Monthly Archives: November 2010

Why I Believe In Jesus (And It’s Better Than Proving The Shroud Of Turin!)

Although it’s origins and history are shrouded in mystery, the first historical acknowledgment of the Shroud of Turin dates back to 1390. Previous to that date, stories floated around medieval society that the burial cloth of Jesus existed. In fact, Byzantine emperors prior to 1204 claimed to own a burial cloth that was reputedly placed on Jesus at his burial.

Interestingly enough, seven churches in Europe claim to own the original burial cloth, although the largest following claim their devotion to the shroud in Turin, Italy—and for good reason. The following marks appear on the cloth:

  • One wrist (the other is hidden) bears a large, round wound, that appears to result from being pierced.
  • An upward gouge in the body’s side consistent with a wound from a spear.
  • Small punctures around the forehead and scalp.
  • Scores of linear wounds on the torso and legs. Proponents claim that the wounds are consistent with the distinctive dumbbell wounds of a Roman flagrum.
  • Swelling of the face from severe beatings.
  • Streams of blood down both arms. Proponents claim that the blood drippings from the main flow occurred in response to gravity at an angle that would occur during crucifixion.
  • No evidence of either leg being fractured.
  • Large puncture wounds in the feet as if pierced by a single spike.

On the other hand, radiocarbon analysis by a team of researchers in 1988 concluded with 95% certainty that the material in the shroud was dated between 1260-1390 AD, which, ironically (or not so ironically) coincides with the earliest historical record.

Yet, among the plethora of tests, one test was conducted on dirt particles extracted from the shroud which were identical with samples of limestone from an old Jerusalem tomb.

While the Shroud of Turin offers intriguing evidence concerning the existence of Christ, even stronger evidence exists.

Please join us in our daily Bible conversation to discover what it is.


Daniel 7:1-28
1 John 1:1-10
Psalm 119:153-176
Proverbs 28:23-24


Daniel 7:1-28. This chapter begins a series of intense visions Daniel received. Most scholars believe this vision regarding the four kingdoms was fulfilled in Daniel’s day, culminating with the Roman empire.

1 John 1:1-10. Unlike most New Testament letters, the author of 1 John isn’t named, although early church fathers like Irenaeus (c. A.D. 140-203) and Clement of Alexandria (A.D.150-215) identify John as the writer.

The Apostle John was nearing the end of his life. Many of his fellow disciples had already died and he had already written the gospel of John. As the church continued to grow, John became increasingly concerned about the prevalence of Gnostic teaching in the church. Gnosticism teaches that the spirit is entirely good and the body is entirely evil. As a result, Gnostics taught that Jesus never appeared in bodily form—he was more like ghost. Gnostics worked out this belief in two conflicting ways:

  1. They must punish the body and adopt ascetic practices to keep the body under control. Paul addresses this in Colossians (see Colossians 2:21); or
  2. Since the body was already out of control and separate from the spirit, they could live any way they liked without any repercussions.

This second alternative was John’s concern in his epistle. John’s opening words about seeing and touching Jesus were mentioned to prove that Jesus is both divine and human.

Proverbs 28:23-24. “He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue” (Proverbs 28:23). In the end, honesty in relationships trumps niceness and saying nothing at all. Telling people what they want to hear and protecting them from the painful truth isn’t love, it’s self-protection on our part. Of course, we can also beat people up with the truth, which is why it’s important to be cognizant of timing and speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

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Two thousand years after Jesus walked the earth, it’s easy to question not just the divinity of Jesus, but his existence as well. Years ago while reconstructing my faith, I searched for evidence that would prove once and for all Jesus’ existence and divinity.

During my search, I realized that if I had indisputable evidence, I would no longer need faith—and without faith, it’s impossible to please God. That doesn’t mean we shut off our brains in order to follow Christ, but it does mean that all the evidence will likely never line up in a way that provides irrefutable proof…and that’s okay.

However, 1 John 1:1–4 gives me evidence that is more compelling than the Shroud of Turin:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.  (italics added).

How could John articulate  this any more clearly? This is the Klassen paraphrase of John’s words: Believe me! I saw Jesus with my own eyes. I touched him with my own hands. And I’m telling you these words so you will believe me and enter into a relationship with God’s son Jesus Christ. I write this to you because if I don’t, I’ll explode!

As I mentioned in Insights and Explanations, John’s epistle was validated by other early church fathers within a generation of being written. Although penned 1900 years ago, evidence overwhelmingly proves that a man named John wrote an epistle we call 1 John.

That evidence by itself is fairly convincing. But consider Peter’s words in 2 Peter 1:16–18:

We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. (italics added)

Peter basically sends the same message as John: Don’t tell us Jesus didn’t exist and don’t tell us he was simply a good man. We are eyewitnesses to the existence of a man who was unlike any other man.

And who were Jesus’ two closest friends? John and Peter!

But last of all, why would these two men risk their lives for a lie? History tells us they existed. Peter was reputedly crucified upside-down and John was exiled to the island of Patmos because they claimed Jesus was more than a good man. They claimed he was the unique son of God who rose from the dead.

For me the evidence is more than compelling. It convinces me that two thousand years ago, a child was born in Bethlehem. He grew up in Nazareth, proved his authority as God’s son by working miracles (see Hebrews 2:3–4) and then offered himself as our sacrificial lamb by being crucified on the cross. Then he conquered death and hell by rising from the dead.

