Stop by and check them out from time to time to see what has changed. May God's blessings to you be abundant. rlkeller


Saturday, September 29, 2012


          If you make enough dumb mistakes do you get kicked out of the game? I’ve gone through life thinking I was one type of person only to realize that I am someone totally different. I knew I wasn’t selfless, but I wouldn’t have categorized myself as selfish … at least not until now. I’m no different than anyone else. I’m selfish. I should also state that I can tend to be very hard on myself. Some are not at all hard on themselves and thus give themselves a free pass regarding many, if not most, character flaws. Some folks think way too highly of themselves. Me … I tend to think much less of myself than maybe I should.   False humility … I don’t think so; at least I certainly hope not. That isn’t my intention. All I want out of life is some peace and quiet, kindness, love, mercy and a nice clean beach to sit on so I can watch (and listen to) the ocean waves roll in. Okay, so I probably want a little more out of life, but that is all I can think of at the moment. I have most of that and I should be content. Yeah, I am. But I still wonder if I get kicked out of the game for making dumb mistakes.          
          Fortunately for me God doesn’t keep count of wrongs. It is equally fortunate that God understands us better than we understand ourselves. I’m glad He knows why I do some of the silly things I do, cuz I am clueless. God is good, we are trying … yes, we can be very trying indeed. God is patient, we are not. And some day, in spite of myself, I will go to heaven to live with Him forever. And if you are redeemed, so will you, in spite of yourself.


Friday, September 28, 2012


1 Corinthians 3:18-19 “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.”
          True wisdom comes from God. Those who don’t know God believe wisdom can be obtained through schooling, research and the like; reading the writings of world renown scholars. The problem with that lies in the words ‘world renown’; in actuality it’s nothing more than flawed creatures reading the writings of other flawed creatures. The supposed great minds of this world have largely declared that God does not exist. They deduce that since there is no actual proof of His existence He must not exist. In fact, they scoff at those who do believe in God as merely weak individuals in need of a crutch. These weaklings are incapable of the wisdom attained by these self-proclaimed giants of intelligence, so they must grasp for whatever they can get a hold of to prop themselves up. If it happens to be some imaginary spirit being, so be it. The worldly wise toss aside the Bible as just another book that they have determined is nothing short of unspectacular, containing nothing more than interesting stories for the feeble minded.
          It’s sad to me that so many people can be so full of themselves that they are incapable of even considering the existence of someone greater than themselves. It will be sad for them when this unseen deity which they have shunned shall require that they kneel before Him and proclaim Him Lord. They really don’t stand a chance, for they have had their minds clouded over by the enemy of our soul. They are the ones who are incapable of discerning true wisdom. God looks upon those of His creation who deem themselves wise as ‘fools’. Man’s greatest achievements are nothing compared to that which God has done and will do. They pale in comparison; in fact, there truly is no comparison at all. All those who require proof in the existence of God may never understand or see the true value of a faith-based belief system; for all the money this world has to offer cannot buy what God provides. Wisdom does not provide lasting peace. It doesn’t provide lasting comfort. Neither does it provide lasting hope. More importantly, it doesn’t provide forgiveness.
          Christ came to earth to rescue fallen man. God’s plan was to provide a blood sacrifice to end all blood sacrifices. Christ died for the weak and the wise. Only once a man realizes that all worldly wisdom is flawed and that he is nothing in the shadow of Almighty God can he gain true wisdom and be redeemed.


Thursday, September 27, 2012


Matthew 6:25, 33-34 “… do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
          In the beginning of chapter five of the Gospel of Matthew Jesus went up onto a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him and He began to teach them. The teaching that took place through the end of chapter seven is referred to as the ‘Sermon on the Mount’.
          As Christians in this day and age there is so much that we tend to worry about. The economy is poor, the jobless rate is sky high, times are becoming desperate and yet Christ says ‘do not worry’. How could anyone tell us not to worry in the face of such uncertainty? In this specific case Christ is telling His disciples (and by extension us) not to worry about their provisions. God knows we need food and clothing. God knows everything about us. He created us and just as an earthly parent wouldn’t let their own children do without, God will not either. He has promised us as much.
          In Christ’s example to the disciples He references the lilies of the field and the birds of the air; both part of God’s creation. We are classified as far greater than either of those so it stands to reason that if He takes care of other parts of His creation, then God will take care of us as well. He says as much in verse 26. Christ tells us that if we would seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness we will be provided for and sustained in this life. We are of incalculable value to God, yet we are not created simply to live our lives and die.
          Seeking the kingdom of God entails more than just going to church on Sunday mornings. It involves cultivating an intimate relationship with Him. It takes some of the precious time we claim to have so little of. We were created to worship God and serve Him in obedience. How can we do that if we don’t truly know Him.
          Not only does Christ tell us not to worry about our provisions, He goes so far as to tell us not to worry about tomorrow either. I take that to mean that we are not to worry, period. I believe tomorrow symbolizes any future day. We can’t change anything that will happen in the future, so why do we fret about it so much. The unknown is why. We have the tendency to fear the unknown. Take comfort in the fact that our infinite and eternal God is already there; when tomorrow arrives God will already be there waiting for us. God is not under the constraints of time and space. He is in all our tomorrows. So fear not, for God is with us wherever we go (Joshua 1:9) and lives in us in the person of the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Hebrews 10:36-37 “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, ‘In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.’”
          Spending eternity with Christ is the result of the blessed hope, which is Christ’s return. When Christ returns in the clouds He will not touch down as with His Second Coming, but rather we will be caught up with Him in the air to meet Him (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Habakkuk 2:3 makes reference to the coming of Christ as he tells believers of his day of ‘the revelation’ which ‘awaits an appointed time’; it goes on to say that it is speaking of the end times. Believers are instructed to ‘wait for it’ for it will ‘come and will not delay’.
            From the moment Christ ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9-11) the ‘end times’ or the ‘end of days’ began. The believers in Jesus time believed even then that His return was imminent. As if waiting on God isn’t excruciating enough at times, I do believe waiting for over 2000 years might try anyone’s patience. The following verses explain the delay:
2 Peter 3:8-9 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
            In other words, time as we know it is meaningless to God. He created time. We are to trust Him that He truly is in complete control of all things and has our best interests in mind. That requires submission. Generally speaking, people don’t like being subservient to anyone, let alone someone they cannot see, but that is what is required.
            Everything in God’s economy happens with perfect synchronization; while not at the same time, it all works perfectly like gears meshing together to run a machine. God’s plan for His creation is flawlessly performed throughout the ages without misstep or mistake. Everything that has happened has happened for a reason. We may never know the reason(s), however, God does. Our faith and trust must allow for the providence of God. The creature shall never know more or be more than its creator. Our allegiance and servitude needs to lie with one and that one is God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. God promised He would return for us. Just because we see no evidence of it with the naked eye should we doubt it? The very definition of faith flies in the face of that statement. Trust in God to fulfill all He has planned from the beginning of the age. He shall do it just as He has said.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012


