How to celebrate with a headache

Why me?I woke up at 4:00 am this morning with a splitting headache. (I’ve got to get a different pillow.) I took an ibuprofen but couldn’t get back to sleep so decided to make the most of it by spending some time with the Lord. As I stumbled out of the bedroom into a chair where I usually go to pray my head was pounding. “Lord”, I thought, “I need you to take care of this headache if I’m going to pray. I won’t be able to focus with my head throbbing like this.”

Suddenly I thought of the story in Acts 16:23-25:
“When they had struck them (Paul and Silas) with many blows, they threw them into prison, … the jailer … fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; …”

Then I was reminded of the many martyrs who were burned, stoned, subjected to unimaginable tortures yet died praising God. But I can’t pray because I have a headache? What is wrong with me? Continue reading

I’m such a whiny baby

Why me?I woke up at 4:00 am this morning with a splitting headache. (I’ve got to get a different pillow.) I took an ibuprofen but could not get back to sleep so decided to make the most of it by spending some time with the Lord. As I stumbled out of the bedroom into a chair where I usually go to pray my head was pounding. “Lord”, I thought, “I need you to take care of this headache if I am going to pray. I won’t be able to focus with my head throbbing like this.”

Suddenly I thought of this story in Acts 16:23-25:
“When they had struck them (Paul and Silas) with many blows, they threw them into prison, … the jailer … fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; …”

Then I was reminded of the many martyrs who were burned, stoned, subjected to unimaginable tortures yet died praising God. But I can’t pray because I have a headache? What is wrong with me? Continue reading

Who ya hanging with?

bffThey were thrown in prison and were now on trial for their faith – facing jail time, a beating or even death for blasphemy. The prosecutors were “astonished” at their courage because, as the court record put it, they were both “unschooled, ordinary men”. But here they stood being grilled by a room full of religious clerics boldly standing their ground. The record of the proceedings tells us how this was possible. The religious leaders “took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

They had been with Jesus. They were “unschooled, ordinary men” but they were giants in spiritual matters because they had been with Jesus. Their courage impressed their interrogators – not their profound answers or clever speaking abilities. They had been with Jesus.

The Bible clearly encourages education comparing it to cutting down a tree with a dull ax or a sharp ax (education sharpens the ax). The two men God used to compose most of the New Testament were highly educated – Paul and Luke. So, do not avoid study thinking God can use you more if you are ignorant. However … these men were courageous and “astonishing” because they had been with Jesus.

For those of us with the ed-jee-cayshun we must never think that is enough. We must spend time with Jesus. The courage, the boldness, the apt answers when interrogated by those seeking answers must not just come from our head, they must originate in our heart, from our spirit. “Study to show yourself approved” but I must never neglect spending time “with Jesus”.

An answer coming from the mind can reach the mind but an answer coming from the spirit can reach the spirit.
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Acts 4:13
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus

Should Christians serve in the military?

In honor of Memorial Day and all who served I’m offering this ENCORE POST

Should Christians serve?Some Christians refuse to serve in the military on religious grounds.  So what of those who do serve?  Are they disobeying God?  Let’s look into God’s Word and see what HE has to say.

Note: Because this is such a complex issue and because the topic so deeply impacts the lives of many men and women who are serving in the armed forces, this topic deserves greater attention and this post is much longer than most.

1. What did Jesus say?
John the Baptist and Jesus both spoke to soldiers in an army that was oppressing God’s people.  Certainly, if it was wrong to serve in the military, it would be extra wrong to serve in an army oppressing God’s chosen people and either John or Jesus would have addressed the issue.  Neither John nor Jesus said the soldiers should change careers.  In fact, soldiers specifically asked John what they should do and he never mentions getting out of the military.

Luke 3:14
Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”  He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely — be content with your pay.” Continue reading

Beyond for or against

Jesus didn't ride elephantIn Acts 7 Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, has been falsely accused. The High Priest asks, “Are these accusations true?”  If Stephen would have simply answered the question he might have been released. “No, they are not true. I have been misunderstood.” End of story.

But Stephen saw a higher purpose, a grand opportunity to present the gospel to this group. So he launched into a lengthy history lesson. His problem: he refused to just answer the question his religious culture was asking.  “Yes” or “No”, “True” or “False” – which is it?

He saw “the heavens opened” – a physical manifestation of the spiritual insight he already had. In being attacked he was seeing a spiritual opportunity to confront his religious culture. He was seeing the battle was not against flesh and blood but was a spiritual one. He refused to answer simply “yes” or “no” because deeper, spiritual issues were involved. God had an answer that superseded merely “yes or no”, “for or against”. Continue reading

What were they doing?!

Minister to the LordReading Acts 13 this morning I was impressed again with the phrase “they were ministering to the Lord.”

As a young believer I was reading Psalms and came across the phrase “Bless the Lord”. I stopped. What? Me, bless Him? I knew He could bless me. But me bless Him? Acts 13 is even more unbelievable – they were “ministering” to Him? How do you minister to the all-powerful, transcendent God?

Then I discovered the problem. I was reading one of those new versions. So I got out the trusty old King James to see what those verses really meant. Guess what. They said the same thing – bless the Lord, minister to the Lord. I sat back in my chair astounded. I don’t want to lose that sense of wonder that we, mere specks of dust in the cosmos, can minister to the Creator of it all. What an unbelievable concept. We can please Him. We can “grieve” Him. What we do impacts Him emotionally. Think about that. What you do today makes a difference in the heart of God. Isn’t that unbelievable?!!
(Zeph 3:17, Eph 4:30, Gen 6:6, Is 62:5)

We couldn’t know that if He hadn’t told us in His Word. Obviously He wants us to know that we matter to Him. We matter so much that what we do touches His heart. We can make His day – or grieve Him. So, I have a choice today – and every day. Will I bring a smile to the heart of God today or be a source of sorrow for Him?
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Zephaniah 3:17
For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Don’t be a Christ follower.

followerIn our society “Christian” has come to mean a bigoted, narrow minded, hater. So a growing number of “Christians” are looking to rebrand themselves. I’m OK with avoiding the term “Christian” since it initially was a term used more by the pagan world than by the Christians themselves. Other than Peter’s use of the term one time we don’t see Christians referring to themselves as “Christians” in the New Testament. A term that is coming in vogue is “Christ follower” – I am a Christ follower. 

I don’t want to nit pick (though I am going to anyway) but I suggest that you might not want to just be a “Christ followers”. In the New Testament that too was not a term they used. In the NT they preferred the term “disciple”. Another popular term was “servant” – I am a servant of Jesus Christ. OK, both of those words may be a little foreign today so use “follower” if you want when explaining your stance to non-believers but don’t begin to see yourself merely as a “follower”. Here is why. Continue reading

How did the apostles die?

ApostlesThis weekend we celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Approximately half the world knows the story of how Jesus died and rose again. (Sadly, there is still half our world that has not even had a chance to reject Him because they have not even heard of Him. That is what missions and CTEN is all about.) But what happened to the other apostles?  How and where did they die? ** Continue reading

We should obey Mary

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Obey MaryMary, the mother of Jesus, was surely a wonderful young woman. God chose her as a special vessel to bring His Son into the world and to raise Him as a boy. There are those who venerate her beyond what Scripture teaches but in my zeal to keep Jesus as the only way to the Father – not by obedience to the church, not by keeping the law, not by any other name than the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12) – I must be sure I do not denigrate the mother of our Lord, or for that matter, any other follower of Jesus.

I have decided a great way to bridge the gap between my view and those who overly venerate, perhaps even worship Mary, is to just encourage them to do what I do and “Obey Mary.”  Continue reading