Beautiful Biblical Bookends which, if Believed, will Bring Boundless Benefit to Your Being – Body, Mind, and Soul – Every Day for the Rest of Your Life!

If this online journal, this blog, were a movie, the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father and the Holy Spirit in general and the Bible in specific (just look at all the bold text up and down every page and you’ll see what I mean) would be the star.  I suppose I’d be an “actor in a supporting role” as the folks who give out the Oscars each year would say (don’t worry, I shan’t hold my breath for a nomination anytime soon =).  But my bike has certainly reached at least the status of major prop, since I bought it as my only means of transportation after selling my car this past summer so as to finish building this website.

So it’s with deep regret and heavy heart (hey, maybe I could  win an Oscar someday after all!) no just kidding, as you’re about to find out it’s with a heart of gratitude and immovable faith in God’s flawless, “fate”-discarding sovereignty that I tell you that my bike got stolen over the weekend.

I go in to buy a few groceries, I come back out to find NO BIKE.  (That turned out to be a very expensive loaf of bread, eh?)

The store has low prices so given the fact that my entire life savings is (quickly) being spent on this little project, that’s where I went, despite its being in a rough section of town.

Apparently even rougher than I had thought because apparently, in the maybe fifteen minutes I was inside the store, someone (probably a teenager, almost certainly a boy, so I’ll use “he” hereinafter) (a) spotted the bike at the bike rack, (b) used metal-cutters to clip the lock, and (c) fled.

The interesting thing is that when I first arrived at the store, I could hardly believe how desolate the sidewalk in front was, for the first time ever of the ones I had been there, but I very responsibly (as ever) locked the bike to the rack per my perpetual practice, not liking the fact that nary a person was on the sidewalk to keep an eye on things in general (usually the more crowds / sunlight, the better/safer) but never in a million years would I have thought there was a risk of it’s getting stolen in the few minutes I’d be inside the store.

Surprise!  More like SHOCK when I came bounding back out of the store, bread bags in hand, only to find that my only means of transportation was now serving its new master, a bike thief.

A low-down, no-good, dirty bike thief.  (Yes, I think I really could win an Oscar!)

All intermittent kidding aside, I did experience a few moments of shock.  Like when you KNOW that something SHOULD be in a specific, exact LOCATION but wah-lah, it isn’t.  Or when something SHOULD work a certain way but it doesn’t.  That kind of non-physical shock.

After a few minutes, I obviously had to confront and answer the question of “WHAT TO DO NOW?”

Should I call the police and file a report and press charges if they catch the kid who stole my bike, thus condemning him “having a record” (criminal record) for the rest of his life?  (Or at least until he’s no longer a juvenile, I have no idea how all of that works.)  It certainly would’ve been due.  It certainly would’ve been merited.  But isn’t that very same thing true about you and me spiritually, with regard to heaven or hell?  I’m not saying that pressing charges isn’t merited in certain cases.  I think it absolutely is.  Like if someone were to kill a loved one, I’d be the VERY FIRST person to have the book thrown at them (figuratively speaking, of course).  To have them locked up and the key thrown away.  “Forgive ’em, but fry ’em” might be fitting in some cases but when it comes to a material possession of ours getting stolen, I prefer to heed the amazing words of Matthew 5:39-40, from “the Sermon on the Mount”:  “But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if anyone wants to sue you, and TAKE your shirt, let him have your COAT also.”

Should I alert the store and see if they’d cover the cost, at least in part?

Should I just “chalk it up” to God’s sovereignty and look for ways He might intend to use it, for the reason(s) He allowed that to happen, for my only means of transportation to get heisted?

It’s not as though I couldn’t go back a day or week later and do one or both of those first two, but I knew almost immediately, in that split-second of decision time, that I was going with Option #3:  chalking it up to God’s sovereignty.

I suppose it’s possible for such to serve as a “crutch” or “cop-out” in some cases, but His sovereignty has probably been THE MAJOR aspect of Himself which He has been impressing on me since becoming a Christian in general and in recent years and indeed months in specific.  And isn’t it JUST LIKE the Lord to send a test on the very subject into my life?

I have a lot of areas still in need of improvement and lots of room for more growth.  Lots.  Lots and lots.  I definitely have my share of weaknesses, as you’ll surely see as this journey and journal unfold in the coming months and years (and probably already =).  But I can honestly say that an unbreakable, unshakable faith in God’s infinite and loving sovereignty isn’t one of them, that it’s probably the strongest area of my still-growing life.  So viewed in this light, I just HAD to choose that third of three immediate options.

That fully firm faith sprang forth into my life like a bigger beanstalk than “Jack” could ever have dreamt, based on the bulletproof bedrock of two verses which serve as beautiful biblical bookends on the matter of God’s sovereignty.  I’m sure I’ll discuss these again in the future since they have such a constant, continual presence and impact in my daily life but for now I’ll just say that ANY AND EVERY situation or occurrence in life – real or even hypothetical – absolutely falls within the sovereignty of God.  I’m not saying that NOTHING can escape God’s sovereignty and control; I’m saying that NOTHING can escape even the infinite CENTER  of God’s sovereignty and control.  It is infinite, and infinitely pervasive.  It is absolute, and captures absolutely every single thing in life.  Real and hypothetical.  Past, present, and future.  Everything.  From “random” to “rigged”!

  • “The lot is cast into the lap, but its EVERY decision is from THE LORD.” (Proverbs 16:33)
  • “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of THE LORD; HE turns it WHEREVER He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1)

In other words, God’s sovereignty has “all the bases” completely covered!  It encompasses the ENTIRE SPECTRUM of life!

On the one end of said spectrum are the things that happen in life, in our lives, to us, which seem RANDOM.  Like, oh, I don’t know, going into a grocery store for a few minutes to buy some bread and having your bike get stolen.  Or the stock market.  Or flipping a coin, or rolling dice… or casting lots.  You see, that was probably the ultimate example or illustration of “randomness” in biblical times, in Old Testament times when that verse was written.  It means that even things which seem random are TOTALLY (“every”) controlled and determined by the Lord!

What a massive blessing!  What a huge relief!  To know that NOTHING “random” EVER happens!  That EVERY SINGLE OCCURRENCE in our lives has definite and usually deep purpose and is in the center of God’s loving sovereignty.

On the other end of said spectrum are the things that happen in life, in our lives, to us, which seem RIGGED.  Like (again!) the stock market.  (Isn’t it funny how so many people are convinced it’s totally random and how many people are equally convinced it’s totally rigged?  They’re BOTH wrong!)  Or that boss or supervisor at work who seems to “have it in for you” and seems to always be trying to trip you up or set you up for failure or tries to get you fired or just make your life a living you-know-what.  Or perhaps a parent who seems to exert enormous control over your life.  But in Old Testament times, when that second verse was written, the ultimate example of that which was pre-determined or “rigged” or controlled by another was a king.  Read the books of Esther and 1 & 2 Samuel and Kings and Chronicles for countless illustrations.  He literally held the power of life and death in his pen (er, stylus?), in his little finger as we might say today.  Uber-powerful.  To us.  Yet that verse makes crystal clear that his heart, his mind, his emotions, his WILL is like a tiny trickle of water.  In fact, in the original language (Hebrew), that word “water” can be translated “water of the feet”, i.e., “urine”.  Isn’t that funny!  Someone like a boss or despot or king seeming to have so much control over us, in our lives, is like a mere trickle of urine compared to the awesome power and true control always wielded – and just as importantly, never yielded – by the Lord.

