Either Put Up or Shut Up! I’m All in or nothing at all!

The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31 


The Jewish leaders struggled over 613 individual moral statutes or commands by which they were to live and conduct themselves.  Sometimes they debated among themselves as to which of these moral statutes were vital and which of them were less vital.  They didn’t want to make the mistake of placing some statues above more important one and vice-versa.  Yet this struggle brought itself right before Jesus.  One of the teachers ventured to ask Him this question, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” (Mark 12:28).  

Jesus laid it all out for those who would hear Him; “The most important one,” Jesus answered, “is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

Now, dear fellow Christ-follower, it is either time for us to put up or shut up.  I don’t mean to be crass here or offend you, but I cannot stress how vital it is for us to love the Lord with every fiber of our being.  Jesus placed this as the #1 priority in the lives of those asking and still today it ought to be #1 in our lives as well.  

Let me illustrate: 

Our homes are powered by electricity (well most of them are anyway).  If we were to bring in a brand new television to watch we first must take it out of the box and connect it to a power source.  Without the power source all of our favorite shows and possibilities are impossible.  We need to plug that television into the power in order for anything to happen, without it nothing works and nothing ever will.

Without first loving God with our EVERYTHING nothing else will work.  Without first loving God with ALL of our heart, soul, mind and strength we are powerless.  It is either all or nothing.  God doesn’t want a partial kind of love.  He isn’t some on again off again God, either get on board with Him and love Him completely or don’t at all.  

Secondly, don’t try and fake out God…He’s not buying the act.  Others might see how good we look dressed up for Church and how we act in front of other Christians but if this isn’t consisted behind the scenes God knows.  This is a tough pill to swallow.  I’m not here to say that I have this all figured out either, because I too struggle at times with a divided heart.  Not intentionally mind you, but at times I catch myself and find that I have to once again realign my relationship and priorities with God.  

How is your heart today?  Do you find that at times you have a divided heart when it comes to your relationship with the Lord?  Perhaps it’s time for a heart realignment so that you can once again get plugged back into the true sources of power and life.  

Scriptures readings:  

Isaiah 29:13, Psalm 86:11, Mark 12:28-34


The Patron Saint of Last Ditch Efforts


She fought her way through the throngs of people.  Every inch was a battle, but her objective was in sight.  “If only I can reach him”, she thought, “maybe I can be healed.”  Still more people seemed to teem from neighboring dwellings as curiosity got the better of them and they had to see what this crowd was doing.  As Jesus continued to walk, so the crowd of people following Him grew as well, but she was determined to reach Him.  Finally after pushing past another person, she found herself directly behind him.  This was it.  This was her moment.  If she didn’t do it now her chance would be gone and so would the possibility of being healed.  She had heard of his miracles, that he could heal.  The woman had visited numerous “healers” yet none of them could help her.  She had all but given up any hope of complete restoration of her health, until she heard Jesus was coming.  Now, directly behind the healer, she reached out to touch him.  In her mind she had already believed that if he could heal her all she would have to do is touch him.  So with arms extended and fingertips stretching outward, she touches him.  What happens next not only confirms her belief, but ignites hope again within her heart and mind.  A power surge unlike any other is felt throughout her body.  What began as a simple touch of her fingertips sends a pulse of energy to her elbow, her shoulder, her hips, her knees and even her feet.  

Wide-eye and surprised Jesus suddenly stopped walking and turned to the crowd.  “Who touched my clothes?”  He asked.  Some of the crowd mumbled things like “we all touched you”, “I just bumped into you”, and “perhaps it was me”…but that wasn’t what Jesus meant.  He had felt power leave His body, and He looked for the one who had intentionally touched Him.  The woman who had suddenly been healed by the simple touch of his clothing knew instantly that Jesus was looking for her.  In just mere seconds she had a decision to make, she could simply disappear back into the crowd and go home, or she could admit to Jesus that it had been she who had touched Him.  She didn’t hesitate, but came forward and fell at His feet.  Perhaps she was afraid He would be angry that she hadn’t asked Him to heal her.  Perhaps she thought He might take His healing from her.  But she knelt anyway and admitted to Jesus that she had touched him in the hopes of being healed.  


Jesus’ response to her wasn’t anger or disappointment.  He looked down upon her with love and compassion and said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.  God in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:34)  Her last ditch effort to find healing had paid off.  She had been desperate and had suffered greatly over the years from this malady, and now she was completely healed and free from disease and suffering.  

Isn’t that what Jesus does for all of us?  We suffer from so many issues in this life.  Some suffer from actual physical ailments and diseases, while others suffer from spiritual diseases that pillages and ravages the heart and mind.  Yet Jesus comes to all, and though perhaps we have tried everything else without success, Jesus is there before us.  Perhaps it’s time.  Perhaps it’s your last ditch effort to find healing that no one else can provide you with.  If only you would reach out and touch Him and find that He has the power to save ultimately and completely!  

This is the kind of “last ditch effort” that has an eternal outcome.  Belief isn’t easy, yet this woman so long ago, who was clinging to her last hope reached out to a Savior who healed permanently.  Will you reach out to Him today?  Are you willing to place your faith in His mighty power?  He wants us to all believe in Him.  He loves us so deeply and stands ready to heal and save.  

“Doing the will of God”


Jesus got up from the table.  Isn’t that unusual for Master of ceremonies to do?  He got up.  He had been reclined, as they did in those days.  There wasn’t a wooden table and chairs as we’re so traditionally used to.  He had been enjoying a meal with His disciples.  There had been some banter back and forth, some laughter over a good cooked meal.  Isn’t that how bonds, throughout time, have been further deepened?  Over a meal, together, they bonded, they shared, they loved.  Then Jesus got up.  What was He about to do?  The room was slightly stuffy, and getting warmer.  There was a humidity in the air which matched the body heat of those gathered there.  As each disciple had eaten their share of the food and had drunken a share of the wine, Jesus did not rest.  He didn’t find the nearest lazy boy chair to recline in.  He didn’t make his disciples go and do the dishes.  He didn’t rest.  Instead, He got up and after wrapping a towel around His waist, He filled a basin full of water.  The disciples were caught off guard.  Some were still chewing the last bits of food and draining their cups of the last drops of wine.  Glances were exchanged, expressions of bewilderment and surprise replaced the revelry of celebration.   


Having wrapped the towel around His waist and poured the water into the basin, Jesus begins to display for His disciples what a true discipleship looks like: a servant of all.  Kneeling down before them, Jesus places himself beneath their dirty, filthy, smelly feet and washes them.  He becomes a servant before them.  He takes on the very job of a household servant.  The son of God stooping down to wiping the dirt from the feet of His people.  Is there any better description or account of doing the will of God?  The actual Messiah, Jesus kneeling down and cleansing those who needed cleansing the most?  Such moments like this had to have left deep impressions upon His followers.  Having the One who had been present at the beginning of creation wiping away dirt from their feeble human forms, what a lesson to learn!  Master becoming servant.  Jesus coming down to their level and preparing them for leadership and for eternity.  


This is Discipleship:

In Jewish custom, a disciple was to do as the Rabbi did.  A disciple went beyond just ‘doing’ what the Rabbi did though, the purpose of a disciple was to become the Rabbi.  Literally taking on his mannerisms, his theological interpretations, his actions…everything to become just like the Rabbi.  Jesus knelt at their feet and washed them.  Jesus displayed for his disciples what they were to become to the world around them…servants of God, serving others.  Jesus even told them this when He said; “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:26-28)  

Discipleship is doing the will of God, not just as a part-time worker, but a full time servant.  Many will commit to part-time work as a servant, but few, when faced with choices of comfort and personal gain will accept that full-time role.  Yet isn’t that what Christ-followers are called to do?  To be full-time disciples in our lives?  Full-time disciples of Christ doesn’t mean we give up our professional vocations and don on ropes of white and live off of the land.  God can and will use you as His disciples right where you are at.  Sometimes He asks us to move and to switch vocations, but many times He can and will use you if you are available for His purposes.  True discipleship though looks very much that Jesus with towel wrapped around His waist washing feet.  True discipleship may take on roles we feel are beneath us, not befitting one from our status…yet Jesus knelt down and washed the disciples feet, are you prepared to do so as well to those around you?  Are you prepared to be a full-time disciple?   

William Law once wrote; “The devout, therefore, are people who do not live to their own will, or in the way and spirit of the world, but only to the will of God.  Such people consider God in everything, serve God in everything, and make every aspect of their lives holy by doing everything in the name of God and in a way that conforms to God’s glory.” (William Law, A serious call to a devout and holy life)  

Do you view your life in this way?  Is everything God’s?  Are you doing the will of God because you are His humble servant?  This is the cost of discipleship, but it’s not drudgery or done with groaning but instead because of love we cannot  help but to serve the One who has set us free.  Are you prepared to wrap that towel around your waist?  Are you prepared to kneel down before those around you and to wash their feet?  God doesn’t need any more part-time workers, He wants full-time servants who are committed to do His will.  


