Civil Rights

Galatians 3:28-29 – “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Okay, today’s word is actually two words, but appropriate to our current word study. You are a generation that gives me great hope for the promise of the following words from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Your generation doesn’t see differences in color or gender, like the generations before you. We are brothers and sisters in Christ and nothing supersedes this fact. As I said the other day, our ‘sameness’ as believers is more powerful than our differences. Don’t get me wrong our differences and individualism is very important and should be respected, but what binds us together so that we aren’t fixated on each other’s differences, is our faith.    1 Corinthians 12:12 says,  “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” We love each other because we recognize just how much Christ loved us. We care for each other because we know just how much Christ cared for us. We worship and sing together because we know we are undeserving of His grace and mercy. When you enter fellowship with Christians you leave your economic status at the door and check your coat of privilege. Your cultural or family background has no relevance here. Christ has center stage. He’s top billing on the playbill. He’s the star and we are His supporting cast in common unity to worship Him.

Today we celebrate the greatness of Martin Luther King, Jr. We recognize the achievements of a life that embodied the life Christ modeled for each of us to live. I’m old enough to faintly remember him, but I have been a witness to his legacy and I pray each of you will embrace his words:

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?
– Martin Luther King, Jr.



James 1:12 – “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

Luke 21:19 – “Stand firm, and you will win life.”

Perseverance – steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

Perseverance is an accurate description of my effort in writing this post. I’ve made several attempts over the past couple of days and the verses and the words just didn’t come. Can you relate? Have you had a project for school that you just couldn’t pull together?

There’s a sign in front of a church on Valleydale Road currently that says, “Life comes at you fast.” Wow! Does it ever! You are growing up in a time when technology has put the motion of life in hyperdrive. I know each of you have incredibly busy and demanding schedules every week. Our ability to persevere and gut through these challenges is important to how we achieve and advance in life. Without sounding too much like a parent, your ability to persevere in giving your best to school work will have a direct impact on the number of doors of opportunity down the road. What’s hard for all of us, in this “life comes at you fast” world, is that perseverance requires patience. Patience is not something wired in our DNA. We have to learn it. Often the struggle to persevere involves developing patience when things are not working out at the speed we would like. Being patient is one of the Fruits of the Spirit that doesn’t necessarily involve being patient with others, but with ourselves, and even with God...

So what about your faith? Obviously, God wants us to persevere in our walk with Him. But we have free will. We have the will to choose whether or not we will continue the journey with Him. We all face obstacles in maintaining our walk with the Lord and that will continue. Spiritual perseverance is connected to our faith and to God’s grace. When we stumble, when we fall short, God extends grace to us to forgive and allow us to move on. The problem is when some people hit a bump, they think they can’t recover from what they’ve done, they can’t be forgiven, and they fall away from God and quit their walk with Him. God extends grace, we have to choose to receive it and to persevere, by faith, through the consequences of our actions. Perseverance means we simply don’t quit. Here’s a verse I want us to explore:

Revelation 12:11 – “They overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimonies; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

This verse speaks to me about perseverance. We are going to overcome this world and the deceptions of Satan by the blood of the Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ. We are also going to overcome and persevere on this journey with God through the word of our own testimonies. When I finally realized that I was not alone in my struggles in my walk with the Lord, it was transformational! I know it sounds strange, but I thought I was the only one who was struggling to overcome my sin. You’re going to fall short, but your perseverance to continue in your faith and allow God to restore you is YOUR TESTIMONY! God will use your testimony to help someone else recover from their struggle. It’s a beautiful thing. God gives us grace to reconcile ourselves with Him, God uses our testimonies to heal each other through our struggles, and we all persevere as God transforms us from the brokenness of who we were to the beauty of who he has designed us to be. This song describes that desire to have God transform us…


1 Peter 2:9-10 – “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 

Unity – the state of being united or joined as a whole.

