Philemon Devotion

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis

If you have read the book or watched the movie, you know the story of Eustace Scrubb. If I might sum up his life before encountering Aslan in Narnia it would be one word that sounds an awful lot like his name, useless. Without spoiling the best part of the story I will simply say that Eustace becomes a dragon. However, it was the best thing that ever happened to him because Aslan shows up to perform a miracle in his life!

I share that brief story because something similar happened to someone named Onesimus prior to this letter to Philemon. In fact, it is the occasion from which this letter is written. Even though this letter is short, there’s much that could be highlighted, but let’s see this amazing transformation in Onesimus.

Philemon and Onesimus had some type of master-servant relationship. We don’t know much about it but it seems that Onesimus had left for some reason. Again, the details are minimal but somehow Onesimus runs into the Apostle Paul while in prison for the gospel.

What is clear is that something amazing happened to Onesimus. It was perhaps the darkest days of his life, yet this might have been the best thing that had ever happened to him because he heard and believed the gospel!

Similar to Eustace/useless, Onesimus’s name on the contrary meant “useful” though he was not useful. But that changes when he meets Jesus like Eustace met Aslan. Here’s what Paul says about it.

10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.
11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) – Philemon 1:10-11

For Paul to become Onesimus’s father would mean his father in the faith. It simply means that Paul shared the gospel with him and he believed. This is such rich language that describes discipleship. There is a profound responsibility Paul has for Onesimus and we should see discipleship like that too.

Paul will go on to say concerning why all of this happened:

15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever,
16 no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother-especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. – Philemon 1:15-16

Not only did Onesimus become useful to Paul but also to Jesus and the Kingdom. We hear of him later. See this:

7 Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.
8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts,
9 and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here. – Colossians 4:7-9

It is the miracle of the gospel! May you be encouraged and not loss heart! God is transforming us from Eustace to Onesimus by His grace and for His glory!


Ephesians 6 Devotion

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This image from The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis gives a unique picture of how Jesus (the Lion) protects us from the enemy in ways we might not expect! Go read the book!

There are days we feel the battle’s intensity and there are days we are unaware that we are in a battle or maybe some place in between. The battle began when we turned our back on the prince of the air and sin. We had spent our days following the enemy but Jesus rescued us by his grace!

There’s a battle being waged in how we think, how we respond, and how we feel. Some days it seems much easier not to pray. My mind is distracted with everything. I oversleep sometimes and the pressure of the tasks for the day beckon my attention. Even the days when I succeed in prayer, I must begin quickly or something else will have my attention.

Occasionally, I awake with a headache and I cannot even endure the slightest of sunlight and most fragrances only intensify the pain. If it’s not that it’s backpain or some other physical ailment. I could go on and on about these but you know as well as I do how many different things can happen in a week.

All that I have mentioned only complicates the issues. But sin harms us in many ways and we do not even recognize it. In chapter 4, Paul said this: (Eph. 4:26-27) Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil…..(Eph. 4:30) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Sin affects our capacity to think biblically and live godly. It makes us foolish and gullible. Thank goodness, God gave us the gift of the church.

This passage about the armor of God, is written to the church. It is “plural” throughout. Yeah…you might take it individually but we are meant to do this together. The truth is we are weak but God is strong. We need to be strengthened in the Lord to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

Just how strong is the strength of the Lord? How mighty is he? I think Paul describes it well in Ephesians 1:19-20 “…and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.” Mighty enough to raise the dead! And that is the power with which we are strengthened.

How do I stand against him? Do not ascribe to the world’s mantra that if it feels good do it, if sounds good go for it, and if it makes you happy it must be right. We have been given the armor of God THAT we might be able to stand AGAINST him. In Christ, the devil can now be resisted. You no longer follow him around. You are no longer his toy or project. You are Christ’s! Stand against temptation.

How do I use this armor? Let’s read the text again.

