Resurrection and Life

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall live,…”

John 11:25

Today’s words to describe Jesus are the resurrection and life from John 11:25. Here it is actually Jesus himself calling himself this as He comforts Martha from the death of her brother Lazarus who He ultimately brings back to life later in the chapter after being dead for four days.

It’s not too often that we don’t attend church (now virtually) on Sunday morning during the planned service time, but this week because of some family circumstances we did not. I also typically write my posting on Saturday or Sunday, but here I am writing it Tuesday morning after watching the sermon Monday morning. As I watched the sermon Monday, God yet again left me in amazement as the central focus of Pastor Mike Baker’s sermon was the resurrection of Jesus. Yes, all sermons are about Jesus and typically come back to the hope we have in Him because of the resurrection, but this was the central theme of his entire message. I believe there are no coincidences, and apparently God wanted a few more people who may read this but who not attend Eastview Christian Church to hear some of Pastor Mike’s nuggets.

The central verses for Pastor Mike’s sermon were 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 where Paul discusses the resurrection. Pastor Mike said, “What’s weird is not someone dying for a cause which has been done for years, what’s weird is someone rising from the dead.” Paul adderesses in these verses that Jesus was undoubtedly alive after His crucifixion as He appeared to Cephas (Peter), the twelve (all the disciples), five hundred at one time (Paul does not give the exact event but many believe this to be the ascension in Luke 24:50-53), His brother James, the apostles, and to Paul himself even though Paul states he was not worthy because he himself persecuted and killed Christians. We know in Luke 24 Jesus was with the disciples and asked for something to eat in Luke 24:41-43. Pastor Mike brought to light the fact that five hundred people don’t hallucinate and a dead person or a ghost does not eat. As I’ve written about before, what is most convicting to me about the resurrection is the fact that the disciples went from running away and hiding in the room Jesus ultimately appeared to them in as they feared for their own lives to spreading the Gospel at all costs knowing they would likely be killed for doing so as nearly all of them were. Would they have done this if they had stolen the body themselves or if they didn’t actually see and talk to Jesus? Not a chance. Well, maybe Jesus wasn’t actually dead? Much has been written on this topic to debunk this which not only speaks to how the description of crucifixion event in the Bible prove He was dead, but also the fact that the Romans were killing machines. This is what they did. They didn’t make mistakes when it came to killing someone. If this topic is something you are interested in exploring further beyond the greatest source in the Bible itself, I recommend reading the book Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. Lee was in investigative reporter and atheist who was out to disprove the Gospel. He now has written many books and travels the world spreading the Gospel.

So why does the resurrection matter to each one of us? Pastor Mike says there are two central questions we must all answer and move beyond. First, how do I get past my wrongdoings and sin? Second, what happens to me when I die? Jesus is the resurrection and also the life because He is the answer to both these questions. Believing in Him and that He was without sin yet was sacrificed for us and our sins and that He was raised so we who believe will also be raised (John 11:25) means that we can all answer both these questions and ultimately have life.

Last week I was meeting virtually with a client and as a part of our initial chit chat we were talking about all the craziness going on in the world today on many levels and especially with him being in healthcare. Although He was satisfied from our financial review, I didn’t really know how to wrap up the call to say goodbye as I knew there was still some discontentment with the world today in general. The only thing I could think of to say was that we know who’s really in control and that He has a plan. He responded by saying honestly that is only way he is getting through all of this. The only thing we have to fear is death, but as 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 says, “’O death where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ.” We have nothing to fear because we are ALL undefeated through Him. He is life…eternal life.

As the song “Great Are You Lord” says…


You give life, You are love

You bring light to the darkness

You give hope, You restore

Every heart that is broken

Great are you Lord


It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

We pour out our praise

It’s your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise to You only….


He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

Psalm 23:2

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

We live in a world today with a lot of noise. When I say noise, I don’t necessarily mean audible sounds, although for many of us with young children that may very well be the case except before they get up and after they go to bed. When I say noise, I mean all the things that distract us causing us to focus on and think about the wrong things.

