GoodlifeNews!

Exploring a Potpourri of Biblical Ideas and Godly Living

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 24 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “Romans, Part I: State of Man.

In today’s episode, I am beginning a six-part series for the podcast under an overall, umbrella title, “Studies in Romans: Saved by Grace, Powered by Love.”

Today, we’ll begin with a quick introduction to both the series, and the Book of Romans itself. Then explore Paul’s message to the Roman believers in the first three chapters.

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast at https://anchor.fm/goodlifenews.


So, first off, here are the titles of each episode of the series as we move through the book:

  • Episode I, “State of Man”
  • Episode II, “Righteousness by Faith”
  • Episode III, “Love Can Build a Bridge”
  • Episode IV, “Living for Jesus”
  • Episode V, “Living Sacrifices”
  • Episode VI, “The Kingdom of God”

I hope you will be able to tune in to listen or read each of these episodes in the coming weeks. If you miss one, of course, you can always go back and listen to it at your convenience. Or, you may want to review a point I share later just to get a better understanding of Paul’s teaching. At any rate, I do hope, and pray, that the thoughts I present in this series with inspire you to make your own “deep dive” into Paul’s teachings in Romans. This letter to the Christian believers in Rome carries the core of New Testament theology more completely than any other single book. It is Paul’s greatest theological legacy for the church throughout all subsequent eras and ages. And, it is absolutely vital for our spiritual journey today.

Please pause with me for a moment as we ask God’s blessing on our study today, and throughout the course of this series.


Dear Father in heaven, thank you for all you do for us. Thank you for the messages of love and grace you send to us in the pages of the Bible, the written Word of God. And thank you for the ministry of Paul the Apostle who wrote this letter to the believers in Rome. Please guide our minds and teach us the things you want us to know as we work our way through this little series of Studies in Romans which I have titled, “Saved by Grace; Powered by Love.”

In Jesus Name, amen.


Paul’s epistle to the Romans was probably written around A.D. 56-57, but no later than A.D. 59. The earliest extant—that is still existing—manuscripts of Romans comes from about A.D. 200. Church historians and biblical manuscript scholars all agree that there is ample evidence supporting the authenticity of the text as we know it.

Paul wrote his letter to the Romans to introduce himself to the church there. He intended to stop there en route to Spain, to get acquainted with the local believers, and perhaps to raise funds for continuing his journey.

The Roman church was a mixture of Christian Jews and Roman believers. Paul had got wind of a major controversy brewing among them, and he needed to present the truths of the true gospel of Jesus.

The big issue was, “How can anyone be right with God on the final Day of Judgment?” In addressing this question, Paul’s one overriding purpose was to exalt Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah—the savior for all mankind, whether Jew or gentile.


With all that, let’s begin.

After a brief introduction of himself as the writer of the letter, Paul addresses the letter to his intended recipients:

“To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7-8).

Before moving away from this first introductory verse, let’s ask a question:

Who are the believers “in Rome?”

Of course, I’ve already spoken of the Jewish Christians—probably individuals who had traveled from Rome to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, and while there they witnessed the testimony of Jesus’s disciples as they proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus, empowered by the fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (You can read about this experience in Acts:2).

There were also gentile believers—Romans, Greeks, etc.—who had received the report of the people returning from Jerusalem with the incredible story of Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior for the entire world. These gentiles had believed the report, and were part of the Roman church.

But, beyond that, in a certain sense of the word, we are all “in Rome,” meaning that we are all sinners, we are all “in the world.”

However, in Paul’s opening greeting he says that grace and peace are extend to ALL from God the Father and from Jesus. Grace and peace are sent to everyone, because everyone is “loved by God,” and all are called to be God’s “saints.”

(By the way, a “saint” in scripture is simply one who believes in God, and has accepted His promise of eternal life in the righteousness of Christ.)

A few verses later in chapter 1, before outlining the sinful nature of all humanity, Paul presents the promise of the gospel.

“The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17).


It’s a good thing Paul lays that foundation of good news before he continues. In the next few passages he “pulls no punches” in describing the sinful state of all humanity.

“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, breed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:29-32 NIV).

No one is righteous

Paul continues his description of the sinful state of all humanity all the way deep into chapter 3, showing that Jews and gentiles are all in the same basket: All are sinners in rebellion against God and his law.

“There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Now, far too often preachers read these texts and stop short of what follows. It seems we need to emphasize the sinful depravity of all human beings so people will know how bad they really are. Maybe that will motivate people to “get their act together” and live a more respectable life among their fellow humans.

Not likely!

Here’s what the preachers miss: Verse 24 is a continuation of verse 23, and contains the most wonderful promise from God.

Here is the core truth of God’s gospel of grace!

“(23) All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (24) and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”


Dear friend, that is the what we must keep remembering and sharing about the state of man and the infinite love of God that pours his grace into our lives.

The same individuals who are identified as reprobate sinners (“all”) in verse 23, are the exact same people who are declared “justified freely by [God’s] grace” through the “redemption that came by Christ Jesus” in verse 24!

For those of you with a linguistic bent, the word “all” is the antecedent for both of the identities that follow: “all” have sinned; “all” are justified freely by his grace!


That does not mean—or imply—that everyone will be saved. It simply means that in God’s eyes everyone is already forgiven, justified, and qualified for heaven. However, although God wants to save every individual of Adam’s race, he knows that it hinges on the freewill choice he gave and guaranteed to each of us. We are not compelled to accept his free gift of forgiveness and justification. We can still choose the way of life or the way of darkness. It is up to each person to make that choice for him/herself.

Here are four spiritual steps you may take to receive God’s promised gift of eternal life:

  1. Understand that God loves you. Jesus told a man named Nicodemus, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).
  2. You are a sinner. We read earlier from Romans 3:10 and 3:23 that everyone is counted as a sinner. We all have fallen short of God’s ideal for us—by our own choice—and thus, as sinners, we all deserve to be separated from God, who is the source of life itself, and thus experience eternal death.
  3. However, all is not lost! Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, gave His life as a redemption for us—while we were still sinners! (See Romans 5:8). Recognizing this ultimate gift of Jesus who exchanged his life for our death opens the way for us to enter into life.
  4. We enter eternal life by accepting and receiving God’s gift. This is simply the opening of our heart to God’s Spirit, letting go of our natural spirit of rebellion and self-centered desires and practices, and allowing God’s Spirit to take up residence in our spiritual heart.

If you have not already done so, I’m inviting you today, right now, to take that final step. Accept Jesus as your personal Savior, and let him be Lord of your life. I can tell you from my personal experience, taking this step was the beginning of a life-long journey of fulfillment and growth in grace. From that moment until this very day, I have known a deep peace that surpasses frustration, sadness, loss, grief, disappointment, and anger. I can say with full assurance, God will always be with you to encourage, guide, provide, and lead.

Are you ready to enter into life today? If so, please bow your head with me right now and say this simple prayer:


“Dear Father in heaven, I confess that I am a sinner in need of your forgiveness. I accept your free gift of eternal life by accepting Jesus as my personal Savior. Just now, I open my spiritual heart to your Holy Spirit, and invite Him to live in me to lead me in the way of life eternal. In Jesus name, Amen.”


Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll share Part II of this special six-part series on the Book of Romans. Next week’s title is “Romans, Part II: Righteousness by Faith.” Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you! I’ll explore those next few chapters in Paul’s epistle where he details the basis and experience of living by faith in our present world. I’m excited to share this incredible truth of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!

God bless.

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 23 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “My Seven Essential Daily Prayers.”

In today’s episode, I’ll be sharing some thoughts from the introduction of this book I wrote a couple of years ago about my journey into a new experience in my prayer life. As this podcast/blogpost goes out, I will be praying that each listener/reader will be blessed and inspired to a deeper walk with God through prayer.

(For information on obtaining a copy of My Seven Essential Prayers, click on the picture for a link to my “author page” on amazon.com)

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast at https://anchor.fm/goodlifenews.


Prayer has always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my mother taught me to “talk to Jesus” every night when she tucked me into bed. I grew up attending church, and early on I was often asked to lead our church youth group in prayer. At home, our family paused to pray before every meal three times a day. My turn to “say grace” at the table happened regularly.

The idea of prayer was such an integral part of our lives that I didn’t think very much about it. That changed when I was about half-way through my teenage years.

