We believe the Word of God, but how should we deepen our commitment to it as we move forward?
Army Staff Sergeant Philip Gray deployed to Afghanistan. His tour of duty would last for 270 days. It would also separate him from Rosie, his 7-year-old daughter. Before he left, he wrote a note to Rosie for every day he would be away. In them, he encouraged her in her school work and to do her best in whatever she did. On October 7, 2019, he left home, and every day, while he was gone, his wife put the notes in Rosie’s lunch book. They were replete with small drawings of holidays, such as pumpkins for Halloween. The whole time that Sgt. Gray served his company, he thought of his family, especially his child. It’s no different for God. He is a father to children and shows the same love to them. As the psalmist observed, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:13) A good father keeps in touch with his children. Through the Bible and prayer, God the Father keeps in communication with his children. God is never far away. Sgt. Gray arrived home on August 8, 2020, three days before Rosie’s birthday. She asked her father, ‘Dad, are you going leave me and mom a note?’” Philip said. “I say ‘Yes bug, I will leave you a note.’” And God does the same. He still leaves us his notes in his word. Are you getting your note today? -Robert G. Taylor-
Since Jesus pointed the way when he ascended from the earth, our mission is clear. Make disciples of all the nations. How do we rekindle our passion to win the lost to Christ?
Mark Grenon and his son are in trouble. The problem is their “cure.” The father-son duo sold what they called the “Mineral Miracle Solution,” which was marketed to cure “COVID-19, malaria, and cancer.” What was this “miracle cure?” It was nothing but ordinary household bleach. People bought it and used it. Many were hospitalized, and some died. The Grenon made over a million dollars selling it, even setting up a “church” called The Genesis II Church of Health and Healing.” They are not the first to offer bogus cures. Snake oil salesmen go back to the time of the Bible. Judah’s leaders refused to acknowledge the nation’s sin, with the Babylonians coming as punishment for sin. Instead, they offered hope when there was none. Jeremiah chided them: “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14) Our world wants to smooth over sin and guilt. We offer therapy, self-help, and morning affirmations as cures for what ails us. Preachers preach prosperity and comforting words. And people feel better, but are not right. The only medicine that works for our deepest ailment is to take Jesus at his word, trust him in complete obedience, and let him change your life. It won’t be a miracle drug but simply God’s miracle. The Grenons are awaiting trials for their fraud. But in truth, we all are awaiting trial for employing false remedies to our spiritual emptiness. Take your medicine, and you will be well. -Robert G. Taylor-
In 1947, something changed in American sports. It rocked American society. In that year, Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play professional baseball. Robinson was a star, not an attraction. At the end of his career, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, inducted him into baseball's royalty. Robinson made a request. He only wanted his playing statistics recorded on the Hall of Fame plaque. He refused any mention of the “first African-American.” It was that way until 2008. That’s when the Hall of Fame changed the plaque. Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said, “The time is right to recognize his contribution to history, not only as a Hall of Fame player but also as a civil rights pioneer.” Too many times, we see life through the prism of accomplishment. We measure titles, positions, and awards. Yet, God sees through the hollow accolades of human beings. He told Samuel, who was looking for a king “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) The Lord doesn’t measure accomplishment, but character. Who you are is more important than what you’ve done. Remember what is most important. It’s not the advancement but transformation. What will God see in your life? -Robert G. Taylor-
In 1968, war broke out in Northern Ireland. On one side were Irish Protestants. Their opposition was Irish Catholics. For thirty years, bombings and murders committed in the name of faith terrorized the country. It was so divisive, it split apart cities. The River Foyle divides one such city. On one side, are Catholics and on the other are Protestants. The citizens don’t even agree about the name. Some call it Londonderry, while others insist its name is Derry. It is only one sign of the tension and strife that tore apart a small nation. No one crossed the river…until 2011. In that year, a unique 900-foot bridge that curves like a snake spanned the river. Architects designed it for joggers, walkers, and bicyclists. If people can cross to the other side, they may find some reconciliation. The name of the bridge is the Peace Bridge. We all need a bridge. God in his holiness is distant and unreachable by sinful man. So God built a bridge. Paul describes God’s construction of his own peace bridge: “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10) God built a bridge that, if we will walk it through submission to his will, God welcomes us home. God’s love built the bridge for us. Will you cross it? -Robert G. Taylor-
Evan Todachine gives a lesson on rethinking our thoughts on affliction.
Some opportunities you wish you had back. The Lil Thompson’s Steakhouse owner had a frequent visitor who was a friend to the owner. He got free food for years before he was famous. One night, the steakhouse held an Elvis Presley Impersonator context. The place filled with eager spectators and hopeful singers. One by one, performers stepped to the microphone, belted out their best Elvis tune, and sat down. Finally, the owner’s friend decided to take a whirl. He told him, “I’m going to mash this.” He sang Elvis’ trademark song “Love Me Tender.” The people were polite. He came in third. The final almost-good-enough performer was none other but real Elvis Presley. People important moments by mistaking them for something ordinary. Two men walked on a road, discussing the current events in Jerusalem. A man fell in with them as they walked. He seemed ignorant about the recent death of Jesus of Nazareth and the dashed hopes of the pair who talked. Once they arrived at their destination, they ate together. And Luke tells us the story. “And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:31–32) The one they walked with and ate with was Jesus himself. And they had not recognized him. We meet Christ in strange places….hospital rooms, street corners, and even hurting friends. And yet, we miss him. We see the moment, not the Master. Yet, Jesus shows up, and only the spiritual discerning can see past that moment. Have you missed Jesus in your life? He’s here in plain sight for those who want to find him. -Robert G. Taylor-
One of the marvels of the universe is the simple strands of silk created by the humble spider. Arachnids methodically spin and weave their delicate strands into geometric marvels. It becomes their trip to the unsuspecting insect. It also becomes the fascination of a child on an idle day. When dew and sun filter through a web, it is a wonder to behold. Few consider the wonder of that tiny filament that seems so flimsy. Yet, that strand, if bound together into a two-inch braid, could tow a jumbo jet without breaking. Yet, on its own, a single strand snaps at the slightest pressure. Much of our lives are bound up with others, as we have learned well in the last year. On our own, we are weak, helpless, and struggling. The reinforced truth is each of us needs all of us. Paul knew the power of the church was not in single Christians. Instead, it was the collective strength that made the gospel spread. Listen to is counsel to the Romans. “For by the grace given to me, I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,” (Romans 12:3–4) As we move forward, consider the fragile web of the spider. -Robert G. Taylor-
In his novel, Remembering, Wendell Berry tells the story of Andy Catlett, a Kentucky farmer who learned he needed some help. He and other farmers helped a younger farmer bring in a corn harvest. Catlett operated a corn harvesting machine. The machine jammed. Andy tried to clear it, but his right hand caught in the gears. He looked at his arm. His hand was gone. His wife scolded, “what did you do to yourself?” His shame answered. “I’ve ruined my hand.” Andy felt “defective” and withdrew into isolation. Another farmer named Danny Branch refused to let him sink even further. He forced him back into farming. “They learned to work together, the one-handed old man and the two-handed. They know as one what the next move needs to be. They are not swift, but they don’t fumble.” As Branch said, “Between us, we’ve got three hands. Everybody needs at least three. Nobody ever needed more.” Three hands. It sounds strange, but it is a Biblical principle. We all need more than we are by ourselves. As Solomon observed, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9–12) He could have written, “we all need three hands.” Fellowship provides a magnificent blessing. It gives us three hands, someone to help us when down. And everyone needs three hands. Who are yours? -Robert G. Taylor-