Wednesday, December 28, 2016


What do you hope for in this new year?  If you voted for Trump you may be hoping for some changes in our government and hoping America will truly be made great again.  If you didn't maybe you are feeling hopeless.  Our true hope in this world for the new year does not lie in any man, but in our relationship with Jesus Christ and His promises. No politician or world leader, or UN decisions or anything else can take away the true hope of the new year.

Romans 5:2  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 15:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Ephesians 1:18  having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

Because we have the light of Christmas, in the coming of our Savior to this world, born into this world miraculously as the God-man, taking on human flesh, taking on Himself our sin, and becoming our Savior, we have the light of hope for whatever this new year brings to us as well.  It is out of the joy of that coming, that we look now to the new year.  Even as the world grows darker and the hate and violence grows more determined to snuff out that light, His light can never be put out. It is a sure hope. It is a hope that will not be disappointed for all who embrace it and receive it by faith.

What will the new year bring to the world? Only God knows.  But His Word tells us His ultimate plan for this world, and how it will end.  We have the beginning and the end told to us.  How we choose to think and act will be determined by how we treat His Word.  To those who embrace it, it is a message of undying hope that is sure, and will produce a genuine joy and peace in the soul.  It will determine how you face your circumstances ahead, how you will treat others around you, and what importance you will give to your time with God and your service to Him.

John 1:4-5  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  (5)  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

We don't have to be overcome if we let that light abide in us daily.  It's not the power of a resolution that will sustain us, but the power of His presence in our inner being, guiding and empowering us to walk according to His light.  Let us be  persuaded all the more then, to be feeding on Him, abiding in Him, and focusing our eyes on Him, as we encounter whatever the new year brings our way.  Will we make it a year of selfish pursuits and worldly gain or will we make it a year of pursuing Him and His glory?  It challenges me to come before Him and ask Him to work His will in my heart more and more.  Paul encouraged the believers to "abound more and more" in all their devotion to and knowledge of God, and in their love for Him and one another (Phil. 1:9; 1 Thess. 3:12). Never are we to settle for where we are at, but to always "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  (Phil. 3:12)

Because of that hope that the light of the Gospel brought to us, we have the resources in Christ to do this.  How appropriate that we celebrate Christmas right before we celebrate the new year.  If we take the time to truly meditate on that Gospel of hope and joy, it brings us new strength to face the new year, and a purpose in it.  It sets the heart in the right direction.  It's the Gospel that propels us into the new year and gives us courage to face it.  We always hope for good things ahead, new opportunities, new beginnings and chances to start over in the new year.  The Gospel gives us all of that.  And if the new year should bring hardship or sorrow, it gives us the hope and assurance we need to face it and conquer it.

My prayer for all of God's children in 2017 is that we will abound more and more, in whatever place we find ourselves, in the knowledge and love of God and to grow in His grace in every part of our lives.  My prayer for those who have not yet come to know Him as their Savior is that this will be the year they do, and that they will find the true hope of life that will never fail them.

I also join in with the prayer in Revelation 22:17 - "The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Revelation 22:20 - "He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!"

May this be the year of  Your coming for Your church, Lord Jesus! Titus 2:13 -  "waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ."

From our house to yours, I hope you all have a blessed new year!

Monday, December 12, 2016


December 12th, 1971, was a very special day for me. It was the day I was born - born the second time that is.  It was the day I was born into the kingdom of God, the day I became a new creation, an act God Himself did in me, making me His own child. I like to share my story to celebrate my birthday.

As a teenager I had all sorts of problems, as most teenagers do, with peer pressure, temptations, and trying to find my place in this world.  I began to wonder, also, about spiritual things.  Who was I? Why was I here?  Who is the real God?  How do I know?  How do I know which religion I should follow?  Is there a heaven and a hell?  If there is which one am I going to?  Can I know?  All these things, as well as all my teenage struggles would eat at me.  And at the end of the day when I was out with a group of friends doing things my conscience told me was wrong, I would lay in bed and look up at the wall at a picture of Jesus that I had "won" reciting the correct order of the Gospels in Sunday School when I was much younger, and this picture of Jesus had eyes that would follow you wherever you were in the room. I would feel those eyes, and I would sense that God was watching me and knew all my sins, and I would be afraid.  And I would pray, "God, show me the way to the truth."

Soon I began to withdraw from friends, and become sort of a loner.  I tried cleaning up my act, but never quite could.  I would see the Bible that was given to me when I was in 2nd grade sitting on my dresser and it was like everything else in my room was invisible and that was sitting there glowing brightly, drawing me to it like a magnet, and I could not resist picking it up and reading it.  I began in the beginning, where you begin in any book.  I read Genesis and Exodus, and saw the law of God, which absolutely condemned me.  I remember actually skipping school one day to spend the day reading it and praying for God to reveal Himself to me.  I was on my knees in horror as I read the law and saw how condemned I was, and fearful that there was no hope for me.  I had broken the commandments, I had taken the Lord's name in vain, and I was guilty, and no amount of trying to rationalize or excuse myself could be done. It was as though I were in a court before the judge and all my crimes had been named and there was not one word to my defense.  My heart sank, because I wanted to know God. I really did. But how was there any way for me to know Him now or find Him? 

I would stare up at that picture and say, God I only want You as my friend.  Please be my friend, as I felt I had no other real friends (my own doing).  But there was a still, small voice, that would whisper in my heart, "I can't be your friend because of your sin."  So I kept reading, I kept praying, I kept seeking.  I would take long walks and ask God to appear to me, to show Himself to me.  I kept hoping to see an angel or Jesus Himself.  But that didn't happen.  Then I heard there were "Jesus People" in town and that they were on the streets telling people about Jesus.  I sought them out, but never found one.  I prayed God show me what church to go to!  Show me how to find if I can be a Christian or not.  I didn't know if He would forgive me. 

Then one day our social studies class brought in pastors from about 13 different churches in the area, one each day, to speak about their beliefs on marriage.  We were studying marriage and religion.  I carefully took notes of each one, asking God to show me where I should go for the answers.  Then one pastor stood out.  My teacher spoke to us before he came in…"now be careful of this guy, he likes to preach!"  That got my attention.  This pastor came in and spoke of what it meant to be born again, and how much God had for those who came to him in true faith to be born again.  He had an excitement and exuberance about him.  He passed out a book at the end of the class.  My heart was on fire.  I read some of the book, and told myself, I'd visit his church on Sunday.  I walked up to the church to read the sign to see what time their service was.  

The next Sunday, though I had all the intentions of going, I woke up very tired and said to myself, I'll just stay in bed, and maybe go the following week.  But there was a compelling force that I felt all around me urging me to get up and go. I kept hearing "no you have to go today. Today is your day."  So I got up. I told my dad where I was going. He said he'd drive me there and pick me up.  He was warning me about "those crazy people."  But he left me off at the door.  I thought to myself, "hmmm, maybe I'll just walk around and wait for him to come pick me up again."  Again there was the compelling force around me that was urging me strongly to go in.  Again I was hearing, "No! you HAVE to go in. Today is your day."  So scared as I was, I went in.  

There was a lady standing in the foyer, nobody else around. I wondered where everyone was.  She said they were all in Sunday School, which was strange to me.  I thought Sunday School was only for children.  I told her I had heard the pastor the week before in school and wanted to check out his church.  She was delighted and I noticed a  "look" on her face.  It was the same look I noticed on the pastor's face when he spoke. What was that?  How did they do that?  Then I notice some girls from my school come up the stairs carrying Bibles and other material, and I wanted to hide myself, because they were more popular girls, from a whole different group than I hung out with, and I thought they would make fun of me.  But they came right up to me, and said how happy they were that I was there and asked me to sit with them. I did. One of them sitting next to me was praying for me under her breath the whole time.  I didn't know what to think of that!  

The pastor spoke, and I don't remember all he said, but through it all I was realizing this was something I didn't have and needed.  At the end he invited anyone who was not born again, and understood that they needed the Lord in their life to raise their hand.  I knew I did but was so scared of what others would think.  I thought for sure these girls would make fun of me. I was crying… a first for me in church. So embarrassed to be crying in church! What would they think.  But again I felt that compelling force, and almost unconsciously, my hand shot up.  I was shaking.  Then the pastor asked those who raised their hands to come forward. What? Go up there in front of everyone!?  I couldn't!  I just couldn't!  Again I heard, "you don't know if today is the last day you have, you don't know if you'll be here tomorrow or next week, today is the day of salvation."  

Again that compelling force drove me up front and I knelt down, in tears and just prayed.  A woman came up next to me and opened her Bible to John 3:16 and read, and said to me, "put your name in there and read it.  Are you a 'whosoever?'"  I read it, and it was like the light came on. "I'm a whosoever! I can come to Jesus!!  He will forgive me!"  She led me in a prayer of forgiveness and to receive Him into my heart.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
(John 1:12-13)

He came into my heart.  I knew it.  Just as sure as I knew it was Sunday, I knew He had come into my heart.  She told me to go home and write this date down in my Bible next to John 3:16 and to tell someone I had prayed this prayer and received Jesus as my Savior.  I remember the absolute relief and joy I felt in my heart…the huge burden that had fallen off of me when I left that day. A thought came to me, "but what if I sin again?"  And just as quickly another thought came to me, "Jesus is in my heart. He will help me."  I remember spending the next 3 days reading through the entire New Testament. It opened up to me and became alive in a way I had never seen before.  I remember a time when I rolled back and forth in my bed laughing saying to myself, "I'm forgiven! I'm a child of God!"  Nothing was so wonderful as that.  I have had many trials, testings, fallings, and heartaches since that day, but He has never left me or abandoned me, and He has grown me, revealed Himself more and more to me, and made the reality of His presence more and more manifest to me.  His reality, presence, and love is so deeply rooted in my entire being, that it is more real than the world around me at times.  I have found Him to be true and His Word true.  I wish with all my heart I could make others to see Him and find this life as well.  How can you keep such a thing to yourself?  You can't.  I want everyone to have Him!  

