  The age old question is why.  Why do people refuse to believe in an all-seeing, all-hearing, all-knowing God?  Why do people turn their backs on the truth and run in the opposite direction?  Because, it seems, once people start running, they run too far.  And then if they decide to repent, it’s a long walk back to the truth.

Oh.  It can be done.  The long, humble walk of repentance.  and shame.  and regret.  That walk can be painful, but the prize at the end is glorious forgiveness.

It’s clear that we need the Holy Spirit in our lives today.  The only way the Holy Spirit could come to us is if Jesus left the earth.  That’s what he told his disciples.  They were sad, because they didn’t understand what he meant.  And they didn’t want him to leave them.  They didn’t understand that he was sending an advocate.  A comforter.  A guide in his place.  He didn’t leave this earth just to leave us alone. 

Here’s the thing.  While Jesus was in the world, the world’s hatred was directed at him.  And he knew that as soon as he was gone from the world.  That is, when he returned to heaven to begin preparing an eternal home for us.  That the world would direct their hatred at his followers.  And he was preparing his followers to survive that hatred by sending them the Holy Spirit.  He didn’t leave them here to wallow in fear.  He sent the Holy Spirit to lead them in truth.  But people didn’t understand his message.

Here’s the other thing.  Jesus could only be in one place at a time.  The Holy Spirit is not limited to one place.  He is everywhere at the same time.  Don’t ask me how that works.  I trust that is true, and I believe it.  Odd as it sounds.  I believe it to be true.  I believe it to be true, because I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 


The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. John 16:9


His message still stands true today. 

And the world still refuses to believe in God. It’s obvious. And now the world has placed a target on the back of those who call themselves Christians. For people who say their sins are forgiven and are following biblical truth, the world is quick to point a finger of ridicule and contempt. It’s because the world doesn’t know God.

But let’s back up.  When I say the “world” refuses to believe in God, I’m talking about those who reject God and the teachings of Jesus.  Those who pervert the truth.  Those who applaud and accept evil as good.  Those who reject biblical standards.  It may seem as though they’re fighting us, but they’re fighting the God of the universe.  We Christians are the standard bearers of the gospel, and we make those who reject God uncomfortable.  They may think we’re offensive, but it’s the fact that they are offended by God that makes us offensive.

And we can rise to the occasion.  If we ask God, he will empower us with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  Because that same power lives within us. 

Let’s not be offended when we are shunned or canceled or persecuted.  When we are overlooked or singled out or ridiculed.  We are not here to impress others.  We are not here to bow to lies and fabrications of the truth.  We are here to lead the lost to a Savior who will forgive their sins.  We are here to witness to a hostile world.  We must be bold and confident in our faith, because the Holy Spirit lives within us and will enable us to stand strong in his truth.  He will equip us to love others in the same manner that we are loved.  We are his ambassadors in a world that is searching, but doesn’t know what it’s searching for.  We know that God is the answer, and we must be the ones to lead them into truth.

He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

Let Me Count the Ways

A famous poem begins with a standout line. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. The Bible tells us the different ways we must love God. Let’s count those ways.

You must love the Lord your God. Loving God means we put him first. We are satisfied in our relationship with him. God is our first priority. Our love for God must be undivided. We willingly obey God. After all, we were created to be one with God. To be for him. Not against him. But in order to love God, we have to know him. And in order to know God, we must spend time with him.

Loving God means that we believe his word. His word is true and everlasting. He will not fail us. When we love God, we trust him. Loving God brings thankfulness and praise for him. When we love God, we must put him first with our heart, our soul, our strength and our mind. And we must love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart. Our hearts are beating vessels. They provide life on a beat by beat basis. If our heart stops beating, our life ends. So, loving God is the heartbeat of our life. It keeps us going. Our love for God continues as does a beating heart. And when the heart has problems, surgery may be required. Open heart surgery. And that can be life giving. Life renewing. Life sustaining. Loving the Lord your God may require surgery with precision to keep that heart beating in rhythm with him.

Loving God shows that we want to be in rhythm with him, keeping the beat in tune with him. Keeping our step in sync with him. One heartbeat after another in perfect rhythm, walking with God. Walking with God in perfect rhythm is love. That only happens when we have spent time in open heart surgery with God. Having him prune out the dead branches. The underperforming vines of our lives. We need this continual pruning. Our hearts must be strong following God’s will, walking in sync with him.

Love the Lord your God with all your soul. Our soul was made for eternity. The soul is the eternal embodiment of our human lives, and our soul is the part of us that will live eternally. We have the choice of where our soul lives. Heaven or hell. So to love the Lord our God with all our soul means we have made that eternal choice. We have chosen to live in eternity with God. That is the choice that we continue to make day after day after day. Because yes, each day we do have a choice of how we’re going to live. We must daily ask ourselves. Am I going to live for God or am I going to live against God. We can’t have it both ways.

Our soul is our sustaining breath of life, and it does not die. So once we move from this life into the next, our souls will continue to live in eternity with God if we have chosen to love and follow him. Because it’s not until we breathe our last breath on this earth that we move to our eternal destination. Heaven should be our only goal. Hell should never be our choice. But people choose it every day, perhaps unknowingly. But we have a choice. We can choose to live with God in eternity, where our soul will thrive in perfect beauty as we walk the streets of gold. Or our soul will be in eternal torment, because we have turned our back on the love of God. We repay Jesus Christ for His sacrificial death on the cross by giving Him our hearts, our souls, our minds and our strength. And that reward is our soul will be in eternity with him.

Love the Lord your God with all your strength. Our bodies are made for strength. If we work out our muscles, they will strengthen. That strength allows a person to lift heavy objects and perform great feats. But the process of building strength takes time and perseverance. Strength making takes discipline and hard work. Muscles must endure repetitious movements in order to strengthen.

When I think of strength, I think of power and endurance. Strength gives hope to the weak and power to the powerless. Strength allows one to hold on when they feel they’re at the end of their rope. Strength is only available through endurance, perseverance and struggles. It doesn’t just come naturally. Strength comes from putting in the time building up that reserve. Walking through difficult times. The athlete, or weekend warrior, becomes strong through repetitive motions through a routine that continually extends the ability of certain muscles, and strengthens and builds and empowers. Strength isn’t built by doing nothing.

When we say love the Lord our God with all our strength, it means that we have endured. We have endured, tough times. Uncertainties. Difficulties. Over time, we’ve learned that our strength is in the Lord, and that we can’t be strong alone. Our strength does not come from ourselves. It comes from God and God alone. And that strength flows over into love. Love for the one who was with us during that difficult time. Love for the one who empowered us to make tough decisions. Walk through flames of fire. Fight the battle between good and evil. God’s love is strength. So, in turn, he provides strength to those who love him.

And that strengthening love flows into other areas of our lives. When we must persevere in difficult trials and situations, or unexpected turns of life, the strength comes when our reserves are filled. Those times that we must dip into that strength shows the power available at just the moment we need it. That strength is everlasting. We must build up our reserves. We must put put forth the work that brings strength, that builds strength. Because in those tough times it will be that strengthening love that sustains us. If we’re empty. If we’re weak. Our love will grow cold.


You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. And, love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27


Love the Lord your God with all your mind. Our mind is a powerful thing. At times, we think it knows no ends. Because we can remember many things. We can learn many things. We can think many things. At times, we’re easily distracted and other times our mind can be laser focused. We choose what we put into our mind. We make choices daily with the type of music we listen to. The shows that are streaming on our TV and movies that we choose to watch. We allow ideas to be placed into our mind by the books we read. And by the conversations we have. By the people we associate with. Our minds are filled with words and thoughts and dreams and goals.

We can control, to a certain degree, what goes into our minds. We have to know when to shut off evil influences, and we need to choose to fill our mind with godly influences, godly conversations, godly examples. We have that choice, but not always. Sometimes we run into situations where we can’t plan ahead, and we face evil influences. We don’t have to continue those. We can limit our interactions with ungodly influences. If those ungodly influences trigger our mind to sin and to dwell on inappropriate behavior or thoughts. If those ungodly books or movies or websites, or people influence us. We must stand for truth, because those evil influences do just as they say. They influence our hearts and minds. And that puts our soul in dangerous territory.

Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to others. How often do I wrong myself? Not very often. You say. So why do we do wrong to others? Why? This is not a romantic love. This is a godly, eternal love for our neighbor. Loving God is loving your neighbor. If we love God, it will change the way we love others. Loving God helps us to forgive those who have wronged us. Our love for God moves us to show grace to those who have offended us. Loving God is loving others, whether we realize it or not. Our love for God will naturally flow over into love for our neighbors, our coworkers, our family, and even to the unlovable.

Loving others means that we love those we disagree with. Whether it’s social issues, political issues, family choices or lifestyles. Loving God means that we love everyone, as God has loved us. Because we too can be very disagreeable at times. We too can be unlovable at times. We don’t have to agree with someone in order to love them. We don’t have to be best friends with everyone. But we can choose to show godly love to everyone. Because everyone was made in God’s image. We are his image bearers. Let’s live like it.

Something Is In My Eye

She texted me. I’m not feeling good about my job today. She said. She went on to tell me how a coworker had called to tell her that she had made some mistakes. And then later, an executive called her and pointed out a couple more mistakes. He asked her why she did what she did. She was upset. She said that if we were asked to go back into the office to work, she would have to start looking for another job. Facing these people on a daily basis would just be too much for her.

The trouble is. This job has always made her uncomfortable. And when she feels uncomfortable, she questions every decision she makes. And when someone calls her out, she beats herself up over and over. Isn’t that typical when we hear words of correction or rebuke?

But the first person who called her said she saw some of her work just on a fluke. They weren’t really checking up on her. But she wondered about that. And they informed her that she wasn’t doing things right. The second person is the one who makes all the rules for the company. He’s one of the owners. So when he says you’re doing something wrong, it’s because you’re doing things different from the way he intended the company to run. That would make a person feel bad about themselves. But his tone and method of delivery are usually abrupt and unkind.

The thing is. Both of the people who called her sometimes make questionable decisions. They sometimes make their own rules for how they do their work. And they do things different from how they train others to do the same work. I know because I’ve seen it happen with both people in recent weeks. Yet they have the nerve to reprimand someone who isn’t doing things the “right way.”

So while they’re pointing out the splinter in someone else’s eye, they’ve forgotten that they have a beam in their own eye. They’re blinded by that big splinter that’s been stuck in their eye for a while. It’s blurring their vision. Oh. I’m sure they thought they were helping her. But in fact, they made her feel very uncomfortable and more unsure of herself than she already is.

Is that how we should treat others?

I wonder how they would feel if someone called them and pointed out their mistakes. I did that recently. In fact. As part of my job, I was checking the first person’s work. I noticed that she did something different from the way I was trained. So I mentioned it to her. Oh. That’s how I do it. She said. Oh. I thought. Why are you changing the rules for yourself? But I didn’t push it any further. I just said ok and went about my business. Because I know that I sometimes do things outside the norm of my job. And if I were asked about it, I would have to give a reasonable explanation for why I do what I do. I just know that there are sometimes two ways to solve a problem. So I didn’t want to make a big deal of the situation.

But yet, this person is the one who trains all new employees. And I realized that she’s training new people to do the work different from how the rest of the team was trained. So who is right, and who is wrong?


Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. Matthew 7:12


In the past week, three different people have vented to me and then later apologized for it. I get it. I’ve been in a venting mood lately, too. I’m far too critical of others. I don’t agree with decisions being made at work. I’m frustrated. And I’ve just had it. 

I even said words to someone I love that I later regretted. I knew when the conversation started that it could go wrong if I let it. And I did. I took my words down an unneeded path. And he fell silent. I knew I was in the wrong. And I felt horrible about it. Because I knew if the situation were reversed, I would do the thing I was accusing him of doing. And he wasn’t even doing anything wrong.

It seems that I see everything wrong with the other person or situation and don’t stop to look for the good. The fact is that I’m being blinded by the beam that is in my own eye. It’s causing my vision to be skewed, and all I can focus on is everyone else’s imperfections. I guess I think their imperfections are worse than mine.

