Worth Noting

For so long, he’s been hailed a martyr. But now the tide is turning. Now he’s being called different names. The man who once cried out that he had a dream is now being mocked as someone unworthy of his own race. He’s now being judged by those who once called him one of their own. Many now want to destroy his legacy. Everything he stood for is at risk of falling by the wayside. All because those who have come behind him believe in an ideology that’s in total opposition to all he worked for. Oh. How the tables have turned.

Rumors of behaviors unbecoming of a family man have been spoken of him since his untimely demise many years ago. Those accusations, whether true or false, taint the legacy of a man who worked long and hard for liberty and equality for all mankind, regardless of the color of their skin. He dreamed of a land where his children could walk and live freely the same as any other child. He dreamed of a country that treated all skin colors equally. For he witnessed a separation and segregation of a people whose skin color was darker than acceptable to so many born of a lighter pigment. And he stood against it. Even as the higher powers that be were planning for his demise, he stood for his beliefs. And on one fateful day, a single bullet penetrated his body ultimately ending his life.

Other reports are now circulating that he stood for unseemly ideologies that have become popular today. Whether the reports are true or not have yet to been determined. But this man, same as anyone else, was far from perfect. Perhaps the truth of this man’s achievements and failures may never be fully known, aside from God who knows everything.

A newly minted statue memorializing the man was recently dedicated. But family members are calling the statue hideous. Unsightly. Dishonorable. Distasteful. They are not pleased with the rendition that someone was paid many millions of dollars to create. And thousands upon thousands of pages of secret files against him by those in top government positions have been uncovered. Many other pages are still being held under wraps. Some are afraid for the truth to come to light.

What was it about this man that would cause many to applaud, and yet others to tremble in fear? What was it about him? Was it only because of the color of his skin? Or, were there hidden truths that, if made public, could sway the course of history? How could it be? Will we ever know? Are we better off not knowing?

While this man wasn’t perfect, by any means, he led a movement that started a revolution. He planned and participated in peaceful protests that rallied against the discrimination of his people. Even after multiple arrests, he still stood for the same message of equality. His message never wavered or lessened. He stood courageously for the good of his race.

One wonders if there will come a day when this man’s statues will be knocked down and shoved into a corner, as so many others have in recent years. Has his time come and gone? Has this man now been deemed to be on the wrong side of history? Is it inappropriate to publicly acknowledge his contribution to society? Only time will tell.


Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.” Acts 10:34-35


There are people who are trying to taint his legacy, but truth always stands. Even when others make false claims or bring one’s faults to the light of day, God uses willing, imperfect people of all types. This man may have been involved in sketchy activities in his day, but he also did some great works that are still applauded. His efforts should not be forgotten.

I wonder. This man who pushed for peaceful protests against injustice paved the way for the rest of us. What peaceful acts are we involved in that would cause the world to sit up and take notice? Do we dare to stand up and fight for religious freedom when there are those who would remove Christianity from the face of the earth? When other Christians speak for truth in public settings, do we stand with them? Or. Are we too afraid to be noticed, so we stay silent? Do we share the message of forgiveness and salvation freely to those who need to hear it?

If each of our lives were publicly examined, how many of us would be humiliated as we stood in the public square? How many of our noteworthy acts and words would be cast off, because of our hidden behaviors? No one is perfect. No. Not one of us. We all could be the next one on the chopping block if only our private thoughts were read aloud.

So. Why are we so quick to cancel others because of a word spoken in anger or misjudgment? Who of us would be worthy of even one statue in our honor? What accomplishments have been noted for us that will be remembered in future generations?

The good news in the matter is that we serve a God of redemption. He will forgive all our sins and never remember them again. He won’t remind us of our moral failures or indecent thoughts. He won’t remember the name calling or lies or murderous looks we’ve given. When he forgives our sins, he forgets them. He doesn’t hold our previous wrongs over our heads. Our slate is wiped clean in the eyes of God. Oh. He won’t build a statue in our honor, but he will prepare a place for us in heaven so we can be with him for eternity.

