Discipleship is like one child telling another child where the cookies are.

Last Saturday, I had the honor of leading our men’s Ironman breakfast. My topic (all 9 minutes of it) was on the importance of having an intentional time with the Lord at the start of each day. Since not all people are morning people (I called them early birds vs. night owls), each person should adapt his time with the Lord according to his schedules, both personal and social ones.

From Scripture, we learn that Jesus got up each morning and had an intentional time with His heavenly Father, “And in the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and prayed there for a time” (Mark 1:35).

Isaiah had a personal time with the Lord, as well,

The Lord God has given me the tongue of disciples,
So that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.
He awakens me morning by morning,
He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple.

I learned the other day that there are two parts to prayer: the talking part and the listening part. Among other ways, such as inspiration, friends, and circumstances, Bible reading is the listening part when the Holy Spirit speaks to us from God’s Word. Remember: Christ IS the Word, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

Tools for the trade:

  1. A real Bible. Using a real Bible helps us remember where a specific verse is located. We may not remember the exact verse number, but we stand a good chance of remembering a chapter and where the verse was located on the page.
  2. A pencil or pen. We should not be afraid to mark in our Bibles. They are just books. The Word of God is the knowledge that is stored in the words. Marking special verses and making notes to other verses helps us know His Word better.
  3. A notebook. Writing down what we learn helps us remember. It also gives us something to turn to later on when for reference. We can also write prayers to God, which is a great way to incorporate Scripture.
  4. 3×5 note cards. Making a card collection of our favorite Scriptures and then walking through them daily helps us to memorize them. We can also make lists of people for which to pray. Having different cards for different days helps, too.
  5. Coffee! Whether it’s coffee, tea, diet coke, or whatever, it’s good to have something to sip on to help concentration. (A little caffeine doesn’t hurt, either!)

In this world, the momentum is going the wrong way. We must be deliberate and intentional about our time with the Lord. We don’t become like Christ by default. Let’s pray for each other that we would become deliberate disciples of Christ.

Abba, time with You is vital. It’s why we got saved! To have You inside us and then ignore You makes no sense at all. May we spend time (preferably early) in prayer, both talking and listening, so that we connect with You. This connection will last all day if we will practice living life in Your presence. Make Yourself known to us, O Lord. Amen.


If we had to work for our salvation, we would be in BIG trouble. Jesus has already done all the work!

What exactly were the Judaizers preaching that got Paul so upset? Let’s take a look as we delve into the reason for the letter to the churches in Galatia.

From GotQuestions.org:

In the early church, those who taught a combination of God’s grace and human effort were called “Judaizers.” The word Judaizer comes from a Greek verb meaning “to live according to Jewish customs.” The word appears in Galatians 2:14 where Paul describes how he confronted Peter for forcing Gentile Christians to “Judaize.”

According to the Judaizers, a person couldn’t be a Christian without following the Jewish customs, which included circumcision. Paul used circumcision as the encapsulation of Judaism, of abandoning being saved by grace alone and “going backward,” trying to be saved through works again. Paul said,

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Galatians 3:2-3

Earlier in his letter, Paul stated how a person is justified,

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. Galatians 2:15-16

What can we deduce from this passage?

  1. Works of any kind do not save a person. Forgiveness has already been given by Jesus through His FINISHED work on the cross. To continue to work for something that has already been given is to discredit the gift.
  2. Jews already knew that the law could not truly justify them. It is why they looked for Messiah to come. Psalm 130:7-8 says, “Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” The fact that they had to offer sacrifices each year reminded them that their sins were only covered and not washed away. Only Jesus’ blood shed on the cross could wash away their sins.
  3. Our belief (faith) in Christ’s redemption of the whole world is why the gospel was being preached in Galatia to the Gentiles along with the Jews. This good news was available to all who would receive it!

Paul concluded his letter with this unequivocable statement, “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation” Galatians 6:15. Paul left no doubt about where he stood on the matter. We would do well to remember that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit love us as only They can love. Forgiveness is already given! Therefore, let’s give thanks to Them for that love, forgiveness and grace and live our lives in assurance and gratitude.

Abba, thank You for the saving work of the cross. It’s where Your self-giving love shone on us, and it’s where we receive Your forgiveness that You offer freely to all who will come. May we be lights for You that point others to the One who wants to save them: Jesus Christ. Amen.


Knowing what we believe is important, but knowing in Whom we believe is vital!

Paul’s indictment of the Galatians of turning to a different gospel was quite a detour from the beginning of his other letters. He got right to the point,

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:6-7

What exactly was the gospel that Paul declared to them? We find clues from his other letters:

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Let’s see:

  1. Paul did not use eloquence or flowery speech;
  2. Paul did not use reason or intellect to try to persuade them;
  3. He proclaimed Jesus Christ, “…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (15:3-4);
  4. The weakness to which he refers might possibly have been his eyes, “Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me” (Galatians 4:15);
  5. Paul demonstrated the power of the Spirit among them, “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul [in Ephesus], 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them” Acts 19:11-12);
  6. Paul wanted their faith to be based upon God’s power to save rather than human wisdom.

And Corinthians is just one example. Tomorrow, we will look at what the Judaizers were “preaching.” For today, let’s give thanks to the Lord for the freedom we have in Christ.

Abba, thank You for basing our salvation on the finished work of Christ. Thank You for freeing us to follow You according to the Spirit who is in us. That in itself is a marvel! Amen.


Drawing parallels from the Old Testament to the New Testament makes His Word come alive!

Let’s look at the similarity between Paul and Jeremiah in their calling to the Lord’s work. Let’s look at Jeremiah’s first:

The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
Jeremiah 1:5-10

Points to remember:

  1. God set him apart in his mother’s womb.
  2. God put His words in Jeremiah’s mouth.
  3. He was appointed over nations and kingdoms.

Now, let’s look at Saul/Paul’s calling from his own testimony to King Agrippa in Acts 26:16-18,

16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

From Galatians 1:15-16,

15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.

Points to remember:

  1. Jesus set Paul apart from his mother’s womb, just like Jeremiah.
  2. Jesus “put His words in Paul’s mouth” to be a witness and testify, just like Jeremiah.
  3. He was appointed to go to stand before kings and rulers, just like Jeremiah.

My point is this: Paul may call us out of the Old Covenant law concerning how to be right with God, he makes much about the New Covenant fulfilling the Old Covenant and that we receive our perspective of the New from the Old. WE NEED BOTH!

The more we know of one helps us to know more of the other.

Abba, help us to discipline ourselves to read both the Old and the New Testaments so that we can grasp the height, depth, width and breadth of Your love for us. “Open our eyes that we may discover wonderful truths in Your Word” (Psalm 119:18 adapted). Amen.


History comes alive in the details. Was Paul’s letter to the Galatians written before or after the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15)?

Today, we answer the question, “Who are the brothers and sisters with Paul?” I looked online to see if I could get a definitive answer to where Paul was when he wrote Galatians, but this is what I found:

Gary Torborg, Southern Methodist University-
Paul’s letter to the Galatians is likely the first such letter to be written, somewhere between 47 and 50 A.D near the start of Paul’s Second Missionary Journey. Paul had visited the region previously on the way home from his First Missionary Journey (Acts 14:1–28). After the Council of Jerusalem, Paul embarked on the Second Missionary Journey (Acts 15:36–16:10). Shortly after passing through the Galatian region again, he arrived in Corinth where it is most likely the location where he was informed of the problems in that region, and responded with a letter (Greek: “Epistle”) designed to get them back on track.

