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Doug Tweed


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An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life…. She opens her hands to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy…. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

… Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ … A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:10-12, 20, 25-26, 28-29, 30b) 

May 26, 2023 will be the 50th anniversary of my marriage to my beloved Christie. We will not be able to celebrate it together because she went to heaven on September 5, 2020. With your permission, I will celebrate with you.

During the seventeen years I have provided columns for this good newspaper, I have written three columns directly related to marriage. “Divorce is a Preventable Disease” is available on our Friends of the King Ministries website. “Love Your Loved Ones with God’s Love” and “The Devil’s Marriage Strategy: Divide & Conquer” are both available in my book, “Moon in the Darkness”. Anyone who wishes a copy of these columns can email me through the website and I will be happy to send them to you.

Also available on our website is the column I wrote in the immediate aftermath of Christie’s departure for heaven: “Arise, My Love, My Beautiful One, and Come Away”. That column said what I was able to share then. This column says what I am now able to share after over two years as a widower. And while I offer these thoughts as a husband reflecting on the blessing of his wife, they are equally applicable to a wife reflecting on the blessing of her husband.

Every marriage is different, no marriage is perfect, and because we do not work on our marriages as diligently as we should, no marriage is as wonderful as it could be. But if you love your spouse like I have loved Christie and then become a widow or widower, I can assure you of some things you will never say. 

You will never say, “I told her ‘I love you’ too often.”

You will never say, “I held her in my arms too often”; “We held hands too often”; or “I kissed her too often”.

You will never say, “I spent too much time with her”; “I watched her while she went about her day too often”; or “I listened attentively while she told me about her day too often.”

You will never say, “I asked her what she would like me to do for her too often”; or “I asked her what she would like to do and where she would like to go too often”; or “I asked her about her dreams and aspirations for life too often.”

You will never say, “I brought her flowers too often”; or “I spent too much time watching her while she slept beside me”.

You will never say, “I praised her for her good character and beauty of heart too often”.

You will never say, “I wish we had argued more”; or “I wish I had insisted on having my way more often”; or “I didn’t get angry at her enough”.

You will never say, “I asked her if I had done anything that hurt her too often”; or “I apologized too often and too deeply in those times when I knew I hurt her”.

You will never say, “I thanked God for her too often”; or “I talked with her about the Lord and His kingdom too often”.

You will never say, “I prayed for her too often”; or “I prayed with her too often”; or “I sat in the manifest presence of the Lord with her too often”.

I miss Christie every day but would never ask the Lord to send her back to me. For a Christian, … to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21) And just to make sure I personally understand what God’s word tells us on this point, the Lord spoke directly to me during a prayer time at Friends of the King about eighteen months ago. 

He said: “Doug, Christie is everywhere you would want her to be, except with you.” 

By reading this column today, you help me celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary. Thank you! If you are married and want to help me celebrate even more, please let what I have shared here become a blessing for your beloved wife or husband.

God bless you, and God bless our community. 


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Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him (or her), and he in God. (1 John 4:15)

… God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. (Acts 10:38)

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:21-22)

Every biblically grounded Christian knows you receive the Holy Spirit when you embrace Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior (Acts 2:38-39). Amidst the debates on what that means today in terms of spiritual gifts, we have tragically failed to answer the more important question: Who is the Holy Spirit we have received? 

The Holy Spirit is God! 

It is time for the Church to fully embrace the marvelous mysterious truth of the Trinity: one God in three Persons. We know God as Father, as Son, and as Holy Spirit – three Persons. But how many Gods are there? One (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29; Romans 3:30; Galatians 3:20; James 2:19). 

The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Triune Godhead. He proceeds from the Father through the Son to us but always remains eternally and perfectly one with the Father and the Son (John 15:26, 16:7-15; Galatians 4:6) When we are joined to the Lord through the Holy Spirit and become one spirit with Him, we amazingly become part of that divine connection! (1 Corinthians 6:17)

Jesus, Son of God, emptied Himself of His divine power to live among us in human form, for two reasons. (Philippians 2:6-7) First, this enabled Him to die for the sins of mankind. (1 John 2:2) Second, this enabled Him to show us how we should live our lives on earth as children of God, “walking” just He “walked”. (1 John 2:4-6, 5:1-3)

Acts 10:38 tells us Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil because God was with Him. Now, as His disciples, we are anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, and God is with us. Jesus sends us into the world in the same way the heavenly Father sent Him. So, why are we not doing the works that He did, and even greater works? (John 14:12)

