Category Archives: Bible General

Who is Apollos

Who is Apollos? This good man is mentioned only ten times in the Bible, twice in Acts (18:24; 19:1), eight times in 1st Corinthians (1:12; 3:4, 5, 6 & 22; 4:6; 16:12), and once in Titus 3:13. Little is known about Apollos directly, but Paul writes as if he was influential in the church and an important friend of his. It has even been suggested that Apollos was the mysterious author of Hebrews. It’s probably as good a choice as any, but it’s far from certain.

The greatest compliment paid to Apollos is that he was “competent in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24). His knowledge positioned him to expect the coming Redeemer and to be prepared for his reign as King.

Apollos knew of Christ and had been so instructed. Yet, his knowledge was incomplete, although his fervor burned brightly. He only knew of the baptism of John (vs. 25), which by now was decades out of date, having been superseded by the baptism of Christ. Paul encountered a group of men nearby who likewise were unaware of Christian baptism (Acts 19:1 – 7). It could be that these had been taught by Apollos or that Apollos had been associated with the same community. But, it was necessary that the 12 men of Acts 19 were newly taught and baptized appropriately.

As for Apollos, he was also corrected by Priscilla and Aquila. The text does not say he was “re-baptized,” but given Paul’s requirement in Acts 19, it is all but certain that he was.

The inclusion of Apollos in Holy Writ offers an example to be emulated. There may surely be more, but I see three key attributes that should mark the life of every Christian.

Apollos desired to know truth.

Our subject is described as “competent in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24). Translations use words like well-versed, able, or even mighty. To describe his command of the Bible as he possessed it. I find it difficult to think of many complements greater than this. To reach such a point in life, he must have spent considerable time in the study of the law and the prophets.

Today, we enjoy tools not even imagined by the people of the first century. The Scriptures are available easily and in our native tongue. Our ever-present cell phone easily holds the entirety of the Bible in multiple translations. Home computers allow near-instant searching of the Bible for entire phrases, not just a single word. Would it not be grand to be described as someone mighty in the Scriptures?

Apollos was passionate for Christ.

This good man was obviously educated as he came from Alexandria, a center of Mediterranean civilization, learning, and scholarship in North Africa. He is also described in Acts as being “eloquent.”  This word may refer to his speaking abilities or to his deep knowledge. Given that his knowledge is described as competence, it likely refers to an ability to preach and teach.

The key is that Apollos used his talents to teach God’s word. Every Christian is endowed with different talents. These gifts are given by God for His own glory. No Talent is too small or insignificant for God’s work. May we take what we have and devote it to God’s glory.

Apollos was prepared to change.

Few people like change – I don’t. But change is a greater part of life than stasis. Our world is dynamic, as are we. We are not the same people we were just a few years ago. Apollos was knowledgeable of the Scriptures, but he was not teaching the whole truth. There is nothing to suggest a deliberate attempt to twist the Scriptures. Rather, there were some things he did not know. When Priscilla and Aquila recognized his shortcomings, “they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). These two were not scholars. They were hard-working tentmakers. Apollos was not arrogant or haughty., he accepted their correction. This great, humble man was willing to change. Later, he became a pillar of the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:5, 6).

May we always be willing to make changes as we grow and learn more and more of God’s word. Without growth and change, there is only a slow withering and death.

I am thankful that God included Apollos in the Scriptures, aren’t you?

Israel map

Today’s Israel

The monstrous attacks by Hamas have thrust Today’s Israel into the news. Unspeakable brutalities against Israeli women and children fill the news reports. There is neither excuse nor justification for these terrible crimes targeting civilians, especially women and children.

Some popular news commentators, trying to rally support for Israel, are suggesting that today’s Israel is the same Israel of biblical times.  Is it? Christians may support Israel because it is our staunchest ally in the region. They see Israel as one of the most stable democracies in the world. In short, the Israelis are our friends. Supporting Israel because they are supposedly “God’s chosen people” is an error.

Today’s Israel is not the Israel of the Bible.

Origins – Biblical Israel

The Lord promised Abraham that his offspring would be a great nation. He also promised them possession of the land where nomadic Abraham traveled (Genesis 12:1-3, 7). Two generations later, God changed Abraham’s grandson Jacob’s name to Israel. He would have 12 sons who would become the basis for the Biblical nation of Israel.

Almost 500 years later, Jacobs’s 12 sons would grow to over two million people. By then, they had become slaves in Egypt. They prayed to God for deliverance; he heard their prayer and remembered his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 2:23-25). When Pharaoh refused to release the slaves, the Lord brought a series of plagues upon the land. Eventually, Pharaoh could withstand God no longer and released the Hebrews (future Israelites).

The Hebrews traveled eastward to Mount Sinai where God formed them into a nation. Because of their lack of faith, they then wandered for 40 years in the wilderness. Finally, God brought them into the land of Canaan and settled them there. Although the Israelites were in and out of captivity in their new homeland, they maintained a presence in the land until the year 70 A.D., when the Romans utterly destroyed them.