Don’t Be A Copycat

When I was in the seventh grade, a boy asked if anyone in our group was religious. Someone said I was. I quickly responded. No. Not because I knew the difference between being religious and being a Christian. But because I didn’t want to be seen as different. I wanted to fit in with the others. I didn’t want my group of friends to abandon me or mock me. They never had before. But would they now that my “religious” status had been spoken out loud? I didn’t want to find out. I just wanted to be like everyone else.

The same happens today. We call ourselves Christian yet we blend in with unbelievers so well that no one knows the difference. We don’t stand out as having different values or beliefs. We live as close to the line as we can get and try to call ourselves holy. But. Christians can’t move back and forth across the line when it’s convenient or comfortable. We must live on the side of holiness regardless of what it costs us. It won’t be easy. It won’t be popular. But it is biblical. 

Perhaps we only call ourselves Christians in private, because we don’t want others to think less of us. We don’t want them to start watching to see anything unusual in our behavior or speech. We don’t want to seem odd. We just want to fit in and be like everyone else. We want to be accepted. All the while wearing our blurred out Christian label. Oh. We’re wearing the label, but we don’t want others to see it.

We can’t disguise ourselves as Christians and expect God to call our behavior good. God knows us as we truly are. He knows our intentions and he knows our thoughts. Even if only our thoughts are wicked, God knows. But what we don’t realize is that even if our actions are good, our intentions may not be. We try to be the type of person we think others expect of us, all the while seething with hatred and resentment on the inside.

Let me just say this. Satan is not your friend. When we clothe ourselves in the approval of others. When we share on social media our shiny, almost perfect looking lives that match the world’s, we’re only fooling ourselves. The God who created us sees us for who we really are. We can’t pretty up sin.

God will transform us into a new person if we open ourselves up to his guiding hand. He won’t steer us down the wrong path. That’s what Satan does. And we can’t mix up the two. And we can’t intertwine them. They will lead us down totally separate paths. One is destructive. The other, although hard, is good and pleasing and perfect.


Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:2


As believers, we are set apart to God. If we’re copying the behavior of those who aren’t believers, what sets us apart? What makes us different? Do we assume that our lives will look the same as everyone else’s after we become Christians? Shouldn’t we be different from those who don’t call themselves Christians? What is it about a believer that is different from a nonbeliever?

God calls us to be holy, because he is holy. So what does that mean for us? What does that look like?

But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

Are we up for the task of living a holy life?

If we don’t read the Bible, we don’t know the Bible. And if we don’t know the Bible, we don’t know God. So it’s no wonder that we copycat the behaviors of those who are unbelievers. It’s no wonder we look and act and think like them. Because we’re not looking and acting and thinking like God. We run away from Him when we run toward the behavior and customs of the world. We don’t refuse to bow to the idols of today’s culture. We give in to the ideas of today’s society. So we can fit in. How can we fit into today’s culture and still fit into heaven when God calls us into eternity?

We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you. 2 Corinthians 1:12

Satan will try to outsmart us if we aren’t familiar with his evil schemes. He will manipulate us into believing bad is good and good is bad. All we have to do is scroll through social media and it stares us in the face. Watch the news and see all the evil swirling in our midst. And some people applaud it. Do we recognize the difference between Satan’s temptations and God’s direction?  

so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:11

When we deliberately choose to follow Satan’s lead, our hearts will harden to the will of God. It won’t be an overnight hardening. It will be gradual. And it may not be noticeable. Until one day, the veil over our eyes and heart is so heavy, we’ve walked far away from God. Oh. The veil can be lifted if we call on our Lord and Savior to forgive us. We can walk in his path of forgiveness. But it’s an intentional daily decision to follow God’s ways. And it will look nothing like Satan’s lies.

