It’s Pride Month and I am Proud of the Humble Man

During this Pride Month I am most proud of Jesus Christ, the humble man whose awesome work in me has totally transformed my life. I honesty didn’t know who I was until I really got to know Him and understand His grace. Perhaps you too can relate.

Yes, I grew up in church where I saw pride as a bad thing. And I still believe it’s not good to be proud of yourself – at least, not in an arrogant way. For as the scriptures say, God gives grace to the humble. With the humble there is wisdom. But what is true humility? Is it beating one’s self up or putting one’s self down. Is it saying, “Yeah, I know. I’m worthless. Why would anyone care about me?!!”?

For those who haven’t read the Bible, as well as for those who have, Moses is said to have written the first five books. And for what it’s worth, Moses called himself “the most humble man on earth.” (Numbers 12:3) Now, that doesn’t sound like a very humble statement, at least not in the sense that most people see humility. But there is a quote that someone wrote (I’m not sure who), and it states that “Humility is not thinking of yourself less but thinking less of yourself.” Moses was a man who thought more of God than probably anybody of his time. Whenever he had a problem with the million-plus crowd he had to lead, he looked to God for help.

And think of all the protesters Moses had to deal with. It seems all they ever did sometimes was complain.

Moses was indeed probably the most humble person of his time compared to others, but Jesus Christ showed even more humility. “Who, being in the form of God” became a man. And as a man, he “humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Seeing Christ on Tree Despised Plucks Logs From Blind Men’s Eyes

He did this to save ordinary people like me from death and bring us to God. That’s why, during this Pride month I am very proud of Him.

Christ’s Eyes Were Blindfolded That We Might See


A foolish man has eyes that remain blind to truth that frees.

He can’t fulfill his calling, for it’s based on what he sees.

But Jesus taught us we must live by faith and not by sight,

Because appearances deceive. They do not always show what’s right.

Samson, for example, had a destiny from God.

The Holy Spirit worked through him although the man was flawed.

He helped deliver Israel from the Philistine’s evil rule.

Because Philistines had giants and ran an iron-fisted school.

Through this man, Samson, however, God brought great victory.

He gave the man great strength. Yet Samson acted foolishly,

By allowing his own eyes’ lust to lead him into temptation.

In falling for Delilah, it seems he had no hesitation.

Because she ruled his life by nagging every single day,

So that the source of his great strength eventually gave way.

Thus the man who once was Spirit-empowered became blind-sided,

Because no one could heal his vision once he had been blinded.

The one he lusted after ended up betraying him.

That’s how he got attacked, and his vision became dim.

Oh, how the enemy works to blind the vessels God does choose

To free His captive people and to offer them good news!

Unfortunately, everyone in this world is born blind,

Yet there is hope for us because we have a God that’s kind.

He sent His Son, far greater than Samson, to bring us liberty.

Despite our own eyes’ lust. Jesus came to set us free.

For on the night of His betrayal, Jesus was denied,

And not a single follower of His stood at His side.

They found a dirty cloth and wound it tightly around his eyes,

Like a stripe to blind the one whose words they did despise

This man did nothing wrong, yet he was buffeted and bruised,

In darkness told to prophesy. “A liar!” they accused.

To say He felt the pain of our shame is to put it lightly,

As He, God-in-the-flesh, atoned for our sins so unsightly,

So that when we feel the mockery that springs from our own sin,

We might be healed by every insult that was placed on him

And see how much the Father loves us, healing each delusion

Can Jesus heal blind eyes? Of course! For He felt our confusion!  

We All Prefer Addiction to Affliction

Nobody likes affliction, we all prefer addiction.

But in the end, who wins? We end up paying for our sins.

The constant dereliction that oozes from addiction

Exacts a terrible toll on the afflicted soul.

Addiction injures others too – and more than just a few,

Although we claim it isn’t true. And yet the guilt we rue.

We don’t wish to confess lest people in our lives think less

Of us and trample our self-worth so that we rue our day of birth.

You say you can’t take any more because you’re tired of the war,

Temptation you could not ignore has left you feeling battle-sore.

But entering God’s rest requires heeding His behest

To run to Jesus when you’re tired because HE knows how you’re wired.

He felt the thorns of your affliction as he paid for your addiction,

And knows the mind games in your head that have been filling you with dread.

Upon his back he bore the weight of your unwieldy staggering gait

For like a sheep you’ve gone astray. He felt your sin in every way

And He has paid the penalty with grace poured out so full and free,

Redeeming you from your addiction. Although withdrawal brings affliction,

With humility comes grace as Jesus takes His rightful place.

Humbly admit you have a need for which your Savior dared to bleed.

Let others love you through the pain that you’re too battered to explain,

Because in Jesus there’s no shame. Believe the power of His name

To rescue you from your addiction which seems more fun than affliction,

But in the end it bites much worse. Let Jesus free you from that curse!

No matter how great the extent of your “unsolvable” addiction,

It can be cured through Christ who understands all your affliction.


Success Amid Stress Comes From Knowing You’re Blessed























Starve Out the Spirit of Death

Starve out the spirit of death.

Don’t give it any glory.

Focus not on tragedy

But on the gospel story.

Easier said than done sometimes,

But joy comes after mourning,

Although we know it takes a while

When grief strikes without warning.

Because so many questions: “Why?”

Wage war against belief,

And when folks offer platitudes

It magnifies the grief.

However, when Jesus was born,

Angels proclaimed His glory.

They starved the spirit of death

By dwelling on the gospel story.

“Joy to the world” they sang,

Prompting the shepherds to rejoice.

Then later in the temple,

There were just two who raised their voice.

Two prophets, Simeon and Anna,

Recognized and spoke of Him

Right under Herod’s nose

When Christ was in Jerusalem.

Then wise men came and brought their gifts,

But Herod was distressed.

His life was soaked in tragedy.

He wanted to be blessed.

No king would rule over him.

This babe was going down!

God warned Joseph, who fled with him,

Escaping his hometown.

But Bethlehem knew tragedy.

It was a sorry day:

Rachel weeping for her children,

Grief that wouldn’t go away.

And yes, there is a time to mourn,

As when Jesus died,

Our sins to nail upon a cross.

Behold His bleeding side!  

He died to set us free,

But He was also resurrected.

For joy He did endure the cross

Though nobody suspected

That he could really do that.

Yet it happened. Can you see?

Amid your tragedy, can you

Behold His victory?

Though you might have to sing through tears,

Just aching to survive,

By praising Him you give the

spirit of death No room to thrive.

Consider Him who reigns on high

And wields the two-edged sword,

Proclaiming “Starve the spirit of death

And magnify the Lord!”

Prosperity and the Bible: What Does it Mean to Prosper?

I. What is True Biblical Prosperity?

The term “prosperity gospel” has become a magnet for dirty looks. These two words have gleaned a bucket load of  bad reviews – in some cases well-deserved. But it does depend on how you define “prosperity.”

In many people’s minds, the word prosperity evokes images of fancy cars, splendid clothes, mansions, yachts and private airplanes. People think of televangelists raking in big bucks promoting trinkets, books and baubles. Their misgivings are completely justified. I hate merchandising too.

Do you long for Jesus to drive those money-changers from the temple? If so, you’re not alone. Yet we can’t escape the fact that the Bible contains many references to prosperity.

The questions is, was does that word “prosperity” actually mean? Does it have anything to do with worldly wealth?

According to Chaim Bentorah, an online teacher of Biblical Hebrew Studies, “tsalach,” the Hebrew word for prosper, has to do with moving forward and/or making progress – not in a proud way, but through humble reliance on God.

 

II. When God Made Joseph Prosper, What Did That Mean?

Genesis 39:2-3 tells us that God caused all that Joseph did to “prosper in his hand.” In other words, Jacob’s son did well. He had success. It doesn’t tell us that he had a fancy room. Any fancy clothes he had got ripped off. Yes, he got “ripped off” more than once, yet despite that fact he remained faithful to God. The way he prospered blessed his boss. Joseph didn’t need a podium to get the guy’s attention.

That’s because God was with him. God gave him success. Then, in a strange turn of events, Joseph got promoted – to the king’s prison.

Wow- what stylish living! Not. Did this look like the so-called “American dream”? I don’t think so. But even in prison Joseph prospered. That’s because the warden put in charge of the other prisoners. Once again, God caused everything Joseph did to prosper. When the Pharaoh’s chief butler and baker told him their dreams, Joseph  told their meaning – with success. What he predicted, happened. The baker didn’t prosper, but the butler did. Joseph did too.

 

III. God’s Will For Us Equals Salvation Which Equals True Prosperity

But let’s move on and consider the best prosperity of all: when God’s word prospers in our lives.

Isaiah 53:10, a prophecy that Christians believe refers to Jesus Christ, declares that “the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”

Verse 11 continues. “He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”

Jesus caused God’s will to prosper (succeed, move forward). Herein lies true prosperity. What was God’s good pleasure in this case?

Hebrews 2:10 puts it this way: “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

Hebrews 12:2 describes Jesus as, “the author and finisher of our faith,” who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Salvation is God’s will for us and it is Christ’s success.

I believe that’s what the psalmist meant in Psalm 118:25 when he wrote, “Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.”

(all verses KJV)

 

Two Points of Energy Sit on Your Tongue

I. Two Points of Energy Sit on Your Tongue

No matter how old you may be or how young,

Two points of energy sit on your tongue,

Offering choices: speak death or speak life.

Submit to God’s fire or the fire of strife.

Whether bitter or sweet, you have power today

To decide how to flavor the things that you say.

Do your words justify? Do they condemn?

Because you can’t turn a millstone to a gem.

Take, for example, Christ’s wilderness fast.

Forty days is how long this fast did last,

In which He was tempted to turn stones to bread.

But He turned the devil’s own words on his head.

 

II. Don’t Use Your Tongue’s Energy to Glorify satan

So, Satan changed tactics and promised Him power,

Declaring, “I’ll save you from your desperate hour.

With the right words you can save yourself from the cross.

Why should you, God’s own Son, suffer such loss?”

The devil said, “If you’ll adore me, I’ll give

To you all of these people. Yes, I’ll let them live,

While you enjoy fortune and revel in fame.

All you have to do is to worship my name.”

“To clarify what that means, Glorify me

For all that I’ve done and the misery you see.

Do not speak of victory won through your death.

Those people aren’t worth it, you’ll just waste your breath.”

“All I want is some credit for all that I’ve done.

For, it can’t be too hard to admit that I’ve won.

So, let’s talk about all of the problems I’ve caused,

With all of the suffering, all that’s been lost.”

“Sympathize with their grumbling, as I see fit,

And make them feel sorry for you, just a bit,

Because loving problems and talking of pain

Is the best way to glorify my evil name.”

 

III. Jesus Used His Tongue o Glorify satan

To thus misuse his tongue Jesus was tempted.

But the Father’s provision it would have preempted.

Yet how many of us today fall for this trick?

It’s packaged up pretty, but boy is it slick!

We fret and we worry ’bout each little task,

But the energy lies on our tongues if we’ll ask.

We mumble and grumble because we are bored,

But that needn’t be so if we’re serving the Lord.

Others of us, swallowed by circumspection,

Forget the great hope of our Lord’s resurrection.

While we might remember to lift up the cross,

We focus on suffering and count it as loss.

 

IV. Remember the Power of Christ’s Resurrection

But where is the joy that He purchased for us

When he rose from the dead? Oh, why do we still fuss?

He spoke to that mountain of death, and it moved.

To remember this victory it would us behoove.

So let’s not proclaim sadness or pity or shame,

But think about Jesus and lift up his name.

Talk of His victory, and ALL that He’s done,

ALL that He is, and ALL that He’s won.

For the tongue has the power of life and of death,

The power to give or to take away breath.

So rather than grumble or mourn or complain,

Let’s use our tongues to lift up Jesus’ name!

 

https://atomic-temporary-102676306.wpcomstaging.com/healing/comic-books-bibles-portals/

The Bushel Basket of Human Reason

I. The Bushel Basket of Human Reason

 

Has God poured out a revelation?

Yet you’re gripped with hesitation,

One foot in and one foot out,

Beset by darkness, gloom and doubt

 

Beneath a dome of intellect

That won’t permit you to detect

The light of God you hold inside.

It almost feels as if you’ve died.

 

The bushel basket “Human Reason”

Is like salt that cannot season,

Hidden from the light of day

And stranger to the childlike play

 

That shines so brightly on God’s Word

To make sense of the things you’ve heard.

But when it’s veiled by intellect,

It’s so much harder to detect.

 

II. The Bushel Basket of Intellect Hides Truth

 

For, how can anyone suspect

Your faith is real if you reject

Whatever you don’t understand,

As if it’s YOUR truth to command?

 

The word from which you seek to glean,

If it cannot be fully seen,

Is robbed of power to feed your soul.

So then, how can it make you whole?

 

For though the light is shining in,

You feel as if you’ll never win

Because this bushel shrouds your head

With arguments that reek of dread

 

And reasons that explain away

The truths you know are real today.

By asking, “Did God really say?”

Behold, these truths ARE child’s play.

 

Yet bushel baskets have suppressed

And made them feel like nothingness.

 

A friend of mine once connected the idea of placing a light under a bushel to modern worship practices which deliver the light of God’s presence in measured doses (e.g. two worship songs, announcements, more worship songs, then the pastor gives the word). The bushel stops the light before it penetrates too far, thus depriving the listeners of a complete worship experience.

Just as a bushel basket hides light, so does human reasoning limit the light of God’s truth. If we think we know exactly how God wants to work (within a service, for example), then we’ll only allow the Holy Spirit so much room to move. “This far and no farther.” But is that God’s will for His church?

 

“Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel but on a candlestick, and it gives light to all that are in the house.” Matthew 5:15, KJV

 

 

 

 

 

Clothed With Power: The Superhero Costume Change

I. Clothed With Power

A. In Need of a Superhero Costume Change

Don’t go anywhere, my Clark Kent-style Christian super hero, until you have a superhero costume change. Because God won’t let you blow when you do things His way. By going into His phone booth, you will succeed in making that power connection. This is where the superhero costume change takes place. Once properly outfitted, the mild-mannered “nobody” transforms into a man or woman capable of great exploits. (see Daniel 11:32)

This has profound spiritual applications for believers in Christ, called to spread the gospel which can save a person’s soul (see Matthew 28:18-20). For this, the Christian must take on God’s full armor (see Ephesians 6:10-18).

 

B. Believers are Already Super

Just as mild-mannered Clark Kent is really Superman, believers in Christ are already superheroes – as ordinary as they may appear on the outside. Like young Jeremiah, they might not look like someone to take seriously, but within burns a fire waiting to come out (see Jeremiah 20:9).

We are not our own but are “strangers and aliens” upon the earth (Hebrews 11:13). Having been crucified with Christ, who lives in us, we live by faith in Him. (Galatians 2:20). If anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation. The old has passed away. All things have become new. (II Corinthians 5:17) The believer doesn’t need a superhero costume change to prove his or her true identity. But being clothed with power is another matter.

 

II. The Superhero Costume Change Itself

Jesus instructed his first disciples (the apostles) not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for power from on high (Luke 24:49). That’s what they were to wear before going anywhere.

“But you shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

They received this superhero costume change on the day of Pentecost where Peter preached his first sermon. As a result, approximately three thousand people got saved. (see Acts 2:42).

Notice that they received it while meeting in one place – an upper room (see Acts 1:13). It’s sort of like a phone booth, if you think about it. This is where Jesus clothed them with power from on high. What were they doing? Praying (see verse 14) – talking with God. Except He didn’t answer with a flashing light like in the movies, but I can just imagine that mighty, rushing wind. Who needs special effect when you have the real thing, right?

Ephesians 5:17-20 commands believers not to be unwise but to “be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.  This is our superhero phone connection.

 

Speed of Sight, a Superhero Adventure, is about an ordinary boy, Pete Plain, who undergoes an amazing superhero transformation.   It is available on Amazon and Kindle. Feel free to check it out and see how he accomplishes this costume change.

https://sightspeed.wordpress.com/boy-from-broken-home-gets-super-powers/

https://sightspeed.wordpress.com/healing/comic-book-pete-summer-vacation/

 

How John the Baptist Set the Stage for Grace

I. John the Baptist calls Some People Vipers

John the Baptist is an interesting Bible character, known for preaching a baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins. Yet the picture that probably sticks in some people’s minds is him calling Pharisees and Sadducees a brood of vipers. “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matthew 4:7)

It was a scary message for them, but was it his main message? Does John the Baptist seem to paint a picture of an angry God? Is his a condemning message or does it set the stage for grace?

Let’s start by asking this question: What sort of repentance did John the Baptist preach?

II. John Says Share (Show Grace to the Less Fortunate)

Try this on for size: “He that has two coats, let him impart to him that has none; and he that has meat, let him do likewise.” (Luke 3:11) In other words, show grace and share with those in need. This could be a Christmas message, Charles Dickens style: Let the self-centered Scrooge learn to love his neighbor as himself.

To the publicans (tax collectors) John said, “Exact no more than that which is appointed you.” In other words, do your job and don’t be greedy. In a world where people sometimes cheat for fear of not having enough, John the Baptist promotes self-control, a fruit of the Holy Spirit and gift of God’s grace which enables believers to keep God’s seventh command “Don’t steal.”

III. John Says Don’t Be Violent; Be Content

To soldiers, John the Baptist said, “Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.” Boy, does our world need that message! We see violence almost everywhere: especially on TV; also via the Internet and even on our phones. Violence is a form of murder, addressed by the sixth command “Don’t kill.” Showing grace and mercy is the opposite of murder.

As for false accusation, it has become the latest rage on social media. God calls it “bearing false witness against your neighbor” (lying or “fake news”). False accusation is mean. God doesn’t like it. Thank God for John the Baptist who struck a blow for telling the truth! Doing God’s will is not drudgery. It’s all about His grace.

Finally, being content with one’s wages is the opposite of coveting and touches on the very last commandment, which is about not envying other people’s stuff. To be content is a positive thing, made possible through Jesus through whom grace and mercy flow. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John declares in John 1:29.

In so doing, he sets the stage for grace.

Cast Out Thieves to Heal the Blind and Lame, Part II

   I. When Prayer Gets Lost in the Shuffle

 

In Jesus’ day, thieves ruled in God’s house.

Prayer got lost in the shuffle like a mouse.

 

“It is written, ‘My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves,” Jesus said as he overthrew the merchandisers’ tables (Matthew 21:12-13).

 

Did they see it coming, I wonder? Or were they too busy selling stuff to notice their blunder? Had “business as usual” blinded their eyes to the needs of the physically blind?  Perhaps the reason they lacked sympathy for the lame in body was due to the holes in their lame souls. They had no true walk with God, and it showed in the way they treated others.

 

The crowd, confused and scattered, couldn’t find their way.

They sacrificed large sums of money to hear men say,

“It’s not enough. You must do more to please the Lord,”

But it was more than any of them could afford.

 

The blind and lame, they longed for peace,

Joy in their hearts, a sweet release

But found no place inside their “church,”

Which had left them in the lurch.

 

The crowd was wandering like sheep with no shepherd, and the blind and lame had to fend for themselves. Why is that?

 

     II. Religious or Righteous?

 

Well, do you remember the story in I Samuel chapter 13 where King Saul prepared to wage war against the Philistines? God’s prophet Samuel had arranged to meet with Saul prior to the battle so he could offer the sacrifice, causing God’s favor to shine down on them. He ordered Saul to wait until he arrived before proceeding, but Samuel was running late and Saul grew impatient.

 

There seemed to be some fear involved, for when Saul saw his army scattering, he took matters into his own hands and offered the burnt offering himself. Like Cain, he went against the grain of what God told him to do and attempted through the fruit of his own efforts to bring a pleasing sacrifice to God.

 

It’s like the leader whose words imply, “Please us,”

Instead of, “Trust fully in Jesus.”

 

Saul’s actions were religious but not righteous, for he didn’t seem to understand the meaning behind the sacrifice.

Prayer got lost in the shuffle.

 

Religious men who lack a true relationship with God see no problem substituting their own procedures for God’s perfect will. As a result, their “flocks” scatter. The “sheep,” abused, become confused and nobody gets healed.

 

   III. Taking Time to Appreciate God’s Perfect Sacrifice

But those who rest in God’s perfect sacrifice for them will throw away their crutches and “rise with wings like eagles.” They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (see Isaiah 40:31) And those who allow the risen Christ to anoint their eyes with His salve will receive new vision to move forward.

 

Unfortunately, our busy lives allow little time for this. To tune out distractions can be hard. If you don’t set them aside in order to pray, however, you’re sure to lose the battle.

 

Before Jesus ascended (to heaven),

Because His word was ended,

He told his followers to wait –

But not on fate,

 

They weren’t to fear being late, but in obedience wait to be filled with the promised Holy Spirit.

 

It’s all about determining to believe God’s Word and meditating on God’s goodness shown through His only begotten Son, our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Sometimes you must escape the noise before you can appreciate His sacrifice on your behalf and understand the power of Isaiah 53:5, which states:

 

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

 

“My house shall be called a house of prayer,” Jesus said. We are that house when we surrender our lives to Him.