Evidence like this compels me to not only believe in him, but it compels me to live for him as well


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. If you believed with all your heart that Jesus lived, died, and rose from the dead for you, how would it affect the way you live? Are you living what you believe?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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Wasn’t Jesus Supposed To Come Back?

“Kids, we need to get our lives right with Jesus because he’s going to come back any day now,” I proclaimed while standing on a folding chair in my 2nd grade Sunday School class. It was 1972 and the Second Coming of Christ was a major topic of discussion in nearly every church.

That same year a cheesy movie was released entitled “A Thief In The Night.”  The movie was effective in scaring many teenagers into the kingdom of God—including my wife Kelley.

Today, I rarely hear about Jesus’ return.

Was all of the commotion much ado about nothing? Is he coming at all? And if so, what’s taking him so long?

Please join us in our daily Bible conversation.


Daniel 6:1-28
2 Peter 3:1-18
Psalm 119:129-152
Proverbs 28:21-22


Daniel 6:1-28. In contrast to Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, King Darius was a much more humble man. He was a Persian, not a Babylonian, the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy in chapter 5 that the Persians would invade Babylon. By the time King Darius was duped into signing an edict declaring that everyone must worship him, Daniel was well into his 80s.

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By the end of elementary school, I considered myself an authority on anything related to Jesus’ second coming. But after waiting and waiting, yet no return, I became very disillusioned and skeptical about any matters concerning the end of the age.

By the end of his life, the Apostle Peter realized that his timeline regarding Jesus’ return might not resemble God’s. He never thought he would live as long as he did (I never thought I’d live to get my driver’s license!). Here’s what 2 Peter 3 tells us about Jesus’ return:

In the last days scoffers will doubt Jesus’ return. To scoff means to mock or make fun of something. Peter then recalls the flood, reminding his readers that God intervenes whenever he sees fit.

God’s timing is different than ours. Peter writes that “a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (verse 8). God isn’t constrained by time. He’s never in a hurry and he’s never late. But he is patient. At this point, Peter seems to be implying that Jesus may not come back for a lo-o-o-o-ng time. He was right!

The fact that Jesus hasn’t returned yet is an act of God’s mercy. After the resurrection, the disciples assumed Jesus’ second coming would occur within a few years. I’m sure Peter assumed Jesus would return much earlier in his life, but at this point, Peter had waited 30-35 years. He was confident of Jesus’ return, but now he writes with a bit more perspective. Jesus hadn’t returned because God is giving people time to give their hearts to him.

Jesus will return when no one is expecting it. This is a great reminder that predictions concerning dates will always be wrong. We explore the subject of dates and Jesus’ return in an earlier post, The End of The World As We Know It…Or Not. Judgment will come. The earth will be destroyed and we will someday experience a new heaven and earth.

Eugene also offered an excellent post entitled When Is Jesus Coming Again? Or Has He Already?

So, nearly 2000 years after Jesus, we still wait. How should we live?

Peter tells us to live holy lives because we don’t know when Jesus will return. Let’s keep our accounts short: Say what needs to be said, be quick to forgive, and live as if Jesus is coming back today. Then he reminds us that this world is not our home. All of it will one day be destroyed, so we need to avoid living as if this is all there is.

If you knew Jesus was coming back today, how would it affect your relationships and lifestyle?

Your answer to the question tells you how you should live.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. If you knew Jesus was coming back today, how would it affect your relationships and lifestyle?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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A Tale Of Two Kings or Heeding The Writing On The Wall

Early in our marriage, I endured a two-year period plagued by multiple jobs, persistent unemployment, and poverty. Any extra income was directed toward diapers for our newborn daughter and medical expenses for her persistent ear infections. In fact, Anna’s ear problems required two sets of tubes and two ear drum surgeries. In order to pay for the expenses, I cashed out what little retirement we had, paying severe penalties to the government.

I count myself among the many who have stood at the edge of the downward spiral and looked down. Without a supportive extended family system, we would have fallen in. It was frightening.

During that time, I opened my Bible looking for solace and read about King Saul’s many troubles. It seemed like God was against him. I was incensed. God, why were you so deadset against Saul? I asked.

Then I opened the book of Job and read about the righteous man’s many sufferings. My anger against God grew into a raging fire. We’re toast! I yelled at God. You can do whatever you want and you have no one to answer to. You don’t even care. I felt like God was dangling me over the fire and enjoying himself as he watched me burn.

At the end of the two year period, I enrolled at Fuller Seminary a thousand miles away in Pasadena, California. Looking back, I laugh at the fact that I chose to study theology while I was intensely angry at God.

Then December 1, 1991 (almost 19 years ago to the day of this post), I read a tale of two kings: Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar.

One day King Nebuchadnezzar was admiring his kingdom and taking credit for his exploits when God drove him into the wilderness where he lived like a wild animal. God told the king he would remain until “until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes (Daniel 4:32).”

After spending seven years in the wilderness, after being humiliated before his fellow Babylonians, here’s what Nebuchadnezzar announced to his people:

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
Daniel 4:37

Rather than voice his bitterness toward God, the king exalted God and commented that “everything he does is right and all his ways are just.”

In the next chapter, Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar is sitting on the throne. He’s wining and dining his guests, reveling in his glory when a finger begins writing on the wall. Four words appeared in an indiscernible language. Belshazzar was terrified by the experience, and worse yet, he couldn’t decipher what the words meant. Daniel was brought in who interpreted the words, which were written in Hebrew.

Daniel began by reminding Belshazzar about his father King Nebuchadnezzar. God sent him into the fields, Daniel explained, because his heart had become hardened with pride.

