Hearts and Treasures

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). Notice the order of the phrases in this sentence. Jesus didn’t say, “Where your heart is, there will your treasure be also.” Do you see the difference between these two statements?

The second statement implies that you can have treasure wherever your heart desires. Many think this. Many think that merely setting their affection upon a goal or a place or a ministry will imply that they will have treasure there. But that’s not what Jesus says.

Again, note the order in Jesus’ words: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” In other words, if you place your treasure someplace, your heart will follow. Your treasure can be your time or your talents.

This is really good news. If you want a heart for something, then put some treasure there. If you want to have a heart for missions, give to a missionary. If you want to have a heart for church, then give to the church. If you want to have a heart for God, then spend time serving him.



Theologians often talk about “The Perspicuity of Scripture.” That is, the clarity of Scripture. Theologians use this phrase to explain how the Bible is plain for all to read and to comprehend.

To be sure, there are some passages in the Bible that are difficult to understand. Even Peter agrees on this point. He commented on Paul’s letters by saying, “There are some things in them that are hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16). Further, there are many passages that speak of the spiritual blindness (Matthew 13:11-13; 1 Corinthians 2:14).

Yet, for the most part, the Bible is very easily read and understood. It is filled with many stories of heroes and villains, which are easily grasped by children. It tells plainly of how to be made right with God: through faith in Jesus.

How ironic that theologians have chosen such a difficult word (perspicuity) to explain how easy the Bible is to understand.

Future Immanuel


One of the names given to Jesus is “Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23). Literally, this means, “with us God.” In better English, we say, “God with us.” This is the great reality of Christmas: that God came down from heaven to dwell with us on earth. This all took place in the past.

Another reality of Immanuel is often missed. It’s Immanuel in the future. When believers enter heaven to dwell with God forever, it will again be “God with us.” This is what Jesus promised to those who believe in him. “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3).

The picture of the new heaven in Revelation expresses this reality with these words. “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:3). This is the great reality of eternity. Believers in Christ will experience “Immanuel” forever.

Alarm Clocks


Nobody likes alarm clocks. They rudely awaken us from our sweet slumbers. They command us to get up when we don’t feel like it. In some ways, we can consider them to be a curse. “Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing” (Proverbs 27:14).

Yet alarm clocks serve an important function in our lives. They tell us the truth, regardless of our feelings. They tell us that we need to get up now in order to fulfill our responsibilities. Without the alarm, we might miss class or work or some other important meeting. For this reason, we endure the alarm clock.

The Bible is like an alarm clock. It tells us what we don’t want to hear. It tells us of our sin. It tells us of the coming judgment. We don’t like to hear these things, but they are true.

Now thankfully, the Bible tells us how to avoid the judgment. Jesus said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

“My Church”


Make no mistake about it, the church is the Lord’s. Jesus promised to build his church (Matthew 16:18). We are his people and the sheep of his pasture (Psalm 100:3). And yet, there is a very real sense that the church is ours. “We are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:5).

Over the years of talking with people, I have always been attentive to the pronouns that people use in talking about the church where I pastor. Those on the outside of the church often talk about “your church.” Those on the inside often talk about “our church.” But there are exceptions.

I’m saddened when those attending the church talk about “your church.” It shows that they haven’t embraced the idea that they are a part of what God is doing in this local place. They may attend. They may have some friends at the church. Their names may be in the directory. But, ultimately, they haven’t become a part of the body. It’s still somebody else’s church.

But I love it when I hear people talk about “my church.” It shows that they have taken responsibility upon themselves for the well-being of the church. They have transitioned from being spectators to servants. Ultimately, as believers in Jesus Christ, this is what we are. We are servants of his church.

Backing In


I was recently listening to one of my favorite podcasts, “Planet Money.”  The show was entitled, “Tips from Spies.” The folks at Planet Money talked with a former spy, a former C. I. A. employee, and a journalist who isn’t a spy, but covers spy-related activities for the media.

One of the tips that the journalist gave is something that she has learned by talking with intelligence personnel: she always backs into parking spots. Her reasoning is simple: “So that you can get out of a bad situation fast.” In acknowledging her practice, she laughed when admitting that she “never once been called to make a running getaway. But I wait for the moment.”

This is a helpful illustration of how to be ready for temptations that come. Paul writes, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). What a great promise! God tells us that no temptation comes our way without a provided way of escape.

That escape may be through the Scriptures (see Matthew 4:1-11). It may be through the warning of others. It may be through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.  But it is incumbent upon us to be ready and aware of the escape route. We may need “to get out of a bad situation fast.” It’s good to have a habit of “backing in.”

Perry’s Eclipse


As a little boy, I remember visiting my uncle Perry (or more properly, my father’s cousin). We loved to visit him because he had a swimming pool poured right into the foundation of his house! That means that we got to swim in his basement! He was a very successful and forward-thinking man, always full of stories.

There was one story that captured my attention more than all of the others. It was a story that I heard every time that I visited him. It was the story of his plans for his hundredth birthday. He said that there was going to be a solar eclipse on that day and that he was inviting the entire family to come and watch it with him.

He had the party all planned out. All from the family who wanted to come were welcome. He was planning to reserve some rooms for all who showed up. He was also planning to rent an airplane just in case it was overcast on that day. He wanted to take every precaution possible to see the eclipse. He delighted in telling that story. Perhaps that’s why he told it so often.

Perry was born on August 21, 1917. The solar eclipse that he was telling us about all those years will take place this Monday, on August 21, 2017. I have known about this eclipse for more than forty years! To me and my family, this is “Perry’s Eclipse.”

Sadly, Perry’s life came up short. He passed away when he was 93 years-old. So he won’t be able to see his eclipse. But I will remember him on that day. I will also tell the story to my children of how Perry was longing to see what we see on that day.

There is a future event that is far more spectacular than any solar eclipse. It is the longing and hope of all Christians. It is the appearing of Jesus our Lord. Now, unlike the solar eclipses, we don’t know when he will return. But we know that it will be glorious. Jesus told us that his coming would be like lightning across the entire sky (Matthew 24:27). He said that he would come “on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).

Those who are his children will see that day and rejoice in that day. The apostle John wrote, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Those who are his children will prepare for that day. “Everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:3). What a day that will be!



Our Daily Food


We have a cute little white dog in our house, named Autumn. She is a maltese bichon, who loves everyone she has ever met. You can read the story about how she came into our home here.

Every morning, her breakfast routine is exactly the same. My wife prepare her an egg, a spoonful of yogurt, an omega supplement, and one scoop of dry dog food. And every day Autumn’s response is the same. She watches intently as my wife prepares her food for her, licking her chops. Then, she gobbles it down. You can check out a video of the event here.

As I recently watched this taking place, I reflected upon how she is totally dependent upon us. She looks intently at us because we are her provider. Without our provision, she would surely perish.

Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). These aren’t mere words. This is reality. We are just as dependent upon the Lord every day to provide us with our daily needs as our dog is. Without the daily provision of the Lord, we too would perish.


If he should set his heart to it
and gather to himself his spirit and his breath,
all flesh would perish together,
and man would return to dust (Job 34:14-15).



Veneer can make sub-quality wood look great. The wood itself may be unattractive plywood or particle board, but glue a thin (1/8 inch) strip of oak on the outside and the wood looks like solid oak.

Many people live as if they were veneer-covered plywood. Whenever they are in public, they put on their good face. But in private they live otherwise.

The Pharisees of old lived like this. Jesus called them “white-washed tombs,” which look beautifully clean on the outside, but inwardly are full of decomposing bodies (Matthew 23:27). Jesus described them as cups that were clean on the outside, but on the inside were full of greed and self-indulgence (Matthew 23:25). To such people, Jesus said, “Woe to you.”

Over my years of pastoral ministry, I have discovered that people can hide their true selves pretty well (for decades, even). But eventually, their hypocrisy will be exposed, either during their lives or during the final judgment.

The good news is that we don’t need to be clean to be received by God. Neither do we need to cover our lives with a veneer of righteousness. The opposite is true. We must confess our uncleanness. God will take the old wood and transform it into something beautiful that doesn’t need to be hidden.

I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psalm 32:5).

Our Public Prayer


Perhaps the most famous prayer in all of the Bible is called, “The Lord’s Prayer.” It is better named, “The Disciple’s Prayer” as it is the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Here is the prayer, …

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
You kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but delivers us from evil.
(Matthew 6:9-13)

If you know this prayer, you have probably prayed it hundreds of times. Have you ever noticed the pronouns in the prayer? Jesus taught us to pray in the first person plural (i.e. “our,” “us,” and “we”).

Certainly, it is very appropriate to pray this prayer alone in your closet. It’s helpful to focus your attention upon the character and kingdom of God before asking for your needs. But Jesus didn’t give this prayer for us to use alone. He gave it to us to use in public. It is a prayer to be prayed with others. This is our public prayer.