Keeping It A Secret (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

My friend dropped my wife and I at my sister’s home in Hawaii. We were there for a surprise birthday party for my brother-in-law that would be held the next day. As part of the surprise, my sister concocted an elaborate ruse. My wife and I were to arrive one day early, surprising my brother-in-law that we had come to celebrate his birthday by taking him out to lunch the next day. Since my sister and he had already spent the prior weekend at a resort, celebrating his birthday, he would not be suspicious when we arrived. I would inform him that I was able to get away for that weekend and wanted to celebrate with just the four of us. 

It seemed simple enough but even keeping this event a secret was a struggle. My brother-in-law had installed security cameras around the house. When I rang the doorbell, it triggered an app on his cell phone alerting him there was a visitor. Thankfully, by the time he viewed it, all he saw was my friend’s car driving away and not me. When we came home a few hours later, we successfully surprised him, but we had another close call when my sister stumbled by casually wondering if another relative would be showing up for our lunch! Ouch! I had to quickly divert the conversation to continue the deception. 

The surprise birthday party was a success, but it was a reminder how difficult it was to keep a simple secret. Some cynics of Christianity state that the resurrection of Jesus Christ never happened. The disciples of Jesus went to the tomb and stole His body. They then kept their actions a secret, claiming that Jesus was resurrected. Chuck Colson, former Watergate conspirator, eloquently stated in his personal testimony, his reason why he believed the resurrection of Jesus Christ was true and disciples were not covering up an elaborate lie.

“I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.” 

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event in history. If it was a lie, certainly one of the disciples would have slipped up and revealed it was an elaborate plot to hide the truth about His death. My sister and I could barely keep a simple secret from her husband. With the Resurrection, the stakes were immensely higher and the consequences of it being exposed as a massive deception would result in a sentence of death. The Apostle Paul put this in its proper perspective.

But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. 

1 Corinthians 15:12-19 (NLT)

If the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a lie, then all Christians are living a lie and they deserve all the pity of the world. There would be no hope in this world and certainly not in the afterlife. Thanks be to God that the Resurrection is the Truth! All who place their faith in Jesus Christ will be saved and receive eternal life.

This is no secret. This is the Absolute Truth!

Praise God!

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

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Name On The Jersey (Isaiah 49:16)

The crowded basketball court was brimming with dozens of young men wearing similar jerseys. I was searching for my son, but it was challenging to find him, seemingly camouflaged by his teammates. 

“There he is!”

Although I could not see his face, I saw his name on the back of his jersey. Nice! When I was my son’s age, I played on several community baseball teams. While we had smart looking uniforms with numbers, we never had our names on the backs of our jerseys. How special this was for my son and his teammates! One could easily find him in a crowded field of players. Everyone could address him by his name, even if they did not know him. 

Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” 

John 11:40-44 (NASB)

As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” Acts 9:3-6 (NASB)

Jesus called Lazarus by name when He raised him from the dead. Jesus called Saul by name when He appeared before Him and converted him to become one of Christianity’s greatest missionaries. When God enters into a relationship with us, He calls us by our name. Why?

Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…

Isaiah 49:16 (NASB)

God knows our name even before we are born. God is not an impersonal ethereal being sitting on a cold and distant throne in the heavens. He walked the earth with us. He knows the very hairs on our heads. He has inscribed our name on His Hands. God desires a deeply personal relationship with all of us. He is always calling your name, even if you do not yet know Him. 

Are you willing to listen to His invitation?

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

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Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is (Jeremiah 32:6-8)

It was a straightforward real estate transaction, yet onlookers were bewildered. Why would this man buy this field knowing that it was part of the territory conquered by a foreign invader? Was he delusional? Did he have some privileged inside information? Indeed, he did!

At that time the LORD sent me a message. He said, “Your cousin Hanamel son of Shallum will come and say to you, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth. By law you have the right to buy it before it is offered to anyone else.’” Then, just as the LORD had said he would, my cousin Hanamel came and visited me in the prison. He said, “Please buy my field at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. By law you have the right to buy it before it is offered to anyone else, so buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that the message I had heard was from the LORD. 

Jeremiah 32:6-8 (NLT)

The field at Anathoth, located in Judah, was in the territory conquered by the Babylonians. Jeremiah was a prophet of God. Although Jeremiah’s cousin, Hanamel, owned it, it was a seemingly dubious and hollow purchase. Jeremiah was throwing his money away, purchasing a property that technically did not belong to Hanamel nor would it belong to him. Worse, Jeremiah, the buyer, was in prison! But Jeremiah did have inside information. God told him to purchase the property! Jeremiah had been told by God that the Jews would be released from Babylonian captivity after seventy years. Yet, he would not live to see that day. Thus, Jeremiah acted in great faith to purchase a field that he would never occupy. He was putting his money where his mouth was.

A wise man once wrote that faith is not believing in spite of evidence and obeying in spite of consequence. May we all be encouraged by Jeremiah’s great act of faith. 

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

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Not Expecting That! (Revelation 22:18-19)

“Just relax!”


Stars flashed before my eyes. I was NOT expecting that!

I was receiving a neck massage from a professional masseuse. At the end of the massage, she gently rolled my neck and then when I was completely relaxed, she suddenly twisted it, leading to the familiar crack and popping we have all experienced or have witnessed in others.

Although I am certain this masseuse had done this many times before, it does not necessarily mean she was doing it correctly. In fact, many health care professionals, specializing in the care of the neck and spine, caution against some of the techniques similar to what the masseuse performed upon me. Done slightly incorrectly, it can lead to serious and permanent damage. 

There are many situations when we place our trust in others because we assume they have expertise in their chosen profession. Accountants, health care professionals, attorneys-the list involves nearly everyone with whom we regularly interact. What about those in the ministry? Many churches present their statement of faith on their websites. Yet, what they post and what they teach may be very different, even heretical. God warns us to be discerning of what we hear and always compare it to the unalterable Word of God.

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

Revelation 22:18-19 (NASB)

Like the neck cracking, even a slight deviation from God’s Word may lead to serious and permanent damage. We do not have to be caught off-guard like I was. We should expect that false teachers will abound in these dark days. Keep the faith and cling to the Truth of God’s Word.

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

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Happy Purim! (Esther 4:14)

“Happy Purim!”

I was speaking to my physician colleague whom I knew was a devout Persian Jew. I was acknowledging this day as the celebration of the Feast of Purim. Thousands of years ago, much of the Jewish nation was in exile in Persia, after being conquered by the Babylonians. Esther was a Jewish woman, raised by her uncle Mordecai. She kept her ethnic heritage a secret even after she was chosen by the Persian King to become his new wife. However, another official of the court, Haman, hated the Jews and sought to have them destroyed. When he tricked the King into signing a law that would kill all of the Jews, Mordecai confronted Esther and told her that it was time for her to reveal her Jewish heritage to her husband, the King. Mordecai’s words proclaimed the will of God. 

If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?

Esther 4:14 (NLT)

The story ends with the Jews being saved from destruction and Haman put to death for his scheming. The Feast of Purim celebrates God’s deliverance of the Jewish people from their enemies. The Book of Esther is unique. It never mentions God by Name and is completely set outside of Israel. Yet, God’s Hand of providence clearly guides the actions of all of the characters and the events. This is a profound message for us. In these days when the influence of the Christian Church is being replaced by a woke culture, it is important to remember that God is always at work and in control of all events, even if His Name is not mentioned or even maligned. His will is always accomplished. 

How do we recognize God’s invisible Hand? The verse quoted above reminds me of the many godly men and women whom God has placed in my life at critical times. Some interactions were brief, perhaps only a few minutes or hours while other encounters came from people for whom I had known for years, but for a brief moment, they intervened in my life when I needed help and guidance. 

It is also a sobering call for me to be a faithful witness to everyone I meet. My colleagues with whom I interact at work. The salesperson at a local market. The stranger in the car parked next to me who also greeted me. Who knows if God has placed me in this position in my life for such a time as this? Only God knows the purpose of these meetings and what the outcome will be. My response should not be focused on the why. My response should be humility and awe of the sovereign power of Almighty God. 

Thy will be done. 

Happy Purim!

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

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First Impressions (Luke 5:3-6)

“Congratulations on your anniversary!” I greeted my friend at a recent get-together.

“Thanks!” He glanced over at his wife who was sitting at the other end of the table with her girlfriends. “You know, it is amazing that we are together.”

“How so?”

“When we first met, I was one of the gate supervisors and she was a flight attendant. My only concern is to make sure the passengers get on the plane and any interruptions or disruptions are my responsibility. She was new and slow at her tasks, so I re-assigned her. When she found out what I did, she confronted me and basically chewed me out. She never spoke to me for the next four years.”


“Nope!” He shook his head and smiled. “Then one day, one of the supervisors in another division was celebrating his birthday. It was a destination event and many of us were invited. However, she was not, and I could see that she was dejected. I felt sorry for her and decided to take a chance and invite her.”

“Wow! And what happened?”

He sat back and smiled. “The event went great, and we’ve been together ever since!”

I was astonished. “So how is it that after four years of not talking, an evening together suddenly made everything right?”

“We talked about this. Through those four years, she was observing me. In spite of her initial impressions about me, she saw that I was not the jerk she thought I was. She saw that I was an advocate for the other employees because I was the union rep. She saw that I was always looking out for everyone.”

First impressions, particularly negative ones, are sometimes very difficult to overcome. Simon Peter understood this when he first met Jesus Christ. 

Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! 

Luke 5:3-6 (NLT)

One can imagine the sarcastic tone that Simon Peter used when Jesus made that request of him. Oh sure, this carpenter is telling me, a fisherman, how to do my job. The nerve! But when Simon saw the miraculous result, he knew his first impression of Jesus was completely wrong!

When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” 

Luke 5:8 (NLT)

Everyone is deserving of a second chance, me included! I know many initial encounters that others have had with me that did not go as well as I hoped. Thus, whenever I have an unpleasant first impression with someone, I am reminded of Simon Peter’s initial encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ. God is in control of all encounters. Let’s seek to honor Him as ambassadors of Jesus Christ. 

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

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“Don’t Tell Anyone!” (Luke 15:20-24)

“Don’t tell anyone! It’s a surprise!”

It was the familiar admonition at the end of the invitation. My sister was planning a surprise birthday party for her husband. Most people like pleasant surprises; I certainly do! I appreciate the extra effort that is made by the person(s) planning the event. It is a tangible expression of their love for the recipient. Is it any wonder why I love my Lord and Savior so dearly? He desires to do the same thing for me. In fact, if I chose to recognize it, there are surprises in every event of my life, every moment of the day, even in what initially appeared to be an unpleasant experience. The unexpected temporary closure of a store due to a power failure gave me a chance to spend extra time with my son at his basketball practice and witness him making four three-point shots in a row. A cleanup of a spill of food on the kitchen floor led to the discovery of a broken shard of glass, deposited there several months earlier, preventing a potentially nasty injury. Yet, the most beautiful surprise is the one that He continually offers to me whenever I fail Him and sin.

So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.” But his father said to the servants, “Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.” So the party began. 

Luke 15:20-24 (NLT)

Most are familiar with the beautiful story of the prodigal son. There are so many lessons that God is teaching us but certainly the most important is when we confess and repent of our sins, God forgives us. This always surprises and delights me. 

Let the party begin!

Tell everyone!

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

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“We Don’t Deserve Pets.” (Romans 2:4)

The dog limped next to her owner, clinging to his side. She still bore the scars of a heroic action from several months earlier. The dog, seven months old at that time, pushed her owner, a ten-year-old boy out of the way of an oncoming truck, taking the impact herself. The story was posted on a popular social media site, and it was followed by the inevitable tagline. “We don’t deserve pets.”

There are numerous sites dedicated to the unselfish actions of pets for their owners. Tear jerking stories. Heart warming. If the love of an animal can evoke such deep feelings within us, shouldn’t the love of God stir even greater passion within us? Indeed. Our pets are a beautiful representation of God’s unconditional love for us. He gives us this love so that we may turn from our sins and live the life that He created us to have. 

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? 

Romans 2:4 (NLT)

We don’t deserve pets. 

There is some truth in this because we don’t deserve God’s love. No one does. We can only accept it by confessing and repenting of our sins and accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. God proved His love for us by dying on the Cross, taking the punishment for our sins upon His broken Body. He freely gave this love to us so that we may freely receive it and become redeemed by His sacrifice.

Praise God for His grace and mercy for all who place their faith in Jesus Christ. 

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

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“Don’t Look Back.” (Romans 8:1-2)

The blazing headlights flashed in my rearview mirror alerting me that the driver behind me had their high beam on. I sped up, attempting to put space between the two of us, but it only served to motivate this driver to also speed up, keeping pace with me. I turned the corner at the next intersection but the driver kept following. Who is this? After a few more minutes, I noted the headlights were no longer flashing. Where did it go? At that moment, I realized the driver was alongside me. He glared at me then passed me by. 

The experience reminded me of a quotation I read when I was a child. In a bygone generation, Satchel Paige was one of the most feared pitchers in major league baseball. His witticisms were also well-known. When asked what was the secret of living a long life, he quipped, “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”

Many of us have a fear that the consequences of our prior sins will catch up with us. Broken relationships. Dubious investments. Sarcastic comments. Our lives are filled with reminders of our previous failures. For many years, I was wracked with guilt, fearing some karmic retribution that was being stored up for me because of previous transgressions. Only when I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior did I find peace. 

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 

Romans 8:1-2 (NLT)

Don’t look back. 

Look forward and upward to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

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

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Finishing Well (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

On February 28th, 2023, former President Jimmy Carter announced to the world that he would no longer seek medical intervention for his multiple medical conditions and will receive hospice care. Immediately, accolades poured in, honoring the president. 

Many pundits have acknowledged that President Carter was a much better man than he was a president. He maintained an active life of service after leaving the presidency. He and his wife served in their local church and President Carter faithfully taught a Sunday school class. He volunteered his services with Habitat for Humanity, helping to build affordable housing for thousands of families. Even into his nineties, he would be working alongside others, assisting others with building the houses. His Carter Center, partnering with Emory University, committed to work for human rights, alleviate human suffering, and sought to prevent and resolve conflicts in local communities and around the world. 

Although I did not agree with many of his political decisions when he was president, I did admire the man’s character and faith in God. In the ensuing years, my admiration only increased as I witnessed him actively living his faith; he was a doer of the Word.

As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. 

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NLT)

As President Carter prepares to enter into the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, he is finishing well. He has fought the good fight. Mr. President, I pray for a peaceful transition for you and your family. I look forward to meeting you in the presence of our Almighty God.


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

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