Origins – Today’s Israel

for almost 1900 years, the Jews had no homeland. In the late 1800s, Jews began to move back to Israel from their dispersion into Europe. In 1896, the development of Zionism began, which is the call for a formal nation of Israel in the original land. After World War I, the League of Nations granted Great Britain a mandate to govern Palestine. Under that mandate, Jews began to return to the British-controlled region. In 1948, as the British mandate was ending, a representative of the Jewish population in Palestine declared the establishment of the State of Israel. The United Nations had given the Jews about 55% of the land of Palestine, despite the fact that previously, the Jews only owned about 6% of the land.

Armed conflict began immediately. Since that time, multiple attempts at peace have largely failed. Today’s conflict in Israel is but the latest in a long line of wars and conflict.


God governed biblical Israel as its king (One Samuel 8:7). Later, earthly kings ruled over Israel. The ancient nation reached its zenith under King Solomon. The spiritual life of the nation was under the direction of Levitical priests. All Israelite priests were from the tribe of Levi without exception.

10 of the 12 tribes entered Assyrian captivity. Babylon took the remaining two tribes into slavery. Even after their release from captivity, Israel was little more than a vassal state to the superior kingdoms of the region. In 63 BC the Romans conquered the region. The Jews had a puppet king until A.D. 70 when conflict with Rome exploded into war. Jerusalem and the Temple were completely destroyed.

From A.D. 70 until 1949 the Jews had no land to call their own.

Today’s Israel vs. Biblical Israel: Key Differences

Ancient Israel was a theocracy. Today’s Israel is a democracy. Put differently, one was ostensibly ruled by God, while the modern-day nation is ruled by its people.

Ancient Israel was served by a large cohort of Levitical priests. Today’s Israel has no Levitical priests. Divinely specified sacrifices were daily offered in the Temple. There is no Temple today.

Ancient Israel was God’s chosen people (Leviticus 26:11, 12). Today’s Israel is not. Today, God’s chosen people are Christians regardless of their ancestry (1 Peter 2:9, 10).

Has God Broken His Promises to Today’s Israel?

By no means! Let God be true though everyone were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” (Romans 3:4)

We forget that God’s promises were conditional. For example, in the passage above from Leviticus 26, notice verse three: “if you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them then…” This is a classic if/then statement. The covenant required both God and the people to comply with the terms of the covenant. Once one party broke the terms, the other party was freed from the covenant.

God was no longer obligated to continue to bless them because Israel had broken the covenant. Remember, this was the nation that crucified his Son. They rejected their final prophet. They rejected the one who came to save them. Consider these verses:

For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the LORD your God has given you. (Joshua 23:12, 13

But just as all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the LORD your God has given you, if you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you.” (Joshua 23:15, 16)

There are two important points in this last passage. Notice that Joshua says God fulfilled all of his promises to Israel. He made them a nation. He gave them the land. God provided the heritage through which one would come to bless all nations. God did what he said he was going to do.

Just like the previous passages (Leviticus 26, Joshua 23:12, 13), there is an if/then clause. If they transgressed against God, they would “perish quickly from off the good land.” Ancient Israel violated every command God gave them. As a result, Israel lost their place as God’s chosen people. Today, God’s chosen people are his church (Isaiah 53:1 – 12; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 9:12 – 14; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; Revelation 5:9).

We may choose to support today’s Israel for diplomatic, military, or political reasons. But we must not support Israel because they are God’s chosen people. To do so ignores clear biblical teaching.

The Forgotten Sin

I get it. Nobody likes to talk about sin, but sometimes we need to. The turmoil of the 21st century has obscured our view of sin with the result that there is now The Forgotten Sin.

Some sins seem to reach out and grab us by the collar. The in-your-face wickedness makes us angry. But, in our rush to combat the assault of these wicked thoughts and ideas, we have created an unbiblical hierarchy of sins. We spend all of our time talking about the “bad sins” but fail to address the “lesser sins.”

Some years ago, a public health professional told me that the extraordinary emphasis on HIV-AIDS was hiding the serious nature of older sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis and gonorrhea. In her words, we have lost control of syphilis and gonorrhea and will never get it under control again. I wonder if we’re in the same situation with sexual sin.

We know sin separates us from God. But, what sin? Aren’t some sins worse? In Proverbs 6:16-19, Solomon says “hands that shed innocent blood” are an abomination to God. In that very same list, he says that “haughty eyes and a lying tongue” are also abominations to the Lord and are things that the Lord hates. But surely lying isn’t as bad as murder, is it?

Any sinful behavior, no matter how trivial it appears to us, is deadly serious to God.

In our rush to oppose homosexuality, transgenderism, and abortion, we have forgotten “routine” fornication and adultery. In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul begins his list of sins with sexual immorality; it’s right there in the same list with idolatry, sorcery, drunkenness, and orgies. Paul says that people who do these things “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

What exactly is “sexual immorality?” The underlying word, porneia, is a very broad word in Greek. It speaks to any illicit sexual activity. Sexual intimacies not ordained by God are sinful. This word includes fornication, adultery, and homosexuality. Yet today, our world assumes that people in a dating relationship are, in fact, having sex. Culture’s greatest concern is whether the sex is consensual and whether the couple has used protection against disease or unwanted pregnancies. There is no concern for the sinfulness of such a relationship. The forgotten sin is sexual immorality.