But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:14-18

Satan is the god of the world.  That doesn’t mean he controls it.  He is under God’s authority and God has him on a leash.  The evil he does is allowed by God in order to fulfill God’s will.  That may sound strange or wrong, but God is always in control.  When he gave us freedom to choose right or wrong, he knew that Satan would try to maneuver his way into our lives any way possible.  So we have to choose God in order to live a holy life.  We can’t be a copycat of Satan. Because if we aren’t living in line with God’s will, we’re living in line with Satan.  

We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this. 2 Corinthians 4:2

Scorched

The pan of oats was cooking on the stove. I would stir it repeatedly when I had a chance. I didn’t keep an eye on it throughout the whole process because I was busy doing other things. Washing dishes. Baking. Cleaning vegetables. So I wasn’t minding the oatmeal as thoroughly as I should have. But I would walk over and stir it as needed. I know that oats can easily stick to the pan if they’re not stirred constantly. And I wasn’t stirring constantly. I’ve cooked oatmeal many times, and I know what’s involved. But on this occasion I was trying to multitask, and the oatmeal didn’t have my undivided attention.

Later I smelled something burning and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I checked the vegetables roasting in the oven. No. They were fine. They weren’t burning. I was stirring the oats off and on, so they shouldn’t be burning. So I just ignored this scorched odor. When the oats were finished, I turned the burner off and set them aside to cool. I wasn’t just making one serving for my breakfast. I was making a batch of oatmeal to be eaten over several days. I like to batch cook for the week so my food is ready to heat up anytime I’m hungry. So on this particular day, I was cooking oatmeal for the week.

Once the oatmeal was cooled, I began dishing it into a storage container. That was when I noticed the burn on the bottom of the pan. The oatmeal had stuck to the bottom of the pan. Now there was a black char on the pan. That was what had caused the scorched odor.

I was able to preserve most of the oatmeal because it was only burned on the bottom. I knew the oatmeal I saved had some scorching running through it, but I saved it anyway. I thought it would be okay when I ate it over the next few days. I could pull out large clumps of burned oatmeal and eat the rest. It seemed a simple idea. But when I saw how burned the pan was, I knew I wouldn’t be able to clean it quickly or easily. I knew it would need to soak overnight. So that’s what I did. I put some cleaning solution in the pan and let it soak.

The next morning when I began cleaning the pan, not all of the burn came off. Some of it was still stuck on the pan. Some parts came clean pretty easily. But others not so much. I added more cleaning solution and water to start the soaking process all over again. Scraping wasn’t enough to remove all of the black soot from the bottom of the pan. And my goal was to get the pan as clean as possible. I wanted it to look as if it had never been burned. But I wasn’t sure if I had ruined the pan or not. Apparently only time will tell.

The batch of oatmeal isn’t all burned. Only the bottom portion of it is inedible. And only the bottom of the pan is scorched. Most of the oatmeal can still be eaten and enjoyed without the burnt taste. The pan can be used again once it is properly cleaned.


Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17


When we repent of our sins and choose to follow Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the burnt oatmeal of sin is removed from our lives. We still have scorch marks on us that represent the sins of our past. It doesn’t mean our lives are ruined. It means that we live with the results of our former sins.

Sin can creep into our lives if we aren’t paying attention. We ignore the quiet nudging of the Holy Spirit to stop a certain activity. Or we don’t act on the Holy Spirit’s leading. We allow activities in our lives that we once hated. We become accustomed to using certain words in our conversations that were once forbidden. We become comfortable with situations that were once uncomfortable. And we call it good. We become willing to work around the burnt oatmeal that is building up in our lives. After all, we are good people. That’s what we tell ourselves.

Some of those scorch marks can be easily removed. The burned char can be cleaned away with the act of forgiveness, but the results of that char representing the sin that has long encased our hearts can be hard to remove. It could be bad habits. Or it could be jealousy or greed or lying or lust. It could be just blatant selfishness. Sometimes a lot of work goes into erasing or cleaning up the results of black charred sin. So some of the black char may remain forever. It may always be present in our lives because while God’s forgiveness takes away that burden of sin, some acts of sinfulness have consequences which reap long lasting effects. Those can’t be easily scrubbed away with cleaning solution and soaking. Sometimes the result of those sins are lifelong. And we have to deal with the consequences for all the days of our lives on this earth.

