No One Does Good

In Romans 3:9 Paul wraps up what he’s been talking about over the previous couple of chapters and says, “So are we Jews better off? Not entirely; for I have already made the charge that all people, Jews and Gentiles alike, are controlled by sin.” He then quotes from some Old Testament (Tanakh) sources when he says, “As the Tanakh puts it, ‘There is no one righteous, not even one! No one understands, no one seeks God, all have turned away and at the same time become useless; there is no one who shows kindness, not a single one!” (Romans 3:10-12 Complete Jewish Bible) During that time, to the Jewish way of thinking, there were only two People types, Jews and everyone else. So basically what he’s saying is that the whole of humanity is under sin and in need of a Savior. “There is no one righteous.”

While the known world may be a bit bigger now, expanding across the entire face of the globe, and we may acknowledge other people groups, the rest has not changed. No one is righteous, not even one! The entire human race is still in need of a Savior.

In this particular section of Scripture Paul is talking about how the law of the the Jews is basically just telling people that they are in sin. It doesn’t tell people how to get out of the situation. It’s kind of like telling someone, “Hey, you’re really dirty,” but not telling them, “You need to go take a bath, and by the way, use some soap!” All the law does is make us aware of sin, it doesn’t tell us how to get out of the situation.

Once we become aware of our need, once we understand that we are in sin and need to be cleaned up, then we can be made aware of the need of a Savior and how to apply the soap. And that Savior/soap is not just any savior, but the Savior, Jesus Christ.

The world needs Him so badly. There’s a pain, an emptiness in the world. So many people think that they’re okay, they’re good people. And they are “good people” when you compare them to the “bad people.” They put a bag of canned goods out for the mailman’s food drive, or they drop a toy in a box at Christmas time. They’ll even take care of the neighbor’s kids for a couple hours so Mom and Dad can get something done. But where did the canned goods come from? Fresh from the store, or the back of the cupboard? Was the toy from the center aisle, or the clearance aisle? (What did their kids get for Christmas?) When the neighbor kids go home and the internet comes on, what are they watching? (What do their own kids see when they don’t think the kids are watching?)

Before I knew Jesus, I thought I was a pretty good person. I believed in God, I did good, I even prayed sometimes. But deep inside there was a place that no one (including myself) was ever allowed to see. There was a hole, an emptiness that just would not be filled. I tried to fill it with new age stuff, crystals, runes, tarot, I Ching. The hole didn’t fill. I tried to fill it Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Islam. I even tried reading the Bible. But the hole didn’t fill. I tried to fill the hole with food. The hole didn’t fill, and I got bigger. I tried to fill the hole with alcohol, sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll. The hole didn’t fill and I lost my job.

Finally some friends said, “Hey, come check out our church.” I told them I don’t do church. They said this place is different. I said I don’t do church, I’m dirty. They said this place is like a come as you are party, you don’t need to be clean. Every excuse I came up with, they had an answer. So I said Okay, I’ll try it once. And I did. And a little bit of the hole filled in, so I went back. And people talked to me. And I went back again, and they smiled when they saw me. One time I even went straight from a 5K race, in shorts and running singlet, number still pinned on, dripping sweat… And they smiled and asked me how I did!

All the while, the hole was still there. It had filled in a bit, but it was still there. And then it happened. One night, after a special presentation, the presenter started talking about allowing Jesus in to be the Lord of your life, that without Him we would never be able to have the best life available. The good and the better, as good and better as they may be, will always get in the way of the best. And the way to the best is through Jesus.

I said yes to Jesus that night, inviting Him into my life to rule and reign as my King of kings and LORD of lords. And the hole is filled! My life changed that night. It’s been quite a ride since then. While it’s not been all up hill, it’s certainly been more uphill than down. From unemployed drug addict/alcoholic to a possibly soon retiring homeowner. I know in my heart of hearts that if I had not let Jesus into my life that night, I’d be dead. But now, I will have everlasting life with Him, even when this body passes from the earth.

If this is something you want, contact me. I’ll pray with you and for you. Just admit that you’re a sinner, and know that you can’t clean yourself up. Invite Jesus in. Ask Him to help. Tell Him that you believe in Him, and that He died for you, and give Him permission to come into your life to reign as your King. It’s the easiest hard thing, or the hardest easy thing you will ever do.


