Book of James Bible Study GuideA lot of things have come together for me lately and surprisingly, to me anyway, I’ve been able to get some of my previously written study guides, devotionals, and poems digitized and published. As I have worked to get them up on the Dove’s Fire Ministry store, I’ve wondered if there is any call for them today.


Who are the Bereans?

My thoughts took me to Acts 17 and the Bereans. In verse 11 it says they examined the scriptures daily. It makes me wonder how many Word seekers are left. You see, it’s so easy for us to get caught up in a movement, in a church, in our doctrines, thought processes, and so on. We all do it from time to time. But are we so caught up in our own directions that we forget to seek the Word?

Seek and You Will Find

Jesus said seek and you will find. Now, in context, He was in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. Of course, He was speaking of seeking the Kingdom. But I also believe that we will find what we are seeking, period. Let me clarify. When we are truly seeking the Kingdom, His Word, the Truth (which is only in Him), we will find Him.

At that point, it won’t matter if we are in a movement – if we are seeking Him – He will be found by us. Even if we are caught up in our own church and doctrine – if we truly seek HIM- we’ll find Him. Do you want a scriptural example? I’m so glad you asked!

A Truth-Seeker from the Bible

Garden Connection Bible StudyThink about Paul. His remarkable conversion is recorded in the 9th chapter of Acts. But previously, he was persecuting the church. He thought he was fighting for the cause of God. In his heart, Saul was guarding the truth. On his way to Damascus, he was knocked off his donkey and blinded by a bright light. Verse 4 says he heard a voice say, Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?  When the voice explained, Saul was blind. (A natural manifestation of a spiritual condition.) Even though Saul was persecuting God’s church, his heart thought he was serving God – and God met him there. He stopped Saul, changed him, transformed him into a tongue of a ready writer as he wrote letters to the early church we still read and refer to today.

My point with this story is Paul was truly seeking the truth. He thought he had the truth only to find out he needed some major adjustments! So if we are momentarily locked into a movement, a doctrine, a philosophy, or a local church – we’ll find Him – if we seek Him.

Are there any Word Seekers? Am I a Word Seeker?

This takes me back to my original question. Are there any Word seekers today? Do we take the scriptures like the Bereans did when they had questions and study it daily until Holy Spirit can make sense of it in our hearts and minds? Or do we just follow the crowd to the next movement…the next meeting…the next spectacle?

My Earnest Prayer

My prayer is two-fold today. First, I pray that I bring correction in my own life and begin to seek the Word more. I want to let it transform me. Too many times today, we try to manipulate it to fit what we want to believe rather than letting it shape our beliefs.

Secondly, I pray that one by one true believers stand up and become Word seekers. If they are already, great! I pray we all begin to crave the Word more. Let us not be distracted by technology, busy-ness, or anything else from pursuing the cross in truth.

Without Natural Affection

September 30, 2019

I grew up on the old King James Version, so many times when I think of a verse or a passage, I have some of those old terms caught in my head. This morning I’ve been thinking about the phrase, “without natural affection.” Of course, I went and looked it up as it kept rolling around and around in my head. I found it in an NT passage that clearly and sadly describes the spiritual and natural state of our world as it is today. It’s amazing to me that Holy Spirit could give this description of the “last days” to Paul so many years ago and we would see it lived out in our lives to a “T” today.

Perilous Times

As Paul was writing the second letter to Timothy, he begins to describe the perilous times of the last days. In spite of the changes that have come through the years, there’s not much to lose in the translation – unless you want to of course. Paul gives a list of characteristics of last days mankind to Timothy. We could no doubt work through the whole list, but to keep from writing an entire book (which you never know – might come later) I want to pull out the two or three, in particular, that stick out to me.

  • Lovers of themselves (v.2)
  • Slanderers (v.2)
  • Unloving or “without natural affection” (KJV) (v.2)
  • Without self-control (v.3)

We live in the age of the narcissist. I won’t spend a lot of time on their characteristics, but they are typically the epitome of ego, self-centeredness, selfish, unsympathetic to others, unable to love, and of course always the victim. The worst part of that is the church, in general, has become a narcissistic society.

