My Buddy ____________________________________

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. Galatians 6:7

Timothy Treadwell loved bears. Bears were his life. He wanted to protect them and dispel what he saw as misconceptions regarding these majestic creatures. Treadwell spent thirteen summers living with Grizzly Bears in Alaska. There were documentaries and articles about Timothy and his cause. In October of 2003, after so much time spent with and among Grizzlies, Timothy and his girlfriend were mauled to death by the same bears Timothy loved. Timothy thought he knew these animals. He thought that he was accepted as one of them. Technically, he was right. You see, Grizzly Bears will often attack weaker bears in the pack. At the time of Treadwell’s death, it was during the fall when bears are trying to store as much fat as possible and that year, food was scarce. This lack of food meant the bears were also more aggressive. Timothy got too comfortable and it cost him his life.

There is an expression that goes, “He can’t see the forest for the trees.” What this means is that sometimes, we get too close to something to recognize what it is or the details of what it is. Keep Timothy Treadwell and this expression in mind as we look into Scripture to find someone else who got too comfortable and missed the gravity of the situation.

2 Samuel 6:7 is one of the more difficult Bible passages to understand. Samuel records the event when the Ark of the Covenant was being brought back to Jerusalem and what happened on the way. King David and 30,000 of his chosen men went get the Ark from the home of Abinadab (where it had been for the last twenty years) and bring it to the capitol, Jerusalem.

Poor Uzzah

For a little background, the Ark of the Covenant was THE national treasure of Israel. It contained the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s Staff, and was where the physical presence of YHWH, or Jehovah, or God Himself sat. The lid was sold gold and two cherubim were molded on top and this was called the mercy seat. This was where the presence of God lived. This treasure was captured by the Israel’s enemy, the Philistines and they ended up giving it back. The details of that event are for a whole other time. The Ark spent twenty years at the home of Abinadab. Twenty years. For twenty years, the presence of God lived at Abinadab’s house.

In the book of Exodus, the rules for transporting the Ark can be found. The Ark was to be carried on the shoulders of Levites using the poles that were made for the Ark. Abinadab, as well as his sons, Uzzah and Ahio, were Levites. They knew the rules for transporting the Ark yet they chose to build a new Ox cart and transport the Ark that way. David did not need to bring all those men with him and the Ark should never have been placed on a cart. As they made their way to Jerusalem, Uzzah put his hand out to steady the Ark because the oxen stumbled. As Uzzah’s hand touched the Ark, God struck him dead. … the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God.

What was that all about? Why did God kill Uzzah? Uzzah was a Levite; he was in the priestly order. The Levites were charged with the spiritual well-being of the people of Israel. They were keepers and interpreters of the Law of Moses. I guess having the presence of God living in your dining room for twenty years desensitizes you. Uzzah was a little too comfortable and forgot how powerful God’s Word was.

I grew up in a Christian family and I used to feel like Uzzah. God was such a fixture of our family that I got real comfortable with Him. I believe I was too comfortable. I lost sight of who Almighty God was. In the Kevin Smith film, Dogma, the Catholic Church was trying to draw new followers. They created ‘Buddy Christ.’ This image has been used and espoused by retailers and groups ever since as a wink to religion. While Jesus is our friend and brother, he is also our savior and Lord. Too many Christians and non-christians view Jesus as simply ‘Buddy Christ.’


Yes, God loves you; he even likes you! He sent His Son, Jesus to die for you. But do not be deceived, the book of Revelation tells us, “He [Jesus] is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.…” I do not write this to scare you. Let me be clear, God wishes that none face this. The Apostle Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Let us not ignore the power and might of God. Let us not take for granted the reverence He deserves. Uzzah got to comfortable and neglected to remember that God is perfect and Holy and needs to be revered. Christ is our covering and thank God for that. I am sure that I would have stepped out and fallen dead long ago. We get to enjoy this scandal called grace. All we need to do is recognize that Jesus paid it all and all to him we owe. Sin has left a crimson stain that He has washed to be white as snow.