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance…

(Eph. 6:11-18)
  • Know the truth (having fastened on the belt of truth)
    • the belt…the truth holds everything together
  • Remember that you have a right legal standing before God in Christ and now do what is right before Him (having put on the breatplate of righteousness
    • the breastplate guards your heart
  • Go in the peace of the gospel (having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace)
    • the gospel of peace has prepared your path
  • Trust the Lord (take up the shield of faith)
    • the enemy wants you to think that you must be happy now in your current circumstances and that is all that matters but God says to trust me and one day your trials will be over
  • Think what is true (take the helmet of salvation)
    • guard your mind by knowing the salvation of the Lord
  • Stand on the promises of God’s word (take the sword of the Spirit)
    • speak the Spirit inspired word of God to yourself and to the enemy
    • praying at all times in the Spirit
      • This may be the most neglected weapon available to us. Prayer seems to be a waste of time. Couldn’t I be doing something more productive than bowing my head and praying? No.

KEEP ALERT WITH ALL PERSEVERANCE!

The reason this armor is so effective is because it is God’s armor. Satan cannot fight against him. The battle has been won in Christ. Now, he makes war on the saints. Our armor, our protection, is God’s armor. The very thing that does not allow the enemy to fight against him. God is holy. The devil has no weapon in which to battle with God.

Dear saint, bruised and wounded…struggling and doubting…ashamed and broken…don’t give in to the lie that you have gone too far. God loves you. He is gracious and merciful. Do not be deceived by the Liar who is crafty. Come to Jesus.

Let this song be your prayer…


Ephesian 5 Devotion

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The “therefore” of verse 1 follows the fact that God has forgiven us in Christ and therefore our way of life will change. Formally, we imitated the world. We walked in immorality, impurity, and greed. Since we have been forgiven, God commands us to walk in His ways which is God’s intent from the beginning of creation.

But how do you imitate God? Normally, we grow up imitating our parents. We see their manner of life and we pick up various things from them. It’s rather natural for us to do this. But we cannot see God physically. However, God has sent His Son not only to pay the penalty of our sin through his death and resurrection but also to show us the ways and character of God!

The nearest context of what we were formally is found back in 4:17 where Paul describes unbelievers as Gentiles. This word simply means “nations” but in the context of the Bible it means more than that sometimes. It means those peoples who do not follow the One, true and living God. They worship idols and other gods. Paul says Gentiles *live in futility of mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the *life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of their hardness of heart.

Because God has forgiven you in Christ, God now considers you “beloved children.” Since children naturally imitate their parents, as beloved children of God we should now imitate God our Father. In particularly Paul says to walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us. In other words, Jesus gave his life that you might now have a new life. We were formally darkness. Not just walked in darkness, though that is true. But we were children of darkness.

We loved the darkness hoping our evil ways were hidden. We put our hand beside our mouth trying to hide our dirty jokes, our filthy mouth, and our silliness. We scan the scene to see whose ears are in range of our voice. However, God sees through the darkness. He knows what is done in secret. Our thoughts and motives are not hidden from Him.

What did God say to us when He saw this? Are you ready? Are you sure? It might not be what you think! He said this:

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

(Eph. 5:14)

Now, we no longer tell people our favorite dirty jokes but we speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. We now give thanks to God with our mouths! We no longer have need of hiding our true identity but we are free to agree with who we were formally and who we are now.

Dear Darkness, long had you been my close companion but I will no longer need you. I am a child of the Light. I will not walk in you, darkness, but I will walk in the Light by the grace of God and for His glory.

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Ephesians 4 Devotion

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There’s so much I’d like to write concerning this chapter but writing takes a lot of time. Because of some of the recent issues with COVID-19 and executive orders from our Kentucky governor, I feel the need to focus on maintaining the unity of the Spirit. The picture above shows what disunity looks like. A square peg cannot go into a round hole without significant damage.

Our pastor gave a short (12 minute) video of how he would like for us (the church) to respond to these new orders. Granted, they just came out on Thursday, July 9, 2020 and we must think and decide by Sunday July 12, 2020. The new mandatory rule of wearing a mask in public in the state of Kentucky is what I am speaking of.

I can speak from both sides as a former pastor and right now a church member. A pastor has a unique and special privilege of spending much time in God’s Word and in prayer. Rightly does the congregation pay him so that he can be devoted to these primary tasks. He is afforded much insight to our current situations. He is leading us in the wisdom and knowledge of God. It is a blessing to be able to do this.

But the membership is normally busy with life and work. We aren’t able to spend as much time in the Word and prayer as the pastor. And that’s okay. We have a pastor to help us know what to do. Sure…we weigh what he says against the Scriptures but if he gives sound teaching and wisdom we are obligated to follow his leadership. And not only follow but to follow gladly.

The text I want to highlight is this:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call–one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

(Eph. 4:1-6)

Let’s come together on Sunday with all humility and gentleness. Let’s come together with patience. Let’s bear with one another in love. Let’s be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

There are not multiple churches among our one local body. There isn’t one church of the masked and one church of the unmasked. We are one body and one Spirit. We have one hope…not government, not medicine, not politics, not masks, nor doctors…no one but our one Lord and one faith and one baptism. Our one God and Father of all.

He bids us to love Him and to love each other. Not everyone agrees about the mask but I love those in this body. And love compels me to wear a mask. I admit I don’t like them but I also remember the people who did not wear their seatbelts for years when it wasn’t the law. My kids will never have that struggle because they have always worn them. But they save lives most of the time and so will these masks most of the time (I think).

Let us come together on Sunday with eagerness to demonstrate love and humility. Let’s trust the pastor’s biblical suggestions. Let’s love Jesus and you can’t say you love Jesus if you do not love your neighbor. Because to love Jesus is to love what he loves. He loves his church. He paid for her with his own blood. He wants us to maintain the unity of the Spirit. And all of this will be by his grace and for his glory.


Book Giveaway!

I love to encourage discipleship! This book will do just that. I will be drawing a winner next Thursday. From now until Wednesday, July 15th, all you must do to get your name in hat is to leave a comment on this blog post!

Thanks to all who follow the blog! I hope it encourages you! I sure enjoy trying!


Ephesians 3 Devotion

If you haven’t already, might I suggest praying God’s Word is something you should consider doing. Prayers do not have to be spontaneous to be real or authentic or right. Part of growing as disciples of Jesus is learning how to pray. What better place to learn than the prayers offered in the Scriptures.

I offer this suggestion today because there is a prayer in Ephesians 3. The reason Paul prayed for them is stated in verse 13 which says for them not to lose heart. Well, one way for them not to lose heart is for Paul to ask God, in prayer, to strengthen them. Thus his prayer for them is in 14-21.

I’m going to pray this prayer for myself as I often have and for others. I usually change the pronouns to match how I am praying it. It would be something like this:

For this reason I bow my knee before, You, Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that You would grant me, according to the riches of Your glory, to be strengthened with power through Your Spirit in my inner man, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith; and that I, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that I may be filled up to all the fullness of You, Lord.

Now to You, Father, who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that I ask or even think, according to the power that works within us, to You be the glory in the church and Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever, amen.

May the Lord strengthen you this day for His glory, for we shall see His face!


Ephesians 2 Devotion

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This chapter was (and still is) life changing for me. The clarity and beauty on display here is like that of God’s mercy and grace…immeasurable! Our pastor spoke of some of these verses on Sunday. I would encourage you to listen to that message. So, I came to this chapter seeking some unfamiliar ground. The taste of the 1-8 were still amazing but I was looking for something overlooked. A gem among many gems! If I could use the image of Bilbo looking for the Arkenstone among the riches of Erebor in the depths of the Lonely Mountain’s plunder…yeah, that’s what I was seeking.

I don’t know if you do this or not, but I have often thought that throughout eternity, God would show me, indeed all of His people, the details of His grace worked out in my life. I have often found glimmers of hope in hard days as I pondered what is to come. The end is coming? Eternal life awaits us. It’s like a long day at work and you notice 5 o’clock is near and that means it’s over!