Let me be clear: sex outside of a God-approved marriage is sinful. Hebrews 13:4 says it is the “marriage bed” that is undefiled. Paul calls us to “abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Those words should speak to you, Christian. Let your life be a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). Your Lord loves you more than you can ever imagine. He wants what is best for you. If we hear his words and abide in his teachings, our life now will be much better. Our lives in eternity will be indescribable.

The world is awash in every imaginable sexual sin. Let the Christian remain pure and holy before his maker.

The Most Dangerous Words of a Christian

I Think

Mankind is expected to think. God gave us the ability to observe, examine, analyze, and reason. Our mind is an amazing tool that can be trained and can even examine and heal itself when injured.  The human mind has allowed us to make stunning discoveries both on and off the planet. We continue to plumb the depths of the sea and soar into the Universe. Sometimes our minds get us into trouble but mostly our ability to think and reason has served humanity well. But when it comes to divine truth, the most dangerous words of a Christian are “I think.”

Our thinking and reasoning have produced innumerable denominations and have deepened the division with Christendom. In the meantime, we are losing the battle for men’s souls. Something is clearly wrong. It’s past time to stop spouting what we think and instead cling to what we can know from the Lord.

I Can Know Truth

“and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:32

You would agree, I think, that truth is unchanging.  Truth does not shift because of changing beliefs or differing perspectives. 2 apples plus 2 more apples equal 4 apples in Daphne, Alabama, and in the Cocos Islands (opposite side of the earth). It’s still four apples if I am a Democrat or a Republican. Truth doesn’t change. The writer of Hebrews says Jesus is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8) which is not surprising given that God is truth (John 3:33) and truth doesn’t change.

While it is important to know truth in everyday life, the balance in your bank accounts, the medicines the doctor prescribes, etc. It is critical to know the truth about God and his plan to save mankind as he revealed it.

I Must Respect the Truth

Here’s the rub. When speaking of Biblical matters, we often say what we think instead of what God says.

“I know there is nothing about mechanical instruments of music in the New Testament church, but I think it’s ok because it uplifts me.” In this case, we have elevated our thinking above that of what the Bible says. The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel was called to rebuke the prophets of Israel for speaking what they thought instead of what God had said.

They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the LORD,’ when the LORD has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word.”

Ezekiel 13:2

These prophets spoke falsely but still expected the Lord to accept their corruption of truth. A few verses later he explains that they have been speaking from their own heart and not from God’s message (Ezekiel 13:17). In verse 8, the Lord declared “I am against you!”

The Most Dangerous Words of a Christian: Toward A Solution

Those who believe that Jesus is the son of God all affirm their reverence for and adherence to the Bible. It is God’s word delivered through the power of the Holy Spirit and confirmed with supernatural acts (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:16-21). That being the case, we can all agree on the following:

  1. I will stop telling people what I think and instead declare what the Bible says.
  2. I will derive all teaching and doctrine from the Bible. I will not add to nor take from it.
  3. I will reject any teaching or doctrine not found in the Bible.
  4. I commit to a thorough study of the Scriptures to understand and to apply it.
  5. When we speak, we will speak only as the oracles of God, never of mankind.

It’s time to hear again the voice of God as revealed in his “once for all” delivered word (Jude 3). No smooth-talking, well-dressed, well-coiffed, preacher will be tolerated who does not honor the truthfulness and completeness of Scripture.


Of all the words that have fallen out of favor, sin is in the top spot.  No one wants to think about sin, especially the idea that they have sinned. Still, sin is real. It is part of the Bible and is prominent in the Gospel story of Jesus.

The origin of sin

Genesis 3 is the first account of sin in the Bible. The first couple, Adam and Eve, were given a very simple choice. They had to decide if they would eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil or if they would avoid it as God commanded. Eve ate the fruit of the tree and gave it to her husband, Adam, who was with her (Genesis 3:6). At that moment, sin entered the world.

God warned them that if they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would surely die (Genesis 2:17). Even though Adam lived well over 900 years, he died. More importantly, Adam and Eve died spiritually. That is, they separated themselves from God through their sin. It is accurate to say that sin began with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

What is sin?

Most basically, sin is disobedience to God. In Romans 3:23, Paul says sin is to “fall short of the glory of God.”  The ancient word, which we translate as sin, actually means to fail to meet a goal or to miss the mark. We might say that Christians aim to glorify God and become holy like He is holy. When we fail to do that, we miss the mark. Or, put another way, we sin.

While sin is certainly a mistake, it’s probably best if we don’t think of it that way. For most, sin is a deliberate act of disobedience. It may be that we choose to commit some sinful action. But often, sin is a failure to do what we know to be good (James 4:17). Like Adam and Eve before us, we are warned of the consequences of sin. Paul says the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23; Proverbs 10: 16). Death always follows sin.

Who is guilty?

But who is guilty of sin? Is it God’s fault for giving us a choice while knowing we would often choose wrongly? Is it Satan’s fault for wielding such evil influence? These are incredibly important questions because the person guilty of sin faces eternal consequences. Those consequences include a forever separation from the presence of God. It means the person will spend an eternity in a devil’s hell.

