THEIR FAITH

Martha walked from the livingroom to the kitchen. People covered nearly every square foot of space. She went outside for fresh air.

A man ran up to her. “Jesus is coming with His men.”

Her feet carried her to the city gate. She found Jesus there. “Lord, if You’d been here Lazarus would still be alive. I know the Father will grant You whatever you ask Him.”

Jesus placed a hand on her shoulder. “Your brother will live again.”

She stared into His eyes. “I know he will at the resurrection, but…”

“I am resurrection and life. Anyone who believes in Me shall live even if he’s dead. The living who believe in me shall never die. Do you understand?”

Martha blinked a few times. “Yes. I believe You are the Messiah, the promised Son of God.”

She pulled Jesus’s hand off her shoulder. “Wait here.”

Martha ran back to the house and found her sister. “Jesus is outside the gate. He’s asking for you.”

Mary stood, wiped the tears from her eyes and pushed her way out the front door.

The crowd followed her. She overheard someone say, “she must be going to the tomb to grieve.”

Mary fell to her knees, her forehead stopped on Jesus’s feet. “Lord, if you’d been here Lazarus would still be alive.”

Jesus looked at the crowd of mourners. A sigh left His lungs. “Where have you laid him?”

A man tugged on Jesus’s sleeve. “Come, I’ll show You.”

When Jesus looked down tears fell on Mary’s hair. He lifted her to her feet and placed an arm across her shoulders. They led the crowd to the tomb.

A woman in the group tapped the man next to her. “See how much He loved this family.”

The man leaned in to her. “I saw Jesus give sight to a blind man. He could have kept Lazarus alive if He’d been here.”

********

Here’s another popular and often misunderstood account from the life of Jesus. I’ve heard a lot of sermons where the preacher has the sisters blaming Jesus for the death of Lazarus. They have them placing the weight of the situation on the shoulders of God’s Son for not stopping this mess to begin with.

I don’t see it that way.

I believe Martha and Mary fully comprehended Jesus as God’s promised Messiah. Martha even states that fact to Him.

The sisters also recognize God’s sovereignty over every situation in life. So, the death of their brother was accepted as being guided by God’s purpose, even if they didn’t like it.

I see them as making their simple statement of faith to Jesus. “If You had been here You could have stopped this.”

They knew He had the power to heal sick people. They simply wished to turn back the clock and have a different outcome to their dilemma. How often have you been there?

Jesus makes no attempt to correct or teach them here. He recognizes their level of faith as good and acceptable. He also knew He was about to grow their faith in amazing ways by His actions.

Don’t you just love it when Jesus steps in in unexplained and unexpected ways?

Many people had seen Jesus heal the sick, give sight to the blind, cast out demons and a host of other miracles. There were likely some in the crowd who were recipients of such wonders.

But, a body that’s four days past life and in a definite state of decomposition, what hope did anyone have for Lazarus?

His death had come. His time on this earth was over. His influence was nothing more than an echo from now on. Until Jesus…

What do you have in your life that needs a miracle today?

Is there a strained relationship with a family member? Perhaps you’ve divorced and need hope for your future.

Have your finances been stretched to the limits since you began tithing regularly? Look for Jesus to help you build His kingdom.

Does a series of health issues keep you home more than you’d like? Pray for healing while seeking opportunities to serve where you are.

Keep in mind God won’t often answer your prayers the way you expect Him to. Your spouse may see the divorce as displeasing to God or God may bring someone better suited to you into your life. You may get an unexpected bonus at work or you may keep scratching out an existence to prepare you for a task in the kingdom. You may come across a home remedy that will improve your health or you may come across a ministry that needs more prayer support from you.

What would have happened if Jesus had stayed in the box Martha and Mary put Him in? Do you really want that for your life?

Their faith was strong when Jesus walked back into their lives. He was about to grow it exponentially by His actions.

Remember the times God stepped in to bolster your faith while praying for Him to come back in even more amazing ways.

This life isn’t about our happiness. If it was I’d have checked out a long time ago.

This life is preparation for our eternal assignments in heaven. Don’t expect to strum a harp forever.

We’ll rule alongside Jesus. Each of us is being developed for that task now.

Jesus had told His closest followers numerous times He was going to die and come back to life. They were so focused on the Messiah establishing His kingdom in their lifetime they never comprehended his message.

The object lesson He was about to give should have shaken them into believing He was telling the truth.

Why were they so surprised when He did come back to life?

Perhaps they hadn’t thrown that box away they held the Messiah in.

Don’t think God has forgotten you and your situation.

He hasn’t forgotten. He’s using it to grow your faith exponentially.

Embrace your struggle as training for service.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Happy Take Your Pants for a Walk Day!!!

Yep, you guessed it. I’m dried up on ideas to write about so I dipped into the Zany holiday grab bag and came up with a winner.

Take Your Pants for a Walk Day should be very self-explanatory, but I know too many folks will come up with excuses not to take their pants anywhere today.

Being that it’s the summer months in the northern hemisphere I’m sure a lot of people don’t even want to take their pants out of the closet, let alone for a walk. Shorts or a light sundress maybe, but definitely not pants.

Hey, don’t look at me. I didn’t come up with the holiday. I’m just telling you what I found on the internet to help in a pinch here.

I also discovered that July is National Hot Dog AND National Ice Cream Month. So, don’t go blaming me when your pants fit tighter after you finally decide to pull them out of the closet and try them back on. If you do decide to take them for a walk today you may thank me in a month or two.

Being raised on a farm I’ve never been much of a shorts wearer myself. No, when your dad is a farmer you’re not reared you’re raised.

Anyway, we had friends who would want to come out and help us bale hay in the summer back in the day. The first day they showed up they invariably wore shorts. They thought we were nuts wearing pants in the summer heat until the hay bales scratched their legs to smithereens.

Guess what they wore the second day they came out to help. Yeah, even city kids catch on pretty quickly to harsh country wisdom.

Of course we took advantage of the free labor they provided. At least until their piles of hay fell off the wagon and we had to stack them back on. City kids…

There are advantages to wearing pants instead of shorts this time of year.

Number one…the mosquitoes are less likely to bite you in the legs with them covered. That makes it less likely you’ll contract West Nile Virus and such. Why isn’t there an East Nile Virus, anyway? I never have figured out why anybody would want to feed deadly bugs when all they have to do is move to the other side of the river. Now you’re getting me sidetracked again.

B. By covering your skin with cloth you’re likely to sweat more while walking. That means all those hot dog and ice cream calories will melt off better when you wear pants this time of year. Just sayin’.

Number C: You’ll fit in today for Take Your Pants for a Walk Day. Nuff said.

When Jesus walked this earth pants versus shorts wasn’t an issue for Him. They simply wore a robe all the time since Levi Strauss hadn’t been invented, yet.

That made for some interesting Bible phrases for us to grapple with.

“Gird up your loins” is one of them. When someone needed to run back in that day they had to take the back-bottom portion of their robe and tuck it into the front part of their waistband.

The bulk of material must have been awkward, but it was the best way to free up their legs for full motion while running. Of course the fact they didn’t make a habit of running just for exercise likely meant they didn’t run very far before they collapsed from exhaustion. But that’s where that phrase comes from. Just so you know.

There was also more room for tassles at the bottom of robes than pants would offer. The religious leaders of Jesus’s day took full advantage of that. Look it up, I can’t teach you everything from the Bible on my humble blog here.

I don’t recall reading that Jesus ever ran anywhere. He always walked to where He was going, except for that time He rode the waves on a stormy Sea of Galilee. I think He smiled when He did that maneuver.

While you’re taking your pants for a walk today remember Jesus’s example and slow your life down to that tempo.

Contemplate the direction your life is heading, not just for your walk but all of it.

Pray for whoever God brings to mind while you’re out there, too.

You see, we just came up with a few more reasons for you to take your pants for a walk today and any day. So, go out there and make it a habit of exercising your body and soul.

Keep smiling.   Wade

 

THE DELAY

As a group of six women with babies approached Matthew he glanced back at Jesus.

Jesus was smiling at a man holding his mat. “Go. Your faith has made you well.” He looked past Matthew and smiled at the women.

Matthew stepped aside and escorted the ladies to the Rabbi. Jesus held each of the infants and tossled the hair of a toddler who hugged His leg.

Matthew recognized two Judean men as friends of Martha and Mary.

One of them grabbed Matthew’s arm. “We must see Jesus immediately. Lazarus is in grave condition.”

Matthew turned and pushed the last woman aside.