It’s a lesson for us. When we make foolish decisions. When we choose selfish ways. When we know that our actions go against God’s will. There are consequences that sometimes can’t be easily wiped away in our lives. Yes, God forgets those sins when he forgives us. And to him they are no more. But the consequences in our human lives can still remain. That’s what we need to consider. Not just the fact that we’re sinning. But the consequences of those sins. When we make choices in our life. That moment of enjoyment. That so called fun activity or behavior that misrepresents God or rejects God or distorts his will. Those have consequences. So we have to be prepared to live with the results of our sin. While we still have breath, we can be forgiven. But that doesn’t make life easy and perfect.

Persecuting Jesus

Saul and his crew were on their way to Damascus. After all, he had received written permission from the high priest authorizing him to hunt and arrest anyone who believed the message of Jesus Christ. As he traveled down the road in midday, a light brighter than the sun shone all around him. He was instantly blinded. Suddenly, he heard a voice from heaven. Jesus, the Son of God, asked Saul why he was persecuting him.

Saul was not searching for Jesus when Jesus called his name. He was searching for those who believed in Jesus. Oh. Saul knew what he was doing. He was persecuting those who believed that Jesus, the promised Messiah had come to earth to deliver his people from their sins. And Saul didn’t believe that. He was stuck in the traditional Jewish beliefs and traditions. He didn’t believe the prophecy about God’s Son had actually been fulfilled. So when Jesus called his name, Saul asked who was calling. And he then realized this Jesus was the one he had been denying.

Saul, Saul.  Why do you persecute me? 

Every believer that Saul persecuted was taking the place of Jesus Christ.  For all intents and purposes, Saul was persecuting Jesus Christ everywhere he went.  When he arrested and imprisoned those who accepted the Good News of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection, he was arresting and imprisoning Jesus himself. With every capture and arrest Saul made, he thought he was honoring God. He thought he was following God’s will. But instead, he was persecuting God’s son. He was fighting God, not obeying him. How could he have gotten it so wrong? 

What Saul didn’t realize was that he couldn’t hold back the Son of God from doing the work he was commissioned to do. Sure. The Son of God had returned to heaven, but his followers on earth were now doing his work. And nothing Saul could do could stop what God had started.

I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene. Indeed, I did just that in Jerusalem. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse Jesus. I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities. Acts 26:9-11

Saul was a learned man of his times. He had studied under the well respected Jewish scholar, Gamaliel. Saul knew the Scriptures. He was determined to punish anyone who dared to believe differently from the traditions. And yet, God had to bring him to his knees and blind him before he was willing to admit the truth that Jesus was the Son of God, born and died for every last one of Saul’s many sins.

To read the full story of Saul’s conversion, read Acts 9 and Acts 26.


Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Colossians 3:16


Soul, soul.  Why do you persecute me? 

What if my name was in front of that sentence.  Why do I persecute God?  Why do I challenge him and run from his ways?  Why don’t I automatically fall on my knees and worship him in adoration?  Why don’t I automatically choose to obey God? I who know the Scripture and have been taught from an early age to love and honor God. Why am I so careless with my faith?

Do we not do the same as Saul did?  Every time we act selfishly and sinfully, we are acting against God. When we reject Christ and his will for our lives, we’re persecuting him. Do we even realize what we’re doing? Do we take God’s knock on the door of our hearts seriously and open up to him?

What will God have to resort to to bring us to our knees in humble acknowledgment and repentance? Why do we run from him?  Why do we think our ways are higher than his ways? We who’ve been taught the Bible know the truth, yet we deny what we’ve been taught. We ignore the Scripture teaching us how to live an authentic Christian life. We do our own thing. We don’t look for God’s guidance. We become complacent. It’s all about us, we think. Not about God.