1 John 2 “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Atone - make amends or reparation; the making of amends for a wrong one has done.

Propitiate - win or regain the favor of (a god, spirit, or person) by doing something that pleases them.
          The Apostle John is directing this writing to those who appear to be Christians and well known to him. There is no clue as to which Christian community he is directing his letter. 1 John 2:18-19 indicates that there were false teachings being propagated from within the community of believers and John is attempting to ward off such teachings. This is no doubt why he opens his letter with the words “so that you will not sin”. The advocacy of Christ on our behalf is noted in case sin does occur.
          I would like to spend the remainder of this entry discussing Christ’s atonement. It was also referred to in the King James Version as Christ’s propitiation or propitious sacrifice; it is the blood sacrifice to end all blood sacrifices that would satisfy once for all time God’s demand that sin be paid for with blood. And not just any blood but the blood of a spotless animal; cattle, sheep or goats, whichever was required. (Note: For those who could not afford the larger animals, a turtledove or pigeon was allowed.) The bottom line was that sin had caused a breech between a man and his God and the sacrificial system God set up demanded that the blood of a spotless sacrificial animal must be spilled to cover the sin. It wasn’t until Christ, the very Son of Almighty God, came onto the scene that these annual sacrifices were required to atone or make amends for the sin committed against God. A price had to be paid.
          Christ willingly came to earth in the form of a created creature to grow up, mingle, minister and then, when the time was right, allow Himself to be brutally beaten and killed on a cross reserved for criminals.

2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
          His sacrificial death was necessary; the quintessential example of God’s love, mercy and grace was given up to eradicate or remove man’s sin for all time. There was no more need to merely cover up the sin with blood. Christ’s blood washes it away as if it had never occurred in the first place. What an indescribable gift God has bestowed upon His wayward creation. So remember, it is better if we do not sin; however, if we should happen to sin against God, we have an advocate, a mediator of sorts. One who stands in the gap we created by our sin. God loves us that much.


Monday, September 24, 2012


Hebrews 10:26-27 “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”
Deliberate 1. done consciously and intentionally; not impulsive.
          The writer of Hebrews rather bluntly lays out the future a sinner can expect if they are redeemed and then continue to deliberately go on sinning in the face of God’s miraculous grace. Grace is unmerited or undeserved favor. Sin cannot exist in the presence of God, who has no falseness or lack in Him. It is out of ignorance that people sin to begin with; and continued ignorance once they know of their sin and continue on in it. It can be nothing short of amazing that people shun the reading of God’s word which can sustain them through the truth written within. Knowing the truth and acting on it are two very different things; just like hearing God’s word preached and immediately forgetting what was said. God is patient. He created us so He knows what He is dealing with; a stiff necked people with a propensity for self-destruction.
          The beginning of chapter ten speaks of how there is no longer any sacrifice needed, as there was in Old Testament times. Then there was a blood sacrifice required each year to cleanse each individual of their sins. Once Christ came onto the scene, the emphasis shifted off annual animal sacrifices to one sacrifice meant for all for all time. Christ’s blood was necessary to cleanse all of mankind, like bleach removes all stains from a dirtied white garment. No repeated sacrifice would ever be needed again if you embrace God’s salvation. If you don’t, you’re still bound up in your sin and have no hope of being cleansed.
          I don’t have to experience a lake of fire to know that it’s an experience I do not want to go through. I have a pretty vivid imagination and with all the computer generated special effects we see in movies today, it isn’t all that difficult to see in my mind’s eye a person flailing about in a fiery lake. Not a place I want to be. There is a benefit however to having this image burned in our minds. It can lead us to take perhaps a little more seriously the fate of many around us and spur us on to attempt to introduce them to our Savior. We don’t need to bludgeon them with the gospel; Jesus never did. In love and mercy we are to extend our hand to them as a means of showing them truth. Kindness, mercy, grace extended minus judgment is a way to reveal God to others. Avoid continued sin, let God live through you and reach outward rather than inward as you strive to be more like Christ.


