Discernment Defined 

Ours is the age of little discernment. Compare Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary definition of the word “discern.” He wrote, “to see or understand the difference…between good and evil, truth and falsehood.” What a tremendous definition! Unfortunately, modern editors corrupted it. The 2015 version of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines discern: “to recognize or identify right from wrong.” No longer is it “to see or understand the difference…between good and evil, truth and falsehood.” With good and evil, truth and lies taken out of this definition, we’re left with personal preference, and no resemblance to absolute truth at all. Ironically, this supposed “new and improved” definition of discern completely lacks discernment. Jesus admonishes each of us, “See that no one leads you astray.” (Matthew 24:4, ESV)  

Societies Drifting  

As society continues to drift further away from reality, and people redefine what is right and wrong, only God’s Word contains the truth that can set someone free. More and more people are creating their own version of good and evil, truth and lies. But the “new” morality is merely repackaged as “old” immorality. Sadly, far from being profound or liberating, it is the perfect recipe for deception. It is: “man playing God.” From rebellious anarchists to pleasure-seeking hedonists…selfish capitalists to naïve socialists, lack of discernment will always lead to deception and destruction. Unless our hearts are transformed by surrendering our will to Jesus, we will get further away from God and why we were created. Jesus prayed in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Where are you and I playing God in our lives? 

Is Depression a Disease?

Recently I read that a notable person’s daughter had died of a disease. Upon further examination of the facts, the article said she died from the disease of depression. I’ve battled with depression my entire adult life. I spent six months, before I gave my heart to Jesus, contemplating suicide every day. Since then, I’ve learned that being free from depression is possible, and often a daily choice. Though living in victory is a struggle, it was necessary for me to believe that my depression was not completely out of my control. Jesus confirmed this when he said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.” (John 14:1, NLT) The devils great lie is that suicide is a valid choice to end our depression. I don’t believe that. Depression doesn’t have to be a life sentence. There’s always hope and help in Jesus.

Missing the Sounds of Normal

It’s been said, “We don’t really know what we’ve missed until it’s gone.” The other day, I went for a walk through a park near our home. As I passed by a baseball field that, because of the pandemic, no one had played on in months, I saw a father and his teenage daughter playing catch with a softball. For the first time in a long time, I heard the sound of a ball hitting a mitt. I was surprised at how emotional just that sound made me: a ball hitting a mitt. Without initially knowing why, I began to cry. It was like hearing the voice of a long, lost friend. I realized how fragile I was. How desperate I was for some sense of normalcy. Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder. Children playing. People laughing and enjoying one another. Oh God, how I miss these things!     

What Bribe Is Coming Your Way?

In the Book of Daniel, Daniel had something his king desperately wanted. The ability to discern a sentence that was scaring him to death. If he could, the king promised Daniel, “You will become the third highest ruler in the kingdom.” Daniel didn’t take the bait. He responded, “Keep your gifts or give them to someone else, but I will tell you what the writing means.” (Daniel 5:16-17, NLT) Daniel resisted the temptation we all must face… being offered a bribe. One of the saddest legacies of my father was learning that when he was a congressman he had taken a significant financial bribe from a dictator of a very poor nation. It broke my heart. But there’s no temptation that will not be coming looking for each of us. What bribe is knocking at our door, and how will we respond to it?

Nothing’s More Complex Than Humans

When the pioneering animators at Pixar were describing some of the most difficult objects to replicate in 3-D animation, they said it was the characteristics of human beings: facial expressions, body parts and hair. It wasn’t surprising, but it was revealing. It’s not an accident that God’s final, crowning creation would be the most difficult to replicate. We truly are one-of-a-kind beings, created in His image and likeness. Chosen to live with God forever. What an honor! What a responsibility. Though, deep down, we are acutely aware that we’ve all sinned and fallen short of walking in this divine stewardship, how blessed we are to know Jesus and be rescued by His amazing grace. We truly are “…fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14, NKJV) And for that amazing miracle, I am incredibly grateful.

We Become Like Our Gods

There’s a fixed law in the Universe: “We become like the gods we serve”. All it takes for this to happen is worship. Worship has been defined as “admiring love or devotion with profound adoration.” We each want to give our heart to someone or something. But, when we worship them, they have us. We will look like them, think like them, talk like them, and do our best to become like them. For better or worse, eventually they possess and consume us. So be careful what you love . . . what you worship. As God is a consuming fire, so is whatever we worship. The first commandment is first for a reason, “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from . . . the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me.” (Exodus 20:1-3, NLT) Either Jesus is Lord of all, or He may not be Lord at all. 

The More We Know God

On the night I received Jesus, I was under the illusion that I was like God. But, soon after, I wrote a song with these lyrics, “Had some thoughts of God before I met Him. Yes, He even seemed to look a lot like me. But when I saw the Cross of my Savior, I knew I was as blind as I could be.” The more I know Jesus, the more I realize how unlike Him I really am. Paul had the same revelation. Twenty years after his conversion, he acknowledged he was the “least of the apostles.” (1 Corinthians 15:9). Twenty-five years after his conversion he wrote, “I’m the least of all God’s people.” (Ephesians 3:8) And 10 years later, he said he was the worst sinner. (1 Timothy 1:15) The revelation of seeing how unlike God we are is not designed to make us feel insignificant, but instead, incredibly grateful. Jesus saved a wretch like me.  

God Understands Racial Prejudice 

No topic is more complicated today than race and racism. So many lives have been marked by the long-term effects of prejudice. When others reject or dismiss us because of attributes beyond our control, it creates deep wounds, even generational wounds. God understands. He even chose to send His Son to be born in a race, that many would say has suffered the most prejudice of all . . . the Jews. They’ve been oppressed for thousands of years. Slaves to the ancient Egyptians, conquered by the Assyrians and Babylonians, threatened by the Persians, dominated by the Romans, exterminated by the Nazis, and hated by many today. Yet Christ’s promise is true for all races who have experienced prejudice. “God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” (Matthew 5:10, NLT)

The Age Of Overreaction 

From the moment Cain killed Abel, we’ve seen man’s potential to overreact. This volatility is only accelerated when you make communication instant. The 24-hour news cycle coupled with our politically polarized social media make words weapons. A stranger can lob a verbal or visual Molotov cocktail across the airwaves, completely disregarding the feelings of anyone who sees it. It’s an interactive cage fight. I wish I could say that Christ-followers have appropriately navigated these contentious rapids, but we all know this is sadly not true. Inflammatory statements have been posted that continue to burn with zero containment. Consequently, if I care what God thinks more than what I or other people think, I should remember, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1, NKJV)

Come Quickly, Jesus! 

Over the years, as I’ve read the proclamation in the Book of Revelation, “Come quickly, Jesus”, my experience of this verse has gone through many face lifts. Initially, in the early 1970’s, when many people thought the 2nd Coming of Christ was imminent, I went to sleep on a few nights wondering if I would even wake up. Now, decades later, “Come quickly, Jesus!” sounds more like me screaming, “Jesus, take the wheel!” My being whisked away into eternity has become more a rescue mission than a much-needed vacation. At times, I’m scribbling H E L P on the shore of my heart wondering where God is. At more stable moments, “Come quickly, Jesus” is more the cry of a love-sick warrior. Whatever you think when you say it, we all desperately want Jesus to come . . . quickly. Please, Lord! 

Meeting Jesus In The Middle

We live in a polarized, paralyzed world. It has never been more difficult to stand on biblical truth without being dismissed or vilified. God doesn’t say in the Bible, “Come let us argue together.” He says, “Come let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18) The middle ground of respectful discussion is not for marshmallows, it’s for people who are committed to honor and respect those you disagree with. The Bible clearly describes appropriate communication “…clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:12-14, NLT)