I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! Revelation 3:15-16

Anytime we sin, we’re nailing Jesus to the cross all over again. Our decision to deny Jesus and please ourselves puts him right back on that cross. Each time we disobey, the weight of our sins becomes heavier for Jesus to bear as he hung on that cross, causing him more pain and suffering. If we continue to run from God and disobey him when he’s calling our name, we’re persecuting him. Is that what we want?

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23

If we are the body of Christ, let’s wear the name in humility. We must consciously hear and obey God’s words. Let’s act on the promptings of the Holy Spirit and live in obedience. let’s listen well and listen thoroughly when God calls our name. Let’s not be surprised when God calls our name to follow and obey him. Let’s follow willingly.

Attracting Others

As Christians, our goal is to see others make the decision to live for God. To repent of their sins and live in obedience to God’s Word. In order for those who haven’t made that decision to get there, we must make Christianity attractive. But how do we do that? Because what they know of Christianity doesn’t appeal to them. If someone hasn’t read and studied the Bible, all they know about Christians is what they do and don’t do. What they stand for and what they stand against. They think it’s all about rules they don’t want to follow.

Look like this. Don’t look like that. Wear this. Don’t wear that. Go here. Don’t go there. Drink this. Don’t drink that. Say this. Don’t say that. Sleep here. Don’t sleep there. Rules like that don’t attract too many people. But what message are we sending when we say and do the same things they say and do? What sets us apart? What makes us different if we’re just like them?

And it really shouldn’t be an us or them kind of issue. Should it? But for this moment, let’s think along those terms. Just to see where it takes us. No judging. Just considering how to appeal to those who don’t call themselves Christians. Because really. We are in two sets of camps, based on our beliefs.

How do we make living a Christian life appealing to those who don’t want it? After all, the Bible tells us that we who believe carry the scent of death to those who don’t believe. Yet the aroma of Christ is sweet. But they can’t smell the sweetness. So why would they want it? Who is attracted to stink, after all?

Some people think they need to change. To clean up their lives before they turn themselves over to Christ. But he doesn’t require that. He invites you to come to him just as you are. He will let you know when or if he wants you to change.

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 2:15-16

The gospel is offensive. It has always been offensive to those in rebellion to Christ. God isn’t going to change who he is. We need him to change who we are or face the consequences!

Samuel E. Tolley III

And those who haven’t accepted the message of salvation and repentance think we are fools for believing it. After all. If we’re good, isn’t that good enough? Some would say so. But for those who believe the Bible speaks the truth, we know that being good isn’t good enough. Because we’re never going to be good enough on our own. We need the saving blood of Jesus Christ to wash away our sins. We need to repent of our sins and ask for forgiveness. Then we, too, will be covered with the life-giving perfume.

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 8

So. If the gospel is offensive to those who don’t believe, how do we make it un-offensive? How do we attract others to faith in Christ?


You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Philippians 2:5


Of course. The Bible gives us some guidelines to follow in order to attract others to Christianity. We must show love to everyone, even when we don’t feel like it. And especially when others don’t deserve it. We must be joyful. Joy comes from a deep abiding peace that when we trust God in all circumstances. We must pursue peace with everyone. Even when it’s difficult. We must turn the other cheek, but we don’t have to allow others to walk all over us. We’re told that patience is a virtue, but it speaks volumes when put into action. Being kind to others should be a given. We think. But sometimes we have to try a little harder than expected, but the payout is worth it. Goodness and faithfulness. Gentleness and self-control. When others see these fruits of the spirit in our lives, they will wonder how it’s possible to live in such a manner. We have the opportunity to show that Christ living in us makes us more like him. And that he makes a difference in how we live our lives. We always have a choice as to how we live and how we treat others. And a godly lifestyle is attractive, even when others don’t know where the godliness comes from.

We always have a choice as to the type of employee or employer we will be. Go to work and do a good job. Be faithful. Be diligent. Speak up when necessary. And keep quiet when necessary. Others will notice. Be a good neighbor. Show kindness to those in need. Be generous, but not overly frivolous. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Don’t complain or argue.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. Galatians 5:22-26

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Philippians 2:14-15

We believers can do this. We can live a life that makes others want peace, joy, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Oh. We may not get it right every time, but let’s show the world that they need what we have. And let’s do it with grace.