Perhaps it is simplistic, but the person guilty of sin is the person who actually sins. In other words, I am not guilty of sin because my father, or any other ancestor, was a sinner. I sin, and you sin; therefore, we are each individually guilty of our own sins. The inspired prophet Ezekiel reports God’s own words: “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). The entirety of Ezekiel 18 makes plain that sin and its consequences are not inherited. A person must sin before he is guilty and before facing the consequences.

The harsh reality is that every one of us sins. Referring again to Romans 3:23, we see that all have sinned. John says in 1 John 1:8 that “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” We choose to sin and are, therefore, appropriately guilty of sin and must suffer the consequences of sin unless someone intervenes for us.

What can I do about my sin?

You cannot fix your sin. If that statement is true, and it is, you are in a horrible predicament. God must require payment for sin else God would not be just. Before the foundations of the world were laid, Jesus was selected as the payment for our sins. Jesus was chosen to be a propitiation for our sins (Romans 3:25), that is, one who receives the penalty of sin in place of someone else, a substitute, if you will. The propitiation of Jesus demonstrates that God is both just and the justifier of those who have faith in Jesus (Romans 3:21 – 26).

Your sin is removed because of the blood of Jesus. Redemption is found in Christ (Romans 3:24). Eternal life is in Jesus (Romans 6:23). In Christ, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). All spiritual blessings are in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). How do we come into Christ? We do so in obedience to his commands. Baptism, so often downplayed, is the essential moment when we enter Christ. (Romans 6:3). It is only the beginning, however. We grow and are being sanctified by and through His words.

Satan does not give up. He still pursues us and sometimes we fall. We still sin. However, John reminds us that the blood of Jesus keeps cleansing us while we walk in the light.

Sin is real. The consequences of sin are real. But so is deliverance and salvation in Jesus Christ. Let us thank God for the blessing of eternal life. Sin has no hold over the Christian. Jesus has broken those bonds. That’s the greatest news anyone could hear.

There's Got to be a Better Way

There’s Got to be a Better Way

There's Got to be a Better Way

I was sitting on a stone wall in front of the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. I watched the world pass by. Young, old, infants and grandparents, moms and dads. I watched people from Europe, Africa, Central and South America, and, of course, the US. Men and women in high-dollar suits raced between meetings trying to turn one more deal before the month ended. There’s got to be a better way!

You could have been in that crowd.

Solomon said,

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 3

What do we gain? We live, and then we die. There’s got to be a better way. Culture has no answers.

Groucho Marx quipped from his deathbed, “This is no way to live!” He was right. Like mice on a running wheel inside a small cage, we say, this is no way to live.

There’s Got to be a Better Way: The Problem.

1.      Everything is Temporary

We live in a briefly appearing world. We are born, and if extraordinarily fortunate, we will live for a hundred years and then vanish into an unseen world. Within those 100 years, we have maybe 50 years of real productivity. Our total contribution to the world is less than a century. We take our last breath, but the clock keeps on ticking.

James described our life as “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). From my experience, and probably yours, that is a spot-on observation. There is no permanence to our lives. It’s just a run from one meeting to the next, go home and sleep, and then start again the next day.

Solomon, an extraordinarily wise Israelite king, remarked, “I hated all my toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool” (Ecclesiastes 2:18, 19). Why do we work so hard for things so temporary?

2.    The Future is Dark

As the news drones on and on, we are bombarded with dismal prophecies of failure. Crime is rising, and politicians are powerless to stop it. Test scores are dropping, and educators have no answers. If the experts are clueless, what are we to do?

The Bible tells us that things will get worse. Paul said that “evil people and impostors will go from bad to worse” (2 Timothy 3:13).

If you’re like me, you are afraid to read the headlines. What’s next? Supervillains and Superbugs rule the day! It’s not surprising that people are anxious and afraid. Is this as good as it gets?

3.   There is no satisfaction

Do you like your job? Really, do you get up every day excited about your work? What about your relationships? Do they satisfy? Does the other person “complete” you? Are your children a blessing or a chore?

Lockdowns stopped many of our friendships, and even now, we’ve not found the time to refresh them. We get up, go to work, come home, and crash. We eventually drag our tired bodies to bed, sleep a few hours, then start again. Satisfaction is fleeting. We run like the little hamster on the wheel inside his cage but get nowhere.

There’s Got to be a Better Way: There Is!

1.   Find Real Peace

In a letter to the Philippians (4:7), Paul speaks of a peace that “surpasses all understanding.” When was the last time you enjoyed a few minutes of real peace?  In Jesus, you can have peace that comes from a realignment of your priorities and a changing of your trust model.

The first priority is Jesus and his work. Jesus spoke of worrying about what we acquire and consume in life. His advice is simple and straightforward: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). But, if you make that change in your priorities but do not also change who and what you place your trust in, you will be more anxious than ever!

