Monday, July 21, 2014

There's work, and then there's Work

Matthew 7:
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

I remember my first real job.  When I say real job, I mean my first job that was hard work.  I'd mowed grass and stuff, but that wasn't really all that bad.  Mow some grass, make a little cash.  No biggie.  No, my first real job was hanging dry wall with my papaw.  That was Work.  It was hot, it was sweaty, it was hard, it was tiring.  I still remember how hard it was to hold those pieces of sheet-rock up on the ceiling of a room while my papaw did his best to get the piece screwed into ceiling before my arms gave out.  

Mowing grass earned me some money, but I didn't really consider it work.  Hanging sheet-rock was a whole different matter.  I earned a lot more money, but man, it was harder work.  This section of the book of Matthew kind of goes along with the same theme.  There's work, but then there's Work. 

There's two types of work described in these verses.  The one group did all kinds of amazing things: they cast out devils, they almost certainly healed the sick, and they gave good words of encouragement or even prophetic statements.  But what did Jesus think of their work? 

The second instance of work: can you find it? "24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:"  The work that Jesus really found impressive was not the flash stuff, the big stuff that gets the attention of the crowds.  The work that really impressed Jesus was simply hearing what Jesus said and then doing what Jesus said.  He compares those who do those things with wise men, master builders, those who's work stands up to the storms of life.  

There's nothing wrong with mowing grass, and there's nothing wrong with working for the Lord.  But, I think what Jesus finds more impressive is following him and obeying him. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Getting Serious

Matthew 5:13,20

Yesterday, I stayed home from work and took care of my kids as my wife has been battling some illness the last couple days.  First thing, we went outside so they could ride their bikes.  I got out a folding camping chair and sat out reading my bible while they raced and laughed and smiled.  I read from a different version of the bible than the one I normally read. 

You see, I have this weird struggle with trying to read the word, but not letting it get so familiar that it loses its punch.  I don't want to be so familiar with it, that I just kind of gloss over it as, "Yeah, I've read that before."  If I may use an illustration: When I was dating my wife Jamie, I never would have shown up to see her in some sweatpants and an old t-shirt with paint marks all over it.  It doesn't matter if it was our 3rd date or our 30th date, I was going to take a shower, wear clean clothes, and probably splash on some kind of aftershave. 

But things change.  We've been married 14 years now, and there's been more than a couple days where I wore my pajamas most of the day and/or didn't shower.  Being familiar with her, in some ways, allows me to be a little sloppy.  I'm not saying it's right, but it happens. 

So yesterday I'm reading and watching my kids play and I run into Matthew 5:13; it kicked me in the gut.  "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men."  Am I taking God seriously?  Am I taking his commands seriously, or am I playing at them, glossing over them like a magazine that I've read before in a Dr.'s office?  And then to finish off the one-two punch, I ran straight into verse 20, "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."

The scribes and pharisee's were masters of religion.  They knew the right words to say, they knew the scriptures backwards and forwards.  They knew the rituals and requirements, but they didn't live it out.  They didn't live out, "love God with all your heart."  They didn't live out, "love your neighbor as yourself." Instead of living out the blessed life characteristics we see at the beginning of chapter 5 (poor in spirit, meekness, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, peacemaking, persecuted for being righteous, persecuted for living according to my faith and being like my master Jesus)...I'm wondering if my life doesn't look more like the good moral atheist, or agnostic down the street?  I'm wondering what devout Muslims think of my faith when my holy scripture and my life don't mesh up.  I'm wondering how I got so sloppy with my faith and the commands of the Son of God?