Free Refills ____________________

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I heard a sermon recently and one part of it really stayed with me. It was not a unique passage, not at all. It was Psalm 23. I think behind John 3:16, Psalm 23 is the most commonly known and quoted section of scripture. For those who don’t watch any movies or have not been to any funerals, here is Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff,

they comfort me. You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord


This is a very famous passage written by King David. The sermon I heard was focusing on the fact that sheep do not strive for anything. Sheep are not remarkable animals; in fact, they are stupid and need a shepherd. The point was that Christians are referred to as sheep in the Bible. This is on purpose. We all need a shepherd. Sheep do not strive for anything, they simply follow and are led by the shepherd. This is true, but not what stuck with me.

What stuck with me is the part where it reads,“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” The speaker mentioned that in the customs of the day, if you are at dinner party, you can stay as long as the host keeps refilling your drink. I did my own research and found similar etiquette in that region of the world and even in the far east. The point is that God, as the host, who prepares a feast for us in the presence of our enemies, keeps filling our cup to the point of overflow. This is why David can follow with the line that he (we) shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.


See, not only does God love you, He likes you. Think about this: have you ever had people over and at some point during the evening you just wanted everyone to leave? Well, if you were a party host in ancient Israel, you would let them know by cutting them off and not giving them more to drink. If you wanted all your friends to stay, you would keep refilling their drinks. Obviously at some point you would physically run out of wine, or Pepsi, or whatever you were serving. Well, God never runs out of his wine. He never runs out of it and never stops pouring it. Why? Because you are not an annoying houseguest to God. You are liked!

For those of you reading this who are married, are there any days that you love your spouse, but do not necessarily like them? Well, I’ll be the honest one — yes. God does not love out of obligation and God not only loves you, but He likes you. Many times people will tell me that if they walked into church the ceiling would fall on them. Others feel that they are too bad and screwed up too much for God to love them. Others who may even think of themselves as believers feel that God may love them but that he is some distant cosmic kill-joy who only pays attention to you if you are holier than your neighbor. These caricatures could not be farther from the truth.  God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die so you and I would not have to. We rejected him over and over, but still He wants to be reunited with us.

Whether you like it or not God likes you enough that He wants you to stay in his house forever. When God invites you to his party, bring your jammies, because you’re not leaving. God wants to be with you forever.

Jesus tells his disciples in the Gospel of John, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” God has plenty of room and plenty of great wine. The table is set and all the invitations have been sent out. Will you RSVP yes? If so, you can be assured that Surely goodness and mercy shall follow [you] all the days of [your] life, and [you]  shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The Gospel According to Master Chef ____________________



What I learned about redemption and grace from Master Chef.

Last night my wife and I were enjoying one of our favorite shows, Master Chef on FOX. It was down to eight contestants and four were involved in a pressure test. Two of the three remaining contestants who were fighting for a chance to remain in the competition were Leslie and Ahran. Leslie is a fifty something dude from Malibu with a wife and kids and Ahran is an eighteen year old Korean-American girl from Palo Alto. These two did NOT hit it off very well from the beginning and down right hated each other. They would trash talk each other during mystery box challenges and were not capable of being on the same team during challenges. Leslie insisted on mispronouncing Ahran’s name and treating her like she was one of his kids. Ahran was constantly disrespectful of Leslie and his ability in the kitchen.

Last night as Leslie, Ahran, and a third contestant stood before the judges, something happened. A couple episodes ago, there was a touching moment when Leslie and Ahran were chosen to be a team for a challenge and ended up succeeding famously and they may have even won, I do not remember. What happened last night is that two of the three were going to be sent home. The first contestant was dismissed and Leslie and Ahran stood before the judges, Joe, Gordon and Graham. Prior to this part of the episode, during the build up to the decision, Leslie said something. Confession-style, he explained his heart changed towards Ahran. He expressed that maybe it was that he missed his kids, but he was growing fond of Ahran and respected her abilities as a chef. The judgement was made that Ahran was to leave the competition. With tears in their eyes, Leslie and Ahran hugged one another and said goodbye. When the judges asked Ahran who she thought would win, her response was, “Leslie.” 

I would be lying if I said I did not get a little choked up. What is it about redemption that strikes such a cord with us? Why is it that my wife always says those scenes are her favorite moments in every movie or television show? Restoration is something that makes us feel good. Whether it is Mike and Frank from American Pickers finding a rusty cooler or if it’s seeing the Scott brothers on HGTV renovating a house. I believe that we are touched and broken by redemption and restoration  because it mirrors our own experience with God. God and sin are enemies. Habakkuk 1:13 says that God cannot even look at sin. Paul tells us in Romans that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us. We were enemies of Christ and he still wanted to restore our relationship with his father. 

