Saturday, January 31, 2009


"How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron's beard,
down upon the collar of his robes.

It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the LORD bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore."
Psalm 133 NIV

Jesus is the God of unity. The Trinity is an example of perfect unity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit existing and operating in perfect unity. The New Living translation uses the word "harmony" in place of "unity."

The 120 followers of Christ that were waiting for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, were in "one accord" or in unity.

Jesus said this about unity among his followers;
“'I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.'"
John 17:20-23 NLT

Our witness to the world is our love for God and one another, expressed in unity.

Unfortunately we live in a world that is not in unity. Our political system is not unified. Our families are in chaos. Even the Church is divided.

It's time that the Church puts aside it's petty differences. We look to the differences instead of the things we have in common. We all come with various theological interpretations, traditions and denominational bents. Can't we embrace our diversity without disunity? Can't we put aside our experiences, our agendas and our pride?

If God blesses our unity, I wonder what happens with our disunity?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What Did You Expect?

"Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. 'What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people who wear beautiful clothes and live in luxury are found in palaces. Were you looking for a prophet?...For John the Baptist didn’t spend his time eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.' The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!'" Luke 7:24-26,33,34 NLT

Jesus asked the crowds a question that provokes me to consideration. "What do you expect?" Neither John the Baptist or Jesus were what the crowds expected. John lived outdoors,was in your face, ate bugs and dressed funny. Jesus hung out with sinners.

Expectations in a proper perspective are appropriate. When you dine at an expensive restaurant you expect good food and service. In a marriage you expect your spouse to be faithful. However, unmet, unspoken and unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others can be a real problem.

On a vacation where I stayed at home, my wife Peggy and I experienced the challenge of expectations. We both had unspoken, unmet and self-centered expectations. We were disappointed. We fought. We hurt each other. Thank God we made up!

What are the expectations that you place on yourself? I was really stressed out one day. The Lord showed me that the root of my stress was an expectation that I put on myself. I had placed an expectation upon myself that was unreasonable. No one put it on me. I did it. I was sabotaging myself. I'm not saying that we shouldn't challenge ourselves. Sometimes we just go overboard.

What are the expectations that you are placing on others? Are they clearly communicated? Are they fair? Are they self-centered? Are they realistic? Are they thought out?

The Old Testament prophet Micah wrote;
"O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:8

We can expect to take the Lord at his word. His word is true. When we blow it we can receive the grace to repent. We receive the love that forgives us all our sins. Do we extend the same love, mercy and forgiveness?

So, what do you expect?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


"Just as Death and Destruction are never satisfied, so human desire is never satisfied." Proverbs 27:20 NLT

When I was a kid, the Rolling Stones had a hit song called "Satisfaction". The words said, "I try, and I try, and I try, and I can't get no...satisfaction."

I think many of us feel the same way--unsatisfied. We look for satisfaction, but never quite get it, or get enough. The addict that can't get high enough. The drunk that can't get drunk enough. The porn addict that can't get his or her fill. The affairs, the greed, the obsessions, the gluttony, the debt, the corruption. We seem to be leaky buckets--never getting enough.

The Bible says that human desire is never satisfied. "Never" is a big word. What we try to find satisfaction in are only quick fixes to a deeper problem. We need Jesus. That leads to the question, "Is Jesus enough?"

I seem to be unsatisfied when Jesus isn't enough for me. The Bible says to "seek first the Kingdom of God, and the things we need will be given to us." I mess it up by seeking the needs and the wants first. That's when it gets sideways. Jesus is replaced by the "Kingdom of Eric."

Isn't it time to ask ourselves if Jesus is enough? What about the things that we are looking to for satisfaction? What's their cost? Are they eternal? Are they worth it?

The Bible says,"I would feed you with the finest wheat.
I would satisfy you with wild honey from the rock.”
Psalm 81:16

Tired of getting no satisfaction? Try Jesus.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Get Going!

"Jesus came and told his disciples, 'I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'” Matthew 28:18-20 NLT

I remember a missionary to Venezuela who started an orphanage for street kids. He told me that God never told him to go to Venezuela. He visited the country, saw the need, and met it. He said, "Jesus has already told us to go. I saw a need and thought,'What would Jesus do? He would help the orphans.' So that's what I did."

A friend mentioned to me once that maybe our prayer ought to be, "Should I stay?", not "Should I go?" I knew what he meant. So many of us are looking for purpose. We want to serve God, to make a difference. But we wait around most of our lives, waiting on God to show us what to do. I suggest that God is waiting on us. Jesus told his disciples to "go" and make other disciples.

Over and over in scripture, we see that as Jesus and his followers "went along their way", things happened. The woman at the well. A woman's son raised from the dead. A tax collector's salvation.

Where has God told you to go? Go to your job, your classroom, your family, your community. As we "go", God shows us what he's doing and how we can join him. We waste time waiting for the plan, when in fact Jesus is the plan. Follow him. Build your relationship with him. He is the way and will show you the way.

Remember Jesus said to go. Not sit around and watch what happens. So GO!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Plank Eye

"'Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.'" Matthew 7:1-5 The Message

"'And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?'" Matthew 7:3 NKJV

Have you ever had "Plank Eye"? Do you know Brother or Sister "Plank Eye"? Maybe you are Brother or Sister Plank Eye. You know what I mean. The kind of person that feels their call in life is to point out other people's faults or failures. They really don't have their own lives together, but seem to take the liberty finding, and pointing out, the faults or weaknesses in people around them.

The last time that I looked at the list of Spiritual gifts in the Bible, I never saw the gift of critical spirit. The critical spirit really seems to move corporately in the Church when the hand of God is moving. The critical spirit raises up in opposition to the move of God. Just check out the Gospels and look at the Pharisees.

