The Letters


I occasionally feel an uneasiness or slight dread as the end of the Sabbath approaches. Over the years, I have learned to truly cherish the weekly Day of Rest. I usually get to sleep a little longer, I can generally take my time doing things instead of the usual rush, I often choose to go for a walk in the forest. It is a time for me to recharge and de-stress after a week of regular life. The English word “rest” has several meanings; as a noun, it can be the remainder or what’s left over (eat the rest of the pie) but we will not talk about that definition at all here. There are three other main categories of use, summarized by “stop,” “support,” and “relax.” For the most part, we can replace the word “rest” with some form of one of these words and the idea will still be communicated. Here is a sample of instances in the Old Testament where the word “rest” is found:

  • After God created the heavens and the earth, He rested (stopped.) (Gen 2:1) H7673
  • Noah released a dove near the end of the flood that returned because it found no place to rest (support.) (Gen 8:9) H4494
  • God went to Sodom to destroy it and Abraham asked them to stay and rest (relax) themselves. (Gen 18:4) H8172
  • Every 7th year we are told to not plant crops to give the land a rest (stop.) (Exo23:11) H8505
  • We’re told to stop work on the 7th day so that our ox and our donkey may rest (relax.) (Exo23:12) H5117
  • After Joshua gave the hill country, Hebron, to Caleb, the land had rest (stop) from war. (Jos14:15) H8252
  • When Joab murdered Abner, David declared that the guilt would rest (support) on Joab’s head. (2Sa3:29) H2342
  • If you listen to and obey God, you will live in safety and will rest (stop) from the fear of evil (Pro1:33) H7599
  • When our work is troublesome and we are stressed out, we are not able to rest (relax) at night. (Ecc2:23) H7901
  • Job requests that God stop watching a man work and let him rest (relax.) (Job14:6) H2308
  • God says that Israel could have been saved by repentance and rest (stopping) but they were not willing. (Isa30:15) H5183
  • We’re told to rest (relax) in God, wait patiently, and do not fret. (Psm37:1) H1826
  • When we sin, we have no rest (relaxation) in our bones. (Psm38:3) H7965
  • A jealous husband’s rage will not rest (stop) even if you bribe him. (Prov6:35) H14
  • God promises that a desolate land will again have shepherds giving their sheep a place to rest (relax.) (Jer33:12) H7257
  • God says to stand by, see, and ask for the ancient, good ways and find rest (relaxation) for your souls. (Jer6:16) H4771
  • God assures Israel that they will find rest (relaxation) in the wilderness after they survived a battle. (Jer31:2) H7280
  • After the city was destroyed, the people of Jerusalem were encouraged to not rest (stop) in their sorrow. (Lam2:18) H6314
  • Nebuchadnezzar was at rest (relaxation) in his house before he had some disturbing dreams. (Dan4:4) H7954
  • When God restores Israel, He will rejoice with singing and rest (support & relax?) in His love. (Zep3:17) H2790

I’ve paraphrased 20 scriptures here that have the word rest in at least one common English translation. Each of these instances were translated as rest from a unique word in ancient Hebrew. The Strong’s number for the Hebrew word follows the scriptural reference so you can do your own word study if you want. Why do you think there are so many words for rest in the ancient Hebrew? The New Testament also has several Greek words that end up as simply “rest” in our modern translations. This may be interesting, and with some in-depth understanding, it may color the way we view some scriptures, but the meaning will largely remain the same.

Hebrew references to the Day of Rest are generally translated from words that fall under the “stop” category mentioned above. (I.e. Stop working) Most of the instances of the day of rest come from the family of words that are similar to the word “sabbath.” (shabbâthôn, shabbâth, shebeth, shabbethay…) and these all have in common “to cease” or stop. There is good reason that the Day of Rest also fits with the “relax” category. (I.e. sleeping late) Many instances of “rest” around the Sabbath come from the Hebrew word “nûach,” or “nôach” which means quiet or peaceful resting. The name of the guy who built the arc and filled it with animals is this same word. We know him as Noah, but in English, his name is “Quiet Rest.” But what about the “support” category? Maybe not a physical support, like a table or a shelf, but there are plenty of medical studies concluding that a regular day of rest is a great way to support strong physical and mental health.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Because of this comprehensive meaning of “rest” with respect to the Sabbath, I like to see it as the ultimate rest. It covers all the bases. I started this letter explaining some of my feelings toward the Sabbath, the day of rest. The day is an amazing gift from God, and I know there is no justification to associate any dread or anxiety with it. My complaint is that it ends! Along with knowing that comes the occasional dread I mentioned above. As the sun gets lower in the sky, signaling the end of rest, the planning and scheduling and stress start building again. Thankfully, this does not happen to me every week. But the end of rest and the feeling of dread that comes with it is not uncommon. The last day of vacation or the final minutes of your lunch break at work can produce similar feelings. You’ve likely heard the phrase “all good things must come to an end.” Rest is arguably a “good thing” and we see how we often dread that it ends. But wait!

God called the light day, and the darkness night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
There was evening and there was morning, a third day.
There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.  
(Genesis chapter 1, verses 5,8,13,19,23,31)

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. (Gen 2:1-3)

Each of the six days of work end, but on the seventh day, the work was completed and there was Rest. In this passage, there is no end to the rest. The 7th day of creation doesn’t end. That is the eternal rest that we have been promised. There is nothing to dread!

God created the Garden of Eden and rested with his creation there, with Adam and Eve. The garden was intended to be our permanent Refuge. We were in God’s rest until Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge and initiated sin. Then we were banished from God’s perpetual rest. But we were invited to enter into it again. For the ancient Israelites, God gave the Promised Land where there were “great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant…” (Deu 6:10-11) And then again, we are invited into His perpetual rest, both in this life and for eternity. This is explored in Hebrews chapter 4. Through our faith, belief, and obedience, we can claim the promise of rest here on earth and with God in His Rest. Here are some relevant words of Messiah:

“In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” (John 14:20-21)

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
(Colossians 3:2)                    

Peace to you and glory to God!



Paraklēsis : Seed                                                                                        March2022

“What came first, the chicken, or the egg?”

I always thought that this was a whimsical question to ask when trying to solve a problem where the most plausible reason for the problem seems to have come from the problem itself. It is a circular reference that seems to have no end or beginning. Little did I know that this question is a philosophical dilemma that was first asked by an ancient philosopher centuries before Christ. And today, this idea of “infinite regression” is still studied, discussed, and argued in philosophy classes. Of course, evolutionists say the egg came first, but that’s because the question only says “egg” and not “chicken egg.” Of course, dinosaur eggs existed before chickens. (duh) Well, some evolutionists say that the chicken came first because the first “real chicken” was a mutation that happened inside an egg which was not yet a chicken egg. Hmm. The best answer came from a 6-year-old girl who answered, “the egg of course, because eggs are for breakfast and chicken is for dinner!” Humor aside, in 2010, scientists did answer the question by discovering that a certain protein required to make the eggshell is only found in the ovaries of a hen. “It had long been suspected that the egg came first but now we have the scientific proof that shows that in fact the chicken came first,” said Dr. Colin Freeman, from Sheffield University’s Department of Engineering Materials. Yet one more example where science supports what the scriptures teach us, but then, I am not sure that should be taken seriously either.

God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” (Genesis 1:21-22)

We know that the life God created is able to reproduce. The mechanism that allows an organism, like man, a chicken, a tree, or any life form, to grow and develop and reproduce and multiply is a key tenet of life and it is commonly referred to as the seed.

Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”; and it was so.
(Genesis 1:11)

In the plant kingdom, there is an amazing diversity of seeds that exist. The largest known plant seed is the Coco de mer, or “double coconut palm.” That tree’s fruit weighs about 50 pounds and contains one massive seed. The smallest seed we know of is that of an orchid called Aerides odorata. Sitting on a table, that seed would be about as tall as the thickness of two sheets of paper. In plants, fertilization produces a dormant embryo (a seed) but in animals, fertilization produces a live embryo. There are terrific spiritual lessons to be learned from both of those, but here we will look to plant seeds for a lesson. A seed remains dormant or in hibernation for some time until the conditions are right for it to germinate. Germination is the “waking up” of the life stored in the seed; it is the transition from dormancy to vitality.

In modern times, some “Judean date palm” seeds were found in Herod the Great’s palace in Masada, Israel and in Qumran, where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. The seeds were carbon dated and found to be about 2000 years old. In 2005, some of those seeds were germinated and have since grown into trees that live today. Imagine, the life force of a tree was hanging around for millennia, patiently waiting for the conditions to be favorable.

When the conditions are right, the life inside the seed will be initiated and the seed will be transformed into a plant. Like a seed, the conditions will be right for the marriage of the Lamb only when she makes herself ready. And that involves her donning the bright, clean, fine linen defined as “our” (my and your) righteous acts. I guess our righteous acts will make the conditions right.

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Revelation 19:7-8)

The Kingdom of God, in at least one respect, is somehow dormant in our lives until we “throw the seed into our garden,” or “hide the leavening in our flour.”

So He was saying, “What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it? “It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden; and it grew and became a tree, and THE BIRDS OF THE AIR NESTED IN ITS BRANCHES.” And again He said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? “It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”
(Luke 13:18-21)

When the conditions are right, the potential for explosive, miraculous, glorious Life will cease to remain a potential and it will become real and active and present. In physics, the opposite of “potential energy” is “kinetic energy.” (At rest vs. in motion.) I think this term is appropriate here, to describe germination of a seed as the conversion from “potential life” to “kinetic life.” Waking up the seed from dormancy will give us Kinetic Life – Christ alive in us. The potential needs to die to be transformed into kinetic.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Messiah, speaking of His own death and His role as a re-creator, referenced the act of germination and called it a type of death. I believe this is because once the germination is started, it is irreversible. Existence as a seed with the stored potential of regeneration is “dead.” The life force of the seed has been initiated and there’s no turning back. It can only happen once.

“The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. “Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. “Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. “Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Luke 8:5-8)

So, let’s say that I am a seed of God, storing the potential in me to reproduce into His image. I need to be sure that I have “good soil” so that I am able to produce a crop a hundred times as great. What will that crop consist of? What types of fruit can I, should I, will I produce?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22-24)

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
(Colossians 3:2)           

Peace to you and glory to God!



Cold is not a thing. Heat, on the other hand, is a measurable thing – it is a quantity of energy. Cold is really only the absence of heat. To help understand this, you can think of it like light and dark. When you open the door to a dark closet, the light from outside enters the closet. The opposite does not happen – the darkness doesn’t spill out and darken the room. I am pretty sure that theoretically, heat can infinitely be added to something…The Earth’s core is about 6000°F, a bolt of lightning can reach 11,000°F, our sun’s outer corona can reach 2 million degrees F, and the core of a supernova star is thought to be something like 100 billion degrees Fahrenheit. But you can only take away from something the amount of heat that is there – until there is none left. This temperature where there is no heat is called “absolute zero.” Nothing can get any “colder” than that. I imagine that temperature was the low and the high and the average before God spoke some energy into existence.

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:3-4)

And even after those ancient days of creation, we are assured that God will provide us with the energy to keep us from freezing:

He sends forth His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly. He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes. He casts forth His ice as fragments; Who can stand before His cold? He sends forth His word and melts them; He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow. (Psalms 147:15-18)

I recently heard a speaker judging people who like to experience cold weather. The comment was something like, “Those people are just showing off, trying to look tough.” Even though I am one of those people, I did not take offense. I get it. Most people don’t like to be cold. I was not offended, but I was instigated to consider why I like it. A couple of days later, I was enjoying the cold, showing off, trying to look tough… and I figured out how it is that I am able to like cold temperatures.

I regularly watch the weather forecast for morning conditions that may produce a good sunrise. There is a local spot here where a short hike brings me to a beautiful vantage point. I can even see the Boston skyline on the horizon about 35 miles away. Not long after hearing the speaker’s comment I mentioned above, I saw that the sky would be clear on a Sunday morning and the temperature was to be in the single digits so, I set my alarm. Sure enough, in the pre-dawn hours, the thermometer read 1.5°F (-17°C.) I put on my Smartwool socks, long underwear, fleece pants and sweater, heavy canvas pants over the fleece, my Northface liner and shell, my trusty Sorel winter boots, a neck warmer, ski gloves, a hat, and a slid a thermal flask of hot coffee into my jacket. I headed out. It was cold up there… I felt it. Hiking was great, with the snow squeaking like Styrofoam and the otherwise quiet forest. I would stop occasionally and listen to the quiet and feel the biting on my cheeks. Getting to the top of the cliff, I cleared the snow off the tree root I usually sit on and settled in to wait for the show. I was blessed with a beautiful sunrise and a stimulating conversation with God. I was out in that weather for a bit more than an hour. The 30 minutes or so of sitting ended with me feeling discomfort in my fingers… But then, hiking back to the car, the numbness and pain subsided. It was on my hike back that I realized why – or How – I enjoyed it.

There are other things that some of us humans willingly do that are uncomfortable, frightening, even painful. We look forward to them and sometimes even pay money for them. I am thinking of things like spicy food, saunas, roller coasters, deep tissue massage, acupuncture, even pregnancy… The discomfort is knowingly temporary. I knew that morning that I had only a short trip back to my warm house. I am certain that the enjoyment of that cold morning would have evaporated if I had not been so well dressed, or if I had gotten lost in the forest. A simple element of unpreparedness, uncertainty, or fear would have changed everything. There have been times in this life when I have been unprepared and felt uncertainty and fear. I truly suffered through those instances. I was not capable of enjoying them because of my lack of faith in that moment. But our faith needs to be unwavering and relentless. We’ve been given a promise and we can lean on that.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)

This concept of seeing the temporary nature of a situation and having the confidence of knowing how and when it will end is the tool that we unconsciously use to persevere through some level of discomfort. It may be why I like to put cayenne pepper on my food. I can let my chiropractor inflict pain on my deep muscles. My brother regularly enters a 150°F sauna. And I am convinced that is what James was suggesting at the beginning of his letter.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Do you think that God’s spirit behaves a little like heat? God is the source and is so strong that we mortals cannot even look upon the face of God and live. (Exodus 33:20) Just as the energy of the sun is stored in trees and can be released later in the form of fire, can we store some of God’s spirit in us and release it later – maybe in the form of love toward a neighbor?

“At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. (Matthew 24:10-13)

Surely, the absence of God is like a coldness that cannot be endured for long. Just before Jesus was given over to be crucified, He foretold that Peter would deny knowing Him. This account is recorded in all four of the gospels, Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John. In these stories, Peter is asked if he knows Jesus, and he denies it. This denial could only be committed in the absence of God’s spirit, what was surely a cold state of being. Three of the four gospel writers decided to include the detail that Peter was warming himself by a fire. Was he feeling the coldness of not having God’s spirit at the time?

The slave-girl therefore who kept the door *said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He *said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves; and Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself. (John 18:17-18)

This world can be a really cold, hard thing to deal with, but with confidence that it is temporary, the promise of God’s mercy, and the heat of His spirit, we have the ability to enjoy it!

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
(Colossians 3:2)           

Peace to you and glory to God!



Surely you’ve heard how a brand new car loses a significant amount of its value as soon as it is driven off the lot. The pristine condition of the car as it came from the factory is gone immediately. Sand from the road gets in the wheel wells, dust settles on the interior surfaces as soon as the door is opened. The new car can keep its status as “new” for some amount of time depending on a few things, like how much care is put into keeping things clean and maintained, and what is one’s tolerance for imperfections.  The same is generally true for restoring an older car. The level of detail one chooses to pursue when trying to return that pristine, “like new” condition varies depending on the goal, patience, ambition, and resources of the restorer. And when shopping for a used car, you will see general descriptions of the condition of the car that will mean different things to different people. A few of the many terms are Like New, or Excellent, Good, Fair, Parts Only, or, my favorite, “Runs and Stops.” The condition of any car will naturally progress from better to worse over time. Even if someone performs continual maintenance with intense scrutiny and diligence, (i.e. wipe off the dust, buff out the scratch, sand off the rust, replace the worn part, change the oil…) after years of use, the condition will deteriorate, and the car will require restoration. As you know, this progression toward a poor condition is not limited to cars.

But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:13)

Scientists call this progression “entropy.” Entropy is the tendency for the universe to move toward disorder. Examples of this include an ice cube melting in a glass of juice (what would it take to reverse this?) planting a beautiful flower garden (without tending the garden, the weeds would take over quickly) mixing together salt and pepper (separating them would take hours with a magnifying glass and tweezers) simply letting the air out of a balloon (you will not inflate it again without expending effort.) Reversing this process of entropy takes concerted, intentional, and often costly, effort and energy.

Our sinful nature follows this pattern. Like how a drug addiction over time requires increasingly more substance to produce the same effect in the user, if left unchecked, our sin will progress (probably better called “regress”) to a deeper, darker, more devastating level. I have heard it said that this “regression” is a blessing! Eventually we will reach a point in our state of sin where we cannot take it anymore. Things will get so bad that we will wake up and realize that we are on a downward spiral and need to climb out. This realization could be what saves us. One famous example of this regression in the Bible is found in 2 Samuel 11. This is the story of King David’s “big sin.” One day he notices a beautiful neighbor woman… What starts as an unhealthy attraction toward another man’s wife, devolves into adultery, lies, deception, and cold-blooded murder. And, most importantly, it ends with repentance. Here is what David wrote to express his remorse for these sins:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely, I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Psalms 51:1-5)

Our condition changes over time – and generally the change is more of a fluctuation than a steady trend. We would love a “continuous improvement,” but most of us experience our condition getting better or worse depending on… all kinds of things. Remember, the law of entropy says that without putting in concerted, intentional effort, our condition will naturally deteriorate. Whatever fluctuation we experience is due to our efforts and entropy battling it out in our conscience and actions. Here in Romans 12, Paul encourages us to not let ourselves be conditioned (conformed) by the world and its ways.

Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

Our “condition” is a direct result of what we allow or accept as “conditioning.” Conditioning, like what an athlete does to improve their performance, can be a positive thing. Or, conditioning can be a negative thing, like how some people have been conditioned to believe that money can buy happiness. These types of conditioning might also be called “training”,” or “brainwashing,” depending on the connotation you want to ascribe. We also receive conditioning in our spiritual walk from our environment, influences, experiences, history, and our own sub-consciousness. Thankfully, we have control over the type of conditioning we accept and implement – the good or the bad: the “training” or the “brainwashing.”

He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm. (Proverbs 13:20)

We’ve been granted an excellent and effective tool to promote the “training” and discourage the “brainwashing.” We would be smart to use it every day. That is the Word. Even signing up to receive a “verse of the day” would prove to be a beneficial action toward positive conditioning and fighting our “spiritual entropy.”

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Conditioning takes place simply by being alive and it starts the moment we are born. As our condition “leaves the lot” in its pristine, from-the-factory state, it begins its regression toward corruption and disarray. It requires maintenance. But, like the car analogy, even with diligent maintenance, our soul will eventually need a restoration. God takes pride in the potential we have and if we choose to allow Him, if we ask according to His will, He will be The Master Craftsman that restores us to that pristine condition.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

While the condition of our walk may fluctuate due to the nature of our human ability, our position in God’s plan does not change. Our position is Rock solid and constant. Don’t ever forget that our position is a redeemed soul, chosen by the Creator, being prepared to receive His gift of eternal life. The knowledge of that fact, the faith we have in that Truth, will carry us through the difficult times. Our walk is not easy – in fact it is impossible. But with Him, all things are possible.

Looking at them, Jesus *said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)

In the 3rd chapter of 1 John, we are reminded that we are, or become, what we practice. If we practice lawlessness and sin, then we end up lawless and sinful. If we practice righteousness, we remain righteous.

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
(Colossians 3:2)                    

Peace to you and glory to God!



Road bridges are never made from wax or sand. Technically, one could design and build a wax bridge that would withstand the weight of a truck, but it would be enormous compared to what we are used to seeing. Wax simply does not have the strength to be a good choice for a bridge building material. Materials with much higher strength are chosen like steel, concrete, wood, or stone. The strength that a material has is defined by its ability to withstand or resist a force. This type of strength is a passive strength. Choosing a strong “material” to build with will lead to the desired outcome.

“Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:26-27)

Hearing God’s Words and acting on them will produce a strong foundation on which to build a house. But, what is this house we are building? It is our dwelling, the place we live. Our house is where we return to for shelter, comfort, safety, and warmth. It is where we keep our belongings and where we sleep. Messiah is giving us an analogy that compares our physical house with that of our dwelling with God.

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)

If you build your house with wood, hay, and straw, a fire will destroy it. And, if you build it on sand, there will be nothing left of your dwelling after the heavy rains (or the firemen’s hoses) come. By the grace of God, you may survive, but you will be destitute and homeless. Today, homeowners buy insurance to cover such tragedies, but faith is arguably better and cheaper, if you can find it. The passive strength that is required to produce a good level of quality in our construction comes from two places. The primary source is cited above in 1Cor3:11. Messiah IS our foundation – there is nothing stronger. Not even vibranium. The secondary source of passive strength that we build with is inside us. We choose where we put our effort and attention. We choose whether to love God and our neighbor or not. We choose to “hear the words of Him and act on them,” or not. We have passive strength in us that we draw from to make these choices. (But there is a bonus built into the system… Our loving God will happily increase that inner strength – if we ask for it.)

Sled dogs are strong animals. When 14 or so dogs are teamed together, they can pull 400 pounds across the snow all day long at about 10 miles per hour or more. But, if you cut down a mature oak tree and need to drag the log out of the woods, you would probably not choose sled dogs to do the job. Draught horses or oxen would be a better choice because of the larger animal’s strength. Pulling a heavy weight requires a strength that is defined by its ability to exert or apply a force. This type of strength is an active strength. We also need active strength to work with our passive strength. We need to exert forces as well as resist them. We are engaged in spiritual warfare and as warriors, we need passive strength to resist and defend. But even with the armor of God, our active strength is needed.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:10-13)

Passive strength is not enough. We cannot wield a sword or hold up a shield without active strength. We cannot wrestle or struggle against “the spiritual forces of wickedness” or stand firm without active strength. We cannot wage the good warfare or launch any offensive attack without active strength. 

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, (1 Timothy 1:18-19)

We need active strength to wage this war. And our strength comes from…?

‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ (Isaiah 41:10)

There are other types of strength that we are familiar with which are not associated with physical (or spiritual) forces. These are used to describe things like smells and flavors, character and integrity, emotions and opinions, love and generosity, faith, conviction, devotion, courage, pain, endurance, resistance, etc. Putting the word “strong” before any of these nouns has a clear meaning. Some of these strengths we also seek.

I will confess something here to you. I often feel like I am lacking in strength. Sure, the obvious examples come to mind as I have sailed past the half-century milepost in life – like when I watch my kids play soccer and I marvel at how fast they can run and for how long. But I lack strength in more important things that have nothing to do with losing capability with age. On the contrary, I feel that as I age, I should be gaining strength in things like resisting temptation or increasing self-control. I really could use some assistance increasing those strengths. And I know that I can find assistance. I know those strengths can be increased.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

I can answer those questions. Yes, I do know, and yes, I have heard. He is strong and He gives strength. When I lack strength, He increases power. In my middle age, my vigor is waning, yet when I wait for the Eternal, I will gain new strength. I will not become weary. This is a promise that I can benefit from. But what is this correlation between waiting and strength? It is food for thought and maybe a topic for another letter…

I have a comparison for you that links a scripture to a mundane situation in life. Have you ever made scrambled eggs and had a hard time cleaning the pan? For me, it only happens some of the time and I am not sure why. But when it does happen, cleaning the pan reminds me of the bond strength shown here:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Nothing can separate us. Dig deep inside yourself for that strength you need to love God, and always know that if you are having a hard time finding it, you have been promised that if you ask you will receive.

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
(Colossians 3:2)                    

Peace to you and glory to God!



Darkness is the absence of light. Light is a thing. Darkness is not. Well, in a grammar lesson, we say that “darkness” is a noun – not a person, not a place, but a thing. But in terms of a physical discussion, and even spiritual discussions, much like the concept of “zero,” or “nothing,” darkness fills the same role. Darkness is emptiness. The ancient Hebrews recognized darkness as all that existed before the creation as we know it. In Genesis 1:1-2, in the beginning, God created an empty, formless, dark universe that I think of as something like outer space but without any stars or planets. And then there was light.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:1-5)

What is light? What did God create that can penetrate, overcome, and displace the darkness? The light that we see with our eyes is a small part of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum. I believe that God’s command to “Let there be light,” created that entire spectrum.  What scientists have determined so far, is that the spectrum goes from gamma rays, which are super tiny, high energy waves to radio waves that can be enormous and have relatively low energy. Somewhere in the middle is the visible light that we see with our eyes, that small portion of the spectrum we call Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. Right next to the visible light on the red end is “infrared” radiation. This is “light” that we cannot see but feel as heat. On the other end, there is “ultraviolet” light that humans cannot see or feel, but it is what causes a sunburn on our skin. Did you know that pigeons can see ultraviolet light and it is believed that some snakes and maybe mosquitos can see infrared?

We see objects because the light reflects off their surfaces and enters our eyes. The object will reflect some parts of the spectrum and absorb other parts. The parts that it absorbs we never get to see. A pure blue object will only reflect the blue light and it will absorb all of the other colors. Black objects absorb all of the colors and reflect very little, but white objects are actually reflecting the whole spectrum. When you mix a bit of paint from every jar in your paint set, you get black because the mixture has what it needs to absorb all of the colors of light.

All light has a source. It does not exist on its own; it is produced by an emitter. The absence of light is darkness. We are instructed in a parable to be wise and carry sufficient fuel for our lamp so that we are not caught in the absence of light.

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. “Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. “For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. (Matthew 25:1-4)

The wise virgins had fuel to provide light until the True Light arrived. The True Light is a Light that shines eternally that we don’t need to supply with fuel. That Light is Messiah.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness could not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

The Light that is Messiah will overcome all darkness, but if you take away the light, the darkness reappears. Thankfully, God is eternal and outshines even the sun.

And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. (Revelation 21:23)

Light is also dynamic – meaning it travels from its source and collides with whatever is in its path.

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.
(John 1:9)

 The word “dark” has its origin as a word in the Germanic language. Its synonym “obscure,” is rooted in Latin. These two words have significant overlap in their meanings and usage. To remove obscurity (as well as darkness) one needs illumination. The light comes from something and disrupts the darkness. What is the source of light? Both spiritually and physically speaking, light comes into the world, from God, at 186,000 miles per second and bombards every person and thing. When everything is illuminated, obscurity goes away and we are able to see clearly. You might be inclined to think that when this Light comes upon us, we should take it in and absorb it. But the opposite is true! We are called to reflect God’s Light. When we are reflective, this Light hits us and it illuminates everything around us allowing us and those around us to truly see. Our path will be lit and then we can follow God.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12)

The following passage has some true irony in it. Paul is literally blinded by the Light, but this temporary blindness allows him to clearly see the Truth and sets him on his journey of a world-transforming ministry. In a sense, Paul became reflective of God’s light and many people have been blessed to have found a path to follow through his writings.

Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:1-9)

Be sure to carry extra fuel for your light, and polish your mirror to reflect the True Light when it comes.

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
(Colossians 3:2)           

Peace to you and glory to God!



What are you afraid of? Most things that people fear can be generalized into some type of pain, suffering, or even simply discomfort. Or we fear things like the unknown, loss, rejection, or failure. In fact, maybe all our fears can be categorized as some level and type of discomfort… But we all have fears. Fear in itself is not good or bad. There are certainly some fears that are good to have – fear of injury will cause us to slow our steps when we come upon some slippery terrain. And there are fears that are not so good to have – fear of rejection may prevent us from asking for something that would enhance our life.

There are many Hebrew words (I counted about 30) and several Greek words (I counted about 7) that are translated into English as “fear.” That word study could easily fill these couple of pages, but one thing that I want to highlight is the distinction between two Greek words that have been frequently translated as “fear.” The first is deiliaō which is a fear in the manner of timidity or nervousness. I want to call that “mind fear.” This type of fear is almost an intellectual fear, a fear that we spend time thinking about, considering, analyzing. I also want to associate this “deiliaō” with worry; this type of fear can overtake our thoughts.  Here is an example:

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27)

Messiah is saying, in other words, “don’t worry.” The other word is probably what most of us think of first when we hear or read the word “fear.” That is “phobeō.” You likely recognize this because of our frequent use of “phobia” in English. When the Hebrew Bible, or the Old Testament, was first translated into Greek, this was the word of choice for most of the instances that make a reference to the “Fear of God.” That Hebrew word is some form of “ya-re” or “yir-ah” and is exemplified here:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)

I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. (Ecclesiastes 3:14)

Unlike deiliaō, or “mind fear,” I like to think of this fear (phobeō) as a “gut fear.” This is the type of fear that we feel in our gut, or in our physical body. This is the visceral fear that moves us, that gets our adrenaline flowing and our heart pumping. In Hebrew, this “ya-re,” this “Fear” of God, has a “morally reverent” connotation. Think of standing close to the edge of a train platform and watching a train approach. Usually there’s a wide yellow stripe painted along the edge, indicating a space that you need to be aware of – a space where children are commonly instructed to not stand in. But I have stood in that space while a train engine passed. The enormous bulk of the engine and its immense power, rumbling such that the whole ground shakes, is a source for this reverent fear. Maybe it is not “morally” reverent, but it commands a fear of and a respect for something much greater and much more powerful than I. With my knowledge – my faith – that the engine will not enter this space marked by the stripe on the platform, I can safely stand there, inches from this potentially deadly power. I experience a fear and awe of this power; I experience “phobos.”  Here we can see Moses, standing on that yellow stripe:

But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” Then the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. “Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33:20-23)

Many of life’s fears that we experience do not have a yellow stripe that clearly marks out the safe zone. Many times, we find ourselves full of fear and we don’t know where to stand to avoid injury or calamity. This type of fear can cause us to sin if we react to it in a way that excludes God from our solution. We might choose actions like drinking too much or getting angry or making false accusations. Fear can cause us to forget important things, like what God is capable of, what He has done for us in the past, and what He has promised.

Here is the first example of “gut fear” that we have in the Bible. Adam was experiencing “ya-re” after eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and he chose to hide (from an all seeing God):

Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:9-10)

When we allow ourselves to forget those important things because of our fears, we can become irrational and demanding. Here is a story that pulls together 3 accounts from scripture: Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, and Luke 8:22-25. In my own words, the story goes like this:

One day after healing some people and delivering a bunch of parables and teaching large crowds, Jesus and some of His disciples got into a boat to travel across the sea. It was late in the day and Jesus went to sleep below deck. A fierce storm came and threatened the survival of the boat. Jesus did not wake up. The disciples were frantic and woke Him, saying things like “We’re all going to die!” and demanding that He save them. They even (irrationally) accused Him of not caring about them (Mark 4:38). Jesus woke up and in no particular order, He saved them by calming the wind and waves, He asked them why they were afraid, and pointed out their lack of faith. The following scripture found at the end of one of these accounts has both types of fear in it. The first is “deilos” (mind fear) and the second is “phobeō” (gut fear.)

And He said to them, “Why are you <deilos>? Do you still have no faith?” They became very much <phobeō> and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” (Mark 4:40-41)

He asked them “Why are you worried about that? Why do you think I don’t care?” (deiliaō) These disciples had just that same day, if not, very recently, witnessed with their own eyes, their Teacher healing the sick with His words. They had seen Him casting our demons with His words. Their fear of the storm caused them to forget what He was capable of and what He had been promising them all along. And then they were awestruck (phobeō) as they realized His power. The disciples, most likely quite relieved at being rescued, were frightened and amazed by the calm, yet awesome power that Jesus had. Since He was not worried about the storm, through faith, they should have followed His example and also not been so worried. This storm that Jesus calmed so easily was a fearful trial for the disciples. Our lives have been and will be filled with storms like this. In fact, we are told that we should expect tribulation.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33)

Yes, we will have troubles, but we are not to fear them. “Take courage” He said… Fear not.

“I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! (Luke 12:4-5)

When we see the storm swirling around us, ready to swallow everything, we are called to climb down below deck, curl up with our Savior and Rest with Him. Trust Him, and you will find that there really is nothing to fear.

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
(Colossians 3:2)                    

Peace to you and glory to God!



A friend of mine recently told me about a camping trip he took with his grandson. He was preparing to cook breakfast and realized that he had forgotten butter for the eggs. In the end, he did make eggs with some butter he got from the campers in the site next to theirs. No, this is not a spectacular story; in fact, it may seem rather mundane. But he told me about this incident, and I am relaying it to you, because of the potential lessons it holds.

When we have a crisis (like no butter for cooking the eggs) we’ll obviously cast about in our minds looking for a solution, and usually hope to find one that is easy. For my friend, the easy solution was for him and his grandson to ride their bikes to the camp store and buy some butter. But that did not work; the store did not sell butter. So, the idea came for him to ask for help from the neighbors.

Asking for help is such a simple thing to do, but we often make it more difficult than it is by having conversations with ourselves and imagining the perception of others. The conversation can sound like “They’ll think I’m an idiot because I (forgot to pack the butter.)” Or worse, “I am an idiot because I (forgot to pack the butter.)”  Or some other self-accusation that is likely not true, debilitating, and probably destructive. But asking for help is not only an easy and likely effective path to a solution, it is the way God designed us to work.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

Engaging another person for assistance very often has some unintended benefits as well. My friend asked his neighbor for butter and: he ended up spending a good amount of time in conversation with some new friends; he gave them an unexpected way to offer their generosity; and his grandson was shown the example of social interaction, the kindness of strangers, the benefit of self-confidence, and the humility of asking for help. God’s laws are always intended for His followers, but more often than not, they are universal and apply to all people. Remember 2Pet3:9: that He wants all to come to repentance. God wants us to help one another:

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, while not known to be a follower of God, seems to have understood the value of the “golden rule.”  He is quoted saying, “What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.” But we don’t have to take Aristotle’s word to understand that. Peter said it:

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10)

Paul says it often:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” (Galatians 5:13-14)

And, of course, we get this directly from Messiah as well:

Sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

These scriptures clearly instruct us to be helpful, to always be willing to “lend a hand” to someone in need. But let us not forget how my friend received unintended benefits by simply asking his neighbor for butter. Chapter 7 of Matthew is almost like a list of proverbs given to us directly from Messiah. I encourage you to read all of it. But there’s one that is so relevant here. I have always read this with respect to God – ask Him and He will answer. But most of the chapter is framed in the context of people, so why not verses 7&8 as well?