He shares control/sovereignty with nobody and nothing.

Double blessing!  Infinite relief!  Just to know that EVERYTHING from one end of life’s spectrum to the other is TOTALLY AND SOLELY controlled and determined by our loving Lord!

And, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, it is THIS infinite truth, this immutable fact, which enables one to truly obey 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and a second very similar verse we’ll discuss in a minute:  “In EVERYTHING give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

We can (and must) literally be THANKFUL in EVERY single situation or occurrence in life because such resides squarely in God’s will and control and sovereignty.

This seems like the perfect time to share with you several items which comprise my perspective in this weekend’s bike-got-stolen matter:

  • At least it wasn’t stolen at gunpoint!  (Thank You, Lord)
  • At least it was stolen on a Saturday, giving me enough time to replace it before Monday (as discussed in previous posts, it’s now my only means of transportation, having sold my car last summer so I could finish building this website)  (Thank You, Lord)
  • At least it was stolen on a warmer and drier day than the past several, making the necessitated subsequent walk far more tenable  (Thank You, Lord)
  • With no bike anymore, I had to WALK home after this happened, and ALONG THE WAY a fellow pedestrian was within inches of getting hit by a fast-moving car when I pulled him back at (literally) the last second, thus saving him from certainly serious injury if not death – had my bike not been stolen, I wouldn’t have been there and that fellow might’ve been killed and slipped into eternity, probably in hell based on the odds Jesus Himself clearly set forth in Matthew 7:13-14, i.e., I was ONLY there to save him from death or at least grave injury BECAUSE my bike had just gotten stolen  (THANK YOU, LORD)
  • I was able to find the EXACT SAME bike I’ve grown to really, really like – and ON SALE to boot!  (Thank You for “lessening the blow/sting”, Lord!)
  • It’s very possible that I had grown to like it so much that I perhaps came close to clinging to something of this world (Philippians 3:7-8,20; 1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4; Colossians 3:2; 2 Corinthians 4:18), to a mere material possession – but this incident certainly nipped that in the bud!  (Thank You, Lord)
  • It was a PERFECT opportunity to FULFILL Scripture (Romans 12:17-21; Matthew 5:38-41; 18:22-35; Colossians 3:12-15; among many others) which in my humble but firm view is the most important thing  we can do
  • I was able to pass a test in life, both humanly and spiritually  (THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, Lord!  We both know that likely wouldn’t have been the case a few years or maybe even months ago so thank You for the growth You and Your Word, the Bible, have wrought, have brought about in my life on both a “big picture” and daily basis, just like You say in 1 Peter 2:2!)

And it’s that last one in particular which brings me to that second verse.

You see, it’s one thing to be able to give thanks “in” all things, but God’s loving sovereignty is so amazing and complete and all-encompassing and pervasive that we can even give thanks FOR all things.

“… always giving thanks FOR all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Ephesians 5:20)

In other words, not just giving thanks in situations in general  but literally FOR every single thing that happens.  Because, based on God’s loving sovereignty, it WILL redound to our good, better, and best.  EVERY TIME.  WITHOUT EXCEPTION.  In some and even many and even the vast majority of cases, a person might not realize that, but it’s true.  And it’s how I live my life literally every minute of every day.

I’m pretty sure that the children of Israel didn’t view the rise and reign of Pharaoh as something for which to be THANKFUL.  But it was.  Why?  Because of what I’ve written here as confirmed so beautifully in Romans 9:17 – “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I raised you up, to DEMONSTRATE MY POWER in you, and that MY name might be proclaimed THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.'”

So whether it’s a supervisor or boss or king or ANYONE or ANYTHING in your life that seems to be causing you grief, please know that (a) God is INFINITELY SOVEREIGN in that situation and therefore (b) COULD HAVE PREVENTED IT had He wanted, had THAT been for your good, better, and best, but (c) LET IT HAPPEN because He KNEW (indeed, from eternity past) what would be BEST for you, and everyone else for that matter.  Only the omnipotent God could manage all of those crosscurrents.  Only the loving God would care to do so, would care for us SO MUCH that ONLY what’s truly BEST for us EVER happens!  Which is why we absolutely should “ALWAYS give thanks FOR all things” – because “we KNOW that ALL THINGS work together for GOOD to those who know God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Therefore, I can honestly say that even if I could go back in time to Saturday morning when deciding which store to buy that handful of groceries at, I wouldn’t.  I wouldn’t change a thing, I wouldn’t have done anything differently to have prevented that person from stealing my bike.  Why?  Because then I would’ve missed out on passing a fairly sizable test, not just a bike.  I.e., passing a test from God is infinitely more important and precious to me than any bike.  (Even that one which was PERFECT in every way for me.)  Because that fellow pedestrian would likely be mangled and, based on that car’s rate of speed, probably DEAD and therefore probably relegated to hell for all eternity.  And because I wouldn’t have such a PERFECT illustration to finish and crystallize the post I had already begun writing a week or more ago.

And I’ll conclude by sharing one last insight with you about this.

I can remember like yesterday an incident years ago (when I still had a car =) in which I “caught a red light” which was the FASTEST from green to red I had (or still have) EVER seen.  It was as though yellow didn’t even exist, as though it skipped right over that middle one.  While I can’t claim a flawless driving record, I do think it’s very important to obey ALL laws, so I slammed on the brakes – and grumbled about how blazing fast that light turned red, how I probably just wore an inch off of my tires… I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about, secondhand if not first.

But the most amazing thing happened next which I’ll never, ever, ever forget.  Never have and never will.  When the light turned green and I proceeded (slowly, with heart still pumping hard) and took the curve around 50 feet away from that traffic light, you won’t believe what I saw:  a very large tree had literally just fallen across the entire road.  Where I and my car quite likely would’ve been had that light NOT turned red, so blazing fast.  I had initially grumbled about something which probably SAVED MY LIFE.  And I can’t recall a SINGLE TIME I’ve questioned or doubted the Lord’s loving and unlimited sovereignty ever since, and that happened many years ago.  And just this ONE ASPECT of God has made my life a total joy, a total blast, all day every day.