Trust must be placed in something trustworthy. If we’ve learned anything we have learned that we cannot trust anything. Our leaders shade the truth and often lie to us. Our financial accounts rise and then fall just as quickly. Like a flailing sailor tossed violently in the waves, we need something to cling to. We need something that will not sink in stormy weather. We need someone who is trustworthy. Jesus said:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30)

Would you know the peace that comes from Jesus? Come, learn of him, trust him, and give him your heart. You will not be disappointed.

2.   Untangle the Knot

Have you ever stopped to think about how entangled we are? We cannot say “no” at work because we want to be seen as a team player. We volunteer for projects at our child’s school because we want to be seen as good parents. Our front yard must be pristine because we fear a note from the neighborhood association. And, somewhere along the way, we need to find time for our spouses. There’s just too much going on!

God’s faithful have always struggled. Hear the writers description of some great figures in the Bible:

who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (Hebrews 11:33-38).

They bore up under struggles and managed to find what was better. The two verses tell us that something better was waiting for them – just like it is waiting for you.

Trust in Jesus will not untie the knot, but it will give you a fresh perspective on the truly important things in life.

Look, there is something better. Life can be better. You can be a part of something that is bigger than yourself but also profoundly meaningful to people around you.

3. Think Outside the Box

Look, I get it. Spiritual things are not viewed well today. The decline of culture and the decline of the reputation of the church mirror one another. I’m not sure which came first. I do know that much of what has passed for “church” is little more than a traveling medicine show. It’s about entertainment – not worship. It’s about pop-level psychology – not holiness. You can almost feel the disconnect between churches and Jesus.

There is no disconnect between Jesus and the church he established and died for. It’s still here and you can be a part of it regardless of your past.

    Culture has failed

    Culture Has Failed. Now What?

    culture has failed this man

    Culture promised so much but delivered nothing. We were told that happiness comes from faster internet, more entertainment options, the sexual revolution, changing pronouns, legalized drugs, more alcohol, more credit, less work, and so on. But despite the promises, we’re still stressed and bubbling with anxiety. Happiness is elusive and, when found, so brief. Like an endless train of zombies stumbling into a dark tunnel, we wander, hoping that fulfillment and satisfaction are just ahead. They’re not. Culture has failed. What now?

    There is a better way.

    1. Don’t trust what doesn’t deliver.

    Promises from cultural, political, and societal leaders haven’t delivered. Your station in life has changed little from where you stood ten years ago. Would you keep the same internet provider if they couldn’t meet their promises? Would you change your cell phone provider if you experienced spotty coverage despite their lovely blue and purple maps?

    Culture is saying that religion is bad, that there is no God, and it’s all a scam. Maybe their thoughts on faith are as useless as a pretty blue map with only a rare gap. It’s time to reconsider.

    2. Consider Jesus.

    Now, wait. Before you click away, read just a little further. The next 60 seconds could be life-changing.

    Jesus is the greatest teacher who ever walked. Initially, I am only asking that you consider his words. For the moment, let’s forget his miracles and his divine claims. Just focus on what he taught.

    In a single lesson (Matthew 5, 6, and 7), Jesus declared the “Golden Rule,” “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them… (Matthew 7:12). He declared the uselessness of worry and anxiety (Matthew 6:25-29) while reminding us to focus on the day, not tomorrow (Matthew 6:34). Jesus declared that we should not only love our neighbors (Matthew 22:39) but even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-47).

    By any measure, these teachings are world-changing! Culture has failed. Try something new.

    3. Focus on Jesus, not His disciples.

    You’ve seen hypocrites. Preachers who are greedy cheaters. Church leaders who are sexual abusers. Double-talking Christians who would embarrass a crusty old sailor. Hypocrites are real, and they are found in the church.

    There is a difference between Jesus and broken Christians.

    Peter, who struggled with his own set of sins, always pointed to Jesus and not to himself.

    “…but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy”

    1 Peter 1:15, 16

    Should you take up the mantle of faith, you will follow Jesus and no one else. And, you will stumble.

    4. Expect from Jesus what culture has failed to deliver.

    Jesus changes our outlook and our thinking. He transforms our minds through his message (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18). We come to know real and abiding peace. We think less about this world and focus on eternity. Your boss, bank, and neighbor become less irritating as you grow deeper in Christ.

    Despite what some money-grubbing preachers will tell you, prosperity is never assured. But that’s ok because our view of money is downgraded. It is no longer a goal but a tool to help others. You will not suddenly become rich. You won’t find “$56,000 in the mail.” But you will find peace and a release from the anxiety vexing you. It’s not instant, but it is real.

    I have one goal with this message. I hope you will turn to Jesus to find what culture failed to deliver.

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    making friends. two toddlers as friends

    5 Keys to Making Real Friends

    making friends. two toddlers as friends

    College student Mark Zuckerberg never intended to change the world, but he did. In 2004, Zuckerberg and a small group of college buddies launched Facebook. It introduced and defined “social media” to the world. Almost everyone has heard of Facebook, and a majority have an account there. What Facebook gets wrong is its definition of a friend. For 5 keys to making real friends, read on.

