God Sent a Mosquito

In the black night it sounded like a miniature jet plane in my ear. Given its incredibly small size the sound it made was incredible. And irritating. No amount of waving my arms around in the dark could stop it from its intended mission.

Anyone who has been dive bombed by a kamikaze mosquito knows the aggravation. I was getting mosquitoed. Only my third night in Haiti and I was already under attack.

And suddenly I remembered that I had forgotten the most important thing I needed to do in Haiti. Take my malaria medicine.

The problem with malaria medicine is that it’s easy to forget. It’s taken with food and my normal routine over the years has been to take it with my evening meal.

And that’s where the problem started.

Haitians eat their main meal at noon and I was only snacking last night. I’m a creature of habit and not being in my routine was a problem. No meal – no medicine. I had only been in country for three days and I’d already forgotten to take my malaria medicine.

And that’s when God sent a mosquito.

To be truthful I don’t know if God sent it or not but it did the job. That nasty little insect was looking for a landing spot. A place to suck my blood. And if it’s the right (or wrong) kind of mosquito, to give me the malaria virus. All I wanted to do was to end its’ life before it nailed me.

And that’s when I remembered the medicine. I never did kill the mosquito but I did take my medicine.

I got to thinking about that mosquito. Could it have been a messenger from God? Maybe. Maybe not. I’ll never know.

But it made me think about how God directs us in life. We tend to think that if God is going to lead us He will do it in a nice, comfortable way. But what if God chooses to send a mosquito to move us in the right direction? What if He decides that the best way to get us to do what He wants is to send an irritation that has the possibility of giving us spiritual malaria if we don’t do the right thing?

There’s no guarantee that whenever God acts in our lives, He’ll do it in a way that we enjoy. In fact that seems to me to fall into the category of Christian myth.

The Palmist wrote; it is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes (Psalm 119:71). And this from the New Testament writer, James; count it all joy when you fall into various trials – because trials can produce godliness in us (James 1:2-4) when we handle them the right way.

I suspect that the list of saints, both Biblical and non Biblical, who have been moved by trials of all kinds is long. Somehow God knows that the mosquitoes of life are affective.

So the bottom line is –it’s ok to kill the mosquitoes before they bite you, but it’s better if you can learn from them – especially the spiritual ones.

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve



White Like Me

I remember picking up the book Black Like Me at a friend’s house sometime in 1964 as an eighth grade student. Published in 1961 it was the account of a white journalist’s travels in the Deep South disguised as a black man at a time when racial tensions in our country were strained. His objective was to experience life from the other side.

To say the least it was an eye-opening read for a young white boy. Although I was raised in California, my contacts with people who were not like me were limited. In all of my formative years I had one Asian friend, Wesley and one black friend, Leonard. In addition there were a handful of children of Hispanic immigrant workers, who came in and out of school. Many of them never stayed long; their parents were following the crops.

The vast majority of people I knew were White. Like. Me.

That situation leads to a very narrow perspective. When you only know people like you, you don’t learn that differences exist. You think, especially at a young age, that the world is filled with people who are exactly like you. People who look like you. People who think like you. People who have the same values and outlook on life as you.

That first exposure to the real world where differences exist, even through a book, can be a upsetting to your little world. That was what happened to me as I read the story of John Howard Griffin’s journey into another world. A world that I knew little about.

We have a similar problem today.

Not that we don’t know about the others, but that we don’t want to know. We want to live with blinders on. To act like they aren’t there – if we ignore them they might go away. If we oppose them they will run. If we shout loud enough we won’t hear what they are saying.

We want people to be like us, especially if we’re from a European descent. It’s just easier that way.

The problem that many people have is that the immigrants who are ruining America aren’t like us. The LGBT crowd that is destroying the morals of our country isn’t like us.

And it’s true – they’re not.

But that’s not the most crucial factor, especially for Christians.

What’s important is that they are people. And for the Christian – at least for those who really care what God thinks and what the Bible says – that’s more important than what they look like, or where they came from or even what they believe or how they act.

They are people who are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). People God loves (John 3:16). People who can be reached with the gospel (Matthew 28:19). People who have an eternal destiny (Hebrews 9:27).

We need to stop wishing that the world (or our country) was different – that people were like us, and begin to see people with the eyes of God.

If we did, we wouldn’t care if they were White. Like. Me.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

Never Be Satisfied – Yet

Being satisfied is a dangerous thing. So is being dissatisfied. Satisfaction can lead to complacency; dissatisfaction can lead to frustration. But satisfaction can also lead to a sense of peace and dissatisfaction can push us to attempt greater things.

So how do you know when to be satisfied and when to be dissatisfied?

That’s a personal call that will differ by individual and circumstances.

As far as the Christian life goes there is a danger in ever being satisfied. As long as we are on this earth there will always be room for improvement. When we stop growing spiritually we become spiritually stagnate. There should always be a nagging sense of dissatisfaction somewhere deep within us.

If there isn’t, something is wrong.

The Apostle Paul expressed his dissatisfaction with this life and all that it had to offer and a longing for something better.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Romans 12:24

We ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:23

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Philippians 3:10-12

Christians should never be satisfied with lingering sin; never satisfied with our level of love for Christ, our spiritual growth, our commitment, or our service; never satisfied with this life or what the world has to offer us.

In fact there should be a high level of dissatisfaction. Don’t be satisfied to be who you are. Until we see Him we are incomplete, imperfect, unfinished as it were.

But there should also be a certain satisfaction that we have because of Jesus.

We should be satisfied in His love; we should be satisfied with who we are in Him; we should be satisfied with what He is doing in our lives; we should be satisfied in the prospects of eternity with Him.

In short, we should be satisfied in Jesus. Totally, completely.

On that day when we stand before Him we will be like Him (1 John 3:2), finally complete. Finally satisfied.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

It’s a Complicated World

We live in a complicated world. As much as we want simplicity there are no easy answers. For every issue that we face there are multiple things that we need to consider. It seems that every issue is more complicated that it appears on the face.

And that causes problems between people.

We want quick answers. We have a need to know – now; to hold people responsible; to assign blame; to take sides; to make sure our side wins the PR battle.

And that means that we are often too quick to condemn those who see an issue differently and too quick to defend those we agree with. We have lost the art of reflection and deliberation.

Reserving judgment until all, or most of the facts are in, was at one time more common than it is today. But no longer. Now we rush to judgment. So much so, that anyone who seems too deliberative is considered suspect and their motives questioned.

It’s true in every arena of life.

No longer do we give people we disagree with the benefit of the doubt. They don’t deserve it. And too often we view them as the enemy.

I’m not suggesting that we put aside all of our differences or that we no longer take firm stands on the issues. Only that we do it carefully, with due consideration and thoughtfully.

For the Christian there is a standard that should guide all of our actions. It’s the standard of love. When Jesus was asked to name the greatest of all of the Old Testament commandments (Matthew 22:34f) He said that we are to love God with all that is in us. He quickly followed that up with a second commandment that was as important as the first and that is to love other people as much as we love ourselves.

I think that includes people who hold a different position on the issue.

We are to operate, always, in the context of love.

What does that mean in terms of how we related to people who don’t see things the same way we seem them?

The Apostle Paul touches on that in 1 Corinthians 13:7 when he says love believes all things. The Amplified Bible states it this way: Love is ever ready to believe the best of every person.

Always. Even when we disagree.

The New Testament scholar Leon Morris explained what this means when he wrote, it means to see the best in others . . . . This does not mean that love is gullible, but that it does not think the worst (as is the way of the world). It retains its faith. Love is not deceived . . . but it is always ready to give the benefit of the doubt.

When as Christians we are too quick to condemn; too quick to draw conclusions; too quick to take sides, we are no longer operating in the standard of love.

Imagine what our society would look like if everyone practiced love this way. Always. All of the time. With everyone. Regardless.

While the issues we face are complicated, the way to handle them is not.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

What Will You Do With Another Year?

A year has ended and a new year is here. Some people, especially the young, look forward to a new year with all of its possibilities and potential. Others, mostly older people, aren’t so enthusiastic about another year with its trials and hardships.

Whichever group you fit into, the reality is the same for everyone – it’s here! You can’t stop it; you can’t change it; you can’t avoid it.

It is a set reality that the old year has gone and a new year has come. And that means several things.

It means that you are a year older and have one year less on your personal calendar.

It means that some opportunities have been lost to the past, never to be recovered.

It means that for some things in your life that you messed up there are no “do-overs”.

It means that certain things are now in the dust bin of history.

But a new year is here and that too is significant.

It means that you are a year wiser and can achieve more in a year’s time than before.

It means that you will have new, unexpected opportunities.

It means that you can determine to do things right the first time this time.

It means that you can live so that at the end of this year, when the actions of your life are relegated to the dust bin of history, they will be seen as achievements not as failures.

The question for all of us is: What will you do with another year?

Will it just be another year, like so many past years, that comes and goes? Or will it be unlike any other year of your life?

Will you live it to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)?

Will you achieve great things for the kingdom of God (John 9:4)?

Will you influence someone’s life for eternity (Matthew 5:14-16)?

Will you grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)?

A typical year has 365 days, 52 weeks, 12 months. It’s the same for all of us. No one gets an advantage.

The success or failure of a new year is not in the advantage of time, it’s in how you use the time that is the same for all of us.

Use it wisely (Ephesians 5:15-16).

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

Where Do You Get Your News?

If you watch the news for any length of time you’ll be tempted to ask is there any GOOD news? We’re inundated with one unsavory story after another that cause us to live in fear, disgust and/or hopelessness. It seems like evil has overrun our world.

As Christians we shouldn’t be surprised. God’s Word tells us that in the days just before the return of Christ, men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:2-4).

We’re there.

But back to the question is there any GOOD news? The answer is YES! Yes there is good news, especially for the Christian. It’s all about where you look. Most people get their news from sources like as ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, or various internet sites and if you keep looking there, you’ll probably continue to get bad news and it will be discouraging. However, if you get your news from God’s Word there is plenty of good news. Here’s just a sample of the good news that God has for you as a Christian:

God is still in control. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Psalm 33:11

You are on God’s heart. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. Psalm 34:15

We have peace. Therefore, having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1

We have hope. Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2

You don’t have to pay for your sin. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12

The problems of today are nothing compared to what is coming. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

A better day is coming. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

You are loved. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. 1 John 3:14

Think about all of the good news that’s available to us if we just look in the right place. I’m sure that you can add to this list. Don’t be jaded by the news that you get from the television, newspaper or internet – the news from the world isn’t so good, but the news from God’s Word is great!

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

Amazing (Grace) Mercy How Sweet the Sound

With apologies to John Newton, God’s mercy is as amazing as His grace! Where would we be today without the mercy of God?

Mercy is often associated with pity or compassion and is sometimes translated by those words. Both concepts are certainly part of God’s mercy but it is so much more. It’s more in any way you look at it. It’s more in intensity; it’s more in duration; it’s more in substance; it’s more in quality; it’s more in quantity – it’s just more than we can describe.

Over the years theologians, and others, have offered definitions to explain God’s grace and mercy, but none of their definitions get it completely right. One favorite way to explain grace and mercy is that God’s grace is giving us what we don’t deserve (His love, forgiveness etc) while His mercy is not giving us what we do deserve (judgment). Again, it’s true but there is so much more.

Simply put, and this is admittedly too simplistic, both mercy and grace are aspects of God’s love. Mercy is God’s love given to those who need it the most – the blind man (John 9), the cripple (John 5), the leper (Matthew 8) were all recipients of His mercy.

Grace is different. Grace is God’s love given to those who deserve it the least – people who are not just physically damaged but especially to people who are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:8). None of us deserves to be forgiven.

Not perfect definitions but they’ve helped me understand the distinctions a little better.

As much as we talk and sing about God’s grace it is His mercy that stands behind His grace. Grace is motivated by mercy (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Without God’s mercy there would be no salvation. Without His mercy there would be no healing. Without His mercy there would be no forgiveness for our daily sin. Without His mercy there would be no escaping judgment. Without his mercy there would be no hope for eternity.

Without mercy, grace would just not be the same.

Yes, grace is essential and we need to give it the importance it deserves. But so is mercy.

Think what your life would be like without the mercy of God. Think what eternity would be like without the mercy of God.

The old hymn says, O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be. We’re also immensely in debt to mercy.

Thank God for His grace – but also thank Him for His mercy.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve