For unto us a child is born. – Isaiah 9:6


So I just read this story about a Russian lady named Babushka who lived 2,000 years ago.  The story is not a true one, but it was quite powerful as I read it.  Babushka was always cleaning and cooking.  Household matters consumed her.  They consumed her so much that she couldn’t even go outside to see the amazingly bright star everyone was talking about that had appeared out of nowhere in the night sky.


Soon after, three men knocked on her door.  They were kings!  They told her that they were following the star hoping to see the one whom it foretold. They asked if she’d like to give a gift. She said she had some toys, but they wouldn’t be good enough for the new, young king.  The wise men tried to persuade her to go with them, but she just had too much to do and they left without her.


After the wise men departed, she looked and saw the toys.  She had the overwhelming urge to give them, but they were dusty.  She spent lots of time cleaning them up really nicely.  After she was finished, she thought of catching up to the wise men, but she was tired. She thought she’d sleep a bit, but ended up sleeping a really long time.  The wise men now had quite a head start.


She headed after them anyway.  She was consistently able to find someone who saw them and say, “They went this way,” or “They went that way.”  Her journey took her all the way to the innkeeper who told her about the young couple who stayed in his stable.  He tells her that they found the one they were looking for . . . the Savior, who is Christ the Lord and he believes the family headed toward Egypt.


Babushka walked away sad and continued her search for Him, but never found Him.


We have a trillion things to do this time of year and just about that many places to be.  We can get so consumed with getting it all done that we could easily do exactly like Babushka.  Let’s purpose in our hearts that we will be like those wise men who looked up, stayed focused on the star, and got to see with their own eyes the greatest gift this world has ever been given.


Don’t let Christmas come and go only to find out that you missed Him.





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Giving and Receiving

It is more blessed to give than to receive.  — Acts 20:35

One aspect of this verse that I’ve never thought of is this: it is a whole lot easier to give than receive.  We don’t mind giving, that is easy.  It even makes us feel good to give to others, especially when they are in need.  Yet, when it comes to receiving, many Americans find that difficult.  We like to be independent.   We like to not need the help of others.  If we recover, we want it to be through our own efforts, not because we received help from someone else.

The salvation God offers only works through receiving.  Yet, countless Americans are counting on being “good enough” to earn a better afterlife.  They believe they are earning their way through morals, church attendance, good deeds, and countless other efforts.  Let’s make this clear:  Salvation from Jesus Christ can only be received, not earned.

If we could only get a taste of just how much He loves us.  We would so freely and so quickly accept the gift of His salvation.  God so loved us that He gave.  Love always gives.  Love always costs something.  For us to receive Him, we have to give up our pride, call ourselves sinful, and recieve His mercy, grace, and forgiveness.  Eventually, we will begin to drop sinful habits.  But, the cool thing is this:  By the time you drop these habits, it will be because you want to, not because you have to.  You will realize more and more that He gave His Son, therefore the least you can do is give Him your life.

This Christmas season, evaluate your heart and receive the free gift of salvation.  It is the best thing offered in this life.  Nothing else even comes close.



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Counter Cultural

Whoever abides in Him does not sin.  Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.  – 1 John 3:6

So I just watched part of a documentary about how our current young adults feel about and treat sexual activity in America.  The language was really bad and after about 20 minutes or so, my heart just kind of broke for whatever this is we have going on in our country.  Basically, hundreds of thousands of “Spring Breakers” at the beach just straight up admit that sex with any willing partner is just fine. No dating, no getting to know each other, and supposedly no regrets when it is all over.

After I got saved as a teenager, I became so aware of sexual sin.  I will never forget how flat out guilty I would feel.  I’ll never forget all those times going to an altar asking for forgiveness and promising I wouldn’t do it again . . . all to do it again and repeat the process.  Watching pornographic videos would just make me feel so dirty.  I found out there is a reason why they are called “dirty” movies. I tried to act around my friends like I was “cool” with all of it, but inside my soul was going crazy.  The Holy Spirit just would not let me be comfortable in outward, obvious, blatant sin.

I wondered if any of those kids being interviewed had the same thing going on in their hearts that I did. Maybe they had asked Jesus to forgive them at some previous time in their lives, and even though they were talking all big and bad around their friends and in front of the camera, did some little voice in their minds scream, “This is wrong!” like it did me?