The Lack of “Affection” in the Church

In general, the church is primarily focused on the inside of their four walls and unmoved by the lost and hurting. And should someone leave their fold – it’s always the leaver’s fault – couldn’t be anything wrong with the church. The church has settled for being the “victim” rather than making the necessary changes to line up with the word and get outside the comfort of their four walls. The only “reaching out” the church does is to bring people into their fold – not because they are passionate about the kingdom of God, but passionate about their introverted kingdom they are building to themselves. Most will find all the “affection” they want inside those walls; as long as they never disagree, or ask too many questions, fellowship with other believers, or start looking beyond the four walls. The affection is all self-absorbed into the entity called the church.

The Lack of Natural Affection in Families

A narcissist makes a horrible parent. Why? They are always only concerned about how they feel and how their family makes them look. Oftentimes, they can never get past their own pain to help their children cope with the real world. Other family members are considered to be “victimizing” them by spending their hard-earned money or not focusing enough on their need. Of course, in the process, they disregard and refuse to see the true natural needs for love and affection of their families. Their own depression (caused by focusing only on themselves) sucks them into a vacuum where they cannot function if the world is not revolving around them. Since they need all the attention, the family is perceived to be a failure.

Even Our Pets

Another perspective of the lack of natural affection that is rampant in our world today is the overdoing of the love of pets. They should never be mistreated. Love them, for real. But we have gone way overboard on it. They are not family members – they are domesticated wild animals without natural human sentiment. Of course, they have feelings. But they really couldn’t care less about being in your wedding. It’s truly sad how our society has lavished their pets with the affection that was supposed to belong to other humans. We tend to be able to love and care for our puppy, but not our kids. We are way out of balance with it all.

Getting Things Straightened Out

Paul instructed Timothy to stay away from these people of the last day. (v. 5b) But they are everywhere! Our entire society it seems has so many avenues of unnatural affection from failing to love spouses and children to showering their pets with too much affection. What are we to do? Stop. That’s it. Just stop. Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds us to keep our eyes on Him – they were never supposed to be on our own selves, our family, or our pets. When we turn our attention and affection to Him – His love will overflow from us to others. Instead of being self-absorbed, when we are absorbed into Him and fellowship with Him willingly, our affection won’t be on ourselves, but it will be on Him and then the overflow of our relationship with Him will reach those around us with true love.

Hebrews 13:1 says to let brotherly love continue. We are to love one another – as we love ourselves. But we love ourselves too much. The fruit of the Spirit – according to Galatians 5:22 – grows as evidence that Holy Spirit has taken up residence inside us. And that fruit is love, joy, peace, patience…. and so forth. Selfish ambitions are listed in the evidence of walking in the flesh. We all need to take a sincere look at the fruit being manifested in our lives. The fruit on our spiritual trees is indicative of what we are following. Are we lost in ourselves? Do we have genuine compassion for mankind and passion for God? No one can answer these questions for you – or you shouldn’t be allowing them to. Take a look at the word and let it mirror your true intentions and actions. Ask yourself (I’m asking myself) do I measure up? Do I have unnatural affection or natural affection for family, friends, and mankind?


I truly believe that when we turn our hearts to look solely at Him – and focus our hearts, minds, and energy on Him – we will be able to balance it all out and walk in love. That’s how Jesus said men would know we were His disciples… that we love one another.



This weekend was so amazing in a lot of different ways. My daughter and I went on a camping trip which was coordinated by a new local hiking group. We were not sure what to expect but knew that Red Rock Canyon would at least provide an excellent hiking experience. It far exceeded my expectations.

New Friends Around the Campfire

friends around the campfireI was a bit apprehensive about the social part as I know I’m a “bit” different. Lol. It was a large group and I honestly didn’t know if I’d feel isolated, accepted, shunned, ignored, or embraced. As we set up camp another hiker came and set up camp close to our tent. Then another and another. We built a fire and were getting to know our new friends and people began to drag up chairs and enjoy the fire. After a while, one lady said, “It’s cooled off I think I’ll go for a hike.” I was surprised the fire didn’t go out because of the vacuum created by the vast exodus as we all headed out for a short pre-dusk hike that kept us out past when the darkness settled in.

Are they a family?

The camaraderie was simply amazing. Everyone was accepted no matter what their background, physical shape, hiking experience, vocation, family status – it didn’t matter we were all united around the love of hiking and the great outdoors. The point was getting all of us on the trail and making sure we all came back safely. We helped each other through the tight spots, up the steep places, and through muddy slopes. No one was left behind and everyone felt welcomed and valued.