Marette Brown, Bible School Teacher-
So many interpreters believe that Galatians may actually be the earliest of Paul’s letters. But, it’s subject and language are so close to the letter he sent to the church in Rome that it is quite probable Galatians was written about the same time as Romans. He wrote the epistle from Ephesus about 53–54 to a church he had founded in the area of Galatia, in Asia.

Wikipedia holds several theories, but the one that makes the most sense to me is that the letter was written before the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) which was held c. 48-50 because:

  1. There is no mention of the letter that came from the council that was taken back to the churches in Antioch of Syria, and from there to the churches throughout the region.
  2. The revelation in Galatians 2:2 was likely Agabus’ prediction of the coming famine.
  3. Paul’s reproof of Peter in Galatians 2 probably took place before the council or Peter would not likely have been so easily led astray.

As to where Paul wrote the letter, it could have been Corinth or Ephesus because of his extended stays at both places. Another choice is Antioch of Syria, which was his platform for all of his missionary journeys. The people mentioned in Acts 13:1 would be some of the brothers and sisters, “Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen,” as well as a great number of people who had been brought to the Lord (see Acts 11:24 and 26).

Suffice it to say that there is quite enough evidence to know that Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians early in his ministry, and it became a pivotal document for establishing the treatment of Gentiles in the early church.

Abba, You are the one who prompted Paul to write the letter. His information was based upon his time with You, and I believe that he crafted the letter under the direct supervision of You. Thank You for the grace we read in its pages. May we rest in Your finished work on the cross. Amen.

For a good overview of Galatians in video form, go to BibleProject.


A good reputation is hard to come by. It takes hard work over time. Are we willing to put in the effort?

Yesterday, we were seeking the answers to these questions regarding the first two verses in Galatians:

Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers and sisters with me,

  1. Who is Paul?
  2. How can he be an apostle?
  3. Where is he?
  4. Who are the brothers and sisters with him?

By looking in Acts, we found that Paul was actually Saul of Tarsus, whose Jewish name was Saul, but his Roman name was Paul (Greek). He became an apostle (sent one) through his commission by Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9 and 26). Saul had returned home, and that’s where we pick up the account. Here is a map that will help keep track of where we are.

19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. Acts 11:19-26

I’ve always wondered why Barnabas went to look for Saul. Could it be that, being a good man and full of the Holy Spirit and faith, he was being obedient to Jesus? I believe so.

If we were to keep reading, we would find that there was a famine in Israel, and the church at Antioch sent Barnabas and Saul to Jerusalem with a gift to help out. We will pick up the account there:

25 When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark. Acts 12:25

Mark was Barnabas’ nephew, and the familial tie comes into play when Barnabas and Paul were about to take their second missionary journey. Mark has abandoned them on the first journey, and Paul was not going to take him with them. Barnabas and Paul sharply disagreed, so Barnabas took Mark with him on a journey and Paul took Silas with him on his journey. You can read all about it in Acts 15:36-41.

We are about ready to answer questions 3 and 4, but not until tomorrow.

Abba, I want to be like Barnabas, a good man and full of the Holy Spirit. I think we all would like to be like him. May You continue to shape us into the image of Christ. May You also include us in Your work to reach people. Amen.


Have you ever started a job and then discovered that it is a much bigger job than you imagined? Us, too!

We have begun a study in Sunday’s Cool [Sunday School] of GEPC, which are the first letters of the books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. As we looked at verses 1 and 2 of Galatians, we immediately ran into some questions that needed to be answered before we moved on:

Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers and sisters with me,

  1. Who is Paul?
  2. How can he be an apostle?
  3. Where is he?
  4. Who are the brothers and sisters with him?

In order to answer these questions, we had to go to Acts and read about Paul and his first missionary journey. Today, we will look at who Paul was.

Paul is actually Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:11). We are first introduced to Saul in Acts 7:58 where the leaders who stoned Stephen laid aside their robes at his Saul’s feet. From that point on, Saul began to persecute Christians. He was so zealous at it that the council gave him letters to go to Damascus to arrest Christians there and bring them back to Jerusalem for trial. It was on that road that the Lord met Him. Here are his own words about what Christ Jesus said to him:

12 “On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic,[a] ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord [sir]?'”

“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ Acts 26:12-18

Then, through a series of events, Saul went home to Tarsus in Cilicia. You will find Tarsus on the map at the top of the Mediterranean Sea (Cilicia is in yellow). He stayed there until Barnabas came and got him and took him to Jerusalem. We will pick up the story there tomorrow.

To read the account of Saul’s conversion and subsequent events, read Acts 9:1-31. Also, you are invited to join us for Sunday’s Cool (Sunday School) Sundays at around 11:00 on my FaceBook page (Kelly Anderson). It is also available for you to watch anytime after the class.

Abba, what a great study we are diving into! May You open our minds and hearts to Your message of grace and peace. Amen.

For a better perspective:


Ever been through the fire? Jesus can relate. He’ll walk with you through whatever you’re going through.

The tenth and last thing I would like for Graduating Seniors to know is:

Remember that the Lord is always with you and will never leave you.

There is great assurance in knowing that Jesus will never leave us. We have His promise personally and from His Word,

20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

But, what do we do when we can’t feel Him? or see Him at work? or hear His voice? What do we do when our lives take an unexpected turn? We remember:

  • There is nothing happening that has caught God by surprise. Many times in our lives, He allows circumstances to play out according to peoples’ choices, our choices, or according to the natural “dying” state of our world. But, it doesn’t mean that He is not with us, holding us, caring for us, and even carrying us through the nightmare that we may be living through.
  • God has our best at heart. But, if we will remember, our best is not in this world. He has SO MUCH MORE in store for us on His side of life. Maybe we need to refocus…
  • God always answers our prayers. Sometimes, it’s “Yes,” which means that He answered them the way we wanted Him to; sometimes, it’s “no,” which means that there is something bigger going on that we can’t see (see Romans 8:28); sometimes, it’s “wait.” That’s a hard one, but it’s probably the way He answers us the most. Why? Because timing is everything, and His timing is perfect while ours is not. He sees the whole picture while we are stuck with our faces up against it.

Even Jesus asked the question, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). When we look at Psalm 22, we see Jesus was quoting this Davidic psalm,

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? 
Why are you so far from saving me, 
so far from my cries of anguish?

The difference between Him and us is that He knew the end of the story. Verse 24 says,

24 For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

Jesus knew that our circumstances can sometimes blind us to seeing His Presence around us, deafen us from hearing Him speaking to us, and overwhelm our senses so that we cannot feel His Presence in us. What we need to do is remember what He has told us in His Word. Then, we go to Him in prayer and lay our requests at His throne. Here are some verses that tell us what He will do:

16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

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. Philippians 4:6-7

Of course, the more we know of His Word, the better we can remember His promises. I learned yesterday that reading His Word is the listening part of prayer. I encourage you to read His Word with Him daily. Commit special verses like these to memory. Trust me, you WILL use them!