It’s easy to get frustrated with others. They can rub us the wrong way. Or insist on getting their way. They may demand more than one can give. They can push the wrong buttons on just the right day to make everything seem impossible.

And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5

What faults do I overlook in my own life that I can easily spot in others? Perhaps, I should stop and perform surgery on my own judgmental attitude before I pretend to help others. Who says I’m right and they’re wrong.

Why do I tend to focus on the misdeeds and faults of others and not look at myself? I need to remember that when I point a finger of judgment at someone, there are three other fingers pointing back at me.

Our words are important.

If I had to eat my words, what flavor would I taste? Would they be sweet and satisfying or deadly poison? Would I ask for a second helping or choke on the first bite? I have to ask myself how my words affect my listeners. Do people come back to hear more, or do they avoid me like the plague?

I like to think that I treat myself well. Without going overboard, of course. But do I treat others the same way? Do I give others grace when they need it most? I read this week that the world needs more love and less judgment. I heartily agree.

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Speak Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But were they willing to pay the price?

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Rights of Citizenship

It’s in the news. The wannabe Olympian turns her back on the American flag as she stands on the podium. She has earned a spot on the Olympic team. Being chosen as a member of the Olympic team is a great honor. For most who qualify, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Yet there are some who have qualified for such an honor multiple times. The physical ability and discipline it takes to earn those few spots are to be applauded.

Yet she turns her back on the flag of the country she has pledged to represent. She’s a citizen of this country. She was born here. Yet she says she feels it was a set up. Somehow someone planned just at the right moment to play the national anthem, as she was standing on the podium receiving her third place medal. As if they knew she would be one of the three who qualified for such an honor.

No, dear. It wasn’t a set up. If you came in third place, let’s hope and pray you earned that spot fair and square. But the planners of the event didn’t plan every second around you. Most likely, they didn’t even know your name. Or that you existed. The plan wasn’t for you to be the center of attention. You’re very skilled at your craft. But this moment in time isn’t just yours. It’s for every other Olympic athlete who has qualified and those still working to get there.

Sure. You have every right to be an stand up for your convictions. But you call yourself an American. Be proud of your heritage. Many died for you to be able to stand on that podium. Many gave their lives for that anthem and to see the flag wave. But if you’re representing your country, just as those soldiers, represent us well. Stand proud and tall for the nation that gives you freedom. For the sake of the country. Otherwise, you don’t belong on the team.


And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17


Just as this athlete turned her back on the flag, the symbol of freedom bought by personal and physical sacrifice, so do so many of us turn our backs on the symbol of hope. The cross of Jesus Christ. Many of us have turned our back on biblical truth and godly lives. We claim to stand on the podium of Christianity, all the while defying everything the death of Jesus represents. We can’t have it both ways.

The name of Christian appears to have multiple meanings these days. The true meaning of Christian means that a person has been born again. We’ve bowed ourselves before God and repented of all our sins. We’ve asked forgiveness for those sins we’ve committed. We’ve asked Jesus Christ to be the center of our lives. And the thing is. When someone prays that prayer of repentance, they are forgiven. Instantly. Their sins are gone. It’s as if those sins never happened. God doesn’t remember them. And we can then stand on that podium of forgiveness and righteousness. We can wave the Christian flag as a symbol of our citizenship of heaven. We can proudly and humbly call ourselves Christian.

But there was a price for those sins. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born of the virgin Mary, died to make that forgiveness possible. The Son of God, who reigned in heaven with his Father, came to earth as a baby and then carried the weight of everyone’s sin on the cross. His death made us eligible for citizenship in heaven.

There are those who turn their back on the free gift of salvation that Jesus Christ freely offers us. There are those who fight as activists against that blood bought offering. They choose to live for themselves. As if nothing else matters. But yet, everything matters. Eternity matters. For they too will one day stand before God Almighty and give an account for their lives.

