Friday, July 31, 2020


With the American economy in the toilet (and, honestly, a good portion of the global economy), I reached into my file of "Random Things That I Probably Should Have Thrown Away A Long Time Ago" to share with you some thoughts I had last time we had a government bailout. There are lots of strong opinions floating around on the CARES Act, and there are also lot of strong opinions on whether there will (or should) be a second round of stimulus checks. This post is indifferent to the political nature of any bailout. Just have some fun with my theology. What else do we have to do these days?

Reason Why Jesus is Better than Any Bailout
  • The bailout is meant, largely, to preserve personal wealth and our global economy. But God gives us "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:4).
  • Some say that the bailouts represent a fundamental shift in the way the U.S. economy works. Fortunately, we're taught, that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).
  • The "Bush Bailout" was supposed to fix our problems, and didn't. The "Obama Bailout" was supposed to fix our problems. The first bailout under Trump didn't either.  It leaves Average Joe asking how many bailouts will it take? But Scripture tells us Jesus saved us the first time: "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God" (1 Peter 3:18).
  • Everything our government is discussing is only conjecture because we have never before had an economy like we are experiencing now, but our Savior is the same One who created the universe. He has told us: " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future' " (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
And there you have it.

My goodness, I need to get out of my house for a while.  And soon...

FMF: Respect

Give to everyone what you owe them:
If you owe taxes, pay taxes;
if revenue, then revenue;
if respect, then respect;
if honor, then honor.
Romans 3:7, NIV

This seems like such a straightforward passage.  If you owe something to someone, give it to them.  It's pretty easy to apply the concept to taxes or revenue, but when I come to the second half of the verse it gets harder.  Too often, I want to chose who deserves my respect.  I want to decide who deserves my honor.  Yet, I see that the verse does not say, "Give to everyone what you THINK you owe them."

There are some people who by virtue of their position in your life that deserve respect.  Parents.  Bosses.  Government leaders.

Pause for a moment: Government leaders?  I never doubted if I should write this; it's just that, in today's political climate, this is a controversial statement.  Respecting government leaders was the essence of Paul's words here to the believers in Rome, so I'm guessing that it was controversial in Paul's time too.  Their country did not share their faith.  There must have been moments when it was challenging to respect leaders whose decisions seemed to fly in the face of what they believed.  At times their government was trying to kill them.  At times their government was killing them.  But that's what makes respect so powerful.

I'm sure that each of us struggles with respecting different people in our lives.  I know who I struggle with.  I am challenged to ask God if there are any less obvious people to whom I do not give proper respect.

This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday and was written in approximately five minutes. For more information, visit

Monday, July 20, 2020

Psalm 3

We usually credit David with writing the book of Psalms, but it turns out he only wrote about half of them. That's still a lot of psalms, and the most of any contributor. When you read the Psalms, you can know which were written by David because they are identified as "a psalm of David." I feel silly writing that, but I never paid attention to the byline at the top of many of the psalms. So, I will guess there are others that do the same.

As far as kings go, David was pretty awesome  Most of us know some things about him – like that he was a shepherd, or that he fought Goliath, or even the fact that he became king under pretty intense circumstances – but sometimes we miss or forget that David was also a musician, and he loved to write songs to God. Forgive the comparison, but when I think about David singing and dancing for God, I imagine a person sort of like Marshall Erikson from How I Met Your Mother.

In church, we often encourage believers to talk to God through prayer, but most of us don't talk to God in song.  Tell the truth, have you ever sung out to God?  David sang to God like we would talk to a friend. Look at how Psalm 3 begins:
Lord, I have so many enemies!
So many people are rising up against me!
Many are saying about me,
“God will not save him.”
(Psalm 3:1-2, NIRV)
Those aren't the words of someone who is fulfilling a religious obligation to talk to God.  David loved God, and he used his songs to stay close to Him. 

This post is about to get a little more interactive than it usually is. I'm going to ask you to do something that feels really strange.  Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, look away from your screen and sing something to God.  Do it.  Now.
Did you do it? A good place to practice this would be in the shower.  Most of us already sing there.  Why not sing to God?  Sometimes we get tripped up on what we should say when we talk to God. One thing that David told God was what he liked about Him. For example, Psalm 3:3 says: 
Lord, you are like a shield that keeps me safe.
You bring me honor. You help me win the battle.
Most of us have grown accustomed to wearing a mask when we go out in public.  Some people go above and beyond by wearing a full face shield.  You know what I mean, those plastic ones that look like the person just came from welding something.  They keep things away from your face. They believe the shield will protect them from infection. When David sang that God is like a shield, he meant that God is protecting him, sort of like a face shield.

