The Heart of the Matter


I love the Old Testament. In it, the Red Sea parted (Exodus 14), walls came tumbling down (Joshua 5-6), the Sun and Moon stood still (Joshua 10) and a giant was slain (1 Samuel 17). Still in its pages, we see fire falling from heaven (1 Kings 18) and men saved from a burning furnace (Daniel 3). What’s not to love? It’s all so much larger than life!!

Yet, while the Old Testament contains thrilling accounts of divine intervention, the New Testament explodes with a new revelation. Jesus’ appearance on the scene turned life upside down as he challenged long held beliefs/traditions and demonstrated a new way of life. Even His miracles served to underscore His overall message and mission. While religious leaders focused on behavior and keeping up appearances, Jesus delved into the heart of the matter. For, as Samuel was told centuries before, “man looks at the outward appearance, but [God] looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7).

In Matthew 15:20, Jesus astonished his listeners by declaring the ceremonial washing of hands unnecessary. After all, the things that we put into our bodies tend to come out as waste. Instead, he urged the disciples to focus on the things which proceed from the heart – words, evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, slander – as these have the power to defile a man (Matthew 15:17-19).

By human nature, the heart abounds in deceit and desperate wickedness (Jeremiah 17:9). But through the Holy Spirit it overflows with, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). How do we get from one state of heart to the other? Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount.

Join me next for a walk through the Beatitudes.

Be blessed,


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When Jesus Came

When Jesus Came

Mary and Joseph were planning a wedding.

The shepherds were tending their sheep.

Herod was plotting his intrigues.

The Magi were seeking knowledge.

Augustus was assessing his empire.

Zechariah and Elizabeth were raising their son.

Everyday life was happening when the Divine intersected humanity. Aside from the announcement to the shepherds on a lonely hill, Jesus made a quiet entry into the world. For most, life continued as normal; for a few, life was never the same again.

Those few positioned themselves to participate in heaven’s plan of salvation for all mankind. Mary and Joseph became the Savior’s earthly parents. Why were they chosen? Only God can say. But consider how YOU would have reacted in either one of their shoes.

The wise men followed the Star and God’s instructions to come face to face with the Son of Man. How did they know that the Star was anything special? How did they manage to hear God speak? We don’t know. But Jeremiah 29:12-13 says “Then you will call upon Me and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Zechariah and Elizabeth conceived a child destined to issue the clarion call for Jesus. Considering Zechariah’s initial doubts, what made this family the right choice to herald the coming of the King? Even they didn’t understand. But despite the stigma of barrenness that they had to bear, Luke 1:6 says “Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations.”

If Jesus were to come today, would you play a part in His Master plan? God knows all things. But how would you answer the following?

  • Where do you stand in the grand scheme of life today?
  • How do you respond to God in your circumstances?
  • What does your heart seek?

 Be blessed,


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El Roi – The God Who Sees

She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” (Genesis 16:13).

Speaking with a friend about some of the recent challenges she’d faced, the rawness of her pain and frustration tore at me. I prayed for the grace to give her comfort and the words spoken by Hagar in the wilderness flooded into my mind. “God never wastes a shed tear,” I responded. “He is the God who sees.”

I could just imagine the servant’s emotions as she fled from her envious mistress. Hagar hadn’t helped the situation by flaunting her ability to conceive over Sarah, but the treatment she received in return was harsh and unyielding. Terrified, she fled into the desert pregnant, alone and very far from her known home in Egypt (Genesis 16:4-6). Most likely contemplating death there, she instead encountered a messenger from God who spoke words of encouragement, guidance and healing to her hurting soul.

We don’t know if Hagar had embraced the faith of her masters before that point. But the experience was so powerful, she declared a new name for the One who saw and met her in her pain (Genesis 16:13).

Many of us have had to struggle with gut wrenching pain or sadness. At such times, it may seem that God is far away and uncaring. But nothing could be further from the truth. It is in those experiences that God is closer than ever before. Without Him carrying us through, we never would make it out whole. Rather than close our hearts, we need to be still and open to what God is saying. For anyone currently in such a season, I pray that His words of healing and restoration will wash over you and bring you out stronger than ever before.

Be blessed,


DEEPER: Read Luke 7:38-50 for the experience of another woman who felt seen and touched by Jesus.


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Embral E’Veria


In the Eyes of Everia young adult Christian fantasy series, author Serena Chase coins the phrase ‘Embral E’Veria,’ which is translated, unlimited power governed by unquenchable love. This idea, attributable only to the Divine, contrasts with the view expressed by the historian Lord Acton, who once stated that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

After King David sinned by conducting a census for egotistical purposes, God told him through the prophet Gad, “I will give you three choices. Choose one of these punishments and I will inflict it on you…you may choose three years of famine, three months of destruction by the sword of your enemies, or three days of severe plague as the angel of the LORD brings devastation throughout the land of Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:9-12). David picked the third option, crying “let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great. Do not let me fall into human hands” (1 Chronicles 21:13).

Having encountered his fair share of powerful men – Goliath the giant, King Saul, Achish (King of Gath) – David knew that power and cruelty tended to go hand in hand as far as mankind was concerned. But he also knew that was not the case with God. David’s experience of the Almighty was inextricably linked to His love, mercy and grace. When faced with a decision of judgment from man or God, the choice was clear.

Like David, we may find ourselves on the wrong end of sinful behavior. While God promises to forgive all confessed sin, we cannot escape the consequences of our actions. But this knowledge need not consume us with dread or fear. We can trust that God, the all powerful judge, also overflows with a heavenly father’s love. Therefore, “though [we] stumble, [we] will never fall, for the Lord holds [us] by the hand.” (Psalm 37:24)

Be blessed,


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God or Not?

CS Lewis Jesus Quote

“He’s demon possessed and out of his mind,” some cried out. “Why listen to a man like that?” Others replied, “This doesn’t sound like a man possessed by a demon! Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’” (John 10:19-21)

Riddled with uncertainty, “the people surrounded him and asked, ‘how long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” (John 10:24). “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me,” Jesus replied. “The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name… The Father and I are one.” (John 10:25, 30).

Rather than satisfy the crowd, this plain declaration incited them to violence. Outraged, the people “once again took up stones to kill him.” (John 10:31). “At my Father’s direction I have done many good works,” Jesus said to them. “For which one are you going to stone me?” (John 10:32)

“We’re not stoning you for any good work,” they answered. “But for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.” (John 10:33)

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

“If I do [my Father’s] work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works, even if you don’t believe me,” Jesus said. “Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.” (John 10:38).

How will you decide today?

Be blessed,


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It was the stench that woke him up.  Gagging, the boy forced his eyes open. Seconds later, he regretted the action. Standing right over him was a large pig dripping a gooey substance from its snout. The nostrils widened as the hog sniffed, trying to determine if he was edible. The boy scooted back and shooed the pig away. With a grunt, the animal turned its ample backside and wandered off.

A shivering fit descended on the boy, and he hugged his knees as he rocked back and forth. He couldn’t remember the last time he had a decent meal. His new boss seemed to have forgotten he even existed, let alone think that he needed food. Last night, he was so tempted by the swine feed, he’d fallen asleep covered in it, inhaling the scent. No wonder the pig thought he was food.

“At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare,” he said to himself.  “And here I am dying of hunger!  I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ (Luke 15:17-19)

Determined, the boy jumped to his feet and started on the journey. He didn’t even need to pack a bag – he’d lost everything. Hard to believe he was the same person who left home with half of his father’s wealth. The memory made him uneasy. By requesting his inheritance, he’d pretty much declared that he couldn’t wait for his father to live out his days. Had father forgiven him?

He wondered all through the trip. Finally, home loomed in the distance. His stomach knotted at the sight. How foolish he’d been! No way he’d be accepted back. He was a disgrace to his family name.  Slowing, he began to turn around. Better to die in the desert than face more rejection.

Just then, a shout broke the silence. A solitary figure burst from the house with his robe hiked up. The shouting continued, and a crowd began to gather on the homestead. The figure ran, oblivious to the commotion.

The boy’s eyes widened in shock.  The next moment, his father was upon him, embracing, kissing, weeping. Overcome, the boy wept too. “Father,” he cried. “I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.

“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. (Luke 15:21-24)

Have you strayed from home? Come back. Don’t be afraid – your Father waits.

Be blessed,


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Animal Wisdom

 Nebuchadnezzar animal.png

Nebuchadnezzar staggered as if waking from a dream. Try as he might, he couldn’t shake the hazy fog that wrapped around his mind, blocking any memory of recent events. The last thing he remembered was taking a walk in the royal palace. Surveying the splendor of his wealth and fame, a boast had sprung unheeded to his lips.

“Look at this great city of Babylon!” he’d declared. “By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.” (Daniel 4:30)

His heart jumped as another memory surfaced. The words had barely left his mouth when a booming voice had filled his ears, his mind, his entire consciousness. “O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom. You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.’” (Daniel 4:31-32)

Horrified, Nebuchadnezzar looked down. He was standing on all fours in the midst of the forest. His hair lay limp against his cheeks, caked with dirt and leaves. His entire body needed a shave. Leaning back on his hunches, he flinched at the sight of his gnarled hands. His nails had grown so long, they curved over. He tried to wipe his hands clean against his torso, but they only picked up more grime as they mixed in with the dew that wet his body.

Slowly, painfully, Nebuchadnezzar stood. He shivered as the dew drops coursed over him. He groaned, feeling very much like an animal shaking itself after a wet dip.

As he stood, his memory came crashing back. The dream, Daniel’s warning. Everything had happened just as the Hebrew said – he, the great king, had dwelt alongside the beasts of the forest.

Sinking back down to his knees, Nebuchadnezzar spat out the remnants of his last grassy meal and spoke with the understanding of a man for the first time in seven years.

“Blessed [be] the Most High! Praise and Honor to Him who lives forever! For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have you done?’

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.” (Daniel 4:34-37)

As he spoke, his nobles followed the sound of his voice and helped him back to the palace, to his throne. But things were different now. Nebuchadnezzar had his human understanding back, but he now carried the wisdom of the beasts who know instinctively that the Lord is God.

Be blessed,


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