Category Archives: Monitor Articles

When The Going Gets Tough . . .

Sometimes things are overwhelming.  I’m am not talking about a busy schedule; I am talking about those things that happen when it seems like hope is lost. These moments are hard, and we tend to ask the question, “where is God?”  There is a simple answer to this question – He is right there with you.

We need look no farther than the account of Joseph in Genesis.  At times, things were pretty rough and overwhelming in Joseph’s life.  Where was God when Joseph’s brothers threw him into the pit?  Where was God when Joseph was sold into slavery?  Where was he when Joseph was falsely accused of an attempted rape?  Where was God as Joseph was innocently thrown in prison and then forgotten about?  Where was God?  Acts 7:9 tells us, “And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him.”

We live in a Genesis 3 world.  This means that everything around us is corrupted and tarnished by sin.  Evil takes place all around us because mankind rebels against the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, God.  Jesus told the disciples that they would have trouble in this world, but they were not to fear because he had overcome the world (John 16:33).

Are things overwhelming?  I want to encourage you to have hope.  I am not speaking of hope as if it is wishful thinking; I am talking about an anticipated certainty.  2 Corinthians 4:17-18 tells us, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Don’t lose heart.  I cannot promise you that your current situation will change, but I can promise you that if you lean into God and the truth of his love you will find hope.  This is because our momentary affliction is nothing compared to the eternal glory that awaits us.  Our circumstances do not change God’s love and purpose for our lives. We trust in God’s plan and we faithfully proclaim with Joseph that what is meant for evil, God intends for good (Gen. 50:30).

Our hope is in the Lord.  By the work of the Holy Spirit, through the redemption of Christ, God is bringing us to a place where his presence will be uninterrupted by sin.  Don’t let the current circumstances lose sight of your hope in Christ.  Remember that God is with you, even when you don’t see Him or feel Him.


A Lesson on Prayer

Many of you have never met my youngest son, Levi.  Levi is 6 years old and has a rare condition called Tetrasomy 9p.  It is a rare genetic disorder and according to the National Organization of Rare Disorders, only about 30 cases had been reported in medical literature as of 2001.  When people meet Levi, most understand there is something different about him.  The most telling feature is that is verbal language is very limited.  People do not understand why he doesn’t speak back to them; it is because he cannot.  His main form of communication is sign language and he knows about 230 words.  He understands a lot more, but his communication is hindered.

Levi is my son and a gift from God.  He is a blessing and there are things I have learned from our journey.  One lesson is how much our heavenly father longs to hear from his children.  It was December of 2015, and the age of 5, when I first heard Levi say, “Dada.”  There was an overflow of joy that is beyond description.  He knew me, I knew him, but it was a whole new experience when he was able to cry out to me.  He could call to me and get my attention, he could verbally acknowledge me as his father, and he could tell others who I am.  This is part of the message of Romans 8:14-15, “ For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ “

When we come to know God, through Christ we are able to call on God as a Father, we can call and he gives us his attention, and we have the ability to tell others who He truly is.  It is an amazing gift to us, but it is something that God desires!  He desires to hear the voice of his children initially and continually.  The way this happens is through prayer.

I long for him to be able to tell me what is wrong, what he is thinking, and what happened throughout his day.  As our Father, God desires these same things from his children.  Time does not permit me to provide multiple Scripture references, but know that God delights in communicating with his children.  Proverbs 15:8 tells us “. . . God delights in the prayers of the upright . . .” Will you talk to him today?  God desires you to hear from him, but he also wants to hear from you.

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Posted by on February 6, 2018 in Monitor Articles, Romans



Comfortable.  It is a word we all know and love to experience.  When I travel, I often long for my bed.  Why?  Because, it is more comfortable than the hotel’s bed.  When I have been away from home for a while or spent the day driving, I look forward to my chair at the house.  Why?  Because, it is comfortable.  This wonderful word simply means to be in the state of ease or relaxation.  Comfort probably is a greater influence on our decisions than we think.  However, sometimes being comfortable is not a good thing.

Judges 13-16 record events about the life of Samson.  He is the man of great strength that brought the Israelites victory over the Philistines.  We paint him as a hero of the faith, but often forget he was an egotistical womanizer.  However, he seems to have exercised faith in the final moments of his life.  As he was placed next to the pillars of the building, he prayed and God restored his strength.  But for the most part, he’s not the kind of guy you want your boys to imitate.

In 15:9-13, there is an interesting account that deserves our attention.  Samson has brought disaster on the Philistines and they have responded by setting up camp in Judah.  They were not on a weekend get-a-way.  It was an act of war.  When the men of Judah ask the Philistines why they are waging war, they learn it is for revenge against Samson.

