Category: Blog

You’re NOT Alone!

We are not meant to be alone!  God created us, as social beings, with the ability to intelligently interact.  (Much of human interaction is NOT very intelligent these days, though!)  Even with the proliferation of social media and the many different kinds of groups and activities that are available, we are isolated and lonely.

This is not only true among those who don’t profess faith in Jesus, it seems to be a reality with many who do profess faith in Him.  Why is that?

We can blame lots of things… a culture of individualism, busyness, misplaced priorities, and so on.  All of that is true to some extent. HOWEVER, for true followers of Christ, there is a reality that overrides anything that would isolate us from one another!

We begin to see that reality in John 17.  That chapter contains what is known as the “High Priestly” prayer of Jesus.  It occurred on the night before His death on the cross.  Listen in as He prays, in verses 20-21. “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

Jesus’ prayers are always answered!!  Here He prayed for unity among all who believe in Him, not just those that were with Him that evening, but for all of us who believe through their word.  He was not just praying for practical, day to day unity, for getting along with each other, but for something much more significant.  I would call it “organic unity”.

“Organic unity” is best understood by reading I Corinthians 12 and related passages.  There, we are introduced to the concept of the Body of Christ. Every true follower of, believer in, Christ, is baptized by the Holy Spirit into that Body at the moment of conversion!  We are members of that Body.  Just as our physical bodies have many different members… eyes, ears, inside organs, etc., so the Body of Christ has many members.  We are supernaturally, organically, connected as believers!

Jesus said He would build His Church in Matthew 16:18.  That Church is His Body. He is connecting each of us together.  He has made us interdependent. That reality is fleshed out in two ways.  First, we draw mutual strength and support from each other, through Christ, of course.  Second, we each exercise our unique, God given function as a member of the Body.  My thumb on my right hand could not survive if it was detached from my body. My thumb also has a unique function that my eyes could never fulfill.

When we, as followers of Christ, understand the reality of our organic unity in the Body of Christ, and act on it as described above, we will reap the benefits intended by Jesus!  It is a matter of being involved in a good local church, interacting with other believers regularly.  As followers of Christ, we were never intended to be alone!

For more on this subject, check out podcasts 127-139, begin with #127 by clicking here.

Taking Care of Our Pastors!

Most pastors are genuinely committed to serving the Church of Jesus Christ because they love Him and are being true to their calling! They consider it a high honor and privilege. They are there, not because they are incapable of doing something else, but because they actually see it as a calling.

The Scriptures remind us that we are to honor our pastors, showing gratitude and respect for what they do. I Thessalonians 5:12-13 makes that clear. How can we, on a practical level, bless them? Here are a few suggestions. I would love to hear any ideas you may have!

  1.  See him as a gift from God, with a God ordained job to do.  Ephesians 4:11-12
  2. Allow him to be the coach and, as team members, fill our “positions” well! Eph. 4:13-16
  3. Listen to the Word of God he teaches and follow his example.  Hebrews 13:7
  4. Submit to his Godly leadership, understanding why.  Hebrews 13:17
  5. Allow him the opportunity to manage his household.  I Timothy 3:4-5
  6. Pray fervently and consistently for him. Colossians 4:2-3
  7. Allow him to fail forward, keeping in mind that no one bats 1000%!  Galatians 2:11-14
  8. Make sure he takes time for his own personal growth and renewal.  Luke 5:16

There are more practical things we can do…

  1. Offer to watch his children so that he can have a night out with his wife. (Gift cards are always appreciated!)
  2. Make it possible for him to attend conferences, seminars, or further his education.
  3. Put together a prayer group that prays regularly for him and his family. Pray with him before services.
  4. Honor his wife in practical ways! She is in a very unique position!

Again, I’m sure you have many more ideas! Share them!!!

It’s NOT Just For Funerals!!

Probably the most popular chapter in the Old Testament is Psalm 23. It is regularly used during funeral services.Verse four – “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me…” – is, for many, a true comfort when grieving the loss of a loved one.

However, there is so much more to this Psalm than that!  It is a beautiful statement of God’s faithfulness to His children.  Taking imagery common in his culture, David portrayed the relationship between God and His children using the shepherd’s relationship to his sheep.

David knew much about that relationship.  As a young man, he was charged with the responsibility of caring for his family’s flock of sheep.  During the time of his shepherding, he had to kill a bear and a lion in order to protect the flock.  He learned dependence on God out there in the fields!  That really showed up big time when he confronted the giant, Goliath.  His father sent him to check up on his brothers in the army of King Saul, out confronting Israel’s enemy, the Philistines.  The big problem was a big man on the side of the Philistines, who regularly challenged the Israelite army to send someone to fight him.  No one, including King Saul, dared accept the challenge, until David came visiting.  That’s when David demonstrated to the King and his army what it was like to depend on God for victory!

All that came as a result of what David had learned as a shepherd himself, depending on the Good Shepherd!  When he wrote Psalm 23 later in life, he was simply rehearsing, in poetic form, what he personally knew to be true.  (Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, of course!)

The first verse in the Psalm gives us the theme.  Because God is my shepherd, I have no lack, and am completely content in Him!  The rest of the chapter is devoted to elaborating on that.

I encourage you to take some time to look at Psalm 23 again.  Examine it closely!  Let it’s message sink into your very soul.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who watches over His own and lovingly cares for them.  Don’t wait until a funeral service to hear it’s message!

For further study, click on THIS LINK to watch my video teaching on this great chapter!

Is “Born Again” A Political Category?

My answer to that question is absolutely not!! Keep reading to hear me out…

My head is not buried in the sand. I realize that, in the general public, a perception has developed over time that “Born Again” is a political group. That perception has been fed by things that are true. It is true that a significant number of evangelical Christians have been involved, at various levels, in conservative, right wing, politics. It is true that the media has branded these people as the “born again” voting block. It is true that this group has influenced elections, policy, and legislation. And, I want to clearly state that I am not opposed to political involvement by anyone! As a matter of fact, in this democratic republic, we should “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”. As faithful stewards of all God gives us, including the freedom to participate in our government, we must be responsible to do so. At a minimum, we should exercise our right to vote, and to do it carefully.

However, Satan loves to muddy the waters. His strategy is confusion, deception, and division! If he can take a beautiful, important biblical truth and “re-brand” it, he has done the damage he intended. To hijack the true biblical meaning of”born again” and cause people to believe it is a political power group is exactly what Satan wants.

The Gospel of John, chapter 3, is the key passage in the Bible that speaks about being born again. A prominent religious teacher and leader, in Israel, approached Jesus at night to have a conversation with Him. What follows is incredible! Jesus actually gets to the heart of the matter right away and addresses the real spiritual need of this man. Even though he was a religious teacher and leader, his personal activity and accomplishments were not adequate for salvation. He was still a sinner in need of a Savior. As we listen in on this conversation, we learn about God’s sovereign work in salvation, bringing sinners to the point of believing in Him. That is what God calls being “born again”.

Can there be anything more important than understanding the true meaning of that phrase? If it is about our eternal salvation, our right relationship with God, it is of supreme importance!! So, if Satan can create a distorted, false understanding of it, he has done great damage!

Can I say it one more time? “Born again” is NOT a political category!  It IS a necessary spiritual reality associated with the salvation of sinners!

For a deeper look, I invite you to check out a 31 minute video teaching about John 3 on our Sharing Real Hope YouTube channel. Click THIS LINK to watch.

This Is Not Easy!!

Have you ever heard the expression, “Hard on the front end, easy on the back end; easy on the front end, hard on the back end!” There is so much practical wisdom in that statement!

When we are willing to make the hard decisions, take the tough actions up front, it tends to make things easier in the long run. If we take the quick and easy way out up front, many times it leads to heartache on the back end.

This is true in every area of life… our health, our finances, our child rearing, and our relationships. It really applies to how we get along in the Body of Christ, in our church relationships!

Jesus desires unity in His Church and has given us a clear roadmap to get there and stay there. It does require doing the “hard” thing on the front end, but the sweet harmony it brings on the back end is so worth the effort!

The “roadmap” can be found in the New Testament in the form of the “one anothers”. These are commands, not suggestions, that have been given to every follower of Christ. They tell us how to feel, act, and not act toward one another. Obeying them is not always easy, but it is the right thing to do.