As each of us someday stand on the podium of judgment, we won’t be able to turn our back on all our actions, attitudes, words and thoughts. They will be on full display for God, the Supreme Judge to see. Then he will judge us and determine if we will spend eternity with him. Like it or not, that moment in history will occur for every one of us. There’s no way out.

So now you are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

My Father’s World

I love listening to the old hymns. They remind me of my childhood. Sitting in church. Pulling out the hymnal. And we would sing those old hymns full of biblical truths, psalms of praise and adoration. Songs that spoke of heartache and loss, but also of redemption and salvation. They spoke of the crucifixion, the burial and the resurrection. They spoke of Jesus’ birth, his death and coming again. They spoke conviction and the need for repentance. Those songs provided hope to believers and to seekers. And today, in times when I’m anxious or uncertain and I need some calming effect, I turn on instrumental hymns and just listen. They take me back to simpler days. Carefree days. Days where my spirit was being molded and shaped to love and serve my heavenly Father.

There’s a hymn that’s been going through my mind for a couple weeks now. This is my Father’s world. And when I think about just those words. This is my father’s world. It gives me gladness, as well as sadness. Because I look at this world and everything that’s happening. The evil. The crime. The disregard for humanity and life. I’m sure it grieves my heavenly Father. He created this world. This was not his plan.

In fact, many, many years ago when the world was full of evil, he destroyed every living being in a flood that covered the entire earth. Every living creature. Every breathing person. Because the earth was evil. He spared one family and two of every animal and bird to restart the population, in the hopes that this time people would stay true to their Creator. But it wasn’t long before people’s hearts turned from God. People sinned. People served their own manmade gods. And over time, this world has become so full of evil once again.

After the flood, God made a promise to never destroy the earth again. He sealed the promise with the rainbow that stretched from one end of the earth to the other. And now. Look. Pride has taken that promise and used it to represent something that goes against God’s creation.

But this is still my Father’s world. He allows evil. He allows wrongdoing. He gave us free will, so we can choose our own path. We can choose to follow God or not. And that choice is huge.

In spite of all the evil that roams the earth, beauty still abounds. We see beauty in nature that surrounds us. We see it in all of God’s creation. We see it in the birth of a new baby. In the rush of a waterfall. In the cool of the breeze. The swaying leaves and the blooming flower. Beauty still surrounds us.


Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!” The world stands firm and cannot be shaken. He will judge all peoples fairly. Psalms 96:10


This is my Father’s world. And to my listening ear. All nature sings and round me rings. The music of the spheres. This is my Father’s world. I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas, his hand the wonders wrought.

My listening ear. Do I listen for the beauty of nature? Lately we’ve been consumed by the sound of cicadas. The deafening mating rituals of an insect that stays hidden in the earth for years. Only to reappear to mate and then die. We wonder their purpose. Only God knows. We see the beauty in the clouds and sunshine. The mountains and the canyons. Only a God with unlimited powers could create such breathtaking masterpieces.

This is my Father’s world. The birds their carols raise. The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise. This is my Father’s world. He shines in all that’s fair. In the rustling grass, I hear him pass. He speaks to me everywhere.

Declare their Maker’s praise. We would be remiss if we failed to declare praise to our heavenly Father. He is our Maker. He has brought all the intricate workings of nature together in perfect harmony. His timing is impeccable with the changing of the seasons. Changing green leaves to hues of red and gold. From the falling leaves to the falling of snow. He shines in all that’s fair. He speaks to me everywhere of the beauty he created for our pleasure.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget. That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father’s world. The battle is not done. Jesus who died shall be satisfied, and earth and heaven be one.

God is the ruler yet. As we move throughout our days, it seems as though the enemy of our souls is winning the battle. Because evil seems to prevail everywhere we turn. This enemy is using people made in the image of God to fight hard against God’s word. Regardless of whether they know the truth and deny it or have never heard the truth, they are fighting God. They ignore the fact that God is the ruler over everyone and everything. He will not be defeated. God will be victorious over the enemy of our souls. And that victory will be so sweet. It will have eternal consequences for every person who has ever been given life. We can choose redemption with Jesus’ death on the cross. God still reigns.

How cool is it that the same God who created mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you, too.

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This is my Father’s world.