Thursday, August 27, 2020

Shine Jesus! Here's why....

Years ago, Bay and I began a movie we never finished.

I, conveniently, don't remember the title.

I've no idea why we didn't finish it - language, maybe (we're not fans of intentionally inviting words into our home that we wouldn't choose to use, or that - at the time - we'd want our children to grow up to use)...

...but, maybe, it was the extreme hopelessness that snaked it's way through the little bits and pieces we watched.

The setting was in NY.

A significant event occurred (🤷‍♀️), which had the entire city in total, absolute anarchy (I actually asked google for an image of NY in chaos and what is below came up, it might even be related to the film).

Black and white, with no smidgens of color, lended an atmosphere of darkness and depression (undoubtedly the point - and, it worked).

However, it was the people portrayed in the movie, the bulk of the city (minus the heroes, of course), that left me speechless.

They were living-caricatures of 2 Timothy 3:2-5

I know, because I just re-read these verses and, as a result, this creepy movie popped into my head. 

As I observed those few initial scenes, I recall thinking, "There's no way people could ever be this out of control, or evil..."

Today's anarchy isn't just in one city.

It's across our nation...

And, it's in living color...

On the nightly news...

The sad part is that it's not fiction...

It's real life...

...and, while I can turn off the news, the down-to-earth-everyday-folks-like-me who live in those cities, in those neighborhoods, and on those streets, can't turn off the destruction around them.

Newsflash to my naive little brain: people really can be this out of control and evil...

Paul warned us.

He was right.

Here's what he said to Timothy:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty (Gadarene-Demoniac-Difficult, remember?). For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power...

I wish I had time to break down each concept from Greek to English, and, while you'd be appalled (I think), this is enough.

It makes me angry, and frustrated, at those behind the scenes who instigate such hatred and violence, as well as those who promote, condone, and justify. 

Do corrections need to be made?


But, like this?

And, these...these are the same ones who, then, turn around and cry, "Silence is violence!"

Uh....I'm not following this line of if, those using an out-loud-voice with violence negate the word violence? 

Someone recently said the following in a meme (WHAT A SAD INDICTMENT for a "Christian" nation)...

But, recently I realized, I am one...

Apparently it's contagious...

I could go on...

Argue my thoughts.

Justify my reasoning.

But, anger is anger...

...And, anger that is not rightly motivated is sin.

I confess that sin in my own heart.

I've been convicted.


That conviction ran deep within me two mornings ago in my quiet time.

I happened to be in 2 Corinthians, where Paul writes this (4:3-6)

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Here's what I recognized, and what has given me a heart-change:

1) The gospel can/will make a difference in people's, alone, can change behavior for the better!

2) However, the gospel is veiled, hindering the knowledge that can set men free from all that ensnares them.

3) They are blinded by the god-of-this-world, our very REAL and EXISTING enemy, the devil.


4) These people are perishing (lost, and on their way to eternal destruction).

5) So, those of us who own the gospel, must continue to shine a light in the darkness, that His glory will be revealed.

Anger and frustration only cover that light as under a bushel...

In the midst of the dark-and-depressed world we live in today, filled with one New York after another New York of anarchy and chaos, followers of Jesus, we must shine our lights.


Let's all clean off the filthy film that has covered our souls from sin... a beacon of love that is pure and reflects the Savior of the World, who died for each and every one of us.

As I read Paul's words, I recognized how deeply saddened I was that these folks are on their way to eternal damnation, while their eyes are veiled.

What part am I playing to show the immense blessings of the gospel-story?

An incredible story of love and sacrifice.

A story that ends with peace, joy, love, hope, and HEAVEN!

How much am I praying that those veils be removed?

Those who claim the name little-Christ (Christian):

If we can live love,

live truth,

live the gospel,

with patience,

and gentleness,

perhaps a few will receive the "light of the knowledge of the glory of God that is in the face of Christ Jesus" who is in us.

And, we will help the Lord rescue those who are perishing!

Let's pray, pray, pray, pray, pray!

Shine Jesus-follower, Shine!


More and more I am convinced we are headed toward the last of the last days...and, in the twinkling of an eye, all could change... Here's a wonderful series, being taught at Gateway Church in South Lake, TX. So worth taking the time to listen....

Tipping Point Series, Pastor Jimmy Evans, Gateway Church.

