E.T. (John 18:36)

In 1982, the movie, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, captured the hearts of the movie-going audience in the United States.  It was a touching love story that chronicled the affection between a young boy, Elliot, and a loveable alien accidentally left behind on this earth. A series of whimsical adventures followed and a physical and spiritual bond developed between Elliot and E.T. When E.T. dies, he miraculously returns to life when the aliens return to bring him home. As he is about to depart, E.T.’s glowing finger touches Elliot’s forehead as he promises, “I’ll be right here.” He then ascends into the air in his spacecraft leaving behind a rainbow.


The move re-ignited the interest in seeking intelligent life in the universe. Some hoped that if we did meet up with an extra-terrestrial, they would be as warm and endearing as this fictional character, not the malevolent, evil aliens depicted in numerous B-movies from the fifties and sixties. I loved E.T. and the story was a familiar and personal one because it was released two months after I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.


Jesus Christ was sent to earth by God, the Father, to be born as a Man. He is fully Man and fully God. He lived a complete life on this earth and established the Kingdom of God. He died on the Cross and was resurrected and ascended to Heaven where He now lives in Heaven. Someday He will return to judge and rule this the world with His Millenial Kingdom. Until He does, His presence remains with me and all believers through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit.


Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

John 18:36 (ESV)


Jesus Christ is not of this world but He created it. He created it to share His love with me and His entire creation. Like the promise of E.T. to his friend Elliot, Jesus Christ will never leave nor forsake me. He proved it by dying on the Cross and being resurrected from the dead. All who confess and repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will have salvation and eternal life. 

E.T. is a familiar story because it echoes the greatest love story ever conceived, the love between God and His Creation.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


The Most Individual Championships (John 7:14-16)

Twelve individual championships!


Tennis? Basketball?


No, try the venerable annual Fourth of July Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog eating contest!


In the background of this year’s televised competition was a video teaser trumpeting the accomplishments of the current reigning champion, Joey Chestnut, in the same rarefied air as other athletes like Rafael Nadal and Bill Russell. Less than an hour later, Chestnut had won his 12th championship, eating 71 Nathan hot dogs and buns in an astounding 10 minutes!


Source: Russian Machine Never Breaks.com


It was all in mock seriousness but other sports fans took offense at mentioning Chestnut, a competitive eater, in the same category as other athletes in “true” sports like tennis and basketball. Despite the fact that Chestnut and other competitive eaters diligently train to become champions, for some, it did not impart the same level of credibility or legitimacy as other sports athletes.


When the topics of talents and skills are discussed, a lively debate is certain to follow. For some, unless it fits into their preconceived notions, it is not legitimate. The Jewish leaders who listened to the teachings of Jesus Christ embodied this prejudice.


About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.”

John 7:14-16 (ESV)


Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was the greatest teacher who ever lived. The Jewish leaders who listened to Him could only marvel at the wisdom of this Man who did not quote other Rabbis but spoke with His own authority. How could He do this? He did not train at the established rabbinical schools nor did any Rabbi claim to be His teacher. He had not produced a collection of published writings. How could He? Wasn’t He simply an illiterate son of a carpenter? Yet everything Jesus said and spoke confirmed a supreme knowledge of the Jewish Scriptures and God’s Word. He brought forth new interpretations and applications of God’s Word and challenged the status quo of religious life. His talents and skills were different from any other religious leader of the day.


There may be a continuing debate about the legitimacy of competitive eating as a sport, but let us never be so quick to dismiss someone’s skills or talents because it does not fit into our preconceived notions. 


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


“Respect Mother Nature!” (Psalms 14:1)

It was a little after 10 AM and the glass on my front door began to rattle. At first, I thought the wind was blowing or perhaps a truck was passing close by, but it was quiet outside. After a few more seconds, the source was clear, it was an earthquake. Lasting a few seconds, the entire house shook and I fearfully looked at the ceiling hoping that nothing would fall or collapse. After it was over, I scanned the internet and discovered a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck Southern California about 175 miles northeast from where I was sitting. 


Predictably, the bloggers immediately posted. Celebrity bloggers, as usual, received disproportionate attention and one well-known actor wrote, “Respect Mother Nature!” followed by several other bloggers chiming, “Agree!” There were other postings by non-celebrities that asked for God’s help and intervention and some of the responses were less than kind. “Why are you imposing your beliefs upon us? Keep them to yourself!”


It is fascinatingly disingenuous and tragically hypocritical that the Hollywood elite would get a pass from invoking the name of a mythological goddess named Mother Nature as the source of natural disasters yet if the True God is mentioned, politically correct pundits raise objections and cite religious bias. 


The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.