The greatest stories told, the greatest films to grace the screen, mirror the struggle of good versus evil and the concept of redemption and restoration. Art imitates life and whether you realize it or not, redemption touches a part of us that we often do not realize is there.

Master Chef last night reminded me that even though I was an enemy of God, he loved me enough to send his Son to die in my place. A perfect man was crucified to bring me back to my Father who I walked away from. I don’t know of a better tale of restoration than that.

Get Out of the Boat ____________________


In the New Testament, three of the Gospel writers record an event where Jesus and Peter walk on the water. I have always been fascinated by this account. There is so much here that applies to so many circumstances we go through all the time.

The disciples were sent ahead of Jesus to cross the Sea of Galilee to Bethsaida. Jesus was hanging back to spend some time alone – he had just fed the 5000 and everyone went home. The disciples set out, but then things got rough.

Jesus saw that the boat is getting beaten on the sea. Just before dawn, the bible says ‘in the fourth watch,’ Jesus walked out to them. Mark tells us in his Gospel that Jesus was going to pass by them.

Jesus could have walked as far from the boat as he liked, but he walked near enough for the disciples to see him. He would have kept walking, but he recognized that they were in trouble. He let them see him ‘passing by’ walking on the water. When they cried out to what they thought was a ghost, he answered and calmed them. God wants to help you in your distress, but you need to call on His name.

When the disciples saw Jesus, they thought he was a ghost. They were terrified and were screaming and yelling. Jesus spoke to them and Peter wanted to know for sure that it was Jesus. Peter said that if it was really him, to call Peter out to the water. Jesus said to come and Peter got out and walked on the water and in the midst of the storm.

Many years ago, in a bible study I was a part of, we talked about this story. We looked at a few different details.

The disciples were far from shore. They were passed the point where they could turn around. The water where they were was deep. The place of most danger for the disciples was in the boat. The very vessel they were putting their immediate faith in to bring them to where they were going was the thing that could hurt them the most. The safest place to be was walking on top of the waves.

How many times in your life have you set off on an endeavor that you felt called to? Have you ever faced adversity at the point of no return? 

Even though the disciples had lost sight of Jesus, Jesus never lost sight of them. He came close to them, and let them catch a glimpse of his deity. Much like when Moses was able to catch a glimpse of God on the mountain in the Old Testament. Jesus did not force his way into their scenario. Mark tells us that Jesus would have continued to the other side had the disciples not cried out to him. God will not force his way into every situation, much like a parent. I see my kids getting into all sorts of situations, but I love them enough to let them fail sometimes. We can learn more from our failures than our success.

Peter wanted to know that it was truly Jesus. Have you ever come across a help or possible solution to a problem, but were unsure whether it was a God thing? So did Peter. Peter trusted Jesus when he called him out onto the water. But once Peter stepped out, the further away from the boat, the more his fear crept in. When Peter saw the wind and the waves, he took his eye of Jesus and focused on the storm around him. This is when we sink, when we lose our focus. 

Peter cried out for Jesus’ hand and Jesus pulled him up and walked him back to the boat. Once they got in, the storm abated.

Peter had an encounter with Jesus in the midst of a storm by stepping out in faith. The things of this world that you put your faith in (your boat) are going to fail you and in some cases hurt you. Jesus is asking you to trust him and walk above the water with him. Get out of your boat and go to where Jesus is. Even if you lose your focus, God is faithful to reach out his hand.

When the disciples got to the other side, there was breakthrough. A man oppressed by demons was healed and set free. When storms come up in our lives, it may be because our enemy is trying to keep us from breakthrough.

When Peter was on the waves, it wasn’t the waves or wind that physically stopped him. It says when Peter saw the wind and the waves, he was afraid and took his eyes off of Jesus. When we are trusting and keeping our eyes on God, he protects us. Things may look dire, but God is in control.

What are you in the midst of? Are you putting your faith in your own vessel? Get out of the boat and focus on the one who never loses sight of you.

Help Wanted ____________________



In the Gospel of Luke, in chapter ten, Luke records when Jesus sent out seventy-two of his followers in pairs to the towns where he was going to visit. This is similar in some ways to when Jesus sends out the twelve disciples earlier in the book. There are, however, some differences. Jesus uses very specific words to convey the task he was setting before these individuals. Here is the passage as it is written in Luke:

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.

2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

5 “When you enter a house, first say, `Peace to this house.’

6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.

7 Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you.

9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, `The kingdom of God is near you.’

10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say,

11 `Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.’

12  I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

There are a few key things that I want to focus on. First of all, Jesus sends seventy-two (some manuscripts record that there were seventy). Why seventy-two? Well, in Exodus, when Moses recognized that he could not govern the Israelites by himself, he appointed seventy judges to govern the people. This was a familiar number to the individuals Jesus was sending. Even if the actual number was seventy-two, it is estimated that there were seventy-two Gentile nations during this time period and the seventy-two were being sent out to the Gentiles. The twelve that were sent out earlier in the book were sent to the Jews. The twelve represented the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus knows his audience.

Second, Jesus sends them out in pairs. Why? Jesus tells them that they are being sent out as sheep among wolves. Wolves prey on weak individual sheep, or sheep that are hindered or unhealthy. There is strength in numbers. The two can provide accountability and encouragement. They can also stand against false witness. We cannot live out our Christian lives as islands. We need each other. Jesus designed ministry to be done in teams.

Third, they are told to pack light and not to waste time making small talk. There is a sense of urgency here. This mission is for the seventy-two to go into the ‘fields’ and reap the ‘harvest.’ The Kindgdom of God is near, there is no time to waste!

What is so interesting about this agricultural reference is that when the seventy-two ‘laborers’ go into the ‘harvest’ they are not simply looking for wheat or corn to stick in a basket and store away. They are reaping more laborers to help bring in the rest of the harvest.

What I always missed was that this passage is not about the harvest. That’s the easy part. What this passage is about is the laborers. The laborers were few. We are sent out to those who have not met Jesus yet. We are sent together with other believers to keep us accountable and encouraged. There is urgency and we must go. But here is the encouragement: the harvest is guaranteed. Jesus says it is plentiful. Mark Driscoll, Lead Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, refers to these ‘pre-Christians’ to be harvested as the low-hanging fruit. These are people who have already been prepped. These are not the people who are going to fight you, these are the people who have been waiting for you to invite them to church. The work has already been done, we are just called to collect what God has planted and tended to.

This is not a job we have to do. If you don’t, there will be others to come along and collect the harvest. This is a job we get to do! God is our Father and the land owner. His Son, Jesus is the seed, or the crop. The Holy Spirit is the sun and the water. We get to join in the reaping of the harvest! The reason we do this is not duty. The reason we do this is because we cannot possibly think of a better way to respond to the gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus. If you are moved by duty and believe that if you DO, then you can get some reward, you are doing it wrong. There is no special formula. You can’t DO anything to earn your reward. It has been given to you already.

The seventy-two in Luke are not named. We do not know who they were. In the same way it is not about who YOU are. It is about who HE is. God does the work, we just collect the harvest. Pray for more laborers. Ask God to show you the low hanging fruit in your life and join together with the body of Christ and reap the harvest with me!

Finding the ‘Meme’ing of it all _________________________

For those of you who are unaware, and I was among you until recently, a ‘meme’ is a picture with words printed over it to convey a short, usually funny, scenario. Google defines a meme this way: a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users. Many of these are quite funny and more often they are off-color, or not for a mixed audience. I saw one the other day that struck me on a different level. There are many memes featuring Jesus depicted in various ways. Many are rather offensive, but I have to be honest many of them make me genuinely laugh. This one in particular was one that I initially wanted to just gloss over, but I thought about what it said.


Becoming a parent almost four years ago has taught me a great deal about love. I never understood the love of God towards humanity fully until I had kids. What you realize as a parent is that your heart and your capacity to love expands and morphs into this incredible thing. Regardless of what my kids do, I never stop loving them. Nothing they do makes me love them more or less and I never understood how this was possible. The same goes for God. Nothing we do can earn God’s favor. He loves his children. Now, do I agree with every choice my children make? Will I ever disapprove of them? But will I ever stop loving them and wanting the absolute best for them? No, I do not agree with every choice, yes I will and do disapprove of things they do, and no I will never stop loving them and wanting the absolute best for them.


Loving someone does not mean you agree with or condone everything they do. This is a big misconception. You can love without aligning. Jesus tells us that the world will know you are a follower of him by how you love people. (John 13:35) Unfortunately, this is not the way that most people would describe Christians. The meme that made me stop and think is this one:



I think a lot of Christians put a lot of conditions on their love for others. Maybe they are afraid that if they ‘love’ someone that it means they are in line with every philosophy and failing, every statement and stance. If this was what Jesus meant, than I can tell you that he would not ‘love’ me. I am a flawed person, cursed to live in this imperfect body until I get my new one. (2 Cor. 5:1-5) Thankfully, God loves us, his children, regardless of what we do. God does NOT agree or align with everything we do, but he still sent his Son to die for us. If that is not love, I don’t know what is.


When Jesus told us to love others, do we just question? Did he stutter? There is a Tim Keller fan twitter account and it usually tweets Tim quotes. This was one from the other day: “In American society most people only know of either a mild & nominal or a separatist & legalistic Christianity. Neither is the real thing.” Ouch. I want to be known as a follower of Christ by my love for others. Jesus said that the two greatest commands are love God and love your neighbor. It all comes back to love. But just because you love someone does not mean that you have to agree with them on everything. Jesus put no conditions on who he would love, but he did tell us to ‘go and sin no more.’ (John 8:11)


Maybe you are struggling with accepting the love of your heavenly Father. Maybe you have a bad relationship with your real father. Let the love that sent Jesus to the cross touch you today. Whether you know it or not, God loves you. Think about that today.


May the Fourth be With You _______________



May the fourth just passed and with it, many Star Wars fans dressed up, watched the films, had parties and celebrated this beloved franchise. Ask any Star Wars fan to give you a quote from the movies and almost definitely someone will say, “May the force be with you.” I was trying to get a number as to how many times this phrase is said in the films, but all I found was that “the force” is mentioned 91 times in all six films. Many people like to draw comparisons between ‘the force’ and the Holy Spirit. This was my inspiration for this post. As you notice, I am a little late in posting, but better late than never!


Speaking to Judas (not Iscariot)  Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid …” John 14:23-27 ESV


In this passage from the Gospel of John, Jesus is promising the Holy Spirit to his disciples. The same way Luke Skywalker did not understand the force is the same way that, at this point in Scripture, the disciples did not understand Jesus or his true mission. The disciples thought that Jesus was going to establish a physical kingdom on the earth and overthrow Rome. They had not grasped the concept that he was to be the savior of the world through his death on the cross and resurrection. Jesus kept talking about leaving and the disciples were left scratching their heads.


At times it seems like when reading the Gospels, Jesus is speaking to the disciples the way that Master Yoda spoke to Luke Skywalker. Yoda was the Jedi Master and teacher of Ben Kenobi and Darth Vader who were both at opposite sides of the force. Darth Vader was originally a force for good, but was turned and was operating in the Dark Side of the Force. Ben Kenobi, or Obi-Wan, operates on the Light Side, or positive side, of the force. Luke did not fully understand the power that he possessed or how he could use it for good. Jesus is promising his disciples a comforter; a guide, the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit will ‘teach [them] all things.’ The Holy Spirit alive on the inside of all who believe in Jesus as savior and all who claim him as Lord. This is the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. It is easy for people to compare ‘the force’ to the Holy Spirit, but there is one big difference. In the universe of Star Wars, there are two sides to the force, Good and Evil. 1 John 1:5 tells us, This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. There is no other side to our ‘force’ who is the Holy Spirit. John goes on from this verse to say, If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.


When we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness! That is the power of the ‘force.’ The Holy Spirit is what we receive as believers. When Jesus died on the cross, it erased the records of those who believe. Each time we mess up, and ask God to forgive, he says, “OK, that’s one.” Next time we mess up, he says, “OK, that’s one.” God forgives and forgets, the slate stays clean. As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)


Nothing you have ever done or will ever do can disqualify you from receiving the Holy Spirit. Whosoever believes will have everlasting life. When you are a believer, and you receive the Holy Spirit, you will be operating with ‘the force’ alive inside of you.