Reading God’s Word

Thus says the Lord!

I know it is a little past the first of January now, but I also know that some of you haven’t yet started reading God’s Word on a regular basis. I want to encourage you to think seriously about doing this.

There are many, many reading plans as well as bibles specifically designed to help Christians read their bible daily. My wife and I have been reading the bible through, (from cover to cover), each year for somewhere between 20 and 30 years now. So, I thought perhaps I might share some insights with you.

First, it never get’s old… each year when you read God’s Word afresh, you find new things that you never noticed before. Perhaps it is because of events that have taken place in your life or our world, but suddenly you see new lessons and stories that you may have read over quickly before, suddenly take on a new life.

Now having said that, there is a problem that I have and with which I have been struggling, (though it may not happen to you). I realized that reading the bible had become more something I check off my list of things to do and less about letting God speak to me. I rushed through my readings rather than savoring the time with God. It became more a thing to accomplish that a time of learning. Interestingly in talking with preacher friends I found that some had faced the same problem.

Having realized my weakness, I started looking for a way to make my bible reading more meaningful and more of a time of learning. For most all of these past years we have used
The Daily Bible in Chronological order,” compiled by F. LeGard Smith, (available on Kindle). It has small commentary sections mixed in with the daily readings and has been quite helpful. However, I decided I wanted more depth, so I decided to make a drastic change in my Bible reading/study time.

I have used “The Word in Life” study bible and enjoyed the bible studies mixed in with the text. However this year I decided to use one of my favorite commentator’s study books “The Daily Study Bible Commentary” set by William Barclay. (A very expensive set available on Kindle, but only individual books, but you can find it for free on line at If you consider this study, I have to warn you that I do not agree with some of the doctrinal views held by Barclay, but he is one of the best scholars I have ever read when it comes to giving the background and history regarding the bible texts. He is very wordy and the explanations are often lengthy, but if you want to better understand the cultural thinking of those who spoke and those who heard there is none better. He gives in depth studies of the Greek and Hebrew words, which can be rather dry, but if you want to add depth to your reading and study, he is a very good source.

I don’t care what plan or program you use, just do it… read your Bible, let God talk to you through His Word. You may be getting a late start, but that’s OK, you are on no one’s time table, God doesn’t care how you do it or how long it takes, He just wants you in his word. Paul writes, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God …” Ephesians 6:17.


book- have you ever wondered why?


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Remind Me…

Reaching Out to God

I saw a cartoon on Facebook this week that showed a man looking up to the sky and saying, “Speak to me God!.” The next scene showed God’s hand reaching down to earth holding a bible.

That is how God speaks to us today, through His written word. Paul even said that he wrote all that he did so that when we read it we can understand God’s message for us. (Ephesians 3:2-4).

In our daily bible reading my wife and I are now reading about the arrest, trial, death, burial and resurrection of Christ. God is speaking to us, reminding us once again of the greatest event that ever happened in human history.

This past Sunday in our worship service our brother Dennis led us in singing one of my favorite hymns titled, “Remind me dear Lord.” If you heard our congregation singing this hymn you would understand why we sing A Capella, (without musical accompaniment), because there is nothing sweeter than the human voice in praising God. Notice the words to this hymn though as they speak to our need to be reminded.


The things that I love and hold dear to my heart

Their just borrowed they’re not mine at all
Jesus only let me use them to brighten my life
So remind, me remind me dear Lord

Roll back the curtain of memory now and then
Show me where you brought me from
And where I could have been
Remember I’m human, and humans forget
So remind me, remind me dear Lord

Nothing good have I done to deserve God’s own Son
I’m not worthy of the scars in his hands
Yet he chose the road to Calvary to die in my stead
Why he loved me I can’t understand

Roll back the curtain of memory now and then
Show me where you brought me from
And where I could have been
Remember I’m human, and humans forget
So remind me, remind me dear Lord.”

Could it be that it’s time for you to be reminded of all that God has done for you? When is the last time you worshiped with your church family and praised him?



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You Can’t Get There From Here….


I was on a delivery run this past week and arrived at my destination at a huge power plant in Indiana. The guard looked at my delivery papers and said, “You can’t get there from here by yourself.” He had another guard lead me to the proper building in another vehicle.

Later in the week I delivered a shipment in Michigan. After delivering the load I turned on my trusty tablet with Google Maps and asked it to take me home and got a strange message. For the first time my display said, “I can’t find a route to that location from here.” I thought, “Wait a minute, I tell you to take me home everyday and have never had a problem.” I entered my location several times manually, but it I still received the same message. Thankfully, once I started driving again the problem corrected itself, but it started me thinking about the incident.

I felt a little bit like Dorthy from the Wizard of OZ. All she wanted was to go home and searched desperately for a way to go there.

Many of our world today are like that today, they want to go to that safe place where they can find rest, but don’t know how to get there. For some it is the problem of not really understanding that there is a place of rest.

We who are Christians understand what our true home is and where it is at, but the problem is that we would never have known that without something or someone to guide us. I will admit that I have occasionally taken a wrong turn on my travels because I thought I knew a better way than the map programs showed me. This is just the way some folks do when trying to get “home,” without following God’s map. Several times in the New Testament Jesus tells his disciples that he is, “the way,” and that he will provide directions to their waiting home. He even tells them he is going there to get things ready for their joining him. Jesus tells us the heart of the problem in Mark 12:24, “Jesus answered them, ‘How wrong you are! And do you know why? It is because you don’t know the Scriptures or God’s power.’

Map Ohio Roads

Before I go on a delivery run I always take a look at a map so I will have an idea of the route I have to take to get where I am going. So here is the big question for you; How often do you look at the map God left for you to get you to your permanent home, your place of rest? Could it be that each of us need to do a little better?

Road to eternal rest



Is God mad at me?: Why is bad stuff happening to me? Did I do something to make God mad? Am I really a bad person? Why do bad things happen to godly people? by [Lawson, Russ]

MISSIONS: The Real Deal: Our life in the Kenya, Africa mission field by [Lawson, Russ, Lawson, Melody]

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When I get to heaven I’m going to ask…

How many times have you said, or heard someone else say, “When I get to heaven I’m going to ask…” Most likely we all have at least had that thought. But will it make any difference? Last night we were at a small group bible study and were looking at Mark 10:17-22. This is the scripture where the rich young ruler came and asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life.

Here is the problem that is revealed in this story. This man had a personal audience with Jesus. He asked a question that was on his heart, an important question that Jesus answered. The problem was that the man didn’t like the answer and in fact rejected the answer outright, In verse 22 we read, “But his face became sad at the saying, and he went away sorrowing: for he was one who had much property.”

Now here is the thing about this, If we won’t listen to Jesus now, what makes us think it will make a difference if we get a chance to ask him something in the future?

All throughout the scripture we are told that God spoke in the past through prophets and then through Jesus and his disciples. God had the word written down for us so that we can read and understand it ourselves. The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:4,Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.” If we reject the word of God, The Bible, we have condemned ourselves by the choice we made. John wrote in 1 John 2:3-6, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

So, if we can know God’s will right now and if we can choose to do his will or reject his will. It comes down to a responsibility that we bear personally. We have the ability to choose, we have the ability to know what God wants us to do without using the excuse of “someday when I get to heaven I’m going to ask…” What if you choose wrong the wrong direction or just put off making a decision at all? Would you be any different from the rich young ruler who rejected Christ’s instructions, “and went away sorrowing”, because he wasn’t willing to do what Jesus asked?

All of the important questions are answered in the bible, but the decision of whether or not to accept them is yours… how will you respond?

book- have you ever wondered why?

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God’s Filter

A Filter

The other night Melody and I were spending some time together watching an older movie. She commented that when ever they showed one of the older actresses they always used a filter to soften her looks so she would appear younger. She thought about it for a minute and said, “I need one of those filters.” Actually she doesn’t, but you understand that we all want to look good to others, don’t we.

There have been numerous songs, poems and articles written about having the ability to see with “the father’s eyes”. It’s the idea that we gain the ability to see others with God’s love and compassion, you might say, even to cherish them.

David explains God’s relationship with us in a very cool way in Psalm 17:8 (ESV) Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings”. While Zechariah tells us in Zechariah 2:8 (ESV), “For thus said the Lord of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye”.

We have the saying, “Love is blind,” and that’s what our relationship to God is about, isn’t it. God sees us through a filter, a special filter of love that is focused through Jesus Christ our Lord.

It doesn’t matter how dirty, how disheveled, how old we are, we will always be beautiful to him. My wife is just as beautiful today, (if not more so), as the day we met! Why, that’s what the filter of love does for us. Notice what the Apostle Paul says about us as Christians in relationship to God in Ephesians 5:25-27. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself as the glorious church, without spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

God’s filter is love! I need to understand this more in my life because I often don’t see myself or others around me through the filter of love as does God. My prayer is that I might do a better job of taking on this ability as demonstrated for us by our God. How about you?

MISSIONS: The Real Deal: Our life in the Kenya, Africa mission field by [Lawson, Russ, Lawson, Melody]

Newly revised release of our mission book.

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What are you thinking….. The Lord’s Supper (Communion)


The Lord’s Supper, (or Communion) is one of the most important things in the life of Christians, yet it is sometimes misunderstood also. The Apostle Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians about what it is all about in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 . Notice what  he says…

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”

When we gather for communion together as a church it is sometimes confusing to people, it’s not so much a question of knowing what do we do, but rather, what do we think……

We understand that it was presented to us by Jesus for the purpose of remembering him and the sacrifice he made for us, but it is more than something we just “DO”…. It is something which we are a part of… something we share with Christ and Others….. but mostly we participate for our own well being.

In the next verse 1 Corinthians 11:27 Jesus continues (NOTE: There is an unfortunate choice of words in The King James Version of 1 Corinthians 11:27.  This translation has caused some misunderstanding in this regard): “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord”.

The wording of unworthily (in the King James Version), has made some Christians believe they had to “make themselves worthy” to partake in communion, or if they feel they have sinned they feel they are unworthy to come and remember what Jesus had done on the cross for them. Because of this they don’t join with their brothers and sisters in Communing with the Lord.

This is a serious misunderstanding, because if anyone needs to remember the work of Jesus on the cross, it is the one who has sinned! When we are repentant, our sin should drive us to our Savior, not away from Him!

Understand this: We can never really make ourselves “worthy” of what Jesus did for us on the cross. It is his blood that saves us and makes us worthy. He did it because of His great love, not because some of us were so worthy.


A better translation of verse 27 might be, “anyone takes the bread or the cup of the Lord in the wrong spirit… he will be responsible for the body and blood of the Lord” (BBE)

So again, it’s not so much a question of knowing what we do, but what we think as we do it. It is a matter of having our heart right with God with the right attitude.

We are human and it is so easy to become distracted while participating in the Lord’s Supper isn’t it?  We try to focus on Christ’s sacrifice and then someone sneezes, or a baby cries or we notice something or someone that causes our focus to shift just a little…. Then before we know it we are thinking about where we are going to eat lunch or some problem with work or things like that…. We catch ourselves and try to refocus, but again, that is just the human part of us it seems….

THE PROBLEM: I believe I know somewhat what the problem is…. It’s the quiet…. Everyone is quiet, trying to focus…. Trying to be respectful… trying to be thankful and in our world filled with distractions we don’t know how to handle the quiet….

Conclusion: So, what do we do? Here’s the thing….. I don’t know! Each of us is different, yet each of us struggle with the same problem… focusing on God in our lives…..

I’ve worshiped with some congregations that sing a soft meaningful song while sharing communion while others have meaningful scriptures read to help people focus…

Yet it all comes down to us personally and our relationship to Christ….. I don’t want to be “Unworthy” (or have the wrong spirit), and I’m sure you don’t either. I would suggest that if you can, pray to God to forgive us as the sinners we are and thank him for giving his life for us.

book- have you ever wondered why?

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The Journey

We have been blessed to travel a lot in our lives and work. My wife and I have literally traveled and lived all over the United States as well as in Africa. We have also been blessed by being with each other, and we have been blessed by meeting many other Christians and non-Christians who have touched our lives where ever we have been. We often refer to our lives as “our adventure,” and most probably many of you can relate to that.

I recently read a quote that went something like this: “It doesn’t matter where your journey takes you as much as it matters who you take with you.” As with our “life adventure”, we have often felt this is true. We have taken so many unexpected paths on our journey and know for certain that it is who was with us that was most important.

Sadly, I’ve met some lonely people in my journeys as well as some people without much of a purpose or meaning to their lives. I think for at least some of them it’s because they are making the journey alone.

All Alone

Now here is the real question we need to consider: Who are you traveling with? We know that any person can let us down and any person can fail you and perhaps when you need them the most is when this happens. That being the case we need someone more in our lives that just people.

Trust and Obey

As you know I like many of the old hymn and one sprang to the front of my mind titled, “Trust and Obey,” notice some of the words…

 “When we walk with the Lord, In the light of His Word, What a glory He sheds on our way; While we do His good will, He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey.

 Not a shadow can rise,   Not a cloud in the skies, But His smile quickly drives it away; Not a doubt or a fear, Not a sigh or a tear, Can abide while we trust and obey

 Trust and obey, For there’s no other way To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey”.

 So, where is your journey… your adventure taking you and more importantly, who is traveling with you? If God is not with you, if you are not trusting in and obeying him I can guarantee you will have a rough road. Another old hymn says, “Not a step will I take without Jesus.” Or as the apostle Paul of God in Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”

Living The Dream: Our Life and Adventures in Africa (Traveling and Adventures in Kenya Book 1) by [Lawson, Russ]         

Is God mad at me?: Why is bad stuff happening to me? Did I do something to make God mad? Am I really a bad person? Why do bad things happen to godly people? by [Lawson, Russ]

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Yesterday while at the church building I was standing in the back of the auditorium talking with my brother-in-law, Ralph. I was standing behind him, next to the wall. Melody, my wife, finally came up and said, “I’ve been looking for you, but didn’t see you.” Ralph replied, “I was hiding him.” It was a simple little encounter, but one that illustrates an important concept in our lives.

Dove in Cleft of rock

One of our oldest hymns is, “Rock of Ages”. The composer, Augustus Toplady, was born in England in 1740 and wrote the hymn in 1775. It has been made famous through the years as a church hymn and has been used in motion pictures, television programs and even as a Broadway play. So to say the least it is one of the best known hymns, even among those who are not religious.

Let me remind you of some of the words of this important hymn:

“Rock of ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee. Let the water and the blood. From Thy riven side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Cleanse me from it’s guilt and pow’r.

Not the labors of my hands can fulfill thy law’s commands; could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone; thou must save, and thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling; naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; Vile, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath, when mine eyes shall close in death, when I soar to worlds unknown, see thee on thy judgment throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.”

The idea of being hidden in the cleft of the rock was not just Toplady’s idea, it actually comes from Scripture. When Moses went up on the mountain in Exodus 33 to speak with God, He would not allow Moses to look directly at him and tells him that no one has looked him in the face and lived to tell about it. In verse 22, God says, “And it will be, while My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by.”

In Psalms 27:4-5 David wrote these words about being hidden by God “One thing I have desired from Jehovah, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of Jehovah, and to pray in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His shelter, in the secrecy of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me up on a rock.”

At some point all of us need to be hidden don’t we, we need to feel protected and cared for and who better to do that than our God? What’s more important is that he promises us life eternal so we sing with meaning, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.”

In the Cleft of the Rock: Insights into the Blood of Jesus, Resurrection Power, and Saving the Soul by [Webb, Michael J.]

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A Child like view of death


Death surrounds us in this world as do the seemingly unlimited group of grass roots philosophers. You may have seen the signs or bumper stickers that say things like: “You’re born, you get stuff and then you die, Live with it!” or “He who dies with the most stuff wins!”

Is there more to life than just “Stuff,” just being born, living for a while and then dying. Each of us who are Christians wear that name because we believe that there is more to it than that. The problem we face is that Satan is continually trying to get us to forget that faith, to forget the promises we have from God of a life that goes on after death.

John writes in John 14:2-3, “In my Father’s house there are many resting-places. Were it otherwise, I would have told you; for I am going to make ready a place for you. And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me, that where I am you also may be.” This is just one of the many passages that tell us of a better life to come after this one is ended. The problem is that we read the words and even understand the meaning, but forget to put it into our heart, our faith and live like we really believe it.

I’m reminded of an incident that happened about 20 years ago. My sister Janet’s pet dog Levi died. She was dreading telling her grandchildren about this loss of part of their small world. When the grandkids came for a visit and she sat them down and explained it to them and got an unexpected response. Xavier who was about 2 years old at the time ran outside, looked up to the sky and yelled, “Hey God, how do you like your new dog?

Wow! It gives me goose bumps just thinking about what it means to have “a childlike faith” like that. I know that the scripture doesn’t tell us dogs go to heaven, but the point is that this little fellow didn’t waste anytime sorrowing, crying or worrying. He just accepted that God takes care of us after death and then went on with his normal happy routine of life.

I don’t know about you, but the next time I face death, I’m praying for the faith that will allow me to say, “Hey God, how do you like your new child being with you?” Whether it’s a husband, wife, child, father, mother, sister or brother if we are Christians then we are all children of God.

Have a great day in the Lord!




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Dad’s Memory Box

Dad’s box of memories


Recently my mother was going through my fathers things and found a small cardboard box about 2 inches by 3 inches. She gave it to me and said she thought I might like to have it.

It contained a mix of small items and left me wondering why he had kept them. It contains and old paper covered 12 gauge shotgun shell, five 22 caliber cartridges, an old square cut nail, two sets of cufflinks, a 1-1/2 inch high oriental carving, two car key ID tags from the 50’s, a tire valve stem removing tool, a button in the shape of a small dog, a lapel pin with the word “Sunbeam” on it and a hat pin. It caused me to wonder why a nearly 80 year old man would have these things in a box in a drawer in his bedroom.

Of course I didn’t have to wonder for long as I thought about my own life and realize I have a little box similar to his in a drawer in my bedroom. I’ve had it since I was a youngster and it too contains a variety of items I collected in my youth for one reason or another. But now in my 70’s why do I still have them… these pieces of useless junk. I think it is because it somehow connects me to my youth. It contains dreams and memories and in some ways even hopes I had in my youth.

Perhaps you have a box of your own and can understand. Our life is partially sustained and motivated by our hopes and dreams isn’t it? Those dreams of our youth, our vision for the future if you will, for the most part direct our decisions and the direction of our lives.

Isn’t that what God has done for mankind? He has kept us, loved us; saved us, even though we at times are pretty much useless, even when most of the world would have thrown us away.

Why would he do that when so often it seems in our minds that we fail him and others in our lives? Notice what he tells the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 29:11-13 about his plans for Israel. God Says: “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for. Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will answer you. You will seek me, and you will find me because you will seek me with all your heart.”

So, what’s in your memory box? What is it that you treasure? Hopefully it is those things that will cause you to seek God with all of your heart.


Stories to touch the Heart


More stories to touch the heart


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