Until then - do all you can to shine Jesus!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Arguer or World Changer? Influence Matters.

 I truly dislike it when I have a blog written, all wrapped up, tied with a bow, ready to post, and THEN...I stop and read the thing for the 10,000th time, and it's JUST NOT what I wanted to say.

My heart's not in it, even though a lot of my head is there.

The passion is absent, even though I've covered all the facts. 

I looked at it.

Hated it.

Then, at the 11th hour, I started again.

Here's the 11:30th (metaphorically, not literally) version.


A week or so ago, a "FB friend" (you know what that means, right? it's a loosely coined phrase) posted a meme.

It was controversial, to say the least, regarding a topic that is dear to my heart, but with an opposite perspective.

I shook my head, and rubbed my eyes, hoping that when I re-opened and re-focused, I'd been mistaken.

I wasn't.

I didn't comment.

However, I looked at the thread.

Why? I don't know.

Curiosity got the best of me.

And sometimes, it's curiosity that kills the cat, you know.

The cat, in this case, happened to be the joyful attitude I had woken up with that morning.


Entirely deflated.

I was shocked by the comments that followed this meme.

Shocked that some people actually believed what they were writing.

And, the few who stood up for the position I am deeply convicted about were blasted! 

Oh, the vitriol!

Oh, the hate!

Oh, the venom!

It spewed out of my computer screen. 

Ran down the desk and onto my shoes.

I actually believe my walking shoes may, now, have holes in them, as the responses were so toxic!


Even more sad is that each person was attempting to state the Lord's position on the matter.

Most (I can't speak for all), claimed themselves "Christian."

Based on what I've been learning as I'm digging into 2 Timothy, I had no doubt what Paul would say about this matter. 

First, he'd say, 

"Remember you are influencers! How you influence matters."

We are all influencers. Teachers. 

It' reminds me of the statement made years ago by a former NBA player who was living LARGE, and, honestly, with little to no morality: "I am NOT," he pronounced, "a role model. Parents need to step up and take that responsibility." 

Of course, parents are the primary influencers of a child's life; but, so was he.

That responsibility is part of the NBA package of "getting to live in the limelight."

All of us, to some degree, are influencing and teaching throughout life.

As the Spirit of God breathed out words on parchment for Paul to write to one man, which turned into countless young men and women of faith, He left us instructions for being the best influencers.

Here are a few:

1. Know the word. Handle it accurately. 

Seriously, people! Before we speak, or form an opinion, or spew venom, WHAT DOES GOD SAY?

Dig in.


Gain wisdom (in the sense of wisdom as a verb, not a noun, living out TRUTH).

We have a need to know for responsibility's sake...

...because we are walking Scripture influencing others about the gospel.

2. Avoid senseless arguments and irreverent babble that lead to more ungodliness.

People are not drawn to Jesus, because we can argue our point better than someone else.

People are drawn to the gospel, because they see in us something they desire, and the only explanation is JESUS! 

That's the very thing that brought me to the Lord!

In fact, irreverent (without respect, or awe, absent of the majesty and personality of a holy God) babble, sends those who don't know Jesus into deeper ungodly behavior.


Guess that's why James said, "Be careful, you who are teachers...."

Really, more accurately, he said, "Don't presume to be a teacher (meaning a good one)... You will incur a greater judgment!" 

Remember, we are all teachers.

All influencers.

What kind?

What is the information we are dishing out?

AND, with what spirit?

3. Teach with kindness, correct with gentleness, patiently endure evil (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

While most teaching is "CAUGHT" not "TAUGHT," there is a way to teach that is right.





In the hopes that some may be led to repentance, escape the traps of the enemy, and be led to salvation!

Actually, when you think about it, isn't this the most loving thing we can do as believers: to teach with positive influence?

"AND, our influence," says author Andy Stanley, "is on a leash."

We are given only so much time to be someone's living hope! 


Don't waste your influence.

Make it count for Christ's sake!

Therefore, be a vessel of honor, sanctified (set apart) and useful to the Master, prepared for every good work!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Feeling Timid About "Last Days?" Me, Too...But, there's a way to live instead!

Ok. A little vulnerability here.

As I began diving into Paul's second letter to Timothy, I discovered my anxiety levels starting to rise.