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

A “Help Wanted” sign is a modern way to advertise for a job. Originally, this advertisement was exclusively used to find domestic help, or household servants that were specifically not enslaved people. I remember asking someone for help in the past and the person responded, “Will you pay me?” Today I wonder how compensation, whether monetary or favor or otherwise, affects the intent of help. In our modern culture, this distinction probably does not matter much at all. I suppose there are occasions when someone offers to help another expecting to be paid, and occasions when some who ask another for help fully expect to pay them for it. And surely the opposites are true. But the disconnect, or misunderstanding, is of little consequence. “NBD” (no big deal) right? I’m not so sure.

Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

I argue that, as God’s children, we should always seek to help others without seeking or expecting compensation. Of course, we need to provide for our needs and thus work for a living, but I also think this idea of helping without seeking pay can be taken to an extreme and it will still continue to work. This, however, would require more faith than I have. In Luke 9, Messiah sent his disciples out to proclaim the kingdom of God and said, “Take nothing for your journey…” Now there is a test of faith. Volunteering, or helping others will benefit not only the others, but the volunteer as well. Studies conducted by Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic show that people who regularly donate their time suffer less from loneliness and depression, tend to have lower blood pressure and lower stress levels, have a greater sense of purpose, stay more physically and mentally active, and are generally more socially connected by developing new relationships.

As imitators of Christ, we need to seek out those who need help and then freely and cheerfully offer our resources. As children of God, we need to recognize our weakness, His love for us, and His willingness to provide for our needs – and then ask for it. Compared with helping others, asking for help may be the more difficult of the two. We are creatures full of pride, tending to not ask for help when we need it, believing that “I can do this myself…” Well, we really cannot do anything without our Great God. In humility, we should always acknowledge our complete reliance on God and that we have been provided a helper.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (John 14:26)

We all want an easy time walking through this wilderness, being refined as we go. But we know that it is not meant to be an easy walk. If we learn to ask for help, our walk will become easier.

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
(Colossians 3:2)           

Peace to you and glory to God!



The Northeast U.S. has had an unusually wet summer this year with lots of rain. With respect to the rain, (and perhaps with more complaint than respect) someone I was listening to quoted Charles G. D. Roberts, a Canadian poet: “Water is a very good servant, but it is a cruel master.” Water is essential for life, but it is also an instrument of destruction. Of course, when I mention the instrument of destruction, we all might immediately think of hurricanes, tsunamis, shipwrecks, or floods. But consider the more subtle ways that water can destroy. Water can erode soil and damage the stability of terrain or wash away the fertility of a farmer’s field. Moisture promotes oxidation of iron and steel, which we know commonly as corrosion, or rust. Standing water allows mosquitos to breed; I guess that’s a good thing if you’re a frog or a bat. When humidity is high for a prolonged period, fungus and mildew thrive and can cause disease and render objects, even one’s own house, unusable and requiring destruction.

 “If the defiling mold reappears in the house after the stones have been torn out and the house scraped and plastered, the priest is to go and examine it and, if the mold has spread in the house, it is a persistent defiling mold; the house is unclean. It must be torn down—its stones, timbers and all the plaster—and taken out of the town to an unclean place. (Leviticus 14:43-45)

God even uses mildew as a punishment (see Deuteronomy 28:22.) In the absence of water (like a dry desert) mildew and fungus do not survive. Water can be a cruel master. But, it is also a very good servant. Without moisture to grow fungus, we would not have yeast for bread. Mycorrhizal fungi live in the soil in partnership with plants, vastly improving the plant’s ability to acquire nutrients for growth.

Great are the works of the LORD; studied by all who delight in them.
(Psalms 111:2)

Because we delight in the works of God and have been given an amazing creative ability, we, mankind, often are successful at turning adverse things into something useful. Maybe this sounds familiar to you; our desire to turn “bad” things into good resembles something we are promised by God:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Erosion happens when water runs over a surface and carries some of that surface away. Some smart folks in the Roman empire about 100 years before Jesus was born, used the principle of erosion to their advantage by directing water to wash away less dense soil, leaving behind the heavier gold in parts of Spain and Great Britain. That idea has continued to be developed and today we use water-jet cutting technology to cut all types of materials. The erosive capacity of high-pressure water-jet cutting can cut through foot thick steel! We use water to generate electricity, grow our food, and clean everything. Water is called the universal solvent because it can of dissolve more substances than any other chemical.

The need for water to support life is an undisputable fact. Water is the first thing scientists look for when they’re searching for life on other planets. Humans cannot live for much more than three days without water. Water gives life.

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2)

Water gives life, both physically and spiritually. Baptism is a symbol that uses physical water to enable spiritual life, cleansing us of our sins. Water also symbolizes God’s Spirit. Here, Messiah is teaching the Samaritan woman, and us, about the spiritual nature of water:

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

The importance of water and its connection between the spiritual and the physical shows up most evidently in the story of creation. Water was one of the first things created – before light.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3)

On day 2, it seems that God made a space in the waters for our earth to exist. I don’t claim to fully understand this day and how it might have looked before and after, but in Genesis 1:6-8 God created an expanse surrounded by the waters where all of the forthcoming elements of creation exist. This image reminds me of how a human is created in the womb, surrounded by water. Water protects us, refreshes us, cleanses us, and gives us life. The water that comes from the throne of God, allows us to bear much fruit.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

Physically, water cleanses through its ability to dissolve so many substances and its cohesive properties that allow it to cling to particles and carry them away in the flow (like erosion.) In our bodies, blood (composed mostly of water) cleanses us by taking away the waste material our cells produce and carrying that waste to our liver and kidneys. Water gives us life by allowing most biological processes to function. Life is in the blood delivering oxygen to our cells. Spiritually, water and blood both give us life and cleanse us. When a person is stabbed, generally there is blood that flows out of the wound. But here we see something different:

But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. (John 19:34)

Clearly this shows us how Messiah is The Source of Life – Life comes from water; Life is in the blood. We need to dwell in Him and allow Him to dwell in us. When salt is dissolved in water, you end up with neither water nor salt. You end up with saline, the scientific word for salt water. This is how inextricable the relationship is between the Father and the Son – and eventually, in that day, between Messiah and all of us:

“In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”
(John 14:20)

As it says in Matthew 5:13, we are the salt of the earth. Let us take a long drink of the water that flows from the Throne of God and be dissolved into it.

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
(Colossians 3:2)             

Peace to you and glory to God!



Have you heard of a “roommate lock?” Usually it is a feature or a device that prevents a container from being opened easily. But it is also fairly easy to break the lock. The roommate lock is not intended to protect valuable things from getting stolen. It is to prevent someone that you generally trust (e.g. a roommate) from pilfering something that you may not notice if it, or some of it, goes missing. My favorite example of this is the “ice cream lock.” It is a ring that locks around a pint of ice cream. Knowing the correct combination gives one easy access to the treat inside. If your roommate does not know the combination to unlock the ring, then right next to the spoon in the drawer is a knife that will readily cut open the paper container. Easy access to the loot! But most likely, the roommate only wanted to steal a couple of bites, and not get caught. These devices are theft deterrents and there are many of them in the world around us. Often, they are implemented to prevent the phenomenon of inanimate things “growing legs.” This happens when someone uses a common object and does not replace it when they are done. I implemented a type of this prevention in my house to protect myself from myself! I think I own 6 or 8 tape measures. They always grow legs and move around, but with so many in the house, when in need, I can usually find one quickly. I have heard of people deploying the same technique with reading glasses. If you have enough of them, there will always be one or more within easy reach. Surely you have been to the bank, or the post office, or some such place where signing your name is very common. I think a pen is the most common object to grow legs. People unconsciously hold on to the pen when they are done and put it in their pocket, unintentionally stealing it. So, someone a long time ago invented the pen tether. That is, a string or chain that prevents the pen from growing legs. Another example is the key to unlock a public bathroom at a gas station; it might be tethered to something large and awkward, so people don’t accidentally put the key in their pocket and leave with it. Many things get a tether: pens, dogs, drill chuck keys, sample products at a store, balloons, kites, lobster traps, boats not underway, camera lens caps, astronauts, ironworkers, deep sea divers… For the most part, a tether prevents something or someone from getting lost.

He ties his foal to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; He washes his garments in wine, And his robes in the blood of grapes. (Genesis 49:11)

Genesis 49 is a prophetic poem given by Jacob when he called his 12 sons to bless them. Verse 11 is addressing Judah. There is a bit of wonder at why anyone would tether an herbivore to a choice grape vine. Surely you would expect the animal to eat the fruit, the leaves, or even the bark of the plant, possibly destroying it. But, the meaning of the scripture is a little clearer when examined through symbolism and after conducting an elementary word study. Based on the meanings of the words provided by Strong’s concordance, the passage could be written as, “Judah tethers the strong, newly trained progeny of his gentle offspring to the source of the best fruit.” I think the imagery of a young beast munching on choice grapes is a striking scene that the reader will remember and contemplate. When we remember God’s Word and contemplate it, we will grow. The point of the message here that I want to examine is that of the tether. How does a tether apply to us today?

As a baby grows inside a mother’s womb, it is necessarily tethered to her by the umbilical cord. This cord provides everything the baby needs to develop into an individual person. When the baby is born, the umbilical cord is cut; it is no longer needed. The baby has developed to a point where oxygen and blood and nutrients can be gathered and processed without the cord. While this separation allows for the freedom to move around, explore, and further develop, the child continues to be completely dependent on the mother. As we develop our spiritual lives here, while living in this physical world, we require a similar tether that connects us with God. All that we need for proper development comes from Him and through this connection. That connection is the Messiah.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:4-7)

I am seeing that this physical life, this walk through the wilderness, is like our gestation period for development in the womb. Here and now is where we are protected and nourished. This life is where we are allowed the time and space to develop into a new creature. At the end of our development we will be re-born in a twinkling of an eye.

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
(1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus *said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3:3-7)

When that day comes, surely we will need God as much as a newborn needs its mother. Our dependence on Him will always be essential to our existence. But until that day, we require a tether, a lifeline for survival. Without the proper connection, we will perish. Our connection to God that supplies us with spiritual nutrients and oxygen is our relationship with Messiah.

Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6)

Seek out and nurture your relationship with the Son of God. He, your brother, will walk with you through this life. He will always be there to listen to your trouble, celebrate your victories, give you advice, carry your load, warn you of danger, help you decide, heal your sickness, strengthen your weakness, guide your steps, light your path, provide you with all you need, and love you unconditionally. He is your adult umbilical cord. Doing so is not difficult, in fact it is super-simple. But it will not be done for you. You need to seek, but if you do, there is a promise that you will find. You need to knock, but if you do, there is a promise that the door will be opened. God does not want that any of His children perish but that all would come to repentance.

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
(Colossians 3:2)           

Peace to you and glory to God!