Thursday, December 31, 2020

Praise for New Year and Beyond

TODAY I ATTENDED MY FIRST ZOOM FUNERAL for my dear cousin Gwynn in Atlanta. She was a real Christian and often seemed  like a sister to me. Michael Youssef at Church of the Apostles officiated. His church is in my top five churches to attend in the world.

 From Richard Kew's Daily Devotional New Year's Eve

 Psalm 96

New Year's Eve
Psalm 96

Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
    tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
    he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;
    tremble before him, all the earth!
Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns!
    Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
    he will judge the peoples with equity."
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
   let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
    let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
    before the Lord, for he comes,
    for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
    and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Thought for the Day
From the last part of 1939 to October-Novemer1942 World War Two went badly for Britain, and from infancy I heard about those war years. As a bit of an amateur historian of the wartime period I have always wondered what it felt like for my mother back in England and my dad in North Africa to learn of one setback after another, to see food and clothing rations being cut, to be at the mercy of the Luftwaffe or Rommel's Afrika Korps in the desert, and wonder if they would ever see each other again. I think 2020 has given me a small taste of what it meant to have your backs up against a wall like this. This is the last day of 2020 and I suspect there are millions sighing with relief and muttering, "Good riddance."
It is fitting that the Psalm for today should be one of the great songs of praise to God Almighty, that even in the midst of the woes that accompany a pandemic including countless deaths the LORD continues to reign. Our hardships have been minimal compared to the war years in UK, but there has been a similar uncertainty and a wondering when all this is going to end. Yet the message of the Psalmist is that the LORD truly is on the throne, so sing his praises and bless his name. He is the faithful One, so let the whole earth - land, sea, trees and mountains - bless and praise his holy name. The Lord is King, his Son is our Savior, and the times and seasons are in his hands. We may feel helpless but he is far from being a worthless idol.
One of my World War Two heroes was George VI, the king whose death in 1952 when I was six, I can remember as vividly as yesterday. As 1939 ended he broadcast a New Year speech to the nation:

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
"Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown."
And he replied:
"Go out into the darkness and
put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light
and safer than a known way."
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

It was Princess Elizabeth, now Her Majesty, the Queen, who pointed her father to this poem. Perhaps it is as appropriate for our circumstances as it was in London in 1939, and is a helpful commentary as we look at Psalm 96. As we move forward let us put our hands into the Hand of God.
Thanksgiving for the Day
As difficult as 2020 has been for so many of us, let us give thanks to him for the good things that have happened in our lives. We thank him especially for loved ones who have gone on ahead of us. We give thanks for the arrival of vaccines.
Intercession for the Day
Let us pray as we place our hands in the hand of God that we will willingly follow his leading into this new uncertain time. We pray especially for those suffering from Covid-19
Collect for the Day
Lord of the years,
we ask your blessing on the year to come:
give us the resilience to bear its disappointments,
energy to seize its opportunities
and openness to accept the more abundant life
which you have promised to us in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(A New Year prayer taken from More Everyday Prayers)

Friday, December 25, 2020

Thursday, December 24, 2020

The Shepherd from Luke 2

Produced by Dallas Jenkins of The Chosen, this is a precious re-enactment of the angels appearing to the shepherds announcing the birth of the Christ child as told in the second chapter of the Book of Luke. Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Mary's Magnificat

Luke 1:46-56

And Mary said,
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
    to Abraham and to his offspring forever."
And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
Thought for the Day
Remember when reading, praying, or singing Mary's Song, the Magnificat, that these are the words of a very young woman who had obviously been pondering them and meditating over them for at least the whole was from Nazareth to Elizabeth's home. I suspect they are words that she could never forget, then probably shared them with Luke when he visited her to speak about the gospel he was going to write. The Magnificat has traditionally been the main canticle used at Evening Prayer and it was in that setting that it became a part of me during most of the last sixty years. Perhaps my biggest take-away from Mary's Song was her adoration of the holy mightiness of God and his love of justice. A saying that went around in the Sixties was that the poor had a special place in God's heart, and that is clearly what Mary is saying - perhaps one of the key reasons her Son would be born to a very modest couple, from a very modest community, in one of the least and most despised provinces of the Roman Empire. Here is a message from God to us about what it is to be the followers of Mary's Son.
Thanksgiving for the Day
"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior..."
Intercession for the Day
This has been a year in which those of a "humble estate" have made their voices heard. Let us pray for our own sensitivity to the needs of those who are less fortunate in our society.
Collect for the Day
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord!
Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice;
Tender to me the promise of his word;
In God my Savior shall my heart rejoice

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his Name!
Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;
His mercy sure, from age to age to same;
His holy Name--the Lord, the Mighty One

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!
Powers and dominions lay their glory by
Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight
The hungry fed, the humble lifted high

Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word!
Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord
To children's children and for evermore!
(This paraphrase by Church of England Bishop Tim Dudley-Smith, now in his nineties, and first sung in 1969 at a huge festival of new hymns called Youth Praise. We had the privilege of being there singing it on its first outing - since then it has become a classic)
From Richard Kew's Daily Devotional with gratitude


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Sunday, the Gravity of Gratitude


But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful . . . (2 Timothy 3:1–2)

Notice how ingratitude goes with pride, abuse, and insubordination.

In another place Paul says, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking . . . but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Ephesians 5:4). So, it seems that gratitude, thankfulness, is the opposite of ugliness and violence.