Saturday, September 22, 2012


IRRELEVANT - not connected with or relevant to something.
EXTRANEOUS - not forming an essential or vital part.

            In my efforts to become more like Christ (which I am not doing very well at), I acquired a word that I thought defined my role in the relationship: irrelevant. I use John 3:30 “He must become greater and I must become lesser” as my mantra. After taking a closer look at the definition of the word and pondering the topic a bit I thought of another word that would be more appropriate: extraneous. One of the meanings of extraneous is ‘not forming an essential or vital part’. That is perfect. While I am of immeasurable value to God, I am of little importance in the overall scheme of things. Now I expect that some might have an objection to my using this word to describe life with Christ, but it works for me. As the old saying goes, ‘if the shoe fits, wear it’.
            In the course of my life from now on I will try my best to become extraneous when involved in things of an eternal nature. Christ must increase in my life; His will, His desires, His precepts, His love and mercy, etc. My will and desires must become less essential … non-vital, in my life. That is what I mean by ‘becoming extraneous’. I even had a tee shirt made with that phrase on it and the scripture John 3:30 as a reminder to me and a message to those around me: in our lives as Christians, Christ must become all important and we must become unimportant. I recognize my place in God’s world; I am but a single grain of sand on the immense beach of all eternity. I also understand that while I am but a single grain of sand I am also capable of all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13) and I can be used as a conduit for God’s glory. I revel in my role as a grain of sand for God.
            It is my feeling that we as believers should all seriously consider joining the ‘becoming extraneous’ team. Will you join me?


Friday, September 21, 2012


2 Corinthians 11:13-15 “… such persons are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”
            Throughout the world today there are many who would speak and act as though they are a friend to Christianity, yet in their hearts there is darkness. How would we know who they are? How could we know when we are being duped by those who masquerade as believers of Christ. Their only mission is to subtly implant division within the body? Frankly, without the discernment provided by the Holy Spirit and the wisdom found in God’s word, we wouldn’t. Sweet talking jackals would try to persuade you, just as Satan did Eve in the Garden of Eden, to believe that which we should know to be untrue. We are at their mercy if we are not armed with the proper armaments. God provides for us all we will ever need to ward off the devil and live a victorious life, yet we go out without them leaving ourselves vulnerable.
            Being an American doesn’t automatically make us a Christian, although some may think so. Neither does going to church, nor saying all the right things or even doing good deeds. It’s a conscious choice of the soul, mind and spirit that chooses to believe and receive the redemption God so freely offers us all. Playacting only wastes your time and accomplishes nothing. God can see through a person’s histrionics as we would see through a freshly washed window. Thus it is so with those impersonating a follower of Christ. We see it in ministry throughout the world. False teachers hell bent on leading folks down a parallel path which veers off into oblivion. The followers become devout, taking the bait in the form of false teaching(s) ‘hook, line and sinker’. It’s only through diligence that we can avoid such a travesty. Many a faithful servant down through the ages has been lured by the hope of an easier path or a more palatable teaching. The ways of God are not easy. They require discipline. There is no easy way, for Christ is the only way to heaven. There is no other way to receive the forgiveness of sins, no matter how many people say there is. Truth doesn’t lie in the number of constituents, but rather in the identity of the source. Many seem easily drawn to honey dripping from the lips of silver tongue devils simply because they can be seen, heard with their own ears and perhaps even touched. Don’t be fooled. As scripture declares, “their end will be what their actions deserve”.
            Study God’s word. Know His voice. Discern by His Spirit and you will avoid being drawn off the narrow path God has chosen for you to travel. For without God’s direction, like a rudderless ship we will be prone to wandering aimlessly. It doesn’t need to be that way.


