Beware of scammers…

Grandpop unfortunately gets a lot of scam and phishing emails. He sometimes finds it difficult to tell if they are legitimate or a scam. They are difficult to tell because they look almost exactly like the real thing-unless you know what to look for. He and I have discussed one of the clues to a scam is to click on the email address and look at the full address. Another way to tell if something is legitimate or not is to see if there is incorrect grammar, punctuation or spelling. These can be clues to a fake. The thing is, they sound and look VERY real, and it is only by close observation that one can tell they are fakes or untrue.

After reading my chapters in Acts today, it makes me think that perhaps if Bereans lived in our day and age, they could teach us a little something about faulty versus true or legitimate things. Luke commends them today for this. He tells us that the Bereans checked all that Paul was saying against the Scriptures. They were checking to make sure it was true. In fact, Luke tells us they were of more “noble character” than the Thessalonians for doing this. In other versions, “noble in character” is translated “open-minded”, “fair minded”, “better”, “more receptive”, and “more willing to listen”. So they were more open-minded, BUT in that open-mindedness, they were intent upon making sure what was spoken aligned with God’s Word. They were so intent, they checked every day!

Let’s copy them. Let’s be Berean. We live in a world today where we can hear fabulous messages from podcasts, YouTube, twitter links and more. Jordan and Miriam have been able to hear countless convocation speakers. We even watched part of a message Carson Wentz gave on tv last night to see where his faith really stood. How do we know if these sources are speaking truth? How do we know if we should be listening to them? Look at the verses in your own Bible that they are referencing when they speak. Does the message line up with the Scripture they are speaking on? Is it taken out of context like if someone were to reference 1 Tim. 5:23 (“… use a little wine for the sake of your stomach”) and then said that all drinking of alcohol has the stamp of ok from the Bible?

The church always has people coming in to it with “new ideas”, “new ways” of looking at Scripture, new “insights’ and more. Some are like the scam and phishing schemes Grandpop gets. If we believe them, just like clicking on the emails, the consequences can be dire. It is very important to follow the Bereans example. Be open-minded and willing to listen, but be SURE to check everything against Scripture, so you can know if it is truth or a lie. Remember, believing lies can have very dangerous consequences.


… like oil and water

Have you ever actually tried to mix oil and water? If you pour some oil and water into a bottle and shake it up, do you know what eventually happens? It will try to mix at first, but you can see it is little bubbles inside of liquid. Then, over time, they will eventually and naturally separate. They can not stay together. This idea is exactly what God is talking about in 2 Cor. 6:14.

This week, Aaron had to memorize 2 Cor. 6:14 for school. It is a familiar verse. I am sure you have heard chapel speakers, convocation speakers or pastors preach mostly on how Christians should not date or marry unbelievers. This is an accurate and appropriate application of this verse, which I hope and pray you all believe and plan to obey. But, today, I would like to add to our understanding of this verse because it is about far more than just who we date and marry. Let’s let the verse explain itself.

We are told not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. In what situations are we “yoked” to someone? We know the picture God is using is one of 2 different type farm animals being hitched together to try to plow. But you and I are not farming, are we? What is yoked for us? Well, look at the rest of the verse because God explains it.

God asks what ‘partnership’ righteousness has with lawlessness? What ‘fellowship’ has light with darkness? Being yoked to an unbeliever is to be in a partnership or in fellowship of some kind with an unbeliever. Other translations include words like alliance, on a team, participation with, join, relationship, and common interests.  God is telling us to not be in our  closest relationships with unbelievers. He is making clear that ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ can not be partners. Light and darkness are opposites. Good and bad do not belong together. How would 2 opposites ever work together or have the same goal? They wouldn’t – in fact, they could not. If we are still unclear, here are a few examples: If our closest friends are not believers, do you think you will both go to church together or discuss hard biblical topics? Will a non-believing co-worker give wise counsel regarding how to spend your money? Do you think they will recommend tithing and hold us accountable to that? In regards to a boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse, if you asked them to pray for Dad’s doctor’s appointment today, could they?

