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David Bahn - Reflections

David Bahn - Reflections

By David Bahn
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David Bahn - Reflections

There's a whole lot of praising going on.
Revelation 18 is a rehearsal of the fall of Babylon, symbolizing the complete demise of Satan's kingdom and powers. It reads almost like one is gloating at Babylon's downfall. And make no mistake, its downfall is horrific and cataclysmic. Complete and undeniable. Total and irrefutable. One after another judgment is pronounced in poetic form. It is a scathing judgment against all the powers, forces, conspirators, antagonists, and people who do not repent. They are utterly doomed. It is sad, and a difficult chapter for me to read. Then come the hymns of praise to God in this chapter. Hallelujah! Again and again rings out the refrain, "Hallelujah!" Five times in these few verses goes up the shout, "Hallelujah!" And to make certain we get it, in verse 5 we have, "Praise our God!" There's just a whole lot of praising going on. Paeans of praise  have replaced laments of Judgment. Joy, delight, gladness, thanksgiving, honor, and glory have replaced gloom, despair, judgment, and damnation.
August 10, 2022
Who are these bowls for?
God's judgments are just. And as we reflect on his holiness and purity, his justice and righteousness, it is good to realize that there will be a day of judgment. That day will be catychlismically horriffic. But we take comfort in the end in two things: Jesus has satisfied God's justice for all who believe. And God's greater delight is to forgive and save. Save us, O God! Have mercy and save us! Amen.
August 09, 2022
Heeding the Call to Repent
This hymn of Revelation 16 makes the point that God's judgements are completely just. That's the point of the second of these two hymns of praise. “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!” Amen. But let us never forget that the judgment of God was unleashed 2000 years ago...on his Son. Jesus bore the sin of the world. And no one need endure the kinds of eternal doom that is described here. God's will, in fact, is quite the opposite. His will is that all would repent and believe.
August 08, 2022
Just & True, Holy and Righteous
Our yearning for justice and vindication may not be as urgent, it is certainly well-founded when we desire God's ultimate rule and reign in our lives. When he reigns we are able to rise above the tumult of this fallen world. When he rules we are able to find joy even in our sufferings. When his justice and righteousness prevails, schisms, divisions, and scandals are healed. All that happens when we embrace God's justice, truth, holiness and righteousness by faith. We look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, redeemed us, forgave us, and justified us before God. For his sake we are declared righteous, just, holy, and pure. Whenever we express that in our interactions with others, we reflect the true nature of God, and give evidence of the grace and truth of his ways.
August 05, 2022
Smooth Sailing and Perfect Peace
The days leading up to the Great Last Day will be tumultuous. Many will faint for fear. And those apart from God will not have smooth sailing by any means. But the redeemed of God recognize their need for a Savior, and realize that Savior is Jesus Christ who has come to redeem us. We will find perfect peace in him. I look forward to that day. I think it's getting close.
August 04, 2022
Stunning Grace and Glorious Majesty
There are times when the apparent winning ways of the world overwhelm. There are times when we are amazed at man's accomplishments. There are times when we celebrate great human accomplishments as though they are the ultimate expressions of power and glory. There are times when we laud the athlete, idolize the celebrity, or put our hopes on a political leader. None of these are truly great and amazing. That's God's realm. His praise will go on for all time, and so will our rightful and proper amazement at his stunning grace and glorious majesty.
August 03, 2022
The End of God's Wrath
Our Lutheran founding father spoke of the wrath of God as a great reality about which they had not merely read in books, but the withering blasts of which they had felt in their own hearts. Likewise the grace of God was to them not a mere titulus, but a boon which had come to them like the dawn of a bright morning after a night of harrowing gloom and destructive storms. God's wrath will one day end.  While we wait, God shows his wrath by taking his hands off those who do not believe. And in their unbelief they go farther and farther down the road to perdition (cf. Romans 1:18-32). But God's hands-off approach is not entirely wrathful. For he is also waiting patiently so that some will repent and not perish (2 Peter 3:9). This is his greatest desire. This is his will: our eternal salvation and perfect joy. And until the end of all time there is hope. But that time will one day come to an end. His wrath will end. And his own will enjoy heavenly bliss forever.
August 02, 2022
What will and will not end
Suffering will one day end. Worldly worries will cease. Troubles will be completely forgotten. Faith will become sight. Hopes will be realized. Temptation, trials, troubles, and tumult will all end. We must remember this and join in the hymns of praise to the One who will replace them with pure joy and true happiness, which will never end. For a photo of our family in Florida, click on the link below...
August 01, 2022
Get Your Own Dirt & Other Brutal Facts Atheists Must Face
The salvation that belongs to our God is his gift to all. But sadly not all want this gift. They want to live under the delusion that they can chart their own course. They don't want to be accountable. They do not want to admit they need a Savior. We can do nothing about that except continue to proclaim the truth of God's majestic might and his glorious grace. In the end his might will be fully realized by all, and his salvation will be enjoyed by all who believe. “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” That's a brutal lesson for atheists, but the joyful confession of we who believe!
July 22, 2022
Behold A Host Arrayed In White
The main focus of these hymns in Revelation points us to an eternity of praise to God. And in that space and place we will never grow weary of doing that. The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23). There will be a new cause for praise to God each new morning in heaven. and our focus will be fixed on God. The hymn, Behold a Host Arrayed in White expresses beautifully the joy of singing the praises of the One who is worthy of all blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might forever and ever! Amen!
July 21, 2022
Majestic Humility
When we see this picture of heaven in Revelation 7, with living creatures, elders, angels and multitudes of people falling down in worship of the Lamb, it makes an impression. Every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth. And every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (cf. Philippians 2:10-11). And not only do they fall down in worship, they fall on their faces in worship. This is no half-hearted acknowledgement. This is from the core of their being honor being bestowed on our Lord. Next time you gather with others in worship, think of this scene. And join with the heavenly host, the great and small, the famous and infamous in majestic humility, praising God. For he alone is worthy. And whether or not you are famous, your worship of him is a delight to me, your brothers and sisters in Christ, the whole host of heaven, and to God himself.
July 20, 2022
Divine Comfort
From skinned knees to cancer's cruel injury to the worst unimaginable injustice, God's mercy and grace overflows. He comforts us with his love. Whatever we must face we can know his goodness will prevail and we will be comforted because he is faithful. He is worthy of all honor and praise.
July 19, 2022
The Witness of the Heavenly Chorus
Sometimes we state the obvious and it seems completely unnecessary. It sure is hot. This is Monday. But in this case the obvious in heaven is spoken as a reminder to us on earth. These hymns give testimony to us who are yet on earth and who must live by faith, not by sight. Their hymns not only glorify God, they edify us. They not only flow from hearts overflowing with joy and grace. They encourage us to look forward to joining that hymn. And even if you don't think you can sing, it's an invitation you will certainly be blessed to accept.
July 18, 2022
The Slain Lamb's Reign
These hymns from Revelation express something we do not yet see, but which we believe. For now Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, rules our hearts by grace through faith. We delight in him and look for his influence in our lives and the lives of our families and friends, our neighbors near and far. Psalm 22:3 says that God is enthroned on the praises of Israel. So let us enthrone him now in our praises and worship. He is worthy. And we are all the better for his reign here and now, and for all eternity.
July 15, 2022
Precious Prayers
This vision enriches our appreciation for the blessing of prayer. Not only are we able to call on God with confidence and hope. Here we see that he keeps our prayers. Like a keepsake only more precious. Like a treasure only more highly prized than any treasure on earth. Our prayers are kept in golden bowls, and guarded by the elders in heaven. I've not thought of my prayers in this manner before. I know I should pray. And I do. Earnestly: all of those prayers I mentioned above. And God not only listens to my prayers, answers them according to his goodness, wisdom, grace, and promises, he keeps them. They are a treasure to Him.
July 14, 2022
Exalting in the Lamb's Exaltation
The Lamb who was slain has now begun his reign. Whatever shame and ignominy he suffered is now put to rest. His humiliation is now turned to glory. All the insults, the suffering, the derision, the dishonor is now replaced with praise. Those who know Jesus' steadfast and redemptive love, grace, truth, and mercy delight to see this scene. Whatever dishonor we must endure in his name will one day be fully redeemed. We will exalt in the exaltation of the Lamb who sits on the throne forever and ever! Amen.
July 13, 2022
Praise's Perspectives
Praise puts our problems in perspective. Praise puts us in our proper perspective toward God. That's good to remember, for hope in our trials and humility in our approach to God.
July 12, 2022
Revelation's Revelations
If you want to read the book of Revelation in any truly meaningful way, read it with a view from a prison cell or severe hardship and fear because you are a Christian. Then you'll get past the apocalyptic imagery and symbolic numerology and hear a message of hope and comfort for the people of God. This book is not for fanciful speculation, but for comfort and courage to Jesus followers as we see the world around us spinning out of control, or must endure ridicule because we hold the to-the-world-quaint belief that God is real, his judgment imminent, and Jesus is our only hope.
July 11, 2022
Three Ways to Live - One Way of Life
Way One, The Way of the Thief: Whatever is yours is mine and I'll do anything I can to get it. Way Two, The Way of the Selfish: Whatever is mine is mine and I'll do everything I can to keep it. Way Three, The Way of Compassion: Whatever is mine is a gift of God and I'll do whatever I can to share it. Thanks be to God, Jesus lived and died as the perfect expression of Way Three. His story of the Good Samaritan illustrates how we are to reflect this Way of Life in every day situations. He says, "Go and do likewise."
July 10, 2022
Battle Buddies
Paul had gone to war with several people whom he names here in these closing thoughts of this letter. It is significant that he ties his relationship to them with some of the troubles they had endured together. These experiences had forged a bond that was deeper than being next-door-neighbors, or even members of the same family. They had suffered together. And they continued to serve the cause of Christ's kingdom in the face of hardship, suffering and trials of various kinds. They were fellow prisoners and prayer warriors. They had been battle buddies.
July 08, 2022
People and Things Can Change
Brothers and sisters in Christ ought always seek to be reconciled. Jesus makes that point when he speaks of giving an offering and remembering that someone has something against you. When that happens, you are to leave your offering, first go be reconciled and then give your offering. Restoration of broken human relationships is more urgent even than giving an offering. Paul’s attitude toward these once-estranged fellow missionaries is evidence of this being worked out.a
July 07, 2022
Naming Names
We may receive an employee of the month award. Perhaps we'll be recognized for having the best yard in the neighborhood. We might have been voted most likely to succeed in high school. Or you might have been elected president of your neighborhood association. All those are great accomplishments. They should not be taken lightly. But to be named by anyone as a faithful and beloved brother or sister in Christ, or a fellow prisoner for the sake of the gospel is an even higher honor. Such a naming is the kind we should all strive for. But the highest honor is given to the One who makes all this worth it. The name of Jesus is the one at whose name every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth, and under the earth. Jesus Christ is Lord and I am thankful to be named as his follower.
July 06, 2022
What a Week It’s Been!
More than 100 pastors and spouses are attending year two of PLI International training. Our focus is Leading Change for the Sake of Christ’s Mission. Here’s our most recent email about this trip. Thanks to Diane for putting most of this together. She’s a great partner in mission! We celebrated her birthday here complete with a birthday cake that they provided, and some joyous singing of Happy Birthday. I have videos that I will post when we are able to get a better internet connection.
July 01, 2022
A Lesson on the way to the Airport
We were on the way to the airport in Houston and Aliou, our Uber driver, asked where we were going. “Tanzania,” we said. “No kidding!?!” he replied. “I’m from Mali!” Our conversation went on from there. We shared a little about our trip two years ago to dedicate the school in Mwanza, and now that we are going to teach pastors and their spouses about Leadership and Change for the Sake of Christ’s Mission. He was very impressed and encouraging to us. But he also taught us something along the way. 
June 30, 2022
Open Doors and Divine Appointments
Who knows what such divine appointments will lead to? God does, and he wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth of Jesus Christ. Pray for us to have open doors...and for yourself...and for the people in your life who know and love Jesus too.
June 29, 2022
Pray for Us - A Call to Prayer 2
Please pray for us that we may be sensitive to people's feelings, fears, and impatience (also a problem with those who are more ready than others to change!) as we encourage these Jesus followers to lead change for the sake of the mission. I'm wondering whether you are being led to consider changes you need to make for the sake of Christ's mission. You can pray about that as well. Then listen carefully for God's answer.
