More for Me: Settling for Selfish

I wish I had kept more for me. I wish I had spent more on pleasure and less on people who lacked basic needs of food, safe housing and healthcare. I regret giving so much to people who were undeserving and undesirable. I regret wasting my time and money on unrepentant and unworthy. I should have spent more on me. I wasted my money on helping the underserved.

These are words I am sure I will never speak. In fact it is quite the opposite.

David Platt writes “We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is about abandoning ourselves.”

How did my personal pleasure become the focus of my faith?
Jesus loves me
This I know.
See my bank account
It will show

We wear the cross of Christ as jewelry. It is an ornament of fashion, not evidence of faith.

We settle for fashion, rather than submit to faith. Settling for selfishness and wanting more for me is my objective. That is modern day Christianity.

“If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.
Matthew 10:38‭-‬39 MSG


There is one thing
Of which I am certain
There is one thing
Of which I am sure
I know I am called
To be holy
I know I am called
To be pure

Yes politeness and courtesy
Not withstanding
Good manners do
Have an allure
But God demands
I be holy
My God demands
I be pure

The world would
Have me believe
That there is no
Sin, so no need for cure
Please and thank you
Have a nice day
Social graces
God demands I am pure

Being nice does
Have it’s merits
Giving offerings
To help the
Infirmed and the poor
But God is not looking
For good people
He demands I am holy and pure

“Make yourselves holy for I am holy. Be holy because I am holy.
Leviticus 11:44‭-‬45 MSG

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
Hebrews 12:14 KJV

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Matthew 5:8 KJV

Dying on Schedule or Living With Hope

CS is 35 years old. She is on her second round of anti-depressants and it is not helping. She is caring for an autistic 4-year-old and a confused asthmatic teenage girl. She works two-part time jobs with a take home pay of just under $500 per week. This is just enough to pay her rent, utilities and food, and pay the interest on her student loans. She could not afford to buy a winter coat and has no new clothes for her growing children. CS has no dental care and depends solely on the state for medical care. Last year when she fell sick with pneumonia, she missed work and lost money from the week of not working. A winter coat would have helped.

She is not considering euthanasia, helping someone die on schedule, abortion or transgender surgery as issues that are within her scope. She needs help. She needs to know that she is not judged by the income level which defines her as a class, or subtype of citizen. CS needs health care professionals to address the issues which matter to her. Adequate food and clothing, safe housing, emotional and spiritual support are issues we must advocate for the people we are called to serve.

According to the state’s website, almost 10% of Delaware citizens do not have medical insurance. This number does not reflect the other parameters which affect their health such as those faced by CS or her family and friends. CS lives in a community that is unsafe because of the behavior and choices of her neighbors. We can advocate against helping people die on schedule, define positions on abortion and transgender, but none of it matters if we don’t help people live with hope.

Next Shiny Thing

I want to confess You are Lord
I want to confess you as King
But just when I am ready to speak
I discuss the next shiny thing

You are worthy of all honor and glory
More worthy than any gift I can bring
Your majesty and splendor obscured
As I admire the next shiny thing

I want to adore You and worship
With words that I speak and I sing
But just as I open my mouth
I speak only of the next shiny thing

Creator God, Sweet Savior, Sustainer
Holy Ghost sending angels on wing
Please protect me from even myself
So I don’t chase the next shiny thing

1 Corinthians 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

1 Timothy 6:18 “That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;”

Proverbs 23:4
Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.

Matthew 13:22

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

Too Dumb Too Poor To Breed

Dear Dumb, Poor Woman;

As a trained, compassionate, capable and caring healthcare professional, it is my carefully considered opinion that you are too dumb and too poor to breed. You neither have the social bearing, economic potential nor the intellectual wherewithal to continue to carry the life that is growing in your womb. Based upon the data collected from communities like yours from around the nation, and the globe, I would advise you not have a baby. Instead you should terminate it within the timeframe allowed by the laws of the land. By delaying this termination; technically known as abortion, you may find yourself contributing to the moral decay of our society by bearing another person who behaves just like you. This is especially important if the life in your womb has a defect! Think of how awful it would be to actually have your child born handicapped and have to live like the other handicapped people in the world. Think of what people would say if your child had birth defects and after all, who wants to spend the time and money to care for such kind of ‘people’?

