Proved by Evidence

Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.                       Matthew 21:43 (NIV)

     GravityIs a natural  phenomenon by which all things with mass are brought toward one another (as stated on the World Wide Web.)  We can’t see gravity, but I know it’s a real thing based on the fact that everything that is IN gravity is held to the ground.  Proved by evidence!

     Wind- A current of air, especially a natural one that moves along or parallel to the ground, moving from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure.  Again, can’t see it, but proved by evidence when objects IN wind roll by my tractor as I move through the field.  Wind is a real thing, proved by evidence!

     Oxygen- Is the third most abundant element in the universe, and the most abundant element by mass in the Earth’s crust.  What?  They can actually measure something they can’t see?  WOW!  Again, when IN oxygen, mammals live…. when OUT, we die.  Proved by evidence, a real thing!

I don’t believe many “normal” people would argue against any one of these three natural elements.  The evidence of their existence cannot be ignored.  When an object is IN the effect of these elements, certain characteristics prove they are a real thing.  Objects stay on the ground, tumbleweeds roll by, and objects that utilize oxygen to survive… well, they survive.  Unseen elements, proved by evidence, called natural.

     For me, faith in God meets the same criteria and, likewise, is proved by evidence.  Christianity, the belief in Christ as the Savior of the World, belief in the Triune Godhead can bring about a New Creation to the heart, mind, and soul of a person who is seeking God, is not a new phenomenon.  That is, if your someone who believes!  Do you believe that God can change lives?

     The idea IN a belief, in “something or someone” that you can’t see, “trips up” many people, especially those that require physical evidence of a spiritual phenomenon.  Thomas doubted the spiritual, until he saw the physical.  Most of us relate to Doubting Thomas.  Man would it be easy to really buy into this faith thing if only I could see Jesus.  I would be 100% convicted, and therefore, able to live until I die.  Believing, trusting, living, and even dying for my conviction, just like the disciples.  That’s the faith I want…. if only Jesus could be proved by evidence.

     Scripture tells us that believers are called to emulate Jesus, do what He did during His years of teaching.  So, we read the Bible and identify the characteristics that Jesus demonstrated. He exemplified Love, Joy, Peace and Patience.  He showed Kindness, Goodness and Gentleness.  He was Faithful.  And, He refused to be self-motivated, demonstrating great Self-Control during difficult moments and unfair situations.  John 14:11-12 recounts Jesus’ words, Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been  doing, and they will do even  greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 

     Those who believe, who are IN Christ, will do as Christ did.  Their belief will be proved by evidence.  May I introduce you to evidence….. the Fruit of the Spirit…… Galatians 5:22.  Those who are IN Christ will demonstrate His characteristics, in an even greater capacity than we can comprehend.  The proof of our faith, and the evidence of God, will be seen as we Love the un-Loveable.  Christians will be known for Joy and Peace in the presence of the storms of life.  Believers remain Patient in a world that demands immediate answers and relief from distress.  Followers of Christ exhibit Kindness and Compassion, Goodness and honesty, and, Gentleness and empathy.  Conviction leads us to the role of a servant, serving in humility, in Self-Control, at our expense, for other’s benefit, to the Glory of God. 

     A faith without such evidence…… is not faith.  Fruit of the Spirit is the natural proof, the evidence of our faith.  Are you lacking love, joy, or peace?  Struggling with illness, death, or hardship?  Are you bitter, cranky, or apathetic?  Self-serving, envious, or greedy?  THEN: Ask, Seek and Knock!!  Pray that God would expose your stubbornness, areas you think you roped off from God’s attention.  Repent of your shortfalls, asking God to create in you a new heart, a Spirit-filled life.  Ask God to remove your doubt, to prune the vine and remove the dead and decaying branches from your life.  Immerse yourself in scripture, searching for Wisdom, Truth, and Life.  The door to a New Life WILL be opened if you genuinely ask, seek, and knock. 

     A PROMISE (my paraphrase): We can do ALL THINGS, when we allow Christ to work IN us, and then follow His example as the Spirit works THROUGH us (Phil 4:13).  Suddenly, the Spiritual phenomenon becomes proved by evidence, our FAITH becomes a real thing!

Grace and Peace be yours in abundance. (1 Peter 1:2)



God First, Then Others, Lastly Me

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.  2 Cor 5:10 (NIV)

      God’s Will!  If I only knew what God’s will for my life was, and then, if I were only directed in accordance with God’s will!  Review last month’s newsletter about the Game Changer.  I introduced a layer of“filters” in determining the direction of our decisions, by the minute, and, those decisions that actually change our direction.  The God Check!  Filter one; Will this choice bring Glory to God?  Filter two:  Is this a decision Jesus would make?  Filter three; Will I be proud of this decision at the judgement seat of Christ?  The first layer of filters puts GOD FIRST in our decision making process.  Now we’ll tackle the Boat Check and Gut Check filters.

     THEN OTHERS!  The Boat Check is built around the premise of Matt 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…”  Straight from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount stuff.  Filter four: Would I want this done to me?  Or, as Jesus would tell the Pharisees later in Matt 22:39, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  The full text of His run-in with the Pharisees actually says, GOD FIRST, THEN OTHERS (my paraphrase). 

     Filter five; Will this decision appear wrong to someone, even though it’s right?  This is a little hard to grasp. But, by doing good and right, might I make life challenging, inconvenient, or outright unbearable for someone else?  Remember, the Boat Check is all about THEN OTHERS, not rocking the boat.  Am I showing a reflection of God’s love, directed back towards OTHERS, from every angle of my decision.  Even if it is good and right, it may be the wrong decision when considering how others will be affected. 

     Filter six; Will this choice cause a brother or sister in Christ to struggle spiritually?  Like filter five, even if the choice passes the God Check, if it creates discord within another believer, probably better re-think the choice.

     LASTLY ME!  The final set of filters: Gut Check.  Remember, the decision must have passed all 6 of the previous filters before considering yourself.  That’s right, LASTLY ME!  Filter seven; Will this choice bring me under the power of something?  Are we living “in” the power of the Holy Spirit?  All things “through” Christ?  Or, if alcohol, caffeine, money, tobacco, chocolate, children, relationships…. etc, are controlling our minds and actions, then…. Bad choice!  I heard it recently said like this, “GOOD things become BAD things when they become CONTROLLING things.” 

     My father recommended living a life in moderation.  Some things in life are meant to be enjoyed, but a fine line exists between “just right”, and “too much.”  People will suggest there are grey areas…… but there really isn’t.  You’re either controlled by the Spirit within the choice, or the choice has gained the controls over you.  No middle ground, simply yes, or no, is the Spirit controlling?  James Macdonald’s book, The Will of God IS The Word of God, suggests that parents allow their kid’s schedules and agendas, intended for good in the beginning, to dictate the direction of the families decisions.  Even, whether or not they go to Church on Sunday morning.  That’s one for all to consider. 

     Filter eight; Can I do this with confidence that it’s right?  This filter backs up filter seven.  Once I’ve decided that I’ll proceed with the direction of my decision, re-evaluate the decision.  If you’re not CONFIDENT it’s right, then it’s wrong.  I stopped chewing tobacco over seven years ago when I became convinced that even though I was a farmer, and farmers need something to do while driving a tractor, it just wasn’t right.  The tobacco was CONTROLLING me, it had to stop. 

     Filter nine; Am I breaking any previous commitments?  Matthew 5:37 (NKJV), “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’”  Again, the Sermon on the Mount.  If you take a vow, make a promise, or commit to something….. honor your commitment.  If you’ve committed to a committee, then go to the meetings.  If you’re part of the structure for an upcoming event, then put your best forward for the benefit of the event.  If you vow to a relationship….. then honor your vow, be committed.  If you’ve said YES, then do it.

     Nine filters that lead believers into the Will of God!  I say believers because these filters are found in the Word of God, and for non-believers these words, these filters, will not make sense and will most likely be ignored, and/or scoffed at.  But, BELIEVERS, people who fasten God’s word around their neck (Prov 6:21), choose to deny themselves, pick up their cross of living the difficult Christian life, and will follow in the pattern as displayed in the life of Jesus Christ.  Striving to be more Christ-like by knowing what God’s Word says, then applying that Word to the actions and principles of our lives.  That’s what believers do. 

     Romans 12:2, “Do not  conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Grace and Peace be yours in abundance. (1 Peter 1:2)



Game Changer: the God Check

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!  2 Cor 5:17 (NIV)

      March Madness is ushering in April Fool’s Day…. how appropriate!  I read yesterday that 550 ESPN brackets, out of 17.5 million, correctly picked the final four teams heading to the NCAA basketball finals in San Antonio.  That’s 0.003 percent who navigated those four teams through the first two weeks of March Madness.  The other 99.7%, FOOLS!  We can typically pick a game or two that BUSTED our brackets, and usually in that game some player, the GAME CHANGER, stepped up and re-routed the outcome of the contest.  The result would have been different, if only that GAME CHANGER hadn’t re-written the script.

     THAT’S EASTER, which happens to fall on April Fool’s Day in 2018!  A moment in time when the outcome was changed, the script was flipped, and a GAME CHANGER stole the show.  THAT IS, if our faith is maturing as God intended.  Let me explain.

     Believers follow in the footsteps of Christ, that’s what Christian means, little Christ.  When we said YES, with all our heart, soul and mind, to Christ (that spiritual re-birth), the GAME CHANGER entered and re-directed the outcome, changed the story-line.  Now, instead of what we use to do against God (sin), we now choose to do less and less, in exchange for those ideas and situations that are more like God (God’s will).  1 Thess 4:3 explains God’s will for each of us:  It is God’s will that you should be  sanctified…..  Sanctified is the process of becoming little Christs, living more like Christ, and less like our previous, selfish selves.

