Don’t Take One Without The Other

Chapter 2 of Mark opens with a story about great faith.  Four men ripped a hole in the roof of a house to lower their paralyzed friend down to Jesus because the crowd prevented them from getting into the house any other way. You’d have to be pretty sure of the outcome to go to those extremes to get what you need.  What they were seeking was healing for their lame friend.  But Jesus, upon seeing this man, said “Your sins are forgiven.”  Why would Jesus tell him his sins were forgiven when it was rather obvious he was in need of a physical healing?   And, of course, upon saying this, the religious teachers that were there thought this was blasphemy, because, after all, only God can forgive sins.  These were their thoughts, but the Bible says they didn’t actually verbalize them.  So the fact that Jesus addressed their “thoughts” should have given them a clue to who He was.  Jesus was very clever. He went on to ask them which was easier to do – to tell a paralyzed man his sins are forgiven or to tell him to stand up and walk.  In other words, to forgive him of his sins or heal him.  Jesus knew that these men knew that only God could do either but in forgiving sins, who would really ever know.  The physical healing, however, required evidence, so that would be the more difficult of the two. So if Jesus could heal him, then He could also forgive him of his sins.  Jesus then told them He would prove that the Son of Man (referring to Himself) had the authority on earth to forgive sins.  And, we all know that Jesus did heal the paralyzed man, thus proving His point. Do you believe that God forgives us when we sin.  Most people have no problem believing that He does.  But, for some reason, we struggle with healing.  Your forgiveness and your healing were both bought and paid for together on the cross.  Don’t receive one without the other!

5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. 6  Isaiah 53:5 (NLT)

13 As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14 (NLT)

Blessings of Liberty!

This year will be 241 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  But the Constitution of the United States did not go into operation until 1789 and it was the Constitution which created our federal government. The Preamble lays out the purpose of the Constitution which was (and still is):  to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, to insure domestic tranquility, to provide for the common defense, to promote the general welfare and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. And it’s those blessings of liberty which separate us from many nations of the world.  As was earlier stated in the Declaration of Independence, we were endowed by our Creator with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  It’s so very sad to think that not everyone in the world can do this.  And it’s sad to think there are those in our own government who speak about changing our Constitution, which was divinely inspired by God into the hearts of godly men.  Let’s not forget one of the most important parts of the Preamble which is found right at the start – We the people!  We must remember that it’s not the government nor the people elected to run it that make America tick. Because of the God-given blessing of liberty, America has hard working, self-sacrificing, imaginative, insightful, risk-taking, humble but at the same time so very proud people – on the backs of whom America was built.  God has blessed this nation because we have acknowledged Him since our humble beginnings.  It has been God’s hand over our nation and His blessing over our people that have made America the place where so many want to live.

1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.  3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 1 Timothy 2:1-3 (NLT)

20 He said, “Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. 21 He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. Daniel 2:20-21 (NLT)

Are You a Reflector?

The ceiling in our daughter’s former  bedroom has glow-in-the-dark star stickers stuck all over it.  She put them there when she was a young girl.  These stickers continue to absorb the light that comes into the room during the daytime, and then at night, when the lights are turned off, they reflect that light. I just haven’t had the desire to take them down because they remind me of wonderful times.  But they also remind me of something else – when we spend time in the presence of God, we soak in His light and His glory.  And over time spent absorbing God’s glory, it is reflected, out of us.  It can actually be seen!  After Moses spent 40 days and nights with God receiving the ten commandments for the second time, his face radiated God’s glory and he wasn’t even aware of it!  But Aaron and the people saw it.  We become a reflection of God’s light, His love and His glory in a tangible way when we spend good quality time with God. After all, God made us for His Glory!

29 When Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the LORD. 30 So when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him.  Exodus 34:29-30 (NLT)

7 Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’”  Isaiah 43:7 (NLT)

2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. Isaiah 60:2 (NKJV)

Hats Off To The Dads!

Today, our hats are off to all you fathers out there.  For each of us, our experiences and memories of our fathers are all very different because fatherhood may take on many forms.  There are, of course, our birth fathers, without whom we wouldn’t be here. Then there are adopted fathers and step-fathers who made the selfless decision to be a dad.  And when dad is absent from the scene, there are grandfathers and uncles who step up to the plate to fill the role of dad. Then there are those who didn’t really know a father until they had a father-in-law. And there may be nothing tougher than the single father who has to fill the roles of both mom and dad.  No matter what the circumstance though, fatherhood is a tough thing.  The pressures can be immense.  But, at the very same time, it is the most rewarding and important role a man will ever take on. God has given us the awesome responsibility to mold and shape the life of another person.  He has entrusted man to be the provider for and caretaker  of one (or several) of His precious creations.  Our Heavenly Father is there to help because He is the ultimate Father of us all.  Our prayer for all the dads out there would be for our Father God to lead and guide you each day in your role as father, to celebrate with you your successes, to encourage you when you struggle, and to speak to you when you don’t have the answers.  He is our example of what unconditional love is so we can impart it to our children.  No matter in what capacity you fill the role of father, allow your Heavenly Father to help you!

6 Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)

6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (NLT)


Don’t Get Tossed By The Storm

Storms are a part of life.  In nature, we experience storms of various kinds:  thunderstorms, snow storms, hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.  Depending on the fierceness of the storm, we can weather it without much effect or it could be devastating.  One day Jesus set out in a boat with His disciples and said “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.”  He promptly fell asleep in the boat.  The Bible tells us a fierce storm rose up. If you have ever been on a boat in even just rough water, you know how it rocks and tosses the boat around.  It would be very difficult to sleep through.  But this was a fierce enough storm that the waves raged against the boat and it was filling with water.  The men with Jesus were naturally very afraid and they woke Jesus up and said to Him, “Master, Master, we’re going to  drown!”  So He spoke to the storm “Be still!” and it did!  When Jesus entered the boat He didn’t say “Let’s hope we make it to the other side” or “Let’s get in this boat and hope we don’t drown today”.  Whatever Jesus said is what happened!  Or in other words, He spoke out what He wanted to happen.  He told the storm to stop and it did.  He said they were going to the other side of the lake and they did and no storm would stop them.  Even if He didn’t command the storm to stop, they still would have made it to the other side because He said they would.  Life also brings storms of a different kind as in personal crises such as loss of a job, death of a loved one, betrayal of a trusted friend or relative, financial collapse, etc.  How we weather these storms can vary as well.  But one thing that can ensure a better outcome is the presence of God in our lives.  He will see you through any storm. Don’t set sail without Jesus in your boat!

Luke 8:22-25 (NLT)
22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out.  23 As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. 24 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm!  25 Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

Poppies – In Remembrance!

Have you ever wondered why poppies are passed out and worn on Memorial Day?  What is their significance?  In 1915, during World War I, a Canadian Lieutenant Colonel named John McCrae was serving in Belgium near the Ypres-Yser canal. During the war, this area, known as Flander’s Field, had been destroyed. But McCrae had noticed something.  Amidst the death and destruction, a symbol of life had emerged.  Around the site where the soldiers had buried their fallen brethren, thousands of  vibrant red flowers (poppies) had bloomed.  Out of his overwhelming emotion at this sight, he penned the poem “In Flanders Field.” Subsequently in response to this poem, a military volunteer named Moina Michael composed another poem titled “We Shall Keep the Faith” and she began efforts to have the poppy recognized as the official memorial symbol.  Her efforts were eventually endorsed by the National American Legion, which still currently hands out red poppies to remind us of those fallen.  Below are both poems.  God bless all those who have fallen in the name of freedom and liberty!

by John McCrae 

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved and now we lie,
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw,
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us, who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow,
In Flanders Fields.

by Moina Michael 

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.


For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends.
John 15:13 (The Passion Translation)

Just One of the Boys?


Have you ever wondered why Jesus could do no mighty works in his hometown of Nazareth?  Prior to  His visit to Nazareth, Jesus has been exercising divine power over sickness and disease, over nature, over demons and even over death.  But when He returned to His hometown and ministered in the synagogue there, the Bible says the people refused to believe Him and were deeply offended by Him.  But why?  These people had witnessed Jesus growing up.  They knew his family, his mother, his brothers and sisters.  In other words, Jesus was “common” to them.  They took a “just one of the boys” mentality toward Jesus and they didn’t see or even refused to acknowledge the greatness that was before them.  It wasn’t that Jesus couldn’t do miracles in Nazareth – No, Jesus wouldn’t force Himself on people where He was not wanted.  Jesus’ objective wasn’t to impress people.  So if they chose not to receive Him, then He would move on to those who would.  Are there people in your life that have been placed there for a purpose?  Be sure you haven’t become so familiar with them that you might miss out on a blessing.     

