My home is his embassy


I was watching a movie, an action adventure movie about an embassy plopped down in the middle of a hostile and suspicious country. The embassy seemed like the only safe place to be in this wild setting, a mysterious place where plots to rebel and overthrow are rampant and everyone and anyone could be a spy for the enemy.

For some reason this story brought to mind the Bible story of Abraham and his rescue of his nephew Lot. I wasn’t as mindful of the military special forces mission where lot was rescued and the stolen loot recovered as I was about afterwards, Abraham finding Melchizedek, a priest of God in the city of Salem. The culture of the day back then was polytheistic. There were many gods. For each god a temple and a priest. Monotheism has always been unique, believing in only one God. One God who created and sustains everything. One God who hears and knows everything. One God who is all powerful. One God who is everywhere all of the time. One God? One God can do all that, is all that? Yes. In the bustling city of Salem in the times of Abraham, Abraham sorted through and sought out the priest of God, Melchizedek.

Actually according to the Bible story in Genesis 14, Melchizedek went out to meet Abraham in the valley of the kings and he brought bread and wine.

“When Abram heard that his nephew Lot had been captured, he mobilized the 318 trained men who had been born into his household. Then he pursued Kedorlaomer’s army until he caught up with them at Dan. There he divided his men and attacked during the night. Kedorlaomer’s army fled, but Abram chased them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. Abram recovered all the goods that had been taken, and he brought back his nephew Lot with his possessions and all the women and other captives. After Abram returned from his victory over Kedorlaomer and all his allies, the king of Sodom went out to meet him in the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High, brought Abram some bread and wine. Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who has defeated your enemies for you.” Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the goods he had recovered.”

Genesis 14:14-20 – NLT

I imagine the temple or home of Melchizedek was like the embassy in the movie I was watching, a safe place. A place that was familiar because of the family connection of worshiping the one one true God.

My Grandparents bought a house on 4 1/2 acres in 1939. In 1996 when my grandfather who survived my grandmother, when he passed away, he still owned that home. For My Dad’s Childhood and my childhood and my children’s childhood, my grandparents house was the family home. I didn’t know anyone else in the town they lived in, but I could always go to that house and be welcomed and loved on and cared for. It was a home base, an embassy for our family.

For my wife and I, We moved from our kids childhood home. Twice. Same town. Different sized house. One move was upsizing for more room and the next house was a downsizing for less room. Because of COVID and other reasons, only 1 of our 4 kids have been in our new house. It isn’t the home base that I had as a kid in my grandparents house but we do try to make people comfortable when they visit or stay with us. For me, hosting is not innate. I struggle against my inherent hermit nature and have to consciously work at thinking of others needs before my own. I’m rambling but I’ll keep it here as a confession and a marker to see if God will work a change in me.

But back to home base, embassy, Abraham, Melchizedek and what I started to say.

I want my home and by extension, wherever I roam, to be an embassy of the country I am a citizen. You see I am a citizen of heaven, where God rules, and everything is done right and done well, and is good. I am a citizen of that place. I want my home and my life to reflect that citizenship. I want others who come into my home or encounter me to feel the presence of God, to feel the order of God, to feel the care and compassion of God.

The gift of hospitality is the ability to make our guests feel seen and heard and to put their needs ahead of our own, doing unto them and for them as we would have done unto ourselves.

God cares about us and for us and in sending Jesus, he put our needs ahead of his.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”

John 3:16-17 – NLT

Just like God to think of our needs and provide for them. May that be true of me, his ambassador, at his embassy, my home and my life.

Feeding the hungry, stomachs and souls.

What would it be like to grow up without parents? I know that some children do. It would be so sad and lonely. So many things I learned from my parents just through example, just by being around them, honesty, working hard, love, how to care for people, how to respect the property of others, how to forgive, how to resolve conflict, how to worship God, how to know that there is a God, and on and on. I know about God because my parents told me. Not everyone gets that foundation.

