An Aha! Moment (Hebrews 12:4)

Recently, I was reading a story of a Muslim man who converted to Christianity and the ensuing struggles he faced with his wife, other family members, and his community, all of them Muslim. Rejected and persecuted for his newly confessed faith, he was determined to respond with the love of Jesus Christ. He knew his behavior would always have to be consistent and forgiving if he was to demonstrate that Jesus Christ had truly changed his heart. It was not easy. His wife left him and took his three children away. His father disowned him. He was ostracized from his place of worship and labeled an infidel. Still, he persisted. He was joyful to have eternal life and salvation through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.


As I reflected upon the sincerity and depth of this man’s faith in Jesus Christ, it was clear that he understood the cost of following Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, in a way that I and many others never would. The reflection also triggered a deeper connection within me as I saw other relationships in a new light.


I have attended many seminars on marriage and relationships. All of them have inspiring stories of couples that were about to call it quits until the intervention of friends, family members, or pastors helped them on the path to recovery. All were embedded with kernels of truth and good advice, but very few resonated with me. Whether it was because their situations were unique to their circumstances, or their problems did not seem insurmountable, I absorbed very few lessons.


The story of this man’s struggles with his faith, although only peripherally related to marriage, connected the disparate marital ideas and stories I had previously heard, into a seamless narrative. He was totally committed to his relationship with Jesus Christ; it was complete submission and obedience, a total sacrifice with no turning back or half-hearted attempts. Anything less would be recognized as hypocrisy and lack of faith by everyone who interacted with him. His attitude and faith were admirable and worthy to be emulated in our marriages. It was an “Aha!” moment.


After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

Hebrews 12:4 (NLT)


Many spouses would aver that they would gladly die if it meant they could save the other’s life. There are many examples of these actions such as shielding a spouse from physical injury or donating an organ. All are intended to prevent physical death for our loved one at our expense. These are worthy and noble sacrifices. But would we also be equally willing to sacrifice our life for our spouse so that our behavior would always be kind and caring? Would we give our lives if we could slay the desire to point out a minor fault in our spouse? Like the husband who clung to his faith at any cost, so that the testimony of his faith in Jesus Christ would always be true and consistent, are we willing to live every moment with our spouses with the same holy attitude that we hold our relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior?


If marriage is to be successful, the relationship must be elevated to the sacred and holy level that God requires of all believers. If we dare not deny our faith in Jesus Christ, we can do no less with our spouses. It means I need to behave differently when I am with my spouse because every thought and action is being scrutinized by others and a holy God. We must be consistent in our behavior and not violate the trust of God.


It was an Aha! moment for me when I understood that like our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ who are persecuted because of their faith, we need to be willing to give our lives in our struggle to resist the sins that can tear a marriage apart.


The stakes are too high to accept anything less.


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


“I Don’t Have It Together!” (Romans 7:24)

“When I read your blogs, I think that you are someone who has it all together.”


My friend and fellow brother in Jesus Christ was being honest and transparent with me. He is someone who not only receives my daily email blogs but is also a close personal friend.


“But then I know you, and you struggle like everyone else, maybe even more so.”


His words stung because they were spot on. “You are right,” I replied. “ I have never ever stated in my blogs that I am a saint and have all the answers. I struggle with my faith, probably more than most of the people who are reading these blogs. I don’t have it all together.”


From its inception, my intention with my blogs was to show how a relationship with Jesus Christ and understanding the Bible is relevant for every action in life, even for the seemingly mundane tasks that we all undertake. I didn’t have the answers but wanted to show how God can instruct and guide me through life’s sometimes tortuous decisions. For years, I wrestled with the idea of sharing my struggles, afraid of the backlash from seekers and believers alike. Indeed, I have received criticism from all groups. Yet, during these times of criticism, I always found comfort and inspiration from two characters in the Bible whom I most admire, King David and the Apostle Paul.


King David was the most successful King of Israel. Yet in spite of his numerous military and political successes and prodigious gifts of musicianship and poetry writing, he still succumbed to his sins. The Bible is brutally honest and lays bare his egregious sins for all eternity. In this passage, David had committed an act of adultery with Bathsheba and commanded that her husband, Uriah the Hittite, one of the commanders of his own army, be murdered to cover up his heinous crime. When confronted with his sins, David came before God in contrition and wrote these words in Psalms 51. King David had every spiritual and material blessing but still fell many times because of his sins. Yet, each time, he came before God in humility and confessed and repented of his sins, recognizing that it was only God who could make things right and redeem him. Did his sins diminish the power and emotion of his words?


Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

Psalms 51:4 (ESV)


The Apostle Paul, one of the greatest missionaries and defender of the Christian faith, explodes in anguish with this plaintive cry that he wrote in his letter to the Roman church. How could Paul, perhaps one of the most brilliant and learned men of the world at that time, who wrote so many inspired books in the Bible, believe that he was such a wretched sinner? Did his confession diminish the meaning and beauty of his words?


Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Romans 7:24 (ESV)


Both men were blessed with so many God-given gifts, and yet, they each fell victim to sin many times. This does not excuse my sinful and prideful behaviors but It does show me that even for these two giants of faith in the Bible, they were vulnerable to the same sins with which I struggle. I don’t have it all together. This is why I write these blogs, to show that the only hope I have is to come before my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and beg for His mercy, grace, and forgiveness for my sins. Slowly but surely, He is conforming and transforming me into His image. Someday, in His presence in Heaven, I will know the full glory of His sanctification in my life. Until then, He continues to bring me to my knees, acknowledging the wretched state that my sins continue to inflict upon my soul.




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


Revisiting (Proverbs 18:14)

My cell phone was flashing a familiar name from my past. It was Jake. I had not seen him in person in over 8 years and had no communication over the last 3 years. A flood of memories washed through my mind as I saw the name. Twenty-three years earlier we were closer than brothers. Jake was my best man at my wedding and his wife had introduced me to my wife. For many sad reasons, our relationship was torn apart and he eventually moved out of the area and we only sparingly kept in touch. 


I answered the call and we both began the phone conversation cautiously, exchanging polite pleasantries. He was calling to tell me about a mutual friend of ours. Slowly we eased into familiar territory, speaking about our families and our jobs. As we spoke, there was no mention of the events that led to our estrangement. We ended the call on an upbeat note and since that call, we have regularly spoken on the phone and communicated via emails and text messages. 


We were both reaching out and reaching back to our former relationship of happier times, unhindered by the uncertainty the COVID-19 pandemic has thrust upon us. One recent article was entitled, “The pandemic is pushing people to revisit relationships that fell apart.” As one woman confided in the article, “If you’d asked me before quarantine, I would’ve told you there was no hope.” Source: BuzzFeed News


Our phone call was a vivid illustration of this truth. 


A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.

Proverbs 18:1 (NKJV)


Two individuals, once best friends, separated by stubborn and unwilling spirits to reconcile and heal their relationship. The pandemic has motivated many, including myself, to reach out and attempt to erase or put aside painful memories. My tolerance for pain and self-discipline is quite high. I can endure much hardship when I am undergoing a physical struggle such as working long hours or recuperating from an injury. This is different. Jake and I have broken spirits and it was more than either of us could bear. 


The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, But who can bear a broken spirit?

Proverbs 18:14 (NKJV)


It will take time to completely heal our relationship and undoubtedly there will be many steps backward for every step forward. If I was relying solely upon my efforts, I know I would be discouraged and walk away. Not this time. I am relying upon God to sustain and carry this relationship, to bring reconciliation through the power of His Resurrection, bringing life from death. 




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


Coping (Psalms 92:12-14)

Many years ago, a friend of mine was sharing his experience with a brother in Jesus Christ with whom he was meeting on a regular basis. They were working through a Bible study on Christian marriage. He would occasionally update me on their progress which was usually optimistic. On this one occasion, however, his demeanor changed and he was dejected.


“We both know that we have to sacrifice and honor our wives. You know, like the Bible states in Ephesians Chapter 5.”




“Well, I’ve tried this and she is never going to change.” He sighed and shook his head. “We both agreed that we just have to cope.”


The statement was a punch to my gut. I loved my brother in Christ and did not know all of the struggles that led the two of them to this conclusion but I did not want to know. I refused to accept it. Coping was not living victoriously in Jesus Christ. I didn’t want to cope. I wanted to thrive.


The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the LORD Shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing…

Psalms 92:12-14 (NKJV)

Whether it is our marriage, friendships or workplace relationships, God did not create us to simply cope with our lives. He created us to flourish, to thrive! If we accept anything less than that, we limit God’s sovereign will and omnipotent power in our lives. 


“He is selfish and never wants to listen to me!” 

“She doesn’t appreciate how hard I work and sacrifice for this family!”

“I’ve done everything I can possibly do!” 


I have heard myself and others emit these plaintive cries to God, complaining about their spouses. When I utter these seemingly selfless cries, defending my actions, I am unwittingly pointing the finger at myself, acknowledging that I am the selfish partner. I am blaming God for my lack of faith that I doubt He is able to accomplish what He promises to do. It is not the other person’s fault and it is certainly not God’s fault. The blame solely rests upon me and as honest I try to be with myself, I never want to hear or accept this. 


Why is my faith so small? I refuse to firmly plant myself in God’s will and submit to Him. Instead, I obey my will and rely upon my life experiences to navigate a relationship that I am treating like an ordinary relationship. God has elevated the marriage relationship and blessed it as holy. I should fear God and acknowledge that a holy relationship demands submission to a holy God.


I cannot cope with this. God created marriage to thrive and flourish!


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


Complement (Ephesians 5:21)

When I was a young adult in college, I was participating in a church study group discussion in which we were asked to describe our ideal spouse. Most of the comments centered upon shared interests and spiritual compatibility. No surprises there. While none of the participants were married, one couple was involved in a serious relationship so I was particularly interested to hear their perspective. I was quite surprised by their revelations. 


“Jake and I have no common interests!” Sally gleefully exclaimed!


“Oh!” The moderator of the group flashed a half-surprised look.


“Yup! I like watching sports, Jake likes watching Jeopardy! I skateboard and Jake golfs!” She playfully nudged him with her elbow as Jake smiled and nodded. 


“I don’t know! Maybe we shouldn’t be together! Oh-oh!” She let out a howl as our group collapsed in laughter. 


This couple eventually got married. He is an engineer, introverted and cerebral, while she is a school teacher, extroverted and bubbly. They take separate vacations. He enjoys bird watching and walks in nature while she enjoys spas and wine tastings. Their relationship exudes a closeness and compatibility that belies their seeming incompatibilities. As they declared on numerous occasions, “God put us together because He knew we complement each other.”


The great Christian apologist and evangelist, Ravi Zacharias, once preached how God always provides what we need. Paul was suffering from an unknown physical ailment, one that he dramatically described in his second letter to the Corinthian church (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). God sent Dr. Luke, a physician, to be the Apostle Paul’s traveling and missionary companion. The greatest evangelist and defender of the nascent Christian Church accompanied by a physician who would help care for his ailing body. Paul did not ask God for a physician. God not only provided him with a physician but a fellow missionary and gifted writer who became a major author of the New Testament. God gave Paul what he needed because they complemented each other. 


Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Ephesians 5:21 (NIV)


Jake and Sally had it correct from the beginning of their relationship. They were not simply seeking compatibility, they sought God’s direction and guidance to complement one another. God honored and answered their prayers and blessed their marriage. They were embracing their differences, recognizing that it gave them each an opportunity to respond to each other with the same love that Jesus Christ cared for each of them and all believers who place their faith and trust in Him.


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


It Will Be Costly! (Joshua 9:14-15)

I’ll do it!


It was a risky venture-translation, it will be costly! Many years ago, I decided to begin a tissue processing laboratory for my company. It would require the purchase of very expensive and specialized equipment and the hiring of several additional employees. The revenue upside would more than adequately cover my fixed costs and I was eager to embark upon this venture.


After six months, it was painfully obvious that I had sorely miscalculated critical steps. Trained histotechnologists who prepare the microscope slides were in short supply. Reagent costs were greater than anticipated since my laboratory did not have a larger scale like my regional and national competitors to negotiate discounted rates with our vendors. And then there the intangibles, such as electrical power failures which are devastating to a finely tuned instrument like a tissue processor that needs to run on an uninterrupted power supply for at least six hours. Any interruption will freeze the processor and usually lead to completely ruining the delicate tissue samples. After I discontinued the venture, I reflected upon the steps that led to the failure. I was overconfident in my knowledge and the collective experiences of others. But the glaring deficiency was the most painful to admit. I did not first seek counsel from the Lord and commit the entire venture to Him.


So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the LORD. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.

Joshua 9:14-15 (ESV)


There are dire consequences when we do not first seek counsel from God before we embark upon any decision in life. The Israelites learned a painful lesson leading to them being tricked into sparing the lives of one of their enemies, the Gibeonites, who would remain a continual threat to them. Like myself, they were overconfident by their recent success and relied upon their own convictions.


The Bible stresses this valuable lesson in another passage.


Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.

Proverbs 16:3 (ESV)


Thankfully, it was only a financial loss that I suffered. However, in my life, there have been many times that I failed to completely dedicate a decision to God. The inevitable result is always a spiritual reckoning with God and I am brought to my knees in contrition and repentance. In many of those instances, I lost far more than income. I irreparably damaged a relationship. One would think that I would learn my lesson after every failure but I still stubbornly cling to my old habits, consumed by my pride, and convinced that I know better than God.


There is only one decision that will always guarantee peace and comfort in one’s life.


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


“I Have To Get Home!” (Hebrews 13:14)

It was already 5 PM and the growing shadows alerted me to the setting sun. I was late and I frantically searched for any clue that would lead me in the right direction to return home. Without my smartphone or access to a GPS device, I was relying upon my memory and it had been years since I had visited this part of the city, which was vaguely familiar, yet still alien. I was further handicapped by my mode of transportation. I was on a skateboard! The last time I was on a skateboard was when I was a teenager. Why was I using one now to help me escape this dire situation?


It is my recurring dream which I have had for the past year, sometimes recurring several times on the same night. All the dreams begin the same way and I am clueless how I end up in each location. All I know is I have to get home!  My mode of transportation varies from a skateboard, bicycle, to running. In the end, I never make it home and always awake when I am hopelessly lost.


I have pondered the meaning of my dream. All my modes of transportation are powered by my own efforts. I am lost seeking a way home but unable to reach it. I am alone. Why can’t I have a happy ending instead of always awakening in a forlorn state? Why doesn’t God appear and firmly take hold of my hand and lead me to safety? The symbolism and metaphors abound. A psychoanalyst would be drooling to render an interpretation but with God’s insight, I think I know the answer.


Over this last year, I have lost my spiritual way, feeling spiritually dry and empty. The dreams are a reminder of what my life was like before I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I was always in so many desperate situations but did not know how I arrived there. I was seeking a quick escape. I was searching for peace and comfort through my own efforts. I was seeking a place to call home where all fears were gone.


I was lost.


For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.

Hebrews 13:14 (ESV)


The dreams remind me of my former life before Jesus Christ but also remind me that in spite of the trials and tribulations I face, I do not have to fall back upon my old lifestyle and retreat back to this old and lost world. There is no hope nor are there answers waiting there for me. There is no lasting city for me in this world. I have to get home, my true home. I need to return to Jesus Christ, my first Love and my spiritual rest.


Thank you, Lord Jesus, for always reminding me that you have already brought me home, not by my own efforts, but only by your grace and mercy through faith in Your Name.


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


Erosion (Ephesians 5:25)

The giant chasm yawned before me as I stood on the precipice. Layers of sedimentary rock fit together in a warped puzzle leading downward a dizzying steep descent. I was surveying one of the great natural wonders of the United States.


The Grand Canyon.


The Colorado River carved the canyon out of the surrounding stone over the past 5 million years through the slow process of erosion. If one lived at the Canyon, it would be highly unlikely that one would ever be able to observe this. Only with the vantage of time would one be able to look back and see the staggering effects. It was a vivid reminder of the slow but inexorable process of erosion in nature. It was also a reminder of what could happen in relationships, particularly a marriage.


I had spent years building my career, justifying to myself and others that God commands me to be a good provider for my household. Indeed, God does ask this responsibility of every head of a household and He has blessed me in this area of my life. Yet, this blessing should never have come at the expense of other relationships. For as much time and energy that I spent working on my career, I should have devoted even more working on my marriage.


Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…

Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)


Pastors, counselors, and well-intentioned brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ often quote this passage as the standard by which husbands should honor their wives and marriage. But what does it mean to truly obey God and live by this? The usual reply by a husband, including myself, is, “Of course I will honor and love my wife.” How do I demonstrate this? I provide for my family; I have never missed a major or minor event; we have shared tears and laughter. These are all important and vital to any marriage, but there is so much more wisdom that this verse is conveying.


Like the erosive action of the Colorado River, it was inevitable. Slowly but surely, the passion of the marriage was slowly ebbing away. There were no sudden or catastrophic experiences. It was the missed thank you for staying up late to complete a homework assignment with the children and not going to bed together. It was the shortened date night, interrupted by a late-night pickup for the high school dance. It was casual conversations during a romantic interlude being consumed with the recounting of an unpleasant encounter at work. None of these interactions, taken alone, would ever be mistaken or misinterpreted for something that would break up a marriage, but taken over time, the cumulative effect was an erosion of the passion of the marriage. The great Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis, wrote in The Screwtape Letters, “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” It was not something that could be observed at the moment, only with the vantage of time.


As I gazed upon the Grand Canyon, I was looking at myself in the mirror and I hated what I saw.