Following

I’m a follower. Of people. I follow people on social media. I’m not a stalker. I just like to see what is happening in their lives. I follow one who is into fitness. One who is a follower of Jesus Christ. Another is a cook who is now feeding four young children trying to be an influencer of moms with young kids. Another is an influencer who uses her clout to inspire others to purchase products that she has endorsed. Still another speaks biblical truth to the current cultural lies. They’re from all walks of life. And I see a glimpse into their lives on almost a daily basis. It’s fascinating.

The person who is into fitness just opened a micro gym. She is now able to offer one-on-one fitness lessons to anyone willing to pay her price. Oh. She takes her fitness very seriously. If you look at her photos, you can see the results of discipline and sacrifice. So. If she can become fit at her age, then she believes anyone else can do the same.

The Jesus follower recently had a new book published. It appears to be all the rage for her fan base. She’s introduced a study with videos that people can use to dig deeper into this latest book of hers. She shows beautiful photos of her family and home life for the world to see. But deep down, I wonder if she’s in agreement with her country’s leadership. She lives in another North American country that has been hit hard with mandates and tyranny. Oh. She never says a word about it on social media. And perhaps that’s best. But she shares how to live a solid Christian life in an unchristian world.

The young mom I follow intrigues me. She’s had four kids in four years. The last two are identical twins. Her brand started as a cooking blog, where she created plant-based recipes. Oh. I’ve never tried any of her recipes. I just watch from the screen. And now she’s expanded to cookbooks for child eaters of any age. She’s also partnered with financial institutions and cleaning product companies, all in the name of expansion for her growing list of followers. I follow to see the cute photos of her kids. No. I don’t agree with all of her political and cultural leanings, but I don’t have to.

Then there’s the influencer who earns a living strictly on endorsing products that she uses. She creates product and gift guides so others can buy the items she suggests. And then she makes money off of each purchase. And she earns lots of money. She has seven employees who help her in this business. Is this really a job?

The one who speaks biblical truths to the cultural lies does so in a very public way. She’s on social media defending truth and cutting through the lies. She walks closely with the Lord. She shares biblical truth as if it’s her job. And it is her job. She has taken to the task in a bold fashion and is not backing down. She is a faithful warrior fighting a battle that few believers are willing to fight. She says she isn’t an influencer, but her message influences masses.


Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Psalms 119:133


And then there’s the ultimate One I follow. Oh. He isn’t on social media. He seems to have no social standing at all in this world. But yet, he’s everywhere. His impact is of a spiritual nature. And it’s clear when his plan is being followed. Or not. It’s noticeable when his selfless, sacrificial gift to all mankind is being rejected. We see that rejection every day. We just call it by a different name.

This One I follow is the Creator of the universe. He’s the lover of my soul. He’s the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. His only and only Son came to earth as a babe. He gave his life on the cross so that I could have eternal life with him. Why wouldn’t I follow him? Why wouldn’t everyone follow him? But so many don’t. And others only follow halfheartedly. And he gave his all for each of us.

So. As I follow the Leader of my life, I too must give him my all. No shirking. Following the leader requires constant obedience. No turning to the left or to the right. Just following the one who is guiding my every step. Sounds simple enough. Until my selfish nature gets in the way. Until I want what I want and my want doesn’t match the One I say I’m following. Oh. Then life gets sticky. I either bow to his way or I bow out of his will. Either decision is life changing. If I choose to bow to his way, then I feel the peace of submission and obedience. I draw closer to him and have a deeper desire to always obey. But if I choose to bow out of his will, then I am claiming that I know best for my life. I’m saying his plan isn’t good enough for me. I know what I’m doing. Oh. What a tangled web we can weave if we don’t stay fully surrendered to him.

Since He has placed me in this world at this appointed time, I must use my gifts and talents to honor him. As his follower, I must walk the path he has laid out for me. Oh. There will be moments the path looks too steep and treacherous. It may be rocky or full of potholes. Or it may be newly paved. Regardless of the condition of the road, I must keep plodding forward. One step at a time. Because he is walking with me each step of the way.

