Monday, July 31, 2017


I Was Just Thinking About – CUSTOMS.

One of the things in the Holy Scriptures that cause God’s indignation is the various customs of the people. This is especially true when people begin to make substitutes for Him. One of the Biblical references that express this is Jeremiah 10:2-5, "This is what the Lord says: Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them. For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.”

As a boy, I grew up in a neighborhood where the people were mostly from Europe and very steeped in their religion. The Church would have Feast Days and parade through the streets carrying their statues, saints and idols. People would come out of the tenements and kneel, or make the sign of the cross, and give money to the statue of their choice. Their money was clipped to a sash that was draped over the statue. These people would utter their prayers while holding their beads (Rosary) as the parade passed by – all of this in attempt to seek favor from “God” and answers for special requests. The people were doing this with reverence and sincerity – BUT – they were sincerely wrong. Why were they wrong? What crucial facts were being missed?

First, the first two commandments, Exodus 20:3-5, “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them.”

Second, I Timothy 2:1,5-6, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people…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.”

Third, Hebrews 7:23-27, “There have been many priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood…He always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” We are to come to Jesus directly. He is The One seated at the right hand of God.

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Monday, July 24, 2017


I Was Just Thinking About – WRONG WAY CORRIGAN.

Douglas Corrigan was among the mechanics who had worked on Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis aircraft in 1927.  In 1938, he bought a 1929 Curtiss Robin aircraft off a trash heap, rebuilt it, and modified it for long-distance flight. In July 1938, Corrigan piloted the single-engine plane nonstop from California to New York. His goal was to attempt a trans-Atlantic flight. Aviation authorities deemed it a suicide flight. Instead, they would allow Corrigan to fly back to the West Coast, and on July 17 he took off from Floyd Bennett field, ostentatiously pointed west. However, a few minutes later, he made a 180-degree turn and vanished into a cloudbank to the puzzlement of a few onlookers. Twenty-eight hours later, Corrigan landed his plane in Dublin, Ireland, stepped out of his plane, and exclaimed, “Just got in from New York. Where am I?” He claimed that he lost his direction in the clouds and that his compass had malfunctioned. His “wrong way” was deliberate.

However, a person can be in a place where they are unexpectedly lost. This occurred one dark and misty night as my wife and I travelled on a road we had used before. At a crucial point where we needed to turn left, on-coming cars, with their upper beams on, prevented us from seeing a crucial turn we needed to make. As we travelled on, it soon became apparent we were on a wrong road. The paved road was now dirt and gravel. The road was becoming more and more narrow with deep ditches on either side of the road. We stopped and decided we needed to get turned around and try to locate the road we needed to be on. It occurred to us that it is much easier to try to proceed on the wrong road than it is to get turned around and be on the correct one. Very carefully, we started to back down the narrow road with deep ditches on either side. Only our backup lights granted us any indication of how the slow progress was going. We finally got to a place where we could maneuver the vehicle and get it turned around. With a sigh of relief and gratitude, we did so.

Some Scripture has come to mind since that experience. Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.” Also, Jesus stated forthrightly, Luke 13:3, (NIV) “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (AMP) “Unless you repent [change your old way of thinking, turn from your sinful ways and live changed lives], you will all likewise perish.” In other words, if one hopes to enter God’s heaven, he or she must get turned around and head in the direction of God alone. Psalm 1:1 states what is necessary and required: “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.” This is God’s right and only way to please Him and to be on the right path rather than the wrong way.

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.


Thursday, July 20, 2017


I Was Just Thinking About – UNFAIRNESS.
We live in a world that can easily be described as unfair. UNICEF reports: “Time is running out for millions of children, unless the world acts now. Famine and lack of a reliable food supply are threatening the lives of approximately 80 million people - more than half of them children - in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen, and in nine additional countries across Africa and the Middle East.  The numbers of children under threat are enormous. More than 2.5 million face imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition. Approximately 4 million children and adolescents may not be able to go to school. Almost 17 million people - including many children - will need lifesaving vaccines, medicine and healthcare. Caused by war, intractable violence, displacement, climate change and drought, this man-made crisis menaces the following countries: (a) Lake Chad Basin: Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria; (b) Eastern Africa: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda; (c) Middle East/Northern Africa: Djibouti and Yemen.
The United States has its share of unfairness where there have been millions of abortions. Those not aborted are often unwanted. Some have been abused; others placed in the Foster Care System; and thousands eligible and available and waiting for adoption.
On the health front, the news reports today of a US Senator who has been suddenly afflicted with an aggressive form of Brain Cancer. The news outlets repeat that he will be kept in our “prayers” for healing. Meanwhile, in hospitals such as Shriner’s and St. Jude’s; there are hundreds of children – mostly unnoticed or unknown – who are suffering all kinds of maladies. It seems so unfair that these little ones have such challenging and debilitating maladies. While a US Senator gets national attention, there are little ones suffering equally who receive limited attention – one lad who has spent almost three-fourths of his life receiving treatments for leukemia – only to learn that it has aggressively returned. The nation will not hear about him nor will they respond accordingly - it seems so unfair.
A Hymn Lyric asks: Does Jesus care when my heart is pained, Too deeply for mirth or song, As the burdens press, And the cares distress, And the way grows weary and long? The refrain answers: O yes, He cares, I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief. We are reminded in I Peter 5:7, “Cast all your care (anxiety) on him (Jesus) because he cares for you.” And then, in Psalm 55:22, “Cast your cares (burdens) on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” This is our faith, hope and confidence.
Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


