Saturday, May 24, 2014

How to get a weed-free garden

Over the last twenty-five years, I have made a plethora of flower beds. For the first few, I would wake up one day with flowers on my mind, decide to put a flower bed in a certain place, dig it up, put plants in the ground, and cover it all with mulch. The grass from what was former lawn plagued me for years. 

One year, my farm hand convinced me to use barn yard fertilizer in my new flower bed. Unfortunately, it was a little too fresh, replete with seed heads, and yielded a harvest of grain along with the flowers. I'm still pulling wheat from that flower bed. 

Roundup worked pretty well, as did pre-emerge, but neither suited my organic heart. Eventually, I decided to tackle the weed problem with the barrier method. I tried black plastic on the ground, thicker black plastic, wet newspaper, cardboard, and a combination of wet newspaper and wet cardboard. Those all had their merits, but time and rot took their toll and  weeds always returned. 

One day, I was heading out my front door, whining about weeds all the way to the car. I didn't have time for a major weeding, so I stooped down and pulled three weeds. Because they were tall enough to be noticeable, the three weeds made a noticeable difference. That evening, I pulled three more weeds on my way in the door. Over the next few days, I continued to use the "Rule of three", and pull three weeds on the way out, three on the way in the door. By the weekend, the front landscaping was nearly weed-free. 

I still try to use the "Rule of three" in weeding and it works better than you might imagine. It turned out that the way to have a weed-free flower bed is diligence, not chemicals or barriers, although those can certainly help. 

The thing we sometimes forget is that the garden of our heart requires diligence to keep it weed-free, (or sin-free) too. As I write, I can think of more than three weeds there that need to be pulled. What about you? How is the weeding going in the garden of your heart? Do you like what you find growing there? If not, ask God to help you pull it out by the roots, and don't delay. There's not much better than a weed-free garden, except, of course, a sin-free heart. 

Wanting to be Least (Luke 7:31)

"To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? (Luke 7:31 NASB)

Jesus had just spoken about John and explained that he was both greatest and least in the kingdom of God. Those who had been baptized for repentance of sin understood completely. Those who had not been baptized for repentance of sin (mostly Pharisees and lawyers) did not. Not surprisingly, being among the "greatest" in society, they wanted no part in being least. They could look around the crowd and see the "least". That was not for them. 

Jesus could read their faces and knew their haughty, judgmental hearts. In this verse, he introduced His reply. You can tell from what He said here that this coming retort is not going to be complimentary, and it was not. 

The odd thing is that these Pharisees and lawyers preferred those haughty, judgmental hearts enough to not only risk, but also endure, the condemnation of Christ. They would rather embrace their pride, holding it tight like a treasure, than embrace Almighty God, wrapped in flesh and standing before them! The Voice of God was about to speak against them, and they did not run for cover or cringe in fear. They acted as if it mattered not at all. How foolish is that?

Lest we have a haughty, judgmental attitude about them, we should consider our own attitudes. Do we "want what we want", regardless of God's plan for our lives? Do we ask for God's will to be done or for our own to be done? Are we willing to be least instead of first? It's one thing to be willing be a servant for a weekend, especially when friends serve alongside us.  It is another thing altogether to be willing to be a servant for a lifetime, with only Jesus beside us. 

Do I have a "willing to be least" heart? Do you?

Pray today that we would embrace the least and joyfully become the least, serving our Lord with all our heart, and that it will draw our loved ones to Christ. 
Last night's link is here:

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Night With Friends: Ole Lou Takes a Turn: The Snake Escapade

Ole Lou is our guest blogger tonight.  It's his first time, so it took him longer than he expected, but better late than never!  He is a good friend to Maggie the Wonder Dog and friend and protector for Mamie the Apprentice Wonder Puppy.  He had a big adventure today and has decided to share it with us.  Enjoy!
Well, I shore never expected to be writing a block.  Or blog.  I don't even know what that is, but when Mama said "Write it" I just said "Yes, ma'am."  I knowd better'n to tell her no, even if I am older'n her in dog years.  I don't rightly know how old I am, anyhow.  It don' matter much 'cause I ain't talkin' bout ages no way.

What I'm talking about is snakes.  It's been my job 'round here to sound the alarm when snakes come sneaking around.  My mama don't mind a snake she knows about, 'specially if it eats mice and rats, but she don't allow none of them snakes to sneak up on her.  She just can't stand that.  When one comes sneakin', I bark the snake-bark and she comes runnin' with her hoe.  She's pretty tough with that hoe.  I shore don't want her to get that thing after me!  Our system has worked pretty good for a long time.

