Tag Archives: Christian Life

The Journey

It’s been a long, hard morning and the afternoon looks just as rough.  Your legs hurt, your back is stiff, and your mind is screaming at you to quit.  “Just give up; it’s not worth it.”  You are tempted, but you think about what’s coming.  A hot meal, a warm shower, a good night’s sleep in a comfortable bed.  And then…  and then,  an extended vacation at your favorite place on earth, your own little slice of heaven.  Perhaps you can relate.  

Life here can make us weary, make us feel like quitting.  Sometimes, more so when we are following Jesus.  It helps to look ahead to remember what’s coming.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  (1 Peter 1:13)

Nobody knows exactly what the “grace that will be brought to you” will be like.  But we can be sure of this:  No matter what trials we have endured, what tragedy or heartache have been ours along the way, the journey will be more than worth it.  So, if you have caught your breath, let’s get back to it.  There’s a few more miles to go….

You are Precious

The pushing and shoving has already begun.  Now that the nastiness of the political campaign process is over, the winners are now jockeying and maneuvering to be the greatest in the new government, to have the most power and prestige possible.  That’s the way we do it here on earth.

But not in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus said the greatest in His Kingdom would be those with the simplest, humblest faith.  He said that each believer in His Kingdom would be personally loved and treasured by God, so much so that He would take it personally when anyone caused harm to any of them.  He spoke in the strongest terms about how horrible it would be if we hurt ourselves by getting stuck in sin.  In other words, Each of us who join His Kingdom by faith is precious.  Our importance and significance is measured by this:  we are important and loved by Him.


“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” (Matthew 18:10-14)

When you accept Jesus by faith, you are more than accepted by God.  He receives you into His family.  You are precious to Him, so much so, He will pursue you if you wander away.  God is not willing that _____________________ (put your name in the space) ever be lost!

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

God Tax

Should a church charge admission?  Why not?  It costs money to run the air conditioner and keep toilet paper in stock.  They have to pay the light bill and the custodian; why not charge people a small fee?  Rubs you the wrong way, doesn’t it?  But why?  In Old Testament times, God set up a fee system for the tabernacle expenses, that in Jesus’ day, was called “the temple tax.”

Here’s what Jesus said about it.  If you fully understand what is going on with this, then you are the first one…

After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?” “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the sons are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”  (Matthew 17:24-27)

When commentators write about this passage, their favorite word is “perhaps.”  No doubt there are some intriguing, puzzling aspects of this story.  The deal with the fish sounds like a David Blaine routine.  I don’t understand it fully, but here are a few “take-away’s.”

  • When we accept Jesus’ invitation into His Kingdom by faith, we become children of God – “sons” in His words.

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—” (John 1:12)

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! …” (1 John 3:1a)

  • The relationship we have with God  radically changes when we are received into His family.  He does not require a payment from us but, rather, provides for our needs as Our Father.  That’s why Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in Heaven…  Give us today our daily bread…”
  • As God’s children, to some extent we are exempt from many of the world’s rules and requirements.  Our citizenship is in Heaven.  Nevertheless, as we live on earth, it is right for us to peacefully submit to its taxes and rules, so as not to cause offense.  Jesus said that we are no longer “of the world” but that He sends us “into the world” to be “salt and light” in the world.  We are not obligated by the world’s rules, but submit to them voluntarily as a witness of our love for God.

Jesus frequently acted out His lessons to the disciples, and I think the coin in the fish’s mouth was an example of that.  I  don’t fully understand it, but like to “chew on it.”


Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.


The Life You’d Die to Have

You have been invited.  Act now and you can be rich, just like the guy in the infomercial, who’s standing in front of his new mansion, his arms around babes in bikinis, just back from a spin in his Maserati.  If you accept his invitation, you can have all that too – and more!  …Unless you read the fine print.

Jesus has a different invitation for you, but He begins with the fine print.  He invites you to deny yourself and die.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)

Which invitation looks better to you?  Self indulgence or self denial?  Obviously, the “get rich quick” guy is  scamming us.  But why would anyone sign up for “losing his life to find it?”  It sounds like Jesus asks us to leave behind the life we’ve worked so hard attain, along with all the its comforts. Do we really want to let go of all that?

Before you decide, watch this:

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.



What the heck just happened?  Or, what was that all about?  When you read about Jesus, you may find yourself scratching your head, asking that kind of question.  Good!  If you want to get the most out of Jesus, you have to ask.  Because Jesus frequently used object lessons, where there was more to be learned in what just happened than there was in what He said.  Here’s a good example:

“During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if (since) it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.” (Matthew 14:25-32 – I’ve changed “if” to “since” in v. 28 for clarity)

What was that all about?  What just happened?  One obvious lesson is this: When  Jesus asks the impossible, keep your focus on Jesus, not on all the scary things that hinder you.  Jesus let Peter learn that truth through what happened to him.  Jesus underlined the principle with what He said to Peter:

…“You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”” (Matthew 14:31b)

That important principle, is repeated in the Book of Hebrews:

” Therefore, …, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  [How can we do that?] Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, ….” (Hebrews 12:1-2 – excerpts plus my question in brackets)

Jesus frequently asks or motivates us to do things considered impossible in the world.  Impossible things like forgiving.  There are times that forgiveness seems as impossible as walking on water.  But, when you fix your eyes on Jesus, and not on all the hurt, when you allow faith to push aside doubt, you can walk across that impossible “water,” you can walk toward Jesus.

That’s just one example.  When Jesus asks the impossible, do what Peter did.  Call out to Jesus and say, “Lord, since it is You, tell me to do the right thing, the thing that looks so impossible.”  Then trust.  Likely, you will be amazed, as were His disciples on that windy night:

“And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”” (Matthew 14:32-33)

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.