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This pain can’t be good!?

2 Mar

Sometimes no-pain-no-gain is truth and a blessed one at that.

To Strengthen a Mother's Heart

 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,

    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”Luke 2:14 (NIV)

What is favor.  It’s easy to understand when we are well fed, comfortable and without turmoil. (or is it?)

What a slippery trick of the enemy. Because to live in the comfort zone is NOT favor.


Photo by Louis Blythe on Unsplash

I repeat it is NOT favor.

Comfort Zone living is NOT favor. 

Wealth is NOT favor.

Everyone loving you is NOT favor.

                  Favor is living and being in the center of Christ’s presence. Favor is the movement towards sanctification because of His mercy. He will not leave us where we were. To restore us to our original creation design we will not be comfortable.  We will be without earthly means of reliance we will be blessedly…

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Burning Fire on the Altar of Worship

23 Jan

In my last blog, I stated the first mention of fire in the scripture protected the Tree of Life—or perhaps we can understand it as protecting man from himself by keeping him from that tree. This blog describes an earlier fire seen by inference instead of by name, but it stands as a core element of God’s message from the beginning to the end. The fire of sacrifice brings us near to the last fire.

Peeling Back the Layers

As we look back through the pages of history, burnt sacrifices surface as part of religious ceremony in many nations and cultures. While ordered by God’s law given to Moses, Israel cannot claim exclusionary practice (think of Elijah and the contest with the prophets of Baal). So where did it all begin and spread throughout the world?

We know Moses records God’s instruction in the Law, but Genesis records the practice in place long before the first Passover. Abraham in obedience to God’s command took his son Isaac to the mountain to there sacrifice him to God as a burnt sacrifice. Before Isaac’s birth, Abram made a sacrifice to the Lord because of the promise given him. God sealed the promise as a flaming torch passing between the animal halves, burning up the sacrifice (Genesis 15).

Burnt sacrifices, however, predates Abraham by hundreds of years. In Genesis 8, Noah and his family exited the ark. His first act was to build an altar to make a sacrifice in worship and thanksgiving for what the Lord had done in preserving their lives.

And before Noah, the first detailed account of a sacrifice in worship is in Genesis 4. There we read that Cain and Abel brought their offerings to sacrifice. God accepted/approved Abel’s but rejected Cain’s offering. Anyone not know how that ended? Could God bring judgment for or against any expression of honor or worship without a standard already being set? If it had been set, when would that have been?

The Earliest

Right after the fall in Genesis chapter three, God made clothing out of animal skins for Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness (the physical evidence of their sin). Expand that in your minds. God killed an animal (probably two—one for each of them) to cover their nakedness. The first sacrifice for sin. We’re not told what animal he chose, but in keeping with the rest of scripture, I suggest it was a lamb. Remember, Abel’s accepted sacrifice was a first-born lamb. I don’t think it is a stretch to assume God instructed Adam and Eve about continuing the sacrifice as a repetitious reminder of their fall, their need, and God’s promise and provision. Their obedience served as training for Cain and Abel who then continued the practice on their own.

Being the first mention of fire in the Scripture has significance when we consider it as God’s priority. While we might first think of judgment and death, God thought of turning the heart of mankind back to himself. When wronged, we might want heaven’s fire to rain down on the one who hurt us, but God wants a fire in the person’s heart to restore that one to fellowship with him.

My Worship: Most Like Cain or Abel?

I often need to repent over my diluted worship. Like Cain, I bring to the Lord worship that goes through the motion without real meaning. I have walked out of church scoring the singing or the preached message. “The music really struck a cord with me today. I felt really moved by it.” Or, “Did you think the music was a little off today? That one song seemed to take us away from what I think the Lord was wanting to say.”

Are you ready for this? Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” True worship requires sacrifice. Daily we face choices to humble ourselves before the Lord or to try to force our ways. Letting the sacrifice fires touch our hearts in surrender to his will pleases the Father.

Open Up to Sacrifice Fires

Psalm 24:3-4a “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart…”

All fires bring us here to this place.

Will be back next week

26 Dec

We interrupt the regularly scheduled blog with this very important event.

The Banner of Freedom

3 Jul

I am posting a blog one day early this week. I hope to get ahead of the holiday festivities and fireworks to trigger deeper thoughts about why we celebrate this day.

Examine the flag as you never have before. The original prototype was not a printed design on a single piece of cloth like the ones we put out on our homes today. Thirteen stripes of alternating red and white sewn together symbolized much more than the thirteen colonies. It told of thirteen regional self-interests that were willing to compromise to promote freedoms and the common good. What they were proposing would no doubt face incredible opposition with little chance for a good outcome. But they were resolved to try.

The field of blue reminded them that they were a new concept—a wild experiment—in the family of nations in the world. They took their success or failure seriously. Looking into the future, they saw what impact their experiment could have world-wide.

Each star stitched onto the blue field represented an act of covenant. Individually, each state then and to this day has signed a social and moral contract to preserve and protect the original purpose and one another. Any attack against freedom in one state was against the whole.

Less than ninety years after the U.S. Constitution was signed, the definition of freedom and to whom it applied was tested. The Civil War claimed more deaths than all other wars we have been in combined. It succeeded in ending many aspects of the greatest blight and contradiction of our nation’s history.

While it expanded who qualified for freedom, it failed to give us a good working definition for freedom. The political strife we find ourselves facing in our nation today with progressives wrestling conservatives has its roots in the struggle our Founders fought over. This July 4th I call us to find a definition in our hearts that acknowledges freedom also requires self-limiting barriers. Total individualism is a failed stitch in the flag flying proudly above us that will unravel the whole.

And enjoy all the freedom expressed millenniums ago: there’s no law against doing good.

What if Christianity began with today’s American churches?

9 May

Have you ever played the “What if…” game? Perhaps in the solitude of your thoughts? Well, here goes. What if the church in America were responsible for launching Christianity for the first time? Send me your thoughts and I will post them here. I can even post them anonymously, if you want. You can write your ideas in the comment section or send me an email at

Be creative. Have some fun with this. I want to hear what you think before I share my thoughts.

I limit your imaginations only by asking you think of the American church as a whole, not just your own congregation. Beyond that, you can place the church back 2000 plus years or leave it in the current era.

How does the American church spread the gospel? Will it be effective? How do you think it would take hold? What obstacles does the church face? How does it overcome? What persecutions will it face? Where will the church be in 100 years?

Feel free to answer any other questions you might think of.

Ready? Set? Go!

Remembering What Resurrection Sunday Is

15 Apr

I confess. All the years I have spent “up north” and have passed through the changes is worship music, my favorites are irrevocably Southern Gospel–especially good quartets.

Recently a video clip popped up on my screen as something I might enjoy. I want to share it with you as my Happy Easter greeting. It has extra meaning for me as I listened to so many of the singers captured in this video when I was young and still in southern Illinois. And, most of them are now on the other side of the lyrics. They have transitioned from having hope for being reunited with loved ones to standing with them in the Lord’s presence.

I hope you enjoy this and remember Easter is more accurately called Resurrection Sunday.

And, if you liked that one, I’m sure you will love this one:


Source of Problems

11 Mar

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