Abba, thank You for Your Words of comfort and assurance. May we, indeed, commit them to memory so that they come quickly to mind in our times of need. Thank You for Your promise of peace, mercy, and grace when we need them so direly. You are a wonderful, gracious, and loving God. We love You, Jesus! Amen.


Who do you want to be like when you “grow up?” God wants us to be like His Son, Jesus.

Number nine in our 10 things I would like for graduating seniors to know is:

Be formed, conformed, and transformed into Christ-likeness by the power of the Holy Spirit.


Even though this process is one that the Lord is accomplishing in us through the work of the Holy Spirit, we have a part to play in the progression and speed at which the process is accomplished. To be formed, conformed, and transformed into His image and likeness is more than just looking like Him; it’s thinking like Him, acting like Him, and becoming like Him in character.

Formed- My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, Galatians 4:19

Conformed- For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:29

Transformed- And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate [reflect] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

When the Spirit began His work in us to make us like Jesus, it was with the understanding that we would partner with Him in this endeavor. The “new creation” is teamwork: it’s what He and we create together in us; the synthesis is a masterpiece unto the Lord. The best verse I know that explains our part in the process is,

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 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. Romans 12:1-2

We are to put off the old self that is being corrupted by evil desires, be renewed in the attitude of our minds, and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24 adapted). We can only accomplish this monumental task by partnering with the Holy Spirit. Don’t forget, though, that with His presence comes love, joy and peace that cascade from Him like a waterfall!

Let’s “set our faces like flint” to be like Jesus today, working with the Holy Spirit on everything.

Abba, I want to be first in line. Help me to follow Your lead as we walk through this day. Holy Spirit, let’s go! Amen.


Let me ask you a question: Are you grateful for all Christ has done for you? It’s more important than you think!

On the 22nd, I listed ten things that I think graduating seniors should know. Really, though, this list is for everyone. Here is the complete list, but we are focusing on number 8 today.

  1. What we do with our bodies matters.
  2. What we put in our bodies matters.
  3. What we put in our minds matters.
  4. Daily prayer and Scripture reading are ultra important to keep your relationship with the Lord fresh.
  5. Our friends matter because we become like them.
  6. Start your day right with the right focus.
  7. Make Psalm 73:23-26 the framework of your life.
  8. Live a life of gratitude to the Lord.
  9. Be formed, conformed, and transformed into Christ-likeness by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  10. Remember that the Lord is always with you and will never leave you.

Live a life of gratitude to the Lord.

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

This passage is huge! It speaks of the representation of Christ for all humanity.

We owe so much to Jesus for taking our sin on Himself and burying it in the tomb–and then rising from the dead and offering us that same new life! Living a life of gratitude to the Lord is easy when we remind ourselves everyday what Christ has done for us. How do we live a grateful life? Let’s start with this verse from Romans 6,

11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

The apostle Peter says it this way,

24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

Our joy is wrapped up in our gratitude. When we think of the love that Jesus has for us, the lengths He went to get us back, and the privilege He offers us through a relationship with Him, our peace and joy meters should go off the chart!

So, let me ask you again: Are you grateful? I’ll bet you are! I know I am!

Abba, thank You, thank You, thank You for all You have done for us. We are, indeed, grateful to You. I am reminded of the lyrics to a song I wrote long ago,

We give You our lives, for what more could we give
to the One who is Master of all?
We give You our lives so that through them You’ll live;
O be Thou our Guide, in Your love we’ll abide;
Lord, we give You the gift of our lives.

May we live grateful lives for You and with You, Lord. Amen.


What could a 3,000 year old promise have to do with us today? Read on!

We are on number seven of what I would like graduating seniors to know. Here are the first six:

  1. What we do with our bodies matters.
    1 Corinthians 6:15-20
  2. What we put in our bodies matters.
    Ephesians 5:18-20
  3. What we put in our minds matters.
    Colossians 3:1-4
  4. Daily prayer and Scripture reading are ultra important to keep your relationship with the Lord fresh.
    1 Thessalonians 5:17
    Acts 17:11
    Romans 12:11
  5. Our friends matter because we become like them.
    Proverbs 13:20
  6. Start your day right with the right focus.
    Psalm 139:23-24.

The seventh one is:

Make Psalm 73:23-26 the framework of your life.

23 Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

  • Yet I am always with you– Instead of our relationship being described as Him being with me, The psalmist, Asaph (a contemporary of King David in 1000-950 BC), describes himself as being with the Lord.
  • You hold me by my right hand– That’s Personal! Most people are right-handed, so this refers to our dominant hand (I’m left-handed). Christ wants us to shift control over to Him.
  • You guide me with your counsel- God doesn’t make us do anything; it’s our choice to follow Him. But, His counsel is personal and ongoing. It’s a lifelong process. As long as we listen and obey, we will discover the delights of living in His presence.
  • Afterward you will take me into glory– This promise is BIG! It takes the fear out of what happens in this life and out of death itself. The neat part is that the longer we are with Him, holding His hand, obeying His counsel, and believing His promises, then life is better and we are better at life. We become more and more convinced through our daily experiences with Christ.

May this passage become a staple in your spiritual diet of His Word every day.

Abba, You have shown me the delights of this passage. May I continue learning all my life how to live by it. May those reading this post find the delights of living according to this passage, as well. Thank You that a 3,000 year old promise still stands true today! Amen.


A good breakfast is key to a good day. It is good spiritually, as well.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35

Number six in my “Things I Want Graduating Seniors to Know” is:

Start your day right with the right focus.

A great way to begin in prayer is to read, and eventually quote, Psalm 139:23-24,

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

You will notice that it is a prayer, it gives the Lord free reign in our lives. It also gives Him permission to point out anything that would keep us from fellowshipping freely with Him. What kind of things would keep us from doing so? Pride, anger, and unconfessed sin are starters. I substitute other words in the place of “offensive,” such as destructive, misdirected, insincere, selfish, misguided, and even dangerous. I’m sure there are others that would fit.

The last part is Him exchanging our destructive way for the right way, His “way everlasting.” How does this exchange take place? How do we know what the exchange is? This is where 2 Timothy 3:16-17 comes into play,

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

God speaks to us in our spirits, but He uses the bible as His vocabulary. Learn it! The more we know of His Word, the better we can communicate with Him learning just how wide, long, high, and deep His love is for us.

As we worship the Lord today, let us begin by giving our hearts, our thoughts, and our ways to Him and letting Him impart His heart, thoughts, and ways to us. It’s the right way to begin our day.

Abba, the next prayer I pray each morning is Psalm 73:23-24, “I realize that I am always with You; You hold my hand and guide me with Your counsel; You have promised me that I will get to be with You in glory forever!” Verses 25-26 express my heart to You, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My heart and my flesh fail, but You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” To this I say, “Amen!”


The circumstances of our lives are not random for Christians. God uses us wherever we are to spread the fragrance of Christ.

We are in the middle of looking at things graduates should know (if you want the entire list, go to 5-22-23). Number five is:

Our friends matter because we become like them.

Our friends’ influence over us is stronger than we might think. Of course, we are around different people, so who influences whom varies according to which friends we are with. The larger the group, the stronger the pull to go with the crowd. Here are a few verses that warn us about the company we keep:

20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20

33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33

14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14

What it boils down to is our desire: Do we want to be like the Lord? Then we will seek out other followers of Jesus and hang with them; if we want to be like the world, then we will seek out other followers of the world and hang with them.

