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Enjoying God

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Welcome to Real Life. Is enjoying the Lord’s presence a new thought? It was for me at one time.

“They ate and drank with great joy in the presence of the Lord that day.”1 Chronicles 29:22
While growing up, a church service was something I endured. I viewed it as an obligation that God and my parents required. Nope, didn't enjoy it.

But then, as an older teen, I actually began to seek the Lord's presence. I visited churches attempting to find a truer (or at least more enjoyable) experience of God. Those who seek the Lord, find Him:
“‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord.”
Jeremiah 29:13-14 I found Him. I welcomed Christ into my heart. God was no longer a stranger. I enjoyed His nearness as I walked life's journey.

However, as my knowledge of theology grew, I learned that God is pure. He is holy. I am not. In fact, He cannot stand the presence of sin. Though I was saved by grace through faith in Christ[…

Hello, Hello!

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Welcome to Real Life. Life is an ever-changing series of goodbyes and hellos. Sometimes, those changes land in a heap of an emotional week. For me, it was the last week of June. "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland"(Isaiah 43:19). My dad died a year ago, June 28. He was taking a mid-morning nap when God gently called him home. Only a year, yet it seems so long since I felt his hug, saw his smile, or heard his, “My Peguška!” One day, I’ll see his smile again. I’m so grateful for that wonderful hope I have in Christ—the Resurrection and the Life. But today, I must live our goodbye.



The same week that marked the one-year anniversary of my dad's death, I said goodbye to Moody Radio Cleveland. After working there seven years, my position was eliminated due to budget cuts. I'm not mad. Moody Radio is fiscally responsible. I appreciate that. I love Moody Radio. I believe in …

Naaman's Leprosy | 2 Kings 5

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Welcome to Real Life. Some battles cannot be won… apart from God.


Not much frightens me. I’ve faced many foes and walked away the victor. In fact, my courage is legendary in the nation of Aram. It’s why I, Naaman, was promoted to commander of the king’s army.

But, I’ve never faced an enemy like this.

When the skin of my forearm began to itch and flake, I thought little of it... an irritation, nothing more. It was when my arm grew numb and so weak I could barely lift my sword that I became concerned. I am nothing without my might.

The king called in his most skilled herbalists. They treated me with powerful elixirs. But, my condition only worsened. It was the diagnosis I dreaded—leprosy.

When I told my wife, she fainted. Afterward, she could barely eat. She couldn't sleep. She tried, unsuccessfully, to hold back tears in my presence. Her maidservant readily noticed my wife's anxiety. The girl offered a bold suggestion, “There is a prophet in Israel. His God can cure you.”

Run to God | 1 Kings 19

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Welcome to Real Life. Circumstances rise and fall. God is present on the mountain; he is present in the desert wilderness.

“I have had enough, Lord. Take my life; I’m no better than my ancestors.” 
Elijah just experienced two mountaintop victories over the prophets of Baal and the drought (see previous blog). Life is good… until Queen Jezebel hears the news. She, a devoted worshiper of Baal, is incensed that he slew her prophets. She puts out a contract on Elijah’s life.

Terrified, Elijah flees. He runs to the desert, lies down under a broom tree, and asks God to take his life.


Wait just a minute… Isn’t this Elijah—the mighty prophet? Yesterday, he stood alone against 450 prophets of Baal. Today, one little woman has him running scared?

Yes, Elijah is a powerful prophet. But, he is also a man “just like us.”[1] After the events and excitement of the previous day, Elijah is utterly exhausted. In his weakened state, Jezebel’s threat is the straw that breaks the prophet's back.

Ever …

The Lord—He is God! | 1 Kings 18

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Welcome to Real Life. Don’t blame the messenger.

“Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” King Ahab said to Elijah.
Israel was deep in suffering from a famine, due to drought—a drought the prophet Elijah foretold three and a half years earlier. Elijah did not cause the drought. He simply relayed God's message.

Israel’s King Ahab married Jezebel, a zealous worshiper of Baal.[1] In the Promised Land, God's country, Ahab allowed Jezebel to institute Baal worship as the national religion. In addition, she drove the priests and prophets of the Lord underground, threatening their lives. Ahab built a temple to Baal for her on Mt. Carmel right next to the altar of the Lord (which fell into ruin from disuse).

God was not pleased! So, he sent Elijah with this message for Ahab: “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1).

Three years later, in the midst of famine, Elijah reappears. Ahab gr…

Wise Men Make Mistakes | 1 Kings 11

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Welcome to Real Life. “How could he be so stupid?” Dana's question referred to Samson, super-hero and mighty judge of Israel. No warrior or kingdom could conquer him. He was captured because of an area of weakness—a sexual dalliance with Delilah.[1]

Even Superman has his kryptonite.
King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. The whole world sought an audience with him to hear the wisdom God placed in his heart.[2]The Queen of Sheba tested him with difficult questions; he answered them all. Solomon authored three biblical books of wisdom and poetry: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.


However, even wise men make mistakes. Like Samson, Solomon had a weakness for foreign women. He espoused 700 wives and 300 concubines.
As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.1 Kings 12:4 The regression of Solomon's errors:
He disobeyed God by marrying foreign w…

A Shepherd's Heart | 1 Samuel 16

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Welcome to Real Life. Our culture prizes outward beauty. God prizes inward beauty. An ugly soul can hide from most, but never from God.

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at.
People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7b
He began humbly enough. But, it wasn’t long before Israel’s first king grew proud and arrogant and directly disobeyed God. When Saul rejected God’s authority, God rejected him as king.

Therefore, the Lord sent his prophet to anoint a new king from among the sons of Jesse in Bethlehem. Jesse paraded seven sons before the prophet Samuel. But, God chose none of them. “Are these all the sons you have?” Samuel asked.

“There is still the youngest, but he is tending the sheep,” Jesse replied. Then, he summoned his youngest son. David came in directly from the fields, no time to wash or change clothes.

“Rise and anoint him; he is the one,” the Lord told Samuel.
As youngest, not even David’s father chose him for greatne…

Anonymous Response to Josh Duggar’s Molestation Charges | Guest Post

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Welcome to Real Life. Real Life can be painful, especially when it involves a childhood scarred by sexual molestation. Today’s guest post is by a friend who wishes to remain anonymous.



When I was a young girl I was molested by two of my brothers, my sister was also molested by one of them. It was a horrible experience. Every night I went to bed in fear, wondering if my oldest brother, who was an adult, would sneak in and fondle us. My sister and I told our mom about these visits, but she assured us he was just checking to be sure we were okay. She was naïve, and probably never imagined what was going on, nor could we clearly articulate what he was doing. Eventually, a lock was placed on our door and the visits stopped, but the fear of him has never gone away. That occurred when I was 12-15, the experience with my other brother started when I was younger. I was 9 or 10 at the time and he was probably 15 or 16, old enough for him to know better. Unfortunately, I didn’t know better, it…

There is a Redeemer | The Book of Ruth

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Welcome to Real Life. Hope often arrives in the smallest of packages—like a newborn babe.

     _____

When I returned to Bethlehem, my old friends asked, “Could this be Naomi?”
Don’t call me Naomi, call me Mara (bitter)… I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty…the Almighty has brought misfortune on me.” My troubles began in the years of famine. As food grew scarce in Israel, my husband Elimelech heard of a bountiful harvest in Moab. So, he moved our family there. Initially, we prospered. However, within a decade, both my husband and our two sons had died. Oh, Elimelech, why did we think God would bless us in a pagan land? I decided it was time to go home.

My sons left no children, but they did leave two Moabite widows, Orpah and Ruth. When I kissed my daughters-in-law goodbye, Ruth clung to me. She had been the curious one. Why is that blood on your doorposts? Why can’t you eat pork? Why is Israel the Promised Land? Shortly after marrying my son Mahlon, Ruth embrace…

Someone Like Me | 1 Corinthians 1:27-31

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Welcome to Real Life. Meet Barry Brophy!