My friends, we are not doing the works of love, truth, and power that Jesus did on earth because Jesus was perfectly aligned with the God who was with Him, and we are not. (John 10:30, 17:20-23) Far more often than not, we fail to deny self, abide in Him, and let His words abide in us. (Luke 9:23; John 15:5-7) 

To illustrate what I mean, remember how valves and nozzles are used to control the flow of water through a pipe or hose. When the valve or nozzle is properly aligned, water flows freely through both the intake and outlet. Without proper alignment, the water is partially or totally obstructed at the intake, the outlet, or both.

The Holy Spirit is described by Jesus as a fountain of living water flowing into us with eternal life, and as rivers of living water flowing out from our innermost being. (John 4:13-14; 7:37-38) Unfortunately, we can be out of alignment at our points of intake, outlet, or both.

Let me offer three fundamental ways we can better align with the God who lives in us.

First, we must have agape love for everyone God loves. (Matthew 5:43-48) The God who lives within you is love. (1 John 4:7, 16) Without agape love, you have no alignment at all. (1 Corinthians 13; 1 John 4:8, 20-21) It must be love in truth and deed. (1 John 3:18)

Second, we must trust the scriptures as the divinely inspired written revelation of truth concerning who God is, who we are, and how we are to live. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalms 1, 119; Matthew 28:18-20; John 14:21-23) Jesus is the Truth, and He came to fulfill scripture, not change it. (John 14:6; Matthew 5:17-19) When we try to change it – calling evil good and good evil because we are wise in our own eyes and lean on our own understanding – we become misaligned or even totally disengaged. (Isaiah 5:20-21; Proverbs 3:5-8; Matthew 7:21-27) 

Third, we must be humble before God and man. (James 4:6-10; 1 Peter 5:5) God despises pride, arrogance, and self-righteousness. (Proverbs 8:13; Matthew 23:11-36) Proper alignment is being childlike before God and a loving servant to all. (Matthew 18:1-4; Mark 9:35)

If we align ourselves with the God who lives in us, we will experience an abiding revival that transforms our region.

God bless you and God bless our community.


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“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he [or she] it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21)

God loves us unconditionally. When something is unconditional, it is absolute and without exception. It is – or it will happen – regardless of what else happens or what you do.

Matthew 5:43-48 reveals God’s love to be perfect, and for both the just and unjust. God showed His perfect love dramatically by sending His Son to die for all of us while we were still sinners. (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 2:2) He is “no respecter of persons”, and desires everyone to repent and come into everlasting life. (Acts 10:34-35; 2 Peter 3:9)

The apostle John describes this unconditional love succinctly in the statement: “God is love.” (1 John 4:8, 16) Love is not all that God is, for He is also sovereign, holy, righteous, wise, all-powerful, and just. But because God is love, His love permeates everything else He is and everything He does. He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)

Now for the paradox: although God loves us unconditionally, His unconditional love for us has conditions.

When something has conditions, one thing depends on another. If “A” happens, then “B” will happen or “B” can happen, but if “A” does not happen, do not expect “B” to happen.

The Old Testament covenant of the law was all about conditions. If you obey, you will receive wonderful blessings, but if you disobey, you will receive curses. (Deuteronomy 28)

The New Testament covenant in Christ removed the conditions of the law but did not remove all conditions. The easiest and most important example is the road to salvation. We are saved by grace – an incredible expression of God’s unconditional love – but only when we meet the condition of faith by trusting Jesus as our Savior Lord. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

With respect to God’s unconditional love, we now look at John 14:21, where Jesus promises that if we love Him by having and keeping His commandments, then He and the Father will love us, and Jesus will manifest Himself to us.

This scripture suggests that the love of Jesus and the Father may a divine response to our obedience of His commandments! And it is a condition Jesus repeats twice in the same discourse. At John 14:23, Jesus says the Father will love us, and both He and the Father will make their home in us, if we love Him by keeping His word. “If … then.” Conditions!

Then, at John 15:10, Jesus adds that we can abide in His love if we keep His commandments. Again, conditions!

To resolve this paradox of unconditional vs. conditional love, we need a better understanding of what love is.

Scripture commands that we love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. (Mark 12:30) For both God and people, love relates to all those aspects of who we are.

