We Are Foreigners In This World

In the parable of the prodigal son, the boy ran away from home. He turned his back on his Father, lost his inheritance, and made a royal mess of his life. When he finally admitted his mistakes to himself, he said: “I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you….. ” – Luke 15:18 NLT

The boy had become like a foreigner to his family, living in a pig pen and scrounging for sustenance, but he was welcomed home with open arms in spite of his actions. This parable is such a beautiful way to describe our relationship with our LORD. When GOD created the earth and all that is within it; when He created the Universe, it was set as the stage – and what a Magnificent stage – for mankind to live in and fellowship with Him. We blew it. We think we are as smart and as good as the Creator. Some of us think that we, humankind – are gods! How wrong we can be! Satan introduced sin to Adam and Eve, and got us thrown out of the Garden, the place we belonged. Home. Subsequently, we have become foreigners, strangers in a strange land that provides us with glimpses of original beauty from our home. Someday, this old earth with be re-formed and re-made (which is scary/exciting!) The good news, though, is that no matter how bad we mess up, GOD is waiting for us with open arms, ready to forgive us, if we will just ask Him.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone.” – Revelation 21:1 NLT

When JESUS returns, and the earth is transformed, then we no longer be foreigners. We will once again be first-class citizens, dwelling with our LORD, like the first man, Adam. Until that time comes, Christians, followers of the CHRIST, will be foreigners on this earth. In many cases, we are treated as illegal aliens, second class citizens, even criminals. We need to – have to? – rely on our LORD for our strength. Paul says it like this:

“We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the LORD. For even CHRIST didn’t live to please Himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult You, O GOD, have fallen on me.” Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us Hope and Encouragement as we wait patiently for GOD’s Promises to be fulfilled. May GOD, who gives this Patience and Encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of CHRIST JESUS. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving Praise and Glory to GOD, the FATHER of our LORD JESUS CHRIST.” – Romans 15:1‭-‬6 NLT AMEN.

Listen to HOME by Chris Tomlin….

Reserve, Retreat, Regret

I’ve done that most of my life – reserving myself, staying behind the wall I constructed around my heart to keep from getting hurt. Oh, by the way, it doesn’t work. When I retreat behind my wall, all it does is keep me stuck, resentful, and angry. While I simmer in my reserve, regret for what I imagine coulda-shoulda-woulda happen overwhelms me. I am the prisoner, not whoever or whatever I happen to be upset about. I still get caught up in the cycle, too, but it’s not how I want to live my life. Billy Graham wrote a story about Bill Borden. Mr. Borden was a very wealthy man who went to China as a missionary for Christ, in spite of the opposition of friends & family. After just a few years he died of an oriental disease. While he was dying, he wrote this: “No reserve, no retreat, no regret.”

“Then He [JESUS] called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.’ ” – Mark 8:34 NIV

How many of us as Christians can say the same? “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” – Galatians 5:25‭-‬26 NIV

Easier said, than done! Can we live without reserve, retreat, regret? I don’t believe it’s humanly possible to do on our own. Listen to what JESUS says about living without reserve, retreat, or regret.

“They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to GOD. I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have Peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:2‭, ‬33 NIV

Without JESUS, and without the SPIRIT, we are hopeless and helpless againt the world. With JESUS, and the SPIRIT, we can conquer. For as long as we are on this earth, our lives as Christians will never be comfortable or pain free. If they are, then I would say that we are not living the Way. As long as we have JESUS in our hearts and the Holy Spirit over us, we will at least know where we are going. I am no perfect. In fact, I am completely flawed and broken. With Christ in my life, I can’t afford to be invisible. Can we be more like Bill Borden? “No reserve, no retreat, no regret.” Amen.

This Is Not My Home

Heaven – What a GLORIOUS home we are headed to!

This old earth is filled with breathtaking beauty, and I have enjoyed the views – and I look forward to many more years of viewing them. Spending time in the high mountains of Colorado and New Mexico, the Alps in Austria; visiting the Grand Canyon and viewing the canyons and valleys of the U.S. Playing in the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, from sandy beaches with warm water to rocks and cold ocean water (the ocean is my happy place 🏖 ) ….. from the high desserts of sage and chamisa to the eery other-worldlyness of the Saquaro “forests” of the Sonoran Desert. BUT, this earth is not my home. I’m just here temporarily, until my LORD sees fit to bring me Home.

Do you ever wonder what happens when we die? Is it just nothing? Are we reborn, as the Hindu teach, or do we ‘become one with the universe,’ as some would have us believe? Do you scoff at the idea of a heaven filled with cherubs floating around on fluffy clouds playing harps, presided over by a grouchy old man with a long white beard?

I tell you plainly, those are all FALSE.