What happens when you lose vision? Things fall apart, you lose track of where you are, what you’re doing, perhaps even how you’re supposed to get it done. And more importantly, when you’re supposed to get it done. Losing focus, losing touch, losing vision, can cause a leader to lose everything.

This can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. And this is what has happened to me. Sometimes life just gets in the way of the vision and you end up distracted. And if the distraction lasts a while things just get worse.

Things started off so well. I was on task, on target. I knew where I was going, and I knew when I needed to be there.

National Novel Writing Month is in November. I knew that I needed to have my classwork done before then, because once November started, it was all writing, all the time. NaNoWriMo’s goal is 50,000 words in 30 days, and hopefully it holds together as a good story. My personal goal this year was 75,000 words, hand written! So there was no time for anything else.

All was going to plan. I finished the classwork and took the exam on October 30th. One whole day to spare. Or, if you will, one whole day to relax before diving in to a month of writing. I figured, with a whole month, and needing 75,000 words, I’d surely get my blog post done, perhaps even several.

But then…

Writing went well, then it didn’t, then it did, then it didn’t… And as I focused more and more on writing words, I lost focus on what the words were supposed to accomplish. The upshot of it all was, not only did I not reach my 75,000 word goal, (although I was close with nearly 73,000), I completely forgot about writing a blog post.

And then December and January happened. Sorry, but you’re not getting details. Suffice it to say, those two months are not good months for me.

So now, as I pull things back together in February, I realize, I have three days left to get this blog project done and write a report on it. And right now, I’m not feeling terrifically good about it. The really frustrating part about it all is that I had something. I just can’t find it. I found the journal entry that says I wrote a blog post, but I can’t find the actual post in order to post it.

What does all this have to do with vision and leadership? Well, it’s more about what happens when there’s a lack thereof. Everything falls apart. And not necessarily leadership of a group, but leadership of self. But it also has to do with learning from mistakes, striving to improve, and humbling oneself to ask for help.

So, in the last few weeks I have: Gotten back into the Word daily, gone back to the gym, started taking my vitamins again, gotten back onto a healthy (semi) eating plan, and actually told people what I’ve been going through and asked for accountability help. Things are back on the upswing.

I have two projects due in the next few days. I think I can get them both done. In the long run, it’s going to be all good. Learning from mistakes is better than not learning at all. And I’m pretty sure I’ve learned. And if I didn’t, well, extra grace required.


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Cheering on the Bleacher Rat.


It was my first Cub game in years. I was so excited. I’d be going with a group of Pastors attending the Connected Conference with the Illinois District of the Assemblies of God. It was a way to rest, relax, and reconnect with each other. And it was a way for me to get to the game without having to drive! It was the perfect scenario.

All that being said, it was really sad that the greatest thing we had to cheer about at the game was a rat. Yes, I said a rat. (This isn’t him, or her, by the way. This is a picture I picked up when I did a google search for rats. Thanks In straight away center field, right over the wall, is a grassy area. I’m not sure when or why it came into being. And quite frankly, I don’t really care. It’s just the way it is. But the night I was there, Tuesday, September 25th, in the year of our Lord 2018, a rat was spotted in the basket on the field side of the wall, trying to jump back over into that grassy area.

I don’t know how he came to be there, but he was working really hard at getting back over that wall. He’d jump, and miss, and fall back into the basket. Then he’d try again. Jump again, miss again, fall again. He’d run up the basket a little farther, turn around, judge the distance, then JUMP!, and miss again, and the crowd would groan. Soon, a chant started, “Go rat go. Go rat go.” Emboldened, he tried yet again. Not only did he miss again, but this time, when he fell into the basket, but also between the basket and the wall, sliding down into the ivy.

Soon, his little head appeared again above the ivy, and the chant began again, “Go rat go. Go rat go.” It was great! And then, with a might leap, and nearly all of the outfield crowd cheering him on, he finally made it! The cheer that went up from the bleachers was the biggest of the night. The funny part was, when I turned around, there was nothing really going on in the game. I don’t know if they were between pitches, or between batters, but there was nothing much going on when the cheer went up. I turned to look at the field, and the players were very confused, having no idea of the seeming life or death struggle that had been going on.