I am taking a look at 33 of those “one anothers” on my Sharing Real Hope podcast, beginning with Podcast 173 through 176. They can be found at iTunes or on my ministry website, Click on the Podcast button to access them.

The overarching “one another” is obviously, love one another. It is repeated several times throughout the New Testatment. It is the divine, giving, self sacrificing love that Jesus displayed by coming from Heaven to earth to become a man, and by dying on a cross for our sin. What love that is! Jesus said to us “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34

All the other commands, the “one anothers”, happen because we love like that. It is only possible as we yield ourselves to the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

It is not easy, but it is definitely worth it!!  Take time to listen to those podcasts!

Customized Cakes and Persecution

The name Jack Phillips may or may not be familiar to you. He has been prominently in the news in the past and is back in again. I’m pretty sure he would rather not be there at all. Here’s a bit of his story…

In 1993 Jack opened Masterpiece Cakeshop as a family business in Lakewood, Colorado. He served his community well for over 20 years. In July 2012, two men came into his business requesting a custom cake to celebrate their same sex marriage. Jack politely declined, offering to sell them anything in his shop or to design them a cake for other occasions. Shortly after that, he began receiving threatening phone calls. In December 2013, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled against Jack, ordering him to either begin making cakes for same sex marriages or stop making wedding cakes. That was 40% of his business. The commission also ordered him to “reeducate” his staff, teaching them that he was wrong to operate his business by refusing to do cakes for same sex marriage, based on his religious faith. In addition, he was ordered to file quarterly reports to the commission reporting any declines to do cakes and why.

In July 2016, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on Jack’s behalf. On June 4, 2018, The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Jack, reversing the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruling against him. However, that’s not the end of the story…

Jack has continued to receive requests to make provocative custom cakes that are obviously against his religious convictions. Recently, the commission tried to force him to bake a cake celebrating a “gender transition” for a homosexual man who was “becoming” a woman. Jack has found himself back to suing the state of Colorado to maintain his right to act based on his religious faith.

Make no mistake about it, this is not about hating or wrongly discriminating against a group of people. It is about whether a person can operate based on long standing religious principles. It is about the exercise of religious freedom.

In a democratic republic, where the government is of, for, and by the people, we have the responsibility as citizens to do what we can to preserve our freedoms. That includes praying, being informed, speaking out in an intelligent and kind way, and voting.  “…Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand more.”  Luke 12: 48b (ESV)  In Jesus’ day, the government was an authoritarian one, which didn’t allow that kind of participation.

However, having said that, as followers of Jesus, we must remember His words that still resonate today.  “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (ESV)

Persecution has been a part of following Jesus for the last 2000 plus years!  Here in the United States we have taken for granted the freedoms we enjoy, and have not had to suffer for Christ like many others through the years.  That may be changing.  I don’t know what is coming, but I do know that we should not be surprised by any persecution we are called on to endure.  Jack Phillips is being persecuted, but is not exhibiting hate toward his persecutors.  Although he is rightly pursuing his constitutional right to legally defend himself, he is, at the same time, conducting himself in a Christ like manner while being wrongly treated.

May we, who follow Jesus, take a lesson from this story!  May we be willing to live a life that honors Christ, even if it does bring persecution!

Even If You Don’t Like Football!!!

Football season is upon us and the fans are getting excited! Soon the favorite college teams will be playing and the professional teams will be dominating the Sunday afternoons and evenings. (Not to mention Monday and Thursday evenings!)

The game of football is, in many ways, a metaphor for life. There is one particular way that I am constantly reminded of, one that everyone can understand, even if they don’t follow football. It is this. The duration of the football game is a limited 60 minutes, broken into four fifteen minute quarters. Life is similar…

According to the World Bank, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.74 years. Divided into four quarters, we have 19.685 years in each quarter of life. For discussion sake, let’s just say we have four quarters of 20 years. Which quarter are you in currently?

A 40 year old is entering their third quarter of life! A 60 year old is now in their fourth quarter!

Obviously, no one knows how long they will live! Many die in the first quarter of life. However, this is a great way to keep life in perspective, understanding, of course, that there is no guarantee of 80 years!

How do Christ followers respond to this extremely realistic perspective? The Word of God gives the answer in several places!