Psalms 14:1 (ESV)


Thousands of years earlier, the Bible recorded the words of King David as he lamented those who foolishly claim there is no God. God created man with a soul that yearns to be united with Him. We have a God-shaped hole in our heart and only a Savior, Jesus Christ, can repair and satisfy it. Yet, so many have chosen to fill this hole with the transient excess of wealth or pleasure. Anthropomorphizing nature as a goddess is another futile attempt. There is no God, only Mother Nature. 


When we follow our own desires, we quickly descend upon a slippery slope, unable to escape by our own efforts. We are all sinners and there is none who does good. We desperately need a Savior, one who answers the question of sin and guilt in our lives. We don’t need Mother Nature. 


We need Jesus Christ. 


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


“I Cannot Be In This World!” (James 2:26)

When I began college, I was involved in a religious cult. The leader was a self-proclaimed prophet who espoused a blend of Christian and Buddhist beliefs. Coming from an atheist background, I was surprised to so quickly embrace such a theocentric world view, but her message was compelling and at that time in my young life, brought order to many disparate religious ideas that I previously thought irreconcilable. 


For a few months, I eagerly attended her meditation sessions and learned what I believed was inner peace. Yet, whenever I left the sessions, I was confronted with the usual pressures of college and reverted back to my old feelings of anxiety. What was missing? Perturbed, I went back to her for private sessions and inquired how I could conquer these insecurities given my need to deal with many relationships and secular problems. I hoped for some practical advice to put my new faith into action, instead, I received an impersonal directive.


“I cannot be in this world. I cannot have relationships like everyone else. I am here to teach you the path to god and you must learn to detach from this world.”


Her answers were unsatisfying and left me wanting. It left me to seek answers that only the true God could answer. After studying the Bible and meeting with a Christian classmate who became my friend and mentor, God opened my eyes to the Truth and I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. 


For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

James 2:26 (KJV)


Some mystical religious teachers remove themselves from this world, avering they are relinquishing all worldly desires and possessions. They live an ascetic life, completely devoted to pondering their god and creation. While I respect their religious devotion, I question how this behavior can help the rest of us to live and cope with this world. I need to live in the real world, not retreat to some mountain top or cave. 


Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship with the living God of all Creation, Jesus Christ. I came into this relationship through faith in Jesus Christ. This loving relationship with Jesus is multiplied through relationships with others. Faith does not exist in a social vacuum, only for my benefit. True faith leads to action on behalf of others, always leading to practical action. 


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


Mockumentary (Genesis 3:1-5)

I was viewing a fascinating drama of two reporters tracking the lives of a famous heiress living with her daughter in a dilapidated home. Their lives were a parody of their once glamorous lives of fame and wealth. While they still dressed in glittering gowns, the accolades and admiring crowds had vanished and all that was left were faded photographs, newspaper clippings, and fragile memories.


It was an engaging story…and it was complete fiction. It was a mockumentary. In this era of fake news, a mockumentary is a special related category. It is a deliberate attempt to present fictional events in a realistic documentary format. Adding to the realism are interviews and participation with real celebrities, commenting upon the fictionalized subjects and stories as if it were real. These satires of established documentaries are quite entertaining with many mockumentaries garnering numerous awards in cinema and television. Some have become so popular that phrases and scenes from respective mockumentaries have found their way into popular culture and press. “This is Spinal Tap” is a one such cult classic mockumentary about a fictional rock band which features incidents now referred to as a “Spinal Tap moment” as well as numerous phrases that have become part of the genre of rock guitar players. 


What happens when the lines between fiction and reality are blurred? If there is no vetting, one could be misled into accepting a falsehood as truth. Isn’t this what Satan does in every moment of our lives? 


Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ​‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:1-5 (ESV)


Subtle shifts in meaning, adding and subtracting to God’s Words-the permutations are endless and Satan knows how to exploit all of them to his advantage. Adam and Eve sinned by not taking their doubts and questions to God but, instead, relied upon the reasoning of Satan, the serpent. The result is the loss of Paradise and the world we now live in, a world that is torn apart by sin and evil. 


I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Revelation 22:18-19 (ESV)


The Bible accurately prophesies that there will be deceivers and charlatans who will attempt to add or take away from God’s sacred text. God’s Word is complete and inerrant. Unlike the mockumentaries which are created to entertain, the Bible portends a horrible fate for anyone who dismisses this dire warning.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


Spoiler Alert! (Deuteronomy 18:22)

“Are you going to see the movie?”


“Yeah, I really want to go! Can I, Dad?”


My daughter was riding in our car with her friend Sally. She had been asking me for several days if she could go to a new movie and this weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity. 


“You know…” Sally began. “I heard it’s not that great. You know Jake dies, right?”


My daughter’s face dropped. “Sally! I can’t believe you said that! You just ruined the movie!”


