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I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. Job 19:25

Yesterday I spent my birthday doing something I’ve had a life-long love for which was instilled in me by my father at a very young age. I’ve always loved preaching. I remember lining up the kitchen chairs and inviting my brothers to ‘church’. Sometimes they came. Sometimes I just spoke to empty chairs.

The lesson for the day was how we should always be ready to tell others of what Jesus has done in our lives. Growing up in a pastor’s family I have to admit that I always admired the testimony other people had. I enjoyed listening to how Jesus had saved them from the pain of abuse and the power of addiction. I envied their stories because, in my shallow way of thinking at the time, I saw my life as boring, uninteresting and void of anything to share.

Now, at the age of 59, I look back on that thought process and wonder what I was thinking. I also look back over those years since then and marvel at God’s wonderful grace.

If you had told me ten years ago that I’d return to a position in which I’d be able to teach the Word of God I’d have scoffed at you. I was divorced, fighting legal problems and on the edge of bankruptcy. It seems in most church circles legal problems and financial issues are forgivable. Divorce is not.

Maybe that’s why I’m so much in love with a Lord and Savior who consistently brought people into my life individually and through the written word to show me that although man’s grace is limited, God’s grace is unconditional and unlimited.

Maybe that’s why I’m so thankful for my wife and best friend as well as a few other people in my life who refused to give up on me; refused to let me give up on myself.

Maybe that’s why I’m so thankful for my church family at ZionLutheranChurch. They know I’m not perfect. They know I’m flawed; that I have bruises and weaknesses. They know they have the same struggles. And so we travel this journey together seeking the Divine Guidance we need to draw other like-minded, wounded people to a savior, a redeemer that lives.

The older I get the more I realize I don’t know. But I know my redeemer lives and a living redeemer is enough. Today I begin a new year of pilgrimage. I don’t know where it will lead, but I know who will lead me through it.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, while others may mark my life as a failure or question my walk with you, I thank you that you love me as I am. Give me strength to walk with you in the days ahead. Amen.


Our God has said: “Encourage my people! Give them comfort. Isaiah 40:1 (CEV)

Where do you get comfort from? For the Christ-follower, the ‘Sunday School Answer’ is Jesus. Okay, we have that one out of the way. Easy enough, right? Not if you are stuck in a marriage that never seems to find the fulfillment you hoped for when you said your vows; not when you struggle with an addiction and find yourself once again suffering from its consequences; not when you are a mother sitting by the bedside of your child or spouse as they breath their last breath; not if you are loading the last boxes onto the moving truck because the bank has foreclosed on your dream home because you lost your job.

It’s at those times that all the ‘Sunday School Answers’ of your past may seem to pale in relation to the pain in your soul. Is God real? Yes, you believe it with all your heart. Does he love you? Certainly. Never a doubt in your mind. Does it take away the knot in your stomach? The knot that seems to be growing so large that it is making it hard to breathe? Not always.

During the darkest times of our lives we don’t need another sermon on God’s provision, we need comfort. We seek comfort in many ways. Some seek it with a new relationship, but new isn’t always better, in fact, second marriages are more likely to end in divorce than first marriages and the chances of success at marriage decrease with every attempt.

Other comfort foods for the soul can be food (leading to guilt and health issues), drugs, anger, withdrawal, depression, religion and a whole list of other attempts at quenching the pain in life.

When you’ve tried all the above remedies for the pain within you it turns out the ‘Sunday School Answer’ really is the best. Sometimes, when we are honest with ourselves, we realize the pain we are experiencing is the result of our own sin. Other times we’ve done ‘everything right’ but our spouse still leaves, our health fails and our bank account disappears.

After years of slavery and exile, Jehovah God tells Isaiah to comfort his people with these words. The trial is over. The penalty has been paid. His words point forward to the restoration of Jerusalem (physical restoration) and the sacrifice of Jesus (restoration of the soul).

If you are struggling with the pain of life let me point you to Jesus. Not the religion of Christianity, but the relationship with a loving Savior who understands your need and longs to comfort the pain in your soul.