June 28, 2022
A Call to Prayer
Please pray for us that we may be sensitive to people's feelings, fears, and impatience (also a problem with those who are more ready than others to change!) as we encourage these Jesus followers to lead change for the sake of the mission. I'm wondering whether you are being led to consider changes you need to make for the sake of Christ's mission. You can pray about that as well. Then listen carefully for God's answer.
June 27, 2022
Last time I checked, everything means every thing. So no matter what you are called upon to do today, do it as unto Jesus, in his name, as his ambassador, to his glory, and in his loving grace. For God has an incredible inheritance prepared for us who are his. And if we're his, we will surely want to serve him well - he who served us perfectly and completely, and saved us: Our Lord Jesus Christ.
June 23, 2022
What's on your playlist?
I try, once in a while, to listen to talk radio, or top 40, pop, or (don't judge me!) even easy listening music. I enjoy movie soundtracks and highly regard John Williams' incredible movie soundtracks. But I come again and again to classical (with many religious/faith roots and allusions) or Christian contemporary music. These bolster my spirits and shape my soul. How about you? What's on your playlist?
June 22, 2022
Celebrating 47 Years
Diane and I celebrate our 47th wedding anniversary today. Some reflections on that, with special application to the thoughts of Colossians 3:12-19
June 21, 2022
Perfectly Fitting
What is your station in life? Are you husband, wife, child, mother, worker, employer, teacher, student, customer or vendor? You will likely have an opportunity to express the unique manner in which Jesus' love and calling takes shape in your life. And no matter who you are, Jesus' command to love God first and love your neighbor as yourself is perfectly fitting.
June 20, 2022
Paradigm Shift
There are many troubling things in the world. They vie for our attention, concern, and even prayers. We are not to close our eyes to others' suffering. Nor are we to shut our hearts to the pain we feel in the face of loss. But we do not grieve without hope. We do not despair of God's goodness in the face of evil. Sometimes, however, we do need to shift our focus to the eternal blessings of God. Even as we live, and move, and have our being in this broken and fallen world we can look to Jesus and rejoice in his love and salvation. A paradigm shift will mean we are brutally honest with the troubles we face, while being eternally hopeful for the goodness of God to sustain us and those we love.
June 17, 2022
What's to lie about anymore?
We’re called to truth-telling, and truth living. We need never pretend. We must not deceive ourselves, but confess our sins, and acknowledge our need for our Savior. We certainly ought never boast in anything other than the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Cf. Galatians 6:14) And that’s no lie.
June 16, 2022
Words that Hurt and Words that Heal
God's words to those who realize their sin, and turn to him in repentance are words of mercy and grace that heal sin-sick souls. He says, "I do not condemn you. I forgive you. You are mine. Now, go and speak truth to your neighbor in kindness, gentleness, humility, and love. Those are words that heal.
June 15, 2022
Speaking the Truth in Love
Language is a powerful tool to bless and heal, or to hurt and offend others. God's calling to truth telling is not just a matter of being polite, but a matter of giving witness to his character. How will you honor him today with your words? Let's speak the truth in love!
June 14, 2022
Hand's Off!
From my blog,  When Jesus hung on the cross he cried out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" This is the cry of anguish when we experience the wrath of God. His abandonment creates a void that absorbs our very soul. This is wrath of the worst kind: God takes his hands off of us. If he is chastising us, and his hand is heavy on us, there is hope of his presence, kindness, goodness, and grace. His hand may be heavy, but it's there. But what if there is no hand. No goodness. No love. No grace. Just the utter black hole of a godless eternity. I do not want to face that. Thankfully we don't have to face that utter black hole of a godless eternity. Instead we look to the nail-scarred hands of Jesus, in whom we hope, and for whom we look in glory.
June 13, 2022
Spiritual Capital
Jesus had tons of spiritual capital. He had wisdom, power, and authority beyond all comparison. He healed diseases. He raised the dead. He walked on water. He confounded his enemies. He had "all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). Jesus was and is the source of incredible power for us today as well. Paul prays that we know "the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe according to the working his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead" (Ephesians 1:19-20).
May 27, 2022
Suffering for the Body
We live in a very individualistic society and time. Everyone wants to define for themselves what is good or evil; what is praiseworthy or abhorrent. We climb on the latest scandal (and, Lord have mercy, there are many many lamentable things happening in the world today!). We beat up on the latest villain - too often of our own personal reasons. Somehow we've lost the more complete understanding of the Body of Christ, the community of believers, the communion of saints. God loves the whole church. His desire is for us to flourish as his community of the redeemed. Paul suffered greatly for the name of Jesus and for the sake of the Body of Christ - of which we are a part.
May 26, 2022
Newton or Einstein?
Paul here is predating Newtonian and Einsteinian thinking. Newtonian: I'm hard pressed, suffering, and agonizing for you because I want you to realize just how important this message is. Einsteinian: This message is important because only in Christ is true hope, life, salvation, knowledge, and wisdom. OK...I realize this may not be the best analogy for understanding this passage. But it is good to know both: the message of Jesus is of vital importance because he is the only source of life, hope, wisdom, knowledge, and salvation.
May 25, 2022
What more can a hero do?
We might want to make a hero of Paul. Surely he would serve well as a hero of the faith. His life and complete dedication to spreading the gospel are heroic and emulatable. Sometimes Paul does seem to dance on the fine line of showing how important the message is and of showing how dedicated he is to delivering that message. But these words here point me toward believing that Paul is making the point of how far he has gone not so that they would trust him. He's doing this to point them to the One whose message he is carrying. He's doing it to encourage hearts, to knit people together, and to point them toward all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge centered in Jesus. What more can any hero do?
May 24, 2022
Celebrity Pastors
When you hear someone preaching Jesus, urging faith in him, pointing people to God's promises anchored in Jesus' death, resurrection and final return, lean in. Listen well. Maybe that pastor isn't a rock star. Maybe he doesn't have his name on the side of a megachurch. Maybe he isn't all that great. But if he is pointing you to Jesus, listen well. And rejoice whenever anyone points beyond himself to the One in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. In Jesus, after all, is the true hope of glory.
May 23, 2022
The journey of Grace
Thanks be to God for his mercy and grace! We do have a past. But we also have a Savior by whom we have been reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to be presented holy and blameless and above reproach before him. I don't believe we never sin after our conversion. But I do believe we must not take any sin lightly, and by so doing cheapen the grace of God. A sober reminder for me. Maybe for you, too, dear reader.
May 18, 2022
God is all in for us
I note that God was pleased to do this. Reconciling us and all things to himself. Doing it through the cross. Coming to earth and dwelling in bodily form. Making all this happen through the cross - the death of His own son. God was pleased to do this. The Greek word, εὐδόκησεν, is an expression of God's pleasure and indicates that God was not begrudging in this act of reconciliation and salvation. The word has the same root as is used at Jesus' baptism, "This is my Son, with him I am well pleased." It enlarges God's heart to see us redeemed, reconciled, restored, and rescued. God is all in for us, and pleased to be so. Where do we need to reflect that today?
May 17, 2022
Worthy of Preeminent Honor
A missionary working in east Asia spoke of the many people there who do not know Jesus and are not giving him the honor he deserves. That phrase caught my attention. I want Jesus to be honored. He is my Savior and Lord. He is pure and good. My friend identified her place of missionary activity as east Asia because she is actually potentially in danger if the wrong people get wind of her work where she is. But her desire to honor Jesus has moved her to this. I hope that I can honor Jesus similarly wherever I serve him - not just in my sermons or blog posts, but in all I think, say, or do. He is surely worthy of it.
May 16, 2022
Praying For You
Praying for other believers to know God's will, to have wisdom and understanding, and to live a life worthy of our Lord Jesus is an important prayer. We pray these things over those who have been saved, not in order that they may be saved. Once saved, however, the temptations and challenges to our faith do not magically stop. That's why we must also pray the we who bear the name Jesus will bear fruit, increase in our knowledge of God, and endure in our walk of faith. God has delivered us. We have been redeemed. Our sins have been forgiven. From that foundation of God's grace and salvation we pray, giving thanks to the Father for those who walk with us in the light of God's love.
May 13, 2022
A World Coming Alive
Paul is urging us to look to God. He's pointing us toward our heavenly hope. He's reminding us that God's plans are for blessing, good, and eternal joy. He invites us into that hope. That doesn't mean we don't mourn for the lost. It doesn't mean we don't seek to bring the message of Jesus to more and more people. Quite the contrary. We rejoice in God's work in the lives of more and more people, and do whatever we can to help make the world come alive around us. His message of Good News enlivens that hope and sustains us in that effort.
May 12, 2022
The Truth is No Excuse
This is the good news: Jesus Christ came to save sinners. I am one of them. And he is my Savior and Lord. That word needs to be spread to the whole world. The signs on our church marquees should read, "Sinners Welcome." This is no excuse for sinning further. This is a call to praise God for his glorious grace, and live in that grace day by day.
May 11, 2022
Partners in the Gospel
Paul never claimed to be alone. He constantly mentions other people who were partners in the gospel. Whether it's Timothy, Epaphras, Silas, Acquilla, or Priscilla, Paul partnered with these people. And the kingdom of God grew. Do you have a partner who is dedicated with you for the sake of the Kingdom?
May 10, 2022
Claiming Your Proper Place
Paul's claim to be an apostle was not a matter of personal aggrandizement. It was for the sake of the gospel message. It was so that he could offer grace and peace through our Lord Jesus Christ. This is my claim as well. I stand little on being a pastor as a place of authoritarian power, but much more on the basis of sharing the grace and peace that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. This is Paul's claim and purpose. He is not alone. Nor is this happening only in Collassae. I look forward to reflecting on that this week.
May 09, 2022
Why Worship?
At the end of Luke's account of Jesus' ministry he mentions two significant things. Jesus ascended in the view of the Apostles. And the Apostles return with joy and continually bless God in the Temple. Make no mistake, they're there because of what's in their hearts. But what's in their hearts is there because of God's work in the world and in their hearts. The only reason there is anything good in our hearts is because of Jesus' presence there. Otherwise we would have only the sinful nature. Jesus' assessment of the sinful nature is unvarnished. He says, "If you, being evil, know how to give good things to your children..." (Matthew 7:11). We who are evil need a physician., and Jesus is that physician. He has redeemed us, and made us new. He reigns in grace, and because of all he has done, we delight to worship him. Not so that he will see the good in us, but because he has redeemed us and we are truly and deeply thankful to him!
May 06, 2022
Some things you can't unsee
We weren't there 2000 years ago when these things happened. But we have the witness of the Scriptures. We read Isaiah's prophecies (Isaiah 53). Moses records God's promise of a seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). Jeremiah speaks of a New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Then Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John record Jesus' teaching, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, and promised return. The remainder of the New Testament helps us understand what it means to live out the reality of our redemption. So when we see that kind smile, act of kindness, answered prayer, the faithful witness from God's word, let that be a reminder to see again what is behind it all. God loves you. He sent his Son. He died for you. He rose in victory over sin, death, and the devil. That's something none of us need to unsee!
May 05, 2022
God's Got This!
If God's got this, should we just sit back and let someone else proclaim the word? Should we just watch God work, rather than engaging in his mission? May it never be! How could we who have heard this message want to keep it to ourselves? The message will be preached. It should be. In would be (now and in previous years). We're living proof of that. Thanks be to God. Is there someone you know who needs to hear it?
May 04, 2022
Open Mindfulness
If we pay attention, God may be showing up and calling us to repent and believe - just like the Apostles. If we sense that, there is no better place to go than to the Scriptures. The wisdom literature offers us insights and direction about managing life itself. The Psalms give voice to deep emotions and yearnings of the soul. The letters of the New Testament reveal how the faith is to be lived day to day. The gospels point us to Jesus the source of life and salvation. When we are mindfully open to the God moments of life be sure to follow the trail to faith in Jesus. Be open to his word of grace and truth. For surely this is God’s ultimate desire for us all. And as we are mindfully open to his teaching we will certainly be blessed.
May 03, 2022
Being Clear and Confident of God's Promises
We give up too easily. We lose sight of God's promises. We acquiesce too quickly to the discouragement and distractions of the world. Better we lean into what God has promised. Read it, mark, learn, and meditate upon it. There we'll learn not only of God's promises - which are sure to come true - but of God's goodness, grace, justice, faithfulness, and patience.  He hasn't given up on us. Let's recommit ourselves to clinging to his promises and keep our hopes alive in him.