( thank you mom and dad)

Matthew 14 has the story of the feeding of 5000 men, not counting women and children, with 5 loaves and 2 fish.

“13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.”

The thing that stuck out to me as I read it this time is that Jesus said, “you give them something to eat.”

The disciples would be shown that what they had was enough because God can multiply, he can make it enough.

Personally this story says that I don’t have to have it all figured out. Mary and I are moving out past our comfort zone and I don’t know what the month of May will hold for us. What will our address be? I don’t know. Can I trust that the God who has supplied all of my needs so far will continue to be my Father God and supply me? Probably. The God who feeds 5000+ with 5 loaves and 2 fish is still working miracles today.

There are many people who don’t know about this miracle working God. I think Jesus is saying to those of us who know Him “you give them something to eat, you give them something to believe in in, you tell them about me”.

If that scares you like it scares me, the overwhelming need for God on this planet, we should remember the miracle, he used what they had and made it fit the situation. I guess we should look at the need and then ask the God of miracles to provide so we can tell our story.

Just like there are orphans growing up without parents, there are spiritual orphans living life without knowing about our Loving, miracle working God. The biggest
miracle he has performed is forgiving all of our sin.

Forgiveness is available today to all who will ask.

Two kinds of blind.

John 9

Blind to the giving of sight.

“13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”

16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”

But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.

17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”

The man replied, “He is a prophet.”

18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”

20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”

25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”

28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”

30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.”

It was one of the most miraculous things that Jesus did. He healed a man born blind. The Pharisees couldn’t see past the broken sabbath rule.

Jesus has come to heal.

They were annoyed with Jesus because he did heal. I am annoyed because he hasn’t healed yet, not completely. My grandson Jonah is getting better but it’s slow. I know 2 mothers who are bereft and bewildered because he didn’t heal their children’s cancer. Their babies had babies so now there are children without parents and parents without children.

God is not a genie that we control him. He is a loving father who knows best. We do not know but we ask believing that he can heal and that he will act.

I’m rambling. I went to my uncles funeral on Saturday and met my new granddaughter on Tuesday. Meanwhile 2 friends lost their kids to cancer. Life and death continue.

There is an eternity that sits just at the edge of our last breath. When we stop breathing we cross the border.

Jesus has come to forgive our sins and give us eternal life. Our bodies will die. We don’t know when or where or how. But we know it’s coming.

Have you decided yet? Who is this Jesus?

Just lacks finishing

One truth about Jesus and my life following jesus.

He won’t quit.

He will not give up on me.

He has plans for me and he will keep building toward that goal.

Even if I tear down what he’s doing as he’s doing it.

He will not quit on me.

This is true for all of us.

It is true for me and it is true for you.

Another thing that I believe is true for every follower of Jesus. At one time all of us will experience a version of what the apostle John experiences that he recorded in Revelation

“Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”
Revelation 5:1-6

There has to be a time when we see Jesus as the lamb slain. We have to see Jesus as the sacrifice for our sin


And we will see him as the Lion of Judah. Lions are the king of The jungle. Jesus is the king. Is. Not was. Jesus is the living King.

Romans 10:9-10 “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
Romans 10:9-10

These verses show us this same thing, Jesus as Lord, the lion, the king, and we believe that Jesus is the sacrificial lamb, that he died but now lives forever. The lamb that had been slain standing in the middle of the throne.

I encountered Jesus in these two ways. And now he promises to complete the project he has started in me.

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:3-6

My prayer for any and every person who reads this is that they will see Jesus as the Lion and the lamb and that they will do as I am doing, stumble on toward completion.

I do wood working. My favorite part of any project is the design and build part. I dislike the finish work part. The tedious sanding and coat after coat of paint. The filling in of nail holes and all the other things that go into “finishing”. Jesus loves it all, every part of the process, he doesn’t tire of it, any of it.

Where am I in my own finish process? I don’t know.

How do you see Jesus? Is he your Lion? Is he your Lamb? He wants to be.

