A gun, a window, justice, and mercy.

When I was thirteen years old I shot a BB gun and broke a very expensive window of a nearby home. It wasn’t intentional nor an act of aggression, it was a thoughtless and irresponsible act by a kid who knew nothing about guns. I’d like to say it was “unlucky” but the immediate response would be “and what did you think would happen when you pointed a gun at someone’s home, then pulled the trigger?”

To make matters worse, I tried to hide the crime. I was fearful and filled with regret and sadness. When the whole thing came to light of course I was in serious trouble with my parents and our neighbors.

Corrective Actions

To reconcile, it was decided that I would be paying for that window, and first I must apologize in person to our neighbors. They were an older, retired couple who were known for being kind and generous (especially with Halloween candy). They accepted my apology and reminded me how much the window would cost to replace. I reassured them that I’d be paying for it but it would take some time.

In today’s dollars, the window would cost about $2,000 to replace so there was a lot of work to be done! My dad helped me by creating a paper ledger (my first lesson in the world of accounting) that would show the starting balance, and with each chore or paid task I’d write the description and update the balance. Since it was autumn there would be no high-paying lawn mowing or landscaping gigs so, unfortunately, the main thing I could do was babysit. No more weekend fun until the debt was paid and after three months I hardly made a dent in the amount due. It was going to take a long, long time to repay and I was miserable.

God, Justice, and Mercy

Yesterday at a Bible study meeting we discussed how God is both merciful and just, and I recalled my crime as a kid. God keeps his promises and he also loves us so he also shows us mercy. Here’s a great resource from The Bible Project which beautifully presents the Character of God.

For three months I labored heavily so that justice would be served, yet I received no mercy. For Christmas, I had hoped for some cash to help pay off the debt quicker. After the presents were unwrapped, my parents reminded me to open my stocking. Great, maybe I can sell some of the candy at school (in those days I was known as the candyman as I often sold candy to other kids).

My parents were watching me intently sifting through the contents of the stocking when suddenly there was a piece of paper; the ledger. Not understanding why the ledger was in the stocking, I looked at my parents, and they said, “look at it”. Then I realized, my parents crossed out the balance and had written “paid” on it. I couldn’t believe it! We all suddenly had tears in our eyes; it was the best gift I’d ever received.

My parents gave me a good lesson in justice and an even better lesson in mercy which better equips me to understand what Christ did for us in his work on the cross. Our debt of sin is astronomical and impossible for us to pay on our own.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (Ephesians 2:4-5 NLT)

Call to Action

Think of a time when you were shown mercy and think through how you would retell the story, then pray for an opportunity to share with a non-believer. Pray that the Holy Spirit will give you the words and that the other person’s heart will start to soften to the message of salvation in Jesus Christ. Let your mercy story stand on its own until the right time for the parallel to be drawn. This is what I’m praying for. If one heart moves closer to eternity with God then shooting that window was very much worthwhile.

Today’s reading: Deuteronomy 23-26 and Luke 11

Leap for joy!

A very special person came back into my life this week as she returned from Canada to visit family for about six months. Her name is Pia and she is our neighbor, friend, and honorary “Dutch Grandma”. When I saw her I felt my spirit lifted and I couldn’t help but smile! Pia speaks openly about her faith so whenever we are together I feel God’s hand and promptings from the Holy Spirit to engage in uplifting and God-honoring conversation. Pia brings joy and a sense of family to our home, even though we have known her for only a short time.

While reading the scriptures for today (Numbers 22-25 and Luke 1) I was reminded of the feeling I had when being reunited with Pia. It was as though my own spirit lept!

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, (Luke 1:41)

Similar feelings came to me this week during our small group gathering. There are people in the group who I do not know very well however I felt joy from being near people who love Jesus. There is a bond that is unexplainable and eternal.

