Harmless as serpents?

Mt. 10:16: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

Jesus sent out his twelve disciples to preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  He instructed them to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons, and to freely give of what they had been given.

But He warned them that He was sending them out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Doesn’t sound like the safest scenario to me. 

He said there would be persecutions coming.  But He also said that the disciple is not above his teacher, so if they have called Him the master of the house of Beelzebub, how much more would they call those of His household.  It makes sense.  Persecutions do take place.

Now, what did He then tell them?  “Go out there and speak your mind!  Let people know how it is and set them straight!”

I’m sorry, but no.  That’s not what He said.  Now, Jesus wasn’t one to sugar coat things, but He spoke what the Father told Him speak.  And in verses 19-20, He said, “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak.  For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”

Who is speaking?  Us?  Uh-uh.  The Spirit of our Father.

There is a lot of speaking around us and unfortunately, all too often, it seems that it is not coming from the Father.  Jesus told His disciples to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.  I’m afraid that these have gotten mixed up.  I see and hear words that strike out at others, just as a serpent would do.  I see words that are meant to cause harm or injury.  I hear words that have poison dripping from them.

In contrast, doves truly are harmless.  Do you know that the male and the female both produce milk for their young?  They’re nurturers.  Did you know that doves can adapt to almost any environment on the globe?  This reminds me of the way Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners.

Doves have also been a symbol of peace, globally, for thousands of years.  I recall Jesus saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” (Mt. 5:9)

We can be the ones that are the peacemakers.  We can be the ones that fulfill the great commission as wisely as serpents, but as harmlessly as doves.  We weren’t asked to strike out at people.  Yes, be wise.  I’m not ignoring that part.  We are being sent out as sheep among wolves.  We need wisdom.  But Proverbs is full of ways to use wisdom with regard to our words, and when we are supposed to be sharing the “Good News” about Jesus with others, it sure helps if it actually sounds good and doesn’t feel like a slap in the face.



2018 is for sharing!

Tomorrow is another new year.  I’m not one for making resolutions, but certainly a new year does deserve some pause for thought.

Enter my neighbor’s chickens.  Yes, chickens.  Today, I saw that there were 5 of them under my bird feeder scratching and eating all the bird seed they could find.  I was a little frustrated at first because this neighbor’s animals seem to be in our yard a lot, but the more I thought about the fact that they just wanted some food, the less frustrated I became.  

And then I realized that they’re just like all of us.  Ha!  All of us want to be fed.  We are all searching for sustenance.  Not just physical sustenance, but spiritual, as well.  When we can’t find it where we live, we go off to the neighbor’s in search.  We scratch and dig and look until we find something.

As followers of Jesus Christ, the Lord has given us so much.  This new year, we must keep in mind that there are people around us that are hungry.  They are searching for what they have not yet found.  Instead of being frustrated or annoyed when they come to us looking for answer or asking questions, we need to make sure we have a loving, generous heart that is ready and willing to share with them from our abundance.

Not everyone has what we have or knows what we know.  They are hungry.  We have the Bread of Life.  We must be willing to share.  We have no right to be frustrated or greedy with what we’ve been given.  Salvation is for all who believe, not just the ones we believe are deserving.

Everyone’s ministry is going to look different.  As we go into this new year, let’s remember that our time to share this Bread of Life is not over.  We are still here to do the will of our Father.  How will your sharing look?  Will it be a blog?  Will you minster to a co-worker, family member, friend, or student.  Will you teach a class at church or preach from the pulpit.  Maybe you will teach at the nursing home or lead a devotion for a small group.  Perhaps your ministry will look different still.  Could this even be your year for a mission trip?  The main thing is that we are open to the Lord’s leading and that we are wiling to share.

Ready to share alongside you in 2018!


On courage

“Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.'” John 4:34

I was reading about courage this morning: Courage being the act of doing what you are afraid to do.

It occurred to me that I most often hear people (including myself) express fear about doing God’s work.  People aren’t as hesitant to go back to school, move to a new state for work, go skydiving, or start a new business as they are to begin a new ministry, teach Sunday school, sing on the praise team, or speak from the pulpit.  Forget moving to another country to minister in missions…that is almost incomprehensible.

