Are These Hands Dirty?

Driving back to Pam and my home after watching our granddaughter Teague play softball (love that girl!), I happened to be listening to Lauren Daigle sing “How Can It Be”.  A small section of the lyrics hit me like a sledgehammer…

I am guilty
Ashamed of what I’ve done, what I’ve become
These hands are dirty
I dare not lift them up to the Holy One

You plead my cause, You right my wrongs
You break my chains, You overcome
You gave Your life to give me mine

Earlier in the day just hours before the game, I had read James 4:6-10, ‘“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’  Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  I hi-lighted five words in this passage that confused me a bit… “Wash your hands, you sinners.”  Listening to Lauren’s song encouraged yet admonished me. Things became clear…

  • Where had my hands been all day? 
  • Who and what had I touched?   
  • Had the keyboard on my laptop and cell phone been comforting, edifying, truthful or had it been used for selfish, deceitful, or possibly lustful reasons?
  • What had my hands clicked on while watching TV?
  • Who and what should I have touched but didn’t?
  • After living out my life, can I lift my hands up in sincere worship and praise of God?

In our non-touch environment in the wake of COVID, people still need to be touched. Let’s not allow a sterile environment keep us from touching someone who desperately needs a touch. Be careful but be loving.  It doesn’t have to be a long embrace or a holy kiss but a simple, proactive touch with a gentle, appreciative, loving smile.

I believe God is touched starved.  Are we lifting holy hands or dirty hands up to Him?

Her Backpack Is Packed and Ready to Go

Our youngest granddaughter, Channing, is a hoot.  Her nearest sibling is nearly eight years older than her.  “Surprise, here I am!” 😊 She loves my wife, Pam who is called by our grands, “Sassy” (I wonder why?!…getting myself into trouble…).  Almost every day she freshly packs her backpack fully prepared to spend the night or nights with Sassy.  This past Wednesday, she rolled in her cute little bag announcing that she expects to spend tonight with her loving, doting grandmother.  Let me assure that those two are in their own world affectionately loving each other. 

Thinking about this, as believers in Jesus, shouldn’t we have the same attitude as Channing?  We should be prepared 24X7 at any moment to spend eternity with Jesus.  Luke 12:35 states this message succinctly with a lot of punch, “Be prepared, and keep your lamps lit.”  In other words, keep your backpack ready to travel.

Like Channing, why should we be so excited to see Jesus?  1 Corinthians 2:9 makes a declaration that should be thrilling to each of His children, pronouncing, Just as it is written: ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the human heart, All that God has prepared for those who love Him!’” 

Hopefully, we are not caught up in the world to such a degree that there is little desire to pack our bags to go to heaven.  1 John 2 admonishes and instructs us, “15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God continues to live forever.”

1 Peter 2:11-12 calls us “foreigners and strangers” in this world and “to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God on the day of visitation.”  Live in a way that ungodly people see your “good deeds” and glorify your God.  If so, others are packing their bags right along with you.

Is your bag packed?

Name Above All Others

I find it interesting how hard it is for some “professing believers” to say the name of Jesus Christ in public. They will use the term “God” but have difficulty saying the name of Jesus. Why do you suppose that is? Jesus was talking to the disciples and those gathered to listen to Him and He said this: ‘And I say to you, anyone who acknowledges Me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God, but whoever denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Whenever they bring you before synagogues and rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how you should defend yourselves or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what must be said.” Luke 12:8-12 We need to get more used to speaking the name of Christ, for if we have faith in Him, He will guide us into all truth through the Holy Spirit who lives inside us. But what if the Holy Spirit does not live in you? Perhaps you have grown up in church and understand some of what is said, and because your parents believed, you speak as though you believe also, by the mere fact that your family believes. But going through religious behavior without leaning on, or knowing the Holy Spirit is the One who guides, is nothing more than works, trying to be good enough. Maybe that’s even the way you were raised, not hearing about Jesus, but only about God and His goodness, and that you have to be good also, so that you can go to heaven. There will be a lot of disappointed people on that day that think they know the Lord, but have never accepted Him as personal Lord and Savior. You can recognize Jesus as the head of a movement, but He is either Lord of your life, or He is not. Matthew would write something else Jesus said: “For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20 It’s not something that can’t be corrected if you don’t have that personal relationship with Jesus. You can do it now! You know Him as the Son of God, now just ask Him to be Lord of your life.

Don’t You Enjoy Being Around a Gentle Person?

There is a dear, gentle lady in Pam and my small community that we enjoy being around.  She is always settled, patient, kind, thoughtful, and relaxed.  I find myself emotionally healing just hanging out with her.  In contrast, our world is dominated by selfishness which produces stress and irritation as we deal with others.  Worldly success is based on a performance metrics with little room for mistakes.  Judgment is harsh and unkind.  So, anytime I can hangout with our dear gentle friend is considered a premium.

Synonyms of gentle are kindhearted, tenderhearted, merciful, forgiving, forbearing, sympathetic, considerate, understanding, loving, humble, unassuming, and peaceful.  I find that simply reading through this list is therapeutic.

Did you know that there is only one verse in the Bible where Jesus describes Himself at His core?  Matthew 11, 28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is comfortable, and My burden is light.”  Do you know why hanging out with Jesus is so healing?  Christ is “gentle and humble in heart.”  What a joy to cozy up to and spend time with Him!

According to the Bible, gentleness restores others.  Brothers and sisters, even if a person is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness… Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1&2) Gentleness and restoration go together.

2 Timothy 2 describes the power of gentleness, 24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, skillful in teaching, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.  Correcting others is not pounding others with the Word, but gently applying His word and ways to another person. 

Gentleness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22&23).  1 Timothy tells us to flee from the ways of the world and what to pursue, 10 For the love of money is a root of allsorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.

Do you want to be wise and understanding?  James 3:10 explains how, Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.

I know this is an oxymoron, but in the spiritual and relational world, gentleness is powerful.  Don’t you enjoy being around a gentle person?

Power of Positive Thinking or Positive Believing?

As Christians, we often to leave so much on the table. Even though we read in the Bible how dynamic the Christian life actually is, we dumb our daily walk down to our limited capabilities and perceptions rather than conduct ourselves in the power and capacity of God. 

In Matthew 17, immediately after Jesus experienced His “mountain top” transfiguration, He encountered disciples who had little faith14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, 16 I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was healed at once. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 And He said to them, “Because of your meager faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”  The disciples could not heal this man’s suffering child “because of meager faith.”  Afterwards, Jesus told His disciples that “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”  We have the capacity of the resurrected Jesus within us; yet we live in unbelief operating in the energy of the flesh.  “Dunamis”, the Greek word used in the original New Testament usually translated “power”, is the word from which “dynamite” are “dynamic” are derived. Our faith should render “explosive, vital results.”  Do others say that about us?

Hebrews 11:1 states, Now faith is the certainty of things expected, a proof of things not seen.  John 15:7 declares, “If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”  When God’s words remain in you, you know what’s on His heart.  Then, our faith brings God’s “dunamis” to life.  This is the power of positive believing.  It is much more “dynamic” than the power of positive thinking.  One is based on the power of God and the other is based on the capacity of our mind.  No comparison!

The choice is yours…live in “the power of positive thinking” or abide in Him living in “the power of positive believing.”

Are You Serving up “Canned” or Fresh Love?

Man, there is such a difference eating fresh fruit and vegetables versus grabbing the canned versions from the pantry.  Pam cooks a wonderful, tasty, and healthy chicken and broccoli casserole.  Usually, the chicken has just been freshly thawed and the broccoli is crisp and unprocessed.  Being a recovering glutton, I could eat the whole casserole in one setting!  Sometimes, to use up what’s in the pantry, Pam will sub canned chicken into the casserole.  I can taste the difference!  To my palate, it is not nearly as delicious.  She has committed to serve the fresh and not canned version.  Thank God Pam looks past my selfishness and loves me anyway! 😊

How often do we go into a day serving up “canned not fresh love.” It is love that is not savory, delectable, or delicious to the recipient but is old and stale.

I thank God that Jesus serves up fresh love every day.  Lamentations 3:22-24 is “delicious”,  “22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul.”  My soul greatly desires a portion of His love and mercies which are faithfully served fresh every day.  My soul daily says, “Yum!”

Look at this “luscious” verse instructing us to serve up daily, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).  Serve up words that are “whole” and fresh daily that are healthy and beneficial to the listener.

We are called to spread the smell of fresh love wherever we go in this dark, unwholesome, “canned” world, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14).  God’s children should behave like Jesus and spread fresh, vital love wherever we go.

Listen to this “sweet” verse in reference to God, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).  We are instructed in the New Testament to love others as Christ loved us.  Hopefully, the people around us sense the sweetness and freshness of our words.

Our greatest opportunity to impact this world especially the ones closest to us comes from healthy, wholesome words from our mouths and actions.  Let’s serve up “fresh not canned love to others” daily.

Have Faith

In the three years of Jesus’ ministry on earth, He revealed the power of God in Him more than 40 times. That’s a lot of activity, and we can see when we read how His notoriety spread so quickly during that time. He performed these miracles out of compassion, and for the purpose of revealing the power of God to others, and to show who He is, and because of His mercy. Yet, so many still would not believe. Many of those who would not believe were of the established religious community. Many of the crowds wanted to know “what they could do to perform the works of God!” (John 6:28) but when Jesus replied, “This is the work of God – that you believe in the One He has sent.” They went on to ask Him: “What sign then are You going to do so we may see and believe You?” 6:29-30 They had already been witness to some extraordinary things that Jesus did, which were far beyond the capabilities of man, yet they wouldn’t believe, even if He showed them one more. He actually did many more miracles after that, and I’m sure some put their faith in Him, but many more still would not believe. John would end his gospel this way: “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if they were written one by one, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.” John 21:24-25 So here we are today. Many years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, seen by John and others, which is also a great miracle of God, but we still do not believe. How many of you have innocently prayed for the Lord to show you something like a miracle so that you would believe? In the 20th Chapter of John, Jesus would say to Thomas, who was not present when He appeared to the disciple one time, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer. Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said, ‘Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.” John 20:27-29 How can we ever move past the “seeing is believing” part and realize that, “faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 Faith tells us the truth, spoken to our souls by the Holy Spirit Himself, and if we will listen, He will tell us all truth concerning our Lord and our life. Pastor Andy

There’s Nothing Healthier Than a Good Chew!

For twenty years, Pam and I lived near a working farm. Often, I would see cows sitting in the middle of a pasture relaxing as if enjoying the sun.  Then suddenly, they began chewing on something without taking a bite of anything.  What they were doing was chewing on “the cud” burped up by one of their abdominal chambers.

Did you know that cows have four chambers in a large abdominal area allowing them to have highly developed digestive abilities?  Once their food such as grass or hay is initially chewed and swallowed it goes to the first chamber called the rumen.  After the food is processed and softened in the rumen, it is burped up and chewed again. This burped up substance is called the cud and is chewed over and over until it is swallowed and processed in each of the other chambers of the cow’s stomach enabling them to max out the nutritional value of the grass.

Albeit a bit gross, this visual of chewing cud over and over again has a huge application regarding how we should process God’s word.  If we hurry through our daily reading, many of us read scripture without ever “digesting” it. God wants us to meditate or continue to “chew on” scripture throughout the day.  Once we do, we increasingly understand their truths enabling us to apply them in real terms in our lives.  The Bible is clear about “chewing on” His Word:

Psalm 119:97, Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.”

Psalm 119:15&16, I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways delighting in your decrees. I will not neglect your word.”

Joshua 1:8, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

John 15:7, If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

In today’s world, we hear the phrase, “chew on it until you get it.”  I want us to take heed to this phrase.  Let’s chew on God’s Word until it becomes a part of our daily walk.  There’s nothing healthier than a good chew!

The Brokenhearted…

I thank God for the soldiers, police officers, fire fighters, first responders, and others who have sacrificed their lives for the good of our country.  May we never forget our freedom is not free.  It has cost the lives of many brave people. I pray for their families who bear hidden emotional and mental wounds resulting from losing one so dear to them.  Bless you and may God shine His healing countenance on You.

I pray for those who got through the battles alive yet are dealing with personal trauma whether physical, mental, or emotional.  Hopefully, you are not trying to deal with this by yourself.  If you feel that you are all alone, please “comment” in this blog. 

Also, to the dear people who work sacrificially day after day caring for individuals who are mangled physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.  Thank you!  If you are overwhelmed, please “comment” in this blog. 

Allow God’s Word to minister to you:

  • The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
  • He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)
  • Never forget that Jesus calls for us to “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find [w]rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is comfortable, and My burden is light.”
  • Jesus states, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)
  • Cast all your anxieties on Him, because he cares for you.”  (1 Peter 5:7)

Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20).  Allow Jesus to minister to you.  He is always there in the darkest hour and in the moments of deepest hurt.

Memorial Day

First, I apologize. This should have been yesterday, but we were traveling.

As we enter the Memorial Day weekend, it brings to mind the legacy of family members on my wife’s and my sides of the family and all of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Pastor Andy Anderson is a vet and a medical professional who served during the Vietnam conflict. He penned a devotional where he lists some of those he will be remembering this weekend, but also the One who paid it all:

There is One other I also want to remember above all else. And that is the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. People today don’t even want to mention His name, yet whether they like Him or not, doesn’t change the fact that in the time of great spiritual warfare, He met the challenge. He gave His life for the sake of others including you and me. We are to remember Him above all, because the greatest act of mercy and love are attributed to Him. On the day before He was to be crucified, He said to His disciples: “When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. Then He said to them, ‘I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes. And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘This is My body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me. In the same way He also took the cup after Supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.” Luke 22:14-20 So it’s okay to use this Monday to enjoy yourselves, for it is a special day and given for the sake of remembering. It is a day to spend with others, with family and friends, so that you can all remember those who have paid the price so that we can indeed celebrate. This freedom that we take so much for granted was bought with blood and sacrifice, and the greatest sacrifice was the one bought by Jesus for you and me to have freedom in Him and so that we can be with Him forever. So here’s to you my friends, I love you. Here’s to You Jesus! I love You, and I remember what you did for me. Thank You for dying for me, so that I, through You, may live in eternity. “Greater love hath no man than to give his life for a friend.”