Those who see their need of Christ, and are desirous of righteousness and life in him, he fills with good things, with the best things; and they are abundantly satisfied with the blessings he gives. (Matthew Henry)

I pray a blessing on our readers today that your heart also leaps for joy with a renewed spirit. May your heart be abundantly satisfied with the blessings of God through Christ Jesus. May we recognize His handiwork in all of the plot twists and turns in our daily lives. Seek out your brothers and sisters in Christ today. Pray for them; that God opens your heart to meaningful conversations according to the purpose that you were designed to fulfill in this life, pointing to eternal life.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

One of the things with travel is the constant battle to bring the correct amount of clean clothes to last through the trip and ensure the right outfits are brought in order to dress for the occasion. One mistake and an outfit is ruined. One miscalculation and you’re buying new socks or underwear that you don’t really want to buy. And then upon returning home, a bag full of smelly clothes (apart from the gym wear that didn’t get used, even with the best intentions).

Such is life. We start the journey clean and we quickly become dirty and smelly; a continuous cycle.

In Leviticus 21-23 God instructs Moses on several matters including rules for priests, offerings, and feasts. One thing in common within these chapters is that since God is holy and perfect, he expects holy leaders (priests), offerings/sacrifices, and feasts to be to a certain standard. Here are some examples of the adjectives used: clean vs. unclean, holy, not profane, not defiled, consecrated, without blemish, not mutilated or lame, and perfect.

You shall sanctify him, for he offers the bread of your God. He shall be holy to you, for I, the Lord, who sanctify you, am holy.  (Leviticus 21:8)

Our God is holy, set apart, and perfect, and therefore he cannot tolerate anything impure in his presence. Unfortunately, just like our dirty laundry, we quickly become unclean because of our sin. The hard truth is that God doesn’t just expect perfection from priests, etc. We must also be perfect however this is impossible on our own.

The Old Testament law required animal sacrifices and for priests to meet very high standards. With Jesus we have a permanent and perfect high priest who makes us clean through his death, burial, and resurrection.

Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. (Hebrews 8:1-2)

Because of this, someday we can approach God in all cleanliness and holiness. What a day it will be when even though we’ve managed to screw up so much, we can be judged innocent should we put our faith in Jesus. No more dirty laundry, no more missing socks, only permanently spotless garments showing that we belong to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Today’s reading: Leviticus 21-23, Hebrews 8

In the Details

The saying, “the devil is in the details” is commonly used to convey a message as to what may seem simple on the surface, details can be quite complicated and problematic. After using this phrase I decided I’m going to remove it from my vocabulary as it tends to deflect the conversation from what should really be discussed.

After reading today’s scriptures I thought, a better, true, and uplifting statement is “God is in the details” and we should praise him for it. In Exodus 28-30 God gives very specific, detailed instructions regarding:

  • What priests should wear (Chapter 28)
  • The consecration of the priests (Chapter 29)
  • The altar and incense, a census tax, a basin for the priests to wash in, and anointing oils/incense (Chapter 30)

While those garments and procedures may not be something we think about today (and perhaps a bit of a struggle to read through), they are good reminders that God is in the details business. He has very specific plans (for our good), and he designed us for a very specific purpose (to know him, love him, and lead others to him). The details of our DNA are nothing short of astonishing; genetic code making each of the billions and billions of humans unique with no chance of duplication. He’s in the details of your worries, your joy, and your pain. He’s in the details of your yesterday, today, and tomorrow. You my friend were uniquely created and he loves you more than you know.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth. (Psalm 139:13-15)

Also in the details of God’s knowledge and design, our days are numbered.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:16)

  1. What are you going to do with the days you have left?
  2. What details of your life are you trying to push God out of?
  3. What details of your life do you need to be more thankful for?

As you consider the answers, reflect on the details of God’s perfect plan, fulfilled in Christ Jesus. Do your responses reflect the instructions set by God and the example set by Christ?

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  (Philippians 2:4-8)

Today’s reading: Exodus 28-31, Philippians 2

Perfect Peace

Never in my life have I seen so much trouble around me, and in turn, never in my life have I prayed so much. God is absolutely using this season of sorrow and challenges to teach and mold me to be more like his son. Our Lord Jesus, born king, yet held onto nothing of this world, lived each day of his ministry pouring out everything he had for those who would eventually betray him. If anyone had a reason to complain, it was him, and yet so often I find myself frustrated over circumstances that not too long from now will be absolutely meaningless.

Through this time and from some recent reading, I know this to be true: The more I let go of the things of this world and hence place my trust in Jesus, the more peace I have. The headline verse (Isaiah 26:3) was part of a daily reading plan influenced by a brother in Christ, at just the right time for it to land on my troubled soul. I’m writing these things to you today because I want you to have the same peace and share that peace (Jesus) with your friends, family, and colleagues.

In today’s reading (Genesis 49-50 and Galatians 4), Joseph acknowledges the hardships and betrayal he faced as a victory for the kingdom of God. This attempt at evil turned out for good and we can experience this same exchange.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. (Genesis 50:20)

The enemy wants us down and out. The enemy wants us to worry and focus on problems and therefore reduce our dependence on God. This vicious cycle robs us of joy; it leads me to guilt because in my worries there have been times I’ve not been the loving father, husband, brother, son, and friend that God made me to become. However, the thing is, the enemy’s plan ultimately fails because Jesus won that battle. The enemy tries to pull us away, and when we stand firm in Christ Jesus, we are part of the victory when we draw even nearer to God. What a beautiful thing, what a beautiful name: Jesus.

Whatever you’re worried about today, let it go. Bring it to the altar, watch it burn, and let the joy return.


While on a business trip a month ago, I was picked up from the airport and brought to my hotel by a man named Reinhard. The journey was about an hour so there were some opportunities for Reinhard and me to talk.

After the basics were done (weather, where we are from, etc.) we found some new topics. For some reason, we were talking about dogs and Reinhard said “I believe dogs are designed to live outside”. The word “designed” is a faith-trigger word for me so I paused for a brief prayer “God, please give me the words”. Time to kick it up a notch.

I then said, “When you use the word design, do you believe there is a designer or do you believe that creatures such as dogs evolved?” His response was, “You mean, do I believe in God?” I confirmed that is what I meant so we had some good conversation about faith before the journey was completed.

We often contract with Reinhard’s company for ground transportation so it wasn’t a big surprise when he was my driver for another journey one month later. This time the conversation went a lot deeper. He asked me some tough questions about my faith, why I believe in Jesus and how it has impacted my life.

The conversation that happened next was not something I was prepared for.

Reinhard shared that he tried twice to kill himself about four years ago. He even went into detail about the method he used. He said after he didn’t die on the first attempt, he did more research and was 100% confident that the second attempt would end his life. It was surreal as he shared his thoughts as to being very surprised that he was still alive.

Reinhard said as a result of “not dying” he realized perhaps he is here for a greater purpose, and that started his faith journey. His faith is stronger than many people I know who have been Christians for 20+ years. He speaks simply yet his convictions are so strong. This verse from today’s reading is what brought the thought to write about this man:

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mark 10:15)

Reinhard’s faith is not childlike, it is in the way he received the kingdom of God with open arms, unhindered. He was at the end of his road, and then some seed planted, surely placed in his DNA by his designer, brought him to take a step forward in acknowledging and trusting God.

As I opened up to him regarding some of my life struggles, Reinhard was bold and wise, reminding me to put God first above all of it and to give the problems over to God. His words came to me at just the right time.

Reinhard and I are in regular communication and we are praying for each other. God has truly blessed both of us through this relationship and it is an honor to call him a friend and brother in Christ. While to Reinhard it seemed impossible that he would live through his suicide attempts, it is clear that God did and still does have a plan for him.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)

What is the “impossible” in your life today? Will you take the next step to trust him fully in this situation?

Will you also join me in praying for Reinhard? He has a big heart for the people of Ukraine and since the war, he has actually made two visits there to help!

Father God, we lift up your servant Reinhard. For safe travels as he drives, for opportunities to share his faith with others, for God to richly bless him and fill his heart with the true joy that comes only from you as our designer and creator. We praise you God for Reinhard’s heart for the people of Ukraine. Will you continue to give him the courage and resources to serve on this mission that you have planted in his heart?  We pray these things in the name of Jesus, the name above all names!

Today’s reading: Genesis 26-27, Mark 10

No more.

What do you long for? What is the first thing to come to mind? Vacations, sports, rest, visiting loved ones, summer weather? Or are you reading this today from survival mode and you just want to feel better, for the fear to subside, for your beloved to become well again, for the problems to go away?

At this moment I am thinking of a colleague whose husband is fighting for his life due to disease, another colleague whose wife is fighting for her life due to cancer, family members facing indescribable challenges, and several other confidential issues. I’m intentionally being vague here to respect people’s privacy however what I can say is that all of these scenarios leave me feeling depressed, full of sorrow, concerned for the future, and heartbroken for the many lives impacted by these situations.

In parallel, I am repenting for taking a lot of things for granted during the good times because I’m going through a season of sorrow, and the resolution is beyond my control.

Lord, forgive me for putting my hope in the things of this world. Let me see your hand at work in everything. When the song “The Blessing” came on last night I felt your presence, I felt the blessing and I know my family felt it too as we sang aloud. Forgive my lack of gratitude, my doubt, and my worry. You God are all I should long for. Amen.

All of our negative emotions and all of our pain tie back to sin in this world but we must not live in despair. There is hope! Today’s reading (Revelation 21) talks about a new heaven and a new earth after Revelation 20 which describes the defeat of Satan. Because of this defeat, death and all of our pain and sorrow will someday be gone if we have put our faith, hope, and trust in Jesus.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

Please meditate on that verse with me for a moment. No more tears, no more death, no sorrow, no pain. No more seasons of survival mode. Turn with me to Jesus, the one who knew the most gruesome suffering which he took voluntarily so that at the end of this life, we shall suffer no more. It is a promise from God which brings hope when we realize no matter how much we’ve lost, or how little we have, Jesus is all we need.

The other side of the bridge.

Yesterday Jennifer posted about projects having a bridge from one stage to the other as a metaphor for Malachi being the bridge from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

Coincidentally, the project I’ve been leading for over a year “crossed the bridge” over the course of the last two weeks. The old system served us well for over fifteen years however it was time for major transformation. The old system is still there for reference however now every business transaction from financials to supply chain and manufacturing run on the new system which is the lifeblood of the company. We now have no other way to conduct business apart from the new system.

In today’s reading (Mark 1:1-13) we are on the other side of the bridge; God is no longer silent and the Good News is upon us. John the Baptist prepares the way for the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. Through God’s miraculous power, this strange man John is able to influence a country and major city toward repentance.

And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. (Mark 1:5)

Think about all of the sin and pain in our world today. What would it be like if “Judea” (or any country), “all Jerusalem” (or any major populated area) were to confess their sins? What a day that would be! It would be the headline on all news outlets; lives changed, hope restored.

What made their hearts change? Why did they confess? I think they were tired of their old ways, tired of the pain. I also believe that God’s truth was revealed to them in a miraculous way. I believe they were seeking; their hearts were fertile soil, ready for change.

Unlike my project which has many flaws on this side of the bridge; God’s plan is perfect. Further, unlike our lives with many flaws, Jesus is perfect and the only bridge that will lead us to eternal life where there is no more pain and suffering.

And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11)

Only through faith and hope in Jesus can we be received with a similar response where God is pleased. He’s not pleased with our sin, not at all. What pleases him is our repentance from sin, our relationship with him, and ultimately our hearts changed through putting all of our hope, faith, and trust in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. There is no higher name, no other way, no “plan b”, no other bridge than the one whom John – a righteous man was not even worthy to untie his sandals.

If you believe it, say it aloud, acknowledging who he was and is: Son of God.

Broken Tooth, Saved Soul

Recently I bit down on some food and one of my teeth literally crumbled in half. I wasn’t eating anything hard or super chewy; it was a complete surprise. I thought, “that did not just happen”, with initial disbelief that perhaps the “crunch” was something that inadvertently made it into the food. Alas, my hopes were crushed when I reached into my mouth and grabbed the remnants of the broken tooth.

Trying to eat or talk with a jagged half-tooth is not fun. There was some pain and I could tell my speech sounded slightly off. Apart from the impacts, what was more concerning was the thought, “how did this happen?”. What caused it and will other teeth start to fall apart as well?

With great thanks, I soon received excellent care and a solution through the wonders of modern dentistry. The procedure took less than thirty minutes!

The dentist told me that I have a powerful bite (while I was proud of myself, I don’t think this was meant to be a compliment) and that I am probably grinding my teeth while sleeping. Often, when a person grinds their teeth in their sleep it is due to stress and anxiety. Think about it. Even while awake we might bite down hard during a painful or stressful event. Stress and anxiety can take a serious toll on our bodies.

Today’s reading: Matthew 25:1-30

I no longer call it a coincidence when I’m studying for the next post and a related life event happens that correlates with the scripture. It is the Holy Spirit at work. It increases my faith and I hope yours as well.

Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:30 – NLT)

According to gotquestions.org: “The Greek phrase for “gnashing of teeth” literally means “grinding one’s teeth together.”

Jesus was teaching about being ready for his return and for final judgment. Similar to yesterday’s scripture, Jesus makes it clear that we must remain vigilant and be ready. We must use our time and gifts wisely.

Similar to my own initial denial that my tooth was crumbled, we often want to look past difficult (scary) verses like this. Scriptures teach us that there will be a final judgment and those who are not “ready” upon the return of Christ will be condemned. As much as you don’t want to read it, I don’t want to write it. I don’t like it however it is the truth so it must be told.

While a mouthguard might mitigate some of the impacts of teeth gnashing in this life, what’s needed is an eternal fix, and that’s Jesus. The choice is ours but it must be made in advance.

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

We all have at our disposal the ability to directly communicate from anywhere at any time with the creator of the universe, the creator and designer of all things that are good, the one who loves you more than you can imagine; He is God Almighty. He seeks a relationship with you right now in this very moment and he is ready to listen and ready to respond. All you have to do is call out to him and place his son Jesus in his rightful place over everything in your life.

Here’s another post from our site to help you learn more about being saved: “Are You In?

The joy that surrounds us!

Have you ever become so focused on problems that you fail to experience the joy surrounding you? There is a problem that I’ve been chasing and I’m working very hard to fix it. While it is suitable for me to use my gifts and talents to solve problems, it is wrong to let the issue consume me.

While reading today’s scripture (Psalm 106), the following verses were convicting in that my heart has been more “me” (and my problems) focused rather than outward, focusing on others and gratitude for what God has done and continues to do in my life.

7 Our ancestors in Egypt
    were not impressed by the Lord’s miraculous deeds.
They soon forgot his many acts of kindness to them.
    Instead, they rebelled against him at the Red Sea.

13 But they soon forgot his works;
    they did not wait for his counsel.

21 They forgot God, their Savior,
    who had done great things in Egypt, (Psalm 106:7, 13, 21)

To make matters worse, upon forgetting God’s goodness, whatever we put before him becomes an idol. That’s what we see of the Israelites in verses 19-20. They made an idol and worshipped it.

It seems my problems and all sorts of other things have become idols. This focus left me feeling down and losing sleep. Yesterday I said to someone “I don’t really like myself right now”.

Fortunately, if we listen to the Holy Spirit and honestly confess our sins we are forgiven, redeemed, and set free. With a renewed commitment to be more grateful and to put God in his rightful place, I can say the joy has returned.

In addition to gratitude, what brings greater joy is serving others as we were not made to fulfill our own desires; we were made to give our lives away, with the ultimate example being Jesus. Today I read two questions Benjamin Franklin asked himself each day:

  1. What good shall I do this day?
  2. What good have I done today?

The answer to these two daily questions can be a good measure of whether we are living for ourselves and our idols, or a greater purpose, in line with our creator. Question two might also help us sleep a bit better. Today, how will you choose?