Reading 2 Timothy is almost like listening to the evening news.

Right there, in the heart of the letter, Paul writes,

"Understand this that in the last days there will come times of difficulty (3:1)!"

That looks like a simple statement, right?

English does no justice to Greek.

What Paul is saying isn't actually as straight-forward as I would like to think.

I mean, I've survived "difficulty" before....  BUT, this is unlike any difficulty I've endured...

Here's Peggy's amplified version of that one verse (and I'll write it as if Paul were writing to me).

"Peg, you better know with the very fabric and fiber of your being (intellectually, emotionally, socially, relationally, at EVERY LEVEL), and keep INTIMATELY IN MIND at all times, that in the last days, things are going to sneak in to catch you off guard. These things will be hard to bear. These things will cause you to shake your head in wonder at the insanity in front of you. Things will take a turn toward the troublesome, savage, and violent. In fact, things will get downright DANGEROUS for God's TRUE children." 

Here's the thing. The other place in Scripture where the word for "difficult" is used is in Matthew 8:28.

And when he (Jesus) came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way.

It's the beginning of the beautiful story of the demoniacs that Jesus healed...

Their blood curdling screams haunted folks in the night.

They broke chains off their bodies.

They cut themselves.

They were uncanny in their brute strength.

These men were DANGEROUS.

People avoided them at all costs...

What Paul is telling Tim is that, even though there will be periods of time when things seem peaceful, between now and the "Day of the Lord," the hard times for Christians will get worse and worse and more frequent as that day approaches.

Know this...the last days will be Gadarene-demoniac-difficult!

And, the biggest problem of all will come from.......people.

People are almost always the problem (but, that's a blog for a few weeks from now).

Here's where the vulnerability comes in...

Right from the get-go, I'm feeling insecure, frightened, and downright, timid about the future.


I'm the one who just completed fourteen different blogs on fear, anxiety, discouragement and #bebrave!

Now, one sentence, in the midst of my overview of this little letter, has my heart beating a bit faster, and my breathing becoming quite shallow (in fact, I'm reminding myself to "just breathe!").

The good news is that Paul knew that Timothy was feeling exactly the same way.

Paul knew his son-of-the-faith was prone to timidity.

If President Trump were naming Timothy, he'd be Tim-the-Timid.

 (me, too)

So, from the beginning of Chapter 1, Paul addresses the issues.

He admonishes and exhorts the "timids-of-us" in the church to several things that will help overcome our shyness in last days.

Here's what Paul has said to me:


This is a frequent command in Scripture.
Remember where you've come from.
Remember what God has done.
Remember your salvation story.
Remember your heritage of faith.
Remember the things you've been taught.
Remember the spiritual gift that was given to you at your salvation...


We talked about this last week.
Throughout the first chapter, Paul encourages great boldness.
Be bold and unashamed...
Be bold to guard the "good deposit (aka: the gospel)."
Be bold in entrusting the gospel to others.'
Share our gospel story!

[with] CLARITY!

"Set apart Christ as Lord," Peter tells us, "and never fail to give the story of the hope that is within you."  1 Peter 3:15.

This is exactly what Paul is telling us -

But, I wonder, how many of us can do so with clarity?

Recently, I listened to a message by our former pastor in Phoenix, who encouraged his audience to be able to share the gospel in less than 3-minutes. He had great points, and good stories, but what I remember was him saying that we can share the gospel with four key words: God, Sin, Jesus, Me. If you want to hear that message, here's the link at Scottsdale Bible Church.


Fan into flame your spiritual gift.
Burn hot for Jesus!

So, the question I will be asking in this study of 2 Timothy is:

Well, look at the four points above.
Take the first letter of each red line...

_________  _________  _________  __________

We are to live on the ROCK!

The Rock is Jesus.
We remember Him, owning His gospel with clarity, staying passionate about Him and sharing our stories of hope!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

A Distorted Gospel is Not the Gospel

These words of Jeremiah no doubt rang in Paul's ears as he wrote 2 Timothy!

To be honest, every so often I sit down to write with a similar heavy heart.

My joy is gone; grief is upon me;
my heart is sick within me.
Jeremiah 8:18, ESV

And, so it is this morning, that I feel as if someone has placed a load of bricks inside of me.

I feel, well, I guess what I feel, is a form of anguish...