Jesus pulled her close and whispered in her ear. “Go, and sin no more.”

Matthew stared in Jesus’ eyes. “Rabbi…”

One of the men pushed past Matthew. “He whom You love is sick.”

Jesus placed his hand on the man’s shoulder. “This sickness won’t end in death. Tell the ladies we’ll be there for them. The Son of God will be glorified through this.”

The man nodded, then looked at his friend before the two of them left.

Jesus turned to a man being led to him next to another man. “What do you wish for Me to do?”

The blind man leaned forward. “Son of David, I want to see.”

Jesus stooped in front of him and looked in his eyes. “Your faith has made you well.”

The man blinked repeatedly at Jesus. Looked at his friend, then at everyone in the crowd before letting out a cry. “I can see everything.”

He hugged Jesus. “Thank You Jesus.”

“You are most welcome.”

****

Two days later Jesus gathered His disciples together after breakfast. “It’s time to return to Judea.”

Bartholomew spit out his last bite of food. “But, the last time we were there they tried to stone You. Are You sure about this?”

Jesus smiled. “As long as a person walks in the light of day he won’t stumble. When you attempt to walk at night then you’ll fall because the light is gone.” His men stared at Him. “I must go wake Lazarus up.”

Judas stood. “But, if he sleeps he’ll get better.”

Jesus looked at each man. “Lazarus is dead. It’s good that I wasn’t there so you’ll believe.” He stood. “Let’s go.”

Thomas stood after Jesus walked away. “Let’s go so we can die with Him, too.”

The twelve men waded across the Jordan River behind Jesus.

********

Knowing how this familiar story ends removes too much of the impact of this part of it. Most people gloss over this to get to the good part. We aren’t going to do that this time.

Jesus led His men to the east side of the Jordan River to escape the clutches of the religious establishment for a time. His time had yet to come for further work in Jerusalem. The disciples thought He must be running for His life. He was merely waiting for the right time to return.

There are three characters in this narrative I find intriguing.

  1. Martha and Mary’s messengers must have thought they heard Jesus wrong after they returned to Bethany and found Lazarus in the tomb. Why did He insist this wouldn’t end in death? What type of death was He talking about this time?
  2. The disciples felt some sense of security away from Jerusalem. The crowds were on their side here. Jesus was at His peak healing and teaching them. How much faith did it take for them to follow Jesus back to His almost certain death?
  3. Thomas stands up and declares his allegiance to Jesus in such a profound way. I don’t think he understood all the implications of his statement here. Did he believe death must be a part of the kingdom Jesus would establish?

Are you in a similar place in your walk with Jesus?

Is the road ahead confusing you?

Does the next step require all the faith you have?

Life is not about the destination but the journey. That’s where the lessons are taught.

Faith is not faith if you know the outcome. Believe in Jesus in spite of your doubts.

Trust is not trust if you have control of the situation. Rely on God’s sovereignty.

Hope is not hope if the final result is easy. Continue to move in the direction God has you on.

Death is a major part of God’s kingdom. You must die to your own desires now to fulfill God’s plans for your future in His kingdom.

If you pursue the wealth and fame this world has to offer you’ll discover more frustration than God seems to hold. Your kingdom on this earth will be so elusive and short-lived that you’ll run out of life before you’re there.

Temporary success and pleasure will dull you to reality before you know it.

Satan gives you his best things first. God saves His best for last.

You must decide which path you want to travel.

The popular road will lead to destruction. The kingdom road will lead to eternal peace and joy.

No matter how bleak things appear now the outcome is assured. Jesus will ride in on a white horse to save the day and establish His kingdom once and for all. God wrote that in the Bible long before any fiction writer used that theme for their story.

Each struggle you work through has a purpose.

Each pain you bear holds a God-given plan.

Every instance of doubt you work through brings you closer to a divine destiny.

Cling to the Father for strength. Trust the Son for your hope. Rely on the Holy Spirit for direction.

The lessons learned in your journey through life are equipping you for your role in God’s kingdom.

Don’t despair the tests, ask for more.

Don’t despise the pain, expect more.

Don’t avoid the sacrifices, embrace them.

Your eternal destiny is being wrought in this furnace of your life.

Those who persevere will come out shining brighter than pure gold.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

I can add a new title to my professional resume. I R a painter.

The financial road God has me on has taken yet another unexpected turn in my life. He’s had me on a strict manna diet the past few months. That means I have just enough income to cover my bills each month.

I’ve had some spending money for a few added items, but very few.

In my quest to build a bit of a spiritual base for an accountability partner(s) I called a friend from church to see if he’d be willing to come alongside me for such a fellowship.

Paul is on his own God-given manna journey. He came to Dallas to attend Dallas Theological Seminary a few years back. After graduating he’s been open to God’s leading for a new church to pastor. So far nothing has transpired along that line.

To support his family Paul took painting and handyman jobs for income while at DTS. He’s used that to fund his family’s fun and food ever since. You see, Paul isn’t an apostle in the truest sense of the term. I call him “the Apainter Paul.”

Before my phone conversation with the Apainter Paul was over he asked if I could use some extra income. I thought about it and prayed intensely before I said a quick “well, yeah.”

Next thing I know I have a paint roller in my hand and I’m adding paint to the inside of a garage of someone I never met in my life. Funny how hunger can make a fella do such impromptu things.

The housing boom in our area has added so much business to the Apainter Paul that he’s been turning work away lately. So, I’m actually adding to his income while aiding my finances as well. That’s what we commonly refer to as a “win-win” situation.

Okay, I admit that I’m as addicted to winning as the next person. Even if nobody’s actually keeping score.

I’ve noticed a few interesting things about paint.

  1. Paint can fill in holes smaller than a pencil eraser. When carefully applied a gob of paint can fill in old screw holes to make the wall look better than it actually is. This is mostly used when someone forgot to fill in said hole with spackle before picking up the roller.
  2. Paint can cover an area of the floor rather quickly. This is extremely important to keep in mind when you don’t plan on painting the floor in the first place. The Apainter is the guy who actually kicked the pail over. I guess he thought a live demonstration of how to rapidly correct such a blunder was the best teaching method.
  3. Paint can hide stains and graffiti quite well. Most of the fading of the old paint covered over well with one coat of paint. The dark brown streaks on the back wall required two coats of paint, but you can’t even guess they’re still there now. I know where they are, but I’m not telling anyone else my secret.

People tend to handle their spiritual lives like a painter. They do their best to cover their sins and mistakes so nobody else sees the imperfections they have, or they think God keeps score so they try to do enough good works to outscore their bad deeds.

The only problem with this approach is they lose sight of the fact that God sees everything. His perfection excludes anyone who is imperfect. Just because nobody else can see the sin doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

That’s why Jesus became a man. He became the substitute for us to fill in the gap that exists between sinful man and a holy God.

Whenever someone accepts Jesus’ death on the cross as the death we deserve because of our sinfulness God sees us in a completely different light.

It’s only after we accept God’s gift of salvation given by Jesus’ sacrifice of His life that God sees us as His children. It’s as if we are Jesus Himself in God’s view.

The relationship with God is restored and He gains spiritual children who will spend eternity with Him.

That’s the kind of win-win situation I think everybody should accept.

Too bad most people would rather live with stains covered up than to have them removed the right way.

Jesus’ blood washes us whiter than snow.

Don’t settle for a simple cover up when a complete makeover is available to you.

Keep smiling.   Wade

THE STONES

Jesus stopped in Solomon’s porch to soak up the winter sun’s heat at mid-day. His disciples followed His example. The Feast of Dedication was near its end.

A mob from Jerusalem soon surrounded them. A few Sadducees and Pharisees were mixed in.

A man with a half gray beard stepped forward. “If you’re the Messiah stop keeping us guessing. Just tell us now.”

Jesus opened His eyes slowly. “I’ve told you repeatedly, but you can’t hear me since you aren’t one of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice and follow Me. My works should be enough proof for you. My Father gave Me the miracles as evidence of who I am. I give My sheep eternal life. No one can take them from My hand. My Father is greater than Me and nobody can take them out of His hand either. I and My Father are one.”

The mob picked up some stones from the Temple’s construction debris.

Jesus held His ground. “Which of the miracles do you stone Me for?”

“We’re not stoning you for any miracle, but for making yourself out to be God when you’re only a man. That’s blasphemy.”

Jesus tilted His head. “But, your own scripture says God calls you gods since you are sons of the Most High. If I didn’t do the works My Father sent Me to do that would be worthy of death and you’d have no reason to believe Me. You don’t need to believe Me when you have the miracles as witness that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.”

