Empty Troughs

an old church

Strange title right?

Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. Proverbs 14:4 ESV

The NKJV calls the manger a trough.

Have you seen those pictures around Christmas time of the baby Jesus in some sort of a wooden contraption with criss-cross legs and full of hay and such to look all cozy and comfortable?  It always looks so sterile and “folksy”.

A manger is a feeding trough for animals.  In the Proverb being clean is not a positive thing, it’s a negative.  Let’s think about that for just a moment.  When we have a clean barn, a clean trough, or even a tidy desk, so I tell myself, it means were not busy.  Nothing here is really happening.  It indicates a lack of activity.

If we look back to our verse the trough is dirty is because the ox must eat.  He must be fed in order to have the energy to do what is required.  This makes messes.  He comes into the barn, eats, leaves droppings along the way, you get the picture.

Christian ministry is messy.  People are messy.

I’m not implying that a Christian minister should make messes to be productive, but the reality is that it is a messy business.

Imagine a big, beautiful old church building.  Like you see in Europe.  They are pristine in design, architecture and from what I can tell well maintained.  But they are dead.  Dead religion, without activity.  They benefit no one.  Those troughs are clean.

Jesus Christ came into the world as a baby.  Born in the most humble of all circumstances, born in a dirty animal trough.  His mission was to seek and save the lost, and it was an underappreciated ministry.  In fact, so underappreciated they nailed Him to a cross to die a sinner’s death.

But through His life, we have access to redemption.  A way to be at peace with God.  Through the messy ministry of Christ, we can be cleansed from our sin.  We have access to God to restore a broken relationship that has been severed by our sin.

What a contrast.

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  Luke 19:9-10




He Owns it All!


For the first time in a long time, my wife and I are traveling together.  It’s been a lot of fun.  We went to New Mexico for a quick visit but with the intent purpose to look at homes.  No guarantees at anything just yet, but there has been a desire to come back here for some time now.

I could tell the long story but that’s not the point.

The point here is about trust.  I need to trust God more than I could ever do in my own power.  It seems easy enough to go ride around, look at houses, pick one out and then make an offer, but it’s really not that simple.

I’m finding they are not as easy to find as I had hoped, but a good friend (Pastor Shaan) told me the other day, “It is a seller’s market in ABQ right now and the market has just heated up for the spring, but our God owns all the houses.”

Think about that for just a moment.  He owns everything.  Nothing is outside of an all Sovereign God’s control.  Not one single thing happens outside His intervention.

Why would I worry about it? I know the answer but I don’t like what that says about me.

Today, I need to turn my attention to trusting Him more because He does indeed, “Own it All!”

For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.  “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness is mine.   Psalms 50:10-12






Not all that long ago a well known Christian leader stated something along the lines of we should un-hitch the Old Testament from the New Testament.  In essence, what he is saying is the OT is irrelevant to us today.  After all, we are living under the New Covenant so that old stuff is just that…  Old.

There are so many reasons why this is…  “hogwash”, but I want to suggest one very important consideration for this leader and others that may follow in his footsteps.

I’ve been slowly working my way through the Old Testament one chapter at a time.  I read the one chapter, contemplate it’s meaning or it’s relevance and then read a commentary or two on it and wonder where is the application?

I came across a profound truth this morning that is worth noting.

John Russell said this:

…let it be remembered that nothing directed to be recorded by the Spirit of God ought to be reckoned dry or uninteresting, and that “all scripture given by inspiration of God,” is meant and fitted to be “profitable unto for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness.”  Can it be uninteresting to us with regard to whom so many prophecies and special dealings are recorded, and from whom has sprung, according to the flesh, the Savior of the world, “the light of the Gentiles, and the glory of Israel?” 

That’s important.  The Spirit of God has inspired all of scripture.  No detail is unimportant.  It’s all there for a reason and to un-hitch the Old from the New is not only a terrible idea, but it’s also ungodly.

The terrifying truth of the chapter I read this morning let me know that God is not casually sitting by and giving a pass to those that lead the Christian church.  Just the opposite.  He is holding them to the highest standard.  God will not be mocked.  His word is to be handled rightly.  With reverence and authority.  All of it.

May we never stop learning from those that have come before us.  Good or bad.

Follow the pattern of sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.  2 Timothy1:13-14



Christ on the Cross

What is a Christian?  I have a friend that wrote a really interesting blog today on lent.  He admittedly comes at it from a non-Christian point of view (If you are particularly sensitive beware).  This is a great guy by all standards that I can measure.  I met him years ago and when we first met we hit it off.  Like old bro’s that had common interests.

Trying to even remember back then I’m not sure if I was truly converted at the time or not, but I was certainly professing to be a Christian.

There are those that “profess” Christianity.  There are those that are truly Christians, they desire to serve the Lord, they do it with right intentions, sometimes failing miserably in their sin, but none-the-less they desire to serve Christ.

Then, of course, there is also the unbelieving world.  Those that have no interest.  They are fine to leave it alone.

I’m going to keep this very basic, not be too theological.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 

We must start here to understand Christianity.  God created all things by the power of His word.  There was nothing but God before creation, eternal, and self-existent.  No beginning, no end.  He didn’t create out of boredom or loneliness, He created to glorify Himself.

In the garden God allows Adam to make choices, shall we say, and Adam falls into sin by disobeying God.  That’s simple enough and sad as a representative of all mankind Adam has plunged us all into sin.  Paul affirms this through Romans chapter 5 verses 12-21.

Most people acknowledge their sinfulness in some respects.  We all know we are not “perfect”.  If you have children you know they are disobedient and self-centered.  This is the nature they are born with.  It’s not difficult to identify the truth of the Bible here if we are honest.  You know that if you leave your wallet sitting around someone will steal it.  That’s not a tough concept.

So what?  What’s the point?

The point is Jesus Christ.  He being God in the flesh came to rescue sinners from their sin.  Our relationship with God has been severed through sin.  We are born at enmity with God and because of this, we cannot be in a right relationship with Him.  This is the purpose of Christ’s mission which beautifully articulates the purpose of glorifying Himself.  The greatest act of love ever shown is to lay down one’s life for another.

And yet God, while we were sinners did this.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  2 Corinthians 5:21

For our sake.  Not for everyone’s sake.  For those that believe sake.  God made Christ to be sin, who had never sinned.  The believing ones might receive God’s righteousness and goodness and receive a restored relationship with God.

That’s it.  That’s the simplicity of the message of Christianity.  No matter how “good” you are, you can’t be perfect.  That is the point.  You have to surrender your self-goodness to the goodness of another.  It’s a universal message of hope.

It’s not about a set of rules and do this, or don’t do that, it’s not about religious ceremonies or traditions.  It’s not about smearing some ashes on your forehead or giving up candy for 40 days.  Okay, maybe I should do that, but it doesn’t improve my standing before God.

True Christianity revolves around Christ.  Don’t miss that during this religious ceremonial time of the year.





a Kramer pimp

I work for a company like most people.  The majority of my life I’ve been a small business owner.  We had a very successful business and we sold it last year to big business.  In some ways achieving the “American Dream”.

It’s not my main point, just an, as a matter of fact, thing.

The Big Company has slogans, and reviews and goals and all the kind of stuff you can expect from a big company.  It’s a good place to work for the most part.  Of course, I’m doing what I’ve done for the past 16 years so nothing has changed in my daily responsibilities.

There’s a new term being tossed around from the “Big Guy”.  The company commander and chief coined a term that he wants us to use or live out.  It’s called Swagger.  Not to be confused with Swaggert, you remember that guy, don’t you?  We won’t go there today…

It’s a company priority for us to “swagger”.  I thought,”what does that mean?”

So like any normal person, I looked it up.

The first thing that I had to ask, “is this a noun or a verb?”  A person, place or thing, or an action word?  Hmm… I suppose it could go either way, but let’s assume it’s an action word.  A good old verb.  This company is built for action, so it makes sense. The possibilities are endless.

What does it mean to have “swagger”?

walk or behave in a very confident and typically arrogant or aggressive way.
“he swaggered along the corridor”
synonyms: strut, parade, stride, roll, prance;


So there it is.  That’s what it means to swagger.  First of all that doesn’t really interest me.  I hope I’ve never pranced before.  I hope I never prance.  But to be serious the very act of what this means is repulsive to me in so many ways.  Not because I’m too cool for this or too high and mighty.  But because I just don’t like it for the simple reason I’m a follower of Jesus Christ.  This is the antithesis of what Christ calls me to.

I don’t want to sound as though I’m making fun of my company, I’m not, but it’s not a Christian organization and it doesn’t view the world like I do.

I try and view all things through a biblical lens.  Christ calls us to a different way.  And although I appreciate my company, it’s always a good thing to have a job, I have a higher calling to Christ.

I’m not going to personally, or even figuratively, or metaphorically, walk around strutting.  It’s just not the way I’m called to live.  And while it might sound good in a company meeting it is a contradiction for me personally.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8

Matthew Henry commenting on this passage says it so plainly.

Now what was the mind of Christ? He was eminently humble, and this is what we are peculiarly to learn of him. Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, Mt. 11:29. If we were lowly-minded, we should be like-minded; and, if we were like Christ, we should be lowly-minded. We must walk in the same spirit and in the same steps with the Lord Jesus, who humbled himself to sufferings and death for us; not only to satisfy God’s justice, and pay the price of our redemption, but to set us an example, and that we might follow his steps.

Daily we have new opportunities to respond in pride or in humility.  May we be known as people who respond in humility.  This is the way Christ calls us to walk.