Links & Quotes

Every Monday I share a 1-minute thought to get your week started. It’s my weekly Monday Motivation series of videos. Check out this week’s video and subscribe on YouTube.

“The Lord Jesus Christ is always ready to take the most imperfect prayer and perfect it for us. If our prayers had to go up to heaven as they are, they would never succeed; but they find a Friend on the way, and therefore they prosper.” —Charles Spurgeon

I love this thought from T.M. Moore: “We sometimes use the word reflect to express what we want to see happen in our lives as Christians. We say we want to reflect Jesus to the world, like a mirror reflects an image. As agents of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, believers are not so much like mirrors as they are like prisms. Mirrors reflect light. The light strikes them and bounces off, without bringing anything of the mirror with it. Prisms refract light.” Please take a couple of minutes to read Moore’s post Prisms of the Light.

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Christians Shouldn’t Be Lazy

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Christians Shouldn’t Be Lazy 

     A man who wastes his time and his strength in sloth offers himself to be a target for the devil, who is a wonderfully good rifleman and will riddle the idler with his shots: In other words, idle men tempt the devil to tempt them. …  

     The Lord Jesus tells us Himself that while men slept the enemy sowed the tares. That hits the nail on the head, for it is by the door of sluggishness that evil enters the heart more often, it seems to me, than by any other. … 

     All are not hunters to wear red coats, and all are not working men who call themselves so. I wonder sometimes that some of our employers keep so many cats that catch no mice. … 

     I wish all religious people would take this matter under their consideration, for some professors are amazingly lazy and make sad work for the tongues of the wicked. I think a godly plowman ought to be the best man in the field and let no team beat him. When we are at work, we ought to be at it and not stop the plow to talk, even though the talk may be about religion. For then we not only rob our employers of our own time, but of the time of the horses, too. 

From John Ploughman’s Talks of Plain Advice For Plain People

I couldn’t agree more with Charles Spurgeon! 

Christians should show their dedication to Jesus by giving their very best effort at work and around their homes. Don’t give unbelievers a reason to say, “If that’s what a Christian is like, I don’t want any part of Christianity!” But instead, as the apostle Paul reminds us, do your work well, as if you are working for Jesus (Ephesians 6:5-8).

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Bragging About God

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Bragging About God

I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together. (Psalm 34:1-3)

     Boasting is a very natural propensity, and if it were used as in this case, the more it were indulged the better. The exultation of this verse is no mere tongue bragging; the soul is in it, and the boasting is meant and felt before it is expressed. 

     What scope there is for holy boasting in Jehovah! His Person, attributes, covenant, promises, works, and a thousand things besides are all incomparable, unparalleled, matchless; we may cry them up as we please, but we shall never be convicted of vain and empty speech in so doing.

From Spurgeon And The Psalms

What is even more remarkable about the praise David offers up in this psalm is the setting. The introduction to the psalm tells us it is while David is running from Saul and trapped in a Philistine stronghold. 

And yet David still chooses to praise God.

It is a choice of his will. David didn’t wait until he felt like praising God, or until his circumstances were improved. We are more likely to act ourselves into feeling than we are to feel ourselves into action. So David says, “I will extol the Lord … His praise will be on my lips.” 

This bragging about God—when from a human standpoint there appears to be nothing to brag about—becomes a testimony. David’s personal pronouns “I” and “my” quickly turn into the plural pronoun “us” as David invites others to ponder the beauty of Jehovah! “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together. 

Our bragging about God, especially in the face of difficult circumstances, is a powerful testimony that will draw others to Him. You may start out praising Him on your own, but it won’t be long until others join your worship chorus. 

Friends, your praising and bragging about God is more powerful than you may realize. When God is worshipped, He is lifted up for all to see, so keep on bragging about Him!

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The Gift Preached To The World

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Ever since Resurrection Day, we can continually celebrate the greatest Gift ever—the death and resurrection of Jesus! 

After making His bodily resurrection abundantly clear, Jesus ascended back to heaven. And now we await His second advent. But here’s an important question: If Jesus ascended back into heaven, where is our Gift now? Quite simply: If you have invited Jesus into your heart, YOU are the gift! 

Remember on Good Friday I talked about what Jesus perfectly completed when He said, “It is finished!” It was an inside job. He came to change us at our core—we have been brought into at-onement with God and we stand in His presence just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned. 

But there is one more step, an ongoing process called sanctification or as I like to say it, “saint-ification.” 

Even as we are in this process, Jesus commissioned all of His disciples to Go…preach (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:18-20). That means “as you are going” or “wherever you go” tell everyone the good news of the greatest Gift ever. 

Jesus also told us that the Holy Spirit would empower us to be effective at this preaching (Acts 1:4-5, 8). Notice that in Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “You will BE My witnesses,” not you will do witnessing. The Holy Spirit empowers us to BE God’s gift to the world, and to use Christ’s authority properly. 

The apostle Paul echos this. He tells us how everyone can receive the Gift of Jesus. Paul then notes that people hear about this Gift because those who have received the Gift are preaching to them (Romans 10:8-15). 

We are all preachers or proclaimers of the Greatest Gift. Don’t confuse preaching with being a pastor. Preaching is a lifestyle for all Christians, whereas pastoring is an office that only some Christians are called to. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach always; if necessary, use words.” 

Here are three things that I think preach unmistakably. 

(1) Loving, practical service to those in need (John 13:34-35; Matthew 25:34-40)

Jesus said it pretty simply: If someone is hungry, give them something to eat. This practical love is an unmistakable sermon. 

(2) Loving, practical service to those you dislike—or who dislike you (Luke 6:27-36) 

Anyone can do loving things for people they like, but when you bless people who are mean to you, another unmistakable sermon is being preached. 

(3) Jesus-exalting fruitfulness (Galatians 5:19-25) 

Paul contrasts the fruit of those who haven’t invited Jesus into their hearts with those who have. Our fruits of kindness in an unkind world, or self-control in a hedonistic world also preach an unmistakable sermon. 

(check out all of the above Bible verses by clicking here)

If the Gift of Jesus is in you, then your life IS the sermon. Preach it well! 

You are God’s gift to the world IF you are revealing God’s Gift to the world in everything you say and do. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series Christmas Unwrapped At Easter, you can find all of them listed here. 

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The Gift Unmistakably Seen

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

We saw last week that John 3:16 tells us of God’s greatest Gift—Jesus! 

This Gift was not an after-thought. God didn’t say, “I’ve tried everything else and nothing has worked so I guess I have to send My Son.” NO! The Gift was foretold right from the very moment Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 3:15, 21). In fact, we can even say it was planned before the beginning of Time, as John describes Jesus as “the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made” (Revelation 13:8). 

John also writes for us one of the most beautiful and succinct statements of God: God IS Love (1 John 4:8). 

Paul wrote an inspired definition of love. Check out what happens when we put “God” in place of “love” in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God does not dishonor others, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, God always trusts, God always hopes, God always perseveres. God’s love never fails. 

This description of God means that He wasn’t forced to send Jesus as the ransom for our sins, but rather that His love foreknew the perfect moment to send this Gift for us. 

Neither did Jesus feel trapped by this plan His Father made. Calvary didn’t happen to Jesus, but Jesus came to make Calvary happen (John 17:24; Hebrews 12:2; John 10:17-18). 

Jesus made His Gift unmistakable:

  • He predicted the unmistakable events leading up to Calvary—Matthew 20:17-19, 26:2; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-33; John 13:19 
  • He predicted the unmistakable way He would die—John 3:14, 12:32-33 
  • And His Father unmistakably confirmed all of this—John 12:27-28

(check out all of the above verses by clicking here) 

Just before His crucifixion, Jesus gave His followers an unmistakable example of love to follow. He said that His love radiating out of His followers would show the world an unmistakable picture of His love (see John 13:3-5, 12-17, 34-35). 

I may say, “Thank you so much” when I open someone’s gift, but my true gratitude is seen in what I do with their gift after that. Do I put it on a shelf and forget about it? Or do I cherish it, use it, and tell others all about the one who gave the gift to me? This is just as true with how I treat the Love Gift that I was given in Jesus. 

Q: How unmistakable is my gratitude for the Gift of Jesus? 

A: It is unmistakably seen in how I love others. 

