Dusty Grace

Eph. 2:8-9
Eph. 2:8-9

It’s not what we can achieve, it’s what we can receive. Joseph Prince said this in his book, “Right Believing.” I’ve been chewing on that all day.

It’s not what we can achieve, it’s what we can receive.

It’s tricky in your Christian walk not to become puffed up and legalistic. There’s an inclination to stack up your righteous deeds and try to build your own stairway to Heaven.

• Go to church. Check!
• Read your Bible. Check!
• Pray. Check!

However church-y these things may be, these things don’t make you a Christian. These are only things that Christians do. Our “good deeds” are merely “filthy rags” to an absolutely Holy God anyways. What would you do with filthy rags?

What does make you a Christian is Grace, through Faith (Eph. 2:8-9). ”Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” is what Paul told the jailer in Acts 16:31.

It is our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is our faith that He is our Savior and the one and only Son of the Living God (Acts 4:12). That is what makes you a Christian; not what you do, but what’s been done for you!

It’s not about rules (what you can achieve), it’s about relationship (what you can receive). Let me say that again, because it’s sort of important: It’s not about rules, it’s about relationship. How is your relationship with Jesus? Is there even one? Or has your faith become separate… divorced from Jesus? That may sound unusual, but if you are not in a relationship with Jesus, then you are divorced from Him.

Sorry, I’m getting off point.

Grace is a gift. It’s unmerited favor. It’s something for nothing. Have you ever received a gift and just let it set there on the table unopened? Of course not! You ripped it open! You claimed it. Grace must be claimed. If not, it sits there unopened, unrealized, and unused.

Don’t let the gift of Grace set there unopened collecting dust. Dust it off and enjoy it!

May God’s Love be with you

Impoverishing Jesus


Today’s Oswald Chambers* took me several reads to fully comprehend. To be honest, that’s pretty normal. His devotional is so deep, sometimes I don’t ever grasp it the first time around! Today’s was good, once I finally “got it.”

Think of the depths of human nature and human life. Do you have a deep “well” of hurt and trouble inside your heart?

You try to dig down and draw from the well, but it only makes the well deeper. Is the well so deep, that you think, “Jesus can’t help me? What could He possibly do in this situation? I’m stuck.”

This happens far too often. The problem is we’re looking in the wrong direction. Instead of inward, we need to look upward. We need to look up to the only One that can help.

We think (from our well), “Oh sure, read the Bible. How will reading the Bible help in this situation?” Subsequently we impoverish or hinder the ministry of Jesus Christ. We can get to the point that He is unable to work in our lives. And that’s all He wants to do: get in our lives and help!

It’s not that Jesus can’t help, it’s that we won’t let Him. Our God is big and far too often we make Him small in our lives.

Look up from your well today and grab the hand that’s reaching down.

May God’s Love be with you

*My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers.

Read, Re-read, and Read Again


There are some movies where the more you watch them, the better they get. Some have that special quality that makes repeat viewings more enjoyable. For me, “Office Space” comes to mind.

You would think that it would be boring to re-watch the same movie. I mean, you know what’s going to happen, right? But with a certain precious few, it’s the opposite. You end up noticing something new you didn’t see before, or you notice just how perfectly it’s casted. Whatever the nuance, it’s better than it was the first time you watched it. It’s sort of a phenomenon, really.

The Word of God is like that.

The more you get into it, the better it gets! You can read the same portion 10 times and get 10 different things out of it. You might notice one word that really stands out that you didn’t quite notice before. Then it takes on a whole other meaning to you!

Actually reading the Bible just once would be a tragic mistake. There is no way you could benefit from all the abundant wisdom or follow all the complex narratives in one viewing. The Bible is alive and it begs to be read, studied, meditated upon, and praised!

Have you ever thanked God for the Bible? Where would we be without that road map? You think society has gotten out of control? Well, this is a time when the Bible is readily available to absolutely anyone at anytime in any form. Imagine how out of control things would be without it to guide us through the dark places? I don’t even want to think about it!

So, read, re-read, and read again the Holy Word of God. It never gets old. It only keeps getting better and better and better! And take a minute in your quiet time with God today to offer a special thanks for the His Holy Divine Word. It truly is a gift.

May God’s Love be with you

The Dark Side

Romans 7:14-25
Romans 7:14-25

Even people who aren’t fans of Star Wars know Darth Vader. When he tells Luke to “Join the Dark Side.” They know what he’s talking about, don’t they? In the fictional mythos of Star Wars, all matter is made up of an energy field called “the Force.” One can either be a practitioner of the Light Side of the Force (Good) or the Dark Side of the Force (Evil). The Dark Side draws from raw emotions like anger, rage, hatred, fear, aggression, and passion. Sounds an awful lot like the flesh, doesn’t it?