May 02, 2022
Why so troubled? Why do doubts arise?
Jesus asks, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?" He doesn't do that because he is ignorant of their thoughts or struggles. He does that to call them to a new place of hope and peace. So the question today is for you and me: “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?" Jesus is risen. The tomb is empty. He reigns at God's right hand. His greeting is, "Peace!"
April 29, 2022
Peace! What a marvelously delightful gift! (With the Luke reading)
Jesus came to his discouraged and disappointed disciples and offered a greeting of peace. Then he gave proof of the reality of that moment…by eating fish. He comes to us as well, with a greeting of peace and grace. And he offers us proof of that when we have those moments of clarity and focus and peace that only he can give. I’m really lousy at manufacturing my own peace. But Jesus’ peace is a grace beyond expectation and human understanding. Peace! What a marvelously delightful gift! Soon will come the focus and direction. That too is a gift. Next week…
April 28, 2022
Peace! What a marvelously delightful gift!
Jesus came to his discouraged and disappointed disciples and offered a greeting of peace. Then he gave proof of the reality of that eating fish. He comes to us as well, with a greeting of peace and grace. And he offers us proof of that when we have those moments of clarity and focus and peace that only he can give. I'm really lousy at manufacturing my own peace. But Jesus' peace is a grace beyond expectation and human understanding. Peace! What a marvelously delightful gift! Soon will come the focus and direction. That too is a gift. Next week...
April 28, 2022
The Mystery of the Resurrection
I'm not sure I really understand Jesus' bodily resurrection. I confess belief in it each Sunday. "I believe in the resurrection of the body," we say in the Apostle's Creed. That's based on Jesus' bodily resurrection which we also confess in the Creed, "the third day he rose again from the dead." How that's possible, and what it looked like remains a mystery. But just because something is a mystery does not mean it's untrue. I believe in the resurrection of the body, and look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. It's a mystery. And I believe it.
April 27, 2022
The Light Goes On
Jesus' presence itself didn't enlighten the disciples, although surely it did help. It seems, however, that it was as Jesus broke bread with these two disciples the light went on. Maybe it was a flashback to the Upper Room that opened their eyes. Perhaps they hadn't previously recognized Jesus because his appearance was altered from what it had been before. Could be that their sadness and disappointment had clouded their vision. But something changed in that moment. And new excitement, hope, and purpose shaped their hearts and lives from that time on. Maybe you're ready for a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit. God may be ready to open your eyes to some deeper understanding of his grace and truth. There may be a moment in your future when the disappointment, grief, or discouragement will be replaced with a new vision of God's faithfulness, love, and power. If...or when! happens, do what they did: Tell your friends and loved ones. And rejoice in the Good News of God.
April 26, 2022
When the "Same Old Same Old" is Very Welcome
One of my great privileges as a pastor is to speak similar words to the people who gather for worship: The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace. I hope the people who hear these words are happy to hear them not only because they signal the end of the worship service, but because this heartfelt blessing offers a gift from God that calms their hearts and brings them comfort and courage. The disciples who heard Jesus' greeting of peace certainly did need both comfort and courage. I do too. How about you?
April 25, 2022
WPD and Listening to Jesus
God had in mind the redemption of the whole world. And Jesus was committed to that vision. It cost him his life. It meant that his followers were disappointed. It wasn't his fault, but it was his burden to carry. And so as he joins them on the road, they are deep in conversation. And he begins probing. What are you talking about? Who is this one? And he will do far more. He will reveal himself to them. He will warm their hearts with the grace and truth that pours from the essence of his being. He will secure their hopes in something far better than they thought they had lost. Maybe we do that as well. Maybe we sell God short. Maybe we settle for too little. Or worse, maybe we don't recognize the fullness of God's redeeming love in the face of the dark valleys and disappointing turns of events. Maybe we need to check ourselves when our WPD quotients are high, and pause to listen to Jesus. He has something very good to say. Worth every moment of silence it requires of us to hear it.
April 22, 2022
Who Knows?
How silly it was for these two to ask whether Jesus was the only one who did not know. Better we remember the saying by Francis Rossow, a professor at Concordia Seminary, "We know precious little about God. But the little we know is precious."
April 21, 2022
Who gets to say what it says?
Some say that the church ought to interpret Scripture. Others say the individual should interpret Scripture. I say let Scripture interpret Scripture. And Jesus as the Word made flesh is certainly best qualified to enlighten our understanding of what God's word actually says. Hint, points to him!
April 20, 2022
God's Religion or Man's Religion?
The central message of the Bible is the love of God shown fully and graciously in Jesus Christ. His death was the proof of that grace. His resurrection was proof of his glory. I don't want to miss that. Jesus does not want us to miss it either.
April 19, 2022
Easter’s Afterglow
Right now I’m basking in the Easter joy afterglow. But there will come times of confusion, discouragement, and disappointment. Thank God Jesus shows up. Thank God he’s more faithful than my weak faith. Some difficult things may be necessary. But Jesus reigns. For me, now this is enough.
April 18, 2022
Ragman by Walter Wangerin, Jr.
On this Easter Sunday, I offer Walter Wangerin, Jr's allegory of Christ as a ragman. Wangerin is a gifted author who provides in this allegory a picture of Jesus taking our sorrows, sins, shame, and sickness all upon himself. And giving us his righteousness and life in exchange. We who are baptized into Christ have clothed ourselves in Christ (Galatians 3:27). 
April 16, 2022
Friday of Holy Week: Two Trials, Three Crosses, and Seven Words
Let's look at the Seven Words of Jesus from the cross on this Good Friday: Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34 Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise. Luke 23:43 Jesus said to his mother: "Woman, this is your son." Then he said to the disciple: "This is your mother." John 19:26-27 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 I thirst. John 19:28 It is finished. John 19:30 Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. Luke 23:46 Each of these express terrible agony, deep love, and redemptive purpose. The saying I go to more often than the others, is recorded in both Matthew and Mark. It is the only one recorded in both gospels. And it speaks of a pain we do not have to bear because Jesus stood in for us. And, although it is a grave lament, and expresses an unfathomable sense of abandonment, it also expresses faith. For in the hour that God abandoned Jesus, Jesus still calls him, "My God." His God. He has been abandoned. But he will not abandon God. That's good for us who wish to claim Jesus' righteousness as our own. And that is exactly what we do when we put our faith in Jesus. We claim his righteousness. His robe of righteousness is given to us in baptism (Galatians 3:27).
April 15, 2022
Thursday of Holy Week: Two Mandates, Three Prayers, and Much More
Wednesday is silent. Thursday bursts with activities. And there are many  things that capture my attention. But I will focus on two mandates of this day. The “Do this“ of the Lord’s Supper, and the “Love one another” of Jesus’ new command.
April 14, 2022
Wednesday of Holy Week: Not much Jesus?
There is no specific record of Jesus‘ words or actions on Wednesday of Holy Wee. But don’t mistake inaction on his part for complacency or impotence. All is well in hand. Nothing is spinning out of control. Even though it may seem as though God is absent, he is not abandoning either Jesus or his people. That will come on Friday. God will abandon his Son – the horror! But all things are now in motion according to God’s plan. The plots, schemes, plans, and strategies of the evil one and his minions will only play into God’s plans. Maybe you feel like God is all too silent. Too aloof. Too removed. Too inactive. Trust me – or better yet, trust God – he has a plan. It is good. Better than anything we might even try to plan. It will come to pass.
April 13, 2022
Tuesday of Holy Week
We may wish to join the disciples in marveling at the withered fig tree. We can certainly delight in seeing Jesus answer the criticisms of his detractors. We should hear in our hearts Jesus' teaching in the parables. But we must keep in mind these two commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Jesus is in the process of living them out. May we follow him in that spirit of love for God and our neighbor.
April 12, 2022
Let's walk with Jesus this Holy Week. Let's see how he lives the last week of his life on earth. To be more precise, let's see how he lives the week of his death on the cross. After his resurrection Jesus appeared to his disciples several times as recorded in the gospels. Those appearances are important in their own right. We'll look at those next week. But for now let's look at the events leading up to Jesus' crucifixion.
April 11, 2022
How Will this All End?
What appears to be the irredeemable loss of Jesus' death on the cross gives way to Jesus' resurrection, and ascension. His Great Commission to his disciples. His promised return at the end of all time. What starts here will be fully and eternally expressed for all who believe in Jesus. This will end when the final battle with Satan is consummated and he is thrown into the pit of hell prepared for him and all his angels (cf. Matthew 25:41). This will resolve in the full and unfettered reign of health, freedom from oppression, life, release from captivity, and the favor of God. It is a reign of hope, joy, purpose, and comfort. It is a place of God's presence in an atmosphere of glorious grace.
March 04, 2022
That's a good question
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. - Revelation 22:17 Jesus' reign and rule is a glorious, inspiring, delightful place of grace, blessing, joy, and love. And you and I've been invited. Come, Lord Jesus! Bring me into the fullness of your reign and rule!
March 03, 2022
Enemies Beware!
Jesus is large and in charge here as he begins his ministry. There will come a time, however, when God’s reign and rule looks very different. The King of kings will be enthroned on a cross. He will be hailed by mockery. He will triumph by dying. It will look nothing like Jesus’ glorious moments of power and authority does here. But that is the secret of Jesus’ true power. His outward success doesn’t establish it. Jesus’ true power is the power of faith. His unwavering commitment to God’s ways no matter what gave him the moral authority to triumph over the demons. That same commitment would lead him to the cross three years later. But it won’t stop there. It will go from the cross to the grave and from the grave to the glory and splendor of majesty at God’s right hand once again. And just as we have to believe that Jesus was reigning when he was being crucified, we must now believe he is reigning in the face of war, violence, injustice, disease, and even death. His is a word of life and grace for which I am deeply thankful. It’s very obvious when fever is lifted and evil is vanquished. I must remember that also in the dark times. How about you?
March 02, 2022
The Courage to Rebuke
To the extent we engage our faith, commitment to God's reign and rule, and understanding of God's will (think Romans 12:2), we too can be powerful in opposing Satan and his minions. We can even rebuke him. And as to our witness to Jesus' identity and his reign and rule, we will never be perfect. But we certainly would not wish to discredit Jesus. We would never wish to mock him outright. So speak up! Confess Jesus is Lord. Let the world know who he is and how he has blessed you. Paul tells Timothy that God's word is profitable for reproof (2 Timothy 3:16). This should never be taken lightly or used in a cavalier manner. Thank God that Jesus knew when to rebuke, and did it! I wonder whether I need to be a little more courageous whenever I see evil having its way. God give me courage to do so when the need arises.
March 01, 2022
I know who you are!
We may have to come as dogs getting the scraps from the master’s table. (Matthew 15:27) We may need to call out, “Lord I believe! Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) But we must never be defiant. We dare not use Jesus’ name in vain. We know who he is and what he has done. And we look forward to seeing him again at the end of all days. We know who he is. He is the One who answers our prayers, died for our sins, rose for our justification. He deserves always to have his name used in prayer, praise, thanks, and blessing.
February 28, 2022
Better Together with Jesus
I preached at Peace Lutheran Church in Groves, TX on Sunday, February 27. I hope you find this edifying.
February 27, 2022
Who's in charge here?
Things are not always as they seem. That includes also Jesus' intent in challenging his hometown folks. He isn't interested in inciting a riot. He doesn't want merely to make them angry. He wants to point out their need for a different attitude toward God, faith, repentance, and grace. Sometimes we live under the illusion that we are in control of all things. In fact we have control over very little. And the sooner we recognize this, and align ourselves with God's truth and purposes, the sooner we will experience the abundant storehouse of God's grace. He is not only in charge. He is full of grace and truth and love and faithfulness. I, for one, am glad he's in charge.
February 25, 2022
Eyes, Ears, (and Hearts?)
My question is what do you focus your eyes on as you think of Jesus? What do you hear him say? Do you listen for his word in humility? Do you seek to see who he really is? And when your heart is revealed to be broken, corrupt, and faithless, do you try to throw him off the cliff? Or does this take you to a place of repentance at the foot of the cross? Do you seek his mercy and rejoice in God's favor shown in Jesus? And do you let him reveal his true self to you and seek to hear his full counsel? Sadly we will show our brokenness all too often in the face of Jesus' teaching and truth. But the fullness of that truth is seen in how Jesus really did fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah. It would cost him incredible pain and suffering, and even his very life. But this was the means of God's favor coming to us. That's what I want to see and hear. Lord Jesus, open my eyes, ears, and heart by your Holy Spirit so that I may see and hear your grace and truth always! Amen.
