What’s Love Got to do With It?


Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the spirits.

God is always searching our hearts and motives for those things that please Him,glorify Him, and show obedience to His Word and His calling for our lives.  We can’t fake it. God is not mocked.

Love has EVERYTHING to do with what honors God and shows obedience to His Word and His ways.

What Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:1 speaks volumes to what we should do and how we should think and behave towards those we might normally hate (that is if we aren’t guided by the Holy Spirit).

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Let me be perfectly clear on this: Wrong motives render righteous acts unrighteous!  What does it mean to be righteous?  When we follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Who reveals righteousness to us by prayerful reading of the Scriptures, which is the divinely inspired Word of God, we find that righteous motives (1) Spreads the Word, (2) Ends contention and (3) glorifies God. Remember what John the apostle said:  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend[a] it.

If God is love, and He is, everything that is said in John 1: 1-5 is done out of love, also. It is a logical inconsistency to suggest that anything that is not of God, to possess love. He created the universe, and all things GOOD! And He created them out of love.  This is why what the Lord says to Samuel  in 1 Samuel16:7 is so important for us to remember: But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees;[a] for man looks at the outward appearance,but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Take a second look at John 1:5. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not comprehend it.  We are called to be light in a dark world. Hatred, striving (a form of the word strife),contentiousness, paranoia, and just about every negative emotion you can think of contributes to the darkness and cannot shed light on anything. 

What is in our heart is a key to being light. And motive is everything. Motive shows God whose side we are on.  We need to be careful of unrighteous motivations in our own lives.  Things like:

·        Doing things out of vanity (even things we think are good)

·        Self glorification

·        Worldly ambition

·        Fear of man

·        Greed

·        Demand for instant gratification

·        Approval of man

·        Envy

·        Deception of any kind

Can discredit our testimony and reflect poor intentions to a world that wants to paint every Christian as a hypocrite.  Jesus had this to say in Matthew 6: 2, 5, and 16:

Therefore,when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

16 “Moreover,when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

When we walk closely with our partner the Holy Spirit, none of these things should be taking place. The Holy Spirit is the one that fills the heart of every believer with the Love of Christ whose very characteristics Paul gave us in the“love” passage in 1 Corinthian 13:4-8:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Jesus never hated anyone. He put His love in us to use for the glory of His kingdom and for this He died a horrible death, the greatest example of love ever. He understood this when He patiently answered His worst critics, the Pharisees and correctly identified them as “of your father, the devil”. He took some of those very same Pharisees, particularly Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea and gave them insights into what salvation really meant.

Think of these points the next time you go to a meeting, the next time you engage an embittered friend or co-worker, the next time you pray and ask the Lord what to do and then ask yourself, better yet ask Him, to create in you a clean heart and renew the Spirit that honors God first, and loves all to the exclusion of no one. Even when you don’t want to.

We didn’t deserve His grace but we got it anyway. Give it away!

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Spiritual Deception and Wisdom for Today’s World


Well at last!  I’m finally getting around to a subject that has been a real sticking point with many of our brothers and sisters since a certain wily serpent conversed with Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Many of these early topics from Wednesday night will be new to many of you, but a few of you have been in our Wednesday group for a couple of years now may find these familiar.

My prayer is that you will be well fed by what the Holy Spirit reveals to you and that you will share with as many of your friends and loved ones as you find receptive.

God Bless You All Mightily!

Let’s start by recognizing the traits and purpose of our enemy, the devil. We also call him Satan. A brilliant theologian and great man of God named Warren Wiersbe wrote a book that is legendary in its clarity and scriptural soundness and he defined these best in his book The Strategies of Satan.

