Monthly Archives: September 2021

Save or Toss?


Over the years, I had kept a large archive of proofed copies of past manuscripts in my office, so I would have documentation of what I had changed or edited if anyone would ask about them down the road after publication. The collection of these past versions of manuscripts eventually filled 11 cardboard boxes that stacked up in the corner of my workspace as a kind of monument to my hoarding tendency. Finally, a co-worker of mine suggested I move the boxes out of my office and into storage, which I did. In the process, I realized that I had not touched those boxes in over two years and that I no longer needed the physical copies since the electronic copies of all my projects are safely stored on my computer. Now my office looks a lot cleaner and my mind is not as cluttered by the worry that someday someone might need something from one of those boxes.

This experience made me recognize that we hang on to many things far too long that we need to simply get rid of or move on from. Most people do not remember the time you made fun of someone in grade school. So why should you still let that linger in your brain? God does not keep a record of that, so you shouldn’t either. You confessed and you’re forgiven. End of story.

The keeping of paperwork of past projects also symbolized to me that I was holding on too tightly to my own achievements and my own personal desire to prove my worth to others. But as the song by Keith and Kristyn Getty says, “My worth is not in what I own, but in the costly wounds of love at the cross.” Anything I have amassed here on earth cannot fully capture me and who I am. Only my place as God’s forgiven child through Christ’s death and resurrection will allow me to stand firm in this world and the next. So I keep what is connected to Christ and I let go of the things of this world. Then my soul is at peace.



I recently got sunburns across my legs and torso after lying on a raft in the water for several hours, even though I had worn sunscreen (that apparently washed off). In the days that followed, I felt the sharp sensation of the sunburn under my clothes as I went about my tasks at work and home. I realized that unless I told somebody, no one would know the burning I was feeling.

This made me think of the Emmaus disciples, who said one to another after they saw Jesus: “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32). They did not hide the burning sensation they felt in Jesus’ presence. They told people about it. “That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together,” the Bible says (Luke 24:33).

When has your heart burned within you, spiritually speaking? While reading the Bible? During prayer? When singing in church? Did you tell anyone about your experience? If not, it’s time that you do. We burn with the power of the Holy Spirit within us to tell others about our encounters with Jesus. The only way for others to sense that Holy Spirit’s fire in you is to speak of it. Say what Jesus has opened your eyes to. Explain what being a disciple of Christ is all about. Exclaim what joy you feel because your Savior is alive in the world. Let your burning heart for the Lord be revealed as often as you can with as many as you can!

The Heart of the Matter

heart matters

In the fourth century B.C., Aristotle proclaimed his belief that the heart was the center of the soul and that it affected emotions and how you were feeling and reacting to things. People in the Middle Ages believed that goodness and holiness could be physically revealed in the heart. Those who were found to have an enlarged heart, for example, were thought to be extremely loving and virtuous.

We in our modern medical age know better, of course. We know that the heart is just a muscle that pumps blood, not an organ that is the source of our emotional state. Yet, our hearts can be affected by emotions that come from our brains. Our hearts beat faster when we are afraid or in love. Our hearts slow down when we are feeling relaxed and comfortable.

The Bible talks about the role of our hearts in the spiritual sense as well. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). The heart is symbolically seen as a place where love comes from and where spiritual wellness resides, even to this day. But John reminds us in his epistle, “God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:20).

God is of more importance than the beating of our hearts, the condition of our physical bodies and our reaction to things here on earth. No matter how we feel or what our hearts are doing, God is in control and in charge of our lives. He knows us through and through. Out of his own heart, he sent his Son in love to us that we might be free from all that makes our hearts ache or break because of sin. He warms our hearts and fills us with faith that courses through us that we may not be swayed by emotions, but remain grounded in his grace. The heart of the matter in all things is Jesus.



The concept of community has changed a little in these COVID times. It has become much more broadly defined. A community is no longer just a group of people dwelling in close physical proximity to one another. Nor is a community only a collection of human beings meeting together in-person on a regular basis. A community can be a gathering of strangers and friends talking to one another on a Zoom call on their computers from various locations in the country. A community can be people sitting in their own homes watching the same event at the same time on screen. Community now means any way in which people are united through a shared experience.

We in the church must adjust to this new definition of community and come to accept that not all members are as drawn to the common community of worship in the church building. Many are more comfortable for whatever reason in exclusively participating in online Christian communities, even as restrictions may have eased for in-person church. The ways of “going to church” are much more varied and fluid than they once were. That is why so many church are continuing to offer a hybrid mixture of in-person and online offerings. That combination approach to community is not going away anytime soon, it seems.

But that does not mean that we stop cultivating community. On the contrary, we as a Church need to do all we can to offer programs and events and worship experiences that are conducive to community. Are there ways that the online community can reach out to the in-person community through on-screen messages that can be projected to those in the pews? Are there ways that the worship leader can include the online community in church worship with encouraging greetings specifically to them?

No group or gathering of Christian believers should be left out in the cold. Open the door to every group that seeks to enter into the ministry of faith happening around you. That can only lead to growth.



There is a new way to use the word extra these days. In modern vernacular, it means “excessive, dramatic behavior; doing the absolute most.” So, if a person skipped out of the room after hearing some good news, we might say that person was being “extra.” Or if someone decorated a birthday party with so many balloons you could not see the floor, we could say that person was being “extra.”

The Bible goes out of its way to express how “extra” our God is. He is “able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,” St. Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:20. Jesus talks about the gifts we receive when we give as “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over” (Luke 638). Then we can’t help but remember the 12 extra baskets of leftovers remaining after Jesus fed the 5000. He miraculously provided more than was even needed.

This same concept can be applied to God’s love. As the contemporary song “One Thing Remains” by Jesus Culture professes, “Your love never fails. It never gives up. It never runs out on me.” We don’t deserve any of God’s love, yet he gives us more than enough. As the Psalmist says, “Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds” (Psalm 36:5). There is no place where God’s love cannot reach. As God’s forgiven and free people, we are reminded, “from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16). His blessings are heaped upon us.

So how about being a little “extra” in a good way in response to God’s goodness to us? Can you give a little extra in your offering this week? Can you give a little extra time helping your children with their homework? Can you be a little extra caring to your spouse? It doesn’t take much. But a little can go a long way. Just ask the boy who had a little extra food to share, which Jesus turned into enough to feed a multitude and more.

The Aaron


So many people are seeking fame these days, that it is sometimes hard to remember that for us as Christians, it is better for us to be the Aaron. What do I mean by that? I mean that we as Christians are more often than not called to be like Aaron in the Bible, who served in a supporting role to his brother, Moses, who was the leader of the Israelites. Once when the Israelites were in battle, God told Moses to stand at the top of a hill with his arms raised to bring victory to his people. But as the battle raged on, Moses grew tired and it was then that Aaron stepped in to hold up Moses’ arms until the Israelites were victorious.

Even when God first called Moses to lead his people and Moses asked if God could send someone else, God sent Aaron to Moses to help him follow through with his call to speak to the people on behalf of God. In the book of Exodus we read:

The Lord said, “What about your brother Aaron, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. In fact, he is now coming to meet you and will be glad to see you. You can speak to him and tell him what to say. I will help both of you to speak, and I will tell you both what to do.  He will be your spokesman and speak to the people for you” (Exodus 4:14-16).

God used Aaron to give his brother confidence and help in his mission for the Lord.

Who are people you know whom you can be the Aaron for? Are there those who need support and strength as they battle illnesses or injuries, difficult situations or enemies of God? You can be there to literally hold their hand through the challenges. You can be there to lift their spirits when they are ready to give up. You can be there to remind them that the victory is ours in Jesus Christ, who saves us and forgives us.

And who are people you know who need a nudge of encouragement to carry out what God has in mind for them? You can be there to speak words of assurance to them. You can be there to speak on their behalf if they are afraid to speak. You can be there to work together with them to get a job done.

In this we are doing what St. Paul told us to do: “Encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). And we are doing what St Peter told us: “Serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received” (1 Peter 4:10).

They say that it takes a village, but sometimes it takes just one person to turn the tide, to make things happen, to fulfill someone’s potential. And that person could be you. Be the Aaron for someone this week and do what you can do behind the scenes to let God’s work be revealed and let Christ’s servant love be known through you.