Think of the amazing strength that Samson has.  Obviously, the men of Judah know about it, because they gathered 3,000 men to go get Samson and bring him to the Philistines.  They were willing to surrender their only hope of freedom to the enemy.  Why would they do this?  Comfort . . .

The men of Judah were comfortable in sin and bondage.  Their disobedience caused the oppression; we read in 13:1 that the Israelites did evil I the sight of the Lord.  Unlike previous times, we have no record of them calling out to the Lord to set them free.  They were comfortable where they were at and were willing to hand Samson, the man that God was going to use to free them, over to the enemy.

I urge you, don’t be comfortable in sin.  Sin should create discomfort in our lives because it interrupts our fellowship with God.  It should be like sitting on a tac or having a pebble in our shoe.  We should not embrace it; we should remove it.  Ask God to show you where you are comfortable in sin and through the blood of Jesus Christ, remove it.

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Posted by on January 28, 2018 in Judges, Monitor Articles


Memory Problem or Focus Problem?

Have you ever read the book of Judges?  Often, we look at the nation of Israel and ask ourselves how people could be so stubborn and foolish.  We tend to look at all the times they “missed the point” or “how quickly they forget.”  We forget that many times, their recorded story is our daily reality.  Let’s take a moment and look at Judges 3:5-6.

So the people of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And their daughters they took to themselves for wives, and their own daughters they gave to their sons, and they served their gods.”

Didn’t they remember the works and wonders God preformed in the past?  Our quick assumption would be to think they completely forgot God.  After all, they sure weren’t acting like “His people” should act.  I want to challenge you that this wasn’t the case.  They did know about God.  After all, if we look in Judges 3:9, they certainly remembered they could cry out to him!  It wasn’t that they did not know about him; they didn’t know him.

This is a big difference.  They knew of him, but they didn’t know him.  Their hearts were pulled astray to other gods, and desires of the flesh trumped the dedication of their hearts.  God told them in Deuteronomy 7:2, not to enter covenants with the people of the land . . . but they did.  Further reading tells us they did so out of selfish gain and fleshly desires.  God told them that he alone was to be worshipped in Deuteronomy 6:5.  However, the people’s straying heart followed in the steps of Adam.

Do you see yourself in this pattern?  Do you see how we fall into the same traps as the Israelites?  We have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.  We have Christ as our Savior, and we have abundant material blessings.  How many times do we forget?  How many times are our hearts lead astray by desires and we forget the truth of God?

We may never truly forget God, but we do struggle with his exclusivity.  After all, don’t we always remember who to cry out to when we are in trouble?  I want you to know that if you only find yourself turning to God when you are in trouble, that is a sign of a divided heart.  It is a sign of a heart that is held captive by selfish desires and idols.  If we only go to him when we are in trouble, then he is not the focus of our hearts.  We are just like Israel in the book of Judges.

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Posted by on January 22, 2018 in Deuteronomy, Judges, Monitor Articles


What Entertains Me?

Often, when we are in the car, my kids enjoy listening to Adventure in Odyssey.  It is a radio drama and comedy that was started by Focus on the Family in 1987.  We have them on CDs and they help pass the time as we travel.  Last week, as we listened to one of the episodes, there was a scene that caught my attention.  One of the main characters on the program was set to have a debate with a “shock jock” whose rude humor and condescending remarks were often directed at Christianity.

As the show progresses, there is a scene where two repair men are listening to the program.  At the end of a tirade by the shock jock, one repairman states something to the effect of, “I love this guy!”  After listening to this scene, I was stuck with this question –  “why would someone find this rude humor and these degrading comments entertaining?”  It immediately hit me that there was something in the listener that resounded with the statements and demeanor of the shock jock.  The only reason he found it entertaining and delightful was its resonance with something within his mind and heart.

As Christians, we should often set aside time for reflective prayer.  These are Psalm 139 moments when we ask God to search our hearts and show us the wickedness in us.  However, we should also evaluate our actions and thoughts in accordance with Scripture.  I began to ask myself, “Are there things that I find entertaining and enjoyable that are sinful?”  My mind continued for over a week on this subject.  It was a worthwhile journey in prayer and repentance.

Think of the shows you find entertaining.  Does the sexual immorality resonate with the fleshly desires within your heart?  Does the filthy and the vile language resonate with your secret thoughts and desires?  As believers, why do we find such things entertaining, unless in some way they are fulfilling those guilty desires that we do not want anyone to know about.

