If You Love Me

“If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15 NIV)


We have a 13-year-old beagle named Lucy, and she is a wonderful dog. During my coffee with the Lord this morning, John 14:15 “wiggled” on the page. As I reflected on this very simple, yet very profound, verse, Lucy came to mind. She’s not trained, but she’s very obedient–always has been. Her obedience isn’t the slavish, downtrodden duty of a dog that has been kicked into submission. Rather, it’s the happy, almost worshipful devotion of a dog that loves her master.

I remember when we got Lucy from a shelter. She was two and full of spunk (she still has the spunk at 13, it’s just a little slower). It seemed evident to us that she had been handled roughly by a man in her past. She was skittish around men, taking on a beaten-down posture of fearful submission and growling if a man came too close. We brought her into our basement, and I spent the next few hours sitting with her. At first, she wasn’t having any part of it, but after a while, she came around. Once I had her trust, I was surprised at how quickly she picked up on what I wanted her to do and did it. She wants to please, loves the praise she receives and is eager to obey (unless there’s a squirrel or a rabbit, then all bets are off).

God brought Lucy to mind as an illustration of what He desires from me. He doesn’t want slavish, downtrodden duty from a beaten-down broken-spirited servant kicked into submission. He desires joy-filled, loving, worshipful devotion from a child who loves his Father and wants to feel God’s smile. It’s not about doggedly following a list of rules out of fear, it’s about loving Jesus enough to figure out what He wants and do it. Why? Because that is the essence of love, pouring yourself out for another. That’s what Jesus did for us. His wish is my command, not because I need to check off my be-a-good-person checklist, but because I love Him. I follow Him out of love.

My prayer for the week is that God will whisper something to you, and you’ll spring into action with all the joy of a child running an errand for his/her Father (or a beagle running to the door for a biscuit, lol).

Here’s My Heart, Lord

“Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths.” (Proverbs 7:25, NIV)

Does God have your heart? Or does your heart wander? Does your heart stray? The key to victory over sin is not hating sin–let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t hate sin! Sometimes the reason why it’s hard to leave sin is that we like it… sometimes we even love it. But as much as our fallen human natures love the darkness, we can overcome sin with love for God. We may at times love our sin, but we love Jesus more.

Love is stronger than fear or duty. I may give God my will to do what is right, but unless I give Him my heart, it’s short-lived. Love endures when the will falters. Love compels when fatigue sets in. Love drives on when duty fades away. That’s why worship is so vital to the Christian life! It is in and through worship that we give our hearts to God, and when He has our hearts, He has all of us. This morning I was deeply moved by this verse and the song below. My prayer for the week is that you will make this song your anthem, and in so doing will find yourself more deeply in love with our Lord than ever before.


Photo above by Jamez Picard on Unsplash

Be Holy​

“I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean” (Leviticus 11:44, NIV).

Ever read something in the Bible, scratch your head, reread it, and ask God, “Why did You include that in Your story?” That’s precisely what I think every time I read Leviticus 11, the chapter with all the dietary laws for ancient Israel–clean and unclean animals; eat this, but not that; etc. Why would God give these laws to His people? (I think it’s worth noting that the concept of clean and unclean animals goes way back before Leviticus. Remember, God gave Noah instructions about clean and unclean animals on the ark. Additionally, other ancient near eastern peoples also had regulations about clean and unclean animals. So this wasn’t just dropped out of the sky in Leviticus 11).

Many ideas about clean and unclean animals have been offered over the years, but not a single one has much evidence in Scripture to support it–not even the favorite view of conservative evangelicals: that some animals were unhealthy for eating, and since the Israelites didn’t understand modern science and medicine, God made the unsafe, unhealthy animals “unclean.” The fact is, modern science and medicine don’t show that the unclean animals in Leviticus 11 are less healthy or safe for eating. And, if this really were the rationale, we’d have to assume that God no longer cares about our health, since in the New Testament all these dietary laws were lifted and we can now enjoy bacon and shrimp without becoming unclean.1

As I was having coffee with the Lord this morning and discussing this passage with Him, He said to me:

Do I need to give a practical reason in order for My children to obey Me? Is it not enough to say that since I am holy, I desire My children to also be holy?

God told us the why behind the commands in Leviticus 11–so that the Israelites could consecrate themselves and be holy because their Father in Heaven is holy. How the various clean and unclean animals and dietary laws factored into that, and why God changed it in the New Testament, we may never know. But the principle my Father impressed upon my heart this morning was this: God is holy. As His children, we are to be holy. And when He speaks, we listen and obey even if we don’t always fully understand the practical, pragmatic reason behind it. God doesn’t give commands needlessly, but neither did He tell us to obey Him only when it makes sense to us. Obedience is part of our holiness.

My prayer for this week is that we will experience the holiness of God and that it will inspire us to strive to be holy, as our Father is holy.


1. Mark F. Rooker, Leviticus, vol. 3A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 172.

2. Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

I know what the Bible says, but…

Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. Yet…” (John 7:21-22a, NIV).

In the passage I read this morning from John’s Gospel (John 7:14-9:12), the tension between Jesus and the Jewish people is palpable.  They simply refused to acknowledge who He was, debating and arguing and reasoning their way out of faith in Jesus–even when He was performing miracles, teaching Scripture, calling them back to God, showing love and compassion without measure, and living without sin in every way.  The Jews were amazed by Jesus’s miracles, yet angry with Him for healing a man on the Sabbath, and they were even accusing Him of being demon-possessed.

Jesus was incredulous, and rightly so!  In spite of everything He’d done for them, they still refused to believe in Him.  He does one miracle and the crowds are amazed by it… yet, not amazed enough to actually follow Jesus and receive Him as Lord.

How many times in my own life have I been amazed by God, but unmoved in my heart?  Too many to count!  I have often heard others say (and, I’ll confess, sometimes I’ve thought myself) these seven deadly words, “I know what the Bible says, but…”  Oh, that those words would never escape our lips!  May we never fail to be moved by the wonder, the grace, the Truth, and the beauty of God’s Word and the Savior it reveals to us.  Be amazed and be moved this week.

In Christ,
Pastor Andy