Thursday, May 30, 2019


Sunday, May 26, 2019


Every sin against God and our fellow man and woman, began as a thought in our mind.  Initially we have no control over what passes before our eyes, thereby triggering certain forgiven sins, past lusts, repressed memories or things from our childhood, which are normally left there in the past, not follow the normal course of life.

Without fail, a song on the radio, or some flirtatious comment, which then unleashes a torrent of terrible thoughts can often reboot thoughts in our minds, which were long disposed of. How many times have you and I, said to ourselves “where did that thought come from?”  The old argument of left brain/right brain has nothing to do with it. Being alive does.

When Jesus saved us from an eternity of death away from Heaven, His precious Blood washed away our sin. His perfect Grace granted us divine forgiveness and His offer granted us the privilege of committing our lives to Him, as Lord and Savior.

HOWEVER, we still live in the same body, the same house, drive the same car and go to the same job with the same (mostly) unsaved co-workers. We have the same beautiful family, eat the same food (maybe more Chick Fil A); and go to the same grocery stores. Our destination changed. Our outlook changed. Our language and conduct are supposed to be more edifying and uplifting but sometimes, well, our thought life gets in the way.

When these things pop into our mind and we suddenly feel like yelling out in church or ramping up your speed past a cop, or doing something uncharacteristically stupid, it is what some call “random intrusive thoughts”.  These thoughts are random because they come of the blue and then, they are intruding on our daily and routinely peaceful comfort zone. We never ask for, or need them. Yet, we are bombarded.

How we react to them actually has something to do with our journey towards Holiness and guess what, the Bible tells us how to deal with them.  Many verses give us direction and encouragement so we do not have to run off and think we’re going to hell because and dirty or disgusting thought was triggered in our minds.

The Bible says:
“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). How do we do that when we are bombarded by sexual images all day long, by short dresses in the office or by sales pitches for the next new smartphone or trinket, which we know will break the bank? 

Answer? – When that thought comes in – let it go immediately. Do not dwell on it. If it is an open forward act of flirtation from another person in your physical space which will dishonor God, trigger the response of running the daylights away, literally, from that person or thing! However, random thought of just outrageous stupidity comes into our minds, just move on.  Easy come easy go. Let it go away….and those random and even the intrusive ones, will go away if we do not dwell on them. 

One thing to beware of is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The awful (on the surface) and corrupt thoughts which invade our peaceful minds during almost every other day, can lead a small few of our brothers and sisters to some extreme behavior. 

For example, someone holding a baby once at a concert, down the row from me,  told me that a thought had just entered her mind, to throw the child down. She would not, and of course, did not do it. But if that young woman was OCD, she would avoid all balconies in the future, even after all her kids were grown up and moved away. If she had a bad incident with a cashier at one grocery store, she would avoid that grocery store chain. If she was on a flight from Florida and the plane hit turbulence over Memphis, she would quit flying altogether, even though it would save her two days driving to visit her aunt in California. All of this OCD stuff basically means a lack of faith and a defeated spirit by those who are not familiar with the Bible or how to apply it to their lives, period.

The Bible says:
“Prepare your mind for action, keep sober in spirit….” (1 Peter 1:13) How do we prepare our minds for action, when thoughts blindside us- all the time? This one requires work. Most random thoughts in our daily come and go. As long as we do not dwell on them, they have no hold on us. Even if they bug us for a short season, as long as we do not ACT on ANY of it, we will not dishonor God and His Word.

Answer?: Read the Bible daily and pray. This one is sometimes impossible for even strong, mature Christians may not have the time in the morning before work. But we do have time during the day and instead of watching mindless TV shows, how about 5-10 minutes of Proverbs and Psalms? Why is this important? Well, when Jesus saves us, He implants His Spirit of peace, joy and all wisdom in us. However we can only know how to access this Spirit of Truth, if we KNOW about the Word Who became Flesh. The Word is the Bible and its contents. The Word Who became Flesh is Jesus. Jesus helps us beat these impulses 100% of the time!