As I journaled this scene, I realized that this could be a metaphor for our lives. We go through life, playing our own game, oblivious of the true life and death struggles going on in other places. Sometimes it’s even quite close by, but we’re so involved in our own little world, we just don’t see it. In fact, two of the people within our group, the two sitting closest to me, had no clue. Once his attention was drawn to the situation the rat was in, the one guy kept saying, “I don’t see it. Where is it?” Even though it was being described, and pointed to, he just wasn’t able to see. Isn’t that the way it is for so many of us? We’re so involved in our own struggles, life and death or otherwise, that we just don’t see what’s going on around us. And if the situation is farther away, the other side of the city, the state, the country, the world, it’s just so much noise, and we just can’t see.

We decided to leave during the eighth inning. The game was a complete bust, with the Cubs losing 6-0, and even though I’m a firm believer in “it ain’t over ’til it’s over,” that game was over, and we needed to beat the traffic out of the park. On the way out, the rat was back. I don’t know if it was a different rat, or if it was the same rat back for more attention. As we were walking out, the chant went up again, and the folks next to me finally saw it. We had changed our position, and they had a different perspective. And they saw the rat.

The reaction was not sympathy, or empathy with the rat, but, “Holy crap! That’s a big rat!” It was just a rat. But they, from a more rural environment, only saw a BIG rat. Rather like 10 of the 12 spies in Numbers 13, “They’re giants. I’m scared.” But this was just a simple rat, stuck in a basket, a situation that it fell into, trying to get back home.

Karma? Chameleon

There’s a big Bible, Christianese word that scares a lot of people, especially non-Christianese speakers. It’s “sanctification.” Some think it has to do with how you live out your faith, cutting your hair, not cutting your hair, woman having to wear head coverings, and all manner of other “rules” that people glean from the Scriptures. But what it really means is so simple, separation. There are, however, two basic aspects to this separation, both being equally important. To be sanctified, in the Biblical sense, one must be separated from evil, or even just the common things of the world, AND devoted to God. Simple. Right?

Yeah, right!

Sanctification is an instantaneous process that takes a lifetime to complete. And that’s another thing that confuses the non-Christianese speakers. What it means is, when a person commits his or her life to Christ, the process known as being born again, they are instantly sanctified. They have committed their heart to the Lord, devoting themselves to Jesus, and setting themselves apart from worldly things.

But! The world is still the world. It’s still there. It’s still RIGHT there, calling from the place of familiarity. And those that still live their lives in the world are quick to spot every little sin of the new believer. “Hey Jesus lover, how come you swore when you hit your thumb with the hammer? I thought you couldn’t do that anymore. You Christians are such hypocrites.” It’s a tough thing to overcome when you’re a new Christian. But there’s a line that is often quoted in Christian circles, that we are “to be in the world, but not of it.” And that is sanctification, living in this world on planet earth, yet set apart from worldly thoughts and ideas. And it can be difficult to maintain that separateness and not become a monk (or monk-ess as the case may be). And while we are set apart when we accept the Lordship of Christ, God then begins the process of making it stick, and that process will take the rest of our lives! We will have ups and downs, good days, holy days, and bad, satan filled days. We will have challenges from friends, relatives , and strangers. But – “When God looks at us through Christ’s blood, He does not see our sin but sees the holiness and righteousness of Jesus. We are holy before Him because of Jesus’ sacrifice. However, those around us can still see the sin.” (Ford, Johnny; Introduction to Theology: A Pentecostal Perspective 4th ed; pg 111).

So, how do we go through this process of becoming more holy, sanctified, set apart and devoted to God? Well, there are several steps, and it will take each of them at one point in time or another, and all of them together sometimes. Just like everything else in life, sometimes you’ll run far and fast, and other times it’ll be 3 steps forward and 2 steps back, or even 1 step forward and 5 steps back.

The first thing we need to do is chase after holiness as an act of our own will. Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He will never force Himself on us. We have to go after it! The more we focus on God, seek Him, and pursue His will for our lives, the more our actions will fall into place. Colossians 3:2tells us, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth.” (ESV). We also have to be intentional about setting ourselves apart from things that could lead us into sin. It’s those little “well, this won’t hurt, it’s just…” things that turn us into chameleons. We start to blend in and look like the rest of the world. We pick and choose what we want to adhere to in the Bible, and then, either people don’t believe we are Christian, or we become “one of those” Christians. You know the ones, the ones who make the non-believer stay a non-believer because of all the hypocrisy.

In order to keep on track and not fall into chameleon status, we have to be very self-disciplined. The way to do that is to stay focused on God through being in the Word and through prayer. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us that we need to “pray without ceasing.” (ESV). That’s not easy. Even establishing a regular daily routine for 20 to 30 minutes is hard. The excuses come, “Oh, it was a late night last night,” “Let me just check my email real quick,” “Jimmy, why did you just dump that on your sister’s head!?”

And finally, – (whoops, my phone just beeped gotta do a quick check of facebook…) – ok I’m back now…

Finally, we need to obey. Holy Spirit will not steer us wrong. If we stick with Him, He won’t let us down. He’s ever the gentleman, so He won’t force us to do something we don’t want to do. However, if we listen and obey, He will lead us to more than we can even imagine. It’s a lifelong journey, but in the end…

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him,” (1 John 3:2)

In Between – Again

The Saturday before Easter. The day in between. Not knowing what’s next, but now, knowing. (We know He comes back, but somehow, always seem to wonder).

On the way to work, I heard a “commercial” for the resurrection. The line that really grabbed my attention was about how, when Jesus was being beaten, whipped, spat upon, reviled, crucified, NO ONE stood up for Him. And something clicked in my head.

This past week, the news has been filled with a men, forcibly removed from an airplane because of overbooking. I’m not here to debate whether this was right or wrong. My purpose lies elsewhere. In Facebook comments, one of my friends said something along the lines of “this is Trump’s America,” implying that the incident was a consequence of Trump’s election. She said that incidents like this stem from an atmosphere that Trump has created.

I disagree. I believe that this attitude is the same attitude that existed over two thousand years ago, that led to an innocent man being crucified. I believe it stems from a sin condition that has existed since Eve did what she wanted rather than what God said, and ate the apple. It is an attitude that has been pervasive throughout history. It may have crests and troughs as it waves its way through history, but it’s always been there.

The larger than life evidence of that comes from the crucifixion of Jesus. Just as no one stood up to the Pharisees and the Sadducees for fear of their reaction and possible consequences, so today, no one wants to stand against bullying.

While there are more people speaking out on social media, that really doesn’t do much. There are more people writing letters to their elected officials and voicing their discontent. This may do more. And there is an increase in people speaking out at rallies and demonstrations. These too, can be constructive when done properly. There are more and more stories showing up on social media of kids standing up for the kids that are being bullied. Girls are standing up against kids that are attacking them, and some are even coming to their aid.

We may be building a wave that will once again crest, and fall back, but if we stand up together, against social injustice and bullying, perhaps we will be able to ride that wave to a peaceful, smooth ending on the shores of love.

Ephesians 1:1-2

As you can see from my last post, I was jumping in to what I thought was the meat of this epistle, and bypassing the standard, “boring” greeting that Paul and other first century writers put at the beginning of their letters. But then, as I was reading commentaries in order to delve deeper, and to more fully understand Paul’s letter, I came across a series by Pastor Chuck Smith who founded Calvary Chapel in Yuma, Arizona. Though he passed away in 2013, his messages live on, pointing the way to Jesus, and helping people like me (and hopefully you), to see the grace and beauty of God’s Word in a deeper way.

What struck me, in the very first sentence, was Pastor Smith’s thought of us writing this letter. The first part of the first verse, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,” says so much more than just the words. And I never realized that until Pastor Smith suggested substituting your own name. For me, it would read, “Bonnie, a motor vehicle cashier by the will of God.” Wow! We are not all apostles or teachers or Whatever, but we are all called to Something by the WILL OF GOD. And no matter what that something is, we are called by His Will, and we are all ministers in one way or another within that calling. We are in the place God has put us, for a reason. No matter the job, remember what Paul said later in Ephesians, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the LORD, not people.” (Ephesians 6:7 NIV).