Romans 7:14-25 talks about “The Conflict of Two Natures

“For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.”

This all sounds pretty horrendous, doesn’t it? There is a war raging in our very bodies and even Paul was powerless to control it! Now if Paul, arguably the greatest born-again Christian ever to have lived, could not master this inner-conflict, how can we?

Easy. Look at the next verse in chapter 8:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”

No condemnation. The greek here for “no” is “oudias” – not a single one. There is not a single condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That is how we do it! The Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set us free!

God knows we will falter. That’s why He sent Jesus as our mediator. Only Jesus could win that battle. And now we are hidden in the precious Blood of The Lamb. Only through the intervention of Christ are we not condemned for repeatedly falling short.

The Dark Side and The Light Side pretty much sums up the inward struggle between our flesh and spirit. We would be well advised to remember what Yoda said, “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.”

May God’s Love be with you

Shade From The Heat

Isaiah 25:4
Isaiah 25:4

I was fortunate enough to go to Bonnaroo in 2007 and then again in 2008. For those who don’t know, Bonnaroo is a 4-day music festival held in Manchester, TN. Well, let me tell you: Tennessee is hot and Tennessee in June is really HOT! So, I made one important improvement from 2007 to 2008. This one small change made my second venture exponentially better.

I brought a canopy. The canopy provided shade. Shade made all the difference.

Without shade, we were up with the sun: 6:30am. And then you are out in it, man. Until the sun goes down. There is no escape! In fact, one thing I noticed throughout the day were the shadows of the trees. Everyone was looking for shade all day. The only shade was from the trees. So all around, people were sitting in the perfect shape of trees without realizing it. It was as if the shadow of the trees were made of people.

That’s how important shade can be. It protects you from the elements. Without it, you are exposed. You are vulnerable. Eventually, you will perish.

“For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; For the breath of the ruthless is like a rain storm against a wall” (Isaiah 25:4 NASB).

It may be strange to think of God as shade. Don’t we usually think of Him as perfect radiant Light? But God is also shade in the sense that He is cool and refreshing to a parched and dried soul. He offers rest and reprieve from the elements that will eventually overcome us.

We can finally rest in His shelter. We can revitalize. We can survive only with His loving cover. Without God in our lives offering His divine shade, we are in the desert at noon with no water, no cover… and no hope.

May God’s Love be with you

Addendum: My Christian walk has graduated me from Bonnaroo to Creation Festival. And thank God for that! I give God all the glory for the amazing new song He has given me to sing. (Psa. 96:1)

Weight Loss

Hebrews 12:1
Hebrews 12:1

Kurt Vonnegut wrote a story once that always stuck with me. It was called, “Harrison Bergeron.” It told of a future where the government forced people to wear “handicaps” in order to make everyone equal. If you were really graceful, you wore heavy weights to make you clumsy. If you were handsome, you had to wear a hideous mask. That way no one felt insecure or sad about not being as graceful or as handsome as anyone else.

Anyways, there’s a scene in which a beautiful ballerina is on TV. She is weighted down with 200lb weights because she is so incredibly graceful. She is masked because of her great beauty. Of course, her dance is not very good. It’s been “handicapped” so much that she is now average.

This is political fiction. However, the tragic image of that ballerina trying so hard to perform even though she is so clearly hindered perfectly illustrates how sin can literally weigh us down.

“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us” (Hebrews 12:1, HCSB).

Think of it this way: sin has actual weight. We are told to lay aside the sin. We all know that. But we are also told to lay aside the weight. Extra weight slows our progress. Sin slows our progress. Sin ensnares us. It trips us up. Just like the ballerina weighted down, if we are full of the weight of sin, our performance will suffer.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV).

David was a man who knew the weight of sin. He knew all too well just how ensnaring it can be. But he also knew the sweet freedom that comes with throwing off that weight. He knew how much easier it was to continue on the path of righteousness without it!

Want to lose some unnecessary weight? Lay aside sin! But please don’t dare think you can do this weight-loss program on your own. Ask Jesus for help. He’s the only one that can take every weight and the sin that SO EASILY ensnares us, and cast it aside so we can join him in the light.

May God’s Love be with you

The Real Deal


Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. (1 Peter 5:8 HCSB)

Note that the enemy prowls around “like” or “as” a lion. He isn’t a lion. He’s faking it. He’s disguised himself as the King of the beasts, but he’s the furthest thing from that.

The real Lion is Jesus.

Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:5 HCSB)

The enemy wishes he was the Lion. He is only playing pretend.

Also note that he is looking for anyone he “can” devour. He can’t devour just anyone. He can’t devour a child of the King!

We know that everyone who has been born of God does not sin, but the One who is born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. (1 John 5:18 HCSB)

So when you have negative thoughts or hurtful feelings, know that it’s from an impostor. It’s from an actor. It’s from a phony. Be alert, the devil is a wannabe.

Jesus is the real deal. He doesn’t parade around like anything. He doesn’t have to. He searches around for someone He can save!

May God’s Love be with you
Ref: Joseph Prince, “Right Believing”

Your Shield


What would Captain America be without his shield? Well, he would still be pretty awesome, but he would be admittedly less awesome, that’s for sure.

The shield Paul mentions to the church at Ephesus was not a shield like the good Captain’s. No, it was much better. When listing the Armor of God, Paul says:

“in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:16 NASB)

Paul was most likely talking about a roman shield; A large curved rectangle, almost cylindrical. The best surviving example, from Dura-Europos in Syria, is 42 inches in height with a distance around the curve of 34 inches. It was well made and extremely sturdy. The wielder of this shield could completely hide behind. It offered not only protection, but also confidence!

The shield of Faith is a vital weapon in our spiritual battles. It protects us from the enemy’s flaming arrows. These arrows can take the form of temptations, doubt, and insults. Our shield can extinguish these cruel arrows. But you have to have it! A shield doesn’t do any good laying with its maker.

So don’t forget your trusty shield when you clothe yourself every morning for your daily battle. You do pray God’s armor on yourself every morning, right? If not, start that practice immediately! I am not even kidding here, people.

Whats a soldier without his gear?

May God’s Love be with you

The John 3:16 Sign


Recently I was asked: What’s up with people at sporting events holding up a “John 3:16” sign? To a Christian this verse is so fundamental that you assume everyone knows it, right? I mean, it’s only the most well-known of all Scripture. But to some people, it may not be common knowledge. You would be surprised who doesn’t know what that sign even means!

So it goes like this:

You have one guy with a sign that says “DEFENSE” (sometimes two signs; one that is a “D” and the other that’s an actual little fence) and you have the one guy holding up a big-head cutout of the coach’s face or something. And then you see one guy with a curious little sign that reads, “John 3:16.” Is there a John on the team? Does he wear #316?

Of course not, the John in the sign refers to the Epistle of John in the Bible. And 3:16 are coordinates within that letter – third chapter and sixteenth verse. Which reads:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NASB)

Ok, but why? A professional football game hardly seems like the place to bring up religion.

Ask Tim Tebow. He famously wrote the verse on his black eye strips during games. You see, the Christian’s duty isn’t just to believe in Christ, it’s to share his faith. He is trying to spark your curiosity. Maybe you’ll write it down and look it up or ask your friend or something. Or he is trying to remind those who already know the verse. When else could he tell 80,000 people about Jesus (or if he gets on TV, millions!)

Why John 3:16?

If the Bible could be summed up in one verse, it would be John 3:16. It is the entire Christian faith in a nutshell. This guy is trying to get the most out of the little time he has. If I could only point someone to one verse, it would be John 3:16.

I assume I am writing to mainly Christians… but if I am not, and you always wondered what that sign meant, I hope you now have a better idea.

Now, I’ve never gone to a game with a John 3:16 sign, but I’m not against them. If you are going to put up a sign for the whole world to see, why not one about God’s love for mankind? Sounds better than, “Go Team” to me!

May God’s Love be with you

Real Love

1 John 4:10
1 John 4:10

We throw the “L” word out for just about everything nowadays. Man, I love peanut butter. I loooove Parks & Recreation! I love lamp. It’s no secret that words lose their impact when used so flippantly. But everyone knows when I say I love hot sauce, I don’t actually love-love it. I just really like it! Real love, love-love is reserved for special things.

This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. – 1 John 4:10

I love my wife. It’s easy for me to love her. She is so lovable! I love my daughter. It’s easy for me to love her. She is my very heart. But John says real love is loving the unlovable. Namely, us! We were unlovable, yet God loved us still. He loved us so much, He sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Wrapping your brain around that fundamental idea may take a lifetime. The more you meditate on it, the more you will find yourself in tears.

A “Thanks” doesn’t quite cut it, does it? Undeserved love is such an immense gift. I really can’t even put it into words properly. The only proper response is total praise, total adoration, and total devotion.

Valentine’s Day is the day to profess your love. By all means, tell your special people that you love them. But don’t forget about the One who loved you first. Tell Him too.

May God’s Love be with you

This will help: Misty Edwards, “Lovesick