The Apostle Paul stressed the importance of unity. As believers and members of the body of Christ, we must live in unity. We each came into this world with no choice in the matter. We were born into the circumstances and environments that are unique to each of us. We have different economic, social, cultural and family backgrounds, which make each of us a little different and influences our perception of everyone else. But the beauty of our faith is that we are united in a common love and common worship of Jesus Christ. Our ‘sameness’ is actually more powerful than our diversity. Here’s what Paul has to say:

Philippians 2:1-2 – “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” 

Now we turn to Ephesians chapter 4, titled: Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ. There is tremendous depth in the words of Paul as he explains the importance of unity and through that unity we grow together “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13).  Read that verse again. We are striving for unity in the faith, and Paul says at some point we will attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ!  Do you hear the power of these words? Can you imagine having the full measure of the character of Christ? I wish there were a way to articulate or illustrate the power of unity in Ephesians 4. If you search YouTube you will find hour long sermons, detailed whiteboard drawings, and academic teachings that break down the verses of Ephesians 4 into deep detail. And as much as I LOVE this chapter, I leave you with this simple video:


Matthew 28:19 – “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”

Disciple – a personal follower of Jesus during his life, especially one of the twelve Apostles. A follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Let’s go back for a moment to Judea in the first century A.D. Understand that the “bible” at that time was the first five books of the Bible; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, also known as the Torah. Jews didn’t walk around with a Torah app on their phones, or a bound Torah under their arms. There were no printed Torahs. There were a precious few handwritten scrolls that contained the Torah, and those scrolls were in the possession of the “masters of the scripture”, the Rabbis. A Rabbi would teach the Torah to students, and the students who excelled in memorizing the Torah would be chosen to follow the Rabbi. These followers, many of them teenagers, were known as the Rabbi’s Talmidim, or disciples.

In first century A.D., God’s word was spoken, not read. Jews attended temple services to hear the word of God as it was read from the Torah. This was their only contact with the word of God. Jewish followers of a particular Rabbi were said to be “yoked” to that Rabbi. That Rabbi controlled their access to God’s word simply by what he chose to read from the Torah.

Think about the access you and I have to the Word of God. We not only have the Word at our disposal, but we have every imaginable commentary and discussion instantly available on our phone or computer. Being a disciple means focusing time and effort to learn the teachings of Christ and God’s word.

Disciple was probably always a hard word for me because it is the root word of discipline… So I didn’t read or study God’s word as a teen, or as a twenty-something, or for much of my thirties… That lack of Bible knowledge cost me dearly over those years and kept me from finding my faith. Now I will admit that I wasn’t receptive to learning God’s word either, but I hope you have been impressed by Joe, Erika and the Fuel leaders that learning, become a disciple of God’s word is critical to your growth, not only as a Christian but in making important life decisions as well. Being a disciple means having a hunger to learn what God has for you. I got that hunger after a lot of battles in life, and finally realizing I didn’t have all the answers I thought I did. My constant prayer for each of you when I upload these posts is that you will find that hunger now, like the Talmidim did 2,000 years ago.



2 Corinthians 1:20 – “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”

Promise – a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen.

Joshua 23:14 – You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” 

God has made many promises to us. Let me share a few:

1 John 2:24-25 – “As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.”

1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalms 103:12 – “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us..”

John 16:13 –  “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I haven’t counted, but I have read there are well over a thousand promises in the Bible. I look at God’s promises as guidance. Some of God’s promises direct us to do something in which God says when we do, there’s a blessing in it. For example, we studied Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will guide your path.” If you think about it, this is a huge promise from God! He’s saying we don’t need to rely on our own wisdom to make decisions in life, but rather turn those decisions over to Him, the creator of the universe, and let Him guide our decisions. Wow! That’s a powerful promise, BUT it requires us to turn those decisions over to Him, and that requires our last word – “FAITH”. I find, including myself, that people struggle with giving things over to God. If I can share anything with you, start turning your struggles and decisions over to God now! I speak from experience that He will give you better direction than you will make on your own. Trust in the Lord! You may, and probably won’t get an immediate answer, but remember God’s timing is not our timing, and God’s timing is always perfect, not ours. But you will know when God, through the Holy Spirit, gives you answers and direction.