Erosion can be stopped and reversed but what takes years to happen cannot be instantaneously reversed. It will take far more time and effort to rebuild but it can happen. This is the true message of Paul’s admonition from the Book of Ephesians. Jesus Christ gave His life for His Church because He wanted all believers to know that the marriage relationship is at the forefront of all earthly relationships. He gives all believing husbands the power of the Resurrection to reverse the incessant erosion of sin and pride and rebuild our marriages. It can happen and will happen but only if I, as a husband, stop pretending that my career and providing for my family is a noble substitute for nurturing my marriage.


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


Another Bible (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

He was my college classmate who voraciously studied the works of Shakespeare. Participating in our local college trivia bowls, his knowledge of the Bard was unrivaled. If the only category on a Jeopardy show was “Shakespeare” he would easily walk away as grand champion, and, in fact, he actually did compete on the fabled show, doing very well. In an interview with our college newspaper, he confided that he learned so many life lessons through his readings. It was his “Bible.”


I have always been impressed by writers and speakers who are able to adroitly quote a passage from a great work of literature to support their points. In fact, many great theologians and evangelists do the same with great success. Are there differences between the works of Shakespeare, Plato, and the Bible? Some would say no. Most great works of literature embody good ethical and moral themes, ones that can make us a better person if followed. Could any of these works be another Bible?


If I read “Hamlet” every day and memorized the entire text, what might be the outcome? I would certainly become quite knowledgeable in Danish history. I would learn about the complexities of many human emotions and desires. In fact, thousands of scholars, including Sigmund Freud, have expounded upon the profound themes and lessons for humanity that are found within its pages. Isn’t this enough to be the Bible for my life?


And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
(1 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV)


There are profound truths to be found in many great works of literature, including Shakespeare. However, the Bible is much more. The Bible is not simply a great work of literature, it is the sacred Word of God. The Bible was written by men directed by God, the Holy Spirit. In it, we learn why our human spirit so often surrenders to sinful desires like greed and lust. We learn the history of how civilizations came into existence and why the world is in its current condition. But most importantly, it is the roadmap to understand how we can have salvation and eternal life through faith and belief in Jesus Christ. Unlike all other works of literature, the Bible gives us the definitive answer to how we can deal with the problem of sin, which has ruptured the sacred relationship between God and mankind. This is why the Bible is different.


Another Bible does not exist. There is only THE Bible, the sacred Word of God.


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


Make A Decision! (1 Samuel 13:8-10)

When a crisis hits, life-altering decisions sometimes have to be made within seconds. The current COVID-19 crisis placed me in such a quandary. When news first broke from China, I did not want to alarm my staff, since, at that time, there were no documented cases in the United States. However, I immediately purchased more hand sanitizers and liberally distributed them around the office and encouraged all to make frequent use of this agent. This action coincided with the start of the flu season so I reasoned it was prudent to take extra precautions. There was a bit of a push back from the staff as some thought I was acting hastily. A few weeks later when the number of COVID-19 cases was growing and the crisis was declared a pandemic, the staff realized how important it was to now have the hand sanitizers, but I was now faced with another problem. The hoarding of key supplies had begun and, as everyone now knows, hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes, paper towels, and toilet paper were in short supply. Although we had enough supplies to last at least a month, I found it difficult to resist the urge to join the crowd mentality and also hoard supplies. With time, some degree of sanity in the marketplace has returned and the supply chains are slowly being replenished. However, I still fret over the situation as I observe others and battle the urge to take things in my own hands to demonstrate decisive action.

He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him.

1 Samuel 13:8-10 (ESV)

“Him” is the prophet Samuel whom God used to anoint Saul as King of Israel. Only a prophet or a priest was allowed to offer a sacrifice to God. Saul was unwilling to wait on God’s command and took matters into his own hands, completely defying God. Saul was punished by God who stripped His kingdom from him and bestowed it upon his successor, David. I often feel as if I am in Saul’s place. When chaos is swirling around me, I must resist the urge to do something and follow the actions of others who are panicking. If I do not, I feel as though I am going one step forward and two steps backward. And yet at other times, I am reluctant to act too quickly lest I make a hasty decision and alarm others. What hope do I have to make the right decision?

Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.

Proverbs 16:3 (ESV)

Only by continually surrendering our will to God and committing our work to Him, will our decisions be in line with God’s perfect sovereign will and providence. If we do this when a crisis occurs, we can remain confident that God is leading us and we are not following the crowd.

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