There are several options I present to you. Let me explain it in terms that someone like you can easily understand. First, you could choose to have the baby forcefully pushed from your body by using some very strong hormones. This is cheaper, but it must be done early on before you can actually feel the baby growing inside of you. The baby can hardly be seen at all at that time so no one really knows what is happening, unless they test your urine or do an ultrasound of your uterus. If you catch it even earlier, like just after you have had sexual intercourse, no one has to know at all.

So it is for your own good that I strongly advise you to avoid any delay late into your pregnancy, so that we don’t have to resort to the following procedures.

“D&E” (dilation and evacuation). The physician inserts a long toothed clamp through the woman’s vagina into the uterus. She/he grabs body parts of the fetus at random, breaks them from the body and pulls them out. Finally, the head is crushed and extracted. Finally, the placenta and any remaining parts of the fetus are suctioned from the uterus.1

“D&X” (dilation and extraction) The woman’s cervix is dilated. If necessary, the fetus is rotated until it is facing feet downwards. The surgeon reaches into the uterus and pulls the fetus’ body, with the exception of its head, out of the woman’s body. Surgical scissors are inserted into the base of the fetal skull, and withdrawn. A suction tube is inserted and the fetus’ brains are removed through aspiration. This partially collapses the fetal skull. The fetus is then fully removed from the woman’s body.2

I hope I have convinced you of the importance of making the right decision both for you and society as a whole. Please don’t listen to anyone who says they are helping you to make decisions that favor you keeping your baby. They would have you believe that the life growing in you is special. That would mean you are special too. Who would dare believe such a thing? As I said we don’t need a world full of dumb, poor and handicapped people. One of them might grow up to be a world leader. Who would want that?

Sincerely yours with great care,

On behalf of; Rich and Powerful Professionals, Politicians, Lobbyists and Other Nice People

Jesus at His Worst Was at His Best

We are over celebrating the Christ child and well into the new year. Now it is time to look for Jesus at His worst. It seems so easy to celebrate the birth of child who comes into the world naked to be wrapped in swaddling clothes. But to celebrate the death of a man stripped naked and nailed to a cross feels disgusting and unnatural. Why should we prepare to celebrate death, just a few months after celebrating birth?

The crucifixion is the purpose of Christ’s arrival. It is not wrong to celebrate His birth, but He did not come for that purpose. His miraculous birth was a setup for His marvelous death. It was the cross where He was hanged and demonstrated that at His worst, He was at His best. He proclaimed: “Father forgive them…”.

His words speak today to my own selfish and corrupt nature. I ignore His command to put others before myself, to turn the other cheek, to forebear, forgive and forget.

If Jesus could suffer for doing what is good, right, honorable and holy in His Father’s eyes, then what about me? He was betrayed and left alone by His disciples who had still not grasped His teachings. He was treated as a criminal for telling the truth, healing the sick, raising the dead and feeding the hungry. He did nothing that His Father saw as worthy of death, but here He hangs and He is at His worst.

He is hungry, tired, in pain and embarrassed to be displayed naked and bruised. In this moment of grief, when He is at His worst as depicted in the Bible, Jesus is at His very best. He demonstrates that best by saying: “Father forgive them”

I need to be at my best when I am at my worst. When I feel let down, misunderstood and not appreciated, that is the time I need the Holy Spirit to dwell in me to help me be at my best. I need to forebear, forgive and forget. I need to be at my best when I feel I am at my worst. The Holy Spirit can accomplish that, if I am willing to ask His intervention.

Luke 23:34-45 King James Version (KJV)
34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

Grip of Grace: Grasp of Sin

Grace has a grip on me. Sin keeps trying to grasp me. It is the grip of grace that keeps me from the grasp of sin. Grace is unmerited, protection and favor. I cannot, do not, will not ever deserve grace. Nothing I can do that will earn me the favor of God. Nothing that I say can ever allow me to claim special privilege. The grip of grace is inexplicable, immeasurable, eternal and cannot be conquered by human reason or strength.

It is like the sleight of hand where the enemy of my soul thinks he has me, but somehow God has moved me just beyond his reach. Just when the evil one says; ‘gotcha’ God knew exactly where I needed to be safe from Satan’s schemes. Like trying to hold vapor in arms or stars in hands, Satan has no ability to grasp me when I am in the grip of God’s grace.