The gem was this: (Eph. 2:7) …so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

So, in the ages (plural!!!) to come, God will show us the excessive riches of His grace towards us in Christ Jesus. In other words, He might just show me the details of the penalty of death that stood against me in MY trespasses and sins. He will show me how I formally walked according to the course of this world. I will get to see the unseen while here on earth as those invisible characters join the scene of my life’s story. I will see how I followed the prince of the air like a puppy follows its mom. I might see what I was as a son of disobedience vs. a Son of grace.

There are plenty of ways over the ages to come to reveal the ways I lived in the lusts of my flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of my mind. The natural me was headed down the road of wrath…God’s wrath along with the rest of the herd of humanity.

  • I was dead
    • in MY trespasses
    • in My sins
    • in which I formally walked
    • in which I formally lived
  • But God made me alive
    • in Christ Jesus
    • raised me up from the dead and seated me with Jesus in the heavenly places

Formally! Can you believe it? Can you imagine what that could look like from God’s perspective?!?!? The sentence of death and the looming justice of God’s wrath stood against me and then…like God breathing life into Adam…like Ezekiel prophesying over dead, dry bones…immediately I was alive–forgiven of my sin debt and counted righteous by faith in the Son. I went from the grave to the throne with Jesus in a matter of seconds. I went from a child of wrath to a child of the King. I went from following satan to following Jesus. (Have you started shouting yet?!). Wow!

  • I was separated from Christ
  • I was excluded from the commonwealth of Israel
  • I was a stranger to the covenants of promise
  • I had no hope
  • I was without God in this world
  • I was far off
  • I had no peace
  • I was at enmity with God
  • I had no access to the Spirit of God

BUT NOW…I am NO LONGER a stranger and alien, but I am a fellow citizen with the saints, and I am of God’s household! I have a seat at the TABLE of the KING because of the King! Unbelievable!

One day…not a week…not a month…not a year…not an age…but One Glorious Day Jesus will come get us!


Ephesian 1 Devotion

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So, many of us read Ephesian 1 this morning if you are following the Foundations reading plan.

Many of us said “Good morning” and “I love you” to our family. We bowed our heads and thanked God for breakfast. We went to work or some other tasks that needed to be done and we worked…just worked. Routines were followed. We glance at the clock with no real purpose other than to know the time.

Okay…what am I getting at? I have read Ephesians 1 so many times that it would be impossible for me to know the amount. I remember times when I didn’t get it. But I also remember times when I began to understand and as I did it was glorious! I was awestruck! Thankful from the heart. Pondering deeply of the riches of God’s grace. But…..this morning….nothing.

I found the picture above to be helpful because it shows how difficult it is for life to spring forth from hard ground. IT’S A MIRICLE EVERYTIME! But what struck me this morning was the lack of life! My greetings were meaningless. My heart is (hopefully was) like that soil above. It needs a miracle of grace.

And that’s just it…that’s what grace is! It’s what God does and it is who God is. He acts! He works! He provides! He gives! He causes! Not because of anything in us but simply because God delightfully decides and decided to do so. From His own blessedness He blesses us with good gifts of grace.

  • “who (God) has blessed us”
  • “He chose us”
  • “He predestined us”
  • “He freely bestowed on us”
  • “He lavished on us”
  • “He made known to us”
  • “In Him we have obtained an inheritance”
  • “In Him…you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given a pledge of our inheritance”

All of this for what? “To the praise of His glorious grace!” Grace results in praise. Any other way and worship is absent. Yes, the Lord lavished grace on us and He mercifully gave more grace to me, today, to see my dull and calloused heart then to break it so that life might come forth! That’s grace!

I think it’s common for us to become like this. Paul writes all of these amazing things then he prays this:

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

(Eph. 1:18-23)

May the Lord flood your heart with light to see these glorious truths and give Him praise for His glorious grace. May you give pause as you read Ephesians 1 AGAIN and think deeply of what God has accomplished for you. Give pause when you say “good morning” and “I love you” to your family. Give pause as you thank the Lord for what He has provided. Grab hold of His kind intentions for you in everything today.

May you “feel your need of Him” and come!


Colossians 1 Devotion

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Jesus is the image of the invisible God! Think about that. How can you have an image of that which is invisible? What does it mean? What does it have to do with man being created in the image of God? Let’s explore these questions.