Catching A Glimpse of God


We were sitting in the car, another long drive up and down the mountainside.  Where were we?  On vacation in Yellowstone National Park.  Looking out of our windows which were slightly to moderately marred by finger smudges, forehead grease and happy meal stickers, we became enthralled with the landscape around us.

Everywhere we turned, our eyes fell upon sights that are difficult to describe, yet magnificent to behold.  In the back seats our older boys who had been previously engaged with electronic devices in hand now found themselves on the edges of their seats soaking in the landscape as it traveled past our rear bumper like a people-mover at an airport.  We found ourselves a midst  trees and rock and mountain located inside the heart of an underground, still active volcano.  Wild life teemed all around us as if undisturbed by our passing presence there.  Ravens, nearly the size of adult predatory hawks stalked the picnic areas looking at us with its cimmerian eyes black as night and cawing with its haunting and foreboding calls as if to say ‘pay your price, pay your price and feed us!


Our journey there, coated in mystery, brought on its coat tails the afternoon rains and fog.  They swept swiftly in lathering the vistas with a deep apprehensiveness with wild abandon.  Mesmerized, we carted off the beaten paths, viewed the very hand prints of God as pots of steaming rock burnt its undeniable offerings to the heavens.  Image

How could one not believe in a place like this?  To find solace as we kiss the faith of the One who created such a wonderment?  As God, in all the wrapped mystery and awe spoke such foundations of rock and earth into being…it is no wonder we found our jaws on the floor or in the seats of our van?  Is it no wonder that we lost track of minutes, even hours as we soaked in His presence like nourishment to the soul?


There was this strumming in our hearts as if we had come close to the very doors of eternity, catching mere glimpses of God through His marvelous works, drawn out and craft over thousands, even millions of years.  Yet the strumming hasn’t ceased…it still continues now as I write these words.  I pray it continues in the throbbing valves of my children’s hearts until they see the very face of God as well.  For born out of this solitary journey we touched His hands and kissed His feet.  We brought the expensive perfumes and anointed Him head and feet knowing just moments in His presence was more than we deserved…and yet He called us His own.  Yet we found Him and His heart.  We were caught so blindly unaware of His passionate love for us.  Blown away we staggered back, brought up short by His grace and mercy as love showered down upon we, the undeserved.  In those moments on that mountain, in the heart of an active underground volcano we found God…and we are defiantly reticent to return to the way we once were.


The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

-Gerald Manly Hopkins “God’s Grandeur”.

Light our way!

Psalm 119:105 (NIV)
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.


Have you ever stumbled around in the dark?  I have on numerous occasions and usually it ends with me finding a light source only after finding unidentified objects in my path with my shins and toes!  Walking around in darkness is never desired, we need to see where we’re going in order to navigate safely through.  


A few years ago I went on a cave tour in the mountains of Tennessee.  We descended down into this cave with our tour guide, at the surface it was a hot summer day, but when we arrived to the bottom of the cave it was a chilly fifty degrees.  After some instructions from our guide, we took another hike through some narrow portions of the cave.  We even crawled through some spaces at one point, which made it just a little bit claustrophobic for some.  Finally after we had climbed through the narrow crevice we found ourselves in a large cavern with walls that were at least 15 feet tall.  The ceiling sparkled as there were numerous deposits of some kind or another.  Finally our tour guide asked us to trust him and to do something unthinkable.  He asked us to turn our lights off.  So we did and suddenly our entire group was plunged into complete and total darkness.   It was momentarily unnerving when I considered how deep we were and all of the rock that hovered over our heads.  It was so dark that I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face.  Our tour guide then spoke and said, this is what complete and total darkness feels like.  


Sometimes in our spiritual lives we find ourselves in places like this.  Suddenly the light goes out and we’re standing there in the dark afraid and on the verge of panicking.  Perhaps we get there by our own strength and resources, we stray from God and try to do everything ourselves.  Other times we neglect our devotion and prayer life with God and we become disconnected with the Father.  And again suddenly we are plunged into a darkness  of our own choices.  

Whatever situation you may identify with know that this darkness can be conquered by His Word and His love!  He can and will guide us through this life if we let Him.  All too often I identify with the darkness because I take back my cares and concerns and think that I can do it all in my own strength.  Have you ever done that?  At times I think (and wrongly so) I don’t need any one’s help I’ve got this…but I couldn’t be more wrong.  

His Word will light our path if we’re consuming it daily!  But don’t stop there, allow His grace to fall on you each day, moment by moment as you invite Him into your day throughout your day!  

He will be your guide…do you trust Him?  


Jesus Wept

Jesus wept…

did He weep for me? 

Was He weeping

for Himself? 

Was He afraid

knowing the path 

that lay ahead…

it says he sweat 

like drops of blood

was He conflicted

before the tree? 

Was it a conflict 

that He should die for me? 

Two simple words

that pierce my heart

carrying with it a weight 

of power and a wealth of love…

was I on His mind – with future

edging in, threatening Him? 

Jesus wept…two words

that form on my tongue

and creep deeply in my soul

knowing in His tears he 

carried my burdens 

and washed them away. 


A Supernatural Hero – Resurrection Power!


Ironman 3 news article

The superhero zooms in, a little beaten and bruised…but something keeps him going.  With determination in his eyes he faces off with the sinister villain who is intent on destroying anyone in his path.  The hero, moments before, had been beaten and considered vanquished.   Now he stands before the shell shocked villain ready take him down once and for all.


I have to admit, I’m a sucker for superhero movies!  If one were to look at my movie collection one would find a slew of hero films, in fact it’s probably the biggest collection of all of my movies.  I love a good versus evil story plot!  It evokes in me justice and peace with just a little action and mayhem thrown in.  This past week Ironman 3 debuted at theaters all around the country & world.  It blew the competition away in that it was the top grossing film of the weekend (probably a few more weekends to go too).  What that says to me is that I’m not alone in my love of superhero movies.  There are millions out there who line up, pay for film tickets and see these films with me.  Why?  Why are superhero movies such a popular draw?

Here’s my take – because everyone at heart is looking for a hero!  Everyone wants not just to escape into fantasy, but they want some sort of rescue in their own lives.  We want to see evil vanquished!  We want to see good stand triumphantly over the fallen maniacal villain!  At heart, we long for heroes in our lives today!

The man stands in front of the grave of his good friend who is four days dead.  The dead man’s sisters are not happy with the visiting teacher.  Why hadn’t he come sooner?   He is a healer, he could have done something to save him…but now it’s too late, he’s gone!  But Jesus stands there and tells them to open the tomb.  They must have thought to themselves; ‘Are you kidding me?  Jesus he’s been dead for four days, it’s going to smell horrible in there!’  But Jesus insists and after the tomb is open, reeking of death, Jesus does something astonishing.  He calls out loudly to his now dearly departed good friend.  “Lazarus come out!”  The people gathered there with the sisters must have exchanged confused even worried looks at each other.  “Why is Jesus doing this?”  Some must have wondered, “Haven’t Lazarus’ sisters suffered enough?”  And yet something remarkable and awesomely supernatural takes place…there are shuffling sounds coming from the tomb.

What seem like hours pass by from Jesus’ words to what happens next…but it’s mere moments.  Everyone is clinging to this last ounce of hope as death has been the unwanted house guest for more than four days.  Another moment passes and then there is a sharp intake of breath and then a gasp as the dead darkens the door way of his own grave.  Jesus has done the unthinkable, He has risen Lazarus from the death.  A body in full rigor, decomposing in the tomb has been reanimated.  Where stillness had been claimed within vacant lungs, now breathing and motion has gained access once again.  Lifeless is replaced with life.  Lazarus is no longer dead…he is alive!


Imagine being one of those witnesses that day?  They experienced something they couldn’t quite explain; they see the unthinkable take place.  A very dead person is brought back to life!  Jesus, God’s one and only son, displaying His very real power over life and death!  Is there any other person who has walked this earth and lived human life done more?  Jesus who is the Lord of life and death?  One who actually has supernatural power?   A true hero for all of humanity?  It is wondrous to think that not only did Jesus heal the sick and give life to the dead, but He also went to the extreme and laid down His life for all of humanity.  When He hung on the cross for the sins of all of us, He went to hell and conquered sin and death!  But the story didn’t end with a heroes sacrifice and finality of a mournful death…NO!  He brought himself back to life!  Jesus even said that He would do this for us: “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life (for my sheep) –only to take it up again.” (John 10:17 NIV)

Is Jesus your superhero?  Not in some corny or silly way, but in the very real sense that He has displayed His love for you, He has conquered sin and death for us and that He is the only way by which we can find our eternal home in heaven with God.  Jesus wants you to experience this supernatural salvation and deliverance.   He comes to each of us and asks if we will accept Him as our savior.  I have chosen to follow Him, will you?


John 11:25-26 (NIV)
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

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