God’s Word

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March 28

Tuesday, March 28th, 2023

I recently read a great historic clip. During the Korean War, a unit known as Baker Company was separated from the regiment, and enemy forces were advancing on them. For several hours, no word came from Baker Company. Finally, radio contact was made, and when asked for a report of the situation, Baker Company replied, “The enemy is to the east of us. The enemy is to the west of us. The enemy is to the south of us. The enemy is to the north of us.” Then, after a brief pause, a voice continued, “And this time, we’re not going to let them escape.”

After a chuckle and a smile, I thought, “How many times have I felt surrounded?” Let me ask you: how many time have you felt surrounded by enemy forces?

Lust. Greed. Pride. Envy. Jealousy. Hatred. Illicit requests. Sorcery. Idolatry. Division. (For a fuller list check out Galatians 5:19-21).  The list certainly seems endless doesn’t it?

And there seems to be no way out. But there is! In Matthew 4 Jesus was attacked by Satan in the wilderness. Three specific temptations are recorded for us, but Mark 1:13 tells us the temptations were constant during His 40 days in the wilderness. Jesus didn’t wring His hands in worry, fear, or defeat. No.  He went on the offensive. Three times He said, “It is written.” Not “I’m gonna have to think about this” or “Well, Satan, you sure have me behind the 8-ball this time.”

Jesus wasn’t defensive; He was offensive. In Ephesian 6 the Apostle Paul writes about the spiritual armor available to us. The shield of faith is used to fend of the enemy’s arrows, but the SWORD OF THE SPIRIT (which is the Word of God) is an offensive weapon. You don’t parry arrows with a sword, you fight with a sword.

There is authority and power in God’s Word. Don’t stand idly by. Use it!

March 16

Thursday, March 16th, 2023

“God is a cosmic killjoy and His Book is the consummate rule book.”  So say some people.

The argument goes something like this:

  • God is like a father towering over his children;
  • He delights in spanking and meting out judgment;
  • Therefore, He is a killjoy bent on taking the fun out of life.

Another argument goes like this:

  • I want to have fun;
  • The Bible says some things are wrong;
  • Therefore, the Bible is a rule book designed to stop or inhibit my fun.

None of that is true. It IS true that God is like a father. He is one. Jesus called Him that. But standing over us with a divine “ruler” to whack us? No.

And it IS true that the Bible says some things are wrong. It also says some things are right. But to be cracked open as a divine rule book of “Do this or don’t do that or else”? No.

God is a Father. His Word is Law. But see it as His standards-not to legislate or restrict us-but to free us. To give us some boundaries so we might truly enjoy life to the fullest. See them as protection, designed not to keep us in, but to keep our enemy out.

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (ESV)  That is not restrictive, involving punishment for wrong doing. That is liberation! Those are boundaries for our mind and heart to know freedom. James calls it the “perfect law of liberty.” (1:25)

See God as a Liberator. See His Word as a protective fence. He loves you too much to stifle you, but He also loves you too much to want to see you suffer the consequences of your sin and bad choices.


February 6

Monday, February 6th, 2023

One of the letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3 is the final one written to Laodicea. IMHO it may be the most devastating one of all.

It speaks of lukewarmness. I don’t think anyone on the planet is thrilled about drinking lukewarm water. To put it frankly: it is disgusting and unfulfilling. I carry 2 water bottles on my bike. Both have been partially frozen, then just before I leave I fill them to the brim with a cold liquid-water, Gatorade, or Hammer’s Heed. I like drinking cold, refreshing liquid- whatever it may be-while riding. But even the greatest care cannot stop the drink from thawing and if if I ride long enough, for it to turn lukewarm.

What does it mean for a church or a follower of Jesus to turn lukewarm? Apathetic. Lethargic. Passive. Maybe even lazy would be an appropriate word. A disconnect happens between our spiritual lives and our real lives.

It is a danger for all of us, not matter who we are and no matter what we do.

It is sort of like the person who sleep walks. They do it and don’t even realize it is happening. They have no recollection of wandering, of maybe engaging in conversation, of interacting in any way. I think it is safe to say “totally oblivious.”

There are those who are the same way spiritually. Pulled by side events. Sidetracked. Spiritual things become secondary. I used the words earlier: we become lethargic. Apathetic. Passive.

I Thess. 5:6 says, “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober (clearheaded).” (ESV)

That’s a good warning for all of us.

January 23

Monday, January 23rd, 2023

During my sermon yesterday on Revelation 1:9-20, there was quite a section that gave a very descriptive picture of Jesus. Verses 12-20 gave a picture of what John saw that goes so far beyond any mamby-pamby, meek and mild Jesus. I couldn’t help but think about that this morning, especially as we go out to face a hostile world. How about opening your Bible to that passage and check it out with me?

