Thursday, November 8, 2018


Thanks for reading and following along - some of you for years.

The blog has moved to a new address at:  

When you get there, just click on 'blog' at the top of the page and scroll down for postings.

I hope you will join me there.

And be blessed.

Sunday, November 4, 2018


You could run through all 13 letters of Paul in the New Testament - read the beginnings and endings of all of them and here's what they'd say -- Paul begins and ends each of them with a blessing of grace on the reader.  At the beginning of each letter he typically says, 'Grace to you,' and at the end of each he typically says, 'Grace be with you.'  

In all 13.  That seems significant.

It's grace from first to last.

Grace is the only word common to all those blessings.  Some add mercy.  Some add peace.  Some add love.  But all have grace.  Every letter of Paul's.

So if I said, 'Grace to you,' I would mean starting now ... grace.

If I said, 'Grace be with you,' I would mean starting now ... grace.

Not that you haven't known grace in the past, or haven't experienced it up to this moment, but may God go on being gracious to you, starting now.  Grace upon grace.  More and more grace.

That's the grace I'd like to pour out.  How about you?  I know it's the grace we all want to receive, but is it the same grace we purpose to show?

And be blessed.

Saturday, November 3, 2018


One of the scheduled stops on our recent Israel tour was Ein Gedi.  Ein Gedi lays nearby the Dead Sea, Masada and Qumran.  Joelene and I had been there before, so I was saddened when we discovered the area had been closed by Israel tourism a few days prior because of a flash flood here that tragically killed several school children.  They had closed it for a period to avoid any other problems.

The 25-minute hike we had planned here would have opened to this waterfall.

The name Ein Gedi means 'fountain of the kid (goat).'  There are several references to it in the Scriptures, one of them being where David hid from King Saul in these strongholds and caves, many accessible only to wild goats.

It is a place of great beauty and rugged landscape - a refuge.  I Samuel 24 says:  'David went up and dwelt in the strongholds of Ein Gedi.'  

I could imagine him here among these caves - up there somewhere hiding from Saul and his forces - all day long reluctant to venture out - maybe when dusk came he would - just for some fresh air - stretch his legs a little without having to look over his shoulder.

God provided the perfect hideout.  It gave shelter and protection.  It was an oasis with water and a natural lookout where he could see for miles around against an approaching enemy.

And as you create that in your mind's eye, ask yourself:  How is this wilderness part of God's plan for this future king?

But wilderness has a great history in the Bible.

Moses wandered in one for 40 years with his people.
John the Baptist lived in one.
Jesus spent time in one.
They were all being tested there.  All of them.  That's what caves are for.

Growing up I never got a great theology of the wilderness.  Wildernesses were places I wanted to avoid.  If you had a friend who was in a spiritual wilderness, you thought:  'Oh boy, HE must have taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way to be there now.  God must be punishing him for something.'  

But Jesus' Gospel is a rugged spirituality where you sometimes find yourself in some discomfort.  That happens so you have to rely on Him.  If you're never in trouble, you're never going to sense a need for God.

That's what's happening to David here at Ein Gedi.  He's running for his life - drained - scraping bottom.

Bottom is a rough place to be.  Ever been there?
A foreclosure radically changed your family's living conditions -- you lost a job -- a long-standing relationship blew up or ended -- the letter arrived in the mail and everything changed -- the doctor walked in with that look -- someone you couldn't live without passed.

A lot of people have faced the bottom at one time or another.  Maybe you're there now.

David was.  During his life he lost his job - he lost his wife - he lost his home - he lost a child - he lost his best friend - he lost his counselor - he lost his own self-respect ---- and now he's on the run.  Hunted down - nobody to talk to - no food - no promise of hope - no idea that anything is going to change or improve - alone in a dark cave - away from everything and everybody he loves.

It's in this very condition - from the caves - that David writes Psalm 142.

As you read it, don't hear it as David's prayer, because it's no longer about David.  It's about what God wants to do in you.

'I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to Him for mercy.  I pour out my complaint before Him and tell Him my trouble.  When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who know my way.  In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me.  Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me.  I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.  I cry to You, O Lord; I say, "You are my Refuge, my Portion in the land of the living."

No escape.  Nothing left.  Desolate.  Yet in the middle of all that, the one thing David hasn't lost sight of ... is God.

God is your Refuge.
He is your Portion.
He is your Protector.
He is your Cave.
He is your Way.

Cry out to Him.  He cares for you.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


On our recent trip to Israel, one of our stops was at Mt. Carmel (Mukhraka) - the site of Elijah's contest with the prophets of Ba'al in the Old Testament.

The account is found in I Kings 18. 

Elijah's life is dazzling.  Ravens bring him food.  God uses a widow to provide bread for him every day.  He prays and God raises the widow's son from the dead.  He wins the showdown against the prophets of Ba'al at Carmel.  He calls down fire from heaven.  He strikes all 450 of the false prophets.  He jogs 17 miles from Carmel to Jezreel, outrunning horses and chariots.

Like Moses, Elijah went eastward for a season after a confrontation.
Like Moses, Elijah lived on God's provision of bread and water.
Like John the Baptist, Elijah was a mega-prophet whose coming was to pave the way for the Messianic age.

In many ways, Elijah is nothing like us.

Yet, James in the New Testament makes an extraordinary statement that Elijah was a 'man like us.'

A man like me?  Yes.  Because while Elijah holds a unique place in redemptive history, James focuses on the fact that every believer can have an effective prayer life like Elijah.

The prayers of a righteous person have great power.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours.  He prayed that it wouldn't rain and for three and a half years, it didn't.  With great faith, he called down fire from heaven against the most powerful people of his day.

James says Elijah is like you.  I guess that means we can be like him.  I guess that means we should seek to be like him.

May the life of Elijah and what happened on Mt. Carmel inspire us to pray Biblically and pray faithfully and point us to our great source of hope, Jesus Christ.

And be blessed.

Sunday, October 28, 2018


Our very first stop on our recent tour trip to Israel was at the beautiful coastal city of Caeserea.  

Not to be confused with the more inland Caeserea Philippi or the Greek city of Philippi, Caeserea was the home of one of Herod the Great's many palaces.  Built on a grand scale, the harbor extended out into the sea through an ingenious use of concrete that hardened under water.

It was one of the most significant seaports of the eastern Mediterranean.

The apostle Paul may have been imprisoned here for a time and very likely set sail for some of his journeys from this port.

Because of that, I've always thought on my trips to Israel (which typically BEGIN with a visit to Caeserea and END at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem) that the trip to Caeserea should come at the very conclusion of our tour - the last thing we see.

Once again I stood in the harbor last week and looked out west across the Mediterranean, imagining Paul setting sail for Greece or Italy or other parts in order to spread the Gospel of Christ.

Jesus told His disciples that He would make them 'fishers of people' if they would follow Him.  

I doubt they had any idea what that meant when He said it to them.  They were used to catching fish.  How do you catch 'people?'

Truthfully, none of the disciples of Jesus were very good at it at the beginning, but by the end, Andrew and Peter, James and John and a whole bunch more had become just that ... fishers of people.  So had a tax collector ... so had a prostitute ... so had a woman who'd been married five times ... so had a guy who'd been afflicted with demons ... so had a blind man ... so had a guy who'd previously persecuted Christians.  

Eventually many of them got into boats at places just like Caeserea and set out to tell others about Jesus - who told others about Jesus - who told others about Jesus - who told others - who told others - who told others - who told others ---- until somebody told you.

Fortunately for us, none of those folks thought religion was private or quiet.  Personal, yes; private, no.  They believed it was something you talked about.  And because they were willing to set out across the waters way back when and talk about it, here we are now - 2,000 years later - with a living faith in our hearts.

And now ... Jesus is calling us to get in our own 'boats' and sail across our own 'personal seas' and become fishers of people.

He says:  'Follow Me and I'll make you fishers ... I'll leverage everything I've placed in your life for My glory - your personality - your experiences - your heart and passion - your abilities - your giftings -- I'll use them all to perfectly position you in your neighborhood and in your job -- to fish.'

We were all fish once.  Get sailing. 

And be blessed.

Thursday, October 25, 2018


In our recent four-week "UNCENSORED" series at Journey Church, we invited folks to submit questions on marriage, sex, purity and relationships.  

Below is one of those questions ...

Q:  We're married but no longer in love.  What now?

A:  Wow.  I can almost feel your pain as I read that - just short and sweet - and tough.  But before you go down a road that could be equally painful, let me ask you to stop for a moment.  

If God commands us to love our enemies, can you love a spouse who is no longer very 'lovely?'  I understand that you can no longer muster the good feelings that once used to accompany the relationship.  I get that things have happened that make that long ago feeling impossible now ... but is your covenant good only until one of you falls out of love?  I hope it isn't.

Nobody stands at an altar and says the words, "For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, for better or for worse," and thinks for a moment that they'll have the poor finance part - or the bad health part - or the 'worse' part.  But sometimes it happens.

We do not leave the covenant when the vows we've stated begin to be challenged.  The covenant is continual.  

It isn't love that sustains your marriage; it's your marriage that sustains love.  And when you love your spouse out of sheer obedience to Christ - and when you pray for them - God helps love grow and He restores what has been lost.

I'm praying for you.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


In our recent four-week "UNCENSORED" series at Journey Church, we invited folks to submit questions on marriage, sex, purity and relationships.  

Below is one of those questions ...

Q:  You've told us to 'Encourage our partner and he/she will rise to the level of our praise.'  What if I do that and it doesn't work?

A:  Another great question.

In a healthy marriage or relationship you can make this happen.  Joelene can speak correction, counsel and direction into my life and I'll receive that, though not always with a smile.
 Actually, the unhealthier the relationship, the MORE this principle actually applies, not the less.  Because criticism, even when constructively given, in an unhealthy relationship, can't be received the way it was intended.  Where there is constant tension and conflict, what one hears is rarely what the other one said.  This kind of interaction only makes a bad situation worse.

Further, the Bible never tells us to change anyone.  It says to get a mirror - look in there - and change that person.

I Peter 3 tells us:  'Wives, if your husband does not obey the word, live in a way that he may be won without a word by the conduct of your pure lifestyle.'

The work of the Holy Spirit isn't to be done by you.  You make a terrible Holy Spirit.  And if the Holy Spirit can't get through to him/her, you're certainly not going to be able to.

Submit everything to God in prayer - and keep encouraging him/her.  Those are some of your greatest weapons.

I'm praying for you.

And be blessed.

Saturday, October 20, 2018


In our recent four-week "UNCENSORED" series at Journey Church, we invited folks to submit questions on marriage, sex, purity and relationships.  

Below is one of those questions ...

Q:  I'm confused about the term 'covenant.'  It seems as though covenant has no conditions.  In Deuteronomy, over and over, God mentions His covenant and tells the Israelites they need to remember it SO THAT it might go well with them.  He says, 'IF you pay attention to these laws of the covenant and are careful to follow them, THEN the Lord your God will keep His covenant of love with you, but IF you ever forget the Lord and follow other gods, you will surely be destroyed.'  (Deuteronomy 8:19)

That sounds conditional; if someone breaks the covenant, then the deal is off.  Yet the message seems to be that a covenant can't have conditions - it's forever - no matter how someone behaves toward us.

A.  First of all, great question.

To clarify, we have said on many occasions that we do not advocate for a person remaining in a home that is unsafe.  There are certain times when leaving is better.

The Bible also gives us some careful stipulations regarding folks who are victims of a partner's lifestyle of adultery, seriously dishonoring the marriage.  This doesn't mean whenever any kind of mistake in this area is made, the offended partner has the 'Biblical right' to depart the marriage.  The issue goes far deeper than that and we have seen many marriages healed and re-committed to - re-covenanted - where there was a one-time tragic moment or a series of moments of indefinite.  Where someone has a repentant heart, the miraculous can happen.

In Deuteronomy, although God did give conditions for the Israelites being blessed, He was saying if they chose to go their own way, they'd be given over to their own destruction because of their evil hearts and actions.  Even then, God never left them -- and God didn't say HE would destroy them; only that their own end would come should they break the covenant. 

Then in Jeremiah 31, there is a New Covenant prophesied:  'I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, not like the covenant I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant they broke, though I was their Husband.  But this is the new covenant I will make with them:  "I will put My law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.  And I will be their God and they shall be My people.  For I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more."'

Hebrews 8, 9 - ' ... in speaking of a new covenant, He makes the first one obsolete.  And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away ... therefore He is the Mediator of a new covenant ... '

Then Jesus also speaks in Luke 22 as He's leading His disciples in the Last Supper:  "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood."

You're living today in the New Covenant, made possible for you by the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Hold fast to your marriage covenant.  Jesus died for it.

I'm praying for you.

And be blessed.

Thursday, October 18, 2018


In our recent four-week "UNCENSORED" series at Journey Church, we invited folks to submit questions on marriage, sex, purity and relationships.  

Below is one of those questions ... 

Q:  I feel like a sex object to my husband.  He wants sex with me as a way to relieve stress or to calm down when he’s angry or to feel better when he’s sick.  He tells me I have to enjoy watching him self-gratify because I’m his wife and should enjoy him.

A:  First, you as a wife are not sinning by doing this for him.  Having said that, we aren’t objects or animals.  We aren’t just bodies having sex.  We are souls bonding together in the act.  We’re loving people in covenant relationship with God and with each other.  Marriage is about servanthood, not about getting your personal needs met.

At the core of this issue is Philippians chapter 2 where we’re told to ‘prefer the other person over ourselves.’  

There are certainly times and moments when we selflessly do things for our partners sexually and other ways because it’s what they need at the moment, but a pattern of selfishness isn’t God’s way.

However, a husband who tells his wife she is compelled to watch him self-gratify because ‘she’s his wife and should enjoy him’ is a husband who has his roots deep in the mire of self.  

As strong an issue might be that in order to fulfill and complete the self-gratification, the husband is very likely thinking and concentrating and lusting about people other than his wife during the process.

Sex is created to be mutual.  Our need is for intimacy.  Sex that is purely physical is shallow.  Done right, it encompasses the emotional and the spiritual.  

Men make love to feel loved;  women need to feel love in order to make love.  When sex and intimacy work like they're supposed to, both partners start to look more and more like Christ.

But as a person focuses more and more on his/her own needs instead of on their partner’s needs, the partner begins to become incidental.  Ultimately the urge for sexual release is taken care of, which means he/she no longer has a need to reach out any longer and meet the other one’s needs.  The motivation to be other-focused is gone.

It’s a dangerous road to go down because when we self-gratify in marriage, we short circuit the process God put in place for us to move toward closeness and knowing.  The more one self-gratifies, the more they drift from their partner.  Self-gratification within marriage will always weaken it; not build it.

So sit down and talk to your husband about this.  You may need to speak with a counselor, pastor, third party or mentor couple.  I suggest Marriage Mentors at

I’m praying for you.

And be blessed.

Monday, October 15, 2018


In our recent four-week "UNCENSORED" series at Journey Church, we invited folks to submit questions on marriage, sex, purity and relationships.  

Below are a couple of those questions ... 

Q:  'My girlfriend and I have been together for a year and six month.  We've been intimate.   I'd like to change that, but she doesn't.  I love her with all my heart and don't want to lose her.'

Q:  'I want to know if my soul will be compromised regarding salvation if I have intercourse before marriage.'

A:  Remember ... your highest priority as a Christ follower is obedience to God in all things, not obedience to man or woman.

What we DON'T say is:  'I'll go ahead and be disobedient because I know God will forgive me.'

Paul speaks to that in Romans 6 when he writes:  'Shall we continue sinning because we know grace abounds?  How shall we who died to sin still live in it?'  Then he answers his own question with a short sentence:  'No, we can't do that.'

It's a rhetorical question Paul asks, and rhetorical questions don't expect answers; rhetorical questions make statements.

For example, if a dad says to his son:  "How are you going to keep your room neat if you throw your clothes all over the floor?"  He isn't looking for an answer; he's making a statement.  'You won't have an awesome room unless you hang up your clothes.'  If a mom says to her daughter, 'How can you expect people to be your friend if you aren't friendly?'  She isn't looking for an answer; she's making a statement.  'You won't have any friends if you aren't friendly.'

That's what Paul is saying.  He isn't expecting an answer; he's making a statement -- 'How shall we who died to sin continue on living in it?'  Answer:  We can't.

Our goal as followers of Christ isn't to slip in to heaven by the skin of our teeth, but to live an increasingly obedient life to Christ here - and now.  Follow HIS rules and laws first; and where man's expectations conflict with God's laws, follow God.  And don't enter into a lifelong covenant where you aren't in agreement over the most basic beliefs of Christianity.

When we say: 'I think I'll keep on sinning because I know God is full of grace and forgiveness,' it's a clear sign we don't understand either grace or forgiveness.  When we truly grasp the deep, deep mercy and goodness of God for us - when we begin to understand the covenant He's made with us - it makes us want to sin less, not more.

Resolve your allegiance to God first.  Determine to follow His way.  Because once you're married, the covenant must be 'worked out' within the marriage, and that can be very hard.

I'm praying for you.

And be blessed.

Sunday, October 14, 2018


In our recent four-week "UNCENSORED" series at Journey Church, we invited folks to submit questions on marriage, sex, purity and relationships.  

Below is one of those questions ... 

Q:  'You say we don't make very good Holy Spirits for our spouses - but is it OK to share Bible verses, podcasts or sermons that we feel are really good with a spouse who isn't really stepping to their role?'

A:  Great question.  Be careful about sharing with an unbelieving spouse or a spouse who says he/she is following Jesus but has little fruit to show.  Depending on your relationship, a spouse can get easily defensive when you bring up a shortcoming and suggest the way to fix it is to 'listen to this podcast' or 'read this Scripture.'  While your intentions are no doubt good, it isn't always received well by the other partner.  You can push them further away.  

Again, listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit without trying to assume the role of the Holy Spirit in his/her life.  God might open a door for you to make one of those suggestions to him/her.  I guarantee you the Holy Spirit is working on him/her, so we don't want to get in the way of that.  Sometimes it can be better for someone other than you to make suggestions like these - again, depending on your relationship.  

I Peter 3 tells us that when we have a partner who is unbelieving (or who acts like an unbeliever), our role as the believing partner is to exhibit a respectful, pure and caring conduct in front of him/her, to display a beautifully quiet and gentle spirit and heart toward him/her -- and to pray.

You can find links to all the "UNCENSORED" message podcasts at  

And be blessed.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018


God is good.

Psalm 119:68 tells us.  'God, You are good and You do good.'

Simple verse.  Easy to memorize.  You could meditate on that verse for 700 years and it would still be a great verse.

God is love.

'The love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us.'  (I John 4:9, 10)

God is good - and God is love.

When we use words, we use them a couple of different ways.

We use them as ONE WORD, ONE MEANING.

If I say, 'I love you and Joelene loves you,' I'm using the same word with the same meaning.  We both love you.

But I can also use ONE WORD with DIFFERENT MEANINGS.

'I love you and I love Joelene.'

I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I don't love you the way I LUVVVV Joelene.  Fair enough?  I LUVVVV her - but I don't LUVVVV you.

Do you get me?

Some of you are like:  'Well, I'm GLAD you don't LUVVVV me the way you LUVVVV Joelene.'

Same word ... different meanings.

God is good.  But God isn't good the way you and I are good - not even close - but it's the same word.

God is love.  But God doesn't love the way you and I love.  'As far as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for you.'  (Psalm 103:11)

'Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life ... ' (John 15:13)

That's what Jesus did for you.  He made a way for you to have relationship with the Father God by His death on a cross.

He really, really, really LUVVVVVs you.

And be blessed.