Evil Prospers

I have just read the Book of Nahum — a minor prophet in the Old Testament. It had been some time since I last visited with him. 

In Nahum’s day the people encountered a dilemma that nearly everyone, from Psalmist to Prophet to everyday believers today, has wrestled with: God seems at times to give evil people a long rope before He pulls them up short. And sometimes oppressors prosper as they trample God’s own people. Where is the justice?

I was specifically thinking about this as the war between Russia and Ukraine rages on into its fifth week and many believers in both nations are wondering where God is in all that is happening. 

The real truth is, of course, that the godly are eternally blessed and that the godless eventually get their due. But we simply do not always feel that way. In the middle of a long day or a long century, it may seem like the wicked are free to mock, strut, intimidate, and terrorize without being held to account. Twice in the Old Testament, however, God inspired prophets with a specific message: to remind Israel that one day the nations that seemed to flaunt their arrogance with impunity would reap what they sowed.

Obadiah and Nahum prophesied the destruction of particular pagan nations: Obadiah spoke concerning Edom while Nahum spoke against Assyria and its wicked capital, Nineveh. 

In response to Jonah’s reluctant preaching, the citizens of Nineveh had briefly repented of their sin and been spared God’s judgment (Jonah, Chapter Three). But the generation of repentant Assyrians had passed on, and a new, rebellious generation arose to persecute Israel and Judah. About 40 years after Jonah visited Nineveh, Assyria invaded Israel and then conquered Samaria shortly thereafter (722 BC).

Around 640 BC, God inspired Nahum to announce that Assyria’s days were numbered. Nahum’s series of oracles, which essentially offer “the rest of the story” after the Book of Jonah, foretell the destruction of the world’s most ruthless nation at that time.

True to his name (which in Hebrew means “Comfort”), Nahum blends his message of judgment with a reassuring message for God’s people. The Israelites were assured that God would deal with Assyria’s sins even more harshly than He had dealt with Israel’s.

And in 612 BC, He did. Babylon, the rising Mesopotamian power, conquered Nineveh, and Assyria was destroyed, never to be seen again. To this day, though, Israel appears on every world map and has a seat in the United Nations. Nahum’s prophecies comforted God’s people, assuring them that the Lord sees all nations at all times and that He will bring each one to the bar of justice in His time. 

As we watch God’s people suffer untold harm under the hands of stronger neighbours and dictators who apparently do not value human life we need to remember the story of Assyria and Israel and God’s promise to pour out justice. 

The Runaway Goat

There is an ancient Israelite and Jewish holiday called Yom Kippur, or the “Day of Atonement.” Back when the temple still existed, the priest sacrificed one goat on an altar and sent a second goat into the wilderness. 

The second goat has always fascinated me. According to the Torah, the high priest was commanded to put his hands on the head of the goat, confess Israel’s sins, and transfer them to the goat. When that was done, he would send the goat out into the wilderness never to be seen again. This is where we get the term scapegoat.

But what is fascinating is Jesus wrapped up all these traditions in Himself, and that scapegoat was only a shadow. The real things is Jesus.

We are called to take the deepest, darkest, hardest sins of ours — ones we have committed and ones that have been done against us — and reach out our hands and put them on Jesus. On the cross Jesus was both the sacrifice and the scapegoat. He took our sins into the grave, as the goat took them into the wilderness.

The beautiful part is, once we transfer them to Jesus, He leaves them in the grace, resurrects, and shuts the door to death behind Him. We have new life now. We have peace and forgiveness. We are new creations.

Have you had that moment? Have you leaned in and put that weight on Jesus? Are you tired yet? Tired of the shame, guilt, and game we have to play to keep it all together? He wants it, He takes it, and He defeats it.

And notice, too, that when Jesus comes out the other side, in the resurrection, His wounds are no longer wounds. 

They are scars.

They have been healed. While many of us see scars as a weakness, if Jesus has scars after the resurrection, then maybe they’re not. Maybe scars make us truly human. They show we’ve lived. They tell our story. Without our scars we might not be the same people, but praise God they are no longer wounds.

This is illustrated perfectly after Jesus rises from the dead and interacts with Thomas, also known as the doubting disciple. His friends were telling Thomas that Jesus had risen, but Thomas didn’t believe them. “Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into His side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, Jesus and Thomas finally see each other. Jesus doesn’t rebuke Thomas and tell him to believe harder. He doesn’t tell him to read more apologetics books. He doesn’t say, “Just have faith.” He says, “Put your finger here and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

The answer to Thomas’s doubt was Jesus telling Thomas to reach out and touch Him. To feel His scars.