The other day, Mama came home from work and I was layin' in her flower bed.  I know she don't like that none, and it ain't always a good idea to try it, but there was a good reason, and I'll tell ye in a minute.  My mama got out of her car, and she lit in to me right away! "Lou Hollis what in the world are you doing in my flower bed?  You know better than that!" I just looked at her and said, "Mama you are gonna find out exactly what I'm doing here in about a minute, so just hold on." I didn't mean no disrespect, but I had to lay down somewheres.  I'm old!

Mama got to the porch, and let out a screech.  Well, it was really her snake-scream.  They was the biggest snake I'd ever seen on our porch.  It stretched from the door to the wood rack and it had draped itself all along my bed.  Ain't no way I'm laying down with a snake on my bed.  Thass why I was in the flower bed.  Anyway, it would'a been better if mama had got her hoe.  That snake-scream of hers will raise the hair on yo' head but it ain't never killed no snake.  That big ole thing just slithered off the porch and its been sneakin' round ever since.

Today, that thing got on her back patio.  She and Maggie and little baby Mamie had been out there just a little while before.  Thank the Good Lord they had gone to the greenhouse.  That snake is gettin' bigger ever day, I'm shore of it!  When they come back from the greenhouse, Maggie heard me barking the snake-bark and she came running, and so did little Mamie.  We was so worried bout that baby that we both got goin' on the snake-bark.  We was puttin' up a ruckus!  Finally, Mama came around.  By the time she got there, that ole snake was so mad it was trying to bite me.  I thought, "Better me than that 'lil baby dog," but I was worried. Can you believe it?  My mama came without her hoe!  I was barking the snake-bark and that always means to get the hoe, but I reckon she got in a hurry agin.

That snake hid in the monkey grass and it was slithering this way and that.  Mama got her flat-headed shovel.  I don' know what that thing is good for, but it ain't for killin' snakes, thass for shore.  She near bout tore up that monkey grass, but I'm doubtin' she hit that snake.  Anyways, Mama took Maggie and Mamie inside and left me outside on guard.  She said she had just finished all the yard work she was doing this day.  I really think it was the snake that finished it for her.

I ain't seen that snake agin' but I'm on guard.  If it comes back, I'm barkin' the snake-bark agin and Mama best be bringing her hoe.  They's one thing for sure.  I'm not gettin' near my bed til that varmit is gone.  I'm sleeping in the flower bed, even if mama don't like it.

Well Maggie and Mamie tole me I needed to tell a lesson, so here it is.

If you don't want the snake to get the little 'uns you best be sounding the alarm.
When the snake takes yo' bed, let 'im have it.  The flower bed is the safest place.
Hoes are better than screams when it comes to snakes.

The end. By Ole Lou.

Rejecting God's Purposes (Luke 7:30)

But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God's purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John. (Luke 7:30 NASB)

The Pharisees and the lawyers were the most educated people in Israel. They were experts in the law and could argue with the best of them. Unfortunately, they "rejected God's purpose for themselves". The topic Jesus had been discussing was that the greatest would be least in the Kingdom of God. These men were, in one sense, the greatest in Israel. They were among the smartest and most successful. They were among the most respected, and they enjoyed being greatest. 

Being least did not appeal to them at all. In fact, if they couldn't be greatest, they wanted no part of Jesus. "Rejecting the purposes of God for themselves" meant that they rejected the servanthood and humility that were central to Jesus's teachings. This business of being least held no appeal at all. 

Pride was certainly a part of the problem, but there was a more important problem here. The Pharisees and the lawyers had not been "baptized with the baptism of John", which was a symbol of the repentance of and forgiveness for sin. Because they had not understood the depth and consequences of their sin and their unworthiness before a Holy God, they could not understand the greatest being least. They had missed the fundamentals, and it made all the difference. 

Just as a child must learn the basics of the alphabet and the sounds of the letters before he can learn to read, so we must learn the basics of our sinfulness and our need for a Savior before we can embrace the purposes of God for ourselves. When we understand the enormity of the sinfulness of man, we can begin to understand the incredible grace involved in the love of God. 

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23 NASB). It is a simple concept to understand, but all too easy to miss. We are sinners. Most of us know that inherently. What we can easily miss is that our sinfulness comes at a tremendous price. We fall short of the glory of God, and only the grace of God can pay our debt. 