Heaven is definitely a place, and so is hell. We call it by many names: Sheol, Hades, Abaddon, Gehenna; but eternal damnation is the same regardless of the name. I don’t know what it will be like, and if you are really curious, there are quite a few resources to help you describe it. John calls it a place of fire and agony. After the New Testament, look at ‘The Many Names of Hell’ by Dr. Elmer Towns, on BibleSprout. I just know that I don’t ever want to see it. What we call Paradise, or Heaven, that’s what I am looking forward to! Despite our continual sin, the CREATOR, the LORD GOD of the Universe, wants us to spend eternity with Him – He doesn’t want us in Hell, but it is always and forever our choice. Who would choose forever anguish over eternal paradise? Apparently, millions and billions of people would rather live their lives without Christ than with Him, and that choice is their death sentence. Listen to this conversation by a known criminal when he met Jesus on the cross:

But the other criminal rebuked [the first criminal]. “Don’t you fear GOD,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” – Luke 23:40‭-‬43 NIV

What will Heaven be like? I don’t know, except that it will be glorious. The Apostle John was shown glimpses of Heaven, and he tried to put it into words that we can understand – but how do you describe the unbelievable, the indescribable, the unimaginable? I’m pretty excited to get to see it, and to experience it. I pray that you be there, too.

Judgemental Noise – Is It Evidence?

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” – Matthew 7:1‭-‬2 NLT

Since Jesus began His ministry over 2000 years ago, He and His followers have been judged harshly by the world. He has been/is called a liar and a crazy man. He has been/is derided and cursed and humiliated. His followers, called Christians, have been and still are persecuted and tortured and killed. The noise of all that; the people who have denied His origins, His Life, and His ministry – is just that, judgemental noise. I guess that the enemy (a.k.a. Satan, Lucifer, the devil, Death…. you get the picture) thinks that the more noise he can generate around Jesus means that fewer people will hear the Message and follow Him, the Christ. We grow up surrounded by noise. By the time the Baby Boom began at the end of WWII, we’ve polluted our lives with noise. Radios blaring, televisions on, rock and roll music, concerts, huge stadiums filled with cheering…. bullying, jeering, rallies – it all adds up, and the noise of our lives often prevents us from hearing Jesus. Pushed by the enemy, we seem to believe that everything and anything, EXCEPT Jesus, is acceptable. Satan uses judgemental noise to drown out the Gospel story. It’s “good” to believe anything you want to, as long as it’s not belief in our LORD JESUS. To be PC, we have to deny that JESUS CHRIST is indeed the Son of GOD as He claimed to be, and ‘O. M. G. You cannot believe this man actually came back from the dead????’ (Yes, that was sarcasm….)

This passage from Right From the Heart 1-Minute Devotions, Day 126, says it so well:

All through the ages, man has speculated about life after life. Dante’s Divine Comedy seeks to describe it. Modern medical science has added to the speculation with its study of near-death experiences. Now all kinds of religions offer their theories.

But the greatest evidence of life after life is in the historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. Christianity is the only faith founded by a man who died and came back to life. No other religion makes that claim.

Historical accounts of His appearances to His disciples and over 500 at one time, were written within twenty years of the event. His disciples faced martyrs’ deaths for refusing to quit preaching of His death and resurrection.

People don’t willingly die for something they know is a hoax. The one thing that would have stopped Christianity in its tracks would have been for Rome or religious authorities to produce the dead body of Jesus. They never did. The best evidence of life after life is the historical evidence of Jesus’ resurrection.

Noise, especially judgemental noise, has a way of finding Christians. The enemy does his best to cover up our witness that JESUS CHRIST is indeed the Son of the Living GOD, that He rose from the grave; and that He was resurrected in order to show all men and women, all of humanity, the Truth. The Truth about JESUS transcends all color lines, all ethnic, social, and political lines. Our LORD Loves every man and woman the same. Satan will use the busyness of your life to create the noise that keeps you from hearing about Salvation. Can you hear Him calling you over the noise? “Be still, and know that I Am GOD! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” – Psalms 46:10 NLT

Will L. Thompson wrote these words in 1880. They are still true. “Softy and tenderly, Jesus is calling….”

 Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.


In The Storm

Hangin’ in. That’s what I’m doing. I get where the saying “hang in there” could have originated. When you are in a fierce storm, you have two choices: hang on to something, or be blown away. I don’t really want to be blown away; I don’t want to be blown out of my life as I know it, but with the winds of change hammering away, sometimes we (I) don’t get much of a choice. I want to steer for the clear skies and get away from the hurricane that seems to be parked on top of me, but I know that my strength alone isn’t enough to save me. Because of the enemy, aka Satan, our life on earth is full of storms, from light rains to Cat 5 hurricanes. The goal of the enemy is take away any shred Light and Hope we have. He is the Father of Lies, he wants us at his mercy, and he will do anything in his power to achieve mastery over us. I tell you, from experience, it’s a dark, dark place that his winds will take you to. There will be an illusion, a mirage, of beauty and light to entice you; smooth winds and apparent joy…. but beware! That illusion will fade away and you will find yourself in a whirlpool of despair that you cannot escape – by your own strength. Only one way exists to take you out of the enemy’s grip; ONE WAY only, and that Way is through JESUS CHRIST.

“Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust Him, and He will help you.” – Psalms 37:5 NLT

“For I can do everything through CHRIST, Who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13 NLT

Simple solution, but often really difficult to implement in our lives. It’s that ‘free will’ thing. We want control of our lives. It’s all part of the enemy’s illusion, people! Satan wants us to believe that Jesus – JESUS – was just a prophet, a good man, albeit a misguided one. After all, the enemy whispers, Jesus was tortured and killed and buried just as any man …. he says the Jesus is no different from Mohammed or Buddha or John Smith…. Focus on the real truth. THE Truth, that the Son of the Almighty Creator God left His home in Heaven, to come to earth and be the ultimate, final sacrifice for our sins. Jesus is coming back, too, and this time it won’t be as the Sacrificial Lamb of God. No, this time, He will return on a white horse [told you horses are in heaven!], with a sword in His Hand and surrounded by the Angel Armies. He will conquer Death and Evil and Satan, once and for all. I’m tired, LORD, tired of the storms here on earth. I pray You will return quickly! Until then, my life is in Your Hands, and I rely on Your Strength.

Listen to “Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson.


“NOTHING in all creation is hidden from GOD. EVERYTHING is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the One to Whom we are accountable. So then, since we have a Great High Priest Who has entered heaven, JESUS the Son of GOD, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our Gracious GOD. There we will receive His Mercy, and we will find Grace to help us when we need it most.” – Hebrews 4:13‭-‬16

“The LORD is King! Let the nations tremble! He sits on His throne between the cherubim. Let the whole earth quake! The LORD sits in Majesty in Jerusalem, exalted above all the nations. Let them praise Your Great and Awesome Name. Your Name is Holy! Mighty King, Lover of Justice, You have established fairness. You have acted with Justice and Righteousness throughout Israel. Exalt the LORD our GOD! Bow low before His Feet, for He is Holy!” – Psalms 99:1‭-‬5 NLT

Nothing is hidden from the Almighty. All of the stupid decisions, the ugly gestures and remarks, the mean thoughts that I have had, the gossip I have shared. GOD knows them ALL. Thanks to the amazing Grace and Mercy of GOD, and because I accepted Jesus as my LORD and my Savior, NOTHING stands between me and Him. With JESUS as my High Priest and my Advocate, I don’t have to fear standing in the Great White Throne Judgment, where EVERY knee will bow to Him. When the Creator King, GOD above all gods and all things, pronounces His verdict of guilty – and I am guilty, I can make no excuses – my Savior will stand up for me and proclaim my sins forgiven and washed clean with His Blood. His Mercy and His Grace covers me; Hallelujah!

Do you have the confidence that you will be spared eternity without GOD? Can you say that you are at peace with your destiny? There is a real heaven and a real hell, and I don’t mean the hell some of us live through on this earth. The Good News is that any of us, ANY human, is here to give us that Peace. Accept JESUS, let Him into your heart and your life. He’s just waiting for you to ask! He stands right beside you, hand out, waiting for you to take it. “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” – Isaiah 1:18 NLT AMEN.

The First Christmas

The following is from “Prepare Your Hearts: Christmas Devotions,” day 10, available on YouVersion, the Bible, at https://bible.com/bible ….

Your First Christmas

Christ’s first coming surprised everybody.

Zechariah was surprised. Mary and Joseph were surprised, first by the angelic announcements and surprised again at the terribly inconvenient time that Mary’s labor pains began. Third-shift shepherds were surprised by the sound and light show that they alone experienced. As they knelt at the manger and peered in at the little bundle on the straw, their worship of God would never be the same.

I guess you aren’t surprised at the coming birthday celebrations this December 25–you’ve had all year to prepare. But what you may not have expected is the satisfaction that comes from worshiping Jesus as though this were your first Christmas. There before you, wrapped in his little strips of cloth, is the ultimate paradox: God and man, Co-Creator and yet begotten, helper and helpless, frail and mighty, brand-new and ancient. There before you lies your salvation–the One who would put himself, his body, between you and death. How can you not love him?”

Do you think much about how the first Christmas came to be? Before anything else could happen, GOD had to make the momentous decision to walk away from heaven, where angels and celestial beings worshiped Him constantly. He made the choice to leave the perfect place and existence, to become human. He didn’t even come as an exalted son of a king, born into a palace, so that He could be pampered in this life. He came as the child of a poor carpenter, to be born in a stable and facing a life of physical hardships from day one. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t give up luxury to live in poverty if I had the choice….

“Though He was GOD, He did not think of equality with GOD as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to GOD and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, GOD elevated Him to the Place of Highest Honor and gave Him the Name above ALL other names, that at the Name of JESUS every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that JESUS CHRIST is LORD, to the Glory of GOD the Father.” – Philippians 2:6‭-‬11 NLT

Just as Jesus surprised everyone by the time and method of His birth, He will surprise us all when He returns, even though we have had millennium to prepare.

“…. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with Power and Great Glory… However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the SON Himself. ONLY the FATHER knows.” – Matthew 24:30‭b,36 NLT

Celebrate His birth with gratitude and thanksgiving, and spread the word that JESUS has come, and that He will return for His people…. soon. Amen.