February 24, 2022
Defining and Connecting
Perhaps that's the lesson we are to learn when our prayers aren't answered while other's are. Our loved one is not healed, and someone far from God is. I don't think this is a punitive thing on God's part. But it may be a lesson to others about the far reach of God's grace and the breadth of his love. When we do receive the special touch of God's grace we can be deeply thankful that God looked upon us with his favor. We don't deserve it. That's the nature of grace after all. But it is so sweet when we do receive it. That's because Jesus knew who he was, remained true to his true identity, and deeply connected with people who received his grace in humble faith. Lord give me such a humble faith, so I can define myself as one loved by you and connected with you for all eternity.
February 23, 2022
What do you need?
We could spiritualize the things on the list Jesus references from Isaiah: spiritual blindness, captivity to sin, poverty of spirit. These are all real conditions we might consider in an honest moral self-inventory. I'll leave you to consider how that might apply to you. But I want to suggest a different approach to how we hear and respond to Jesus' words here. There are people who are actually oppressed, poor, imprisoned, and blind. They need our prayers. They need Jesus' presence and deliverance. It all starts with the favor of God, and the Good News of his love and salvation through the life, death, resurrection, and final coming of Jesus. It might be that we pray for them to be delivered physically and spiritually from these ills. And as we do we might discover that we have been delivered from the blindness to others' needs, freed from the captivity of constant self-absorbed fretting, and enriched with the true treasures that are found in life in Christ.
February 22, 2022
Hometown Favorite
I don't know too many people who presume upon God's grace. Or do I? Perhaps you and I do this all the time. Maybe we think we deserve special treatment because we're God's people. We think that because we believe in Jesus we get to go to the front of the line when it comes time for God to hand out favors. We might look at others less deserving in our own estimation thinking God owes us before he gives anything good to them. One thing is for sure though. Jesus came to proclaim good news to the poor. He was sent to "proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” Unless we are willing to admit our neediness, and rejoice in God's favor to others in need, we will find no joy in Jesus' presence. If we do admit our need for his favor, and rejoice in that favor to others we will find great joy in Jesus' gifts of sight, freedom, release, and good news of God's favor - no matter what town we're from.
February 21, 2022
New Insights on the Lord's Prayer
Jesus was led into the wilderness, the abode of Satan, the realm of wandering. When the Israelites were led into the wilderness to escape Egyptian slavery, they gave into temptation. They fashioned an idol of gold. They grumbled. They refused to believe. They criticized their leaders. Jesus is being led to face temptation by the devil and he will not give in to it. He will be all that Israel was supposed to be. I'm thankful for that, and have an ever deepening appreciation for Jesus' stalwart faithfulness, the urgency of praying against temptation, and undying thankfulness for his help and presence in the face of Satan and his schemes.
February 18, 2022
It’s NOT all about the bass
We don’t have to be always in a defensive posture. It’s not that we wait for Satan to sneak up on us. We’ve got a calling to live under Christ in his kingdom and serve him in righteousness and purity (resisting temptation). But when Satan does come our way, we can stand firm with the armor of God, and fight him just as Jesus did with God’s word. Whether it’s praying the Psalms, reading and memorizing Scripture, or meditating on God’s word daily, Scripture is a powerful weapon against Satan and his schemes. We may fail. We may give in. That’s why Jesus’ victory is so precious. For he is our Savior. He forgives us when we fall, and empowers us to get back up and live to his glory and toward our eternal destiny – all secured in Jesus.
February 17, 2022
What do you want it to say?
Scripture interprets Scripture. There are some difficult passages in the Bible. Some even appear to contradict one another. The rule that Scripture interprets Scripture helps us here, pointing us to the clear teachings of the Bible in place of the sensational or confusing passages. Satan will have none of that. He will use Scripture for his own purposes. He quotes from the Old Testament Scriptures. He twists truth to his own agenda: deceive Jesus, taking him down, thwarting God's plan. In every case - not just when Satan twists Scripture - Jesus appeals to the clear teachings of God's word. Psalm 119:11 offers us great wisdom: I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Jesus' example shows how this actually works. We do well to let God's word speak to us so that we may resist temptation and thwart Satan's efforts to deceive us. God's word, after all, is a fountain of life-giving truth!
February 16, 2022
Another Opportunity
We cannot prevent the three enemies of our souls from intruding upon us. There is the devil. He will come and go. But we can use God's word to thwart his ploys. Then comes our own sinful nature, the flesh, in which "nothing good dwells" (cf. Romans 7:18). This we must daily drown by contrition and repentance, remembering that we are baptized into Jesus' death and resurrection, remembering that we are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:1-6). But the world is all around us. And everywhere we turn it will seek to force us into its mold. Against that we must renew our minds (Romans 12:1-5). Satan will come again for Jesus. Peter will be his messenger (cf. Matthew 16:13-23). But we must remember that Satan's days are numbered. And the daily troubles and tribulations we experience are nothing compared with the glory that will be ours through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:18). He has overcome Satan - despite his relentless attacks, innuendos, and schemes.
February 15, 2022
Truth or Dare
Jesus is truth incarnate. And his word embodies truth in every letter. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He promises that if we continue in his word we will know the truth, and by that truth find true freedom. And here's the mystery and paradox of Jesus' truth: "If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8). To abide in Jesus' word and know the truth is to recognize our need for a Savior, to believe in Jesus of Nazareth as the one and only Son of God. It means that we recognize the reign and rule of God in Jesus, repent and believe the gospel. Then we hear him say, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). And believing that we dare not hold to anything that is not truly true. That means holding to Jesus. On this Valentine's Day, rejoice in the true love of God - shown in Jesus, and pure and good in every way.
February 14, 2022
Appetite, Applause, or Ambition
Whether it’s appetite, applause, or ambition, the devil’s plays those to us in myriads of ways. A shortcut to success. A one-time fling to satisfy a deep yearning. Willingness to go along against our better judgment just so we can fit in. And Jesus withstood each one of these after 40 days of fasting. Nothing is wrong with bread. God had promised to guard him with angels. And the temple was truly his abode. The problem with each was that Satan was setting the agenda. Satan was seeking to lead Jesus in this hour of temptation. And his intent is only to steal, kill, and destroy. I’m not certain every temptation can be traced back to appetite, ambition, or applause. But I am certain I have fallen prey to all three one way or another. Satan will throw out some tasty-looking bait. But the bait always hides a sharp barb. Now, truly, we are not unaware of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11). And Jesus gives us a means by which we can overcome his temptations…faith in God and a deep knowledge of his word.
February 11, 2022
Let's be clear: Jesus is God in the flesh. And that means we will have do deal with him. Not only as he speaks to the lost, telling them that they are forgiven and saved, but also in his harder sayings. Calling us to take up our cross and follow him. Commanding that we forgive someone 70 times 7 (most scholars believe this not to be a literal number, but a command that reaches as far as needed - 5000 times if need be). Confronting self-righteousness. Condemning self-serving religion. Pointing us to lose life in order to find it. Commanding us to give, not letting the right hand know what the left has given. But let's also be blessed: Jesus, Son of God, also died for the sins of the world. He laid in the grave and on the third day rose again, ascended to heaven and now sits at the right hand of God. We have no weak Savior. We have no supposed savior. We have a Savior who loved us so much that he took on human flesh, lived among us for a time, suffered and died for us. And now when we pray, he who is God also knows our human frame. He has compassion and mercy on us. He loves us. This is not supposedly true. This is most certainly true.
February 09, 2022
Round One
When Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat of the forbidden fruit, she was offered something that was pleasing to the eye, desirable for wisdom, and good for food. Glory. Fame. Bread. He has no new tricks. Jesus will not fall for any of these. None of them fill the soul - even though we need all of them to live and move and have our being. But Jesus realizes that it is better to lose one's life than one's soul. He will not trade his true destiny for the best bread, the greatest fame or the most opulent glitz. For he knows who he is. And to let Satan direct his ways - even toward legitimate needs (bread certainly has to be on that lis!) - will take him down a path of which there is no return. Perhaps we can learn something from Jesus' encounter with Satan. The most important thing is that Jesus withstood the temptation, and began his vanquish of the Old Evil Foe. This is the first round. It will not be the last. But Jesus will prevail. Thanks be to God!
February 09, 2022
A Real Man
Jesus was real. No fake. No illusion. No cardboard cut-out. A real air-breathing, heart-beating, flesh-laden, living being. This guy really happened. He really lived. He really taught. He really suffered and died. Jesus was also true. True to God his Father in heaven. True to the Law of God. True to all God intended man to be. True to his friends. True to his enemies. True to all with whom he came into contact. Nothing false about him. No sham. No deceit. The truth, the whole truth, but truth coupled inexorably to grace and love. No one else can claim that. Not to mention that he was also true God. And we'll look at that tomorrow. For how let the humanity of Jesus, his true/real manhood bolster your faith. Learn from him what it means to be a true man or woman.
February 08, 2022
Checkered Past?
Jesus has a checkered lineage. But that lineage will not define him in its failures. He is fully human, yet without sin. But he is also fully God. The mystery of the incarnation is therefore twofold. How could God become a man? I don't know, but he did. And Why did God become a man? This I know: to save and redeem us, to seek us and bring us with him into present purposefulness (apart from any human lineage), and eternal joy and bliss. Thanks be to God!
February 07, 2022
A Ringing Endorsement
Our sin has severed our relationship with God. All of us have done it. We've all sinned. We've failed to meet God's standards of perfection. So "the soul that sins will die," is not just a theological concept, it's a profound truth with which we must all deal. And because of that we fall short of God's glory. But the word in Romans 3 is actually properly translated, "praise." All have sinned and fallen short of [earning, receiving] the praise of God. But hear what God says to Jesus at his baptism: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Sounds like praise to me. And want to hear the best part of all? Through faith in Jesus we are credited with Jesus' righteousness! We who are baptized into Christ are clothed with Christ. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. To do so required that he fully participate in the human experience. So he did - including being baptized along with a bunch of sinners. Now that he has begun that mission in public, the Father praises him. Jesus will not fall short. Nor will any who put their faith in him.
February 04, 2022
Brothers and Soccer Opponents
Herod is using Satan's playbook. He will not give up. Not content with having Herodias as his wife, he will lock up John in prison, and ultimately have John beheaded in a foolish satan-inspired promise to Herodias' daughter (cf, Matthew 14:1-12). Not only is Herod using Satan's playbook, he's serving as Satan's shill. Satan is using Herod, and he will be the worse for it. Josephus says that Herod, "feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it in his power and inclination to raise a rebellion; for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise." Whatever the reason - coopted by Satan, serving as his pawn, captured by fear - Herod will not give up. Even more so Satan. We must stand up to him. May God give us his Spirit of courage, strength, wisdom, and discernment.
February 03, 2022
Winnowing Forks and Wheat Barns
Winnowing forks and unquenchable fire imagery conjures thoughts of judgment. But what of wheat barns? Judgment isn't just for the evil ones. It's not all about God giving us justice against those who wrong us. It's also about being saved, and finding an eternal home in God's storehouse of life and love. Jesus' first appearance would challenge the religious self-righteous (judgmental) ones. His second appearing will bring his own into that place of eternal safekeeping - free from every threat to body, heart, and soul. That's why Luke calls John's preaching good news. Jesus is coming to save. To judge and separate the chaff to be sure. But most of all to save. I know of no other judge than Jesus who I would wish to judge me and all people. He knows our frame. He has walked among us. He knows God's heart. He has come from the Father. I trust his winnowing fork. I yearn for his wheat barn.
February 02, 2022
Who's got your GOAT vote?
When Jesus makes his appearance he does little to trumpet is greatness. He requires no special treatment. He has no logo sown onto his tunic. He requests no special treatment, not even excusing himself from being baptized. This is the continuation of a remarkable journey. Jesus has come from the highest glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He has laid aside that glory, abandoned his heavenly throne, abandoned the worship of angels, and taken on human flesh. He became a baby. Unfathomable! Now he will step into the muddy waters of the Jordan River along with all the other members of the Brood of Vipers gang as though he needed to repent! This just isn't right. Not very "GOATish." But this reveals a side of greatness that is seldom seen and often overlooked entirely. Jesus greatness is rooted in his love for his people. It is expressed in his searching for and seeking the lost. It is seen in his willingness to be baptized - identifying with those he came to save. And now it is witnessed to by John. John's witness is nothing to sneeze at. Jesus speaks of John this way: “I can guarantee this truth: Of all the people ever born, no one is greater than John the Baptizer" (Matthew 11:11, GNT). He will die because of his unwavering commitment to God's ways. But he is not the greatest of all time. There is only One who fits that category. And it is our great privilege to believe in him and to witness to his greatness whenever we can.
February 01, 2022
Great Expectations
Some people will tout one political candidate over another as the savior of America, freedom, Democracy, or peace in our time. Others may yearn for the superstar doctor to attend to them when they're ill. Still others long for a financial partner who will bail them out or solve all their retirement woes. Those may or may not be false hopes. But we must be clear: Jesus, the Son of Mary, the Son of God is the True Messiah. He alone saves. Whoever points us to him is a great blessing and one to be appreciated. I hope I do this for you. But I'm not your Savior. Most all of you know that. All of you should.
January 31, 2022
Do something non-religious for Jesus!
The devil will attack us in both ways. He will try to lead us away from faith in Jesus and therefore to abandon  the righteousness of Christ that saves. He will also tempt us to behave poorly toward others. Whether it's motivated by or an appeal to selfishness, fear, anger, lust, or greed, Satan delights to lead us to disobey God and harm our neighbor. I'm a big fan of prayer, worship, giving, and all manner of godly religious practices. That's good. But the true evidence of that is the way I treat my neighbor. I hope that as you and I have any interactions they will testify to God's work in my heart and the presence of Jesus' righteousness - through faith, by grace.
January 28, 2022
How long has it been?
Next time you sit down to open up your Bible, why not take a minute (or 10 or 30) of silence. Think about all the people who invested in you and made you who you are today. Think about God's precious word and the promises and truths that shape your faith. And thank God for them all. For although God may be silent, he has spoken clearly in his word, and is always up to something - no matter how long it's been since you listened for him.
January 27, 2022
High and Low and the Great Leveling
John is the one sent by God to raise the valleys and lower the mountains. He exalts the lowly and brings down those in high places. Jesus is the great leveler. No one has an exclusive hold on his grace and love. Sometimes we need to be taken down a notch or two. We may be too puffed-up for our own good, and certainly for the good of others. Other times we may need a word of grace, hope, encouragement, and affirmation. Jesus provides that. Whether it is the form of Jesus calling the Jews whitewashed tombs, or  telling Zacchaeus he must go to his house (even before Zacchaeus repented!), that's what Jesus does. And John is paving the way for Jesus' ministry. He did that so that people would see the salvation of God. And we see that best on the level ground at the foot of Jesus' cross.
January 26, 2022
Baptism...Is it really a big deal?
Baptism was a big deal for the Jews of John's day. God was moving people to a right relationship with himself. It is a big deal today as well, for the blessings of Jesus await us in these waters. And we who have been baptized do well to listen to John. Remembering our baptism daily in repentance we must also "bear fruits in keeping with repentance." It's that big a deal.
January 25, 2022
Who needs to repent?
We have all manner of leaders and powerful people who care more about their power than their relationship with God. But even if they don't repent we must. And that is the second truth: now is the time for us to repent. Joe Biden is President of the United States. Vladimir Putin is President of Russia. Greg Abbot is governor of Texas. Matthew Harrison is President of the LCMS. Michael Newman is President of the LCMS Texas District. You might have thoughts about each of these men and their need to repent. But that is for them to deal with. We each must repent and rejoice in knowing that God has prepared a level and straight path to life and salvation: the path of faith that leads us to Jesus.
January 24, 2022
What treasures do you hold in your heart?
God has a big-picture view of life. He is writing a saga of redemption, salvation, glory, and blessing for all people through Jesus. And I believe that Mary knew this. I don't think she fully understood it, but she seems to have believed it. So she treasures the good and the bad, because Jesus, her son, is the Son of God. His birth was miraculous. His life would unfold in ways that would defy simple assessments of good or bad moments. This is good for me to remember. What may seem like a set-back may be a set-up for something profoundly good. What may seem good may become a moment's fleeting joy that dissolves into disappointment. But when we look to God, and see ourselves as part of his grand story of redemption we can hold all manner of things in our hearts. When we do we can look for God's redeeming love to sustain us and work all things for our good. For God is good and is working for the eternal blessing of all people. And it's all connected to our faith Jesus.
January 20, 2022
No Precociousness Here!
When it comes to presumptuous behavior we human beings have that down to an art. Somehow we get the idea that we can call God into account for his actions toward us. We can question how God is drawing the lines in our lives and the lives of others. We can put God in the dock as C.S. Lewis speaks of. We can act as though God has to answer to us. But he does not. Jesus would ask questions his whole life and ministry. "What do you think? A man had two sons... What does the Word say? How do you read it? What can a man give in exchange for his soul? Who among you, by worrying, can add even a single hour to your life? Or, "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus, as a 12-year-old boy is just now getting started. What question would Jesus ask you? Would it be a challenge? Would it lead you to repentance? Would it be an invitation? Would he point you to hope? In either case, his questions might well amaze us too.
January 19, 2022
Quest for the Historical Jesus
Martin Luther famously said, "When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ called us to repent, he meant that the entire life of the believer should be one of repentance." And when we repent, we will discover that Jesus has already come to us, is waiting for us, and has open arms (think the cross!) and an open heart. Just like Jesus' parents discovered that he was not lost at all, we will discover that he has never abandoned us. We've abandoned him. Thank God he's ready to be found, and welcomes us back into his heart whenever we repent.
January 18, 2022
Who's doing what to whom?
Jesus' actions are all about us. He was where he was because he had to be about his Father's business (or in his Father's house). Most translations have "Father's house." But the Greek says, literally, "about the things of my Father." Jesus shows that he is very clear about two things here. First that he knew there was a necessity to which he must attend if he was to be true to his identity as the Savior. Second, that Joseph as not his true Father. He was the Son of God. He knew where his allegiance lay.
January 17, 2022
What are you being prepared for?
Jesus was the embodiment of all that man was created to be. And it was beginning to unfold in the sight of the world in these days. up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him. But it would not come immediately. Jesus’ ministry would not unfold publicly for 30 years. He would grow up in his hometown of Nazareth, under the care and guidance of his parents, and as his age, wisdom, physical strength, and social stature progressed. Jesus was not delivered as a done deal, a complete package. Jesus will grow up healthy and strong. Although he was already filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was already on him, there would be more to learn, more to be done. More opportunities to display his love for God and man. And while his earthly destiny would lead him to a horrific death on a cruel Roman cross, his ultimate destiny is that at his name every knee would bow in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
January 14, 2022
How many words do you have?
It's easy to get into a conversation these days. Mention COVID. Ask about families' health. Comment on masks, vaccines, or mandates. You're likely to unplug a pent-up spew of words - all emotionally-laden and charged. But what if we would learn to see Jesus at work in our lives. What if we would marvel at his grace toward us? What if we made a point of bringing people words of grace and life. Anna couldn't help herself in that moment. Perhaps you'll experience a moment like that as well, when God has shown up, and reminded you of his goodness, faithfulness, and love. Maybe we could pray for such moments. That's what Anna had been doing prior to this encounter.
January 13, 2022
Help the Boy!
We don't often think of Jesus as needing help. He is the Son of God after all. He is the Word who was in the beginning with God; who was God. He is the one to whom every knee will bow. He is the alpha and the omega. But Jesus does need help. He cannot do the things required of in the Law of Moses. He had to rely on his parents to bring him to the temple. He had to rely on the priests to perform their duties. He had to live from his earliest age in dependance and obedience to his parents. He would need to learn and grow and become a man in the truest and fullest sense. Why would he choose to put himself in that situation? Jesus did all this in order to redeem and save us.
January 12, 2022
Relentless Pursuit
Anna is noted for her relentless pursuit: She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She pursued God. Day and night. In the temple. Worshiping and praying. And because of her habitual presence there, she was present when the baby Jesus was brought for his dedication and circumcision. She pursued God, and God showed up.
January 11, 2022
How would you be known?
We don't know much about Anna. We know she was a prophetess. But we don't fully know what that means, and how that would compare to John the Baptizer. We know she was devoted, and regularly and often in the temple. But we know little of in what capacity she was there; though we might surmise that she was there to worship and pray and prophesy. We know she saw the baby Jesus and immediately began to tell everyone about him. So Luke tells us that Anna was a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, and completely devoted to worship by fasting and prayer. One commentator (David Guzik) says, "Anna was a remarkable woman. As a widow she knew pain and loss but had not become bitter. As an elderly woman she had not lost hope. Perhaps it was because she was a woman of worship and a woman of prayer."  Follow me online at 
January 10, 2022
This News is for You
Jesus came not just for this small and insignificant, beleaguered and oppressed nation of people. And that out of that nation came the Savior of the world. And the Savior of the world, coming from the Jewish people came for gentiles as well as Jews. So radical was this idea that there is an entire chapter devoted to the issue in Luke's Acts of the Apostles. This was radical. That a nation would share its god with other nations! That the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be the God of Greeks and Jews alike, not to mention people from all over the world. Nearly unthinkable.
January 07, 2022
The Wrong Sign
A well-loved and ordered life is not a sign of God's favor. It may be a gift of his kindness and grace. It may be a hint of a better and even more full goodness to be experienced in the life of the world to come. But it is not a sign.
January 06, 2022
The Trinity of Faith
Jesus has appeared. And we are the richer for it. We can look back on what God has done in Jesus to save us. Yet we, too, must wait, hope, and trust. For although we have been saved by Jesus, we are yet being saved day-by-day through the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. And yet we look forward to the time when we will be saved on the Great Last Day. Then all of God's promises will be fully fulfilled. Then we will be fully consoled. Then our hearts will have no rival god to woo us from the True God and his salvation. Powered by the Holy Spirit, we wait. Secured in Jesus we hope. Emboldened by God's promises we trust. That's the trinity of faith we must all embrace until we see it ourselves, and we see Him face to face.
January 05, 2022
Two Turtledoves and a dove
God has acted. He has taken on human flesh. He has revealed this to shepherds in the fields. He has announced it with the praise of angels. The shepherds have told everyone they met of the message of the angels and birth of the Savior. Now he is letting Simeon know that he can depart in peace. He has fulfilled his promise. Jesus is God's salvation, and Simeon has seen it with his own eyes.
January 04, 2022
The pathway to peaceful joy
I need to recalibrate my spiritual chronometer. God does not work on my schedule. I need to align myself with his timing. I also need to be open to seeing just how he is working today through people who may seem inconsequential. There is only one Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, born 2000 years ago. But there are many people who God uses each day to further the cause of his kingdom. I wonder who I might see today? Those two perspectives go far to a life of peaceful joy.
January 03, 2022
The Second Song of Advent: Mighty, Merciful, & Mindful II
You may recall my previous post regarding Mary's song. I used the Rick Warren, "If-my-bullet-fits-your-gun,-shoot-it" rule, although I applied it to the "bullet" supplied by Alistair Begg. He had an excellent message on Mary's song, and noted that she points us to a God who is mighty, merciful, and mindful. Those three words are actually in her song. Not all three words are in Zechariah's song, but the same three apply to his witness to God's character here.
December 10, 2021
The Second Song of Advent: The Visit
Is there an area of your life you would wish Jesus would not visit? Is there a place you want to keep for your own purposes - no matter what he would call you to? Is there a time you wish to have it your way, apart from God’s way? If so, this is the time to repent. To recognize that you are in need of redemption. To seek God’s salvation from a self-seeking and self-destructive way of life. And God is coming to you now through his word, to visit you with his grace and truth, his love and commands. Will you rejoice at his coming? Will you welcome him?
December 09, 2021
The Second Song of Advent: Morning has Broken!
Jesus has come to guide us to the path of peace. It is not found apart from his presence. Peace does not come in paths that turn from his commands. We will not find it seeking the fools gold of the world's glamor. We might use the saying, "It suddenly dawned on me..." Like an idea popped into our minds. Jesus' appearing is like that - only more dramatic and far reaching. His is the light that shines on in the darkest night, and illuminates the pathway of true peace.
December 08, 2021
SPECIAL EDITION: NWHPC Christmas Party Prayer
Every December for the past several years when the Northwest Houston Photo Club holds its Christmas party, I am invited to offer a prayer. I take it as an opportunity to give a lighthearted witness to my Lord Jesus whose birth we celebrate. So, here is this year's prayer...
