Two New Books for 2021!

Now available on the Kindle and in paperback!

My latest non-fiction work (“A Tale of Two Women”) is ready for Kindle download at Amazon.com! The book is also available in paperback format.

The synopsis for the book is:

A Tale of Two Women: Sarah and Hagar. One is famous in many circles of faith, while the other is relatively unknown. This is the story of Abraham, his wife Sarah, and her servant Hagar, as well as the two sons that they bore to him, one who’s later referred to as the “son of the promise” while the other is simply known as the “son of the bondwoman”.

While most books written about Genesis 12-25 tend to focus on Abraham (the friend of God), God’s promises to him, and his great faith in God, there’s more to his story – much more. This book concentrates on the “first family of faith” of Abraham and Sarah and digs into the personal dynamics of their marriage, their family, and many of the trials, pain, and heartache that shaped them and the many peoples which would later come from them.

Abraham’s story isn’t just about him and his life of faith, but about him and the two women in his household who daily influenced him and his faith – as he influenced theirs. As we are shaped by our trials and the people around us, so he was shaped by his own trials and those around him. In studying the lives of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar in depth and in the context of the rest of the Bible as a whole, we can be better equipped to answer the hard questions of trials and suffering when they come into our own lives, regardless of how much we’ve been blessed.

In addition to “A Tale of Two Women”, another book is now available as well (“Making a Great Life”) for Kindle download at Amazon.com and in paperback format.

The synopsis for the book is:

So you’re an adult and heading out on your own now – congratulations! While there are many self-help books on “adulting”, this book focuses on the core principles of building a solid foundation for your life and providing practical, everyday advice about how begin start this new and exciting – and often frightening – journey into adulthood.

The main principles discussed in this book are “Learning and Growing”, “Discovering Your Identity”, “Wealth and Money”, “Hopes, Dreams, and Disappointments”, “Love, Relationships, and Heartbreak”, “Self-Control, Self-Care, and Seeking Justice”, and “Working, Living, and Finishing Well”. The sooner you start building your life’s foundation on wisdom and sound, sensible advice concerning your identity, character, dreams and goals, relationships, working, self-control, and money, the better-off you’ll be.

Whether you’ve recently had your eighteenth birthday or you turned eighteen awhile ago, this book will benefit you in your endeavor towards independence, self-reliance, and building the life you want.

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Recapturing Joy in Difficult Times

With the close of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, people have many different feelings about the year ahead. We’re not merely wondering if it’ll be good or bad, but if it be relatively normal and uneventful after the last nine months (thankfully we skipped the murder-hornets!). Imagine that – most of us are just hoping for “normal” now! And while 2020 began with its typical share of hopes and expectations that most new years bring, very few expected it to turn out the way it did, both with the pandemic and its effects on much of our former ways of life.

Ironically, for years a number of people have been praying for our nation or even our world to be shaken up a bit (so to speak), to help us get back to what’s really important in our lives, to force us to slow down, disconnect from our culture and its entertainments, and reconnect with our marriages, children, and families. For years, various commentators and thinkers have been asking what it’ll take to get people to become more engaged – really engaged – with what’s really important in life, what’s happening in our culture, our political system, and even our own families. Many people were busy but bored, comfortable but not content, and we took many things for granted but were not grateful. We prayed for a revival in our land, something that would wake us up from our spiritual stupor. And then came the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Might I suggest that they got what they asked for, that we got what we asked for? It’s not too soon to say that, is it? If it is, don’t shoot me – I’m just the messenger! Sometimes, God has this way of answering our prayers yet not at all in the way we would expect or even want. He promises to send revival but never in ways that we seem to expect. He doesn’t do that to be cruel or anything, He just has His ways of using bad things for good, even if it’s not always exactly what we’d call “good”.

In my own family and our personal lives, this year was an incredibly challenging, difficult, and trying year – and one that we hope we never, ever have to go through again. The pandemic only added to the challenges, and there were many times in which it felt like our joy and happiness were being stolen right out from under us. During these times of testing and trials, the old adage of “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on for dear life!” certainly applies! And of course, we were not alone; there are many people and families going through difficult times, and the pandemic only added to it.

Yet while we often try to escape or avoid trials and terrible years like 2020, God is still present. He’s still on His throne, He still loves us, cares for us, provides for us, and He’s still at work in our lives, despite how tumultuous the times are. His purposes and plans for us and the rest of the world will not be thwarted, regardless of what transpires. In the Big Picture of both our lives and eternity, little has really changed, except perhaps that we’re not as certain of today or tomorrow as we once thought we were. But life in this fallen world is uncertain – it always has been since Adam and Eve’s transgression.

When I look over the last year or so and take a step back from everything, I can clearly see how our Adversary continually schemes and plots to steal not merely our happiness, but also our joy, our security, our trust – and even sometimes our faith. Consider how easily so much of our lives, security, routines, and “normalcy” have been disrupted by a microscopic virus we cannot see, touch, hear, taste, or smell. And even though God knows this, He allows it to happen. Why? For His purposes and His glory.

Over and over in the Bible, God tells us to praise Him, to give thanks, to sing, to not be afraid, to rejoice – with no clarifications or conditions attached. We are to do these things not merely when times are good, but when times are bad – especially when times are bad. Perhaps that’s why so much of the Bible was written when the days were dark and the nights were long, from dungeons, in captivity, and from wilderness hideouts. It’s not in times of ease and comfort that we tend to draw closer to God, but in times of trials and tribulations. And global pandemics.

Might I suggest that God’s purposes in the midst of not only this pandemic but in all of life is to help us find our joy, security, and comfort in Him – and ultimately, only in Him. Anything less is a form of idolatry as far as He’s concerned. He loves us too much to allow us to settle for second-best, for things that won’t really satisfy our souls, for anything less than Him. By Jesus’s work on the cross, our Adversary knows he’s a defeated foe, and for those of us who are saved, that our eternal life is secure in Christ, that we’re no longer part of his kingdom. So what does he do? He seeks to steal our joy, our gratitude, our blessings, and keep us focused on this world and our problems rather than on our King.

The first and greatest commandment is for us to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. The second is to love our neighbors as ourselves, meaning anyone and everyone. The greatest, most desperately needed cure for this broken world isn’t another vaccine for a tiny virus, masks, or more social-distancing, but for us to love God with everything we’ve got and to love one another as ourselves. We are to look to Him for our source of joy, security, comfort, and well-being. We are to be thankful, to be a blessing, and to be joyful in all we do.

So in the midst of this pandemic and throughout life’s times of trials and tribulations, how do we recapture our joy in Him? First and foremost, spend time with Him, His Word, and His people. It may not be easy nor comfortable at times, but important, life-altering things rarely are. Second, enjoy His creation and explore the world around us, even if it’s only on a screen at times. Third, use whatever opportunities you have to draw closer to Him, even if they may not make sense to others – or even yourself sometimes.

For myself, over the last year or so (but especially since the pandemic hit), I’ve gotten into the habit of getting on the YouVersion app first thing in the morning and going through the Daily Story, along with at least one devotional plan (and then some). I do my best to get up early and take a long walk to a nearby park to start my day with Him, and then sometimes again in the evening at sundown.

When something wakes me up in the middle of the night (or I simply can’t sleep), I use that time not to worry, think, or fret, but to pray and seek Him. After all, who’s to say that He wasn’t the one who woke me up early or withheld sleep from me in the first place? Perhaps He wants to hear from us just as much as we want to hear from Him? These habits weren’t easy to start and more out of necessity than anything else.

As the new year begins and this pandemic continues, let’s try to use these trials for His glory, our benefit, and to redeem the time that God has given us.

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A Dead King and an Ex-President

The 2020 US election is over – and has been for several weeks now, despite all the lawsuits, court-rulings, petitions, investigations, accusations, etc. As with most of our elections for the past 30+ years, one-third of the country is happy (or relieved), one-third is disappointed (or furious), while the other third is rather apathetic.

As a more-conservative American, I’ve had mixed feelings about President Trump since he announced his candidacy in 2016, liking many of his policies for promoting and protecting American interests yet being rather embarrassed by his abrasive personality and polarizing behavior. He may have a commendable work-ethic, great policies for America and Israel, and be able to get many things done, but he was far too polarizing, uncharismatic, and even rude and immature at times.

One thing that every viable candidate needs to win and hold democratic office is to be gracious, likable, and not too polarizing. One can differ with others (especially their enemies) and still not be antagonistic towards them. Ronald Reagan was fiercely opposed by his political rivals and the media, yet was still a likable person, which was reflected in his two landslide elections. The same can be said of George W. Bush, who was also continually opposed and maligned while in office but was not overtly antagonistic towards the press. Not so with Donald Trump.

Something that deeply grieves me about modern America is how we’ve lost so much of our “Americanism”, our reverence for God (if not the simple respect for Him and His basic laws like the Ten Commandments), our love of country, our common values, and our ability to be polite, kind, and even civil towards our fellow countrymen while greatly differing with them on various issues. Our history as a country and a culture has been mistaught (if not perverted) for several decades, and we’ve become more and more divided in the midst of this culture-war that began in the 1960s. The media, our culture, and our politicians are responsible for much of the divide, but in the end it comes down to us, our choices, and our values as individual Americans.

If I can be a bit personal for a moment, I had been hoping that the Biblical promise in Genesis 12 that states, “Those who bless Israel will be blessed, and those who curse Israel will be cursed” that is often cited would apply to this election, particularly after all that President Trump has done for our Jewish friends in the Middle East. There has been no other American president who has so staunchly defended Israel and her interests as President Trump, and it’s unlikely there will be another like him anytime soon. During his short term in office, he moved the US embassy to Jerusalem and encouraged many other countries to do so (which several did), along with fostering numerous peace-deals and normalizing relations between the Arabs and Israel, while not pressuring the Israelis to exchange land for peace (which only emboldens their enemies).

The result of this election (along with others in the past), usually makes me consider where God stands when it comes to nations, rulers, and politics in general. I often don’t understand why He allows things to go certain ways that seem to break His promises to reward those who follow Him and His laws. And it’s not merely that way in modern times, but over the long course of history, particularly Israel’s history. Some of the best kings’ reigns were cut short, while some of the worst kings ruled for far longer than they should have. Why? Why wouldn’t He reward good kings with long, prosperous reigns and the bad ones with curtailed reigns? Sometimes it simply doesn’t make sense!

For example, the last good king in Judah/Israel, King Josiah, was an excellent ruler who completely cleaned up the nation after decades of Baal-worship, debauchery, and idolatry. He re-instituted the Passover, the reading (and following) of the Law, the Temple sacrifices, and led the way in trying to draw the nation back to God. Yet look what happened to him: he went out to battle (though he’d been warned he shouldn’t!) and was slain by an errant arrow. Consequently, King Josiah’s death led to the Babylonian Captivity and the destruction of the entire nation – her people suffered like no others have in the history of the world (just read Lamentations).

So why did God allow King Josiah to die? After all, God could have protected him and saved the nation – but He didn’t. Of course, God has His reasons and is completely sovereign, and since He knew the peoples’ hearts, He knew they were merely going through the motions and still secretly worshiping idols. Though Josiah had purged all the idols from the land, the people were completely hardened against God; they had turned to Him in pretense to obey their king, not genuinely in faith in keeping with true repentance. Jeremiah’s early ministry while Josiah was still alive exposed the true condition of the hearts of his countrymen, particularly those within his own family.

Throughout history, there has continually been a struggle between individual freedom/liberty and political power. A king, military, or party rises and gains power, abuses that power, the people or their opposition revolts, and the cycle continues. In American history, the transfer of political power has usually been very peaceful, with little bloodshed when a new Congress or President takes office. That hasn’t been the case for most of human history – America has been the exception rather than the rule.

Our unique Constitution divides political power among three branches of government, espouses individual liberty, limited government, and federalism, and its system of checks and balances has consistently slowed the encroachment of our liberties by our own government. However, the further we get away from the Bible and the Rule of Law it promotes, the more liberty we individuals lose to our governing authorities. If we’re increasingly immoral, divided, and lawless as individuals and as a culture, the more immoral, divided, and lawless our government will become. And it certainly has.

Like ancient Israel/Judah, the demise of our chief executive shouldn’t trigger the demise of the nation IF (and that’s a big “IF”) the people of that country are civil towards one another, living morally and uprightly, following the Rule of Law, and “doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God” (Micah 6:8). But as I observe American culture, politics, social-media, attitudes, and civility (and lack thereof), like ancient Israel/Judah, I cannot say we are – much at all in fact. It’s increasingly difficult to discern the truth on any significant issue because truth has become so relative in our society.

So then what are we do to as Americans in our deeply divided nation and culture? It’s really quite simple, and it’s the same message that God has proclaimed all throughout history: repent and seek His face.

Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Love one another and treat your neighbor as yourself.

If we really do love our nation and want to see it preserved, we must learn to love one another – regardless of our opinions and politics.

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Knowing and Being Known

“You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting…” (Daniel 5:27).

These were the words which were read from a wall in ancient Babylon to an ancient king who’s time was up. And while this divine proclamation was first made over 2,500 years ago on the very night of Babylon’s fall, these sobering words should still cause all of us to carefully consider our paths in life, particularly when it comes to our eternal future.

One of the most sobering (if not scariest) verses I’ve long pondered and even worried about is found in Matthew 7 (specifically, Matthew 7:21-23), which involves Jesus addressing some of those who will one day stand before Him. To their surprise and dismay, He will mercilessly condemn them to the Outer Darkness:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

What has always really gotten me about this passage (to put it mildly) is that the very ones Jesus calls “evildoers” were completely convinced they were following Him and were by all accounts His disciples. They were doing everything in His Name such as prophesying, casting out demons, working miracles, and bearing all sorts of other spiritual fruit, yet He plainly declares to them, “I never knew you!”

If that doesn’t give every single one of us who profess to follow Him a long moment’s hesitation, then perhaps we need to re-read His words ― and maybe several more times for good measure! In their words and deeds, weren’t they in fact “doing His will”? And “you who practice lawlessness”? What on earth does He mean by that? Those people He’s condemning were doing all sorts of good works in His Name and likely not breaking any “laws”, nor practicing what we would consider to be “lawlessness” (idolatry, murder, stealing, adultery, etc.).

However, those standing before Him were indeed breaking one law ― the primary One. The One Law that really matters. The One Law that God raises above all others that says we are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” (Matthew 22:37, Jesus citing the Sh’ma from Deuteronomy 6:5). And while they were doing good works in His Name, they weren’t exactly “doing His will”, meaning to love Him with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Now, it’s one thing to be loved by God and us to acknowledge Him as God and even fear/revere Him, but quite another thing to actually LOVE GOD, to enjoy God for who He is and for who He reveals Himself to be in His Word. After all, isn’t everyone inherently loved by God simply because He’s our Creator? (Of course, God has those He likes and dislikes, loves and even hates at times, such as Jacob vs Esau in Malachi 1:2-3.) However, the fear and reverence of God is still a far cry from actually loving God as you would your spouse, children, parents, etc.

Really, truly, loving God means knowing God, and that’s where we should really start to realize that we’re in over our heads, as CS Lewis discovered after the death of his wife in his book, “A Grief Observed”. When his time of grief and suffering came, he found that God felt as if He was nowhere to be found, unlike the rest of their relationship when life was good:

“When you are happy, so happy you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be — or so it feels— welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.” 

And then elsewhere in that same book, he considered his feelings and beliefs and wrote:

“Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.”

What if we only “think” or feel that we know Him, but we in fact do not? What if God isn’t who we believe Him to be at all, and we’ve been inadvertently fooled by our Sunday-school teachers, pastors, and even our own studies, thoughts, and feelings? What if we live our entire Christian lives self-deceived to the point that we “know” we’re saved and on our way to Heaven, only to find out on that Day we really aren’t? Personally, I can’t think of a more disappointing ― and utterly terrifying ― thing in the universe! And that’s the thing that used to worry me every time I read that Matthew 7 passage.

However, a year or so ago I was reading an old Desiring God post titled “Knowing God Versus Being Known by God“, when the following verse jumped out at me from 1 Corinthians 8:3:

“But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.”

While I’ve read that verse and passage many times over the years, I never really had an “AHA!” moment until I’d read that short DG post. Suddenly, the roof was opened and bright sunlight streamed in. I must’ve read that verse over and over that night and thought about it for a long time. In my mind, that “What if I’m weighed and found wanting?” question was finally settled in my mind and heart, and it opened up an entirely new line of thought, prayer, and contemplation.

Instead of me worrying over and over about the Matthew 7 passage (among others), the answer was right there in front of me the entire time: “If we want to be known by God, we are to simply, purely, and completely LOVE God just as He tells us to in His Primary Law”. That’s it. Love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Our everything. Nothing more, nothing less.

Our “good works” and the rest of the tangible fruits of “doing His will” naturally flow out of that love, His love for us and our reciprocal love for Him. The tragedy of those being condemned in Matthew 7 are that while they were doing good works in His Name, they really didn’t love Him nor know Him, and therefore He didn’t know them either. Even in their response to Him, the focus was on them and what THEY had done rather than on Him and what HE had done for them on the Cross. The Gospel is all about HIM and He has done, not us and our works.

How important is His One Law that towers above all others? Well, to start off with, it’s mentioned five times in Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the first several books of the Bible which was to be read and recited often among the Israelites. It’s also explicitly mentioned in the first three Gospels (Matt 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27) by Jesus Himself.

So then the question becomes, “How exactly do we love God?” By obeying Him and keeping His commandments, namely the first two: love God and love others as ourselves. While we have five “love languages”, God really has only one: obedience. But even that one starts with and is firmly rooted in love:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” ― John 14:15

Does that mean we are to diligently keep the hundreds of commandments as specified in the Torah and the Old Testament? For Jews at that time, yes ― but like the Pharisees who kept the Letter of the Law (rules and regulations) but not the Spirit of the Law (intent/motives), they could not because they did not love God nor love others. Because of that, they fell far, far short, showing their dire need for the Promised Redeemer regardless of how well they kept the written and oral Law.

So what are we to do now in the Church Age, in which through Jesus fulfilling the Law and establishing the New Covenant, God has broken down the distinction between Jew and Gentile and divided the world between the “saved” and the “lost”? Exactly as Jesus said in the Gospels:

Love God and love others the way we want to be loved. Forgive as we would want to be forgiven. Bless as we would want to be blessed.

It’s that simple yet that daunting, that easy yet that difficult. In fact, sometimes loving God and loving others is the hardest thing to do in the world, especially when they’ve hurt, insulted, betrayed, or maligned us in some way. Any way. Every way. And loving God? It’s hard to love God when it feels like life (or even He Himself) is completely against us. It’s hard to love God when we can’t see, hear, or feel Him. It’s hard to love God when we’re downcast and brokenhearted, particularly for long stretches of time. It’s hard to love God in the dark seasons of trials and waiting.

But that’s where His unchanging, everlasting Word comes into play, the timeless passages about Him being for us and not against us (Romans 8:31), about Him never forsaking us (Hebrews 13:5), and the multitudes of psalms, Jesus’s words, the Epistles, and rest of Scripture are to be our comfort and strength in our times of trial. We are to rely upon Him and His Word and not ourselves nor our ever-changing thoughts and turbulent feelings.

And then the Payoff ― being known by Jesus and God Himself on that great day when we stand before Him and He welcomes us into His Kingdom― is far worth whatever grievance we may have against anyone or anything in this life.

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The Author of Life … Released!

The Author of Life

The Author of Life

Now available on the Kindle and in paperback!

My latest non-fiction work (“The Author of Life”) is ready for Kindle download at Amazon.com! The book is also available in paperback format.

The synopsis for the book is:

When you think about God, what’s the first image that pops into your mind? Even when you hear the word “God”, what feelings arise? Are those thoughts and feelings of a loving, forgiving Father or a harsh, distant Judge or Someone in between two – or perhaps even something else entirely?

Could it be that because of our preconceptions, culture, and own personal history, the very word “God” itself colors our views and perceptions of Him at a fundamental level? What if our biases have actually blinded us to Him, His Word, and His heart?

What if we were able to reset those preconceptions and free ourselves from the baggage of our biases, perceptions, and our past experiences with God and those who claim to know Him?

What if we could start over from the beginning and learn about God without all our preconceived notions getting in the way and just learn about Him as He is, or rather, who He’s revealed Himself to be in His Word and throughout His Creation?

What if we could re-learn and re-think what we each individually believe about God and honestly get to know Him not as this distant, abstract religious entity but as something of an Author – the Author of Authors – who has a grand story to tell that He wants to share with each and every one of us?

The primary purpose of this book is to re-discover the Author of the Bible and examine precisely why He describes Himself as the “God of Living”, the “Living God”, and of course, the “Author of Life”. It’s my hope that its readers would get to know Him as not as some Cosmic Wizard Behind the Curtain, but as the Author of Life, the Writer of the Greatest Book of All Time, the Creator, the Grand Storyteller, the Artist, the Architect, the Master Builder, and the Great Genius who not only created all things and set them into motion, but who created living, sentient beings who He desires to have a personal, intimate relationship with: each one of us.

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That One Thing

“A man after God’s own heart…” If there were ever a title or a commendation to receive from God Himself, that would be it. In the entire Bible, there is only ONE person given that commendation (aside from Jesus Himself, of course!): David, the lowly shepherd-boy from the hills of Bethlehem who became a king.

Despite his sin, adultery, murder, and dramatic failures as a father, David was still known as “a man after God’s own heart” and he became the standard by which all the other kings in Israel and Judah were measured, and most of them never even came close to measuring up to him. They may have believed in God and faithfully followed Him, but none followed after Him with their whole heart like David except for Hezekiah and Josiah (2 Kings 18:5, 23:25).

What was it about David that made God give him that incredible, personal title? Was it his courage, his military prowess, his administrative skills, his many accomplishments, his musical or poetic abilities, his integrity, his character, his faith, or his reliance on the Almighty, particularly when running from King Saul? Partly yes, but personally I think it was none of these.

I believe that the main reason why the Bible refers to David as “a man after His own heart” was because what David wanted MOST in the world was very simple: he just wanted to be with God. Nothing more, nothing less. David’s entire life and walk with God can be summed up as him wanting simply one thing – just ONE thing that He treasures the most: relationship and fellowship (and obedience, of course). In fact, even after He gave David anything and everything he could possibly want, David still wanted that ONE thing. And David himself says as much in Psalm 27:4:

One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. 

What did David want more than anything else in the entire world? To be with the Lord, to behold His beauty, and to inquire of Him in His temple. To simply sit at His feet and love Him. That was David’s One Thing.

Though I’ve listened to the songs of the late Rich Mullins for more than twenty years now (and even wrote a book about his songs, “Walks with Rich”), there was one song that I never really connected with until I began writing this chapter. The song is called (ironically), “One Thing”, with the main chorus/verse being “[You’re] My one thing! You’re my one thing! And the pure in heart shall see God!”

While it’s a decent, catchy song, I never really quite dug into what the song was saying before – to my great loss. Perhaps even without himself knowing it, Rich Mullins somehow linked one of Jesus’s Beatitudes from Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” with Psalm 27:4’s “one thing I ask… to see God”. And now that that connection has been made for me, it’s rather hard to let go of it! (Thank you, Rich – I owe you yet another one!)

Curiously, there aren’t too many other people/characters in the Bible who have that same simple yet fervent “one thing I ask” heart and mentality that David does – not even Jesus’s disciples had that same fervor, though Peter and John came close, I suppose. But there was one person that Jesus specifically calls out as having that One Thing that He desires the most, and that’s in the story of Mary and Martha from Luke 10:38-42:

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’s feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Mary’s One Thing was the same as David’s in Psalm 27: to simply be with the Lord, to sit at His feet, and to look upon His face. If David would have been there along with them, he and Mary would’ve probably been making a complete nuisance of themselves in trying to be the one closest to Jesus! Mary was completely devoted to Him and loved Jesus so much, and simply wanted to be in His presence as much as possible.

According to John 19-20, she followed Him from His trials to the cross, remained at there close by at the cross, likely went to the Tomb with His body (the Garden Tomb is less than a hundred feet away from Golgotha), then on Sunday was the very FIRST one to go to the Tomb, even though she knew she wouldn’t see His body because of the stone covering the entrance, which she assumed was still there. And then upon seeing the stone was rolled away and that His body wasn’t there, she ran and told the disciples the news.

Several of the disciples returned with her to see for themselves, saw Jesus’s grave-clothes lying there (with no body), and then they returned to where they were staying. However, Mary remained there by herself – weeping – she simply wanted to be close to Jesus (even though He had died), but now He wasn’t there and she was very upset that His body had been stolen. Knowing Mary and her great love for Him, if he would’ve been there, she probably would have visited His grave every day for the rest of her life! As she gazed into the Tomb to look for Him again, she saw two angels inside – but then she realized someone else was standing behind her. From John 20:15-16:

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Who was the very FIRST person to see Jesus after His resurrection? It wasn’t Peter, James, or John, His three most faithful, trusted disciples, but Mary – the one person who had found the One Thing that He desires most and who simply, solely wanted to be with her Lord. The “pure in heart”, or those who have found that One Thing that God desires most, are the ones who will see God. Like Mary. Like David. Like Rich.

And hopefully, like you and me.

 

Note: Excerpts taken from “The Author of Life: Hearing and Knowing the Heart of the Living God” (Available in late April 2020 on Amazon!)

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Fountains of the Deep … Released!

Fountains of the Deep

Fountains of the Deep

Now available on the Kindle and in paperback!

Disclaimer: though this book was actually released in late December 2019, this announcement is better late than never!

My latest novel (“Fountains of the Deep”) is ready for Kindle download at Amazon.com! The book is also available in paperback format.

“Fountains of the Deep” and is the second book in “The Days of Noah Series.” The series consists of three books so far (in order): “Rise of the Anshar”, “Fountains of the Deep”, and “Chains of Darkness” (currently being written).

The synopsis for the book is:

After the great contest with Enoch in the Temple, the bloodthirsty Anshar have been defeated, but their presence has not been fully extinguished from the earth. Mankind continues to multiply and spread across the face of the earth, bringing corruption, violence, and war with them wherever they go.

In the dark realms of the Underworld, the demons hunger for revenge against their greatest Enemy who thwarted their schemes imprisoned their brethren. Their king plots his revenge to assure their victory, and the stakes have never been higher: another defeat will mean never-ending torment in the bowels of Sheol. And while the struggle for mankind’s allegiance has been lost, the struggle for mankind itself is just beginning…

As more of the earth is explored and settled, a group of nomads stumbles upon the Lost Garden, the place rumored to be where boundless power, wisdom, and even immortality dwell – where once men dwelt with the gods but were banished after angering them. With their discovery, a brutal conqueror known only as the Overlord sets his sights on retaking the Garden and thereby becoming the Lord of all the earth.

This is a story of the First Age, when dragons and giants freely roamed the earth and mankind lived for hundreds of years. Paradise was fresh in our memories and still sought by those who yearned for it. The earth was young, unmarred, and bountiful — and ripe for subjugation by men, giants, and demons.

“Chains of Darkness” (Book 3) is due to be released in the latter half of 2020.

When God Destroyed The World

When God Destroyed the World

BONUS BOOK! In keeping with the “Days of Noah Series” format, much of the research, sources, and notes included in the Appendices of “Fountains of the Deep” have been broken out into a separate, shorter book called “When God Destroyed the World”:

What if there was a world of both wonders and horrors, a world that we can barely imagine, which was actually the reality at one time in our ancient past? What if there really had been a near-perfect world marred with terrible violence, slavery, corruption, wickedness, injustice, brutality, and unimaginable perversions, and that was the civilization that men, women, and children had to live in?

What if there really had been a world filled with fallen angels, demons, giants, dragons, monsters, zombies, and vampires and they walked among us? What if there really had been a world in which demons tangibly interbred and corrupted mankind and produced all sorts of monstrous, tyrannical perversions? What if that had been humanity’s reality in the distant past – but there was no hero to end the nightmare and save us?

That was the all-too-real world that Noah, Methuselah, and Enoch’s generations lived in – the world that God destroyed. But why did He go so far as to wipe out the entire world? Why did He take the extreme step of intervening in our ancient history and essentially start over with Noah and his family?

This book is only available as a Kindle Single on Amazon.com.

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Embracing Writer’s Block

Writer’s block. The two dreaded little words that every writer loathes, yet can also relate to. Sometimes it can last a couple minutes, a couple hours, or even a couple days. In my case, it’s lasted the better part of two years, maybe even closer to three.

In my defense (as a writer!), I had purposefully taken a break from working on books for a while, mostly for my life to settle down after a lengthy divorce process, to renovate my home, and to refocus on my kids. In looking back over the last few years, there were many changes at many different levels and numerous adjustments that required patience, flexibility, and many sacrifices of time, energy, and focus. But while I had stopped working specifically on books, I had continued writing extensively through blogging and journalling, as well as reading much more often and deepening my relationship with God.

Over the last year, however, there many were times when I would pick up my latest (and possibly never-ending) story “Fountains of the Deep”, look over my notes, and settle in to start writing again. I’d have my coffee ready and my writing-spot perfect, place my fingers on the keyboard, and then… nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. You see, while the plot of the story may have been there, the “heart” of the story and the inspiration needed for it simply wasn’t. Even a well-plotted story without a heart isn’t much of a story at all, at least not really one worth reading. I tried blogging for awhile to keep myself writing, but even that has waned for the last year.

One of the dirty little secrets about writing books today is that for all the time, effort, and concentration it requires, most authors (in my experience) get very little out of it other than the self-satisfaction of seeing their work in print or on Amazon. Most books get lost in the avalanche of new ones that are published every year, particularly now with self-publishing. The royalty-rates are better, but there are far less royalties because of cheap (and free) book promotions on Amazon. Readers are more selective and leave fewer reviews. Since 2010, the self-publishing market has exploded, yet revenue has steadily dried up because of the volume and promos. The definition of what a “successful” writer looks like has become more and more nebulous. As I considered the efforts in finishing the book in relation to its returns, my writer’s block only seemed to grow worse. And while “Fountains of the Deep” will be my 20th book since 2008, I don’t feel like much of a success as a writer.

There was an article from Desiring God a few months ago by Vaneetha Rendall Risner called “Do You Wish You Had Accomplished More?” about the difference between successfulness and fruitfulness that really hit home with me. The takeaway idea I had initially gleaned from the article was that “God wants us to be fruitful, not successful.” The primary quote was from Mother Theresa: “God did not call me to be successful; he called me to be faithful.” And while the quote and most of the article was about pursuing faithfulness rather than success, for whatever reason my brain interpreted that as fruitfulness instead of faithfulness. After all, as Christians, if we’re really being faithful, then we should be fruitful, right? (Thank you, James.) Sometimes that’s true, but often not — faithfulness doesn’t guarantee fruitfulness. There’s only One Person in this vast universe that can accurately measure both faithfulness and fruitfulness, and neither one looks like how most of us define successfulness.

God wants us to be faithful and fruitful, not successful.

While the Desiring God article used John the Baptist as the main example of being faithful in the eyes of God yet a failure in the eyes of the world, Noah and Jeremiah are two similar examples that I tend to lean more towards. Noah ministered for possibly hundreds of years about repentance and the end of the world (as they knew it), yet his only “fruit” was the saving of his family and preserving of the various kinds that God had brought to him. Jeremiah’s “fruit” was even more negligible, having only won over one or two others during the course of his fifty-five year ministry. His ministry continued going from bad to worse, and he lost everything he loved. In fact, it seems like the more faithful and fruitful people become in the Bible, the less successful they become to the world. Yet in the end, they are the ones who bear the most and longest-lasting fruit. Ironic, isn’t it?

And while the difference between being successful and fruitful at first glance may not seem all that significant, it actually changes EVERYTHING, or at least it has for me. Rather than be concerned with creating the right characters, plots, eye-catching covers, snappy promos/marketing campaigns, and the downloads of my books (i.e., being successful), this new perspective has freed me to be able to write, blog, or journal to my heart’s content — or simply not write at all — to read or pray instead and not worry about it (being faithful AND fruitful). 

Since embracing an attitude of “fruitfulness rather than successfulness” over the last several months, my own personal never-ending story (“Fountains of the Deep”) has been much more enjoyable and is actually flowing much better. The long dry-spell of writer’s block has been lifting. The characters are richer and the story is starting to write itself, rather than being silent (or worse, kicking and screaming!). When I bang my head against the dreaded writer’s block, that’s okay — maybe that’s God’s way of telling me it’s time to take a little break rather than worry about it and keep bruising my head against the wall. Maybe He’s telling me it’s time to pray, journal, read, take a walk, or simply do nothing. Rest and enjoy Him. 

As I’ve been writing again, I’ve been thinking more about my disappointments over the lack of success of my books and all the effort involved, and remembering what a waste of time it felt like. Looking back, I think that was indicative of how my focus had been dramatically misdirected, towards making extra money and achieving my own measure of success rather than writing because I really enjoyed it and leaving the results to God instead of my own efforts. Instead of writing for pride, fame, royalties or even myself, I should have been writing for the Lord and doing my best to ignore those things. In the end, it only really matters what He thinks, doesn’t it? Even if I write every day for the rest of my life and no one else ever reads a single word of any of it, my joy and satisfaction and even my rewards will be the same: that He is pleased with me.

Whatever we do, God wants us to do with heart, joy, and liberty, rather than with staleness, grumbling, and obligation. Of course, there will be times where we have to do things that aren’t all that pleasant or enjoyable, but that’s part of life I suppose.

Whatever we do, God wants us to do with faithfulness and fruitfulness in mind, rather than with fame or fortune. Anyway, it’s nice to get up ridiculously early and walk to Starbucks in the mornings and be creative again — and actually enjoy it. 

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” — Colossians 3:23-24

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Mentoring and Being Mentored

It’s been said that the only true constant in this universe is change. In our day and age of ever-increasing knowledge and information, that proverb seems truer today than ever before. Everywhere we look today, change is practically inescapable; we can’t really even slow it down, let alone attempt to stop it. In fact, the only elements that never seem to change are God and Truth.

Inside the organization I work for (GPS software applications), we’ve been undergoing a great deal of change lately. (In all honesty, it’s been the better part of the last two years, but that still counts as “lately”!) The old, slow, inflexible product is going away and is being replaced by the new, spry, blazing-fast latest-and-greatest. To add to the mix, several long-time employees have left recently and/or are being replaced by new ones, and at times it seems that everything is up in the air…changing. Our priorities seem to be changing not only day-by-day at times, but hour-by-hour. Build this, fix that, oops — put out that fire; lather, rinse, repeat!

In the midst of all these changes and ever-shifting priorities occurring at my office, there are plenty of new opportunities and responsibilities. As one of the more senior members of the team, a new responsibility that’s recently been added to my plate is that of mentoring. Often it comes about in the form of training and assisting other team members about how something works, how to do this or that in our very complex system, or where to find a particular piece of code that they’re trying to hunt down and how it works. However, the other form of mentoring that requires more pragmatism and effort is in training others who are new to the system and our development processes. Generally speaking, the more complex a system is, the more training and/or mentoring that’s required to bring someone up to speed. And our system is rather complex (to say the least!).

To add to the mix, I’m fortunate enough to be sitting on both sides of the mentoring fence at the same time. While mentoring others new to things that I’m quite familiar with, I’m simultaneously being mentored in other areas that I don’t really have a clue about. It seems that specialization is both a blessing and a curse! Being mentored has been a rather humbling experience for me at times because familiarity breeds contempt — and pride. It’s only when I’m exposed to something radically different than what I’m familiar with do I realize that I’m not nearly as smart as I thought. Also, I’m more of a “git-r-dun!” guy with most development tasks instead of a “big-picture” guy who likes to step back and understand all the various pieces and how they all work together (or should work together) before jumping in with both feet. One approach is faster yet more short-term while the other is slower and more long-term.

Since we’ve practically been in fire-fighting mode for nearly the last two years, it’s not always easy to carve out time for mentoring and passing on skills to others; it’s often much easier (and faster!) to just do things yourself. However, that’s a recipe for disaster, particularly when time and resources are stretched thin enough as it is. In a growing organization, it seems the most important element is growing the leadership base and diversifying skill-sets rather than simply getting things done. Yet growing leadership and skill-sets doesn’t usually contribute to the bottom-line of producing and delivering new features faster (at least on paper). That means we’re somewhat forced to be somewhat sneaky about how we grow and diversify our skills: pair-programming.

Pair-programming is where two developers tackle a feature/task instead of simultaneously working on two (or more) separately. While it may seem inefficient at first (two developers doing the work of one), we tend to get more done faster and with higher quality than we would otherwise. Developers tend to have different skills and talents and we often end up learning from each other almost by proximity, particularly when the pressure’s on and the deadline was yesterday (or last week!). We also often pair up when one developer needs to come up to speed with a new part of the system that the other is familiar with, which naturally leads mentoring. While everyone may agree that a mentoring environment fosters creativity and ingenuity, it’s still often an uphill battle to create that type of environment and then maintain it over time.

As I’m learning to mentor others, I’m finding that I look to my own mentors and consider their approach and then try to emulate them as best I can. Our tech-lead who’s been the go-to guy for the last couple years is probably the one I look up to the most in this area. He often pushes and prods us into doing the right thing — even though it may take much longer — when often we just want it to be over with so we can get back to doing the next task on the board. He HATES duplicated code because it’s bad design, indicative of short-cuts and sloppiness, and often makes it his mission (and therefore ours) to rip out as much of it as possible. He consistently returns to software fundamentals and principles such as Separation of Concerns, Single Responsibility, Knows-About/Least Knowledge, etc. When I observe him designing or explaining something, it’s rare that those three elements aren’t involved right from the beginning.

Not only does mentoring help those who are being mentored, it helps those doing the mentoring. In learning new technologies and patterns, mentoring helps reinforce whatever is being taught. With all the new open-source frameworks and patterns, whatever isn’t used is quickly lost. In fact, I’m finding that I retain new skills and technology longer and have a deeper, more fundamental understanding when I’m passing on that knowledge or concepts to another. Though using those skills often helps, there’s no substitute for teaching and explaining them to someone else. The “Learn, Use, Teach, Repeat” and “See one, Do one, Teach one” principles for both learning and mentoring have been a great way to make sure new skills aren’t lost soon after whatever task I’m working on is completed.

l-d-t-l-cycleIn “Learn, Do, Teach, Lead”, the “Learn” phase is where knowledge or a skill is acquired, which moves directly into the “Do” phase. Often it’s rather easy to understand the abstract concepts of something new, but until the “Do” action occurs, much of it’s still quite conceptual rather than practical. The “Do” phase is where the rubber meets the road and where the “Learn” phase is reinforced and retained. Once the “Do” phase occurs, it’s best to then move into the “Teach” phase to reinforce both the “Learn” phase and the “Do” phase. At the intersection of all three phases is “Lead” — and the more often the cycle is repeated, the stronger the “Lead” intersection of the diagram grows.

However, this cycle shouldn’t just happen once, but frequently repeated, with new skills and concepts continually being acquired, put to practical use, and then taught and retaught. In apprenticeship/journeymen roles and also parenting, this cycle comes naturally, particularly with older children who often teach anything (and everything!) to their younger siblings. Curiously, modern classrooms tend to leave out the “Teach” phase, which causes information to not be retained for very long and also contributes to a lack of leadership skills. In my opinion, our shortage of leaders and teachers is directly correlated to the lack of the “Teach” step in many of our educational institutions.

The responsibility of both mentoring and being mentored is also a biblical principle, especially in the New Testament. For just over three years, Jesus mentored His disciples, eating, drinking, living, walking, teaching, and ministering with them. After He reappeared to them after His resurrection, He told them to go and do likewise, making disciples just as He had done with them. The Great Commission isn’t one of merely preaching and proclaiming, but of teaching and mentoring — investing in others and training them in the ways of the God’s kingdom and how we should be loving and treating others here on earth.

Throughout the New Testament, we are admonished to not only teach our children and lead our families, but pass on our knowledge of the Scriptures and God’s love to those around us. Who can we mentor today? Who can we be mentored by today? Who do we know that needs to hear of God’s love, grace, and mercy?

“Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.” — Proverbs 9:9

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Hearing Voices

Communicating your voice accurately and succinctly is one of the challenges of every writer, regardless of the intended audience and purpose of the material. Great writers are able to devise any type of voice they wish and one would think a completely different person were writing it. Poor writers end up sounding the same regardless of whether they’re writing a novel, a newspaper article, or a grocery list (ouch!).

Not only do writers have to communicate with the voice they wish, they also need to pay attention to the tone with which their content is consumed by their target audience. With tone, emotion to the voice is communicated, along with style, rhythm, and meter. Writers are responsible for not only communicating their thoughts, but the mood and tone with which they want those thoughts to be heard. Writers must do all they can to ensure that their audience receives those thoughts, ideas, and moods accurately and as intended.

With that said, a certain responsibility for how written material is processed does fall upon the audience. Something I’ve noticed is that the way we hear written words and the voice behind them is partially dependent upon us and whatever’s going on in our hearts and heads, particularly if it concerns something personal or matters of the heart. If I’m having a bad day, I may project those feelings onto something I’m reading and suddenly that may take on an ill tone and mood that was never intended by the writer. An article that would otherwise be very uplifting may be processed as being crass, annoying, or even accusatory. Regardless of the words, the same content may be heard very differently depending on the heart and ears of the listener.

When we read a letter or an email (or even a text), what voice do we hear behind the words? For myself, I suppose it depends on your relationship with that person. It’s largely dependent on how well we know the person who wrote it and the voice with which they usually speak. We remember our shared experiences with that person (good and bad!), and the voice we hear is often “heard” with those experiences and history in the back of our minds. But even then, our current moods may shape how their words are heard and processed at that particular time.

When I write things of a personal nature, I always try to speak with a voice of gentleness, understanding, and compassion, because that’s who I am (or at least that’s who I hope I am!). But I’m afraid my words aren’t heard as intended sometimes. When I am upset about something, my sentences are shorter and far more blunt and candid, along with my tone being harsher. When I am serious or want to carefully articulate my thoughts, my sentences are longer and more descriptive, probably to the point of being horrible run-ons.

When it comes to the Bible, how our current mood shapes our interpretation of what’s written is no different, except often more profound and pronounced. Also, how we hear the Scriptures largely depends on how well we know God and how we feel about Him — our personal relationship with the Author. If we feel that God is an angry, stern Judge Who’s quick-tempered and wrathful, we’ll hear the Scriptures completely differently than someone who views God as the perfect embodiment of patience, mercy, and love. Same God and same Book, but completely different to the hearer.

When I was younger (ie, before twenty-nine), I never quite understood why people were encouraged to daily read the Bible. I mean, it’s just another book, right? Isn’t once or twice enough? Other books aren’t read over and over, so why should it be different for religious books except for memorization? As far as the Bible goes, the content hasn’t changed in 1900+ years and probably won’t be changing anytime soon, right? (Yes, I’m being facetious!).

The reason why daily Bible reading is important is because of US – the readers. We’re encouraged to read the Scriptures daily because of what’s happening in our lives and our hearts and in those around us. While the Scriptures do not change (nor God), we as humans are embroiled in nearly constant change. What may just be little more than letters on a page in one minute may become the most profound, life-changing thing we’ve ever read the next. Sometimes this is the result of experiencing something traumatic or sometimes merely over the process of time. Either way, how we hear the same text may be completely different at different times in our daily lives, particularly as our relationship with God grows and matures.

Whether intended to or not, at first glance the early chapters of Genesis – along with significant portions of the Old Testament seem to portray God as this angry, wrathful, distant Being. Such is the impression from those who do not know Him well or those who have an agenda, such as skeptics or critics. However, the more personal you become with God, the more His voice seems to change: it becomes softer, kinder, and more loving. As you draw closer to God in the whole context of Scripture – especially after studying the New Testament – that same angry God of wrath becomes a loving, gentle Father.

What really changed with me as to how I heard God’s voice was after studying the book of John, the most personal of the four Gospels. Curiously, John begins his book with how “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” That’s rather profound when you stop and think about it; up until that point, no one had ever seen God and all we had was His Word. But after Jesus came, now we can see, hear, and touch the Word Himself — in the flesh. Jesus sets the tone for the entire book, not just the Scriptures that were written after He came.

Jesus is THE embodiment of God’s Word and everything that goes with it. Because of God coming in the flesh, now we know with what mood and tone much of the rest of the Word is meant to be read and interpreted: with Jesus directly in the center. The rest of the New Testament confirms and reinforces the tone of His Word, and provides the voice with which we should read the entire Bible. With Jesus placed in the center, suddenly a holy, angry God of wrath becomes a holy, loving Father. Not only that, but Jesus goes so far as to say that He wants to be our friend. Think of that! God actually wants to be our F R I E N D!! That’s simply unimaginable in the whole of religions across the world throughout history, that God wants a personal, growing, intimate relationship with us!

Consider how radically our interpretation of the Scriptures can change when we put Jesus – the Word Who Became Flesh – in the middle of them. Recall the first time man disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. What does that scene look like if the character and person of Jesus is placed in the middle of it? Instead of this terrible lumbering giant stomping through the Garden bellowing “Where are you?!” after they sinned, I see this sorrowful, brokenhearted father seeking after his beloved children who were suddenly hiding from him. While His holiness is indeed conveyed in that passage, His wrath and anger are not. After all, He both clothed them “properly” and then protected them from partaking of the Tree of Life which would make their fallen state eternal and their redemption impossible.

The same with Cain after he became angry and murdered his brother, and also with Job after he demanded an audience with the Almighty Himself. God could have poured out His wrath and holy anger upon them yet did not, though He did respond to their actions/demands. God is holy and just and owes us nothing, but does allow us to reap the consequences of our decisions, or as in Job’s case, allows bad things to happen to us. But even then, there is mercy, protection, and even tenderness to be found in Him. Even in the passages leading up to the Flood – when read with Jesus in mind – paint the picture of a brokenhearted Father who must uphold justice in the face of centuries of long-suffering and unspeakable violence and cruelty all over the earth. The God of Life withstood as much as He could as the earth was turned into a never-ending nightmare of violence and death.

One sentence in the book of John that stood out to me in writing this is in John 14 in which Philip says, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Keep in mind that they’ve seen Jesus do all sorts of miracles for three years and ate, drank, and lived with Him. I picture Jesus slowly turning to Philip with pain in His eyes and hurt in His heart as He quietly replies, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you still don’t know me, Philip?” Sometimes I imagine Him saying those same words to me when I’m reading the Bible and don’t hear Him the way that I should or that I think I’ve disappointed Him one too many times: “After all this time I’ve been with you, don’t you know Me, Chris?”

How much different would we hear the Scriptures if we read them with the ears with which God had intended them, with love and mercy and fellowship? Maybe that’s why Jesus repeatedly declares, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” How much closer would we draw to Him in His Word with His desire for friendship, fellowship, and a growing relationship with us in mind? How much more intimately would we walk with Him when we know that His great love and compassion for us drips off every page of His Word?

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” — John 5:39-40

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