Don’t Bother Me With the Facts


Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 

John 9:39

Read John 9:18-41

Foghorn Leghorn“I say, I say, don’t bother me with the facts son, I’ve already made up my mind.” A bit of wisdom from one of my favorite cartoon characters, Foghorn Leghorn. It also sounds a lot like the Pharisees in their discourse with the blind man whom Jesus healed in John chapter nine. Have you ever been so sure you were right about something, you knew there was no way you were wrong, only to find out later you were? Me too. On little things, it really isn’t that big a deal. We’re all wrong at times, and it’s important that we admit it; that’s how we learn. But, on the big order questions of life – it matters.

The Leaders of the Jews were convinced they were right about Jesus; they had Him all figured out. In their mind, there was no way He was from God. In fact, they thought Jesus was from the Devil (Matt. 12:24), but they couldn’t have been more wrong. As they grilled the blind man, who was healed (John 9:18-41) about Jesus’ origins, the Pharisees couldn’t accept that He was from God. The healed man was amazed at their blindness (John 9:30). How could they not know He was from God? No one in the history of the world ever gave sight to someone born blind.

Lent is a great time to discover new truth about ourselves, and about God. Through the practice of spiritual disciplines like prayer and fasting, God will open our hearts and minds to new knowledge of Him, as He draws us deeper into the Spirit-filled life. However, all that fasting and prayer won’t make a bit of difference unless we can be taught. Are you open to being taught?

Each Lenten season the Father shows me new areas of life in which He wants me to improve. Sometimes the learning process feels like a fire that burns away at me; other times it’s more like a flood about to overwhelm me. It’s in those feelings of being overwhelmed that I must learn not react defensively with God. If I really want to know I’m right, I must admit when I’m wrong, even though it hurts,

Most of the Jewish leaders couldn’t admit they were wrong about Jesus. They couldn’t admit their blindness. They were convinced they could see him clearly, and that’s why they were lost.

“Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.” (John 9:41)

What about you? Are you too stubborn to admit your wrong, even in the face of overwhelming facts? Let God renew your heart by opening your eyes as you prepare for the miracle of Easter. Don’t be like my friend Foghorn. At the end of each episode, it never worked out for him. His stubbornness was his undoing. We laugh at cartoons, but this is real life. You can get a lot of things wrong in life, and still be okay. But, on the big order questions of life, if you get Jesus wrong…your eternity may hang in the balance. 


Pastor Brad

My daily Lenten prayer – “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and sustain in me a willing spirit. ” NRSV

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Rocks for Jocks

Hear my cry, O God, *
and listen to my prayer.
I call upon you from the ends of the earth
with heaviness in my heart; *
set me upon the rock that is higher than I.

Psalm 61:1-2

Read Psalm 61

Western Wall
The Western Wall of the Temple Mount, Jerusalem

I think rocks are fascinating. They can be so great in size they can’t be moved. What a great metaphor for our faith in God. Our faith in Jesus Christ can grow so big and strong that it can’t be moved. When temptation comes, our rock of faith can be so big and strong that it doesn’t crumble and start an avalanche in our lives; a downward spiral into sin. Rocks are great aren’t they?


My fascination with rocks began in college, where the only science class I took was Geology. It was called, “Rocks for Jocks”. No, I wasn’t an athlete, but it was considered the easiest science class to take. It was supposed to be so easy that even “dumb jocks” could pass it. Well, that was good enough for me. I never was good at science. However, I really enjoyed the class. I was fascinated to learn how rocks form deep in the earth over millions of years and have, in some cases been raised to the surface through eruptions and erosions.

The soil in Jerusalem is very rocky. At the base of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, there is church built over and around a rock. That rock is believed to be the very rock were Jesus prayed in agony on the night of His arrest. To get to the church you pass through the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus often went to pray. It was in those times of prayer that Jesus’ own faith in His Father was formed and strengthened.

Rock of Agony mosaic
Christ in Agony Mosaic

As I visited the Church of the Agony in Gethsemane, I knelt to pray in front of that rock. It was once a massive boulder, now shrouded by the church built around it. You can see only the top of the rock as it protrudes through the floor in front of the Altar. Above the Altar, on the back wall of the church there is a mosaic of Christ kneeling upon the rock in prayer…in agony.

Rock of Agony
Rock of Agony in front of the Altar, Church of All Nations “Agony”, Gethsemane

As you journey through Lent, I hope you will find times and places where you too can climb and kneel upon a rock of prayer. Climbing to a high place in prayer represents our reaching Heavenward, lifting our souls to God. Be creative in your prayer times this Lent. Perhaps there is a “Gesthemane” near you where you can get a way and pray. There may not be a giant rock to climb upon, but no matter where you are, you always have the rock of faith that is Jesus. It’s on Him, our solid rock, that we like the Psalmist, plead for God to set us upon.


Pastor Brad

My daily Lenten prayer – “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and sustain in me a willing spirit. ” NRSV

Is That Too Much to Ask?

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I command you this day for your good?

Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Read Deuteronomy 10:12-22


thanklessness quoteDon’t you hate it when someone says to you, “Is it too much to ask?” If I hear those words, (Which always seem to carry a note of disgust in their tone) correctly, I’ve let them down in some way. Maybe it was a breakdown in communication, or perhaps I just didn’t want to do what was asked of me. Either way, in their mind, I let them down. I hate to let people down.

I’m a bit of a people pleaser. I admit it. Experts says that’s not a good trait. “You can’t please everyone and only a fool tries”, they say. But, I care about what people think of me. I think the reason I care about what they think is because, maybe, just maybe, what they think of me reflects on what they think of Christ.

Most people I meet either know I’m a pastor or they can tell it by the cross I wear, or the clergy apparel I might have on. As such, I try to be mindful that what they think of me as a servant of Christ may reflect on Him too.

I feel like God is asking the children of Israel those same words. He’s delivered them from slavery to freedom. He’s delivered them into a land flowing with blessings, and all He seems to get is griping and complaining. “It’s taking too long. It’s too hot hear. There’s not enough variety to our food…” So, He tells them, “All I ask from you is your love, and that you love one another. Can’t you be thankful you’re no longer slaves? When have I ever let you down?” Of course, I’m paraphrasing God.

looking down and away pictureSometimes, I sense God saying those words I hate to me… “Brad, can’t you be happy with your comfortable life I’ve blessed you with, your family and friends, the roof over your head and all the food in your pantry? Is that too much to ask?” I know I’m not the only one with this problem of thanklessness; it seems to be pandemic in our culture.

How thankful are you for the blessings of your life? If all we ever do is concentrate on what we don’t have, we’ll never be thankful for what we do have. This was how the Israelites began to fall away from God; they lost their thankfulness.

This Lent, why not spend some extra time in prayer thanking God for all He’s done for you? After all – is that too much to ask?


Pastor Brad

My daily Lenten prayer – “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and sustain in me a willing spirit. ” NRSV

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It’s Not About You

“Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land’; whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out before you.”

Deuteronomy 9:4

Read Deut. 9:4-12

reality-checkWhen I was a little boy of 4 or 5 years, and people would come to our house to visit, I always thought they were coming to see me; of course, they weren’t. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to be in on everything that was being said. I didn’t want to miss out on anything. The guests had come to see my Mom or Dad, but that wasn’t obvious to me. After all, why wouldn’t they come to see me? But then, what my Mom and Dad would usually say to me was crushing.


The greatest obstacle we all must get over in life is – ourselves. Perhaps because God gave each us a human will to live, we do things to preserve ourselves. We take care of our bodies. We feed and clothe them. We also take care of our spirits. We open them up to things that fill our minds, and we endeavor to learn from those things.

But, here is the great danger. What we fill our minds with is of extreme importance. Like our bodies, if we fill our minds with things that are not healthy we become someone we don’t want to be. Often, we find ourselves trapped in a cycle filled with unhealthy things. The first unhealthy thing that happens is we begin to believe a lie. That lie is that it’s all about us. Satan wants us to think our lives here are all about us, but that’s not true. Who we are and all we have is all about God and His Will.

Lent is a time for breaking those cycles. In this season, we call our bodies and minds back to our true center – God. After letting our lives fill with clutter (which we do so easily without realizing it) during the year, we need a time for re-centering, for Spring cleaning if you will.

In the years following the Exodus, the children of Israel needed a lot of re-centering. After centuries of slavery, they found themselves delivered into a land flowing with milk, honey and freedom. But, it wasn’t because they deserved it. God made it clear to them that it wasn’t because of any righteousness of their own. None of us has any righteousness of our own; we only have that which God gives us.

When I hung around too long with my Mom and Dad asking all sorts of question, you know, dominating their time when friends had come to see them, they would say, “Go and play. We’re trying to visit here”. That hurt. What I heard was, “You know Bradley, it’s not all about you!” That is a lesson I’ve had to learn and re-learn many times. If we’re not careful, we begin to believe in our own righteousness. We begin to think we are the center of our lives. But, scripture makes it clear anything good of me is from God and not of myself.

Won’t you take time this Lent to renew your heart by re-centering it upon God and his Word? Perhaps you’ve gotten too busy to pray and have a devotional time. Perhaps you’ve even stopped going to church. This Lent, commit to renewing yourself in Christ, and remember…it’s not all about you.


Pastor Brad

My daily Lenten prayer – “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and sustain in me a willing spirit. ” NRSV

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How’s Your Memory?


“Take heed lest you forget the Lord your God, by not keeping his commandments and his ordinances and his statutes, which I command you this day:

Deuteronomy 8:11

Read Deut. 8:11-20


Leon, an elderly man in our church of blessed memory, used to go around handing out $2 bills to people, always with a big smile on his face. When he gave one to me he said, “If you keep this in your wallet, you’ll never be broke.” I still have that $2 bill, and our kids have theirs also. I don’t keep it in my wallet though. I’m always afraid I might spend it in some moment of weakness, especially considering I almost never carry cash with me.

I keep that $2 bill on my dresser. Every time I see it I’m reminded of Leon’s generous, loving spirit, how he exemplified Christ to me, and how blessed I am. I have food, health, shelter, and family! What more could I ask for? Our spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting should be like that $2 bill. They should remind us of how much God has blessed us and of His great plans for us. The Lenten season is a time for Christians to be reminded of what a generous, loving Heavenly Father we have.

In the western world, we have so much abundance, too often we must work at being thankful. If we aren’t reminding ourselves of God’s abundant provisions in our lives we tend to think we built all of them ourselves. While thankfulness for God’s blessings should be a daily state of mind, I am thankful for a church that calls us to remember. We need to remember not only all God’s blessings, but all His deliverance as well.

The children of Israel inherited a land flowing with milk and honey, a land God gave to them. He knew in their success they would forget Him. The best remedy for not forgetting is to live daily in a spirit of thankfulness. For me, Lent is a season to remember how blessed I am, especially how “Forgiven” I am. As a way of saying, “Thanks” to the Father, I offer up fasting, and concentrated times of prayer and meditation.

How’s your memory? Are you living gratefully for the blessings of life? Or, like the Israelites, have you forgotten just where you came from and who delivered you? If so, take some time this Lenten season to let God remind you of all his blessings, and as an act of love, offer up times of prayer and fasting.


Pastor Brad

My daily Lenten prayer – “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and sustain in me a willing spirit. ” NRSV

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From Fear to Praise

From Fear to Praise

2 O my God, I cry by day, but thou dost not answer; and by night, but find no rest.

3 Yet thou art holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.

Psalm 22:2,3

Every night, as I laid down to sleep, I would remember my friend in prayer – He’d been missing for over a year. Some nights I would literally cry out to God. The burden to pray for my friend was sometimes so strong I would get out of bed and find a quiet place to pray; a place where I could prostrate myself before God in petition.

Many Catholic churches have a small chapel that is filled with prayer for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They call the prayer Eucharistic Adoration. People sign up for one hour a week to go to the Chapel and pray before a consecrated Host of the Eucharist (Holy Communion), which according to their theology is the transubstantiated body and blood of Jesus Christ. A Catholic friend who knew of my burden told me about these chapels and said if I really wanted a sacred place to pray I was welcome anytime, day or night.

One lonely, cold, winter night, as I was particularly burdened in prayer for my friend, I was losing hope and beginning to fear the worst had happened. So, I got up about 3 O’clock in the morning and drove to one those chapels. There in the chapel, was an elderly man spending his hour in prayer. I knelt down and prayed for a while. My custom is to turn to Psalms for guidance in prayer – they are the ancient prayer book of God’s people. That night I turned to a few different Psalms, but when I got to Psalm 22, I heard my voice echoing in the words of Psalm.

David wrote the Psalm but it is historically understood to be the prophetic voice of the crucified Christ, calling out to the Father as He hung on the cross. We hear Jesus crying out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (v. 1), the very words which St. Matthew quotes of Jesus in his gospel, chapter 27, verse 46.

As I read and prayed the words of Psalm 22 that night, I realized that while much of them are words of angst and agony, many of them are of faith and hope. The Psalmist changes his voice in verse 23 to one of hope and assurance that God will hear his prayer and rescue him. In fact, the first line of the Psalm in the Septuagint version is, “concerning help in the morning”. Though Jesus prayed in agony, He knew His Father would send help in the morning. God would not abandon Him in death, and neither will He abandon us in our hour of great need.

It was another four months or so, and my friend was found – alive. He was hurting, but he was alive. God heard my prayers; He always has and He always will, and He hears yours too. What’s your burden in prayer today? Know that He hears, and that His desire is to deliver you as you surrender all to Him. And, just like the Psalmist in the midst of his outcry, let your cries turn to praise:

23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! all you sons of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you sons of Israel!

24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; and he has not hid his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.

25 From thee comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him.

26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live for ever! (Ps. 22:23-26)

In your prayers, don’t stop when you run out of words of petition. Don’t be afraid to lay out your deepest fears before God. Then, let your cries turn from fear to praise.


Pastor Brad

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Don’t Just Say It – Do It!

Don’t Just Say It – Do It!

Nevertheless, you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 

Philippians 4:14-15

Words can be full of feeling, but empty of meaning. Ever been told by someone they were thinking of you, but somehow you doubted it? Or even worse, have you ever told someone you’d pray for them, but didn’t? Of course you have; we all have. Sadly, it seems human nature to do so, but it’s not supposed to be the nature of those who live in the power of resurrection.

Of all people, Christians should follow through with our good intentions. There’s no doubt that many of the churches St. Paul had planted and visited, told him as he was leaving that they would pray for him and support his ministry. His missionary journey’s were often filled with danger and uncertainty. While we can only assume they did pray for him, apparently many of the them never followed through with the support. I’m sure they had the best of intentions. After all, so did we, right?

The Philippians were different. They shared in Paul’s distress by sending not just their prayers, but material support as well. They put their money where their mouth was. When we follow through to do what we say we will do, it makes a difference in the one we give to as well as ourselves. The one who gives is blessed to be a blessing. It may well have caused them some financial distress to send their gifts to Paul, but by doing so they became sharers not only in his distress, but in his victories as well.

One important step forward in doing, and not just saying is to go ahead and pray for someone right then, when you’re telling them you’ll be praying. Don’t just say it – do it!

And remember, Christ is risen…and so are you!

Grace & Peace,

+Pastor Brad


Gracious Father, help me to be a “doer” and not a just a “sayer. Help me to realize the power of the resurrection within me to make good on my intentions…to just do it! Amen. Alleluia!

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