We love someone with our mind as an ethical and moral choice, wanting the best for another because we know that is the right thing for us to want. We love with our heart by feelings of caring or compassion. We love with our soul, or will, by making choices that express the love in our mind and heart. Likewise, we love with our strength by actions that demonstrate our love.

Love is relational. Love with our mind and heart determines our attitude toward another. Love with our soul and strength then completes the relational connection by expressing and demonstrating that love to the one we love. The goal is to love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith, and to love in both deed and truth. (1Timothy 1:5; 1 John 3:18)

God loves all of us unconditionally with His divine heart and mind. But many of the glorious expressions and demonstrations of His love are, for our own good, subject to conditions. He loves us too much to reward continued sin and works of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16-25) Instead, He rewards those who seek Him by doing His will. (Hebrews 11:6; 2 John 1:8-9; Psalm 24:2-5)

Do you want to know the love of God, and not just know of it? Do you want Jesus to manifest Himself in your life? Do you want to have the Father and the Son actively dwelling within you? Do you want to live each day breathing in the atmosphere of Christ’s love? Do you want to be filled with all the fullness of God? (Ephesians 3:17-19)

If you want this abundant life, then meet the conditions of God’s unconditional love. (John 10:10) Express your love for your Lord Jesus by doing your best to learn and keep all His commandments. This is not legalism. This is wisdom. This is the life of faith. (Romans 1:17; Hebrews 11:6-34)

God bless you, and God bless our community.


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And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy- the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God. (Luke 2:30-37)


Luke was not one of the disciples who walked with Jesus during His three years of earthly ministry. For that reason, Luke carefully investigated everything before writing his Gospel. (Luke 1:1-4) His description of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus make it likely his investigation included a personal interview of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

It is in Luke that we learn Mary was a virgin, although betrothed; that she conceived a son in her womb through the Holy Spirit while still a virgin; and that the father of this son was not a man but instead, “the Most High” God we have come to know as the heavenly Father. (Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-20)

Another Gospel, Matthew, verifies these facts from the perspective of Joseph, the man betrothed to Mary. (Matthew 1:16-25) Both John and Paul then expand upon our understanding of this miraculous birth with their explanations that God the Son – the Word through whom all things were created – emptied Himself so He could be born in human form and dwell among us. (John 1:1-14; Philippians 2:4-11) Wow!

While the majority of professing Christians in America today still believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, the numbers are steadily declining. The number of Christians who believe Jesus is God the Son, who existed prior to His human birth, has declined even more. And, most troubling to me, few people seem to care about this erosion of faith. Why?

As humanity has moved through the 18th century Ages of Reason and Romanticism to the Industrial Revolution and our present Age of Information, we have given ever-increasing preeminence to human reason, human experience, and science as the highest forms of knowledge. We tend to view the concept of divine revelation from God as primitive and outdated, and in the absence of divine revelation, a virgin birth sounds like an impossibility.

I offer four reasons why every Christian should believe in the virgin birth of Jesus.

First, Luke and Matthew clearly present their descriptions of these events as historical fact, not as myth or metaphor. If, based on our reason and experience, we determine that a virgin birth cannot and did not occur, then we are classifying these scriptures as fabrications and not fact– something “made up.” The Bible says God has inspired all scripture. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) When we choose to determine for ourselves what portions of scripture to believe and not believe, we become the ones who are really “making it up”. The clay shapes the Potter into the image of the clay rather than the other way around. (Exodus 20:4; Isaiah 29:16, 64:8)

Second, the heart of the Gospel is the sacrifice of the sinless and unblemished Lamb of God for our sins. (John 1:29; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:11-15) No person born of man and woman could qualify because all sin and fall short. (Romans 3:21) A sinless Father and a virgin womb impregnated by the power of the Holy Spirit was the only way.

Third, our faith in the miracle of the virgin birth of Jesus prepares us for our faith in the miraculous births that follow. Before the resurrected Christ ascended to heaven, He told His disciples the Holy Spirit would “come upon” them, using the same words that Gabriel used when he explained how Mary would conceive. (Acts 1:8)

When we receive the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus, we are “born again,” “born of the Spirit,” and “born of God,” becoming children of God and new creations. (John 1:12-13, 3:3-8; 2 Corinthians 5:17) Jesus, the only begotten and firstborn, now joined by millions of sisters and brothers. (John 3:16; Romans 8:29) Wow!

