Best Blogs: Friends In High Places

Friends In High Places

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens,
Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not
have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but
we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—
yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace
with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and
find grace to help us in our time of need.”
~Hebrews 4:14-16

Soul Snacks: What a difference it makes just knowing you have someone in high authority who’s got your back! You live more confidently, act more courageously, risk faith more often, let go of your failures more easily, seek forgiveness more readily, sleep more peacefully, worry a whole lot less, and wake up ready to face the day with more energy that you’ve ever known before.

That’s the privilege Christ-followers enjoy—or should—and that includes you! After paying the price for your sins by dying on the cross, Jesus entered eternity to begin his heavenly ministry as your very own personal high priest. Now, he stands before the Father night and day to represent you. He intercedes on your behalf. He is praying for you. He is rooting you on.

He understands your fears—he faced some pretty overwhelming stuff when he was here. He understands your temptations—all of them. He faced them, too. He knows your weaknesses—he had to overcome them one by one. He knows what it is like to be rejected, disappointed, persecuted, to go without, to have no place to call home, to be misunderstood. He even knows the heaviest weight a human being carries—the reality of one’s own death. Jesus has been there, done that.

But he did all that for you! That’s why he is a faithful, empathetic high priest. And that is why you can come into the very throne room of Father God with complete confidence, walk right up to the throne and ask him for what you need: Help, provision, healing, forgiveness—whatever.

You can do that because of what Jesus has already done—he paid the price for you to do that. That is now your right, your privilege, and your responsibility. You can also do that because of what Jesus is doing right now—he is standing alongside you with his arm around your shoulder before the Father bringing your case before the only One who has the power and authority to do anything about it.

You’ve got a friend in high places—the highest place. That ought to make a difference in how you live today. So show a little moxy, why don’t ya!!!

P.S. “Our peace and confidence are to be found not in our empirical holiness, not in our progress toward perfection, but in the alien righteousness of Jesus Christ that covers our sinfulness and alone makes us acceptable before a holy God.”  ~Donald Bloesch

Best Blogs: Tears In A Bottle

Tears In A Bottle

You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
~Psalm 56:8, (NLT)

Soul Snacks: Aren’t tears a mysterious part of what it means to be human?  It is strange that we have the capacity to cry—to expel water from our eyes when we are sad.  It seems to serve no real purpose—although science can explain the physiological “why” and mental health experts can explain the psychological “why”.

That still leaves the question of “why” tears—why were we created with that capacity?

Perhaps this psalm provides a clue.  Maybe they are to remind us that God cares about the things that make us sad enough to shed tears.  So much does he bear our sorrow that he collects our tears in a bottle, as the New Living Translation says, or as other versions put it, “he records them in his ledger.”  In other words, God takes note—implying that he is not only aware of our sadness, but he will not forget it.

What is it that is making you cry today?  A heart broken by a fractured relationship?  A dashed hope or the death of a dream?  A failed family?  A personal sin?  The consequences of a past mistake that continues to haunt you?  What is it that you feel such deep sadness over?

It is likely that no one truly knows the depth of what you are feeling right now.  Maybe no one will ever see those tears that have rolled down your cheek—and the intense hurt that caused them.  Even if they do see your tears, how sad it is that long before your pain is healed, people will forget and move on.

There is One who sees…and One who cares…and One who never forgets.  And He wants you to know that, my friend.  And that One, your Heavenly Father, simply asks you to take comfort in His compassion (Psalm 103:13), and to place your trust in him.  In fact, so strongly does he desire your trust, that he repeats the invitation twice for emphasis. (Psalm 56:4,10-11)

I hope you will do that. Entrust those tears to God. And let the very next tear that fills your eyes and spills down your cheek be a reminder that your tears never really just dry up and fade into a painful memory, they go right into the bottle of that One who truly cares!

P.S. “A child’s tear rends the heavens.” ~Yiddish Proverb”


Best Blogs: Basic Training


“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be
quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become
angry, for man’s anger does not bring about
the righteous life that God desires.”
~James 1:19-20

Soul Snacks: One of the basic skills we must acquire to meet life’s challenges successfully is in learning how to respond in God-honoring ways to hurtful people, devastating circumstances and crushing disappointments.  How we handle the hurt we experience in our lives will lead either to bitterness or it will open the door to blessing.

I find it interesting that this is one of the first lessons God teaches us in Genesis through the example of Cain and Able.  In Genesis 4, these two brothers, Cain and Able, offer their sacrifices to God.  However, for some reason unknown to us, God finds Able’s sacrifice acceptable, but not Cain’s.  Cain is so thoroughly upset over this, that he sinks into depression, seethes with anger and begins to plot violence against his brother.

