Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Magnificent Fifty: Foundation of Faith (Massachusetts)

Boston, Massachusetts (Artist: Susan Cassidy Wilhoit)

Constitution Preamble (1780)

We, therefore, the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the universe…in the course of His Providence, an opportunity…and devoutly imploring His direction.


What’s that? Talk of a Lawgiver? The Great Legislator? And what’s this “devoutly imploring” talk? Do they mean prayer? For crying out loud! This was 1780! Hadn’t they been informed about the “wall of separation” between Church and State?

Jefferson didn’t write that letter to the Danbury Baptists until 1802, you say?

I guess there must have been a lot of unconstitutional praying for guidance until Jefferson set them straight, eh?

Or, do you think the founding fathers of Massachusetts knew the Constitution better than the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF)?

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Missing Mr. Monkey

I don’t know about you, but I miss Mr. Monkey. It has been a long time since I made a video with him, and how sad is that? I mean, here I am with an iPhone with all the video-making power one needs (along with iMovie), and nothing…sad.

But part of the problem is a lack of ideas. Writer’s block is easy to overcome – just start writing. But movie-making block is a different story altogether; one has to plan.

So, could you help me? First, you can click on the archive tab above and find links to previous Monday Monkey videos, and that should give you an idea what I’m capable of (and those videos were all done on an iPhone 5s, not my 7!). Then, suggest something. Give me some ideas.

Yes, life is serious, I’m an adult, and there are more important things in life than making movies with a 30-year-old puppet monkey.

But God invented humor. And if He invented it and even used it Himself a time or two, I see no reason why we who are “sober and vigilant” can’t use it for God’s glory.

Leave me some suggestions for plot lines or situations in the comment section below. If I choose your idea (or if it inspires me to do something else), then I’ll send you a signed photo of Mr. Monkey and me!

…OK, you don’t have to accept the photo, but it’s available if you want it. Unless we break the camera 😉

The above photo is nearly 10 years old. Mr. Monkey hasn’t changed a bit!

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A Daughter’s Wisdom

Some of you may still be unaware of the work I do on my other blog, ProverbialThought.com. It’s one that I share with several other gifted authors who love the Lord.

If you are unfamiliar with Proverbial Thought, then I guess it’s possible you could be unaware that my middle daughter, Katie Marie, is also a wonderful writer (and singer, and songwriter, and photographer).

That is why I would really appreciate you taking a look at the post she just published today on Proverbial Thought. It is her first post there since we finished up the original study a couple of years ago.

Here is a link to her post, “The Preciousness of Wisdom.” Why not check it out and let her know what you think? I know she would appreciate it.

Then, make sure to visit HER blog, Shutter Elf.

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Always Loved, “Period. Beginning of Story”

I had to share this wonderful, if for no other reason than the last line. 

Click on the link below to “Always Loved…” And let Mike know what you think.

There was no decision made by me to allow him to love me. He just did.

via Always Loved — New Hope for Dry Bones

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Barriers to Church Growth. #5 (Honoring Self)

A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a few of them.

“People do works for their own honor and not the glory of God (Matthew 5:16).”

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

Why do we do good works? Why do we feed the poor, shelter the homeless, tend to the elderly, etc? Do we do these things so that our Father will be glorified, or do we do them in order to get glory for ourselves?

To be Seen.

Some people do good works with the sole intention of being seen and considered especially spiritual. Jesus said that “Everything they do is for show” (Mt. 23:5 NLT). Jesus spoke of those who wanted to be seen as pious and holy by wearing boxes containing Scripture on their foreheads or arms. The bigger the box the better. All this was in an attempt to say, “I am keeping the law better than you!” (See Deuteronomy 6:5-9)

Then there are other people who do plenty of good deeds without even acknowledging God. For example,  go to any charity ball held by your local “high society” club. There you will find plenty of people who willingly give thousands to worthy causes but smile as big as they can when the magazine photographers come around.

They may even be members of local churches and give large offerings to the building fund (as long as it’s named after them); buy the pastor a new car, or pay for a youth mission trip. “And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the [congregation].” – Matthew 23:6 NLT

To be Accepted

Some people do good works in order to be accepted by God. They give away fortunes and spend their lives doing good deeds, but not to be seen by men. They want to be seen by God and thought of as worthy of His love. The only problem is that salvation is “not of works, lest any man should boast.” They work themselves to death in order prove their loyalty, thereby supposedly ensuring a place in heaven. But the glory goes not to God, for attached to the works is an expectation of reward based on merit.

Soli Deo Gloria

All glory should be to God alone. If our works are done in order to receive praise, then God is not getting the glory. If our works are meant to earn credit with God, then God is not getting the glory. If we work ourselves silly to meet the legalistic requirements placed on us by men, then God is not getting the glory. However, if out of a heart of love we do good works without expectation for reward, recognition, or acceptance, then God will receive the glory.

When all glory, honor, and praise is given to the Lord, He will draw all men unto Himself. Church growth will be unstoppable. Yet, if we expect credit for anything, then what should we expect but further decline? “For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.” – Isaiah 48:11 KJV

We want others to see our good works, but not for our own glory. May they “glorify [our] Father which is in heaven.”

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In the Middle of the Night

For every depressing thought that keeps me awake at night, forcing me to stare at a ceiling, a clock, or something worse, there’s a still, small Voice that whispers in rebuttal, “You are not alone, and I care.”

In the middle of the night, when rest should be my reward, the day now spent replays once more. Self-doubt and self-pity weigh on me like a heavy blanket, suffocating me with claustrophobic sorrow. But He says, “I am here, let me handle it.”

It won’t be long till the alarm clock follows its instructions, oblivious to my regret. The day will be longer because of my worrying, and it didn’t have to be. Why did I bother setting it?

Arms of mercy were reaching out to hold me. My Father sought to sing a lullaby of grace over me, but I doubted … in the middle of the night.

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Barriers to Church Growth #4 (Hold to God)

A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a few of them.

“People are unwilling to take hold of God (Isaiah 64:7).”

“And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.” – Isaiah 64:7 KJV

Every time we heard a gospel song that had words similar to “hold on to God,” or “hold to His hand,” my parents quickly reminded us that “we don’t hold God’s hand – He holds ours.” Understandably, what my parents were referring to was salvation. In that sense, we are held and He will never let go.

But that is not what this verse is talking about. Isaiah is saying that part of the problem his people were facing was the fact that none had the desire, nor even the desire to have a desire, to grab hold of God. If that is true today, then it may not only be a huge barrier to church growth, but to individual growth as well.

Take Hold of Thee

It is interesting and revealing when we look at this phrase and compare its usage to other places in Scripture. To begin with, the word chazaq (Strong’s H2388) essentially means “to tie fast, to bind bonds strongly” (Gesenius’s Lexicon). It is a verb that is translated into English as words such as strong, retain, urgent, and caught. Here are just a few examples.

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught[2388] it, and it became a rod in his hand:” – Exodus 4:4

“And the Egyptians were urgent[2388] upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste ; for they said , We be all dead men.” – Exodus 12:33

“Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain[2388] thine integrity? curse God, and die .” – Job 2:9

Moses “caught.” Look at the first verse. Moses had been commanded by God to throw down his rod, after which it became a serpent. Then, against all logic, God told him to pick it up again, but this time by the tail (riiiiigghht!). I would have had to be seriously “stirred up” to pick up a deadly snake by the tail – it BITES! Yet, that’s what Moses did. He “caught it” by the tail.

The Egyptians were “urgent.” Next, after suffering under all the plagues, the Egyptians “were urgent” in there pushing the Israelites out of town. They had come to realize that their own lives were in jeopardy if the Jews stayed one day longer. It was imperative that they are pushed out as quickly as possible.

Job “still retained.” Now, look at poor Job. He had lost everything dear to him, including his health, and then came his wife telling him to curse God and die. She couldn’t believe that he could just sit there and hold on to his belief that God was worth serving. “After all this, are you still holding on to your integrity? What for? What’s the use? Quit putting yourself through this nonsense and just curse God and die!” Yet, he held on.

Making it Apply

When we view Isaiah 64:7 in the light of the verses above, what we have is astounding and convicting. Let’s see if we can work it all together:

1) Taking hold of God is something that we should take seriously, not flippantly. Don’t reach out for Him in a way that implies half-heartedness. Take hold like you mean it! Who do we think God is, a stick to be used by us in our own power to accomplish our own desires? NO! He is alive and dangerous. As Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, He is NOT tame. He is not here to be played with.

2) Do we not understand that without the power and presence of God we will die?In Him we live, move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). There should be an urgency in our desire for Him, no less than the kind the Egyptians had to expel the Jews from their land. Do we want to live? We must urgently “take hold.”

3) We must hold on to God even when it seems insane to others. We must consider our relationship with our Heavenly Father so precious that even when Hell seems to be winning, faith tells us otherwise. Like Job of old, we should hold on to God even when we lie broken and wasted amid the ashes of seeming defeat. Our Redeemer LIVES!

The Barrier that Must Fall

If we are to see growth in our churches, not to mention our own lives, we must seek after God with urgency, intensity, and passion. He must be sought after and adhered to like no other treasure on earth. Anything less betrays our divided, adulterous hearts. God will bless and grow a people who “take hold.” No church will grow who only takes hold of God when it is convenient, fun, or fashionable.

Time is filled with swift transition
Not of earth or moon can stand
Build your hope on things eternal
Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Hold to God’s unchanging hand

Trust in Him who will not leave you
Whatsoever years may bring
When my earthly friends forsaken
Still more closely to Him cling

Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Build your hope on things eternal
Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Hold to God’s unchanging hand

We must cleave to Him. It IS a matter of life or death.

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