As I follow the Giver of Life, I must be willing to lay down my life for him as he sacrificed his for me. I must obey his leading at all costs. Oh. The price may be high. No one ever knows until it’s time. But for this time, I am called to live humbly, justly and obediently.

We must be faithful to what He asks us to do, to what He asks us to believe, and to how He instructs us to live.

John Stonestreet

Grow Strong

These are trying times. We’ve had our secure and comfortable lives upended for the past year and a half. And there seems to be no end in sight. There’s a lot of upheaval and unrest in the nation. People are fed up and angry. People are frustrated and have lost trust in leaders. We’re tired to the point of exhaustion. And it isn’t necessarily a physical exhaustion. There are those who are uptight and at the end of their rope. They say they are followers of Christ. Followers of Christ can be anxious during uncertain times.

It’s time to strengthen our relationship with Christ during these uncertain times. It’s time to take the next step into being more like Christ. It’s time to look to his example to see how he was able to stay true to his calling when he was being pursued by those who hated him. When he knew he would be the sacrifice for a lost world.

What did Jesus do to guard against anxious thoughts and fears? When he knew he was going to the cross, what did he do? What were the routines in his life that gave Jesus strength? Because in his humanity, he experienced every emotion that we humans experience. He faced the same temptations we face. By studying his life, we can see how he lived not by emotions, but by God’s Word.

Now I know he was God. He came in human form and experienced life, just as we experience it. He faced the same challenges that we face. The same trials and temptations. So when I look at the life of Jesus, what do I see?

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15

As he began his ministry, Jesus surrounded himself with people who believed his message. These followers weren’t just yes men. They were people who believed what he was teaching. They accepted the truth that he was Jesus Christ, the Son of God come in human form. He handpicked those who he would disciple and lead.

Now they didn’t necessarily understand what all that meant, but they believed in his teaching. They believed he was the Messiah. He spent a lot of time with them. In fact, he had a small inner circle who he trusted and relied on. That’s what we as believers need to do. We need to find a small group of like minded believers who will encourage us and challenge us. We need others who will mentor us and hold us accountable. We need close friends to strengthen our faith. We need those who will stand in the gap for us in our time of need. These friends can help us understand what we believe and why we believe it and to help us articulate it. Iron sharpens iron, as Scripture says. We need individuals in our lives who are the iron to sharpen us. We weren’t meant to do life alone.

Jesus was also in the temple on a regular basis. As a child he was taught the law. The Jewish law. He was taught Scripture. He could quote Scripture from memory. He knew the laws by heart. And when he became an adult, he still went to the temple where he began teaching. He began teaching as his Father gave him words and understanding. He opened up the Scriptures and explained them to those following the Jewish traditions.

We too must attend church. We must meet regularly with other believers. Listening to God’s Word preached to us. Worshipping God. Giving of our income to help spread the gospel. Fellowshipping with other believers.

Jesus challenged some of the regular day teachings, because his teachings were of a new way. He was teaching the promise that he was the Messiah, and that he was the hope of the world. And sure. There were many people who didn’t believe him. They knew this Jesus of Nazareth was the son of Mary and Joseph. Why would they believe what he’s saying. They asked. But he spoke the truth. And they didn’t believe him.

As believers, we need to spend time in God’s Word. Not just casually reading the Bible, but digging deep and studying what we are reading. Learning the heart of God. We need to know what we believe and why we believe it. Reading the Word of God is one of the ways we get to know God.


Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33


Jesus spent time alone with his Heavenly Father. He went alone into the wilderness. He fasted and prayed. He spent time in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. He took a boat ride to the other side of the lake, so he could renew himself alone with his Father. He knew that his work was demanding and that he would pay the price. He needed time alone with his Father to prepare for his ministry.

It may not be popular these days to fast. To intentionally give up food for a period of time just to pray. Some would say it’s an unnecessary act of self denial. But it will cause breakthroughs in our relationship with God. When we humble ourselves to the point of denying ourselves food. The thing that sustains our human life. When we can forego food in order to feed our souls. When we spend one on one time with God. Communing with Him. Sacrificing our physical needs for our spiritual needs. We will touch heaven.

Jesus sacrificed his life for everyone on earth. He sacrificed himself. He was spit on. He was tortured. His robe was taken. A crown of thorns was placed on his head. And after all of that torture he was forced to carry His cross.

He paid dearly. Physically, for our sins. Yes, he asked to be removed from this suffering. He asked for this cup to be taken from him. There are times that we go through deep trials. Physical. Emotional. Mental. Spiritual. Financial. Relational. We ask to be removed from these situations. It’s okay to ask for that, but maybe the thing we should ask is for God to be with us during these times. Because if we’ve declared that God is enough for us, then is he enough in our weakest, most trying moments of life?

While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. Hebrews 5:7-8

In order to be like Jesus, we need to be able to identify with him. To recognize the struggles that he faced in his life as a man on earth. We see that he accepted those challenges. He didn’t run from trouble. He faced his trials head on and came out the winner. Our strength cannot come from ourselves. Our strength must come from God and God alone. That is only possible if we have a deep abiding faith in God. That comes by spending time in God’s Word. Reading and studying God’s word. Spending time in prayer. Perhaps it’s time to fast and pray. It’s time we humble ourselves to the point that we can face the challenges thrown at us. No matter what they are, come what may, God is our Redeemer. He is our refuge and strength. He’s always ready to help in times of trouble.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8

WWJD

She says she’s a Christian. But she hasn’t darkened a church door in years.  She hasn’t read her Bible since God disappointed her 18 years ago. Her prayers are only said in desperate times. She doesn’t spend time with believers unless it’s required. 

Is she a Christian? When she is someday standing in front of God awaiting her final judgment, what will God say to her? Well done, my good and faithful servant?  Or will he say. Depart from me. I never knew you.

I’m not her judge, so I’ll leave the judging to God.  He gets it right every time. I’m afraid I don’t. He shows mercy when I might not. He intercedes when I might not.

She knows enough about the Bible to calm her nerves by reading that God loves her. Or scare herself senseless by reading about Jesus’ second coming. But is that enough?

She knows to ask believers to pray for her when she’s frightened or hurting.  Does she pray herself?

Oh. She’s a good person. She helps those in need. She’s kind. She’s a good parent and wife.

But is she living as Jesus did?  There’s that age old saying.  WWJD. What would Jesus do? Does she ever ask herself that question? Does she pattern her behavior with that question in mind? I don’t know.

What does she mean when she says she’s a Christian? Is she saying that she’s living her life as Jesus did?


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


I wonder. Does she ever stop to ask herself what Jesus would do if he was in her situation. I wonder. Do I ever stop to ask myself what Jesus would do if he was in my situation. How would I live? What would I do differently?

Just like her, I say I’m a Christian. I attend church regularly. I read my Bible daily. I pray throughout the day. I spend time with other believers. But does that make me a Christian? Do I have to do those things in order to be a Christian?

I don’t know if she has ever repented of her sins and asked God to forgive her. I don’t know if she has ever claimed to have a relationship with God. But she says she’s a Christian. I wonder what she means when she says that.

I know that I have repented of my sins and God has forgiven me. I have a personal relationship with God. I try to be like him every day. Some days I’m successful. Other days, I fail. I know what I mean when I say I’m a Christian.

But do I always do as Jesus would have done if he was walking on this earth beside me? Do I make the same decisions he would make? Do I say the words that he would say? Do I treat others in a manner that shows Jesus is the ruler of my life?

I say I believe in Jesus, so do I live as he lived? Is there evidence in my life that points others to Jesus? Do my actions say that I’m becoming more like him with everything I do and say and think? Can others easily believe that I am a follower of Christ? Or is it hard to see that what I say I am is really who I am? Who am I fooling?