I know that we are called to speak truth into each other's lives and hold one another accountable. I'm not saying to look the other way when people within the church are sinning. I'm surrounded by people that I have made myself accountable to. But give me a break! I think sometimes we take liberty to be fault-finders instead of faith-builders. What's happened? Why are we speck finders? Who do we think we are?

If we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and His titles are the Comforter, Encourager and Advocater and we keep shooting each other in the foot, what spirit are we operating in? What witness are we to the world? What are we doing to build each other up?

Come on Church, let's get rid of the planks!

"Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." Hebrews 10:24,25 NLT

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Grace to Continue

"The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.
But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked."
Proverbs 24:16 NLT

I was in a wedding rehearsal. I was standing at the usual place where you officiate the ceremony. I watched as a toddler, barely able to walk, made her way up the aisle. She was to be a part of the ceremony. She was a little uncertain about everything as she continued on wobbly legs. Sometimes laughing, crying, stumbling, falling, but always continuing on.

Those in the wedding party were encouraging the little toddler forward. But it was her mother, who sat in the front seat encouraging her, that her eyes would fix on. She would lock onto her mother's face and continue with outstretched arms. Sometimes when she would take a hard fall and just couldn't get up, her mother would pick her up, kiss her, and then go back to her seat ever encouraging her daughter forward.

I got to thinking that's how it is with us on our journey with Jesus. We trip, we stumble and we fall. I think of the man I knew that went bankrupt on Friday and started a very lucrative business the following Monday. The single parents that I know who, at a very young age, have gone through more hardships and loss than many of us will experience in a lifetime. They continue on as shining examples for us.

What is causing you to trip up? Have you fallen? Is it sin, a relationship, a paradigm shift, an unmet expectation, condemnation or something else?

The Bible says that those that have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have become the righteousness of God. We have a righteous standing in God's eyes. He promises that even though we may stumble and take hard falls in this life, He will give us the grace to continue. Continue toward what? To His loving arms. To the place He has prepared for us in heaven. A place where there is no pain or suffering.

So, like my little toddler friend, may you continue to fix your eyes on Jesus in your journey. When you trip and fall, don't fret. Don't lose hope. Trust that He will give you the grace to continue.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Testimony of Love

"'So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.'” John 13:34,35 NLT

I think that many of us may have the wrong idea of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. I think we look at things like being a good person, church attendance and participation, scripture reading and other exercises, as the proof that we are Christians. But what about that? Is that right?

Bible study, prayer, service and corporate worship are all good things and may help to facilitate a relationship with Christ. They are not, however, the evidence of a life surrendered to following Christ. Jesus said that the way we loved people would be the proof that He was real and we are following Him. He called us to live lives that loved well.

Let's face it, many times it's easier to engage in the spiritual disciples than love each other. True love starts with receiving God's love for us. Then being able to love ourselves and those around us. Biblical love doesn't mean that I agree with you, like you or have anything in common with you. It means I genuinely love you.

This is how the Bible describes love:
"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand it's own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Genuine love reflects the love that God gives to each of us. It loves people with no strings attached. It is a gift from God to us and we are called to exercise this gift. Those that haven't received Jesus don't care how much time you spend in study and prayer. They want to know if you will love them. Jesus does. What about you?

The saying that a person doesn't care how much you know, until they know how much you care, is true. Jesus said it would be our love that would prove He was the real deal.

Will we love each other--warts and all?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Life in the Interlude

"I think of God, and I moan,
overwhelmed with longing for his help."
Psalm 77:3 NLT

Have you ever felt like your life is going nowhere? Has your life been interrupted?

The book of Psalms is a worship book. It was meant to be used in corporate worship. We usually read the Psalms, but in ancient times they were sung or chanted. In the lyrics of the Psalms are breaks called Selahs. The actual meaning of the word Selah is uncertain. Selah seems to have been inserted by the ancient writers for a time of reflection. The New Living Translation uses the word Interlude.

We all go through "interludes" in life. Things seem to be going along fine and then, illness, crisis, or times of stagnation--where we just seem to be going nowhere- come our way.

These pauses, interludes or Selahs, can be discouraging, disheartening and depressing. They can also be times to grow closer to God. The interludes of life can cause us to draw near to the Lord, to reflect on His goodness, His timing, His faithfulness, even during hopeless situations.

I have gone through interludes that have lasted weeks, months, and even years. Looking back, I can see that they really were not pauses in life, but times when the Lord drew me closer to Him. The impact that He had on me and those around me wasn't evident at the time. Looking back I now see the profound impact during the interludes.

Psalm 77 does not end with hopelessness. During the interlude the writer drew closer to God and was filled with hope. He declares:
"O' God your ways are holy. Is there any God as mighty as you? You are the God of great wonders."

Are you in one of the interludes of life? God does not see your interlude as an interruption, but part of His bigger plan for you.

Embrace the interlude. Put your hope in the Lord!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What are You Hoping For?

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you." 1 Peter 1:3,4

I live in Mariposa, California. It was once a prosperous gold mining town. Many came seeking the riches that the Gold Rush had to offer. The miners came in droves seeking the comfort and power that wealth had to offer. Some struck it rich, but many did not. Many miners left with broken bodies, broken hearts and broken dreams.

Jesus came into our world to offer real hope. He came not only to give us strength for today, but a living hope that carries us into eternity.

With the pressures of modern day life, many of us are looking for somthing to hope in. We put our hope in our careers, our 401k plans, the value of our home, people, and our political system. All of those things offer a temporary solution at best.

What are you putting your hope in? What about Jesus?