Spoiler alert!


The media and the popular press will usually broadcast this statement to warn unsuspecting listeners and viewers that the information they are about to disclose may ruin the plot for an event which others have not yet seen or experienced. While this is usually for a movie or storyline, events that have already occurred may also fall under this heading, such as the final score for a sporting event or the winner of a much-anticipated race. If one does not hear the warning of a spoiler alert, the revealing of the result will elicit certain disappointment and even anger. Unfortunately, for my daughter, there was no spoiler alert, much to her displeasure.


…when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

Deuteronomy 18:22 (ESV)


Prophets, speaking for and enlightened by God, prophesied future events. They were held to the highest standard and were put to death if their prophecies were false or did not come true. By warning others of God’s judgment, they were the ancient equivalent of spoiler alerts. 


At the risk of sounding irreverent, God is the ultimate origin of spoiler alerts. When the perfect world that He created was stained with the entry of sin through Adam and Eve’s disobedience, His ultimate plan of redemption was already in place. God, the Author and Creator of all history, revealed the plot line for the human race. 


I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Genesis 3:15 (ESV)


Thousands of years later, God would send His Son, Jesus Christ, to be born as a Man, the offspring of a woman. Jesus would live a perfect life as a Man but would die carrying the full burden of everyone’s sins on the Cross. Three days later, God would resurrect Him, conquering Satan’s power of sin and death and forever bruising his head. 


Spoiler alert!


Satan is defeated through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God and the Prophets revealed the plot line and its inevitable conclusion through the Bible. No matter what lies Satan and the world tells us, God will be triumphant and offers salvation and eternal life to all who confess and repent of their sins and accept Jesus Chris as Lord and Savior.




Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.



“I Can Do Whatever!” (1 John 3:8-9)

Reality television seemingly represents a true slice of life with everyday people, not actors, placed in unusual situations. Most of the stories revolve around romance or survival in extreme conditions. The entertainment value is observing the different personalities interact as each participant jockeys for position to be declared the winner. Recently, one reality show added a different twist. The couple, a man and woman, both declared they are Christians. However, their beliefs appeared to diverge when the topic of pre-marital sex and sin arose. The man adamantly stated that the marriage bed should be kept pure, with no pre-marital sex. She, however, confidently divulged to millions of viewers, “I can do whatever — I sin daily and Jesus still loves me. It’s all washed and if the Lord doesn’t judge me and it’s all forgiven, then no other man, woman…can judge me.”

Source Fox News.com


Needless to say, her statements generated a firestorm of responses and internet postings. One insightful comment was anonymously posted and bluntly stated, “Your Mom loves you too, but that doesn’t mean she approves of your behavior.” This succinctly encapsulates God’s relationship with His children. 


Christians have the freedom to respectfully disagree with the opinions of other Christians. There are many gray areas of theology and Bible interpretation and devout believers can agree to disagree.  However, there are many more areas that all Christians must collectively believe in or they cannot claim to be a Christian and a follower of Jesus Christ. All Christians must believe in One God manifested in three personalities, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All Christians must believe in the inerrancy of God’s Word, the Bible. All Christians must believe they are sinners, saved only through faith and belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ by confessing and repenting of one’s sins and the washing and regeneration of the Holy Spirit.


It is true, we all sin, Christians and non-believers alike. When Christians sin, God is faithful to forgive us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He does this because of His love, grace, and mercy to us. However, to continue to sin and to do “whatever”, to flaunt and even boast of these sins, is an affront to God. This is not me judging this woman nor is it an attempt to shame another believer. It is stating God’s Word which is inerrant and cannot be broken.


Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.

1 John 3:8-9 (ESV)


Only God knows what is the true nature of the relationship that He has with this woman. God holds all believers in Him to the highest possible standards because we are ambassadors for Jesus Christ to a lost world. This is why God asks us to continually re-examine ourselves and test our faith in Jesus Christ. 


Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

2 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV)


If we claim to be a Christian, we cannot do whatever. We can only obey Jesus Christ, the Son of God.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


Why Is The Hillside Moving? (Song of Solomon 4:1)

As I was driving to work the other morning, my eyes were drawn to an unfamiliar and surreal sight. Why is the hillside moving? As I drove closer the details came into sharper focus. The hillside was alive with dozens of goats slowly moving along the steep slope, devouring the excess grass and shrubbery. The goats were introduced into our neighborhood as a novel way to clear the hillsides of excess foliage, reducing the fire risk. These animals are far more efficient than humans and while this is a practical and business savvy decision, I am thankful to simply observe the beauty of the hillside flowing with these beautiful creatures. It brought to mind the poetic verses from the Song of Solomon. 


How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from the hills of Gilead.

