Hidden Gems (2 Corinthians 4:6-7)

The croissant greeted our eager mouths with a delicate crunch, giving way to the fluffy, pillowy interior. Our eyes opened wide as the buttery flakes melted in our mouth. Oh my! My wife and I had not had a croissant like this since we were in France, several years ago. This was as good or even better! What was even more remarkable was the location where we found it. We were in a small strip mall in the desert. It was a blistering 110 degrees and we were surrounded by cactus, succulents, and sand. It was the antithesis of the charming French patisseries where we last sampled such delicacies.  

We had stumbled upon a hidden gem! I was fascinated how this woman, who grew up in Paris, France, moved away from her home ten years ago and began a French pastry shop in the middle of this Southern California desert. She astutely surmised that there would be a market for her creations. We were fortunate recipients of her decision.

Hidden gems. 

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (NLT)

The Bible speaks of the joy of discovery of another type of hidden gem. We can never find true happiness and contentment by our own efforts or through material possessions of this world. God gives us the light to find His glory through Jesus Christ and rejoices over us when we discover His grace and glory in our lives. 

Jesus Christ is our hidden gem that God places in plain sight for all who truly seek Him by faith. 

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. 

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)


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

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Puka Shell (Galatians 5:22-25)

“Would you sell me your necklace?”

“Excuse me?”

My friend and I were walking through a very popular beach in Honolulu. The woman who approached us was an obvious tourist with a thick Southern drawl. She pointed at the shell necklace around my friend’s neck.

“Isn’t that a puka shell necklace? Everywhere I go, they tell me they are sold out. Would you sell me yours?

Growing up in Hawaii, puka shell necklaces first became popular in the late 1960’s and the early 1970’s. Puka is the Hawaiian word for hole. A true puka shell is a small seashell that has a naturally forming hole. Here is an example.

White Natural Puka Shells 50 Pcs 610/810/1214 Mm | Etsy

When I was growing up, the craze began in Hawaii and soon caught on with the tourists. There were stories for some of these necklaces going for several hundred dollars, an outrageously high price for such a simple ornament. An experience that my friend and I encountered was not unusual. Demand exceeded supply and many locals in Hawaii began scouring the beaches for puka shells to make their own necklaces. My friend’s father had an old dental drill which he used to make small holes in shells that did not normally have a hole. Thus, he made his own puka shells which he would then string together and sell for a handsome profit. The craze died down as all fads do. However, after all these years, puka shells have apparently made a comeback.

Puka Shell Necklace Chunky 10mm White Round Hawaiian Natural | Etsy

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if strangers could look at us and when they realize we are Christians, they would want us to stop and share our faith with them? Like the puka shell necklace, they would know we possess something so valuable that they too would want it. Some people wear a Cross which may identify them as Christians. However, many people wear Crosses and do not always profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ. The Bible provides a more profound and lasting way to identify one as a Christian. 

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 

Galatians 5:22-25 (NLT)

Christians have the Holy Spirit indwelling within them. God is controlling us, if we allow Him. When we yield to Him by faith, the fruits of the Spirit, as the Apostle Paul outlined in the passage above, become evident in our lives. It takes time but God promises to conform and transform us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ, when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior. Soon, others will see the results and God will use your life to convict them. 

Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. 

1 Peter 2:12 (NLT)

As the great Christian apologist and author, C.S. Lewis, wrote, “Don’t shine so that others can see you. Shine so that through you others can see Him.”


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

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Baptism (1 Peter 3:21)

The ocean breezes swirled the loose sand on the beach. Our family joined a group of college students who were gathered to witness my daughter getting baptized in the ocean near her university campus. As my daughter professed her faith in Jesus Christ, the pastor immersed my daughter in the ocean. Applause broke out and our family hugged one another. As we celebrated, I reminisced about the events that led to this day. 

My wife and I are Christians and we raised our daughter in a Christian home and attended church. While it was important to provide a nurturing and caring family, centered around God, we  knew these actions alone do not save a person. The decision to become a Christian can only be made when one understands who Jesus Christ is and why one needs Him as a personal Savior. I fondly remember the day my daughter was saved when she was eleven years old. Our family prayed together as she confessed and repented of her sins and accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Through the ensuing years, she grew as a Christian. However, it was not until she matriculated to college did her spiritual life dramatically change. She became involved in a Christian fellowship group and her life soon revolved around its activities as she re-committed her life to serve Jesus Christ. My wife and I were elated when she informed us that she desired to follow God’s command to make a public confession of her faith and be baptized.

And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

1 Peter 3:21 (NLT)

Some Christian denominations baptize their children at birth or as a baby. It is a lovely tradition to dedicate one’s child to God and seek His blessings upon their child, however, this baptism does not mean salvation. Water baptism is the outward confirmation of the inner transformation of the person when they confess and repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is our personal response to God and a testimony to the power of the Resurrection, acknowledging a new life. A newborn infant or baby is incapable of understanding this and making this confession. However, there is an age of accountability, which differs for every person. Only God knows when this age is and at that point, He holds each person accountable to seek Him and understand their need for Jesus Christ and salvation. 

I praise God for His faithfulness to my daughter and our family. Ten years after she accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, she publicly declared it to the world through her baptism.

May all who are seeking the Truth, find it by faith in belief in Jesus Christ.


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

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“But He’s So Kind…” (Ephesians 5:31-33)

“But he’s so kind and good to me.”

I nodded and agreed. Jake is one of the kindest persons I know. I was speaking to Sally, a dear sister in Jesus Christ. Married to Jake for nearly fifteen years, they had two beautiful children. She was very happy but always regretted the fact that Jake was not a Christian. No one in the church ever shamed her and everyone loved their family. Yet, Sally often shared with us how she was praying for Jake to become a Christian. Occasionally, she attempted to justify why she married him, citing his loving and caring personality and pointed out that she had dated other Christian men who were not even close to the compassionate man that Jake was. She decided that she would rather be with a caring non-Christian than to settle for a Christian who was not as caring. 

I did not doubt her sincerity. It is important to find a loving and caring spouse and I am thankful that Jake is. If a Christian believer marries an unbeliever, it is not an unforgivable sin. Yet, it is not what God desires for an ideal marriage. God is not asking one to “settle” for a spouse, simply because they are a Christian. Neither is He asking one to choose a spouse based solely upon mutual interests and a personality match. What is God asking for us to look for in a spouse?

As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. 

Ephesians 5:31-33 (NLT)

God created us and He created marriage. It is much more than the union between a man and woman, it represents the union between Jesus Christ and His Church. This is a sacred bond. To love your spouse is the same as loving God and if one is not a Christian, this bond is incomplete. This shared faith in Jesus Christ must be at the center of any marriage. The personality, the caring, the generous spirit-all of these are very important, but these must follow after one’s commitment to first serve God. This must always be first. 

Marriage is difficult for all couples. It symbolizes the eternal love that Jesus Christ has for us. Why not begin with the One who created it? Only when both marriage partners are united in Jesus Christ will love find its highest and noblest expression. 

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

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Relic (Hebrews 12:1-2)

When my family visited some of the great church buildings in Spain and Italy, we were impressed to discover that many contained relics of the great saints of the Bible. Some contained objects that were used by the saints while others contained bones or even entire skeletons of the saints. Perhaps the most famous is St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, where the body of Peter is entombed. These are impressive details and millions have worshiped at these churches because of the relics, believing the church receives a special blessing and protection from God. These churches are special, but it is not because of the possession of its relics. It is something far more special and important. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)

Who are the huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith that continually surrounds us? These are the great saints who earned their good reputation by clinging to the promises of God. Enoch, Abraham, Moses, David-the Holy Spirit reminds us in these passages from the Book of Hebrews that their lives are examples to encourage us in our faith. They persevered through suffering and persecution and many did not receive all of God’s promises in their lifetimes. Because of this, God honored all of them and blessed them. Their faith made them special. 

We don’t need the relics of the great saints who have passed on before us to make a church special. We need their living faith. This is what makes any church special because it is the living body of Jesus Christ. I and every member of the Body of Jesus Christ carries the living Holy Spirit within me, not a lifeless relic. We are only saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. 


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

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I Wasn’t Invited. (Revelation 19:7-9)

It was the Monday following my wedding that was held on the previous Saturday afternoon. Returning to work at the hospital, I was congratulated by my colleagues who attended. Several of my co-workers in the laboratory also stopped into my office to express their well-wishes. I was on a high until I stepped into the office of one of the women who transcribed my diagnostic reports. 

“Good morning!” I chirped.

She ignored me and continued to type. It was odd since we usually spoke for a few minutes every morning. I thought for sure we would engage in some banter, especially after the events of the past weekend. However, when I attempted to do so, even asking about some of my cases, she simply grunted.  

I walked out, confused, until it hit me. I didn’t invite her to the wedding. It was a difficult choice but I simply could not invite everyone in our hospital laboratory, which numbered over one hundred co-workers. She was understandably hurt. There was nothing I could do except hope that she would get over it with time. 

I have been on the other side of this equation. Colleagues or co-workers with whom I worked have celebrated their wedding day without extending an invitation to me, likely for the same reasons I had with my wedding. I understood but there was still some hurt, just like my co-worker experienced.

Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” 

Revelation 19:7-9 (NLT)

Someday, Jesus Christ will return to this world and be reunited with His Church. He is the bridegroom and the Church is His bride. You will be invited to this wedding celebration. No excuses. No budget. No quota. There is only one requirement. You must confess and repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

And if you do, it will truly be a marriage made in Heaven with you in attendance!

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

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Blooper Reel (Revelation 21:3-4)

The young man tenderly cradled the head of his girlfriend in his arms. She was dying from cancer and they only had a short time left together.

“I love you.” Tears welled in his eyes. 

She looked up at him and then burst into uncontrollable laughter. A fly had landed on his nose!

It was a blooper reel!

Many movies and television shows include blooper reels as an extra bonus, with selected scenes added during the ending credits. It shows a lighter side of the production as the snafus ruin an otherwise perfect scene. Even professionals can make mistakes! 

Sometimes I wonder if our lives are a blooper reel. We attempt to live perfect lives, yet, things inevitably go wrong. Financial hardships. Family illness and death. Broken relationships. Yet, unlike the bloopers, we cannot laugh or brush them away since they are real and painful. Will there ever be a time when we can live a perfect life, free of mistakes, pain, and sadness?

…Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.

Revelation 21:3-4 (NLT)

Our time in this world is brief when compared to eternity. Yet, only during this time are we able to make the most important decision that determines our eternal fate. In spite of the imperfect lives we all lead, we are given an opportunity to make it right with God, our Creator. If we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will have salvation and eternal life. When we pass from this world, we can look forward to an eternity of no tears, sorrow, or pain. 

There will be no more bloopers, only a perfect life with God!

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

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Private Island (Revelation 21:18-21)

Rangyai island is located just 15 minutes away from the beautiful resort city of Phuket in Thailand. Replete with white sand beaches, It is in close proximity to an international airport, with electricity, running water, and a thriving marina. It is 110 acres of a tropical paradise. Not only can you vacation or live there, you can own it! For a mere $160 million dollars, it can be your own island! Such a deal, better buy two! 

I am always intrigued to peruse real estate listings of islands for sale around the world. One can purchase the island just like buying property for a home or commercial building. Yet somehow, it is a completely different feel when one purchases an entire island. It is like purchasing a country. To own an island is reserved for the fabulously wealthy, something I will never be. Yet, I do not despair nor am I envious of them. I know someday I will live in a far more luxurious place, more splendid than the most beautiful island I could ever imagine.