The bright and steady

(A post from my memories)

On the way to work this morning I saw 3 things in the sky. I saw 2 stars that were bright enough to still be seen in the predawn light of a March 31st morning.

Those two “stars” turned out to be Saturn and Venus.

The third thing I saw was so brief and so unusual I’m not really sure I saw it. I was driving in a SE direction and I saw a bright orange light. It looked like a chunk
Of paper flying, like when an ember gets lifted out of a fire by the heat, but it was falling. It was only there for a second. My copilot Steve Selig didn’t see it at all.

Matthew 14 tells us about the end of John the baptists ministry.

“14 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”

3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.

6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.”

Johns place in the life of Jesus is so important yet so brief, it’s like that orange light I saw. It’s over before you can say “look over there!”

The time it took to do his job isn’t as important as the fact that he did the Job. He pointed the people to Jesus.

Ephesians 2:10 says that once we become believers in Jesus, we have a to do list to get done. I want so bad to see the entire list but God in his wisdom gives us one task at a time. Sometimes we may get a couple at a time but we don’t get to see the whole thing.

One thing we all have on the list is to go and make disciples, to tell our story of how Jesus has met us in our need and how he changed us.

I mentioned 3 things I saw. One was bright and brief. Two were bright and steady. Jesus is like that bright and steady light. He made the planets, hung them in the heavens. He died to pay for our sins and he rose from the dead to give us life, eternal life. Longer than the life of a planet.

Why is it called Good Friday if he dies that day?

Easter. It’s not about a dead guy. It is about a guy dying. Same guy. A guy died. He just didn’t stay dead.

My childhood and teen years were like this:

“What’s that? The church doors are open? Well then, we must attend. “ My mom.

Optional for guests. Mandatory for minor children.

Tradition tells me, We will be late. When we do arrive, We will smell of French fries, coffee and cigarette smoke. It was the perfume of the cafe my parents owned and operated.

We attended a Lutheran Church so the services were predictable; 3 hymns a 20 minute message and liturgy.

Sometimes there was a bonus.

Sometimes there was food in the fellowship hall in the basement.

Good Friday service In 1978 was just such a night. The service was somber but then there was food and noisy fellowship afterwards. It was winding down and my family was getting ready to leave. I had left something in the pew above us so I clambered up the stairs to grab it. The lights in the sanctuary were off, just the back lights by the alter and the cross on the wall. This year someone had added a rough wooden cross and it was standing on the platform between the pulpit and the lectern. The ladies of the church, two of them were ceremoniously draping the cross with a black cloth.

It suddenly hit me. This guy Jesus? The one we talked about, the one that had performed miracles. He healed. He delivered. He set free. He forgave. He brought back to life. That guy. He seemed so friendly. But tonight, for me in my understanding, he was dead.

He was dead. Even though there had been almost 2000 years elapse since it happened, the weight of the news hit me as though it had just happened that afternoon. I was washed over with grief and sadness.

I don’t recall the rest of that years Easter holiday. If I’m remembering it right, Our Pastor, a fantastic old school bible preacher Joe McGaw didn’t use the term Easter, he called it resurrection day. If I had been listening, maybe the Good Friday service and the resurrection day service would’ve brought me into faith sooner. I had other things to preoccupy me though, I had guys to hang out with, a pretty girlfriend, a 57 Chevy truck that wasn’t going to restore itself. I was busy. Too busy to connect the two pieces.

A few years went by and it all started to make sense. Well, not in a worldly way of making sense. But i understood that i was a sinner. God hated sin but he loved me. He sent Jesus to die, and that death, Jesus sacrificially dying for me, brought God and I back together. All of my sin was washed away by the blood that Jesus spilled dying for me.

Then 3 days after he died, death could not keep him any longer and he rose. The tomb was emptied by him, walking out of it.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.”

Jesus died. I am so sorry and yet so grateful. Jesus died But he didn’t stay dead. He rose from the grave.

Easter Sunday is a few days away. Resurrection day. We celebrate this event and would love for you to join us. We attend Ephrata Foursquare Church. Our service is st 10am. Most Christian Churches will be celebrating this Sunday so if you can’t make it to our service, please just pick one and join us in the celebration.

Whether or not you come to church, I hope that you will come to understand and believe the truth about Jesus.

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
1 Corinthians 15:1-8

Getting un-EnTangled

About 12 years ago we received a black iron obelisk. We set it in the yard and planted honey suckle at the base. 12 years have gone by and the obelisk has become invisible. The vines wrapped in and around and choked themselves and over grew and died off. It was time for a change. My job was to set the obelisk free. As I struggled to cut the vines free it made me think of a verse in Hebrews.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3 – NIV

Sin + time can leave our lives looking like this. Jesus has come to set us free. The Christian life is compared to running a race. It isn’t a sprint. It is a marathon. It is very hard to run a marathon but imagine running with these vines wrapped all around our legs. Difficult if not impossible. Jesus came to set us free to run unencumbered. Need help getting set free? Just ask him.

I originally wrote this post a while back. It popped up in my memories today. Today was also the day to read Psalm 32. Psalm 32 is about confession and repentance and forgiveness and freedom. I thought it fit here.

“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!”
Psalm 32:1-11 – NIV

Musical Chairs

Musical chairs

Me and God. Walking around a chair. The music is playing. I am determined to get that chair. God is just looking into my eyes. The chair is nice. It’s big. Big arms, covered in velvet and soft furs. It looks old. It looks royal. Then it dawns on me. It is a thrown. I want it. I have my game face on. God has a face on. It’s not a game face. It’s a face that says “I am present and involved” but it is not determined, it is kind and compassionate and loving and concerned.

When the music stops, I am going for that seat. But what do I win if I get it?

This scene is playing in my sleepy half dreaming brain. It’s 5:30 am. I’ve been awake since my alarm went off at 4:35. In reality I am in my recliner with my dog Piper snuggled up next to me, warm and content.

I slowly realize that I want that with God, to be snuggled up next to him, to be resting in his presence. But my dream/vision shows me another part of me really wants the throne.

In my dream, what is the moment when the music stops? Is it death? Or is it a decision point? At work we have a chart on how to do projects. There are several points in the process that are called decision gates. Yes or no. At each point a decision needs to be made. Back to the dream. When I am asked will I be the boss of me? Who gets the throne? Who gets to decide right or wrong?

I am reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 7, 21 ‘“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

Matthew 7:21-23 -NIV

In the back of mind there is the scene of heaven and God’s throne from John’s revelation playing. The throne and the one who deserves it and the one who will ultimately be seated there.

“Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.”

Revelation 5:1-14 – NIV

My sleepy dream state may have revealed my own struggles to relinquish the throne in my own head, heart and soul so now this morning I will join the declaration of those in heaven.

To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!

Welcome King Jesus! Like my wise puppy, May I be snuggled next to you and rest in confidence and peace while you rule and reign in my life!

Thinking very important thoughts…squirrel!

Facebook asks “what’s on your mind?”

I didn’t sleep well and my mind feels like a two year old on a sugar rush. I can almost hear the rapid random foot steps racing from thought to thought.

What’s on my mind?

Oh and that too.

Windshield wipers.
Push button.
Lord of the rings monster.
Mustard seed.
Mustard seed?
Tiny little mustard seed.

In Matthew 13 Jesus talks about the tiny mustard seed. He said the kingdom of God is like it.

“31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”’

I know about A man who lived 2000 years ago. I know what he said and what he did. He was from a different ethnic group than me, he spoke a different language. Thousands of kings and kingdoms has risen and fallen. 2 millennia have passed since he died. More importantly, 2 millennia have passed since he rose from the dead.

This man had 11 guys that were his disciples. Because of their faithfulness the tiny group of men have impacted the planet.

