Hope in the new normal

“You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever.” 1 Peter 5:9-10 (The Message)

I often think these days, “Woe is me.”

Might be more appropriate to think, “Woe is us.”

We are all in this together. We are all getting a dose of the Covid-19 impact.

That Covid-19 impact got closer for me today. How? Today’s local online newspaper reports that a nursing home, about two miles away, has several positive tests. Could I be next?

Where is the “hope” from the title of this entry? Here it is: The suffering will not last forever.

That does not mean that the Covid-19 threat will completely end. It could, hopefully, but that is not what the verse above means.

Remember that believers are “just passing through” this life. We are all terminal. There is an expiration date for all of us unless Christ returns before that date.

BUT believers have a somewhere with God after this life.

There will not be any suffering in that place. All will be new, including us. Our terminal parts will be exchanged for eternal parts!

The suffering we are going through now is real. There are so many varieties of hurts for all of us. I cannot work. I cannot enjoy a hobby I am heavily invested in. I cannot visit my family. I cannot worship at church or attend a men’s Bible study. And the list goes on…..for me. You surely have your own list.

But we are not without hope. Things will turn out well. In time, the varieties of “normal” we have experienced in this life will transfer into abnormal. I can only imagine!




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Why can’t I be Godly consistent?

“There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus does not change – yesterday, today, tomorrow, he is always totally himself.” Hebrews 13:8 (The Message)

I have Christ in me. Let Galatians 2:20 explain how: “I am crucified with Christ, and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life that I now live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Wouldn’t you think that with Christ in me, I would be Godly consistent? Frequently, however, I am ungodly consistent instead.

Good times – happy. Bad times – angry.

If Christ is in me, what is throwing me off? I think it is that I am often driven by circumstances.

Even though Christ is in residence in my life, and I want Him running it minute-by-minute, I often interfere. I push Him to spectator status and plow ahead on my own.

Sadly, I do this despite insisting that I want His Ways to be my ways.

There is plenty of proof that I cannot manage my own life in a consistently Godly way.

I must allow His consistency to overflow through me.





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The corona virus has made us all equal

“The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.” Ephesians 3:6 (The Message)

It is interesting that the virus has made everyone in the world equal.

No language barriers. No financial advantages.

Everyone wakes up with the reality that there is a virus in our midst. That it is beyond our control no matter who we are, or where we live.

The consequences of the virus being in our midst are real. We see numbers. We hear stories. Many seem so far away that we gather a sense of immunity. Then the local numbers pop up and we are brought back to the nearness of the danger.

The worldwide equality that the virus has brought is like our status before God. We are all His creations. We are all the same before Him. There are no front-row seats or backseats before God.

Today’s verse mentions an “offer” for everyone worldwide from God.

What is the offer? All sinners are unacceptable to God BUT He did something about our unacceptability.

What did God do? I am quoting “Life Application New Testament Commentary” (page 816): ‘God could only accept sinful people through a sacrifice that would cover their sins. Jesus Christ gave that sacrifice – himself! – through his death on the cross.’

Everyone is given the same offer: God has taken care of our sin problem by having Jesus die in our place. Jesus took the punishment we deserved. We are now acceptable in God’s sight if we will accept/believe what He did for us.

There are no coupons or special days involved. The offer does, however, expire when we expire. We either accept the offer in this life or lose out eternally.








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Forget later. What should I do now!

“I ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do…” Ephesians 1: 17-18 (The Message)

Paul prays that the Ephesians will be as Godly as possible.

Paul does not suggest doing some things now and some things later, he leaves time-frames general. I think that I have been narrowing my prayer timeframes into long-range concerns.

Maybe it is time to change my focus.

I like to ask God for help with long-range things.

What say I start asking Him for help in the hour ahead instead of just long-range things?

Maybe my long-range concentration is messing up the immediate.

Instead of, “when should I move to our summer home,” I should be asking, “what chore(s) can I do where I now am in the next hour?”

I referred a few days ago to sensing I was at an airport, with all my gadgets, waiting to go on a trip to the Caribbean. I found that I could not get into the gadgets because of my concentration on my future location.