In the second half of verse one, Paul states whom he is addressing with this letter. In the ESV version of the Bible,, it says, “To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus.” The King James Version, however, says, “to the Saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.” There’s been lots of speculation from experts about this sentence. In some of the old manuscripts the city of Ephesus is there, and in others it’s not. Some experts, such as F. F. Bruce, say that this is what they call a “circular letter,” meaning that it circulated from city to city within Asia Minor, and each city inserted their own name.

When it comes to the difference in those in Ephesus “and faithful in Christ Jesus” (ESV) , or “and TO THE FAITHFUL in Christ Jesus,” (KJV), I know which one I pick to be right. I have no idea if it is or not, but I pick the King James Version. If this is correct, then this letter is actually written to all of us. In Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, Gill says that the Arabic version says, “and to them that believe in Jesus Christ; with all of their hearts, to the saving of their souls; who look unto Him, venture on Him, rely upon Him, and trust in Him for life and salvation, and who shall certainly be saved.” (My emphasis added). So, from this standpoint, this letter is to each and every one of us. It’s not just for those in the churches at ancient Ephesus, or Asia Minor, it is for all who claim Jesus as their personal Savior, then, now, and forevermore.

And then Paul calls for grace and peace. Chuck Smith points out that it’s always grace first, then peace. Everywhere in the New Testament, grace and peace are paired, and grace comes first. He posits that we can not know the peace of God until we fully understand His grace. And that, my friends, is a subject of a different post! Grace and peace, coming soon. Or, perhaps you want to begin exploring that on your own.

Here are some things for you to think about until the next post:

If you were writing this letter, how would the opening greeting read? Are you in “the will of God” in your job? If not, can you get there? Can you bring glory to Jesus in your present position? Do you know the peace of God, or are you still seeking after His grace?


Ephesians 1:3-10 Who am I?

Once again, I’ve had a long blogging dry spell. However, it’s not because I haven’t been writing. I just haven’t been writing here. I’ve written some stories, two of which are being refined for possible publication. I wrote a novel’s worth of words in November, though I’ve not yet completed a novel. And, as always, I continue to journal in an effort to keep myself on track with the Lord. I pour my heart out to Him on a regular, near daily, basis.
Now, though I have several projects still in the works, I’m feeling drawn to dig in to a Bible Study again. My current class is on the epistles written by Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome. As I read through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, I was impressed, again, with how much is there, for new believers and mature alike.
So I’ll begin again, writing a bit of Bible Study. No promises on how often. No promises on how long. The only promise I make is to put my heart into it. All the love I have for the Lord I pour out to you. My prayer is that my heart and His will be so entwined that His words spill from my fingers to feed all who are hungry and wanting more. I also pray, as Paul does in Ephesians 1:17, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.”

In the passage we will be looking at here, Ephesians 1:3-10, Paul begins by blessing God who blesses us with the gift of His Son. Every blessing in Heaven is to be ours. We’ve been adopted into the family of God. We are equal inheritors of all that He has. He’s our Daddy, our Abba, and He wants us to have everything He has to offer. And since He is God, the Creator of the Universe and all it contains, absolutely everything is His. He wants us to have it all.
Verse four says that He chose us before the foundations of the world. Remember the scene in Toy Story, when Buzz Lightyear enters the claw machine with all of the little Martian stuffed toys? And when the claw comes down and picks him up and Woody tries to hold him back, all the Martians go, “He has been chosen!” Well, it’s kind of like we are in a great big claw machine, but God has an infinite number of quarters to play the game with and an infinite amount of time to play the game. And He’s going to keep playing the game, because He wants us all. He keeps dropping the claw and scooping us up, one by one. But we have to latch on to the claw as well. If we kick at the arms of the claw, we can drop out of His grasp. He will not drag us, kicking and screaming into His will. We have to say “Yes.” And once we say “Yes,” we have available to us all that He has to offer, which again, is everything, not the least of which is to be holy and blameless before Him.
And what does that mean, to be holy and blameless? Holy, according to means “Belonging to, derived from, or associated with a divine power”. However, the 1828 version of Webster’s Dictionary defines it as, “Properly, whole, entire or perfect, in a moral sense. Hence, pure in heart, temper or dispositions; free from sin and sinful affections.” God purifies our heart, removing our sin, crucifying it on the cross with His Son, Jesus, making us holy and blameless in His sight, so that we can be with Him in those Heavenly places.
We are redeemed, forgiven of our sin, (pre)destined for adoption, all through the blood Jesus shed on the cross. When we say our “yes” and associate ourselves with Him, we receive all the rights and privileges He received as the Son of God. And, yeah, that’s pretty heady stuff. But let’s face it, having Jesus as your adopted sibling is pretty heady.
And sometimes we might wonder what God was thinking. Is He crazy, adopting me? I know I’ve wondered that, lots of times. But verse eight says, “that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Yeah, He knows what He’s doing. We may not, but He does. And that, my friends, is a part of the mystery that is spoken of in the next verse. He moves us from one level of knowing to another as we grow in our knowledge of Him. As it says in Second Corinthians 2:18, we are “being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” As we grow and mature, we gain a deeper understanding of things. It doesn’t mean that the things we learned before are wrong, we simply gain a deeper insight to things, and experience a deeper level of our need for forgiveness, grace, mercy, and His love. Just as with anything, we learn more as we mature. Math, science, life, and love, the more we learn, the more we realize how little we really know. The deeper we delve into the mysteries, the more we realize how deep they truly are.
The ultimate goal of God, voiced in verse ten as “a plan for the fullness of time,” is to “unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” The New Living Translation says, “And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ – everything in heaven and on earth.”
So, do we really know, believe to the very depth of our being, that we are God’s children, entitled to all the benefits He has? If you don’t yet know it, or you know it in your head (you know the words) but don’t yet feel it in your heart, read this part of Ephesians again. Meditate on it. Read it several times, write it down, practice it. Let it sink into your spirit. And thank God for this precious gift. Think about how truly incredible it is. Keep going back to it until it starts to settle in. And trust Him. He doesn’t make mistakes.

Sorry – Falling Behind

Yeah. So, remind me of my goal. A Bible Study every week, right? Ok. So, what had happened was….

Missed you guys last week. And why? Because I just didn’t get it done. Do I have an excuse? Nope. Have I been writing? Yes I have, but the Bible Study is stuck in my head. I can’t seem to get it out onto the paper. (Yes, I mean paper. I do my first draft long hand.) 

There’s been so much going on in my head, and in the world, and in life, and everything. It’s like I just can’t seem to keep up with all the thoughts, feelings, and Word I feel I need to speak or write out. 

This morning produced the beginnings of what I believe will be a very good story. The plan had been to come home after church and work on the Bible Study until it was time to meet with my small group. But God intervened during a conversation in the parking lot when I was trying to leave church. While we were conversing with the young man who has questions about who he is as a child of God and a young African American make, a young woman drove up, got out of her car and said, “Y’all prayin’? Can I get some?”

It was a beautiful thing as real church happened in the parking lot for nearly two hours after “church” ended. And that’s what it’s supposed to be about. You go on Sunday in order to get refilled and refreshed, and then you take it outside the walls, into the community. We are called to seek and save the list. And if you get filled enough, and refreshed enough, if you are in tune enough to be hearing His voice, you don’t even need to seek the list because they will walk right up to you and start asking questions. Yes, it was a truly beautiful thing.

There is so much more in my head, I just can’t seem to get it out right now. If I tried to get it all down, well, perhaps in November when I do NaNoWriMo again, (National Novel Writing Month for those of you who don’t know), at be that will be enough time to get it done. So for this post, I’m going to let it go. Though this might be a little shorter than most, I feel like you need to have your own conversation with the LORD. It’s like the meme I mentioned a few weeks ago. We tend to listen in order to respond, not to hear. So I ask you, please, talk with Him. And then listen. Listen for the things H wants to speak TO YOU. He is speaking. But you have to listen. Listen to God. Focus on Him and He will talk to you. 
Sorry if this is a bit rambling, but that’s just the way things are in my head right now. Have a blessed week, and we’ll see you next week.