I found this on the internet:

“As of 2010, Christianity was by far the world’s largest religion, with an estimated 2.2 billion adherents, nearly a third (31 percent) of all 6.9 billion people on Earth,” the Pew report says. “Islam was second, with 1.6 billion adherents, or 23 percent of the global population.”Apr 2, 2015

Jesus said in Matthew 28, “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”’

In Luke 24 Jesus says this, “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Did I mention my mind behaving…squirrel….

I hope I am understanding the parable of the mustard seed. If I am the church has done well but is not finished. 2.2 billion believe. Good. We need to continue to care for and encourage each other.

4.7 billion do not believe. How many of those have heard the message that Jesus died to forgive our sins and rose from the dead to give us eternal life? Some will reject the truth. But some will believe and receive.

Today is a Good day to start sharing the good news.





Make like a tree and ….

Make like a tree and … the punch line to the old joke is leaf(sounds like leave) but today I will say make like a tree and repent.

I was doing my civic duty of social distancing by doing drive through at Rite Aid. I looked over at this tree and I saw this hook shaped branch. I thought wow! That branch completely changed direction and I felt like God said, “what is that a picture of Peter?” At first I didn’t recognize it but then I thought about repentance. Repentance is just that, a change in direction. Spiritually I was going my own way but it was in a direction that took me away from God. When I repented initially and every time since then, I get repointed to God.

This branch was growing straight down and down is the wrong direction for a branch. Branches need to grow up, up towards the sun and the light and life giving. But it was growing down. Away from the sun and light and life. But now it has turned and is growing straight up. Repentance. A change of direction.

Luke 15 has one of the greatest stories of repentance and reconciliation.

“Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:11-24 – NIV

Today would be a good day to repent and come to our father who loves us so much that he gave us Jesus to pay for our mistakes.

The greatest

C.S. Lewis from “Mere Christianity”

“How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with pride can say that they believe in God and appear to themselves very religious? I am afraid it means they are worshiping an imaginary God they theoretically admit themselves to be nothing in the presence of this phantom God, but are really all the time imagining how He approves of them and thinks them far better than ordinary people: that is they pay a penny worth of imaginary humility to Him and get out of it a pound’s worth of pride towards their fellow-men. I suppose it of those people Christ was thinking when when He said that some would preach about him and cast devils out in his name, only to be told at the end of the world that He had never known them. And any of us may at any moment may be in this death-trap. Luckily, we have a test. Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel good-above all, that we are better than someone else- I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether.”

Luke 22

“Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.”
Luke 22:24-27 – NLT

Following Jesus is upside down from any other system ever created. Leaders are servants. The greatest, Jesus, laid down his life for us all. He is our example.

When I see myself in that light, there is much room for improvement. I am not to become my best me, I am to become more like him.

Harvest is coming

Weeds. I hate them.

Sometimes weeds are just the right plant in the wrong place. Like violets growing in my grass or grass growing in my flower beds. So let’s not think about those when we say weeds. Let’s think about thistles.

Thistles spread in 2 ways. By seed but also through the root system. If you pull a thistle you are actually propagating new thistles. Every place on the main root system under ground where a plant broken off more grow back. It’s like Mickey in the sorcerers apprentice where every piece of the broom becomes another broom. Nightmarish!

I hate weeds. They are ever present. Weeds are a picture of sin. Weeds are also a picture of people with malicious and evil intent. Why does God allow weeds? Why does he allow people with evil intent to continue to live among us?

In Matthew 13 Jesus tells a story about weeds.

“24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”’

I love stories about heart changes, about redemption and things cast aside as useless being brought back in and used. This isn’t one of those stories.

There is a day coming for those “weeds” of this world where they will be gathered and burned.

It breaks my heart to know that not all people will be put in Gods barn. Everyone can be, but not everyone will choose to be in the barn. It is a choice we make.

Jesus explains the parable later in the chapter.

“36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

John says this in his book about good news:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

Who will we choose today?

We get to choose. I Choose the barn. I Choose Jesus. I Choose life.