You are in friendships right now and you could identify which are oil and water. The ones that will never mix. They are the relationships that are not moving you to become more Christlike. Eventually one of your partnerships or friendships will become a spouse for you. Be wise and discerning in your decisions regarding who you are on the team of life with, because oil and water have never mixed, and they never will in the future either.


Desperate times call for desperate “Christ-like” measures…

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 10.11.25 AMPrintable15Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 10.11.15 AMDo you remember the movie “Life of Pi”-about the boy stranded in the ocean with a tiger and in a very small boat? It was a bizarre story but sure did portray what it means to be stranded and adrift at sea with slim chances of survival.

Paul seems to be experiencing a similar experience (minus the tiger) in today’s Scripture in Acts. He is a prisoner on a boat in a life or death situation. Early on in the trip, Paul warns the sailors in charge of pending disaster due to weather.  He suggests they should not continue sailing. They do not listen….and sure enough, it did become disastrous. In fact, verse 20 tells us:  “They gave up all hope of being saved.” These were desperate times!  By verse 31, we can see Paul makes another suggestion, and this time, they take  his advice. I don’t know what made those sailors take Paul’s advice this time-but we do know it was a desperate time and they listened.

Paul’s response to this whole situation is admirable and to be modeled. He gave advice, and the people around him did not listen. He had to suffer those consequences with them. He was not unkind to them even though they didn’t listen. I would have wanted to say “I told you so! Now look at the mess we are in!” Instead, Paul kept encouraging them and seeking to help save their lives. By the end of this “adventure”, Paul has the opportunity to share with them as well as with the island people where they end up. I believe it was Paul’s faith, kindness and control of his attitude during dire times that opened this opportunity.

Desperate times do call for desperate measures-but the desperate measure I see a believer called to is to keep himself in check during these times. This is when our faith will be put to test with those around us. We will choose to either imitate Christ or to follow our flesh. The desire will be strong to lash out against others in pain, anger or fear. We need to fight against this and choose love. Forgive others when they make choices that affect us negatively. Care for them in both physical (food, help, etc.) and spiritual ways during the hardship. Continue walking with God daily so it is evident to all that our entire life is based on our faith. If we can do these things, then others will be sure to see Christ through us in the midst of the most desperate of times.

Soon, we will commend you…

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.35.00 PMPrintable15

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.34.56 PMWhat is the last thing you borrowed from a friend or lent them?  Money?  A book? A pencil? When we borrow something from someone, inherent in that is the fact we do not own the object and that we will return it, right? Well, did you know you are on loan to dad and I? You are. We do not “own” you. You were given to us by God-but certainly not for “keeps.”

We have invested in your physical growth, but more importantly in your spiritual growth during the time we have been given. We hopefully taught you well the truths of God, the way of salvation through Christ, and that the only life to live, is a life lived in Christ. There comes a point where it is up to you what you do with this. You know the truth. We have nothing else to add-it is your life and your choices.

This is where Paul seems to be in Acts with the Ephesians today. He has spent time with them and now he is leaving. He knows he won’t see them again, at least not on earth. He “commends” them to God and the message that will build them up-which is God’s Word. It is fully capable of continuing to grow them in his absence.

In the same way, Dad and I ultimately are working to commending you to God, and the message of his grace. It is able to build you up too and give you the inheritance of eternal life. One of Dad’s professors (Dr. Constable/ writes it this way: “He committed them to God, who would do it, and to the Scriptures, God’s tool in the process. God’s ‘grace’ is the source of all spiritual growth, and the ultimate ‘inheritance’ that the believers would enjoy.” We will always be here for you. We will always pray for you and give you as much solid godly advice as we can when you ask-but you are not ours to “own.” You always have been and you always will be God’s. There will come a day soon when we commend you back fully to Him. Thankfully, you have all the tools you need to live your life for Him if you so choose.

Your career is NOT your end goal…

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.00.28 PMPrintable15Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.00.24 PMRight now I see a future FBI profiler, Financial advisor and Engineer in our family. This may change in time, but given your current talents and interests, this are where you are headed. Today, after reading in Acts, I want us to look at our “careers” from a different angle. Let’s look at it as a tool, not the goal. Aaron touched on this last night at dinner, and today’s Scripture follows right along with his comments. How? Let me explain.

