Missionaries: Spiritual Bristlecone Pines

bristlecone pine

I read about bristlecone pines and found myself with new appreciation for our precious missionaries that take the Great Commission literally (as we all should).

Bristlecone pines are so interesting. They are highly resilient to harsh weather & bad soils.

“Bristlecone pines tend to occupy new ground. They do very well where most other plants cannot grow such as in rocky soils in areas with virtually no rainfall.” (“The Secret of the Bristlecone Pine” Homiletics, July 2002)[2]Please pray for our spiritual bristlecone pines as they occupy new ground. These men and women thrive where most of us could not. They move to places where God’s Word often falls on rocky soil & they may see very little fruit for their efforts.

Pray for their effectiveness, resilience, & safety.



Lutzer, Erwin W. The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent: an Informed Response to Islam’s War with Christianity. 37969th ed. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2013. (Chapter 6)

“The Secret of the Bristlecone Pine” July 2002, Homiletics, pp. 21-23.



You may not want to read this one. Skip it, that’s ok.

Pilate wasn’t stupid. He knew that Jesus was innocent (Matt. 27:23). He knew the Jews wanted Jesus dead. Pilate also knew something else about the Jews: their motive.

“For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.” – Matt. 27:18 (NIV)

Isn’t that the same reason He is rejected today; self-interest? Doesn’t self-interest often lead to violence, like in the case just mentioned?

“Self-interest” is sometimes translated “envy,” but in Greek its literally “decay, break-down, and corrupt” [Properly, it’s a strong feeling that sours due to the influence of sin. Figuratively, it’s being glad when someone else experiences misfortune. The German have a word for that: “schadenfreude.” Its like “farfegnugen” only with pain.

Ouch! Read that again and then remember that this is the same reason Jesus is rejected today! Strong feeling that sours due to sin – it spoils us like sour milk. Thayer calls it a “miserable trait.”

It’s the feeling of jealous ill-will that “negatively ‘energizes’ someone with an embittered mind” (Strongs). Yeah, been there. Who hasn’t been negatively energized with a spiteful mind? So much so, that you go out and try to even the score or pull that person down from their high horse.

Now, get this: it always carries the idea of “displeasure at another’s good without longing to raise oneself to the level of him whom he envies, but only to depress the envied to his own level” (R. Trench, 90).”

You want to drag them down, not pull yourself up!

Pilate knew that. He could see it. I mean literally; “a tumult was rising” (verse 24). So he washed his hands of the situation.

Self-interest is the bane of our society. It is a scourge, a curse, and a terror. It is the vice on which our throats are squeezed. Apathy is king. The spirit of envy & embitterment, self-entitlement & schadenfreude devours all who entertain it – from the inside out.

You know who else has self-interest? Can you think of someone else that, if they are going down, then they are going to drag every last person down with them? Ring any bells? How about the great accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10)? The devil is the original self-interested. Self-interest is his wheelhouse.

That’s the bad news, but thanks be to God that there is Good News as well.

There is only one antidote. There is only one solution. There is only one cure: Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of the Father of the heavenly lights (James 1:17).

  • Only Jesus can take that apathetic, cold, dead heart and resuscitate it.
  • Only Jesus can take that self-destructive self-interest and transform it, restore it, and renew it.
  • Only Jesus can unglue us from ourselves.
  • Only Jesus can turn us around from facing the mirror so we can serve & minister to the resident foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow (Jer. 22:3).
  • Only Jesus can exchange our soured souls.
  • Only Jesus.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12

I told you, you might not want to read this one. But then again, aren’t you glad you did?

If you were blessed by this, please Like & Share!


Porn & Purity


Pornography is an epidemic today. EPIDEMIC; I don’t use that word lightly or in hyperbole. It is a flat-out plague! I would say porn is the “leprosy” of our times. It is contagious, infectious, and poisonous. It leaves festering DEATH & DESTRUCTION in its vile wake; the death of marriages, the death of families, and the death of life.