If salt loses it's saltiness, the only remedy is to get new salt.  The old salt is good for nothing but being thrown out, so I'm throwing some attitudes, habits, and behaviors out as their righteousness.  It won't be easy, but needed things seldom are.  Serious things aren't easy, so if you would, pray for me.  Thanks. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kind of Different Post Today

Proverbs 16
9 The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

Well, no anecdotal story today folks. I just want to jump right in and be real with you for a bit. Verses like this one mess with me. I don’t like them, to be very honest. If I’ve made my plans, but the Lord directs my steps, trying to rationalize and internalize it, it means that some of the roads I’ve been down, even the ones I don’t like or the ones I’m ashamed of, were directed by God.  I grew up where I grew up because God directed it.  I went to school where I went to school because God directed it.  I went down roads and paths that caused scars because God directed it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that God has it out for you.  He doesn't.  And I'm not saying that he’s trying to make you sin by leading you down some paths. It’s written that God has no part of sin and doesn’t tempt men to sin. I’m not saying, “God made me do it.” But what I am saying is that God takes us places. He took his Son places, so why should we expect any more or less. It’s written in Matthew ch.4 how Jesus was lead into the wilderness by the spirit to be tempted by the devil.

Verses like this fly in the face of the cozy old bearded man God that just spoils us rotten, the kind of God we would like to have. No. This God is different. He directs our steps, and sometimes that means directing us to places we’d rather not go. Sometimes the places we’re lead to are places of trial and testing, and sometimes we’re lead beside the still waters that flow through fertile valleys.

I guess this verse stood out to me today because I see more and more in my own life how I try to treat God more as a doting grandfather than The Almighty, The All-Powerful, The One that We Can’t Bear to Look Upon. This verse reminds me that God, the real God, has plans, and he’ll see them through. He doesn’t leave all to chance and to the whims of men. No matter what happens today, or this week, or this month, rest assured that God is the one directing men’s steps. And we know from scripture (Romans 8:28) that in all things, God works for the good of those that love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I don't like that I'm being directed, and sometimes to scary places.  But I can rest in the fact that God loves us.  He wants to build us up into what he had envisioned us to be at our creation, and he's working day and night to chip away at the stone we're encased in to reveal the beautiful sculpture we're meant to be. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Spotlight Tag

Proverbs 15
3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
Watching the evil and the good.

During the summer when I was a kid, we’d play spotlight tag. All the kids who lived in our little corner of Corinne Bottom would meet up at the basketball goal by the Shifflette’s house. We’d scrounge up a flashlight, and the game was on. You could hide in yards, under cars, in trees. We were hard core. The secret of a good hiding spot for me was picking a small place kind of out in the open and stay absolutely motionless. Other kids would hide in normal kind of hiding spots. I’d hide beside a porch or by a bush by a house and no one could find me.

The point of spotlight tag was to avoid the light. If you get caught in the light, well, that’s it, you’re done, game over, you’re now it. And nobody wants to be it. Being it is the worst. So, you find a dark spot, and you keep quiet. After a while, your eyes get used to the dark; you become accustomed to it.

I think we still play this game, or try to play it with God. We don’t want the light to shine on us. It’s too bright, people might see where we’ve been in the dark. We try to convince ourselves otherwise, but you can’t really hide from God. Adam and Eve tried it and God found them. I believe it was King David who said that even if he went to the pits of hell to hide the Lord would find him there.

You see, we tend to think the Lord wants to put the light on us to put us on the spot, to shame us, to drag us kicking and screaming into the light so that our dark deeds will be revealed. But for God, it’s not a game of spotlight tag. He doesn’t want you to be it. He wants to set us free. He sent his Son, not to judge us or shame us, but to be it for us. The eyes of God see all men, good and evil. He seeks them out, not to expose their hiding spots, but to free them from a live of hiding and cowering in the shadows.  He offers a new chance.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Proverbs 14
27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
That one may avoid the snares of death.

Chocolate fountains. Fruit punch fountains. But, there’s something about little kids and water fountains. My kids love to get a drink from a water fountain. Stores, parks, schools- all are ripe fields for some sweet water fountain goodness. I remember when I was a kid, one of the coolest things about school was that they had water fountains. I don’t know, for kids, there just seems to be something magical about it.

So, whenever I see the word fountain, my mind automatically goes back to grade school and water fountains and how my kids just can’t seem to pass one up. Fear of the Lord is a fountain. It’s not a chocolate fountain; it’s not a punch fountain. It’s something way better. A fountain of life. Too often, I think I’m content with a little trickle of life, when what God wants for me, and what Jesus provides, is a gushing living fountain of life.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Leaving a Legacy

Proverbs 12
3 A man will not be established by wickedness,
But the root of the righteous will not be moved.