As we sit in the beginning of a new year, I want to challenge you to search your heart and evaluate the things in which you find pleasure.  Are they godly?  Do they encourage you in the pursuit of holiness?  Our minds should be focused on the things that bring God glory? Romans 8:5 tells us, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”  My prayer is that we will set our minds on the things of the Spirit.

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Posted by on January 17, 2018 in Monitor Articles, Psalms, Romans


Daily Walking

One of my favorite radio programs to listen to is Car Talk.  It is a radio program where two brothers receive calls from listeners, and over the phone they make an educated guess as to what is wrong with the listener’s automobile.  I remember one episode particularly well.  A lady called in to settle a disagreement she had with her husband.  Her husband thought he could save gas by accelerating to the speed limit and then coasting as far as possible.  Then, he would accelerate again.  He is logic was that he did not burn as much gas doing this as he would if he traveled at a consistent speed.  The wife disagreed, and she was right.

You may know someone that drives like this or you may be that person.  If so, stop it!  Now, let’s take that one step further.  Maybe this is the way you travel regarding your spiritual life.  There are two people I am talking about.  First, there are the people that only pray or seek God in the middle of a crisis.  Second, there are the people that think attending church on Sunday morning is sufficient for their spiritual health and they coast through the week.  If you are one of these people, stop it!  Let me explain.

You are designed for intimate communion with God; this is the picture that we see in the Garden of Eden and that we see in Revelation 21.  Mankind, as an image bearer of God, was made to have fellowship with God, but sin hinders that purpose.  When we are saved by the person and work of Jesus Christ, the image begins being restored and communication reopens.  That’s great news, but here’s the deal.  You were made for continual communion.

We often treat our spiritual lives like the husband of the caller.  We go to church on Sunday and count on that to get us through the rest of the week.  Or, we seek God in times of trial and let that suffice until the next trial.  These are wrong and they deny our created and redeemed purpose.

Psalm 1:3 compares a blessed person to a tree planted by the water (Take a minute today and read Revelation 22 about the river of life).  The water in that verse is an image of being continually plugged into the source of life.  The reason the tree prospers is because it is continually plugged into the life-giving source.  Do you strive to be continually plugged in?  Or, do you live from one experience to the next, coasting in between?  Live in a daily walk with God.

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Posted by on January 7, 2018 in Monitor Articles, Psalms, Revelation


Hey Batter, Batter . . .

It is easy to be distracted.  Some of you will begin reading this and not make it to the end because something else catches your attention.  It is as if there is someone yelling “hey batter, batter . . . swing” just to make us miss something.  What if the thing we miss is important?  What if we miss something great because we are paying attention to something that is meant to distract us?  Satan desires to keep us distracted.  He wants us to be blinded to God’s work and God’s blessings.  This has been a strategy since the Garden of Eden.  In Genesis 3 we have the first account of Satan distracting man from the work and blessings of God.

Think of all that Adam and Eve had at their disposal.  In Genesis 2:16, they are told that they can eat from every tree of the garden, except . . .  Yes, we like to focus on the except.  We mull it over in our minds and let it become the focus of our thoughts.  Do you see the strategy?  Let’s go back to chapter 2.  At this point, Adam and Eve seem fine with this exception.  After all, they have every other tree in the garden to eat from.  God’s work and blessings are abundant.  They are completely satisfied with them, but things change in chapter 3.  Here is that deceptive strategy.

The serpent (Satan) begins to distract them with what they cannot have.  That’s right . . . He yells “hey batter, batter” and they swing.  They are so distracted that they forget the abundant work and blessings they are satisfied with in chapter 2.  We don’t know how big the Garden of Eden was, but let’s speculate for a minute.  The Virginia Department of Forestry suggests that a Christmas tree farm can plant about 1,037 trees per acre of land.  So, let’s imagine that the Garden of Eden is only 2 acres.  Now, we will fill that with only 1/3 of the suggested trees.  That leaves us with about 691 trees planted in the Garden.  That means that Adam and Eve have access to 99.997% of the trees.  They are only forbidden from eating 0.003%.  What a significant difference!

It seems illogical to be enticed by that little number, but that is the way Satan works.  There are times you may be distracted by the 0.003%, but don’t swing.  Don’t let Satan make you miss recognizing the abundant work and blessing of God in your life.  Don’t miss out on God’s goodness because you are focusing on what you do not have; you might not have it for a reason.

This post was published in The Monitor of Naples, Texas on 11/24/16.

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Posted by on February 28, 2017 in Genesis, Monitor Articles, Uncategorized