The world is a heap of broken promises. It is filled with good intentions, but we are broken, and imperfect, and often don’t keep the promises we make. The sooner you begin putting your trust in the Lord, your whole trust, the sooner you will walk out life in God’s promises. God may not answer you the way you want, but He will always do what is best for you. It may mean you have to walk through struggles, but understand God is growing and strengthening us through those struggles. In the end, remember God’s greatest promise that if we remain in Him, He will give us eternal life with Him.


Relativism is the belief that there’s no absolute truth, only the truths that a particular individual or culture happen to believe. I was driving today and saw a bumper sticker I’m sure you’ve seen many times. The video below will give you a brief history of the origin of this aggregation of symbols:

COEXIST has become a symbol to promote world peace and specifically peace among the various religions, which is a good thing (I believe this was Bono’s message in the video). However, it has also become a symbol of religious relativism.  Religious relativism says that there are no absolutes regarding god and a divine creator. In other words, each religion of the world has it right and each leads down a path to God.

Below is a short video by Sean McDowell that outlines why Christianity is different from all the other religions of the world. I hope you will take a couple of minutes to watch

Let me close with this to make my point about truth. In John chapter 18, Jesus has been arrested and is taken ultimately to Pontious Pilate, the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judea. The Jewish leaders want Pilate to judge and sentence Jesus, so Pilate confronts Jesus and here is part of that exchange from John 18:

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.

I emphasized the response by Jesus, “the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth.” God sent His only son on a rescue mission to save the world and to save you and me. The purpose of that mission was to bring forth the truth. As teenagers, you may already encounter other teens who adopt a religious relativism view. I can almost certainly guarantee you will encounter this mindset in the next few years. Our culture promotes this view and the view that no one is wrong and no one is right, we all should just accept each person’s viewpoint and belief system and morality. There has to be absolute truth! God created the world and the universe in order, not chaos. It isn’t relative, it’s definite. Because He loves us, Jesus wants us to know that there is only one truth and only one way to God.


“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

I trust you recognize the verse above, Hebrews 11:1, as it was one of our verses from 2016. Yesterday, we discussed hope. I said that hope is the intercessor to the things we desire that we can’t control in life. Hope is a feeling that brings comfort to the uncertainties we face.

But faith, faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Are you following where I’m going here? As Christians, and more importantly, as believers, we have faith that God is in control of all things. God is guiding our path and direction. God loves us and doesn’t want to harm us. We have confidence through our faith that God knows best for our lives and thus we can face the uncertainties, not out of hope, but out of our faith in Him.

That doesn’t mean we won’t face problems. It doesn’t mean we are immune to loss and tragedy. It doesn’t mean that God is going to provide a positive outcome in every situation we face. It means that God has a purpose behind all of the outcomes, positive and negative, in our lives. There may be a school you are applying to attend that you don’t get accepted to, but you have to realize that God had a bigger purpose for why you weren’t accepted. We have to walk through this life with confidence, our faith, that although the immediate circumstances weren’t what you may have hoped for, God has a reason that is leading you down a better path, with a better ending and a greater purpose.

We live in a world focused on fame and fortune. The world wants you and I to pursue fame, notoriety, and fortune with all we have, but I ask you, do you really believe God put you and I on this earth to acquire fame and fortune? God wants us to live our lives focused on loving and glorifying Him in all that we do. This runs counter to the world. Now you may attain fame and fortune in your life, and God may have blessed you with both, but it is for His purpose and to ultimately glorify Him. We’ve seen a lot of celebrity deaths in the past few weeks. Many of those celebrities definitely achieved fame and fortune but lived horrible lives in the process. George Michael fought a lot of demons most of his life and appeared to be a very loving, but tortured soul. God is directing our lives towards joy and contentment, not fame and fortune and that may be your life’s blessing in the end. We have to live by faith that our heavenly Father knows what is best for you and me.