Fourth, as Gabriel declared to Mary, “… nothing will be impossible with God”!

Every time you see a nativity scene this Christmas season, remember: the mother at the manger was a virgin.

Have a blessed and merry Christmas!


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“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,  concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh  and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,  through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations….” (Romans 1:1-5)

“Now to Him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages  but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith –  to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Romans 16:25-27)

Paul is the divinely inspired author of thirteen books of the New Testament. Unlike the original Galilean apostles, Paul was chosen as an apostle by Jesus after His resurrection. And unlike the original apostles, Paul was highly educated in the Hebrew scriptures – our Old Testament – and both Hebrew history and Hebrew law. (Acts 5:34, 22:3; Philippians 3:4-6) This, coupled with the direct revelation Paul received from Jesus Christ, empowered him to become our apostolic theologian. (Galatians 1:11-12)

Romans is Paul’s longest and most systematic work – an explanation of the “big picture”, if you will, as to why we needed Jesus, what Jesus has done, and what God expects of us. Both at the beginning and the end of Romans, Paul uses one phrase to describe what God has called him to bring about in all the nations: “the obedience of faith”.

What is the obedience of faith? Modern theologians seem to fall into two camps. 

One group, fearing the error of “cheap grace”, wants to honor the principle of James 2:14-26 that faith without works is dead. True faith will be evidenced by obedience even though it will be flawed obedience due to our imperfect state. 

The other group, fearing the error of legalism, wants to protect the principle of Ephesians 2:8-9 that we are saved by grace and not by works. The obedience of faith is primarily seen as obeying God’s command to trust what Jesus did on the cross for us. (Romans 10:9-13)

There is some truth in each of these positions, but in my opinion, both fail to capture what Paul really means.

We must first understand that God has always wanted our obedience. The fundamental prayer lesson of Jesus is that we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10) There is no disobedience in heaven!

God is God and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:5) Both the Old and New Testaments are filled with scriptures calling for our obedience of God’s commands. (Exodus 19:5-6; Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 10:5-6; Hebrews 5:8-10; 1 Peter 1:2, 14-15) The issue Paul is addressing in the phrase, “the obedience of faith”, is not about whether we should obey or how much we should obey. It is about our motivation for obedience.

To a Hebrew people getting to know God after centuries of Egyptian slavery, God’s covenant of the law offered two types of motivation: the obedience of fear and the obedience of quid pro quo. (Deuteronomy 28) They would be blessed in a multitude of ways if they obeyed Him, and they would be cursed in a multitude of ways if they disobeyed Him.

The obedience of quid pro quo is like the obedience of a hired servant who expects their wages if they do their job. The obedience of fear is like the obedience of a slave who fears the whip. God’s goal all along, however, was the obedience of faith: the willing and even enthusiastic obedience of children who love and trust their heavenly Father completely. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Luke 10:27; Matthew 18:1-4)

Through Jesus and all the events leading up to Jesus, God has revealed He loves us beyond measure. He is all-good, all-knowing, all-wise, all-powerful and, as a result, completely trustworthy in all He does and all He commands us to do. So why would we ever want to disobey Him?

And through the sacrifice of Jesus, God has revealed He is all-merciful to His children and will forgive us when in our weakness, we fail to obey. (1 John 1:7-9)

Fear becomes reverent awe. Quid pro quo expectation of reward becomes a willingness to sacrifice on earth for treasures in heaven. (Matthew 19:21) We obey the Lord because we have complete faith in a God who is always right and never wrong, and because we love Him. (John 14:21-24)

God bless you and God bless our community.


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At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to Me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” Matthew 11:25-27)

“…You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

[As the Methodists where I began my life of ministry become the next denomination to go through a painful division over the issue of scriptural authority, I feel led to share this column from 2009.]

Soon after my return to the Lord in 1991, I heard a very helpful statement: “It’s not about religion – it’s about relationship!”

I do not remember who first spoke this truth to me, but I heard it often, and I am so grateful. As a warning, it saved me from falling into several “religious” traps. As a focus, it directed me into my own experience of fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus through the Holy Spirit. (1 John 1:3) 

Now there is another statement flowing through my spirit: “It’s not theology – it’s reality!” This truth also provides some useful warnings and focus to help us grow as God’s people.

The word, “theology”, comes from the ancient Greek word, “theologia”, which brings together the word for God (“theos”) and the word for reasoned discourse or analysis (“logos”).  A traditional definition for theology would be the reasoned analysis of who God is and how God relates to humanity and creation. 

