Run of the House


Our family had a dog that was hit by a car several years ago. Freckles was a Brittany Spaniel and an amazing one at that. Brittany’s are bird dogs. I once saw Freckles grab a bird right out of the air. We buried Freckles in a grove of trees at the back of the property, and I promised Lily that day when she was ready for another dog I would get one for her.

Two months later in February, the day came when Lily approached me ready for another dog. Over the next weeks, we went to several dog shelters, visited rescue agencies online, and window shopped at all the local pet shops. It was at a pet shop we found Belle. Belle was a mix of Chihuahua and Rat Terrier. She was such a cute little puppy. “Was” being the key word. Lily fell in love, and I dropped a load of cash.

Well, Belle grew, and although she is a little dog, there is one problem. Belle thought she owned the house. Belle thought every room was hers and treated it as such. She ran and played throughout the house. Belle slept in all the beds. She even unmade them so she could get under the covers. Belle was notorious for hogging the bed and couch. She always seemed to be underfoot. She thought she has the run of the house, and honestly, she did.

Hey, don’t laugh; at least it wasn’t a cat or my kids. I can’t deal with cats and spoiled children.

While reading one morning, I came across this passage of Scripture.

“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God, and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becoming at home and mature in us . . . ”
I John 4:17

I often think about our spiritual lives as houses. A house with many rooms, representative of all of the areas of life: work, family, leisure, church, etc.… I have to ask myself what I allow to have run, to have reign, in my spiritual house. Does God’s love? I know at times it hasn’t. I have let greed and lust run rampant in my house. At other times, self-centeredness and selfishness have ruled the roost. During those times I am ashamed to admit that I wasn’t providing God much of a temple in which to reside.

How many times have I handed over the deed of my "will" to God, but found myself like Paul saying:

“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?”
Romans 7:17-24

Can you relate? My desire is to let God, His love, His purity, His grace - everything that is His very nature - have access to my whole being, but I find that instead I succumb to my desires and give them the keys to the palace. Where can I, where can you find relief?

“Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 7:25

Yes, the answer is Jesus! Coming to Him often, allowing Him full access to our brokenness, placing our desires and very nature before His transforming presence, and surrendering to His will. How thankful I am for grace, His grace.

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Galatians 2:20

Father, forgive for the many times I have denied you entrance into my house. Forgive me that I often let my flesh and pride rule. Take my house and rescue it, reclaim it, redeem it, and rebuild it. Take my life and make it yours. I give you all.

Looking to crate the dog… and my flesh.


I was flipping through an issue of People magazine.  Yes, I read People.  It is actually a hotbed for great illustrations and stories for teaching on worldview. Today, I was caught off guard by a very sexually suggestive picture in an advertisement for New York, New York; one of the newer casino resorts in Las Vegas. The ad was a picture of a club scene. It had a picture of a guy on all fours with a party-dazed look on his face.  Behind him in short shorts and a revealing top was a girl ‘grind’ dancing. The caption read “because someday we all are going to be dead.” 

What a perfect example of a hedonistic worldview, where pleasure is the treasure we seek at all cost.   

The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches, and pleasures, and they do not mature. 
Luke 8:14 

In hedonism, “man is the measure of all things.” In hedonism, pleasure is the means by which man measures all things. The more pleasure an activity provides the greater its value. 

But can I pay the cost of pleasure’s consequence?

Robert L. Waggoner in his paper titled “The Hedonistic Face of Humanism” says, “Whenever most people in a society think that way, then, because every man seeks only his own pleasures, the structures of society begin to fall apart and people are left in a decadent world.”  In this pleasure-driven world, the divorce rate has tripled, as well as the illegitimacy ratio, and abortions increase by a rate 100,000 per year. The hard fact is that whenever we choose freedom from all restraints we become slaves to our own passions. We become less than human. No longer can we think for ourselves. Our passions then lead us to ruin and the collapse of our lives and communities.  

“Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more of it there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate [lacking self-control] minds cannot be free.” 
Edward Burke﷟HYPERLINK "" 

The pursuit of pleasure doesn’t end in fulfillment but in emptiness. 

So where is our relief? 

I began reading the Book of Galatians this past weekend.  Paul’s salutation is so powerful. I love verse four of chapter one. 

“Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.” 
Galatians 1:4 

In this verse lies not only our relief but the Gospel story. 

The Greek word for “rescue” is exaireô, which carries the idea of rescuing from danger. The same word was used by Stephen as he spoke before the Sanhedrin, describing God’s deliverance of Joseph and the children of Israel from Egyptian slavery, and by Peter when he told others of his release from prison. 

The purpose of the Gospel is to rescue Christ-followers from this present evil age. Jesus’ death was a rescue operation. It provided the only possible means of saving the human race from ourselves, from this doomed world and from eternal death by providing for them eternal life. 

Jesus died for my sin so that I could experience eternal life and live beyond the power of the world, here and now, in 2017.  Not only can I live beyond this world, but I am invited to live in Jesus’ Kingdom, here and now, as pictured in His Sermon on the Mount.  

My flesh desires New York, New York, but honestly, I couldn’t deal with the consequences. My heart, the God-transformed part, longs for much more. It is there I set my course. 

You know not all things pleasurable are hedonistic. It’s a pleasure to taste a good cup of coffee. It’s a pleasure to rest after a long day at the office. It’s a pleasure to know you’ve done a job well. In itself, pleasure is good, and God is good. I want my pleasure to come from the same source which Paul encouraged Timothy to seek and teach. 

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our pleasure.” 
1 Timothy 6:17 

Dear Father, there are many offers of pleasure in this world. My flesh longs after many. Satan would love me to chase his, and then there are those which are Yours.  May my heart long, thirst, and chase after Yours. For Your glory. 

It’s about time to renew my subscription…


Some years ago as the evening was coming to a close and my daughters were getting ready for bed, my youngest asked to have a snack.  Annie loves to snack.  A snack for her usually means,  “I want chocolate.”  Of course, Krista and I allow her to eat any and all the chocolate she wants before bed.  Just kidding.  Krista said she could have one cookie.


It seems years ago when my daughter Annie Rose called from her room, “Mommy, I need you.” Krista went into her room to find out what was the matter, but quickly returned to the family room saying, “This one is for you to deal with.” I got up off the couch a little perplexed and walked to Annie’s room wondering what needed my attention that Krista felt was over her head. I quickly found out.

Annie’s third-grade class had been reading through the Bible and discussing Abraham. In the midst of reading about Abraham, they ran smack into “circumcision.” Mrs. Lake being the wise teacher she is avoided the topic. Can you imagine trying to teach third graders about circumcision in a large group? It has America’s Funniest Videos written all over it. Mrs. Lake instructed the kids to ask their parents about it at home.

“Annie, what’s up?” I asked as I entered her room. “Daddy,” she responded somewhat shyly, “I’m supposed to ask you about circumcision. Mrs. Lake said so.”

I believe God ordained the moment because I happened to have on a hooded sweatshirt. An object lesson began. “Annie, when boys are born they have a hood over their penis.(I am demonstrating with the hoodie pulled over my head.) Circumcision is when they cut the hoodie off.” We went on to discuss personal hygiene and the covenants. Of course, she asked me the “are you” question. After our conversation, I kissed her on the forehead and was thanking God as I returned to the family room to tell the story to Krista.

Then God said to Abraham, “Your responsibility is to obey the terms of the covenant. You and all your descendants have this continual responsibility. This is the covenant that you and your descendants must keep... Each male among you must be circumcised. All must be circumcised. Your bodies will bear the mark of my everlasting covenant. Any male who fails to be circumcised will be cut off from the covenant family for breaking the covenant.” Genesis 17:9-14

Circumcision is first found in the Book of Genesis. God was desirous to call a people to be His own. Abram was His man. God made a covenant with Abram– a type of agreement - and changed his name to Abraham. God’s part in this covenant was to bless Abraham and his descendants and to make them a nation. Abraham’s and his descendants’ part in this was to serve God faithfully and lead a blameless life. The mark of belonging to this covenant was circumcision.

Two problems arose from this covenant. Of course, man was responsible for both. First, over time the Jews began to see the mark of circumcision (an act performed by man’s hand) as the means that made them right before. They also failed to follow God wholeheartedly, faithfully, and blamelessly. The Jews always found something that leads them astray – the gods and customs of other nations topped the list. These failures led them to experience some tough times. God allowed them to be conquered, dispersed, forced into slavery, and oppressed.

We all are susceptible to relying on marks of our faith – our efforts – as a means to make and keep us right before God. How often have you and I bought into that idea of doing this or that to gain God’s approval? The fact is that we can listen to the “right” music and “right” sermons, read the “right” books and magazine and subscribe to the “right” newsletters and blogs… We can attend the worship services, small groups meeting, and Bible school classes… We give large sums of our money and time and are no better off for our efforts. The marks of faith - circumcision included - didn’t change the way the Israelites lived, nor will it or can it change the way we live. They are a sign of an agreement, a symbol of a commitment, and a work of man’s hands. All of which are empty of substance outside an unchanged heart. God does want our marks, efforts, or sacrifices he wants our hearts.

“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the LORD. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Jeremiah 31:33

God is still in the covenant business. God is still desirous for a people to call His own. He has given us a new covenant in Christ. In Christ, we receive His blessing and become His princes and princesses and His sons and daughters. In Christ, we receive an abundant life filled with purpose, meaning, and joy.

The mark of this new covenant is no longer an act of man’s hands, but of God’s Holy Spirit. God no longer wants us to be circumcised by a surgical procedure, but to have our hearts circumcised by the His Spirit as it fills us and cuts away our very sin nature. He wants us to allow the Spirit of God to have access to our hearts, to change us, and transform us into the likeness of His Son.

Father, forgive me… forgive us for trying to live for You from our own means. Spirit, fill us – circumcise our hearts – change us – cut away our flesh and its desire – transform us for your glory.


I have been reading the Sermon on the Mount from the Gospel of Matthew.  I have read these passage hundreds of times in the past and over the last six months have worked through it with a friend. 

I have been struck by the verse in Matthew 5 where Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” 


So I am making my way through the Sermon on the Mount as I have been doing, when on this day verse four of chapter five stops me in my tracks. Mid-bite into my “everything” bagel, spread with too much butter, I am reading, “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” What is this all about?