     In James Macdonald’s book, The Will of God IS the Word of God, he suggests 9 “filters” to apply to ANY decision to ensure the Will of God in our life.  If we want to test our decisions, “is this what God wants me to do with my life?” kind of questions….. try these filters.  The first three filters apply specifically to God, the God Check.  If the decision in question survives these filters, you generally have a clearance to proceed with caution. 

     Filter one; Will this choice bring Glory to God?  Spouse, college, friendships… you name the decision being made, will God be glorified in your decision?  God is glorified in any decision that keeps his commands.  John 14:15 clarifies, “If you love me, keep my commands.”  So, if the decision we are considering puts us in an immoral position, the answer is NO!  That would not bring Glory to God!  Should I watch a TV show that is vulgar and offensive?  NO!  Should I make a comment that cuts another person down, gossips, slanders or even is an outright lie?  NO!  Should I covet my neighbors possessions?  Again, NO!  Should I skip church this week?  NO, NO, NO!! (see Exodus 20:3-17 for 10 such commands.)  I think you get the picture.  This filter eliminates anything that Jesus would have avoided.

     That’s the second filter.  If we’re not sure if it would bring glory and honor to God, ask the question, What Would Jesus Do?  WWJD?  Is this a decision Jesus would make?  Can we find accounts of Jesus doing what we’re considering?  If so… then by all means, go ahead with the decision.  Decisions that include; compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Col 3:12).  If no… then it doesn’t meet the filter, do not proceed!  Every decision, every thought, must line up with Christ-like actions.  1 Peter 2:21 explains that, “Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”  Remember, that’s what God’s will is for us (1 Thess 4:3), to become little Christs, sanctified.

     Third filter; Will I be proud of this decision at the judgement seat of Christ?  I’ve heard it asked another way….. before God’s judgement seat, will there be evidence of me being a little Christ in the replay of my life.  Romans 4:12, “So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”  Did the GAME CHANGER change our game, leading us to become more like Him?  Decisions that indicate God’s wisdom are; pure; then peace, loving, considerate submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere (James 3:17).  If the decision bears evidence of a changed life, living as a little Christ, then we have chosen wisely. 

     That’s the first layer of filters to determine God’s Will in the decisions we make.  So, questions regarding our free time, vacation plans, social media usage, spending habits, addictions (substance, food, time, sports, profanity, pornography, work..), ANY decision…. can be passed through the three God Check filters to see if our choices align with what God would have us to do.  I’m going to flip the Simply Difficult concept here.  Take the Difficult decisions and Simply apply the filters.  As we surrender our lives to becoming more Christ-like, sanctified, then, the more the new creation becomes apparent.  Romans 12:2 explains, “… be  transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” 

     Renewing our mind means studying the Bible that we might know and obey the commands of God, living as little Christs.  That is KNOWING God, and in wisdom, applying that knowledge to our life.  If our GAME ISN’T CHANGING, then, read the Bible, study God’s word, and pray that God would grant us the wisdom (James 1:5) to live a life that glorifies Him, that replicates the life of Christ, bearing witness through the spiritual fruit of our words and actions.  Next month we’ll tackle the Boat Check and Gut Check filters for following God’s Will.

To God be ALL Praise,

Honor and Glory



Kindness, Justice, and Righteousness

This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.   Jer. 9:23-24 (NIV)

      I recently heard a pastor suggest we are raising a culture of young Christians who may never hear the Gospel message preached.  Think about that statement!  People calling themselves Christians who don’t know the “Good News, Bad News, Good News” story that is fundamental to “believing” in Christ.  IF there is no Bad News, why do we need a Good News ending?  The pastor went on to explain the current trend of “Jesus Friend,” He’s there when I need Him, shelved when I don’t.  I pray that that is not the case in our Church body.

Recently a 17 yr. old snowboarding won the gold medal unexpectantly at the Olympics.  Shout out, NICE JOB DUDE!  But, when the studio personality casually apologized for the profanity that was overheard at the finish line, it seemed he was saying, “Oops, kids will be kids.”  I’m actually NOT making a comment about the 17 yr. old. I’m commenting on our current culture’s acceptance of language and behavior, and that not too long ago was considered offensive.  Today’s PG-13 movies are yesterday’s R-rated movies.  Today’s R…… are yesterday’s X-rated movies.  Years gone by Christian movies were G rated, now they’re PG-13 because talk of God may be offensive to some.  We are moving towards a world that knows no Bad News.  Only, Hakuna Matata, no worries!  On a side note…. following the Philadelphia Eagles’ Lord praising victory, the absence of such praise from our Olympic athletes is deafening.  They appear to have emerged from a, “I’ve really worked hard…” culture that focuses the praise, the boasting, on their own wisdom, strength and riches.  100 % man-made and crafted.

