“The Bottom Line”

Absorbing God Word

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

Applying God’s Word

For me, the most spiritually challenging week of the year just ended, Holy Week. It’s a time when applying scripture to my life becomes very challenging and convicting.

Have I betrayed Jesus through my wrong choices? Have I stood up for His truth? Have I introduced Him to someone new? Have I been proud to take Him with me wherever I go? Have I spiritually, physically, emotionally, or financially washed the feet of each person He sent my way? Have I said yes to helping Him carry his cross? Have I declared with my mouth that “Jesus is Lord” and do I believe in my heart that God raised Jesus from the dead?

To answer the above questions this week, I exchanged my name with those of the main characters who round-out the writings leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection. It was very rewarding and freeing. Give it a try.

Accounting of God’s Word

Happy Easter Bonus Video – Fourteen Words – https://youtu.be/IKl5LW-_Il0

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“Husbands”

Absorbing God Word

“Now, as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:24-25

Applying God’s Word

Twenty plus years ago, I used the above scripture to open our daughter’s wedding reception. I only read Ephesians 5 verse 24 before the room erupted in a masculine chant accompanied by fist pumps.

When order returned to the room, I proceeded to read verse 5:25 with a caveat saying, “If men expect their wives to submit to them in everything, they must first love their wives like Christ loves the church.” You could hear a pin drop.

It took me about twelve years to begin implementing the above scripture into my own marriage. Once I did, it was as if someone flipped a switch in my relationship with my wife. Her total trust and admiration for me became something most husbands will never experience in their marital relationship.

Ephesians 5:28 goes on to say, “In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”

Accounting of God’s Word

Have I come to love, trust, and admire my husband because he loves me like Christ loves His church? Do I love my wife without the expectation of her being submissive?

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“Keep Praying”

Absorbing God Word

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” Psalm 37:7

Applying God’s Word

Most of the time, I know how to be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him. However, there have been a dozen or so times that waiting on Him became too much for me to bear.

Louise and I really pray earnestly for others. We don’t just pray for a person in need when they come across our minds. We pray about their different situations for days. Often, those days turn into weeks, months and, for some, years. We pray with great faith that God is not only standing in prayer with us but answering every prayer.

The other night, out frustration, I yelled at God for not answering one of our prayers. It frightened Louise. I immediately asked her and God to forgive me. Then it was as if I heard God say, “Keep Praying.” That’s not really what I wanted to hear.

I’m aware that interceding in prayer for others can be an emotional roller coaster and that my expectations are not always aligned with God’s plan. I’m still learning the importance of being still before the Lord and waiting patiently for Him. I will keep praying because I know God has called me to do so.

Accounting of God’s Word

Am I satisfied with being still before the Lord? Am I waiting patiently for Him?

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“Deeds of Darkness”

Absorbing God Word

“The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Romans 13:12

Applying God’s Word

I joined the Navy in 1965 and spent most of my enlistment on a submarine. It was home to a group of rough sailors. The peer pressure to drink and hang out with the rest of the crew made it difficult to put aside the deeds of darkness let alone put on the armor of light.

After being discharged from the service, I was surrounded by other people who enjoyed the highs and lows of marijuana. It didn’t take me long to realize that I traded one season of darkness for another. That period was short lived and left me looking for new friends.

In the early 1980’s, I found myself entertaining some customers who loved three-hour lunches. The darkness that used to only show up on weekends found a way to creep into my workdays.

It wasn’t until the late 1980’s that I made a clean break from relationships that separated me from God. I finally understood what it meant to put on the armor of light. Have I perfected it? Not by a long shot, but I am encouraged by my progress.

https://youtu.be/5FpGzAPbeR4  – New lyrics by Eliot Morris to “This Little Light of Mine”. It’s not just light for me, but light for others that need it, too.

Accounting of God’s Word

Am I still consumed by deeds of darkness or has God empowered me to put on the armor of light?

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“The Generosity Habit”

Absorbing God Word

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7

Applying God’s Word

My junior year of high school was one of the toughest years of my life. I left my family, friends, dog, and the comfort of home to find out if God was really calling me to be a priest. Mission Santa Barbara seemed a long way from San Jose, California.

The cost of tuition, room and board was more than my parents could afford. Therefore, the seminary gave me a partial scholarship and asked me to work at the Franciscan Print Shop (Serra Press) each day after school.

Brother Kevin ran the print shop and became one of the most important mentors in my life. He taught me how to work all the machines that produced our seminary magazine, the Antonian, and so much more.