What do most of us do when we first wake up…we grab our phones. You don’t even have to go to your preferred news website to hear the noise. You just click on your preferred social media and not only will you see posts from news outlets there, but you’ll see the posts and banter back in forth from your “friends” or a celebrity you follow. Nearly immediately your blood pressure goes up and anxiety is heightened based on something they said you agree with or disagree with. Nearly everyone has an agenda these days and is speaking out against or in favor something. While yes, certain things need to be brought to light..the fact of the matter is nearly everything we read is focused on problems, and it’s not just from the clickbait negative headlines news outlets post. I’m already getting anxious, and we haven’t even looked at today’s long personal and professional to do list, opened our email with the unexpected fire to put out, or dug into our mail with the bill we didn’t see coming.

What do you do during these times to calm your self and get your mind back focused in the right way? Yes, I would recommend the centering breath Dr. Jason Selk taught me…breath in for 6 seconds, hold for 2 seconds, and out for 7 seconds. This simple method has helped some of the world’s greatest athletes calm their nerves in the midst of some of sports highest stress situations and perform at their best. However, this does not give us the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Pastor and author Francis Chan said, “People who are obsessed with God have an intimate relationship with Him. They are nourished by God’s Word throughout the day because they know 40 minutes on Sunday is not enough to sustain them throughout the week, especially when they encounter so many distractions and alternative messages.”

We just started a new small group Bible study this week about the seven “I am..” statements from Jesus in the book of John. This first week we studied John 6 and specifically John 6:35 where Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.” Jesus had just fed 5,000 and the same people came back to Him looking for more food. He reminded them that no earthly food would sustain them eternally. Their fathers ate manna and still died. He was the only food that could give them eternal life and that is what they should be focused on…Him and eternal matters…not temporal matters.

If our stomach growls after just a couple hours without earthly food needing 3 meals per day and Jesus tells us He is more important as the bread of life, how many times are you eating His bread throughout the day? Based on His words, how many times do we really need it?

Be real and ask yourself the following questions…

  1. How many times am I in His Word each day..even once?
  2. How many times do I pray and talk with Him throughout the day?
  3. How many times do I even think about Him throughout the day?
  4. How many times do I mention His name to others throughout the day?

Are you eating His bread throughout the day so He can feed you and quiet your heart, mind, and soul? We are facing really challenging times of unrest right now, and although I’m not going to say they are the worst our world has ever faced, I will confidently say there has NEVER been a time with so many negative distractions and alternative ungodly messages being thrown at our brains because of the access to our minds through the amount of technology and media we use on an hourly basis each day. There is a slow trickle to normalizing and justifying what the Bible says is clearly wrong through the messaging we are constantly receiving and then even getting Christians to think they are in the wrong by disagreeing and following the Bible.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12

We must find ways to lead us in the right direction and to quiet our hearts and minds through eating the bread of life every hour of every day, and even more importantly, we must teach our kids and grandkids the same. Their little fragile minds are like Play-Doh and are being shaped by whomever and whatever we let mold them. What foundation is being formed in their mind?

Let’s be fed by Him. Let’s go to His Word. Let’s go to Him in prayer and talk to Him throughout the day not just about the big things…but about the little things. Let’s tell others He is the only bread that will quiet our hearts and minds and satisfy our eternal hunger so they can be fed too by the only food that lasts.

Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted In the Earth!

Psalm 46:10

The Great Physician

And He said to the, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did in Capernaum, do in your hometown as well.”

Luke 4:23

It is known through other scriptures and those immediately before and following these in Luke 4:22 and Luke 4:24 that Jesus was rejected in His hometown and performed few miracles there (Mark 6:5). What it is believed He is saying in Luke 4:23 is that one would assume if He can heal and perform miracles, He would do that among His family and those in His hometown like He was doing in Capernaum and other areas. However, Jesus knew they would not say that because they did not believe He was the Messiah.

Why did they not believe He was Christ? Sometimes we are too close to a situation to realize what is going on or too close to a person to realize how great they are. Have you ever heard the saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone?” Many of us may have experienced this with a loved one or relationship that we took for granted until they were gone sadly. Although Jesus personally truly had no flaws like our loved ones still did, those in Nazareth knew His mom and dad and that He came from poor parents in their region so how could He possibly be the chosen one? They were too close and knew too much…which really meant they didn’t know anything. Even His own disciples seemed to get fearful and nervous when running out of food or a storm or problem came up when just days or even hours before they saw Jesus provided what they needed and more through miracles.

I think if most of us are truthful with ourselves we can say even though we’ve never personally met Jesus, we have seen Him do miracles in our life. The probable health diagnosis of a serious problem which somehow turned out to be nothing. Struggling to know how bills would get paid or where the next meal would come from, but somehow unexpected money came in or bills were unexpectedly forgiven. Or what about the car wreck that nearly happened when someone ran a red light, but it didn’t because you just happened to look that way..even when your light had been green for a while. And although we know that some of these needs were met in ways so improbable that they absolutely had to be a miracle from God, how quickly we tend to forget what He did before when the next challenge arises sometimes even within days.

James 1:6-8 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” While Jesus performed some miracles in Nazareth, would He have done more if those in Nazareth would have believed? While He’s performed some miracles in our life, would He have done more if we TRULY believed He could or would when we prayed for others?

While I believe this verse in James tells us believing He can and will do what we pray for is important, it’s not always His will to perform miracles even then because He knows what’s best for us and is wiser than we are (Isaiah 55:8-9). Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” I’ve shared before that I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in 2019 which caused me to lose strength and some motor skills in my right hand. After 2 surgeries and correction for the stenosis, my strength has not come back yet. And while I believe He can and will heal it as only He as the Great Physician can, I’m at peace with His will. When I look down at my puny hand or struggle to do something simple and have to ask from help from my wife or someone else to do a task that used to be easy, it reminds me of the other miracles He DID perform in all of this…..finding a doctor in an improbable way who performs a surgery even Mayo didn’t know about, being able to still perform my career and write and type still despite my challenges as where my original dream to be an orthodontist would have yielded much different outcomes and financial challenges, and still being able to even walk and play catch with my children. I appreciate the little things I used to take for granted. Most importantly, it reminds me that my story can help others…not only physically by sharing my doctor and surgery no one else is performing….but spiritually by sharing with others that I can see God’s provision through the situation and that while yes…I want my hand to be at 100%….the physical and other earthly challenges we face are short…no matter how long our life. What really matters is our soul for eternity. And yes the Great Physician can heal our physical bodies and meet our physical needs, but what He can and has already saved and healed us from is what no earthly physician can..the burden of sin, death and the eternal punishment we deserve. Through His wounds, physical suffering, and death on the cross which was worse than anything we will ever face, the Great Physician has given us eternal life when we believe and trust in Him and His grace. Jesus…thank you for making my story and all of our personal stories a part of the greatest story ever told…your story.




Today’s reading is from what some refer to as “The Great Eight,” in Romans chapter 8. When I think of so many of the great verses in this chapter, Romans 8:3 isn’t one that really comes to my mind at least until this assignment today, but it might arguably be the most important one.

“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,”

Within the last year our church did what we called a “Barnabas offering” through members selling something of value and giving it to the church, modeling what Barnabas did in Acts 4:36-37 when he sold a field of his. I must admit that when I began thinking about what to sell, the first things that came to mind were things that would bring value, but yet I would not really care about and likely never miss in the future. When I was thinking about my offering, I was not thinking about my best and first sadly.

When God thought about the offering He could give us for the forgiveness of OUR sin, He did not think about the smallest and easiest way He could bail us out for our transgressions…He gave us His best and first, His Son. He was willing to let His own Son pay the price in the worst, but only perfect, way for our sins. Although He gave us the Law, He knew all the way back in Genesis 3:15 right when sin entered the world that we could not keep it, and He would have to give us His best and first offering to bring us back to be one with Him in the way we were before sin entered the world. He knew that giving up His Son who was in the flesh and faced all the pains, problems, challenges, and temptations of this world, yet did not sin, as a sacrifice was the only way to truly free us and help us also realize the perfect love He has for us.

Pastor and author Mark Batterson said once when you see the word “therefore”…you should take note and see what it is there for. Typically, when “therefore” is used by an author it is used after many other sentences to then highlight the true point of everything before it. However, Paul actually starts out Romans 8 with “therefore” in Romans 8:1…

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Paul started out with “therefore” in Romans 8:1 because he wanted to highlight from the beginning how important it is that because of God’s perfect offering in His Son Jesus, we are not punished for our sins. He paid the price already, so that despite our transgressions, we can live with Him forever in Heaven. Let us begin our day today by thanking Him for the only perfect offering possible in His Son Jesus. Personally, with today being our daughter Reese’s 5th birthday, it underscores even more how big of deal it is that He gave you and me His very own.

Man of Sorrows

Most of us are familiar with the Disney classic Aladdin and the legend of a genie in a magic lamp granting 3 wishes to the person who finds and rubs it, especially with the recent remake and also the emergence of Disney Plus. If there were such a lamp and you were lucky enough to find it, what would you do if you had that much power? Even if you would use that power for something good to change the world and mankind, would it be the first thing you would do with your power? Would you ever even think of helping someone who had directly disobeyed you which hurt you deeply? Much like the fortunate person to find a lamp with a magic genie like Aladdin, God has all power. We know from Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve brought sin into the world by eating from the tree God told them not to and thus directly going against His one direction, God not only immediately provided for them through skins to clothe them (Genesis 3:21) when they realized they were naked only because of their sin, but He also immediately promised a Savior in Genesis 1:15 to help mankind defeat Satan and death and bring us back to Him.

Let me pose another question…..if you made a decision to help save someone who directly hurt you, would you be willing to go through much hardship and pain to do so if you could get the same result without it? God chose to save us and to take the pain upon His Son Jesus. He also chose to do so in the most humbling way possible. Through the prophet Isaiah, God tells us Jesus was a “man of sorrows” in Isaiah 53:3 who was despised and rejected.

Jesus came in to this world the son of a carpenter and young virgin, not a king and queen. Jesus and His family were rejected from the beginning, there was no room at the inn so he was born in a stable, not a castle, and placed in a manger, not a bed. As He became a man, we know nothing about His earthly home leading us to believe it couldn’t have been much. From Scriptures, we know He became hungry and thirsty. He felt the pain of losing a friend in Lazarus and cried. He was rejected by those in His own hometown. He was betrayed and given to the authorities to be killed by one of his 12 closest friends and followers, Judas. The remaining 11 then ran, abandoned Him, and hid when He was captured. One of His other closest friends and followers, Peter, denied he even knew Him. Then, despite seeing His mighty works and raising others from the dead, another of His closest friends, Thomas, refused to believe He was raised and had done what He said He would. In all of this, we have not even mentioned yet He was beaten and tortured to the brink of death and then was executed in one of the most gruesome and painful ways our world has ever known. No doubt He was a “man of sorrows.”

When we have a bad day, week, month, or are in some of the deepest valleys and toughest, most painful seasons of our life, we must remember we have a God and Savior who empathizes, knows, and cares about what we are experiencing because He experienced some form of the same pain. He didn’t have to, but He did. If we think we don’t deserve what we are going through, we can remember Jesus definitely didn’t deserve what He went through…all for us nonetheless. If we now think about the honor, power, and glory of Jesus, we might picture Him on a throne sitting at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, but we can be thankful while He was on this Earth…He was a “man of sorrows”…all for you and for me…so that our pain could be temporary and not eternal.


For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:11

Today’s word to describe Jesus is Lord which is defined as ruler or master. Would you say Jesus is your ruler or master? If you asked me this question, I would be quick to answer yes. However, when I really sit back and reflect, unfortunately, He is the Lord of my life some of the time and in some things, but I have to admit He is not all of the time and in all things. He’s the Lord of my Sunday mornings when there is church, and He is the Lord of my Thursday nights when we have our scheduled weekly small group. But, everything in between…again..some of the time when I think to consult Him and to make Him a part of some aspects of my life.

It is often easier to go to Him as your Lord when you have nowhere else to turn or you know you have no control anyway. Last year, we were faced with some major decisions in how to treat spinal stenosis in my neck which had already caused me to lose strength and functionality in my right hand and threatened my ability to walk long-term without surgery. I learned one big thing, when it comes to certain things like your health, we are often times forced to make Him Lord and give Him control because there is literally nothing we can personally do to fix it. Looking back, this probably should have been much more stressful with questions like do I have surgery or try another route first, which type of surgery when there are multiple options, which doctor do I trust, will my symptoms get worse and will I lose my ability to use my hand or even walk, and will I need more surgeries in the future? However, we leaned on Him and prayed not only for healing, but for wisdom, guidance, and clarity to make the best decisions. He gave us peace through it all, and not only did He provide an unexpected surgery option different than what Mayo and other doctors were performing for my conditions, but He made it clear this was the route to go. At the same time, we were faced with a major decision on whether to change my role within my career at Northwestern Mutual. Again, we made Him Lord and prayed through these decisions and the direction was clear without much stress or anxiety. Out of necessity, I learned how He can make major things not seem as big and stressful when we make Him Lord.

Then, why do I get stressed about a little thing at 2:00 on a Tuesday or wondering if my to-do list will get done or when our kids are acting up? Simple…I am not making him Lord of the small, everyday things..only the big things. My opportunity for growth in my relationship with Him is to make Him Lord of these little things. Not making Him Lord of these things robs me from gratitude for all He’s given me and the joy of everyday life with my family, friends, and in my career.

Why do we do this? Some may wonder if He even cares about the little things. Why would the God who created the sun, moon, stars, and the universe really care about my little problems? Simple..He created us. For us who are parents, think how much we care about our kids’ problems. We would do anything to a fault sometimes. Think about our kids when they create a Lego or block tower. They are so proud of their creation. And in turn, they are very protective of it and get really upset when their younger sibling wrecks it. Why? Because they created it. The creator cares immensely about their creation. Each one of us are His special creation as Psalm 139:13-14 tells us.

Why else don’t we make Him Lord of the little things in our life? We don’t think we need it, and we think we can handle it on our own. But…it’s obvious we can’t or we would not get so stressed and upset about the small stuff. Many suffer from anxiety about things that are relatively minor in the big picture of life on this Earth and especially in the big picture of eternity.

How can we improve at making Him Lord of our life, and especially the little things where many of us need the most improvement? There are many ways such as reading His Word daily, attending church regularly, and joining a small group. However, I believe what all of these things really do is help us develop an awareness of His presence in our life which leads to a relationship with Him through the conduit of prayer. As a decoration in my parents’ house reads, “Prayer is the ultimate wireless connection.” This is how in the big moments and the small ones in life we offload our problems to Him and ask for His help. We realize we may not have this, but He’s got this and He’s got us. As a recent article in The Wall Street Journal my brother sent our family on the power of prayer stated, connecting with Him in prayer is like heading up a huge mountain with a heavy backpack and then handing it off to Him. Believe it or not, He wants us to. He asks us to. We are his creation, and He as our creator wants our hearts and for us to acknowledge that He is Lord and give everything to Him.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Please pray with me…

God…please help me make you the Lord and ruler of my life. Help me to know that you, as my Creator, truly care about and are in control of not only the big things, but also the little things that will come up in my day today and every day. I thank you for this and for showing me your ultimate love by sacrificing your only Son on the cross for me. I love you. Amen.

Lamb of God

Today our words to describe Jesus are “the Lamb of God” as we read He’s called by John the Baptist…

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

John 1:29

We know going all the way back to the book of Leviticus that the Israelites offered animal sacrifices and commonly for the forgiveness of their wrongdoings. Of course, we also know about the sacrifice of a lamb and blood on the door to keep their firstborn from being killed during the infamous Passover while the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians before being freed. John the Baptist was also likely referring to the words of Isaiah which most all Jews he was speaking to would have known.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgement he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?

Isaiah 53:7-8

When we think not only about Jesus sacrificial death the cross, but also how He handled the moments leading up to it from being captured in the garden, to going before the Pharisees, and then in front of Pilate and the crowd…I don’t know if there is a better way metaphor than the ones Isaiah used or much better of a way to describe what He represents than the Lamb of God as John the Baptist refers to him.

I could try to write more on this topic, but I really feel like I can’t expand much more on this than the picture John and Isaiah give us.

I will say I don’t often refer to Jesus in prayer or in words to others by this name, but every time I hear the song Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) by Hillsong I do get the mental picture of Him going to the cross for you and me like a lamb to slaughter and the room suddenly always gets really dusty somehow causing my eyes to water.

Can you see the love in His eyes?

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me, oh
I once was lost
But now I am found
Was blind but now I see

Oh, I can see it now
Oh, I can see the love in Your eyes
Laying yourself down
Raising up the broken to life

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me, oh
I once was lost
But now I am found
Was blind but now I see


“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.”

1 Timothy 1:17

Our word today to describe God is invisible.

For most of us it can be concerning that God sees and knows EVERYTHING we think and do. Yes, there are good things we all do that we want credit for from God and others. For many, their top love language is “words of affirmation,” so they want to be told good job by their spouse, parents, boss, or friends, and the idea of God saying when they meet him in Heaven, “Well done, my good and faithful servant..” may bring tears to their eyes. But, for every good thing each one of us have done, there are likely more thoughts, words and actions we just assume no one ever knows about…including God. However, Proverbs 15:3 reads, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on evil and the good.” Job 34:21 also says, “For his eyes are upon the ways of a man, And he sees all his steps…” He’s omnipresent and knows and sees all.

Unfortunately, this can cause many to struggle to come to Christ and believe their past wrongdoings cannot be forgiven. They believe past sins of theft/fraud, adultery, pornography, an abortion, drug use, being a poor parent, killing someone whether on accident or on purpose, or even just really bad words said to a family member or friend are just too much for God to look past. Even believers have a hard time coming to grips with this and letting go of past sins they know an invisible God has seen. Many are still holding on to that one sin they just can’t fully come to believe God has FULLY forgiven when they can’t even forgive themselves.

To me, that’s one of the many unbelievably cool things about God…He gives us so many examples in His Word that any and all sins can be and are forgiven through the cross and belief in Jesus, and not only that, but that He can then use those sinners to do amazing things for His glory and a great purpose. In fact, the author of 1 Timothy, Paul, formerly known as Saul, had persecuted and killed those that believed in Jesus. Just a few verses earlier he says in 1 Timothy 15-16, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I receive mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” Moses who led the Israelites out of Egypt, wrote the book of Genesis, and first received the Ten Commandments killed a man. David was of the direct lineage of Jesus, wrote most of the Psalms, and who God called, “a man after his own heart,” was an adulterer and had his good friend killed over a woman. His disciple and New Testament author Matthew was a tax collector who likely cheated people out of money. Rahab was a prostitute but was used by God to help protect two Israelite spies so they could win the battle of Jericho and then later was also part of the blood line of Jesus. The list could go on and on.

Paul also says in Romans 8:37-39…

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The fact that God is invisible causes us to have a healthy fear and reverence for God to do the right thing, yet thankfully His life, death, and resurrection let us know that because we won’t always do the right thing and will make mistakes (some really bad)…He loves and forgives us no matter what.

Check out this powerful song by Ryan Stephenson, and please…share it with a friend you think may need to hear these words today. It may not just change their day…it may change their life.

His Holiness

Today’s reading is Jude 24.

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy,…”

Our words to describe God today are “His holiness.” Merriam-Webster defines holy as “exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one in perfect goodness and righteousness.” I’ve also heard holy described as separate or set apart.

He is the only thing that is truly holy and without sin. No matter how hard we try to be holy and do the right thing…we will mess up. I don’t know about you, but I can’t even get through a prayer without being distracted and thinking about something besides God. I find myself getting mad at my kids during an online church service for something they probably should not be doing, but are my thoughts and actions the way that Jesus would react and want me to do so?…likely not. The list could go on and on so I’ll stop. I’m sure I’m not the only one, and I imagine all who are reading this can relate.

Isn’t it ironic though that our words to describe Him today are “His holiness,” yet our verses today are really about how He makes us holy?! That’s just like Him isn’t it? I mess up time after time, but through the events that happened this last weekend nearly 2000 years ago, these verses tell me that He keeps me from stumbling more than I would already. But knowing that I will still stumble, He presents me completely blameless before the Holy Father. As I’m writing this on Easter, our Amazon Music is playing Reckless Love by Cory Asbury, and I hear the lyrics…”I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still you give yourself away…oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God..”

Humbling isn’t? He didn’t have to…but He did…He took all that suffering and all that that through His Holiness…we are made blameless and holy, too. Thank you, Jesus.


Our Guide

Today’s readings are from 2 Corinthians 1:22, 2 Corinthians 5:5, and Hebrews 7:22 as we focus on the word guide to describe God.

A good friend of mine, fellow believer, and fellow Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Advisor, Josh Waite, shared something very interesting with me a few years back which I now share with my clients. I’m not a mountain climber, but Josh is. In recent years, he climbed the highest peak in the continental U.S., Mt. Rainier in the state of Washington, with his siblings in memory of his late father. He shared with me that most people who die climbing some of the world’s highest peaks do so on the way down…not on the way up as many would be lead to believe. They think when they have made it when the reach the top, and they get complacent on the way down. However, the 2 things that help climbers complete a successful journey up and down the mountain are having a map and a guide. This is a good way to describe how we help our clients in retirement planning, and it is in times like we are experiencing today in the financial world that having a map (a financial plan) and a guide in us to help coach them through the challenges becomes most critical. Josh has actually written 2 books on this topic called Up and Down the Mountain for both corporate executives and medical and dental professionals.

The map for climbers shows the best route to take to get down the mountain and fully complete their journey. Fortunately for us, our God has also given us a map in his Word, the Holy Bible. A regular map shows you the route to take, but does not tell you anywhere on it that you will face unexpected and unknown challenges making the journey longer and much tougher. However, thankfully the map God has given us in His Word tells us there will be pitfalls and challenges like those many of us are facing right now with Covid 19 and its trickle down effects. Pastor Mike Baker once said that God doesn’t tell us exactly what specific challenges are ahead for us because we would probably freak out, and we would probably mess things up thinking we can do it better than His perfect plan. Again, He does tell us though we will in fact face challenges (yes..even Christ-followers) and that those challenges mold and shape us into who He wants us to be prior to the great joy that lies ahead in verses like James 1:2-4, James 1:12, 1 Peter 1:6-7, and John 16:33.

Thankfully, not only did God gives us a map in His Word, but he also gave us his Holy Spirit in Acts 2 as our guide which is our word for today. In 2 Corinthians 1:22, it tells us the Holy Spirit is on our hearts. He is always tugging on your heart and telling you where to Jesus. Even though we don’t always go where the guide, the Holy Spirit, is telling us, just like we don’t always go the way the voice on Google Maps or Waze tells us, we end up realizing the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts and telling us the way to go would have been much better..just like we usually realize when we don’t follow the Google Maps or Waze voice. Sometimes the voice on our GPS can be wrong though…but 1 Corinthians 5:5 tells us the voice of the Holy Spirit as our guide, which we can hear in our hearts leading us to Jesus, is guaranteed to be the best route.

As I mentioned earlier, my friend Josh taught me most people die on the way down the mountain because they get complacent thinking they have made it after reaching the top. We are much the same in our lives. We think we have made it and are victorious when we have really just hit some base camps along the way, and we think we can make it without Him. But, since birth we are all really headed down the mountain in descent because each day we are closer to our last day on this Earth, not knowing when it will be. Every single one of us will miss the shiny snow over there which is really ice, like sin, causing us to fall off the cliff to our death as we are told in Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23…we just don’t know when.

However, when we follow His Word as our map, and we listen to His Holy Spirit as our guide on our hearts, we will fall less and take fewer wrong steps. But, when we do take missteps, because we will…every day….we have Jesus as a guarantee to catch us in His loving and forgiving arms and safely deliver us to the bottom of the mountain where we have eternal victory as our verses today tell us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 also tells us He actually took our place and fell for us…and in trading places with us…again now delivers us safely in victory, without blemish, to the Holy Father at the bottom. While I’m sure my friend Josh would say making it to the bottom of Mt. Rainier and completing that journey was an unbelievable feeling, as a brother in Christ, I suspect He would also tell us the joy he felt pales in comparison to the everlasting euphoria we will experience when we complete our journey on this Earth and meet Him face to face in eternity.