God is Sovereign (and that’s no L.I.E.)

It took a ton of time but perhaps the most powerful, practical  truth I tell others after having found and verified it firsthand is this:  Believe, trust, rely on, know with certainty the absolute, untattered fact (not some fellow’s fanciful fiction) of God’s sovereignty.

While all of His attributes are equal in importance, along with love, grace, and mercy I can’t think of one which so regularly impacts my life and of which I’m so actively aware – not just on a daily but virtually hourly  basis – as His sovereignty.

Pretty much nonstop.

I’d like to share with you a time-tested, tried-and-true trio of adjectives to succinctly set forth His sovereignty:  it is loving, infinite, and exclusive…

  • “And we know that God causes ALL things to work together for [our/Christians’] GOOD“! (Romans 8:28)
  • Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed EVERYTHING that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over ALL.  Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over ALL, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone.” (1 Chronicles 29:11-12) & “who works ALL things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11c) & “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) & “the world is Mine, and ALL it contains.” (Psalm 50:12b)
  • “He who is the blessed and ONLY Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords; who ALONE possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see.  To Him be honor and eternal dominion!  Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:15b-16)

and that’s no L.I.E.!

God’s sovereignty allows (indeed, compels and really requires) us to be super-secure and confident in life, big benefits to be sure, but the flip-side of the same coin is that to ever complain or grumble about anything is not just an implicit but explicit denial and rejection of and unbelief in said sovereignty, since if one truly believes that He lovingly “causes ALL things to work together for GOOD” for every single Christian, there’s ZERO reason to EVER complain or grumble, which is why He commands us to “do ALL things WITHOUT grumbling or disputing” (Philippians 2:14) and indeed to go even further than the absence of the negative and proceed to ponder, possess, and display the presence of the positive by GIVING THANKS not just “in” but “for” EVERYTHING.

  • “in EVERYTHING give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  • ALWAYS giving thanks for ALL things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Ephesians 5:20)

Another consequence of God’s sovereignty is that someone who truly believes and accepts it – to the (exact) extent  he or she truly  believes it – will NEVER be anxious or fearful, NEVER experience anxiety or fear [side note:  none of us can maintain 100%  faith or 100%  of the time since our still-standing-even-subsequent-to-salvation sin nature sticks itself into our lives and our finite, fallen, flawed human minds can’t completely comprehend the concept of infinite sovereignty much less its character and application… but 100% is nonetheless God’s goalpost as it were] which is why He commands us to “be anxious for NOTHING” and – yep, you got it – to go even further:  ”but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

If I had to hazard a guess I’d say somewhere around 90-95% of all professing Christians would strongly and sincerely  assert belief in God’s sovereignty.  But the fact that so many regularly “complain” and “grumble” and “dispute” and “worry” and “feel anxious” about one thing or another (or everything) belies their belief, so may each of us regularly take inventory of our life to CONFIRM whether these  things are prevalent in our daily living or, conversely, whether we’re characterized by constant confidence and security and gratitude, as this will tell the true tale of how and who we are – certainly spiritually but also emotionally and relationally.

Anytime  is a tremendous time to focus, fully and anew, on God’s sovereignty… but I can’t think of a better day to do so than January 1…

Happy New Year!

 

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… and now the “HOW”

Part 2 of the previous post, as promised…

If I were to tell you that, on its current course, this Christian-founded country – the mighty United States of America – is headed for disaster, destruction, death as a major player in the world after a century-plus run as such, would you believe that?  Could  you believe that?  It’s admittedly very difficult to do so, given just how much power we have, how we wield our will in world affairs from wee to weighty and every degree in between.

But I need only remind you of two things to quell any (very rational) skepticism.

Firstly, I’m sure people would’ve been exponentially more  skeptical had they been asked that question about the Roman Empire in its heyday.  And they wielded worldwide weight and welly for a thousand years, a millennium!  Yes, even the notion of a fall would’ve been dismissed out-of-hand… and yet it happened.

And secondly, and infinitely sufficiently all by itself, we have the wise, wiggle-proof  words of warning from the wonderful and ever-authoritative Lord Jesus Himself, who said…

  • Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” (Matthew 12:25b, emphasis added)
  • “And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” (Mark 3:25, emphasis added)

Without unity, it’s not difficult, it’s downright impossible  for any group to not just thrive but even survive; it’s literally just a matter of time until it fails and falls.

Given this time-tested truth, the youth should vamoose along with adults to UNITE, if that’s even still doable, if this country hasn’t already passed the proverbial “point of no return”.  Per Proverbs 27:1, I can’t say for sure whether we’ve gone that far, but it’s got to be very, very close in any case.  I can’t say if we still have a chance to unite but I can say this with sevenfold certainty:  if we can, we ONLY can by the grace of God, the inner working of the Word in general and mass Bible memory on a regular, systematic basis in particular.

Because it’s the Bible which blesses and cleanses and grows and transforms.

A person.

A church.

A political party.

A nation.

  • “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)

And what’s the only thing in the world which truly transforms?

Yep, you got it:  the Bible!  The living and active, living and abiding Word of God.

  • “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation [i.e., the epitome of true, total transformation… wow!]; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, emphasis added)
  • “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring [i.e., transforming!] the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. [i.e., transformation!]” (Psalm 19:7emphasis added)
  • “that He might sanctify [us], having cleansed [us] by the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:26)
  • “like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2)
  • the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13c)

Which is why it’s wise to wear  the Word within oneself, by way of our eyes (reading it, studying it) and mind (memorizing it).

  • “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you…” (Colossians 3:16a)
  • “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” (Psalm 119:11, KJV)

Lastly, let’s look at what immediately follows two of these verses about being transformed.

  • “…with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:16b-17)
  • “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.  Do not be wise in your own estimation.  Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.  Respect what is right in the sight of all men.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.  Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,’ says the Lord.  ’BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS UPON HIS HEAD.’  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:10-21)

Hear this crystal clear conclusion:  unity is achieved when individual members of a group are transformed by getting the Bible INSIDE OF THEM, via their eyes and mind… and then affecting and impacting and sharing and spreading  that with others in the group.

This is why it could rightly be said of the early-Church Philippians that they were “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27c) and that was because they did “nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind [they regarded] one another as more important than himself” and did “not merely look out for [their] own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

My friend, I assure you that it’s no accident that the very next breath, the very next several verses penned by the Apostle Paul comprise what is probably the premier passage on humility in the entire Bible.

Because selflessness and humility go hand-in-hand.

Because humility is not  thinking poorly of oneself; it’s not thinking of oneself at all  vis-a-vis other people.

This message from God’s Word, the Bible, is relevant and much-needed at any time, on any day, but it seems superbly fitting for the Christmas season, when worldwide we commemorate in mass fashion when Jesus gave us the greatest demonstration and example of humility, just like the proceeding Philippians 2:5-11 passage so lovingly lays out for our daily living and lifelong benefit.

And now coming full circle by ending this one with where the previous post (Part 1) started…

As we all know, what matters most isn’t how one starts a job but rather how one finishes.  Not a team’s results in the first half but ultimately how they perform in the second… so let’s see if Democrats keep being kings and queens of cohesion and unity and effectiveness in pushing and passing their political convictions and views and agenda as beloved by their base voters as they did when they were in charge in the previous (Pelosi-run) Congress, or whether House Republicans can finally muster a molecule of harmony and manage the House in an effective, functional, wise – which is to say, united – manner, in stark contrast to the data-confirmed massive dysfunction demonstrated in their first year back in power, in their “first half” as it were.  (Humanly speaking, unlike a mere football game, the very fate of the nation  may well depend on it.)

And as we covered above, there’s just one way to become – and stay – united and thus not just survive but thrive as a family or church or company or country, and I can sum it up in just two words:  Humility.  TOGETHER.

 

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Division (GALORE!)

It used to be Republicans vs. Democrats (though not nearly  to the extent, with the toxic venom, as today).

Then it was “establishment/moderate” Republicans vs. “MAGA”/”America first”/conservative Republicans.  (As demonstrated most obviously and recently in the GOP House’s drawn-out, beat-down battle to select a Speaker this session… TWICE!)  (And counting?)

Now it’s the “trying to topple Trump” trio Ron DeSantis vs. Nikki Haley vs. Chris Christie.

The ONLY way they can achieve their goal of getting the Republican nomination for President in next year’s election is to make sure the far-and-away polling leader for many months now, Donald Trump, doesn’t.  Yet they WON’T UNITE.

Not even after the latest timely tidbit:  ”A new Saint Anselm College poll of New Hampshire likely voters finds Trump at 44%, Haley at 30%, Christie at 12%, DeSantis at 6%” – I’m not saying or even suggesting what any or all of them should or shouldn’t do; what I am saying is that the three of them constantly claim and proclaim that “if Trump wins, democracy itself will come to a screeching halt” (or something similar along those lines, true or untrue as that may be) … yet they WON’T UNITE.

Mind you, we’re not talking about over two hundred  political people here as was the case with last month’s (second) Speaker of the House hunt; no, there are just the final few of them yet, even then, they WON’T UNITE.

And barring the imprisonment or unexpected death of “despised, despicable Donald”, that’ll be one reason their fate is self-sealed for failure and loss in their deep, dire endeavor.

Democrats, too.

First, for a dozen decades or more, it was Democrats vs. Republicans.

Then it was “Hillary Clinton” Democrats vs. “Barack Obama” Democrats.

Now it’s “establishment/moderate/Israel-supporting” Democrats vs. “progressive/liberal/Palestine (and sometimes Hamas)-supporting” Democrats.

And black vs. white.

And rich vs. poor.

And male vs. female.  (Literally!  In seemingly every sport anymore.)

Did you know that the Bible predicted this accelerating mass/ubiquitous breakdown of unity thousands of years  ago, and that such would not stop at the national or political or societal level but extend even all the way to the “flesh-and-blood” family level and even all the way to the point of death?

  • “And brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.” (Matthew 10:21)

But, as usual, the Bible goes even further… it doesn’t just tell us what is going to happen, it also tells us why.

It’s because there are two types of people on the planet at any given time:  believers and unbelievers.

Redeemed and unredeemed.

Spiritually “alive” (Colossians 2:12-14; Romans 6:4-5; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:4-10) and spiritually “dead” (Ephesians 2:1-3).

Good (entirely due to the Holy Spirit within and in spite of  us ourselves, i.e., our selves) and evil.

And the Bible proceeds to say that these two groups have nothing (major, functionally, perspectivally) in common…

  • “… what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?  Or what harmony has Christ with Belial [a.k.a. Satan, Lucifer, the Devil], or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:14b-15)

… and therefore will not “mesh” – certainly in the long run and often in the short run, either.  Why?  Two verses tell the tale entirely:

  • “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” (Proverbs 4:18)
  • “But evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13)

Which is why the Bible proceeds even further  to a crystal clear conclusion/command/application for each and every group of people – from families to sports teams to companies to countries to, yep, political parties:

  • “… stand firm in ONE spirit, with ONE mind striving TOGETHER … being of the SAME mind, maintaining the SAME love, UNITED in spirit, intent on ONE purpose.” (Philippians 1:27 & 2:2, emphasis added)
  • “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers [or teammates, or co-workers, or congregation members, or countrymen] to dwell together in UNITY!” (Psalm 133:1, emphasis added)

Because as someone infinitely greater than even Abraham Lincoln famously and truly stated, a house or city or kingdom (or country or company or congregation or family or friendship or political party) disunited, “divided against itself”, “WILL NOT” stand because such “CANNOT” stand!  It’s literally impossible for any group of people to survive  (much less succeed and thrive) if they DON’T UNITE!

  • “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” (Matthew 12:25b)
  • “And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” (Mark 3:25)

Wonderful words of wisdom and warning and reward from the blessing-bubbling Bible to each and every person on the planet.  (Wonderful, and timely!)  May we not just read them but heed them.  (As I often say… when it comes to the Bible’s words, we can “read ’em and weep” OR “heed ’em and LEAP!”  For joy.  Unlimited, immeasurable, indescribable joy.)

“Heed how?  you might be wondering… I’ll cover that in the next post but for now, here are two on-point songs I think you’ll enjoy.

America, families, and especially the Church:  Let’s get right.  Let’s UNITE!

 

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Merry Christmas!

This first video is worth ten  thousand words, so I’ll simply say that the younger sister’s expressions come as close to Christlike love our Lord so deeply displayed on that very first Christmas when He willingly left the comforts of Heaven for our salvation’s sake and came to Earth as a baby boy birthed by Mary but born (and borne) of the Spirit and which we should show toward one another, as anything I can recall.  The massive level of love and respect she possesses for her sister is obvious, tangible, palpable…

… that’s the spirit!

The Christmas spirit.

Which we will hopefully continue to carry forth for the first eleven  months each year, too.

And what is the Christmas spirit if not a palpable, persevering, pervasive sense of love?  The kind that came down to us (on a certain silent and holy night two thousand years ago) as this second song sums up so supremely:

Thank You, Lord, for giving Christmas not just its name but its meaning.  For showing  us how to live life – largely by Your blessed birth, powerfully by Your perpetual perfection, definitely (and definitively) by and in Your self-sacrificial death, bereaved burial, and salvation-sealing resurrection.  May anyone reading this who hasn’t yet rightly given (back) their life to you and received said salvation, do so on this most special “birthday” of them all.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

 

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First Place

Part 2 of the previous post, as promised… and now, the how

Everyone loves to win.  But exactly how does one do so, especially spiritually, since that so outweighs sports and even life itself?

In this particular post I’ll provide three truths, three answers, three solutions, three steps.

The first step is so simple and obvious that it’s surprising, no, shocking that so many don’t seem to really  realize it:  Before you can win, you have to understand and remain  aware of the fact that (ding, ding ding) you’re in a race, a competition, a battle.

Or put another way… before you can come in  first place, you have to realize that you’re in a race in the  first place.

I enjoy watching football games (actually, except for “full game”-worthy major matchups, just the first two drives and final/fourth quarter) but almost never on Sundays, mainly on Mondays – not because of any “religious” reason at all but because I can catch the condensed versions which have all of the ads and between-the-plays downtime edited out, which allows me to obey the Bible by properly managing/maximizing my time…

  • “making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16)

… and frankly just makes it much more enjoyable.

Last Sunday saw some superb games, marquee matchups; the first one went down to the wire and was full of twists and turns and tension (Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs); the second one, the night game (Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys) was even better on paper since they sported 10-2 and 9-3 records, respectively, but this one wasn’t nearly so close, not nearly so contended, but it’s actually the one which provided a fantastic illustration for this post.

Not once but twice in the third quarter, then yet again  in the fourth, a defensive player “punched” the football right out of an opposing player’s hands, producing a much-coveted fumble.

That’s exactly how it is with us and the devil!  He’s always running around the “field” of life, just looking for an opposing player (especially Christians, since unbelievers are already on his team as it were, per 2 Timothy 2:26) to tackle (attackle?) and better yet in his view, to strip the ball away from them (i.e., to make them stumble and fumble) and best of all, to injure and put them out of the game.

  • “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)
  • “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:11-13)

[Side note:  These two passages are extremely similar, nearly identical in nature and message – even though they were written by two different people!  The first by Peter, the second by Paul… but both  by the Holy Spirit! (2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Timothy 3:16)  Just one of the many miracles and blessings about the Bible.]

Therefore, “step 1” has two  parts:  not just being actively aware that we’re in a race, a competition, a battle, but also who the opponent is and isn’t (i.e., the devil, not other people, per the verse just cited).

The second step is similarly simple and obvious:  you can’t come in first place unless you finish  the race!  Which is why, along with awareness, winning requires endurance.

  • “yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach – if indeed you CONTINUE in the faith firmly established and steadfast… As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Colossians 1:22-23a, 2:6-7, emphasis added)
  • “But the one who ENDURES to the end, he shall be saved [i.e., win!].” (Matthew 24:13, emphasis added)

And whereby cometh endurance, how exactly does one obtain it?

  • Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” [Ding ding ding!] (James 1:2-3, emphasis added)
  • “In this [spiritual salvation] you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ… 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 1:6-7, 5:10, emphasis added)
  • “All discipline [i.e., trials, tribulations, testing] for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” (Hebrews 12:11)

Which is why a Spirit-superintended Apostle Paul could pen this potently powerful, proper perspective:

  • “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 8:18)

As is the case for so many biblical truths, a beautiful illustration of this can be found in nature:  one can plant THE BEST seed in THE MOST FERTILE soil… but if it doesn’t receive rain, that plant won’t grow, indeed, it’ll definitely die.  So too, it is the “rain” of trials in our life that allows and produces growth and lets us “ripen” and mature and “bear fruit” and endure, for without it  we would surely die (remain dead) spiritually.  Which is why I wish  it would “rain” regularly in my life.  Just like the plants.  [I almost never use secular songs (one-second  snippet in this case) on this website but because it proclaims a biblical principle and is perfectly on-point with this post, here’s one from four decades ago; if secular music offends you, simply skip/scroll past this snippet to continue reading.]

I dare say that, other than the Lord Jesus Himself of course, nobody in human history has experienced trials quite like the Apostle Paul

  • “… in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.  Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.  I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.  Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:23b-28 … see what I mean?!)

… which is why he (a) is undoubtedly the greatest Christian ever to live (no offense whatsoever to Abraham, Joseph and Daniel, who would no doubt be next on that list, humanly speaking) and (b) could truly and lovingly declare near the end of his life, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day…” (2 Timothy 4:7-8a)  [Side note:  How stunningly amazing that you and I, though nowhere near Paul’s level of spiritual growth/maturity, can still receive that very same crown! “…and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (verse 8b)]

The third step will fill the remainder of this post.

“Everyone loves a winner.”

“Go for the gold, or GO HOME.”

“Nobody will remember who came in second.

These adages are demonstrated nowhere more obviously or fully (and often painfully) than sports and politics.

To wit…

  • millions of children can readily tell you which team won the Super Bowl going back 50+ years
  • millions of children can readily tell you who was elected President going back 235 years

now ask them who came in second.  Few will be able to name even a few  prior to more recent years.

Want to hear a surefire way to WIN, not lose, in life?  I have (humbly he said) found the answer.

And it all starts with your mind!  Much more about that to come but in the time provided for this post, let me simply ask you a question:

How many times did you think about the Lord today?

Sadly, in many cases anymore, the correct question is often just “Did  you think about the Lord today?”

I get it.  Life is hurtling by at the speed of light or so it seems most of the time.  Everybody’s busy, by the “billion” things they need to get done and places they need to be, seemingly at once.

What I’m not saying is that we shouldn’t meet deadlines, run errands, and TCB…

… what I am  absolutely saying is that all of those things will be enhanced, improved, amplified, and accelerated when one puts priorities in proper order:  the Lord via the Bible (reading, studying, memorizing, meditating, praying, obeying) FIRST, and THEN everything else.

  • “… that He Himself might come to have FIRST PLACE in EVERYTHING.” (Colossians 1:18c, emphasis added)

We (rightly) teach children to “mind their manners” … but it’s even exponentially more important to teach them (and remind ourselves) to “mind their MIND“!  Because literally everything else flows forth from that, from our mind, heart, thoughts, perspective.

  • “Watch over your heart [i.e., mind] with all diligence, for from it flow the springs [i.e., matters] of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
  • “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, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:5-8)
  • “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
  • “[God] will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed [i.e., kept, remains] on [God]” (Isaiah 26:3a, emphasis added)
  • “But seek FIRST His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

If you aren’t already doing so, I humbly and lovingly encourage you to give this a try, it will REVOLUTIONIZE YOUR LIFE:  Mind your mind.  Think about  what you think about!  Each week.  Each day.  Even each hour if possible but at least  at the end of each day, take inventory of exactly what you thought about that day, of exactly what was filling and occupying your mind, then strive to do better the next day in increasing  the time allotted for the Person and things of the Lord (especially His attributes and His Word, work, will, way, wisdom, and wonderful design for life – my “6 W’s for notching W’s”) and decreasing  the mindspace granted to the things of this world.

Yes, my friend, “notching wins” in life is as EASY as 1-2-3:

  • 1.  REALIZE that you’re in a race in the first place!  A nonstop, supreme spiritual battle, against a brutal but beatable foe.  (Actually, beaten  foe… he just doesn’t act like it.  Yet.)
  • 2.  Heed the rules and FINISH the race!  Endurance is absolutely key, which is why we should want  the rain, the trials, the tribulations, the tests in life, as the latter actually produce  the former.
  • 3.  Mind your MIND!  Regulary take inventory of exactly what has been filling and occupying your mind, your thoughts, as such literally determines what kind and caliber of person you are.  (As I like to say about a person’s thought-life:  If you don’t measure  it, you can’t manage  it.)

This really will revolutionize your life.  It’s so true:  keep running the race, keep God and the Bible FIRST in your mind, your heart, your thoughts, and EVERYTHING ELSE will absolutely and beautifully be added to you!

 

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Winner

When the word “winner” winds its way to my ears, the first image that comes to mind is the Lord Jesus and the second image is the Apostle Paul and several other people from Bible times and the third image is a particularly prominent, pure-preaching, power-pulsating pastor of the prototypical properly-run church in my humble belief (I’m a bit biased) but the very first secular  image that comes to mind when I hear the word “winner” is Michael Jordan.

And Larry and Kareem; Wilt “the stilt” and “Pistol” Pete and the whole cast of the Riley-run Heat; little-talker but big blocker Bill Russell; “Rain Man” Kemp; dunkin’ Duncan and his long-time, trusted, talented teammate “the (admirable) Admiral” David Robinson (a bit biased about him, too, because there’s a personal connection from childhood, as with TobyMac); Ewing, Mourning, McHale, “Magic”.

Mantle, Musial, Mays, McCovey, Maddux, Mariano, Maris (the man who broke Babe Ruth’s home run record which had held for 34 years, until Roger hit “61 in ’61”) … and these are just the ones that start with “M”!

Brady, Bradshaw, Stallworth, Swann, Sanders, Smith (Emmitt, Bruce, Bubba, and Steve Sr., with Alex and Leonard having put forth a promising push in the past), Montana, Mahomes, and must-mention miracle-maker Manning (particularly Peyton, but both brothers were the bomb, no pun intended =).

Mario Lemieux and Gretzky, too.

Nicklaus, Palmer, Watson and Woods; Lopez-Melton and Sorenstam.

Agassi, Steffi, Sampras and Evert; Connors, McEnroe, Borg, and (also admirable) Arthur Ashe; Federer and Nadal, winners all.

Why?  Because (but for a few deflated footballs perhaps =) they played/competed by and within and according to the rules.

  • “And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.” (2 Timothy 2:5)

Winning is good, indeed, excellent, indeed, important… but not nearly so much  in sports as  spiritually, since Scripture spurs us on to do just that.

  • “Run in such a way that you may win.” (1 Corinthians 9:24c)
  • “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)
  • “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
  • “this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” (1 John 5:4b)

Many might mutter, “Sounds great, DJ Bible, but how?!”

I’ll answer that excellent question in the next post, stay tuned…

 

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Not Alone

NOTE:  This is the finale of a five-post series so if you’re currently reading this blog top-down (most recent first, i.e., counter-chronologically) these five will make more sense if you scroll down (four) to the “Born Again…” post then read bottom-up to this one (i.e., in chronological order).  (This very rarely comes into play, only for the seldom series  of posts.)

Continuing on from the previous post with the next thought that hit me while on my many-mile mega-walk today…

To bring the past few hours full circle, my many-mile mega-walk ended where it always does:  my humble abode.  But my mind goes back to a home I rented a few years ago, during the pandemic, and one day in particular when I returned from a mega-walk much like today’s and indeed at exactly this time of the year and heard a noise coming from the front coat closet.

I would describe it as a “stirring, rustling” noise, a new one I’d never heard before and I immediately realized that it was a MOUSE and that’s when it hit me:  I wasn’t alone.  (Right then, Kari Jobe’s voice started ringing in my ears…)

WE ARE NOT ALONE.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

  • “… for He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you'” (Hebrews 13:5b)

Therefore, there’s no reason to ever  be afraid!

  • “so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid, what shall man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:6)

That doesn’t mean you’ll never feel  lonely, but rest assured that you’ll never, ever be alone.  If you know the Lord as your Savior, He’ll always be within you, and even if you don’t  He’ll be right there:  watching, working, waiting for you to make that wisest and warmest and most wonderful choice anyone will ever make.

  • “the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous” (1 Peter 3:12a)
  • “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13)

We just entered “the most wonderful time of the year”, the Christmas season.  But the most wonderful day  of the year and best moment  of your entire life will be when you do choose to put your trust in Him; it’s so true:  He’ll never let you down, you’ll never be disappointed.

  • “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed” (Romans 10:11)
  • “he who believes in Him shall not be disappointed” (1 Peter 2:6)

Either way, always remember that you are not alone.  God is always there for you, just waiting to get that call.  And I am here for you, for as long as the Lord lingers in lending me breath.  Yes, indeed:  you are not alone.

 

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GPS

Continuing on from the previous post with the next thought that hit me while on my many-mile mega-walk today…

As mentioned many times in the past, there are several different walking routes in my local area that I thoroughly enjoy, but my favorite by far (as you could surely tell by the past few posts) is when I’m able to walk (and walk, and walk, and walk) on the National Mall in Washington, DC.  That route with those famous and majestic sights is every bit as emotionally exhilarating as the walking itself is physically, it’s nothing short of spectacular and a super “one-two punch”, scintillating not just body but mind/soul/spirit.

For today’s route, I opted to start at Arlington National Cemetery and walk across the beautiful and elegant Arlington Memorial Bridge which of course dead-ends into the lovely Lincoln Memorial and then it’s off to the World World II memorial then the Washington Monument just one street further and then over to the Jefferson Memorial and then I make several loops among those monuments then, after anywhere from three to twenty miles of world-class walking, I call it a workout and go back home to shower and shave for whatever else is on the schedule that afternoon or evening.

As I walked from the cemetery to that bridge today, there’s a traffic circle and one car’s “captain” was clearly confused (that happens to a lot  of tourists there, to drivers who aren’t familiar with that area) because he simply stopped in the lane which keeps on going and (of course) the driver behind him laaaaaid into his horn so the newbee quickly pulled into the correct lane to the left; it was clear that said “captain” was captive  to his or her GPS.

And it hit me how many people, even Christians, can unknowingly fall into living life like GPS, held captive by the “hustle and bustle” of being busy… running errands, making it to meetings on time, pastimes and hobbies as (if) time permits, and on and on it goes, making it so very easy to “glide” through life, to be on “auto-pilot” as it were.

I’m far from immune to that, but I’ve found that Bible memory (or even studying or even just reading) goes a very long way in preventing that “off-ramp” and propelling one to live life via a very aware and active and pervasively purpose-packed approach.

Just one of the countless tangible, life-changing effects of being in the Bible regularly and better still to have the Bible in us!  Being in the bible is (billionfold) beneficial, but the Bible’s being in us  is best.  Bar none.  Because it’s what most fully and completely unleashes the Holy Spirit’s will, work, way, wisdom, and ministries in a person and nothing can come close to comparing to that.

Thank You, Lord, for Your Word, the Bible.  For how it brings us to a saving knowledge of You then keeps us on the right path in life, literally all the way to heaven one day… thank You, thank You, thank You so very much.

Simply put, the Bible is THE BEST “GPS” in the UNIVERSE!  It’s a “lamp unto [our] feet and a light unto [our] path” (Psalm 119:105), it endures forever and is righteous altogether, restores the soul, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, and makes the simple wise! (Psalm 19:7-9)

 

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Three Helicopters (and One “Big Brother”)

Wars.  And rumors of war.

Even here in America, an abundance of crime and dearth of law and order.

Open border.

Bungled budget beckons bankruptcy.

Uncivil  society.

At least that applies to the loudest  ones among us; I’m certain that the (vast) majority of the citizenry are good and decent in their conduct toward others since I see it practically every day, but the volume level of the vile and virulent minority can sometimes make many feel unsafe and insecure especially when they’re out and about, among the public.

I possess plenty of personal flaws but I’ve got to admit that I feel no such sensation since I know Who has my back, but buckets and buckets of people I hear from express those feelings frequently and I wish they could’ve been walking beside me today because as I crossed the walking bridge over the Tidal Basin directly in front of the Jefferson Memorial, three military helicopters came roaring by, just feet above the water and bridge, almost touchable, definitely something scintillating to see, certainly a sight and sound  to behold.  Because although my confidence is based entirely on and in the Lord…

  • “For the LORD will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.” (Proverbs 3:26)

… under that umbrella, in my humanity, it was a comfort to know that while wars are waged worldwide with weapons which would’ve been unimaginable just a decade or two ago, we have an impressive, powerful military, made up of men and women not just willing but ready  to lay down their lives in order to protect ours.

And that immediately made me think (and thank) about how blessed we are to have a “big Brother” of a whole higher magnitude protecting us individually, specifically, so on that special note I wanted to end this post with a story imparted by one of the highest-profile pastors which pounds home that point far better and certainly more amusingly than I ever could but it doesn’t appear to be available for embedding so if you’d like to listen to it you can click here then the “Play Audio” button and fast-forward to the 7:39 mark (time stamp) … whether you love him or hate him, whether you agree or disagree with his views, I think you’ll find the story extremely well-delivered, humorous, and perfectly on-point  in illustrating how nice it is to have an at-the-ready resource of a big Brother available to us.

If you ever find yourself in a scary situation, simply know that you needn’t hesitate for even a split-second to utilize that God-given resource of our ever-present big Brother!

  • “He is not ashamed to call [us] brothers” (Hebrews 2:11)

 

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Three Hearses

It’s not every day that someone sees one hearse much less three  like I did today.  But it makes perfect sense in this case because of where I was.  Arlington National Cemetery.

The sight of three hearses lined up in a queue then pulling into that hallowed cul-de-sac back-to-back-to-back, it packed a punch and evoked a strong sense of gratitude and perhaps some sorrow humanly-speaking for the grieving loved ones left behind but most of all it made me wonder whether the three people who once inhabited the bodies in those hearses were currently in heaven or hell.

Because that’s the biggest binary choice of them all.

Not Bush or Gore.

Not Obama or McCain.

Not Trump or Clinton.

Not Biden or Trump.

No, my friend, the biggest binary choice of them all is Heaven or Hell.  Because those are the only  two options for the next life, for eternity.  Every single person ever born will spend forever and ever and ever and ever in one of those two places.

There’s no “in between”.

There’s no exit once there.

But I’m thrilled to be able to truthfully tell you that each person’s eternal destiny is up to them in that one can choose to put one’s faith and hope and confidence and reliance and dependence for entrance into heaven in the Lord Jesus Christ, or one can choose to put it in anything else.

The former is a narrow “gate” (think turnstile).  The latter is a very wide highway (think Los Angeles).

The former leads to an eternity in Heaven.  The latter leads to an eternity in Hell.

  • “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

I wonder which one the three people with the hearse-borne bodies chose.

In their case, what’s done is done.  Times a trillion.  But thankfully, for the rest of us, it’s not too late to make that most-important of all choices, of all decisions… if you haven’t ever done so, I humbly and lovingly and strongly encourage you to secure a “reservation” in Heaven in the future by putting your faith in Christ in the present.

Because while you might (might) have another year or decade or more to make that decision, as we see literally every day in the news:  ”tomorrow” is guaranteed no man.  Only “today” and really only the here-and-now.

I pray that nobody reading this will proceed per the past and play proverbial Russian roulette with their very soul, with where they’ll tarry for all eternity.

  • “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOEVER believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, emphasis added)
  • “for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, emphasis added)
  • “For the wages of sin is death, BUT the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, emphasis added)
  • “… if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you WILL BE SAVED … for WHOEVER will call upon the name of the Lord WILL BE SAVED.” (Romans 10:9,13, emphasis added)
  • “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9
  • “And this is the CONFIDENCE which we have before Him, that, if we ask ANYTHING according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us in WHATEVER we ask, we KNOW that we HAVE the requests which we have asked from Him.” (1 John 5:14-15, emphasis added)
  • NOW is ‘the acceptable time’ … NOW is ‘the day of salvation'” (2 Corinthians 6:2b, emphasis added)

 

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