Thursday, September 20, 2012


Joel 2:32 “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved;…”
            Joel was a prophet of God who lived and prophesied in obscurity in Southern Judah. He lived in Jerusalem as he mentions Jerusalem and Judah in his writings. His name means “Yahweh is God”. He is the son of a man named Pethuel, which means "the open-heartedness or sincerity of God." Joel is considered by scholars to be one of the ‘minor’ prophets of the Old Testament.
            The book of Joel is broken into two distinct sections: Joel 1:2 thru 2:17, where the prophet speaks and Joel 2:18 thru its conclusion , where God speaks. Judah has been devastated by locust sent by God Himself due to their national disobedience. Israel has been worshipping God in show only and not from their hearts, tearing their robes and calling out to God with their prayers, all the while not living Godly lives. Joel points out in 2:12-13 that God wants them to tear their hearts, rather than their robes in true repentance, for God looks at the heart of a man and not that which is external. Joel is warning the Israelites to repent or a day of judgment shall surely come upon them. If they repent the judgment will befall their enemies alone and not themselves. Joel seems to be tying this ‘day of judgment’ with the end times ‘Day of the Lord’, when time shall cease and God’s White Throne Judgment will take place. God may use natural disasters or some other means to chastise His people as a way to get their attention and we may very well be seeing some of that today.
            It’s no different today as in Old Testament times when people stray and, in love, God seeks to bring them back into line. That is how much our God loves us. We have the tendency to take God and His blessings for granted. Our faith turns into nothing more than empty rituals and forms done out of duty rather than desire. The moral decay that has taken place in our nation is indicative of our inattention to the things of God. Our Heavenly Father is fair and just; His loving kindness towards us is matchless. He gives us chance upon chance to ‘right our ship’, so to speak, and once again seek His face in obedience. We should take heed of Joel’s words to the nation of Israel for the same undoubtedly applies to us today. His patience is lasting; however, there is coming a day when it will be too late to repent and be forgiven for our indifference to the things of God. Joel’s message is for believers in God, not the heathen. And it’s for us today, for in reality, we are no different than the Israelites in Joel’s day. Making God’s grace a cheap and valueless thing is a sin. Yet God patiently waits for us to recognize and acknowledge Him once again not just as our Savior, but also as our Lord.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
            We wrestle with our old nature a lot more than we have to and therein lies the basic reason why we all say things we shouldn’t say. We feed our minds with things that we shouldn’t feed it. It’s like the black dog / white dog illustration; the one fed the most is stronger. Feed the white dog. Some things seem ingrained in us. Foul language for example. If the truth be known, we all slip up from time to time. It shouldn’t be a normal speech pattern for us; however, it happens. The scripture that always gnawed at me was in James letter “to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations” (James 1:1).
James 3:9-12 “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
            He’s right. How is it possible that out of our mouths come both blessings and curses? I wish I knew. I am as guilty as the next person. It bothers me a lot and in that I suppose I should take some solace. At least I know the Holy Spirit is still convicting me of my bad behavior. It would be a major cause for concern if I didn’t care that I spoke improperly. It’s all part of the sanctification process. Will we allow ourselves to listen and learn from God’s Spirit so we can effectively alter our behavior? We need to.
            Our lives, whether Christian or not, are in a constant state of flux. We are changing every day, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. It depends on our heart’s attitude. We should be focusing on God and His word for direction, yet we rarely find the time. Even when we read scripture each day, its message doesn’t stick in our mind, heart or spirit as we forget what we have read moments later when life crowds it out. Our old nature will fight us as long as we let it. We can keep our old nature in check by feeding the white dog within. We can’t do this thing by ourselves. We need the help of God’s Holy Spirit to lead and guide us through this mine field called life. We can do it, but it takes us making an effort to change. God provides that change, we need to take ownership of it. God hasn’t taken us to the place we are at to simply drop us off and walk away. He loves us and will see us through whatever we are going through.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


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.”
            When we receive Christ we become His. He created us and even though we may not have lived for Him, He loves us. His substitutionary death on a cross secured salvation for all, yet many are either oblivious to this or simply not interested. The lack of interest comes from a basic ignorance to the true state of their soul. They chase after vain conceits and selfish ambitions. Solomon experienced all that life had to offer and came away saying in Ecclesiastes 1:14: “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” He concludes his writings with this:
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of every human being. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
            Solomon humbled himself as he concluded after much living that anything done on our own without God is meaningless. Futile efforts have abounded throughout the ages. Man’s pride will not allow him to bow down to anyone willingly. Yet this is what God requires; salvation in exchange for service ... redemption in exchange for obedience. Everything else is a chasing after the wind.
            As Christians, if we believe that God takes care of us then we should seek to do for others and not for ourselves. God has us covered. He will provide for and sustain us in all situations. We are of incalculable value to our Heavenly Father. We are to value others as God values us. Breaking out of our comfort zones is something we are not ready to do without somewhat of a shove. Once out, we find that serving others blesses not only the receivers, but us as well. We are cheating ourselves by thinking that we can hide away and not do anything for God. We rob ourselves of blessings never knowing how rewarding it is to step out and do something, anything for Christ. There are so many needy people out there that need God’s love, mercy and grace demonstrated first hand. I stand among you needing to honor God by seeking ways to bless others. It’s truly not all about us.


Monday, September 17, 2012


Ephesians 3:16-19 “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
            With all that we encounter each day, being endued with spiritual power in our core or inner being would be more than welcome without a doubt. Going it alone hasn’t worked out to well for most of us I would gather, I know it hasn’t for me. It’s quite a blessing to have all the resources of Almighty God at our disposal at all times to accomplish that which He has set before us. We don’t always take advantage of those resources, but they are readily available to us just the same.
            In the face of all the hate and anger we see in the world today, it’s refreshing to know that the love Christ places in our hearts can conquer all. Picking up a sword is not the answer, although I believe force is sometimes needed to quell the enemy. Love is a mighty weapon in and of itself. Love leads to acceptance with leads to compromise which in turn gives birth to peace and harmony. It isn’t always possible, for both parties have to be of like mind to seek peace through love and acceptance.       
            As we look at love, we must look at the prime example of love, the death Christ allowed Himself to endure for our sake. That is truly the premiere example of mercy, grace and love we shall ever know. Nothing this side of heaven can compare to it. Verse 18 raises a question about the love of Christ. I dare say it is impossible to comprehend the width, length, height or depth of the love Christ and in turn, God has for us all. Even in our most rebellious state He loves us. Even when we do wrong in the face of right, He loves us. Such love cannot be fathomed. We could never understand it if given a billion years. It cannot be deciphered. There is no formula that arrives at its’ conclusion. Such love, as scripture declares, “surpasses knowledge”. It cannot be understood. It is to be accepted and not figured out. The why and the wherefore of God’s love is incalculable.
            Therefore, Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is quite a bold prayer that we should embrace as our own. That in some form or fashion we might be able to get a glimpse into the true depth of the love our Heavenly Father has for us. That we might begin to understand that while God can never be mocked, if we revere Him with awe and seek to serve Him in obedience, we will feel that same love flowing through us. If we allow it to change us we will not and frankly could not ever be the same for we will then have a measure of the fullness of God dwelling within us.