Soon, we gathered around the bathroom before catching the last bit of daylight for just a few more steps. Some were in and some were out. We chatted merrily as we waited for the rest of the crew. We were comprised of various races, ethnicities, religions, ages, shapes, and sizes. A family came up and a small girl was watching us. In a minute, she turned to her mom and I just happened to hear her question. With wide eyes, she asked, “Mom, are they all family?” I chuckled at what she must have thought about all of us being in one huge happy family.

Later, though, as usual, I was thinking back over the incident. I wondered why she would have thought we were family. We certainly didn’t look related. Then it hit me. We acted like a family. Then the thoughts poured as I was like, that’s what Christianity is all about, isn’t it?

What We Have in Common

Jesus told His disciples in John 13:35 all men will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (NASB) All of sudden it made sense. Isn’t this the simplest thing? It wasn’t what we were saying, wearing, how we looked, or what we were doing. It was how we were acting with one another. We looked like a family out there.

ladies on a hikeWhat if we all looked that way in the body? Diverse backgrounds, vocations, physical appearance, families, everything pretty much is different for each of us. We were not all dressed the same. We didn’t all have the same gear. But we looked like family because of how we were acting toward each other.

If we could all grasp this thought – true love, true acceptance of each other no matter what the background, religion, vocation or anything else – just love people. Just love each other and they’ll think we are family. You see, as different as we all were on this hiking trip – we didn’t focus on our differences. We focused on what we had in common. We were united on what we loved – the nature and hiking. And we became one in a sense for the day as we participated together.

The body of Christ cannot be divided by our differences, denominations, belief systems or anything else. It really is possible to unite on the one thing we have in common – our love of God. Then, they’ll “mistake” us for family. It really is simple, isn’t it?

Out of Context?

March 6, 2019

A lot of times when I am out running I am praying or meditating on the Word. Yesterday, my thoughts wound up in Hebrews 4:12. It’s a powerful scripture we’ve used for years.

For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart. (NASB)

I was rolling it around in my thoughts and then it occurred to me that I had no idea what context this verse was used in. So I pulled out my phone and listened to the fourth chapter of Hebrews on my Bible app as I continued to run. It surprised me that the chapter was talking about entering the rest of God. Those who didn’t believe didn’t get to enter. A question came up in my mind then, what does entering His rest have to do with the power of the Word? I failed to see the connection.

The writer of Hebrews is talking about entering God’s rest. Several things stand out to me  about this place of rest as I read and reread this chapter:

  • God prepared the place of rest (purposeful action)
  • Only those who believe Him can enter
  • It was made ready before the world was created
  • God’s rest is there for us to enter

A bit of research revealed that the Children of Israel were referenced as not entering the promised land or the place of rest. In Deuteronomy chapter 1, God was displeased with them and told them that not one of them would enter in. Not even Moses. Caleb would get to enter the promised land (rest) because he followed the Lord completely. (Deut. 1:36 NLT) It came down to complaining and disobedience would keep them out of their promised land – the land of rest. Obedience and trust would usher Caleb right on in at a ripe old age.

In Hebrews 4:8, it says there is a rest that is still waiting for God’s people. (NLT) And it goes on to say that disobeying God’s word will cause us to fail to enter. Then, it goes into the 12th verse about the Word of God.

For years this scripture has been used to convince ourselves that we can get what we want. It’s been misquoted and interpreted as a means to get our own way or to make the devil go away. We’ve tried to use it to fight off anything we didn’t’ like. But this morning as I was reading and studying I found it in this strange context of entering the rest He has prepared for us.

The Children of Israel missed out because they complained and did not believe His Word. It hit me – that’s what it’s all about – believing what He says. I’ve used it out of context all these years. It’s actually a call to action to us. It’s telling us that to enter His rest we will need to believe Him and trust Him. The word is sharp enough to divide our soul and spirit. He can discern our thoughts and intentions. In other words, He knows. The work is on us. It’s not about the Word working – it works! The Word of God stands forever. This is our charge to believe His word in order to enter His rest and cease from our own labors.

Verse 13 goes on to talk about how everything is exposed to Him. Nothing in creation can hide from Him. In other words. He knows. And that is precisely why we have a high priest in Christ. Once again He extends grace to us humankind. He asks us again if we desire to enter His rest. Verse 12, so often out of context, is explaining that He knows when we believe and when we don’t. Honestly, sometimes I think we don’t even know.

This is our charge today – to believe Him and follow Him into that place of rest. The only door is believing in Christ and what God has said. If we do not believe, we can’t come in. We have to truly believe His word no matter what our circumstances. I wonder how often I miss out on God’s best because I, like the Children of Israel, complain. How often do I miss out on God’s rest because I fail to believe what He’s said?

I’m going to take this verse today and use it my personal charge to believe Him more. To complain less. Paul said in Philippians 2:14 to do all things without complaining. Maybe because it’s a sign of disbelief.

Today is a good day to take a spiritual inventory and ask ourselves the hard question. Do I really believe?

Too Comfy?

July 2, 2018

Notebook, Bible, Coffee and PenIn the west, it seems all our efforts are finding a way to live comfortably, either within or just outside our means. We want what we want, when we want it and will go to any lengths or depths of indebtedness to obtain our desires.

We are most uncomfortable living beneath others means because we want to look like them, act like them, and have the same access, substance and life as “them.” Let’s face it – we want to be comfortable at any cost.

But is it possible to be too comfortable? Sometimes I think we don’t press into Him more deeply because we are superficially satisfied with our lives. There’s no reason to look for any more because everything is moving along smoothly, just like we planned. We have our car, our house, our full cabinets, our bank accounts, family and friends who think just like us. What more could we possibly ask for?

If you are comfortable, repent!

I was teaching a Bible study class not long ago and I heard myself say, “If you are comfortable, you need to repent.” I’ve thought about that a lot since then. Is it possible to become too comfortable with our lives? Are we so busy building our little corner of the world around us that we forget we still need Him?

There are some very powerful worship-filled moments in scripture, and many of them come from moments of extreme grief and discomfort. We don’t often talk of worship in conjunction with pain and suffering, do we? But some of the deepest heart-felt expressions of worship come on our face before our God – the place where no words exist.

You see, we call it worship when we stand in church on Sunday morning and raise our hands to God and Him for all He’s done for us. That’s not worship – it’s a thank fest for Him letting us be comfortable in our lives. We don’t associate worship in those moments like Job experienced where he lost everything. Sometimes, the deepest, purest worship doesn’t come from getting what we want, it comes from losing all we had.

Job lost it all. He tore his robe overcome in grief and said, blessed be the name of the Lord who gives and takes away. In 2 Kings 19:1, King Hezekiah was grieved. It says he covered himself with sackcloth and ashes and then went to the house of the Lord.

Sometimes Grief is Worship

The things I noticed with these two passages is they didn’t separate their grief from their worship. Sometimes the church can be hard on grievers. It’s not allowed because we have to keep up appearances, so to speak. We may be indirectly forced to leave all those feelings deemed unacceptable by the church culture outside. God wants our joys but He also wants our grieving hearts. He wants every little minute part of our being to be fully submitted in worship before Him, being fully engaged in worship will require it. In those moments of the deepest crushing we often tend to stay away from God and His people.

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were very uncomfortable chained to the prison wall. They could have whined, moaned and cried out for deliverance – it was their “right”, right? Instead, they chose to worship – to sing to the Lord. Then, their deliverance came, but it wasn’t for them or to reestablish their comfort – it was for the jailer and his family who came to know the Lord.

What is the focus of our worship? (I’m asking myself this too.) If our worship is only focused on what we got, have or can get – it may need to be shifted a bit. We worship because of all He is. We pour out our heart be it full of grief or joy – in His presence. There is always room for thankfulness and gratitude – but that should be our lifestyle as should worship. There are some deep recesses of our heart that are only reached through the crushing life can bring. I’m not saying that’s the only type, kind or expression of worship. I’m just saying don’t miss it because you are working so hard at being comfortable in life.

Intimate Moments with Him

I’m not saying we should not have, just that sometimes we get so comfortable in what we have, we miss the most intimate spot with Him. It’s not about life being comfortable – it’s about being comfortable in His presence. Will all our undone-ness. With all our flaws. With all our grief. With all our losses. With our brokenness. He is near the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

If we are not careful, we get too comfortable living our lives and working to ensure comfort that we miss those times only crushing can bring. What comes out when you are crushed? As Job was crushed by life, true worship exploded. When we are crushed, and the church condemns, how do we handle it is not as important as where we handle it. Take it to His feet because of who He is, not because of what we want or can get.

