Categories
Christian Living Discipleship

What Following Jesus is Actually About

One of our summer school classes recently enjoyed a game day. I walked in to see students playing checkers, Sorry! and other favorites. Several kids were circled up on the floor playing Go Fish, a much-loved card game from my youth. I watched them for a few minutes. But it only took a few seconds to rewind back to a childhood memory. Does this happen to you too?

When I was in middle school, my church hosted a “Lock-in” for the youth group. We were inside the church from 7 pm until breakfast the next morning. There was Bible study, food and games galore! I brought my favorite deck of cards to play, you guessed it, Go Fish.

Well, I accidentally left my playing cards behind in a Sunday school classroom. And it wasn’t just any room. I forgot them on the coffee table in “The Reapers” classroom–a group of thoroughly conservative ladies in our church.

You probably know where this is going. One of the more judgmental matrons from the class brought my deck of cards to our pastor and was aghast. “Someone has been playing cards in the church!” Brother Allen, that’s what Baptists call the preacher, gave the cards back to me. To his credit, he didn’t scold me for bringing them into God’s house. But he did ask me to never leave them in The Reaper’s classroom again!

What didn’t add up, even to my 13 year old mind, was that the woman who found such fault didn’t even KNOW what was done with the cards. I suppose she thought we were gambling with them? I wasn’t about to ask!

Following Jesus means more than keeping a bunch of rules. That was my conclusion as a teenager, and I’m sticking with it. When I read “The Beatitudes,” from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-10), I recognize a beautiful attitude–the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16b). This must be what following Jesus is actually about.

For a look at an excellent devotional on this same subject/scripture passage, please see Authentic Christianity by David H. Roper.


Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Jesus – Matthew 5:7 (NIV)

Photo by Trent Bradley on Unsplash.

Categories
Christian Living

Harmony Made Simple

My grandfather was a huge fan of Southern Gospel music. As a kid I tagged along with him to “singings” as he called them. These were officially known as Quartet Conventions (as I later learned), where one group after another took the stage to sing in four part harmony.

There were old standards like, “Just a Little Talk With Jesus,” and “On the Jericho Road.” But also uncommon tunes that some in attendance had never heard. Many of the groups stuck around, after their sets, to take requests from the audience.

One quartet in particular, the Journeymen, never missed a beat. No matter what the crowd requested, they sang it in perfect harmony. Once I asked the *bass singer, a bearded giant of a man, “How do you do that—sing the right notes all the time?”

He got down on my level, and looking me in the eye he said:

“If it’s in the chord, it’s from the Lord!”

He explained: “Son, the crowd doesn’t know how the harmony goes. So I find some good bass notes and sing them like I mean it.”


I can easily hear a new Christian asking a more mature believer the same thing, “How do you do that— live a reverent life before God all the time?

Answer: You stay in harmony (the chord). Make the main thing the MAIN THING.

Seek first the kingdom of God. (Matthew 6:33) Offer yourself as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. (Romans 12:1) Here’s a harmonic triad: act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8) Love others as Christ loves you. (John 15:12)

And the list goes on…

Me playing a C Major 7th chord on the piano.

The point is, we don’t have to be perfect in our walk with God. Just stay in the chord (on the right path) and He will see you through.(Psalm 119:105)

Perhaps this musical motif is a good picture for abiding in Christ. When Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you” (John 15:4) it reminds me of, “If it’s in the chord, it’s from the Lord.”

Stay on the main streets with God (like branches from the Vine), and the side streets will take care of themselves.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2a

Please help me find some more good “bass” notes. What scriptural “nuggets” would you share with a new Christian?


  • My encounter with the bass singer is historical fiction (plausible, but contrived to fit the story). I came up with the saying, “If it’s in the chord…” many years later, based on my memories of attending quartet conventions with my grandfather.

“Kingdom Heirs Southern Gospel Quartet” byOld Shoe Woman is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Categories
Christian Blog evangelism

Why Cover That Up?

Photo by Daniel Reche on Pexels.com

As I’ve mentioned before, my wife and I are big fans of the HGTV (Home and Garden Television) network. We’ve watched so many home renovation shows we should be experts by now–at least in theory!

The other night we were scratching our heads, along with Ben Napier from the show Hometown. Underneath some puke green colored kitchen linoleum he discovered solid oak floors! “Why would you cover that up?!” asked Big Ben with a bewildered look.

Jesus feels the same way about His followers covering up who they truly are. “You are the light of the world,” He said. “A city on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14).

Have you ever tried to dim the light of Christ within you? Regrettably, I have–in order to fit in–and it felt like covering up solid oak floors with puke colored linoleum.

The Hometown episode brought to mind a woman I know who collects and sells antiques. She has an amazing eye for finding old furniture that just needs some love. One time, she discovered a complete Ethan Allen dining room set painted lime green! Underneath the paint, she found (you guessed it) solid mahogany.

However, it’s a bit of a somber story for the Antique Lady, as the local’s call her. She explained that, once beautifully aged hardwood is painted over, you can NEVER restore the original finish. The untouched table and chairs–with their original patina–would have been worth twice as much if they had not been painted.

Jesus feels the same way about His followers decreasing their value to the world. “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” (Matthew 5:13)

Have you ever turned down the volume (so to speak) of the godliness within you? Unfortunately–in order to blend in–I have, and it felt like painting over vintage mahogany.

Now, as much as ever, may we bring out the God-flavors of the earth and let the love of Christ shine through our lives. Jesus is the Light of the World and we are expected to carry a torch. Our good deeds for the glory of God are a reflection of Him.

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

John 8:12

This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine.