Monday, December 26, 2016


I Was Just Thinking About – DISAPPOINTMENT.

Disappointment is “the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one's hopes or expectations.” Disappointment can easily lead one to discouragement (“a loss of confidence or enthusiasm; dispiritedness”). In other words, disappointment can become a type of slide into negativity. The Apostle Paul addressed how he overcame disappointments and discouragements in II Corinthians 1:8-10, “We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about the hardships we encountered in the province of Asia. We were under a burden far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, we felt we were under the sentence of death, in order that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. In Him we have placed our hope that He will yet again deliver us.”

Jesus was upfront with His disciples when he cautioned them in John 16:33, “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” The NLT renders the words of Jesus: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

The definition for disappointment included the the thought about one’s personal expectations. One will find in many family or church matters that the current of disappointment surges into one’s life and thinking when one’s expectations and anticipations are in the process of being dashed. When this occurs in the life of a Biblical Christian, there should be the eagerness to practice I Peter 5:7 and “Cast all your care upon Him (Jesus), because He cares for you. He never leaves or forsakes on of His own. We would do well to embrace the words of Moses to Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:7-8, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” This closing phrase in the NLT should be emblazoned in one’s life, “ He (The Lord) will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Friday, December 23, 2016


I Was Just Thinking About – BELONGING.
Some people live their lives apart from any sense of being wanted, needed, included, usable, of value or being an integral part of of that to which they aspire. They go through life being passed by. They are made to feel as though they are the proverbial square peg trying to fit into a round hole.
It struck me on December 21 when Our Daily Bread devotional – A Personal Story – began with this paragraph: “A baby just hours old was left in a manger in a Christmas nativity outside a New York church. A young, desperate mother had wrapped him warmly and placed him where he would be discovered. If we are tempted to judge her, we can instead be thankful this baby will now have a chance in life. This gets personal for me. As an adopted child myself, I have no idea about the circumstances surrounding my birth. But I have never felt abandoned. Of this much I am certain: I have two moms who wanted me to have a chance in life. One gave life to me; the other invested her life in me.”
We have a Great Grandson from Hungary and a Granddaughter from Ukraine who were adopted. The unique reality is that in this larger family no one thinks of Robi or Julia as “that adopted one” but as a son-daughter, Grandson-Granddaughter, or a Great Grandson who belongs in our growing family.
If we maintain a correct focus on the meaning and purpose of the Christmas season and what we are celebrating, we need to remember the words of summation in Galatians 4:4-5, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons/daughters. and because you are sons/daughters, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba! Father!” Simply stated, those who have been redeemed (purchased) are now part of God’s forever family and belong to Him. We can come at any time and about any matter to our “Abba, Father” and know that He will not turn us away.
In a very real sense, in His family, He will welcome us into His presence as a son/daughter of His who belongs. You will never again have to feel like the square peg attempting to fit into a round hole. You belong to Him and you are a perfect fit and securely in the grasp of the hand of God. Jesus reminded His followers of this reality in John 10:27-30, “My sheep hear My voice and I know them. And I give to them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone pluck (remove) them from My hand. My Father Who has given them to Me is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” By God’s grace, you belong to Him and are secure in Him.
Prayerfully – remember and consider these things with me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


I Was Just Thinking About – PREPARATION.

Holiday periods are unique. The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day are steeped with maintaining of family traditions and all of the planning and temporal preparation as individual celebrations take place. Merchants plan well ahead of this time of year because it is when their sales and revenues peak at their highest for the entire year.

While it is within one’s own personal radar that certain things will happen routinely during this period, there is always the last minute desperate seeking for that one more additional item. There is no concern for the cost per se – just the sense of wanting or needing it.
Spiritual preparation for Thanksgiving should have the obvious recognition that Psalm 100:4-5 (NLT) be part of our celebration inasmuch as we are directed to: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.”

In a similar way at Christmas, we should prepare to include the echoing of music sung by the angels – Luke 2:13-14 (NLT), “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

A final area of preparation is sometimes the one that is least attended to and that is in terms of where one will spend eternity. The clearly stated reason for the coming and birth of Jesus Christ is summarized in Galatians 4:4-5 where it states He came to redeem and to adopt a people who would be privileged to come before Almighty God and address Him as “Abba, Father.”

In the Old Testament, there was a time when the Lord sent all kinds of signs and warnings to get the people to return to Him – yet the people ignore them all. It reaches a climax in Amos 4:12-13, when God declares He will be ignored no longer. The signs and warnings will become the people’s reality – “Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, PREPARE TO MEET YOUR GOD, O Israel! For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—the LORD, the God of hosts, is his name! Have you – are you - prepared to meet your God?

Prayerfully – remember and consider these things with me!

Thursday, December 15, 2016


I Was Just Thinking About – SORROWING.

During my years of ministry, there have been instances in the latter part of the calendar year when people and families have experienced sorrow upon sorrow as  a multiple of deaths of loved ones and close friends have occurred. Sorrow is defined as: “deep distress, sadness, or regret especially for the loss of someone or something loved.” Paul touched upon this in Philippians 2:25-27 when he wrote about Epaphroditus: “He has been longing for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. He was sick indeed, nearly unto death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.”

One can only imagine the inner-anguish of parents whose children are being treated in facilities such as St. Jude’s or Shriner’s Hospitals. We have a six and a half year old Great Grandson who has been treated for ALL (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia) for the past four years of his brief life and who has more than a year ahead of further treatment and chemo. Some of what we appreciate is that his Mother writes regular reports about him and his treatment plan. Her posts are always filled with hope and expectation. Such hope is contagious. Our Great Grandson, despite the times of misery from his treatments, invariably responds with joy and a spirit that hasn’t given up.

For all of us, “Hope in the Lord” should be more than a slogan we utilize or frame. It is a reality that is an integral part of our faith and practice. When asked, “How can you say that?” – The response is because that is what Holy Scripture promises us. Revelation 21:3-4, “I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away.

Dear child of God, do not let your faith or hope waver. God’s promises are certain and sure. Rejoice in the Lord – He will accomplish all of His perfect will in your behalf. 

Prayerfully – remember and consider these things with me!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


In theology, a term used about God is that He alone is Omnipotent – all-powerful. In practical application, it is amazing how often that reality is forgotten. It has nothing to do with God’s ability to display His power, it has everything to do with our faith to believe that “our God is able…and He will” (Daniel 3:16-18).
II Chronicles 20:5-13 contains a public prayer by King Jehoshaphat. He recognizes God’s power in terms of the past but expresses his concern about what God’s power can or will be in the present. He prays:  “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you…But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir…Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.”
For us, there are two verses of Scripture regarding God’s available power in and for us that should be part of the conviction of our hearts. First, are these words of relationship in II Peter 1:3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Second is a passages that will test the measure of one’s faith and hope. Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us…”
Don’t be focused on personal weakness but focus on God’s strength. Don’t look at your situations and circumstances with helplessness and hopelessness but but look to His power that is in you to do immeasurably more than you can ask of imagine.
Prayerfully – remember and consider these things with me.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


I Was Just Thinking About – CASUALTIES.
The spiritual battlefield is littered with the wounded and fallen. A cause for this is addressed in today’s devotional by Dr. A.W. Tozer – NO TURNING BACK. 
“With large blocks of evangelicals praying and preaching like Christians while they live and talk like worldlings, how much longer may we expect them to remain evangelical? Apostasy always begins with the conduct. First there is a wrong orientation of the life, a facing toward the lost world with yearning and enjoyment; later there comes a gradual surrender of the truth itself and a slipping back into unbelief. That has happened to individuals and denominations and it can happen to the whole present evangelical communion if it is not checked before it is too late. For this cause, the facing-both-ways attitude of our present Christianity is something to be alarmed about. And if that attitude were the result of plain backsliding there would be much more reason for optimism. Unchristian acts done by a Christian through weakness and over the protests of his better heart may be bad enough, but they are not likely to be fatal. But when he does them with the sanction of his teachers and with the belief that they are all a part of the Christian way, how is he to be rescued?
VERSE: John 6:66
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
There is turning back which is deliberate and decisive. There is also that which is gradual and almost insensible. It is the latter to which we may be most vulnerable. We are in the world. Are we of it, too?
I am in this world but, Lord, I don’t want to be of it. Help me to discern the difference.”
As I reflected on the above, my prevailing thought was – What is our duty toward those who have fallen? Do we leave the wounded and fallen on the spiritual battlefield? Two thoughts occurred to me – – –
First: Jude 1:22-23 – “And indeed, have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; and to still others, show mercy tempered with fear, hating even the clothing stained by the flesh.”
Second: Galatians 6:1-2 – “Brothers, if someone is caught in a trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him with a spirit of gentleness. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the Law of Christ.”
Prayerfully – remember and consider these things with me!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


I Was Just Thinking About – A DAY OF INFAMY.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt used “Infamy” (a day that will be known for some very bad deed) to describe the horror and loss caused by the Japanese Invasion at Pearl Harbor. Cal Thomas has written a column about that horrific day 75 years ago – December 7, 1941. “Only five of the 335 men who survived the unprovoked attack that sunk the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941, remain alive. Donald Stratton, 94, is one of them. He has added to the historical knowledge of that day and the beginning of America’s entry into World War II in a new book, All the Gallant Men: The First Memoir By a USS Arizona Survivor. Typical of so many men of that era, the book is…more about the men with whom he served. According to the book, total casualties at Pearl Harbor on that fateful day amounted to 2,403 dead and 1,176 wounded. Many of his shipmates lie interred in the bowels of the Arizona, which still secretes oil, a constant reminder to “never forget.” 

The byword emerging from that fateful day is – "Remember Pearl Harbor." To Remember – is to bring to mind or think of again; to retain in the memory. There is a much greater day of infamy that one is called upon to Remember. It should be purposeful for the Biblical Christian to properly celebrate the day of the birth of Jesus Christ. In doing so, one should never forget “Why” He was born. John the Baptist summarized it when he saw Jesus Christ – John 1:29 – “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Again – in John 1:36 – “When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, Look, the Lamb of God!” People in that day were better able to conclude and equate the meaning of what John was saying, namely, Lamb and Sacrifice was being used synonymously. 

Jesus spoke to His disciples about a day of infamy coming very soon in their experience – His death. During a Passover meal – Luke 22:19 – Jesus “took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying: This is My body, given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” When Paul reflected back on that Last Supper statement, he incorporated it when he was establishing the parameters for such times set aside to “Remember.” 

In I Corinthians 11:23-26, Paul wrote: “I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: that the Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said: This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me…after supper He took the cup, saying: This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

Spiritually, this Day of Infamy is remembered in terms of one’s relationship to Jesus Christ. It is determinative in terms of where one will spend eternity – therefore – Remember His death. Remember that eternal life and heaven is available only in Him.

Prayerfully – consider and remember these things with me! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


I Was Just Thinking About – MISFITS.

A meaningful television special based upon the story and characters of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Island of Misfit Toys is worth watching. The misfit toys are cute but do not fit the stereotype usually associated with them. Part of the storyline includes toys that have been discarded because they have gotten old or worn and a child wants something new and more current. There is a multi-spotted elephant; a train with square wheels on the caboose; a Charlie in the box; two tin (rather than wooden) soldiers; a winged bear; a cowboy who rides an ostrich; etc.  These toys are isolated on an Island because they do not meet the expectation of those who have a special toy in mind and how it should function.

In many ways, this animated fictional story has a true-to-life sound and application to it. In the ebb and flow of life, some in the older generation are forgotten by the younger generation, ignored or shoved aside (at least, it seems as though that is the case). In a previous Blog, mention was made of “the least of these” and those who sense they are unneeded or unwanted. In such a time of sensing personal uselessness, some people despair and become overwhelmed with hopelessness. In a study by Psychology Today (2012), the following summary was written: “In the United States, nearly 30,000 people die by suicide each year, and the rate of attempted suicide is much higher. Worldwide, suicide claims more deaths than accidents, homicides, and war combined. And many cases of suicide, particularly in the elderly, go completely undetected and unaccounted...”

In a world that had become weary and hopeless, we read this following Biblical statement in Galatians 4:4-7 (NLT),  “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, ‘Abba, Father’ Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” 

When I was a child, a chorus sung in Sunday School was: “Jesus loves the little children; All the children of the world; Red and Yellow – Black and White, all are precious in His sight; Jesus loves the little children of the world." Peter expressed it differently when he wrote, I Peter 2:9-10, “You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” Never forget – you are not a Misfit. Hope and acceptance is available for you in Jesus Christ. You are special and precious in His sight. 

Prayerfully – consider these things with me!

Saturday, December 3, 2016


I Was Just Thinking About – THE LEAST OF THESE.

There are many, many people who go through life being unnoticed and with little or no recognition. They can be people who are the poor among us or they can be people who have sought to serve others in various professions. For some of them, exclusion and loneliness has been a lifetime experience.

A couple of years ago, I authored a book titled Realizing Significance that chronicled just a small sampling of people who have faced handicaps and existed within the category seen as little people. The theme text of that book was a phrase taken from Mark 4:36, “there were also other little” boats with them.” A point made was that when a raging storm became a reality, the disciples in a larger boat were concerned for their lives and safety but no mention was made of a concern for “the other little boats that were also in that storm. It was significant that Francis Schaeffer made the purposeful statement in his writing titled True Spirituality that: There are No Little People and No Little Places. When referencing those deemed “little people” he added, “there are only consecrated or non-consecrated people.” A hymn that is sometimes sung at Missionary Consecration Services is: So Send I You. The first stanza contains these words - -
So send I you to labor unrewarded,
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown.
To bear rebuke, or suffer scorn and scoffing
So send I you to toil for Me alone.

In Matthew 23:11-12, Jesus reminded the crowds and His disciples: “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” A short time after, Jesus states this criterion for entering His Kingdom, Matthew 25:31-46 – The Separation Of The Sheep and Goats. Jesus mentioned how the sheep and goats differed in their approach to “the least of these, My brethren.” He measured the sheep and goats – their observations, actions or inactions - based upon verses 35-36, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” When they inquired about “when” this had been done, Jesus replied with His “least of these” statement. If one ministered to the “least of these, one ministered to Jesus Himself. If one ignored the least of these, Jesus declared one had ignored Him.

A person should never feel or believe he is unneeded or unnecessary. No one is on this planet for personal recognition even though there are those who strive for it and receive it. We are here to serve Jesus Christ so that whether by life or by death, He alone is magnified and glorified (Philippians 1:20-21). 

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Friday, December 2, 2016


I Was Just Thinking About – WISHFUL THINKING.

Throughout the history of philosophy, there has been a struggle between the ideal and the real. There was the ongoing distinction being made between universals, ideals and reality. Plato gave expression to these tensions when he allowed: “Universals do indeed exist, although not in the same way that ordinary physical objects exist, but in a sort of ghostly mode of existence, outside of space and time, but not at any spatial or temporal distance from people's bodies. Thus, people cannot see or otherwise come into sensory contact with universals, and it is meaningless to apply the categories of space and time to them, but they can nevertheless be conceived of and exist.” His thinking would be described as a man seated in a cave facing a blank wall where only the shadows of the ideal would be projected and his understanding of the real would become his reality.