Grace is the guiding light when I keep groping instead for the darkness. Grace is the freedom to do the right thing, when I keep looking for bondage of doing what is wrong. Grace is the Holy Spirit given desire to do what is best in God’s eyes when I prefer to do what is good and acceptable in the eyes of mankind.

Sin never stops seeking to grasp, but grace never lets me go. God’s grip of grace holds onto me firmly, even in the midst of the temptations to jump out of His hand. It seems so much easier to do what is right in my own eyes, by my own reason, intuition and instinct. Grace will allow me to fall, flounder and even fumble but will not allow me to fail. That is grace will keep me from losing my relationship with a Holy God because I am in His hands.

Ask God for the grip of His grace. It will keep you from the grasp of sin.

2 Corinthians 12:9King James Version (KJV)
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Ephesians 2:8-9King James Version (KJV)
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

John 10:28-30New International Version (NIV)
28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[a]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Unwelcome Breadwinner

She can make more money in five minutes lying in bed than I can make in 8 hours standing on my feet. She is the real breadwinner. For the sake of this essay, let’s call him MJ (because it just as well could be me).

MJ looked desperately sad, sitting and waiting for an immediate verdict from the parole board in a few minutes that he knew would take a few weeks. I left the hearing room just as I had entered, not at all hopeful.

The court appointed attorney had tried to make the best case for MJs release. To her credit, it was a straightforward case. He was in the company of known felons who were committing felonious acts. This was not easy for her defend.

One would think that after 35 years behind bars he would know better. His girlfriend accepted but did not welcome him home upon his release from prison. She wanted more than he could give, some bigger place and better clothes. He just wanted someone to hold and hug.

MJ knew that she still worked as a prostitute and was selling drugs from their apartment. He shared his dilemma with our men’s prayer group.

‘I am trying’ he said. ‘I have been out for one year. I want her to respect the fact that I am looking for better paying work. I want her to leave this lifestyle because it is dangerous and it can get me in trouble. I want to protect and provide for her. But the money I earn isn’t enough or coming fast enough and the company she keeps are dangerous ‘clients and customers.’

And as I said she can earn more in bed than I can on my feet. So we argue and fight and I go back to jail.’ The worst part of the whole thing is that I love her and want to help her. Then MJ cried. Who needs a man like me?’

So here he is. One year after his release MJ was locked up again in the same prison for parole violation. Yes, the state was willing to welcome him even if his girlfriend wasn’t.

Now I find myself a witness to testify on his behalf and attest to the community’s willingness to hold him accountable.

‘My testimony: MJ is a consistent member of our men’s prayer group. We were in the process of getting him a better paying job and safer housing. We are in contact with his mother and sister both of whom are willing to send money from their home in Alabama to support him until he is allowed to leave the state. Please give MJ another chance, I plead.’

I guess the parole board members are not allowed to smile. No one says a word and MJ just sits a few feet away, looking at his shoes. I leave the room with no answers.

As I leave I reflect on all of the men and women we serve in the Out Of Nazareth ministries. We have helped some with jobs, driver’s license, resumes, medication, physical exams, criminal records expungement even short-term housing. These come by networking with Christian and non-Christian organizations. Our network is confident that the people we send are genuine.

We have helped men and women find peace in reconnecting with families, get married and even intervened on an attempted suicide.

MJ is not without hope. One day, and I pray very soon, MJ can get the welcome he needs from people who care and become a real breadwinner.

He will do best when he meets Christ as provider and protector.

Did You Find Water?

A Middle East proverb declares that a person who finds water in a desert and doesn’t tell anyone is no friend of God.

That proverb comes to mind when I think of how reluctant those who claim Christ as Savior are to share this faith. If indeed He is the Living Water that cleanses and satisfies our bodies, minds and souls why don’t we share him with a world that is so desperately in need of this valuable resource?

It is a cruel and one might posit even evil person who says they know where the water is but is unwilling to share it.

An eternity in hell awaits some of our closest friends, dearest family and even our casual acquaintances and colleagues. We know the struggles they face here on Earth and the consequences of never having a right relationship with their Creator God. We know where the water is, but we refuse to tell them.

I pray that God would convict us of our reluctance, refusal and neglect to lead people to the source of eternal life found only in Jesus the Christ.

Don’t let another day pass without telling someone where the water is. Their eternity may depend upon you personally pointing them to the Source.

Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. John 7:37 KJV