Let’s look at it from a different angle.  Let’s say that my bike hadn’t  been stolen while I was inside that grocery store.  I of course would’ve ridden it back home as always.  So let’s say that on the way home, I got hit by a bus or car and suffered serious injury.  What would many of us surely be saying as we lay mangled in a hospital bed?  Probably something like, “Lord, why did You let that bus hit me?  You are omnipotent, You are sovereign – WHY DIDN’T YOU STEP IN AND PREVENT THAT FROM HAPPENING?”  Right?  Sound familiar?  But that’s EXACTLY what He did!  In this case, as always, He DID step in, in a very real, tangible way, to prevent something, anything, EVERYTHING which WOULDN’T be for my good, for your good, for our good.  He didn’t stretch forth His holy hand from heaven as in, say, Old Testament times, but he absolutely intervened directly via, yep, a bike thief.  God’s sovereignty is so infinite and pervasive that He often uses even the wicked, even the sins of others, to accomplish what’s best for US and what will bring Him the most glory.  That’s the whole point of Romans 9:17 quoted above.  God even uses animals – figurative and literal (2 Peter 2:16) – to bring about and make happen what’s best for US, what’s most beneficial for OUR lives.  The human mind almost always just looks at things based on what actually happened, not what might have.  But I’ve found that there’s tremendous perspective and wisdom gained by doing so, by looking at the proverbial “other side of a coin” so as to be grateful, to give Him thanks not just for what happens to us or in our lives but also what DOESN’T happen!  Not just for the presence of the positives but also for the absence of the negatives!

This will probably blow your mind but it’s 100% true – not 90%, not 95% … 100% – that EVERY SINGLE thing which happens to you, which happens in your life, is for your BEST.  Without exception.  Such that you, your life, would be WORSE OFF if it HADN’T.  So instead of giving in to the very natural human tendency to doubt and thus disbelieve God’s sovereignty, let us not ask whether  something that occurs is for our best but rather HOW it’s for our best – and, like me in the case of my bike, you’ll almost always find MULTIPLE answers to that question.  One would be enough, but in these things, the more, the merrier.

So to the long list above we can add this:

  • Had the Lord, in His loving sovereignty, NOT allowed that thief to steal my bike in those few minutes I was inside the grocery store, it’s very possible that I would have gotten hit by a car or bus and been killed or lost a LOT more than just a bike, I could’ve lost an arm or leg, that happens every single day in virtually every single city, but what I have NO DOUBT about is that something very negative would’ve happened to me had my bike NOT been stolen and had I thus ridden it home.  And what ISN’T open to ANY speculation at all is that I’m much better off in any case as a result of my bike’s being stolen than I would’ve been otherwise, that such absolutely redounded to my good, better, and best even if I can’t say for sure the exact “bad” which would’ve happened, I KNOW that I would’ve been worse off.  But the Lord lovingly “stepped in” and intervened.  Like that straight-to-red traffic light years ago.  And like Pharaoh millenia before that.  So how could I NOT be utterly thankful  that my dear bike gotten stolen?!

Am I going to go around hoping  that its replacement bike gets stolen, too?  Definitely not.  But IF it does will I take it in stride and faith in the knowledge that because of God’s loving sovereignty ANYTHING that does or even could happen is for my GOOD – not just in some sort of after-the-fact, back-end kind of way but indeed from eternity past?  Absolutely.  The Lord lets everything happen for our, for your, for my good and benefit:  spiritually, emotionally, and even physically.  (E.g., I’m not writing this from a hospital bed. =)

The takeaway from all of this is a very easy, straightforward “rule” for life, a “rule” for living:  If it HAPPENS, never RESENT it, always THANK GOD that it DID!  I give you my word (and infinitely more importantly, GOD gives you HIS) that if you simply but truly believe in just this one aspect of God, His loving sovereignty, and adopt this “rule” each day, it will not just change but REVOLUTIONIZE  your life.

I hope that this pair of “beautiful biblical bookends” of Proverbs 16:33 and 21:1 will be as much of a massive, unmitigated, ongoing blessing in your life as it has been in mine.
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You’re NOT Alone!

This post is in the same vein as a recent one.  (And I elaborate even further in a subsequent one… maybe we’ll make it a recurring series.)

Remember when we were kids (and ever since) when someone would express an opinion with which we agree and we’d say “Me too!” (at least before it took on an entirely different meaning starting in 2017) or “You and me both!” or “You’re not alone”?  Believe it or not, this sentiment has very deep roots in the Bible.

The Bible is clear that suffering/persecution goes hand-in-hand and indeed is part and parcel and inherently characteristic of the Christian life (2 Timothy 3:12; Hebrews 12:7-11).  But that’s not cause for doom and gloom but rather tremendous and unfettered joy since it also renders the crystal clear conclusion that suffering/persecution/tribulation also produces necessary benefits (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-5; 2 Thessalonians 1:5) and anyway can’t even compare, “are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)

All of that is very true — totally true, in both essence and extent — but God knows that in our human experience, suffering still isn’t easy (though the more one focuses on these truths and promises and perhaps particularly that last one, the easier it will be!) but thankfully He has given us some additional aids in the Bible to directly address this.  (As I always say… there’s a verse for that! =)

One of the strongest I’ve found which is such an amazing help is the fact that I, that we, that you are NOT alone!

I certainly wouldn’t recommend building a theology on the human adage that “misery loves company” due to the negative side of how it’s used or perceived but the other side of that coin is actually very biblical and thus infinitely valid and joy-inducing and profitable  (2 Timothy 3:14-17, especially verse 16) and USEFUL (1 Timothy 1:8, an equally-acceptable translation of the word “good” which appears in most versions) and therefore not to be ignored, indeed we should be squeezing as much gain and benefit out of this truth as possible:  the fact of the matter is that there is considerable comfort in the knowledge that I, that we, that you are NOT alone!

That’s why the Bible says that temptation/trial/testing/suffering “is COMMON to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13) [one great illustration about how very common what we experience in life is:  almost EVERY TIME I type something into Google, their auto-full feature brings up EXACTLY what I’m searching for, right at the top, i.e., because so many other people have searched for that very same thing, done the exact same search… so now whenever you google something just think of this amazing, empowering verse!] and this:  “KNOWING that the SAME EXPERIENCES OF SUFFERING are being accomplished [undergone, experienced, fulfilled] by your brethren who are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:9)  And then a glorious echo of Romans 8:18 and Hebrews 12:11 in the very next verse:  “And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

While I wouldn’t wish such suffering on anyone (other than false teachers and the ilk who would lead people astray and try to take them to hell with them as vividly and dramatically discussed in 2 Peter 2 and Jude and most shockingly Galatians 1:9 where Paul literally says “let [false teachers] be accursed“), I have to say that just knowing that I’m NOT ALONE is a major and powerful motivation to “keep on keeping on”, to persevere and make lemonade out of every trial or suffering God allows into my life (one of the main applications of the book of James).  Because when we DON’T persevere, when we instead give into trial/temptation and sin, that not only has an effect on us (primarily) but on the whole body of Christ (secondarily), which is why the Bible gives clear guidelines and indeed commands for church discipline (Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 5; 1 Timothy 5:19-20), so may I never, ever contribute to weighing down the body of Christ, the Church, but rather may my actions and attitudes always be for its building UP.  May I do my part and live this earthly life in a manner conducive to purifying, not dirtying, the future bride of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Like I said, major and powerful motivation.  I trust it will be for you, too.  Just to know that you are NOT alone!

Share this post with, well, EVERYONE!