Does this impact us today in any way. A sports story of the Football Game between the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings last night begins with this statement: “For Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, the hyperbole has turned into reality. Those who gushed over him in the preseason, lavishing over-the-top praise, have found those compliments to be just and warranted.” The word “ideal” could easily be substituted for the “hyperbole” usage.

The world of politics is sometimes blatant with its struggle between the ideal and the real. Cal Thomas writes today about former UN Ambassador John Bolton being interviewed for the position of Secretary of State and employs this Bolton quote: “Negotiation is not a policy. It’s a technique. It’s something you use when it’s to your advantage, and something that you don’t use when it’s not to your advantage.” That, Cal Thomas asserts, is the opposite of wishful thinking.

If one set out to pursue the tension between the ideal and real in the Holy Scriptures, many volumes would be required. One situation pertains to the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul would argue this matter at the outset of I Corinthians 15 and the many witnesses to the actual appearances and reality of the resurrected Jesus Christ. At the outset, there was the moment in John 20:19-29 when the resurrected Jesus appeared in the midst of His disciples. Thomas was missing. When the others exuberantly told him of this reality, he doubted, and dismissed their report as probably “wishful thinking” on their part. He set forth his criteria of accepting their “ideal” and his “reality” when he said: “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands, and put my finger where the nails have been, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe.” He was overwhelmed when Jesus appeared again and told Thomas to do what he required about the nail-prints and riven-side. After doing so, his reality was expressed when he said: “My Lord and my God!” Are you a wishful thinker who tinkers with ideals versus the real, or have you by faith and commitment the reality of Who Jesus Christ is and what He requires of one’s committed life to Him?

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


I Was Just Thinking About – IF ONLY.

The following is copied from today’s devotional (December 1, 2016): Get More Strength For The Journey by Joseph Stowell. The title is: “What Can I Do To Help?” The text used is Galatians 6:1-2, Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

The thought that occurred to me was IF ONLY the Body of Christ would act and react in the manner described by this text. A question raised is: What is our “first response when we encounter trouble in the life of someone else, especially when it’s the result of sin?”
The devotional continues: “It’s easy to want to blow off the problem so that we don’t have to get involved in it. We usually feel that we have enough burdens of our own and don’t need anyone else’s. Which makes it easy to respond with gossipy criticism like, “I knew it! That person has been headed for disaster for years.” Or we can’t wait to tell someone about the struggles of another, anxious to affirm our own self worth through a juicy tale or two. Other times our response is even more sinister. We give vent to a sense of self-righteous judgment: “That’s unbelievable! I certainly would never do that!” Why is it that seeing trouble in the lives of others so often gives way to a sense of religious superiority as we draw the conclusion that we are somehow more worthy and less in need of grace than the person in the ditch? It’s so easy to forget that as rebellious, disobedient people, none of us deserves God’s favor and blessing. We can’t miss what Paul is saying here. He gently reminds the Galatians that the responsibility of the believer, when faced with a sin-snared life, is to “restore.” Pause here for a moment. Paul doesn’t say to “condemn.” Paul doesn’t say, “Preach against.” He doesn’t say, “Tell someone else.” Rather, he tells us to ‘RESTORE.’ In fact, he tells us how to restore—‘GENTLY.’”

Think about the IF ONLY transparency situations in which you have been or are involved where the response has been anything anything but “RESTORE GENTLY!” I have seen and felt the pain of others (as well as my own) when transparency was attempted and “RESTORE GENTLY” was absent.

The devotional includes: “When a friend, loved one, family member, or fellow Christian is snared in sin, the first thing that should be on our lips is, “How can I help?” Paul goes on to remind us that we are all in need of grace—that we must be on guard, as well, against the same snares that entangle others. He also reminds us that “carrying one another’s burdens” is part and parcel of what it means to live as a Christ-follower.

Prayerfully – consider these things with me!