     I’ve been exposed to an underlying theme the past couple weeks: PREACH THE GOSPEL.  As for me, I began my pursuit of knowing God when I became aware of the distance that my sin had placed me, away from God.  I had a Romans 5:8 moment; “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  In a moment I knew God’s righteousness was vastly different than my lifestyle.  The weight and crush of God’s justice became evident and real as the payment for my sin was spiritual and eternal death, BAD NEWS.  But then, GOOD NEWS, Christ came in justice, kindness, and righteousness, paying the price for my sins that I may live.  In JUSTICE, Christ paid the price for me, death.  The Passion of the Christ depicted His suffering and death, a story in which I was the convicted, but He stepped in, innocent, pure, and holy, and received my penalty. 

     In KINDNESS, God extends forgiveness to all who believe.  If we proclaim with our mouths and believe in our hearts that Jesus Christ overcame death, then we will be saved.  Our sins are forgiven, lives are changed, and relationships are made new.  Now, in Christ, forgive us our sins, for we also forgive  everyone who sins against us (Luke 11:4).  The JUSTICE and KINDNESS, or GRACE and MERCY, that God has granted us, we now extend to our earthly relationships.  Forgiving those who’ve wronged us…… what grudge or painful memory are we holding on to?  In Christ we can do all things.  In a world that teaches us to be selfish and prideful, let’s forgive so we might experience new life.  Forgiveness requires us to let go of the burden.  Be set free, forgive as Christ forgave.  As the country song sings, “Do it Anyway!” 

     As we experience God’s grace and mercy our lens for viewing life becomes acutely aware of God’s presence in our lives.  The RIGHTEOUSNESS of God, all that is good, becomes our focus.  Paul encourages, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is  admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Phil. 4:8-9).”  With the empowering of the Holy Spirit we are a new creation, designed in the image of God, to fulfill His will, abiding in His peace and love, on earth as it is in heaven.

     Church, it’s time to boast!  Let’s boast that we have the understanding to know God.  Let’s boast of God’s kindness, justice, and righteousness.  Let’s boast of the Gospel story as it is read this Lenten season.  Let’s boast of the GOOD NEWS that overcomes the BAD NEWS in our lives.  Let’s boast over forgiveness, demonstrated by God, as burdens are lifted and relationships mended.  When boasting try this out, “First and foremost, may all honor and glory go to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!” 

Fellow believers, repent, and believe the Gospel.  This Easter, I pray we all experience a pure heart and a renewed spirit, in Christ.

To God be ALL Praise, Honor and Glory,




In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my  requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3 (NIV)

When I go through the routine of my morning it’s great to know that after prepping my coffee maker, it will produce…….. coffee!  My expectations are met, my morning is complete, I’m launched into the day’s activities.  I don’t expect my coffee maker to produce a breakfast of cereal, or toast, or eggs.  I expect……. COFFEE!  The fact that Mr. Coffee has me trained is either a great comfort, or TOTALLY SCARY!  The machine has me under its full power.  I am a creature of habit.  I wake thinking about a fresh, hot, sweet cup of morning “joe.”  Make my way to the kitchen, remove the previous day’s ground, fetch a new filter, fill the carafe while I’m adding new grounds, pour in the water, sit and read news articles during the brew, then…… ENJOY my first sip.  Every day, pretty much the same pattern, or, RUT.  Both Mr. Coffee and I know what to expect from each other.

Relationships that meet expectations provide comfort and a sense of well-being for those involved.  It is easy to contrast this type of fulfilling relationship to one the doesn’t meet expectations, one that disappoints, causes inconvenience and distress.  Some relationships are contractual in nature.  “You do this, and I’ll do that.”  The Old Testament explains the relationship with God in this manner.  To Adam, do anything you’d like, EXCEPT eat of the tree.  With Moses, obey my commands and you will be a chosen people.  From scripture we know the outcome when these expectations are not met.  Chaos, destruction and death result. 

We may not have the expectations of our relationships written out. Maybe we haven’t even considered that we hold our relationships in expectation.  But, if you were to consider any relationship you have, I bet you could make a list.  With the banker, well they definitely have expectations.  As a coach or teacher, yet again, expectations.  With our own family members, oh my, the expectations we place on these relationships.  Safe to say, EXPECTATIONS are the unwritten contract for every interaction we have.  We expect help from teachers, supplies and such from our local businesses, friendship from friends, and love from our family members.  When expectations aren’t met, there’s hurt, suffering, shame, and distrust.

Psalm 5:3 shows how expectations are defined by our requests to the other involved party.  “in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”  If you meet my requests, my expectations are met, and the relationship is in “order.”  What happens when my requests don’t align with the what should be expected?  You know, expecting a country breakfast of eggs, sausage and pancakes from Mr. Coffee.  One of us, ME, will be disappointed, and one of us, Mr. Coffee, will simply know that my request for breakfast didn’t align with the actual function of a Mr. Coffee. 