The Bible is a scalpel that will surgically cut the sin right out of you.  I can’t tell you the last time I heard preaching on a verse like this.  I want to think it was probably from my Church of God days as a teenager.  They seemed to always hit my favorite sins head on. No dancing around it, no making me feel better about it or myself, just a big, monstrous freight train ready to annihilate me along with my sinfulness.  Here is the bottom line:  If you have supposedly been with God for a while, abiding in Him if you will, and you are comfortable with your foul mouth, your fornication, your adultery, your pornography, your lying, your anger, or just whatever you know is wrong and goes against His Word . . . you are not His, and you do not know Him.

I didn’t say it, the Bible did.  In fact, more specifically, John did.  John, who had such anger issues that Jesus called him a “son of thunder.”  He didn’t stay angry throughout the rest of his life. He was changed over time.  That’s why later in his life when he is writing 1 John he basically says, “If you go with God and stick with God, you will change! Sin will slowly but surely die in your life.  If this is not true in your life, you don’t know Him.”

I hope to God this doesn’t come across as if I’m some perfect, changed example of a true Christian. He has changed me over the years. Nevertheless, the more I get changed, the more I realize I need to change.   I still get convicted to the point of tears and crying out to God. For example, I just heard a young girl preach this past Sunday who treasured God’s Word to a much greater degree than I do.  I was so convicted.  I prayed right then and there that I would fall in love with His Word.  Yet, here I am two days later and I left my favorite Bible at work.  I have to ask myself, “How much do I really treasure His Word?”  It didn’t even cross my mind as I was leaving.  How many times have I picked up my Bible and sleepily trudged through it?  Countless. So often, I don’t see His Word as a light for my path and a lamp for my feet.  I want to love it.  I want to revere it.  I want to obey it.  I want to hear Jesus say the words to me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” I want to be so changed as I abide in Him.

Here is the truth of the matter:  If I stay exactly the same after claiming to have known God for any extended period of time, then I am a liar because I don’t really know Him.  The scariest words God will say to the overwhelming majority of human beings are these:

“Depart from me, I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23)

Lord, change me.  Make me who you would have me be.  Help me not sin against you.




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A Whole New World

A Whole New World


For He raised us up from the dead with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united in Christ Jesus,  – Ephesians 2:7


I took my little boy to see Wreck-it-Ralph 2 last night.  I saw so many spiritual applications in that movie.  But this morning, I’d like to talk about one of them.  Ralph, in the first movie and the first part of the second movie, was confined to the arcade.  He could bounce back and forth only between the limited number of games at Litwak’s Family Fun Center.  When Litwak’s brought in the latest game in part 2, it was connected to Wi-Fi; hence there was access to the Internet.  The world that opened up to Ralph and Vanellope was like nothing they’d ever seen before.  They realized there was so much more than their simple existence.


It is so easy to stay confined here in Earth’s “arcade.”  We play the same games over and over.  We have games called Work, Family, Pleasure, Leisure, Entertainment . . . so many people are constantly playing the same games over and over, day after day.  Yet, there is this one game called “God.”  When you play it, it is connected to the Internet.  It takes you places you never thought possible to go.  It takes you to heavenly realms.


There are tons and tons of books in this world that we can read.  Yet, there is only one that is connected to the Internet . . . the Bible. It opens up a world that you didn’t even know existed.  This book reveals the game that you play too much in this life and just how futile it is. You think you are reading it, but it turns out that it is reading you.  It is constantly showing you the smallness of the arcade that you live in and brings you up to where God is.


This past week, I have visited the heavenly realms like no other week.  It has totally restored the joy that I have in Him.  It has made me so aware of everyone who is stuck in their own little arcade with their own little selection of games that they have played for years and years now.  Oh, if they could only be introduced to Him!  If only their eyes could be opened to this whole new world!