The man spun around to his cohorts. “What more evidence do we need to end this heresy?”

The murmur rose to a roar. When he turned back to Jesus He and His followers were gone.

****

Jesus led His men to the east side of the Jordan River. John recognized it as the place the baptizer began his ministry. Many people came to be healed and listen to Jesus teach them. The disciples baptized a few who felt the need for repentance.

A voice rose from the din of the crowd. “John didn’t perform any miracles, but everything he told us is true of Jesus. He is the Messiah, indeed.”

Thomas approached Jesus. “Why didn’t those in Jerusalem believe who You are?”

Jesus placed a hand on Thomas’s shoulder. “Only My sheep hear My voice and follow. They were not chosen as Mine by the Father.”

********

What is it about centers of power that blind people to the reality of the situation they’re in?

The good folks of Jerusalem were serious about silencing Jesus. The peasantry across the river welcomed Jesus with open arms by recognizing Him as the Messiah promised by the scriptures and John the baptizer.

Pride and power are evil twins that need to be contended with fiercely. Once they get a hold of a person it’s difficult to get them to release their grip. Do your best to curtail them at all cost.

This portion of scripture holds one of my all-time favorite themes in the whole Bible. I’ve always loved the word picture Jesus creates by telling us His followers are held in His grasp and in God the Father’s grasp, too. The added benefit of nobody being able to snatch us out of those hands is icing on the cake.

There are some people who think people can lose their salvation by some action or other. This is one of the main sections used to refute that notion.

The people who do turn their backs on God after their “conversion” likely were never truly committed to Jesus in the first place. They either followed the crowd to fit in or went through the motions with no real heart cry for repentance. Deep down they didn’t see their need for a savior because they lived a clean enough life.

The truth is nobody is good enough to get to heaven without Jesus’s shed blood.

We’re all simple sheep seeking someone to follow. The problem with most people is they’re willing to follow the crowd to the next popular celebrity everyone else appears to be following.

The pleasures of this life become the cornerstone of their existence. With no vision of an eternity who can blame them?

That’s where Christ-followers need to stand out from the crowd. If we’re focusing our attention on building a retirement account to pad the end of our life on this earth to the detriment of helping others how will others see their need for a change of direction?

Some non-Christians are better at meeting the needs of the poor and helpless than Christians are.

Some Christians are only vocal when they’re condemning a lifestyle they disagree with.

Who do you think a lost soul will be attracted to best?

Jesus spent time with the “sinners” of His day to the detriment of His reputation. The religious establishment never did get Him. The sinners sure did. Their repentance was genuine. Their eternity secured by this lover of their souls.

Let’s do a better job of emulating His example.

Buy a meal and hand it to that guy on the street corner seeking handouts. If he takes it quickly you can be sure he’s genuinely in need of help. Maybe you can offer him a simple job to earn some income. That could reshape his entire outlook.

That single mom down your street doesn’t need your condemnation, either. Sure she made some bad life choices. Who hasn’t? Offer to watch her kids or mow her lawn and she’ll be forever grateful to you. That offer to come with you to church will be a lot more attractive.

That person at work struggling in a marriage needs a listening ear more than anything. Let them vent, just listen. Suggest a passage of scripture for them to find the answer for themself. When they own it the truth will stick much better.

Let’s be Jesus to the least.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Faith is like a muscle. I’m running with a limp right now.

Every runner knows there are times you just have to run through a pain. Most sore muscles work the kinks out with a little simple effort.

BUT, sometimes a runner has to admit the pain is just too bad to ignore. I developed one of THOSE pains last week.

Let me explain my unorthodox running routine so you have a feel for my pain here.

With an unscheduled work schedule I never know for sure when I’m available for a pounding on my temple to keep it fit for the King’s service. Some weeks I only get one run in. Occasionally I get two or three.

Last week I got two in, Sunday and Tuesday.

I do my best to squeeze in some basic muscle-building exercises before each run. You know the ones, pushups and situps and some unorthodox ones I invented to stay fit for the King’s service.

Last Tuesday was quite cool for a Texas summer afternoon, mid 80’s instead of the typical 100+. That meant I didn’t tote a quart of water to survive my strenuation. Yeah, I just made that word up. I’m a Webster. I can get away with those things for the King’s service.