I have been locked in for weeks. By my estimation, I have waited restlessly for the interned time to end. My productivity has been minimal. I am even neglecting normal household chores. Why? Because my focus is on beyond the immediate. And I am, therefore, seriously neglecting the immediate.

I find myself caught up in online politics and Hallmark movies. The accumulation of those passive activities has turned me lethargic most of the time. Call it bored if you will.

Paul, the apostle, is not around to pray for me as he did beautifully for the Ephesians. I must pray for myself.

I pray that I will know Jesus so well that His thoughts can be my thoughts.

I pray that I will know Jesus so well that I get the next hour Godly right.


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Getting the best from others

“Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15 (The Message)

I was struck by the second part of this verse as I read it this morning.

It is one thing to “look” for the best in others and another thing to bring it out.

I started to wonder if my search for the best in others is lazy. I wait for them. I watch them. But do I do enough to bring that best out of them?

I have been sequestered with my wife for weeks. How active have I been in bringing out the best of her? I question my results.

I think of this as it relates to a baseball manager. He obviously wants his team to succeed and he cannot afford to be passive about it. His task is to put his players in a position for them to succeed in a way that enables the team to succeed. I need to do the same thing at home.

If there are things that my wife struggles with, I need to relieve her of them or help her do them. Too often I watch her struggle and wait for it to bring out the “best” in her. What am I thinking!


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I don’t have it all together

(Trying to get back to producing entries regularly. This is certainly not to please the cravings of an extended list of followers, just to get some regularity to my Bible reading. Reading without responsibility does not work well with me.)

“I’m not saying that I have this all together….” Philippians 3: 12 (The Message)

Paul lists some remarkable qualifications. His pedigree is amazing, as are his life experiences.

He is as good as they come. But then comes verse 12 where he steps back to assure the readers that he, like the rest of us, is a work in progress.

We will not ever get it completely right. If we try for perfection, we will always feel inadequate. BUT God does not see us that way.

If I believe that God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus when He died in my place, I have cleared out my inside sinful self. I have moved Christ into the vacancy. He lives in me!

Every believer is on equal footing with God……….we are sinless in His sight. No need to compare ourselves with others. No reason to feel inferior or superior.

God finds me acceptable. Hallelujah!



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My mind was black

I wanted to do an opinion entry today on the corona virus. I had done two on that topic recently.

Prior to the previous entries, I read, I studied, I researched, and drew some conclusions. Then I wrote them, edited them, and posted them.

Two times that went on.

Then came today. I used the same read/study/research/conclude process and then took a break before writing.

I like to get the beginning of what I’m writing about floating through my head before I start.

Today I sat trying to do that, but I could see that my mind was black. It wasn’t blank, it was black.

This was a first for me.

“What’s going on,” I thought.

It didn’t take too long for me to get it straight. I was not going to get any Help on the story.

Normally, I pray before I write asking for a “flow.” How will I start? Where will the pieces I’ve collected fit into the written puzzle?

I had not been praying about writing in either of the two previous opinion pieces. “I’ve got this,” I thought. “It’s clear and obvious. No need for Help.” Talk about foolish!

How does God get our attention?

It was a quick visual for me this time.

When my brain went black, I realized that God’s Light in my head was turned off. My brain was no longer in service for the story I thought would flow easily. I had nothing to write.

I told my wife what had happened and gave up on the story completely.

I write this entry for a blog I have seriously neglected for months.

My blogging time has been used for covering sports. The CV has now taken that away. Maybe it’s time to begin to write more on this blog?

“Lord, thank You for getting my attention. You are in me. I want You coming out through me in all that I do. Thanks for stopping me completely today. I needed the directness. I love You, God.”



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Is heaven real and am I really going there?

The minister at church raised this question today: If we are ignoring God now, why would we want to go to heaven and be with Him later?

The after-life options are clear; an eternity with God or an eternity apart from Him.

Isn’t living without God what Hell is?

Does my behavior in this life divulge what my hopes in the after-life are?

It has become troubling to be with family/friends who have intentionally chosen to live their lives without God.  There’s no mention.  There’s no worship.  There’s no urgency to seek God.

If this life is all that there is, then being godless makes perfect sense.  However, if God is real then He must be real in my life in the here and now.