I think for most men, legacy is important. We want to do something or leave something that lasts. We want to make an impact that makes the world different, and hopefully better, than it was before we were here.

How do I, as a normal everyday guy, leave a legacy or make a mark on the world? I’m not a rich guy. I’m not a powerful guy. Does that matter? What establishes a man, and allows him to put down lasting roots/foundations?

Over and over we read that it’s not riches that last. Power and influence rarely get passed down from generation to generation. If God’s word is true, and I believe it is, the way you and I can leave a legacy, the only legacy that will count and last in the face of eternity, is a legacy of righteousness. Fame is fleeting; riches disappear in an instant with a swing in the stock market.

But righteousness…the root of the righteous will not be moved. Though a storm comes through and ravages the plant, it’s roots hold firm and ensure new growth. The root of the righteous is held and nourished by God, the very word of God.

Friday, July 11, 2014


Proverbs 11
19 He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life,
And he who pursues evil will bring about his own death.

I remember the first 401k I contributed to. Make no mistake about it, I know next to nothing about stocks and mutual funds. The performance of that account bears witness to it. This was before the great recession, and it appeared from my statement that I was just giving money away. It was bad.

We all make investments every day. Every minute that goes by, every word that’s read, every word that’s spoken, and every relationship is an investment. God’s word tells us that we’ll reap what we sow. If we invest righteousness, we’ll reap it and vice versa. Today’s verse is another reminder: Dump those stocks that don't line up with righteousness, and invest heavily in God’s heavenly accounts.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

And then there was Silence

Proverbs 10
19 When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.

In light of today’s verse, I’ll keep this one very short.  In addition to keeping you from sticking your foot in your mouth, restraining your lips has another valuable effect. It makes your words heavy, it makes them mean something. Someone with ‘flood of the mouth’ disease’- honestly I end up ignoring most all of what they say. Basic supply and demand says that if there is an abundance of something, the price or value will be lower than if there is a shortage of something.  But a quiet person- when they talk, I’ll listen because they’re talking with purpose, with weight behind it. If you want to have weightier words, use them less often.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Proverbs 9
2 She has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine;
She has also set her table;

Our puppy died yesterday. It is sad, and tragic in every sense of the word. My daughter loved that little puppy like it was her own little baby, and now he’s gone, and honestly I want to help her so much. I want to be able to take the weight she’s carrying, and carry it for her. I want to give her peace and comfort. I want to give her the life she had before the accident occurred, before her heart was broken.

I can’t help but think that God feels the same way when he looks at us. I can’t help but think he must feel exactly like I feel when I look into the big green eyes of my daughter and see the pain and the hurt behind them. We try to comfort her, but she won’t accept, at least for now, that accidents happen.

Wisdom prepared lavish food and drink, and set a table from which we could live well. Wisdom made the preparations, but we have to respond, we have to accept, in order to enjoy what’s been prepared for us. In the same way, God made preparations for us. In his infinite wisdom, he saw the pain, the hurt, the burden that we all would be carrying around. He looked in our eyes and saw the shame and guilt.

He prepared a way to take our heavy burden, our guilt, our shame, our pain. He prepared a way for us to have life, and have it more abundantly. He prepared a way for us to have peace even in the worst storms of life. He prepared Jesus just for you and me. Just as we have to respond and accept wisdom’s call and invitation, we must also, if we’re to free ourselves from sin and the heavy weight that comes with it, accept God’s call and the preparations he made through the sacrifice of his Son.

I’m not God. I can’t take away Kaili’s hurt. I can’t restore the peace and joy she had before. But God can. And he can do the same for you. I’m hoping that you, and Kaili experience the fullness of His peace and comfort today through Jesus.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

God doesn’t Play Favorites

Proverbs 8
4 “To you, O men, I call,
And my voice is to the sons of men.

Gym class. Nothing sums up Middle School like gym class. A couple people were picked to be team captains, and then you had to wait, and sometimes wait a long time, to be picked for a team for whatever game we were playing. Kick ball, I was always picked early. Dodge ball, that’s a different story. I was always a little guy, so hurling a dodge ball at great speed wasn’t a strength of mine. But, regardless of which game we were playing, the cool kids got picked first. It was more of a “who do you like” more than “who is good at this game”. Kids pick their favorites, and a lot of times grownups pick their favorites. But does God play favorites?

This verse tells us that wisdom, and God himself, calls out to all men. The offer of wisdom, the offer of God’s Son is for anyone who will stop, listen, and receive. I think that’s important to note. The verse doesn’t say Israel and the Sons of Israel. It says men and the sons of men. Though the Hebrew people hold a special place in God’s plan, I think his call is to all men. He sent his Son so that all men could be reconciled to him. His Holy Spirit backed up that statement in Acts ch. 10 when he baptized the household of Cornelius.

So, my thought today is this: God’s call is to everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re poor or rich, tall or short, thin or not so thin. Today, God is calling out to you. I pray that you’ll stop, listen, and receive what he has for you. He wants you on His team.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Treasure Hunt

Proverbs 7
1 My son, keep my words
And treasure my commandments within you.
2 Keep my commandments and live,
And my teaching as the apple of your eye.
3 Bind them on your fingers;
Write them on the tablet of your heart.

I remember when I was a kid, my little brother, me, and my best friend who lived down the street would have Nerf battles. We had Nerf guns, Nerf Ball Canons, and even a Nerf Bow and Arrow. The battles were epic. We even mixed it up into a hide and go seek kind of game. One time my best friend hid in my little brother’s closet. We had been playing for a while, running around and being wild little kids. I guess he got too hot sitting in the closet waiting for my little brother to find him, and he passed out. He fell on my little brother’s Ninja Turtle Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Turtles game and crushed it. Was my little brother concerned that our friend had passed out and that something might be wrong? Nope. “Get off my toys.”

Like most little kids, his toys were his treasure, and I’ve been guilty of the same. I’ve treasured musical instruments, toys, and other things. But what if I treasured God’s word and his commandments? What if I treated his word as if it were a 1959 Les Paul ( a rare guitar worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and highly sought out in the guitar world). At the start of this new week, lets recalibrate what we regard as treasure, and turn our hearts and minds to God and his word.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Net Worth

Proverbs 6
12 A worthless person, a wicked man,
Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth,
13 Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet,
Who points with his fingers;
14 Who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil,
Who spreads strife.

At the time, Bill Gates is the richest man in the world with over 79 billion dollars estimated net worth. Billion. With a B. The youngest billionaire in the world is a 24 year old from Hong Kong. The oldest is a 99 year old American. We’ve talked before about how God’s math is different from ours. In our society, net worth is a handy number to quantify someone’s wealth. And wealth in our society, more often than not, equates to worth.

Take Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Mr. Zuckerberg is 30 years old and has an estimated net worth of 29.3 billion dollars. He is, for all intents and purposes, a rock star. Companies and individuals would, and probably do, pay lots of money for his time and attention. Warren Buffet, with an estimated net worth of over 66 billion, is an incredibly influential person in the finance world. When he speaks, people listen. When he acts, people follow behind.

This is no slam against wealth, or the incredibly wealthy. I mention these folks merely for perspective. Either Mr. Zuckerberg or Mr. Buffet could buy the city I live in a dozen times over; their influence is immense. But you can be a man, or a woman, of high worth and have a relatively meager net worth. My net worth is laughable, especially compared to Mr. Buffet and Mr. Zuckerberg, but when God looks at you and me, he doesn’t look at our bank account, our ledger sheet, or our corporate achievements. He looks at our character.

A man could be rich beyond my imagination or means, but God’s word says that a man’s word can render him worthless. A man who’s words and intent don’t line up, winking with his eyes and signaling with his feet, can bring a man’s net worth down to the gutter. I encourage you to keep striving in your walk to be a man or woman of God. And I hope that you find encouragement in knowing that just a little talk with Jesus can bring your account back into the black.

For those interested, here is a list of the world richest men and women.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Distractions and Habits

Proverbs 4
25 Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
26 Watch the path of your feet
And all your ways will be established.
27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left;
Turn your foot from evil.

Birds singing right outside the window, kids playing and laughing and talking, dogs barking, the TV, the radio. It seems like they are all pulling at me at some point or another. It’s easy, at least for me, to get distracted. It’s easy to get my eyes off God, and onto things and situations.

