Thoughts on A Thursday2020-08-18T13:58:33-04:00

Pastor Ken’s Thoughts on a Thursday

Fat Man’s Misery – September 22nd, 2022

Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Fat Man’s Misery

Lest anyone believe I am being insensitive or have stooped to “fat shaming”, let me put that to rest right away. The title for this post comes from the name of a very narrow passage in the subterranean recesses of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. I was actually surprised that a quick Google search revealed that the name of that passage has not been changed. I guess social justice doesn’t really run that deep after all.

I was introduced to “Fat man’s misery” as a young boy. Somewhere around the age of twelve my parents took me and my two brothers to Mammoth Cave for a vacation. We enjoyed tent camping, campfires, and spelunking for an entire week. Mammoth Cave, aptly named is the world’s longest known cave system and has several different tours available for visitors. While there we did many things that left lifelong (to this point anyway) impressions on me. The 40 plus years since I was there have not taken from me vivid memories of that vacation. One I will never forget was my first experience with total and absolute darkness. My parents allowed my younger brother Gary and I to take a children’s tour without them one afternoon. Following a park ranger with lanterns affixed to helmets on our heads we crawled through a small entrance to one of the innumerable recesses that make up the entirety of Mammoth Cave. After a walk inside of perhaps 200 or 300 yards, the guide had us sit down on rocks, be completely quiet and one by one switch off the lights on our helmets. Lastly, the ranger turned off her light and the darkness enveloped us completely. It was a surreal experience. I recall expecting that my eyes would adjust to the darkness and I would regain at least some ability to see, but that never happened. I remember thinking that I understood what it must be like to be totally blind. I also remember beginning to feel uneasy and insecure in the total darkness and silence. Though the spiritual depths of this are begging to be explored, and maybe I will in a later episode, I want to move on to another memory from that family trip.

During another tour of the caves we took as a family, we followed our guide as a group of people made their way down a long set of steel stairs to one of the entrances to the cave. About an hour later, we emerged in a completely different place in the forest hundreds of yards from where we began our journey. There are several things from that particular tour that I remember. There was a huge room where the “ceiling” was several stories above. That room, named “The Cathedral” was so called because of its size and sound echoing acoustics. I was surprised and somewhat shaken to learn several years ago that the “ceiling” weighing many thousands of tons had come crashing to the floor. Weird to think that as a young boy I had stood under that very space looking up at all that rock, now understood to have been somewhat precariously perched above us.

As a part of that tour we meandered through a series of fissures in the rock that had been worn into smooth paths. Sometimes the “walls” were wide and ten or twenty feet apart, other times much closer maybe a four or five foot span. At one place, the path narrowed to about fifteen or eighteen inches and the walls were only about four and a half feet high. This part of the path, known as “Fat Man’s Misery” was so named not only because it is so narrow but also low and requires one to bend over to pass through. I can only assume that some people have had to turn around and return the way they came, unable to navigate “Fat Man’s Misery”. Even then at my young age that experience caused me to consider Matthew 7:13-14 that I had heard about in Sunday school. That scripture reads as follows in the New King James Version, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, there are few who find it.

Obviously, that particular passage came to mind all those years ago in that cave because the way in front of me was so narrow and difficult to traverse. I remember thinking however, that this narrow path in front of me was the only way to the destination…the exit of the cave. In my way of boyish thinking, if you wanted to get to the preferable destination then there was only one choice…forward. I remember pondering this scripture as a boy and wondering the same thing about eternity. If eternal life in Heaven was only through the narrow gate, even if the path was difficult, why would anyone ever choose anything else? What allure could the wide gate with the easy path have?

I like the way the paraphrase “The Message” puts these verses. It says, “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention. The reason I like this particular paraphrase of this scripture is because it so accurately reflects our present societal reality. Overwhelmingly we respond to surveys that we are people of Christian belief. Though it is declining somewhat, just two years ago 65% of American adults considered themselves to be Christian. I can say with a good deal of certainty that 65% of the American adult population is not looking for the narrow gate and the difficult path. The fact is that it didn’t matter to those people who were unable to navigate “Fat Man’s Misery” what percentage of others couldn’t either. They were the ones that found themselves unable to arrive at the destination they desired. They were each for all intents and purposes a statistic of one. The same is true for us in regards to our relationship with Jesus. It is called a personal relationship because it is necessarily personal. It will be developed to the degree that we allow and desire to see it developed. There are all kinds of things in life that seek to take our attention but when all is said and done there is only one way to eternity with God…having a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ. With such important implications that relationship should get the Lion’s share of our focus.