David cried out, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” (Psalms 16:2)  So what good thing(s) did King David, a man after God’s own heart, have?  David was, humble (Psalm 62:9), reverent (Psalm 18:3), respectful (Psalm 31:9), trusting (Psalm 27:1), loving (Psalm 18:1), devoted (Psalm 4:7), grateful (Psalm 9:1), faithful (Psalm 23:6), obedient (Psalm 119:34), and repentant (Psalm 25:11, Psalm 51).  If Galatians 5:22 is a list of gifts of the fruit of the spirit, gifts that fortify human relations, then I would challenge that David’s good things should be a list of our requests to God, as suggested in Psalm 5!  Call them God’s will for our life, to have a relationship with God based on these qualities.  Pray daily that God would mold us to be humble, reverent, respectful, trusting, loving, devoted, grateful, faithful, obedient and repentant toward God, then, WAIT, be STILL……. and EXPECT God to grant us these characteristics.  Pray that we would be people after God’s own heart.  THEN, go out in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control, carry them as the expectations to be found in your earthly relationships.  God first, people second.

Do you pray for humility, or success?  Do you pray for increased faith, or financial security?  Do you pray for a grateful heart, or for rain?  Do you pray for spiritual healing, a heart free from trouble and fear, or for the Disney ending, Happily Ever After?  If you’re frustrated in your relationship with God, check your requests.  Do your requests “line-up” with what God offers man?  Do your requests identify a need to draw closer to God?  Do your requests allow God to grant you the PEACE that Jesus identified as the reason for His interaction with mankind?  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)  I do not give as the world gives…… wow!  In the morning when I awake, may I align my requests with the gifts God gives mankind, not as the world suggests I request.  Then, give me the perseverance to wait, be still, and to be expectant, as I seek God and the gifts of that Holy relationship.

To God be ALL Praise,

Honor and Glory




Work it backwards!  You know like this…. chloroethane…… tri-chloroethane …….. phenyl-trichloroethane…….. di-phenyltrichloroethane …… dichloro-diphenyltrichloroethane!  That’s how I learned to say long words….. start at the back and work your way forwards, but backwards.  Strange, I know, but, it always makes the word more manageable.  Sometimes…. things that are “complicated” require us to work backwards to better understand, to simplify. 

Christmas could be like that.  I’ve heard a lot of talk about a “blue” season around Christmas.  In a season when deck the halls and jingle bells are the prominent themes, not everybody is experiencing the thrill of Christmas.  If the Prince of Peace came down to bring joy to the world, some people are feeling ripped off.  Where’s the peace; where’s the joy?  That’s complicated. Let’s simplify; let’s work it backwards.

JoyPeaceBeliefFaithBrokenSin!  Worked backwards, in a forwards style. 

Do you know of anyone who it is just a joy to be around?  Being around them makes you more joyful.  You know that person that is full of life, always positive, eager to help, selfless?  That is JOY!  Life conditions don’t change a person’s underlying JOY!  Once acquired, JOY does not leave.  JOY is only found when a person is at PEACE, in the Spirit!

Spiritual PEACE is a gift from God.  The Prince of PEACE came so that YOU may have peace, and have it abundantly.  Jesus himself said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled  and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).  Spiritual PEACE is the absence of fear and the absence of a troubled heart.  You gain PEACE through your BELIEF in Jesus.

When you know, that you know!  That’s BELIEF!  No one can convince you otherwise because what you know is based on what has happened before.   What has happened before this moment allows me to stay firm, remain founded, and never waiver in my BELIEF. What I know, I know!  BELIEF in Christ comes only after FAITH has been anchored and rooted.

A step of FAITH:  an assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.  (Hebrews 11:1)  FAITH is brought about by a changed heart, a heart that once was selfish and prideful, now led by a supernatural presence that is ever felt, yet difficult to explain.  FAITH is about falling backwards, without hesitation, into the Savior’s arms, in full assurance and conviction that He will catch you.  That’s FAITH.  We are saved by grace, through faith, when we have fallen BROKEN at the foot of the cross.

It’s not about me!  I heard the question, “Have you ever noticed that life is better when it’s not focused on you?”  Only when we come to the realization that we get in God’s way, our pride pushes God to arm’s length, only then can we be BROKEN, fully accepting the mercy and grace offered by God.  That is the moment you realize the depth of your SIN.

SIN!  Anything that separates you from God.  Love of the world, love of money and love of self are the biggest culprits.  My selfish needs over the needs or concerns of anyone else.  My way, my way, my way!!  That’s sin, and “I” am in the middle of my sIn. 

Now, lets work it forward.  I realize my SIN when “my way” doesn’t work, as I fall sweetly BROKEN, humbling myself, acting in FAITH, receiving grace, BELIEVING in the power of the cross, as a new creation develops an indescribable PEACE, allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to enable me to do all things with a JOY that resonates through me, to others, so that they may feel the presence (presents – like a gift) of Christ this Christmas season.

If you’re blue this Christmas, ask God to increase your FAITH, to grant you PEACE, and to guide you into a Joyous life.  Ask and it will be given, when it aligns with God’s will.  From the very beginning God’s will was for all to know Him personally, to accept the invitation of the angels that very first Christmas, to meet the Prince of PEACE

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!  Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, And Heaven and nature sing!