Today in Acts we read about Priscilla, Aquila and Paul. Priscilla and Aquila were forced to move out of Rome to Corinth. They chose a joint career of tent-making. Paul travels to Corinth. Lo and behold, he also has been trained in tent-making-and God brings them together-by their vocation, but not for the purposes of building great tents in Corinth. No, the tent making was a mere tool used to join them as a team. They did make tents, and earn money to support themselves, but there was a much bigger purpose: They were helping build kingdom of God, not tents. They spent much time together and it seems Paul was able to disciple them. They became close friends and partners and by the end of the chapter, they all head out together to sail for Syria. They certainly were not traveling to Syria just because they needed tentmakers there!

This is how God works. This perspective can help keep our priorities straight so that our academics and career are not prioritized above the priority of furthering the kingdom of God through our lives. Whatever gifts, talents and interests we have God can combine with other believers and create a team to use us for the good of others and to further His kingdom. In fact, right now-you all already have a “career” of sorts-talents developed enough for His use. For example, Aaron is a deep spiritual thinker. He asks good questions. His current “team” includes a father who is a seminary graduate, and his Bible teacher, with whom he has a close relationship due to some accelerated classes at school. Now, God has placed him in a Sunday School group where he is in group discussions with a teen who has no belief in God and is challenging everything. God gave Aaron good resources on his “team” to help him hopefully share the kingdom of God with this youth. For me, my interest and knowledge in computers often is combined with a “team” of neighbors, friends and family. Time fixing computers and phones lets me show them new Bible apps, podcasts,“verse for the day” home pages and more. The ability to help technologically affords me meetings with nonbelievers that I might not otherwise have. Dad’s gift of teaching and leadership helped put him on the school board, where we got to know the K’s better…which helped lead us to OBC where he is now teaching Sunday School.

I could go on with these examples forever. The point is, look at your skills and interests-is God putting you under a Paul to learn more about him and to be discipled or has he already placed you on a team with other strong believers and now has you on a specific “playing field”? Wherever you and I are, may we be a strong and active part of God’s team. Our “job” or career is never the end point or pinnacle of our life. It is merely a tool in God’s tool box to complete the work worldwide that He began long long ago.


Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 12.36.54 PMPrintable15Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 12.37.00 PMPastor Saeed is still in prison and still in desperate need of medical care.  As far as I know, he hasn’t seen his children or wife for about 3 years. If an earthquake were to happen and his prison door flew open-do you think he would hang around or run for his life? If it were you or I, what would we do?  I am all about being realistic and I am 99.9% sure I would run for my life, literally!

This is what makes today’s Scripture amazing to me. I always think we should put ourselves in the shoes of those we read about and seriously consider they were real people like you and I. They had the same feelings, wants for comfort and dislike of pain that you and I have. Even Paul, the “great Paul the apostle” was human. Given this fact, and reading this portion of Scripture one can’t help but ask why in the world he didn’t run when given the opportunity. In fact, the first thing I thought of was a few chapters back when Peter also was given the chance to get out of jail and he took it. Why didn’t Paul? It has to have to do with Paul’s purpose in life, and in Philippi. He was there on one of his missionary journeys. He was there to spread the Gospel. He stayed in the prison because there was an opportunity for him to share the gospel with this man, the jailer, and it was apparently the perfect time. Because Paul stayed, the man was saved from his own earthly death and received eternal life as well.

I still wonder why? What overriding urge made Paul stay in a jail when he could run? It was love for this man, or people in general. It was the desire that made him care more about them than himself. He cared more about their eternal destiny and their knowing the truth, than that he get out of jail. Here is the interesting piece-God freed Paul “again” so to speak the next day. He had the authorities come and say he was now free to go. He did eventually get out of the jail.

