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At our little church meeting on Sunday morning, my wife, Laurie, wanted to look at the time that Jesus excoriated the Pharisees and scribes for their hypocrisies. This is called The Seven Woes. The seventh and final woe is:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers” (Matthew 23:29–32).1

Then Jesus continues,

“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” (Matthew 23:33).

For many years, I have appreciated the well-known advice, “When you see a “therefore,” in the Bible, you should stop and ask, “What is it there for?” but I had never noticed this one before. Oh, ye of little clue. It is Jesus’ answer to their terrible sins, but it wasn’t a positive one. At first glance, it appears that Jesus is telling them how to escape hell. “Therefore,” Jesus said, He will send them prophets, wise men, and scribes.

“Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation” (Matthew 23:34–36).

Jesus sending prophets, wise men, and scribes will offer no escape at all, because He will send them “so that” on them would come all the righteous blood shed on earth. This is stunning. This is not good news. Jesus will send prophets, wise men, and scribes to worsen the judgment upon the scribes and Pharisees, and yes, His people.

What are “these things?” to come upon this generation for these sins? Here is the next verse:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:37–38).

Desolation was coming to Jerusalem. It did in 70 A.D. Both the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed by the Romans.

Now, from our vantage point, let’s look at the disciples’ stupefying action that follows.

“And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!’” (Mark 13:1).

This fellow had no clue what Jesus meant when He had just proclaimed judgment on Jerusalem. Some might say, “It had to be Peter. He was always putting his foot in his mouth.” I will not speak of Peter this way. He is my brother, and I will meet him someday. It is an arrogant statement, implying we do not lack discernment like him. We should keep in mind that Jesus said this about His disciples, including, obviously, Peter:

“Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28).

I rejoice and am humbled that Jesus, in spite of His disciples’ utter cluelessness about the words He spoke and knowing in advance they would not understand His proclamation about the destruction of Jerusalem (and many other things), chose these men regardless. He not only chose them as disciples but will seat them on thrones to judge Israel. His choosing had absolutely nothing to do with their ability to perceive spiritual truths.

Similarly, He chooses often clueless believers like you and me to minister in certain places and situations in which He places us. Don’t feel spiritual? It doesn’t matter, fellow believer. When He speaks, when He acts, it will come to pass. You and I get to witness it and participate in it, to see His glory revealed.

Jesus, thank You for Your marvelous mercy and grace. Please forgive us for our ignorance.

1Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

At a meeting I attended recently, one of the brothers pointed out that Christians need to be taught how to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. I responded by saying something like, “The voice of the Lord isn’t hard to hear. If He wants to speak to you, you’ll hear it. You don’t need to be in meditative prayer to hear His voice.” I was met with a small chorus of rebuttals:

“Be still and know that I am God, right?” “In quietness and rest is our strength, right?” “God’s still, small voice, right?”

The first two objections are easily answered. All one needs to do is read the statements in context.

“The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah. Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. ‘Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth!’ The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah” (Psalm 46:7–11). 1

The Lord communicated through the psalmist that God Himself is our fortress. He brings desolations and ends wars; thus, He controls all conflicts and will be exalted in them. So, be at peace. Trust Him. Rest in Him. Nothing here deals with being quiet to hear God’s voice.

The second, about quietness and rest:

“For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’ But you were unwilling, and you said, ‘No! We will flee upon horses’; therefore you shall flee away; and, ‘We will ride upon swift steeds’; therefore your pursuers shall be swift” (Isaiah 30:15–16).

In the verses that preceded the verses from Isaiah above, the Lord was chastising Judah for being a “rebellious people” and listening to lying prophets who speak “smooth words” and say, “…let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 30:11). The Lord’s response was that because they listen to the false prophets they will be like “a potter’s vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found” that is useful (Isaiah 30:14).

This is not a good thing.

It is obvious that the returning and rest in these verses has to do with the Lord chastising the people of Judah for trusting in themselves and rejecting Him. They thought they could rely on their strength and flee from the coming trouble on fast horses. That wasn’t going to work out so well. Therefore, this quote, in context, has nothing whatsoever to do with finding a quiet place to pray and hear God’s voice. It has to do with trusting in the Lord, not one’s own strength. In addition, it’s not “in quietness and rest” our strength lies but “in quietness and trust.”

Both the above passages deliver the same message.

I addressed the “still, small voice” issue in the past on this blog. The source of this misleading evangelical meme is in I Kings 19, when the prophet Elijah was running away from the evil queen Jezebel. I don’t have space to address it here, so I provided a link at end of this article. The reader will find that the account has nothing at all to do with being in some quiet place or moment in order to hear God’s voice. It concerns how the Lord was choosing to perform His will at that time in preparation for the years ahead—in small, quiet ways—anointing three people—but not in earthquakes, wind, and fire (1 Kings 19:15–18).

Pastors, speakers, and leaders in the Evangelical/Pentecostal/Charismatic church have been spinning out these misleading scriptures for at least a century. It is done because when they speak on a topic which they think their audiences need to hear, they simply insert an out-of-context quote to fit the message. Believer, I can tell you from experience that checking out the biblical sources of stand-alone quotes will bring a deepening understanding of who God is and His truth instead of just grabbing on to simplistic untruths.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images.


I don’t know about you, but every once in a while, I ask myself, “Does God really know and care about what’s happening to me right now?” It’s easy to believe this for someone else and say, “Of course God knows. He loves you!” But it’s different, isn’t it, when it concerns you.        

The thought occurred to me the other day—not a new one, to be sure—about how much the Lord knows about what’s going on in our lives. I thought it would be encouraging to look at some of the scriptures that answer that question.

Let’s start with birds, no less.

There are around twelve billion birds in North America. There are ten thousand species on the earth, and some think twice that many. The Lord God Almighty, who created birds and everything else that exists, gave songs to all of them. He composed those sounds, engineered and placed them in those little brains. One of the birds He created is the sparrow. This is a tiny bird that weighs less than an ounce. I looked up how many sparrows were in the United States and couldn’t find an answer. Nevertheless, I’m sure there are millions of them among the billions of birds that reside here.

We’re all familiar, I think, with this statement from Jesus about sparrows:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Matthew 10:29).1

Now, I don’t know exactly what “apart from your Father” means, but it’s clear that He knows about each one that dies. He keeps track of all those little deaths. I’m absolutely sure that I don’t do that, you don’t do that, and no one else does. It would be impossible, I should think.

But not impossible for the Lord. “The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: ‘Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?’” (Jeremiah 32:26–27).

No, Lord God Creator of all things, I agree. Nothing in all creation is too difficult for You.

Following Jesus’ statement that the Father knows about each and every sparrow that falls, comes this:

“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30).

Jesus stated these amazing things in the context of His teaching about whom to fear on the earth: those who can kill the body but not the soul, or the One who can cast both into hell. Don’t be afraid, He said, you are of more value than many sparrows, all of which He is aware. And He knows so much about you that He is keeping count of the hairs on your head. Again, I don’t know that, and you don’t.

No one cares enough about you to count your hair, not even yourself.

It appears our question about whether God Almighty knows and cares about what we’re going through is answered in His beautiful truth.

Finally, we are also told that the Lord knows the names and number of the stars.

“He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure” (Psalm 147:4–5).

How many stars are there in the universe? No one knows. Some estimate that there are 10 trillion galaxies. Our Milky Way galaxy contains around 100 billion stars, on the low end. Some say there are four times as many. Someone multiplied 100 billion times 10 trillion and came up with one septillion, or a one with twenty-four zeroes after it. Do you know how long it would take to count to one trillion? At one number a second, it would take over thirty-one thousand years. This is a number we cannot comprehend.

Let’s look at the verse that precede Psalm 147:4-5. Here it is in context with verses four and five.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure” (Psalm 147:3–5).

Yes. He knows everything possible that can be known about our wounds and broken hearts. And He heals us. The one who knows when sparrows fall, the hair on our heads, and the number—and names, I should add—of every star, which we do not and cannot know.

Where does our help come from? The One who created everything. He knows all about us, even when we are in danger of stumbling.

“My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:2–4).

Amen. Father, help us trust and believe.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

In this article, I will tell a tale from early in my Christian life. Well, truth be told, I was not living a Christian life at all when it happened.

Some back story. I had had an experience with the Lord before the event about which I am about to narrate. He had made Himself known to me while I was sitting on the front porch of a hotel in the town of Chelan, Washington. That day, I had come to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was real. But I knew almost nothing else.

It is the next event in the Lord’s sovereign, merciful work to bring me to the knowledge of Himself that befuddled me for decades. I was sitting on the shotgun side of an old pickup truck in someone’s driveway. There was a dried-up bush in the area between the driveway and the garage.

First, however, a little more backstory. When I was a drug-using “freak” as we called ourselves back then, I had heard an album by a group called Seatrain. On that album was a song entitled Song of Job. It was a fairly accurate telling of that biblical account (I listened to it again after I became a Christian.), although I did not know that at the time. One of the lines of the lyrics was, “And from the whirling wind, God Himself spoke.”

Having supplied that backstory let’s return to the old pick-up in the driveway.

As I sat there, the wind blew up in that dried-up bush by the garage, and in that event, the Lord spoke to me. He spoke just one word: “Trouble.” I knew that God spoke out of a whirling wind. Let me be clear. In neither of the above events did I hear anything with my ears, except, of course, the wind in the bush.

I had no idea what that word “trouble” meant, but I knew it was God. At the time, I was quite a distance from what we would call a Christian. I didn’t know about repentance. I didn’t know what it meant that Jesus had died on the cross and been resurrected. That’s the truth of it. You can believe it or not believe it. However, please do not claim that it isn’t biblical for God to speak to people who know little of Him. I offer as biblical evidence a man named Abraham, a cupbearer, a baker, the pagan Abimelech, and, most notably, Nebuchadnezzar. You also might want to take a look at Saul and the messengers in 1 Samuel 19. I’ll throw in Balaam’s donkey for good measure.

Off and on during the years that followed, I asked the Lord what that word “trouble” meant and why had He spoken it to me. Decades later, He began to unveil what that word “trouble” was. It has eventually come to define a central aspect of my ministry.

 A few times, late in those years, I would have a sense of judgment when I was outside, when the wind was blowing through the trees. Just a sense. And, of course, the memory of that experience in the Bay Area was always present. But it was only four or five years ago when I began to realize more fully the meaning of that word, “trouble.” What happened one day in Spring made it quite clear. Laurie and I were helping her father’s widow sell her belongings so she could move from her now too-large house. I stepped outside as we were waiting for a buyer to arrive. There was a beautiful, large deciduous tree in the yard of the house across the road. Suddenly, a wind blew up in that tree, and the Lord gave me a terrifying sense of coming judgment. It was so strong that I went inside the house and broke down crying.

Therefore, I am compelled at times to announce that God’s judgment is coming. It is not just an ideology or theology drudged up from some obscure Bible passage. Far from it. It is a coming reality made plain in Scripture. Jesus Himself spoke of it: “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28–29).1

And Paul: “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:5).

And Peter: “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).

And Jude: “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14–15).

And John: “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done” (Revelation 20:12).

God’s judgment is coming. It is coming as surely as the wind blows.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images.


How do you view the miraculous? I’ll say that I tend to be skeptical, although supernatural things have happened to and through me. But they certainly don’t occur every day. Such events have been the exception rather than the rule in my forty years of walking with Jesus.

So, I’ll tell you what happened in our little fellowship this last Sunday, and you can do with it as you will.

We had prayed, praised and studied Scripture together. As we were talking about wrapping up the meeting, I asked, “Does anyone have anything else to share before we finish?”

Read the rest of this entry »


As I began to pray this morning, I felt a sudden burden for the Church. Since I usually go through life unburdened, except for the things that selfishly bother me, and because what I was hearing in my heart was, to the best of my knowledge and experience, what the Lord “sounds like” when He has spoken to me, this seemed genuinely to be from Him.

Obviously, you can decide for yourself whether you think this was something the Lord would say.

So, I took to my knees and interceded for the Church. As I prayed, I had the sense the Lord was saying that He had rejected the culture of the United States as well as the many aspects of the Church that had attached itself to it. I had a picture in my mind—I’m reluctant to say that the Lord put it there—of all of us on top of an avalanche. We were sitting on the materialistic detritus of our culture—all the tech goodies and luxuries that we so enjoy—and having a great time, seemingly oblivious to the reality of catastrophically rushing down a dangerous mountainside.

Now, the question is, what should my response be?


Tornadoes. Flooding. Earthquakes. Tsunamis.

What is God up to? Or perhaps we could ask, What is God allowing and why?” Read the rest of this entry »

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