Moses wrote this prayer in Psalm 90:10-12 “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away. Who understands the power of Your anger and Your fury, according to the fear that is due Your name? So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”
In this prayer, we are reminded of…
>The limited length of our life. 70-80 years
>The struggle of our life. “labor and sorrow”
>The wrath of God against sin, which causes our struggle,
and the opportunity to fear, or reverence God.
>The petition we need to make… Lord “teach us to number
our days, so that we may present to YOU a heart of

The Apostle Paul wrote this in Ephesians 5:15-18. “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise. making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”
In these words the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, admonishes us to…
>“Walk” or live our lives wisely, based on God’s plan.
>Maximize the opportunity God graciously gave us. “Time”
in this verse means a specific period of time or season,
literally, our lifetime.
>Avoid foolishness, which is opposite of knowing God’s will.
(God’s will is clearly spelled out in His Word!)
>Avoid being under the influence of anything other than
the Holy Spirit! That happens as we yield to, are obedient
to the will of God through the enabling power of the Holy

Whether you are in the first quarter or the fourth, as I am, you can begin today to live in a way as described above!

Even if you don’t like football!!

In the courtroom!

I am a visually driven learner. When I can see something, it’s much easier for me to comprehend. That includes literally seeing and “seeing” through an illustration or analogy.

There is a very important word that is used in the New Testament. The word is justification, or justified. How important is this word? Without it, no one can have a relationship with God! The question is, what in the world does it mean? That’s where my visual learning is helpful. There is a very good illustration I use that has been helpful to me and I believe has helped others to understand the concept of justification. Use your imagination for a moment to go into a Divine courtroom…

The Judge in this court is none other than God the Father.  He is a unique, one of a kind judge.  Unlike other judges, He is all knowing, so He actually has all the facts, even before the case is presented.  He is also completely different from all other judges in that He is perfectly righteous and needs no other law apart from Himself.  He is the Law, the Standard!  Everyone in His courtroom is judged by the standard of Him.

The defendant in this Divine courtroom is, in this illustration, anyone who is a Christ follower.  (By the way, all of humanity is a defendant here!)  So, the Christ follower stands before the judge, accused of being a sinner, separated from God.  The evidence is, for everyone, overwhelming!  The Father Judge brings down His gavel and declares, “You are guilty!  The sentence is eternal separation from Me in Hell!”  Romans 3:23; 6:23a  However, that’s not the end of the trial, thank God!!

There is another person present in this courtroom.  He is the Christ follower’s defense attorney.  His  name is Jesus Christ!  As soon as the Father Judge hands down His verdict and sentence, Jesus speaks up.  He tells the Father, “I have already paid the penalty for this, My follower’s sin.  This person has repented and turned to follow Me.”  The Father Judge immediately brings down His gavel again and declares to the Christ follower, “I forgive you of all your sin, past, present, and future!  I permanently credit you with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, your attorney!”  Romans 4:22-25; 5:1; II Corinthians 5:17-21

That is called justification!!  When God justifies us, He no longer sees us as sinners, even though we do sin.  He sees us as righteous, because of Jesus’ righteousness that has been applied to us!

Have you turned to Jesus, from your own efforts and sin, to trust in Him alone for forgiveness of sin and to follow Him?  If you have, you have been justified!  If you haven’t, what hinders you from doing so right now?!!

If you have questions, comments, or you have made that decision to follow Jesus, please feel free to contact me, using the form below!


Sleep In Your Car?

Recently I heard a businessman on a conference call of business people tell about a period of time in his life when he would sleep in his car in order to build his business. He made that sacrifice because he was very committed to what he was doing.

As I listened to him, my heart stirred within me, not about sacrificing to build a business. In that moment, I found myself asking, what sacrifice am I willing to make for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ? Would I sleep in a car for a period of time to make progress in getting the Gospel out? I have a very comfortable bed, in a nice bedroom with an ensuite. Would I be willing to do something as simple as leaving that comfortable environment, for even a short time, to serve Christ? It might not be sleeping in a car. It could involve any kind of sacrifice. That was a real life story that God used to challenge my own heart in that moment.

I’m thankful to live in a country where honest businesses can be built. It is always encouraging to hear those kinds of stories from people who have successfully built their business. Done the right way, a good business serves people while making a profit. But, if people are willing to sacrifice to eventually make a temporary monetary profit, why wouldn’t Christ followers be willing to sacrifice to make an eternal difference in the lives of people?

Jesus led the way in sacrificing for His Kingdom!  We are very familiar with the ultimate sacrifice on the cross.  However, consider the sacrifices before that one.   He left Heaven and all it’s glory to come to Earth and be born as a baby.  In doing that He willingly “emptied Himself”,  temporarily restricted the use of some of His divine attributes and veiled His full glory while here on Earth.  While He lived here, as an adult, He said, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”  Matthew 8:20  Jesus was willing to be “homeless” for the sake of the Kingdom!  Beyond that, He suffered temptation, weariness, and persecution, all BEFORE He ever went to the cross!

Over the last 2000 plus years, since Jesus ascended back to Heaven, there have been many men and women who have sacrificed and even died for the sake of the Gospel.  After Judas Iscariot hanged himself, all but one of the remaining original eleven Apostles, died as martyrs.  The Apostle John didn’t die as a martyr, but he surely suffered.  He was imprisoned on a narrow, rocky island, the Isle of Patmos, in his 90’s, where he penned the last book of the Bible, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Since then, many more have been imprisoned, beaten, tortured, deprived, separated from families, and killed for the Gospel and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  To this very day, people in many nations are still suffering, not denying their faith in Jesus.

So, when the question of whether I would sleep in my car for a period of time, or any other little “sacrifice”, to see the Kingdom advanced is asked, it seems almost trivial!   Jesus put it this way in calling out the crowds that followed Him during His earthly ministry.  “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.  He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”  Matthew 10:38  Essentially, what Jesus was saying there is this… if you are not willing to sacrifice to follow Me, you are not worthy to bear My name!  Tough words, but true.

Most of us will never be called on to make the tough sacrifices mentioned in the last paragraphs.  But, we are called to be ready to sacrifice in some way for the glorious cause of the Gospel and the Kingdom!!  God help us!

What Guides Your Life?

We ALL, with no exception, have an influence or philosophy that guides our lives. That is true, even if we are not aware of it. We make decisions, and act on those decisions, based on some belief or opinion.

There are three statements we often hear that reflect the prevailing guiding philosophy in today’s culture. Read them and see if they sound familiar. Then, consider whether they are valid for directing your life.

1. Let your conscience be your guide.
2. If it feels right, do it.
3. If it makes you happy, go for it.

Honestly, on the surface, all three look reasonable. Shouldn’t we be guided by our conscience? Can’t it keep us on the straight and narrow? Aren’t we supposed to follow our gut instincts, listening closely to our feelings? And who wants to be unhappy?!!

Within every Christ follower there is a desire to do life His way, even if we don’t always accomplish it. That means we have to know what His way is and follow it. Included in that is the need to evaluate what we hear and see in the world, in prevailing culture. So, with that in mind, let’s look a bit more closely at the three statements above…

1. Let your conscience be your guide. Not necessarily! That all depends on what is feeding your conscience. Our conscience is an internal moral compass that has to be set to true north. When we feed it with the wrong information, it gives back wrong information. The Bible clearly says that our conscience can be messed up. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,” I Timothy 4:1-2  A “seared” conscience is one that no longer is bothered by sin, by wrongdoing. When nerves are seared or burned, they are no longer capable of sending a warning message of pain to alert us to pull back from danger or get help. When the conscience is seared, it no longer is sensitive true right and wrong.

2. If it feels right, do it. Although our feelings or gut instincts may be right sometimes, relying on them alone is dangerous! Here again is what the ultimate authority, the Word of God, says. “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man accoding to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:9-10

3. If it makes you happy, go for it. If happiness is our motivation, we are in trouble! Happiness is always tied to circumstances. Realistically, no one always has happy circumstances! A Christ follower’s ultimate aim in life is not happiness, it is to honor God. “for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” I Corinthians 6:20 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31

By now, it should be fairly clear what guides the lives of Christ followers! “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 The Bible is the true north to which we set the compass of our lives! It will regulate our consciences, our feelings, and our motivation. As Christ followers, we must consistently feed our minds with the Word of God and guard our minds against accepting the views of prevailing culture!