I begin my run right outside my apartment building. I work my way via the sidewalks to a city park over a half mile away. The park holds eight baseball/softball diamonds, a playground and a field big enough for the gents from India to play a game of cricket in.

I guestimate the perimeter I run is over a mile and a half give or take a cricket’s leg. There are a few mounds I can’t see over on the north side of the park. They’re the best substitute for hills we have in Plano (it was named that because the founding fathers thought that was the Spanish term for plain).

My typical first lap consists of stopping often to pick up various and sundry pieces of trash and/or dog piles if I find a suitable plastic bag for that unorthodox trash cleanup. The mounds/hills are utilized to add to my efforts for the King’s service.

Tuesday’s first lap went at its typical unorthodox pace of stopping and starting, climbing and jogging, avoiding the cricket ball that got whacked my direction and clearing debris from the park I call mine.

On my second lap I usually pick up my running pace more and trash and/or do-do less. Well, about a quarter of the way around I stopped and picked something off the ground that didn’t look like it belonged. When I started running again my left hamstring began to give notice it wasn’t going any farther.

I tried to silence it by the typical runner’s ignorance, but it won the battle this time. It didn’t hurt when I walked so I knew I could get home without calling an ambulance and/or have the cricket guys carry me home.

After I run my second lap I have some extremely unorthodox moves I perform and hope nobody notices me. I had a feeling I could do the side-step maneuver without complaint from my hammy. I was right, maybe because it was my left hammy not the right one.

The 100  high-steps across the footbridge went surprisingly well, too.

I was concerned about the 300 back-steps at the end of my workout. Apparently running backwards doesn’t involve the hammy as much as running frontward does. I got that accomplished just fine. Thank you very much.

I managed a jog more than a run on Saturday afternoon with temps in the 90’s. My left hammy didn’t quite feel up to a full run just yet. I guess it looked like a step-and-a-half maneuver. I managed a lap and a half.

Muscle building is a strange business when you look at it closely. To build a muscle up you have to break it down first. The tearing creates new growth. The new growth makes bigger muscles for the King’s service.

Sometimes you can choose to grow your faith by stepping out to write a book or begin a ministry God lays on your heart. Other times God brings the growth into your life unexpectedly, like when you lose a job or become ill in a big way.

I’m finding myself in one of the King’s unorthodox faith building moments right now.

On Saturday morning I did something I never wanted to do. I know it dishonored God, but I felt Him call me to do it so He can get the glory later on. I did my best to avoid it when I found my wife at a Bible college. Nothing is guaranteed in this life.

Barb and I met at the bank to have her removed from the checking account and to have a notary public witness me signing documents to complete a divorce. That hurt worse than a torn hamstring. On my brother’s 34th wedding anniversary we swept 28 years of our lives away. I’m limping with my helper gone from my life.

If I didn’t believe with my whole heart that Jesus is still in the resurrection business I don’t know what I’d do now.

When we had a moment alone at the bank I asked Barb if she felt good about this. She said she had a peace about it, but, “no, I don’t feel good about it.” That gives me renewed hope that the Holy Spirit still has a grip on her heart.

Please pray for her to realize her desire to please God should overcome her stubborn plan to be ‘happy’ alone. All my attempts at reconciliation have been met with resistance.

Maybe now that she doesn’t feel trapped a friendship will redevelop. Perhaps that friendship will blossom into full-blown love again.

I have to believe that’s how God will be glorified in this mess I find myself in.

I’ve impressed a couple of guys by how fast I run backwards. If you notice me motating in what appears to be the wrong direction don’t judge me. It’s the only way I can see to make forward progress in my life right now.

Keep smiling.   Wade

IS IT LAWFUL TO DIVORCE?

Jesus smiled as the crowd of people pressed in. Some women with children crowded around him. Each one held an infant for Him to touch.

Matthew stepped in. “Please, ladies, we have more important things to attend to.”

Jesus pushed Matthew back. “Leave them alone. I have time for children. They need a touch, too.”

He made sure every child got the attention they deserved.

When the women left Jesus let out a deep breath. A smirk came to Him as some Pharisees approached.

The grayest-haired man stepped forward. “Rabbi, is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”

Jesus squared His stance to the man. “What does Moses say?”

“Moses gave us a certificate of divorce option.”

Jesus shook His head. “It’s because of your hard hearts that Moses included that provision. That’s not the original design. Remember? In the beginning the man is to leave his father and mother and cling to his wife. The two are destined to become one flesh. Nobody should separate them, not for any reason. They are to remain as one until death. One who willfully divorces and remarries commits adultery.”

The Pharisees turned around and left.

A young man dressed in fine clothes came in behind them. “Good teacher, what do I have to do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus held His hands out at His sides. “Keep the all commandments.”

The man nodded. “I have, every one of them.”

Jesus folded His hands and stared into his eyes. “Go, sell all you have and give the money to the poor.”

The smile disappeared from the young man’s face. He looked down and left.

Jesus shook His head. “It’s very difficult for a wealthy man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Thomas looked at Jesus. “How can anyone enter the kingdom then?”

Jesus kept watching the young man walking away. “It’s impossible for man, but not for God.”

Peter grabbed Jesus sleeve. “We’ve left everything to follow You. What’s waiting for us in the kingdom?”

Jesus placed His hand on top of Peter’s hand. “You twelve will judge the tribes of Israel in the kingdom. Those who have left their earthly kingdoms of houses and families shall have one hundred fold in this life and eternal life in God’s kingdom to come.”

********

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem when these confrontations occurred. He and His followers were on the west side of the Jordan River across from Jericho. This was the main route from Galilee to Jerusalem for the festivals, especially Passover.

The Pharisees made it a habit of trying to trap Jesus in some dilemma He couldn’t get out of without breaking some law. Since they didn’t believe he was the One who wrote the laws they didn’t think He knew them that well. He disappointed them every time.

The rich man had a personal agenda. He held himself quite high on the grading curve in his mind. He was just looking for verification that he was on the right track. Jesus knew his heart motive better than the young man did. Another disappointed seeker walked away dejected.

The disciples were concerned they would miss the kingdom somehow when the rich man lost his chance. Jesus quickly reassured them they had nothing to worry about. They were chosen for a reason.

I never noticed the juxtaposition of these themes of divorce and leaving ones family for the kingdom until I wrote this post. I’m sure Jesus wasn’t condoning divorce to advance the kingdom, but perhaps giving ones self to that mission if the prospect occurs.

There are no guarantees in this life, especially when dealing with people. Commitments today are just as shaky as they were in Jesus’s day.

Christian divorce rates are nearly identical to secular marriages. My marriage is falling into the statistical quagmire with too many others.

I thought when I found a solid Christian woman at a Bible college that prospect was nearly nil. It wasn’t totally zero.

It’s amazingly simple to get a divorce these days.

On Saturday Barb and I will meet at the bank to settle our accounts there. She’ll have the documents from her lawyer ready for me to sign. Car titles will be signed off. In less than an hour we’ll be legally unmarried to each other.

In my heart and mind that piece of paper doesn’t hold any weight as to my commitment to her. I promised God I’d stay true to her for as long as both of us are alive. I fully intend to keep that vow. She’ll remain my one and only intimate partner.

My life is taking a turn toward serving God by advancing His kingdom in amazing ways. I’m apparently supposed to do it without my life mate/helper beside me. This breaks my heart, but I’ll press on for the glory of God.

If I didn’t believe Jesus is still in the resurrection business I’d lose all hope of reconciliation with Barb. I’m open to that prospect and she knows it.

She claims she fell out of love with me. I take that as a positive sign in a way.

In Matthew 24 Jesus is telling His disciples what to look for just before His kingdom begins. In verse twelve He mentions that love will grow cold. This is merely verification that the end is near so I’ll press on all the harder to bring as many others into the kingdom as I can.

There are advantages to being single while serving God. My schedule will be much more flexible for one.

For those of you in a stable marriage keep striving to honor God by honoring your mate. God did say it’s not good for man to be alone.

The human mind is an incredible invention. It can believe some amazing things, like talking animals and interplanetary travel while reading a story.

Don’t let your mind tell you your life would be better without your spouse when God ordained for you two to be together.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

What questions will be asked in Heaven?

Have you been saving those questions you’re sure you want God to answer for you?

Do you think they’ll be important once you get inside the pearly gate?

Watch this video to learn what one question I have for God and what one question He has for everybody who stands before Him for entry into heaven.

These are the only questions that really matter.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

CAPITAL CITY

David looked at each man in the room. Every one of them was mighty, God definitely blessed him there.

“It’s time to move out of Hebron. The city is too vulnerable to attack.”

Abashai stepped forward. “Where do you propose we relocate the capital to?”

David smiled. “I want Zion.”

A murmur rose in the room, along with a whistle.

Joab stared into David’s eyes. “There’s not a finer city to have as the capital, but it’s impenetrable. How do you propose we get in there? I don’t know of any Hebrew whose ever been inside it.”

David held up two fingers. “I know personally of two who have seen it from inside.”

The room was silent. Joab looked at his brother, then back at David. “Who?”

“My Abba and I took some sheep there, along with wool for trade. I was ten. He said the sheep obeyed me better than my brothers. That’s why he took me. It was a grand time, just the two of us for a week away.

“The king was friendly and talkative. He showed us the whole city. Nothing was off limits. We saw it all. This was before my anointing. I noticed one gaping hole a man can come through.”

Abashai pulled Joab back. “Where…how?”

David paced about. “There’s a natural spring just northwest of the city. They’ve dug a shaft under the city to tap into that water supply. They can last a long time on top of that mountain against an enemy. It’s ingenious.

“The following summer I took the flock up there to graze. The entrance of that shaft is covered with stones. The men in this room could uncover it in short order.

“We’ll go as a group and encircle the city. While I keep their attention south of Zion you will uncover that shaft and enter it from under their noses. The first man to enter and lead us to victory will be my general.”

****

David watched the gate of Zion close as they approached. Joab and Abishai tussled for position as they led men to his right behind the stronghold. More men filed in to his left.

David didn’t wait long for the king of Zion to appear on the top of the wall. “I can tell by the way you’re dressed you haven’t come peacefully. What do you want?”

David held his hands out from his sides. “Our LORD God has given us this city as our capital. You can come out quietly or we’ll take it by force. The choice is up to you.”

The king of Zion laughed. “You think you can just come here and move us out. The lame and blind can keep you at bay from here. You cannot have our city. You may as well search elsewhere for a new capital.”

David watched the king spin around. A loud roar sounded from inside the fortress. A section of wall fell a few minutes later. David led his men up the hill to finish off the inhabitants.

********

Zion would take on a few names in the following days and years. “The City of David” became it’s nickname because of David’s audacity to conquer such a stronghold.

Part of today’s name holds an interesting base for it’s title: shalom. The City of Peace could be a translation of Jerusalem, even though it has known very little peace in several decades and most of its existence.

We aren’t told how David knew of the water shaft dug under the city. This post is merely my writer’s imagination pounding out one possibility. He was wise enough to exploit that weakness to his advantage. The men inside those walls felt extremely secure by this threat around their city.

I can’t help but think how Satan deals with us the same way. He studies us to find our vulnerabilities. He does his best to lead us to places that will exploit a weakness we have to take us down so we’re less effective for God.

If a person is doing all they can to become financially secure he may guide him/her to an unwise business venture that promises great gain only to remove a lifetime of savings quickly.

Loneliness is a favorite weapon of his. How many leaders have been removed from their position because of marital infidelity? The seduction began in a small way most of the time.

Spiritual empires have been built on the stilts of a television followings only to come tumbling down in ruins when the person in charge lost their godly bearings. Their pride was a prime target.

How does someone protect themself from spiritual attacks? I can think of a few ideas. I’m sure there are others.

Pray for protection and wisdom. This is the last piece of spiritual armor listed in Galatians 6, but it’s the most effective in this battle we’re in. Ask God to show you where you’re vulnerable and how to avoid falling into that trap.

Study the Bible for guidance. A regular intake of God’s Word in your life will do wonders to show you what steps you need to take. Israel’s history would have been different if David hadn’t walked on his roof that fateful night.

Build an accountability group. Ask a few trusted individuals of the same sex to come alongside you to help you see your shortcomings and to ask you how you conducted yourself on your last trip away from your family.

That last one is the one I plan on implementing fresh in my life. God has brought some men to mind who I’m sure could use the same assistance in their lives. Each of us are embarking on God-given ministries in our mid-life years. If they’re under anywhere near as much attack as I’ve felt I’m sure they’ll jump at this chance for assistance from a fellow soldier.

With wisdom, knowledge and accountability as protection pieces Satan will have a much harder time breaking through to God’s people.

I’ll see you later.   Wade