“You, O king, haven’t learned from your father,” the prophet confessed. Then he interpreted the four words on the wall: Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin. Literally, the words meant, “numbered, numbered, weighed, divided.” Daniel told him, “God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians” (Daniel 5:26-28).

That night, Belshazzar’s life came to a violent end.

As I compared the two kings’ stories, I had a life-changing realization:

First, God hates pride. Nothing strikes deeper at the heart of God than when we take credit for what he has done.

Second, God may allow pain to come into our lives in order to weed out pride’s insidious tentacles. It isn’t an act of punishment, it’s an act of mercy. He does this because he loves us and desires an unhindered relationship with us.

Third, only God has the right to define what is just. This last point hit me particularly hard. In his mercy, God had sought to weed out my pride and independence. But instead of turning to God, I had turned away from him, assuming he was unjust. But what right did I have to define justice? Justice is defined by God’s actions, not my opinions. In my arrogance, I had defined justice. Any time I define the meaning of justice, I miss the mark entirely. Yet Nebuchadnezzar said, “Everything he does is right and all his ways are just” (Daniel 4:37). God cannot act unjustly.

Instantly, my anger melted away and I asked God to forgive me of my arrogance. Pride still rears its ugly head in my life and I still encounter hardships and struggles, but this I know: God is good. God is just. And because of this, I can trust him.

And you can too.


Daniel 4:1-5:31
2 Peter 1:1-2:22
Psalm 119:97-128
Proverbs 28:17-20


2 Peter 1:1-2:22. Peter wrote his second epistle in order to address false teaching in the church. He likely wrote this letter shortly before he was martyred. This is one of my favorite passages in Scripture:

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires
2 Peter 1:3–4

God has already given you everything you need to live and enjoy the life he has called you to. Because Christ lives in you, you can participate in the divine nature. You’re not God, but God can live through you!

Psalm 119:97-128. Verses 98-100 tell us that simply knowing God’s word makes us wiser than our enemies, wiser than our teachers, and wiser than our elders. Our reading below in Proverbs offers us a great example of this.

While reading Psalm 119 the thought occurred to me that the word of God does a great job of warning us about potholes that lie in our way. Verse 105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” God’s word makes us aware of sin so we can avoid becoming enslaved by it’s addictive grip. It also helps us free ourselves from it, although doing so requires so much more work than avoiding sin before it takes root.

Proverbs 28:17-20. Promises of financial independence roam freely on Saturday morning television. Years ago I chased some of those dreams only to discover the reality of Proverbs 28:19-20: “He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty. A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.”

I once attended an online marketing seminar that sold business opportunities for $5,000 apiece. After the presentation, probably 50 people crowded around the cashier to give their money away. My dad, who accompanied me, asked the presenter what percent of the people in line would actually make a profit on the business venture. “Oh, one or two,” he replied. Yep! Proverbs is right.

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  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Do you struggle believing God is good and just? Why or why not?
  3. Who defines what is just in your life?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.


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Honest To God

In the 1997 movie Liar Liar, Jim Carrey plays the role of Fletcher Reed, a fast talking attorney, habitual liar, and divorced father who has built his successful law career on deceit. He’s also a poor excuse for a father, consistently choosing his job over his young son Max, even missing his birthday party. But Max gets his birthday wish: that his dad would go one day without being able to lie. Hilarity ensues.

What would your life look like if you never lied or exaggerated? What if you lived truthfully and honestly in all of your relationships, with complete integrity?

What would be required of you?

Please join us in today’s daily Bible conversation.


Daniel 2:24-3:30
1 Peter 4:7-5:14
Psalm 119:81-96
Proverbs 28:15-16


1 Peter 4:7-5:14. At the beginning of this section, Paul writes,

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides.
1 Peter 4:10–11

Peter’s point is this: in whatever spiritual gift you use, use it on behalf of God. Act as if God is really working through you. Exercise your spiritual gifts with confidence that God is working through you. And he is! You are administering, stewarding, dispensing God’s limitless grace.

Psalm 119:81-96. “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction” (Psalm 119:92). When our world begins to crumble, we need something to hold on to. All too often, though, we first run to friends for solace, or we find ways to disengage from our pain or stress. The psalmist, however, discovered that the word of God is a sure anchor. Ointment for our wounds. Food for our starving souls.

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“If the heat gets too hot,” the adage goes, “then get out of the kitchen.” But what if you can’t get out?

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon built an idol, most likely in his image. Ninety feet tall and nine feet wide, the statue was a monstrosity. Seven times in the first 14 verses of Daniel 3, the writer reiterates that Nebuchadnezzar “set up” the idol. The man was a narcissist.

He issued a command: “Whenever the music plays, everyone must bow down to the idol.” The Babylonian people complied as well as all of the Jews living in exile except three brave men: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Daniel must have been out of town on a business trip.

When the men were brought before the king, they were given one more chance to bow down, but they refused. Think about it: all they had to do was bow down. Their lives were at risk, so what’s the big deal with bowing down just one time? No one would have pointed their judgmental fingers at the three men. Just tell the king what he wanted to hear and do what he wanted them to do and everything would be fine. With their lives on the line, they respectfully replied to the king:

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.
Daniel 3:17–18

Did you notice their last few words? God is able to save us, but even if he doesn’t, we still won’t bow down.

Furious, the king ordered the furnace temperature to be increased. The fire was so hot that the soldiers carrying the three men were consumed by it.

