Monthly Archives: July 2019

Thieves in the Temple

“Then He entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. ‘It is written,’ He said to them, ‘My house will be a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of robbers.’’” Luke 19:45-46

There are so many beautiful teachings and parallels that are buried within God’s Word, just waiting to be uncovered. Jesus often used parables when teaching the crowds to explain things that had a much deeper meaning. On the surface, what we read is a very practical application of living the life and exhibiting the behaviors God is asking of us. However, at the heart of these applications is usually a treasure much more valuable and life breathing. We only need to dig past the surface to find it. God plainly tells us if we seek Him, we’ll find Him (Proverbs 8:17).

In Luke 19:28-44, we read of the Triumphal Entry. This is the point in Jesus’ ministry when He enters Jerusalem, openly affirming He is the Messiah. Up until this point, Jesus allowed His actions to dictate what others knew and believed of Him. But now, it was time for a much bigger plan to unfold, at the beginning of which, was making known His true identity in God. He knew proclaiming Himself as the Messiah would anger the Pharisees and Jewish leaders, ultimately putting the plan of His very death into motion.

As Jesus approached Jerusalem, He wept over it. He prophesied there would come a time when their enemies would build an embankment around them and their children to completely destroy them. His heart was grieved because He knew they wouldn’t recognize God Himself was coming to them to save them. It was then Jesus entered the temple area and saw the people using it as a market place to sell and make money. Jesus was furious over the desecration of His Father’s house and, in righteous anger, began driving the sellers out of the temple.

Pause with me here, for we’re about to uncover our parallel. On the surface, we can easily relate to the reasons Jesus may have been angered by what was happening in His Father’s house. It was intended as a place of prayer and intimacy with God, not a marketplace filled with greed and ill intentions. However, I think there’s more here. Jesus was protecting the integrity of a physical location, but I think we can use this as an example of the need to protect the integrity of our hearts. We need to overturn the thieves we place within our hearts that rob God of our intimacy with Him.

God desires to be the very center of our being. The Word tells us Christ dwells in our hearts, and that we are a temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (1 Corinthians 3:16). As imperfect people who sin, we allow desecration of the temple, today, by allowing idols that are not of God to steal precious priority within our hearts. Our God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14). He gave Moses the command that we shall have no other gods before Him. When we hold things precious that don’t give glory to God, we’re allowing things into our hearts that take on the very nature of what Jesus drove out of the temple thousands of years ago.

Is there anything in your life that would make Jesus angry enough to want to overturn it?

I hope you’re encouraged to examine your heart and drive out the things competing with your heart for God. I sure am. This has to do with more than just our time with God, but the character He desires to build within us. 

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Be blessed,
C.K.

B Cells

I sometimes feel envious of those in the medical profession, who have had the opportunity to study the amazing complexities of our bodies in gross detail. Gross is probably a good word to use because all that study involves seeing and touching all the stuff on the inside. I guess someone has to carry that burden, and thank the Lord it isn’t me.

What I’m most enamored by, are all the amazing examples God has given us through those complexities, about who He is and how He works. Today, we’re going to take a look at one of those examples. B cells. I’ll ask all my medical friends in advance for their mercy as I oversimplify this, and hope we can all exchange the gory details for the spirit of the message.

When your body is fighting an illness, it’s fighting something called antigens, which are foreign molecules that don’t belong in your body. When an intruder is detected, your body’s alarm system goes off and sends special cells that fight those antigens. Some release enzymes that kill the foreign objects. Some turn on the body’s immune system and trigger our B cells to make antibodies. These antibodies attach themselves to the antigens, rendering them useless. The picture that comes to my mind is someone jumping on the back of an intruder, wrapping their hands around their eyes, and watching the chaos ensue. I imagine the intruder stumbling around, trying to figure out what’s going on, until they find themselves crashing into a wall and falling onto the floor. The antibody sits on the intruder until help shows up and halls him off to jail.

I allowed myself some interpretational liberty there, but I think you get the point.

That whole process is amazing in and of itself, but here’s something even more fascinating. Those B cells have memory. That’s right. Memory. That means they now recognize that intruder and, if he ever comes back, they know more about him, and how to fight him off.

The difficult things we go through in life can be a lot like this process. We get hit with foreign objects we don’t understand at first. Things that threaten our spiritual health. The Holy Spirit is like the cells that trigger and turn on our spiritual immune system, and our faith is like those B cells that fight against the attack. The antibody? Jesus, of course. No attack is pleasant, but once we walk through it, we learn and grow and equip ourselves to not only recognize, but fight it off quicker the next time.

Sometimes the most inspiring part of getting through a disease is not the healing itself, but what’s happening inside of you during the good fight.

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Jesus told us we would have trouble in this world, but He also told us not to be discouraged, because He’s already overcome them. I believe part of that story of overcoming isn’t just about overcoming illness – physical or spiritual. It’s about how you are overcoming amidst the pain of the journey, and that is what is truly inspiring.

Today’s writing was inspired by a couple I recently met, and I was deeply moved by their story. They took the terrible intruder, called Cancer, and turned it into a story of hope. Every day, since that journey began, they put out a Facebook post, “C the Good,” where they list all the ways God is good, and all the good things coming out of their trial. What an inspiration. They are vulnerably inviting people into the midst of their pain and turning it into hope for themselves and others.

Chose to be a lantern amidst your storm. Chose to be light to those around you. Be a beacon they can see and follow. In doing so, you’ll build your own spiritual immunity, and be more equipped to call on Jesus to calm the storms that come your way more quickly.

Be blessed,
C.K.

A Hairy Ordeal

It started with a simple idea. It always starts out as simple. Until you actually do it. Sometimes, you’re lucky and everything works out the way you saw it in your mind. Other times, it’s like watching your favorite ceramic mug fall off the counter, and you’re too far away to catch it. You simply have to watch it hit the floor and smash into pieces.

This bit of drama brought to you by the midlife crisis my hair seems to be having. My simple idea? Get a pixie haircut. “It will be fun,” they said. “It will look great on you,” they said.

My favorite mug lay shattered on the ground in a bazillion pieces.

I know I’m being dramatic, but that’s kind of how I felt for at least three solid minutes.  As a side note, I mean no disrespect or chiding to the woman who cuts my hair. I think she did a most excellent job, and nailed the picture I gave her to base the cut on. So after I stared dejectedly in the mirror for a couple of minutes, I gave myself a pep talk that hair grows, and it would all be okay in three to six months. Three to six months. That’s a long time. I needed a new plan, and a new plan is exactly what I came up with. I waited almost eight excruciating weeks for it to grow out a bit, and then I decided I was going to color it all. Platinum white. It would look spectacular. It would look so spectacular, I would no longer notice how much more I look like my brother. I would just be enamored by my cool hair color.

I made that appointment for Thursday. It was going to be fantastic. I could feel it. I’m not exactly sure what chemicals are used to lighten hair, but I’m pretty sure it’s a combination of hydrochloric acid and sulfur acid. Maybe a touch of gasoline. My scalp was on fire. But as my daughter used to say when she was in high school, “Beauty for pain.” I guess she was right.

After two rounds of the acid-like treatment, we learned the hard way that my hair is stubborn, and doesn’t like to lighten. So instead of the platinum white picture of perfection, I now had Ronald McDonald yellow hair with some white highlights.

I needed another plan.

I acquired something called a purple mask, which is a thick, purple cream you put into shampooed hair. You let it sit on your hair for five to ten minutes and then rinse it out. It’s supposed to tame the brassy/yellow color and restore it to platinum white. I packed it with the things I was taking to the boat this weekend, and headed to Door County. This morning, after my shower, I used the purple people eater cream, as directed, and busied myself for approximately seven and a half minutes. During which time, one of the marina dockhands stopped by with a question.

[look askance]

A few minutes after that embarrassing moment, Siri kindly told me it was time to rinse it out. I did so with optimism, and then ran to the mirror. I wanted to say abracadabra, presto change-o, but there were other words that made it out first. Now, instead of yellow hair with white highlights, I had yellow hair with purple highlights. No pictures this weekend, please.

