The Time to Choose is Now

You are probably aware of the recent controversies arising from businesses and corporations injecting politics and social issues into their companies, such as the boycotts against Bud Light and Target.

While most of us were aware of the existence of leanings or biases in the corporate world, for the most part it was never so overt.

When one considers the downside of a company possibly alienating a section of their customer base, the current trend is puzzling. Why would seemingly rational businessmen and women chose such a risky path, unless their priority is no longer earning a profit for their company.

What could their motive be?

Those of us who believe the Scriptures have long accepted as fact that we are engaged in a spiritual battle. This is being played out in our culture war, but never have the battle lines been so clearly drawn, so indelibly delineated as in today’s struggles.

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

Ephesians 6:12

It is no longer possible for a Christian to sit on the fence as a conscientious objector.

When our enemy so boldly proclaims his presence in education, entertainment, government, and even commerce, there is no way to remain neutral.

15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:15

It is time to choose.

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This is Memorial Weekend in the USA, a time set aside to remember those men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

It is a time for flag flying, camping, picnics, barbecues, and family celebrations, all the while remembering the ones who died to preserve these happy gatherings.

Memorials and days of remembrance were established for God’s people in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.

God knows what short attention spans his creatures have. He knows we need frequent reminders of who He is, what He has done for us, and what He expects of us while we remain in this world.

As you gather with your family and friends this weekend, whether at a social gathering or a Memorial service, along with honoring our military heroes spend a few moments honoring the One who created them and us; the One who has a plan for His children. A plan for our good and His glory.

11 For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.

Jeremiah 29:11
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The Unspoken Prayer

The word for today is:


  1. Incapable of being expressed; indescribable or unutterable.
  2. Not to be uttered; taboo.
  3. Incapable of being expressed in words; unspeakable; unutterable; indescribable.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

We live in a world of instant communication, bombarded daily with a barrage of words about news, opinions, calls for action and reaction.

When it comes to our prayers it can be overwhelming to express the impact of it all to God. How can we filter and prioritize the things we want to say when words fail us?

During times of communal prayer, we often hear requests for unspoken needs. Sometimes these requests are for needs too private to share in a group, but they might also include deep down, inexpressible yearnings. Perhaps yearnings for peace or love or simply a way out of the confusion of life; longings sometimes too personal to even utter to ourselves.

When we experience feelings of doubt, discontent, or even general malaise, we shouldn’t be ashamed. God already knows exactly how we feel and He has provided a Helper to allow us to pour out our hearts directly, spirit to Spirit.

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

Romans 8:26
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Secret to a Happy Mother’s Day

Children raised without the opportunity to see their father cherish their mom sometimes don’t know how to observe Mother’s Day the way a mother might like, leaving some mothers, especially those raising their kids single-handedly, feeling just a little sorry for themselves on this special day.

When seeing or hearing about how other women are being pampered and appreciated, it’s easy to feel wistful or even a touch of self-pity.

I have discovered the perfect antidote to self-pity is gratitude.

If I’m not the recipient of lavish displays and shiny presents on a day arbitrarily set aside to honor mothers, I can think of all the blessings I have every single day.

An attitude of gratitude is the miracle pill which cures almost all our emotional ills. We can choose to be content in our every circumstance, as long as we remember to be grateful.

Wishing all mothers, and all those who ever had a mother, a day you can be thankful for.

16-18 Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (MSG)
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Why, God?

“How can a loving God let this happen?”

“Why isn’t God answering my prayers?”

Even mature Christians, those with strong faith, ask these questions from time to time.

We may believe with all our hearts that God has a loving plan for each of His children, but when deceit, destruction, and death come into our lives, it is hard to see how they fit.

Can we accept that painful experiences are merely the dark threads in a beautiful tapestry woven for our benefit?

Perhaps we can try to make sense of the seeming contradiction by comparing ourselves to infants who are incapable of understanding why loving parents would make them take evil-tasting medicine or endure painful medical treatments. Of course, their fathers and mothers are acting out of love, even though the children don’t understand why the unpleasant experience is necessary.

As they mature, children begin to understand that sometimes the bitter medicine is for the best.

In the same way, as we mature in our Christian walk, we begin to trust that even though we may not understand, whatever our heavenly Father allows is for our eternal benefit, inspired by his unfailing love for us.

We may not understand the chaos we are experiencing until we see our Savior face to face and hear His words of love and life.

It isn’t necessary for a suffering child to understand the science behind their treatments, or how the healing process works. However, to get the best results from the process, it is necessary to stop resisting and trust.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight

Proverbs 3:5-6
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A Time to rush, a Time to Wait

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

When 18th century poet, Alexander Pope, coined that phrase it was in a poem chastising the literary critics of his day, but the words have some contemporary applications, as well.

Often when we see friends or loved ones in difficulties, we want to rush in and rescue them. Although well meaning, it can be a foolish thing to do. The reason is found in the second half of Pope’s phrase.

Why should angels fear to go anywhere? They are God’s messengers, after all.  Angels serve God obediently, so they would only fear to go somewhere against His wishes. 

Why might it be against God’s will for us to help dear ones who are struggling? We are told to love and care for one another, right?

However, human beings grow strong through overcoming adversity. If we are never tested, we become weak. This is true spiritually, as well as physically.

My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.

James 1:2-4

By rushing in to rescue our friends or loved ones, we may be depriving them of an opportunity to grow, maybe even keeping them from a stronger reliance on the Lord.

It isn’t easy to stand by and watch the people we care about suffer or make unwise decisions, but sometimes we must trust in God’s love for them, and for us, and allow them room to mature.

Does that mean always standing idly by when we see disaster ahead for our loved ones? Of course not, but it does mean that before rushing into a situation we must seek God’s will and wisdom to know what and how much to do.

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Honk if you love Jesus

While working in the garden this week, I was surprised by several waves of geese flying high above me on their way to their northern territory. They’d drawn my attention with their enthusiastic honking to one another as they flew in formation through the blue sky.

Geese are one of God’s wonders and an example of the value of teamwork. They fly in that V-formation because it makes it easier for them to move their bulky bodies through the sky on the many miles they must fly. They take turns on the hard job at the point of the V to share the work and constantly honk encouragement to one another.

I don’t understand the language of geese, but I think it’s a safe guess that there is no one at the back of the flock flinging criticism at the leaders. It would serve no purpose. Flying as a cooperative group is necessary to reach their destination.

The lesson for us is fairly obvious, but in these hypercritical days of thin skins and constant outrage, it may bear repeating.

Cooperation, appreciation, and encouragement carry us further than nitpicking, criticism, and fault-finding.

This applies to general society, but even more so to the body of Christ.

10 He died for us so that whether we are alert or asleep we will come to life together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, just as you are in fact doing.12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who labor among you and preside over you in the Lord and admonish you,

1 Thessalonians 5:10-12
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How does your garden grow?

 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5

Spring has arrived and many of us are spending our days outdoors digging in the dirt, weeding, planting, and generally sprucing up our yards and gardens. We toil happily in anticipation of the joy we will get from green lawns and colorful blossoms.

One thing I’ve learned about gardening over the years is that all the hard work can be wasted if I don’t pay attention to the soil.

In Christ’s metaphor of the vine and the branches, the meaning is clear that we, as the branches, can only thrive and produce as long as we are firmly attached to the vine. It isn’t stated in these verses, but it seems reasonable that the life-giving vine is firmly rooted in the soil that is God’s Word and fed by the Holy Spirit.

If we want to bring forth beauty in our lives, it is important to stay attached to Jesus through prayer and the study of his life, so that like a branch on a vine, we may draw upon God’s power and Spiritual strength from the soil in which we are planted.

As most gardeners know, a firmly attached branch may still succumb to pests or disease if it isn’t well-tended and pruned occasionally.

It is incumbent upon all Christians to stay focused on Christ and not let distractions or temptations cause us to neglect our spiritual garden.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.

John 15:1
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The Best Friday

Today is Good Friday, the Holy Week observation of the day Jesus of Nazareth was crucified.

There are those who wonder exactly why we should refer to this as Good Friday when it commemorates such a terrible death.

Most Christians learn that what makes this day good is that it was a well-planned and necessary step to Christ’s resurrection three days later.

There is a powerful sermon by the late Tony Campolo which explains it all. I recommend viewing it on YouTube by clicking on the link below.

It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming

As powerful as Campolo’s message is, it may not touch you until you reach a deeper understanding of what Christ’s crucifixion means to you personally.

I find this most clearly expressed in the lyrics to the great old hymn At Calvary:

Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died
On Calvary.

  • Refrain:
    Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
    Pardon there was multiplied to me;
    There my burdened soul found liberty
    At Calvary.
At Calvary by Wm. R. Newell, 1895

It is when it finally sunk in that what happened on that long ago Friday, Christ’s suffering and sacrifice, was for me, that I truly understood what was so very good about it.

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What do you expect?

This Sunday, Palm Sunday, marks Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an historical event supported by extra-Biblical writings.

We read of how the Jewish citizens in the city flocked to see Jesus enter Jerusalem. News of Christ’s raising of Lazarus from death in a nearby village only a few days earlier had swept through the population. These people knew Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, or they knew people who knew them. Now, they hoped the other rumors about this man, Jesus, might be true and that he was going to set them free from Roman oppression.

No wonder they waved palm branches and cried, “Hosannah!” as Jesus and his disciples made their way through the narrow streets.

Less than a week later, many of these same people were gathered again, shouting “Crucify him!” Were the citizens of Jerusalem all schizophrenics, or what? How do we explain such extreme fickleness on such a massive scale?

These were unsettled times in Israel. The people were under occupation by Rome, but various factions, notably the zealots, had been rebelling and causing retribution and further unrest. The Jewish leaders were trying to keep the peace and maintain the fragile freedoms they had under Roman rule. These men were scholars, well versed in the history of their people and desperate not to see some of those ancient horrors repeated. In their minds Jesus threatened to upset the tenuous status quo.

The people had cried out for a leader to save them from Rome, not a redeemer to save them from their sins. They were sure that a man who could bring the dead back to life, make lame beggars walk and blind men see, could surely use his powers to defeat the armies of Rome.

When they began to realize this was not his plan, many were angry such a powerful man would refuse to use his great power to free the people from Roman tyranny.  Even when Jesus was arrested, there were those who expected him to use his powers to save himself. Perhaps some of those gathered at the foot of the cross were still expecting a display of supernatural power when Christ would step down from the cross and defeat their enemies.

Unmet expectations cause strong reactions in all of us. When we expect something to happen, we begin to feel entitled to have it happen and we react with righteous anger if we are denied. This happens in relationships all the time. When marriages break up it is not uncommon to hear one party or the other say something like, “This isn’t what I signed up for.” Their partner failed to meet their expectations.

The Jews in Jerusalem expected an earthly champion who would throw off the Roman shackles. Their anger and disappointment wouldn’t let them see the far greater gift Jesus offered them.

Palm branch

Through His sacrifice, He threw off the shackles of sin and death for all who believe in Him.

“Hosannah! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

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