December 08, 2021
SPECIAL EDITION: NWHPC Christmas Party Prayer
Every December for the past several years when the Northwest Houston Photo Club holds its Christmas party, I am invited to offer a prayer. I take it as an opportunity to give a light-hearted witness to my Lord Jesus whose birth we celebrate. So, here is this year's prayer...
December 08, 2021
The Second Song of Advent: Zechariah's Prophecy of Salvation
What would you number as the world's greatest problems? War? Poverty? Human trafficking? Godless leaders? Human rights? Social injustice? Immoral political leaders? Financial inequities? To every one of these problems Jesus' grace and truth speaks. He is the prince of peace. He lifts up the poor and needy. He speaks truth to power. He points us to faithful suffering if need be and promises ultimate relief in the resurrection and the life of the world to come. The world is a mess. And Jesus has come to redeem the world and all who are in it. He brings life and salvation. Thanks be to God!
December 07, 2021
The Second Song of Advent: Zechariah's Prophecy
Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied. God opened his mouth to express his praise, and help the people look beyond even this current moment of great joy. After all, John has been born. She who was said to be barren has born a child. And no matter what anyone thought, his name would be John. As good as that was, Zechariah was moved to express praise to God for things reaching far beyond that moment. So now the question is two-fold. Will we speak well of God? And will we recognize any good moment as a blessing from God, but look beyond the moment to the greater blessing of salvation through Jesus Christ? That means that whether we are experiencing God's immediate blessings, or yearning for them, looking to his ultimate blessing in Christ will move us to speak well of him.
December 06, 2021
Praise! God Can Handle It!
Mary's glorification of God is not for his benefit. It's so we will be directed toward the source of true joy, hope, life, and salvation. We may get distracted by celebrities and led astray by those who lack character. She is focusing our attention and directing our faith toward the Mighty One who has done great things. She is reminding us that the True God casts down the mighty from their thrones, and fills the hungry with good things. He is truly worth being magnified - not for his ego's sake, but for our faith and devotion.
December 03, 2021
The First Song of Advent: The Power of Praise
Hymns of praise serve purposes beyond their beauty. They set things in their proper perspective. When we praise God, we acknowledge his majesty, power, goodness, mercy, love, faithfulness, and holiness. He is like no other. And as we sing his praise, we realize - hopefully! - that there is no other who deserves such glory. The best athlete, finest artist, greatest musician, or most famous actor hold no candle next to God. He alone is worthy of all praise.
December 01, 2021
The first song of Advent: God is mindful, mighty, and merciful. (Thanks Alistair Begg)
God’s heart is tender toward us. He is not just present and powerful. He allows himself to feel our pain, and no trite manner. His Mercy is to those in need for each we can all say thanks be to God!
November 30, 2021
The First Song of Advent
Mary’s song is the first song of Advent. We begin my learning from her about the grace and glory of God.
November 29, 2021
The first and the last word
Grace is God’s first wish for us and his lasting gift to us
November 26, 2021
Living beyond an attitude of gratitude
Message for Thanksgiving 2021
November 25, 2021
When Justice is More than Balanced Scales
I see three ways beyond balanced scales that justice is reflected by God's people. Justice from the perspective of God is far more than balanced scales. In fact the notion starts with righteousness, which is a matter of faith. Genesis 15:6 is not a one-off. We are counted righteous by faith. And here we have faith expressing itself in three dimensions. Humility and willing to help others Willingness to carry our own load Persevering in doing good All of this is sustained by those who teach about God's justice. This also reminds me of Micah 6:8, "He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Naturally, if everyone lived by these values and behaviors, all of life would be better. In fact the three areas of my life for which I wish justice would be resolved. But the results of this kind of justice are more far-reaching. These values touch far more than balancing the scales of right and wrong.
November 19, 2021
The Both-And of Doing Good
It is very easy to opt out of helping people in need. Take your pick: too busy. Too tired. Too poor. Too inept. Not really sure what is needed. Maybe sometimes we just don't care for that brother or sister in need. Maybe even within the family of faith there are those we'd just as soon ignore. But the walk of faith is fraught with distractions, temptations, challenges, and missteps. If we think we can go it alone, we're dangerously mistaken. And if we think others don't need our help to stay on the straight and narrow, we're just plain wrong.
November 18, 2021
How important are you?
Helping people can be messy. In fact Jesus got really messy when he helped us out. Obviously when he suffered and died it was a brutal mess. But even before that - early on and throughout his ministry he got messy. He consorted with tax collectors and sinners. He ate with prostitutes and people of questionable character. For that he got less respect. He was accused of improper relationships. Bad fellowship. But he changed people's lives by becoming involved. We're certainly not more important than Jesus! And we've been saved. Forgiven. Redeemed. Made new. Not everyone can go into every sinful and dark corner of the world. Women may well help other women gain their freedom from human trafficking. Men may do well to avoid those places. But wherever women or men are willing to be less important than they have a right to be, they can have a huge impact in other's lives.
November 17, 2021
The Little Things that Fulfill a Great Law
Sometimes the littler things are more difficult to do than the big challenges. But we fulfill the law of Christ when we do the little things just as well as when we do the heroic ones.
November 16, 2021
When God Is Not Quite Mocked
Perhaps few Jesus followers actually do cross the line of mocking God. But if James 2:10 means anything, it serves as a reminder that in fact, "there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). We all need help once in a while. Sometimes that help takes the form of sever intervention. Hopefully more often we intervene before drastic action is needed. But the purpose in every such intervention is to restore the sister or brother to the faith and fellowship of the redeemed. And that's the thing we must all remember: ours is a fellowship of the redeemed. We stand on level ground at the foot of the cross.
November 15, 2021
Why is this so difficult?!?
The difficulty we have in keeping on the straight and narrow and consistently displaying the fruit of the Spirit, and being distressed about this is evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our hearts and lives. If we did not have the Holy Spirit. We wouldn’t care. But we do care. And we are distressed when we discover we’ve forfeited the fruit of the Spirit in any situation. Thanks be to God that Jesus welcomes us back. And we can pray with David, “take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation,” whenever we sin. That, too, is the Spirit’s work. And it is not too difficult for God.
November 12, 2021
The Paradoxical Power of Self-Control
Those apart from Christ may have great storehouses of self-control. They may train harder, focus more intently on the task ahead, or manage their anger better than others. But apart from Christ and the presence and influence of the Holy Spirit they will not know true peace. Love will never be fully experienced. Joy will be momentary. Patience will have no God-factor. Gentleness will have nothing to do with faith. Those who have the Holy Spirit, have Christ, and with him the truest expression of these gifts. Self-control helps us display that reality from a heart set free by the One who has ransomed our souls from the wanton abandonment of God's ways.
November 11, 2021
The Humility Factor
Gentleness and humility accompany those who recognize their deep brokenness, need for mercy, and potential for falling prey to the devil's charms. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. And a great encouragement to me is that the older I get, the more aware I become of my own brokenness, need for mercy, and potential for falling prey to Satan's pull - or the pull of my own sinful flesh. Maybe you can identify with that. If all that makes us more gentle, more aware of our need for the mercy of God, the forgiveness of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, that's a good thing. It's also evidence of the Holy Spirit's work in us. Thanks be to God!
November 10, 2021
Angry Young Man
There are times when gentleness is not called for. Jesus gave us one when he overturned the moneychanger's tables in the temple courts. Paul gets pretty close when he talks about the circumcision party, suggesting a slip of the knife toward them would be welcome (Galatians 5:12). It's interesting that this verse is in the same chapter as these verses on the fruit of the Spirit! When it comes time to stand firm, to protect the weak and vulnerable, to prevent harm to another we may need to assert ourselves. It may not be gentle in that moment. But those are the exception and must not set the rule. For anger gives the devil a foothold. Held to and nurtured it not only gives ulcers, it allows our more base instincts freer reign.
November 09, 2021
Nice and Easy Does It
Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit. Sometimes a stern warning may be needed. If a child is running into the street, yelling may well be appropriate. But to do the work of the Holy Spirit we must not interpose our anger and brash bluster upon others. God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice. And when it comes to touching our hearts with his love, the message may be quiet and gentle. But the impact will be profoundly good. Gentle now, dear reader. Gentle. Let the Holy Spirit have his way with you, and through you with others
November 08, 2021
The Whole Package - Take 2
When it comes to our need for the fruit of the Spirit to be evident in our lives and influencing our hearts, we need the whole package of God's armor. For there is a foe who wants to sow seeds of hatred, misery, discord, agitation, and harsh bitterness. And he seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants to take us down. To remove the joy, undercut the peace, destroy the love, incite rebellion, and bring death. That's one reason holding onto the fruit of the Spirit is so challenging. Not only do we lose sight of it on our own, but the world challenges this place of pure and joyous faith, and the devil is firing his darts at us left and right. We need God's armor to keep the gift the Holy Spirit gives.
November 05, 2021
The Whole Package
When it comes to our need for the fruit of the Spirit to be evident in our lives and influencing our hearts, we need the whole package of God's armor. For there is a foe who wants to sow seeds of hatred, misery, discord, agitation, and harsh bitterness. And he seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants to take us down. To remove the joy, undercut the peace, destroy the love, incite rebellion, and bring death. That's one reason holding onto the fruit of the Spirit is so challenging. Not only do we lose sight of it on our own, but the world challenges this place of pure and joyous faith, and the devil is firing his darts at us left and right. We need God's armor to keep the gift the Holy Spirit gives.
November 05, 2021
The Holy Spirit's Evidence and Influence
We must live under grace not law - especially when it comes to the influence and evidence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. We don't often go even through our waking hours with only kindness, patience (don't forget that commute!), or gentleness in every personal encounter. We'll never get this all correct and proper day in and day out. Hopefully, on the balance, we will, however, display the evidence and influence of the Holy Spirit's presence in our lives. Hopefully we'll be more like Sally than the harsh and bitter, impatient, and disturbing folks who might cross our paths on any given day. Sadly there are many.
November 04, 2021
Patience and the Timing of God
Patience is the ability to keep in mind the myriad of connections with others and within the spiritual realm while we struggle against the currents and obstacles of life in a fallen world. The movie Bruce Almighty is a cute but irreverent movie about God giving Bruce all the powers and prerogatives that God has (but not the wisdom). In frustration at one point of the movie Bruce decides to answer all prayers, "Yes." Chaos ensues. God's wisdom shapes his prayer answers, his moving through life and death, and his providential care for us all. Patience is born of the awareness of our limited understanding of all things, and faith in God's goodness, power, and grace for us and our neighbor. We see this most perfectly in Jesus. Not only is he the Prince of Peace, but he is the giver of patience.
November 03, 2021
Patience and the God Factor
God is the key to true patience. He models it for us. And he requires it of all of us...unless we have molded for ourselves a false patience. I would call that passivity, denial, or surrender. For patience is not a matter of giving up hope. It's not a matter of waiting someone out. It's not a matter of grinding your teeth. Patience is a matter of waiting for God to give the best. It's a matter of trusting in his goodness. It's a matter of looking forward with anticipation and humility to what God has in store for you. It is a matter of applied faith. Severely, singularly, wholeheartedly applied faith.
November 02, 2021
Patience, Hope, and Trust
Remembering God's goodness, faithfulness, and love, his good will and power over sin, death and the devil, and having a view that sees beyond the immediate next moments are the building blocks of patience. And this is the realm of the Holy Spirit's work. The Holy Spirit helps us become more aware of these things as he focuses our attention on Jesus. Our preoccupation with the things of this world will lead us to works of impatience, frustration, and anxiety. My mind is definitely not focused on the spiritual realm and the promises of God when I'm frustrated behind the slow driver. But a focus on God's promises, Jesus' death and resurrection, coupled with a humble spirit will ground me in an attitude of patience that gives testimony to the Holy Spirit's work in me.
November 01, 2021
Reformation Sunday sermon at Saint Mark Lutheran Church in Conroe, Texas
The gospel commission of God is for all of his followers, given with all authority, for all people. And his presence will be with us for all time.