Song of Solomon 4:1 (NIV)


Solomon is describing his bride and he is completely smitten with her. It is a beautiful and moving description of her physical beauty, but these verses and the entire book of the Song of Solomon also speak of the radiant and irrepressible beauty of Jesus Christ. When we are love with someone, we study everything about that person. We know every strand of their hair, the way they walk, the way their smile lights up a room-it is physical intimacy and God honors this at the highest level, represented by the love between a husband and wife. The intimate description of the physical beauty speaks of the detail that we should know what it means to be truly in love with Jesus. As believers in Jesus Christ, do we seek every opportunity to learn about Him? Do we bring Him into every situation we encounter? Do we desire to always do the things that please Him?


The beauty of God is ubiquitously manifest in His creation. From the goats on a hillside to a sunrise illuminating the clouds on the horizon, the physical beauty of God’s Creation speaks of the infinitely greater beauty of Jesus Christ. 


How blessed are all believers to experience the beauty of Jesus Christ in so many wonderful ways!


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


Black July? (1 Thessalonians 5:2)

Black Friday is a familiar term for the American consumer. It usually designates the Friday after Thanksgiving Thursday in November to incentive shoppers to get a headstart on the holiday gift season. However, several online retailers have taken Black Friday to the next level, creating a Cyber Monday, following Black Friday. Now, one well-known online retailer has created another shopping experience, pushed up to July. Black Friday is now two days occurring nearly 5 months earlier! Black July anyone?


The impetus, of course, is enticing shoppers to take advantage of special deals, available only during these days. Retailers are creating a false sense of urgency, hoping to send the message that if one misses this opportunity, there will not be another, or at least not until the next Black Friday.


The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)


There are many passages in the Bible, like this one from 2 Peter, that describe the patience of God. It is a remarkable testimony of the grace and mercy of God who loves us so much that He desires none of us to perish but all to have eternal life through faith and belief in His Son, Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, this grace has lulled some into a sense of complacency about their eternal destiny. Some people believe they have time to make a decision about God. Before they reach that last moment of life, they rationalize and reason to themselves they can live a life of their own choosing and morality. However, when they perceive that their demise is imminent, they will choose God and ask for forgiveness. After all, if God can forgive someone of their sins in the last moment of their life, like the thief on the Cross crucified next to our Lord Jesus Christ, He can certainly forgive them. There is no urgency to make this decision. 


It is true that God can forgive one’s sins, even in the last moment of their life, if one’s repentance is genuine and understanding of who Jesus Christ is. The more relevant question is how will anyone know when their last moment of life will be?  In spite of medical and technological advances, no one can accurately predict the moment one will die. If it comes before one can make a decision to follow Jesus Christ, it will be too late.


For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

1 Thessalonians 5:2 (ESV)


With God, there is no false sense of urgency. Judgment will come for this world and judgment will also come to everyone who has ever lived. There is a true and sobering urgency to make a decision to follow Jesus Christ and each passing moment brings us closer to that Judgment Day, Unlike the Black Fridays and its various incarnations, there will be no additional Judgment days.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


Wagyu (Psalms 63:5)

I love steak. I have eaten nearly every cut of beef from many different cattle breeds originating from some of the great beef producing regions in the world. Whether the cattle are grass-fed, grain-fed, or aged for several weeks, for me, there is one cut of beef that clearly stands out from the rest. 


Wagyu beef.


Wagyu is a Japanese word that literally means Japanese cow. There are four recognized Japanese cattle breeds that may be designated Wagyu. While Kobe Wagyu beef has become synonymous with Wagyu, this is only one location in Japan, albeit the most familiar to American menus, from where the Wagyu cattle are raised. Other locations include Miyazaki, Matsusaka, Ohmi, and Bungo. Wagyu beef is famous for its rich fat marbling and earns its own Japanese grading scale, with A5 being the top grade. 


I never tire of explaining this to my friends who are unfamiliar with this delicacy because it simply builds anticipation to the meal. In fact, as I am writing this, my mouth is watering, fondly reminiscing over the few times I have partaken of this. It may seem overindulgent, even extravagant, but if one is a true steak lover and carnivore, this must be tasted.


My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips…

Psalms 63:5 (ESV)


This verse from the Book of Psalms always amuses me because King David, who wrote it, undoubtedly ate some of the finest food in the world. While he probably did not have Wagyu beef, I am sure he ate delicacies that I cannot begin to imagine. Yet, in spite of all the rich and luxurious foods he ate, he was adamant that it did not even compare to the experience of praising God and having his soul knit together with Him.


My mouth waters in the anticipation of eating Wagyu beef, satisfying my appetite. Yet, my soul will only be satisfied by the richness of God’s presence in my life. It will never be overindulgent or extravagant. He is the Bread of life who supplies all of my needs! 


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.