Monthly Archives: July 2023

Background Noise Too Loud?


The last time I watched a movie on Netflix, I felt like the background music was louder than what was being said. I had to strain to hear the dialogue. Turns out, it was not my imagination. There was a reason for the loud background. Apparently, my Netflix was set for surround sound, but I don’t have surround sound. So when I switched to a normal sound setting, I could hear what the actors were saying much better.

This got me to thinking that we so often allow the background noise of our lives to drown out the messages that God is sending to us. We let background sound overpower the sound of our friends and loved ones reaching out to us.

So what is your loud background sound? Maybe it is temptations of the devil. Perhaps it is your own feelings of inadequacy. Sometimes it can be a hobby or an infatuation that has taken over your life to the detriment of things that matter, like our spiritual health and well-being. Loud backgrounds can take us away from living for the Lord.

Take a moment to turn down the volume of whatever your loud background may be, and hear well what your friends are saying to you, let your family’s words come to the forefront and above all listen closer to God. When we let the story of God’s love in Jesus surround us, it can be a blockbuster experience.

Big Paws

big paws

I was made aware that when a puppy dog has big paws, it means that it will grow up to be a big dog. A puppy’s body grows into the size of its paws. I think this is fascinating to ponder in a spiritual sense. What prominent aspects of our personalities do we grow into as we mature into adult disciples of Christ?

We can so often see when a young child has a big heart, a heart that is outsized in love and care for others. It is these children that so often “grow into” their large hearts for people by becoming pastors or church workers, doctors, nurses or social workers. Their large hearts fit them in their later years. They have hearts that beat with the love of Jesus.

I think of children who have big smiles. These individuals so often “grow into” those smiles by being good encouragers to their friends and family and by being a positive influence on those they interact with at work or in the neighborhood. Their smiles as adults tell the world that there is hope and joy in living. Christians who smile upon others with happiness reveal that God is smiling upon us all with his blessing.

Many babies like to kick their legs high into the air even before that can walk. Their active legs often have a tendency to grow even more active into childhood and adulthood. They are the legs of those who are excited to serve, who are eager to help, who are ready to go the distance in life and in faith. Those legs that are quick to move prompt bodies that are dedicated to working hard for the Lord in spreading the Good News.

Be on the lookout out for parts of ourselves that stand out that can do great things for the Lord when we are little and when we are big.

Name Changes


No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. Genesis 17:5

As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her and also give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her. Genesis 17:15-16

I find it somewhat curious that God changed the names of Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah. Their new names are the names we know then by today. And their new names have a purpose, to highlight Abraham’s new role as the father of many nations and to celebrate the blessing God has granted to Sarah.

We don’t attach as much meaning to our names as we used to. The derivations of whatever our given names may be does not necessarily capture the primary essence of who we are.

But what if they did? What do you think God would change your name to, if he could, to define your place in the kingdom of God? I will give it a try. Since my name is Mark, I would propose that God would called me “Marked by the Cross,” because that is who I am through Jesus. I am forever changed because of the cross of Christ and the forgiveness of sins. Maybe Betty could be Betty Blessed, Laura could be Laura Loved, Chris could be Chris Courageous. What could you add to your given name to reflect what God has done in your life? Considering this will help you consider what special part God has you playing in his design.

Mercy Seat

mercy seat

For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. Romans 3:22-25

In a Bible study I was in recently, we talked about the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament. It was like the moving temple of God that the Israelites carried around with them on their 40-year journey in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land.

One part of the Ark of the Covenant was called the mercy seat. It was the sacred place above the top lid that was covered by the wings of two gold-plated angels. It was understood as the dwelling place of God.

Later, when the Ark of the Covenant was housed in the temple in Jerusalem, the high priest would sprinkle blood of sacrificial lambs on the mercy seat to receive atonement for the sins of the people.

When Jesus arrived, then, he became the mercy seat of God, the dwelling place of the Most High God in the midst of his people and the ultimate atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world through the blood shed on the cross.

The Greek word for mercy seat is hilastērion. But the word is often translated propitiation (as in Romans 3:25), a word that means “an appeasing of the divine.” Jesus went to the cross to appease God in our place through his sinless life and innocent death. We are all sin-free before our God through the mercy seat of Christ.

Upside Down


And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” Acts 17:6-7

I love that that accusation was that followers of Jesus had “turned the world upside down.” Like that was a bad thing. The whole point of Christianity was to turn the world upside down. Jesus came to overturn the old ways of living in sin and under the laws of man and point to the new way of living for God forgiven and set free.

We continue to turn the world upside down with our Gospel message of grace and freedom through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Life is completely different because Jesus is risen from the dead and alive with us in our hearts today. So keep turning the world upside down with words that show people that reorienting our lives to the way of Jesus is a good thing and not something to be feared.

God Bless America


God bless America, land that I love.
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above.
From the mountains to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless America, my home sweet home.
God bless America, my home sweet home.

On this July 4th, it is important for us to remember the blessings of God we have in this land that we love and celebrate today. God has truly blessed America with beautiful landscapes, plentiful fields, rich forests and refreshing rivers, lakes and streams. The wonderful works of his creation are undeniable. And for that we give thanks this day.

But the blessings of God extend beyond the land itself. We are blessed with people to love and cherish, family and friends who provide us with a full life. We are blessed with our places of residence, our schools, our places of employment that make where we live our home sweet home.

And we are blessed by God with the freedom to worship him, the freedom to travel from state to state, the freedom to vote and the freedom to speak. These are the freedoms we should never take for granted, and these are the freedoms that allow us to be a blessing to others as God has been a blessing to us.

Take time today to enjoy the company of others and let blessings flow from God through you to them.