Here’s the test: Can I put my name in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8—

Craig is patient, Craig is kind. Craig does not envy, Craig does not boast, Craig is not proud. Craig does not dishonor others, Craig is not self-seeking, Craig is not easily angered, Craig keeps no record of wrongs. Craig does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Craig always protects, Craig always trusts, Craig always hopes, Craig always perseveres. Craig’s love never fails.

The Holy Spirit wants all Christians to be able to truthfully insert their names in that statement. He wants to help us make necessary changes that will allow the amazing Gift of Jesus to be unmistakably seen by everyone. 

God’s plan is unmistakable. The death of Jesus is unmistakable proof of God’s love. Now, let’s make sure that our love is also empowered by the love of God shining unmistakably out of everything we say and do. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series Christmas Unwrapped At Easter, you can find the complete list by clicking here. 

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Shine In The Darkness

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I’ve noticed that when people want to sound super-spiritual that they like to use King James Version phrases. Sometimes I hear people speaking in normal, everyday English until they begin praying and then I hear, “Thy servant … Thou O Most High … we beseech Thee … Thou knowest Thine children….” 

Statement #6 in our series “Is that in the Bible” also sounds more powerful when people quote it in King James English—Shun the very appearance of evil or sometimes Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord. Are those in the Bible? Yes, they are! 

We don’t use the word “shun” very often today, but in what was probably the first written book of the Bible we read that not only did Job shun evil, but God commended him for shunning evil too. And wise King Solomon advocated for his readers to shun evil (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3; Proverbs 3:7, 14:16). 

Yes, those phrases that I quoted earlier come right from the King James Version of the Bible in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 and 2 Corinthians 6:17, but does this mean that we are to stay away from anything that is “unChristian”? Does it mean that we are to shun sinners? 

There is a story that is told in the synoptic Gospels, but I especially like it in Matthew’s Gospel for one specific reason (which I’ll share with you in a moment). Jesus has just called Matthew to be His disciple, and several of Matthew’s coworkers appear to be having a going-away dinner for him which Jesus attended. 

Then comes the “911” call from the Pharisees (this statement is in Matthew 9:11): “Gasp! Jesus is eating with sinners! He’s not shunning them! Call in the sin police!” The New Living Translation is even more harsh, with the Pharisees asking, “Why does your Teacher eat with such scum?” (v. 13 NLT). 

In Luke’s Gospel we read another story where Jesus eating with “such scum” turned another tax collector’s life around. In Luke 19:1-10, we read of Zaccheus experiencing a complete life change because of His encounter with Jesus. 

Listen to Christ’s words in both Matthew and Luke: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. … I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. … The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Matthew 9:12-13; Luke 19:10). 

This doesn’t sound like Jesus shunned sinners.

Likewise, Jesus called us to be His salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-14). No matter how beneficial the salt of my life is, it doesn’t help anyone if it stays in the saltshaker, shunning the food. No matter how bright the lantern of my life is, it doesn’t help anyone in a closed closet, shunning the darkness. 

Notice what Jesus didn’t do. He didn’t go to Matthew’s house or Zaccheus’ house for a good time, or for a good meal, or for a time of entertainment. He was on mission. So too for Christians: We go into dark places not for our pleasure or entertainment, but because we’re on a rescue mission! 

In both the Old Testament Hebrew and the New Testament Greek, the words for “shun” point at our own hearts. The words mean: You walk away from things that will pull you down, or you hold yourself back from the places and things that will lead you to sin. 

So look at the phrase “Shun the very appearance of evil” in its context: “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject [or shun] every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22). 

Paul is calling us to shun the things that drown out the voice of the Holy Spirit. Listen to two of those verses in another translation: “But test and prove all things until you can recognize what is good; to that hold fast. Abstain from evil” (vv. 21-22 AMP). 

In 2 Corinthians 6 the phrase “Be ye separate” is in the context about being “unequally yoked” with unbelievers. This is what happened to King Solomon when he married women who were idolaters, and they pulled his heart away from God. 

Shun” means to keep away from those things that would pull you down. How do I know if a certain environment or activity or person is pulling me down? I need to check my thoughts, attitudes, and actions. If I find they are becoming un-Christlike, then that is an indication of a place or person that I need to limit my exposure. 