I wish I had a secret trick to stay focused: some kind of process or button I could press to get straightened back out. The closest thing I can think of is habit. Habits are powerful, and they don’t have to be bad. You can have good habits, too.

Make it a habit to get in the word every day. Make it a habit to look to God and to ignore distractions. Make it a habit to trust and hope in Him. Make a habit of stepping back each day and recalibrating your life to God. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The God of Little and Lots

Proverbs 3
9 Honor the Lord from your wealth
And from the first of all your produce;
10 So your barns will be filled with plenty
And your vats will overflow with new wine.

I remember as a kid, my mom taught me about tithing. I’d get a little bit of money for my allowance, and she taught me how to figure out how much to tithe and all that. I’ve tithed on every paycheck I’ve ever had: from my first job as a teenager to my current job in IT.

Some of my paychecks have been pretty meager. Does that matter to God? Does he honor my larger tithe checks more than he did my small checks? No. He honored the Widow’s two copper coins above the lavish gifts of the rich. He honored my tithe when it wasn’t much, and blessed us abundantly. I guess the though that I get from this verse is that God doesn’t care about the amount, it’s about the act and obedience. It’s about honoring God first. Whether your 10% is a lot or a little, when you honor God with it, he will bless you. He is true to his word. I’m praying that today your vats will overflow and your fields provide you with plenty.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Eulogy Building vs Resume Building

Hey, folks.  Just a side thought here.  I recently read an article, and the thesis really stuck with me.  In the article, the author postulated that most of us live our lives to build our resumes, but that if we really thought about it, we should instead be living our lives in a way to build our eulogies and provide good material for folks to share at our funerals. 

This thought is really sticking with me and my mind just can't let it go, so I thought I'd share it here.  I've made a lot of resume decisions: building skills, getting a "better" job, working late and coming in early, and etc, but, how many eulogy decisions have I made?  How many could I make in a day, in a month, or in a year?  How can I, as a young dad, husband, and provider, transition from a Resume mindset to a Eulogy mindset? 

Less Sloppy, More Joe

1 Peter 1:17 (MSG)
17 You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.

 Sloppy Joes.  If there's a better meal for a kid, I don't know it.  It's a meal that invites you to eat it with reckless abandon.  Make a mess, it's ok, sloppy is in the name.  It's not a black tie and coat tail meal.  It's Sloppy Joes, not "Everything Stays where it Should" Joes.  Sloppy Joes are easy: brown some beef, throw in the sauce, mix it all up and spoon it out.  Done. 

But sloppy is no way to live, day in day out.  As Christians, we've embraced the reality that we have responsibility to the Living God.  Just like Sloppy Joes, sloppy living is easy.  Trust me, I've done it and have to fight against it.  It's easy.  This verse is a reminder that we have a responsibility, and will be held responsible, for how we live and the impact and influence we have.  I'm praying that you'll have Steak today instead of Sloppy Joes. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Who Controlls Your Inheritance

1 Peter 1:3-5
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Yesterday I read a story about a man, and I forget his name so lets call him John.  John had about $400,000 in a 401k that he wanted to leave to his children when he passed away.  On the dispursement form, he wrote down "dispersed according to my will."  Which seems like a good idea.  He put how he wants everything doled out in his will, and he pointed everything to his will.  All is good, right?  Wrong. It seems that isn't an officially recognized way to fill out that form, and his wife at the time (who married him 2 months before he died) got everything and the kids are left high and dry. 

That is a tragic story, and it would be even more tragic if our inheritance was as corruptible and as easily defiled.  But, our inheritance isn't the fickle earth wealth that is here today and fades like the grass tomorrow.  We have a heavenly inheritance that is imperishable, and undefiled.  We have an inheritance guaranteed by the blood of Jesus, Son of Almighty God.  We have an inheritance that's reserved in heavenly and holy places, where no darkness or corruption can reach.  Our inheritance is guaranteed and controlled by the very word of God.  Praise Him, his word can't be overridden by technicalities.  It's solid.  I'm praying that you'll rest assured that you have a great inheritance waiting for you.