1 Timothy 1:12-16

“I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our LORD, because He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our LORD overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.” (1 Tim 1:12-16 ESV)

Yep. This would be me, and every sinner, saved by His grace and mercy. We all think we are the “foremost.” But He does judge us faithful and appoint each and every one of us to His service.

Yes, as I said a couple weeks ago, it’s easy to say “Yes” to Jesus. But there is a cost to discipleship. When we turn our lives around, start walking with Jesus instead of away from Him, there is a price to be paid, a job to be done. It’s not a free ride or a government handout. We have work to do. We have been called into His service.

And what is this service, you ask? While there will be some variation, mostly it is to live your life for Jesus.When I was a new Christian, I heard someone scythe the Christian’s life is sometimes the only Bible a non-believer sees. People are watching you, more than you may ever know. When Jesus comes into your life and you make that 180 degree turn, and people start noticing that you are different, they will ask. “What happened? What’s changed?” And that’s when you have the opportunity to tell them, “Well, Jesus became the LORD of my life. And with His help I have given up cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs with no withdrawal symptoms, no cravings, no real problems whatsoever. The desire for Jesus just drove out the desire for all the other things.” (Yes. This is what happened to me. Over the course of about one month, I went from smoking nearly 3 packs of cigarettes a day, drinking at least a quart of bourbon a day (Yes, every day), and smoking about an ounce of pot a week, to clean and sober. I gave it all up, cold turkey. I walked away from it all, straight into the arms of Jesus.)

Before I let Jesus in, I called myself”Spiritual.” I believed there was some sort of superior being, god, if you will, but I didn’t see god as God. And I certainly didn’t get the whole Trinity thing, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I didn’t get the religion thing, the you have to believe this way, or that way, or whatever way. I was very much an individualist. One friend from high school recalls me saying, “All this religion crap is bunk,” or words to that effect. She, a very devoted Christian, (who prayed for my salvation for about 28 years – Thanks Deb – Love you!), was debating with another student, from Iran, about Jesus vs. Allah. Not only do I remember the debate, we were waiting for the start of geometry class, but I also remember telling them that I thought they were both “cracked.”

Those who knew me in my days BC (Before Christ), and who know me now, know what a great transformation God did in my life. And that, my friends, is the point to the last line in this passage, that “I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to this who were to believe in Him for eternal life.” He waited, patiently, (even more patiently than Debbie’s 28 years) for me to come to the point in my life that I could say yes to Him, let Him redeem my life from the pit of hell and become an example of His great love, patience, mercy, grace, forgiveness, all of the above and even more so.

He turned my life around, and now I serve Him. Everything I do is for His glory. I work for Him, I rest for Him, I even play for Him. It’s all for Him. Thank You Jesus. His patience is for you too. He will wait for you. His mercy and His grace is for you. He will extend it to you whenever you ask. So I ask you, what are you waiting for? Just open your heart to Him, say, “LORD, I’m sorry for all I’ve done against You and Your Word. I do believe in You, Jesus, and I want You in my life. I ask for your forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Please come into my life to rule and reign. Thank You.” It’s that simple.

And when You have done this, please, let me know. It’s not required that you let anyone know, in fact, in some countries it’s safer if you do keep it to yourself. But, for the most part, it’s easier in community. God will lead you if you’re on your own, but having someone pray for you, guide you, point the way and direct you around the pitfalls, just helps.

For this week’s Scripture memory verse let’s stick with today’s theme, 1 Timothy 1:16, “But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.”


Day 36 Exodus 15-16 Psalm 33 Mark 12

Day 37 Exodus 17-19 Psalm 34 Mark 13

Day 38 Exodus 20-21 Psalm 35 Mark 14

Day 39 Exodus 22-23 Psalm 36 Mark 15

Day 40 Exodus 24-25 Psalm 37:1-22 Mark 16

Day 41 Exodus 26-27 Psalm 37:23-40 Luke 1

Day 42 Exodus 28 Psalm 38 Luke 2