As long as my thoughts, attitudes, and actions remain Christlike, I should keep on seasoning and shining in dark places so that I can draw others to Jesus. “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people” (Philippians 2:14-15 NLT). 

Don’t shun people that Jesus dearly loves, but don’t put yourself in a position where your devotion to God is compromised either. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit giving you the wisdom you need to be both on-mission for Jesus and shining a bright, innocent light! 

If you’ve missed any of the other lessons in this series, you can find the full list by clicking here. 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Heaven In My Face

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Heaven In My Face 

     Sepulchral tones may fit a man to be an undertaker, but Lazarus is not called out of his grave by hollow moans. … I know brethren who from head to foot, in garb, tone, manner, necktie and boots are so utterly parsonic that no particle of manhood is visible. … Some men appear to have a white cravat twisted round their souls, their manhood is throttled with that starched rag. … An individual who has no geniality about him had better be an undertaker, and bury the dead, for he will never succeed in influencing the living. … I commend cheerfulness to all who would win souls; not levity and frothiness, but a genial, happy spirit. There are more flies caught with honey than with vinegar, and there will be more souls led to heaven by a man who wears heaven in his face than by one who bears Tartarus in his looks.

 From Lectures To My Students

When I was in Sunday School we used to sing a little ditty that perhaps you’ve sung as well: 

If you’re happy and you know clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know clap your hands 
If you’re happy and you know it
Then your life will surely show it
If you’re happy and you know clap your hands

This should be true for every Christian, but how much more so for the pastor who in many ways is the “face” of his congregation. I want people to see the joy of the Lord in my face. I want them to hear His joy in my voice. I want them to feel the joy of Jesus every time they interact with me. 

I want, as Spurgeon said, for them to see heaven in my face. 

In fact, I would go so far to say I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that to be a Christian and to be unhappy is a sin. An unhappy Christian gives God no praise, robs Him of glory, and paints God in a bad light. A happy Christian knows the Lord is his strength, his comfort, his supply. The happy Christian lifts God high and invites others to know this All-Good, All-Happy God too! 

So let me ask you, my friend, can others see heaven in your face?

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Hypocrites Who Hurt The Church

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Hypocrites Who Hurt The Church

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27 KJV). 

     Dear friends, I might just continue, for the subject is a very wide one. But I stop because, unhappily for me, though perhaps happily for your patience, my time has gone. Having just indicated what the Christian life ought to be, I must, in a few words, plead with you that by the power of God’s Holy Spirit you will seek to make your lives such. I could mention many reasons, but I will only give you one or two. 

     The first is, if you do not live like this, you will make your fellow members who are innocent of your sin, suffer. … It is very hard when [skeptics] can say to you, ‘Look at So-and-So, he is a church member! Look at what he did. You are all a parcel of hypocrites!’ … 

     And then, remember, dear friends, unless your conversation is such, you will pull down all the witness that you have ever borne for Christ. … Oh, the great thing the church needs is more holiness! The worst enemies of the church are not the infidels. … No, the worst enemies of the church are the hypocrites, the formalists, the mere professors, and the inconsistent walkers. …  

     May the Eternal Spirit, Who still winnows His church, blow away the chaff and heave only the good golden wheat upon the floor! And if you know yourselves to be living in any sin, may God help you to mourn over it, to loathe it, to go to Christ about it….

From The Gospel’s Power In A Christian’s Life

I have defined a hypocrite as a Christian who carries the name of Jesus Christ but not the nature of Jesus Christ. 

I remember once when a man who was virtually a stranger to me—but apparently knew that I was a pastor—walked up to me and said, “What do you think about your boy So-and-So?” The So-and-So he mentioned was a prominent pastor in another state who had just been caught doing some very sinful and embarrassing things. This stranger quickly painted me with the same brush! 

The phrase “one another” is so prominent in the New Testament, which means that we truly are all in this together. That’s why Charles Spurgeon warns us that a hypocritical lifestyle is not only damaging to the hypocrite’s life, but to the entire Christian community as well. 