But, what do we do when we don’t have a choice? Family, school, and work many times dictate those with whom we spend our time. If this is the case, then we must decide to be the influencer in those situations. We stand for Jesus and try our best to be Christ to those around us. Warning: We need to be sure to spend lots of extra time with the influencers in our lives so that we remain strong when we are with those who would drag us back into the world, especially when it comes to old habits!

Believe me when I say that the Lord has not abandoned you. Instead, look at it like this: He trusts you to stand for Him and be Him to those you are around. It won’t last forever, and who knows? You may be a good influence in someone’s life. The Holy Spirit may use your stance to convict someone to turn to Him. In the meantime, we use the experience to grow and strengthen our faith. What we go through today usually prepares us for even more challenging experiences later, all of which are designed to make us more like Jesus. We become more mature, righteous, and holy because of those challenges.

Jesus gave His disciples this promise that I think applies to us today:

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

We have nothing to fear; Jesus has us! Let’s let Him guide us into the relationships that will “spur each other on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

Abba, thank You for the promise of security in You. May we never take for granted Your peace that You give us as we walk close to You. Help us make good choices about our friends. May we surround ourselves with people who build us up, and may we surround people to build up in Christ. Amen.


This lesson is a banner lesson. It reveals the basis for being able to succeed in all the other lessons.

On 5-22-23 (click to go there), I listed ten things I want graduating seniors to know. Here are the first three:

  1. What we do with our bodies matters.
  2. What we put in our bodies matters.
  3. What we put in our minds matters.

Today, we look at number 4,

Daily prayer and Scripture reading are ultra important
to keep your relationship with the Lord fresh.

Because our relationship is based upon faith, there are things that we can do to build our faith and give Him avenues to communicate with us. We can’t see Him, but we know He’s there because He has placed His love in our hearts. Here are some verses to help us:

It’s not what we have done, but what He has done- God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:5

More than a feeling, it’s an experience- You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 8-9

Conversation with the Lord never has to stop- Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

We can know truth because God has given us His Word–literally! Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed. Acts 17:11-12

The Spirit energizes us to serve the Lord Jesus- For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing {desire} and the ability {power} to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13 AMP

Even our zeal comes from Him, and He works through us for His glorynever lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; Romans 12:11 AMP

Followers of Christ make these things a priority in their lives. If you have lost some of your spiritual zeal, it may be because there is something in your life that has distracted you and you no longer have your eyes fixed on Jesus. Remember that His conviction is always specific and encouraging, never shaming or condemning, and make time to pray, asking God to reveal the distraction to you, and then give it to Him, trusting His promise that He will empower you to remove the distraction from your life. I know: Easy to say, hard to do. It takes effort and practice, but it’s the effort and practice that builds your relationship with Jesus! The more we go to Him and the harder we lean on Him, the more He shows Himself mighty in our lives. Our fellowship is sweet, and we are filled with “a glorious, inexpressible joy.”

Never give up. When we feel we are at our end, we are exactly where we need to be learn how to trust Jesus. He’s been waiting!

Abba, I know this routine very well! You have allowed me to go my own way, only to find that my way doesn’t work. I lose the closeness of our fellowship, I can’t feel Your love as well, my peace disappears, and my joy is tainted by worldly pleasures. I want to walk close to You, enjoying the waterfall of Your grace, and experiencing once again Your love, peace, joy, and the closeness that I know is available when I keep my eyes trained on You. One day at a time, Lord. Amen.


“O be careful little eyes what you see…and ears what you hear..” (children’s song)

As we continue on our list of the ten things graduates need to know (see 5-22-23), we are on number three,

What we put in our minds matters.

We covered yesterday what we put in our bodies concerning mind-altering drinks and chemicals. Today we will be concerned with what we see and hear. The things we gaze at and the things we listen to shape our thinking and influence our moods. I used the word, “gaze,” which means, “look steadily and intently, especially in admiration, surprise, or thought.” A quick look doesn’t qualify, but if we linger in our look, something has caught our attention and we do more than just look; we gaze at it.

We can gaze at beauty, like a field of flowers, but there is a dark side of gazing which causes desire, envy, and jealousy. It’s okay to want something, but there is a line that can be crossed, and when we do, we fall prey to traps and pitfalls. Let’s look at a few examples of the dark side:

  1. Reading- There are political, theological, and other venues that call for us to choose sides even when there is no real need to do so. Some promote hate, and others incite people to “take action” against others. We must be careful what we read. (This also applies to podcasts we listen to.)
  2. Music- What people don’t realize is that lyrics to songs are sermons. They are messages that drive deep in our memory if not our souls. Here again, hate-mongering, sensual descriptions, and all things immoral are found in the lyrics of songs. We must be careful what we listen to.
  3. Screen time- This category includes phones, computers, tv’s and movie screens. What we put into our minds comes out in our daily lives: Garbage in–>Garbage out. Likewise, Goodness in–>Goodness out. We must be careful what we watch on screens.
  4. Pornography- Porn is described as anything that creates sexual desire outside of God’s design for sex. It can be in what we read, what we listen to, and what we look at. It releases a dopamine rush which the brain wraps around and demands more. Other people become objects for consumption rather than individuals of worth. The immediate desire for pornography takes the place of investing in a loving relationship.* It puts the emphasis in the wrong place of what is truly important in a relationship and demands unrealistic and unsustainable expectations.

Our key passage for today’s topic is Colossians 3:1-4,

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

It is easy to be deceived into believing that this world is all we have and to consume as much as possible in the little time we have. But the truth is it’s an extremely small part of our eternity. Let’s use this world to prepare for the next where Christ is King and we no longer have to struggle with a sin nature. How do we do that? By filling our minds with these:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things. Philippians 4:8

Want a memory verse? Say this one every morning and then live by it!

Lord Jesus, help us to control our minds by watching what we read, listen to, and look at. May we train ourselves in righteousness and godliness rather than in licentiousness** and debauchery***. We follow You, Lord, for You have the words of life, as Peter said. We need You to help us shape our minds and hearts for Your kingdom and for Your work. Have Your way in us. Amen.

*Effects of Porn Addiction On a Teen Brain-Focus On the Family

**Licentious- Licentiousness is defined as “promiscuous and unprincipled in sexual matters” or “disregarding accepted rules or conventions, especially in grammar or literary style” 1It is also said to characterize Gentiles and heretics 2When Paul uses the word, he usually has in mind sexual unrestraint 3.

***Debauchery- Debauchery refers to engaging in extreme forms of body-pleasing activity, generally considered to involve sex, alcohol, or drugs1It is often considered immoral and is behavior that is excessively decadent, indulgent, and depraved2.


The high that Jesus offers is so much greater than any high we can reach any other way.

On May 22nd, we began looking at what I think all graduates need to know. The first one was, “What we do with our bodies matters (yesterday’s post).” The second is:

What we put in our bodies matters.