In his gospel, the Apostle John records that Jesus himself said this.  In John 14:6 Jesus told His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. Jesus was clear there is only one way to the destination of eternal life in Heaven with Him. He is The Way, indicating that there is no other. Why? Because He is The Truth. Truth is an absolute. There is only one truth and the ultimate truth leads to life…Eternal Life. So, why is it so difficult? Why so narrow? Essentially, we make it so. It is one of those things of which I like to say it is difficult but not complicated. It isn’t complicated because the process is simple…Make Jesus Lord. It is difficult because we have to slip off of the throne of our own lives and allow Him His rightful place there. In the natural, we don’t want to do that. We like to be in control. We like to make the rules. We like to decide the direction we will go. Simply put, we like to think we are in charge. The gate to destruction is so wide because people want to believe they can make the rules, they can be in charge of their own lives…they can be their own lord and sit on their own throne…and if they are “Basically good people”, they will get to go to heaven someday.

Jesus said that’s not how it works. Only those who are righteous can spend eternity…or even a nano-second for that matter in the presence of God. Romans 3:22-25 lays out plainly that because of our sin we have a problem, but through genuine personal relationship with Jesus (the way the truth and the life) we have been gifted a solution. Those verses read as follows in the New Living Translation, We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood (in our place).

You are also a statistic of one. When faced with the narrow gate and the difficult path will you turn away and go back the way you came, or will you follow Jesus. Just as our guide knew the way out of the cave and led us back into the light of day, Jesus said “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Following Jesus is the only way to emerge in eternal life with God.

So now, entering the narrow gate with a smile on your lips and a grateful heart that Jesus has made a way for you…Go be awesome!

Marital Conflict Worldly Wisdom vs Wordly Wisdom – Session Seven – September 19th, 2022

Hi this is Pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message. This is will be the seventh and final installment in the series looking at Marital conflicts…Worldly Wisdom vs. Wordly Wisdom.

In this edition, we will look at the Worldly Wisdom position that “The Ends Justify The Means”. Most of us understand that concept and many intuitively and internally shudder when we consider it, knowing there is something we find unsavory about the idea. Even so, on some level most people subscribe to it just the same. We drive faster than the posted speed limit because we have places to go, people to see and things to do. Social media has such a hold over us that we feel compelled to “Check it…just for a second” even though we are being paid and trusted by an employer to be doing other things with our time on the clock. The justifications don’t stop there. In marriage many are willing to allow the ends to justify the means. Maybe we tell our spouse “Little white lies” because telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth might leave us vulnerable to their criticism. Perhaps there is an expenditure that we know our spouse wouldn’t approve of, but it is justified because we really want what we have our eye on. It may be that we join in at work or with friends as conversations center around our distaste for the things our spouses do. Even if we don’t feel right about it, we justify that everyone is doing it, and we want our friends or co-workers to find us acceptable. These are some examples we might view as benign, there are others that are engaged in every day that are much more harmful. People use all kinds of justifications for engaging in activities that have the potential to be incredibly detrimental to their marriages.

Wordly Wisdom insists that the ends do not justify the means. Jesus said that our yes needs to be yes, and our no should clearly mean no. (Mathew 5:37) We often interpret this scripture to simply mean that if we say yes or no we shouldn’t need to add anything to illustrate that we really mean what we say. However, a deeper understanding has to include the overall effect this has on our integrity. If we avoid wishy-washiness, and if our yes always means yes and if our no always means no, we won’t need to swear by anything else…people will simply be able to count on us. Perhaps most importantly, our spouse. If we are consistent about what we choose and the things we are not willing to allow in our lives, our spouse can enjoy the confidence that our every action, thought and word is for their benefit and blessing.

Wordly Wisdom also argues that the ends do not justify the means, but in fact, it is we who are supposed to end up justified. In other words, God wants to use our marriages to guide us into a life of justice and righteousness. In his book, The Joy of the Sacred Marriage Gary Thomas suggests that God is far more concerned that our marriages make us holy, than that they make us happy. He rightly says God uses our marriages perhaps more so than any other experience in life to move us toward holiness. I simply say that according to Genesis 1 and 2 God designed marriage to reflect His image and likeness. Our marriages are purposed to be a mirror God can look into and see Himself. To Gary Thomas’s point, God is holy and therefore we are to be holy also. 1 Peter 1:13-16 says, So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” Here we are being told that the point of our lives and in fact our marriages is to be holy like God is holy. We are supposed to be clean and clear mirrors that God can look into and see himself. When we accept the worldly view that says the “Ends justify the means”, we risk allowing our mirror to become dirty, clouded, scratched up and far less capable of producing a good reflection of our God.

What about the dirt, scratches and the cloudiness we have allowed to accumulate on our marital mirrors because we have accepted that in certain situations, the ends justify the means? Thankfully, God has an answer for that. 1 John 1:9 tells us that If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. God desires to forgive us for the dirt and damage we have inflicted on our mirrors. He promises that if we ask him to, He will clean us of all of the dirt we have allowed to rest upon us. In Ephesians 5:16 He lets us know that He even wants to help us redeem time. Though most of us would like to have the ability to do so, we simply can’t go back in time and fix errors we have committed. However, we serve a God who can take those errors and transform them into wisdom essentially redeeming the time in which the errors took place. So, there is even a plan for the dirt and many of the scratches we have allowed to cover our marital mirrors.  God wants to forgive us for every scratch, every bit of cloudiness and all of the dirt we have allowed to accumulate there. He not only wants to wash our mirrors clean so that he can see Himself more clearly, but He will even buff out some of the scratches so they don’t take away from His reflection either.

Some scratches are too deep to buff out and eliminate completely. Some marital mirrors have been through too much and some of the damage remains even after forgiveness and a good cleaning. So what do we do about that? God has a plan to address that damage as well. Romans 8:28-30 offers a promise to take the deep scratches and the chipped portions of our marital mirrors that have happened as a result of allowing the ends to justify the harmful means and even use those to justify us, and help us better reflect God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Thank God for His miraculous marital mirror restoration abilities!

Though God has graciously offered to restore our marital mirrors, He also asks us to refrain from damaging them further. The Apostle Paul Spoke to that in Romans Chapter 6:1-11 There Paul wrote, Well then, should we keep on sinning (in other words, damaging our mirrors) so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

God wants to look into the mirror of each of our marriages and see an unblemished reflection of Himself. He is Holy so what He expects to see when He looks at your marriage, my marriage…is holiness. He promised to forgive us of the dirtiness of sin we have so carelessly splattered all over our mirrors and once again make us clean. He has enabled us through the redemption of time to have some of the lesser scratches polished back out. He has also said that if we will allow  Him to, He even wants to use the deeper scratches and chips to cause us to reflect Him even better. God also hopes we will be very careful with our mirrors going forward, and that we will realize just how valuable they are to Him

Questions to answer:

  • Has allowing the end to justify the means created problems for your marriage?
  • What difficulties has this caused the two of you in your attempts to reflect God like you want to?
  • If you make the priority of your lives as one to reflect the One who gave it to you, what differences could that make in your marriage?

Actions to take:

  • Gratefully give God thanks for His desire to take the imperfections of your marital mirror and restore its ability to reflect Him…then make reflecting God THE priority of your marriage.

So now, taking incredible care of your marital mirror so it can do what it was intended to do and reflect God…GO be awesome!

Part Deux Tell – September 15, 2022

Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Part Deux Tell.
For those listening to this podcast as opposed to reading it who know my infatuation with a good pun, I am spelling the word do, D-E-U-X as in the number two in French. So, for your benefit this edition is entitled “Part two – Do Tell. This is in fact part two of our look at the scriptural account I introduced last week in the episode entitled “Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures”. In that message I pointed out that the nameless desperate woman we read about in Mark chapter five who had experienced a twelve year battle with a hemorrhage also had a desperate faith that Jesus could make her whole again. She determined in her heart that if she could just get near enough to Jesus to touch His clothes, she would be healed. The law that governed her actions due to her “unclean” condition didn’t allow for her to approach Him as so many others did. As we read last week, the Bible tells us that she approached Jesus from behind, and my belief is that she did that to avoid violating the law she was restricted by. Her righteous attempt to obey the letter of the law and at the same time act in her desperate faith in Jesus’ ability to heal her is remarkable. Her desperate faith compelled her forward to her exchange with her Messiah, but didn’t extinguish her desire to obey her understanding of God’s law. I wonder as she approached Jesus from behind, were her quivering lips whispering the words “Unclean…unclean” hoping they would not be heard this one time and give her presence away? We read last week that as soon as she touched Jesus’ robe her bleeding stopped and she knew that she was whole. This week we are going to pick the account up there as another understanding was taking place…so now, Part – Deux – Tell.
Today we resume the account we began reading last week in Mark Chapter Five. Mark 5:30-34 in the New Century Version says, At once Jesus felt power go out from him. So he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” His followers said, “Look at how many people are pushing against you! And you ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” But Jesus continued looking around to see who had touched him. The woman, knowing that she was healed, came and fell at Jesus’ feet. Shaking with fear, she told him the whole truth. Jesus said to her, “Dear woman, you are made well because you believed. Go in peace; be healed of your disease.”
Last week I told you how this woman was treated under the law, and how in her desperate actions she was ministered to by the power of Grace. In that segment of the passage we discovered that it was an extraordinary thing that she did to get to Jesus because of the Law, but that in so doing He did a more incredible thing in her life through the awesome touch of His Grace. Today I want to focus on the second exchange that took place between this woman and Jesus immediately after she knew she that was healed the instant she touched the hem of His clothes.
This healing account describes the first exchange as Jesus felt the healing power go out of him…and she felt her illness leave her. The ‘parade’ must have come to a halt because the Bible says that Jesus stopped, turned, and asked the question “Who touched my clothes?” His disciples were astonished at this question! By this time, they were quite used to people rushing up to see Jesus, pushing up to Him with no account for His personal space. I imagine they saw this crowd no differently than they had seen countless others before, and so they tried to point out the obvious. “Look at how many people are pushing against you! And you ask, ‘Who touched me?” their incredulousness at his query did not deter Jesus, He continued looking to see who it was that had touched His clothes. I think He knew exactly who it was, I believe that just as He did with the woman at the well, He already knew this poor woman’s entire life story. But, just like she had been on a mission to get to Jesus, I think He also had a worthy goal in mind by coming to a halt and asking “Who touched me?”
What happened next exemplifies a valuable lesson for us. The woman who had for so long tried to remain hidden away from others, was now being summoned right into the spotlight. Jesus desired to have another exchange with her, this time a verbal one…He wanted to have a loving conversation with her. For well over a decade, she had lived as an outcast, banished by her leaders, ostracized by her peers, rejected by everyone. Now in this moment, she was being sought after by the Rabbi, Healer, Master, her Messiah! No wonder she came and fell before Him trembling as she stammered her way through her story that He likely already knew so well! But Jesus was up to something. He was teaching…her…the crowd…us. The lesson among others…when you reach out to Jesus and He meets your needs, no matter how big…or small they seem…you’ve got to tell somebody! Jesus wants us to testify to others what He has done for us! All of us were created to bring Him glory. All of us were created for His pleasure. We all have a great, lofty and noble purpose…to give praise to the One who gives to us…everything we have!
My guess is that was not the last time this woman told her story about the day Jesus healed her. I imagine she told it so many times no one she knew or met thereafter was left unaware. I bet she never stopped telling how Jesus had taken her illness, her failures, her sinfulness, her desperation, all of it, and with one measure of His incredible Grace, made right everything that was wrong in her life!
After their conversation, Jesus dismissed her in peace, healed, and probably most important to her, accepted! This version says He addressed her as “Dear woman”, the original text however, says He used the Greek word “Thugater” and means daughter, and in that language would have included any female descendant regardless of how far removed. Jesus was claiming her as His own. He was saying that spiritually they were now in relationship, while physically he was pronouncing that he was her Creator and in that sense she was indeed His daughter. While some or much of that may have escaped this simple woman, it did not elude Jesus. He was tenderly letting her know He loved her immensely and intensely, and whether she understood it or not…throughout eternity…He always had.
Jesus cares the same for each of us. So what has He done for you? Are you telling everyone you can about it? Are you giving Him the glory for what He has done in your life? Are you using the examples of His touch of Grace in your life to spur others to seek that same touch in theirs? He hasn’t blessed you with His Power, His Grace, His forgiveness so you can keep it to yourself. In fact, others often see His blessing on our lives, and if we don’t tell them that it is by His Gracious hand alone that we get to experience those blessings, we are in effect taking the credit for ourselves. If Jesus has been so very, very good to you…and…He has, then part two is do tell…do tell…and then do tell some more!
So now…Desperate times call for Desperate measures, so Do Tell everybody you can about the Power of Jesus’ Grace in your life…and Go Be Awesome!

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures – September 8th, 2022

Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures.
Have you ever experienced desperate times? My life hasn’t been trouble free by any means, but in comparison to the experiences of other’s I’m not sure I would look back at my life and say it was filled with desperate times. When I compare my experiences to the people who lived through the dark days of the depression in the 1930’s, or those who experienced the horrors of war, or any of the other desperate times in history, my difficulties…even the worst of them don’t begin to compare. Most of us do have personal examples of this statement being found true at some point in our lives however. When I was diagnosed with cancer it didn’t seem ludicrous at all that I was in a hurry to let a surgeon cut the cancerous organ from my body regardless of the other physical difficulties that would likely ensue. I guess it is true, desperate times do call for desperate measures. Today I want to look at an account in God’s word of a desperate time in a certain woman’s life, and the desperate measures she was willing to take in response her difficulty.
Mark 5:21-29 Say this, Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around him on the shore. Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, pleading fervently with him. “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.” Jesus went with him, and all the people followed, crowding around him. A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.
This account makes mention of two unrelated desperate people. Jairus, who was a part of the church leadership system that despised Jesus, pleaded with Him to come to his house and heal his little girl who was dying. I imagine it must have been a difficult thing for him to get on his knees and beg Jesus (someone his peers hated) to come and heal someone even more important to him that he personally had no ability to help. Why was Jairus willing to do that? Desperate times call for desperate measures. In that same crowd, the bible says, there was another desperate person. A woman who had spent all of her money on doctors who were unable to stop her hemorrhaging for twelve long years! The bible tells us that though she had done all she knew how to do to that point, she had gotten no better and was in fact getting worse.
I’m not sure in our modern western society many of us really understand what the true scope of that woman’s problem was. We can read about her condition, but I’m not sure most of us really understand what it must have been like for her. No doubt, all those years she had been tired and weak both physically and emotionally. At that time in Israel, she would have been treated as a total outcast both physically and spiritually. According to Levitical law she was unclean, and would have caused anyone she touched, anyone who touched her, or even sat where she had, to become unclean as well. When she left her home she would have been forced to keep her distance from others and to loudly warn them she was unclean so they would not risk coming in contact with her. According to the law if she had gone into the temple in her condition the penalty would have been death. Her uncleanliness kept her from relationships with people and from worshipping her God the way she had been brought up to do. Things had become desperate for her indeed!
This woman had no doubt heard about Jesus and the power He seemed to have to heal people at will. She decided that she had to see Him. But how? If she went out to the crowds to find him, and was heard yelling “Unclean…unclean!” she would never get anywhere near Him. ‘Desperate times call for desperate measures.’ I don’t know for sure because we aren’t told, but I imagine as she approached Jesus she was being careful to avoid touching other people in the crowd. The Bible records that she came up behind Jesus, I believe she did this to keep the law and avoid coming into contact with anyone else. I would imagine most of those crowding up to Him would have been in front and to the sides of Jesus trying to get His attention. I think she decided that coming from behind was the only way she could get near Jesus and still do what was required by the Law. The scripture does tell us that she believed that if she could just touch His clothes she would be healed. As she did what her faith compelled her to do, we read she was indeed instantly healed.
In that moment there was an exchange between this desperate woman and Christ, her Messiah. We will read that power went out of Him and her illness left her. This account goes on to tell us much more of the verbal exchange between her and Jesus, and next week I plan to look at that part of the account in greater detail. Today however. I want to focus on this part of her story.
This woman had desperate faith, so desperate that she did the unfathomable and something even more incredible happened for her. Under the Law by touching Jesus her action should have made Christ unclean, instead through the power of Grace she was made clean by Him. The same thing happens for us when we come to Jesus with our sin. Prior to accepting that His death on the cross was to make payment for the penalty of our sin, we can’t have access to God. Our sin in God’s presence would necessitate our death, the same penalty the law required if that woman entered the temple while she was considered unclean. What she knew in her heart was that she needed to get close to Jesus and she believed that if she could just touch His clothes she would be healed. Her faith would not be deterred. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and so she set out to find her way to Jesus.
Like the woman in this account, we have to approach Christ with a determined faith, we have to come to a place where we realize nothing else, no one else, can save us from the disease of our sin. We have to be desperate for a healing from sin that seems to flow out of our lives no matter how hard we might try to contain it. That cleansing and healing can only come through the powerful Grace of Jesus Christ. As we approach Him and His holiness that our mere sinful presence should defile, we have the same incredible experience that woman did, Grace. Isaiah 53:5 says, But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. The power of Grace is what allowed her after all those years to finally to be healed and once again clean. The power of Grace is also what allows us to made righteous in God’s sight in spite of our past sinful nature. And that same power of Grace is what enables and allows us to enjoy a wonderful relationship with Jesus, our perfect Lord. Grace does what nothing else can, and desperate faith is what grants us access to that Grace.
Next week my thoughts on a Thursday will look at part two of that woman’s story…“Deux Tell”
So now, desperate to increasing your relationship with Jesus, and taking whatever desperate measures necessary to see that desire become a reality in your life…Go Be Awesome!