October 31, 2021
Peace of Heart and Mind
I've struggled recently with worry. The reasons are not important. In fact they have no eternal weight at all. Either they will simply dissolve over time, or they will be resolved justly. Even so, I worry. That means I am not experiencing the peace which is the fruit of the Spirit. And to some extent I have been captive to the idea that I cannot stop. I have no control. And therein lies the solution: giving up the illusion of control, and giving it all to God. Or, it may be taking control of those things I can, and making decisions that need to be made. A phone call to set a thorny financial issue to rest. A decision that simply needs to be made. A plan that needs to be settled. It can be as simple as that. And where I have no control, letting go of the illusion that I should be able to. Praying the serenity prayer for real: Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. O Holy Spirit, fall afresh on me, and grant me the fruit of your presence: peace!
October 29, 2021
Justice is the Foundation of Peace
Justice has been established in the foundations of reality through Jesus' death on the cross. His resurrection proves this to be so. And his first word to his disciples on that Eater morning was, "Peace." More than a greeting it was a blessing, a gift, a legacy that followers of Jesus are to treasure and embody. The Holy Spirit's work is to bring glory to Jesus (John 16:14). Certainly when we are reminded of Jesus as the Prince of Peace, and the One who has made peace between us and God, Jesus is glorified. I hope somehow to embody that in my life today. How might we do that...together?
October 28, 2021
Jesus. Others. Yourself
Jesus is first. Others are second. I am last. And Jesus promises that whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for his sake and the gospel's will save it (Mark 8:35). The most miserable people in the world are those consumed with their own happiness, rights, and blessings. Jesus offers joy of a completely different kind.
October 27, 2021
God did that!
When the situation is dire and God shows up we find the strongest expressions of joy. The dark hours of deep contrition give way to the glory of sin's weight lifted. The restrictive bonds of worry are loosed by the peace of God in a moment of prayer and Scripture. The gloom of despair is cleared by the revelation of God's goodness. These come as the Holy Spirit has his way in us. Moving us to repentance. Opening our eyes to a path of blessing. Reminding us of the hope we have because of Jesus' resurrection. Rescuing us from disease.
October 26, 2021
Joy in the Spirit
Joy reigns in the believer's heart insofar as he has crucified the sinful flesh. When we're consumed by sexual immorality, excessive indulgence in sinful pleasure, anger, envy or drunkenness, joy is far away. And although these do not bring joy, they appeal to a side of us that will never be satisfied by their pursuit. Drunkenness of any kind is never satisfied and yields only the rue of hangover or the disappointment of poor choices' outcomes. Experiencing joy of this kind is a two-fold process. First is to crucify the sinful flesh. Denying the impulses to self-service, cheap thrills, and emotions' reign. Second is to lean into the Holy Spirit's presence in our hearts, through the word of God and prayer. All this is a matter of faith. Looking beyond the glitter and glory of the world's lure, we attach our hearts to God's promises, goodness, grace, and faithfulness. And his love.
October 25, 2021
Celebrating God’s work through Pastor Steve Henze at his 40th anniversary of ministry.
This message was delivered at St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Houston Texas on October 17, 2021.
October 18, 2021
God's Daily and Miraculous Provision
Few times in life are we tested to the extent God tested Abraham. If we are, we who wait, hope, and trust in God will see the goodness of God in the land of the living. Perhaps we can find strength to wait and hope in him as we recall his daily provision, along with those special touches of his grace along life's way.
October 15, 2021
This is a test
Abraham was being tested by God. But the stakes were much higher than passing an ESL test. His son was on the line. His faith, too, was being tested. And so was his willingness to obey. Abraham passed the test. According to Hebrews 11 he believed that God could even raise someone from the dead if Isaac had actually been killed. Abraham is, after all, the Father of Faith. James tells us that God does not tempt anyone. He never seeks to lead us away from himself. But he may test our faith. To make us stronger. To refine us. To focus our hearts and minds on him and his word. That's a good thing.
October 14, 2021
When you've 'got nothin'
God will provide. What a powerful promise. Isaac saw that up close and more personally than any of us could every imagine. He saw it at the last moment. When there was no way of escape. Except God provided. It was a dramatic show of God's providential care and faithfulness - even as it was a test of faith and obedience for Abraham. But we don't call this mountain The Mountain of Obedient Faith, we call it On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided. We remember Abraham's faith. But we are pointed toward God's faithfulness. We are reminded of God's grace. We are grounded in God's provision of a lamb.
October 13, 2021
The Long Trek of Faith and Obedience
Abraham's trek from his home to the mountain that God would show him is anything but a slouch. Nor is it toward Gomorra. This is a long trek of faith toward an incredible test of faith and a resolute devotion of obedience to God. Three days. If it's me, my stomach is in knots after the first day. I am thinking through every possible scenario. I'm planning contingencies. I'm working out explanations. I'm wondering deep in my soul, is this really the voice and command of God? Did I hear him right? Did he really say that? Today the only way we can know if a thought or idea is of God is by testing it against God's word. And then we can only know that the thought is not from God - if the thought is contrary to a clear command of Scripture. If it is not contrary to God's word, it may be from God, or it may be sanctified reason bubbling up in our minds.
October 12, 2021
Is God a Maniac?
We want to domesticate God. We make him our personal place of safety, comfort, and security. But While Jesus came as a servant, he is not our personal assistant. We don't order God around. We do not demand that he answer us. We must remember who is God and who is not. Sometimes his demands might seem unreasonable. But who are we to judge? The only thing that anchors my soul in times of turmoil, God's unpredictability, or my confusion is the belief that God is good. He is faithful and true. He is gracious and loving. And whatever else might come my way, the faithfulness, goodness, love, and kindness of God is the constant. Maniac? No? Crazy? Not. Unpredictable? Yes. Good? Thanks be to God he is.
October 11, 2021
Extra Grace Required #4: Four men bring their friend to Jesus
We may not always understand how in need of God's grace we are. That is made clear, however, by Jesus' initial gift to the paralyzed man. Whether he was disappointed at being told his sins were forgiven - as opposed to being healed by Jesus - is not clear. But Jesus makes two points in his action on this occasion. First of all he sees and responds to our greatest need: the need for forgiveness. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is life and salvation (Luther). And he makes the point that he has the authority to forgive sins. Only God can forgive sins. Jesus is God. In the flesh. Full of grace and truth. Whenever we bring someone to Jesus, we are bringing them to truth and grace. We are doing a very good thing. Truth be told, we need to do that with each other every moment of every day.
October 08, 2021
Extra Grace Required #3: The Woman Caught in the Act of Adultery
Grace will always look for a way other than judging and condemning. Grace will free people. Grace will put people on a different path. Grace will even challenge the self-righteous. For they will either have to become even more judgmental and discredit others' kindness, or give in to their own need for it. Grace opens the door to the latter. And when people walk through that door they walk into freedom. That was certainly true for the woman caught in adultery. She was free to go her way, her sins were forgiven. She was to live a new life, "Sin no more." But so is this true for the scribes and Pharisees who walk away one by one. They are free at least for the moment from a judgmental attitude that held them captive to a righteousness they could never really achieve. We have no specific record of who brought the charges and what their lives were like after this encounter. Nor do we know for certain who this woman was. But we do know God's grace frees us. If we're not aware of our need for it, or we live in condemning judgment over all, we're missing the freedom that Jesus gives as he showers his grace upon us.
October 07, 2021
Extra Grace Required #2: The Woman at the Well
Jesus didn’t have to tell the woman at the well that her current living situation was sinful. She knew it. But he did invite her to expose this need for grace. When she did, he didn’t condemn her, but continued his conversation with her. He didn’t have to talk with her in the first place, but he did. He could have done what so many others surely had done, looking past her rather than seeing her and talking to and with her. He even broke two social barriers by this. He spoke to a woman. And the woman was a Samaritan. Finally, Jesus teaches her about God, worship, and himself as Messiah. He is the embodiment of grace and truth. As a result her life was changed. Instead of avoiding people (by coming to the well when she would others not to be present), she now goes into the village and invites everyone to come see Jesus and hear his teaching.
October 06, 2021
Extra Grace Required: Elijah, the First of Four Biblical Examples
Elijah's actions around the sacrifice to the LORD God set up a dramatic display of God's power and control over all of creation. Even after the altar is prepared and drenched with water, God rains down fire from heaven and consumes everything. "The Lord, he is God; The LORD, he is God!" goes up the cry after this mighty display. Elijah seizes and kills the prophets of Baal. You'd think that this would put Elijah on a high that would never end. But it is not so. He had defeated the Prophets of Baal, but King Ahab, and Jezebel did not give up.  They threaten him relentlessly. They were still trying to kill him. He had hoped that his victory was sufficient, but it was not. He was very discouraged. He needed extra grace - even after seeing the mighty hand of God powerfully displayed.
October 05, 2021
Extra Grace Required
We need to understand, first of all, that we all need grace. Some people, however, may be extra challenging in their attitude or actions toward us or the gospel message. Those people are called Extra Grace Required people (EGRs). They may live next door, work with you, or be part of your family. In fact, you may be an EGR! They push our buttons, manage always to illicit a negative response in us, try our patience, or turn us away. We all need grace. And God's supply is limitless. EGRs, however, need extra grace, humanly speaking: more than we might wish to give. God loves EGRs, and it’s a good thing, for we all need grace. Sometimes we may need more than at other times. And the love of God changes our hearts. It is shown in Jesus’ ministry, seen in Jesus’ death on the cross, and will be celebrated for all eternity in the life of the world to come.
October 04, 2021
A Mother's Love & The Father's Provision
The love of a human being is a thing of great blessing. I am thankful for the love of my wife, family, brothers and sisters in Christ, and my friends. But human love - of a mother, sister, brother or even a spouse - has its limits. The love of the Heavenly Father has no limits. He sees all. He knows all. And he is writing a narrative that stretches from Hagar to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jesus, and to you and me. Whatever plot lines or twists, the end of the story is of eternal blessings. Worth waiting for. Worth remembering. Even as human love fades and fails, God's love conquers all.
October 01, 2021
Who's Watching?
God does not turn his head or heart from pain and suffering. He does not ignore difficult and distressing situations. He draws near. And 2000 years ago he took on all of that in his Son, Jesus. Jesus embraced the pain, suffering, sickness, and sin of the world. He also experienced it himself. And although God forsook him at his darkest hour, the true hero of our faith, Jesus, still called out to his Father, "My God, My God..." We too often judge God's goodness based on what we see or do not see. But we're all too selective in our perception. We don't have a whole world view. We don't see it all. But God does. And what God sees moves him. That means he sees you. He sees me. He notices. He loves. He cares. He acts.
September 30, 2021
We may think we know what we’re waiting for. But truth be told, we have only an inkling of it. Sometimes we may be exactly correct. The result comes back negative (good for medical tests). The wedding day gives way to the honeymoon. The judge calls your name and you’re on the jury. Or not. But sometimes there comes a Crazy Ivan. Sometimes God breaks in in unexpected ways. Like here…God opens Hagar’s eyes and she sees a well nearby. It was there all along. But she did not see it. Maybe God is waiting, too, for us to see his provision. Perhaps we are the ones on whom God is waiting. Waiting for us to repent and believe the good news. Waiting for us to take him up on his promises. Waiting for us to mend a broken relationship. Waiting for us to come to the aid of someone in need.
September 29, 2021
Deliverance writ small and large
There will be times of sadness and distress along life's way. We may be put into difficult and near hopeless situations. At those times, the slightest breeze can cool our sweaty brows, and a kindness of someone may be as a cup of refreshing water. Then we must take courage, stand again, and move forward with the assurance of God's presence, and the hope of the ultimate deliverance. I'm wondering who will bring that refreshing cup of water to me today. And I'm thankful for Jesus who give me grace and hope.
September 28, 2021
Join the Celebration
If we're consumed with our own desires, and constantly worried about getting our due, we'll forfeit joy. If we see the good things others experience as testimony to God's goodness and grace, rather than resenting them for their good fortune we'll begin to touch the edge of joy. When we celebrate God's goodness to others with them, we come even closer. And when we see that God's goodness is the source of every good gift, we will find true joy. I hope you join the laughter and the celebration. God is good!
September 24, 2021
Laughter and Joy
When was the last time you laughed because God brought joy to your heart? It need not take bearing a child at the age of 75 to bring joy. In fact, joy is a byproduct of hope, community, and grace. When God's grace visits us, and we enjoy that grace in the community of others who know the blessing of grace, hopes are kindled for a better tomorrow. And that brings true joy. Perhaps we need to reclaim such joy. That's God's gracious gift. It's best shared in community ("everyone who hears will laugh..."). It brings us hope for a future pure and eternal joy founded in Jesus and celebrated together with all who see God's gracious hand at work in our lives.