The reason this is so is that the feeling of gratitude is a humble feeling, not a proud one. It is other-exalting, not self-exalting. And it is glad-hearted, not angry or bitter. Bitter thankfulness is a contradiction in terms.

The key to unlocking a heart of thankfulness and overcoming bitterness and ugliness and disrespect and violence is a strong belief in God, the Creator and Sustainer and Provider and Hope-giver. If we do not believe we are deeply indebted to God for all we have and hope to have, then the very spring of gratitude has gone dry.

So, I conclude that the rise of violence and sacrilege and ugliness and insubordination in the last times is a God-issue. The basic issue is a failure to feel gratitude at the upper levels of our dependence.

When the high spring of gratitude to God fails at the top of the mountain, soon all the pools of thankfulness begin to dry up further down the mountain. And when gratitude goes, the sovereignty of the self condones more and more corruption for its pleasure.

Pray for a great awakening of humble gratitude.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

In a World of Competing, Never-Ending, Addictive Spectacles, What Will Take Our Attention From the Universe's Greatest Cosmic Spectacle of Christ @ Desiring God



TONY REINKE GIVES A SPECTACULAR TALK ON MEDIA SATURATION IN AN AGE of competing, addictive worldly spectacles coming at us at warp speed from every direction at every moment. Smart phones are a virtual sugar bolt.  He reminds us of the only spectacle that stands the test of time, the cosmic spectacle of the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, for  our sins and our salvation.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Veterans Day Belated, A Great Movie Clip of Sgt. Alvin York

ALVIN YORK, from Fentress County, Tennessee was one of the great heros of World War 1. Here is a movie clip of his incredible, courageous wartime feat against the Germans. WOW! If you haven't already, do watch the entire movie on YouTube. Well worth every minute. By the way, he would have been considered a deplorable hick by today's super liberal Democratic standards. They would once again be wrong.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Sports Journalist Jason Whitlock Speaks For Many of Us




YOU'VE SEEN HIM ON TUCKER CARLSON, and now here. Jason Whitlock is at He speaks volumes for me. 

From Whitlock:

The stakes of this messy and manipulated presidential election seem even more enormous than the pre-election hype that framed Trump vs. Biden as an American civil war fault line.

The 2020 election is playing out as a parable regarding the power of two sworn enemies — love and hate.

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joseph Biden are not the stars or antagonists in this tale. Their supporters are. 

A blind unconditional love of their leader fuels the energy and action of Trump supporters. They risk their health (maskless rallies), reputation (accusations of racism and sexism) and safety (social media and Antifa harassment) to stand with their hero. 

A blind unconditional hatred of President Trump fuels the energy and action of Biden supporters. Their leader’s ideas, policies and resume are irrelevant. Biden is a tool to kill the Trump presidency. Nothing more.

I am not arguing that unconditional love of Trump is proper or healthy. I’m arguing that Trump and Biden supporters are tapping into two distinct energy sources. 

As a Christian, I’ve never questioned the unmatched power of love. It is a strength more potent than hate. 

Is that true in today’s American society, a culture stripped of its Christian identity and beliefs? In a secular world is hate more powerful than love?

Maybe I’m making too much of what this election represents, but I don’t think I am. I see the power of Trump hate within my own family and circle of friends. Trump hate is a requirement, a dividing issue. Trump hate is a more defining characteristic than love of God. 

This is the price of politics becoming America’s religion. An expression of Godly love pales in comparison to an expression of Trump hate. Political alignment trumps religious alignment. 

God is the embodiment of love. When a society deemphasizes God, it emphasizes the power and allure of hate and places man on a pedestal reserved for God. Man becomes all powerful. He judges the accused sinner more harshly than the sin.

The belief driving the election is that galvanizing Trump hate will save America. Hate believes problems are solved by external factors. Love believes problems are solved by internal factors.

If we combat the sin within each of us, unrepentant sinners don’t rise to power. Hating the sin is far more cleansing and effective than hating the sinner. The religion of political hate doesn’t teach that. We no longer teach the principles that made America the envy of the world. 

America used to be the embodiment of freedom and ideas.  

That also seems to be at stake today as we await the election results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and Michigan. 

Hate renders ideas and principles useless. Biden is on the precipice of ascending to the highest power in the land, and I’m not sure if any of us know what he actually stands for beyond being the anti-Trump. This morning I Googled his campaign slogan. I did not know it. 

Our Best Days Still Lie Ahead  

That’s not quite Tippecanoe and Tyler Too, the 1840 campaign song of the Whig party that popularized presidential campaign slogans and lifted William Henry Harrison and John Tyler to the White House. 

It’s not Franklin Roosevelt’s Happy Days Are Here Again or John Kennedy’s A Time For Greatness 1960 or Barack Obama’s Change We Can Believe In or Trump’s reuse of Ronald Reagan’s Make America Great Again.

Perhaps Joe Biden is our modern day George Washington. America’s father never wanted to be president. He never campaigned. He considered rejecting his election to the presidency because he preferred retirement and life on his farm. 

We have no idea what Joe Biden plans to do as president or what he actually stands for. He epitomizes the malleability of modern politics. 

Ideas inspire love. Obama promised to revolutionize our health care system. His supporters loved it. Trump promised to prioritize American interest above all else, stand up to China, build a wall along the Mexican border. His supporters love it. 

Biden’s primary promise is he won’t behave like Trump. People who hate Trump love it. 

The power of Love vs. the power of Hate is at stake in this election. Will America elect a candidate no one loves? When the candidate was Hillary Clinton, the answer was no. 