The age at which a child can be exposed to porn is UNSPEAKABLY young; as early as 6 or 7! Temptation is constantly & conveniently just one click away. Snares are readily available now more than ever. In fact, they are in your very pocket. That is why it is absolutely vital to stand for purity and dig deeper into God’s word. 


“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” – Isa. 7:9 (NIV)

Lust has always run rampant, but today it is in a dead-on sprint (Gal. 5:19-21).

Gentlemen, it is time to MAN UP!

  • Honor your Lord (Rom. 13:14).
  • Honor your wife (Heb. 13:4).
  • Honor your children (Phil. 4:8).

Ladies, pray for your man!

One verse has served me well in this area:

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.” – Job 31:1

Is it worth losing your family, your career, or your self-respect over one moment? Guilt and shame make for terrible bedfellows.

So, what’s the solution?

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. – Psa. 119:9

Want to live a pure life? Live it according to God, not man. God’s ways are the best ways. Do you know them? Stepping outside of His ways ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS involves negative consequences.

  • He isn’t about withholding “good things” from you.
  • He is about withholding BAD THINGS from you!
  • Do you believe that?

Want a pure life? Live according to God’s word – this will help you REGRET-PROOF your future.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:28-29 that anyone who looks lustfully has committed adultery in their heart. That’s a convicting verse. Jesus is looking from the inside out. My advice: Give your heart to Him because you and I are just going to foul it up.

Job made a covenant with his eyes. Make that same covenant, won’t you? Pray for us all.

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Circling the Wagons


You remember in old Westerns, pioneers would be traveling in a covered wagon caravan and then there would be a threat of some kind, so they would circle the wagons to protect themselves?

It was a great defensive tactic. However, the longer they stayed in that circle, the more dangerous the situation would become.  Enemies could mount up, encircle their circle, and wait them out.

Most importantly: Forward progress would be totally stopped.

Have our churches been in a holding pattern of “circling the wagons?” Have we been on the defense to the exclusion of progress? Have we become so obsessed with our own safety, that we’ve lost all forward momentum?

Have we become inwardly-focused rather than outward?

Look, I know that we are under attack today. God’s Word makes it unmistakably clear that we are engaged in a spiritual war whether we realize it or not (2 Cor. 10:3-6; Eph. 6:12). Circling the wagons is sometimes necessary, but it should only be a temporary move, not a permanent one!

Yes, we get together (the infamous “holy huddle”), pray for each other, and help each other (Gal. 6:2): REGROUP!

But then, we are commanded to head “West” again with the Gospel message!

Ref: John Simmons, “Circle The Wagons?” Dec/Jan issue of the WV Baptist Newsletter 2017/18.

Why Are Churches Dying?


Churches are dying. Some are thriving, but the overwhelming majority are not. Attendance is dwindling. Most are hanging on by a thread. Many will have to shut their doors in as little as one generation.

A lot of this is because we live in a Post-Christian society that embraces the emerging postmodern worldview.

  • Millennials (born ’82-’04) aren’t being reached.
  • Generation X (born ’61-’81) & Y (born ’77-’95) are dropping out.
  • Baby Boomers (born ’46-’64) are ready to pass the torch.
  • The Builders (born ’25-’45) are going home.

Look, people: we are at a tipping point. It is the 4th quarter and we are trailing.

We must re-think, re-tool, and re-frame. We must shift, evolve, and adapt.

If not, we will be mourning church closing after church closing.

“Churches across this country are going out of business, closing their doors, because they’ve lost their relevancy. They chose not to change with the times. They chose to keep people over 60 happy and forget about reaching people under 30. They, like my granddaddy, measured faithfulness by doing things the same way year after year, regardless of the response or the results.” – Edward H. Hammett

Please read that quote again only slower this time.

(I can feel you nodding your head in agreement.)

Traditions are great. But if traditions are only servicing personal preferences, then we need to take a hard look at them.

  • Are we inwardly-focused or outward?
  • If we closed, would the community even notice?
  • Are we a museum for saints or a hospital for sinners?

I know these are tough questions, but they need to be asked and honestly answered.

I’m convinced that people love Jesus, but have lost their love for church. I’m not saying that is correct, I’m just saying that seems to be the trend. The next generation does not see the relevancy church.

How do we reach a new generation for Jesus Christ? How do we help them fall in love with church again?

Ref: Hammett, Edward H. Reaching People under 30 While Keeping People Over 60: Creating Community Across Generations (TCP the Columbia Partnership Leadership Series): TCP Books, 2015.


Everyone on the side of truth listens to Jesus

the other side

I want to share a verse with you that I have totally fell head-over-heels in love with.

Jesus has just been arrested and taken to Caiaphas, the High Priest. He doesn’t answer their questions the way they like, so He is struck and lead to Pilate’s tent. He is called inside where He and Pilate have a private conversation. Pilate asks Jesus if He is the king of the Jews. Jesus tells Pilate that His kingdom is not of this world.

Pilate asks Him if He is a king. Jesus answers that He is a king, born to testify to the truth. Then He says this:

“Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me.” – John 18:37 (NIV)

I want you to let that sentence marinate. Let it percolate. Let it steep. Dwell on it.

Everyone on the side of truth listens to Jesus.

Jesus is saying if you reject Him, you are not on the side of truth. The opposite of truth is lie. If you refuse to listen to Jesus, you are on the side of lies & fiction. You are on the false side!

If you believe in truth (accuracy, authenticity, fact, legitimacy, veracity, correctness, genuineness), then you listen to Jesus. A loyal subject hears his King. When you side with the light and the truth, you hear the voice of His Gospel both externally & internally; “so as to approve of it, rejoice at it, and distinguish it; and the voice of His commands, so as cheerfully to obey them from a principle of love to Him.” (John Gill)

Here is a litmus test to reveal if you really are a champion of truth. Ask yourself: Do I listen to Jesus?

  • If I do, I am on the side of truth.
  • If not, then I am not.

If I ignore, discount, or deny Jesus, then I am not on the side of truth.

Jesus is the TRUTH (John 14:6). If you believe truth, you believe Jesus and you shall be free (John 8:32). If you do not believe in Jesus, you do not believe truth and you shall be in chains.

Everyone on the side of truth listens to Jesus.

Which side are you on?

Ref: http://biblehub.com/john/18-37.htm



It’s a hot summer afternoon. You’ve just been out working in the hay field. You are drenched in sweat. Someone hands you a drink. You expect it to be cold and refreshing. However, it turns out to be a warm cup of tea. Yuck! You spit it out!

Jesus warns about a people like that.

16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. – Rev. 3:16

No one uses “lukewarm” in a good way. It’s always used as something unacceptable. It isn’t what we wanted. Are we lukewarm? If so, you better believe God will spit us out. The Greek word (eméō) means repulsed, showing utter rejection (desiring total separation); ‘to reject with extreme disgust’ (WP, 6, 321).”

Vomiting is such an awful experience. I mean, it’s violent, really. God will barf us out if we are lukewarm. Sorry to be graphic, but that’s what Jesus warns.

Maybe this will help:


Ref: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094012/characters/nm0001006?ref_=tt_cl_t2

Spiritual Root Canal


Root canals are the worst. The dentist removes the root before it spreads to the other teeth. Oftentimes we need a spiritual root canal. We need to remove the root of bitterness that has begun before it spreads to the rest of the body.

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. – Heb. 12:15

I’m not sure about you, but I have to schedule DAILY root canals. That’s the way sanctification works, isn’t it? It is on-going, it is a life-long surgery, and it can be quite painful. However, the pain is far worse if that bitter root is allowed to develop and fester.

If ignored, that bitter root grows up. What started small digs deep and becomes a bitter plant. That bitter plant sprouts to becomes a mighty tree. And that tree will cause trouble & defile many.

You have to kill it before it kills you!

That’s where the Cross comes in. Our Savior obliterates that bitter root. How can we remain petty and childish at the foot of the Cross? Our self-obsession evaporates when we gaze on His face, when we remember His sacrifice, and when we accept His grace.

  • Whatever that sin is that’s taken root – it must be chopped down.
  • Whatever that bitterness is that’s wormed into your heart – it must be cut out.
  • That infected & inflamed tooth? It must be removed!

As Octavius Winslow said, “Lay the ax at its root!”

Swing fast & swing hard! Watch that mighty tree fall! Live in victory!

If this blessed you, please Like & Share!

Want To Be Richer?

cave of wonders

I have Col. 2:3 written on a Post-it and stuck on my computer. I read it every single day and marvel at its brilliant simplicity. Don’t be fooled by its shortness; it is a total powerhouse. Each word is worthy of meditation and drips with truth.

All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him. – Col. 2:3 (HOL)

Let me unpack it:

All – all is all. Is anything left out of all? Nope. If so, it would only be some. All means “each & every part; the whole, totality, thoroughly, and ‘all manner of.'”

the treasures = “a storehouse for precious things” from thesaurus, where we get the English term “thesaurus” which refers to a “storehouse (treasure) of synonyms.”

of wisdom & knowledgeknowledge is facts, wisdom is application of those facts. We all know people who had the facts, but did not apply them or who misapplied them and it resulted in folly or destruction (Also see Rom. 11:33

are hidden = kept secret; the concept is having something so valued that you store it away. Do we have anything like that today? Banks, maybe?

in Him – this, of course, refers to Xristós, “the Anointed One,” the Christ (Hebrew, “Messiah“): Jesus Christ!

All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him. – Col. 2:3 (HOL)

Here’s a visual for you, remember the “Cave of Wonders” in Aladdin? Imagine that, only extending forever in every direction. In Eph. 3:8, Paul calls these riches “unsearchable” (boundless, endless, unfathomable, incalculable, infinite). In a million years, the treasures of Christ could still not be fully explored.

The Greek word means “past finding out.” So, as far as you can go, its past that.

Some takeaways: No matter how long you’ve been a Christian, there is still more to learn. Even after a 100 years, you have only scratched the outer edge of the knowledge of the Holy Spirit (A.W. Tozer). The soul prospers when we have clear knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus (Matthew Henry).

  • Want to be richer?
  • Want to be stronger?
  • Want to be healthier? Col. 2:3.
  • We cannot grow from Him until we are rooted in Him!

WARNING: The opposite of Col. 2:3 also exists. “All debts of folly and lies are exposed outside of Him.”

Do you know Him?

If you were blessed by this, please Like & Share!

Ref: All definitions from Strong’s & Thayer.

All – http://biblehub.com/greek/3956.htm

Treasures – http://biblehub.com/greek/2344.htm

Hidden – http://biblehub.com/greek/614.htm

Christ – http://biblehub.com/greek/5547.htm

Unsearchable – http://biblehub.com/greek/421.htm

Social Media: The New Bible

bowing before technology

Charles Spurgeon said that “Newspapers are the Bibles of worldlings! How diligently they read them! Here they find their law & profits, their judges & chronicles, their epistles & revelations!”

I trust the Prince of Preachers would indulge me just a minor update: “Social Media is the Bible of worldlings!”

Not much has changed in 2000 years. Paul basically said the same thing to the church at Colossae:

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. – Col. 2:8

Paul said bowing before anything other than Christ is cheating you. This is the only occurence of that Greek word. It has several implications such as someone plundering & taking captive and making a victim by fraud. But here is the most literal translation (and the most chilling): “to carry off like a predator with its prey!” Bowing before anything other than Jesus is carrying you off like a viscous predator. What are you bowing before?

Social Media is fine as long as we are not neglecting time in God’s Word. Is this ratio out of balance? I know its harder and harder to fit all that we have going on in, but – FIGHT FOR THAT TIME! Make it a priority. Maybe something needs to go. What’s it going to be? What’s most important? If this were your final day, how would you spend it? Scrolling through Facebook?

Time spent with the Lord is never wasted. His Word heals & delivers us (Psa. 107:20). Don’t know where to begin reading the Bible? Start with the Gospels (it introduces you immediately to Christ).

Please don’t give up that precious time to see what someone else had for dinner.

Where are you getting your news? Which is your Bible: the actual Word of God or the internet?

– If this blessed you please like & share!

Ref: http://biblehub.com/greek/4812.htm