September 23, 2021
When God Comes Through
Much of this Abraham and Sarah narrative is not about the delivery of the promised child. It is about the struggles, foibles, and setbacks that come along the way. Life is not a series of yay God days, one after the other for most people. We can easily identify with Abraham and Sarah in their times of testing, waiting, struggling, questioning, and nearly giving up hope. The Bible is clear about that. The biblical record is also clear about God's good will and trustworthy nature in those times of waiting. God will make good on the good things he has promised.
September 22, 2021
Cuarto y Quinto and Beyond
There is no hiding the fact that sin had been committed. Although Abimelech had not "approached" Sarah, there had been deception, and a dangerous path was afoot. And everyone had excuses for his behavior. Nevertheless Abimelech did what he could to rectify the situation. He returned Sarah to Abraham, and provided gifts meant to show his and Sarah's innocence. On some level you'd have to say that Abimelech made it right. And God healed Abimelech and his wife and the women of his household. Because Abraham prayed for him, much had been and subsequently was set aright. This is the goodness, righteousness, faithfulness, justice and mercy of God. And although we may not need to be in a 12 Step program, we all have hurts and addictions small and great that need God's touch of grace and healing. You may need to start with step 1, grapple with steps 4 and 5 (cuarto y quinto), help someone in the same manner you have been helped, or somewhere in between. There is a path to walk with God and he will be with you every step of the way.
September 21, 2021
We Preach Best What We Need Most
One of the foundational truths of God’s word is that he is creator of all that exists. His creation is fallen, broken, and corrupt(ed). The devil has been at work and had his way with us. And whenever we give into the temptations of the evil one, our own sinful flesh, or the world’s allure, we sin against God. Maybe that’s not profound to you. But it is to me. I need God’s forgiveness. And so do you. For all my sins, great and small. Sometimes God prevents us from sinning, just as he did with Abimelech. But sometimes we run right past the roadblocks and warnings he posts. When we do, we confess with David, “Against you, you alone, have I sinned.” And we thank God that he forgives sin. And has done so in Jesus, his Son, who never ran past the roadblocks or warnings. But died with the weight of the world’s sin on his heart and shoulders. In him we have redemption and forgiveness. I need to hear that again and again. And I thank God that it is a message I am able to proclaim again and again. Whew! I really needed that. You?
September 20, 2021
God's Grace Abounds!
Sunday's message at Fishers of Men Lutheran Church, Port Isabel, Texas
September 20, 2021
Fear, Forgetfulness, and Faith: Faith Wins!
Abraham and Sarah succumb to the same temptation that is recorded in Genesis 12:10-13. Now more than 25 years later, they try the same scheme. Abraham's and Sarah's fear and forgetfulness conspire to take this path of deceit. Thankfully that path is cut short by God. His intervention takes the form of the dream of Abimelech, and the stern warning to him. Why not Abraham? Why not Sarah? It is not clear. What is clear, however, is that the intervention works and Sarah is restored to Abraham, and this episode passes. Another chapter in the long saga of a fallen man of faith.
September 17, 2021
God's People Are Real People
God's people are sinners. They are forgiven sinners. And they are also the ones God uses to intercede for others. We serve the Father as broken vessels of God's grace. And if, once in a while, our brokenness becomes evident, we can be thankful that God's grace abounds. And perhaps it will leak out from us and be a source of blessing and favor to others.
September 16, 2021
Who are you in this story?
We will certainly not place ourselves in this story as the One who orchestrates it all. We're not the One to whom everyone else must answer. We are not the One who holds life and death in our hands. We are not the One who saves and destroys. We are, however, his. And that identity is most important of all. We are the children of God. His beloved. His redeemed. His precious. His delight. His joy. And from whomever else's perspective we may view the events in this account, our true identity is found in his loving kindness toward us and our place of delight in his heart.
September 14, 2021
Sin has its consequences, and yet we hope.
The sins of the world in which we live do not escape his attention. And this is where we live. This is no fairy tale world. Whether it's the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the horrific destruction of earthquake, famine, or hurricane, God's people are not exempt from life as it really is. These may be direct acts of God's judgment or the real and harsh consequences of life in a fallen world. But in any case these are God's call to repentance and fair warning of a more grave and ultimate judgment. Thanks be to God that there is a place of safety in our Zoar: Jesus Christ our Lord. In him we have redemption, rescue, life, and salvation. We can hold to that hope in the midst of all of life.
September 13, 2021
Sunday Message: Will You Pray for Your Chrissy?
I'm serving at Fishers of Men Lutheran Church in Port Isabel, TX during September 2021. This message is about the Priesthood of All Believers and our calling to pray for the lost and erring.
September 12, 2021
Do the right thing!
Perhaps Zoar is a symbol for Jesus: a little town, a man of little human consequence (cf. Isaiah 53). But his commitment to doing the right thing never wavered. He never flenched from loving God. He never failed in his pure and perfect love for sinners. He is our refuge from the coming destruction of every evil power, plan, pretension, or place known to man and the powers of this world. But step through the door of this city and discover just how large is God's heart and love, his grace and kindness. The joy of his salvation knows no bounds. It rings through eternity. To the praise of his glorious grace!
September 10, 2021
Let Not God's Warning Go Unheeded
How easy it is for us to dismiss the urgent call to repent, reorder our lives, abandon evil pursuits, or escape judgment or destruction! Lot almost falls prey to the lure of waiting and ignoring the imminent danger that will soon befall Sodom and Gomorrah. Had the angels not compelled him - taken him by the hand - he likely would have perished. I suspect there are some lessons for me here. There may be a sin to confess, a promise to claim, a warning to heed, a hope to embrace, a vice to abandon that I need to act on more urgently. Perhaps you do too. While it is day, there is time to do so. But we who really do need to recalibrate must not be lulled into a false sense of security in our laxness toward God just because The End has not yet come.
September 09, 2021
Weakly Whispered Prayers
We may have a lot in common with Lot. His prayer is weak and pleading. We might occasionally feel very weak. While there may be times for us to claim a faith like Abraham's, we can lean into the goodness, mercy, and kindness of God in every situation. In those weak and uncertain moments, we can remember this encounter with Lot and the promise of Isaiah 42:3, which says that God "will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle." Knowing that may make even the weakest prayers stronger.
September 08, 2021
Here in Genesis, God's mercy delays the city's destruction to allow Lot and his family to escape. Ours may not be as dramatic or obvious. But one thing remains: God's mercy is a precious gift. If grace is receiving something we don't deserve and mercy is being exempted from punishment we do deserve, we can rejoice in both. We see it here in Genesis. We ought to look for it every day of our lives and give thanks to God for it.
September 07, 2021
Take Heed!
Is there a warning you’re ignoring? Are you too ready to conclude that people are crying wolf when they sound the alarm? I have no strong opinion about the current crises call about climate change. I’m pretty certain that the COVID-19 crisis is real. But I’m totally convinced that God’s call to repent and believe the gospel is absolutely vital. It is a message that must be heard. And believed. And heeded. Maybe it’s a relationship that gets patched up. Perhaps it is a sin to be abandoned. It could be an overall laxness toward God’s word and will. It might be a failure to pray. But wherever God is calling you to repent and believe, take heed! And rejoice! God’s call is to life, salvation, blessing, and true joy.
September 06, 2021
How to Multiply God's Kingdom
It may not be obvious that we should care to multiply God's kingdom...until we give thought to what Jesus did to bring us into his gracious reign and rule, and why he did it. 
September 05, 2021
Truth and Grace: What if they don't receive it? What if they do?
Some people, for fear of rejection or other loss simply don't speak up. They don't want to look silly in the eyes of others. They don't want to sacrifice relationships for the sake of a clear witness. They don't want to sound extremist, or alarmist. Or fanatical. Maybe I'm one of those people. I haven't always been. In college I took my Bible to a philosophy class and shared Jesus' words from Matthew 5. I was jeered at and summarily dismissed. The girl I was really interested in dating told me, "Don't be a fanatic, Dave." That hurt. I've had other times when I've sounded the alarm, and it had short-term success. But it was short term, and I abandoned the clarion call - for reasons only God can ultimately judge. More recently Diane and I have had conversations with a family member or two about Jesus, faith, grace, and godly living. We've not been shown the fullest extent of our effectiveness. We do at least hold on to hope that we will see the impact of God's word.
September 03, 2021
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. NO!
We might think we can distance ourselves from a dismissive attitude toward God. We might assume that we always pay attention to God's warnings. We might even labor under the false idea that since God hasn't done one of his direct and dramatic acts of retribution in our recent memory, he won't deal summarily with us. We've skated this long. We've been able to bend God's will to ours all this time. He won't come down on us. If you know how this story unfolds, you'll recall that the sons-in-law and Lots's wife's nonchalance will not be well-rewarded.
September 02, 2021
Rescued by the Hand of the Lord
Maybe you've seen or felt the rescuing hand of God. Maybe you've not. But the angels of God watch over his people. And sometimes circumstances unfold that can only be the providential care and rescue of a loving God who wishes none to be lost, for all to be found and be saved from eternal doom.
September 01, 2021
Relentless Pursuit
Let no one misunderstand what Jesus did when he died on the cross. He stood the devil down. He did not give in - even when forsaken by his Father. He did not let their jeers, taunts, and torture dissuade him from his perfect love for God and lost sinners reaching its pinnacle. He died in faith, sacrificing himself for the sake of sinners. And he destroyed the power of the devil. We may wish for a more obvious and dramatic show of God's judgment. But when it does not come we must remember why God seems slow. He is waiting for us to repent. And in that moment he shows his complete defeat of the ev
August 31, 2021
Surely You Don't Jest
A life of gluttonous indulgence of any kind certainly does not honor God. And pride in any sort of lifestyle that does not honor God is idolatry of the worst kind. I have no doubt that the most obvious sin of Sodom seen here is a lustful homosexual desire. But I know from my own heart that sin too easily deceives. And warnings that we might dismiss as excessive and unnecessary ought not to be taken lightly, nor spoken in jest.
August 30, 2021
Salt and Light
We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We can have a positive impact in the world. We can enlighten people about the reign and rule of God. And in the process, perhaps we can prevent the catastrophic consequences of sin from having free reign and destroying our communities and us. There are times we need to stand in the gap for loved ones and difficult situations. Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and others have done this. Maybe you have too. Thanks be to God for Jesus who stood in the gap for us, and by whom we are saved, preserved, and enlightened. As his followers we must do all we can to be salt and light in a world that is rapidly decaying, and in the grip of darkness.
August 27, 2021
Weighed and Found...
Nothing less than 100% purity is sufficient for our standing before God. James 2:10 tells us clearly that, "whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." And Paul tells us, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all the things written in the book of the Law, and do them" (Galatians 3:10). Jesus himself tells us that our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20). So what are we to do? I don't know anyone who is 100% without sin. I'm not sure I know anyone who is 90% without sin. (Sorry, Dear Reader, not even you!). Well, that's not actually true...the 100% without sin part. I do know someone like that. His name is Jesus of Nazareth. And those who repent of their sins and believe in him are clothed with his righteousness.
August 26, 2021
Who has the inside scoop?
We have been told by God of his intent for the future of the whole world. We've learned of this through his word. This is no trivial factoid. There is a weight that goes with this knowledge. As we think on that, it might even shape our desire to know of our neighbor's latest bit of gossip. Knowing of our neighbor's need brings the weight of acting in love toward that neighbor. Helping him. Praying for her. Listening to their stories. Walking with her through the dark valleys. Rejoicing with him on the mountaintops.
August 25, 2021
Standing Before Powers and Authorities
Look at Abraham! He is not only willing to speak out, he's willing to speak out to God! He stands before the Lord: "Abraham still stood before the Lord." That's bold. That's brave. That's gutsy! Or maybe, just maybe that's what bold faith looks like. It's called Fides Heroica (Heroic Faith). And the Father of Faith (Abraham is known by that name) is exercising it here. Heroic Faith will stand up to God. Not in defiant arrogance, but in expectant boldness. Not in inopportune insistence, but in confident expectation.
August 24, 2021
Will God tell us? What lesson are we to learn?
God may let us know of things so that we may be warned. It could be that his intent and even his revelation of that intent (consider the book of Revelation for example), is so that we may be warned. It might also be so that we are prepared. In other words, as we read the prophecies of Scripture (think again of Revelation), those ought to prepare us for the challenges we may face, and remind us of God's justice, holi