It Takes Two!

You might think the next two words of the title would be “to tango” – and given how bitterly divided society and politics have become, that would make a lot of sense.  And indeed I intend to address that in a future post but, as promised in the previous postthis one is about love.

The “two” refers to the fact that true love involves two actions.  Dual action required.

The vast majority of people think of love in terms of “lovey-dovey”, fondness, warmth.  And that’s certainly an important aspect and one side of the coin of true, biblical love, but did you know that the Bible actually puts the other side of the coin first when discussing this?

  • “Let love be without hypocrisy.  ABHOR what is EVIL; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)

Hmm, very interesting.

First, it states that true love, pure love, is by definition without hypocrisy (which is what makes it true and pure) so that should be our goal, our pursuit.

Second, it reveals that true love STARTS WITH HATRED.  Specifically, hatred of that which is evil and wicked and wrong, anything which goes against, which isn’t in line with the Bible, with the nature of God as clearly revealed therein.  That includes hatred of sin and self (the flesh, i.e., one’s self but NOT oneself, more on this in a future post).  Hatred of the devil and his minions.  Hatred of falsehood, hating untruth of any kind which appears in any way, shape, or form.

Let’s look at just two great examples from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Himself and from the Spirit-propelled pen of the preeminent Apostles Paul and Peter:

  • “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.  Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks!  For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!” (Matthew 18:6-7; see also 23:13-35[I love the multiple exclamation points used by our Lord, demonstrating such beautiful emotion and highlighting the utter importance of this grave warning against and to would-be stumbling blocks.  I also love the divine redundancy for the purpose of emphasis:  He didn’t just say a “millstone” around the neck, as sufficient and picturesque and graphic as that would’ve been; no, He said a “heavy millstone” to make the warning as utterly extreme as possible, highlighting to the max its importance.]
  • “As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.  ” (Galatians 1:9)
  • “But for those who disbelieve, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone,’ and, ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense’; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word [Bible], and to this doom they were also appointed. … those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. … having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.  And in all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation, and they malign you; but they shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. … But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong.  They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime.  They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery and that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children [the exact same word Paul used in Galatians 1:9] … These are springs without water, and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved [more divine redundancy for the purpose of emphasis:  not just darkness but black darkness].  For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.  For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.  For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them.  It has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘A dog returns to its own vomit,’ and, ‘A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.'” … Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?  For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’  For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.  But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” (1 Peter 2:7-8; 3:16; 4:3-5; 2 Peter 2:12-14, 17-22; 3:3-7)

[I love everything about the Bible (which is why I’m dedicating the rest of my life, literally, to memorizing, to ingesting every word of it, every word of the Word) including the fact that it never “pulls any punches” – ever.  The passages echoed above are an excellent and effervescent example of that.  It always just “tells it like it is” and simply sets forth the truth and “lets the chips fall where they may” to put it in current-day vernacular.  I love that!]

Ergo, as exemplified so superbly by Peter and Paul and our Lord Jesus Himself, if we are to know and possess and demonstrate true  love we must first HATE – that which is evil and wicked and wrong and unbiblical.

As a brief side note, this is a perfect parallel with salvation itself in that just as it’s impossible to genuinely put one’s faith in Christ to save one from his sins UNLESS one first  admits his sin, sins, sinning, sinfulness, i.e., we must first admit our NEED for salvation, right?  Right.  This brings back beautiful memories from my childhood, when I first learned the gospel and how to share it with others in a super simple, straightforward way, the “ABC’s of salvation”:  Admit, Believe, Confess, remember that?

Just as A comes before B, just as admitting comes before believing, so also when it comes to true love, hating evil comes before truly being able to embrace good.

The latter seems to come much more easily, but if we want to develop a sense of true, biblical love in our lives, we cannot skip over or bypass the former.

Society attaches such a stigma to hatred and anger, doesn’t it.  But, as is so often the case, what society, what the world puts down, the Bible often lifts up.  What the world frowns upon, the Bible smiles at – ear to ear.

It’s absolutely crucial to understand that the Bible is very much against too much anger or displaced hatred, but I find that the world often tries to boil an issue down to just “A” or “B”, to make it a binary choice, when in fact the right answer is usually “C”!  The right answer is invariably somewhere between the two proffered extremes.  And so it is in this case:  it’s not about whether one should be angry but rather how much and when; it’s not about whether one should hate, but rather the object thereof.  Perhaps the best example of this is found in Ephesians 4:26-27 – “BE ANGRY, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”

Anger must never be allowed to grow too much or last too long – think of it as best done in “small doses” – but is otherwise a crucial component of Christian living.  Indeed, did not Christ Himself demonstrate this too for us?

  • “And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.  And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.” (John 2:14-15)

Yes, controlled and properly-directed anger and hatred must come first if one’s love is to be biblical, but likewise it must be followed by that second side of the coin in Romans 12:9, we must take the next step and “cling to what is good.”

I don’t think this needs much explanation or elaboration at all, but I’ll just note that the Greek word translated “cling” here is literally the word for “glue” – isn’t that interesting?  We’re called to GLUE OURSELVES to that which is good as set forth in the Bible.

So from now on, whenever you think of love – true love, biblical love, lasting and sustainable love – don’t forget that it takes two!  So let’s no longer ignore, let’s start exercising the muscles of righteous and controlled anger and hatred of all that is wrong and wicked and evil and ungodly and unbiblical and unjust – in “small but regular doses” – so that we can attain to and possess and gloriously give to God a love which is indeed “without hypocrisy” – He is due nothing less.
If you sense that the Lord might be leading YOU to support the historic event unfolding in real-time here at BibleMemory.ORG and thus become my fellow worker and thus share in all of the fruit and blessings (3 John 8) and literally MAKE HISTORY together, here are the best ways to do so:

1. Become a one-time or monthly partner by making a donation via PayPal’s fully-secure Bible Memory page!

2. Encourage as many people as you can to support this historic event by having them go to BibleMemory.ORG/support (please make sure they understand that it’s .org, not .com) – doing so by word-of-mouth is great, and to do so with a single click on your social media simply click here then scroll down a few inches to the green box and select your platforms, it’s that quick and easy!

3. Add your name to my Prayer List!

4. Encourage as many of our fellow Christians as you can to pray for this historic event by having them go to BibleMemory.ORG/pray (please make sure they understand that it’s .org, not .com) – doing so by word-of-mouth is great, and to do so with a single click on your social media simply click here then scroll down a few inches and select your platforms, it’s that quick and easy!

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The previous post included these two verses:

  • “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13)
  • “And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.  So then, WHILE WE HAVE OPPORTUNITY, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10)

As you probably know, ahead of launching this website to track this historic effort, I wanted to demonstrate proof of authenticity so it would be clear that this is already well beyond wishful thinking or the proverbial “pie in the sky” so after finishing three books of the Bible (3 done, 63 to go!) I recited each of those on video so anyone who wants to can easily and fully track my progress each step of the way.  As indicated on the home page, one of those was the book of Hebrews.