Saturday, September 15, 2012


                 Life can be challenging a lot of the time. As Christians, if we have been taught properly and have a solid spiritual foundation, we can usually rise above the chaos and turmoil. We are painfully human and struggle more times than we need to, but God understands. He made us and knows all about us. He has a tremendous arsenal of spiritual weapons available to us yet we have this annoying habit of trying to go it alone. Not needing help is all well and good, but why row a boat against the current when a motor is readily available? One of these days we will all begin to realize who we are in Christ and start to assert ourselves spiritually, being bold in the face of trials and ministering fearlessly to those oppressed and in need. Until then, I suppose we will just continue to row.  


Friday, September 14, 2012


Philippians 2:5-8 “In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!”
            How many times have you heard of someone using their position or family ties to avoid some hardship, perhaps military service or even prosecution of a crime? It happens. Now consider who Christ was and it becomes hard to comprehend His actions. You or I may have done exactly what scripture suggests and had a legion of mighty angels come down upon those who sought to harm us. Yet Christ remained silent; He said and did nothing in His own defense. He literally took on the nature of a slave, stepped into mankind and ministered to the needs of those He created. This is the nature He wants us to have to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
            I have adopted a term regarding myself lately. It is ‘irrelevant’. Now I understand that I am of great value to God and so are you, but I also understand John the Baptist’s words in John 3:30 when he says of Jesus, “He must become greater; I must become less.” While we are of infinite importance to God when it comes to overall importance, He is far more important than we will ever be. What I mean by that is that He is the provider of redemption, we are the receiver of redemption. The creature can never be greater than its creator. So I am trying to serve God, yet remain irrelevant. Regarding books I have written, God is paramount, I am irrelevant. Whether people know my name or who I am is inconsequential and unimportant to me. It is far more important that His word get out to encourage and edify the body and minister salvation to a lost and dying world than for me to receive fame and fortune. That is what I mean by being irrelevant. I see myself as precious in the eyes of God, yet in reality nothing more than a speck of sand on the immense beach of life. He must increase; I must decrease. God shares His glory with no one and far be it from me to seek even the tiniest bit of that glory for myself.
            The death Christ suffered to the hands of evil men reveals to us the heart’s motivation of those who are unbelievers. They wish to snuff out any threat to their lifestyle or way of thinking. It’s no different today. Still, God is ready to receive all who would reach out to Him.


Thursday, September 13, 2012


2 Peter 2:9 “… if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.”
            2 Peter 2:4-9 speaks of examples where sinners were not spared His wrath and the righteous were rescued from calamity. The apostle Peter gives these as a point of reference and proof that God can save godly men from the trials and tribulations that have been allowed and cast out those who warrant punishment for their ungodly lives. Take the time to read the entire chapter, but verses 4-9 in particular. He makes a compelling argument with acts God has done most emphatically throughout scripture to underscore both His mercy and His justice. It becomes clear that those in this life who have received forgiveness for sins and opted to serve God truly have nothing to fear. We fear because we have either forgotten His promises to us or we have never known them. It needn’t be that way for the promises of God are available for all to read. They are best read in the context that they have been written to get the full effect and meaning. God is consistently working on our behalf and is ever mindful of not only our situation, but also the continued misdeeds of the ungodly. They will be dealt with at a preordained time when everything as we know it shall cease to be.
            Knowing that rescue is always on the mind of our Heavenly Father, we can go through our lives with a boldness that comes from obedient living. Knowing His word and living a life that is pleasing to God breeds this boldness. It’s not a prideful spirit that I speak of, but rather a refreshing joy and confidence that causes us to cast aside all hesitation and proclaim the glory of God to men. If we honor God with our lives, He will honor us. If we dishonor Him, we will be dishonored. Having said that it must be mentioned that God is long-suffering; His patience with us is astounding. I am not aware of anyone this side of heaven who exhibits such patience. His love for us is unconditional and never-ending. This too is a characteristic that is impossible to find in this created world. Most of what we do is based on conditions. It’s as if we were on our own and responsible for our own well-being. While that is true to a certain extent in our daily lives, nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to our overall existence. God is watching and doesn’t need to take notes. He knows our heart and knows those who are truly His. Rest in the fact that God loves you and will take good care of you always.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
            When it seems as though your whole world is crashing down on top of you it’s very hard not to be anxious. Look at Job in the Old Testament. He lost everything and was then afflicted with boils. You really can’t get much lower than that. In the face of such tragedy and pain Job proclaims in Chapter 1, verse 21: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." Paul tells the Philippians not to be anxious or worry regardless of the situations they encounter, but rather turn to prayer as a course of action. We are to be thankful for each set of circumstances we find ourselves in and know that according to the word of God, we shall be at peace if we pray for it. If we focus on our circumstances, we may tend to panic, but if our focus is on the Lord and His promises, calmness will begin to fill us and we will be at peace. This peace cannot be explained; it certainly makes no sense to the non-believer.
            To ‘transcend’ means that it exists not in a physical sense, but rather in thought or idea. Peace isn’t something you can experience with your senses, but is instead a feeling that comes over you and invades your mind and heart. This is what is meant when Paul says that God will guard your heart and mind. Peace will reside there. It will be experiential. It’s a learned thing. Lasting peace that transcends your being cannot be purchased or found anywhere but with God. It truly passes all comprehension.
            In the face of multiple tragedies Job was at peace. He realized that all that he had was from God and that God had the right to take away what He had given him. Everything we also have is from God, yet we fret and moan when we have anything taken from us. We blame God as if we had earned it ourselves. We must understand that everything is the Lord’s. He graciously gives us that which we have and needs us to be good stewards of it. The next time we are faced with trying situations, give it up to God and know in your heart that He will take care of you. He will fill you with His peace if you ask for it. Make things a matter of prayer. Speak to Him as you would to your father, for He is your Heavenly Father. Pray believing and not with skepticism. He loves you and cares for your needs.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Psalm 121:7-8 “The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
            Here is another couple verses of scripture that reveal to us how God cares for His children. Nothing will happen to us that God doesn’t either cause or allow. How could it possibly be any other way? If there was even one thing that was not in His control He would cease to be who He says He is. If He is truly all knowing and ever present, then how could anything be out of His control? In my estimation there couldn’t be. God promises, in far more places than just verse 7, that He will watch over us and keep us from all harm just like a shepherd does for his flock. We are safe in His care. There is no where that we can go that He is unaware of. He has intimate knowledge of all our comings and goings.
            This can be very good news or it can be very bad news, depending on where we are and what we are doing. If we are somewhere we ought not to be, then it is bad news. We may keep our whereabouts concealed from everyone on the planet, but God knows exactly where we are every second of every day. If we are where we are supposed to be or perhaps need to be and we are doing that which we should or need to be doing and if our intentions are pure and honorable, then we have absolutely nothing to fear. If evil have crept into our hearts and we are doing that which is wrong in the sight of God, then the fear of earthly things is the least of our problems.
            Knowing God’s word and living it are two very different things. If we are attempting to live it daily God will, by His Holy Spirit, guide us in the way that we should go. To live it we must know it and to know it we must read it, but even knowing God’s word backwards and forwards does a person no good if they don’t put it into practice. God is patiently looking for those who will allow themselves to be molded into the likeness of His Son. It’s a long, arduous lifelong process, but a process that is more than worthwhile. Living for God blesses us and in turn has the potential to bless those around us. God is watching over us continually and will never allow things to go off track if our eyes are fixed on Him and Him alone.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Isaiah 46:4 “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Psalm 37:25 “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”
            David writes in this Psalm that he has never in his entire life ever seen the righteous of God forsaken or going without. Through the prophet Isaiah, God tells the nation of Israel He is the One who made them and will sustain them. It should be comforting to us as grafted in believers to know that God is ever watching and sees what we need at all times. He also sees when we are in need of rescue. Throughout our lives, as we strive to live for Him, we will see and feel the hand and the presence of God Almighty as He provides for us.
            When I say grafted in, what I mean by that is that Israel is the chosen of God. When they rejected Christ as their Messiah the gospel was presented to Gentiles or all the non-Jewish peoples of the world (Romans 11:17-21). Paul cautions that we not think more highly of ourselves just because the Jews rejected Christ and we did not, for if God did not “spare the natural branches”, neither will He spare you. With humbleness and humility we are to graciously accept our status as those loved by God and understand that throughout our lives we share be blessed by God’s own hand if we devote ourselves to pleasing Him with our lives.
            I am finding that it is so much easier to believe God’s word than to put it into practice. God’s love and mercy are eternal and His grace is unprecedented, however, living for Him seems to get increasingly difficult in spite of His grace. We seem to have our old nature so ingrained in us that we struggle with the things of God. Paul wrote of this struggle in Romans 7:7-25. Verse 15 and 19 essentially sum up Paul’s problem: “… what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. … For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” Fortunately for us all Paul doesn’t leave us without an answer to this quandary. In verse 25 Paul reveals to us that God Himself is the One who delivers us from this body of death that we live in. So it appears to be a common malady among men. We stumble and fall regularly. It’s in the heart where our true feelings reside. God knows our hearts and will enable us to stand on the last day. I know myself that I fail miserably in my efforts to please God. I become depressed over my lack of obedience, yet I know when the dust settles at the end of the day that I am loved by God, completely and unconditionally. And so are you.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


            Several weeks ago something dawned I me. Let me go back to before last Christmas to tell this story. I went to church and upon entering the sanctuary I saw a lone old man sitting on the back row against the wall. I meandered over and sat down next to him, extended my right hand and said “Hi, my name is Rich.” He shook my hand, smiled and responded with “I’m Charlie.” We chatted a bit. I sat with Charlie during the service. I made a point of saying “Hi” to Charlie each time I saw him and made sure to ask how he was doing each time. He always sat by himself, alone. No one else ever spoke with him or came up to greet him. I honestly never gave it a second thought.
                A couple months ago it was announced from the pulpit that “Charlie” had passed away. I put two and two together and realized that it was the Charlie I had been speaking to. I asked the pastor about him and found out that Charlie had not been a very good man. Seems he mistreated his wife and was simply a very, very bad man. We discussed how perhaps it was his way of making some sort of peace with God. I began to think. You know, I knew nothing of Charlie’s misdeeds during this life and greeted him and was nice to him as if he had never done anything wrong in his life. The thought crossed my mind at that very moment and I shared it with Pastor:  Isn’t that just the way God is with us?


Friday, September 7, 2012


Colossians 1:16-17 “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
          If you believe the Bible is the infallible, unalterable, perfect word of God for instruction, encouragement and edification, then these two verses in Paul’s letter to the Colossians prove that God created all things. If you don’t believe that about the Bible or believe it only contains the word of God, then I guess you will believe whatever you choose to believe as divinely inspired or just consider it good reading material. Faith requires trust and belief in what you cannot see, hear, taste or touch. To the average mind, it simply doesn’t exist. To the seeker, the individual who feels there must be more than just being born, living and dying, and feels there must be a higher power at work, these words in Colossians mean something. Once the Holy Spirit quickens a spirit within one of God’s created beings, a hunger begins. We are drawn to God by that very same Holy Spirit. Faith will take you to the foot of the throne where God sits and orchestrates all of creation.
          To those that believe, it should be understood and generally accepted that Jesus is God in human form and the Holy Spirit is also God. Jesus walked the earth nearly two thousand years ago and once He ascended back to His rightful place at the right side of the Father the Holy Spirit was sent to inhabit all those who truly believe. The Holy Spirit is God in us. This doesn’t make us gods, nor does it make us God. It makes us children of God inhabited by His spirit. How can we not allow His spirit to guide and direct us? Why must we insist on straining at the leash, seeking to do our own thing? God knows us better than we could ever hope to know ourselves. Even so, He loves us and attempts to speak to us through His word, whether read, spoken or sung. Many times it’s like He is knocking but isn’t being allowed to enter in. We readily accept His forgiveness, yet mistakenly think it ends there. It doesn’t. God wants to use each one of us for His glory. We strain at the leash because we feel like we know what we’re doing.
          We strain at the leash because we don’t understand the complexity of God’s plan and the way things work in the spiritual realm. God desires only the absolute best for His children, however, that involves trust and surrender. We need to acknowledge to ourselves that we are truly lost without Him. We couldn’t save ourselves and we cannot get to heaven alone. Allow the Spirit of God to lead you where you need to go. God created all things; He can take good care of us if we let Him.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


John 14:23-24 “Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.’”
          In a world where people wear ‘Jesus is my home boy’ tee shirts and huge crosses filled with bling dangle from necks, we tend to wonder if they truly know Jesus or are just following the latest fashion trend. It seems popular to advertise the brand name rather than to live according to the statutes laid out and proclaimed by the individual linked with the name. God isn’t interested in advertising. He doesn’t need our help to proclaim in gaudy, obnoxious ways His existence through clothing or jewelry. He wants us to live for Him with our heart, mind, soul and strength. If we truly love Jesus we will obey His teachings. To not obey is to make a sham of everything He represents and truly is. Christ died so that we could live. What does that mean to us? Saying you love Jesus and obeying His teachings are two completely different things. If you love someone you tend to want to please them. You want to spend as much time with them as possible. You want to know all you can about them. Why is it so different when it comes to God?
          To know the teachings of Jesus is to read the Bible. That seems too much like exercise to us. Some would rather learn it by osmosis, unfortunately, even in the high tech day and age that’s not yet possible. We are going to have to pick up the Book and actually read it. And reading it isn’t enough. We must listen to what is being said. We don’t get to pick and choose which parts we want to obey. We must obey it all. Just like a ferry boat coming into dock, we are given a wide berth so as not to get damaged. God’s patience and kindness is unprecedented. You won’t find anyone this side of heaven who can match it. His never ending, unconditional love is in play continuously. He wants us to succeed in this life and has given us the instructions to do so. We must read them. We must live by them. We must trust God to provide for and sustain us through this life. If we don’t obey the teachings of Christ, then we are not truly His. And if we are not His then by association, we are not God’s. Who ever heard of loving someone and yet ignoring what they say?


Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Matthew 27:65-66 “‘Take a guard,’ Pilate answered. ‘Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.’ So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.”
          God’s plan went something like this: His Son, Jesus Christ, came to earth as a mortal man, was born, grew up and lived among men, ministered for three years and allowed Himself to be brutally beaten and nailed to a wooden cross. Once dead, He would be buried and three days later, be raised to new life. He would show Himself to His disciples, then ascend back to heaven from whence He came.
          When Christ was buried the Jews feared that His followers would remove His body from the tomb where He lay and proclaim that He had risen from the dead (vv. 62-64). So they went to Pilate and his plan to avoid such an event is documented above.
          We all know what happened according to scripture. Isn’t it interesting how God’s plan was so different from man’s plan? Also take note that nothing could stop God’s plan for taking place. Pilate’s plan was shoved aside, quite literally, as a single angel of the Lord was able to diffuse it simply by moving a huge stone it took several soldiers to put into place. That alone is testament to the size and strength of angels. I have found estimates to the size and weight of the stone in front of the tomb which state that given the size of the opening of the tomb, the stone may have weighed as much as 1-1/2 to 2 tons or the weight of a midsized car*. No single mortal man could have moved it. I believe God orchestrated this entire event to prove that Christ was not only raised from the dead, but that it would have been impossible for His body to have been stolen in front of Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb. An angel, endued with power from on high, was able to move any size stone with the greatest of ease. This tells me nothing on earth can thwart God’s plans. No matter what man may conjure up to stand in God’s way or discredit Him, their efforts will be shoved aside just like the huge stone that covered Christ’s tomb. Nothing can stop the plans of God – nothing. God does as He pleases for His own glory and for our ultimate good. We can choose to believe that or disregard it as myth or just plain rubbish. The evidence is given in scripture, however, you have to believe that the Bible is true to see that. It all comes down to faith. Who will you trust? Will you trust God or will you trust man? What good has any man done without being impressed or moved upon by God Himself in this life? I shudder to think of what this life would be like if there truly was no God.