I can’t help but think this is a good, living example of the familiar verse: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you.” The “things” spoken of in this verse in Matthew, are things like clothing, food and drink. The comforts that I would be wanting if I were sitting in jail! It is so hard to remember this-that if we only seek the things of God, He will truly take care of the rest, as he did with Paul. Maybe today, we can ask God to show us where we are not seeking Him first or doing what is best for His kingdom instead of our comfort. I am not saying it is easy, or that it by any stretch comes naturally to me, but I believe if God could give Paul a heart like this, he can give us one too. May our priorities be God’s priorities today for His kingdom, and may we trust that He will take care of the rest at the right time as we need it.


Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 10.57.22 AMPrintable15Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 10.57.54 AMIn today’s Scripture, we dive into Stephen’s defense before the Sanhedrin. He begins with Abraham-because this is the “rock” of an ancestor they always stand on. Stephen reminds them of the Abrahamic covenant; that God promised Abraham the promised land for he and his descendants. Abraham believed Him. Stephen reminds us he did not even have a “foot’s length” of the land NOR did he have a child. Abraham believed despite all logic, what he saw with his eyes, and what he knew about the world and child-bearing when it came to 90-100 year old people! Remember, his wife laughed she thought it was so ridiculous.

This is just a small portion of Stephen’s defense against some false accusations but it is always a reminder to me of faith. Big faith. Faith in the unseen, unbelievable, illogical. Hard faith. They type I am not sure I would have had, would you? Would you have believed? Would you have been Abraham or Sarah, who laughed? I am afraid I might have been Sarah-but I want to be Abraham. I want to have faith in what I don’t see. I want to have 100%-certainty faith. I think that is the faith that would give us peace through troubling circumstances. Faith in the promises of God despite what we literally see in front of us with our eyes, with the people-or lack thereof-around us.

Are there any promises of God that come to yours or my mind that we have a hard time believing or having faith in? If you are not sure, think about whatever you are currently worried about. That can lead us to where we are doubting God’s promises. Maybe it is the promise that he loves us and wants what is best for us. Maybe we doubt that His ways as prescribed in the Bible are the “best”. Satan’s favorite avenue of attack-since the beginning of time with Eve-is to get us to doubt God’s promises and to lack that faith. Ask God to give you the faith you are lacking in that area. Ask Him for peace from His promises, and the ability to focus on the “unseen” instead of the seen. May we grow in our faith so that we are as certain of God’s promises as we are of Christmas arriving-which really is a reminder of promises fulfilled in the arrival of Christ, the Messiah, himself. This was the whole point of Stephen’s speech in the first place.

Obedient priests…as opposed to non-obedient priests?

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 9.05.01 AMPrintable15Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 9.04.54 AMA great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” Does anything strike you as funny about that statement? Would you find it strange if you read in the news today that an amazing thing happened today with Chef Robert Irvine-that he cooked a meal? No, he is a chef. That is what one would expect him to be doing. Being obedient to the faith was pretty much the entire job of the priest to begin with, wasn’t it? What in the world were they doing before if they were not being obedient to the faith?

Today’s verse in Acts could be another definition of a Christian. I say this because the context we find “became obedient to the faith” is a context referring to the word of God, the gospel, spreading and people becoming disciples-or followers of Christ. What was the result? Obedience to the faith. Somebody noticed a difference in the priests because Luke wrote about it. If the priests had always “been obedient”, Luke would not have written about it. There had to have been a change. A big enough change to be noticed. Apparently, they were not obedient prior to this. That is Christianity. That is the fruit of hearing and receiving the good news. That is the mark of any Christian-not just a “priest” (or our equivalent, a pastor).

Naturally, this begs the question “Are we obedient to the faith?” Is that a fruit seen in our lives? As the Word of God spreads through our lives, is our obedience increasing at a steady rate? Would your friends or my friends describe us as a person who is “obedient to the faith” or “obedient to Christ?” Ask them-try asking Miracle, Nick, or Jake. I will ask my friends and see what they say. This is a good way to see if we are exhibiting fruits of a life in Christ. True Christians will be obedient and that obedience will be seen by others.