First, verse 13 declares that John saw “one like a son of man.” John is referring to Jesus.  But what He describes is so far from the impression we often have of Jesus!

  1. “Clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.”  This is what the priests wore in the temple. Jesus is our Great High Priest.
  2. “The hairs of His head were white, like wool, like snow.” White/gray hair in the Bible is synonymous with wisdom. He is all-wise and makes no mistakes. He is the Ancient of Days.
  3. “His eyes were like flames of fire.” He does not look at me; He look into me. Nothing is hidden.
  4. “His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace.” This speaks of a solid foundation. “On Christ the solid rock I stand…”
  5. “His voice was like the roar of many waters.” When He speaks, He speaks volumes.  His voice is commanding, unavoidable, overwhelming, and cannot be ignored.
  6. “He held the seven stars in His right hand, a two-edged sword came from His mouth, and his face was like the sun shining full strength.” 7 starts=7 churches (church universal).  The sword pierces coming in and going out.  He is holy, holy, holy.

There is so much that could be said, but I’ll let you think it through and study it on your own. Just know that the description John uses is like he is saying, “He is indescribable and I’m doing the best I can.”

What is your impression of Jesus?

January 10

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023

This past Sunday I started a preaching series on Revelation. Last night I was discussing with some men about Jesus’ coming and how we don’t know when it is going to happen (despite some so-called prophets saying they do). Then I said, “That’s why we have the JWs. One man got the idea and pronounced that Jesus was going to come on such-and-such a date. When that didn’t happen he recalculated and made another prediction of another date. As we know that didn’t happen. But he was not to be deterred. His answer for that failure was that Jesus did come but He’s just wandering around waiting to make Himself visible.”

Say what? People aren’t smart enough to see that is a bunch of crock? Evidently not. That cult started and exists even to this day (as we know).

There is one sure way to know whether we follow someone or not. I read of a man who wanted to start his own religion but soon found it didn’t go so well. He asked someone what he should do get coverts. The man told him, “I recommend that you get yourself crucified, die, and then rise again on the third day.”

Bingo! Jesus’ death and resurrection on the third day is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. No man-whether it is Charles Taze Russell (JW), Joseph Smith (LDS), Ellen G. White (SDA), Ron Hubbard (Scientology), Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Scientist…which it is neither), Mohammed, Krishna, nor any other individual, can make the claim that Jesus can. No one else is worth following.

Only Jesus. And only Jesus went to a cross to die on our behalf, to satisfy the righteous demands of a holy God.  The cross made the difference. And only following the One who conquered death, hell, and the grave is worthy of our honor and worship. All else is a losing cause…no matter how sincere.

Whom will you choose to follow?

January 4

Wednesday, January 4th, 2023

I own my own house. Well…the bank does, but I’m making a strong effort to pay it off quicker. One of the most important parts of the house is not that it has been re-painted a grayish color with white shutters. Or not that it is a ranch-style house-with 3 bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths plus the obligatory kitchen and living room as well as other rooms (my Man Cave which is now Tami’s bedroom and an added-on room about 3-4 years ago). Nor is it that it has a fenced-in back yard. And it isn’t because it is not a house but a home we have lived in for almost 17 years. Nope.

The most important part of the house is its foundation. Without that the house wouldn’t be worth a penny. In fact, there would be no house.

When they started building this one structure in Italy in 1173, they found the soil was softer than they originally thought. Over time that tower has been sinking and today the top of that tower is a little over 13′ off center. They check it regularly. They say if left to its own devices with no intervention of builders, the Leaning Tower of Pisa will someday collapse.

The key to living a life of faith that shines the light of Jesus is having a firm foundation. A life built on the solid rock of Christ. A life built on the never-changing Father and the truth of His Word.

Jesus said it well in Matthew 7 when He told the parable of the two foundations-sand and rock. One stands against the storms; the other crumbles.  Sand castles are easily destroyed by water and tides. Permanent structures built on rock last.

One of the keys to facing life in this new year is having the right foundation. Resolutions? No. A determined faith where time is spent in God’s presence and His Word that will help us stand strong? Most definitely yes.

What type of foundation do you have? What are you building your life and 2023 on?

January 3

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023

I read this morning in Our Daily Bread about how some volunteers from a rescue organization in Australia found a wandering sheep weighed down by more than 75 pounds of filthy, matted wool.  They figured it had been forgotten and lost in the bush for at least 5 years. They were able to sheer it and soon the sheep (named Baarack) began to eat and his legs grew stronger. It thrived in the environment of his rescuers and the other animals.