You probably remember the rest of the story. A fourth man appeared in the furnace. The men weren’t consumed by the fire. Fussy King Nebuchadnezzar begged the men to come out, and when they did, they didn’t even smell like smoke.

This story encourages us to be willing to disagree with the court of public opinion when it contradicts or forces us to compromise our faith. Although our physical lives might not be on the line, our jobs and careers might be. We might be able to save our necks, but wilting to societal pressure and opinion is akin to bowing to the image. To put it bluntly, it’s lying.

These three men share a common characteristic with all the great men and women of faith in Scripture: they don’t consider their lives as overly precious. In other words, they aren’t afraid to die because they know they’re in a no-lose situation. They can live here on earth and enjoy the lives God has given them or they will lose their lives and spend eternity with God.

The book of Hebrews describes men and women of this caliber as “aliens and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13). They know that their home is in heaven.

Paul wrote, “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:8).

Integrity means living honest, open, and sometimes unpopular lives because we’re more concerned about what God thinks than what people think. It’s also borne from the belief that regardless of what happens to us, if we’re living for Jesus, we’re in a can’t-lose situation.

The early church had a phrase for this: corem deo. It means living in the face of God.

Or in this context, living with the knowledge that the fourth man is there.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What idols does the culture try to convince you to worship?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.


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A Thanksgiving Edition: Family, Friends and the Weber-Wanna-Be

A close proximity of the Weber-Wanna-Be: no picture still exists of this ancient barbecue


Five months into our young marriage Dee Dee and I bought our first home. To celebrate this unbelievable occasion, our friends threw us a house-warming party. Several couples chipped in and bought us a kettle grill. You’ve seen the kind, those black porcelain-covered, almost egg-shaped, three-legged barbecuing wonders. They are known as Webers, except, because our crowd was fresh out of college and financially challenged, they bought us an off-brand, what we affectionately called our Webber-Wanna-Be.

Dee Dee and I proudly set our new grill out in the dirt, just to the right of the small concrete block that masqueraded as a back porch, and wasted no time in pressing the Weber-Wanna-Be into service. Our first official grilling fed those very same friends who gave her to us. The guys fired up the coals as the ladies did whatever ladies do during barbecues. Soon smoke rolled out of her vents and streamed into our small window over our kitchen table, where the women were holding court.

A sudden downpour threatened the party. Banished to the muddy backyard, all of us guys gathered round the grill in our rain ponchos and suddenly the Weber-Wanne-Be became a camp fire. We poked the coals, shifted out of the smoke, flipped burgers, and waxed eloquent. I don’t remember exactly the topic, but I’m sure the slim chance of the Denver Broncos making another Super Bowl came up. I know we also discussed our new marriages–what it was like sharing everything with a woman–what our futures held–whether our meager incomes could support us–how our entire worlds had turned upside down–that we were the luckiest guys in the universe. None of us really noticed all of this then. We just thought we were doing what young friends do: sharing a meal and a laugh and a prayer. To us the Weber-Wanna-Be remained a simple grill on which I turned hamburgers to hockey pucks.

No actual Weber was injured in the cooking of this turkey

Later Dee Dee and I read about a special way to roast a turkey on a grill. It sounded like such an easy recipe even I couldn’t ruin it. So on Thanksgiving day we plopped a 16 pounder on the grill. My mother nervously watched her son, who, while growing up, couldn’t fix himself a bowl of cereal, run in and out from the back stoop basting, and probably ruining, the holy bird of Scott family traditions. To my surprise, the turkey turned out so tender that my mother instantly pronounced it a new Scott tradition. Somehow I, and the Weber-Wanna-Be, rose in stature in the sight of my family that day.

Over the next few years, we cooked anything we could on the Weber-Wanna-Be. We laughed and took pictures and ate and planned the next barbecue. We even hauled her to parks for picnics where the same group friends gathered for “Airforce Football,” and offering smoky prayers deeper than the “Good friends, good grub, good God! Let’s eat” type. From barbecue to barbecue, our group nursed premature children, lost jobs, fought cancer, worried over rocky marriages, and grew close. Sometimes it felt like our only hope was that the smoke from our Weber-Wanna-Be would carry our combined prayers higher than we could lift them ourselves.

Soon the Weber-Wanna-Be cooked better than she looked. Once she fell out of the back of my truck coming home from one of our picnics. Everyone said the dent gave the lid character. Then her handle was broken off when some boys from our youth group ran her over. Then we moved, four times in four years, chasing a dream. In Illinois we boasted a bigger deck out back but the Weber-Wanna-Be gathered only rust spots.

In Tulsa, however, we recalled her into service. One night we sat out back with new friends and sizzled brats while God dazzled us with a show of lightning bolts that surpassed any Hollywood special effects. We suddenly ceased wrestling with the issues of raising adolescents to sit in silent awe together, the grill radiating heat from the corner of the porch. We renewed that Scott tradition when our families traveled to Tulsa for our famous barbecued Thanksgiving turkey. Once again, our prayers of thankfulness rose with the blue smoke of our Weber-Wanna-Be.

But slowly, like her owners, the Weber-Wanna-Be began to show her age. We often threatened to purchase an easier to use gas grill. Then one day, almost twenty-years after that first barbecue, I returned home from work and found the old Webber-Wanna-Be waiting mutely for the next days’ garbage pick up. Stunned, I walked down to the curb fully intending, like a school child who has just discovered that prized art project in the trash, to rescue the Weber-Wanna-Be.

I yanked her out from under a broken toilet seat, an old turn-table, and several other priceless items. But the Weber-Wanna-Be was beyond even my towering handy-man skills. The vents were rusted shut or broken off. My home-made, wooden, replacement handle was charred beyond use. The plastic wheels had long ago dissolved. And the grill itself resembled a relic found after the eruption of Mount Saint Helen.

That day my burned-out grill gave me one last gift. It’s true, you know, what Jesus said. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. . .” Every day we must choose to value the eternal over the temporary. And though we all know things don’t last, even treasured things, we still struggle with those choices.

The Weber-Wanna-Be reminded me that we fail to choose the eternal because we forget what turns material things into treasures–people. The Weber-Wanna-Be smoked out a place in my heart because of the people gathered around her.  People are the only eternal treasures God deposits in our day-to-day lives. Recently Dee Dee and I moved into a new house. We have added some new friends to our old ones and a new garage-sale Weber (not a Weber-Wanne-Be) to our deck. Of the two I now know which is eternal.

Editor’s note: I (Eugene) wrote this several years ago but thought it might remind us, on a day in America when we try to remember what our treasures really are and what we do have to be thankful for.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Daniel 1:1-2:23

1 Peter 3:8-4:6

Psalm 119:65-80

Proverbs 28:14

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Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog


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Eagle-Sightings, God-Sightings, Flash-Mobs and You

Eagle in Waterton Canyon

The three of us bounced down the popular trail in Waterton Canyon on our mountain bikes, racing the South Platte River as it descended out of the mountains. It was a glorious evening with the sun hanging just above the rugged hogback, its last shards of light reflecting on the river. Suddenly a bald eagle, wings spread muscling the wind, swooped down near the surface and glided upstream, hunting.

All three of us clamped on our brakes and skidded to a halt in the middle of the road. The eagle danced on the wind just above the current and then tilted up and came to rest on a rock, where it stood turning its head from side to side surveying its kingdom.

Steve grabbed his camera and began shooting. The eagle preened and stretched its wings as if attending a royal photo shoot. Brendan, my son, and I, holding our breath, loyal peasants that we are, watched his Highness. Time slowed, then stopped. It was one of those magical moments where minutes stretched into hours and heaven seemed to touch earth.

Then other hikers and bikers broke the spell, heedless to the grand show the eagle was putting on just fifty yards away. Not ready for it to end, I stepped out into the dirt road, putting my finger to my lips and pointing to the eagle, hoping they too could see what I was seeing.

Their responses dumbfounded me.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Ezekiel 47:1-48:35

1 Peter 2:11-3:7

Psalm 119:49-64

Proverbs 28:12-13


Ezekiel 47:1-48:35: This is one of the most beautiful sections of Ezekiel. God gives Ezekiel a vision of how God will heal his land and his people in some future time to come. That vision is of a full, powerful, and ever-deepening river that Ezekiel can step in, be healed by, but not be master of.

This passage is one that modern Jews hold tightly to. Their move back to and resettlement of Palestine in the 1940s is based in part on this streams in the desert prophesy. Moreover, it became their motivation to irrigate and plant much of their desert home. The results in many places are fantastic.

Also, there is a large group of Jews, mainly Orthodox, who are waiting for God to give them a signal to rebuild the Temple. Some call it the Third Temple Movement.

Whether these Jews are right or wrong in their literal understanding of this passage, I find it inspiring that they expect God to do what he says he will do. That is not so often true in my life.

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Maybe I’m a bumpkin, too easily impressed. Maybe they were jaded and calloused adrenaline junkies. Maybe eagles specifically, and nature in general, aren’t all that big of a deal anymore compared to 3D computer generated images. Whatever the reason, as I stopped the people on the road to show them the eagle, I expected them to be, like me, awe-struck. Most weren’t.

One or two stood transfixed. A couple more stopped and looked and then moved on. More yet only slowed down and glanced. Many, too many, followed my finger point, saw the eagle, gave me a puzzled if not angry look and never even slowed down. It made me mad. I wanted to grab them by the ears and shake them. I didn’t.

The eagle must have found us similarly boring because it soon lifted off and soared into the deepening sky.

As I finished my ride, it dawned on me (remember I’m a pastor and I can’t help it that my brain works this way) that my eagle sighting was eerily similar to how many of us respond to actual God-sightings.

Most of us who believe in God want to grab those who don’t believe by the ears and shake them. We get angry when they can’t see God, or do see God but don’t value God. God is so good and so full of grace and so powerful I desperately want others to see God and know God and stand in loving awe of him.

When they don’t respond according to our expectations, however, we do grab them by the ears, turning their heads by force. This seldom works. It’s like shining a bright light in their eyes. They just shut them tighter. They are busy or hurt or distracted. They are breathless from the journey, panting for their lives, little knowing the One who loves them is riding along side. Is it my job to knock them off their bikes?

I think not. Peter tells us not to demand that others see God and believe but simply point him out, with our deeds, “that they may see [our] good deeds and glorify God.” Peter says our lives–our response to authority, our relationships with one another, and even our refusal to return evil for evil–are pictures that are worth a thousand words. And yes, we use words too.

“Look, look at that,” we can say.

But it is not ours to force a response. Maybe we are not so much to debate the truth of God’s existence and love but rather live in front of others as if it is true.

My eagle-sighting made me realize that my job is first to love and enjoy God and while doing so, point God out to others. I recently saw a video (below) that is a living example of this. Instead of making people come to their church and hear about how great God is, they went to the food court in the mall and in flash mob style sang “The Hallelujah Chorus.” They loved God in the mall. Can you imagine?

What if each of us–and our churches–went out into our neighborhoods, and pointed to and loved God in such a way that a few would look and notice and begin to love and enjoy God too? Some would simply ride by. But others might just join us. And Who knows? Maybe all of them would notice something, just enough to pique their attention later.

The bad news is that often it is impossible to love anything, much less God, until you see someone else doing so. The good news is that it is possible to love something, even God, when you see someone else doing so. “To this you were called,” Peter tells us.  That is good news indeed.

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Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog

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Discover Your True Calling

Joe Sabah is one of those rare individuals who could be defined as a people magnet. Although I only met him once and I haven’t seen him in 10 years, his story still makes me laugh.

Years ago, as his son was about to graduate from college,  Joe asked him what he wanted for a  graduation gift.

“Get me a job,” his son replied.

So, Joe went straight to work. He called up dozens of prospective employers and gushed about his son’s abilities. Soon his son began getting phone calls and ultimately offers for employment.

Joe turned his idea into a book entitled How to Get the Job You Really Want–And Get Employers to Call You.

Wouldn’t you like to get a job that easily?

Would you be surprised that you already have a job? Your job offer has been waiting for you.

Please join us for our daily Bible conversation and discover your true calling.


Ezekiel 45:13-46:24
1 Peter 1:13-2:10
Psalm 119:33-48
Proverbs 28:1


1 Peter 1:13-2:10. It’s the dreaded “O” word: Obedience. So out of fashion, so fifty years ago, yet so important. Addressing the importance of obedience, Peter writes,

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:14–16

Obedience doesn’t come naturally, rebellion does. None of us wants to be told what to do, even if it means we make choices that lead to death.

All too often, we make bad choices, forcing us to live with the consequences of those decisions. An illegitimate child. Divorce. Broken relationships. Broken hearts. Attachments to death-inducing lifestyles. A distant relationship with God.

Deeper still, our choices leave us feeling dirty and unwanted. We confess our sins to God, but we still feel sullied by our past. How can we move forward?

Fortunately, Peter offers a remedy. In 1 Peter 1:22 he writes that “you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth.”

When we confess our sins to Jesus, we’re forgiven (see 1 John 1:9). We can’t do anything to purify ourselves from sin. Yet Peter tells his readers that they have purified themselves by obeying the truth. What does he mean by this? Translators explain that this passage is saying that obedience breaks the power of sin over our everyday lives.

Without the Holy Spirit’s help, no one can break sin’s death grip. Yet the Holy Spirit will not make us obey. The power to overcome ourselves doesn’t happen on it’s own. Our cooperation with the Holy Spirit, however, breaks that power. It seems so simple and yet it’s also profound.

Psalm 119:33-48. “Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart” (Psalm 119:34). God’s laws were never intended to be followed with mindless obedience. Mindless obedience results in legalism—applying God’s laws in ways that he never intended. When we understand the law—when we know God and his intentions behind his commands—we comprehend God’s all-consuming love for us and obey him as a worshipful response. References to God’s love for us appear seven times in Psalm 119. God’s laws are always couched in love.

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Right from the beginning of their formation, God told Israel that his desire for them was that they would become a kingdom of priests:

Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
Exodus 19:5–6 (italics added)

Notice that God used the word “if.” If they kept the covenant fully, they would be a kingdom of priests. However, Israel never lived up to God’s standard. Actually, none of us can live up to God’s standard, hence the need for a new covenant.

Peter, however, says this:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:9–10 (italics added)

Peter didn’t say, “if you obey God,” he said “you are.” The covenant, put into effect through Jesus’ death and resurrection, includes all of us in his kingdom of priests. If you’re a follower of Jesus, any and every form of ministry is open to you. Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers are thus commissioned to equip YOU to do the work of the ministry. You are ordained in the ministry!

God has called you into full-time ministry. And what about your day job? You may be moonlighting as a plumber, teacher, homemaker, or lawyer, but you’re in full-time ministry.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Spend a moment to meditate on Peters words: “You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). What is this saying about you? What does this speak to your heart?
  3. How does knowing you’re called into full-time ministry change the way you see your vocation? How does it change it?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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Securing Your Most Valuable Possession

The evening glow was quickly fading on the western horizon when I arrived home with my oldest daughter Anna, who was 4 years old at the time. Kelley was still at work. Walking down the alley, I noticed that the back door to our apartment was still open.

I can’t believe it! I thought to myself. Why did Kelley leave the back door open?

I walked inside through the kitchen carrying Anna in my arms. Turning on the light, it looked like Kelley had been looking for something before she left. The door to the chest that held our fine china was open and some of the dishes had been set on the couch. The closet door was open and some of the boxes from the top shelf were sitting on the floor. A few boxes had been thrown across the room.

Boy, Kelley must have been in a hurry because she left this place in a mess! Wives make such easy targets.

Holding Anna, I walked up the stairs to put her to bed. When I turned on the hall light, I looked into my bedroom. The place was ransacked.

We had been robbed!

I ran down the stairs and over to the building manager’s apartment to get help. The manager’s wife called the police and watched Anna while the two of us walked through the apartment to ensure no one was hiding inside.

After assessing the loss, we determined that about US$5,000 in possessions had been stolen. In today’s dollars, it was the equivalent of about US$7,300.

The burglar had stolen from our  jewelry, perfume, a camera, leather jacket, and other odds and ends. Interestingly enough, he left my laptop computer, probably because it was pretty old. Amazingly enough, he also left my most valuable possessions.

What is your most valuable possession and how do you prevent it from being stolen?

Please join us as we explore this topic in our daily Bible conversation.


Ezekiel 44:1-45:12
1 Peter 1:1-12
Psalm 119:17-32
Proverbs 28:8-10


1 Peter 1:1-12. One issue scholars raise with the epistle of 1 Peter is that it is written in exquisite Greek when we know Peter wasn’t highly educated. But in 1 Peter 5:12 we read that Silas (Paul’s part-time sidekick) who was likely more educated, helped him write the letter. In 2 Peter, Silas isn’t mentioned, and the Greek isn’t near as advanced.

Peter wrote 1 Peter from Rome (called “Babylon” in 5:13) in the mid-60s AD in order to encourage the believers who were beginning to experience increasing persecution at the hands of the Roman emperor Nero. The book of Hebrews was written about the same time. While Hebrews was written primarily to Jewish believers, 1 Peter was written to Gentile believers. Peter would have been thirty years removed from Jesus’ crucifixion.

While the word “Trinity” is mentioned nowhere in the Bible, Peter begins his epistle with a Trinitarian greeting: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect…who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood” (1 Peter 1:1–2 italics added). Furthermore, Peter acknowledges the three persons of the Trinity in verses 3-12.

Psalm 119:17-32. “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.” (Psalm 119:24). Where do you go when you need wisdom, insight, or counsel? I love the perspective in this verse: the word of God is our counselor. In John 14, Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as the Counselor. When we hide the word of God in our heart, the big “C” Counselor (Holy Spirit) works through the little “c” counselor (word of God) to give us the direction we need. All that to say: the main way that God speaks to us is through his word.

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Oddly enough, getting robbed actually worked in our favor. We had good renters’ insurance and the US$200 camera that was stolen had risen in value to over US$800.

Not bad for a family struggling to pay their bills while in graduate school.

But if someone broke into your home, what possession would you be most concerned about losing?

Of course, the “spiritual” answer is, “All of my possessions belong to God, so they mean nothing to me.” But let’s get real and discard our delusions and hypocrisy.

I own an incredible guitar I bought from a famous rock guitarist while living in Los Angeles. Somehow the burglar didn’t see it. But my greatest concern was my violin. Crafted by gypsies in Europe about 180 years ago, it’s my most valued possession. My violin bow is nearly as old and nearly as valuable.

This discussion begs the question: What is our most valued possession? And secondarily, how do we keep it secure?

Peter wrote his first epistle to a community of people who were beginning to experience persecution under the Roman emperor Nero. Their property and possessions were being taken away from them. Stolen. What could Peter say to offer them encouragement?

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1:3–4)

All too often, we lose sight of the fact that when we give our lives to Jesus, we receive an inheritance that can never be stolen, burned, broken, or lost. Our inheritance, our greatest possession is heaven. Eternity with God.

Our lives last 80 years, eternity lasts forever. How easily we define our lives by our possessions or achievements. Or, we define ourselves by brief moments—a mistake, an abuse, a sin—when we will live forever.

Think about it: Where were you at 3:04 p.m. on June 4, 2002? You probably don’t remember, but imagine defining your entire life by that one minute. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Yet our lifetimes are so infinitely smaller in comparison to eternity which is kept in heaven for us.

That’s why Peter can say that we have a living hope. When we look at our lives from an eternal perspective, our problems, possessions, and pain don’t seem so important. Sure, they may be important in the moment, but in light of eternity, they mean little.

The good news is this: we have been given a living, eternal hope. Life forever. Eternity in heaven. No one can take that away from us. The more we allow that understanding to permeate our minds, hearts, lives, the better we will be able to handle our daily problems and predicaments.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What is your most valued possession? What gives it value?
  3. To what extent do you live with an eternal perspective?

If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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The Key That Unlocks The Doors of Heaven

In 2000, Howard Schultz resigned his position as CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company amidst a pattern of steady growth. Eight years later, Starbucks was reeling from a bad economy and stiff competition. So, Schultz resumed his role as Starbucks’ chief executive. Before him stood a challenging mission: to turn around a company that had lost its way.

In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, Schultz remarked, “When I returned in January 2008, things were actually worse than I’d thought.”

What did he do to lead the company in a different direction?

Something that not only unlocks the keys of success in the business world, but also unlocks the doors of heaven.

Please join us to discover what they are in our daily Bible conversation.


Ezekiel 40:28-43:27
James 4:1-5:20
Psalm 118:19-119:16
Proverbs 28:3-7


Ezekiel 40:28-43:27. Ezekiel’s vivid vision of the temple continues. Take a moment in chapter 43 and consider this: the temple being described is you. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

James 4:1-5:20. The beginning of the chapter offers some practical wisdom about our walk with God. First, we don’t ask enough. “You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). It’s OK to ask, in fact, we don’t ask enough. Second, when we do ask, we often ask with the wrong motives. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3). Beware of narcissistic prayer that assumes the world exists to meet your every need. We should pray for ourselves, but we should be aware that the kingdom of God is so much bigger than us.

I never noticed this verse before: “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?” (James 4:5) Along the lines of the comments in Ezekiel, all of us are created to be the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. This verse in James tells us that God longs to live in us through the Holy Spirit. And what opens the door to the Holy Spirit? Read below in THE WORD MADE FRESH.

Psalm 119:1-16. This is our second time through Psalm 119 this year. If you remember, this is an acrostic poem—which explains the Hebrew letter that prefaces each section. Every verse in that section begins with the corresponding Hebrew letter. Psalm 119 revels in the Law (the first 5 books of the Old Testament). On this side of the cross, it’s easy to criticize the faithful Jewish worshipers in the Old Testament. But as you can see, they enjoyed a relationship to God through the Law. They loved the Law. It was more than a list of rules because they realized it gave them life.

On this side of the cross, we can read it and discover that the Law and the Prophets (the prophetic books in the Old Testament)—the whole word of God—gives us life. It gives us life because it isn’t a lifeless book. The word of God is a person—Jesus Christ. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14).

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One of the first actions Howard Schultz made when he resumed the leadership of Starbucks was to admit their past mistakes. In his interview with the Harvard Business Review, he said,

First there had to be a time when we stood up in front of the entire company as leaders and made almost a confession—that the leadership had failed the 180,000 Starbucks people and their families. And even though I wasn’t the CEO…I should have known better. I am responsible. We had to admit to ourselves and to the people of this company that we owned the mistakes that were made. Once we did, it was a powerful turning point. It’s like when you have a secret and get it out: The burden is off your shoulders.

Standing before 180,000 employees and taking the hit for past mistakes requires a great deal of humility.

I realize that I sound like a broken record (if you’re old enough to remember what a record is), probably because I need to remind myself of its importance, but I’m finding that humility is one of the main themes in Scripture. It’s also the overriding theme of James 4 and 5. I can’t escape the fact that God doesn’t make us humble. Nor is it a fruit of the Spirit—something that the Holy Spirit works in us. Repeatedly we’re told in Scripture to humble ourselves. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up,” (James 4:10) the apostle James writes.

Quoting Proverbs 3:34, he explains, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Pride acts as a blockade to God’s unmerited favor. Humility, though, opens up the floodgates of heaven. James prefaces this statement by saying, “But [God] gives us more grace.”

What does humility look like? It begins with an attitude of the heart. It lacks arrogance, willingly admits faults, considers others better than itself. Humility is unpretentious, unassuming, nonjudgmental, and looks a lot like love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4–7

James writes, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16). Confessing our sins is an  act of true humility that opens heavens to our prayers and releases the floodgates of God’s favor.

Humility isn’t a formula for success in the business world or prosperity in our private finances. But it does open the way for an unhindered relationship with God, that trickles down into every area of our lives.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Do you find it difficult to accept that the Holy Spirit lives in you? Why or why not? To what extent do you allow the Holy Spirit move freely in you?
  3. What does humility look like in your life? What prevents you from living like this?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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Andre Agassi Was Wrong!

Believe it or not, twenty years ago, mullets were in, Andre Agassi had hair, and cameras were equipped with rolls of a dark and shiny transparent material called film.

Put them all together and what do you have? An Andre Agassi television commercial. If you can remember that far back, Andre Agassi promoted Canon Cameras (not to be confused with Candid Cameras).

Do you remember the tagline of every commercial? (No fair peeking at the title in the video!) Image is everything.

But is image everything—and what is the image we’re talking about?

That, my friends, is the topic of our daily Bible conversation!


Ezekiel 39:1-40:27
James 2:18-3:18
Psalm 118:1-18
Proverbs 28:2


Ezekiel 39:1-40:27. In chapter 40, Ezekiel begins his longest vision, which extends through chapter 48. When God gave him the vision, Jerusalem and the temple had been destroyed 12 years earlier.

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Andre Agassi embodied the “Image is everything” moniker. In his 2009 autobiography, Agassi admitted that his trademark mullet was a wig and his ex-wife Brooke Shields was a “trophy wife” that made him look good. He also admitted that he tested positive for methamphetamine use while portraying himself as the innocent, fun-loving, Bible-quoting tennis player (at least earlier in his career).

In today’s reading, James the brother of Jesus writes,

Someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works’…For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead (James 2:18, 26).

Western Christianity has successfully divorced faith from works. We believe that image is everything. It’s the thought that counts. What we do isn’t as important as what we believe.

But take a close look at James’ words. I don’t know about you, but they make me extremely uncomfortable.

James is saying that we live what we believe. If you want to know what you believe, look at how you live. Frankly, James’ words tempt me not to look at my life. Sometimes I prefer denial over truth.

James is trying to free people from beliefs that exist in the mind but not in the heart. He explains,

If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? (James 2:15–16)

What implications does this hold? Christianity is not a faith that is consumed but never shared. Nor is it a system of beliefs that resides only in our heads. Christianity is a faith that is worked out in our everyday lives. Paul wrote, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20).

“For God so loved the world that he gave” (John 3:16).

Floyd McClung put it in very practical terms: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Throughout my life, I’ve successfully mastered the “faith” part and failed miserably on the “works” part. I’m not saying I lived like hell, but my acts of compassion didn’t measure up to the faith I proclaimed.

Recently, however, I’ve discovered that generosity opens people’s hearts. The church Eugene and I pastor have begun serving the school where we meet with acts of kindness. Their response has been overwhelming. We began by offering to help needy families in the school, and now the school is calling us when they need help. We don’t proclaim our faith in the school hallways, but our works are validating what we believe. I’m also witnessing staff people lowering their guard and sharing their faith journeys with me. I, along with the rest of our church, are astounded that we’re making a difference.

Bring faith and works together and God will change the world through you.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Which tends to be stronger for you–faith or works? What does this say about you?

If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.


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