Pray today that we, and our dearly loved ones, will not only recognize our sinfulness but also have a deep and overwhelming desire to be right with God through His amazing grace. 
Here's the link to last night's post:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Glaze

This is an excerpt from my first book, The Clay Papers.  Enjoy!


“And now why do you delay?  Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”  Acts 22:16


It was an exciting night when we glazed our first pieces.  After looking at samples of finished products, I selected a glaze that would be a brilliant, high gloss blue after it was fired.  The glaze was thick and red.  I fretted that it was the wrong one.  After all, I wanted blue, not red!  The Potter assured me that the fire would bring out all the beautiful properties of the glaze that were hidden.  I plunged it deep into the red glaze.  I could not see at all how it would be blue in the end, but the Potter knows…

Being washed in the blood of the Lamb doesn’t make sense to the world either, but that red blood is the only way to go through the fire and come out as the beautiful, functional being God has planned.  He places us in just the right spot in the fire, as different places in the kiln will have different effects on the glaze.  His choices are made to get just the right result.  He has a constant eye on the finished product.  Our Father and Master Potter is infinitely trustworthy and skillful.  


He knows what He is doing.

He knows the result He wants.


If you will submit to His gentle hands, He will make your life more beautiful than you can ever imagine.  How does the clay become what the potter wants?  It happens only through the skill, knowledge, and vision of the potter.  

Are you in a hard place right now?  Does it seem too hard to endure?  Too painful?  Trust Him.  Don’t give up.  He knows what He is doing and it is for your good and His glory.  Hang in there.  You will love the finished product!



Recognizing truth (Luke 7:29)

When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God's justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John. (Luke 7:29 NASB)

"All the people and the tax collectors" is an odd phrase. It sounds a little as if the tax collectors were not people, but of course they were. Perhaps they are separated out because it was their job to collect the tax (a much hated task) for the Roman government and many people considered them traitors to Israel, no longer a part of their fellowship. Perhaps those hated tax collectors are listed separately because they spent their days dealing with payment for what is owed. No one was exempt from the tax, so everyone had to pay it. Of all people, they should have understood the universal debt of sin and the payment that must be made. 

Regardless, most of the people in the crowd understood Jesus's words, and understood the rightness of them. They had been baptized with "the baptism of John", which meant they had been baptized as a symbol of their repentance for sin and God's forgiveness. To be baptized in this way meant they had heard John preach that all had sinned. These people understood that there is no one who is righteous except Jesus. 

One very important point in this verse is easily overlooked. They understood the equality in the Kingdom of God because of their baptism, and because of the teaching they had received and embraced that led to their baptism. Because they understood that they had all sinned grievously, they understood that not one was better than another, not even John. 

That precious prophet John the Baptizer had not sought accolades, but had communicated his own unworthiness before Jesus in such an effective way that, when Jesus said John was greatest and least, the crowd immediately understood it. This is a powerful example for us today. We are all leaders for someone. Are we as careful as John to avoid the adoration of the crowd? Are we as careful as John to point the way to Jesus. His motto and his life goal could be summed up in one simple verse. He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30 NASB). That should be our life goal as well. 

Pray today that our witness will be so effective that we point only to Jesus and not to ourselves and so attractive that our loved ones will be irresistibly drawn to Christ. 
Link to last might's post:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Finding Home

The father of a dear friend and former coworker died this week and the visitation was this afternoon. When I arrived just minutes after it began, there were dozens of people in line. By the time I made my way out the door, there were what looked like hundreds standing quietly for their turn to pay their respects to a godly man and offer their love and support to the grieving loved ones. This family will miss him terribly, but they do not despair because they know where he is. He is home with Jesus and, one day, they will see him again. As I made my way through the line of family, one young woman said with joy, "He has no more pain!" His sweet wife, with whom he was inseparable, said, "He's in such a better place. I wouldn't wish him back!" He's spent a lifetime heading to his eternal home, and he's finally there. 

Across the street from the funeral home was a thin, weary man sitting on a bench in front of a church, a large plastic bag at his feet. It looked as if all his worldly goods were stored in that big white bag. A few blocks later, another tired looking young man sat on a park bench with a similar bag beside him, resting his head in his hands. There was no sign that said that they were homeless, but it certainly appeared to be so. 