If you have ridden out the battle and find yourself on top, remember that those who are struggling with life don’t need another sermon. They don’t need a reminder of their faults. They need the comfort and encouragement that only the grace of Jesus can give them. Please be an instrument of that encouragement. Their pain is great enough.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I thank you for the blessings you’ve given me. I ask that you empower me with your Holy Spirit to be an encouragment to those who need you so that they may experience the comfort only you can give. Amen.


By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Psalm 19:11 NIV

Normally, when we hear the word warning we think negatively. A severe storm warning may send us for shelter. Flashing lights along the highway tell us to slow down, be aware, and perhaps even stop. Fine print on medicine bottles informs us of possible side effects and which side effects elicit a call to the doctor.

Those things are all good of course. They help us make decisions that will be the best for us physically. They give us a black and white scenario. If this happens, then the likely result is for ‘that’ to happen.

Unfortunately, life decisions regarding relational difficulties, job plans, and raising our kids isn’t as easily spelled out. This is especially so in our society today. When I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s divorce and all the issues with blended families was for the most part, non-existent. Internet porn, sexual orientation, and a vast amount of the other social issues we are dealing with didn’t exist, or were far less prominent in our thinking.

The Psalmist writes, “By them your servant is warned…’. Our English language doesn’t give us a good picture of what that really means. While the word in the original language can be translated simply as warn, the primary definitions of the word revolve around enlightenment and showing clear steps of action that will lead to desired results.

A friend of mine is a volunteer fire-fighter. We were talking about fire codes one day and he showed me a book shelf in the coffee shop we were at. “Look at that shelf,” he instructed me, “now imagine it three times the size. That’s the size of our library of fire codes at the station!”

Now I can’t tell you how large that really is, but it was overwhelming to think of all the warnings contained in those volumes. Warnings that we may never think about, but are essential to keeping ourselves safe. The only way to know those codes would be to study them often and go back to them as a reference point when needed. Those books enlighten us as to the best way to stay safe from the danger of fire.

Casual perusal of those books on an occasional basis may give us a surface understanding of fire safety and the importance of following major guidelines, but the more complicated issues would be missed and could result in serious damage, injury or death.

On the other hand, in depth study of the manuals would enlighten the reader about the best possible way to keep buildings and lives safe from the devastation of fire.

God’s word is our manual for living. Although I struggle at times, like anyone else, to know the answers to some of the issues ahead of me, I believe that following God’s way is always the best way.  

God’s word gives us principles for successful living, not simple answers to complex issues. The only way to find those principles is to study it in depth and go to it often for clarification. Surface study of God’s word won’t give you the information you need to go on.

PRAYER: Father God, help me to use your book as a guide and not just an instruction manual. May my study of your Word enlighten me as to how to handle the issues of life ahead of me. Amen


A king is pleased with a wise servant, but he will become angry with one who causes him shame. Proverbs 14:35 (NCV)

I’ve always wanted to play piano. My mom played piano. She read music…a little. But she also had the ability to hear a song and then sit down at the piano an in a few minutes be able to play a simple version of the song. God’s given me a love for music. He gave me a mom that was more than willing to teach me to play. I can’t play the piano. Never found the time to practice.

My inability to play the piano is a small example of something we all struggle with and that’s taking the time to do the small things that lead to greater achievement later on in life. When I was a boy, practicing the piano for a half hour a day seemed like a huge investment of time. But that small investment would have produced greater results later in life.

Sometimes neglecting the little things in life have relatively unimportant results. For example, I can’t play the piano, but I can enjoy the ability others have to do so. But sometimes neglecting the little things in life have life-changing effects.

My wife calls them the ‘I’m Gonna’s’. All those little things we say we are going to do…someday. “I’m gonna write a book”; “I’m gonna start to exercise”; “I’m gonna help more around the house”. You can add to that list.

Sometimes we may realize that our “I’m gonna’s’ are lofty dreams, such as the child-hood dream of “Someday I’m going to be president!” Other times the failure to do the “I’m gonna’s’ lead to disaster.

It’s sad to say, but there are many marriages that have failed because one or both (usually both) people in the relationship have overlooked the little things. Things like helping with housework or putting household duties aside to sit with the kids or spend time together. Relationships aren’t destroyed by the big things in life. Many families have worked through affairs and illness and financial disaster. I believe it’s because those families have done the little things that create a bond that nothing can sever.

The proverbs say, “A King is pleased with a wise servant.” Servant’s had a pretty menial existence. They were the ones that cleaned the palace and cooked the food. They built the buildings and tended to the gardens and the livestock. Their actions were small, but when done right, were noticed by the king.

God doesn’t expect us to accomplish huge results in life. He doesn’t ask for perfection. Your Heavenly Father is far more interested in what you are doing than what you hope to accomplish.

If you are a minister he’s far more excited about how your family is than he is how large your church is. If you are a business owner he’s far more pleased with how your customers are treated than he is the black ink in your ledger. As a husband he’s far more impressed with your attitude when your wife asks you to hold her purse in the mall, or your child asks you to sit with them and read when the big ball game is on.

What ‘I’m gonna’s’ are on your list? Choose one thing today to work on and DO IT! It’s the little things that make a big difference.

PRAYER: Lord, I’m so frustrated right now with my inability to do the small things in life. There is so much I want to accomplish, yet I struggle to do the little things. Help me to start today to tackle the ‘I’m gonna’s in my life. Amen.


However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Acts 20:24

Few Jews would take the shorter route through Samaria even if it was a shorter and easier route along the Jordan River. The Samaritans and Jews had been enemies for years and the biggest point of contention was where and how to worship God.

One day Jesus took the short route (John 4) from Jerusalem home to Galilee. John’s account of the story said he ‘had to go through Samaria’. He didn’t have to go through Samaria for physical reasons. He ‘had to go through Samaria’ because someone had a meeting with destiny and he ‘had’ to be there for that.

It was noon when he arrived at the small hamlet of Sychar. All the respectable women of the town where home tending to family. Everyone knew it was cooler and easier to fill the water jugs in the morning. Besides, it was a great time to catch up with the gossip and connect with friends.

So why did Jesus meet the woman at the well at this odd time? She was avoiding people. She was the talk of the town. Married five times, living with a man that wasn’t her husband. We aren’t told how many families she’d broken up. How many children were fatherless because she came into the picture? She’d evidently given up on the concept of marriage after five times and decided to live ‘in sin’ with man #6.

She was a tenacious woman. Even after all she’d been through she still had an edge to her. Jesus asks for a drink and she snaps, “Who are you, a Jew, to ask me for a drink.”

Jesus mentions God and the woman tries to pick a fight. “We Samaritans worship the right way. You Jews are wrong about Jerusalem.”

Okay, maybe that isn’t exactly what she said, but think about how often our first step, when it comes to spiritual things, is to defend our doctrine, theology or denominational affiliation and distinctive.

Jesus dodges the issue. “Worshipping God isn’t about a place, or about a style. It’s about the heart. If you’d asked me I could give you something to fill that huge hole in yours.”

Now he had her attention. Six men. Six relationships. Six chances at being filled and still nothing. You know the rest of the story. After her talk with Jesus she goes into town. Everyone knew her because of her reputation. After her testimony, everyone knew Jesus because of the change he brought into her life.

The enemy lies to us about our Testimony. He tells us that our identity comes from our religious affiliation. (I’m a Baptist; I’m a Lutheran; I’m Methodist) He urges us to skirt the real issues of the heart and concentrate on externals. The Lie: Good Christians are known by their noisy Stand.

The word testimony comes from the word root word meaning witness. It carries with it the idea of a firsthand authentication of a fact, or of evidence of something seen or experienced. Effective testimony is an outward sign of an inner change.

Many believed in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony. It wasn’t polished. It wasn’t backed with scripture and training. It didn’t direct people to a particular denomination or religious persuasion. It was a simple message, Come and See:

  • Come and See the man that knows me;
  • Come and See the man that loves me;
  • Come and See the man that understands me;
  • Come and See the man that respects me (no other man ever has);
  • Come and See the man who is more interested in relationship that religion.

The Truth Statement in the battle for our testimony is this, “Our testimony steers people away from religion and towards a personal, passionate love relationship with Jesus.

PRAYER: Father, I sometimes get so caught up in myself and man-made rules that I forget that all you really want is to have a relationship with those around me. Empower me by your Spirit to refrain from steering people to religion. May my life show others the relationship I have with you. Amen.

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