And you? What is your choice today?

Who do I look like…?

Family resemblance. We look for it in our kids and in our grandkids. We tend to claim the good traits. Not so much those things that we wished we wouldn’t have passed on.

What is God’s will for our lives?

God’s will is that we would be made to be more like Jesus. He wants us to look like part of the family.

Romans 8:29
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

How is that possible? We are sinners and he is God/man, perfect in every way.

We can be Made to be more like Jesus when he is living inside of us. When he is the voice in our heart leading and guiding and correcting and reproving.

How can Jesus, who is God, live inside a human?

I don’t know how exactly how that it is accomplished but Gods Holy Spirit will come and live inside us when we receive Jesus as our Lord and savior.

What must we do to make that happen?

In Romans Paul said it works like this: “8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”[d] that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

Up to the point of us saying those words, “Jesus you are Lord”, we have been the boss of us, after saying those words Jesus will be the boss of us. We shouldn’t take that transition lightly. The management has changed.

What is next? Well, what happens when a new baby is born? The baby is swaddled and fed and cleaned and taught and the process is repeated millions of times over until the baby begins to feed and care for itself. A new Christian is a baby who will need care. Christian spiritual baby care is found in a healthy church and in healthy Christian friends.

We need to find our Christian family.

Matthew 12 Jesus talks about what makes up the Christian family.

“46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Find a church where the people exemplify Jesus.

Yes church is part of the Christian life like family is part of the human life. We need each other to support, care for, protect, teach, cleanse, diaper, feed, train and so much more. We need community. We need family. We need each other.

Weeding a wanton heart

It’s spring and it time to start preparing those garden beds. We clean them out, clear them out and if we don’t get back to them right away and get them planted they are immediately filled back in with a new crop of weeds.

Aristotle has said it, nature abhors a vacuum. If you remove one thing, other things rush in to fill the space.

This is true of our hearts as well as our world. In Matthew 12 Jesus says this about cleaning out a human heart.

“43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

When we accept Jesus as our savior he comes and lives inside of us. He lives in our hearts by his Holy Spirit.

John 14 says this; “23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

And in John 17 he prayed for us saying this; “20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Jesus wants to fill the vacuous void inside of us. If he doesn’t, something else will.

Will we let Jesus come and live in our hearts today?

More from C.S. Lewis

(From mere Christianity)

Remember that I said, that the right direction leads not only to peace but to knowledge. When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know either.”

“People often think of Christians morality as a kind bargain in which God says, “if you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.” I do not think that this is the best way to of looking at it. I would rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and other creatures, and with itself, or else one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with it’s fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”

Paul said this to the followers of Jesus in Corinth in his second letter to them.

“So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 – NLT

Our task is to be reconciling people to God. It’s a big job, a big world, a lot of people but God, and his love for us are bigger still.

What is the total and how do I erase it?

Is someone writing all of this down? My mistakes? My willful disobedience? Is there a record of wrongs in some file drawer? No human knows the total of my sin. No one person has the complete record of all of the wrong I have done. Well….Jesus is a man but he is also God…and He knows it all.

And yet…he has chosen to forgive me. All of it.

The next section of Matthew 12 Jesus mentions some notorious people. He doesn’t mention them to point out their sin, he mentions them to point out their state of being forgiven.

“38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”

39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.”

The religious leaders of Jesus day who prided themselves on a righteousness based on following the rules will be condemned by notorious sinners who repented.

Then let’s talk about The sign of Jonah, Jesus will die and be swallowed by death and the earth. This planet he created and the curse that was placed on it would swallow him. But not for long. Three days later he will rise from the grave and live forever. The earth and death and the curse of sin forever broken and beaten.

I quote this next verse a lot but it comforts me. I hope is does you too. I know I’ve done wrong, so does God. He knows it all and yet he has forgiven me.

“6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

I am forgiven. That is good news.

Have you heard it yet? We have been forgiven.

What is the totalHave you received it yet?

One more time…

(I found this post stuck in an unused folder on my computer, I don’t know if I have already posted it. It may be helpful to someone today so here it is).

1 John 3, Hosea and Romans 3

I was already reading through 1 John and I came to some verses in chapter 3 that sounded harsh. Maybe they wouldn’t sound harsh to someone who was behaving themselves, but to someone who struggles?

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has neither seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

1 John 3:4-10

How does that go? This isn’t about me, you see I have this friend…..

It has been months that I have been just kind of stuck here.

I have wanted to post about these verses but just have not been confident in my understanding. I still am not.

Then I felt like God said, let me help you understand me better, read Hosea.

Hosea is a book about a prophet who God told to marry a prostitute. But God had Hosea do this as a lesson for his people, the nation of Israel.

“When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.”

Hosea 1:2-3

They went on to have 2 more kids. And then they lived happily ever after. No. They did not. Gomer left Hosea and went back to prostitution.

Then God said this: “The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes. ” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.”’

Hosea 3:1-3

God loves people. He loves real people with real problems and real pasts full of baggage. God loves people who are sinners.

Later in the book Hosea writes some poetry, beautiful prophetic poetry. It predicts a time when Gods people will return to him.

““Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth. ”’

Hosea 6:1-3

After reading the Book of Hosea and thinking about God and his love of the wayward I felt prompted to reread Romans and in chapter 3 I was reminded that we are all “wayward”,

“What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

Romans 3:9-12

God loves sinners, the wayward, the lost, those of us sold into a lifestyle of sin. He loves us and has come to set us free.

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood —to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

Romans 3:20-26

We get no epilogue from the book of Hosea. We don’t know how the story ended. We don’t know what the end of our story is either. We do know this much, that God loves us so much that Just like Hosea bought his wife back from her pimp, God has sent his only son to die for us, to buy us back from whatever has us enslaved.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

John 3:16-18

God loves us and has bought us back. If we fall how we be rescued? God loves us and has bought us back. How many cycles do we get? How many times will God forgive and follow and free us? If there is a number I don’t know it.

Is there a word for this number? As many as it takes? As many as it takes to get us home.

If we have sinned and are now separated from God, if we are still breathing, there is still one more time left, one more time to repent and come back to our loving heavenly Father. One more time.

Use our words…

(A repost)

Matthew 12:33-37 Jesus continues to speak to the religious leaders. They have just said that Jesus is driving demons out by the power of Beezelbub, the prince of demons. I wanted to explain that so we can understand the tone of what Jesus will say next.

“33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

By our words we will be acquitted.

In Romans 10:9-10 we read this: ” If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. “

I don’t want to oversimplify salvation. Confession and belief. It is with the words we say that we will be saved, along with belief that Jesus rose from the dead.

Entering into a relationship with Jesus is simple. Maintenance of that relationship and growth in the knowledge of Jesus and how best to live, isn’t easy.

It’s like buying a car (or a truck, shout out to my truck Rusty, winter’s over and the hiway is calling buddy).

The purchase of the car and ownership of the car are not the same. Once the car is ours it becomes our responsibility to fuel it and regularly maintain it. If we don’t, that car will cease to function. Either it will run out of fuel or it will break from lack of maintenance. Once we are in relationship with Jesus we need to maintain that relationship. We need to spend time with him in prayer and reading the Bible, spend time with other Christians, Christians with a deeper faith that we can learn from, and ones with a newer faith than ours to help them with life.

The analogy breaks down when we look at the purchase. We aren’t buying our relationship with Jesus, rather he bought us. He bought us back from slavery to sin and death. He paid with his life by dying on the cross for us. He rose again from the dead guaranteeing us eternal life.

“6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

My biggest fear in writing these posts is that I will give incorrect or incomplete information about who Jesus is. I want the world to know him and believe in him. Believe today that Jesus died for our sins and 3 days later he rose from dead and is now alive forever.

It’s with our words that we will either be acquitted or condemned and today is good day to be acquitted.