Worship is always applicable. Let’s not get too comfortable with our lives that we miss intimate moments with Him. Let’s not get so frustrated in our uncomfortableness that we miss those moments with Him.






Today is an exciting day and one in which we will witness natural phenomenons that are rare. Many are prophesying that it’s the end of the world. Others don’t even care. Where I live, there will be about an 85% covering of the sun. I don’t have special glasses so I’ll just observe its effects indirectly.

I’m a math and science nerd at heart so I am more than excited about the eclipse. But I’m watching a lot of craziness about it. There are those who take every opportunity they can to prophesy the end. While I feel the eclipse is significant, especially as a time marker – it’s also just a natural occurrence. That doesn’t take away from this spectacular event, it’s going to be nothing less than amazing to see and experience. It is huge – but it’s natural. It would occur no matter what. As a matter of fact, it was set to occur before time when God said, let there be light. It was set in motion then.

When God started all this with let there be light He set nature on a course. That in itself is nothing less than phenomenal. He set the sun to govern the day – and it still does that. He set the moon and stars to govern the night and seasons. They still do that well. That’s noting less than amazing. What an opportunity today is to recall how big our God is and worship Him.

Yes, God is doing this. But He finished it a long time ago. This is not a new sign, it is one that was set in motion at creation. When God gives a sign, He does something not-so-normal. Like the day the sun stood still for Joshua to finish his battle. Or like the day He dried up the floor of the Red Sea so His children could pass through in front of Pharaoh’s army. How about when Moses saw the bush burning but didn’t burn up like nature dictates?

So while the eclipse is an amazing act of nature dictated by God, set in order by Him it’s a done deal. It was going to happen anyway. It’s not Jesus coming back (although it could be today and that would be fine with me!).It’s not the end of the world (although is is getting nearer all the time). It’s an amazing natural occurrence designed by our Creator.

Today, I hope you, like me, will enjoy the eclipse of the sun and learn as much science as you can. It’s going to be amazing! But may it remind us of how constant God is. How precisely He measured everything in His creation. Let our minds dwell on how He set things in order that are still in order. He gave the great oceans boundaries that contain them to this day.

May we remember to glorify God for His creation today. And remind ourselves that this amazing, creative God who set all these things in order – just wants to live in us. He wants to walk through time with us. He’s not amazed at the eclipse like we are – it’s natural to Him. But we are what gets His attention. He didn’t choose to live among the stars and the planets – He chose us for habitation.

So enjoy watching the glories of His creation today – but don’t forget about the One who did it all. Let us watch this natural course – and recall His greatness and power. Listen as nature sings His glory today – and join in with your own song of praise to our great God.

Fitbit MapSo this morning, I was out on a run and I was thinking about my Fitbit. I knew when I got back to the house I could sync it with my phone and see the map of every step I took. The advancement of technology is beyond me sometimes although I’m a casual techie.

When the GPS came out it was a single unit and many times inaccurate. But over time, it’s been upgraded and improved as has our satellite systems. I glanced at the Fitbit on my wrist, and up at the skies and thought about how this tiny band was sending signals back and forth with some unseen satellites in the skies. How far can it go, seriously? Now we have a GPS in our cars and on our wrists. It just blew my mind for a minute or two as I let my imagination run with it just a little bit. But then…..

Somebody once told me that they felt there probably was a God out there somewhere but we were so small there was no way to establish communication with them. (That’s an agnostic, by the way.) As I let my mind travel between my Fitbit and the skies I thought – don’t tell me that anymore.

So you’re going to tell me that you can strap on a GPS and trust it to send signals back and forth between something you can’t see – but you think God is not big enough to send signals back and forth to something He created? Don’t tell me that anymore.

How can we so easily trust that two inanimate objects can communicate but can’t accept that the One who created us can reach us? I thought of Hagar in Genesis 16. She said, “You are the God who sees.” She was able to connect with Him and knew that He could see her. Just a few short chapters later, she came to know Him as the God who hears.

If this little device on my arm can communicate so much information digitally, how much better can God see my every move? Feel my every step. Hear every tear and sense the beating of my heart?  But just like the GPS and satellites, it’s a two-way connection with signals running both ways. It takes both sides for communication to occur. Not only do I want to trust Him as the God who sees and the God who hears – I want to be His child that hears and His child that sees.