4 Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” 5 And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any mighty miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then Jesus went from village to village, teaching the people. Mark 6:4-6 (NLT)

Happy Mother’s Day!

The female gender of every species (except for maybe seahorses) is the gender that births new life.  Women have the very special honor of being created with the ability to bear children.  Most men are probably thankful for that.  Pregnancy does takes its toll on our bodies, that’s for sure –  morning sickness, and for many women it’s also noon and nighttime too – stretching our skin and bellies beyond our comprehension, craving some foods but also getting queasy at the very thought of others – swollen ankles and feet, that at some point, you can’t even see anymore – having to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes – and dare I say it, the dreaded H word – hemorrhoids! And we don’t even have to  mention pushing an 8 pound object out of your you-know-what! Apologies for the graphics, but are you getting the picture? Despite all these effects of pregnancy, I don’t know a woman who would say that it isn’t all worth it!  The moment your eyes behold those tiny fingers and toes and that scared little face utters his first cry, the trials of the past nine months seem to vanish. So much so that many women choose to do it over and over again!  God is the only one that I usually refer to using the word “awesome”, but the processing of birth and bringing new life into this world may well be deserving of this adjective.  To all the moms out there, we want to wish you a very happy and a very blessed Mother’s Day.  You deserve it!

28 Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied); and her husband boasts of and praises her, [saying], 29 Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], but you excel them all. Proverbs 31:28-29 (AMP)

Pray with Power!

Often times, many believers consider the Sword of the Spirit, or God’s Word, as the last weapon in the Armor of God.  But it is very curious why, after mentioning all these other weapons, that God follows up with instructions to pray!  Prayer is another powerful weapon mentioned in verse 18 that we have at our disposal at any moment of any day that we can initiate to set the spiritual world ablaze! – and specifically praying in the Spirit which is prayer that is lead by the Holy Spirit reinforced with the power of the Holy Spirit!  In the military, if a troop or squadron is faltering, what happens?  Reinforcements are sent in.  Consider the Holy Spirit your reinforcement!  He is released into a battle to seal the deal!  When we pray in the Spirit, we are praying out God’s perfect will into a situation. There is no better way of getting the mind of Christ in a matter!  In no other realm or kingdom could you ever just freely talk to the leader or head of state.  If you wanted to talk to the President of the United States, I’m sure you would run into many obstacles and objections if you tried calling him or walking into the oval office.  Not so with our God!  Access to Him is 24/7!  No appointment needed, no security clearance needed, no permission needed!  God is just a prayer away!

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Jude 1:20 (NIV)

So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. 1 Corinthians 14:15 (NIV)

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26 (NIV)

Sword of the Spirit

Have you ever heard the cliché of “saving the best for last”?  Well, the next, but generally considered the most important of the weapons in our arsenal, is the Sword of the Spirit.  It doesn’t take any interpretation to know what this means as the Scripture clearly tells us that the Sword of the Spirit is God’s Word.  We have seen that each of the other pieces of armor are all defensive weapons.  The Sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon in the group. We can take it and charge forward against our enemy and there is absolutely nothing he can do to defend himself against it.  His arsenal is completely useless against God’s Word.  This is clearly demonstrated to us when Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days before beginning His earthly ministry.  Satan’s attempts to entice Jesus to sin proved futile.  Each time Jesus ambushed Satan with the one thing he has no defense against – God’s Word!  Satan’s strategy was smart – hit your opponent at his weakest.  Jesus had just spent 40 days without food and would most certainly be vulnerable and frail by this point.  But even in your weakest moments, when the Word of God is in your mouth, it pierces through the bleakest situation and creates the victory that will put you over!  It is the creative force that sets God in motion on your behalf!  The Word of God is the most powerful weapon you have.  Use it!

17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17 (NLT)

3 …..  that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:3 (NKJV)

16 You must not test the LORD your God as you did when you complained at Massah. Deuteronomy 6:16 (NLT)

13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Deuteronomy 6:13 (NIV)