Maybe you’re thinking, “I’ll wait until I get there and then choose to be with God.”  No, you won’t!

There is a judgment day after death.  We will stand before God and our life’s records will be exposed.  We’ll know then that we aren’t worthy to spend an after-life with God, if we don’t already know it.

If we’ve neglected God here, we’ll continue to live without Him in the after-life.

I wonder what the after-life status is for those who claim, or have claimed, to be believers but now have chosen to ignore Him?  Sobering thought, for sure.

Blame my minister.  He was finishing Revelation and there was a ton of heaven talk.

Heaven may be God changing this earth back to the way it was.  It may be in a different place, who knows?  That being said, it is a place I want to be in.  I expect to be wherever it is.  I don’t deserve heaven BUT God made a way for me, and you, to be there.



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Getting wisdom elsewhere

I’ve been around for a while.  I know quite a bit.

BUT, am I wise?

The Bible is counter-intuitive when it comes to wisdom.

“Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.”  Ezekiel 28:17

“How can men be wise?  The only way to begin is by reverence for God.  For growth in wisdom comes from obeying His laws.  Praise His name forever.”  Psalm 111:10

What I consider wise and what the world considers wise, often isn’t.

A commentary on Psalm 111:10 uses the example of a well-known painter to make a point.  The painter attracts the praise of many as he sketches the passing landscape on the way down the Niagara River to, and over, Niagara Falls.  What was important to him and to those who admired him?  Obviously not the MOST important thing.

God gives us every good thing we have, yet too often we are deceived into thinking we deserve it.  We have made it possible.  God gets relegated to Sunday morning.  We know best without His involvement.

We miss who God is!  We lose our respect and admiration.  Our wisdom becomes “corrupted.”

Reverence for God is a full-time activity.  God is special.  He’s the best.  He’s been there, done it.

Shouldn’t I have a passion to want to know Him better?

Photography interests me.  When I find an expert in an area of photography that interests me, I actively chase after him/her.  I read.  I watch.  I chase.  Why?  They are the expert.  I want to get from them what I have a passion for.

If I claim to love God, I will have a passion to know Him.

The second part of verse 10 above gives instruction in this area: I need to obey His laws.  Surely, this requires knowing what His laws are.  What He wants from me.

I pour over articles in camera magazines chasing knowledge of something that interests me.  I must approach the Bible similarly.  Therein are instructions on how to be wise in God’s eyes.

Will I chase wisdom in the Bible as I do in other areas?

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Filed under Ezekiel, Psalm, Psalms

Where are the Godly?

“For the Lord says: ‘I am against you, Israel.  I will unsheathe my sword and destroy your people, good and bad alike – I will not spare even the righteous.”  Ezekiel 21:3-4

“Who but God can give me strength to conquer these fortified cities?  Who else can lead me into Edom?  Lord, have you thrown us away?  Have you deserted our army?  Oh, help us fight against our enemies, for men are useless allies.”  Psalm 108:10-12

“The One Year Bible” have put Ezekiel 21-22 together with Psalm 108.  They are good fit.

If you want to get discouraged, read Ezekiel 21 & 22!  Things are bad and going to get worse.

Take note that even the so-called “righteous” will not be spared.

I wonder if these folks were “righteous” in their own eyes or were they righteous but not doing what God wanted?  I don’t know.  I do know that God is including them in the punishments to come.

Maybe “righteous” refers to the priests because God goes after them in Ezekiel 22:26: “Your priests have violated my laws and defiled my Temple and my holiness.  To them the things of God are no more important than any daily task.”

At the end of Ezekiel 22, God admits that He has looked for someone (anyone) who actually lives righteously and has the Godly sense to ask Him for help.  Sadly, no one is found!

BUT along comes prayerful David in Psalm 108.  He is well aware of the size of the enemy but He is also aware that God is not overwhelmed by any enemy.  Men are overwhelmed but God isn’t.  David sees that relying on men, and not God, is useless.

What a lesson!  Evil is formidable for sure.  God is more formidable.  My trust must be in Him not in other things such as the police, the government, my health insurance etc…

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Filed under Ezekiel, Psalm, Psalms