Why in the world are we more afraid to do the work of the One who is our Provider than to do ordinary things?  Why are we more willing to commit to the PTA than to helping in the nursery at church just once a quarter?

Is it possible that we are feeding on the wrong things?  Jesus’ food was to do the will of the One who sent Him, and we have been sent by that same God.

When the Lord lays some new work on our heart, here are some helpful things we will need to have been feeding on:

  • God has commissioned all of his followers to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  (Mt. 28:19)  This is our job.
  • God will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  (Ph. 4:19)
  • God has already sent pastors and teachers to equip us for the work of the ministry  (Eph. 4:11-12)  We are ready.
  • We’re invited to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  (Heb. 4:16)  We are not alone.
  • And finally, if we our obedient and choose to give in to God’s leading, trusting that He will take care of our needs, we can be certain He will meet them as He said because Heb. 5:18 reminds us that, “It is impossible for God to lie.”

Karl Bath said, “Courage is fear that has said it’s prayers.”  I can’t think of a better way for us to take on our fears.

If the Lord lays a work on our hearts, it’s ok to be afraid.  Moses was afraid.  Joshua was afraid.  Gideon was afraid, too.  However, we need to take our fears to God’s throne of grace and receive the help He has waiting there for us.

Don’t we know that the One who created the heavens and the earth, owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and holds this world in His hand…that same One can certainly help us teach a class, preach a sermon, sing a song, minister to the sick, or any other thing He has asked us to do?

He has given us His Word so that we will be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (2 Tim. 3:17)  If we are feeding on the right things, then we have all we need.

Let’s get to work!


Pouring sacrifice on Jesus’ head

And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table.  But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste?  For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” Mt. 26:6-9

This familiar passage spoke something new to me this morning.  Sometimes, the acts we feel led to do for the Lord do not make sense to others around us.

Perhaps we choose to fast at an “inopportune” time.  Maybe we worked in the nursery 4 Sundays in a row, while others had the opportunity to worship in service.  It could be that we chose to drive far out of our way to stop by and visit someone who needed to see a friendly face.

The examples could go on and on, but the principle remains.  Not everything we personally choose to do for the Lord will viewed in a beautiful light by others around us.  We may even be criticized for our sacrifice.

Let me remind you what Jesus thinks about it:  “Why do you trouble this woman?  For she has done a good work for Me.”  Vs. 10

Not everything we do has to meet with the standards of others…even if they are fellow followers.  If we feel a nudging to do a work in the Lord’s name, then we are pleasing the only One who matters.

Keep on, friend.  You are pleasing the One who is worth the sacrifice, and that is truly all that matters.

Proud of you,


Investing 101

Pr. 18:16:  “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.”

While we wait on the Lord’s return we have work to do.  We can never forget that ultimately, the work we are called to do is to spread the message of Jesus Christ.  God is depending on us to point others to Him.

I was reading the parable of the talents in Mathew 25 this morning.  It reminded me that God has entrusted us with resources that He expects us to use to multiply the kingdom.  He did not give us resources and salvation so that we can sit comfortably in our happy place and keep it all to ourselves.  He expects us to put those resources to work.

That work will look different in a lot of lives.  We have all been given different resources so that we can reach a wide range of people.  Some will be preachers and pastors.  Some will be missionaries in a foreign land.  Others will minister to people in prison.  Levites will lead the way with music ministry, bringing others into the presence of the Lord.

Others, however, may look more like a mother talking to her children about the Lord day after day, reminding them of God’s love and provision.  Some will hand out food in their community, or spread God’s love to those around them by simple actions of kindness or charity.  I have watched my own mother approach a cash register to simply purchase a shirt, and before we walked away, both she and the cashier were in tears, hugging and praising God.  It could look like that.

Perhaps it’s a Sunday school teacher, faithfully teaching Sunday after Sunday, feeding adults or children with the Word of God.  It could be a nursery worker, caring lovingly for a helpless baby while it’s parents are being ministered to.  Sometimes it’s a miraculous offering of forgiveness that can only be explained as a gift from God.  It could even be a financial giving of resources.

God expects us to use our resources for His kingdom.  In the parable of the talents, the man who had given the talents to his servants returned to find out what had been done with them.  There was 1 servant who had buried and hid his talent until the master returned.  The master was disappointed that the servant had not done anything with it.

One day, Jesus will return.  He will look to see how we have used our resources for His kingdom, and He will expect to see some sort of return.  We cannot hide our resources or His love away.  Others are counting on us.  And our work will please the Master.



Let’s advance together

Pr. 30:27:  “The locusts have no king, yet they all advance in ranks.”

Locusts are one more thing that is little on the earth, but called exceedingly wise by Agur.  Chemicals in their brains cause wise-spread breeding, and when their numbers are large enough, they advance.  Although they indeed have noted no king, the natural instinct that God placed inside them causes them to move as one in a decisive order.

God has given humans free-will.  We have instincts, but unlike animals, we are not ruled by them.  All of us were created with a sense of right and wrong.  We were all created to worship.  The difference is that we have a choice.  What we decide to worship is a choice.  Whether we fight against that right and wrong is a choice.  We also have the advantage of having the Holy Spirit adding wisdom to the instincts God has already placed within us.

What if we Christians all quit fighting against the God-given instincts of right and wrong and stopped ignoring and going against the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and started advancing, as one, toward our common goal?

The times in my life where I have fought against my God-given instincts and the Holy Spirit’s nudgings and wisdom have been the times when I have fallen out of rank.  I was not advancing the kingdom of Christ one bit.  I was headed in a different direction.

When I choose to follow my God-given instincts and the Holy Spirit’s nudges, I am always left knowing that I have done what I was created to do.  Whether it’s walking away from sin or ministering to someone in need, I am decisively advancing with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

When a swarm of locusts advances, there is no doubt where they’ve been.  The effects are long-term.  They create environmental change, famine, economical devastation, and educational decline.

What if we decided to truly do what is actually right and advanced as one in a decisive order as the locusts do?  We could bring positive environmental change for countless people.  We could feed starving souls the Bread of Life.  We could introduce the Provider to those in need.  We could acquaint others with the wisdom that is freely given from the Lord.

If we allowed ourselves to be driven, as one, by the One who change bring the best change of all, the effects would not only be long-term, but amazingly profitable for all.

Time is short, and the day of Christ’s return is drawing closer.  It’s not time to be falling out of rank.  It is time to pull together and advance for the kingdom of Christ.  He is the answer for us all!

Falling in line,


The beauty of church

I went to church yesterday feeling tired, heavy, and regretful.

I taught my 5th graders in Sunday school about 3 superheros named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.  Even in the face of great pain and death, they stood up for what was right, and because of their conviction, others could literally see God, and came to believe that He was the Most High God.

What is the worst thing we can do about this story?  Forget.  Without reminding ourselves of what God can do and has done, we forget that we can be delivered from the fiery furnaces in our own lives.  We forget that if we stand up for and believe in God, even in our painful situation, others may be able to see God and come to believe that He is the Most High God, as well.

During the church service I was reminded that anything I can’t stop thinking about is an idol.  I could list several things that my mind couldn’t shake at that moment.  Do I want to be a servant of regrets, money, sickness, fashion, or cultural acceptance; or do I want to be a servant of the Most High God?  If it’s the later, then I need to be thinking about Him.  Trusting in Him means thinking about His goodness, His faithfulness, and His constant provision and abilities.

I then heard a testimony that reminded me that I am still alive because I still have work to do for Christ.  I don’t need to become so distracted that I forget why I’m here.

Last night I was heard that the Lord made dry bones live (Ez. 37), and that if He can bring dry bones back together into a perfect person, breathe life back into them, and join their ranks into an exceedingly great army; then He can breathe life back into the places that feel dry in my life, and that rivers of Living Water can still pour forth from me to reach those in need.

I was still tired when I left church last night; however, I was tired from being taught and ministered to all day long.  This morning, I feel the rivers stirring around in me.  My hope is not cut off.  I am not dry and desolate.  I am full of the Lord and His goodness, and because I am choosing to stand on His promises, I believe that others will be able to see Him in my life.

What’s the big deal about going to church?  Had I sat home with my heaviness and regrets yesterday, this morning would have looked a lot more dismal.  When you go to church and focus on God, allowing yourself to be open to His wisdom and encouragement brought in unexpected ways, He will minister to you, dust you off, and breathe life into you for the rest of the journey ahead.

I’m so thankful for a place to refuel, and for those who encourage and pray for me.