Gotta Stand Pt. 5

…” If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.”  Eph. 4:28 NLT

      I just looked at America’s national debt clock. We are currently $14,272.208,…,… in debt. We are spending  about $1,301,087,950,… more a year than we take in. The dots stand for numbers changing too quickly to write down.

      If we are going to stand through the storms coming on the world, we are going to have to change some things individually. If we want our country to stand through those same storms, we are going to have to change some things culturally.

     Paul says “stop stealing!”

      Right up front that means, “If you’re breaking and entering CUT IT OUT!” 

     I do trust, however, that most of my readers are not moon-lighting as cat burglars. That doesn’t mean this verse has nothing to say to us. Culturally we have issues with wanting things that don’t belong to us… that is things God never intended for us to have. We spend more than we earn and think this is somehow O.K. with the Lord. A mindset exists which says  “surely God would not deny me anything I want.”

      I challenge you to find that in the Bible. What you will find is this : “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” Psalm 23:1 NIV

       David puts the onus on us. God shepherds. God provides. Therefore we will not allow ourselves to be wanting what He hasn’t provided. Wanting to acquire things outside of God’s provision is coveting. Taking things that God has not provided so easily turns into stealing.

     I know what I’m talking about here, because I’ve lived beyond my means to the brink of financial ruin. I nearly took my whole family down with me. The recovery process has been slow and painful but necessary, if I am to stand through what lies ahead.

      Tolstoy said “Wealth is knowing what you can live without.” 

      I am in the process of learning just that. Like so many of my fellow Americans I have a problem with self-control; Self-control, is a fruit of the Spirit according to Galatians 5:22. It’s not something I can produce in great quantities naturally. However God can!

     In the verse above, Paul is very clear about what we must do in order to stop a stealing spirit from inhabiting our hearts. When we work hard at honest labor and when we give generously to others, the Holy Spirit is given a door way into our lives which allows Him to come in and create self-control.

     In the hour it has taken me to type this blog our national debt has increased to $14,727,327,…,…! It’s up to us to change. No one else can do it for us.

We’ve gotta stand!

Gotta Stand Pt. 2

     The tree was huge, in full leaf. It certainly wasn’t the one I picked as a potential fall risk during the hurricane. It still fell. It wasn’t that the tree wasn’t strong. It’s roots were just in a bad place. It had grown along the muddy bank of our vernal brook and when that began to wash away in the flood…well there just wasn’t anything left to hold onto. Strength means nothing if what your hanging onto has no substance.

“that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”  Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,  guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:20-32 NLT

     Paul gets specific here. He doesn’t pull any punches.  If we want to have God’s power to stand through the storms of life we need to change specific things we used to do before we were born again. In other words we have to find a new place to put our roots.

     Before we were  Christians we couldn’t help the way we lived. We were  sinners and sinners by definition sin. But Christians aren’t sinners; We are saints, people who have the power to stop sinning and who are learning to use that power.

    Just a note, God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He knows we won’t be; But He does expect us to start using the strength He has put inside to start changing who we are.  He says here in these verses it starts with thoughts and attitudes not just actions. If we change the way we think, the way we behave will take care of itself.

Tomorrow we get down to the nitty-gritty! Are you ready to do some spiritual root transplanting?

Gotta Stand Pt. 1

      As the Earth trembles, as the heavens convulse, as nations shudder the kingdom of God stands firm. God has given His people a method for standing when all around is falling apart. I would like to take a little bit of time this week to talk about how we as Christians can practically keep standing through the storms of life. We are going to be dealing with a passage from the Word of God starting in  Ephesians chapter 4:17 and going on until we reach  chapter 6:18. Along the way as we read I am going to stop and make some comments as we let the Scripture just speak to us. Let’s begin:

“With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.” Ephesians 4:17-19 NLT

    Here Paul begins by saying that when we become  Christian there has to be a change in the way we live. If we have given our lives to Jesus there should be a change in our behavior. As  Christians if we want to stand through life’s storms we have to begin to live for God and stop living for lustful pleasure and impurity. In a culture that highly values the pleasing of self, this idea of walking away from the things we desire becomes problematic for all of us; But as the Earth groans louder and louder the need for us to change in order to stand is going to become increasingly important. Let’s get a little more specific with this….

Check in on Friday for the sequel

Tomorrow is Pastor Wrinkles! 🙂


Raising The Temperature Pt. 1

It has been one hot summer around our nation. Have you noticed? I was watching the news one day two weeks ago and Minnesota was experiencing record heat. On that day parts of the state were slated to experience temperatures of 124 degrees! Myself I think it’s global climate change. I think it’s a sign of the soon return of Jesus. How about you?   

    I notice these weather changes with great interest. But I do not get too excited or fearful about them. I’m not as concerned with the physical temperature of Minnesota as I am concerned with the spiritual temperature of the church. The time has come brothers and sisters to raise the temperature of the Body of Christ. The time has come to make all lukewarmness go and to bring back the fervent fire of the Holy Spirit of Pentecost. We can do it you know! We must do it to! And this our work.

    Some of us are waiting for revival as though it’s somehow only up to Jesus. But revival is a choice that the church has to make. Walking away from lukewarmness is a choice the church makes. Oh make no mistake we need Jesus’ full power to  accomplish it. But we must make the choice first and then continually if the revival is to come and lukewarmness is to go. The time has come to raise the temperature.

What choices do you think the church must make to raise the spiritual temperature of our nation?

JE’s Top Ten

     I keep a “brainstorming” notebook on me at all times; That way when I have “writer’s epiphany” I can jot the idea down so it’s not forgotten in my next writing session.

     One of the ideas I recently wrote down was, “Share  ten worship lyrics that have spoken to your heart.” I kept pushing it off in favor of other topics until I got this from one of my readers in response to a recent post. Angela wrote:

   “I believe there is a worship song for every season. And finding it can be an adventure and quite exciting. I know when there are hard times before me a “God appointed” song has helped carry me as i carry its tune. “

     Now I took that as a Holy Spirit clue that the time had come to share my top ten worship lyrics. So here they are:

10.  “When peace like a river attendeth my way when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say ‘It is well. It is well with my soul.” 

It Is Well,  Philip Bliss

9.  “Farther along we’ll know all about it. Farther along we’ll understand why. Cheer up my brother live in the sunshine. We’ll understand it all by and by.”  Farther Along,  W.B. Stevens

8. “A mighty fortress is our God. A sacred refuge is Your name. Your kingdom is unshakeable…” A Mighty Fortress, Christy and Nathan Nockels

7. “Let Your fragrance rest in this place as we gather to seek Your face.” Father of Creation, David Ruis

6. “All of my life in every season You are still God and I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship.” Desert Song , Brooke Fraser

5. “You are my desire. No one else will do. ’cause nothing else could take Your place, to feel the warmth of Your embrace. Help me find the way. Bring me back to You.” Draw Me Close, Kelly Carpenter

4. “You give and take away. You give and take away. My heart will choose to say ‘Lord blessed be Your name!'” Blessed Be The Name, Matt and Beth Redman

3. “He will my shield and portion be as long as life endures.” Amazing Grace, John Newton

2. “When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation and take me home what joy shall flood my heart. The I shall bow in humble adoration and there proclaim ‘My God How great Thou art!'” How Great Thou Art, Stuart Kline

1. “The Darling of Heaven crucified, worthy is the Lamb!” Worthy Is the Lamb, Darlene Zschech

What are your 10 favorite worship lyrics?

Passion: With All the Love That Is In Me

This is the end of my study through the sayings of Jesus on the night of His arrest! If you wish to read them all look in my archives under “Passion.”

“O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”  John 17:25-26 NLT

     Something happened that night so long ago. I had spent six months denying I was a sinner in need of a Savior…Heck I thought I was the Savior!

     But that night as our pastor preached, something changed inside of me. I felt the conviction of the Holy Ghost. I knew in that moment what sin was, what righteousness was, and what judgment was. I knew I was a sinner; I knew Jesus alone was righteous; And I knew I was slated for judgment.

     Needless to say, I walked the aisle and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my heart. I don’t know how it happened. I can only say it was a God experience. I came crashing into Jesus. It wasn’t the words of a man that changed me. it was my confrontation with a spirit…The Spirit! He was there that night and He chose me…and then I chose Him.

     True to his words, Jesus revealed the Father to me. He put God’s love into me and He put himself into me! Since that day I have been possessed by God. You might not like that terminology but I find it the truest representation of the Scripture “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine!” Sng. 6:3 NIV

     I have found that  the occurrence of a sinner coming to Jesus is one of life’s defining moments…one of life’s powerful moments. I love to tell my story as far as I understand it. I would love to hear yours.

So…How did Jesus come to you? How did you come to Jesus?


     “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.  I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. ” John 17:20-22 NLT

        The little girl stood in the middle of the grocery aisle, arms on hips, staring up at her mother with a frown big enough to encompass a rainbow. “I want it, Mommy! I want it now!”

      When Mommy said “no dear it’s not on our list.”  the child went into histrionics right there in the grocery store. The mother looked at me apologetically as she took the child by the hand and led her from the store still screaming the blues. I went on shopping, barely phased by the incident, after all it happens all the time and not just with children. Adults who ought to know better get derailed and pouty in life all the time because things don’t go their way. I do it for Heaven’s sake!

      BUT WHY?  That is the $25,000.00 question  today.

     A part of the answer lies in our cultural proclivity to look only at the moment when we should be looking to the future…our future…and the future of the ones who come behind us. Too often we are willing to trade a solid future for the “quick-fix” alternative, because the solid future is approached by a harder road.

     Jesus looked not just at himself or even at his twelve disciples when He prayed in John 17.  He looked to all the generations ahead who would believe the message his disciples would preach. It was this attitude of futurtude that gave him the fortitude to endure the solitude of the cross.

      The writer to the Hebrews encourages us to this same  “futurtude” when he says“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:2 NIV

      We have choices in life. We can be like Veruca, the character in Willy Wonka.  saying “I want an OomaLoompa Daddy! And I want it now!”


    We can be like Jesus thinking not of ourselves or what our current circumstances will do for us. We can choose to ask God how where we are right now will bless others.

Jesus prayed that what He was about to walk through would bless people on the Earth yet unborn. It did!

 Why not follow suit?Ask yourself how what you face right now might be used by God to bless others and pray that into being!

Accepted Not Accomplished

    I am convinced that certain pass times were invented by God for the sole purpose of helping to inspire men to speak truthfully to one another about life’s deeper matters. Fishing, for instance, is a good way to get me to talk about more than the weather.

     Not that I fish mind you. I tend to be a little dangerous with a rod and reel. But I like to watch; So when my brother-in-law and I walked up to the little pond behind the farm in Maine I knew we were in for a good conversation.

     As he fished we talked about a lot of things: dogs, kids, fish, jobs, family, all the stuff you have to get out of the way so that you can actually talk about what’s on the inside. Then we went deeper.

     When the bugs overwhelmed us we returned home and continued our conversation over a game of chess.  I knew I was going to lose as soon as I sacrificed my king’s right to castle.

      As more of my men tumbled into the dungeons of Cliff’s queen our conversation turned to things spiritual.

      Have you ever been in a conversation with a friend only to have the Holy Spirit hi-jack the thread in order to reveal His truth to everyone in the room? That’s what happened to Cliff and me. There we were between the death of pawns and rooks, discussing our personal walks with God, when suddenly Holy Spirit began to teach us both about how sanctification works.

     We were talking about things we were going through and how hard we were both trying in different areas of our Christianity when suddenly this word just  tumbled out between us.

 “Christianity is meant to be accepted not accomplished.”

     We both stopped, realizing that the words weren’t ours. I went for my notepad while we both kind of reeled in the shock of how God had just butted in with this thought.

    It’s true though isn’t it? We started our Christian lives simply by accepting Jesus’ atoning death. We have to finish it up the same way. We can no more sanctify ourselves than we could redeem ourselves. Sure we need to be obedient to what the Spirit tells us, but in the end it’s all His work…all His power that makes us perfect.

After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?Gal. 3:3

Moxie Day!

      I have learned that people like to celebrate, you know, take time off from the normal hum of life. Even if we really like our work, there is nothing quite like departing from the day-to-day for a break away.

     The people of “Vacationland”, Maine have come up with another reason to celebrate and relax: “MOXIE DAY!

     Never heard of Moxie? I’m not surprised it’s a New England thing sort of like fat back or fried okra for you southerners or poi for you Pacific oceaneers.

     Moxie is a soda you will only find in New England and it’s one of those things you either love or hate…there is no middle ground. I grew up drinking Moxie so over time I acquired a love for the curiously strong beverage. When asked about the flavor I usually remark “It tastes sort of like sweetened pennies!”

     Anyway the people in Maine have dedicated a whole day to the celebration of moxie. if you google Moxie Day you will find out that they are calling the soda “Maine in a bottle”.

     In Waldosboro they are celebrating by having free give aways off the “moxiemobile” that will travel through town. Lisbon Falls has a whole day of bands and dance troupes planned, finishing up with fireworks! It’s a big deal! I was a week early for the festivities…too bad I love Moxie!

     Last weekend I learned celebration is a necessity not an option. If people can’t find a reason to kick back and enjoy they will make one up!

     What crazy things does your part of the world celebrate?

Passion: Held Hostage By Pajamas

    “I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do.Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. ” John 17: 15-17 NIV

     A sign outside one of our local churches reads “No matter how you feel, GET UP, DRESS UP AND SHOW UP!”

     That is an excellent suggestion for so many, like me, who have come to love their beds more and more as we see the evil days approaching.

     My bed feels safe. I can crawl in under the covers and hide from the world. Just by putting on my pajamas sometimes I feel (if only fleetingly) like I am setting up an impenetrable force field against that enemy I feel crouching everywhere outside my door. My goodness! I want  that force field to stand for good and separate me permanently from the world. Some days I want to go in my front door and never come out again.

     Now some of us need a good nap. Some of us really just need to go home, throw on our jammies and relax a bit. But others face a temptation to never leave the pajama state. Some of us are held hostage by our pajamas or  by the fear that caused us to put on our pajamas in the first place. We have become escapist in our living. Our theme song has become “Let the world go away.”

   The only problem is, Jesus never prayed for us to be released from the world. In fact he said “I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.”

     Apparently, God never intended for us to hide away and act like the world didn’t exist. The idea that we are safe in our pajamas is just a child hood fantasy. Staying in bed is no more a cure for depression fear or trouble than eating McDonald’s is a cure for heart disease.

      The cure is in being made holy and coming to know God’s Word experientially. Brother…Sister let me tell you that can’t be done in your pajamas! If the world seems a little scary and you are facing the temptation to become a hostage to your nightwear the only cure is to GET UP! DRESS UP! AND SHOW UP in the power God gave you the day you told Jesus He was Lord. Never fear. Somehow He will keep you safe from the Evil One.