Speak up…

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 12.04.22 PMPrintable15Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 12.04.27 PMHusband and wife, siblings, boyfriend and girlfriend, best friends… we will be involved in many relationships through the course of our lives. The closer our relationship with another human being, the more impact they have on us and vice versa. This is why Dad and I have always stressed the importance of choosing your friends well, and of course, choosing your future spouse with great discernment.

Consider Ananias and Sapphire in today’s Scripture reading. They are husband and wife. They sell land and then lie about it. God strikes them both dead. The main point of this Scripture is judgment by God for lying “to the Holy Spirit.” They were trying to pull a fast one. As husband and wife, they decided jointly to sin by lying and they paid a costly price for it.

These people are included in the Bible by God for a purpose. Besides the clear reminder not to lie, I want us to consider Sapphira for a minute. We are told that she “consented” to the sale-which in and of itself was not wrong. BUT, we are also told Ananias kept back some of the profit with his wife’s knowledge. She knew her husband was going to lie. I don’t know if she thought it was a great idea, if she was greedy and wanted to keep the money too or if she was afraid to say anything. We are not told. I do know she had the choice to speak up but did not. Sapphira could have suggested to Ananias not to do this. She could have said, “Don’t go through with it.” She could have influenced him for his own good. Perhaps he would have thought about it-maybe even not done it. If so, his life would have been spared. At the very least, if she had been honest, her life would have been spared.

We have been in the same position I am sure. We see someone about to do wrong, to lie or take some foolish action. Did we speak up? Would we? Do we “consent” and then just go along with it? These are not easy choices of course, but the consequences may be far riskier if we don’t. I suspect if Sapphira had the chance for a do-over, she might speak up the second time around. She did not get a second chance. We may not either, so I encourage all of us-speak up the first time. Do what is right. Advise your friends when given the opportunity to not make stupid choices. Let’s also make sure we are not making stupid choices or putting those around us in a similar dangerous position. It could be anything from simple school pranks to drunk driving or something else. At the very least, make sure you don’t take part in it. Sapphira learned that lesson for us already. And just a reminder-God does see it ALL.  All sin is against God, not just another human being.

Share and share alike…

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 9.37.18 AMPrintable15

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 9.37.13 AMThere has been a lot of borrowing going around lately and we are blessed to have friends with whom we can lend and borrow things. I had to borrow a blow-up mattress from the Mercers for our Thanksgiving guests. Mrs. K is borrowing an iPhone from us until she replaces hers. She lent us an older iPhone to share with Marson since his broke. Grandpop lent us his charging cord for Marson’s phone, and I lent him a newer charging cord. These things may seem trite or irrelevant, but today I realized in some ways, we are modeling the early church in Acts and this is a good thing.

We are told today in Acts that as a group of believers they were borrowers and lenders too. Well, we are not told this in those exact words, but I can’t help but think that is part of what today’s verse means. They are said to have been of “one heart and soul” and they claimed no private ownership of any possessions. It is important to note, that it was not that they did not HAVE private ownership, they just didn’t claim it. In other words, they all did own certain things, but they lived with the mentality of “whats mine is yours” and vice versa. This was a visible illustration to those around them how they were acting as one body, one family, the church. Everything they owned was held in common. They shared. That is really what it boils down to. They were not a “me-first” or “it’s mine” group of people. They were generous and giving, even down to their own precious possessions.

I am glad that we too, carry on this model of the early church, but I think we can take it beyond just “things.” I was thinking the root of this sharing is putting others first. Again, what jumped out to me was they did not “claim” their ownership. What if we did not “claim” our ownership not only to “things” but also to our rights? What if we didn’t claim our ownership to our “rights” amongst each other- but “shared” instead? What if we didn’t claim our right to “be first”? Our “right” to the tv if someone else was using it most of the day? Our right to the car? Our right to live like we want? In our culture of entitlement, I am sure that if we shared our possessions even more, and didn’t claim private ownership to our “rights” as well, we would make a huge statement on behalf of Christ as to what His church family is like. The next time you or I want our way, consider not claiming that right. If we do, we will be giving the world a taste of the body of Christ right before their very eyes.