So I also call for every Christian to “examine themselves” (1 Corinthians 11:28) for both known and hidden sins. We ought to regularly ask the Holy Spirit to point them out so that we can repent of them, make restitution, and strengthen the testimony of all Christians everywhere! 

Let me close with a final word from Dwight Moody, “The world finds plenty of difficulties on the way; let us see that we Christians do not add more stumbling-blocks by our un-Christlike walk.” 

To that I add a heartfelt “Amen!”

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Christian Lifestyle

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

The Christian Lifestyle

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27 KJV). 

     The text says we are to ‘let our conversation be such as becomes the gospel.’ What sort of conversation, then, will we have? In the first place, the gospel is very simple. It is unadorned. No meretricious ornaments to clog the pile. It is simple and ‘not with persuasive words of human wisdom’ (1 Corinthians 2:4). … The Christian man ought always to be simple in all respects. I think wherever you find him, you ought not to need a key to him. He should not be like certain books that you cannot make out without having somebody tell you the hard words. He should be a transparent man like Nathaniel, who was ‘an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit’ (John 1:47). … 

     The Christian’s lips should speak truth when falsehood drops from the lips of all other men. A Christian man should never need to take an oath, because his word is as good as an oath. His yes should be yes, and his no, no. … 

     The gospel of Jesus Christ is a very fearless gospel. … As the gospel is very fearless in what it has to say, so let the Christian always be. It strikes me that a living that becomes the gospel of Christ is always a bold and fearless kind of living! … 

     But again, the gospel of Christ is very gentle. Hear it speak: ‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28). Here is its spirit in its Founder: ‘A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench’ (Matthew 12:20). Moreover, bad temper, snapping off of people’s heads, making men offenders for a word—all this is quite contrary to the gospel. … If you have a lion’s heart, have a lady’s hand. Let there be such a gentleness about your carriage that the little children may not be afraid to come to you and the publican and harlot may not be driven away by your hostility, but invited to goodness by the gentleness of your words and acts. …  

     The world ought to point to us and say, ‘See, how these Christians love one another? Not in word only, but in deed and truth!’ … 

     The gospel of Christ is mercy, generosity, and liberality. It receives the beggar and hears his cry! It picks up even the vile and undeserving and scatters lavish blessings upon him, and it fills the bosom of the naked and of the hungry with good things. Let your conversation be such as becomes the gospel of Christ!

From The Gospel’s Power In A Christian’s Life

We’ve had a tagline at our church for years: Come and see why so many people around here say, “I ♥ my church!” I believe Christians can—and should—live in such a way that everyone in their communities would sit up and take notice of the positive changes. 

Let’s all examine our lifestyle. Is it simple, truthful, bold, gentle, loving, merciful, generous, and hospitable? If not, what changes do we need to make? But if it is all these things, God’s blessing is sure to follow this lifestyle that so clearly portrays the gospel of Jesus Christ! 

I’ve shared some other posts about a church’s reputation here, here, and here. 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Best Of Neighbors

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

The Best Of Neighbors

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27 KJV). 

     The word ‘conversation’ does not merely mean our talk with one another, but the whole course of our life and behavior in the world. The Greek word signifies the actions and the privileges of citizenship, and we are to let our whole citizenship, our actions as citizens of the New Jerusalem, be such as becomes the gospel of Christ. …  

     We are delighted to preach good high doctrine and to insist that salvation is of grace alone! But we are equally delighted to preach good high practice and to insist that a grace that does not make a man better than his neighbors is a grace that will never take him to heaven nor render him acceptable before God!

From The Gospel’s Power In A Christian’s Life

Some other translations of the text from Rev. Spurgeon’s sermon bring out the meaning: 

  • Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (NIV) 
  • Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ (NLT) 
  • Live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ (Message) 

I believe that Christians are not citizens of Planet Earth. Our citizenship is in a place called Heaven, and yet we are traveling on Earth during our present lifetime. While we are here, we need to conduct ourselves in such a way that we make our Homeland desirable for other Earthlings too. 

Let’s live in a such a way that Earthlings will say, “I ❤️ those Christians!” 

I shared a whole series of messages on living as “aliens and strangers” (as the apostle Peter calls Christians), which you may check out by clicking here.

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