Last week, I mentioned how I've been shaking my head at our world (globally).

This week, I've moved from shaking my head in wonder at the ways of the world, to carrying a huge burden for Jesus-followers in the last days.

It's the division among those who claim to be "Christian" that disturbs me.

I look around at "social media friends;" I read their posts; I see their memes; and my heart breaks a little more each day.

This is one of those days.

I feel the fissure splitting and deepening inside of me.

How did we get here?

How did the divide become so "Grand-Canyon-wide?"

And, who, who is able to build the bridge that can unite these two sides?

Well, duh! There's the always-ready, always-faithful, always-correct, Sunday school answer, right?


We always point back to Jesus.

Yet, even now, as I just finished reading a few blogs and listening to a couple YouTube podcasts..."Jesus" isn't a simple answer.


Because, Jesus-seekers, we are looking at Him through different lenses.

AND...because we are wearing different "perspectacles;" and, we are reading Scripture differently, as well.

This shouldn't surprise us, because we read throughout the Bible that in the last days, there will be division...ESPECIALLY, in the church...and, even among families!

So, maybe, we are in last days...and, if so, that is a mood-lifter, right there! What an exciting thought!

This week I've read through 2 Timothy several times in different translations.

I feel for the Apostle Paul.

The man is struggling as he awaits his trial in that awful Roman Mamertine prison.

I don't sense self-pity, but I do feel a deep-seated urgency...a great need to get his message out.

2 Timothy is POIGNANT, to say the least.

This particular letter bleeds with Paul's own broken heart.

His betrayal by a once-loyal follower prevents him from continuing on with his preaching.

He's bound in chains.

The men who've consistently traveled with him have abandoned him.

Not only have they walked out on Paul, but they are embarrassed and ashamed of him...questioning the validity of his ministry and his testimony.

Indeed, I feel Paul's my world.

So, yes, Paul is sad about these deserters.

His heart wrenches as he hears through the prison rumor-mill of many turning away to a "false gospel..."

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
Galatians 1:6-7

I imagine he weeps, because his love for Jesus, and the salvation of men goes DEEP.

A "different, distorted gospel" will not save men.

Paul has prayed before, and he probably prays still, "Lord, that I myself could swap places with those who do not know you, in order that they might be saved..."

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh (Romans 9:1-3).

Listen, my heart aches for some I love who seem to be following a "false gospel narrative," but I could never pray that prayer.

I'm far too selfish.

So, what's Paul's answer?

What would he tell us if he were walking in our shoes in these days; in this season of uncertainty.

I know what He would say, because it is right there in 2 Timothy 1:12b-14:

I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good "treasure" entrusted to you.

Here is the bottom line.

Know. Know. Know. 
(See and understand) 


1) the One whom you say you believe

Read Jesus' gospel, keep it in context, and tie together the thread that points to Jesus throughout the Old Testament and into the New! Don't just read from other authors, go to the source, the TRUTH OF SCRIPTURE - I'll say it again, in context!

2) the sound/healthy words of those who have long-standing history with Jesus (people whose opinions are free from any mixture of error; folks who've studied the Word and who live it faithfully).

I see far too many entrusting their minds to men and women who have "de-constructed and re-constructed," but haven't lived their truth out long enough to know what they believe to be SOUND doctrine.   How do we know they won't "progress" to yet another level of "de-construction and re-construction"?  Listen - the WORD OF GOD IS NOT PROGRESSIVE. All the Lord needs us to know is found in the truth that lies inside the covers of our Bibles.

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world (Hebrews 1:1-2).

3) the "paratheke" - the pure doctrine of the gospel. Hold it firmly and faithfully, then, conscientiously deliver it to others. (Olive Tree Enhanced Strong's Dictionary Online).

However, don't just KNOW. KNOW. KNOW. the gospel. GUARD IT!!! Protect it. Surrender to chains for it. Be willing to be thrown into prison for its veracity.


Understand that this gospel includes God's great love for us, our propensity toward sin, Jesus' perfect atonement, and our need to receive His sacrifice on our behalf. 

There is no other way to the Father, but through the Son!

So, what's the challenge from Paul to Timothy this week?

Guard the Gospel.

The One & Only Gospel!

There is no other.

Protect it with your life.

You may have to do so, literally, one these last days!