    The Facebook friendship model requires only a request and approval. Someone active on its pages may develop thousands of these friends, having never even met one of them. These are hardly friends in the traditional sense. It’s better to think of them as associates, although that may be stretching it too. Examine your own friend list. I suspect associates outnumber real friends 10 to 1.

    Let’s take a deep dive into how we can develop better friends.

    Stop Making Friends

    J. Boehm, a professional counselor, told me that he stopped making friends long ago. Now, instead of making friends, he grows friends. I think that’s a brilliant idea.

    Treat friendships like flowering plants in your garden. Plant the seed, cultivate it, and watch it grow. With time the seed becomes a beautiful flower. Yet, the flower cannot be rushed into existence. The best friends take time to grow. Two of Jesus’ closest friends were James and John. They are first introduced as “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17) but after months of Jesus’ cultivation, John becomes known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23).

    Stop declaring friends and invest in a few. You will be rewarded with the best friends possible.

    Best Friends Come From The Best Seeds

    I love to thumb through the plant and seed catalogs that fill the mailbox in late winter. Information presents the seeds best suited for your climate and soil. You pick seeds and plants that will flourish.

    Choose your friends from the best stock. Look for high values of trustworthiness and loyalty. Seek seeds that will tell you the truth even when the truth hurts and may anger you.

    “Lay down with dogs and you’ll get up with fleas” is the way old timers described bad associations. The inspired Scripture says, “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV), and, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm”  (Proverbs 13:20)

    Cultivate Powerful Relationships

    LinkedIn is a specialized social media platform that promotes networking. I often receive requests to join someone’s network. Often, I have never heard of the person sending the invitation. These shallow associations are useless.

    Alternatively, in-person networks can be priceless. These connections, cultivated through endless trials and shared struggles, are deep, lasting, and profound. But they didn’t come overnight. The best friends are those you’ve worked to build.

    Buy Friendships with Gold

    No, don’t try to buy your friends. They’ll soon be gone and you’ll soon be broke. It won’t work. But use gold, that is, the Golden Rule, to build better friendships

    “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them”

    Matthew 7:12

    The power of the Golden Rule cannot be overstated. Together with the greatest command (Love the Lord your God…) and the second command (Love your neighbor…) (Matthew 22:34-40), these compose a world-changing triad.  Today, it’s all about me, what I want and what I can get. But the Golden Rule shreds such attitudes and turns them upside down. The best friendships grow when we focus on the other person, not ourselves.

    Few Are Better Than Many

    Growing and cultivating real friendships requires hard work, and it requires time. You will end up with fewer friends but the ones you have will be far superior and far more satisfying. Aim for quality and depth in your friendships.

    Jesus was surrounded by disciples from throughout Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, but his close friends were his Twelve. Even within the apostolic band, it seems that only three, Peter, James, and John, were the closest to our Lord. Truly, if you find only one great friend in life, you have found it all!

    I hope you have many “friends” and followers on your social media pages because each one represents a soul that can be touched by your wise words and encouragements. But I pray that you will find a few real friends who will bless your life.


    Abortion’s Bottom Line


    Protests against the recent Supreme Court abortion ruling have been swift, loud, and sometimes violent. Abortion’s bottom line is the taking of an innocent human life.

    The core argument offered by pro-abortion supporters is that women have a right to their own bodies. On the other side, pro-life supporters argue that abortion is wrong because it takes the life of the most vulnerable people among us.

    Both sides believe their argument is far superior to the other argument. Let’s try and cut through the noise of the abortion protest and determine which argument is superior. Our interest is not political or even legal. I am concerned with the morality of abortion.

    And because I believe that morality is anchored in the purity of God’s character, and I believe that God’s character is reflected in the truth of the Bible, I will look to the Bible for the ultimate answer to this question. However, in this article, I will appeal to science and logic to demonstrate that abortion is wrong. My desire is that this article will be read by nonreligious people and that they will be convinced by the facts herein.

    Even though I believe this to be a moral issue to which God has spoken in his word, I understand that I have no right to force a religious belief upon another person. Jesus never tried to force a person to follow him. In fact, the Scriptures are full of occasions where people stopped following Jesus because his teachings were difficult (see John 6).

    Abortion is a corrosive detriment to society even apart from the Scriptures. Just as 19th century slavery was ultimately rejected because it was morally wrong, present-day abortion should be rejected because it is morally wrong.

    Abortion’s Bottom Line: A woman has a right to her own body

    Does a woman have a right to control her own body? For pro-choice advocates, this is abortion’s bottom line. But does it hold up? Yes, and no. No one has an absolute right to use their body any way they want. No one has a right to use their body in a criminal act. Prostitution is almost universally illegal. Even though that sex-for-pay occurs between two consenting adults, we understand that it strikes at the morality of society. Therefore, most societies make prostitution a criminal act.

    Drug abuse is illegal. Even though the person consuming the illicit drugs only harms their own body, as a society we have chosen to make such behavior illegal.

    More to the point, we reject the idea that a person can use their own body to harm someone else. Even if we allow, only for purposes of discussion, that a woman does have an absolute right to her own body, we unequivocally reject the idea that she has a right to anyone else’s body. That which grows within the pregnant woman, whether we call it a fetus or an unborn child, is as unique as a grown child is from its mother.