Three Simple Steps To Finding The Will Of God In Your Life! – September 1, 2022

Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Three Simple Steps to finding the will of God in your life.

Have you ever noticed that the marketing world loves to use “Three Simple Steps” to sell us nearly anything? No matter what you may be looking for…or maybe not looking for, someone wants to sell you their fool-proof, money back guaranteed solution in just “Three Simple Steps”. There a books upon books available that utilize this principle. There is one simply called Three Simple Steps – A Map To Success In Business And Life . Another one that looked interesting was Will Work For Fun: Three Simple Steps For Turning Any Hobby Into A Business. You can find three simple steps to losing weight, buying your next car or house, cooking gourmet meals or becoming wealthy beyond your wildest dreams. There is probably somebody out there who has tried to market a book about three simple steps to counting to three…hmmm, I am an author,  maybe I should consider…no it wouldn’t be right…funny, but not right.

Why are we so ready to buy something if it is broken down into three simple steps? Who ever got anywhere exciting by taking just three simple steps? I can clearly see from where I sit, where three simple steps will take me in any given direction…so let me check…nope, nothing earth shattering or life changing is just three simple steps away from me right now. So, what ever happened to ideas like “Anything worth having is worth working for”, or “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right”, or one of my personal favorites…”If it was that easy, everybody would be doing it”. As far as I can tell, everybody isn’t meeting with wild success. So, can we agree not everything can be broken down into three simple steps?

The Apostle Paul did write about three simple steps for finding the will of God in your life, but this wasn’t a marketing ploy to sell books, nor was it deceptive in any way. This one is the God’s honest truth. These three steps are laid out for us in his letter to the Thessalonian church. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says this: Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Three simple steps, laid out in three simple verses. Simply put however, these simple steps seem kind of complicated. How are we supposed to always be joyful? Are we supposed to start praying and never get to the part where we sign off with a reverent “Amen”? Are really expected to be thankful in all circumstances? One might counter that these three simple steps don’t look simple at all…they look impossible!

Ok let’s start with step one –  Always be joyful. Paul indicates here as well as other places like in in his letter to the Philippian church that joy is always appropriate. In Philippians 2:17,18 he writes, But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy. In Philippians 3:1 he writes, Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord… And further in Philippians 4:4 he says it again,  Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Ok, so I’m starting to detect a pattern here…Paul really does think it is possible to always be joyful. So I went to my trusty Greek-English Bible and looked it up. It seems that what Paul was trying to convey is that God’s grace or favor toward us is something we should always be joyful for because that grace is always is present in our lives. In other words, God’s grace is always with me regardless of my day-to-day situations. Paul isn’t necessarily telling me to be joyful for the specifics of my day, they may be viewed in a positive or negative light, but I can and should be joyful that God’s grace accompanies me through all of those situations whatever their outcome may be. I can be joyful because no matter what I face, I do not face it alone. My joy can be found in the One who accompanies me, even if it cannot be found in what we are walking through together.

Now for step two – Never stop praying. I shared regarding this scripture just a few weeks ago in my podcast entitled Dad…Dad…Dad…Dad. There I went into greater detail breaking down the meaning of this particular passage. In that episode I pointed out that in Luke chapter 11 Jesus told a story about a man who woke up his neighbor in the middle of the night to ask for some food he needed because an unexpected guest had arrived at his home, and he had nothing to feed him. Jesus said that the sleepy neighbor would likely refuse to help because of the late hour, but that if the one at the door continued to knock incessantly, his neighbor would in fact, give him what he needed, not because of their friendship, but because of his persistent knocking and asking. He went on to say this about the value of Simple step number two…never stop praying. His words are recorded for us in Luke 11:9-10, there he said, And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives. Everyone who seeks finds. And to everyone who knocks the door will be opened. In verse 13 he let us know what those who ask, seek and knock, could expect…God will give to them the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives. According to Galatians 5:22-23 with The Holy Spirit’s influence we are able to face every situation life throws our way with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, we were created in His image and His likeness, asking that the fruit of His Own Spirit might be displayed in our lives certainly fulfills God’s will that we would be reflective of Him. Additionally, Jesus made the point that God does not answer us because He is annoyed by our persistence as the sleepy neighbor in His story was. Jesus was quite clear. God is good and responds to us out of love, not frustration. God desires that we ask, seek and knock continually because that action on our part indicates to Him our desire for a continual relationship with Him. James 4:8 tells us that if we draw near to God, God will in return draw near to us.

Simple step number three to finding the will of God in your life – Be thankful in all circumstances. Paul understood a great psychological truth. An attitude of gratitude causes us to view the things that are happening in our lives with corrected vision. Giving thanks to God every day is an act of faith, because not every occurrence in our life is a positive one. Some things are downright negative, bad, wrong…maybe even evil. So are we really supposed to give thanks for all those negative circumstances we encounter? Absolutely. Even more so in those situations. Meeting our literal God-given potential to be reflective of Him is relatively easy when all is going exactly as we would like it to. In those instances, we may not even see a great need for His assistance, but when all is not going well, or perhaps seemingly nothing is going as we want it to, giving thanks will illustrate our faith in God. A grateful attitude during times of duress, difficulty or even despair highlights our belief that He is interceding for us and that He will use those challenging times for our good by helping us to become even more like Christ. (Romans 8:26-29) One of the scriptures that is near and dear to my heart that speaks so clearly of why, when where and how we should give thanks in all circumstances is found in Psalm 100. Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. Finally, Hebrews 12:28 offers an unshakable reason for step three…be thankful in all circumstancesSince we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.

So there you have it, just three simple steps. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances and God’s word says the result of those are that this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

So now, you have the three simple steps…following those steps and finding God’s will for your life…Go Be Awesome!

Just So You Know, There Will Be A Test! – August 25th, 2022

Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Just So You Know, There Will Be A Test!

When I was a young student in school. I hated hearing those dreaded words…”Just so you know, there will be a test”! I wasn’t particularly bad at taking tests, I was simply too busy to prepare for them, and my desire to prioritize fun and play over studying, made tests stressful as well as just plain bothersome. As I sit here today sharing my thoughts on a Thursday with you I am reminded that those stress inducing words were most often uttered on a Thursday because so many of those tests came on a Friday. As a fourth and Fifth grader I had the same teacher. Miss Biga was my all-time favorite teacher even back then…though she still holds that distinction today. Then and now, I understood my good fortune to have had her be my teacher for two consecutive years. Though she was, and remains my favorite, she also would remind our class with regularity, “Just so you know, there will be a test”. In those particular grades, many of those weekly tests were designed to demonstrate our command of vocabulary words and the correct spelling of each of them. Miss Biga and her insistence to teach all of her pupils to possess a strong vocabulary is probably the one person more responsible than any other for turning me into what my wife refers to as a “Word-Nerd”.

Those weekly vocabulary lists often contained Homonyms, just to make it tricky. Most of us know these to be words that either sound the same but have different meanings, are spelled the same but have different sounds and meanings…or both. I remember one time when she went all-in for 25 little mind explosions at once by teaching us there were additional words to describe each of the options above. Just to prove my status as a word nerd…words that sound the same but have different meanings are actually called Homophones. Examples of these would be t-o…t-o-o…and t-w-o, or t-h-e-i-r…t-h-e-r-e…and t-h-e-y-‘-r-e. On the other hand, Homographs are words that are spelled the same, but have different sounds and meanings. These include l-e-a-d which can be pronounced lead, a heavy metal or lead, to show someone the way, another example might be w-i-n-d, wind is moving air, but to wind means to use revolutions to accomplish a task like winding up a kite string. I know there is some argument as to whether a Homonym can be either a Homograph or a Homophone or if it must be both, but Miss Biga said it must be both…so that is the correct definition…take it from a word-nerd! Just so you know, there is going to be a test!

Today I want to introduce you to the most important vocabulary list you will ever possess. To simplify I will not include any Homonyms, Homographs or Homophones. However to make it difficult enough that you feel the need to pay attention…if I haven’t lost you already…and I hope I haven’t because this is very important…I will use rhyming words. Are you ready? There are only two words on this all-important vocabulary list…Selfish and Selfless. They may sound similar, but they actually have completely opposite meanings! Most, if not all of us know what these two words mean, but I find we are less than adept at recognizing which we are employing at times. Moreover, I believe we often overlook the true ramifications of which of these we are choosing. Last week in my other podcast… the Monday Marriage Message, I made the point that worldly wisdom will make allowances for there being times selfishness is the reasonable and perhaps even the responsible choice. Finding Godly wisdom, otherwise known as scripture to tell us when the right time for selfish behavior is…that is more difficult, and by “More difficult” I mean it doesn’t exist. Finding occasions of Christ, (our ultimate example) choosing selfishness as the correct choice is seemingly even less likely, and by “Less likely” I mean it never happened. In fact, One day Jesus was teaching about the importance of choosing correctly, choosing selflessness over selfishness. As were many of His teachings, it was, as I like to say, “Difficult but not complicated”. It was and is to this day difficult because that pesky worldly wisdom wants to argue all of the reasons selfishness would be the reasonable and responsible path to take. It isn’t complicated, because as Jesus pointed out selfishness is only necessary when we are afraid we won’t be cared for as we feel we should be. Of selflessness, he made the important note, we have to utilize faith, we have to trust God to take care of our needs while we care for the needs of others. It is difficult…but it isn’t complicated.

The teaching I spoke of a moment ago is found in Luke 12:22-34. I would like to read this scripture from a paraphrase of the New Testament that I especially appreciate. Aptly named The Remedy and written by Dr. Timothy Jennings this version focuses on the construct of love and selflessness upon which God operates and desires for us to operate within as well.

22Then turning to his interns, Jesus said: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about how the future will turn out, about where your next meal will come from, or with what to clothe your body.23Life is not built to operate on the survival-of-the-fittest principle — constantly seeking to get food for yourself, or wear the latest fashion.24Look at the ravens: they don’t worry about planting, or harvesting, or storing food in barns or silos, because your heavenly Father is constantly giving of himself to feed them. You are infinitely more valuable than the birds!25Who of you by worrying has added even a single hour to your life?26If your worry can’t do this simple thing, then why worry about the rest?

27“Look at the lilies of the field: they don’t sew or weave, yet I tell you that Solomon in his most magnificent robes was not dressed as one of these.28If that is how God clothes the grass in the field, which is here today and gone tomorrow, will he not do much more for you? Oh, how you trust him so little.29Stop worrying all the time, saying, ‘Oh, where will we get groceries? What is there to drink?’30The pagans, who don’t know God, are constantly preoccupied with getting for self and seeking to survive at all costs. But your heavenly Father knows all your needs and longs to provide them,31so seek first to live in harmony with God’s kingdom of giving and all your needs will be met as well.

32“Don’t live in fear, fear is part of the infection of sin and turns your mind to self. It is your heavenly Father’s pleasure to give you his kingdom of love.33So live to give, sell what you don’t need, and give to bless the less fortunate. Let your hearts cherish and hold to love and therefore be like a purse that won’t decay, filled with an eternal treasure that will never run out, and which no thief can steal.34For what you treasure most is where your heart is.

We often look at this passage to gain instruction concerning worry in general. I believe it to be specifically pertaining to worrying about the results of following Christ’s example of selflessness. When you read them carefully even the other more well-known translations are focused on worry as it relates to giving to others and trusting God to care for us. This teaching of Jesus’ pointed out several things. We do in fact have physical needs like food and clothing, but just as God meets those needs for seemingly unimportant things like birds and flowers in abundant ways, how much more will He meet the needs of the only thing He created in His own image and likeness? Second, it points out that thinking selfishly is the natural thought of those who do not know God, because they don’t have the ability to place faith in that which they deny exists. However, as people who claim to love God and follow Christ, our mindset should be different. We ought to trust God to take care of us. Finally, Jesus pointed out the great test…I told you there would be a test. If we truly trust God to meet our needs we can afford to be selfless to the point of selling everything we have and giving it to those who are in need, because we know that our needs, both the physical here and now, and the spiritual which are eternal, WILL BE met by God. Essentially, we will learn that we can choose selflessness because we don’t have to look out for number one in light of the fact that Number One is looking out for us.

So now, preparing for the tests as they come, trust God to take good, good care of you and choose selflessness toward others…and go be awesome!

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