Lord, it is amazing how stuck I can get for weeks at a time. I go through the motions.   I go for such a long time and I haven’t really connected with You.  I have so little joy apart from you.  I look around me and the people around me have so little joy.  People get so bored playing the same life games over and over yet they play them over and over and never unplug.  People get critical of others who don’t play these vain, pointless games as well as they do.  One day very soon all the games are going to be unplugged.  When that happens, it will be too late.  So many will realize that they wasted their existence.  So many will realize that they were dead all along and You were offering to raise them up the entire time and take them to heavenly realms.  Wake us who know you up.  Fill us with your Holy Spirit that the world might see that we are plugged in somewhere not-of-this world and want what we have.  I was dead.  You have made me alive!  Do it for others, Lord!  Let me never take You for granted.  Send revival to our land, Lord. 


Hallelujah, Thine the glory! 

Hallelujah, Amen. 

Hallelujah, Thine the glory! 

Revive us again!





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Just Never Let Go


I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.  – John 14:6


I have been stuck on Pat Barrett song “The Way” for weeks now.  It plays like an earworm in my mind . . . even at 2:18 in the morning.  Right after learning how to play and sing the song, I read around the verse for some context.  Turns out, Jesus said this to one of His disciples named Thomas.  After being told by Jesus that He’d be leaving them, Thomas kind of freaked out.  Jesus had just said some words that still comfort me today, “I go to prepare a place for you,” and “I’ll come back to get you when everything is ready.”  Thomas couldn’t fathom being away from Jesus. After all, he had given up everything to follow Him.  So he just blurted out, “We don’t know where you are going, Lord.  How can we get there?”  Then, Jesus said the words that so many Christians have memorized over the centuries . . .


I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6


I just had the weirdest dream.  The thing that made it weird is how much time passed in the dream . . . years.  I walked out this door, apparently from some gymnasium, and this woman, who was not my current wife, greeted me as if she were my wife; which it turns out in my dream, she was.  I wondered immediately what happened to Tonya . . . what in the world did I do to mess that up?  Years of stuff passed . . . years!  To make a crazy long dream short, it ended with my new wife saying to me, “promise me that you’ll never leave me.”  I looked at her and said, “I can’t.  I promised my last wife I wouldn’t leave her, but I did.  I even promised God I’d never leave her, and I still did.  Why would you believe me if I told you that?”  I just couldn’t believe that I had let go.


Then, I woke up.  I’m not so sure I had ever been so thankful that Tonya was just a few feet away from me . . . still with me!  I thought about hugging her, but let’s just say, I know better than to wake her up at 2 in the morning.  Oh well, she can find out like everyone else . . . by reading this WMD!


I like how the stories go together.  The answer Jesus gave to Thomas was, “No matter what, never ever let go of me!” The answer to longevity in marriage is, “No matter what, don’t ever let go of one another.”  I do realize that there are two people involved and both have to be on board, and it really helps if they both are plugged in to God.  Both have to do what they said they’d do on day one. It makes me so sad to hear the stories where one did right and held on while the other just let it all go.


Thank God, Jesus will never let us go.  If someone leaves the relationship, it will not be Him.  If you want to be with Him for all of eternity, grab a hold of Him and never let go.  He is the way, the truth, and the life.  Nobody has eternal life except through Him.  He promises to never let go of you.


I have often wondered why Jesus would put Himself out there for the kind of rejection He endures by people who one day say they love Him and will follow Him, but then so quickly jump in bed with the gods of this world.  I can’t read the book of Hosea without utter disbelief that God keeps on taking us back like that.  Not just take us back, but also pay such a high cost to get us back.  When Jesus says, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you,” He means it.


So maybe you are like Thomas was a very short time after this conversation he had with Jesus. Maybe you feel like God is so far away and you can’t get to Him.  You and I have to do the same thing he did . . .


Just never let go.





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Joseph of Arimathea


Then he took the body down from the cross – Luke 23:53


For some reason, I’ve never given much thought to the man who gave Jesus his own tomb.  Matthew 27, verse 57 says he was  “a rich man, who had become a disciple of Jesus.”  Mark 15, verse 43 calls him “a prominent member of the Council.”  The Council refers the Sanhedrin.  They were the group who called for the Crucifixion of Christ.  Verse 51 of Luke 52 indicates that Joseph “had not consented to their decision and action.”


Here is a man who disagreed with a lot of what was going on around him politically.  He hated being under Roman rule and oppression.  He hated what his own group had decided to do and actually had done to Jesus.  Joseph of Arimathea probably felt guilty that he hadn’t said more or done more for his Lord. However, when Jesus drew His last breath, Joseph got permission from Pilate to bury the body.  I’m just picturing him being the first person to touch the bloody, lifeless body of his Lord and Savior.  I’m kind of blown away by it.


It had to have cost him friends.  It might have cost him his seat on the Council of the Sanhedrin.  As he handles the body of Jesus, people probably looked at him differently because he obviously cared for and loved this man named Jesus.  I imagine that his heart probably raced and he could feel the stares as he did all that it took to bury Jesus as properly as possible before nightfall when the Sabbath began.


It is interesting how a follower of Jesus goes from being a private follower to being a public follower.  I didn’t really let most people know for quite sometime.  I liked having the best of both worlds.  I was a Christian at church and around my Jesus friends.  Then, I would be worldly around my friends who didn’t really want anything to do with Him. Eventually, you do have to make a choice.  Joseph couldn’t stand the thought of Jesus not being buried properly, so he went public.


For me, I realized one Sunday at church that my sins actually hurt Jesus. Though I had never really thought about it before, all of a sudden, more than anything, I didn’t want to hurt Him with my foolish sins anymore.  Therefore, I pictured in my mind giving my sin to Him one last time.  I saw in my mind that lifeless body that gave His last drop of blood so that I might be forgiven and saved.  Like Joseph, I had to start living this thing out. I had to not care what everyone thought of me.  My actions needed to match my words.


Lord, more than anything I want to honor you with my life.  Help me so that what I say matches up with the way that I live.  Help all who will read this today by drawing them closer to you.  Fill us up with your Holy Spirit.  Make us unashamed to carry you with us and let everyone see that we love you and that you’ve made such a difference in our lives.





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As Scary as it Gets

Almost, thou persuadest me to be a Christian.  – Acts 26:28


Before the Apostle Paul died, he got the chance to stand before an Earthly king.  King Agrippa was the eighth and last ruler of the Herodian dynasty.  He held the title of King over the Jews, but in all practicality, he served Rome by keeping his people under control.  One day, he heard the case of this former, hardcore Jew turned Christian.  The Apostle Paul was also a Roman citizen appealing to the Roman courts.  When the big day comes, King Agrippa tells Paul to speak freely and all eyes fall on him.


Paul does one of the simplest things any Christian can do.  He tells his story.  He tells the court how he was a hardcore Jew who hunted down and killed Christians because he hated them.  He tells how he went on a hunt one day and got knocked off his horse and heard the voice of Jesus.  He was stuck with blindness until he was led to a man’s house named Ananias.  When Ananias prayed for Paul, his sight was restored.  Ever since that moment, Paul simply said that he has been living for the Lord, Jesus Christ. He also explained the events that brought him there that very day.


After listening to it all, King Agrippa says these words, “Almost, you persuade me to be a Christian.”




I remember the sleepless nights after I found out about Jesus.  Just like Agrippa, I was so close to becoming a Christian.  I was convinced that a man name Jesus walked this earth and changed people’s hearts, minds, and lives.  I believed that Jesus saved.  On one particular night, while staying with one of my best friends, I couldn’t take it anymore.  I had to become a Christian.  I called my youth pastor.  He picked me up, took me to Fall Creek Landing in Salem, SC, and led me in a prayer where I talked to God for the first time in something other than a rote prayer.  I simply asked Him to wash my sins away and make me a Christian.  I felt so clean and so forgiven.  I could connect with God now.  27 years later, He is the best thing that has ever happened to me.


There are so many King Agrippas out there.  They know the truth.  They know Jesus is who He says He is.  They know He changes hearts, minds, and lives for the better.  They, just like Agrippa, simply don’t want their comfortable place in life messed with.  I do understand, I really do.  It isn’t an easy thing to do.  When I got saved, I thought I was giving up so much to gain so little.  I know now that it was the other way around.  I gave up so little to gain so much.


1900 years later, I would imagine that King Agrippa, who isn’t a king anymore, wishes he could remove one word from the Bible.


The word “almost.”





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