The Bible says: 
“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing….” (2 Corinthians 10:5) Sometime of these crazy thoughts which come into our minds can lead us to speculate, as to what it would be like to actually contemplate doing some of that whacky business.

If you and I are going to speculate, we had better speculate about the real-life consequences of that stupidity as well! More importantly, more pro-active than speculating is the 100% solid command to “take every thought captive”.

The Bible says”

“Think on these things” (Philippians 4:8c).
Is it possible for a person, of whatever age, to think positive thoughts all day, every day, forever and ever, amen?  It is NOT humanly possible, but God, we can actually do the best we can and walk in peace, constant joy and literally at Rest in the Savior, each day.

Taking every thought captive is the Biblical Command.  To take something or someone captive is as it sounds – that is, to get a hold of it, control it and basically lock down the person or thing.  What we are instructed here to do, by the Lord, is immediately recognize and be aware of the danger of a certain thought. Then SUBDUE it (make it captive) and, as the Bible says, make it subservient to the Will of Christ. 

There is absolutely NO chance that an ungodly thought will be obedient to what Jesus Christ requires of His disciples, so it will depart from our consciousness as soon as we bring Christ, or the Word and Holiness of God into the equation! To recap, what “taking thoughts captive and making obedient” as the Bible teaches, is NOT to make a bad or dirty thought a personal prisoner but immediately  seize control of it and hand it over to Christ.  That means “Lord, I don’t know where this evil thought blindsided me from, but I now take and hand it over to You, as the Bible says, knowing You will immediately dispose of it.  The success rate of this strategy is 100%!

A great exercise, if one keeps either a personal journal, or writes in the margins of one’s bible, or even owns a Journaling Bible (the ESV provides a lot of these), is to list each of these which the Bible recommends that we “Think On” and fill in our daily actions to address them.
As an example, the verse says the following: 
“Whatever is true -  The Word of God is true. Depend on it.
"Whatever is honorable – walking upright before the Lord (in Holiness) and therefore before all mankind, is the hallmark of a Christian woman or man of Honor. 
"Whatever is pure – think of Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God. Have the Mind of Christ, and the body will follow. 
"Whatever is lovely – look all around us. Look at God’s Creation – there is no artist who can create this beauty. There is no chef who can produce good food out of the ground such as we have, or no marine biologist who can manage His oceans. Contemplate His Beauty when down and out. 
"Whatever is of good repute – authentic bible-believing Christians do not go into bars, strip-(or so-called “gentlemen’s) clubs. We must strive,  with conduct becoming an officer of the army of the Lord of Hosts, to always maintain a reputation for clean living, speaking and acting. We must strive for excellence in work, volunteering, ministering and being gracious and loving. We must be seen as salt and light and not hot sauce and darkness.  All of these things, as we strive for excellence and things which are worthy of praise to our Great God in Heaven, are the things we MUST first think about….and then do. All of this in one bible verse – Philippians 4:8.

Just in case anyone thinks this is too easy or it is simple stuff or “I don’t need this, I don’t make mistakes or have any of those thoughts”, well….this is your first mistake.

The path to Holiness, or Christ-likeness, if this word sounds too “religious” for you) involved the whole person – body, soul and MIND. The battle for the soul, which ultimately affects the body, begins in the mind. If our mind is not set on Eternal Things, but on the fleeting pleasures of this perishing world, we would be in trouble. It behooves us to stay the course, persevere to the End and then see Christ, in ALL His Glory.

Friday, May 17, 2019


What does Holiness have to do with money? Maybe it is time to reexamine what the full scope of personal holiness is and maybe is not. Personal holiness is operating under the power of the Holy Spirit, in ALL aspects or facets of our lives, from the smallest detail to the big things. After gathering the knowledge of our entire spiritual, emotional and physical beings, we submit them all to the Authority of God, Who has the Power and Will for our lives, to see us succeed in doing these things well.

The Key to living a good clean and righteous-unto-God life is to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ now. The spiritual lost of this world can also live upright, raise great kids, not cheat on their taxes and wives, and still go away from God into eternal separation, because they never gave their lives to Jesus Christ.  Every country is full of the majority of its citizens who live this way.

But Jesus told him one thing to do which would make suitable for the Kingdom of Heaven (or to be saved) – “go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and (then) come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21). The Scriptures said the rich young man just got really down and depressed and walked away “grieving”.

Many people have this completely upside down. God does NOT want our money. Jesus was testing the rich man, just as He is testing those who have even no more than $5 to their names today, to see where we are at.  It is not about money. It is about where are hearts, minds, body and souls are.

The panhandler who rakes in $300 a day in handouts from passersby on the street is just as guilty before God as is the bank manager who owns a house by the  lake, a boat and wants nothing to do with God.

The Bible tells us “where your treasure is, there your heart is also” (Matthew 6:21). When the rich prince in Matthew 19 walked away from Jesus, Matthew 19:22 tells us that he was grieving “because he had much property”.  What is glaring, in its omission here, is that this man completely disregarded the command from Jesus to “come follow Me”! Like the majority of mankind today, he chose what he could count in his hands as “his own” over the future eternal riches of Christ!

He is NOT the first, nor will he the last. In June 1989, my landlord at the time told me something I cannot forget. It was just two weeks before I was to marry the love of my life, Vicki. I was wrapping up business at the apartment I rented from him and conversation took a spiritual turn. Italo (his real first name) told me that he was studying for the priesthood, as we discussed prayer and the Bible.

However, and here is the kicker “I left seminary, because I wanted it all now”! So he got into his version of riches – a few simple houses with middle class apartments….because he wanted all he could get NOW. Like the rich young ruler to whom Jesus spoke (in Matthew 19), Italo’s “spiritual” heart was  in the here and now – not in the Creator of those temporary fleeting shiny objects.

These real life examples still do not drive home the matter of Personal Holiness, as regard one’s finances. The monetary side of a Christian’s life is an EXTREMELY sensitive subject, especially in the affluent western world (North America, the U.K, Europe, Australia and New Zealand). Tithing in previous generations (pre-Prosperity Gospel or Seeker Sensitive heresy) was not as huge a disputed problem as it has become, in modern times.

Christians who have a tradition of solid bible teaching (now called “Evangelical”) instinctively gave up to, and even more than the 10% of their income to the work of the Lord in the church. As the falling away (as prophesied in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3), even in spirit-led and conservative bible teaching churches intensifies, even born-again Christians have gone wobbly on obedience to God, as regard their finances and tithing.

The Scriptural Truth that God loves a cheerful give stands forever, until the return of Christ. There are understandably instances, growing in magnitude, of Christians being very concerned of what they see as bad stewardship in their churches. However, having the Heart and Mind of Christ in obedience in finances, does not and should not prevent the obedient disciple of Christ from:
  1. Deducting 10% (recommended) right off the top of our gross income from our jobs.
  2. Giving to the work of the Lord.

Another way, in which finances can relate to Personal Holiness can be found when we listen to the Voice of the Lord.  We are meant to be a people who have a loose grip on the things which we think matter more to us, than even our own families. We are not speaking here of supporting false Television Evangelists who constantly ask for money for expensive private jets, a dozen cars in their garages and a mansion by the lake have helped to destroy this aspect of Christian life, which has contributed tremendously to local congregations and missions worldwide.

Even with all of this, each individual believer – you and I – are still 100% responsible for handling the money and gifts, with which the Lord has blessed us, in a transparent way that is full of integrity.