I asked my 12 year old son: “How is Jesus the image of the invisible God?” He said, “Jesus was perfect in character just like God the Father!” Is he right?

When I think of this question, my mind goes to Exodus 33 where Moses asked God to show him His glory. God replies by saying that He will cause His goodness to pass before him and will proclaim before you my name. He cannot see His face because Moses would die. The Lord also follows that with the giving of the Ten Commandments. It’s interesting to think that God did not want an image made of Him to worship but rather to do what He says.

In other words, to see the invisible God is not about a physical image but rather about seeing God’s character, attributes, and ways. It’s about knowing God’s name…knowing Him personally and all of this is His glory!

If you compare King’s Saul’s appearance (image) with King David’s appearance you will hear them saying about his tall stature and how handsome he was. But David was ruddy and small.

Jesus’s appearance did not seem to stand out in any way. I guess you could say he was very “normal” in appearance. However, Jesus was perfect. He did this…(Jn. 5:19) So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.”

That’s not what we do. In fact, man was created in the image of God but decided to abandon God’s instruction which destroy the most important aspect of what it means to be created in the image of God. So, what does Jesus being the image of the invisible have to do with these broken image-bearers?

Adam, our father, was cast out of the Garden and into the domain of darkness. But…because of the gospel…through hearing and understanding the grace of God…we now share in the inheritance of the saints in LIGHT! BECAUSE he rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus restores the image in us. Upon faith in Christ, we are forgiven and counted righteous. We are now in a right legal standing with God by faith alone. Now we can become like Jesus. We can walk in his ways which we “learn” from other believers like the saints of Colossae did from Epaphras.

I’m astounded by this amazing truth! If you are lost in a sea of darkness, come to the Light-house and be saved!


Romans 13 Devotion

I have been pondering some things from this chapter for several weeks now. I’m not sure I have thought through everything but I think it will help me to write out what is rolling around in my mind. It’s possible this will start a conversation that will help develop more thought on this which is how it has most often worked throughout history. Theology is usually not done well alone but rather in community. Conversation and discussion usually benefit us all.

The role of government in the world is important. It seems clear that God has ordained authority to this institution for the purpose of punishing evil and promoting that which is good. Paul instructs believers to submit to these authorities on the basis that all authority is from God and to resist your government is to resist the ordinance of God.

In every position of authority: government, pastor, husband, teacher, boss, etc. should be obeyed unless they are leading us to sin against God our ultimate allegiance. We should desire to be led in righteousness which means we have a disposition toward all human roles of authority to submit gladly when what you are asking me to do or not do what is right before God. There’s more that needs to be said here but I have other interests to discuss.

I can’t imagine life without government. As bad as we think it is sometimes, it really is a good thing for the world in many ways to restrain and punish evil. I remember the marriage debate several years ago brought up a point I had never thought about. Some were saying that marriage didn’t need to have civil laws. If that were so, it would have ended the redefining of marriage. But marriage needs to be governed by civil law. Why? Because when the relationship breaks, there must be some rules for taking care of the broken pieces–dependents (children and spouse).

Civil law may not change the heart of the husband who walked out on his family but it will make him pay child support. Government’s role seems to be to manage the hard heartedness of people. The conscience of people are different (which could have been trained for good or bad by the laws of the land) and cannot be trusted to cause people to do the right thing.

You might recall a discussion Jesus had with some of the Pharisees about whether it was lawful to divorce. Creation design was for one man and one woman to marry with death being the only separator. However, because of man’s hard heart Moses wrote a certificate of divorce. The one(s) abandoned need to be cared for. It is wrong to divorce but it is also wrong not to take care of those who were left stranded.

With that said, I would like to suggest something that might help hard heartedness. I give this suggestion knowing it is not the answer to man’s greatest enemy–sin. Jesus offers you forgiveness if you will repent and believe in him. The gospel is the answer. But what about those who will never believe the gospel? Is there anything that can be done for some peace and order in this world? Are we not to love our neighbors and our enemies?

Well, I think God ordained government for that. Yet, many government officials are not followers of Jesus and their hearts are hard as stone. And even so, disciples of Jesus are not beyond hard heartedness too. So, how might we work on our hearts?

I was watching an old FBI show that reenacted old cases. The story was horrific. It involved the murder of children by their own father. Their bodies were eventually recovered from their watery grave. One of the FBI agents said that he was able to detach himself from most cases but this one was different. I will not describe the details but when he saw the recovered bodies it broke his heart. He could not detach himself from what he saw.

To do that job, I guess an officer must become somewhat hard hearted to survive…to function. I can’t imagine seeing those things and having to work on that case for however long it needs. How do you sleep at night? How do you remove those images from your mind? What about the recovery team: fire/rescue, divers, EMT, and all who were involved in this one case? How do you make it when they see so many bad things everyday?

What about the police officer who has been on 15 calls that day and everyone of them were horrific? How does that officer go to the next call with a heart that is not as hard as stone? How does an officer think with sound judgment for each call and sometimes it must be done quickly or die? Can you see how (yeah it’s not right) simple traffic stops turn into more than they should have?

What about the pastor that gets visits from “regulars” who always need some financial assistance? How should I respond to someone I have never met before who needs help? Doesn’t this person deserve my unbiased consideration? What if it has been a 100 times the way it most often goes? Do they deserve for me to profile them into those 100 typical cases?

What about the mom who has two toddlers in the home and it seems like all day long she is saying “no” and handing out discipline all the while being so tired? Then her husband comes home from work and she bites his head off!

The examples are as numerous as there are hearts in this world. We are all prone to hard heartedness. Every call a police officer goes on deserves clear and unbiased attention. Every visit, the pastor should be eager to listen and discern what is going on. And each mom should not treat her husband like a toddler and the husband should leave “work” at the office when he comes home.

So, how can that happen? I think there is a clue to helping our heart not become so hard in 1 Peter’s parallel passage to Romans 13.

(1 Pet. 2:14) …to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.

Here is what I want to point out. If I were a chief of police I would require that my officers not ONLY look for those breaking the law but those following the law. When all you do is look for criminal activities in every person you come in contact with you might CAUSE the one who has done nothing wrong to do something they would not have done if you would not have been looking for evil. The officer needs to see good and praise it.

I know it sounds too simple but our hearts need to see beauty. Our hearts need rest. God designed each week to have a day of rest. Vacation should be a short devoted time to do both of these things. Sabbaticals are sometimes necessary after long periods of traumatic events. In some cases, the pastor or officer might need to look into doing something different for a while. However, you cannot stop being a parent. You must work to see glorious things in those toddlers.

I doubt this can be done, but police officers need to be monitored. There could be a rotation within the department to help with hardness of their hearts. Require the officers to report at least one good thing they saw that day. More training on the warning signs of those who are on the edge of destruction. Laws or department rules that allow the heads of departments the permission to do something about these problems.

I don’t know but I think we can easily focus on a small percentage of what any of us are doing and turn a blind eye to the larger percentage of that which is good around us. And furthermore, we are NOT machines! We are not meant to function detached from reality. Every real person needs an officer or pastor or boss or spouse to be real with them. To listen. To learn. To understand. To look for good and not just the bad (which you will always find in every person because we are evil).

I probably will never make any difference in society at large with these suggestions. But I can help and be helped by those near me: family, friends, fellow workers, neighbors, etc.

I would like to end by asking you how your heart is. If you are a police officer, are you detached from reality? How is your pastor? Is he edgy and snappy? Dear mom…you need some time away from the kids. When life was crazy busy and the kids were small, my wife was scheduled to be away Saturday morning until noon each week (just a simply suggestion). Fellow employee…put some distance between your work and workplace. Leave it at the office. Do not get out of your vehicle until you have unloaded your work troubles. Leave them in the car. They will be there when you return.

If you need to talk, I would love the opportunity to listen. Leave a comment below and I will try to arrange something.

Until then, pull up a lawn chair tonight and count the stars above you. Google the details of just how big they are and be amazed!