There were lots of things happening to David that were dangerous, but he knew that God was with him. David wrote in verse 6: 
I won’t be afraid even though tens of thousands
attack me on every side.
David trusted God.  When he wrote that he was attacked by ten thousand, it was not figurative.  Remember, David wanted to build a temple for God, but he was a man of war (1 Chronicles 28:3). If David could trust God in every situation he faced, we can trust God in every situation we face.  And maybe we can express that faith like David, in song.

I am Apollos

What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
1 Corinthians 3:5-9, NASB

It's summer time in Southern California, a summer that I desperately needed.  In past years summer has meant a lot less to me.  For years I worked five days a week in an air conditioned building.  If it were 100 degrees outside, I was still leaving the house with a sweater.  I might get the chance to step outside for lunch and feel the warmth of the sun, but that sun was gone again as soon as my break was over. Since I stopped working full time, I have come to appreciate the seasons, mostly because I experience them now.
My first cucumber in early growth.

My newest joy is my garden.  Yes, I have had things growing my back yard (and front yard, actually) since we bought our home eight years ago.  I have written before about my benefiting from another's work.  When my yard got a major trim this month, I was sad at how much they cut off my fruit trees.  Then I reminded myself that I waste a lot of the fruit that is produced, and everything will grow back.  In fact, it will grow back stronger for the trimming that occurred.

Right now the shining gem of my garden is my single cucumber plant that I could easily take too much credit for.  It was my mother in law who showed up at my door with seeds and a trellis for the vines to creep up.  It was my son, under my mother in law's guidance, who turned the dirt.  It is me, though, who faithfully waters the plant.  Everyday.  Sometimes, twice a day.  As Paul wrote, it was God who made it grow.  There is nothing I could have done to make that plant grow.

Paul recognized his place in the hierarchy believers.  He was someone who said yes to God, one of many someones.  I love my cucumber plant, and I am looking forward to the fruit it produces. However, the plant would have grown for anyone who did the work that my family did.  The believers in Corinth did not understand this truth.

The modern church sometimes gets hung up on things that don't matter.  There are groups who believe they have exclusive access to God because of the day they worship, the age at which they baptize, who they accept in their priesthood, or the way they talk to God.  This is what Paul identifies as "jealousy and strife" in verse 3.

I am Apollos.  I can only take credit for watering my garden.  It would not have mattered if I used a bucket or a hose.  One may be appropriate for one part of my garden and the other more appropriate for another part of my garden.  Where seed is being sown, cultivated, and watered, God will do the rest.

Friday, July 17, 2020

FMF: Smile

“O our God, hear your servant’s prayer! Listen as I plead. For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary."
Daniel 9:17, NLT

Something is changing in my heart, and I'm not sure it's a very popular opinion: I don't hate that our churches are closed.  I am encouraged by my pastor who often reminds me the church building is not where God's presence is.  Remember, a day is coming, and is already here, when we won't worship God on a temple or in a mountain, but in spirit and truth (John 4).  Yes, God's presence lives in the hearts of His believers, whose lives reflect the Spirit that lives with in them.

Enter Daniel.  He's certainly a big biblical character.  Yet, we don't often study him pleading with God to "smile again on your desolate sanctuary."  Smile, here, is better translated enlighten.  Can you imagine the darkened temple being illuminated as the torches were lit up?  At first a little light, then more, until finally every corner could be clearly seen.

The temples of our hearts are darkened.  Some have been darkened long before the word coronavirus had ever been heard by our ears or muttered by our lips.  So I pray, as Daniel did, that God would light up our hearts.  We are suffering a punishment that was due us, but God is merciful.  I pray God lights our hearts - not for our sake, but for His.  

Read the entire chapter of Daniel 9 HERE, and let yourself feel the realness, the humanness of Daniel's words.

This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday and was written in approximately five minutes. For more information, visit

Monday, July 13, 2020

Psalm 1

Blessed is the person who obeys the law of the Lord.
They don’t follow the advice of evil people.
They don’t make a habit of doing what sinners do.
They don’t join those who make fun of the Lord and his law.
Instead, the law of the Lord gives them joy.
They think about his law day and night. 
(Psalm 1:1-2, NIRV)

When I was a child, my favorite toy was a stuffed dog called LeMutt. I loved LeMutt. It made me happy to play with him. I threw him around. I took him on trips with me. Sometimes I just let him ride on my shoulder.  As childhood toys do, LeMutt brought me a lot of joy.  Unfortunately, as often also happens to childhood toys, something sad happened: I lost him.

Years went by, and I could not find him. Until one day, my sister gave me a special birthday present. She had found LeMutt.  It wasn't actually my LeMutt; it was a replacement she found on eBay.  I didn't care; it was like she had given me back a part of myself.

LeMutt is a little bit like the Bible. The psalmist wrote that the law of the Lord brings him joy. Because the Bible brought him joy, he thought about it day and night, just like that tattered old stuff dog that I dragged around.  When something is special, we pay attention to it. We respect it. We don’t forget about it or lose it. We carry it around with us. We should find joy like that in scripture.  I have not always found joy in it.  I still struggle with this.  I call reading my Bible a "discipline."  Of course, it is a discipline, but it should be a passion too.

Twinkie likes to cuddle with LeMutt too.
The only other activity that I can compare this paradox to is running.  About ten years ago I woke up very early on Thanksgiving morning, unable to go back to sleep.  I had just moved, and I was about two miles away from our town's annual Turkey Trot.  I knew a few people who were going, but it seemed crazy for me to go.  I didn't even own appropriate clothes. I'm so thankful that I talked myself into going that morning.  I walked those three miles in my jeans, and it began a change in me.  First, I bought some running pants.  Then, I found myself walking more places.  Eventually, I was jogging.  At some point a friend joined me, and we signed up for a race.  I started eating healthier and logging miles.  I had become a runner.  It was a discipline, but I loved it. I eventually let running slip lower on my priority list.  These days I can barely jog a mile or two.  I lost my discipline, but I recall the joy.

We take care not to lose things that are really important to us. These day I keep LeMutt somewhere special so that I don’t lose him.  Scripture should also be kept somewhere special.  Psalm 119:11 says “I have hidden your word in my heart so that I won’t sin against you.” When we hide God’s word in our hearts, no one can ever take it away from us.  There is no where else to guarantee it.

Friday, July 10, 2020

FMF: Endure

But now your kingdom will not endure;
the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart
and appointed him ruler of his people,
because you have not kept the Lord’s command.
1 Samuel 13:14, NIV

My best friend calls me an anti-bandwagoner.  Basically, if something is really popular, I won't be interested in it, at least not until the hype has passed.  I fully admit I have a different way of looking at things. Just last week I asked a friend why she was doing something a certain way.  Wouldn't another way be easier?  I wasn't trying to tell her she was wrong; I just saw the situation differently than she did.

When I saw the prompt for today's Five Minute Friday session, I knew that many people would write about how "His love endures forever."  The phrase appears more than 40 times in the NIV translation of scripture.  Those who read the NKJV translation would be writing that "His mercy endures forever."  This is a good word, but being the anti-bandwagoner that I am, I will not.

Instead, I am writing about NOT enduring.  In 1 Samuel, we read God list one specific attribute in Saul that made him unfit to be king: Saul had not kept God's commands.  God says nothing about his vision setting goals or the economy of the nation.  His kingdom did not endure because of his relationship with God.  In that same verse, there is one attribute about David that made him worthy of the being king: David was a man after God's heart.  There is, perhaps, no other quality in a person, that God desires, except that we love him. Our ability to endure hangs on this.

This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday and was written in approximately five minutes. For more information, visit

Friday, July 3, 2020

FMF: People

So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God.
For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors,
just as God did after creating the world.
So let us do our best to enter that rest.
But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.
(Hebrews 4:9-11, NLT)

I don't often think about Sabbath as a gift, much less a special gift.  I usually think about it as another obligation.  I have to rest today.  Will God be upset if I wash laundry?  How full can I fill the sink with dirty dishes before God will not care if I wash them?  It's nonsense, and it's the wrong perspective.

The book of Hebrews gives me a better perspective, the right perspective on Sabbath.  Yes, God wants us to rest from our labor.  If you have kids or know young kids, you may have seen a child so tired that when trying to put him down for a nap, he throws a fit, crying, "I'm not tired."  The grown up knows the truth even when the child does not.  Sometimes we are those children, and God is our Father trying to get us to stop for a moment for rest.

But Sabbath is a special gift.  It is one day a week when we collectively stop and practice Heaven.  We remember "the special rest that is still waiting for the people of God."  When you think about it that way, I feel especially foolish for the way I've negotiated my rest.  It's like I'm asking God, is this enough Heaven?  No, I want all the Heaven I can get.  I want access to God, quality time with Him.

We have learned to labor; Lord, help your people to practice rest.

This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday and was written in approximately five minutes. For more information, visit