It would be impossible to decide which is my “favorite” book of the Bible.  Those of you who have children can relate, which is YOUR favorite?  Exactly.  You love them all the same.  And I find that to be the case with the Bible.  It truly is one book with 66 different parts, and I love them all the same BUT I’m sure you’d agree that while you love all your children or nephews and nieces the same, you probably get along or connect with each of them on different levels, and that’s how it is with me and the different books of the Bible:  I love them all the same but “connect” with them to varying degrees in that some of them “speak to me” or “pierce my soul” seemingly more than others.  And in that sense I’d have to put Romans and Hebrews at the very top of the list.  The Holy Spirit keeps bring various verses from those two books to mind more than any other, literally several times a day for each.  While I’m still working on finishing memorizing Romans, because Hebrews is one of the first three, I recite several chapters from it every few days and today’s portion happened to be Chapters 9-13 and one of those verses spoke PERFECTLY and FITS perfectly with the two noted in the previous post and reprinted above.

It fits so perfectly because it tells us HOW to “not lose heart” and HOW to “not grow weary”:

  • “… and let us run with ENDURANCE the race that is set before us, FIXING OUR EYES on JESUS, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him ENDURED the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For CONSIDER HIM who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, SO THAT YOU may NOT GROW WEARY and LOSE HEART.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

So I’d like to use this post to briefly delve into this wonderful — and wonderfully helpful — verse.

Its focus is clearly on both sides of the same coin:  ENDURING and NOT GROWING WEARY OR LOSING HEART.

The Bible makes clear that this is absolutely crucial, imperative:  “But he who ENDURES to the end shall be SAVED.” (Matthew 24:13)

Crystal clear.  Consummately crucial.

But thankfully the verse above doesn’t just communicate how important it is to endure but also tells us exactly HOW:  by “FIXING OUR EYES on JESUS”, to “CONSIDER Him”.

That word “fixing” is very interesting in the Greek.  In two ways:  its tense and its meaning.

Its tense is present active participle, which conveys the idea of an action which should be ongoing.  It could be translated as “KEEP fixing your eyes” or “continually fixing your eyes”.  This clearly speaks to its importance in terms of sanctification since salvation is a one-time event, never to be — nor needed to be — repeated.  But where (i.e., on whom) we put our FOCUS each day (each hour, each minute) should be an ongoing, continual thing, and it should be placed squarely on the Lord Jesus Christ.

And that phrase “consider Him” in verse 3 immediately reminds me of  “REMEMBER Jesus Christ” in 2 Timothy 2:8.  That tense is also active — present active imperative — which conveys that very same idea of the action’s being ongoing and continual in nature.

So many people, so many Christians, try so hard to be “responsible” and “handle things on their own” — and humanly that’s a fine and good trait.  But not spiritually.  It’s just the opposite and worse:  it’s deadly.  Downright destructive to the core.  Because we humans, wrapped and drenched in fallen flesh, simply don’t have the innate capacity to do so.  By default we walk up the down escalator.

But praise the Lord, He has provided the way to flip that script, to change one’s at-birth default setting so as to start and keep walking up the UP escalator — and that’s to place our ongoing focus on HIM.  On His Person.  On His life.  On His death.  On His resurrection.  On His past earthly ministry and ongoing present heavenly ministries.  Like interceding with the Heavenly Father on our behalf (Romans 8:34).  Like advocating with the Judge on our behalf (1 John 2:1) as discussed more in-depth in a recent post.

Lastly — and speaking of which — I’d like to end this post by mentioning the full meaning of that word “fixing” in Greek, in the original language of this verse.

I know, I know, boresville snoresville, right?  WRONG!  This is exciting!  This is good stuff!  This can feed your soul and heart and mind for years and years to come.  Because implicit, inherent in that word isn’t just the English notion of looking to Jesus and continually fixing our eyes, our gaze, on Him, but also the act of turning our eyes, our focus, AWAY FROM something else.

From ourselves.  From self.  From our desires and our will and our lives and our issues and our goals.  And ONTO His.  Onto HIM.

I’ve found this very same principle in the Bible regarding love.  Dual action required for true focus and true love, so stay tuned for that in the next post.  But for now, may each of us exhibit the wisdom and reap the pure and utter joy of moving our focus off of ourselves and onto Him.  This will not come easily nor comfortably because it’s diametrically different, it’s the opposite end of the spectrum from human nature.  But let’s resolve ourselves to power through that initial discomfort and reap the massive fruit and rewards — not just in the life to come but also in THIS present earthly life (1 Timothy 4:8).  Because by focusing on Him will result in following Him, in following His perfect example in every aspect of life:  humility, grace, mercy, kindness, love, selflessness, confidence, purity, purpose.

In a recent post I mentioned a fellow from my church who gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received when I was a teenager trying to decide what my first car should be.  As mentioned he was in the automotive business and not just great at selling them but also repairing them.  And I’d often join him to hand him the tool he needed at any given time as he remained under the vehicle he was working on and I remember something he said one time which, like that other piece of advice, I’ve never forgotten, it has remained with me ever since and all the time.  He had just lodged himself under the car and was trying to position himself so he could use a ratchet wrench without too much discomfort but also had to get his head in a proper position so he could see the various nuts and bolts he needed to remove and he finally figured that out and — clearly gleeful, clearly relieved — said this:  “It’s all about getting your head in the right position.”

And that’s EXACTLY how it is in life!  May we decide this day, here and now, to take our focus OFF OF ourselves and ONTO the Lord Jesus Christ.  Every day.  Every hour.  Every minute.  And I can tell you with 100% certainty that HE will meet all of YOUR needs and replace “losing heart” and “growing weary” with an indescribable, inexpressible quality and level of joy and endurance.  Like George Foreman says at the end of those Meineke TV ads and George Zimmer in those former Men’s Wearhouse ads… I GUARANTEE IT!

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“Big Mo”:  Maintain Your Gain!

There’s a phrase very familiar with those of us who watch sports:  “big mo”.  Momentum.  It plays an important and usually uncanny role in the outcome of a game.

But you know what, momentum also plays a crucial role in the Christian life, in our daily walk with the Lord — which, as discussed in the previous post, should be a continual combination of rest and action, or in bicycling terms, of rest and “pedaling”.

In the human realm, those are opposites, but in the Christian life they are meant to work together:  we should always be “resting” in the Lord…

  • “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
  • “For we who have believed enter that rest… Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest…” (Hebrews 4:3,11)

while we’re working for Him, while we’re serving Him and carrying out His will in our lives.

  • “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
  • “Watch yourselves, that you DO NOT LOSE what we have accomplished [i.e., in you, the progress you’ve made], but that you may receive a FULL reward [maintain gained ground].” (2 John 8)

As you probably know based on prior posts, a few months ago I sold my car so I could use that money to finish building this website.  But I still had to be able to get around town to run errands and such so the second half of that plan was to buy a bicycle.

I hadn’t ridden one since I was a child, since I was around 12 or 13 years old.  I loved  it then.  The exhilaration of going down a steep hill.  That rush of pure adrenaline.  And the freedom.  My oh my, the freedom.  To finally be able to go more than a mile from my house.  To the local mall to buy candy and gum and generally unhealthy fare but hey, I was a kid and therefore had the freedom to indulge in such luxuries without having to pay the price which generally doesn’t rear its head until full-on adulthood.  I was swimming  in freedom.  Drenched in freeness.  What an amazing and wonderful time of life.

But that was then and this is now so I wasn’t sure if that same relationship with bicycling had endured but was thrilled to find that I enjoy it every bit as much now as I did then.

And there have been many benefits realized in the weeks since.  I’ll elaborate on these in future posts of this journal/blog as this historic journey of becoming the first person in known human history to memorize and recite the ENTIRE BIBLE unfolds, but two so far have been (a) the fact that it allowed me to finish building this website so people can follow my progress every step of the way, learn from my past mistakes and future victories, hold me accountable and help keep me on-track to complete this monumental task, and (b) discovering that many of the thoughts and concepts which I’ll be sharing with you here first struck me while riding my bike.  (Far better that than a car or truck, eh? =)

But in this post, in this journal entry, I’d like to talk about a different benefit.

While I’ve always viewed physical fitness as being quite important in that a believer’s body is indeed a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16 — one of the great “3:16’s” of Scripture [along with John, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, 1 Peter, and 1 John … yep, I’m definitely gonna have to do a future post about this!] — and again a few Chapters later in 6:19) and have always done a decent job maintaining it, a benefit of biking versus driving these past several weeks is that I’ve actually gotten down to my high school weight.  And every time I get back from an extended (usually Saturday) bike ride I find that 5-8 pounds have been whacked from the previous night’s reading on my bathroom scale.

But after such an intense workout and the resultant hunger, I find myself sorely tempted to fill my stomach’s newfound void with a bunch of food.  And indeed, I used to indulge in such and you know what would happen?  Yep, the next morning that bathroom scale would go right back to the same reading as before.  I’d revert to the pre-exercise  weight.  Benefit lost.  (At least that  one.)  Gained ground given right back.

And it hit me that this is exactly  how it is with the Christian life, too!  How often do we read the Bible or go to church only to stumble in the following days or weeks?

I address this in the physical realm by opting for high-protein fare like seafood, chicken breast tenders or nuggets, and fat-free/cholesterol-free egg whites after said workouts; as for the spiritual realm, I’ve addressed this by embarking on this journey of memorizing entire books of the Bible.  That’s right, just like Psalm 119:11 says, Bible memory on a regular, systematic (verse-by-verse, book-by-beautiful-book) basis has kept me from losing the spiritual ground which has been gained.

In a word, MOMENTUM!  “Big Mo”.

I’ll discuss the encouragement (“carrot”) side of this coin in a moment but will start with the warning (“stick”) side with a single three-verse passage:  “For yet in a very little while, he who is coming will come, and will not delay,.  But my righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.  BUT we are NOT of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:37-39)

May it be so in our daily lives.  May we be so wise to choose the latter.

As for the other side of this coin, it’s important to realize that when we obey God, when we obey His Word, the Bible, we stack another gain on our pile in heaven, in our heavenly account as it were.  Think of it like an earthly bank account in that each good work, each good deed we do here on earth produces rewards or adds a “credit” to our “account” in heaven.  But similarly when we sin it’s like a “debit” to that account.

In sports lingo, doing a good deed in this life is like pushing the football another five yards down the field in the life to come.  (AND this life — 1 Timothy 4:8!)  I’m sure you get the point but of course that field is not 100 yards in length but unlimited, infinite, but otherwise this is a very good metaphor.  And what is one of the main factors which determines victory or defeat?  That’s right, which team has the momentum as the clock ticks to zero.  Who maintains  the momentum.  But when we sin, when we give in to temptation, it’s like fumbling the football.  And as we know, that’s not conducive at all to WINNING THE GAME.

Credit or debit.  Touchdown or fumble.  THE CHOICE IS OURS.  I know which I like better!  And make my decisions and choices each day accordingly.  “In such a way so as to win” as the beloved Apostle Paul would say.  And I just cannot overstate how utterly crucial and imperative it is to MAINTAIN THE MOMENTUM.

  • “… those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize… run in such a way that you may WIN.  And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.  They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest… I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
  • “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13)
  • “And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.  So then, WHILE WE HAVE OPPORTUNITY, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10)
  • Watch yourselves, that you DO NOT LOSE [fumble] what [has been] accomplished, but that you may receive a FULL reward [maintain gained ground].” (2 John 8)

Don’t be messing with your blessing.  Maintain your gain.
If you sense that the Lord might be leading YOU to support the historic event unfolding in real-time here at BibleMemory.ORG and thus become my fellow worker and thus share in all of the fruit and blessings (3 John 8) and literally MAKE HISTORY together, here are the best ways to do so:

1. Become a one-time or monthly partner by making a donation via PayPal’s fully-secure Bible Memory page!

2. Encourage as many people as you can to support this historic event by having them go to BibleMemory.ORG/support (please make sure they understand that it’s .org, not .com) – doing so by word-of-mouth is great, and to do so with a single click on your social media simply click here then scroll down a few inches to the green box and select your platforms, it’s that quick and easy!

3. Add your name to my Prayer List!

4. Encourage as many of our fellow Christians as you can to pray for this historic event by having them go to BibleMemory.ORG/pray (please make sure they understand that it’s .org, not .com) – doing so by word-of-mouth is great, and to do so with a single click on your social media simply click here then scroll down a few inches and select your platforms, it’s that quick and easy!

5. Share this poston your social media by clicking on one or more of these platforms:


Separate Scenarios, Crystal Clear Conclusion

I just returned from a brisk but beautiful and beneficial bike ride.  Because just like a healthy brain needs the Bible on a regular basis, so also the body needs regular exercise so I’m always thankful (a) when I have an extra amount of time for an even more rigorous workout and (b) when I don’t get hit by one of the smartphone-crazed/can’t-go-two-minutes-without-texting-or-at-least-checking-my-phone drivers populating the roads these days.  (I’m not thrilled about the close calls, either, like the one on today’s ride, but I file those under the “no harm, no foul” category.)

Anyway, the weather has turned quite a bit cooler recently with winter wagging its warmness-zapping finger in advance of its full arrival, so I wasn’t able to ride or even walk outside for the past three days due to a distinct drop in the temperature.

Interestingly, when I first headed out for today’s timely trek, it struck me (probably not a good idiom to use when discussing bicycles 🙂 ) how HARD it was to pedal up the first hill in that direction.  It’s usually a piece of cake (ah, much better idiom!) but not this time, not today.  So I had to get off of my bike and WALK it up that medium-sized hill.  And rode without incident for the next several minutes of (wonderful, beautiful) FLAT (i.e., non-hilly) road.

But then I came to the second hill in that direction, this one MUCH LARGER than the first, and you know what?  I was able to RIDE up and over it with ease!  BECAUSE MY BODY WAS NOW “BACK IN THE SWING” OF EXERCISING, after those first fifteen minutes after that three-day layoff.

And the rest of the ride was, as they say, a breeze.  Easy-peasy.

Until the very end.  Seemingly suddenly, it got VERY HARD to pedal once again, like three hours before.  So hard that I actually had to pull over and sit down for a few minutes and guess what, I was able to pedal with ease.  BECAUSE WHEN THE BODY GETS WEARY OR TIRED ALL IT NEEDS IS A LITTLE REST.

And that’s exactly  how it is with the Christian life:  sometimes we need to rest — and sometimes we just need to get off of our backsides and START PEDALING.

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Quick Thought:  “Helpless!”

Remember when we were kids and would try to help one of our friends with something and they just kept “not getting it” and after several attempts to aid them in the task we’d say, “Ugh, you’re helpless!”?

I do.  Not very proudly, mind you.  I wish I had the same level of patience and kindness with others at age 10 that I do now but won’t kick myself too hard since, after all, those are the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) which develop over time as one grows in the Lord.

No, I shan’t kick myself too hard but that phrase still rings in my ears as an adult, albeit in a very (very) different way.

You see, I’m no longer the speaker of that phrase but rather the repentant recipient.  And it’s no longer I who shout out that declaration, it’s the Bible, TO me and every other person from birth.

While my fellow frequently-feckless friends and I (who wasn’t at age ten? =) sometimes couldn’t put a bicycle wheel or chain back on properly after a mishap even with my multiple attempts to render aid, until we reach “the point of accountability” (usually referred to the “age of accountability” but it has nothing to do with age, everything to do with mental capacity, which some reach at age four and some much later if ever) the Bible says that we are spiritually helpless.  “Helpless case!”

  • “For while we were still HELPLESS, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)


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“Yeah, But Don’t Forget About the Maintenance  Costs”

As you know from previous posts, in order to finish building this website I sold my only car and ever since have been hoofing or biking it when I need to get around town.  But I remember the time I went shopping for my very first car.

I of course received lots (and lots and lots, no pun intended =) of advice from my family and friends and fellow church members, some of whom were actually in the car business, true professionals loaded with so much expert knowledge it was coming out of their ears (but thankfully only metaphorically).

I remember one in particular.  I had found a used BMW that fell within my meager budget (barely!) and at the time, in the common folly of youth, my main motivation was to make a statement.  I wouldn’t trade my upbringing for the world but we never had much money the entire time I was growing up, but we had a ton of love and closeness and fun and laughter and great memories and vacations (the one thing my parents were dead-set on saving up for) and most of all a ubiquitous focus on the Bible and church and fellowship – what more could a kid ask for?

A little money to buy a decent car, perhaps. =)  But I digress.  The point is that we and I almost always “went without” so I did feel some sort of subtle need to compensate since I was a teenager with my own job – I was ready to splurge for once in my young life.

And that’s where that car-biz friend from church comes into the story.  It was then and there that he gave me one of the greatest pieces of advice in my entire life – not just up to then but ever since.  He said this:

“Don’t just think about the purchase price but also THINK ABOUT THE MAINTENANCE COSTS.”

While it’s very understandable that a teenager – and especially one whose upbringing rarely involved discussing much less possessing material things of any kind much less cars – wouldn’t have known about that, the fellow from my church did since he was in the business and had seen countless proud BMW or Porsche or Mercedes owners have to sell them after a repair bill or two.

Thankfully I heeded his wise counsel, but it got me thinking that this is exactly how it is with the Christian life.

I think every believer will agree that not even the excitement of one’s first car can come close to comparing with the utter joy when one’s eyes are first opened to the truth of the gospel of Christ.  Not even close.  But there’s a similar risk:  that one will forget to consider the “maintenance costs” of that decision.  You see, just as the Lord promised that an eternity in heaven awaits for all who put their faith in Him and Him alone for salvation from our sins, He also promises a few other things.

Like this:  “in the world you have tribulation” (John 16:33)

And this:  “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of Me.  He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39; 16:24-26)

And this:  “And indeed, ALL who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus WILL BE PERSECUTED.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

In other words, the “maintenance costs”.

So He says this:  “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and CALCULATE THE COST, to see if he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.'” (Luke 14:28-30)

But thankfully also this:

  • “But the one who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13)
  • “No temptation [or tribulation or trial or adversity] has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
  • “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance proven character, and proven character hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
  • “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
  • “And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)
  • “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pain of childbirth together until now.  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:22 then verse 18)

Thankfully I took that man’s wise advice, calculated the cost, and decided not to buy that used BMW.

Thankfully I took that Man’s wise advice, calculated the cost, and decided to follow Him.  To lose my life, my “self”, my pleasure, my desires, and follow His later example in a certain garden as He stood at death’s door but declared decisively and dramatically His choice in the matter, when to the Father said the Son, “Not MY will but THINE be done.” (Luke 22:42)

This means that instead of focusing on doing what WE want (or more accurately, what we think we want… which often turns out to be two different things), we subjugate that and focus on doing what GOD wants.  Not on OUR will but rather on HIS will… not on the basis of mere assumption or subtly skewed self-interest but rather as set forth in the Bible:  God’s will and God’s Word are absolutely and eternally inextricable.  Always “on the same page” (no pun intended), NEVER in contradiction, not even a little bit, none, nada, zero, zip.  It’s NOT about ignoring our will, it’s about submitting our will to His.  It’s about making OUR will secondary and HIS will primary in our life.

And you know what the funny, ironic thing is?  When we “go against” our “self” and for God, that’s when life really gets fun.  That’s when the floodgates of joy really burst beautifully in our life.

Amazing but true.

And well worth the cost.  Worth.  Every.  Penny.

If you sense that the Lord might be leading YOU to support the historic event unfolding in real-time here at BibleMemory.ORG and thus become my fellow worker and thus share in all of the fruit and blessings (3 John 8) and literally MAKE HISTORY together, here are the best ways to do so:

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You’re NOT Crazy!

Ever feel like maybe you’re just a little “off”?  Lots of people do.  Even Christians.  Even mature believers.

But I’m here to tell you that you’re NOT crazy.

Why do I say that, and how can I so confidently?  Easy.  1 John 3:1

  • “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are.  FOR THIS REASON the world does not know us, BECAUSE IT DID NOT KNOW HIM [Jesus].”  (Beautifully echoing John 1:10, even using the exact same phrase at the end:  “He [Jesus] was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and [yet] the world DID NOT KNOW HIM.”

Anyone who has put his or her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for their salvation is the exact OPPOSITE of crazy, but the world is totally unaware of this reality and merely projects its own spiritual insanity onto believers.

  • “But we speak God’s wisdom… the hidden wisdom… the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood… For to us God revealed [this wisdom] through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches ALL THINGS, even the depths of God.  For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him?  even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God [and as just stated, those to whom He reveals them].  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that WE might KNOW the things freely given to us by God… but a natural [unsaved, worldly] man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are FOOLISHNESS to him [them], and he [they] CANNOT UNDERSTAND them, because they are spiritually appraised.  But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man.  For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him?  BUT WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST.” (1 Corinthians 2:7-16)

Brothers and sisters, beloved, the world is nuts, mad, insane, unknowing – but doesn’t KNOW it!  (This epitomizes a piece of military lingo made popular in the run-up to the Iraq War, an “unknown unknown.”)  They don’t know, but don’t know that they don’t know.  They’re sincere, but sincerely misguided in their (lack of) understanding.  So why would you ever think that YOU’RE the crazy one?  You’re not.  You’re not, but the Bible clearly teaches that they are.   Those of the world (1 John 4:5).  I mean, just imagine being given the choice to spend all eternity in heaven with God and the angels, or to spend it in hell with the devil and demons.  ANYONE who would choose the latter, who wouldn’t choose the former, is by definition way, way, way off-kilter.  If that isn’t the ultimate definition of insanity – clinical or otherwise – I don’t know what is or ever could be.

In stark contrast, a believer’s life is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith/faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  Because every believer is, at a minimum, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and therefore will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.  Would you say these qualities indicate sanity or insanity, wellness or unwellness, even on a human level?

But such is not so with unbelievers, with those who are of the world [i.e., world system].  Put another way, we’re all in the world but not of the world.  Some people are citizens of the world while others are just passing through. (Hebrews 11:13-16; 1 Peter 2:11; Philippians 3:20)

And those of the world, a.k.a. unbelievers, are characterized by a very different list:  “immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21).  And just before that, in verses 16-17, the Bible makes absolutely clear that nobody can be in both camps, it’s clearly a matter of either/or, no exceptions.  Flesh or Spirit.  This is also made clear in Romans 8:4-8 – “… who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For the mind set on the flesh is death [unwellness], but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace [wellness], because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God… and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

This is actually a great way to tell whether a person is saved or unsaved, on their way to heaven or on their way to hell (Matthew 7:16-20).  And anyone who would choose the world and hell over heaven is, by definition, crazy.  And anyone who would choose the devil over Christ is absolutely nuts.  And anyone who would choose to be dominated by the flesh instead of the Spirit, well, THEY’RE the ones who are crazy, NOT you!

They just think you are because they don’t know any better.  “For THIS reason, the world does NOT KNOW us, because they did not know HIM [Jesus].” (1 John 3:1)

The next time you get the sense people think you’re crazy, do two things:  check to see (2 Corinthians 13:5; 2 Peter 1:10) if your life is characterized by the fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22-23 (not the list in verses 19-21) and if so then KNOW that you’re not the crazy one and pray for and sympathize with and love on the other person(s).  They desperately need it.

Yes, if you’re a genuine believer, you will not be understood or “known” by the world, they’ll often look at you like you’re from a different planet.  (Because you are!  Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:13-16; 1 Peter 2:11)  And keep in mind that along with the fruit of the Spirit, your life will also be characterized by persecution (2 Timothy 3:12) so just expect that from the world but I’m here to assure you that such can’t even BEGIN to compare with the indescribable glory and magnificence waiting for us in heaven (Romans 8:18).  Not for a second.  Not even close.  Not even in the same universe much less planet much less ball park.

“For this reason, THE WORLD DOES NOT KNOW US, BECAUSE they DID NOT KNOW HIM.” (1 John 3:1)

Badge of honor. 🙂

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School Shooting:  Santa Clarita, CA

The airwaves are filled with the breaking news of another senseless school shooting, this one in Santa Clarita, CA.

All of them in recent years have been downright heartbreaking – just to imagine the fear and angst and pain those affected, children and parents and teachers alike, must have experienced and some will continue to for the rest of their lives – but this one hits even much closer to home since as a teen I actually attended some football games at Saugus High School, which was the very location of this morning’s shooting.  And it’s unthinkable that such a horrific event would occur there, perennially appearing on the “Safest Cities” and “Best Places in America to Raise Kids” lists.

On the other hand, from a spiritual  perspective, it’s not unthinkable at all, because murder and hatred (the former is merely the ultimate expression of the latter, and indeed directly tied together by the Lord Jesus Himself in Matthew 5:21-22 and echoed later in 1 John 3:15 – “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer“) are part and parcel of fallen flesh, the default setting for human nature, for every single person ever born of a human father and mother (i.e., everyone in human history except Adam, Eve, and Jesus).  That “default” (or should I say, deFAULTY =) setting can be changed later in life, post-birth, but even we believers started out as depraved creatures, filled with murderous hate, as clearly stated in Titus 3:3 – “For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures [depraved!], spending our life in malice and envy, HATEFUL, HATING ONE ANOTHER.”

So while unthinkable on a human  level, it’s just the opposite on the spiritual  level, totally expected and in fact I’m amazed that, while increasing in frequency in recent years (as clearly and fully predicted in 2 Timothy 3:13), there haven’t been even more  of these mass shootings.  But still heartbreaking every time.

I think that EVERYONE – liberals  and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans and Independents, believers and unbelievers – can and does agree that with few exceptions, CHILDREN should NOT have access to guns (the rare exceptions would be, for example, those in rural areas who help their parents farm their land and need to be able to protect themselves from predators, to protect their far-from-the-nearest-neighbors homes, etc., but generally speaking it seems wise to keep guns out of the hands of children; like driver’s licenses) – but AS MUCH ACCESS as possible to the BIBLE!  I am convinced that this would prevent 95+% of these shootings, impossible to prove  but very sure about this; it wouldn’t prevent 100% but the more lives saved, the more senseless deaths prevented, the BETTER.  And the best – and probably only – way to truly accomplish that is the Bible.  Because it’s the ONLY thing that can truly transform the human mind.  From blindness to sight. From hate to love.  From sin to sanctification.

I shan’t hold my breath that a majority of our political leaders will put that into action any time soon, in light of the abundance of resistance and dearth of moral courage these days by-and-large, but given how other albeit well-intended approaches have failed and failed miserably, and given how precious the lives of all people are but in a way most of all  that of children (since they have longer to live than we adults do on average if nothing else), isn’t that reason enough to give the BIBLE a try again, like this nation did years ago with great success for centuries?

While my heart breaks today for those affected – this time in my former home of Santa Clarita, CA – as it has every time tragedies like this have occurred in the past, it’s also comforted  by the fact and knowledge that there IS an answer, that as great as it is to KEEP AWAY guns from children, it’s even far better to GIVE them a Bible!  As great as it is to take away guns from their hands, it’s even far better to put the Bible into their minds.

Lord, please comfort those affected by this latest tragic school shooting.  Thank you for Your grace that such are still fairly uncommon, but those to whom it did happen today surely need an extra dose of your love so please comfort them and may they experience that in a very tangible way, and bring healing, Lord, to them and to our nation and beyond.  And most of all, I pray that the 16-year-old girl who died is now with you in heaven, that she placed her faith in You before it was too late, or that she gained entrance by way of not having yet reached the point of accountability which only You know for sure.  And may the rest of us be certain  to do so before our time comes, before “our number is called”.  And comfort her family most of all, since they no doubt are suffering the most from today’s shooting.  Amen.

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