Brother Kevin knew I wasn’t doing well scholastically or emotionally. Halfway through the year, I was ready to throw in the towel, but Brother Kevin encouraged me to stick it out. He helped me with my schoolwork and became a daily living habit of generosity.

I was only at the seminary for a year, but the friendship with Brother Kevin lasted until the day he died.

2-minute video –  https://youtu.be/OmEse2_PiKk

Accounting of God’s Word

Am I a daily living habit of generosity?

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“Come Aboard”

Absorbing God Word

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

Applying God’s Word

This is a tough teaching from Jesus, and it reminded me of an analogy I heard.

There was a luxurious cruise ship offering every amenity under the sun and charging a handsome fee to each passenger. Right next to it was a tugboat offering free passage to anyone willing to be a fellow shipmate/sailor. There was a long line for the cruise ship, and no line for the tugboat. Satan is the captain of the cruise ship and Jesus is the captain of the tugboat.

The world will offer me everything under the sun if I choose the broader gate. Jesus offers me eternal life if I choose the narrow gate. It’s not a choice I make once in my life. It’s a choice I make hundreds of times each day.

One gate leads me away from Jesus and one leads me toward Jesus; one is a lie, and one is TRUTH.

Accounting of God’s Word

Which gate have I chosen?

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“Ephphatha”

Absorbing God Word

After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (“Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened.” Mark 7:33-35

Applying God’s Word

I went to see my E.N.T last week and was moved by a detailed diagram of the ear, nose, and throat. When my doctor entered the room, I pointed to the diagram and said, “I’m in awe of how God has created us.” He replied, “I’m in awe of that every single day that I come to work.”

It made me think of all the times I took hearing for granted. It also made me think of things I’ve said and heard throughout my life that weren’t true. Fortunately, like the deaf man, Jesus touched me and said, “Ephphatha!” He not only opened me ears to the truth, but also my heart, soul, and mind.

Accounting of God’s Word

Have I allowed Jesus to touch me with His truth?

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Good & Bad

Absorbing God Word

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45

Applying God’s Word

I like the good that God brings out of me when I’m a good man! I’m not impressed, though, with the man I am when I’m wrestling with a frustrating situation.

Louise and I drove back home from southern California this week. A seven-hour drive took eleven hours. I was pleasant for the first couple hours of driving. But then we found out that the shortest route home was closed due to snow. We were rerouted to the only other way that was open. That’s when Mr. Happy became Mr. Unhappy. What started out as a pleasant drive home became more like driving in a war zone.

Everyone seemed to be unhappy. My tolerance was shot, I was beyond tired and my thoughts about the other drivers became worse by the minute.

I don’t like myself when I give frustration an open door to changing who God’s called me to be. Therefore, I write this post transparently to hold myself accountable in the future.

Accounting of God’s Word

What is my heart full of most of the time? Good or Evil?

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“Faith, Works or Both”

Absorbing God’s Word

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” James 2:14

Applying God’s Word

This writing by James has been a hotly debated scripture for years. I don’t think that was his intent.

James is directing this question to each reader personally. What good is it, Jack, if you claim to have faith but have no deeds? Can such faith save you?” His question challenges me to look inside at the deeper parts of my selfishness and pride. 

Before coming to a strong belief in God, I did many wonderful works, but most of them were wrapped in self-centeredness. Yes, I was doing good works, but my motivation for doing them was self-serving.

I don’t feel compelled to compete with the faith or works of a Mother Teresa or Billy Graham. I do sense, though, that God has empowered me to live out my faith with more humility and less selfishness.

Accounting of God’s Word

What is James saying to each of us personally in James 2:14?

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“The Innkeeper”

Absorbing God’s Word

“The next day he took out two denariiand gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.” Luke 10:35

Applying God’s Word

Over the years, God has said to me many times, “Jack, look after him/her.” I’m ashamed to admit that, on more than one occasion, He has had to ask me multiple times to help someone. Eventually, I am obedient. 

Recently, I drove to San Diego to visit and support my daughter and granddaughter. Caramia was getting out of the hospital and she and Jackie both needed a place to live while Caramia continued with outpatient rehabilitation.

We were able to find a place to rent, but it didn’t have a full kitchen which was critical for Caramia’s recovery. After explaining the situation to the property manager, Sandra, she upgraded us to a unit that had everything we needed, and she did so at no extra charge. She was the good Samaritan and a very compassionate innkeeper. 

Accounting of God’s Word

When have I been a Good Samaritan or compassionate innkeeper? Who has been a compassionate Samaritan or innkeeper to you

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