    In reality, the expectant mother carries within her womb a separate human being. She is the temporary home of the unborn child. Left alone to develop naturally, the child will be born at roughly nine months and will eventually live independently from the mother.

    It is true that a woman has many rights to her own body including the right to engage in the action which produced the child. Pro Life writer Cassy Fiano-Chesser, a woman with five children says it this way:

    Except in the very rare circumstance that a woman gets pregnant from being raped, women do have control over their bodies. They have control over if and when they choose to have sex, which is what causes pregnancy. And because no birth control method is 100% reliable, it’s a risk that women take every time they have sex.

    Cassy Fiano-Chesser

    While abortion advocates claim that consent to sex is not necessarily consent to pregnancy, this is a denial of exactly how our bodies are supposed to work. It’s not punishment or patriarchy; it’s biology. So if a woman is not ready to be a parent, there’s a way she can take control of her own body and avoid pregnancy: don’t have sex. (

    Abortion’s bottom line? She does not have the right to the child’s body. Neither pre nor post-birth will she ever have an absolute right to that child’s body.

    Abortion’s Bottom Line: The unborn is a living human being

    Certain facts are not in dispute. When two gametes meet (egg and sperm) something marvelous happens. A new life is created. At this moment of conception, a unique human comes into being. What did not exist a moment before, now does. This infinitesimally small being does not at this moment look like a human but it will. Already it possesses its own unique DNA profile. During his time in utero, the unborn will develop her own heart, her own lungs, her own brain, and her own nervous system. At the moment of conception, the unborn’s gender is fixed (that’s another article) and even the color of its eyes is fixed. The only thing that remains before this unborn child can walk, talk, drive a car, and graduate from college, is time.

    The only thing that remains before this unborn child can walk, talk, drive a car, and graduate from college, is time.

    During the roughly nine months after conception, the child will continue to grow and develop before being thrust into the world through the birth process. This period of specialized care, which we typically refer to as gestation, is essential to the well-being of the child. If gestation is compromised, either through natural or unnatural events, the child will suffer and may die. These facts are not in dispute.

    The argument from pro-choice advocates is that the unborn is not a human being. They assert that the fetus becomes a human being at some point in time. They struggle to determine the point at which the unborn becomes a human.

    Let’s examine Abortion’s bottom line on viability.


    Some have suggested that a fetus becomes a human at the moment of viability that is, at the moment when the fetus can exist on its own separate and apart from the mother. This is a very unsatisfactory argument.

    First, a newborn cannot exist apart from his mother outside the womb for a very long period of time. The newly born child requires care, feeding, medical care, and many other things in order to be able to grow and develop.

    Second, viability is a constantly changing number. Once, a premature child, delivered 10 weeks early, would likely die. Then, due to advances in medical care, children born 20 weeks early are now able to survive. Today, medical advances have pushed that number back and more.

    Viability is unsatisfactory because it is an arbitrary number. Some unborn children may be able to survive as early as 18 weeks while others might struggle at 35 weeks. The science of developmental anatomy cannot observe any sudden change in the fetus at week 20 as compared to week 21. The fetus knows no viability number. The moving target of viability does not determine when the unborn becomes human.

    Organ function

    Abortion supporters suggest that the detection of heartbeats or the detection of brain waves isa means of determining life. This may sound reasonable because the absence of a heartbeat or the absence of brain waves in an adult typically suggests death. But there is a fundamental difference between organ function in a fetus and organ function in an adult.

    In a fetus, functioning organs only await developmental progress. The natural, uninterrupted development of the fetus will produce functioning organs. In an adult, cessation of functioning organs may be permanent, especially with the loss of brainwave activity. If left alone, organs will begin to function in the fetus. Likewise, left alone, adult organs which have stopped functioning will not restart.

    Abortion’s bottom line is clear: The fetus is human!


    Abortion’s bottom line is clear: Life begins at conception. The most logical, cogent analysis of the facts so demonstrates. There is no other moment in the development of the unborn when life can logically be said to begin. That being the case, we returned to our two fundamental arguments. Pro-choice is left with the defunct argument that a woman has an absolute right to her body. Pro-life is left with the argument that the unborn is a living human being. “My rights,” or “your life.” Tell me, shall we elevate individual rights over an individual life? I think not.

    The unborn child is the most vulnerable human being. How we, as a society, treat the unborn, says much about our character as a people. If there is any error to be made here, let it be on the side of the unborn child.

    worship assembly

    6 Reasons for the Assembly

    worship assembly

    The Lord’s apostles called the Christians to the assembly to worship every first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). From the first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection until today, his people have joined together for worship on Sunday. Christians assembled even during the terrifying days of the Black Death in the middle ages, although the numbers suffered due to death, illness, and fear.

    In 2019 churches shuttered because of an illness vastly inferior to the Black Death. Now, 2 and 1/2 years later, some still have not returned. The persistent pandemic practice is to remain at home and watch worship services via streaming apps. We began experimenting with streaming several months before anyone heard of COVID. We did so for outreach but also to provide a means of worship for those who could not attend. I’m glad we did.

    Those positive for COVID or with COVID in their homes should stay home. Likewise, fevers, flu-like symptoms, and many other illnesses should be treated in isolation. The stream is designed for you. Also, those who find themselves away from an assembly of believers might use the stream.

    But I grow concerned when I hear of those who remain at home because they are more comfortable in their own house. Why bother with rising early, bathing, and dressing for worship services when your couch is so close and so much more inviting than a pew? Someone else may prefer the isolation of their living room because they are introverted and non-social. And, let’s face it, sometimes we’re just lazy.

    So then, how do our assembly habits look to Jesus? Would he be honored by our Persistent Pandemic Practice?

    1. The Assembly is From Christ

    Jesus knew the frailty of humanity (Mark 9:19; 14:32-42). He knew that a man left alone in the world would soon collapse under the weight of worldly pressures. Just as animals travel together for strength and safety, we also need the support of our comrades.

    No one knows us better than our Creator (John 1:3; Psalm 139:13; Isaiah 44:2, 24). His vast knowledge of humanity and his unequaled wisdom gave us the assembly. He knows we need one another.

    Jesus never said, “go to church!” But inspiration did. The well-known passage, Hebrews 10:25, warns us not to skip the assembly. The church was expected to come together (1 Corinthians 11:18, 20, 33, 34; 14:23, 26). The very idea of communion implies an assembly of the brethren. Much as an old-style family reunion highlights relationships, the Lord’s Supper reminds us of our union with Christ and our brethren.

    The assembly was not a good idea that an ancient man dreamed up. It is a divine blessing from our Lord.

    2. Others Need You

    The Christian faith looks inward and outward. We probe deeply into our hearts to expunge the evil and replace it with God’s holiness. But we are always looking outside of ourselves for that is where we find the objects of Jesus’ love and our service.

    To be sure, there are plenty of people outside of the assembly who need our love. After all, Jesus came to call the sick, not the healthy (Mark 2:17). But our decision is not binary. We can, and should, do both. We must serve those inside, and outside, the assembly.

    Christians were told by Paul,

    “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

    Colossians 3:16

    Our singing, so uplifting and joyous, is not just for us. We can be uplifted and joyous alone in our car while waiting to pick up the children after school. We are to teach and admonish “one another” and we cannot to that in the car-rider line at school.

    3. You Need Others

    Monday through Saturday can be a lonely time for devout Christians. We are alone in a culture where Jesus is a joke and Christians are constantly criticized. What a joy to be together with like-minded, Jesus-loving people!

    Paul looked forward to his time with Christians. He wrote to the Christians in Rome, “that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Romans 1:12). Each Christian I see encourages me. When we reunite, we also assemble around the Lord’s table. I know we have the “portable chalices,” but Communion (1 Corinthians 10:16) implies being together.

    We need these smaller reunions at Eastern Shore to prepare for the big reunion on the Golden Shore!

    4. The Assembly is a Filling Station for the Saints

    Of course, the Assembly is far more than back-slapping, handshaking, and hugs. We assemble to renew our spiritual energies, to recharge our batteries. I need to be reminded of the hope that is in Jesus. I want to hear of heaven and its glories. I want my heart filled to overflowing with the love of Christ. I also need to be reminded of God’s grace and mercies that keep me from condemnation.

    You can hear these things over the internet. But we know that it is not the same, especially the singing. The New Testament never talks about choirs or performers in worship. We come together to worship, and we all sing together. Participating in the lyrical sacrifice of praise fills one with comfort, joy, and peace.

    5. The Assembly is a Training Class for the Saints

    In the secular world, training never stops. Accountants, doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, and others must constantly sharpen their skills and be reminded of the fundamentals of their work. Christians are no different.

    Eight times inspired writers spoke of reminding Christians of their duty. These reminders often came as letters intended to be read aloud to the local church. Even though many Christians had a face-to-face relationship with the apostles, they needed repeated teaching and training. We can never get enough of the teaching that comes formally from the pulpit but also from the assembled members.

    6. The Assembly is a Hospital for the Saints.

    Isolation is not good. It may be needful, but it is never a good thing, especially for long periods. The world will often dink us and sometimes cut us deeply because of our faith. Bear Bryant once said that “principles have consequences.” A principled Christian life is fraught with consequences. Beyond the spiritual assaults are the troubles of living in the world. Death, illness, finances, and myriad other problems beset the believer daily. God’s people can restore and rebuild one another.

    Telemedicine has become popular. But tell me, would you prefer to see your doctor in person or over the internet? Saints struggle often, and we need one another to restore our spiritual health. Jesus said the hungry and thirsty would be filled (Matthew 5:6), so come and be filled!

    Previously we noted that the assembly of Christians together is both a training class and a hospital for the weary believer, but there’s more.

    A Closing Thought

    You need to be in the assembly. If you’re back at work, grocery shopping, enjoying ballgames, going to school, or a hundred other public activities, why aren’t you in the worship assembly? The value of the worship assembly is far greater than that of a loaf of bread.

    Your Lord gave us the assembly and our ancient brothers practiced assembling under much harsher conditions than we face. Please, come home. We need you.