That might explain why a number of states legalized mail-in ballots. It might explain why FOX News called Arizona for Biden long before it declared Trump the winner in Texas and Florida. It could also explain why the counting process in Michigan and Wisconsin reminds me of season 2 of the Netflix show “Narcos Mexico,” which explores a drug kingpin’s manipulation of the country’s 1988 general election.

A reliance on hate and an absence of love inevitably spark widespread corruption.

This is my problem with The Resistance, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, the far Left and their pervasive anti-American sentiment. There’s no love. It’s all hate. 

Hate cannot sustain life, liberty, freedom and a pursuit of happiness. 

As much as President Trump’s public behavior and narcissism annoy me, I’ve never questioned his love of America. 


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

A Mighty Prayer for Election Day And Beyond---Keep Praying


10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers.

Ephesians 6

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Sunday, The Chosen: Jesus Meets Nicodemus In Secret At Night---John 3

The New Birth

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born [a]again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”

10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man [b]who is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should [c]not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

John the Baptist Exalts Christ

22 After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. 24 For John had not yet been thrown into prison.

25 Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!”

27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. 33 He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. 34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. 35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Sunday, October 4, 2020

From Psalm 34, Our Afflictions Are Many, David Mathias Preaches the Gospel

Psalm 34

Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to blot out their name from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
    not one of them will be broken.

21 Evil will slay the wicked;
    the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
    no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.


  1. Psalm 34:1 This psalm is an acrostic poem, the verses of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. 
PM Boris since covid has become a wimpish, disappointing worrier-in-chief

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Let Us Keep Praying for President Trump and the First Lady

VERY HEARTENING TO SEE TRUMP DOING BETTER THIS EVENING. Of course he will need monitoring carefully for a while but clearly he's OK though he looks a little washed out. Undoubtedly, Trump is getting the best medical care in the world. So many people are praying for his and Melania'scomplete recovery. May God bless America and the President and First Lady who are making it great, and great again by God's Merciful Grace.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Looking Again: How A Mediator Would Improve the Functionality of the Second and Third Presidential Debates, If Not the Substance



UPON REFLECTION I WANT TO AMEND MY EARLIER POST ABOUT THE FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE. It was totally dysfunctional and the moderator was a plant; however after reading several savvy writers's analysis today, I have to agree with Patricia McCarthy at the American Thinker on at least one point: Two minutes is an insanely short time to answer a serious question with any real substance.  It belies our immature and superficial  body politic.  

But her article got me thinking, as a court mediator, how I would improve the process to make it better since it works well in a court venue.  With that in mind here are several suggestions:


1.  The debate should allow a candidate 5 minutes each to answer the question rather than 2 minutes.  The other candidate silently waits his turn. A buzzer is to go off when his time is up and the candidate is to immediately stop talking.  If the candidate fails to stop talking he will have to say "Oink, oink, I'm a pig" before his next turn can commence.

2. The candidate may use about 2 minutes of his allotted time to rebut his opponent's allegation, then answer his question for the rest of the time. He must remain silent when his turn is over and his time is called.


3.  Any interruption by the opposing candidate automatically gives the speaker an additional minute to say whatever he wants.  He can tell a joke, dance a jig or keep a minute of silence.  Multiple interruptions give additional minutes to the speaker.

4.  Calling your opponent a jerk, a clown, an incompetent, a fool or any other name calling during speaker's turn gives an additional minute to his opponent's time.  However calling an idea or proposal a joke, etc, is allowed during a candidate's allotted time.

That's it.  I guarantee, it will improve things right away. And it will be terrifically fun.

Oh, and one other suggestion:  Make me the moderator and I promise to keep it copacetic.

Last Night's Presidential Debate Was.....

....NERVE-WRACKING, CRINGE-WORTHY AND SHAMEFUL from start to finish. That includes the moderation. I agree the United States is a nation in decline. I will absolutely vote for Trump though I am most certainly not a Trump apologist. Yet the underlying moral foundations of a functional society are breaking down. Seeming at warp speed. But who knows? Maybe a chaotic collapse here would ultimately take us to a newly configured better country and Constitutional republic. With emphasis on the maybe.

Monday, September 28, 2020

The Chosen, Episode 5, Jesus Turns Water Into Wine At the Wedding Feast

AS ALWAYS, YOU CAN SKIP ADS AND FAST FORWARD TO THE START OF THE EPISODE. And of course you can go directly to Youtube or download the ap.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Continuing, The Chosen--Episode 4


Sunday, August 30, 2020

Sunday Collect For the Breathtaking Second Coming of Christ

Collect for the Day
Ten thousand times ten thousand,
In sparkling raiment bright,
The armies of the ransomed saints
Throng up the steeps of light.
'Tis finished, all is finished,
Their fight with death and sin;
Fling open wide the golden gates
And let the victors in.

What rush of alleluias
Fills all the earth and sky!
What ringing of a thousand harps
Proclaims the triumph nigh!
O day, for which creation
And all its tribes were made;
O joy, for all its former woes
A thousandfold repaid!

O then what raptured greetings
On Canaan's happy shore;
What knitting severed friendships up
Where partings are no more!
Then eyes with joy shall sparkle
That brimmed with tears of late;
Orphans no longer fatherless
Nor widows desolate.

Bring near Thy great salvation,
Thou Lamb for sinners slain;
Fill up the roll of Thine elect,
Then take Thy pow'r and reign.
Appear, Desire of Nations;
Thine exiles long for home.
Show in the heav'ns Thy promised sign;
Thou Prince and Savior, come!
(This hymn-prayer was written by the Very Revd. Henry Alford who was for twenty years Dean of Canterbury Cathedral)
2 Corinthians 5:1-10

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened-not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Thought for the Day
Having compared our present circumstances to being like earthen vessels which contain our 'treasure,' Paul now talks about what is beyond the days of those earthen vessels which is "our heavenly dwelling." He doesn't talk about it as dying, but about that which is mortal being "swallowed up by life." What we consider to be living now is nothing when compared to that which awaits us. Then he tells us that the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is our guarantee. This Greek word is hard to translate but it can be considered as a 'down payment,' or the 'appetizer' or 'hors d'oevre' of what is to come. We are given a glimpse into the lobby of eternity, as it were. Paul then assets that while we are here on earth we are away, the heavenly delight of eternity is that we will be "at home with the Lord." This is strong stuff but it gives the life we live now an eternal horizon, breathtaking and beyond words.
Thanksgiving for the Day
We praise and thank God for this picture Paul gives to us of our eternal, heavenly destiny.
From Richard Kew's Daily Devotional this week.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

RNC Convention A Complete Homerun

THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE TRUMP/PENCE ADMINISTRATION over the past three and a half years are undeniably stunning.  All this in the face of incredible resistance and hate.  The convention has highlighted how the average, and often forgotten, middle class men and women  and  everyday heros have benefitted from tax and regulation cuts, school choice, parental rights and pro-life stance,  religious freedom and immigration and prison  reforms. There's so much more, but for now I'm going back to Fox News and Mike Pence's
acceptance speech. 

God bless America and watch over the many people in the path of Hurricane Laura making landfall later tonight.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

The Chosen Episode 3, Jesus Teaches the Children In a Field



Matthew 18:1-5: He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

The Chosen, Episode Two of Eight In Season One


THIS IS AN AMAZING MULTI-YEAR SERIES based on the Gospels of Jesus Christ as seen and experienced by the Messiah's disciples, converts and followers.  Conceived, written and directed by Dallas Jenkins, it is wonderful to watch as he leads his writers, cast and crew under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  These men and women need our prayers and whatever donations we are led to make.  More about that in the videos.

May these films be transported to the far corners of the earth via social media and the Internet in every language in order to reach every person God intends it to reach.

Glory to God!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Chosen, First Episode of Eight In Season One

STUNNING DEPICTION OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST JESUS. May this series go out to the ends of this fallen, hurting, frightened world and bring new life, new conversions, real hope in His glorious, everlasting kingdom.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Pastor John Piper: Does God Intend Evil For Our Good? Ask Joseph In Genesis

WONDERFUL FATHER'S DAY MESSAGE @ DESIRING GOD This is the way God works and it is magnificent in our eyes!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Ex Army Ranger Republican Sean Parnell Runs For Congress With One Fun, Clever Ad


Sean Parnell, a former Army Ranger who won a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars, is challenging Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) in Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District. His campaign released a hilarious “Dollar Sean Club” ad mimicking the style of Dollar Shave Club ads. His ad manages to slam House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

I'm With General Petraeus: Take the (Losing) Confederate Names Off Our Army Bases



AS I have watched Confederate monuments being removed by state and local governments, and sometimes by the forceful will of the American people, the fact that 10 U.S. Army installations are named for Confederate officers has weighed on me. That number includes the Army’s largest base, one very special to many in uniform: Fort Bragg, in North Carolina. The highway sign for Bragg proclaims it Home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces. I had three assignments there during my career. Soldiers stationed at Bragg are rightly proud to serve in its elite units. Some call it “the Center of the Military Universe,” “the Mother Ship,” or even “Hallowed Ground.” But Braxton Bragg—the general for whom the base was named—served in the Confederate States Army.

 The United States is now wrestling with repeated instances of abusive policing caught on camera, the legacies of systemic racism, the challenges of protecting freedoms enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights while thwarting criminals who seek to exploit lawful protests, and debates over symbols glorifying those who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. The way we resolve these issues will define our national identity for this century and beyond. Yesterday afternoon, an Army spokesperson said that Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy is now “open to a bipartisan discussion” on renaming the bases. That’s the right call. Once the names of these bases are stripped of the obscuring power of tradition and folklore, renaming the installations becomes an easy, even obvious, decision.

My life in uniform essentially unfolded at a series of what might be termed “rebel forts.” I made many parachute jumps with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, and I also jumped with 82nd Airborne paratroopers at Fort Pickett, in Virginia (a National Guard post), and Fort Polk, in Louisiana. I made official visits to Virginia’s Forts Pickett and Lee, to Texas’s Fort Hood, and to Alabama’s Fort Rucker.* In Georgia, I visited Fort Gordon, and I attended Airborne School, Ranger School, and the Infantry Officer Basic Course—rites of passage for countless infantry soldiers—at Fort Benning. At the time, I was oblivious to the fact that what was then called the “Home of the Infantry” was named for Henry L. Benning, a Confederate general who was such an enthusiast for slavery that as early as 1849 he argued for the dissolution of the Union and the formation of a Southern slavocracy. Fort Benning’s physical location, on former Native American territory that became the site of a plantation, itself illustrates the turbulent layers beneath the American landscape.

It would be years before I reflected on the individuals for whom these posts were named. While on active duty, in fact, I never thought much about these men—about the nature of their service during the Civil War, their postwar activities (which in John Brown Gordon’s case likely included a leadership role in the first Ku Klux Klan), the reasons they were honored, or the timing of the various forts’ dedications. Nor did I think about the messages those names sent to the many African Americans serving on these installations—messages that should have been noted by all of us. Like many aspects of the military, the forts themselves were so shrouded in tradition that everything about them seemed rock solid, time tested, immortal. Their names had taken on new layers of meaning that allowed us to ignore the individuals for whom they were named.

In the course of their professional development, soldiers often study the tactical and operational skills of leaders who fought for dubious causes. Learning how to win a particular kind of battle is different than learning how to win a war. Intellectual appreciation of a given general’s tactical genius, however, should not become wholesale admiration or a species of devotion. When I was a cadet at West Point in the early 1970s, enthusiasm for Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson was widespread. We were not encouraged to think deeply about the cause for which they had fought, at least not in our military-history classes. And throughout my Army career, I likewise encountered enthusiastic adherents of various Confederate commanders, and a special veneration for Lee.

It also happens that—Lee excepted—most of the Confederate generals for whom our bases are named were undistinguished, if not incompetent, battlefield commanders. Braxton Bragg, for example, left a great deal to be desired as a military leader. After graduating from West Point in 1837, he served in the Second Seminole War and the Mexican War. His reputation for physical bravery was matched by one for epic irascibility. Bragg’s temper was so bad, Ulysses S. Grant recounted in his memoirs, that an old Army story had a superior once rebuking him, “My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarreled with every officer in the army, and now you are quarrelling with yourself!” Bragg’s inability to cooperate diluted his effectiveness until his resounding defeat at the Battle of Chattanooga, in November 1863, precipitated his resignation from the Confederate army.

For an organization designed to win wars to train for them at installations named for those who led a losing force is sufficiently peculiar, but when we consider the cause for which these officers fought, we begin to penetrate the confusion of Civil War memory. These bases are, after all, federal installations, home to soldiers who swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. The irony of training at bases named for those who took up arms against the United States, and for the right to enslave others, is inescapable to anyone paying attention. Now, belatedly, is the moment for us to pay such attention.

It gives me considerable pause, for example, to note that my alma mater, West Point, honors Robert E. Lee with a gate, a road, an entire housing area, and a barracks, the last of which was built during the 1960s. A portrait of Lee with an enslaved person adorns a wall of the cadet library, the counterpoint to a portrait of Grant, his Civil War nemesis, on a nearby wall.

Lee’s history is, in fact, thoroughly woven through that of West Point and the Army. Before he was the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, Lee was an outstanding cadet, a distinguished chief of engineers in the Mexican War, and later the West Point superintendent. I do not propose that we erase his role in this history. We can learn from his battlefield skill and, beyond that, from his human frailty, his conflicting loyalties, and the social pressures that led him to choose Virginia over the United States. If we attempt to repress the fact of his existence from our institutional memory, we risk falling into the trap of authoritarian regimes, which routinely and comprehensively obliterate whole swaths of national history as if they never happened at all. What distinguishes democracies is their capacity to debate even the most contentious issues vigorously and in informed, respectful, deliberate ways and to learn from the errors of the past. But remembering Lee’s strengths and weaknesses, his military and personal successes and failures, is different from venerating him.

Confederate memorialization is only the most obvious expression of formerly acceptable sentiments now regarded critically by many Americans. Once unreservedly celebrated figures like Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson, to name just three, held convictions and behaved in ways we now find deeply troubling. It is indicative of the complexity of the problem that while the stained-glass window honoring Robert E. Lee in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., was removed, that of Wilson, an ardent segregationist, remains (after a healthy debate).
But Confederate leaders are different from these other examples not simply in degree, but in kind: Plainly put, Lee, Bragg, and the rest committed treason, however much they may have agonized over it.* The majority of them had worn the uniform of the U.S. Army, and that Army should not brook any celebration of those who betrayed their country.

A long-standing maxim for those in uniform is that one should never begin a war without also knowing how to end it. And this is a kind of war—a war of memory. The forts named for Confederate generals were established before the formulation of the rules now codified in Army Regulation 1-33, which sets the criteria for memorializing soldiers. But, as is so often the case when the Army is found to have fallen short of its elemental values, it also possesses the remedy. While the regulation states, “Rememorializing or rededicating actions are strongly discouraged, and seldom appropriate,” it also outlines a clear administrative process to follow when they are. This is the moment to pursue that process.

We could probably disqualify the rebel generals on a technicality: After all, none of them were actually in the U.S. Army when they performed the actions for which they were honored. Nonetheless, I would prefer to disqualify them on the grounds that they do not meet the letter or spirit of the regulation’s second criterion: “Memorializations will honor deceased heroes and other deceased distinguished individuals of all races in our society, and will present them as inspirations to their fellow Soldiers, employees, and other citizens.”

The magic of the republic to which many of us dedicated our professional lives is that its definition of equality has repeatedly demonstrated the capacity to broaden. And America’s military has often led social change, especially in the area of racial integration. We do not live in a country to which Braxton Bragg, Henry L. Benning, or Robert E. Lee can serve as an inspiration. Acknowledging this fact is imperative. Should it fail to do so, the Army, which prides itself on leading the way in perilous times, will be left to fight a rearguard action against a more inclusive American future, one that fulfills the nation’s founding promise.
David Petraeus is a retired U.S. Army general and served as the CIA director from 2011 to 2012.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

APJ: What Exactly Is Binding and Loosening In the Biblical Sense? Is It Relevant Today?


ASK PASTOR JOHN and listen here @ Desiring God 

Spoiler alert:  It's not the answer you might expect.

Audio Transcript


Jesus told us to bind and loose. But is this practice relevant for the church today? Pastor John joins us over Skype today to address this question from a listener named Joe. “Hello, Pastor John! Jesus told the disciples that whatever they would bind or loose on earth would be so in heaven. The church has the ‘keys of the kingdom of heaven,’ meaning, ‘Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’ (Matthew 16:19). So what can a local church bind and loose? And what could I and a Christian friend bind and loose? Does this text have any relevant application to the church today?”

Yes — the answer is yes. It’s relevant. It is relevant for today. It’s always been relevant. In every age of the church, it’s relevant. And yes, Joe, if you are a true follower of Jesus, you and your friend, as a true follower of Jesus, can bind and loose in the way that Jesus means it here.

Core Discipleship

So let’s read it, make sure we get the whole context, and then I’ll try to explain what I think it means and how it’s relevant. I’m reading Matthew 16:15–19. Jesus says to his disciples,
“Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
So Jesus asked the disciples who they believe he is. He’s getting at the core issue of discipleship: the identity of Jesus Christ. Whatever else Jesus teaches, if they don’t get this right, they don’t get anything right. It will all be distorted if it’s not built on this central bedrock of Jesus’s teaching about who he is.

Peter answers correctly, “You are the Christ [the Messiah], the Son of the living God. You’re the Messiah — not just any ordinary human messiah, but the unique divine Son of God.” And then Jesus makes clear that Peter did not come up with this on his own: “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” In other words, this central, bedrock core of Jesus’s teaching — namely, his true reality — is a work of God in the mind of Peter, not a work of man. And therefore, he calls Peter blessed. “You’re blessed because God has given you this insight.”

Then Jesus makes a play on words, because Peter’s name, Petros, means rock or stone. So Jesus says, “You are Petros, and on this rock [petra], this bedrock” — they’re not the same words. I’ll come back to that. They’re almost the same. There’s a wordplay. “You are Petros, and on this petra” — “You are a rock, and on this bedrock I’ll build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”

Bedrock of the Church

Now, before we jump to the conclusion that Peter alone here is made the foundation of the church, notice three things.

1. Jesus did not say, “On you I will build my church,” which he very easily could have said. He said instead, “On this bedrock [petra] I will build my church.”

2. Even though Jesus says to Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven,” that very same thing Jesus says to Christians in general, with the very same words, two chapters later in Matthew 18:18: “Truly, I say to you [plural — not you, Peter, but you, plural, who are gathered in my name], whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” That’s the second observation.

3. Jesus does not say, “You are Petros, and on this petros I will build my church.” He says, “You are Petros, and on this petra I will build my church.” Petra has a different connotation than petros — it’s not a loose stone; it’s bedrock stone. Here’s what I mean: In Matthew 27:60, where it says that Jesus’s tomb was cut out of the petra, the bedrock, that doesn’t mean it was cut out of a loose stone — like, here’s a stone, it maybe weighs ten pounds, it’s found on the side of the road, and he cut a grave in that stone. Well, that doesn’t work.

What he means is the side of this mountain is stone. This is a massive bedrock where you’d build something, and so you carve into this bedrock. That’s the connotation of petra. It’s not a loose stone like petros. Petra is bedrock. The same word is used in Matthew 7:24: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock [petra]” — not a pile of stones, not gravel, but the bedrock ground in the side of the mountain that you dig down into till you’ve got a good foundation. The bedrock is solid and permanent; it’s the teachings of Jesus, which he says can never pass away.
“Take your stand on the bedrock of Jesus’s word, with the reality of Jesus himself at the center.”
So, my understanding, in view of those three observations, is that the bedrock on which the church is built is the bedrock of Jesus’s teachings, with the rock-solid core of his identity — “you are the Messiah; you are the Son of God” — at the center of those teachings. And since Peter is the one who made that confession in this case, he’s treated as the representative of all those who would faithfully lift up the teachings of Jesus and the word of Jesus with the true reality of who he is at the center or as the bedrock of the church.

Turn the Key of Heaven

So, it’s these teachings of Jesus that are the keys of the kingdom, when he says, “I’ll give you the keys of the kingdom.” Which means that when you speak, Peter — or according to Matthew 18:18, when any faithful Christian who speaks the words with the bedrock of Jesus’s identity at the center — when you speak those words faithfully, you are using the keys of the kingdom to open the kingdom in people’s lives.

Here’s a clue that I think confirms we’re on the right track, from Luke 11:52: “Woe to you lawyers!” Jesus said. “For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.” This is the key of the kingdom, the key of knowledge: the key of the teachings of Jesus, with the reality of Jesus himself at the center. That knowledge, that faithful proclamation of the word of Christ, with Christ’s identity at the center, truly taught, opens the kingdom to people’s lives. That knowledge withheld or distorted closes the kingdom to people.

And when Jesus says, “Whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven” — which is the right future perfect translation of the verb tense. When Jesus says, “Whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven,” he means that in all of this human key-turning — turning of the keys of the knowledge of God — we are doing what God has decided should come to pass. Our teaching is essential; God’s will is decisive.
So, Joe, you and your friend, and I would say all faithful Christians, can take your stand — and you should take your stand — on the bedrock of Jesus’s word, with the reality of Jesus himself at the center, and speak it. And in so doing, you will turn the key of heaven in people’s lives and open the kingdom to them.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

A Star Is Born In Randy Williams: Protester Single Handedly Negotiates Post-Curfew Truce With NYPD


 By Georget Roberts @ NYPOST

Give this man, Randy Williams, a diplomatic job.

A savvy Brooklyn dad starred as a one-man negotiating team between hundreds of fellow protesters and a row of dozens of NYPD officers in Park Slope on Friday night — singlehandedly ending a tense, post-curfew standoff.

“They kept their men in check,” Randy Williams, 38, said after the remarkable detente he struck by approaching an NYPD captain as he and fellow protesters massed near Grand Army Plaza.

“For the first time in a very long time the police and the community came together,” Williams told The Post.

The father-of-four and the captain struck an agreement: the protesters would remain non-violent if the police did so as well.

And the captain, he said, agreed to let the protest continue past the 8 p.m. curfew, at least for a time.

“I told the captain a little after 8, we don’t want the same thing from the night before,” when police used batons to subdue protesters in the South Bronx who did not disperse after curfew, Williams said.

“I don’t want any of my people, meaning the protesters and people from this community, getting hurt the same way,” said Williams, a music producer.

“I don’t want none of his officers getting hurt. I told him we stayed in check, we stayed non-violent and last night he didn’t keep his officers in check.

“He made me a promise tonight that he would make sure that all of his officers were in check, and we would be allowed to protest peacefully past curfew.

He added, “I showed that we can trust the police.  Not all of them are bad."

“He wouldn’t let it go on all night, but he would allow us to have a decent amount of time.”

He added, “I explained to them that we appreciate them letting us go over the curfew and we appreciate them keeping their men in check and upholding their side of the bargain.

“I asked them to allow us to exit peacefully and unharmed and un-cuffed.”

The protesters used the extra time to sing “Happy Birthday” to Breonna Taylor, the black EMT accidentally shot dead by white officers in her home in Louisville, Kentucky in March.

Before protesters dispersed — peacefully, unharmed and uncuffed, as promised, at around 9:40 p.m. — Williams and a few of the other protesters shared parting fist bumps with half a dozen of the officers who 90 minutes earlier had lined up against them.

“Somebody at some point has to step up and be the bigger person,” Williams said before leaving.

“Because I see so many people get hurt, I wanted to be that man.”


Amen and Amen.  Indeed, Williams showed up and shined.  Hopefully this is just the beginning of his leadership and may many others follow in his footsteps.

May God bring  lasting good and His Glory out of all this.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Pentecost: Jesus Sends the Holy Spirit to Launch His Church To the Ends of the Earth


Way to Go! Elon and NASA Lift Our Spirits Towards the Heavens and Space Again!

MAKING SPACE EXPLORATION GREAT AGAIN!  What a great accomplishment especially from the private sector.  Congratulations to Elon Musk, NASA and everyone who participated in today's sensational liftoff. We needed it after the past months and last few days.

Way to go!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Another Solid Joy: Test of Real Verses Phony Faith


Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28)

Are you eagerly awaiting His return?  Do you pray that those you love to be saved in the meantime?  

ALSO,   The Payout For Patience.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Sunday Devotional With Pastor John Piper: Five Digital Dangers

FOR ME,  THE FIRST AND SECOND ONES  can be issues and temptations though I have drastically cut back on my online time these days.


1) The hook of constant curiosity

Personal computers offer a never-ending possibility for discovery. Even the basic environment of Windows can consume hours and days and weeks of curious punching and experimenting. Color schemes, layouts, screen-savers, short-cuts, icons, file-managing, calculators, clocks, calendars, etc. Then there are the endless software applications consuming weeks of your time as they lure you into their intricacies. All this is very deceptive, giving the illusion of power and effectiveness, but leaving you with a feeling of emptiness and nervousness at the end of the day. RESOLUTION: I will strictly limit my experimental time in the computer and devote myself more to the truth than to technique.

2) The empty world of virtual (un)reality

How sad to see brilliant, creative people pouring hours and days of their lives into creating cities and armies and adventures that have no connection with reality. We have one life to live. All our powers are given to us by the REAL God for the REAL world leading to a REAL heaven and REAL hell. RESOLUTION: I will spend my constructive, creative energy not in the unreality of “virtual reality” but in the reality of the real world.

3) "Personal" relations with PC

Like no other invention, the personal computer comes closest to being like a person. You can play games with it. There are programs that will dialogue with you about your personality. It will talk to you. It will always be there for you. It is smarter than your dog. The great danger here is that we really become comfortable with this manageable electronic “person,” and gradually drift away from the unpredictable, frustrating, sometimes painful dealings with humans persons. RESOLUTION: I will not replace the risk of personal relationships with impersonal electronic safety.

4) The risk of tryst

“Tryst \‘trist\ noun: An agreement (as between lovers) to meet." Sexual affairs begin in private time together, extended conversation, and the sharing of soul. It can now be done in the absolute seclusion of your private email screen name. It can be immediate and “live,” or delayed and “recorded.” You can think that “it’s just nothing”—until she shows up in town. RESOLUTION: I will not cultivate a one-on-one relationship with a person of the opposite sex other than my spouse. If I am single I will not cultivate such a relationship with another person’s spouse.

5) PC Porn

More insidious that X-rated videos, we can now not only watch but join the perversity in the privacy of our own den. Interactive porn will allow you to “do it” or make them “do it” with your mouse. I have never seen it. Nor do I ever intend to. It kills the spirit. It drives God away. It depersonalizes women. It quenches prayer. It blanks out the Bible. It cheapens the soul. It destroys spiritual power. It defiles everything. RESOLUTION: I will never open any program for sexual stimulation nor purchase or download anything pornographic.
On the alert with you and Jesus,
John Piper

Monday, May 11, 2020

Ask Pastor John: What Is Grace, Really?

 IT'S A SOFTBALL QUESTION TO PASTOR JOHN, but it's still worth defining again.

Audio Transcript
What is grace? It seems like a simple question, but the answer has a lot of different angles to it. It is a recent email from a podcast listener named Heather. “Hello, Pastor John! I’m shy to ask this question because I’m embarrassed to admit that I struggle to understand one of the most commonly used words in the church today. That word is ‘grace.’ I often hear it defined as ‘unmerited favor’ or ‘getting what you don’t deserve.’ And I do understand it this way in the context of Ephesians 2:8 NKJV: ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.’
“But I don’t understand it in the context of texts like 2 Corinthians 12:9: ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Or 1 Corinthians 15:10: ‘But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.’ I don’t understand ‘grace’ in these verses. Can you explain it to me?”

Well, one of the reasons I love this question — and I know I say that a lot because I love what we do here. I love all these questions. Actually, some of them are too hard to love. But this one is a softball to me because those verses that she is troubled by are some of my favorites.

But here’s one of the reasons I love this question: it gives me a chance to say to Heather and to everybody that we’re all really in this together, and I don’t have any special advantage over you in answering these questions except maybe that I’ve had a little more practice. In other words, what I do when I hear a question like this is something Heather could do or anybody could do.

Putting the Pieces Together

I open my Bible and I get my concordance, and I look up all occurrences of grace in the Bible. There are 131 uses of grace in the ESV — 124 in the New Testament, 86 of which are from the apostle Paul, which means two-thirds of all the uses of the word grace in the Bible are in one author: Paul. No wonder he’s called “the apostle of grace.”

So, I say that to encourage Heather (not that she shouldn’t have written in; I’m glad to have the question) and everyone else that there’s nothing magical about holding an office in the church, like pastor, and there’s nothing magical about having a degree and doing scholarship in the academy. We all go about answering questions pretty much the same way. Look at all the Bible has to say, and then do your best to see how it all fits together, all the while being humble and submitting your mind to what the Bible teaches.

You are always bracketing your preconceptions and trying to build your conceptions out of all the pieces of the Bible. It’s like a puzzle, where you’re trying to put the picture together with all the pieces. And you know, because it’s God’s word, that these pieces are going to fit. If they don’t fit in this life, they’re going to fit in the next. But we work on it as much as we can.

Grace as Undeserved Favor

So, to answer her question, let’s just limit ourselves to Paul, whom she quoted, and to the two uses of grace that she saw. On the one hand, grace is called — and I think it’s an absolutely wonderful phrase — undeserved favor.
  • Romans 3:24: “[We] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Grace is what inclines God to give gifts that are free and undeserved by sinners.
  • Romans 5:15: “If many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” So, grace is that quality in God that produces free gifts for guilty sinners in salvation.
  • Romans 11:5–6: “At the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” So, you can’t work to earn grace. It is free and undeserved.
Now, that’s what most of us have in our minds when we say God is a God of grace. And that’s true. It’s wonderful. Our eternal lives depend on it. None of us would be saved if grace were not undeserved favor, and were not a quality in the mind of God, in the heart of God, in the nature of God.

Grace as Power for Living

But then Heather rightly notices another group of passages, also in Paul, where he comes at grace a little differently.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:8: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” Now, that seems to picture grace as a power or an influence for obedience.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9: Jesus says to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:10: “By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder [that was the effect of grace] than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”
In all three of those texts — and they’re not the only ones — grace is not only a disposition or a quality or an inclination in the nature of God, but is an influence or a force or a power or an acting of God that works in us to change our capacities for work and suffering and obedience.

Adjusting Our Categories

So, what I do when I see things like this in the Bible is to adjust my categories in my head. I won’t say, “Oh, well that can’t be, because I’ve got this category in my head.” No, no, no. You fix the categories in your head.

If once I thought of grace only as a character trait or a disposition or an inclination in the nature of God, which moved him to treat sinners better than they deserve — if that was my only conception, once upon a time — now, having seen all the texts, I broaden my understanding of grace as the Bible uses the term. Now I say, “Well, it appears that the word grace in Paul’s use not only refers to God’s character trait or disposition or inclination to treat people better than we deserve, but the word grace also refers to the action or the power or the influence or the force of this disposition, which produces real, practical outcomes in people’s lives, like being sufficient for good deeds or enduring the thorn in the flesh or working harder than everybody else, which Paul says about his own apostolic work.”

Now, that does not mean you have to give up that simple definition of undeserved favor. That’s true. That’s a good definition. It just means that the word also embraces the encouraging truth — at least I love the truth; that’s why these verses are so precious to me — that this favor overflows in powerful, practical helpfulness from God in your daily life where you most need it. That help is also called grace because it’s free and it’s undeserved.

Draw Near with Confidence

So, let me end with a precious verse that we all know and love and maybe have never thought about in this term of grace. Hebrews 4:16: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace.” That’s a throne with the quality and the character and the inclination to treat people better than they deserve. That’s the kind of throne we’re coming to. But then it says, “that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Or a more literal translation: “that we may find mercy and grace for a well-timed help.”

It is incredibly encouraging that God’s grace is both the inclination of the divine heart to treat us better than we deserve and is the extension of that inclination in practical help.