I Was Just Thinking About – VERBAL TATTOO.
In the past few years, we have seen an increase of the number of people desiring to mark their skin with a Visual Tattoo (or several tattoos). While there is a possibility for them being surgically removed, it is not without pain and some scarring. My focus is upon the Verbal Tattoos that attempt to label a person or persons.
In a recent Blog, I made mention of Howard Hendricks and the major contribution he made in the lives of countless thousands of people and students. In the beginning of his life’s-journey, he was anything but a model student. He grew up in Philadelphia, PA. He wrote the following about his early life of being raised in a broken home: “My parents separated when I came along. I split the family. His father’s mother reared him, and he described himself as a ‘troublemaker’ during his elementary school years, probably just ‘acting out’ a lot of insecurities. ‘Most likely to end up in prison’ was the assessment of his fifth-grade teacher in Philadelphia. Once she even tied him to his seat with a rope and taped his mouth shut. Yet everything changed for that boy when he met his sixth-grade teacher. He introduced himself to Miss Noe, and she told him: ‘I’ve heard a lot about you. But I don’t believe a word of it.’ Those words would change his life. She made him realize for the first time that someone cared.” 
What is said about other people can marginalize them - scar them - for life. It can become a Verbal Tattoo that marks a person. There was once a young minister who did not have the “connections” for advancing in a denomination. When his name came up for consideration, one church leader indicated that in his opinion, this man was a “blunder-buss” (a clumsy, unsubtle person). For better or for worse, that opinion was passed along to others. We need to be very careful with the use of words that are used by us to define another person.
What should be the guideline that governs what we say about others. The first thought that should come to mind by the Biblical Christian is Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Emphasis on the words: “value others” and “the interests of others.” Similarly, in Romans 12:3, we are reminded: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” We should always have in mind Romans 15:7, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
You may have been marginalized by the Verbal Tattoo of another person. Put that behind you and know that Jesus thought of you as a person of possibilities when he redeemed you. Follow Him wholeheartedly. It is His opinion of you that matters the most.
Prayerfully – consider these things with me!

Sunday, July 16, 2017


I Was Just Thinking About – DISCOMFORT ZONES.

If given a choice, most would prefer the COMFORT zone rather than the DISCOMFORT one. What are some of the discomfort zones of life. The list can be long and varied. It could include grief due to the loss of a loved one or a very close friend. It might reflect a prevailing malady for which one receives treatment and care but hope of remedy and cure is not the calculation. The malady may not be life-threatening but causing one degrees of limitation. The Wounded Warriors, those who served the nation in areas of conflict, come to mind. A subtle area of discomfort is the pursuit of happiness in life’s situations. Especially when one finds it to be more of an illusion than a reality. A debilitating discomfort zone is where one struggles with depression. Medications fail to bring recovery or meaningful relief.

The Apostle Paul shared his heart when he wrote about a “thorn in the flesh” that limited him and made travel and ministry more difficult for him. He wrote about it in II Corinthians 12:7-10, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me: My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

David led a very active life and faced all kinds of challenges. In some of the Psalms written by him, he often makes reference to fear and anxiety. He would write using the words “Fret not!” He had in mind the world in which he was living and the manner in which evildoers seemed to prevail unencumbered. In Psalm 23:4, David wrote: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” The “rod” would be for correction and discipline; the “staff” for guidance and direction.
Regardless of where one finds himself/herself and the discomfort that is connected to it, the Lord still holds His children in the protective hollow of His hand – the place of safety and reassurance. Isaiah 43:1-3 reminds us: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One…your Savior.”

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Saturday, July 15, 2017


I Was Just Thinking About – THE STRUGGLE WITH GUILT.

There are many things in life’s experience that can cause one a moment, or a prolonged sense of guilt. There are always the “If Only” situations that occur on a personal level. Last year, I had committed myself to calling my brother at least twice a week (three times was my goal). My brother had not been well for an extended period of time. I normally would’ve called him by July 9th but that day included many other things and I never got around to it. July 10th was a Sunday and we were busy with travel and activities. On July 11th, it never crossed my mind to call him. But then, on July 12th, I received an early call that my brother and his wife sat down at the table for a light Breakfast. His wife had to leave the room briefly. When she returned, his head was on the table and he had breathed his last breath.

There are other areas of our lives where guilt can become (or should be present) where (a) forgiveness needs to sought or granted – but hasn’t been; (b) someone has been offended, or been the cause of a personal offense, and Matthew 5:23-24 has been ignored; (c) words, deeds and actions for which repentance must take place – but again – we conveniently forget a passage such as Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Does the Biblical Christian believe that he/she is exempt in this area before the Holy God? Have we embraced a mentality that there are certain things from which we are exempt? What place does James 5:16 have in our lives, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Do we truly believe these words? Do we make appropriate application of them?

It’s been a very long time since I’ve heard or read a sermon on the peril of a seared conscience. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy about many things he would encounter while doing ministry. A collective thought is given in I Timothy 4:1-2, “Now the Spirit expressly states that in later times some will abandon the faith to follow deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, influenced by the hypocrisy of liars, whose consciences are seared with a hot iron.” In reality, one does not need to look far to determine the reality of the “seared conscience” both in the secular world of cultural decay, as well as the spiritual world of church erosion. This impacts the professing Christian who becomes less and less offended by the things that offend a Holy God, while becoming more and more tolerant of sub-standard foundational principles.

I John 1:8-9 spells what must be done: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  

Prayerfully – consider these things with me!