Our Messiah

Today’s Reading: John 5

Good morning friends. I’m writing to you this week from my kitchen table as I watch snow flakes fall and the wind blow. The change of season is such a powerful reminder for me of God’s presence in our world. I’m appreciative of the quiet beauty as I study! Today’s scripture from John 5 has two major themes. First, we have the healing of a lame man, which is further evidence that John provides to show that Jesus is the true Messiah. The second major theme is Jesus’ claim to be the son of God. We begin with Jesus in Jerusalem for a Jewish festival. There he finds a man lying on the ground who has been disabled for 38 years. When Jesus sees him lying there he says,

“Do you want to get well?”

“Sir, the invalid replied, I have no one to get me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me!” John, 5:6-7

After 38 long years, the man’s problem had become a way of life for him. He was left with no hope of being healed as no one had ever offered to help him. How often do we decide that our situation is permanent? Do we give up hope when faced with hardship or continued defeat? No matter how trapped we may feel, God can minister to our specific need. When Jesus asks the man if he wants to be well, we expect him to respond with a resounding “Yes!” but he doesn’t. Instead he complains to Jesus that no one has helped him. When I read that, I was quick to judge the man. But when I really thought about it, I realized that I certainly have this kind of pessimism in my nature. It is often difficult to accept help even when you know that you need it. Are there moments in my day that Jesus is present and offering help? Are there times that I feel hopeless and helpless and Jesus is standing there ready to intervene? It’s tempting to think that God’s healing depends upon the quality of our faith. But the man whom Jesus heals showed no outward sign of faith. He was still worthy of a miracle.

Later, Jesus encounters the healed man in the temple. The man shares that it was Jesus that healed him and the Jewish authorities are enraged. When Jesus tells them that he is simply doing the work of his Father, it makes matters worse. Jesus was identifying himself with God. Although the Pharisees also called God their Father, they realized that Jesus was claiming the distinction of being equal with God. Jesus says:

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out-those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing, I judge only as I hear, and my judgement is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” John 5:28-30

With these words, Jesus establishes his true identity despite the inherent risk of persecution and what he knows will result in his eventual death. The Old Testament identifies three signs of the coming Messiah. John shows that Jesus has fulfilled all three signs in this chapter:

  • All power and authority are given to him as the Son of Man
  • The lame and the sick are healed
  • The dead are raised to life

Jesus is quite simply saying that to accept him is life and to reject him is death. He’s inviting us to enter in to a new relationship with Him in which we are obedient. It means that we accept a way of life that may be difficult at times and require sacrifice but will end in eternal life. As I prepare for a new week, I’m aware that I am often more like the man at the pool than I am a fearless and obedient Christ follower. I love that today’s scripture brings us the solid evidence that Jesus is the Messiah. He is our Messiah. I hope His words bring you joy and hope as you re-commit yourself to Him. Have a great week!




Women in our lives


Today’s Reading Luke 23

Happy Monday everyone, autumn is finally here.  The trees are changing and the leaves are falling on the ground.  The time change has taken place and the kids are waking up an hour earlier.   The smells of cinnamon and cloves is permeating throughout the house.  This time of year, reminds me of my grandmother and how she would start her baking expeditions and fill the house with smells of sweet potato pie and so many cakes that they are hard to count.  Sometimes she would bake about twenty pies per day.  That was an amazing woman and she influenced my life more than words can describe.

As we enter Luke 23, the passion of Christ is unfolding to us through the testament of the apostle Luke.  Luke’s perceptive of Christ is seeing Christ in the human aspects in connection of his divinity.  Christ is shown as God and fully human which allows Christ to truly understand the full spectrum of human emotions and life: happiness, sorrow, joy, pain, suffering and ultimately death.   Luke has several instances in this chapter that personifies the humanity and emotion of Christ through the eyes of women. This is critical because during the day of Christ, women were not recognized as being integral but Luke enlightens us to how important women are in our lives.