Here are some final thoughts on keeping our spirits clear and free of worldly clutter, simply by the way we follow the basic principles in handling our money – regardless of how little or how much we have:
  • Know this, the Lord will not judge the Christian by how much he or she gave, or did not give. He will judge according to the condition of our spiritual hearts. The panhandler or dirt poor farmer who has almost nothing, is in the same danger of hell as the wealthy patron of the arts in New York or Houston, or the church secretary who has never been born again.
  • Grasp this: the very job we have, the house we live in, the career path we are on (or the retirement path ahead) were already ordained by the Lord. They are all gifts from Him. The home we live in – the bank and the Lord own it. The car we drive – the bank and the Lord own it. The clothes we wear, God gave us the health to earn the money, to use our God-given skills, to drive a car to the Mall, so we can buy those clothes. Everything is His. Nothing is ours. Exhibit A: - the person who is in a casket at his/her funeral.
  • Believe this: Our God is a generous God. He gives and gives BIG when we are not looking, forgot we were even looking and thinking about it. You see, God loves us and blesses us, especially when we don’t deserve a raisin or a fig newton.  As the old Glen Campbell song goes “if you see your brother standing by the road, with a heavy load, from the things he sowed…..Try a little kindness”. Always be prepared to give someone either a cold cup of water for their thirst, or a few dollars- IF THE SPIRIT LEADS – to buy themselves a sandwich.  If you can buy them a meal; or give them your brand new leather jacket or your hat or something which the Lord leads, never hold on to it! Ask the Lord to release your hold on these things and immediately give them away. Be generous and kind.

These things may seem very simple and sound like they do not even belong in a series on Holiness. However, they do.  A completely Biblical outlook and thus, lifestyle, according to the Word of God, frees up the Christian to grow exponentially in the Ways of the Lord.  Once we get the correct view- God's view - on the role of finances in our daily Christian Walk, we have then removed one of the biggest weapons which sin, the flesh and the devil can use to stunt the maturity of the believer. Glory to His Name. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


The words "self-control" or "self-discipline" are mentioned many times throughout the Bible....and for good reason. They are actually put there for our own benefit, as we see from this very important lesson from the Life of Moses. This account, which occurred during the Exodus and is mentioned more than once in the rest of the Bible, speaks to a human emotion which, if we are not careful, can literally destroy us.

In Numbers Chapter 20, in the Torah (first five books of the Bible), we see almost two million Israelites in major distress in the barren desert. There was no food or water for miles and miles.  They are almost to the end of the forty years of wandering in the desert for not just disobedience against God, but complete rebellion. A trip that took between 2-6 weeks from Egypt to Canaan became 40 long years for a reason. 

The millions of Israelites had not only had it with the incredible God Who had fed them from the heavens with manna, brought water once before from a rock, parted the Red Sea and more, but they had it with Moses as well. Moses was at the end of his wits and went into the Tabernacle to meet with God, face to Face as he always did. They were wrong, of course, but that never stops those who lack Faith, when it is needed the most. A worried and stressed out Moses did what He always did in these times - he ran to seek the Lord.

Here are the instructions which God gave Moses, when the latter desperately sought His help: 

"Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink." (Numbers 20:8)

Here is what Moses actually said and did, as he returned to the multitudes: 
"...and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?”  Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. (Numbers 20:10-11)

Here are the results of Moses' words and actions: 
"But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” "(Numbers 20:12)

Here are the facts as culled from these four verses above:
Number 1: Moses (and Aaron) were so overwhelmed by the giant of a problem they faced, that seeking an audience with God was the only answer. 

Number 2: God had the answer to the dilemma, as He always does, and gave Moses extremely clear instructions on how to get water to his people below.

Number 3: Moses was so filled with rage, while it is very understandable on a certain level, that he let his anger and temper overrule his usual sense of obedience to God and he acted irrationally. 

Number 4: By the aforementioned irrational act and momentary lack of righteous judgment, the Lord shortened Moses' physical life and did not allow him to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.

What can we learn from this? There are some huge life lessons.

Lesson 1: There is nothing wrong with becoming very upset at a situation which seems virtually impossible to overcome.  It is one thing for we, flawed humans as we are, to find ourselves in difficult temporary fixes (financially, health-wise or otherwise). It is a whole other thing to thought to be responsible for everyone else.

How does one face these insurmountable odds which Moses faced, in order to look after the literal physical survival of two million plus people? He did the right thing- he ran to the Lord. We too, must go to God. We must NOT only go to the Lord in prayer and supplication as Moses did, but we go HUMBLY and flat on our faces! By doing this, we are acknowledging our complete inability to do anything except recognize the hopelessness of our own weaknesses.

LESSON 2: When we approach the Lord, in all humility in our utter helplessness, and we surrender all to Him, He will answer. When the Lord responds with specifics, it is to our benefit to take note of EVERYTHING He said to do - not just in the letter of His command, but in the spirit of it.

Sometimes the Lord will respond directly to us, that He is in control and has our massive problems in His capable Hands. Sometimes He will respond by sending help via others. Sometimes He will deal directly with the giants in our lives, Himself. Our part in this relationship, is to be constantly looking for His divine Hand in our lives, with the expectant Faith that He can and sometimes, will do, exceedingly above and beyond what He said He would/could do.

LESSON 3: Remember it is NOT about us. The fatal mistake which Moses made was equating Himself with God. Look at his statement again, just before he STRUCK the rock, instead of SPEAKING to it as the Lord instructed. Moses said "“Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” Who is this "we" of which Moses spoke? He was not speaking of he (Moses) and God.  Moses stood in front of the multitude of people and made it look as if he and Aaron were the ones who were supplying the much needed water! He completely ignored what God told him to say and temporarily forgot Who sent him, Who he represented and Who gave the water, to begin with.

Moses enjoyed an access with the Lord, which only the disciples and the Apostle Paul could boast of, as we read in the New Testament. Therefore, he, most of all,  would be held more accountable than those to whom he spoke. The Bible mentions that to whom much is given, much is expected (Luke 12:48).  Then James 3:1 tells us "let not many of you (us) become teachers (pastors, leaders etc.)...knowing that we will incur a stricter judgment".

We Christians, of all people, should be very careful that we do not allow our close relationship with God, through Christ, to allow us to let our guard down and sin. We will be held to account! Attributing words which God did not say as being from Him (as in "God told me to.....fill in the blanks") is just completely ignoring His direct command and to make it look as if we have the power to some miraculous event.  When we do this, we not just dishonor the Father, but usurp His Glory, and thus commit a form of idolatry, by bringing attention to ourselves as the "source of some divine power". This serious error is deadly, as Moses discovered.  Let us all learn from to not do likewise. Let us exercise more self-control and discipline ourselves to be aware, at all times, of our surroundings and especially, of God's expectations of us, His people.

Thursday, May 2, 2019


1    Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
2    Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart (Psalm 26:1-7 NASB).
The Christian life today is no picnic. Sin, the flesh and temptation are everywhere. There is also a daily piling on of bad news. Each day brings a new horror of the "people of the Book (the Bible)" as some call our brethren in distant lands, are routinely persecuted, martyred and more. The Easter Sunday 2019 church destruction by terrorists, while Christians were gathered for worship in Sri Lanka, stunned the world as over 400 perished. Churches are still closed, weeks after this horrible event.

Yet, with all of this, we are not only expected to persevere in tribulation, but just like King David, who wrote most of the Psalms, we must shine. We shine above the fray, muck and dirty clay of the day through our constant repentance and drawing near. This is the essence of Holiness. The word, Holiness itself means to be set apart. The spirit of the word implies not just being absolutely 

This means that we do not participate in outings and after work drinks at bars with co-workers; share their R or X rated movies; laugh at their dirty jokes; read their books; engage in "Christian yoga" or agree with them that any other "faith" system is even comparable to the Incomparable Majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to be so much above reproach that we can appeal to God as David did, above, in the first two verses of Psalm 26, as he called out the Yahweh.

Psalm 26:1a "Vindicate me"
Holiness in the Eyes of the Lord can only be attained to, if a person is made right before God. This means only born-again, Bible-believing Christians can pursue Holiness, without which we cannot see God. This is the premise underlying everything which follows here and in the rest of this discussion. The cry for “vindication” here, therefore, is one of an appeal to the Righteous Judge of Heaven – the Lord Jesus Christ.

Vindication is not just “cleared” in the worldly sense, but it is the Lord continuing to execute judgment by defending us, even when we cannot see it, earn it, deserve it and more! In this process, God, our Father, has done His part.  He is not only actively defending us (gleaned from the original Hebrew language) but if we stay close, plugged-in, tuned-in, by His side and daily in worship and repentance, He will also ensure that the world sees a man or woman of integrity, honor and decency. 

As He has done His part, so must we. The last part of verse one needs no explanation. It underlines our solid commitment to Christ, with no compromise ANYWHERE :“I have trusted in the Lord, without wavering  (Psalm 26:1b)

Psalm 26:2  "Examine me...try me.....test me"
This verse has a trio of commands which we had better be prepared to stand in scrutiny for, if we are to move to and live in Holiness! Let us look for a moment at the active, present tense verbs here: Examine, Try, Test. Taken individually, it requires much attention paid to the and against the human propensity to sin. Even good Christians sin, miss the mark at times, either actively or passively.  So when we invite God to examine, try and test, we had better be prepared for some, even, fiery, refining!

EXAMINE: this is exactly what it sounds like. God can “weigh us in the scales”, of righteousness and holiness,  and we can either be found wanting or not. Further action is optional. 

TRY: However, when we ask the Lord to “try”, this literally means “Lord, put me to the test. I can handle it”.  This is a very dangerous thing. If this is not prayed to Abba Father in all humility, and we pridefully think we are already “there” and “God will be really happy with me”. Please reconsider. Personal experience points elsewhere. We should only have to learn this lesson once, reset and approach the Lord, in the correct manner, the second time around.

To ensure that our bodies, minds and souls are even ready to be put to the test, let us resolved to not just pray daily, but to commit ourselves to a lifestyle compatible with Scripture to the point of a day or so, of prayer and fasting to evaluate our personal walk. There is nothing complicated about any of this. Yet, because the process of Holiness in the Lord is easily comprehended, it still remains hard work. It is most definitely rewarding, and yes, and all faculties must be in agreement to be engaged 24/7.

To compound this bold statement of “Lord, weigh me in the scales (Examine) and put me to the test (try), but now the Psalm says “test my mind and my heart”!

TEST: The word for test here, in the original bible language, connotes “refining”.  Whether it is crude oil or a diamond straight out of the mines of South African, refining is a very intense deal. Think of the refining process for gold. When gold is mined from the ground, it contains all kinds of impure stuff. These include metals mixed into the gold such as zinc, copper and iron. In a furnace of up to 1950 degrees Fahrenheit, the gold is smelted by using borax and soda ash to the now melted gold, thereby separating the pure gold from the less precious metals like copper etc.

In addition, one of the meanings of the bible word for “test” – Tsaraph – is smelt (as mentioned in the paragraph above). Smelting is not some small fishing here. It is the direct application of heat to ore (silver, iron, copper etc) in order to extract metals from that particular ore in this case - gold.  Fire and heat brings out the precious metal sought, from the raw materials. The Lord cleansing, purifying, molding and making us in His Image is the only way He can make us more like Him.

There is a reason He said the following in Romans 12:2..."do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect"

Holiness is a process as we have just seen. Salvation and conversion can occur in the twinkling of an eye, but sanctification in the ways of the Lord takes a lifetime.

Holiness is a commitment otherwise we would not be able to survive the examining, trying and testing it requires when the Lord begins to make us whole and clean.

Holiness is the call of the Christian. Let us therefore resolve to persevere and prevail, through constant prayer and the washing of the Word (reading the Bible more than once daily, when possible). Let us then meditate on the following prophetic passage from Malachi 3, verses 2 and 3:
"But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness".

Credit: "How Things Work" -
Bible Used in all blogs in recent years: New American Standard Bible
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."
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