As we discussed yesterday, our bodies have been intricately designed by God. In some ways, they are very resilient, but in other ways, we can mess them up badly. Some people use mind-altering drugs to escape reality, to try to enhance their reality, or to change it in some way. All of these attempts are contrary to what God has intended for us, which is to be in the present with Him. The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, who were coming out of a hedonistic culture that used mind-altering drugs in their pagan ceremonies during which they would do things that hurt their bodies, their relationships, and their psyche:

18 Don’t be drunk with wine [or use any mind-altering drug], because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:18-20

Notice what Paul recommended instead of alcohol: Praise and worship of God and Jesus through the Spirit. If you are coming out of a life of substance abuse, the best weapon you can have is prayer and praise. Grab a friend and a good couple of praise songs and pray to the Lord and praise Him together. Here is another promise from our Lord:

20 For where two or three gather together as my followers (in My name), I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20

How does that happen and what does it look like? When we praise Him together, God inhabits the praise of His people (Psalm 22:3 KJV). The Spirit who is joined with the spirits of those present together in Him focuses us upward to our heavenly Father. The presence of Christ can sometimes literally be felt! We sense His love and His peace, and our lives are filled with joy. Our hearts open up to one another; conviction is experienced along with forgiveness. Many times, people receive special instructions to go and talk to someone or do something for someone. The craving to escape is replaced with the joy of His Presence and Participation in our lives. I believe that the extraordinary experience of the new disciples of Christ immediately following Pentecost was what kept them meeting together each day in the temple courts and in their homes:

46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47

Remember that to enjoy the Lord’s presence, we must be in the present with our minds set on Him.

Abba, You offer so much more than any drug or drink. May we experience Your presence and participation in our lives when we praise You and worship Your holy name. Of course, the best way to offer You worship is with our lives. Fill us, Lord, so that we can fill the world with Your love. Amen.


God made us and He loves us; His rules for life are for our benefit. What we do with our bodies matters.

Yesterday, I listed ten things that I want graduating Seniors to know. The first one is:

What we do with our bodies matters.

Our bodies are masterpieces put together by God who loves details. The more delicate parts must always be given extra special care and treatment. Our sexuality is one of the most delicate parts. In fact, it is so delicate and special that God gave it its own special boundary: Marriage. Biblical marriage is defined as a life-long relationship of one man and one woman, and is a picture of our relationship with the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul describes what happens when we take the marriage act outside of marriage:

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

Our salvation is to be viewed as a marriage contract, and we are to take it as seriously as we would a real marriage. What else did Paul have to say? Let’s read it:

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Christ paid the highest price one can pay when He died on the cross for us. In this area of our lives, may we strive to live chastely for Him. Wherever we are in the process, we have it on good authority that Christ sees us as pure and blameless:

24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—Jude 1:24

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church (we are implied here) and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holycleansing her by the washing with water through the word27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27

Notice that Christ presents us to Himself. He makes us holy and cleanses us with His Word. We don’t have to worry about our past; Jesus wants us to consider ourselves pure and blameless from this moment on. Let’s work to keep ourselves that way.

Abba, thank You that Your receive us all, not on our own works–especially our bad ones, but on the finished work of Your Son, Jesus, on the cross. May we see ourselves as You see us: Radiant, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, holy, blameless, without fault, and full of joy. May Your peace rest upon us as we bask in Your love. Amen.


Celebrating our fellow brothers and sisters in the family of God:

We had Graduation Sunday yesterday; we honored those who are graduating from high school, college, or some form of school. As they stood on the stage, their future plans were read indicating what they would like to do next in their lives. I would love to impart to them some words of knowledge and experience.

Ten things I would like to tell graduating seniors:
(Click on each Scripture to go to the link)

  1. What we do with our bodies matters.
    1 Corinthians 6:15-20
  2. What we put in our bodies matters.
    Ephesians 5:18-20
  3. What we put in our minds matters.
    Colossians 3:1-4
  4. Daily prayer and Scripture reading are ultra important to keep your relationship with the Lord fresh.
    1 Thessalonians 5:17
    Acts 17:11
    Romans 12:11
  5. Our friends matter because we become like them.
    Proverbs 13:20
  6. Start your day right with the right focus.
    Psalm 139:23-24.
  7. Make Psalm 73:23-26 the framework of your life.
    Psalm 73:23-26
  8. Live a life of gratitude to the Lord.
    2 Corinthians 5:14-15
    Romans 6:11
  9. Be formed, conformed, and transformed into Christ-likeness by the power of the Holy Spirit.
    Formed- Galatians 4:19
    ConformedRomans 8:29
    Transformed- 2 Corinthians 3:18
  10. Remember that the Lord is always with you and will never leave you.
    Hebrews 13:5

As you have probably noticed, they are great reminders for everyone. We will be breaking these “tips” down over the next few days to find the best ways to apply them to our lives. Hang with me!

Abba, I pray for our graduates that they will grow in their walk with You this summer. Walking close and in step with You is the only way to not only survive, but to thrive! Increase their faith, Lord, and show us how to help them in their walk with You. Amen.


Jesus said to follow Him and do what He does. What all does that entail? It’s called, The Cruciform Life.

23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23 NIV

The Cruciform Life is a life that is conformed to the Way of Christ, the life of sacrifice, just like Jesus on the cross. The above verse is in the New International Version. The following verse is in the Amplified Version:

23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross daily [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. Luke 9:23 AMP

The Message says it even more clearly:

23-27 Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. MSG

This is the kind of life that attracts people to the Lord Jesus. It is living evangelistically. When we live the cruciform life, the Holy Spirit points at us and says to folks, “See what they have; don’t you want that? Don’t you want Me?”

Why would a person live the cruciform life? It could mean death–or worse! It’s because there is more to life than just this life. Our perspective is only on this side of death; Jesus holds the keys to death and beckons us to join Him on His side. In fact, the Holy Spirit in us longs for us to experience first-hand all the wonders of heaven with Him!

The question is, do we trust Jesus enough to give Him our lives each day and throughout the day? True Christianity is Christ-in-us-ity, following His guidance in all things.

Abba, as we gather to worship You today, may we tell You how much we love You, and then show You by trusting You and following You wherever You lead. May the words of this FALLS CREEK song be our banner song:

Wherever He leads, I’ll go,
Wherever He leads, I’ll go,
I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so,
Wherever He leads, I’ll go.



Christians have a confidence in life based upon this foundational truth: Victory comes through Jesus!

57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Matthew* ended our concerts with one of Dale’s songs. It summed up our walk with Christ and the ministry we had sharing the Gospel of Christ through music. Here are the words:

(click the title to go to the music)

Have you had so many dreams, but they never seem to come true?
The devil with his evil lies says you’ll never make it through;
The devil says that life’s a game: three strikes, you’re out and you’re on your last one,
The obstacles that block your way say the race just cannot be won.

But let’s still remember the things He promised so free
that He’d love and guide us straight to a victory, singing I,
I have the victory because Christ my Savior has set me free,
and though life’s problems may bother me, I have the victory.

What’s that He says? Step out in faith and take the things that He said He’d give you;
Reach out and take your special dreams cause the dreams, they come from Him;
Stop worrying about your competition, the Lord will take care of everyone else,
Reach out and use the gifts that you have, you’re just accountable for yourself.

It really doesn’t matter how other people feel,
We need to lean on Jesus and know our victory is real, singing, I,
I have the victory because Christ my Savior has set me free,
and though life’s problems may bother me, I have the victory.

Romans 8:37 tells us that we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us, which is Christ Jesus. What’s the secret? The secret is His presence in our lives. Knowing that He is always with us, always guiding us, and always renewing us means that we don’t have to be afraid of life or afraid of death!

May we live our lives in the knowledge of the victory that is ours through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Abba, we would do well to remind ourselves everyday that we are victors in You. I know that Your Spirit whispers this truth to us every time we pause and listen. May we accept it, receive it, and live according to it. Amen.

**Matthew consisted of Randy Anderson, David Polk, Dale Griffin, Kelly Anderson, Bobby Anderson, and David Anderson. We wrote our own music and traveled together for seven years doing concerts, revivals, retreats, etc.


God’s promises are true. We can take them to the bank. One of those promises is that He will never leave us or forsake us.

In case you are just tuning in to this series, let me catch you up:

Background: As our singing group called Matthew* continued to travel and sing while my brother Randy, Dale and I were attending Oklahoma Baptist University, Dale began to hone his gift (he graduated with a Music Arts degree in Theory/Composition). The story behind this song is:

During college days at OBU, Dale was a worship leader for the college department at First Baptist Church, Shawnee. His college ministry leader was Charlotte Lankard who told a story of loyalty in familial love in the context of a hospital stay. Her goal was to illustrate God’s loyal love in all circumstances.
Dale was moved by the story and immediately set out to write a song in honor of Charlotte and the college department at FBC. He remembers writing the song in less than 30 minutes. The song seemed to write itself.
Trivia buffs for Matthew (our singing group) will know that David Polk sang lead on the song in Matthew concerts. Dale sang the lead in the solo album, Love Song, from which this recording is taken.


Father, how the children cry and how they wonder why You never seem to hear,
And why You never speak out in their darkest night
and why they only hear the silence in the loneliest time of their lives.

Alone again, feeling alone again, feeling like nobody even hears.

Well, I once heard a story of a lady sick in bed,
she’d been suffering there for hours with only silence in her head;
And every time she’d wake up and open up her eyes,
her husband would be sitting there in the silence by her side.

So Father, help the children realize that in Your Word You promised You’d never leave their side,
and that You said You’d be there in their darkest night,
and sometimes in the silence is when You seem to speak the most.

There are several passages in the Bible that speak of the ever-presence of God, particularly in the lives of His followers. As Moses was handing off his leadership position to Joshua, Moses addressed the people and said, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” Deuteronomy 31:6.

One of my favorites is Psalm 73:23-26 by Asaph:

23 Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.

What I like so much about this passage is the difference in perspective: I am with Him rather than He with me.

In the New Testament, we have Matthew 28:19-20, which is the Great Commission,

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

The writer of Hebrews in chapter 13 reiterated the Lord’s promise from Deuteronomy,

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”

So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?”

Then he told us to “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” What a great promise from our Lord! May we take the same attitude as those who have gone before us.

Abba, may we take courage in the faith of our fathers. May we look for a kingdom not made of hands to which we belong, one that has You as its Chief Cornerstone and we as its living stones (Ephesians 2:20-21). We look forward to the fulfillment of that Day, O Lord. Amen.

*Matthew consisted of Randy Anderson, David Polk, Dale Griffin, Kelly Anderson, Bobby Anderson, and David Anderson.


What happens when we take our eyes off of Jesus? Dale Griffin’s, “The Shade,” gives us a good description.

Before we get to today’s song, Dale texted me what he called a “fun fact” about “Twinkling of an Eye” (see yesterday’s post): “I wrote the music as a new melody and harmonization for ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem.’ Randy asked if he could write new words for the song [when] I introduced the song to you and Randy in your parents’ house. Randy started on new words almost immediately, leaving the room with the tune in his head. As I remember it, you both called and asked me to come back to the house to check out Randy’s new words; the rest is history.”

Today’s song has an allegory with it: A couple went to a fancy restaurant to eat. Their table was near the front of the restaurant, and as they were dining, they looked out the window to see two children watching them eat. It was obvious that they were poor and hungry. After a few minutes, the man said, “I’ve got to do something about this.” So, he got up and went to talk to the head waiter. After a minute of whispered conversation, the head waiter came over to the window and closed the shade. The man and the woman finished their meal with no more distractions.

The Shade

Well, the world’s still spinning ’round, and no one’s slowing down,
yet, they say that that’s okay, it’s another short day.
And the tv’s on, the music’s up, and a friend just called,
yet, we say, “Some other day,” we feel that they’re in our way.

But then, late at night when all is quiet, we finally look outside
hoping to find the peace we’ve cast away;
Through the window, we see the Christ,
yet, in the morning, we close the shade.

We say we live for Christ, His kingdom is all we want,
Yet, someday this job will pay, so please move out of my way.
Then, we find in trying to reach the top our feelings stop
and the fire inside grows dim while we say that it’s all for Him.

But then, late at night when all is quiet, we finally look outside
hoping to find the peace we’ve cast away;
Through the window, we see the Christ,
yet, in the morning, we close the shade.

Christ said to love Him, we must learn to love each other
not by our words, but what our actions say;
We’ve got to live it each and every day,
Show Him you care by the love that you share.

Don’t close the shade.
Don’t close the shade.

Our words and our deeds must match. James 2:8 says, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.” And in 2:18, it says, “I will show you my faith by what I do.” So, whose will are we going to follow today? Ours or Christ’s? If we love Jesus, we will do as He says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).

In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon [“riches,” often used to describe the debasing influence of material wealth].”

Jesus also said in Luke 9:62, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Let’s be fit for service today. We prepare by spending time with the Lord in Bible study and prayer, and then by walking with Him, looking for opportunities to show the love of Christ as we listen for His direction in what to say and what to do.

Abba, it’s a full-time job–and joy–serving You. The dividends are out of this world! May I put less and less emphasis on the things of this world and more and more emphasis on eternal matters. When I do, I know that I am pleasing You and “storing up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19).” Amen.


“Twinkling of an Eye” is one of my long-time friend’s Dale Griffin’s special songs.

Background: As our singing group called Matthew continued to travel and sing while my brother Randy, Dale and I were attending OBU, Dale began to hone his gift (he graduated with a Music Arts degree in Theory/Composition). This particular song, he even arranged for OBU’s men’s choir Bison Glee Club. The message of the song is as follows:

Twinkling of an Eye

Jesus, I love You, I want to serve You every day of my life;
You gave Your life that I might live, the price You paid was to die–
God’s grace poured out through Your atoning blood,
not for captivity, but You died that I might be free, be free, be free.

You are my Savior, in love forever, I will be Your child,
Teach me to be a source of Your love for all eternity–
For my faith is grounded in Your unchanging love,
I’ll tell others about You until You take me to be with You above, above, with You above.

You gave Your promise: You’re coming for me as the Righteous One,
I will bow with everyone proclaiming You are Lord–
We’ve got to be ready for Your coming Time,
The twinkling of an eye is no time to change Your mind.
We’ve got to be ready for Your coming Time,
The twinkling of an eye is no time to change Your mind.
We’ve got to be ready for Your coming Time,
The twinkling of an eye is no time to change Your mind.

There is plenty of good truth in this song. What I like most is the personal aspect of addressing the Lord. It assumes a personal, on-going relationship with the King of the Universe. Even the appeal at the last of the song reflects the love of the Savior for everyone:

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. 2 Peter 3:9

May we live in such a way that our Lord can say to those around us, “Hey, look at __________. See the love and joy and peace he/she has? Don’t you want some of that?”

Abba, I love You and want to serve You every day of my life. I meant it in 1987 when we made this recording, and I mean it today, too. Form us, conform us, and transform us into the likeness of Your Son, O Lord. May we make the Gospel special and desirable to those around us. May people see Jesus in us. Amen.


If I were God, I would…

We often hear people say, “What kind of God would allow evil, disease and death in the world?” We don’t realize what we are asking. Mankind’s conceit is the very attitude that caused evil, disease and death in our world! God created us in His likeness, which means that He gave all of us free will. We are no different than Adam and Eve when in their free will they chose to do the very thing that God warned them would hurt their relationship not only with Him, but with each other, and with all of God’s good creation. That sin is what creates evil, disease and death in our world. God sent His Son, Jesus, to save us from our sin; we are forgiven through the cross. But, will we accept that forgiveness? Hence, the question, “If I were God, what would I do?”

If I were God, I would…use every means available to reach my children. What means would be available to me that doesn’t interfere with people’s free will nor cause me to act outside of my goodness? Life is the means, but God is the grace that shows up in every circumstance.

  • Distress-I would be with them when their plans are interrupted by tragedy so that they might look to me for guidance;
  • Sickness and pain-I would open their eyes to see sin’s consequences and corruption of my physical world and its slow spin to destruction so that they would be reminded of their mortality and turn to me.
  • Poverty-I would be with them when either their own or others’ choices (free will) strips them of their “creature comforts” until they have nothing left but me; or when they have all they want yet realize that they will NEVER find lasting comfort or satisfaction outside of me;
  • Slavery through addiction-I would strive with them as their choices suck them into whatever sin they are indulging in until it runs its course in them. I would never give up on them, calling to them all along the way, giving them every opportunity to see the futility of their ways and turn to Me;
  • Death-I would remind them as they experience the death of loved ones that the self-destructive consequences and penalty of their own sin is leading them not only to a physical death, but a spiritual death, which estranges them from me.

Lest we think that God is unfair, Jesus (who is God in the flesh) experienced all of our distress, sickness, pain, poverty, slavery, and even death in various times in His life here on earth:

  1. He experienced the draw of the slavery of addiction in the desert with the temptations of lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life–but did not sin. Matthew 4:1-11; 1 John 2:16; Hebrews 4:15
  2. He felt the shame of the woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well, and the woman who cried on His feet and wiped them with her hair. John 8:1-11; John 4:1-26; Luke 7:36-50
  3. He experienced poverty by not having a home for three years. Luke 9:58
  4. He felt the pain of every person He healed. Matthew 4:24
  5. He experienced the anguish of loss with Martha and Mary at the death of Lazarus. John 11:17-44 (key, v35)
  6. He took our sin onto His shoulders on the cross and then took them to the grave with Him–and left them there when He rose from the dead!

If we would step back and look at all Christ did and does for us, we would not ask that question. Instead, we would fall on our knees in worship of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. In fact, that’s what we do! Let’s praise Him for the great lengths He has gone (and continues to go) for us.

Abba, I am thankful for Your love and tender mercy, Your kindness and Your grace. You are Good as well as Great. I love You and thank You for going to such great lengths to rescue me. I am Yours forever! Amen.


Just got back from a family trip. Robin and I got to go to a Russian Orthodox service with my nephew’s family!

The sermon for the morning was the Woman At the Well from John 4. After reading the entire passage (verses 1-42), the priest gave a really good message. Here is what I got out of it;

  1. Jesus broke several barriers-
    • He and His disciples went into Samaritan territory; “good” Jews went around that area.
    • Jesus asked a woman for a drink of water; men did not interact with women in that day’s society.
    • Jesus interacted with a woman of ill-repute; she was there when no other women were because of her reputation.
    • Jesus looked beyond her sin to HER; He revealed Himself to her and offered her living water.
    • Jesus stayed two days in Sychar; He revealed Himself to them, too, before publicly revealing Himself to any Jews besides His disciples.
  2. This event tells us several things-
    • Jesus comes looking for us and finds us. Luke 15:4-7 tells us that He does.
    • Jesus doesn’t let our sin get in His way of reaching us.
    • Jesus offers what we need, not what we want, and sometimes not what we expect.
    • Jesus stays where He is wanted, which poses the question:

Do we WANT Jesus around?

I get the feeling that most people would rather Jesus tell them what to do or not do and then get out of the way. Jesus wants to reconnect with us Forever. There is no coming to Him for salvation and then telling Him, “I got this, Jesus,” and then go our way. The whole point is to connect and STAY connected. It’s what Living Water does: It flows out of us continuously and pours over onto parched ground so that others can come to the waters, too.

Let’s stay connected to Jesus through His Spirit, shall we?

Abba, being connected to You changes what I do and what I say. When I am carrying on a conversation with You, it’s hard to shut out Your presence and Your voice and do what I want. I think that’s the point. If I were to add the “great cloud of witnesses” from Hebrews 12:1, it makes my actions very public, no matter how secret they may seem on earth. Lord, help me to get my arms around my being part of Your Body, Your Bride, Your Church, and the fact that I am connected to a great network. Amen.


Mom and Dad have been gone from this earth six years. I miss them. Randy’s song says it all.

Tribute To Mom and Dad

 I would like to thank you
For the life you’ve given me,
For all your love,
Encouraging me to sing;

 For meeting all my needs
And blessing me even more,
But where I’m most thankful,
You introduced me to my Lord.

 And I would like to tell you
That I love you, Mother and Dad,
Sometimes it’s hard to say it,
Sometimes it’s hard to show it, but, I love you.

Time keeps rolling on,
Don’t get to see you very much,
But in this song,
It’s you with love I touch.

I pray the Lord will bless you
And keep you safe from harm,
Make your life prosper,
Your faith great and strong.

And I would like to tell you
That I love you, Mother and Dad,
Sometimes it’s hard to say it,
But I pray this song will show it that I love you.

That I love you, Mother and Dad, I love you, I love you!

The good thing is that we will see them again and be able to spend as much “time” with them as we want for all eternity. We will worship Jesus together again–in Person!

Thank You, Jesus, for such hope. With each passing soul, You draw us stronger and stronger to Your side of life. How true are the words, “Precious in Your sight is the death of Your saints” (Psalm 116:15). Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.


If you are looking for Bible verses that give a comprehensive picture of the Gospel, here’s one:

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Notice that it is the love of Christ that is Paul and his companions’ motivation for living for Jesus. They were convinced that Jesus is Christ the King.

Notice, too, that they believed that the one (Jesus) died for all (everyone), and in Him, all died. His was a substitutionary death, a death by representation. When He went to the grave, so did we. Everyone. The key is that when He rose from the dead, those who believe rise with Him. And, when they do, it is for the purpose of living for Him and not for themselves anymore.

Is salvation when we turn from sin and turn to Him for redemption? Or, is it when we give ourselves over to Him as Lord of our lives from this point forward? I believe it’s both. Jesus is both Savior and Lord. We must receive Him on both levels.

  • There is a one-time point when we receive the Holy Spirit and are quickened in our spirit.
  • When we look to Him, we are then open to receive His love, joy, peace, and a sense of His presence in our lives.
  • Our desires begin to change. Where it used to be all about us, it becomes all about Him.
  • The way we show Jesus we love Him is by doing what He tells us (John 14:15).
  • From now on, we work to learn all we can about His character, His motivation, and His Plan.

It’s a process that will take our whole lives–and maybe even into eternity!

Abba, we ask that You increase our knowledge of You. I know we begin by asking You to “teach us to pray.” Our knowledge must be based on experiencing You in our lives. Help us to recognize You at all times of the day and night, Jesus. We are desperate to know You more. Amen.


“He must increase, but I must decrease.”–John the Baptist about Jesus. John 3:30

In learning all I can about God, Jesus, the Spirit, the Bible, and how Christ’s kingdom works, I have to remember that I will always have incomplete knowledge. I am limited by the breadth of my life, my availability to facts and people, my resources, where I was born, when I was born, and what I have been taught both directly and indirectly.

At the same time, I know that the Lord desires to increase my understanding and comprehension as I walk with Him. These verses/passages express that desire:

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, Colossians 1:9

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledgethat you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19

What I like most about this last passage is the phrase, “to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” It tells me that whatever our knowledge is, God is beyond it in His love for us. In other words, it’s not WHAT we know, but WHO we know that makes the difference.

Which begs the question: Are we depending upon our knowledge to sustain us or Him to sustain us? The first leads us away from Christ while the second leads us to Him. Let’s be sure in our quest to be right that we do not wander away from our Shepherd.

Lord, I don’t know how correct my understanding of Scripture is, but I trust You to lead me day by day, step by step. I know it’s more about our relationship than my knowledge, but I strive to know more of You, more of me, and more of the big picture. I ask for more understanding and comprehension according to Your Spirit. In Your time, Lord, and according to Your good pleasure. Amen.


This song captures the essence of what it means to come to Christ.

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

My pastor was reading to me the words to the hymn, Out of My Bondage, Sorrow and Night. He was struck by the explicit description of what happens when we come to Jesus. It occurred to me that I had not done a post on Randy’s (my brother) arrangement of this hymn. Here again, it is from our Garage Project back in ’93. Here are the original words, and the link, Jesus, I Come, takes you to a beautiful Gaither rendition.

1Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
  Jesus, I come! Jesus, I come!
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
    Jesus, I come to Thee!
Out of my sickness into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
    Jesus, I come to Thee!
2Out of my shameful failure and loss,
  Jesus, I come! Jesus, I come!
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
    Jesus, I come to Thee!
Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storm and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
    Jesus, I come to Thee!
3Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
  Jesus, I come! Jesus, I come!
Into Thy blessed will to abide,
    Jesus, I come to Thee!
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove,
    Jesus, I come to Thee!
4Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
  Jesus, I come! Jesus, I come!
Into the joy and pleasure, Thine own,
    Jesus, I come to Thee!
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the flock Thy love doth enfold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
    Jesus, I come to Thee!
Click here, “Out of My Bondage,” to hear our version.

The writer of Hebrews told us in Hebrews 2:14-15,

14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

Jesus wants to set us free! All we need to do–every day–is come to Him. The first time we come, it’s for salvation; the “daily” part is for sustenance. I believe this sustenance is what Jesus was talking about when He said, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It’s a relationship, folks!

Abba, thank You for saving us from ourselves, the devil, and the grave! Your mercy is more than simply not giving us what we deserve; it’s linked with grace in that You give us what we need: Freedom, gladness and light, health and the wealth of heaven, Thy balm and Thy calm, a jubilant psalm, we abide in Your blessed will and love, we are raptured in Your presence on wings like a dove, Your very own joy and pleasure, a place in Your flock, and we will behold Your glorious face forever! Amen.


There is a difference between liking yourself and loving the world. A person can do the former without the latter.

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26

Rather than looking at what this verse says, let’s look at what it doesn’t say.

  1. We are not to literally hate our loved ones. The Greek word (miseo) used in this passage for “hate,” does mean, “to detest (on a comparative basis),” but it also means, “to esteem less (elevating one value over another).” Because Jesus also told us to love our neighbor (Matthew 22:49) and to love each other (John 13:34-35), I am going with the second meaning. Although, we might consider this usage of the first meaning, “I detest the idea of anyone coming between my Lord and me, even my loved ones (comparatively).”
  2. We are not to hate ourselves. The verse that Jesus quotes is Leviticus 19:18, which says, “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Obviously, we cannot love our neighbor if we do not first have love for ourselves.
  3. He didn’t say we could not have eternal life. The next verse in Luke 14 tells us, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” What He is saying is that we will not know Him on the level He wants us to know Him until we are willing to give up everything to know Him.

Just a few chapters back, Jesus told His disciples that He was headed to Jerusalem to suffer at the hands of the leadership, die, and then be raised to life in three days. Then He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Jesus demonstrated the “cruciform life,” which means “a life formed by crucifixion.” We must be willing to do to our wills what Jesus did to His body on the cross. He gave up His life for us; surely we can give up our wills for Him. Jesus then said,

24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

Our salvation is the point of the cross;
it’s the point of us dying to self;
it’s the point of following Jesus.

Abba, I find it confusing but interesting that You want us to love ourselves enough to want what is best for us, which is for us to deny ourselves, take up the cross of self-denial of all things ungodly, and follow Jesus daily. Would that all people would see that Your way is the ONLY way to be saved from self-destruction. Reveal Yourself to them, Lord Jesus, even as You revealed Yourself to me so many years ago as a six-year-old, on my knees, in my bedroom. You’ve been walking with me ever since–not that I followed very well sometimes. Thank You for loving me back onto the trail and teaching me to fix my eyes on You. Amen.


Jesus wants us to have abundant life now. How do we have this abundant life?

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ESV

10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. NLT

According to the NLT, this abundant life is a rich and satisfying life. Let’s establish something up front: “Rich and satisfying” has nothing to do with material possessions or long life. It has to do with the experience of knowing Christ on a deep, deep level. In fact, Christians throughout history who have faced loss, deprivation, torture or death have experienced a closeness to God that goes way beyond ordinary life.

Our prime example is the apostle Paul. In his life, he experienced,

“…far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” 2 Corinthians 11:23-27

What is Paul’s response to this kind of life?

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13

24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24

How could Paul have such an attitude? It has to do with what he was looking forward to. Here is the desire of Paul’s heart:

10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 4:10-11

Paul had been there (2 Corinthians 12:3-4) and knew what awaited Him. The presence of the Lord was with Him, and that presence sustained him through his life and into the next. We may not go through the trials Paul did, but we can experience the presence of Christ as he did. How? By committing ourselves to Christ every day, by studying His Word with Him, by praising Him often, and by aligning our lives with Him in godliness, righteousness and holiness. We need to learn how to practice the presence of Christ.

Abba, I need to heed my own advice. May I commit my life to You today, asking You to help me make decisions based upon how they will affect me concerning godliness, righteousness and holiness. Call me higher up and further in, Lord. I want to know You more. Amen.