Luke 23: 27-31

And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Luke 23: 48- 49

48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

Luke 23: 54- 56

  It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.[g] 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

Luke is attempting to connect the reader to the true human side of Jesus with the most natural and intense connections that we know: women.  We all have women in our lives that brings out the best of us.  We have mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, aunts, and friends that will be there to really listen to us in the most sorrowful times and give us unparalleled compassion.  Both men and women can provide compassion, but it is something that is innate about a mother’s love that cannot be explained.  Many times, throughout our lives, we may want to have our mothers by our side, even if we have not had a close relationship with her.  Mom’s presence is just a true comfort.    Luke uses this to his advantage.  “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” This is the only place in the gospel that this passage is found.  Luke is making a powerful statement about the true pain that is happening to Christ.  This is something that is at the core of human emotions: pain and sorrow.

Luke also shows us that because of the persistence and devotion of the women, we can know what Christ suffered at the cross and where he was buried. In the two passages above, the women are the only ones that truly followed Christ from the trial to the grave. In my study bible, the author relays this very eloquently: “They stayed at the cross when most of the disciples had fled, and they got ready to anoint their Lord’s body.  Because of their devotion, they were the first to know about the resurrection.  As believers, we may feel we can’t do much for Jesus.  But we are called to take advantage of the opportunities given us, doing what we can do and not worrying about what we cannot do.”   This allows for so much clarity for me and the death and resurrection of Christ.   Most of my life I have always wondered why the Marys could not recognized Christ after the resurrection.  But now, I understand that they were the only ones able to endure and witness the true pain and suffering and scourging of Christ.  When they went to the tomb, they were expecting to see the mangled body of the human, but they had the opportunity to see the glory of God.

Luke allows us to see a couple of things:

  • Women are an essential part of our life and we need to cherish them in all aspect of our life. Make sure that you take time to let each one know that they are special to you and make sure to connect with them.
  • The persistence and devotion of a few can impact phenomenal outcomes
  • God can completely change and transform the expected into the unexpected.

Be Blessed.


Living in Abundance

Image result for abundance

Today’s Reading: Luke Chapter 17

Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, But on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. Luke 17:28-30

 Hello, it’s another Monday! I seriously love writing to you on Monday’s. I imagine you at home with your morning coffee and toast or at the office getting your week started in the Word. As I was preparing to write to you this week I sort of had things all lined up, but then this morning I had a bit of a game changer. I went out for a run and randomly selected an episode of a podcast I’ve been listening to. The topic was generally related to living an abundant life with less. What I heard changed my view on today’s scripture and I want to share that with you!

So, Luke chapter 17 highlighted by Jesus telling us about forgiveness and faith. In the first few verses we hear about forgiveness of sin. Jesus talks to us about being accountable for our own sin and also the sin of others. The next part is about Jesus healing ten men with leprosy. Jesus sent the ten lepers to a priest before they were healed and they all responded in faith and agreed to go. Jesus healed them on the way because they demonstrated faith. Only one of the ten men came to thank Jesus and only he had the opportunity to learn that it was his faith that led to healing. Then Jesus teaches about the coming of the Kingdom of God. He warns us against the false security of materialism. This is where it got real for me! Jesus is warning us that we will have to separate ourselves from the attachments of this world in order to be ready for Christ’s return. He mentions eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting and building. He’s essentially saying that it doesn’t matter if we are living in the days of Lot or the days of a-whole-lot, our human sinful nature draws us to these selfish values. My NIV study bible breaks it down like this:

Those who live for themselves display these common attitudes:

  • Materialism-I want it and work hard to get it. All that I see is real. Unseen things are merely ideas and dreams.
  • Individualism-I work hard for me, and you work hard for you. I may make it; and you may not. That’s your problem, not mine.
  • Skepticism-Anything I’m not convinced about can’t be important. Everything important to know I can figure out.

(NIV Study Bible, Zondervan)

How hard was that to read? I see a little bit of myself in all three of those descriptions. When I considered those three attitudes, what I found to be at the center of it all is power and privilege. When I think about the challenge of materialism, I think about money. Money gives us the power to either provide for ourselves or provide for others. Jesus tells us that when he returns, it will happen suddenly and that we must abandon our attachments to the world if we want to live eternally with Him. As I listened to my podcast this morning I was challenged to consider money and possessions as a circumstance. Regardless of our current circumstance, our thoughts and feelings about money are what impact our life more than the actual circumstance. In other words, if our thoughts and feelings are directed toward living a Christ centered life than we will truly experience abundance. When we are so focused on eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting and building we are unable to truly have gratitude for the abundance we are experiencing right this minute. No matter what level of wealth and accumulation of things we achieve, our brain looks ahead to the next bit that we can have. What if we stopped and just sat quietly in the blessing and richness that Jesus has provided for us right now. What if we reflected back to a time when we imagined what it would feel like to be a first time home owner, have a newborn baby, or land that dream job. When we imagined achieving those successes or acquiring that new thing, we imagined a feeling of contentment. Jesus is encouraging us today to let go of materialism, individualism and skepticism in order to prepare ourselves for his return. He is asking us to stay engaged in relationship with Him. At the end of my podcast today the narrator asked this question:

“What is the very most happy and most peaceful you can allow yourself to feel with less?”

Isn’t that a startling question? What is the very most happy and peaceful we can allow ourselvesbe with less money, less stuff, less screen time, just less things but more Jesus. Keeping our commitment to Christ means we’ll be ready when he returns. I hope you’ll take time to think about what I the most peaceful and happy you can allow yourself feel in the love and connection to Jesus Christ. Have a great week!





Pray, Prepare & Plan, and Participate

Today’s Reading: Luke 11

The purpose of Chapter 11 of Luke is to give us a blueprint or outline of our daily work and spiritual growth.  In the days of Christ and in our society, we are all seeking ways to better our mind, body, and spirit.  The same questions that the early church dealt with are seen in our lives.  We are confronted with how to pray, how to worship, how to sing and praise, what to wear, how to live for God?   But in this passage of scriptures we can find some solace in Christ’s words.  The outline that I find here is: Pray, Prepare and Plan, and Participate.


As Stephanie stated in the previous section, we must pray often and daily.

Luke 11: 1- 4

Now Jesus[a] was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,[b]
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”

 Jesus has given us the most powerful prayer that can be prayed.  This is the purest connection that the Father and Son had and it was given openly and graciously to us to have an inherited connection with the Father. This prayer contains all the essentials that God requires of us.  We can come into true relationship with Him with this prayer.  Jesus uses the relational language to create peace and reverence to reconcile us with God.  This prayer creates the aim and focus for our lives and daily living.


Luke 11: 24-26

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

Throughout my life, my father has always had a saying that means more as I grow into a young man and father: Focus and Plan.  Even as a child I had this printed and framed in my room.  The meaning behind this statement is: You must FOCUS on the goal or the dream and then you must PLAN how to achieve it.  In Luke 11, Christ teaches about not only do you need to PRAY, but also you must PREPARE & PLAN your life to be for God and live for him daily.   In this passage Jesus performs several miracles that are questioned by the Pharisees thereby questions his authority.  Christ expels an unclean spirit from a man and then proceeds to give a parable about how to maintain the new Christ-filled life.  Jesus states it s not only a one-time process of cleaning, but it must be a continual and daily process.  Sometimes, when we commit to Christ, we have the newbie excitement and then it fades and we may find ourselves back where we were before or even in worst places.  Christ relaying this information, with a warning to allow him to clean us up and then we need to continue to seek him and make him a part of our house.  When He is the Lord of the house, not only the cleaner, we will be made whole.  This will allow his light to shine through us and bring others to Him.


Luke 11:39-44

And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.

42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”

Jesus has had many interactions with people of all backgrounds and is genuinely truthful in all aspects.  I love the way that he goes to the dinners he is invited and then challenges each person. In the passage, Jesus is sitting and enjoying food with the Pharisees and lawyers and then gives them and us great advice.  We can be blinded by the “proper and correct” manner of living and neglect justice and the love of God.  How many times do we turn a blind eye to the injustices that happen in our daily lives? How often do we see our brothers or sisters in need and turn the other way?  Sometimes this is easy to see, but there are some instances that we don’t see or choose not acknowledge.  We must become better participants in God’s plan and continually ask Him for guidance and direction to show His Love.

This outline is one that will allow us to be ambassadors to the kingdom of God.  Praying, Preparing& Planning, and Participating are the essential parts to allow Our Father to create his Kingdom to Come. Are we following the blueprint? How can we change to become more aligned with his vision and purpose? Be Blessed.

Recognize, Realize and Get Ready

Waiting For The Word/creativecommons.org

Today’s Reading: Luke Chapter 5

Good morning Bible Journal readers! Today we are studying Luke 5 in our journey through the words of Jesus. I’m loving this scripture today because I feel like we can all find ourselves in these three miracle moments. The first miracle is one that’s familiar. Jesus takes Simon’s boat out into the water while preaching and then casually tells Simon to throw the nets out. Simon sort of rolls his eyes and says “I suppose, because you said so but it probably won’t work because we’ve been throwin’ nets all night and ain’t no fish comin’ up!” Simon shows his obedience to Jesus but it’s clear that he doesn’t believe the outcome will change. Can you see yourself in this moment? Do you sort of use faith as a last resort rather than a first strategy? I feel like I fall into this habit almost daily. We know how this story ends, the nets come up with so many fish that boats nearly sink under the weight of them. Simon is awestruck at this miracle and immediately feels shame:

“Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Luke 5: 8

Have you ever been blessed by God and felt unworthy? Do you hide from Him because you recognize your sin and don’t want to face judgement? I feel such a connection to Simon Peter in this moment. I remember a time in our life when our son was very sick and his hospital bills were so far beyond our meager capacity. We tried to work extra hours, we tried to negotiate with the hospital to lower the bill, we argued, we cried, but what we didn’t do was pray. Of course, we prayed for our son to get better but we never prayed to God to help us with the financial part of the problem. We were encouraged by some friends and mentors to pray for that specific need and our nets were filled! In fact, they were overflowing. We never even considered that Jesus could or would address that need in our life. If you’ve been a Bible Journal reader or writer for a long time, you know that we experienced that miracle through you.Our Bible Journal family made that happen through the love of Jesus Christ.

God has three requirements for coming to Him:

  • Recognize our own sinfulness
  • Realize we can’t save ourselves
  • Be Ready to leave everything behind and follow Him

In verse 31 Jesus tells the sinners at Matthew’s house:

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31

Jesus is talking about recognizing our own sin. Until we examine our hearts and place ourselves in a posture of humility we can’t begin to accept His mercy. Next, we need to realize that we truly can’t save ourselves. Often, despite our best intentions we make errors in judgement or our pride gets in the way of asking for help. Finally, we need to be ready to leave everything else behind including the false God’s we rely upon for protection and follow Him. Levi the tax collector first encounters Jesus while sitting in his tax collecting booth. Jesus implores him to “follow me” and Levi is moved in that moment. He leaves the promise of money, status and power to follow Jesus by faith. I’m not sure that I’d have the strength to do that. If Jesus came to my work place tomorrow and said “follow me” I hope I’d be ready. Today’s scripture has so many examples of Jesus ministering to people in their day to day struggles. I hope that encourages you to pray this week for the little things. Pray for Him to intercede and truly move in your life.

Strength, Faith, and Love of the Savior


Today’s Reading: Mark 15

The Passion of Christ is familiar to many Christians because it is the essential foundation of our faith and beliefs.  In Mark Chapter 15, the apostle explains in such detail of the account from Gethsemane to the Cross.  While reading this passage this week, one section continued to speak to me:

Mark 15: 15

15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged[a] Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

After reading this passage and chapter many times in my life, I have always speed through this part of the Scripture.  I wonder if I have been too preoccupied to get to the cross or have I not fully understood the gravity of the entire process of the trial and the crucifixion. Pilate has for the previous14 verses, tried to persuade the Jewish people to release Jesus and not to punish him, but in the end he submits to the crowd and then gives him the full extent of the punishment.  In verse 15, the word that is subtle and somewhat obscured is “scourged”.  This particular word has so much heaviness that it needs to be examined.

 “Flogging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution, and only women and Roman senators or soldiers (except in cases of desertion) were exempt.  The usual instrument was a short whip with several single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals.  For scourging, the man was stripped of his clothing, and his hands were tied to an upright post.  The severity of the scourging depended on the disposition of the lictors and was intended to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse or death.  As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim’s back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissues.  Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.  Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock.  The extent of blood loss may well have determined how long the victim would survive on the cross.  After the scourging, the soldiers often taunted their victim.”


With this new understanding of the true nature of the punishment that Christ endured allows me to worship him more and have a deeper understanding of his true devotion to us as followers, friends, and family in faith.  In this passage three themes are presented: The Strength of a Savior, The Faith of a Savior, and the Love of a Savior.

The Strength of a Savior: The raw strength that Christ had during his last hours astonishes me.  After the persecution of the religious council, he is subjected to the scourge that completely disfigures him and damages all aspects of his body.  He is just barely living, then he takes his cross( ~ 80-300lbs) to a destination that is far away.  The strength of the savior is more than anything imaginable.

The Faith of the Savior: The faith of Christ during this passage is a beacon to us to continue to push to the goal.  During this time, Christ was having internal conflict with the human and the divine that is seen in the garden of Gethsemane.  But his faith in the Father and the knowledge that all things work for the kingdom allows him to complete his mission.

The Love of the Savior: All of the entire gospel rest on the Love of the Savior that he has committed and executed the plan of salvation for all.  Without the love for us and the desire to make us whole, he has been completely broken and shattered to give us another chance of redemption.

The true description of passage allows me to worship this awesome Savior.  The strength, faith, and love that he has shown through the cross can never be taken easily or likely.  It is a choice that has to be truly embraced.  The question that I pose to myself daily is: How can I show my gratitude for the sacrifice that He has given me?   Let us ask each other and ourselves this question so that we may live more like Christ.

The Mystery of Transfiguration

Transfiguration-Raphael 1520

Today’s Reading: Mark 9

“And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. Mark 9:1-8

Hello readers, I’m so happy to write to you again on a Monday morning. We have something big to talk about today, the transfiguration of Jesus. I know, that is just so much for a Monday! So, what on earth is happening here? Let’s start with the whole concept of transfiguration. The word transfiguration comes from the Latin term transfiguratiowhich refers to the experience of momentary divine radiance. Jesus’ core group of disciples Peter, James and John accompany Jesus on an arduous journey up a mountain. When they reach the top they witness the transfiguration of Jesus as well as the appearance of both Moses and Elijah the prophet. The three of them together inherently tell the story of the promise of a life beyond what can be seen and experienced on earth. Moses and Elijah had mysterious deaths as chronicled in the Old Testament. Elijah went physically with his whole body into heaven (2 Kings 2:9-12) and Moses’ grave was never found as he was buried by God himself (Deuteronomy 34:4-7). The Jews viewed the appearance of these two pillars of faith to be a sign of the end of days. It’s not an accident that the three of them appear together. Then suddenly the disciples hear God’s voice, “This is my beloved son; listen to Him.” Mark 9:8. Moses and Elijah disappear and Jesus is the only one left. They then begin back down the mountain and Jesus warns his disciples not to share what they have seen until the Son of Man has risen from the dead. What a crazy day on the mountain!

How can we, as modern disciples of Christ make sense of this transfiguration story and apply it to life today? First and most important we recognize Christ’s transfiguration as a sign of hope as the gospel of Mark moves toward the passion. Second, we can draw the conclusion that Jesus’ predictions of betrayal, death and resurrection are accurate. That we can trust His word when He says He will return for us. Finally, this episode at the top of the mountain is evidence to us of God’s faithfulness. God does not leave us without help, guidance and most importantly He does not leave us without hope. Although it may seem that we wait endlessly for God to appear in our own life, maybe we need to trust in the glimpse that others have had. Jesus did not take all 12 apostles to the top of the mountain. But that glimpse is nonetheless a gift to all of us.

When the glory and excitement of that mountaintop moment faded away; Peter, James and John were left with a difficult reality. They had a responsibility to lead the rest of the disciples while their Messiah was dying on the cross. Are we strong enough and brave enough to lead in those dark moments when what’s left is the memory of hope? As we walk in His footsteps, not able to see Him but only remembering His promise, are we still transformed by the vision of Him? The transfiguration of Jesus wasn’t just for Peter, James and John. It was for all of us. We are called to be light and hope for a world that has not seen and has not heard. We are called to dig deep and find that light within our soul, listen to Him and let the vision transform us.


Time of the seasons

Todays Reading: Mark 3

Autumn is here.  The official beginning of one of the most enjoyable seasons is upon us.  The mornings are cool, the afternoons are warm, and the evenings are cool.  The smell of pumpkin, cinnamon, apples, and nutmeg are in our offices, kitchens, and houses.  The school outings and sports activities are starting.  Our favorite football teams are playing each week. The beginnings of school clubs and fundraisers are underway.  We are busy planning and preparing for school pictures, homecomings, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  Our lives have gone from easy laid back summer days to exciting and autumn adventure days overnight.   From the readings, lets see how Jesus balanced the busyness of his seasons.

Mark 3: 7-18

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.”12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons. 16 He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder);18 Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot,[b] 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

This passage in Mark 3, show Jesus is in the midst of active preaching and healing, but in during this time, he actually takes out some meaningful time to stop and reflect on the journey.  Like us in our daily Autumn life, Jesus is busy with meaningful and necessary work but he intentionally takes time to pause and take notice of the true value of each day.  In the passage Jesus is creating a commission and a legacy with this apostles.  He is acknowledging that even when it seems that everything and everyone needs his time, he is taking time to do the required actions to increase the kingdom.  As we read through Mark 3, let us take time to set aside some time to increase the kingdom: 1.) Set aside time to pray; 2.) Set aside time to reflect; 3.) Take time to plan.

  • Take time to pray daily. Praying with God daily should be like a causal conversation. It is the communication with God that allows your relationship to grow.  The prayer doesn’t have to be long or intricate, it just has to be sincere.  God desires a relationship with you, not a dissertation of your hopes and fears.  He knows all these things and just wants to interact with you. Some simple prayers are the Lord’s Prayer, Children hymns, or even just mediating on the name Jesus.  I have used these many times in my life and continue to use them to connect with God.
  • Take time to reflect. Reflection is a process in which you remember the times throughout your life that God has been there or not. Sometimes, we feel that God is not there and is absent in our lives.  During the hardest times in our lives we can feel the essence of God or feel deserted by him.  In all these times He is in the midst of all of our joys and sorrows, but we are not aware of his presence.  It is similar to the times we are in our rooms as children and the door is shut and we are crying and our parents are on the other side of the door.  God is here with us and cares for us. As we reflect on the day, week, month, or year, let’s try to see God’s hand in the midst of the joy and sorrows.
  • Take time to plan. My wife is an excellent planner.  She has ideas and plans for several months at a time. I am able to plan for the next couple of days or weeks.  This is an area that I need to grow.  I need to be able to set aside time and be intentional about specific areas in our lives and execute them.  God has many blessings in store for us, but we must take time to submit to his will and have a sketch of how to further his kingdom.

When Jesus took his apostles to the mountain he: 1.) Took time to pray for the decision that he was making. 2.) He took time to reflect on the qualities and strengths that these twelve individuals had and how they would expand the kingdom. 3.) He had a plan of how these twelve would impact the formation and expansion of the kingdom.   With this example,  how can we take time out of this busy schedule to spend intentionally with God.


Sunday Love Letter

Today’s Reading: Matthew 25

Recently I started receiving these random emails with the subject line: Your Sunday Love Letter. I didn’t sign up for them and I don’t know the person or should I say personality that is sending them. I haven’t unsubscribed because honestly, I sort of look forward to reading them! The email addresses me by name and proceeds with an inspirational note and is signed, “Carley.” Today my email said: “Hey Jillian…What a beautiful like it would be if we learned to treat ourselveswith the love, kindness and patience we so freely give to others.”

As I sat down to write to you this week, I started thinking about Matthew 25 as a love letter from Jesus. So often we feel a little lost in our own circumstance. Prayer and obedience can feel like a one-way street as we wait for His response in one form or another. But when we go to God’s word we don’t have to wait. His response is right there on the printed page. Since it is Sunday, and I have my Bible open to Matthew 25, I’ve decided to write you a love letter from Jesus (Carley style!). I don’t have the magic algorithm to populate your name into the subject line so I’m going to need you to fill it in.

Dear _________________,

I hope you are not growing tired of waiting for my return. When I am away from you, I long for the sound of your singing and praise. It is so important to me that you remain vigilant in your anticipation of my return. For when that day comes the moment of my arrival will be sudden and unexpected. Do not give in to the temptation to become lazy in your faith. I am your bridegroom, you will find your salvation in me if you can be a true disciple.

I delight in giving you gifts so that you may prosper. I love to see you use those gifts to bless others. Please know that the more you share your riches and talents the more I will bestow upon you. Do not be afraid to generous, I will fill your cup. Be humble and compassionate. If your neighbor is hungry, give him food to eat. If she is homeless and alone, let her in. Visit the ones that are imprisoned, they are my disciples.

I know that the journey is long, dear one. I know that so often the spinning of the earth roars loud in your ears and drowns out my voice. But I assure you that what you do for the least of my people, you are doing for me. I am with you always. You have freedom and rest in me.






Matters of the Heart

Today’s Reading Matthew 19

Marriage, children, and money: all of these are subjects that are very taboo and personal, yet Jesus uses these to examine the heart of us.  These subjects have been for several ages the most difficult topics to discuss with our family, friends, or even acquaintances.  The reason is the true emotions and passion that is associated with each of them can result in beneficial or detrimental consequence. For instance, if your friend had something to say about your spouse or children they would have to have a deep understanding of your family to impart any advice or suggestions.  You would not be able to tell any friend your opinion on how they are should:  treat their spouse, or raise their children, or how to spend their money without first creating a bond with them.

What Christ is doing in Chapter 19 is reexamining these topics with individuals that have alternative motives but there are some very powerful pieces of knowledge and joy to attain from this passage.

  • Marriage is a blessing from God. In all forms of marriage, God has created a union to bring together two individuals.  The human though of marriage as in Deuteronomy and as seen in today’s society is when the toughest time arise, then you can dissolve the marriage at anytime. In Deuteronomy, before Moses created the law, people would marry a person, then divorce and remarry, then divorce and remarry the previous person.  People were not able to work things out and create harmony in the midst of conflict.  But Christ states that the reason that Moses made the law was because the hearts of the people were not able to compromise and resolve their intimate issues.  God created marriage as a forever bond, but the heart of man has allowed other influences to change the initial intent.
  • Children are a blessing from God. We have been very fortunate and blessed our present society with the birth rate high and birth mortality low.   There are places that still the child mortality rate is significantly high. Sometimes we may take for granted our children and want them to grow up faster.  I have three beautiful children, and there are times that we are tired and need rest, but we must continually not hinder them in any fashion.  Many times, I am out with my children and they will ask me about 500 questions in an hour and it continues.  Or they will have endless “recycling” projects everywhere.  But, we must be attentive to their questions, and their projects, and them daily.  When we attend to them, we can see how God attends to us and our needs and wants and questions.
  • What we have is a blessing from God. In the chapter the young rich man doses not fully understand the concept of management and ownership.  He has been given so much in the terms of possessions that he forgot whom the true owner of the possessions.  We are God’s stewards and are the managers of the gifts that he has given us.  If only his heart knew the true return-on-investment that was in store.  All that is given to us is a gift from God and we have to be the best managers of this bounty.

In these examples that Christ have given us, Christ has a central message: God wants your heart.  In all the examples, the individuals were not fully devoted to God in their heart and this causes them not able to see the beauty of his Creations in a different light.  As God conveyed in the story of Abraham and Isaac, God is not concerned with the sacrifice, but the true heart and obedience of the person.  As we mediate on these thoughts and this passage, lets ask ourselves: Is our heart in the place that God wants?  If not, what can I do to align myself with God to become a better steward of my heart?