God knows the wrestling match going on inside of Cain and comes to him with this challenge:

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

It is important to note that God didn’t explain His reasons for not accepting Cain’s sacrifice, He didn’t address the fairness or unfairness of it, He focused in on Cain’s heart, and challenged him to offer a right response:  “Cain, do what is right, then you’ll get rewarded—the choice is yours,  But know this, how you choose to respond will either lead to blessing or bitterness.

The lesson is clear:  We cannot always control or even change our circumstance, but we can choose how we are going to respond to them.  And how we respond is of utmost importance to God.  What happens inside of us is so much more important to God than what happens to us.

Now fast forward to the ending chapters in Genesis to the story of stories.  The mistreatment of his brothers and the false accusations of Potiphar’s wife lands Joseph in jail.  When, after years of enduring this hardship, he is elevated to the highest position in the land and now has a chance for revenge, how does he respond?

With bitterness?  Anger?  Retribution?  No.  His response is one of grace of the highest order.  Why?  Because Joseph was convinced that God had ordered his life and therefore could bring good out of his circumstances—if he remained faithful and patient:

“Am I God to judge and punish you?  As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil, for he brought me into this high position I have today so that I could save the lives of many people.” (Genesis 50:20)

Are you tempted to complain about your circumstance today?  Is there someone who has hurt you deeply?  Are you enduring unfair treatment or false accusations?  This could be your finest hour…or worst.  It all depends on your response.  How you handle this will either lead to blessing, or bitterness.

Put your life and circumstances in God’s hands.  Be faithful and patience.  Offer Him your trust and let Him work the details out to your advantage.—He knows what He is doing.  Psalm 139:16 says, “Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

I think we can trust Him, don’t you?

P.S. “If a man meets with injustice, it is not required that he shall not be roused to meet it; but if he is angry after he has had time to think upon it, that is sinful. The flame is not wrong, but the coals are.”  ~Henry Ward Beecher

Best Blogs: Led By God

Led By God

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.”
~Psalm 37:23 (NLT)

Soul Snacks: What is the best way to do the will of God, to always act in ways that please him and invite his blessings not only on the big decisions but on the daily details of life as well?  It is simply to place before him the offering of a godly life.

The Contemporary English Version translates our verse this way: “If you do what the Lord wants, he will make certain each step you take is sure.”

Perhaps you have experienced, like me, that life has only gotten more complex as the years go by.  It is often very difficult to discern the will of God between better and best.  Sometimes there’s a gray fuzziness that clouds the right path where the road forks in our journey.  And since we usually don’t hear the audible voice of God saying, ‘this is the way, walk ye in it!” or have his undeniable hand steering our every forward movement, we are left wondering, “what am I to do?”

According to the psalmist, we can trust that God himself has been closely attending our journey on the path of righteousness.  We have been guaranteed that the Lord has been with us all along the way, and is there now, even in the smallest details of our lives, making sure that our journey will lead to where he pleases.

What a comforting thought—that the steps of a righteous person are ordered of the Lord!  So when you come to a fork in the road, as Yogi Berra would say, “take it”.  If you have been doing your part—praying, obeying, trusting and honoring God, being in fellowship with his people and accountable for your life, studying his Word—God has directed steps that have led you to where you are now.  Now take the fork, God will have directed that as well.

Proverbs 3:5-9 reminds us,

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over.

P.S. “If you think little about yourself, you will have rest wherever you reside… If you are silent, you will possess peace wherever you live…To throw yourself before God, to not measure your progress, to leave behind all self-will—these are the instruments for the work of the soul…Give not your heart to that which does not satisfy your heart.” ~Abe Poeman, 4th century Egyptian Monk

Best Blogs: Stopping Traffic

Stopping Traffic

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe
in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You,
Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one
in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
~John 17:20-21

Soul Snacks: Jesus spent his last hours on earth praying desperately for the unity of his church. He knew that without unity, the church would fall apart. But with it, Jesus knew that nothing could stop his people from accomplishing the mission of reaching the world with the Gospel.

That is the power of unity. The great preacher Vance Havner once said, “Snowflakes are frail, but if enough of them get together they can stop traffic.” So it is with the church. If we get together in unity in our church, we’ll stop the traffic in our community.

The question is, since we all agree that unity is a powerful and a necessary thing, how do we move from agreement to action? How can we practice unity?

The Apostle Paul gives us some insight in his words to the church in Ephesus:

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 1:1-3)

Did you notice the word, “effort?” Paul says we are to “make every effort” to attain and maintain unity in our church. Frankly, it takes hard, focused, continual, intentional and strategic effort individually and corporately to keep the church united as one.