It was an odd dichotomy. One elderly man has gone to his heavenly home. Two  tired men wait on benches for homes they have no idea how to find. I didn't stop. Maybe I should have, but I had no notion how to intervene for them. "Jesus, money won't help here," I said. Before I could pray further, I heard one thing so clearly. "I am the way, the truth, and the life," Jesus said.  "No man comes to the Father except through Me."  (John 14:6)

Ah, I thought, I do know how to help, and began to pray that God would send His messenger to be the hands and feet of Christ to them, to meet their current needs, and show them the way to their one true home.


What a lovely word, made even more lovely by the knowledge that our Lord is there! One day, I hope to see you there, too.  

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6 NASB)

Greatest and Least (Luke 7:28)

I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." (Luke 7:28 NASB)

After explaining to the crowd that John was the forerunner of Christ, foretold by the prophets, and that he was appointed by God to prepare the way for the Messiah, Jesus said an odd thing. There is no one greater than John but, the least in the kingdom of God is greater than John. John is greatest and least all at the same time? 

Matthew Henry wrote that John was the greatest of all the prophets. Why? He was the greatest prophet because he was chosen by God to usher in the Messiah. Like the herald that precedes and announces the king, so John announced our King. John served as an announcement of what was to come by his words and by his lifestyle. Rough clothes and a wilderness home contributed to the understanding that the coming King would not be found in a palace. 

In God's kingdom, only Jesus gets honor. Greatest and least are of no consequence in comparison to our Lord Jesus. Even if we are as anointed by John, as effective as John, as stalwart and faithful as John, we are no better than the most humble, quiet servant of God. 

There is another quality of John's that we would do well to emulate. This greatest of prophets never demonstrated pride in himself. He always pointed to Jesus. He constantly put Christ in the forefront and himself in the background. He made himself the least and became the greatest. 

Oh, if we would only do the same! If we would demonstrate the truth of Christ in every aspect of our life, as John did, how much more effective would we be? How clearly could we present Jesus to those we love the most?  Is there any area in which you are giving an inconsistent message about Jesus?  

Pray today that every area of our lives would quietly but effectively announce the One we serve, and that those we love the most would be drawn to the Jesus they see in us. 
Link to last night's post is here:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Miracle in the Yard

The last time I had seen him, he was terribly ill and no good outcome seemed likely. When he ended up in my office recently, his recovery was astonishing. He had found a happy ending after all! 

For a millisecond, I was speechless. "Whoa," I said, "It looks like you've had a miracle!"  He started nodding his head and grinning broadly. "Yeah, yeah, yeah I did," he said. I thought maybe he'd seen another doctor and wondered who had done this fine work. "So, where did you get this miracle?" I asked. His gap-toothed grin went all the way across his face. "In the yard. I foun' it in the yard.  It just come on me, right there in the yard!" By this time, I was wondering what kind of miracle-yard this was. Maybe he'd been to a tent revival. "No ma'am, I was just cutting grass and raking leaves. It come on me just like that!" 

What a wonderful story! This sweet man was just going about his life, doing work he'd been told would hurt him, and had an encounter with the Almighty that brought healing to a failing body. Are you as amazed as I am? When he least expected it, God showed up and did more than he'd thought to request. 

It makes me wonder how many God encounters we miss because of the busyness of our lives. If we were as peaceful as this man, as quiet in times of trouble, would we recognize God at work more clearly? Maybe so. That's what God says. Be still. Be still and know that I am God. (Ps 46:10) 

For the next few days, why not try just that? 

Be still

Simply be still and experience an encounter with God of your own. If someone can find a miracle in the yard, you can be sure you can find God, too. 

The Messenger from God (Luke 7:27)

This is the one about whom it is written, 'BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.' (Luke 7:27 NASB)

Jesus is so nice. I have said that so many times, but this is one more example of it. John, in prison and facing certain execution, had been looking back on his life, likely questioning everything, including the way he had spent his few short years of wilderness ministry. He had sent two of his faithful disciples to confirm that Jesus was the Messiah. 

The disciples didn't wait for a quiet moment. Instead, they asked Him in the presence of a crowd. "Are you the Messiah?" It turned out that the crowd was full of people who had been baptized by John. They respected John and loved him for the impact he had on their lives. Jesus could have easily destroyed that with His reply, but He didn't. In fact, instead of denigrating John, he pointed out his important role in the Kingdom of God. 

Jesus quoted from the prophet Malachi. He was saying, "John is the one God sent to prepare the way for Me." With that, He reminded them that John had referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. He confirmed for everyone that John had known Who Jesus was, and He also confirmed that He know who John was. What could have seemed a break in ministry between the two leaders turned out to be a moment to confirm unity instead. 