One night when I was sixteen, I had a hard time settling down for the night. I tossed and turned on my bed for an hour or more, but sleep wouldn’t come. Everyone else was already chasing dreamland fantasies, but not me. Our big old farmhouse was lighted only by faint moonlight streaming through the windows. Everything was quiet—except for the heavy breathing of my slumbering family.

I often went for nighttime walks, so on that night when sleep wouldn’t come it was not unusual for me to get up, get dressed, and head out the back door. I glanced up at the clear sky and shining moon and began walking along a lane that led to the fields of our farm. It was a beautiful night, a cool evening with a gentle, almost imperceptible breeze.

Out there, under the moon and stars, I began to talk with God.

I was no stranger to prayer, but this time was different. God was talking to me! There was no physical presence I could touch with my hands, but I could truly feel Him walking beside me. There were no audible words—except mine—but I knew when He spoke to my heart.

I gazed up into the star-studded sky.

“Jesus,” I said, “tonight I accept you as my personal Savior and invite you to be Lord of my life. I open my heart’s door to you. Please come into my heart and live in me!”

In all the years of religion through my childhood and youth, never once had I taken this step. But that night, alone on that dusty lane under the moon and stars, that prayer became an anchoring milestone in my spiritual journey.

“Lord, what do you want me to do with my life?” I asked.

At that moment I heard God’s voice inviting me to a lifetime of Christian ministry. The compass of my life was reset to highways and byways I could never have imagined. Now, six decades later, I look back with amazement. On that dusty road my first baby steps of personal faith began a journey that continues even to this day.


In June 2011 I retired from 40 years of pastoral ministry.

I didn’t know it that evening when I walked that moonlit path, but—looking back—I can see God’s hand at work, leading, guiding, and empowering my walk with Him—and teaching me new lessons in prayer all along the way.

By early December after retiring, I had decided to reconnect with my blue-collar roots by leasing out my Dodge Ram pickup truck to deliver fifth-wheel RVs and travel trailers from factories to dealerships for their market. I genuinely enjoyed my “owner-operator” status in this tiny niche of the trucking industry. The job involved many, many miles of driving—and many hours of solitary reflection—as I traveled the highways of The United States and Canada. I was blessed to see some incredibly beautiful places, and I often found myself praising God all for the beauty of His Creation.

On the trail delivering a travel trailer to the Los Angeles basin

But the devil was out there on the road with me, too. At times during those long hours of getting from one place to another, I found my mind wandering into unhealthy areas of imagination. I knew that indulging in impure thoughts would sow bitter seeds of tragic loss in my spiritual experience and could inevitably destroy everything I held dear if I allowed them to grow. The fruit would be bitter, indeed. There’s no way I wanted to go there!

The only recourse I had was prayer. I spoke right out loud—right there in the cab of my truck—traveling sixty-miles-per-hour on the freeway, with a 38’ fifth-wheel trailer behind me.

“Lord,” I cried, “I want purity in my mind! I don’t want these evil thoughts. I reject them, and I pray for the purity that only you can give!”

To my utter amazement, immediately my thoughts were freed from the devil’s trap, and I could focus once again on healthy, life-building matters.

Over the next several months that simple prayer for purity expanded with several more. I began adding “righteousness in my heart,” and “integrity for my life” every time another tempting thought would rear its ugly head. And each time, God graciously delivered me by removing those errant, dark imaginations and replacing them with hope, peace, and light.

Eventually, I began to sense that God was taking me into a new journey I never anticipated. Those basic three prayers—purity, righteousness, and integrity— were joined by another four: “joy for my spirit,” “strength for my body,” “wisdom for my counsel,” and “to be a godly influence in the world.” These seven became my personal “essential daily prayers.” Of course, my prayers are never restricted to those seven only, but they are where I still begin my day, every day. I cannot survive spiritually without making this vital connection with God.

Witnessing the progressive growth and development of this journey has been wonderfully exciting. I have presented my experience and the ideas of My Seven Essential Daily Prayers series in live devotionals, and numerous sermons. And, if God opens the door for it, I’d love to develop a retreat-type seven-session seminar for “My Seven Essential Daily Prayers.”

My deepest prayer of all, however, is that every reader of these pages might find a rich personal walk with God, a vibrant spiritual journey, an abiding hunger for purity and righteousness, and to be filled with the Creator’s Agápe love.


Now, what I want to do is share a small summary of each of the seven prayers I write about in the book.

  1. “Purity in My Mind.” Because I recognize my imperfection and natural sinful inclinations, I must pray for purity as a gift from God, brought to me through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Purity is the soil in which God’s agápe love flourishes. Agápe love is unconditional and unbroken, and this was commanded by Jesus to his followers that they love [agápe) one another. We cannot generate this from our own choices. It must come as a gift from the source of love–God himself.
  2. “Righteousness in My Heart.” In the list of beatitudes given by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (v. 6). The spiritual “heart” is the seat of our wants and desires–the place of our innermost cravings. Since I truly desire the infilling promised by Jesus, in this prayer I open my life to him to create that hunger and thirsting I need.
  3. “Integrity in My Life.” Integrity involves both character and competence. My sinful nature wants to compromise for imagined short-term self-centered gain without the necessary investment of time and effort to do the right thing honestly and transparently. Only the Holy Spirit living in and through me can accomplish the goals of serving others with true excellence which will rightly represent Him.
  4. “Joy in My Spirit.” The Bible tells us “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). So, if I want the strength only God can give me, I need to have the joy in my spirit which only He can give. Thus, I pray for His joy to fill my spirit every day!
  5. “Strength for My Body.” Our body actually belongs to God since He created it. We are stewards (i.e. “caretakers”) of our physical being, and as such we should care for it as faithful stewards, living as much as possible to achieve the best health we can. Healthy living is God’s ideal for us, not to work our way into His good graces, but as a testimony of His amazing love (agápe) and grace. Praying for (physical) strength is good, but we must not work against God’s answers to our prayers by unhealthful practices.
  6. “Wisdom for My Counsel.” Once again citing the Apostle Paul, “Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24). This prayer (#6 in my list) is simply to have the Cross of Christ as the heart of every communication–spoken or unspoken–that comes from my life.
  7. “To Be a Godly Influence in the World.” To live in this world is to bear influence in the lives around us. The question, then, is what kind of influence will it be? Will it encourage “godly” living (i.e. “”wholesome,” “morally upright,” “positive,” etc.), or will it contribute to the moral decline of those it touches? As I look back on my life, I see innumerable times when my influence was anything but helpful to someone else’s spiritual health. (“God, forgive me!”) Titus 2:12 says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.”

I hope all this doesn’t blow you away! Writing this book was not an attempt to sway others to my way of thinking on any of these points. Nor was it an attempt to just “sell a lot of books” (as if, that is ever going to happen! LOL). Instead, it is part of my testimony of how the Lord has been working in my life, ever since my very young years. A believer’s testimony cannot be divorced from Christian witness. Revelation 12:11 says, “And they [the saints of God] overcame him [the devil] by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony.”

Perhaps my testimony can be an encouragement to another hungry soul.


Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll begin a special six-part series on the Book of Romans. Next week’s title is “Romans, Part I: State of Man.

Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you!

If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!

God bless.

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 22 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “The Great Circle Dance of God.”

In today’s episode, I’ll be continuing our study from last week about being part of God’s team as His ambassadors to our world, including all our relationships every day, whether in the home, among friends, or interacting with other people wherever we may be.

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast at https://anchor.fm/goodlifenews.


This could possibly be one of the most important messages I could share with you here on the podcast. As I just mentioned, we who have accepted our role as Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), can be confident that the One who has called us into his service will also give us wisdom to rightly represent him.

One day many years ago when I was a student at Walla Walla College, I opened my mailbox located in the lobby of Sittner Hall, the men’s dorm on campus. I discovered a postcard from my sister Beulah Fern who lived in Portland at the time. The message on the card was a quotation of Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (KJV).

Verse 6 in the New Living Translation says, “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

And, that really is the message I want to share with you today. Here is the basic idea: Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can be directed step-by-step in the best possible way to witness of his grace and allow him to use the influence of our lives to serve his purposes day by day.

Let’s explore that a little more deeply now.