The word “effort” means to be diligent, to be zealous, to make haste to do something, in this case, being eager and fully dedicated to maintain the unity of the Spirit. It refers to a holy zeal to guard our Christian unity. Why do we need holy zeal? Because Satan’s number one goal is to divide us. That’s why each Christian needs to take the responsibility for the spiritual unity of his or her church.

James Hewitt tells the story of one woman’s unforgettable experience teaching Vacation Bible School with her primary class. The class was interrupted one day about an hour before dismissal when a new student was brought in.

The little boy had one arm missing, and since the class was almost over, she had no opportunity to learn any of the details about the child’s disability or his state of mind. She was afraid that one of the other children would make a comment and embarrass the poor little guy, and there was no time to warn them to be sensitive.

As the class time came to a close, she began to relax. She asked the class to join her in their usual closing ceremony. “Let’s make our churches,” she said. “Here’s the church and here’s the steeple, open the doors and there’s…”

Then the awful reality of the situation hit her like a ton of bricks. The very thing she’d feared the kids would do, she’d done. As she stood there speechless, the little girl sitting next to the boy reached over with her left hand and placed it up to his right hand and said, “Hey Davey, let’s make the church together”.

If you and I give every ounce of effort to keep the unity of the Spirit with other believers, we will make the church together!

P.S. “We must all hang together or assuredly we shall all hang separately”. ~Benjamin Franklin

Best Blogs: Lopsided



“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him
we might become the righteousness of God.”
~II Corinthians 5:21

Soul Snacks: What an amazing exchange that took place when Jesus hung on the cross as the sacrifice for sin!

Jesus became sin so that I could become saved.

Jesus was abandoned and I was embraced.

Jesus received God’s wrath and I received God’s righteousness.

Jesus got what he didn’t deserve and I got what I didn’t deserve.

Jesus didn’t get what he deserved and I didn’t get what I did deserve.

Jesus went through hell so that I could go to heaven.

Jesus endured hatred and I was showered with love.

Jesus died so that I could live.

Redemption is such a lopsided transaction, but such is the love of God. I got the far better deal in this exchange, and for that I will never cease to be grateful.

P.S. “At the heart of the story stands the cross of Christ where evil did its worst and met its match.”  _John W. Wenham

Best Blogs: What’s That Smell?

What’s That Smell?


“We are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being
saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the
smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.”
~II Corinthians 2:15-16

Soul Snacks: Smell, like all of the senses, is quite mysterious really.  What may be a pleasing aroma to me may stink to you, to put it bluntly. You may enjoy Aqua Velva; I prefer Burberry Brit.  You may enjoy the fragrance of a freshly cut rose, but the smell I enjoy more than anything is fragrance of cedar.  Weird, huh!  You may find the smell of popcorn cooking in the microwave oven mouthwatering; I can’t stand it.  It causes my throat to close up.  So if you invite me over to your house for movies, ditch the popcorn and let’s have some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies—which I’m convinced is the modern day equivalent of Old Testament manna.

The Bible reminds us that as Christians, we, too, have a smell.  We carry around the fragrance of Christ.  We can’t help it; it just naturally exudes from our being—or at least it should.  Paul tells us that the fragrance of Christ upon us rises up to God as a sweet scent—he just loves the smell. And to others who also wear the Christ-fragrance, it is an aroma redolent with life.

But to those who have rejected Christ, frankly, we stink.  I don’t know how to put it more graciously than that.  When they smell Christ on us, it reminds them of something bad.  It reminds them of the guilt they carry around from being hostile toward God.  It reminds them of the way of death by which the Bible says they travel.  It reminds them of the foolishness of the cross and the sheer lunacy of salvation by grace apart from works.  It reminds them of the boatload of spiritual truth they find unbelievable, narrow, unsophisticated and offensive.  And because of the aroma of Christ on you they may not want you in their presence.

Don’t let it shock you if people have to hold their nose around you every once in a while. And when that happens, just remember: You smell real good to God.

So wear the fragrance of Christ boldly and proudly—you’re wearing the most expensive perfume known to God.

P.S. “How was it that, even in the common tasks of an ordinary life, Jesus drew the praise of heaven? At the core of His being, He only did those things which pleased the Father. In everything, He stayed true, heartbeat to heartbeat, with the Father’s desires. Jesus lived for God alone; God was enough for Him. Thus, even in its simplicity and moment-to-moment faithfulness, Christ’s life was an unending fragrance, a perfect offering of incomparable love to God.” ~Francis Frangipane