It’s almost as if Jesus’ scars were what proved His humanity. Made Him real in that moment.

Many times we miss Jesus because we try to muster intellectual rigour or arguments in our darkest times, but Jesus simply says, “Touch Me.” There’s intimacy there. There’s Jesus saying in our pain, “I know. Look at My scars.” He had experienced death, but He had also experienced resurrection.

And so can we. A resurrection from our past with our wounds and hurts healed (See blog for March 28, 2022). And a resurrection to new life, freedom, and victory right here and right now. Not to mention a resurrection from physical death which was also defeated on the cross. 

A Broken Vase

In Japanese culture there is a type of pottery art called kintsugi that deals with broken items such as clay pots, vases, and bowls. When a bowl or pot breaks, kintsugi artists put it back together using a lacquer mixed with either gold, silver, or platinum. 

When the pot is put back together, the gold, silver, or platinum veins running through the pot exactly where it had previously been broken are the most eye-catching. The new glory of the beautiful creation is the golden-laced broken pieces that have been repaired. If you Google this art form, you will see what I’m talking about – it is remarkably beautiful.

With Kintsugi, when something becomes broken, it doesn’t become less valuable. The new golden-laced repair makes it MORE valuable. It doesn’t try to hide or disguise the imperfections, but instead puts them on full display in all their beauty and glory. 

I don’t think we are much different when we come to Jesus. Some of the most inspiring people we know are those who have been hurt, who have suffered, or are broken, yet they still have a peace, joy, and resilience about them. Scars don’t hide our history, they show it. And when we show our scars, we get to point to the Healer who wove His grace right into the depths of every crack and fragmented part in our soul.

Sometimes it is an inner hurt, but sometimes it is physical scars. I have talked to a lot of people who have tried for years to rid themselves of shame and guilt and ache by cutting themselves. My heart breaks when I hear that. The beauty of Jesus is that He’s not asking us to hurt ourselves, inflict pain, or make ourselves worthy of Him. We are already worthy because of who made us. We have inherent value because the very Creator of the universe spun us into existence, and He even dances over us. Thinking we have to punish ourselves to be loved is nowhere in the Bible. In fact, the opposite is claimed in the Bible. 

If we come to Jesus and trust Him with our “cracks and cuts” He will pour His love into the memories of the events that hurt us and bring healing to the feelings and to the damage these life events have caused. And His love is like liquid gold which fills you from the inside and fills all the cracks, nooks, and crannies with the most beautiful result. You no longer have to hide your past, the physical and emotional pain and shame. Instead, you can allow others to see the beautiful work that God has done in your life and rejoice that He has brought healing and freedom into your life. 

We call this giving your testimony. 

It is time to receive His love, allow Him to heal you, and become a beautiful “work of art.”

Well Done, Good and Faithful…”

I recently read the story in Mark, Chapter One about the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River under the ministry of His cousin, John the Baptist. Of course Jesus didn’t need to be baptized. He was clean. Without sin. He was God. He was beautiful. But instead of standing to one side and telling us what to do, He jumps right in and identifies with us, His people. He steps into the waters of baptism as a way of saying, I’m for you, and with you.

And something amazing, even crazy, happens. He hears  His Father’s voice thunder down from Heaven, declaring “You are My beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). The Father speaks and affirms who Jesus is and tells Him He is so pleased with Him.

Remember, this was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. He had not done anything yet. No healings. No preaching. No cross. No resurrection. This voice came first.

A lot of times we do a bunch of stuff and then hope the voice of approval and love will come after that. This could basically describe most people’s lives. It starts when we are young and we work to get good grades so we can be affirmed. Being as religious as we can so others will think we are a good person and a great Christian. We play sports to receive the coach’s ‘well done.’

We hope to hear we are children of God at the end of the road, but God thunders it in the beginning. We hop on the treadmill of life, hoping that when the timer runs out, we will hear, “Well done, My child” or at least “Well done, good and faithful servant.” When, in fact, God declares that over us before we get on the treadmill. 

This realization recently puts me on a new journey entirely.

So, let me ask you: Why do you do what you do? Why do you get up and out of bed in the morning? Why do you work? Why do you play sports? Why do you try so hard in school? Is it because you are trying to get the Father to tell you He loves you, or are you giving life all your energy because you know He already loves you? When you live in the latter, you live more freely because you know failure isn’t a deal breaker but an opportunity to learn and get back up again. And that regardless of how often you might fail you are still loved regardless. 

Read the same event in Matthew’s Gospel and God the Father says Jesus is a son, a child. He is the Beloved. The word beloved implies a special affection or place in God’s heart for Jesus. But the beautiful thing is when we trust in Jesus, we are wrapped up into Him. So when we are baptized, we are stepping into belovedness. You and I are God’s beloved. Right now!

And the amazing thing is God doesn’t sprinkle His love; He drenches us in it. Just as in biblical days baptism meant total immersion in water so we are totally submerged and saturated in His love. We can, if we are listening, hear Him saying, My child, My child, My child. I am well pleased.” 

In a book recently I read this thought: The scandalous thing about Jesus and His baptism is that when God declared He was well pleased in Jesus and that He was the Beloved, Jesus believed Him. 

Wow! And, as I think about all of this I wonder if I truly believe it?

How about you?


The New Normal

Over the past two years plus we have been fighting a pandemic. 

During that time no matter who you met or what you were doing it seems that the conversation always turned to the pandemic, mandates connected to Covid, and how it has changed your life. 

“Pandemic” became one of the most common terms in our vocabulary. 

Our focus was always drawn back to the issue of the Covid pandemic 

The daily changes and challenges we were facing as a result of this worldwide event.

I believe that the Covid pandemic has led to a number of other pandemics. 

In other words, one thing – one pandemic – has led to us facing a number of other resulting pandemics  Read more

What Is Your Passion?

Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa said, “There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that’s less than the one you are capable of living.” I know so many believers who are living far below their potential simply because they are not willing to step out in faith and take a risk. They believe in playing it safe and think that stepping outside their self-imposed box is too dangerous. So, they never take a risk. 

The problem with this is: When you are doing nothing, nothing good happens. 

A small poem that describes people who don’t want to step out in faith and attempt something great for God. People who play it small their whole lives. Maybe this describes you:

There once was a man who never risked.

He never tried.

He never laughed.

He never cried.

Then one day, when he passed away, 

His insurance was denied.

They said since he never really lived,

Then he never really died!

Isn’t that so sad. But true for many believers that I know. 

However, people who step out in faith are totally different than this poor departed soul. They are willing to risk what they have and what they know for the potential of something better. They are willing to step out of their comfort zone and try. If they fail, they learn from their failure and try again. If they succeed then they look for something bigger and more impactful to invest their life in. 

I don’t know who said it, but one of the quotes I collected some years back said: “If you want some things you have never had before, you must be willing to do some things you’ve never done before.”

I am always on the lookout for people who are willing to step out in faith and take a risk. People who are willing to try something new, even if it difficult. People who are passionate!

I’m passionate about the Gospel of the Kingdom and seeing people transformed by the power of that Gospel. I am passionate about seeing the Church that Jesus is building becoming a reality in my lifetime. I am passionate about the ministries of apostles and prophets because they are foundational to the Church that Jesus is building. I am passionate about fulfilling the role that God has for me within the Kingdom and His Church. 

I don’t want to waste any part of my life and want to be as on fire for Jesus as I was the first day I met Him – or maybe even more. I want to be constantly full of zeal and excitement, anticipation and excitement – even more than I was when I first encounter Jesus.

And I am looking to partner with people who think the same way.

Romans 12:11 states…


ESV “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”

MSG “Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master”

TPT “Be enthusiastic to serve the Lord, keeping your passion toward him boiling hot! Radiate with the glow of the Holy Spirit and let him fill you with excitement as you serve him.”

NLT “Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.”

AMP “….”never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord”

CEV “Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord.”

Well, you get the idea – as John Wesley once said: “Set yourself on fire and the world will come out to watch you burn.”

What is your passion?

EGR – Extra Grace Required

Unconditional love – the God-kind of love (agapé) is the greatest gift we can give another person. It allows someone to feel secure, be vulnerable, sense their worth, and discover who they really are. Most of us first experience this love when we are born again and the love of God is poured out into our very being.

Romans 5:5 ESV “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Once we have experienced and received unconditional love then we are able to walk in it and give it away.

Former United States president George W. Bush was heard saying to his daughter, “I love you, and there’s nothing you can do to keep me from loving you, so stop trying.” So true, Unconditional love can be tested, but it always passes the test. 

I think that all people long to have a consistent friend who loves them, believes in them, and is continually there for them no matter the circumstances. If you are willing to be that kind of person for others, not only will it expand your relational skills, it will also give you a more satisfying life. You will find yourself relating to others on a very personal level and knowing that you are having an impact in the lives of others. And, you will be aware that you are loved – listen to those words, “YOU ARE LOVED,” and that is so important in life and in relationships.

You may be thinking, I can’t do this with everyone, because some people are just difficult.” That’s very true – for all of us. In my circle of church leaders we call these people EGR’s – extra grace required. But remember we can all use extra grace from time to time. Maybe those who face the greatest challenges are the ones who have difficult people in their families. I raised 6 children on a pastor’s salary. We had a favourite saying, “We don’t go to the circus, we are one.” And every day a different child would be the ‘clown.’ I quickly discovered that family life is ground zero in learning how to deal with difficult people. There were many days when EGR was really needed.

So, we are called as believers to love one another. It is as simple and as difficult as that. It is both difficult and simple. In the end, our goal should be to treat others better than they treat us, to add value to them in a greater capacity than maybe they expect.

Nelson Mandela, the South African statesman, was a fantastic example of someone with high relational capabilities. It was said of him, “He was greater than his enemies deserved; greater than the leaders of foot-dragging Western countries who later rushed to eulogize him; greater than his family, squabbling over his legacy. ‘Deep down in every human heart,’ he wrote , ‘there is mercy and generosity.’” He was a living example of that truth.

Maybe we have not arrived at such a place – but it is certainly a goal worth striving for!

One Thing Leads to Another – Part Three

There are consequences to every change we experience in life. Two years ago life changed forever when the world became engulfed in battling Covid-19. A worldwide pandemic. Recently, due to a war Russia started by invading Ukraine, we hear less about the pandemic but it is still seriously impacting our world even though the numbers are no longer reported on a regular basis in most countries. 

The Covid Pandemic has had major consequences in our lives. We have been looking at six of them which I also called pandemics as they are worldwide and can be seen and experienced in every nation.

1> A Pandemic of Depression

2> A Pandemic of Distrust

3> A Pandemic of Division

4> A Pandemic of Defamation

5> A Pandemic of Disorientation

6> A Pandemic of Disruption

Our culture – the social structure of your nation as well as the Christian culture – is fragmenting and fraying. We need, as believers, to resolve afresh to love people and to show kindness in the face of our disoriented world.

These issues won’t suddenly end when the Covid-19 pandemic ends. 

Cultural convulsions like the ones we are going through have patterns and tend to last four to six years. Our culture is resetting, and we must be prepared to understand and respond to the new normal with the gospel in ways that are effective and life-giving.

In 1 Chronicles 12:32, we read how the men of Issachar “had understand of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.”

We need men and women like the Sons of Issachar today who know the times and the season

The times we live in AND the seasons of the Kingdom

In a similarly confused time in the first century, Paul’s exhortation to the Roman Church applies as well to us:

Romans 13:11-14a ESV “[Y]ou know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep … The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarrelling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ…”

In all the division, distrust, and disorientation we face today, let’s be aware of the times we are living in

Let’s keep our focus on our sure salvation

Let’s cast off the darkness of culture-copying  

Let’s display the light of the Gospel of the Kingdom all the time and everywhere

Let’s put aside sinful habits and live as Jesus would want us to live — sharing Christ with everyone around us.



One Thing Leads to Another – Part Two

We have been looking at how one thing leads to another. How the Covid pandemic has released or at least brought to our attention other “pandemics” that we need to be aware of. More than that, as believers we are called to deal with them and in the process offer people hope.

Last time we looked at:

1> A Pandemic of Depression

2> A Pandemic of Distrust

3> A Pandemic of Division

4> A Pandemic of Defamation

Social media has given people the opportunity to speak against another person and certainly to express their thoughts about others. And, believe me, people can be so angry and so vicious. And, social media has also supplied a vehicle for these angry people to find one another. Someone has said, and I agree, “People – including far too many professing believers – click ‘send’ too quickly and with too much outrage.”

If you make a mistake or step out of line, you can suddenly find yourself in the middle of a social media war. People have far less restraint toward damaging the reputation of others than in the past. And, I believe that church members are saying hurtful things at a level not seen pre-pandemic.

I have actually turned a lot of my social media accounts off as I tired of reading people’s opinions about everything from A to Z. I find it interesting that many people ask me what my opinion is of certain public events. I honestly don’t share my opinion very often as I don’t think it is that important or even helpful in dealing with most situations. I can add a biblical insight or a Bible principle, but seldom my opinion. In my 45+ years of walking with the Lord He has never once asked me my opinion. So, I tend to believe that what I am thinking, my opinion, is not all that important in the Kingdom.

I believe we have reached the saturation point. And it is time for believers to take seriously the eighth commandment about bearing false witness toward others. But one thing is for sure, it is time for true believers to take great care in how we speak of or characterize others.

5> A Pandemic of Disorientation

Many things have changed quickly in our culture — some good, some bad. But the speed at which these changes have come has left little time for people to thoughtfully reflect on and engage these changes. The result has been widespread disorientation. This is true for individuals who have lost their sense of identity as well as for churches. Changes have happened so rapidly that we have not had time to integrate them into our thinking and our lifestyle. Thus, we have lost one of the ways that we usually identify who we are. – our personal identity. Questions such as: Who are we? Who am I? What am I? What do I really believe? Are hard to answer when change is happening so quickly. 