I believe God is always speaking. It’s up to us to quiet ourselves before Him enough to hear Him. May we take time today to stop and listen to His heart and know that it is beating for us. May we remind ourselves that He sees us right where we are – and He understands. Let’s close the distance between our hearts and His today.


The Truth about Worship

November 23, 2015

FullSizeRender (3)Many years ago I learned that music and worship are not synonymous. They are only slightly related in that we use music to express our worship – but they are not the same. Music is a tool in the hand of the worshiper to give honor, blessings and expressions of gratitude to the One we worship.

Last week a fellow musician came over and we spent an evening sharing music. We played instruments, sang and shared stuff we wrote. It was a very nice evening and so he came back a couple nights later. We ended up having this big discussion about music as he felt I didn’t “love music” like he did. That got me to thinking and today I reached some conclusions.

As I was thinking about music and its ever changing role in my life I had a song start running over in my head. It’s really just a psalm that was put to music years ago. Psalm 100 says Come let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our God our maker….. So I picked up the guitar in that spontaneous moment and returned once again to the heart of worship.

Then my thoughts returned to my friend’s statement, “evidently you don’t love music like I do.” Evidently I don’t because I do not play nearly as much as I used to. This is due to situations in my life; difficult situations. For a time I laid music down and walked away – but as life continued to squish me – I kept letting it squeeze worship out of me.

There’s nothing more beautiful than the song of praise that squishes out from our pain. And that is true worship. When life comes pressing in – and we press into Him – that’s worship. The truth about worship is that something always has to die. In scriptures, there was always an altar and a sacrifice when there was worship.

Life presses away – and we can feel like we are in a vice grip; but in those pressing moments if we can move past to a point of worship the fragrance is beautiful. The crushing of flowers brings forth their sweet aroma; the pressing of olives brings out the oil and the pressing of fruit brings out the sweetness of its juice. Let life press true worship out of you.

You don’t have to change into your Sunday clothes – come in your despair, with your unkempt hair, in your moment of need – and lay your life before Him. Allow life to press you into Him – that’s worship.

So I am content to not “love music” but rather to use my music as an expression to the One I love. I can use music as a tool to bring words out of my heart and pour it all out before Him – the highest level of trust. So let life press in tighter as you lift up your voice to say, “How Great is Our God” in the midst of it. Let life squeeze worship out of you – it’s a beautiful fragrance to Him and the highest praise.

Pain gives way to praise, praise gives way to life, and life gives way to hope. So let the squishing pressure of life press you into true worship where the crushing brings out the fragrance of your love for Him – and in that moment you are dying – He can live more fully in you, When we die – He can live – that’s true worship.


Time for Relationship

March 24, 2014

The other day I was on Facebook and one of my friends messaged me. When the instant message screen popped up I was excited to visit with my minister friend from Pakistan. But he typed in a phrase or two and I responded only to realize that it was not my friend, but someone posing as him. The other party didn’t really say anything out of line it just didn’t sound like the way my friend would say things. I immediately started asking him some questions and realized my friends account had been hacked. It was not my friend who was communicating with me but an imposter.

I guess what hit me as so funny about this encounter is that it was all in written communication. There was nothing spoken where you would think you would easily recognize a voice. We all have different inflections in our voices and say things certain ways. Did you ever get a phone call from someone you don’t talk to very often? It can take a minute or two to realize who it is. On the other hand, when you do converse with someone on even a semi regular basis it doesn’t take you but a second to realize who you are talking to. But this was not a phone conversation – only textual. But I still knew it wasn’t my friend!

 There’s not any one thing that I can point out that made me wonder if it was my friend messaging me or not – I just knew it was not him! We need to be this familiar with our Father’s voice. So much so that even the slightest variation is recognizable as not of Him. There are many voices in our land today and many of them at least sound “right.” You know what I mean? They are not saying anything obviously wrong or apparently misleading – but all voices are not from Him. And we need to be so close to Him that we know when it’s not Him speaking to us. And we need to know more than just His voice – we need to know His character.

If you talk to me about my Daddy, and you tell me something that he did that is outside his character, I will not believe you! I know my Daddy. I know how he acts, how he treats people, and what he thinks about important issues. You cannot tell me something about my Daddy that is contrary to his character and expect me to go along with you. We should know our Father’s character as well. When we hear something that sounds like it is out of line with His character we should recognize it. We should discount the person’s integrity – not God’s!

The only way to get to know someone deeply is through spending time with them. There are no shortcuts to relationships; they take time to build period. The more time devoted to the relationship, the deeper it is going to be. We cannot learn His voice by just listening to what someone else has to say about him. How deeply do you want to know Him? Spend time getting to know His written word inside and out; and spend time communing with Him. That does not mean asking endless questions or requesting that everything in our lives line up with what we want. It means talking to Him – having a conversation, learning to listen to Him and wait for Him.

Listening and waiting seem to be the most difficult. We want to throw our requests at Him and walk away with them answered. It takes time. In this day we live in it is more important than ever to know Him intimately. Take some time today to speak with Him – and don’t ask Him for a thing except to know Him more fully. John 14: 21 says that when we love Him – He will reveal Himself to us. Take time to love Him today.



What is Ministry?

January 14, 2014

As my situation has managed to un-church me over the last few years it has led me to thinking about what ministry is; and perhaps what it is not. I grew up in the church and served in traditional ministry for years so my concept of “ministry” was taken from inside the four walls of the church. First, let me state that I am in no way saying that the ministry efforts from inside the church are wrong in any way. What I have witnessed though, is that we tend to draw people to our church instead of to Him. In our hearts, we really mean to draw them to Him we just don’t know how to get them to Him without going through the church. Ministry is not getting people to go to church with you on Sunday.

There are two scriptures pulled out of 2 Corinthians 5 and most of us who have been churchified to any extent have most likely memorized them.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says If anyone is in Christ he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (NASB) Then there is verse 21 – He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we could become the righteousness of God in Him.  But what about those three verses in between? Have we been ignoring them? They talk about how we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. Our job is to be ministers of Christ and call the world back to Him. Verse 20 says He makes His appeal through  us. This is ministry.

Think about what Jesus did while He was here on earth. Did He go around sending everyone to the synagogue? No – He touched them right where they were. His appeal wasn’t for them to get right with the “church” of that day; but was always pointing them to the Father. Today it can be easy to contain ministry inside our church walls. We have meals there, we have meetings and invite others to come in, but everything too easily gets introverted and it comes about the “church” instead of ministry. Those we can get to “come in” just become another notch in our belts. Are lives being reconciled to God?

I personally know of a young ministry here in this area. (Mission Minded Outreach) They literally go out on the streets to feed and clothe the homeless and poor. They ask for nothing in return. They simply love people. Isn’t that what Jesus did? He walked in and out among the people of His day rubbing shoulders with the best and worst alike and just showed them the Father. He did not worry about getting soiled by their sins. He was found taking up for the woman caught in adultery and even sat and talked with the woman at the well. He called Zaccheus the tax collector down from the tree and actually went to his house and ate with Him. (Luke 19) He did not invite Zaccheus to tea at the synagogue.  This association with the “lowly” sinners  of His day is what had Him in hot water with the Pharisees from time to time. But Jesus Himself said I’ve come to seek that which was lost. He wasn’t seeking church people; in reality He was seeking those the church of His day had shunned and discarded.

Isn’t that ministry? It’s serving the lowest among us; and it’s serving those deemed the greatest among us as well. Jesus made no distinction between classes – He served them all. Our goal as ministers of the gospel is to share the gospel with everyone. And sorry – that does not include inviting them to church. Can you “witness” to someone without inviting them to church? You should be able to – it should be natural to invite them to Christ.

One of my favorite passages in scripture is found in Matthew 25 – the story of the sheep and the goats as Jesus describes Judgment Day. No one present was judged by how regularly they attended church services, prayed or read their Bible. (Side note alert: worship, prayer and the Word should come natural to the believer.) They were not judged based on if they sang in the choir, taught Sunday School or kept the nursery. They were judged on how they treated “the least.” What were the sheep doing that the goats were missing? They were feeding the hungry and thirsty, taking in strangers, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and those in prison. (When is the last time you actually went and visited someone who is sick, in prison, or a shut-in?)And one thing that has always stuck out to me about this is that the goats had no idea they were not measuring up. And the sheep had no idea that they were fulfilling His desires. Both did it naturally. When we live in Him and He is in us – love comes naturally; compassion and serving come naturally. That’s when it’s ministry.