Merry Christmas,




I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 (NIV)

   Do you remember the 2006 movie The Ultimate Gift?  James Gardner, Red, was the deceased grandfather who left his spoiled nephew, Jason, the family fortune.  Grandpa assigns twelve apparently simple tasks called “gifts” – of work, money, friends, learning, problems, family, laughter, dreams, giving, gratitude, a day and love – challenging the grandson to a journey of discoveries. He meets a leukemic girl, Emily, and her mother, that changes his perspective of life and money, making him a better man, receiving the ultimate gift of a FULL LIFE from his wise grandfather.  A wonderful flick to place on your holiday viewing list, I would rate it a 3 out of 4 KLEENEX movie.

   Elizabethtown (2005) is another movie I’d recommend.  It’s PG-13 for a reason, but the story rates 2 KLEENEX boxes.  Another meaning of life movie.  Remembering what makes life such a gift.  Living in the day that is given, each day.  The Holiday (2006, PG-13, 1 KLEENEX), Serendipity (2001, PG-13, 1 KLEENEX), 13 Going on 30 (2004, PG-13, 1 KLEENEX), Must Love Dogs (2006, PG-13, 1 KLEENEX), Sweet November (2001, PG-13, not for children, 3 KLEENEX), Big (1988, PG, although more like PG-13, 1 KLEENEX), and OF COURSE, Elf (2003, PG, ½ KLEENEX), just to list a few more MUST-SEE movies for your holiday.  There seems to be something about that 2001 to 2006 era of movies, a time for remembering what life is all about!

   I can distinctly remember each of those movies, the first time I watched them, reaching for KLEENEX, for sure (yes, I’ve seen them all more than once).  You finish the experience and just ponder what your own life is all about.  Am I living the life I’m meant to live?  Have I kept focus on the aspects of life that are truly important?  Am I living life to the fullest?  Jesus’ promise, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

   Re-read John chapter 10.  Jesus is describing to the Pharisees who he is.  He is the “gate.”  He is the “shepherd.”  And then in verse 30, BAM!  I and the Father are one.  That statement ruffled some feathers and was said to divide those that were listening.  Some believed, others conspired to stone Jesus.  That’s the never-ending plot to The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965, G). 

   What, a G rating?  That’s crazy.  The events of this 5 BC event have been told in a book, the best-selling book OF ALL TIME, the Bible.  Wikipedia says that 277 movies have been made about the message within the Bible, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  My holiday….. yuck, that’s just wrong…. my CHRISTmas question for you:  do you live a full life, believing the story, while celebrating every day as the ultimate gift from God?  I remember the moments of my life when I met Jesus, better understanding the personal story and how it affects me (4 out of 4 KLEENEX for sure, some even need mops when this encounter occurs.)  Does every day feel like you’ve just watched a movie classic that has returned your heart and mind to the real focus of life?  As cancer victim Jim Valvano stated, “If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.” Do you find opportunities within every day to celebrate your relationships with God and others?  To laugh?  To think?  And, to cry?

   I’m reminded of one other Christmas movie that is MUST-SEE!  How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000, PG, ½ KLEENEX).  Are you a Grinch?  Compare your schedule to his.  “Even if I wanted to go my schedule  wouldn’t allow it. 4:00, wallow in self-pity; 4:30, stare into the abyss; 5:00, solve world hunger, tell no one; 5:30, jazzercize; 6:30, dinner with me – I can’t cancel that again; 7:00, wrestle with my self-loathing… I’m booked. Of course, if I bump the loathing to 9, I could still be done in time to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling and slip slowly into madness. But what would I wear?” CLASSIC!  Remember, in the end, Cindy Lou Who’s love for life and Grinch changed his focus on life, and his heart grew three sizes that day. 

   Let’s live the FULL LIFE!  Available to you, TODAY!  Believe in your heart that Jesus is the Son of God, and proclaim the resurrected Jesus as Lord of your life (Romans 10:10).  Careful, your heart will fill your chest, the KLEENEX box will be shredded, and you’ll have the desire to sing at the top of your lungs, spreading Christmas cheer for all to hear!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!  Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, And Heaven and nature sing!




Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your GENTLENESS be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Philippians 4:4-5 (NIV)

   A King James Bible defines REJOICE as:  To make JOYFUL; to gladden; to animate with lively  pleasurable sensations; to exhilarate.  This Philippian scripture encourages our heart and spirit to be in constant celebration in the knowledge that we are a child of God.  PLEASE, read that previous sentence again!  I’ll let you ponder that for a moment.

   Why do we do what we do?  For whom do we do what we do?  What are our expectations for the things that we do?

   This past week I’ve had the pleasure of working side-by-side with my sister, Sarah, from Buffalo, as we drilled wheat.  She jumped right in there after a 20+ year hiatus from farming.  Filling the drills with the seed of next season’s crop.  Checking the seed placement for appropriate “seed to soil contact.”  Experiencing the joy of changing a shredded tire and rim during one of the moves to another field.  Drilling her own field for production.  Enjoying the exhilaration of the morning and evening “sky-scapes” that God designed for our week.  The week was full of “lively pleasurable sensations” for sure!  Truthfully, it didn’t seem like work, in the common use of that word.  It was just spending the day with a good friend, doing an activity that we mutually love.  The butcher’s sign had it right. “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  My sister said it this way, “It filled my cup!”

   Philippians 4:5 says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.”  I underline gentleness to give it special attention, just as I underlined joyful in the definition of REJOICE.  Tough question coming here: do you live in a gentle and joyful manner?  Is the presence of God, the fruit of His relationship, evident to by-standers?  Joy and gentleness are indeed qualities of a life transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Have you ever heard a great horse described as a gentle beast?  An animal with great power that could be untamed, yet is guided and trained to restrain from its use unless appropriate.  The Holy Spirit within us is such a power, to be used in a gentle manner, yet to stand strong and firm against opposition to our faith, to be evident to those who do not yet believe. 

   The joy of the Spirit is evidenced when times are tough.  The verses following Philippians 4:5 are well-known, encouraging us to give our concerns to God in exchange for a PEACE that surpasses understanding.  PEACE, another fruit of a Spirit-driven soul.  In John 14:27 Jesus said, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  A faith (more fruit) in the risen Son of God will produce an evidenced, outward expression of the very qualities of Jesus himself.  Christ’s PEACE given to us for the sake that others may see Him in us so that He might win their soul’s through us.  WOW! READ THAT SENTENCE AGAIN, SLOWLY.

   TO US, IN US,  and THROUGH US!  Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  It is in God’s gift of grace, it is in a belief in Christ, and it is in the power of the Spirit that I can live and work in JOY, PEACE, and GENTLENESS!  If you don’t feel the need to rejoice in your life ask God and he will give it to you.  God doesn’t promise you health, or income, or a life on easy street.  He promises you LOVE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, and SELF-CONTROL….  to ensure you can live a life of full rejoicing in whatever the circumstances of life.  When the Lord is near you’ll never be without REJOICING a day in your life.  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near (Philippians 4:4-5).  Is the Lord near? 

   If no, then here is instruction: Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).  How do I turn my life into a joyful, gentle, demonstration of God’s love?  Seek, ask and knock.  God wants you in relationship with him.  Look for Him, invite Him into your heart, don’t wait on the opportunity to rejoice today and forevermore just KNOCK on the door!  Yes, the gift of God’s grace is as simple as that.  Believe in your heart that Christ is the Savior, while declaring that Jesus is Lord of your life, and the joy of life will result in you rejoicing, in all things, so that others may come to know Christ, through you.  That’s rejoicing.

God be Praised, Hallelujah!



Whoever Has Ears

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.  Matthew 13:16-17 (NIV)

   Kyle Idleman teaches a bible study called Not a Fan. Search back to your November 2013 newsletter where I described this bible study’s concept, which challenges believers to “step up their game” and become true followers of Christ, not simply cheering fans that are on board as long as the team is winning.  New Testament scriptures were written with the hopes of a heart transformed by the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.  A transformation from Fan of Jesus, to Follower of Jesus.  It’s this complete transformation that Idleman is challenging.  Are you ALL-IN o r just a fan?

   2 Cor 5:17 explains that a heart transformed results in a new creation.  A sinner becomes convicted of their sin, turns their life over (repents) to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and simply can’t be the same “in-Christ” as they were when defeated by sin.  Pretty heavy stuff here, but an easy concept to follow.  After transformation the butterfly is totally different than the caterpillar that is was before the change.  That’s the idea.  We are different and changed permanently when we’ve gone ALL-IN for Christ.  What we used to do as sinners we no longer choose to do.  No more profanity (Col 3:8)!  No more taking God’s name in vain (Ex 20:7)!  No more crude or immoral jokes (Matt 15:11)!  No more “character bashing”. Instead we should edify and build up (Eph 4:29)!  No more cheating, or lying!  No more wondering what I’m getting out of church, instead wonder how I can be a useful tool in the service of God’s people (Titus 2:7-8).

   And how do we transform?  Romans 10:10 says to believe in your heart the Gospel message (John 3:16) and declare with your voice “Jesus is Lord”.  Live a life in which your words and actions proclaim the Lordship of Christ over you (1 Peter 4:11).  The Bible brings the Christian life to print, showing the examples through stories and teachings.  My Life Application Study Bible has a section of over 200 Life Lessons from Bible People.  Examples:  God responds to Ehud’s cry for repentance (Judges 3); or, power brings Herod neither peace nor security (Matthew 2).  When we read or hear the word of God from scripture, we’re to learn the lessons being taught through the experiences of the characters within scripture.  Psalms 12:15 says a wise man is he who listens to counsel.  An un-wise man listens, but goes about “business as usual”.  Jesus warns that many will profess to know Him, but are just going through the motions of religion and never really transform their lives (Matt 7:21-23).  In Luke 9:23 Jesus provides words of instruction, And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me”.  Transformation requires DAILY submission to God’s will in our lives.  We can’t hear the words on Sunday, at Bible Study, in small group, and then go about the rest of the week “business as usual”.  We MUST hear the words, and let the Holy Spirit work within us to live out the words in Christian action and voice, DAILY!

   In Holy revelation, John was given Christ’s words to bring back to the churches.  Seven sets of instruction that all churches should read and hear.  Each church letter is closed with, “whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says!”  We, the Church at Leoti, need to take heed of the instructions given to the Churches mentioned in Revelations.  The lessons of life they learned, written in scripture, so that we might learn and live as a transformed Church.  Ephesus had forsaken its first love.  Smyrna would suffer persecution.  Pergamum needed to repent.  Thyatira had false prophets.  Sardis had fallen asleep.  Philadelphia endured patiently.  And poor Laodicea… they had a lukewarm faith, not totally transformed.  Their fate… God spit them out.

   In Matthew 13:16 Jesus blesses those who see, hear, and live the Christian life.   “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.”  It is in seeing and hearing that we then choose to speak and serve through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Our transformation continues as we seek God’s counsel in scripture daily, and as we hear from God’s anointed preachers and teachers.  Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says!

Grace and Peace!




God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.  God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day. Genesis 1:16-19 (NIV)

 Talk about lunacy, (or extreme folly, foolishness, stupidity, silliness, idiocy, madness, or craziness (Webster’s Dictionary)), how about that LUNAR ECLIPSE?  Looney over the lunar eclipse = LUNARCY!  I enjoyed the eclipse as I was driving back and forth while sitting in a tractor, watching the event unfold on the Weather Channel, live coverage from Oregon to South Carolina, and into the Atlantic Ocean.  Yes, agreed, that whole last sentence has elements of lunacy as far as that goes.  But, the point, people went crazy for the eclipse.  The lengths and money that people went to to be in the path of “totality” was mind boggling.  TOTALITY, the 80 mile width in which the moon would eclipse the sun, perfectly, allowing a person to look directly at the event, no protective eyewear needed.  The coverage started in Oregon where the field reporter was so moved by the “day turned to night” experience that she cried with emotion as she was reporting, live to the world.  In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, people travelled from around the world at a chance to see what one viewer called “the most amazing thing I’ve EVER seen.”  A family with three small children paid a cruise liner to haul them, and 4,000 others, into the Atlantic Ocean for a chance to see, and they were already planning a family trip to Peru in 2019 to see an eclipse from South America.  LUNARCY! CRAZY!!!

Now the science of it all was fascinating.  I enjoyed the portion of coverage that laid out the details of this particular eclipse.  The scientists proudly offered their take on the matter, explaining how millions of years ago the dinosaurs would have seen a larger moon and a smaller sun.  And, how in another million years the moon, which is drifting an inch further away from the Earth every year, and the sun, which is aging and expanding in the process, well, in a million years the sun will be larger than the moon during an eclipse.  BUT not on this particular day, they were a PERFECT FIT.  Same size, TOTALITY, never seen before, pure LUNARCY!  They explained that in the final seconds leading into TOTALITY, you could see “beads”, the indication to remove your eyewear.  The beads were the hills and valleys of the sun’s surface.  AND THEN, the crowning moment, TOTALITY and the CORONA DEL SOL.  The crown of the sun was spectacular!  With the sun’s surface covered, we witnessed energy leaving the sun, shooting out into the solar system.  The sun’s surface is 10,000 oF. That’s hot.  As the energy is released to light up the world, it goes through an amazing process that elevates the temperature to 1,000,000 degrees.  The solar corona that is created, only seen in TOTALITY, is a crown of fire, energy released for the 8-minute trip down to Earth so that we can have daylight. 

Through the entire LUNARCY event not one single mention of the Holy accounts from Genesis 1.  I cried both for the majesty and splendor of God’s creation and the LUNARCY by which man is driven.  I thought of Louie Giglio’s mashup of the whales and stars singing “How Great is our God” and I cried.  I thought of how science has blocked the mind of many as they attempt to find the meaning of life, and I cried.  Over a span of two minutes people in TOTALITY witnessed the Crown of the Son, a display of God’s grandeur and power, a light given to the world so that man could see…. and they MISSED IT!  If God wasn’t present in that moment, what will it take to make Him visible to those who didn’t see?

The singer Toby Mac says maybe it’s not so hard.  “I wanna magnify Your light, I wanna reflect the sun. Cut like precious diamonds, With the colors by the millions. This is the only world we know, And for now this rental’s our home. If we gonna be a reflection, Gotta make this third rock glow (Just so you know) Lights shine bright everywhere we go!” It’s time to let our LIGHTS SHINE BRIGHT!  May we not miss the chance to share the power of the light to everyone who is looking, but fails to see it: the glory of God in everything we do for God, through Christ, so that all may see the light.  Let’s magnify, reflect, and glow everywhere we go!  God made two great lights – and God saw that it was good. Lights shine bright!!!!

To Him be all praise, honor and glory!