The “preacher” who wrote the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes (King Solomon) included a beautiful, timeless poem which could be titled “A Time for Everything.” Among other things on Solomon’s list are these words: “A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).

In the conservative faith community of my childhood and youth, dancing in any form was strictly forbidden! As a result, I never really ever learned to dance, although I did try a few times. Nevertheless, I have been fascinated over the years to witness many types of dancing in greatly diverse cultures around the world.

One of the most universal styles of group dancing is known as circle dancing.

In the biblical story of the Exodus, Moses’ sister Miriam led the women in dancing to celebrate deliverance from the Egyptian army (Exodus 15:20-21). That dance is still performed by groups of Jewish people today.


It seems nearly every indigenous culture in the world has some form of circle dance. I have personally witnessed beautiful cultural circle dances among aboriginal tribes in the mountains of Taiwan. I believe there must be some deeper significance to this than just people having fun. In fact, if we look closely at both the Scripture and nature, we discover some great truths.


Here are a few examples of some cyclical phenomena in nature.

The entire known physical Universe displays cycles of movement. The moon, planets, the sun, even the entire Milky Way galaxy, all revolve in a grand and wonderful dance through the heavens.

Directly related to the earth’s annual circuit around the sun, each season comes and goes at precise times of the year.

Migratory birds and animals follow the exact routes taken by hundreds of preceding generations of their kind—even though the specific individuals may never have traveled that route before.

And, as we study God’s work among his people through the centuries, the Lord instructed the ancient Israelites to memorialize significant events in their history with annual feasts and celebrations. Then Jesus himself instructed the disciples to remember his death and resurrection through the ceremony we now call communion or “the Lord’s Supper.” The Apostle Paul says that by participating in this sacred ceremony we “proclaim the Lord’s death till he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).

King Solomon declared, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).


So, what does all this have to do with our designated role as ambassadors for the Kingdom?

Let’s take a step back and look at one of the most intriguing—even mysterious—chapters in the Bible. Although the visuals described in Ezekiel 1 have often been misunderstood, I have come to believe the “wheels within wheels” vision perfectly describes the work God is doing through his people throughout the world.

Here is Ezekiel’s vision:

“As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground . . . This was the appearance and structure of the wheels . . . Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not turn about as the creatures went. Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes [facets] all around. When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.”

Ezekiel 1:15-21 (NIV)

This strange vision of Ezekiel’s is best understood by the next scene, just a few verses later:

“Then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man . I saw that from what appeared to be the waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.”

Ezekiel 1:25-28 (NIV)

So, here in Ezekiel 1 we see this vision of wheels within wheels, turning, traveling, moving according to the direction of the Spirit. With that graphical description fresh in the reader’s mind, the prophet then paints a fantastic picture of God on his throne high above the earth. This vision is nearly identical to that described by Daniel in chapter 10:4-6,

“On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.”

Daniel 10:4-6 (NIV).

John the Revelator also saw a vision of the same divine person:

“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone ‘like a son of man,’ dressed in in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance”

So, what—or who—did Ezekiel see in his vision connected with the wheels-within-wheels? I believe it was none other than the pre-incarnate Christ directing the movement of his Kingdom ambassadors—the divine Choreographer, if you will—sending each individual on missions of mercy, witness, and service to all the nations of the world. The Great Circle Dance of God is a divine movement carrying the good news of his love, grace, and forgiveness to every soul under heaven. Every believer is commissioned to represent the King in every transaction, every relationship, every word and action. Through the guidance and instruction of the Holy Spirit, we are sent on special assignments to bring hope, encouragement, and blessing to all within our circles of influence.

Here is a reassuring promise from Jesus:

“The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:25-26 NIV).

Then Jesus followed that promise with this: “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me” (John 15:26 NIV).


Do you ever feel like you’re just running around in circles? Sometimes we might seriously wonder if our life has any meaning or significance at all. If you’re working at a job, maybe every day feels just like yesterday, and tomorrow promises to be more of the same old, same old routine.

Don’t despair! God can use even your familiar, daily routine to serve his purposes. And that, in fact, is what our life in Christ is all about. It makes little difference whether you are on a mountaintop high in your spiritual journey, or slogging along down in the swampy valley, God is there with you, and will touch the lives of others through you as you give your life to him to use as he sees best. He knows just what steps in the great dance he has designed for you. Following the lead of his Spirit will glorify God and bring great blessings to you as well.

And, you never know when the circumstances of your life may change. As with all circles, “what goes around comes around.” God is in charge of the dance. He opens the path before you step-by-step. David, the shepherd boy wrote, “The Lord . . . leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:1-3 NIV).

Right now, today, the Holy Spirit invites you to join the circle. This circle is filled with agápe love, acceptance, and forgiveness. In the center is a fountain of living water springing forth in endless supply. “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

The invitation is open. Come join the dance!


Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll be sharing some thoughts from my book, “My Seven Essential Daily Prayers.” Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you!

If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!

God bless.

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 21 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “Working Together—God’s Way.”

In today’s episode, I’ll be sharing some thoughts about teamwork and spiritual gifts in the church, the Body of Christ on Earth. Teamwork is God’s way of getting things done!

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast at https://anchor.fm/goodlifenews.


Teams have always been a major factor in my life. Until recently, I didn’t know why.

The very earliest scenes I can conjure out of the fog of childhood memories include the giant draft horses my father used on our farm in Washington State’s Yakima Valley. Their names and faces are as clear to me as family members – Mike and Mickey, King and Prince. They were as much a part of our family as were my sisters and brother. Daddy loved working the fields behind them, and I can still feel the excitement watching him drive them into the yard, nostrils flared, eyes blazing, and everything throbbing to the beat of sixteen hooves the size of dinner plates and thousands of pounds of horseflesh. Nothing spelled “t-e-a-m” more dramatically! To say the least, they made quite an impression on a four-year-old farm boy watching from a safe corner.

Nowadays, everywhere one looks there are all sorts of teams. Sports teams of every imaginable hue, business project teams, government workforce teams, college debate teams – if you can name it there is probably a team for it. The simple truth is this: people working together in harmony, with a common focus, get more done than the same number of people all working separately. It is called synergy – the concept of combining diverse strengths and energies to produce more than the sum of the parts.


Synergy is a dynamic force of nature that expresses itself in all sorts of ways.

Popular reports state that migrating geese can fly 71% farther in formation than an individual goose can fly by itself. Some people have questioned the precision of that “fact,” but in truth, by banding together each individual bird helps out all the others in their collective drive. They encourage one another with squawks and honks as well as literally giving a boost to each other as they knife their way through the sky. The entire flock benefits from the contributions of every member of the team.

In an entirely different realm, lobsters on the ocean floor form a safety train by hooking together, and thus assembled they can cross open spaces faster and safer from predation than if one lone lobster tries to make it on its own. Great teamwork!

Teams of coyotes or wolves often work together to tire their prey, and thus ensure meals for their young and survival of the pack.

Arctic yaks stand shoulder to shoulder in a circle, with their young protected in the center, presenting a most formidable wall of hooves and horns to any would-be predator. Talk about a defensive front line!

Pods of whales work together creating air bubble nets to round up fish for dinner.

Even the insect world gets in on the teamwork act. A colony of bees is amazing in its organization and daily operation, and ants were immortalized by Solomon when he declared, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8 NIV).

Look just about anywhere in nature or human society, and you can find countless examples of teamwork. It is the way things get done most effectively and efficiently. The image of the “Lone Ranger” is a myth. Even he had to have Tonto. There is no such thing as a self-made man. The brightest super stars are nothing without their support networks. Teamwork makes things happen.


The essence of teamwork is to join the strengths of different parties to accomplish a common purpose. A close study of the Godhead reveals that each member of the Holy Trinity has a distinct role that complements and empowers the roles of the other two. In short, the Godhead identifies three kinds of power – omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence – and then unites those powers with the unbreakable bonds of unconditional love.

But more on that in a moment. Before we go there, let’s consider a few texts from the New Testament which illustrate clearly that God’s way of doing His work in the world is through empowering teams of people with various abilities.

The Apostle Paul expressed the concept perfectly in three separate passages. (All quotations are from the New Living Translation.)

Romans 12:6-8 “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

1 Corinthians 12:27-28 “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is part of it. Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: . . . Apostles, . . . Prophets, . . . Teachers, . . . Miracles workers, . . . Healers, . . . Helpers, . . . Leaders, . . . [translators].”

Ephesians 4:11 “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”

In short, a quick survey of Paul’s teaching about how the church—the body of Christ—works efficiently and effectively here on Earth, reveals teamwork as the one, major organizing principle.


Now, let’s consider those three types of power I mentioned earlier.

Let’s look first at the power of KNOWLEDGE.

Proverbs 3:19 declares, “By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.”

In other words, one reason God had the power to accomplish those things because he knew how. It is rather obvious that if you don’t know how to do something you probably won’t be able to do it. God created the heavens and the earth because he was able, that is, He had the power to do so. His knowledge and understanding were vital elements of bringing the world—and the Universe—into existence.

Next is the power of AUTHORITY.

The word “omnipotent” literally means, “all-powerful,” but what kind of power are we talking about here? Using an old-fashioned term, we might call a king with complete power over his subjects a “potentate.” The potentate’s ability to rule had little to do with his or her personal physical strength. History is filled with stories of sickly, even dying monarchs who held absolute sway over their kingdom from their death chambers. Their authority was established by the loyalty of those closest to them, and was reinforced by swords, spears, and imprisonment or death to any traitor or dissenter. The power of a potentate was the power of authority. Understanding this sheds an important light on what we mean when we speak of God’s “omnipotence.”

Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Mat 28:18 KJV). The word “power” in this text is the Greek word exousia, “authority.” That is the rendition used (correctly) in many of the more modern language versions. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians underscores Jesus’ position as the highest authority in the Universe. He describes him (Jesus) as being, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come” (Eph 1:21 NIV). John the Revelator identifies Jesus as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev 19:16), indicating that his authority was higher than all earthly rulers of any sort. Thus, when Jesus commissioned his followers to “go make disciples,” it was on the basis of his authority, which he assured them would empower them to success. “I will be with you,” he said, “every step of the way” (my personal paraphrase).

Jesus is also described as the “Word” of God. Words carry the authority of governments in their laws, as well as the creative or destructive power of ideas. Jesus, as the Word of God embodies all the authority of heaven, and by that authority he both creates and sustains the Universe (see Col 1:15, 17). Jesus, God the Son, can thus be identified as the Omnipotent member of the Trinity.

The Power of PRESENCE.

Being there. That is what the third aspect of the God’s power, his omnipresence, is all about. God is always there, wherever “there” might be. The Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity, is the Omnipresent person of the Godhead. The Scripture declares that there is literally nowhere God’s Spirit cannot be found. King David wrote, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:7-10 NKJV).


Now, I want to show how God brings these three kinds of power together to accomplish His purposes. We have seen that the three kinds of power are the power of knowledge, the power of authority, and the power of presence. It is linking all three together that results in action.

All three must be present for anything to happen. If any one element is missing, the desired result will be impossible to achieve. Let’s say, for instance, that someone has knowledge and authority, but no presence. That person will be totally frustrated in trying to make anything happen. If he has knowledge and presence, but no authority, he will be helpless. If he has authority and presence, but no knowledge, he will probably be dangerous. But with the combination of all three powers, omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence, God is able to create the Universe! He does it through bonding his knowledge, his authority, and his presence into a single unit – the ultimate super-team. We call this wonderful union the Godhead or the Trinity.

It seems reasonable to assume that if the way God himself gets things done is through teamwork, it also aught to be the most logical and effective way to pursue his work here on earth! For far too long – hundreds and hundreds of years, in fact – the church God commissioned to carry forward his work has been captive to a hierarchical, top-down, authoritarian command-and-control organizational structure that stifles the movement of the Spirit


Thank you so much for listening today! Again, I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll be sharing some thoughts about “The Great Circle Dance of God.” I think you’ll find that episode fascinating—at least I find it fascinating! I’m anxious to share with you. Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you!

If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!
God bless.

 

Greetings, friends! This is Loren Fenton.

Last Wednesday my wife Ruth and I were both sidelined by COVID-19. Both of us received full immunization very soon after they were made available to us as senior citizens. However, last week when we began feeling totally miserable we decided to be tested. Tests came back positive.

By Thursday, I was feeling totally spent physically. After a rough night, very early Friday morning I called 9-1-1 and had the EMTs transport me to emergency. I spent several hours there (of course!), receiving all the required tests of things they check for. When the tests came back, the ER doctor reported that my COVID symptoms themselves were quite mild, but they discovered my blood sodium and potassium levels were dangerously low. They needed to admit me for a few days to address those issues.

I came home this afternoon. It’s now Sunday evening, and the schedule for the next episode of the GoodlifeNews! Podcast and Blog to post is tonight at midnight. That’s not going to happen. I do have most of the script written, but I need to finish, edit, and record everything, which usually takes a few hours. Frankly, I just don’t think it’s healthy to force the deadline.

So, I’ve decided to drop everything down one week. Thus, Episode 21, “Working Together – God’s Way” will appear next Monday, September 27, 12:01 a.m. 

My apologies for the break. I’ll keep you posted on any further development.

Love to all,

Loren


 

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 20 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “Seeing Jesus.”

In today’s episode, I’ll be sharing some thoughts about seeing Jesus in our world today, wherever we may be.
Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast at https://anchor.fm/goodlifenews.


Several times as I have stepped up to the pulpit in a church where I was a guest speaker, I have noticed a pointed message taped permanently to the desk.

It said, “Sir, we would see Jesus.”

This timely reminder to any and all who would occupy that pulpit is a direct quote from the Gospel of John 12:21. Here it is in context of the story in the Bible as it is rendered in the New Living Translation:

“Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, ‘Sir, we want to meet Jesus.’ Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus.”

John 12:20-22 NLT

I have spoken many times about our Christian calling as ambassadors for the King of Kings. In all our circles of influence we must keep this thought ever uppermost in our minds. We do not walk this Earth for our own purposes, our own glory, fortune, fame, or reputation. In every relationship let us never forget that Jesus is revealed to the world around us through our individual words, actions, and attitudes. And, not only that, every person we meet has some basic spiritual need for life-giving connection with Jesus the Life-giver. Our task is to show them to the Master.

In this Bible story, Philip and Andrew took the inquiring Greeks to see Jesus. I think it’s important to realize they only took this step in response to the Greeks’ expressed desire.

There’s an important principle of “witnessing” here. Let’s not miss it.

People can only receive our witness when they are open to it. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

So, how do we know when someone is open and ready—hungering and thirsting for the gospel—so we can respond appropriately to their need?

The simple answer is that we probably won’t know unless we are in some way connected to their life. They probably won’t see Jesus in us unless we first see Jesus in them.

How does that work?


In recent times, perhaps the most widely recognized example of selfless, compassionate service to others is in the life and ministry of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Here is a quotable quote from her:


Mother Teresa of Calcutta

“I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.”


In this, Mother Teresa has obviously taken her cue from the parable of Jesus recorded in Matthew 25. It’s the parable of the sheep and the goats, and the final separation of these two types of people and the record of their responses to the needs of the world around them.

At the conclusion of his story, Jesus spoke this principle for his followers: “[The] righteous ones will [ask], ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” (Matthew 25:37-40).

Conversely, for those who thought they were serving others, but who were doing so from a self-centered motivation, receive this scathing judgment: “When you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me” (Matthew 25:45).


Sharing all this with you just now brings to mind an incident from my time in Taiwan many years ago back in the early ‘70s.

In May 1971, my wife and I—together with our 10-month-old son—moved to Taiwan as missionaries. After learning Mandarin Chinese, I served as pastor in the Island, first in the southern port city of Kaohsiung, then in the capitol city of Taipei in the north.

One day while we were living in Taipei, I needed to make a journey to the south end of Taiwan. Traveling by train took about 8 hours as I recall.

Several days before my scheduled departure, I went to the train depot in Taipei and purchased my ticket for the journey. I carefully tucked the small card-stock ticket in my wallet so I wouldn’t lose it somewhere before it was time to go. The ticket specified exactly which car, and which seat matched my reservation.

When the day arrived, I got to the depot early so I could be sure to get boarded without a great rush to get settled before the train pulled out. I was one of the first passengers on board, so I had no trouble finding my seat and settling in. I had a window seat next to the outside wall. The aisle seat remained empty as other passengers crowded in, finding their spot, and stowing their belongings.

I was a good missionary, of course, and I was looking forward to discovering who my seat mate would be for the trip. The long train ride would provide a wonderful opportunity to witness for Jesus!

It wasn’t long until a nice-looking middle-aged Chinese lady came to the seat beside me.

“Oh, that’s nice,” I thought to myself. “She looks like an ideal prospect to engage in conversation. But, I’ll wait until we get underway.”
My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by one of the train personnel speaking to me.

“Excuse me, sir. May I see your ticket?”

It seemed another passenger thought he should be sitting in my seat.

“Oh, I’m sorry, sir,” the steward spoke. “You are in the wrong car.”

I looked at my ticket. Sure enough. Right seat number. Wrong car!

The steward graciously escorted me to the next car forward, and then to the seat where I was supposed to ride. The aisle seat was still empty.
“Hmmm,” I thought to myself. “Maybe I won’t have a seat mate after all. But, that’s okay. This will be a good time to start memorizing some scripture.”
I got settled again, reached into my briefcase and retrieved my small Bible. I opened it to Psalm 1, and focused on the first few verses, silently repeating them several times until I could remember them without peeking.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).

(And, yes. I was memorizing the text from the King James Version. That’s the only one we used back then.)

Some passengers were still getting arriving, but it was almost time for the train to start moving. Then I saw one of the ugliest men I have ever seen in my life—and sure enough, he was my seat mate!

“Really, Lord? Why would I want to witness to this guy?”

The train began rolling forward as I fussed with the Lord. I stared out the window watching the green rice paddies slip past. Then I distinctly heard a voice in my head I recognized at once.

“What does that first verse of Psalm 1 say, Loren?”

I looked again at the text, and read, “. . . nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

Conviction gripped my heart. Yes, that was me, right then in that very moment.

A short time later I needed to use the restroom at the end of the train car. As I stepped past the ugly man in the aisle seat I spoke in Chinese.
“Excuse me,” I said.

He looked at me with some surprise that I—an obvious American—could speak Mandarin.

When I returned to my seat, the man reached into his bag and brought out his picture ID booklet. Everyone in Taiwan was required to have this booklet in their possession at all times—even foreigners.

My seat mate thrust his picture ID booklet at me and said, “I used to be beautiful!”

“A doctor did surgery on my face and left me looking like this. I am so ashamed and discouraged. I don’t know what I am going to do. I used to be beautiful,” he repeated his sad statement.

He continued for several minutes telling me his story. His smoking had caused a cancer in his mouth. Surgeons had removed the cancer, but left him maimed and disfigured. He was obviously deeply depressed.

“Lord,” I prayed, “what do you want me to do for this person?”

I reached into my briefcase again and pulled out a small booklet about God’s love and care for each person. The booklet detailed step-by-step how to learn more about God and enter into a life-giving relationship with Him.

I handed the man the book with the words, “I think I have something that you need. This will help you feel better.”

He buried himself into the pages like a drowning man clinging to anything that floats. Occasionally, I stole a sideways glance at his face. Strangely, he was no longer ugly. A peaceful light radiated from his expression. His eyes shined with hope as he read.

Not long afterwards the train pulled into the station of his destination. He gathered his few belongings, including the book I had given him. As he tucked it safely into his bag he looked at me and pointed to the book.

“This is wonderful!” he said. His face shone with a newfound joy. “Thank you so much! This is wonderful!” he said again.
And, he was no longer ugly in my eyes.

He was “beautiful” again!


Well, I’m no Mother Teresa, but that little experience from many years ago is still precious in my memory. I have no idea the subsequent story of that man’s life. Maybe when God’s Kingdom is established once again on Planet Earth I’ll be able to learn “the rest of the story.” But, for now, I am still blessed—even after all these years—to know that God was willing to use a “scorner” like me to bring at least a few moments of peace and hope to a floundering soul.

So, I want to leave you with this question today: Do you want others to see Jesus in you? What kind of Jesus will they see?

You see, you and I may be the only model of Jesus which others around us will ever know. Surely, when I rub shoulders and interact with other people day-by-day, I hope and pray that the “Jesus” they see is compassionate, loving, and sensitive to the heart-cry of their soul.

I confess, I don’t come by those character traits naturally! It’s something I must pray for every day. And the Lord graciously does allow me occasions to witness for him even now.

And I praise Him for the joy it brings to my heart when I know others have seen Jesus in me.


Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll be sharing some thoughts about Spiritual Gifts and Working Together—God’s Way. Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you!

If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!
God bless.

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 19 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “Lee Strobel: ‘The Case for Christ.’”

In today’s episode, I’ll be sharing some thoughts about this popular Christian author and the impressive work he is doing as one of America’s foremost Christian apologists.

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast at https://anchor.fm/goodlifenews .


Lee Strobel is a Popular Pastor, Author, and Christian Apologist
(Click on Lee’s Picture above for a link to his website.)

Lee Strobel was born on January 25, 1952 in the relatively small village of Arlington Heights, Illinois — a growing suburb about 25 miles northwest of Chicago. His active, inquisitive mind naturally led him to study journalism at the University of Missouri where he received his bachelor’s degree. With his college degree in journalism, Lee returned to Chicagoland, landing a job as a court reporter with the Chicago Tribune newspaper.

The subsequent course of his career led to countless hours observing and writing about trials of high profile Chicago criminals. In one particular case Lee discovered irrefutable evidence that a “dirty” police sergeant’s testimony had convicted an innocent man—forcing the re-opening of the case, eventually exonerating the suspect of the trial and bringing the sergeant to justice.

It was that same dogged determination for following all the evidence that propelled Lee to become the award-winning legal editor for the Tribune. Sensing a need for more training in the law, he later obtained a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale University.

In short, Lee Strobel was well on his way to great recognition and success in the world of no-nonsense, tough-minded journalism and fearless pursuit of the real “behind-the-scenes” story.

Then, his world turned upside down. His wife Leslie became a Christian.


As an avowed atheist, this development in Leslie’s life was not welcome at all!

Lee’s concept of Christians was that they were all crazy Bible-thumpers standing on street corners confronting hapless victims with the demands of their imagined god. The idea that any rational person could even consider the claims of Christians was completely unthinkable. And, that his wife would fall for their nonsense was even worse! He knew he had to do something to rescue her from this “insanity,” or it would totally destroy their marriage.

So, Lee Strobel set out to do the only reasonable thing under the circumstances. He had to prove his wife wrong. But, he also knew—drawing on his long experience in investigative reporting—he needed to use hard evidence set things in the right order, as he thought they should be.

To his credit, Lee followed his long-term principle of objectively examining all the evidence of a case, just as he did for each case he researched and reported in his newspaper career.


Lee’s first book, The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus is the story of his thorough investigation of claims regarding the historical person Jesus Christ.

(Click on the Book Cover for a Link to Amazon.com)


The chapters in “The Case for Christ” address questions such as “Can the biographies (i.e. the four gospels in the New Testament) of Jesus be trusted?” “Were the early documents of the New Testament reliably preserved for us?” “Is the Jesus of history the same as the Jesus of faith?” and “Did Jesus actually—in fact—die on the Cross, then come to life a few days later?”

One-by-one, this investigative reporter considers 14 different critical issues often raised by skeptics and non-believers. The 14 questions are divided into 3 sections, “Examining the Record,” “Analyzing Jesus,” and “Researching the Resurrection.”

Lee did not begin as a Christian at the start of the journey. Instead, he religiously maintained his natural skepticism even as he stayed open to the conclusions the evidence revealed. After two full years of interviewing professors, Biblical language scholars, historians, pastors, and others, taking copious notes from their knowledge, and assessing all the evidence he could find, Lee came to an unavoidable conclusion: Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament, the Son of God.

One day, alone and in the quietness of his writing office, Lee bowed his head and accepted Jesus as his personal Savior and Lord.


And once again, everything changed.

In the 40 years since his conversion, Lee has served God as a teaching pastor at three of America’s largest churches. He hosted a national network TV program “Faith Under Fire,” and taught at the collegiate level at Roosevelt University and Houston Baptist University.

The story of his spiritual journey–based on his book–was made into a motion picture in 2017. “The Case for Christ” was screened in theaters around the world, and was on Netflix for three years.


Here are a few testimonials from prominent individuals intimately acquainted with Lee and his message:

“Nobody knows how to sift truth from fiction like an experienced investigative reporter, or to argue a case like someone trained at Yale Law School. Lee Strobel brings both qualifications to this remarkable book. In addition to his own tremendous testimony as atheist-turned-Christian, the author marshals the irrefutable depositions of recognized ‘expert witnesses’ to build his ironclad case for Jesus Christ. I agree that “The Case for Christ” sets a new standard among existing contemporary apologetics.”

— The late D. James Kennedy.

“I was thrilled to be a part of ‘The Case for Christ.’ It is one of the most readable books in Christain evidences on the market, and I believe that it will have a wide impact. Anyone who is interested in the historical basis for Christianity should read this book.”

—J. P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, LaMirada, California.

And one more . . . .

“Lee Strobel asks the questions a tough-minded skeptic would ask and provides convincing answers to all of them. His book is so good I read it out loud to my wife evenings after dinner.”

—Phillip E Johnson, bestselling author and law professor, University of California at Berkeley.

Following the blockbuster success of The Case for Christ, Lee authored more than 40 books, including The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator, and The Case for Grace. He currently serves as Founding Director of the Lee Strobel Center for Evangelism and Applied Apologetics at Colorado Christian University.

Lee and his wife Leslie have been married for forty-eight years. Their daughter, Alison, is a novelist and homeschooling expert (www.goodschooling.net), and their son, Kyle, is a professor of spiritual theology at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University.


So, what’s my personal assessment of Lee Strobel’s story, and his apologetics approach to sharing the story of Jesus?

By and large I found his methods, reasonings, evidences, and conclusions compelling and convincing. As with nearly all authors, however, there were a few (very few) points where I felt he departed from his meticulous questions for the authorities and experts he interviewed. I would like to have seen supporting evidence for some blanket statements in the answers he received. To be fair, the large majority of his material in the book, and in the individual chapters, is very well documented. I can gladly recommend Lee’s story to others. I believe he does have an important ministry and influence in Christian thinking today.

I love it when I see a tweet from Lee on Twitter saying, “I’ve got an hour layover at such-and-such airport. I’m at so-and-so’s cafe near Gate xx in Concourse A. Stop by and let’s talk about Jesus! Coffee’s on me!”

What a delightful witness! Unashamed, unfettered, always looking to share the gospel with anyone, anywhere!

May we all have that Spirit as ambassadors for the King of Kings!


Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll be sharing some thoughts about “Seeing Jesus” in the world around us. Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you!

If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!
God bless.

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 18 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “Alive in Christ.”

In today’s episode, I’ll be sharing some thoughts about Living the Christian life with Integrity in all our relationships every day, whether in the home, among friends, or interacting with other people wherever we may be.

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast at https://anchor.fm/goodlifenews.


I don’t know if I’ve shared this fact about myself recently or not, but I need to tell you about it now. When I was young—before I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior and invited Him to be Lord of my life—I had a pretty foul mouth. I’m not proud of that now, for sure, but it’s something the Holy Spirit had to clean up for me as I grew in God’s grace.

One incident sticks in my mind that revealed to me just how negatively my witness for Jesus was impacted by the gutter language coming from my mouth. It was a significant moment in my spiritual growth, although I didn’t recognize it as that at the time.

My brother Beryl and I were working for a neighboring farmer as hired hands. Our assigned jobs sometimes brought us together for a particular job or project. Beryl was a couple of years older than me. We were both in our late teens.

One day Mr. Childers—the farmer who hired us—needed a barbed wire fence built across one of his pasture fields. Beryl and I got our supplies together and headed out to do the job. Since he was older, he was the unspoken leader for the task.

The first thing we needed to do was set all the fence posts in a straight line from one side of the field to the other. It was a matter of pride in our farming community for all the fences to be absolutely straight—especially if they could be seen from the road—but more importantly, just because that was the right way to build a fence.

To make sure all the posts were lined up accurately, we would visually check as each post was dropped into the hole we had dug for it. One of us—that would be me—had to walk back several posts, then sight down the line toward the far side of the field. I’d then tell Beryl if the post he was holding needed to be moved an inch or two one way or the other so it would be in line with the rest of the fence.


A fence similar to the one my brother and I were building in the story.

I’m not sure just what precipitated our argument that day, but we got into a pretty heated verbal exchange over some trivial detail about the fence. In the middle of that fight I let loose with a string of swear words that were anything but godly. In fact, I’m quite sure I used the Lord’s Name in vain multiple times in my anger.
Suddenly, Beryl stopped, and looked at me intently.

“I thought you were a Christian,” he said. “Do Christians use that kind of language?”

He knew the answer, of course. But, I was immediately brought up short—guilty as charged! I had made a great profession of “knowing Christ” after my conversion experience. He was right to challenge my conduct. It is a lesson I’ve never forgot.


Let’s think about this for a few minutes.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth that, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

And again, Paul wrote this to the Ephesians: “[God] raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).

I love how this text is expressed in the New Living Translation: “For he (God) raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.”

What incredible implications this reality carries for us in our daily lives in the here and now!

In his letter to the Colossians Paul wrote, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6 NASB).

It’s pretty obvious, people who make of profession of being a Christian need to live with the integrity of Christlikeness.
“Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

These counsels from God’s Word can be applied across the board to all our conduct, words, and actions. Our primary assignment as ambassadors for Christ’s kingdom is to rightly represent Him. Anything less detracts from the true beauty that can only be found in Jesus.

Quite obviously, my words and actions on that day long ago when my brother Beryl and I were building a fence together did not represent Jesus. By his challenge, I was convicted of the wrongness of my actions. The Holy Spirit shined the light into my darkness and revealed an ugly truth lurking there. A long-standing habit of bad speech, coupled with a short-fused temper, needed healing. I was guilty. God—and my brother—were gracious. And life moved on.

Together, we finished the fence. And, at the end of the day, all the posts lined up in perfect order.


Now, here is some really good news that gives us hope when we know we’ve messed up:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made [us] free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).

Walk with me as we flesh this out.

In Christ you are not merely forgiven, you are declared innocent! “Innocent” is not quite the same as “not guilty.” The sinner who is forgiven is “not guilty,” but that person’s record still indicates that although the “sinner” is now free from the penalties of transgression he/she is still just a sinner, albeit a forgiven sinner.

But, in Christ our status from heaven’s viewpoint is more than that! In Christ we are declared innocent, as though the sin never happened in the first place!

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For He (God) made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

And Romans 5:18 says, “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”

Here are Jesus’s words to Nicodemus—the most well-known Bible verse in all the world: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

And, we must not miss the powerful message in the next verse, John 3:17. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

So, here is a simple, but overwhelming truth: If you are “in Christ” and believe God’s promises, you will not be lost!”


All right, so far so good. What is the next step in understanding God’s will for us in our relationship to him and in our daily conduct?

The Christian life does not stop with salvation. We are called to ABIDE in Christ.

Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).

What does it mean to “abide” in Christ?

My mind goes immediately to Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

To “dwell in the secret place of the Most High” means that we choose that place as the base for our lives. We can live in total spiritual security—the security of God’s salvation and protective care.

Choosing to dwell in the “shadow of the Almighty” is a beautiful metaphor, picturing someone setting up his tent under the loving watch care of El Shaddai, the God who provides an endless supply of love, grace, and total protection.

King David’s heart overflowed in a wonderful hymn of praise as he understood this great truth.

“The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Yahweh all the days of my life, delighting in the [His] perfections and meditating in His Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising Yahweh with music” (Psalm 27:4-6).

Psalm 27 is one of those great chapters in the Old Testament we would do well to read often, even memorize. The entire chapter is only 14 verses long. I would encourage you to find that page in your Bible, read the verses with prayer in your spirit, meditate on each verse. Let the Word speak to you.

You will not be disappointed.


Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll be sharing another feature of a favorite book/author. Next week’s featured author will be Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus.

Be sure to tune in, and if you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please share with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!

God bless.

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 17 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “Attitudes of Grace”

In today’s episode, I’ll be sharing some thoughts about The Economics of Godly Relationships, whether in the home, among friends, or interacting with other people wherever we may be.

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast at https://anchor.fm/goodlifenews.


It occurs to me that the single most fundamental truth of the Universe is identified by one word: Relationships.

Seriously.

Can you think of ANYTHING AT ALL that isn’t in relationship to something—or someone—else? My guess is no. If you can think of something, please let me know. Otherwise, from what I’ve seen and experienced in my 76 trips around the sun, it looks to me like every thing imaginable—animate or inanimate—exists in relationship to everything else.

  • On the cosmic level the earth, moon, planets, and sun all relate to each other.
  • The entire solar system relates to the wider Milky Way galaxy.
  • Our galaxy relates to other galaxies, etc.
  • Looking the other way into a microscope, we discover smaller and smaller dimensions. Everything there also reveals the constant reality of relationships. Cells, membranes, molecules, atoms, electrons, protons, and nuclei all work together to compose what we call “matter.”
A Great Spiral Galaxy in Space

Photo credits:
Galaxy: bitcoinist.com; Root: istockphoto.com

Microscopic image of the root of a buttercup (crowfoot) plant – Ranunculus repens. The propeller shaped pattern on the right is the vascular tissue for transporting water and nutrients up and down the plant.

Living things—at least as we know them here on our planet—all exist in relationships, both to inanimate nature, and to other living creatures.

And, we human beings live in relationship to it all.

So, let’s talk about us.

Everyone lives in relationship to other people. The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives—and for we who are Christians it determines the effectiveness of our witness as ambassadors of the Kingdom.


In Matthew 5, the opening passages of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches numerous important lessons about relationships. He speaks of anger, love and lust, divorce, vows, revenge, and loving one’s enemies.

At the very end of the chapter, in Matthew 5:48, He says, “You are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (NLT).

I’d encourage anyone listening or reading just now, to get your copy of the Bible, open it to Matthew 5, and read the context of Jesus’s instruction here in verse 48.

Frankly, I’ve heard many outrageous claims that Jesus meant that we—his followers—must strive for and achieve complete perfection of character in this life. Otherwise, we can’t be saved in His kingdom and we won’t be “ready” for His return.

Some of my more conservative Seventh-day Adventist friends underscore that idea with one of their favorite comments from Ellen G. White, who is widely looked to for inspired counsel and interpretation of the Scriptures.

About this idea of perfection of character, Mrs. White says, “Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p.69).

Again, let me repeat what I said a few moments ago about Matthew 5—Read The Context! Someone once said, “A text without the context is a pretext for a prooftext!”

Repeatedly in this entire chapter where Ellen White writes about Jesus’s parable of the sower in Mark 4:26-29, she says that character development is the work of the Holy Spirit residing in the believer’s heart. Nowhere does she say this is to be accomplished—in whole or in part—by the human agent! It’s all about God who “works in [us] both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

I really like the way the NLT treats that verse. It says, “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.”

So, about Matthew 5:48—if you read the context, you discover that the “perfection of the Father” Jesus speaks of here is about our relationships and how we treat other people!


With those thoughts in mind, let’s consider for a bit the Economics of Godly Relationships. (Using economics as a metaphor is a good way to understand how relationships work.)

If you were to start a business today, one of the first factors you’d need to consider is your start-up capital. How much money—or other resources—do you have in hand to bring your idea to life? Will it be sufficient to cover all the start-up costs, including inventory, required licensing fees, initial advertising, equipment, rental expenses, and (if you need to hire help) salaries of employees?

Here’s a hard reality: Even the very best idea for a new business will go nowhere if it has nothing to build on.

So, let’s apply that thought to building strong, healthy relationships in life.

Every baby receives an endowment “capital of goodwill” at birth. When the baby is born, the first thing that happens is someone–doctor, nurse, mid-wife, mother herself, father, whomever, SOMEONE (!) has to make sure the newborn is breathing, get’s cleaned up, and nurtured.

(I’m speaking, of course, in the normal process of life events. I am all too well aware of tragic exceptions. But, that’s not my focus at the moment.)

We receive our gift of “goodwill capital” from parents, teachers, friends, and others who care for us. We could not survive for even a few hours without someone else supplying our basic needs for life.

Jesus spoke of the natural disposition of parents to provide good things for their children as He addressed the crowd that day on the mountainside.

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So, if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

Matthew 7:7-9 NLT

So, the next question is, What do we do with that initial capital of goodwill we receive at birth, and (ideally) at the beginning of every new relationship afterwards?

Just as the initial start-up capital for a business must be managed wisely, so our goodwill capital can be invested to provide positive returns.

Jesus answered this question in Matthew 7:12, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” (NLT).

Here is a truism that works in nearly every situation:

Goodwill multiplies when it is given away.

Origin Unknown

I grew up as a farm kid. We often planted corn and/or sugar beets every year. After the fields were prepared, we buried the seed in the dirt at the appropriate depth for each crop. After that we watered and watched for a few days. In a short time we could see the beginnings of tiny shoots poking their heads up out of the soil. It always brought us joy when we could see all the rows stretching across the field.

All summer through the growing season, we invested time, fertilizer, weed control, and more water. At harvest, our investments paid multiplied dividends. Some years the return was bountiful. Other years, not so much. But, regardless, in order to receive a harvest we had to keep investing in the crop.

Relationships are the same. What relationships do you value the most? That’s where you need to make the heaviest investments—in whatever form needed to nurture the health, well-being, and continued growth of your connection with someone. What do you need to invest in the life of someone you love? I’m sure you probably already know the answer to that question. If not, ask God to give you wisdom. You can claim the promise found in 1 John 1:5. (Look it up. Mark it. Memorize it.) It will give you courage and hope.

Remember, “Goodwill multiplies when it is given away.!”

It is vital to make continuous, regular, and frequent deposits in your goodwill account with anyone you love and cherish. And, conversely, it is crucial that you NEVER make a personal withdrawal from that account by acting in a nasty, selfish, demanding, or demeaning way.

Unkind words can never be retrieved once we’ve let them escape our lips. It is good to pray for the fruits of the Spirit to be manifest and evident in our lives every day—the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). I mentioned these in last week’s episode, but they bear repeating often.


And, here’s a final thought as we close off this episode of the GoodlifeNews! Podcast, and the ideas about the Economics of Godly Relationships.

What should you do if someone else has “wronged” you and impacted your life negatively? In essence, that person made a withdrawal from the account of goodwill you hold in common. It may be large or small, a mountain or a molehill. It makes no difference. That individual is “in debt” to you because of their words or actions.

Can you ever get repayment?

In a word, no.

Regardless of future apologies, positive experiences, or good intentions, the debt can never be recovered. The only way of “getting even” in this life is to do or say something negative in return. I’m sure you can immediately see where that leads. Tit-for-tat revenge can only escalate until the situation becomes irreversibly destructive.

But, there is another way—the Jesus way. That way is to forgive. Christian history in every culture is filled with stories of healed hearts when people choose forgiveness.

Damaged relationships may or may not be restored. Sometimes there has just been too much “bad blood” between parties to restore the goodwill account to functional life. But, choosing to forgive removes the weight of that debt from your heart, and frees you to live!

That is, in fact, what God has done for us. He has collected all our “debts” (i.e. sins) and forgave them all! In Him we are “debt free!”

Praise the Lord! Forever, and ever. Amen!


Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll be sharing some thoughts about a Christian’s new life in Christ.

Be sure to tune in, and if you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please share with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!

God bless.

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 16 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “The Fruit of The Spirit”

In today’s episode, I’ll be sharing some thoughts about spiritual fruitfulness as expressed by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22-23.

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast at https://anchor.fm/goodlifenews.


Over 21 years ago, in the Spring of the year 2000, my wife Ruth and I did something I never in my wildest dreams ever imagined I could ever do in this life.

We climbed Jeba Musa—the “Mountain of Moses—the traditional “Mt. Sinai” in the southern part of the Sinai peninsula in Egypt.

The Lord had blessed us with the opportunity and privilege of leading a small tour group visiting the Holy Land. Previously, we had spent several days with our group touring Israel, visiting many sites of historic and biblical significance. The final leg of our trip took us into Egypt.

Jeba Musa (“The Mountain of Moses”) aka “Mt. Sinai”

St. Catherine’s Monastery

The first stop in Egypt was Mt. Sinai, where we toured St. Catherine’s Monastery built at the foot of the mountain. St. Catherine’s is the oldest working Christian monastery in the world. Construction was completed in AD 565. It’s belongs to the Eastern Orthodox church, and contains many significant icons and other Christian artifacts of great antiquity.

While we were still on the bus approaching the area where we would stay for the night, our tour guide announced that there would be an opportunity the next morning for anyone interested to climb the mountain! There is a well-used path many tourists use for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Of course, Ruth and I immediately raised our hands to join the climb! We had to wake up around 1:00 a.m. to start the trek to the top. There were hundreds of other tourists making the same pilgrimage we were. Fortunately, it was a crystal-clear night, the stars were shining brightly as we began the ascent.

We had some wonderful experiences that night, but most of those will have to wait for another time. Today I want to share what—to me—was a profound spiritual truth I learned on that mountain trail.

There were several individuals in our climbing group. The others—including my wife—were all much faster than me. They trudged ahead while I plodded along at a slower pace. Soon I had lost all track of them in the darkness and among the climbing crowd.

But I kept going. The night air was cold, but not bitter. The only wind was a gentle breeze that helped cool our bodies from the exertion of climbing. At one point, I stopped to rest for a few minutes, leaning my back against the mountain boulders beside the trail.

I felt the rocks with my hands and pressed my cheeks against them, enjoying the coolness of the stone. Suddenly, in that moment a flash of insight burst into my mind.


“The Mountain Doesn’t Care!”


If you’ve ever taken any training in wilderness survival, the first thing you are taught is that the wilderness doesn’t care about you. You can enjoy it all you want, and with adequate training you can usually do so with complete safety. But, the wilderness can—and will—kill you if you don’t live by its rules!

My mind then immediately turned to my lifetime of Bible reading. The Apostle Paul’s metaphor comparing Mt. Sinai and the Heavenly Jerusalem, found in Galatians 4 flooded into my mind. In Paul’s analogy, Mt. Sinai represents the Law, which cannot save those who disobey or disregard its rules.

Here I was, standing on a mountain generally thought to be the Mt. Sinai of the Exodus story in the Old Testament. I was leaning against a cold wall of stone bordering the trail leading to the summit.

“The mountain doesn’t care! It will kill you if you don’t live by its rules!”

The truth of that reality made a deep, life-long impression on my spiritual heart. Only grace—only love—can forgive and offer life to a soul condemned to death by the law. Grace and love can only come from a living person capable of compassion and caring.

It’s true, the mountain (i.e. the Law) cannot save, but the One who is the Creator of the Law can!

And, like my climb up Mt. Sinai on that cold, clear night, I knew I had friends at the top. Even so, when we realize the condemnation of the cold, uncompromising Law, we can also know that the Author of the Law is alive. He is our Friend, and He saves us from the certain death of sinners.

“There is now no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Romans 8:1-2).


With those thoughts in mind, lets go back to Paul’s message to the Galatian church.

In chapter 5 of this letter, Paul turns to the issues of godly living, and the power of witness by Christian believers. He says, “You have been called to live in freedom . . . . But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13).

He says, “Let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature desires” (verse 16).

The Apostle then proceeds to list a whole litany of evil practices that grow out of an unconverted heart. You can read his entire list in Galatians 5:19-21. His list is pretty graphic, and I won’t list them all out here, but it’s well-worth reading for awareness of the carnal nature of our sinful desires.


The place I want to spend the rest of our time together today is in verses 22-23. I would seriously encourage you to find these verses in your own copy of the Bible. Circle them, underline them, and memorize them! Paul says there’s no law against these fruits of the Spirit!

(As an aside, I now include the “fruit of the Spirit” in my daily personal prayer every morning. I pray that the Holy Spirit will manifest and make evident these nine spiritual fruits in my life, so that my witness for Jesus will not be compromised by any words or any actions that would in any way “throw shade” on Him. I truly want my entire life to be a testimony of His love and grace.)

So, let’s look briefly at the 9 fruits of the Spirit.

(Frankly, each of these fruits could be the subject of an entire sermon, chapter in a book, or a separate episode for the podcast, but today we’ll consider them together as a composite body of character qualities God wants to produce in us as we relate to the world around us.)

  1. Love—This is agápe love. Unconditional, unending, love as a principle which He wants to reproduce in the heart of every believer so unbelievers can see Him in us.
  2. Joy—The presence of the Holy Spirit brings true joy to us, regardless of difficult—or even bitter—circumstances surrounding us.
  3. Peace—With the Spirit’s abiding joy present in our heart, we have the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). The New Living Translation expresses this as “God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.”
  4. Patience—The 4th “fruit” of the Spirit is “patience.” The NLT Dictionary/Concordance included as an appendix in my “Life Application Study Bible” defines “patience” as “the power or capacity to endure without complaint something difficult or disagreeable; forbearance, longsuffering.”
  5. Kindness—Many years ago two of my colleagues and I were quite unhappy about the administrative practices of our mission president. We huddled together to draft a strong letter of our feelings, but before we began, one of my friends said, “You know, whatever else we might say, we must be kind.” I’ll confess, that was a pointed and powerful godly rebuke to us. I believe it was from the same Spirit who also inspired the Apostle Paul to write to the Ephesians, “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).
  6. Goodness—The Bible is abundantly clear, there is no innate “goodness” in the sinful heart of human beings. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah says it so clearly, “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). However, the Holy Spirit can—and does—work within us, giving us “the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13).
  7. Faithfulness—Once again, referring to the NLT Bible Dictionary/Concordance, “faithfulness” is defined as “the quality of steadfast loyalty or firm adherence to promises.” The truth is, it is the Holy Spirit who inspires us to faithfulness. Are you a “man or woman of your word?” Can people rely on you to do what you have promised? Broken promises are the stuff of cynicism and skepticism in the political arena. We’re all too familiar with the concept of “campaign promises!” We must not be that way! If we tell someone we will do something, we must do all in our power to fulfill our promises. That is the very foundation of trust and respect in all relationships.
  8. Gentleness—I recently completed reading a biography of the late Fred Rogers, the star and inspiration of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood television show for young children. I was truly impressed with the testimonies of those who knew him best who—to a person—spoke of his gentle way of dealing with people, especially children. One anecdote that stuck in my mind was of a time he was eating out with family and friends in a public restaurant. Naturally shy, and not wanting to call attention to himself, Fred and the dining party were seated at a table in a discrete corner of the restaurant. In the middle of their meal, a very young boy, maybe 2 or 3 years old, saw Mr. Rogers and recognized him from the show. The little fellow came running over to the table and stood in front of his hero. He spoke to Mr. Rogers and announced to him, “My puppy died.” Without missing a beat, Fred Rogers slipped out of his chair and onto his knees so he would be eye-to-eye with the little child. There he gently talked with him about loss, grief, and comfort. Would that we all could be so discerning to the emotional needs of those around us, whether they are young or old. In this time of increasing tensions everywhere in society, perhaps we could all take a cue from Mr. Rogers, and pray that the Spirit of God grant us the fruit of gentleness in our daily relationships with all.
  9. Self-control—While writing about “temperance” for my book My Seven Essential Daily Prayers, I made an incredible discovery. The expression is now usually translated as “self-control” in newer versions of the Bible. The original biblical Greek word is “egkrateia” (pronounced “eng-kra-TIA”), which means “true mastery from within.” It embodies the concepts of total self-control, self-discipline, self-mastery, and self-restraint. It could be defined as “true personal righteousness.” Wow! That’s heavy! I think we all realize that—in our own strength—those goals are impossible to achieve. Yet, with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, by the grace of God’s love and presence, the fruit of “temperance” or “self-control” can be realized, both within our heart, and in all our outward relationships.

May all these fruits of the Spirit grow and flourish daily in each of our lives as we move forward as ambassadors for the Kingdom of Heaven!


Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll be sharing some thoughts about godly relationships and our calling to choose attitudes of grace.

Be sure to tune in, and if you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please share with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!

Oh, and one more little housekeeping note. All the Scripture quotations used in this episode of the podcast and blog are taken from the New Living Translation. I purchased the NLT Life Application Study Bible a few months ago. I’m finding incredible blessings as I read and study from this fairly recent version. If you are looking for a new Bible, you might take a look at the NLT. I think you may enjoy it as I have.

Anyway, that’s all until next week!

God bless.