One of the things I appreciate about God, besides His sense of humor, is His ability to show Himself in all the things around us. Hair is no exception. Here’s the moral of this story.

Sometimes, you just need to let your hair grow. Things happen in life that aren’t always pleasant, and we can’t fast forward our way through them. Sometimes, we just need to be patient within our present circumstances, while God is growing the things we are praying for. Trying to interfere and speed up the natural process can make the situation worse than before. And using purple people eater cream may only make you want to hide more. I should know.

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14

Trust in God’s plan, and be patient. Just let your hair grow. 

Be blessed,
C.K.

Count the Cost

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” Luke 14:28

When counting the cost of something, that may be our time, money, conveniences, etc. To live a life for Christ demands the sum of these. It’s all our material possessions, emotional comforts and physical well-being tossed onto the proverbial table. In our Scripture above, His analogy of building a tower is simple – Christ is not demanding anything of us. He simply instructs us to take inventory of what a life of service and discipleship will require, to ensure we can finish the job.

Imagine a road. Imagine its long and winding path, sheltered and encased by the branches of majestic trees, whose roots are deep with life. You are ready. Your eye is on the finish. With each step along the narrow path you’re drawn more forward by the longing in your spirit for the Greatness you know lies ahead at your destination. Along the way, you pick up weary travelers, lifeless in spirit. You tell them of this Greatness – that which can breathe life into them again, heal their wounds and satisfy any hunger. More and more follow. You assure them, where you’re going, there is plenty of room for all (John 14:2).

The journey is long and the bottoms of your shoes become worn. The night falls steadily, along with the hope that sparked your first steps. Your pace ceases as you find yourself staring dejectedly at the unexpected mountain before you. There is no way around this mountain. Only over it. To take such a journey of strength will require a lightened load and the use of your hands for climbing. This means abandoning all your possessions for the sake of the climb. Disillusionment creeps in as you are taunted by your own ill-preparedness. Fear tells you to turn around. In that moment, you’re faced with a choice that will impact not only your own life, but the lives of so many others.

In your weakness and fear, you turn. When you do, you are face to face with all the weary travelers who are following you, uncertain of why you stopped. As you pass through the sea of searching faces, your actions of retreat make words unnecessary. The travelers who were once filled with hope are now standing in silence, gazing back and forth between their retreating leader and the mountain before them. The cloaks of dejectedness and disillusionment are passed through the crowd as the vision of Greatness you spoke of fades with every step backwards you take. For many, hurt turns to anger and bitterness for leading them so far for nothing. They leave the path, never to return (2 Peter 2:21). Others ridicule you. For others, they continue to follow you, turning back to the place that took the life within them and made them weary in the first place.

But there is one. There is one who remains staring at the mountain. He takes his time to think about the journey and all it will require. When weighed against the reward of the Greatness that waits on the other side, there is no hesitation in his spirit (Isaiah 6:8). He gathers those who are still found motionless in the confusion and calls out to those who have already turned around to see if any will follow with him. They leave any unnecessary thing and, together, begin the climb.

Which one will you be?

Be blessed,
C.K.

What’s Next You Ask?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what I’m working on next. I’m happy to throw out a few teasers for those of you interested. There are two books I’m working on…

The first is a very special non-fiction project. I’m not ready yet to say more about what this is, but as soon as I am, you’ll be the first to know! It’s going to be, well, out there. Let’s just say, I’m already predicting it will be the most difficult book I will ever have the privilege to write.

Robert Downey Jr.
Photo: projectfandom.com

The other is my second fiction thriller, What Lies in Wait. It will be a psychological thriller and, in the spirit of the twists I love, I’m going for a last chapter gasp in this one. You may even meet up with a character or two from Stolen. Another teaser? Ok, why not. One of the main characters, a work from home Psychiatrist, is being modeled after our very own Robert Downey Jr. One might say I have a small dream of him playing this role in the movie someday. I’m targeting to have this book out Fall 2019.

Be blessed,
C.K.