Words are very powerful. How do we use  our words? Are they used to build up those who are struggling or used as an opportunity to tear them down? Perhaps we could learn from the example of Jesus. When we have the chance to say something, let's wrap those words in kindness and unity, to build up the body of Christ. 

Today, pray that we will encourage and lift up those who are struggling and that our words will be used to bring healing to those who are full of questions, especially those we love the most. 
Here's the link to last might's post:

Monday, May 19, 2014

Squashed Nostrils and the Breath of God

Mamie went for her well baby check today. For those who don't know, Mamie is my almost-five-months-old Shih Tzu puppy who spent the first part of her life masquerading as a gremlin. Her first hair cut revealed the true dog, transformed her into an even fiestier Mamie, and sent Maggie and me racing for a high spot. Mamie now appears to be in training for high-jump Doglympics. She hops all the time!

She had to have a few vaccinations today as well as a general check up. It's never good news when I go to pick up one of my doggie babies and hear that the vet wants to talk to me. Dr. Thomas had not-great news. Not surprising to me, who has listened to her nose-noise for months, Mamie needs nostril surgery. Tiny nostrils is a common problem in Shih Tzu's because of their "flattened facial structure".  In the vernacular, their nose holes are squashed together. 

Squashed nostrils might not seem like a problem, but here's a demonstration that might help. Hold both your nostrils almost completely together, keep your mouth closed, and try to breathe. It's horrid, and feels like you are suffocating. Now try doing that while you are running and hopping non-stop. Impossible. This little 5 1/2 pound puppy has been doing the impossible while fighting for every breath. Surgery is not far away. What worries me is how much energy she will have when she can breathe freely! Unstoppable!

The idea of breath and nostrils had me wondering what Scripture said, so I did a quick search. You might be surprised by the number of references to nostrils in scripture. There was one verse, though, that captured my attention. It's from Job. 

"For as long as life is in me, And the breath of God is in my nostrils, My lips certainly will not speak unjustly, Nor will my tongue mutter deceit." (Job 27:3, 4 NASB)

As long as there is life in him and the breath of God in his nostrils, Job will not lie, he tells his listeners. Imagine that!  The breath of God is in our nostrils! This idea comes from Genesis 2:7, which tells us that, after forming man, God breathed into his nostrils and gave life to the man. 

Selah. Pause and consider. 

Every time you take a breath in through your nostrils, you are inhaling the breath of God. 

Stop for a moment, close your eyes, and breathe. Take big inhalations through your nostrils and fill your lungs with the breath of God. Isn't that profound? Moving? Amazing?

Right now, you, dear ones, are filled with the breath of God. No tiny nostrils restrict your flow of air. You are filled with Him. 

Ponder that tonight.  

Ponder that, and let it change you. 

What do you seek? (Luke 7:24-26)

When the messengers of John had left, He began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces! But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and one who is more than a prophet. (Luke 7:24-26 NASB)

The messengers from John approached Jesus when He was ministering to a large crowd. He had been teaching and healing. When the disciples spoke with Jesus, the crowd was still assembled and, it seems, at least some of the crowd knew of their exchange. Jesus didn't berate John for asking questions or voicing doubts. Instead, he first turned the questions back to the crowd. 

"When you went to see John in the wilderness, what were you seeking?" He asked. "It wasn't a weak reed of a man nor a fancy dandy of a man," He continued. "You went to see a prophet."  He told them what they had gone to see was actually a man who was more than a prophet. 

The Greek word here, prophētēs, is best translated as prophet. It indicates someone who shares a revelation they have received directly from God, someone filled and directed by the Spirit of God. Understanding what a prophet does is not the same as understanding why they were willing to walk miles over rough terrain to see the prophet in the wilderness. 

The people had gone to see John because they knew he had a direct encounter with God.  They wanted to hear him tell about it, but they also hoped he would tell it in a way that shared some of that encounter with them. They were hungry for an encounter with God of their own. 

John made it clear that it was sin that prevented their own relationship with God, and it was only repentance for sin that could open the lines of communication with God. "Repent!" John had said over and over again. They knew that was his message, and that is exactly what they wanted to hear. They were desperate for someone to tell them, to show them, how to repent and get the sin out of their hearts and lives. They wanted someone to show them how to have this God-life they'd been trying to accomplish with rituals and sacrifices. 

Aren't we also hungry for an encounter with God of our own? Don't we also long for a personal encounter with the Almighty? There are many who disdain the attempt, but perhaps it is because they have not yet understood how to have it for themselves. Are you willing to be a John to those who are seeking?  Will you share with all God sends your way?

Pray today that we would repent of anything that keeps us from our Lord and that we would share our experience with Him so clearly that we would be like a road sign, pointing the way to Christ. 
Link to last night's post:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Pursuing protein

Last week was busier than I realized and, somehow, not all my paperwork got done. Again. There was nothing to do but dig in and spend the weekend getting caught up. In every record on which I've worked, my plan has included something like this:

"Dietary recall reveals a very low protein intake, likely a major factor in the failure to heal. He (or she) will have to increase the protein intake to 1 gram per kg body weight if he (or she) expects the wound to heal. Dietary preferences are extremely limited and we have reviewed options for increasing the protein intake."

A significant portion of every day is spent trying to help patients understand how important protein is to wound healing, and I am constantly surprised by how much resistance there is to adopting a healthier diet. We have tried everything from buying protein powder and distributing it to offering recipes for high protein drinks and dishes. Sometimes people embrace the change, and sometimes they don't, but every time, the choice they make affects their wound healing. 

All these recommendations about protein intake reminded me of what the writer of Hebrews wrote. It's a tough read, but one about which we need to be reminded. 

"Concerning him (Jesus) we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Hebrews 5:11-14 NASB)

He was saying he wanted to teach much more about Jesus but we had chosen to be such babies about the word of God, wanting to be bottle fed instead of digging for solid food, that it had made us dim witted and dull of hearing. We need to grow up, he was saying, so we can learn more about Jesus. We need to choose to change. 

Those are hard words for me to hear. Although I consider myself a serious student of Scripture, I could spend more time in study than I do. An older pastor I know once said he doesn't read anything but the Bible. I was really surprised by that, but today my penchant for fiction (especially spy novels) looks a little different. Perhaps what I need on a lazy Saturday afternoon is less fiction and more truth. 

What about you?  Is yours a milk diet or have you progressed to solid food? 

The only way to have more Jesus, the writer of Hebrews said, is to have a steady diet of truth. Put that way, change doesn't look so bad after all, does it?  

This week, dig in and see what treasures you find in Scripture. Feel free to share it here. The comment section is open. I'd love to hear what you find. 

Taking offense and being an offense (Luke 7:23)

Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me." (Luke 7:23 NASB)

The Greek word translated here as "take offense" is skandalizō and is used in Scripture in several ways. The way we generally view this passage is described by Blue Letter Bible as "to see in another what I disapprove of and what hinders me from acknowledging his authority".  That may well be exactly what Jesus meant. It was what the Pharisees did. They saw Jesus eating and drinking with sinners, bringing them to God, and they did not like it one bit. The offense they took at the befriending of all hindered them from accepting Him as Messiah. He did not want John, in prison with nothing to do but think, to end up rejecting Him because he found something in Him he didn't like. 

The BLB lists another usage for this word that may also be pertinent. 

"To put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall". 

John was asking questions and trying to be sure about Jesus. He was a wise man, and realized that, if you want to get an answer about someone, you should ask them rather than asking the opinion of the crowd around them. John wanted to go to the source for his answers but, because he was imprisoned, the only way he could approach Jesus was by sending a friend. He sent several disciples to get the information he needed. 

John was a type of trained scholar, having spent years in the wilderness studying. He had spent his life seeking answers to questions. Jesus may have been warning John that our questions only become a problem when those questions endanger the faith of others. He was telling John not to allow his uncertainty to become a source of stumbling for the disciples God had entrusted to him. 

As a leader in the faith with a large following, he could easily lead people astray if they heard his doubts but did not know that he had found answers to his questions. Jesus may have been warning John to be careful with his questions, and with the faith of those who followed him. 

We, too, have people who look to us for leadership and encouragement. In our culture, social media allows us the luxury of instant access to large numbers of people. We can voice any doubt, say anything. If we do that unwisely, we can be a source of offense, a stumbling block, to others. We must we wise in what we do and say. 

As important, our homes are the place where we are most relaxed and at ease. We are safe to say anything. Just because we can say anything we think does not mean we should say anything we think or voice every doubt. Be wise. Be wise. Once spoken, words cannot be recalled. 

Pray today that we will not take offense in our doubts and that we will not be a source of offense for those we love the most. 
Here's the link to last night's post: