Foolish Heart

A very popular song from the 80’s was Foolish Heart by Steve Perry. Perry is warning his heart against foolishly falling in love, warns his heart that it has “been wrong before, don’t be wrong anymore.”

Many people live their lives as “one and done” if they are hurt in a relationship in order to protect themselves. Perry is wisely recognizing that our hearts can deceive us. We believe we know ourselves and yet Scripture tells us otherwise:

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A Friend So Faithful

A brother from my church recently shared how his daughter had been told by her best friend that she no longer wanted to be friends. As you can imagine, this young girl’s feelings were greatly hurt. There are few emotions that sting greater than being betrayed or rejected. The pain literally sears our soul.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a friend who would never betray, leave, or reject us?

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Despairing of Relief

Author and Pastor John Ortberg tells the story of when he first began his preaching ministry, no less than five minutes into his sermon, he would pass out cold. He would just faint right in the middle of his message. He jokingly says this is not a good attribute for an aspiring preacher. Thankfully he’s overcome this tendency, although the feelings do arise at times.

While physically fainting can be an intimidating condition to deal with, spiritual fainting is an even greater obstacle to overcome. Whenever tribulation comes, we can either fight through it or faint because of it. It all depends on our spiritual strength:

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The Greatest Thief of Joy

I know people who make worrying an Olympic sport. I don’t mean to insult those who worry, but I want those who are habitual worriers to lean in a little closer and listen carefully. Never in the Bible are we told to worry; quite the opposite. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments we are told to “fear not” and “do not worry.” When we are commanded to do something and we do the opposite, we sin.

No doubt none of you worriers consider yourselves a sinner for this reason. I understand that, but just as important as overcoming sin, I want you to realize that worry steals your joy and affects your health. The Apostle Paul was a man greatly persecuted for his faith and in fact he wrote the following words from a Roman jail:

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The Devil’s Playground

Bitterness is poison to our spirit and cancer to our emotions. Nothing causes spiritual bondage greater than bitterness. No matter the offense, we are captive to our anger and susceptible to whomever we are holding a grudge. Just the sound of the offender’s voice or the sight of him or her can set our anger ablaze. Nothing could be more unChristlike.

Jesus taught us to seek forgiveness of our debts as we forgive our debtors. Our Lord was teaching us that we cannot experience forgiveness if we are unwilling to give it. We cannot do so because as Christians we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and when we harbor bitterness, we grieve Him. The Apostle Paul teaches us how to avoid this:

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Delighting My Soul

People are losing hope. American patriots despair for their country and look at the state of our nation and see no hope. We look to Washington D.C. to voice our complaints and all we get in return are political patronizing pats on the head.

Many are ready to give up on politics altogether. Glenn Beck just announced yesterday that he’s leaving the Republican Party. My friend Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is considering the same move.

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Having A Good Talk With Myself

Yesterday our pastor reminded us that sometimes we need to have a good talk with ourselves. Life can get us so cross-threaded that we look at it as though it is all we have. The Christian life is a sojourn on earth on our way to eternal paradise with Christ. We should not put our hope in things of this world instead of King Jesus:

    “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” (Psalm 42:5)

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Things That Are Dangerously Real

Defeat can be overwhelming. Whether it is in the arena of business, politics, or sports, defeat is always a hard pill to swallow. However, those defeats are temporary. Voluminous are the accounts of athletes, entrepreneurs, and politicians coming back from “the agony of defeat” to experience “the thrill of victory.”

What do you do when life defeats you? Where do you turn when the devil has his foot on the back of your head, seemingly grinding your face in the dirt? You turn to the Lord Jesus Christ:

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Leaving Behind A Solemn Testimony

My pastor likes to say that getting old isn’t for sissies. I couldn’t agree more. Never mind the physical aspects of growing old, the spiritual pressures can be overwhelming. In my generation we have seen socially both rapid progress and rancid perversion. It’s enough to make an older person just want to retire and fade into the sunset. That would be a waste of much power and prudence.

The writer of Psalm 71 was either old age or at least thinking of growing old when he wrote:

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Feelin’ Good

feeling goodI woke up this morning with an old blues rocker song from Elvin Bishop called “Feelin’ Good” playing in my head. Funny thing is I wasn’t feeling bad when I went to bed. However, my wife and I spent a wonderful day yesterday driving along the Gulf Coast to Panama City Beach and had lunch there. We have great memories there because that is where we honeymooned. Ending a long four-day Independence Day weekend spending time with my bride always makes for “feelin’ good.”

Studies have shown that human wholeness combines spiritual health with physical health. Our emotional and mental states can literally make us ill, so having a healthy spirit makes for overall health wellness.

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Helping Myself To Everything That’s Empty

Roomful of EmptinessChristian singer Jeremy Camp’s latest single is titled “Let It Fade” and in the first verse he asks, “Have you helped yourself to everything that’s empty?” That question really strikes home with me because for a very long time, fifteen years to be exact, I helped myself to everything and anything that left me feeling empty. If I’m not careful I can still do it today. This world not only helps itself, but it also promotes things that are empty. Emptiness is a strange phenomena today in a world of everything. However, it is only strange if you are looking through worldly eyes. When you look through spiritual eyes you see the truth:

    “I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure’; but surely, this also was vanity. I said of laughter— ‘Madness!’; and of mirth, ‘What does it accomplish?’ I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives.” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-3)

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Alone With Christ

Loneliness is a serious malady. Studies have shown that loneliness can affect the same part of your brain that triggers physical pain. Some research has shown that as high as 20% of Americans suffer from loneliness. The research on the causes of loneliness are varied as are the symptoms and cures.

Loneliness also affects Christians and the church needs to take a closer look at this malady and its treatments. It is true that a Christian without friends many times is not very friendly. However, many Christian singles suffer from a lack of intimacy, elderly Christians are home bound and lonely, and even a married person can suffer from loneliness.

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Escaping Many Worldly Things

Escape-LaneMy son-in-law has had a tough go at life these past few months. His career path has careened in directions my daughter and he never imagined. It has tested their faith, love, and trust in one another and their Lord. I am thankful to God to report they have past that test through the grace of their Lord Jesus Christ. A couple 20 years their senior would have buckled under the weight. By staying focused on the Lord and his family, my son-in-law lived out this verse:

    “Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust, and does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.” (Psalm 40:4)

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Waking Up In The Land Of Glory

wake_upHow often do you think about heaven? It is so easy to think about the here and now, especially in the times we live that we miss the blessed hope of eternity. We worry about our loved ones and our futures here on earth that we miss the amazing future we have with Christ.

There is a great song by Big Daddy Weave titled “The Only Name (Yours Will Be). The chorus makes me think about my eternal future:

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Raising Them In Hope

Sergeant Eddie JeffersIt was six years ago this date, September 19, 2007, that as a parent I received the worse news ever. My son Sergeant Eddie Jeffers had been killed in Iraq. As a parent of an Infantry soldier and especially as a retired Army First Sergeant, I was more aware of the possibility of losing my son Eddie than most military parents. That knowledge did not soften the blow when the news arrived.

However, something did soften the blow, and not just for me but for the rest of our family. It was the knowledge that Eddie had given his life to the Lord Jesus Christ when he was 13 and now he was in heaven with our King. Yesterday the Lord gave me a revelation that I did not know I needed. It was an affirmation returned to me that I gave to Rafael Cruz last Sunday morning.

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I Belong Here

HeavenSome mornings I wake up with a song in my head. Most of those mornings it is clear to me that the Lord has something to share with me. This morning I awoke to a song in my head, but I had in mind to write about something else. However, the song was playing so clearly in my mind I almost thought I was listening to it on my iPhone. That’s when the Lord reminded me that this is all about Him and not me.

The song is “Heaven Song” by Phil Wickam. If you’ve never heard it I highly encourage you to download it from iTunes (yes, I’m that tech savvy!). The first stanza talks of how God has left us the Bible to learn of His promises and to be expectant of Him:

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Seeking The Welfare Of Men’s Souls

Love-One-AnotherLast night I had the most amazing and enjoyable dream I’ve had in years. I’m not allowed to share it with you for a number of reasons. One is that I’m still trying to remember the details of it. I pray God will give me great remembrance of it. Secondly, I believe God gave this dream to me as a possible future work of fiction. He knows that has always been a great desire of mine (see Psalm 37:4); to create a work of Christian fiction. However what is clear is that He wanted me to share about His great protection, providence, and provision.

A dear friend of mine is going through a very rough time right now; emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I talked with him for about 30 minutes yesterday afternoon trying to bring him encouragement and hope. What my dream reminded me is that in the midst of a seemingly hopeless situation, Christ shows up a performs a miracle in our lives. I remembered the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand:

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Living Comforts

My nephew Michael has made an honest and valid request. My family has faced great tragedy again. My niece Cheryl, Michael’s younger sister, was killed early Sunday morning in a head on collision. She had just turned 34 last Wednesday.

A few hours later, Michael’s uncle, my only brother Stephen, died from a rare pneumatic virus that took his life in less than 72 hours. He was only 52 and leaves behind a wife, children, grandchildren, and three sisters and me his brother.

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Comfortable With Handling The Unexpected

Yesterday my pastor, Dr. Dennis Brunet, preached from one of my favorite passages in the Bible. This passage saw me through a very difficult time in my life. When I first came across it, it so soothed my hurting heart that the only piece of paper I could find in my room was an envelope. I wrote this passage on the envelope and carried it with me every where I went. It became very worn from unfolding and folding it dozens of times. It literally brought me the peace of God:

    “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

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To Best Serve the Lord

I wanted to share an encouraging note I received from one of my devotional readers; she is somewhat new to our group (now numbering 212). Tara wrote in response to my taking a devotional hiatus, and I publish this somewhat unwillingly because I do not want to draw attention to myself, but I felt a strong urging from the Lord to share this with you.

This dear sister-in-Christ so clearly addresses what we all struggle with; how to best serve the Lord. Here is her response:

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