This obviously sounds like a worthy enterprise but be aware of the trap. As we should expect from the culture of Plato and Aristotle, theology’s emphasis was even then on human intellect and observation. Man figures out who God is. This can easily lead to a violation of the 2nd Commandment by creating God in the image we want Him to be. (Exodus 20:3; 2 Timothy 4:3)    

In modern times, the problem gets even worse. Three factors have dramatically impacted the traditional concept of theology: (1) the pride of scientific thought; (2) political sensitivity to the world’s religious diversity; and (3) the confusion created by competing doctrines within each religion, including Christianity. 

A modern definition for theology would be the rational study of different religious belief systems and practices. These theologians are no longer trying to figure out who God really is. They are simply studying what different groups choose to believe about God, and thus a second trap is sprung – pluralism.  You figure out who God is for you, and I will figure out who God is for me. Our beliefs have equal merit. 

Now compare these definitions of theology to the definition of “reality”: the state of things as they actually exist. 

What is the reality of God? Is God whoever various groups believe Him to be? Is God whoever my intellect and experience determine He should be? Or is there a God who actually and “really” is? An “I AM” who reveals Himself to us! (Exodus 3:14)

My friends, our heavenly Father did not send Jesus Christ to start a religion. Jesus was sent to reveal reality – truth about God that only the Son of God could know. (Matthew 11:27) Jesus revealed them during His earthly ministry and continues to reveal them through the Holy Spirit, who inspired all scripture and leads us into all truth. (John 16:13-15; 2 Timothy 3:14-17) 

And Jesus did not come to appeal to our intellect. The truths Jesus reveals are far beyond what earth-bound mankind could ever intellectualize. Creation speaks to God’s power and majesty. (Psalm 19) The law given to Moses set forth fundamentals of right behavior already suggested, at least in part, by the natural conscience built into humanity. (Romans 2:1-23) But only Jesus could reveal the reality of a heavenly Father’s unconditional love and grace. (John 1:1-18) Only Jesus could show us what creation in the image and likeness of God really means.

Every morning we wake up as a Christian, the greatest reality in our life should be the reality of God! More real than my house is the fact I live in Christ and Christ lives in me. More real than my shortcomings is God’s unconditional love for me every moment of every day. 

More real than TV’s bad news is God’s good news: Jesus has paid the price for all sin of all people for all time.  More real than political strife is the fact Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth. More real than evil is the ability of good to defeat evil – because God is for us and with us.

It’s not theology – it’s reality!  Praise the Lord!

God bless you, and God bless our community.


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“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)

We know God heals the brokenhearted, but who are these brokenhearted people God heals, and how does He heal them? defines “brokenhearted” as: “burdened with great sorrow, grief or disappointment”.  Our culture often connects this with romantic break-ups or the loss of close family and friendships, and God can certainly bring comfort to His people in those situations. (Matthew 5:4)

Scripture also speaks of “a broken and contrite heart” – a person who has become humbly repentant before the Lord after being convicted in their heart of pride and sin. (Psalm 51:17) God’s forgiveness of our sins through Christ can provide great comfort as He creates in us a “clean heart” and “right spirit”, restoring the joy of our salvation. (Psalm 51:1-12)

When Psalms 34 and 147 speak of the brokenhearted, however, I believe God is looking beyond those who mourn or repent. The Hebrew word used for “broken” (“shabar”) can mean “shattered” or “crippled”. The Hebrew word used for “heart” (“leb”) refers not just to emotions but to the mind and will – what we call the inner man or inner woman. 

In short, I believe these psalms reveal God’s desire to heal the crippled soul.

Our families, neighborhoods, and congregations include many people, young and old, who have been deeply traumatized, particularly in their childhood. Some were abandoned. Many were sexually or physically abused. Even more were verbally abused – living proof that the nursery rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”, is a lie of the devil.  

As a result, these people struggle every day with various levels of anxiety, depression, anger, bitterness, isolation, guilt, shame, and low self-esteem.

Other children, even if not the victims of overt abuse, wrongly learned from their parents or other caregivers that you are supposed to earn love and acceptance. When they did well, they received approval, but when they made a mistake, they received condemnation or rejection. This eventually leads to the assumption that if things go wrong, it must be because you did wrong. As a result, these people struggle with fear of failure and rejection. They often become people-pleasers or perfectionists, which can disguise their pain and fear. 

God designed human beings with three basic needs: the need to belong (love), the need to feel safe (peace), and the need to know your life has value and significance (purpose). Those crippled in soul are challenged in one or more of these areas. Yet most of them will not seek healing.

When our body is crippled by injury or disease, we do not hesitate to seek help. But when we are crippled in soul, the opposite occurs. We fear the stigma of mental illness. We fear people in our churches will think we lack faith. So, we keep telling people we are fine when we really are not fine at all   

Those who do seek help from secular sources will primarily receive medication, which may help you cope but will never heal you. The fortunate ones get the benefit of empathic counselors, particularly with approaches in cognitive behavioral therapy that seek to change how you think about life, situations, and yourself. But it is difficult for secular therapists to help you take those changes in thinking to the deeper levels below your rational mind – to your memories and subconscious where the pain is rooted. You need the power of God to do that.

How does God heal the brokenhearted? Through biblically grounded Christian counselors (pastoral or clinical), loving Christian community, the experience of God’s presence, and the power of prayer, the Lord can:

1. Plant hope in your heart that you can be healed. This is where it begins.

2. Guide you through forgiveness ministry so you are free from anger, bitterness, guilt, and shame. This includes forgiveness of yourself.

3. Convince you in the depths of your being that you are incredibly loved and valued by God. The truth sets you free, and His perfect love casts out all fear! (John 8:32; 1 John 4:18)

4. Impart His eternal perspective into your memories so the power of the hurts fades away, leaving behind redemptive gifts of wisdom, humility, and empathy for others.

5. Deliver you from any demonic oppression that is aggravating your pain and obstructing your efforts to heal.

6. Set you on the path to the wonderful hope and future He has for you as His child. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Healing in part can come quickly, like surgery, even though healing in whole will usually require a time of rehabilitation. Our Lord can heal the brokenhearted if they will respond to His invitation: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

God bless you, and God bless our community


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“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)

John 15 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. It is the source of the name my beloved Christie and I gave to our ministry: Friends of the King Ministries. (vs. 12-16) Even more important, it sets forth the all-important parable of the vine and the branches. (vs. 1-8) 

I picture Jesus leading His disciples from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal. As they walk through the Kidron Valley, He points to the vineyards around them as an illustration of how they and we must serve Him after His ascension to heaven. Like branches attached to the vine, He expects us to bear fruit for His Kingdom. To do that, we must abide in Him as He abides in us. Apart from Him, we accomplish nothing.

This parable is well-known to most Christians even though we may differ in our understanding of exactly how we “abide” in Jesus. The Greek word used for “abide” is meno, meaning to remain, stay, abide, or dwell. Through the Holy Spirit, our Lord Jesus Christ abides in us. (John 16:13-16; Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 6:17) To live fruitful Christian lives, we must avoid bouncing back and forth between occasional focus on Christ, focus on the world, and focus on our “flesh”. (Galatians 5:16-25; 1 John 2:15-17) Instead, we must stay focused on the Lord, His presence within us, and His will for our lives.

All of us struggle to stay constantly aware of Jesus throughout the day even though that would be a wonderful way to live. I believe those who struggle most are professing Christians who fail to understand how important it is for them to “bear fruit” for Christ. In the parable, Jesus stated this is how you prove you are His disciple and how you bring glory to our heavenly Father. (v. 8) Left unstated by Jesus was a truth His original disciples knew well already. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit apart from the vine, so a vine without branches does not bear fruit at all! 

God can do anything without help, but God chose to give stewardship of the earth to mankind and has never withdrawn that assignment. (Genesis 1:26-31; Psalm 8:3-8, 115:16) So God will always work with us, but rarely without us. We are all gifted and called. (1 Corinthians 12:4-27) The Vine needs His branches just as the Head needs His Body. (Ephesians 1:22-23) The purpose of what we have traditionally called church ministry – worship services, Sunday schools, and bible studies – is to equip all Christians for the real work of ministry in this broken world. (Ephesians 4:11-16) 

Our fruit is the witness of our lives every day by word and deed to the love, truth, faithfulness, grace and power of our heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, who brought us out of darkness and into His Kingdom of light. (Acts 1:8; Colossians 1:12; 1 Peter 2:9) We love our neighbor and everyone God loves. (Matthew 5:43-48) We serve God and others, treating others like we wish to be treated. (John 13:1-17; Matthew 7:12) We are a house of continuous prayer. (Isaiah 56:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:17) 

Although not saved by works, we are saved for good works (good fruit), so our fruit has the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Ephesians 2:8-10; Luke 6:43-49; Galatians 5:22-23) The bad fruit of sexual immorality, hatred, strife, fits of anger, divisiveness, and self-centered ambition do not grow on God’s Vine. (Galatians 5:19-21) 

The vital importance of branches bearing “much fruit” for our Lord is underscored by our heavenly Father’s role as the Vinedresser. (vs. 1-2) I believe we are now living in a season of His pruning and removal of branches so His true Church can shine brightly amidst the increasing darkness. (Isaiah 60:1-3) 

Despite biblical commands to the contrary, many people are choosing long-term to forego the gathering of God’s people in favor of broadcast services or nothing at all. (Hebrews 10:24-25)   A great many local churches are shrinking or closing, and denominations are both shrinking and dividing.  

Some view these developments as a time of spiritual defeat, but what I see is a divine shaking (Hebrews 12:26-29), a refiner’s fire (Malachi 3:2-3), a sifting of wheat from chaff (Luke 3:17), and, in the language of John 15, the hand of the Vinedresser pruning and removing whatever holds back the glorious fruitfulness Christ wants His Body to have. 

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, be a branch that abides in the Vine and bears much fruit to the glory of God! The Vine and the Vinedresser are counting on you.

God bless you, and God bless our community.


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“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion…. An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:2, 15)

Eve was not alive when the Lord first instructed Adam that he could eat of any tree in the Garden of Eden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but that in the day he ate of that tree, he would surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17)

After Eve’s creation, either Adam or the Lord clearly shared this prohibition with her. But it is equally clear her understanding of this instruction was only partially correct. Because she was partially informed, she was easily deceived. 

When Satan uses the serpent to tempt Eve into sin, he starts by questioning her understanding of what trees she can use for food. Eve explains she can eat from any tree except the tree in the middle of the garden, but that if she eats from that tree, or even touches its fruit, she will die. (Genesis 3:1-3)

In fact, the Lord never said anything would happen if you just touched the fruit. So, when the serpent tells Eve the fruit will make her wise like God, and she goes to the tree and sees that the fruit is sweetly scented and appealing in appearance, and she takes the fruit into her hand, and nothing adverse happens to her, she concludes the serpent must be right and the Lord wrong. (Genesis 3:4-6). She eats. Adam, who came to the tree with her, also eats. And the rest is history. Sin and death came into the world, and they are still with us today. (Romans 5:12)

Abraham was a friend of God and often talked with Him. (James 2:23) At the outset of their relationship, the Lord told Abraham He would make him the father of a great nation. (Genesis 12:2) Ten years later, in his mid-80’s and still childless, Abraham shares with the Lord his concern that his heir will have to be his household servant rather than his own son. (Genesis 15:2-6) The Lord assures Abraham that his heir will be his own son, and Abraham believes Him.

Shortly thereafter, Abraham’s elderly wife Sarah tells him that the Lord has prevented her from having children. She proposes they birth their child and heir through her Egyptian servant Hagar, and Abraham “listened to the voice of Sarah”. (Genesis 16:1-2) He did not consult the Lord as he had done in the past, and so he did not learn from the Lord until years later that God’s plan was a son and heir through Sarah. (Genesis 17:16-22) 

Abraham was partially informed, knowing his heir would be his son but not knowing it would also be Sarah’s son. As a result, Ishmael was born as Abraham’s first son – a man who as Abraham’s offspring would father his own great nation, but a man (and nation) also destined to live in conflict with everyone else, including his kin. (Genesis 16:10-12, 17:20) 

Again, the rest is history. Ishmael became the father of the Arab people. Mohammad, founder and “Great Prophet” of Islam, traces his Arab ancestry and biblical legitimacy to Abraham through Abraham’s “first son”, Ishmael. Today there are almost two billion Muslims in the world, all of whom believe God has no Son and, therefore, John 3:16 cannot be true.

Jesus is the Truth. (John 14:6) Satan is the father of lies. If he cannot deceive you with a full lie, he will deceive you with half-truths and partial information. (John 8:44) Bad choices are destructive, and that is always the devil’s goal. (John 10:10)

Our nation’s political divisiveness today is largely the result of so many Americans being partially informed. The news media are all biased one way or the other, filtering what they report, and both progressives and conservatives tend to pay attention only to news sources that support their existing opinions. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

As to the Church, most professing Christians do not personally study the Bible. They prefer to receive God’s Word “second-hand” through their denominational doctrines, their local preacher, their friends, and now even online. Because so many are partially informed and not personally informed, they often accept human doctrine and tradition as God’s Word even when the full testimony of scripture directly contradicts what they have chosen to believe. (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13; Colossians 2:8) The sanctity of papal decrees, cessationism, the “prosperity gospel”, and sexual permissiveness are just four examples of this.

Study the Bible personally, not just through others. Pray every day that the Holy Spirit will give you wisdom and lead you into more truth. (Isaiah 11:1; James 1:5; John 16:13) As to any issue, hear both sides and be fully informed before you reach a conclusion. 

The partially informed are easily deceived. The truth sets us free. (John 8:32) 

God bless you, and God bless our community. 


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I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:20-23)


My Lord despises spiritual pride and so my desire is always to be free of it. But I am willing to risk being labelled with it rather than remain silent about the need of our Christian community to grow up and become who we are called to be.

We are living in both the times of difficulty described in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and the times of spiritual immaturity described in Hebrews 5:13-15. Everywhere I look, the Church is failing to distinguish good from evil. One segment fails to discern sexual immorality and the sanctity of life while another fails to discern the equally unacceptable absence of humility and agape love. One ignores God’s hatred of lawlessness while the other ignores His compassion for the lost and oppressed.

Across our nation, people are being led astray by traditions and philosophies of man that are contrary to the whole counsel of the Word of God. (Matthew 15:2-9; Colossians 2:8; Acts 20:27) As a result, we are a divided house with a weak witness, and losing each upcoming generation to the world even more than we lost the last. (Mark 3:25; 1 Peter 2:9-15)

When the Lord drew me back to Him in 1991, He gave me a hunger to know ever more about Him and draw ever closer to Him. (John 16:13; James 4:8) In addition to reading and re-reading scripture, I immediately began to devour the books of wonderful teachers like Max Lucado, Philip Yancey, and C.S. Lewis. It was in the Chronicles of Narnia by Lewis that I found the phrase, “Come further up, come further in.” Amen!

As I became more aware of the importance of the Holy Spirit, I turned to charismatic teachers like Derek Prince and R.T. Kendall. Christie and I attended multi-day conferences with great speakers and great worship. We interacted in our community with devout Christian men and women from a variety of Christian faith expressions. The more we learned and experienced, the more we became aware of how much more we needed to learn and experience.

Christie has graduated to a knowledge of the Lord I cannot expect to have while I remain on earth. I am still a work in progress. But I have seen a truth in scripture that is life-changing, biblically inarguable, and yet hardly ever mentioned. If you are truly a Christian, your Lord God now lives in you! So, what are you going to do about it?

The scriptural testimony for this is set forth in my book: Be With Jesus, Be Like Jesus, Be For Jesus. All I can provide here is the “nutshell” version and point out there are hundreds of scriptures in addition to John 17:20-23 that verify what I am saying.

God creates all people, male and female, in His image and likeness, and so all have the potential to become children of God. However, sin – our failure to trust and obey God – separates us from a holy God and we are unable to bridge that gap. Therefore, God in His perfect love sent His Son Jesus to take on the form of humanity and die for the sins of the world.

When we repent of our failure to trust and obey God and put our trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord, God forgives our sins and reconciles us to Himself in the most incredible way imaginable. The Holy Spirit proceeds from God to live within us forever and become one with our human spirit. (John 15:26; Romans 8:9-17; 1 Corinthians 6:17)

What we have consistently failed to grasp is that the Holy Spirit is much more than a seal of our salvation or bestower of spiritual gifts and power. God is one God in three Persons, and the Holy Spirit is God, the third Person of the Trinity, both eternally and perfectly one with the Father and Son.

Every day we are quenching and grieving God the Holy Spirit by our compromises in trust and obedience, our lack of agape love for everyone He loves, and our lack of unity in Him. The Bible urges us to honor who He is and follow Him daily as He transforms us, fills us, and unites us with the Father, the Son, and each other. (1 John 1:1-4)

Then the world will finally be able to know and believe.

God bless you, and God bless our community.