Friday, December 9, 2016


There have been times in my life, when I wish I could just have a reprieve from life, a vacation of sorts, or some way to escape all of it… the anxiety of it, the apprehension and uncertainty of the future, the pressures, the problems that seem unsolvable, and so on. The funny thing about vacations, is that you can change scenery, and even get away from some of life's pressures, but they are always there with you in your mind, never really ever giving you relief from them. You always have to go back to them, and many times I've said, "I need a vacation from my vacation," once it's over.

I find comfort and strength many times in the Psalms, and this Psalm especially touched me this morning, as well as some of the commentary I read on it. All of Psalm 18 spoke to me, but especially verse 2.

Adam Clarke:

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalms 18:2)

The Lord is my rock -
2. I stand on him as my foundation, and derive every good from him who is the source of good. The word סלע sela signifies those craggy precipices which afford shelter to men and wild animals; where the bees often made their nests, and whence honey was collected in great abundance. “He made him to suck honey out of the rock,” Deu_32:13.
3. He was his fortress; a place of strength and safety, fortified by nature and art, where he could be safe from his enemies. He refers to those inaccessible heights in the rocky, mountainous country of Judea, where he had often found refuge from the pursuit of Saul. What these have been to my body, such has the Lord been to my soul.
Deliverer -
4. מפלתי mephalleti, he who causes me to escape. This refers to his preservation in straits and difficulties. He was often almost surrounded and taken, but still the Lord made a way for his escape - made a way out as his enemies got in; so that, while they got in at one side of his strong hold, he got out of the other, and so escaped with his life. These escapes were so narrow and so unlikely that he plainly saw the hand of the Lord was in them.
5. My God, אלי ,doG Eli, my strong God, not only the object of my adoration, but he who puts strength in my soul.
6. My strength, צורי tsuri. This is a different word from that in the first verse.
Rabbi Maimon has observed that צור tsur, when applied to God, signifies fountain, source, origin, etc. God is not only the source whence my being was derived, but he is the fountain whence I derive all my good; in whom, says David, I will trust. And why? Because he knew him to be an eternal and inexhaustible fountain of goodness. This fine idea is lost in our translation; for we render two Hebrew words of widely different meaning, by the same term in English, strength.
7. My buckler, מגני maginni, my shield, my defender, he who covers my head and my heart, so that I am neither slain nor wounded by the darts of my adversaries.
8. Horn of my salvation. Horn was the emblem of power, and power in exercise…The horn of salvation means a powerful, an efficient salvation.
9. My high tourer; not only a place of defense, but one from which I can discern the country round about, and always be able to discover danger before it approaches me.

Jamieson, Faucett, & Brown commentary: He conceals us (the cleft of the rock) and is an immovable strength in us, He is the power and strength of our salvation. He alone IS our salvation. " The horn, as the means of attack or defense of some of the strongest animals, is a frequent emblem of power or strength efficiently exercised"

He is my "tower" - a high place out of reach of danger. Spiritually speaking, there is no power in this world that can hurt me, because He is all that to me and in me. They may kill the body, but all I really am is His and He is in me. And one day this body will be redeemed as well, and will be untouchable by any evil, just as His is now.

I may not be able to remove myself, physically from this world, or from the pain in my body, or the weaknesses of my flesh, or the trouble that presses in around me, but I do have a place I can go in my inner being, to hide myself in Him, to strengthen my soul, to refresh myself, and to stand strong, and walk. I have His very presence in me that I can turn to, that I can draw from, and that enables me to have insight that I need, wisdom for what I need to do, protection, assurance, and help. His presence alone strengthens my soul. As Christians we have so much yet neglect it, and strive so hard in our own strength and by our own resources all too often instead of learning what it means to be His child and the privileges that go along with being that. We fail to learn Who He is to us, what He is to us, and just what resources we have in Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, (Ephesians 1:3)

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3-4)

What an awesome, wonderful, faithful, strong and mighty God we have Who does all on our behalf! Teach us, Lord, to dwell in Your secret place, abiding under the shadow of Your wings, that we might always find strength for our souls.