Tuesday, September 4, 2012


2 Timothy 2:11-13 “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”
          Nestled in this letter from Paul to Timothy we find four conditional clauses. The first one speaks of our future with Christ and is borne out in the following verses:
John 5:24 "whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."
Romans 6:8 "if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him."
          The second clause speaks of the condition of the saved person. If they endure in their faith to the end and do not fall away they shall be with Christ for all of eternity. The third clause reveals to us that to deny Christ is to result in being denied in the end. This is not referring to a singular event, such as when Peter denied Christ three times within a very short period of time, but rather an extended period of denial which would be represented by the individual’s lifestyle. The fourth and final clause tells us that though our faith may fail and unbelief may enter our hearts, God shall remain faithful, keeping each and every promise He has declared in His word.
          Redemption is a very real event in the life of an individual. We are not to serve God as we choose, when we choose and do as we please otherwise. God is a very faithful, loving, merciful Heavenly Father to us. However, His benefits and promises made are for those who would believe and not doubt. When I speak of doubting, I am speaking of habitual and repeated doubting as if to be double minded, not trusting God to do that which He has said. Faith and trust are the backbone of Christianity, with the crucifixion being the focal point and the resurrection being the glorious result of all of God’s precious promises. For without a blood sacrifice, represented by Christ’s bloody, horrific death on a cross, God’s redemptive work to save mankind from his sin would have gone undone. Without the subsequent resurrection, the completion of such a redemptive work would have gone unfulfilled. We must as believers take our walk with Christ seriously. Seeking God must be a part of our daily schedule. Even a short time in God’s word, when done sincerely without a sense of obligation, but rather a genuine desire, can benefit us tremendously. We don’t have to read the Bible and serve God, but we can. The fact that we have the opportunity to read the word of God should thrill us and the fact that God wants to use us for His glory should make us feel honored. Does it?


Monday, September 3, 2012


Isaiah 48:17 “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”
          Throughout the Old Testament the nation of Israel proved to be a stubborn, stiff-necked people. In Chapter 48, the prophet Isaiah is voicing God’s reminders of what He has said to them and done for them in the past. Above we see a key reminder that we can apply to ourselves as well.
          God was and is and ever shall be. He knows all things that can be known and yet we still strain at the leash and want to run ahead as if we know the way to go. He attempts to teach us that which is in our best interests yet we barely pay attention, believing in our hearts that we know exactly what we are doing. Sadly, this is rarely the truth, if ever. We, as the people of God, believe in our hearts far too often that we can find our own way and know what is best for us. We cannot know. We are too easily drawn to the baubles and bangles of this life. Even the most focused individual struggles to stay on the course of their own choosing, stopping all along the way to dabble in diversions. We find it hard to comprehend and therefore pay no mind to the fact that God truly does know us better than we could ever hope to know ourselves and definitely has our best interests at heart. However, seeking, waiting and knowing God takes time and we simply aren’t willing to wait.
Proverbs 12:15 “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.”
Proverbs 21:2 (NLT) “All a man's ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.”
Proverbs 16:25 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
          Unfortunately for mankind, they take far too many things in the Bible as mere suggestions, or statements that are from mortal men rather than God Himself. Solomon, in all His wisdom, authored the Proverbs for our instruction and spiritual growth, yet we barely give them a cursory glance, feeling God can’t possibly know what our circumstances are. We forget where we came from and rely on our own intellect to accomplish those tasks that confront us. It’s God who created us and God who wishes to assist us in this life. If we fail to realize this we will stumble through life unfulfilled and ill at ease. Believe in God or don’t, but don’t say you believe and then ignore His directives. Being a Christian isn’t simply going to church on Sundays or any other day for that matter. Being a Christian is to allow God to alter your life and your lifestyle from the inside out each day of your life on this earth. Christ didn’t die for us to live as we choose, but rather for us to choose to live for Him.


Saturday, September 1, 2012


          Went to see the Charlie Daniels Band last night at the Taj Mahal Resort and Casino in Atlantic City. Walking through the resort portion of the facility on my way to the arena I heard the following from what I refer to as a carnival barker … you know, the people with a microphone who hawk stuff to the public. Well, apparently they were giving gifts away to people in attendance. The woman with the mic brought a man up by her, asked how his day was going. He must have lost money gambling because he said “not very good”. Her reply caught my attention. “Oh, well at least you’re having fun, right? Cuz that’s what it’s all about.” Obviously not for him. Her reply was curious though and indicative of much of society today. ‘Aw, you lost a thousand dollars tonight in the casino, too bad. But you had fun doing it, didn’t you? Yes, of course you had fun. Work with me here … cuz having fun in spite of your pain or loss or despair or embarrassment is all that matters, right?’ Wow. Sorry, don’t see the correlation between losing money and fun. The hedonists of the world, those seeking pleasure, rejoice at the whole concept of winning and losing and drinking and free stuff and just plain having fun. Their idea of ‘fun’ is grossly skewed and seems dictated by what others have defined as fun. Frankly, I have fed a twenty dollar bill into a machine in AC once or twice but have learned my lesson and learned it rather quickly. It’s not fun to watch your twenty dollars slowly dwindle down to nothing in the course of 5-10 minutes. Hmm, so this is fun. Never knew that. Gotta stop having so much fun.
          The concert? It was great! Charlie is a Christian man who loves America and can still play a mean fiddle and guitar even at 76 years of age. Played all his big hits, did some jamming with the band, played Folsom Prison Blues in honor of the late Johnny Cash and sang a heartfelt rendition of How Great Thou Art. Played for about 90 minutes and the crowd left satisfied.