The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass. The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve precious stones: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass. 

Revelation 21:18-21 (NLT)

This is just a brief glimpse of the splendor of the new holy city of Jerusalem where all of God’s people will live and dwell in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. At the end of the ages, Satan and evil will be destroyed and the curse of death will be abolished. We don’t need any money to purchase this. 

Such a deal!

All we need to do is confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Praise God for His grace and mercy!

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

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Just When You Thought It Was Safe…(Matthew 24:4-8)

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the world…Monkeypox.

Source: Centers for Disease Control

Monkeypox is a viral infection that is emerging on the worldwide media headlines. It is a virus that belongs to the same family as smallpox and cowpox. Ironically, in spite of its name, the animal reservoir is unknown but thought to be African rodents. It was named monkeypox when it was discovered in a group of research monkeys in 1958. Human infections are rare and have been limited to African countries. Thus, it was with some alarm that the CDC recently reported a new case in the United States and tracking several new cases in Europe. 

Will Monkeypox become a worldwide epidemic like COVID? Although unlikely, since the virus is not as transmissible or as lethal as COVID, the outbreaks are unusual and some scientists are wondering if this Monkeypox has a new mutation, making it more virulent. Of course, the similarities with the beginning of the COVID virus are obvious and the conspiracy theories already abound on social media. This is a virus engineered by Bill Gates and his African scientists is a popular one and this is only the beginning of the theories.

Are any of these true? I don’t know. Social media pundits and conspiracy theories will always emerge. The issue is the credibility of the source. Is there any source that we can absolutely trust?

Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. Matthew 24:4-8 (NLT)

Jesus Christ was asked by His disciples what would be the signs that will accompany the end times. He plainly told them in the verses cited above. I am not attempting to stoke the conspiracy fears. However, the signs that will accompany the end times are eerily applicable to our current times. The war in the Ukraine and the threats of war between China and Taiwan. Famine in North Korea and parts of Africa. Earthquakes and natural disasters like hurricanes occurring with greater frequency. All coincidences? Perhaps. However, this is not some social media pundit predicting these events. This is God Himself, Jesus Christ, prophesying these events nearly two thousand years ago. There is no more authoritative or reliable source to prophesy about the end times than Jesus Christ and the Bible. Why?Jesus Christ predicted His own death and resurrection. He is the only person to have ever done this. He is God incarnate. His word is Truth and He promises to never leave nor forsake us.

Monkeypox is just one of many signs of the end times. When that will happen, only God knows. Take comfort in the fact that God has warned you ahead of time of these coming events. He is giving you an opportunity to confess and repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. 

Don’t miss this opportunity.

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

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The Unborn (James 2:14-17)

“The unborn” are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don’t resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don’t ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don’t bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn. It’s almost as if, by being born, they have died to you. You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe. Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.

This was posted by Methodist Pastor Dave Barnhart from Alabama on his Facebook page. 

Source: (Facebook June 25, 2018) It is reposted here as the raging controversy of the legal right to an abortion is once again back on the daily headlines. This message has been reposted on numerous social media sites, mainly by individuals seeking to disparage and mock Christians who advocate for the rights of the unborn but ignore the social consequences and cost of caring for these children after they are born. Christians should advocate for the rights of the unborn AND the born. Every group is important; none should be thrown under the bus. The Apostle James pointed out that our faith must be accompanied with actions. 

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. 

James 2:14-17 (NLT)

The hard truth is everyone, not only Christians, are selfish. We do not love perfectly. We need a supernatural intervention to change our nature. This can only come by confessing and repenting of our sins and allowing the Holy Spirit to change and conform us to the image of Jesus Christ. 

Words are powerful and they cannot be spoken for expedient purposes. When this happens, cynics, even from those within the Church, should be heard. St. Augustine elegantly summarized where our priorities should be. ”In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. In all things, charity.”


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

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