Friday, October 14, 2016

Unfailing Love

Your unfailing love is better than life . . .
~Psalm 63:3

The psalmist says much in few words.

First, we see that God loves. God loves because love is essential to His very nature. God loves and always has. Even in eternity past, when no other thing or person existed, God loved. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit shared love within the Godhead. God is love (1John 4:8).

Second, we understand that God loves unfailingly. This lets us know that His love is not predicated upon what others do or don’t do. Rather, His love is based upon His character and nature alone. He does not love more at times and less at others. His love endures all things and never fails.

Finally, we are told God’s love is better than life. What does this mean? I think it means all loves pale in comparison to His. It means all things other than God are finite and can do and be only what their finitude allows. Thus everything life offers is impermanent or transitory; but not God’s infinite, unfailing love.

But while God’s love is constant, our comprehension and experience of it are not. That is, for any number of reasons, we don’t always sense, understand, or express it as we could or perhaps should. So, we want to grow in our capacity to know God’s love; both in the giving and the receiving.

Increasing love for God, self, and others is the primary manifestation of true spiritual growth. What will such progress look like? It will look more and more like Jesus.

Prayer: All-loving God, enable us to intimately and increasingly know You and Your love. Let our love be fervent and genuine. Show us how to love in thought, word, and deed. Help us to love others like Jesus loves us. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Thinking About Thinking

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right,
and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are
excellent and worthy of praise.
~Philippians 4:8

Have you ever thought about your thinking? What thoughts occupy your mind and why?

It is apparent that many folks in our country—and even in our churches—are filled with anxious and angry thoughts. The impending election coupled with 24/7 cable news only serve to heighten their angst.

Sensing the tension in my own mind, about 6 weeks ago I felt led of the Lord to go on a “media fast.” (I have since found several other friends doing the same.) The difference in my attitude and thinking is astounding.

I am convinced that less news, more Jesus is a good thing.

We know the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). But how can these be ours if we constantly feed our minds fearful, angry thoughts?

I assure you, appearances notwithstanding, there has never been a godly person with an ungodly thought-life.

So, Jesus cleans us inside out. He says, “First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too” (Matthew 23:26).

Would you like to be loving, joyful, patient, kind, etc.? Then you must think about your thinking. You must “fix your thoughts” on excellent things.


Prayer: Holy Spirit, please renew the spirit of our minds. Transform us. Help us to have a more disciplined, godly thought-life. Make us more like Jesus in what and how we think.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

God's Free Gift

The wages of sin is death,
but the free gift of God is eternal life
through Christ Jesus our Lord.
~Romans 6:23

A wage is something earned. Thus Jesus says, “The worker deserves his wages” (Luke 10:7). You and I certainly deserve the death-wages of sin, for we are sinners by nature and choice.

But God is rich in mercy.

Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
~Ephesians 2:4-5

Because God is merciful we don’t always get what we deserve. We’ve earned death but God’s amazing love compels Him to give us a free gift instead: eternal life. This precious gift comes through Jesus Christ.

Aren’t you thankful for merciful love?

His love for us is so great that He freely gives us life that never ends. In other words, God loves us so much that He desires to be with us now and always. Today and every day—for all eternity—God welcomes our company.

He’ll never regret the time we spend with Him and neither will we.


Prayer: Father, how we rejoice in the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting! Holy Spirit, make us merciful towards others like Jesus is towards us.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Angels & Demons

We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

My previous article may have raised a few eyebrows.

My contention then and now is that malignant spirits strive to maneuver and manipulate culture-shaping individuals and institutions. But this concept is foreign to folks—including  those who claim to have a supernatural worldview.  

Why is this?

One reason is our modern-Western presuppositions about how the world works are highly naturalistic or materialistic. Even Bible-believers tend to think of “spirits” and such as embarrassing relics of a bygone superstitious age.

Another cause for discomfort comes not from disbelief, but from misbelief. That is, the thinking of many regarding spiritual realities is shaped more by Hollywood than scripture.

As C.S. Lewis observes,

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.

Now, some may scoff at the idea that evil spirits are behind worldly systems and entities along the entire philosophical/geo-political spectrum Left to Right. Wouldn’t this pit demonic forces against each other?

Yes it would.

Haven’t you seen evil human beings fight one another for reasons all their own? I believe the same holds true for evil non-human beings.

Why assume that satanic forces are united in anything but hate? It makes sense that evil spirits lust for power and war for dominion over each other and all God’s creation. 

Finally, some simply cannot bear the thought that no earthly, coercive powers (not even their favorites) are fighting entirely on the side of the angels. Even so, this is likely the case.

In the end, dear reader, we’re exclusively obliged to Christ and His kingdom. So let’s lovingly, joyfully, and peacefully follow Him.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pawns & Presidents

Remember when Justice Antonin Scalia died? (It was waaay back in February.) There were actually people on the Left who celebrated his death. I recall reading all sorts of nasty comments.

I thought of this the other day as I read folks on the Right gleefully speaking of Hillary Clinton’s being sick. Obviously, neither the Left nor the Right has monopolized meanness.

What’s wrong with us that we delight in death and sickness?

As I was ruminating on these things another thought intruded: You should pray for Hillary.

So, I did. “Father, please heal Hillary Clinton physically and spiritually.”


Another alien thought immediately presented itself: You should pray for Donald too.

So, I did. “Father, please make Donald Trump physically and spiritually whole.”

And God moved.

I’ve no way of knowing if anything happened (or will happen) with Hillary and Donald, but I know God responded to my prayers by changing my attitude.

You see, dear reader, I’ve never been a fan of either of these two people. It’s likely I never will be. But the animosity in my heart was suddenly gone; as though the Holy Spirit simply melted it all away.

What a glorious, light feeling!  

Suddenly I saw anew that these are two sinful, broken people savaging each other to the approbation of other sinful, broken people; all from within in a sinful, broken system.

The full reality is this: Hillary and Donald are pawns not saviors.

We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

I knew this already, but as we all know, there’s a difference between knowing and knowing.

I don’t presume to speak for anyone but myself, but I understand more clearly that my fight—the battle God is calling me to engage—isn’t against Hillary or Donald; but against the malignant spiritual forces maneuvering and manipulating them.

Hillary and Donald…neither has my vote. Both have my prayers.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Foray Into The Prophetic

I’m going to make some bold predictions.

Let me set the stage for you…

The campaign has been absolutely ferocious. Presidential candidates, _______ and _______, are unabashed serial liars and they have savaged each other to the best of their abilities.

Naturally both of them claim that this election is the most important election ever and if their opponent wins it may very well be the last election until the next one. In short, the survival of the nation probably depends solely upon them.

Of course, the overwhelming majority of Americans couldn’t be more disappointed. The lament heard everywhere is, “_______ and _______ are the best we can do?”

Minds are absolutely boggled.

Okay, the stage is set.

Now for mind-boggling prognostications…

First, many folks will vote for a party, not a politician. That is, they will vote for _______ or _______ based upon little or nothing more than the (D) or the (R) that appears beside the names. (They will do this top to bottom.)

Second, incredibly large groups will vote not as much for _______ but rather against _______.

The thinking goes something like this: I hate _______ less than I hate _______ so I’d better vote for _______ because I’d hate to waste my vote!

Third, much smaller but exceptionally LOUDER groups (let’s call these “true believers”) will vote for _______ or _______ because they are worshipfully (and I mean this literally) committed to them.

Among these are people—some who claim to be Christian—who sacrifice friendships and family members to the would-be gods of State.

That is, they lack the capacity to individuate themselves from _______ or _______. Thus, if a person (no matter who or how close) is less than supportive of _______ or _______, that person is now perceived as a traitor or personal enemy.

Fourth and climactically, I can tell you that _______ is going to win.

Mark it down.

_______ will be President of the United States.

“True believers” everywhere will either be ecstatic or eviscerated.

Maybe you’re thinking, “C’mon, Steve, fill in the blanks! Tell us who’s gonna win—Donald or Hillary?”

Oh, I’m not talking about 2016! (My prophetic gifts are much more powerful than this.) I’m talking about 2020. Try to keep up.

History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before.
Nothing under the sun is truly new.
~Ecclesiastes 1:9

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Telling It Like It Isn’t

What was he thinking?

That’s what came to mind when I learned of Olympic swimmer, Ryan Lochte’s, infamous “over-exaggeration” concerning his being robbed in Rio.

In the newest issue of People, we read of Lochte:

"I feel bad that I have let people down. . . . I made things up," he says. "I didn't tell the truth. And that's on me. I messed up, and made a big mistake, and I'm sorry."

The cynical among us aver that he’s “sorry” only because his little lie cost him big money.

But maybe his sorrow is genuine. Maybe—for reasons unknown—he panicked, got caught up in things, and didn’t see a clear way out. Oh, what a tangled web we weave

The fact is we can’t know his heart and mind then or now.

Having said that…

Lochte’s losing four major endorsements (Speedo, Ralph Lauren, Airweave and Gentle Hair Removal) raises another question.

Isn’t it strange how lying costs some people (Olympians) more than others (politicians)?

I suppose the lowest of expectations pertaining to all things political is understandable. But still…we withdraw endorsements from the liars who would entertain us but not from the ones who would rule us?

Our moral outrage is a bit wonky.

Even so, nobody likes being lied to. Some people actually prefer lies to truths.

But Jesus calls us to follow a different path. He wants us to walk with Him in the Way of integrity. He teaches His followers: “All you need to say is simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37).

We don’t need to lie or pretend or manipulate. We don’t need to try to impress or play word games—just speak the truth forthrightly and lovingly.

Jesus says,

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 

What are you full of today? Careful now…your mouth will tell on you.