It started me thinking about people, about how so many are weighed down by excess weight (not physical) and baggage. Some of it is simply the cares of life. Some of it is baggage of their own making from their past.

I’m reminded of a song (click here). It says, “I’m no longer a slave to fear/I am a child of God.”  There are way too many people who are slaves to fear, shame, unconfessed sin, regret, and a whole host of other baggage.

Just like Baarack needed his rescuers to slowly sheer away his excessive weight of tangled, matted wool, so do many of us. God, through His Spirit, sets us free. He desires to make us new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17). His Word tells us that “he whom the Son has set free is free indeed.”

Are you carrying excess baggage these days? Are you weighed down by sin and shame and regret? Be sheered and let God’s Spirit set you free.

December 22

Thursday, December 22nd, 2022

As we inch closer to Christmas, uppermost in many (maybe most) people’s minds is “Did I get so-and-so something? If I didn’t is it telling them something?” “Will he/she be happy with what I got them?” Questions of uncertainty flood our brain.

With that mind, I give you my Christmas gifts to you. I hope you aren’t disappointed. 🙂

I give you LOVE. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…”

I give you JOY.  “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

I give you PEACE. “My peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you, not as the world gives.”

I give you HOPE. “He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us again. On Him we have set our hope.”

May you experience all those and more this Christmas season.

Note: I will probably be absent from “Shadow” for a few days. The weekend is a given, but Sunday after our one service that morning, Jo, Tami, and I will be taking off for Ohio and plan to return Tuesday. My plan is to enjoy my time away, giving very little thought or attention to things back home. That includes “Shadow.” At this point, my next post will be Wednesday morning.

Have a joy-filled and a blessed Christmas. May God fill you to overflowing with His gifts.

December 19

Monday, December 19th, 2022

Have you ever noticed how we sometimes just simply talk too much? In an effort to carry on a conversation: in an effort to cover a lull in a conversation; in an effort to look like we know what we are talking about; in an effort to not look unprepared; in an effort to look like we are smarter than we are; in an effort to fill empty air; we engage in what has been come to be known as a “word salad.” We want people to think we are more knowledgeable that we really are.

Political people do it. Athletes do it. Pastor do it. Teachers do it. Kids do it. I remember once watching a sitcom (I think it was Room 222) and it may have been the only time I ever watched it. The student teacher was asked a question and pretended to know the answer. She was wrong and got caught in the cover-up. Her mentor said, “Never pretend to know the answer. Simply say, ‘I don’t know but I will try to find the answer.’ ” (paraphrased from memory).

That’s good advice…for all of us.

So…here is your practice round. What answer would you give if someone were to come up to you and say, “In one sentence, give me the essence of the Christmas story”?  In other words, no word salad. One short sentence.

Here is your answer:

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14)

That’s it. End of story. What will you tell them?

December 14

Wednesday, December 14th, 2022

Have you ever noticed that some things we take for granted are missed by other people? As a pastor I have to guard against that when I’m preaching. I was raised by a godly mother who always wanted to be a missionary. She was! She had 4 sons.  🙂 An important verse to her was 2 John 4: “I have no greater pleasure than to know my children walk in truth.” (True that was not referring to physical children of a mother, but she adopted that verse to declare her feelings). So having been raised in the church and being a pastor for 50+ years and walking with Jesus for 62 of my 70 years, it is easy to forget some don’t have that luxury of knowing the story of Jesus as I do.

So when I am preaching I have to be careful of excluding some, of assuming they know “the story” and what I am talking about. Tragic mistake to make.

I think we can get that way about the Christmas story, especially in our post-Christian culture. It is easy to assume the “Charlie Brown Christmas” would have the same effect on a cynical Gen Z-er as it did on this Boomer. It doesn’t. I read of a child who was asked who Jesus was. His answer: “He was the one who took from the rich and gave to the poor.” A legendary Robin Hood!

We know He is more than that. He is the God-man; born of a virgin; took on human flesh; went to a cross where He died as a sinless replacement for us; rose bodily from the grave; ascended into heaven where He sits at the right of the Father awaiting the word to return.

I can assume people know that. They don’t. I can also assume they know the Christmas story. They don’t. Heard it? Possibly. Know it? Probably not.

Romans 10: 14 says, “And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are the to hear without someone preaching (telling them)?” Let’s not assume they know the Christmas story. Let’s make sure they do-lovingly, convincingly, and gently. But let’s make sure they at least have heard!