We see this identity disorientation in many of our conversations. We are talking about, struggling with, and trying to understand such things as gender identity, race, ethnicity, nationality, and more. These discussions point to the fact that we we are no longer sure who we are. Or, perhaps, we are sure, but it’s different than it used to be.

So, much could be said here. But as Christians, now is the time to be be more oriented toward our identity in Christ. We need to be focusing on who the Bible says we are because we have made Jesus Christ Lord and Saviour. This is a great source of stability in the midst of the rapid social change and turmoil that we are experiencing. 

6> A Pandemic of Disruption

Of course, Covid-19 created the greatest global crisis since Word War Two. Along with it came great disruptions in the way we go to school, work, travel, and relate to others.

For many people, my family included, work shifted from a work office to a home office. In-person meetings became virtual meetings. Some businesses and occupations flourished while many others suffered. So much has changed. Much of that change, I believe, will remain — and there is much more change to come. We are not going to see society and our world return to “normal.” The old normal has been permanently lost and left behind. And the new normal is one that is shifting constantly. 

These disruptions brought about a “fluid new normal” that we will have to learn to navigate. But disruptions don’t eliminate the need we all have for deep, biblical community. This time of disruption should drive us to Christ and to the Christian community. 

One Thing Leads to Another – Part One

Over the past two years plus we have been fighting a pandemic. During that time no matter who you met or what you were doing it seems that the conversation always turned to the pandemic, mandates connected to Covid, and how it had changed your life. “Pandemic” became one of the most common terms in our vocabulary. Our focus was always drawn back to the issue of the Covid pandemic and the daily changes and challenges we were facing as a result of this worldwide event.

I believe that the Covid pandemic has led to a number of other pandemics. In other words, one thing – one pandemic – has led us to be facing a number of other resulting pandemics such as we are now seeing with the rise in mental health issues in the aftermath of Covid. 

1> A Pandemic of Depression

Statistics show that there has been, over the course of the two years of Covid mandates, a sharp rise in the number of people reporting symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress, and insomnia. This includes many spiritual and church leaders who are also experiencing a higher level of mental health issues. In fact, recent surveys indicate that pre-Covid saw 1 in 10 people dealing with depression in its many forms. It currently stands at 4 in 10 adults reporting issues with depression.

The Church should not ignore this problem. It should be addressing it biblically from the pulpit and it should impact the way pastoral care is viewed and carried out. Although direct care is best left to the professional in the field of mental health, the Church should still offer spiritual care and support for those going thorough this pandemic. 

2> A Pandemic of Distrust

There is currently a very high level of distrust toward institutions, the media and other entities such as the Church. This distrust is at its highest level in at least a generation. This of course directly effects how we relate to others, especially to those with whom we disagree. Maybe the distrust was always there in some form or other and Covid simply allowed it to surface and become something that we need to deal with openly and honestly.

Media, education, news organizations, government institutions, and churches have lost the trust of many. So, we see skepticism expressed in so many different places and in a variety of ways. This, of course, undermines the social fabric causing much division and strife. People simply don’t know what or whom to believe and trust in this pandemic of distrust. 

The Church should encourage dialogue between those who hold different points of view. Believers need to be encouraged to be more empathetic toward those who take a different view than ours, and we should be careful not to allow disagreements turn into ongoing and dangerous disputes. We must recognize the need to be ministers of reconciliation as Paul states in his letter to the Corinthians.

3> A Pandemic of Division

Many churches are divided due to the Covid pandemic. Masks or no masks. Vaccines or no jabs. Meeting in the church building in spite of government health rules dictating that this is not allowed. We have seen demonstrations, conveys, occupation of various capital cities. People have felt that their rights have been stepped on and that the authorities have entered into areas of life where they don’t belong. Within the Covid pandemic time frame we have also seen the rise of Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, and a number of other very prominent social movements. Conspiracy theories abound. And, we have seen a major increase in divisive behaviour and actual division in families and churches and not just in society in general. 

In the Church today it is pretty normal to 25 to 30% of the people upset with the leaders simply because of this pandemic of division. It is taking its toll on the very fabric of the life of the Church. We can tend to have a house divided against itself. I am personally amazed at the division I have seen in my limited involvement in the Church in my own nation, in the United States,  and in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. We need to be teaching and exhibiting kindness and patience and the other fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians, Chapter Five. We must not become a house divided against itself.