We Start with Hope

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19

Welcome to 2017 and our 21 days of fasting and focus on God’s word! The format is not going to change much, but I feel lead to focus these next 21 days on special words from the Bible. We start off with “hope”.
Over the Christmas holidays, I watched a movie I had never seen before that some of you, especially the girls, have probably seen; A Walk to Remember ( It’s a chick flick for sure, which is maybe why I hadn’t seen it, but it is a great story with an awesome message. So I encourage you to find a time to watch it.
One of my favorite Christian (though they don’t label themselves as such) groups is Switchfoot. There are several songs by Switchfoot in the movie, but one, in particular, is Only Hope. Here’s a link to it with the lyrics from YouTube:

I love the opening lyrics of this song: There’s a song that’s inside of my soul. It’s the one that I’ve tried to write over and over again. I’m awake in the infinite cold. But you sing to me over and over and over again. Is there a song inside of your soul? I hope so! More importantly, I hope you hear God singing into your soul as well for God is our only hope!

It’s a soulful word. We connect with hope. We hold on to it. We lose it. We find it. Hope is a soulful and very personal word for you and me. We can’t see it, but we can feel it. Our hope is both profound and meaningless. We hope for love, for world peace and the end to poverty, but we also hope it isn’t going to rain today, or that we don’t run out of gas before we make it to a gas station.
“It’s so hard to love,
There’s so much to hate
Hanging on to hope, when there is no hope to speak of.” George Michael, Praying for Time.
“When there is no hope to speak of.” Have you been there? Have you experienced a loss that shattered you to the core that you couldn’t find any hope left to grasp? I wear those scars, the scars of being broken, having my heart split in two. Our minds do an incredible job of erasing the details of those moments, as time heals all wounds. I recently cleaned out a piece of furniture that I was giving away, and there they were; photos. Photos of family members that have left this world. Photos of my ex-wife and a time when we were one family. Smiling faces of little kids who are now grown and living their lives many miles away. Maybe you have experienced a similar loss of a family member, or your parents have divorced. It can be hard to reflect on, but it reminds us that when we have those moments of feeling hopeless, there’s still hope, there’s still a life for us to pursue and experience. Sure, it will be different, but it just may be better.
Hope moves us forward
Hope is forward looking. We don’t hope for things in the past, we hope for things in the future, because the future is uncertain. We have no guarantees for tomorrow, and that uncertainty is out of our control, it is outside our vision, it isn’t tangible, and thus it can cause fear and doubt. We want answers and we want to fill certain about our life’s trajectory. Hope fills the void of uncertainty. The things we know are certain, don’t need hope. I don’t hope the sun will rise in the morning, but I may hope that I will see the sunrise in the morning. Just as I don’t hope that 8:00 am will occur, but I may hope that traffic doesn’t keep me from getting to school by 8:00 am. Hope is the intercessor to the things we desire that we can’t control in life. We hope it all works out! You and I want things in this life to all work out for the best. We desire the best for our families. We want our pursuits and our work to have value. We want financial security and good health. Hope covers all the uncertainties of life so that we can move forward, coping with our fears and doubts.
We’re wired to move forward. We may have our moments where we idle for a time, but in the end, we move forward. We may take steps backward, but we desire to move forward. Foundational to making this life journey is hope.


New Year: New Beginnings

I’ve been offline for a couple of weeks now and it has been a nice break. December for working adults and parents tends to be a frantic race of ‘to-do’ lists, schedules, deadlines, etc. There’s a scarcity of time, or in other words, there’s just way too many things to get done within the confines of a normal 24 hour day. So it has been for me, especially with my work, so I have had to pick my battles of what I could and couldn’t get done, and frankly, with exams in early December and being out of school for Christmas, I’m sure you have enjoyed the break from our routine.

I wanted to close out 2016 to talk about “TIME”. The Lord has impressed upon me some thoughts about time; our time here on earth, our time together, our use of time, our waste of time, our stress over time, our importance around time. So please indulge me one last time in 2016 and take your time to read below and let me know your thoughts…

Moses leads the Israelites from captivity in Egypt, but they’ve got a problem; Pharaoh and his armies are on their heels and there’s a sea of water in front of them. There are no boats waiting, no bridge to cross, they are facing the end of the road, with no way out. They need a miracle, and (as we know from the Charlton Heston movie) Moses calls upon the Lord, and the Lord parts the sea by instructing Moses to hold his staff over the water. With a wall of water on either side, the caravan of Israelites crosses over the previously submerged bed of the Red Sea into the desert. As the Egyptian army’s chariots enter the seabed, God causes confusion upon them, and as the last of the Israelites reach the other side, the walls of water on each side collapse and drown the Egyptian soldiers.

Now there are a lot of object lessons in this story, but the one I want us to contemplate is this; the Israelites saw a clear, physical representation of God. They saw Him, the creator of the universe, at work, conducting miracles to get the Israelites out of their bind and to fulfill His purpose. He saved their lives and there was no doubt that He did it!

Having seen God at work to save them, how do the Israelite’s respond? Exodus 15:31 gives us their initial reaction, “And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.” So impressed were the Israelites, they even wrote and sang a song of praise to the Lord. But that was short-lived. In fact, the bible (Exodus 16:3) says it was exactly forty-five days later when the Israelites complain to Moses, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

Now, thirty-five hundred years later, it’s sure easy for me to be an armchair quarterback, but really?! God has delivered them from bondage, and when faced with certain destruction at the hands of Pharaoh and his army, he parts the Red Sea and wipes out the Egyptian army. Yet a mere forty-five days later, they have lost their belief that God will take care of them! On and on, the complaints come to Moses and Aaron, and God provides, continuing to take care of their needs. You would think the Israelites would be worshiping God day and night, but no, in fact, they end up making their own idol gods to worship. By Exodus 20, Moses is coming down the mountain with the Ten Commandments.

They witness God in action. They see God take care of their needs. They see a pillar cloud hover over them by day and a pillar of fire by night, and yet they decide instead of believing in I AM, it makes more sense to believe in a god figurine made from their own hands. No wonder God let the Israelites roam the desert for forty years! Despite all of the physical, eye-witnessing signs of God, they simply didn’t believe and trust in the Lord.

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

So, what does this have to do with time? Time is our marker. Remember, God doesn’t wear a watch, He is ageless, beyond the realm of time, but He gives us time, and free will to choose how we decide to use our time. When time is all said and done for you and me, what will really matter in the end is how we used our time. I have come to believe that God’s purpose for each of us for this brief, vapor of time on earth is to learn to love Him. He tangibly showed the Israelites His love for them, and yet they chose not to love and worship Him. He sent His son on the ultimate rescue mission to save you and me from our own destruction. Yet we tend to be like the Israelites, we spend our time worshiping other things and don’t spend time worshiping and growing to know Him. But, via our free will, we can choose to do a “reset”, and recommit our time and focus on learning how to love Him.

I’m challenging myself, and offering the same challenge to you, to start 2017 with a fresh fire and renewed purpose to focus on loving Jesus; learning the truths of His teachings and applying His witness to our lives. You may feel you are tracking along in this walk already, and that’s awesome! But I know for me; I could stand to go deeper in His Word, I could stand to be more giving, I could stand to be more compassionate, I could stand to be more prayerful for the lost, I could stand to be more honest with myself and those I love and care for the most, I could stand to let go of my priorities and focus more on His priorities.

We have 21 days of prayer and fasting beginning next week, and my hope is you will join me in taking a stand to love God that much more! Let’s stand together during those 21 days and I believe God is going to reveal Himself in ways we can’t imagine and that much more…

Love you! I pray for you and your family to have an incredibly blessed 2017!



Micah 5:2 “Jesus Would be Born in Bethlehem”

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”

This prophecy in the book of Micah was written sometime between 750 and 686 B.C. To fully appreciate the importance of this verse, you have to step back 2,000 years and understand the Jewish culture of the time. Jews in first century A.D. were very aware of the prophecies of a Messiah. They believed the prophecies would be fulfilled, but in my observation, they had a different depiction of how their Messiah would come to Earth.

To make my point, read the verses below from Matthew 2:

“1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ”

The priests and teachers of the law knew exactly where Jesus was to be born, as it had been prophesied 700 years before. The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, but they didn’t expect He would be born in a manger…