  • Wiersbe said Satan had four main functions on earth and these are supported by Scripture:Satan the Deceiver (Genesis 3)-after God created man and woman and enjoyed communion with them in the Garden of Eden, along came Satan to throw confusion, independence and deception into His perfect creation. The devil, as we know, is the father of lies and this was his first weapon against mankind. What he did was really simple and he does the same thing today: First, he questions God’s instructions-“did God say?”; second, he tells Eve a lie-“God did not say!” and then the final step is his substitution of another lie of his own-“for God knows that when you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will be just like God!”  Satan has been doing this to mankind ever since and he is good at it!
  • Satan the Destroyer (The Book of Job)-God created man in His image, perfect, complete and designed to walk in close communion with Him. He made our bodies to be Temples of the Holy Spirit and this is a prime target of our enemy. Think of all the ways we make ourselves independent of God’s purpose and plan for our lives. Job was righteous in God’s eyes but the devil sought permission to attack his body, but not kill him. The attacks got so bad that Job’s own wife told him, “Curse God and Die!”  No one’s loved ones want to see someone they care for suffer but here is the lesson for us:  Be patient for God’s will, His purpose and plan to be worked out in us before we just give up. Satan loves it when we give up on God and become impatient and independent.
  • Satan the Ruler of this World (1 & 2 Samuel; 1 Kings)-This tale of two kings is the story about what happens when God anoints rulers over His people and then those kings become rebellious and separate themselves from God Himself, Who gave them their position and authority.  Just as all authority in heaven and on earth was given to Jesus by our Father, David and Saul were given authority and power on earth. SO HAVE WE!!  We can be independent of anyone and anything on earth but never independent of God. Anointings from God can be gained and lost, as these two kings learned, but we must always remain close to Him in Jesus’ Name!
  • Satan as the Accuser of the Brethren (Zechariah 3)-picture yourself in heaven before the Throne of Grace. There is a man named Joshua and he is the High Priest in the Temple in Jerusalem.  He is dressed in his priestly clothes, but they are filthy and not presentable to our Father.  This is a real picture of warfare. Satan has accused him of unworthiness and uncleanness but God doesn’t acknowledge it. Instead, he rebukes the accuser from His righteous throne and Satan remains SILENT for the remainder of the trial. Our Father orders His angel to re-clothe Joshua in clean garments and a new turban to be placed on his head. END OF TRIAL! Here’s the best part: We have a higher place in God’s kingdom than the devil and we may BOLDLY go before the Throne of Grace in faith, knowing that the enemy is defeated. Never forget that! After the trial, God has made a promise to Joshua and this promise is for all of us-Walk in His ways, perform His service and we will govern in His house with free access among those who dwell in heaven.

These are foundational truths in recognizing the tricks and character of our archenemy, Satan. When people are troubling to you, pray for them and remember what we learned in Ephesians 6:12-“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of darkness in this world, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Glorious Benefits


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In my most recent post, What’s the Word for 2013?,  I announced that the word, indeed the reason I was created, was going to be “Glory!”  Since New Year’s Day, I have tried to keep this word in the forefront of my mind and what a week, albeit a short work week, it has been!

In a number of previous posts I have described the kind of work I do and the tremendously intense conditions in which I and my colleagues must operate on a daily, in fact 24/7/365 basis.  It is very , very difficult to keep focused on positives in any meaningful, realistic way when the people we supervise, their victims, the families of both these, and our superiors are often functioning in dysfunctional, crisis to crisis ways.

In my case, with 24 staff, many of them absent for the holidays, court in full swing, and the business of public safety to conduct, I found myself the lone leader of these men and women. I could have felt oppressed, sick with the “blue flu” of self doubt and worry, thrown in the towel  knowing the turmoil of completing 5 days work in 3, but instead I did this:

  • Prayed the Holy Spirit’s guidance and protection prior to entering the building
  • Thanking my God and Father for the Spirit’s anointing and the full-bodied protection of the whole armor
  • Praised my Lord Jesus for giving me the opportunity to glorify Him and not myself for any successes

Remember what I have said often in my writing and commit to do this daily-Draw close to Him and He will draw close to YOU!  There is no substitute for this relationship. No amount of earthly wealth, or property, or any other form of man-made comfort that matches this beautiful relationship.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

This is how I glorify God. I recognize that when I do what little I’m capable of doing for Him first, then for my family, and my employer, He reaches out to me with His hand of bottomless and never-ending faith and gives even greater reasons to glorify Him!  In this I know that I am growing closer, and He likewise, and greater and greater glory comes. By doing this the following major, tangible results came to me and my family in the last 72 hours:

  • We put our house on the market Thursday and it has been shown 3 times ( a bidding war is expected).
  • With a short staff, my officers found and arrested two violent career offenders, one of whom threatened to kill hundreds at an Epiphany event on Monday and the other trying to make on Internet connection for a sexual liaison with a minor.
  • All the reports for the end of the year were completed in minutes instead of hours as often is the case.
  • And I am remembering these things to glorify Him and give you hope, when in the past I never would have cared beyond my own interests.

If you have no such relationship I urge you to start today and remember:

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  Matthew 6:31-33

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Sandy Hook Elementary


imagesNot much to say that hasn’t been said already, many times, about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut yesterday. My wife has friends and family with connections to the school and my heart goes out to them.  I visited the town a few times and just loved it.

My family and I have already said our prayers and the post crisis analyses will come as they always do, to fit the news cycle. I think I’ll spend my time during this cycle in prayer for those little children, whom I know with absolute certainty are with Jesus preparing a place for the rest of us who believe. I will also be praying for those staff, and teachers who died and the killer himself, that others will, in time, find the grace and peace to forgive him and thereby glorify God.

I would just leave you with this verse, which is my life verse and the one that gives me strength to keep my eyes on the goal ahead, as I try to glorify God in the awful place we made of His perfect creation:

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4

Grace and Peace to you this week friends.

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The Risky Mission


imagesIn my line of work you meet all kinds of people and often get to know them on a personal basis. Every race, religion, social strata and many nationalities.

Some have both parents, some were raised by one or a grandparent.  All have a story that separates their life from every other life and makes them unique. 

Of those who had to overcome obstacles that most of us would think leads to a successful life, there are a few things that separate them from others and make their lives of greater value to themselves, their families, their communities and their God.  Don’t misunderstand!  In God’s economy every life has value and God uses every life in some way, always to His glory.

What do you think some of those things are?  Ask ten people and you’ll get dozens of possibilities, especially if you ask them to rank things in some sort of list.

I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years. Looked at some of the successful people I have known and read many biographies and histories about the characteristics of these people.  All of them, rich or poor, black, white, Latino, Asian, American Indian, or any other group had to orient themselves in certain ways to overcome some aspect of their upbringing to become successful.

If you know of someone who is not thriving in life and you’re reading this, chances are they are not and I want to challenge you to take these points up with them. Not to judge, or condemn but to be a blessing to them because you love and care for them.  This can be a risky thing and requires the utmost wisdom and caution on your part, especially as a Christian.

The beauty of this risky mission is that it doesn’t start with them; it starts with you!

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? Matthew 7:1-4

That’s right brothers and sisters. Time to line yourselves up and shift a few things. No one is more responsible for you and your choices than your are. If you’re having troubles and can’t see the way there is a way, THE WAY, to get your rudder working again and stop going adrift.

Here are some things that are essential to every successful Christian life. They are fully supported in God’s Word and if you look at the Hall of Fame of God’s faithful in Hebrews 11 you will find many tremendous examples of these successful traits.  Some of these died in the faith and not always comfortably. How you die is meaningless. How you live is vital.

  • Know who you are and be realistic-In this order I am (1) A Child of the Living God and all this entails; (2) Husband to a lovely and talented Christian wife; (3) Father to a hard working, obedient, and Godly son; (4) Godly leader of professional correctional officers, and (5) Obedient and professional employee to the taxpayers and those appointed over me in leadership.  There are others but these are key in my life.
  • Have a mission for your life and LIVE IT every day-My stated personal mission lines up with who I am: A Child of God and I will love my wife as Christ loves His church. I will be responsible as the leader in my household to show my son the love of Christ and give him the best wisdom I can so that he will do likewise with his wife and children. My wife and I will support each other and show our son what it means to live a mature life in Christ.  As a servant leader to my staff, I will show Godly leadership in every respect, serving first as a model of Christ’s leadership in His life and in His future reign. This will be how I serve those appointed over me, also.
  • Recognize that your mission is different from goals and objectives but that they are inseparable. If you fail to plan and lay this out for yourself, using correct principles-in my case biblical principles you are, in fact, planning to fail.
  • Value your time and NEVER waste it-people in crisis have this in common: they waste a lot of time, blame others constantly, and commiserate with others in crisis. Don’t be in this company. They will find you soon enough. Work on you first!
  • Once you have done the things above and taken it to heart for life, teach others! This will reinforce it in your heart even more, as well as the life of the one you want to help.

These are no small changes if you have left these practices behind. Maybe you never lived with a daily plan. In my life, everything starts with Christ. He has a wonderful plan for all of us and each of us.  Remember what the prophet said over 2500 years ago. It is no less true today but you must recognize your part:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Start tomorrow. Work your plan. Make it include God’s Sharp Living Word. Don’t let anything keep you from it, most of all you.  Next time we’ll focus on living in constant crisis and how that works out.

Have a wonderfully blessed week. I plan to.