When Peggi invited me write a guest post, I prayed and spent time listening to the Holy Spirit. He reminded me of the earlier calling He had placed on my life, “Write what you know.” These verses from 1 Corinthians illustrate God’s work in my life:
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong.
God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised thing—
and the things that are not—
to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus,
who has become for us wisdom from God—
that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.
Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

(1 Corinthians 1:27-31) While delving into the vast contextual riches of this passage would take many weeks, I wish to transcribe the meaning into a simple focal point:  God chooses to use the most…

I Doubt It | John 20:24-31

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Welcome to Real Life. Real faith will struggle with doubt.

"Doubt is but another element of faith."—St. Augustine of Hippo
He should have believed. He was a disciple who followed Christ for three years—learning, talking, watching. Yet, when the other disciples told him that Jesus was alive, Thomas wouldn't buy it. In fact, he went so far as to say,
“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” What drove Thomas's skepticism? He knew these men well. They were men of integrity who told the truth. Why would they lie? In addition, Thomas witnessed Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. So, why was it so hard for him to believe that his Lord had risen from the dead?

Perhaps, Thomas was afraid to hope. He watched the man whom he had followed and respected being arrested, beaten, and humiliated. Then, he watched Jesus die. Maybe the words of the mockers echoed in his mind: “You saved othe…

Gone Fishing | John 21

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Welcome to Real Life. Sometimes the hardest one to forgive is ourselves.
“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5, emphasis mine). Wait. That’s all he told us to do, simple instructions. And, I’m about to mess that up too.

I used to be a leader among the apostles. I promised Jesus I’d follow him anywhere, even die for him.[1] But, when he needed me most—when everyone else deserted him—I denied I even knew him. Will he trust me to lead again after that?

Well, I’m not the kind of guy to sit around and wait to find out. I need to do something. I once made a decent living as a fisherman. I can do that again.

“I’m going fishing,” I told the other disciples.

“We’ll go, too.”

Seven of them joined me. I was a bit surprised, but glad for their company on the road home to Galilee. We set out in my boat, fished all night, and c…

Washing Feet | John 13

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Welcome to Real Life. From heaven’s perspective, the greatest leader is a greatest servant.

     _____

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

It was the week of Passover. Jesus and his disciples gathered for their evening meal. Before the food was served, Jesus got up. He wrapped a towel around his waist, poured water in a basin, and began to wash his disciples’ feet.

This was the job of a household servant.
None of the disciples had volunteered for the task. It was beneath them. Yet, here was their leader and Lord washing feet. Peter felt how wrong this was. He should be the one serving his Lord, not the other way around. So, when Jesus approached to wash his feet, Peter refused... at first. However, when Jesus said, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me,” Peter was all in. Not just my feet, wash all of me.
     ____…

The Mysterious Holy Spirit | Part 2: Christ in Me (John 14-17)

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Welcome to Real Life. How did the cross—an instrument of punishment and torture—become a symbol of hope, holiness, and peace with God?      _____
It's Preparation Day for Passover. Jesus and his disciples just finished the Last Supper. Within 24 hours, he will be crucified. In those final hours, Jesus tries to prepare his friends for his departure. 
The disciples are upset and confused. The ministry is flourishing. Just last Sunday, when their Lord entered Jerusalem on a donkey, crowds welcomed him, waving palm branches, and shouting, “Hosanna (save us)! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” It doesn't make sense. Why would Jesus allow himself to be arrested and killed now?  
He tells them, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7 emphasis mine). The Trinity, one God in three persons—Father, Son, Holy Spirit—can be difficult to grasp. Each member ha…

The Mysterious Holy Spirit | Part 1: Born of the Spirit (John 3)

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Welcome to Real Life. Many things are real, even if we can’t see them.
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He came to Jesus privately, at night, and said,
“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him,”[1] Nicodemus was a Pharisee who sat on the Jewish ruling council. He may have come at night for secrecy, because for the most part, his contemporaries didn't like Jesus. They considered him a rogue preacher who didn't come up through their ranks or play by their rules.

Or, maybe Nicodemus was sent by his colleagues to get the down-low from the man himself. For, regardless of how they felt about Jesus’ ministry, they couldn't deny the God-size miracles.

Whatever the reason, Nicodemus went sincerely seeking answers. And because he did, Jesus came right to the point,

“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”[2]
(You see God in my miracles, Nicodemus. But, you’re still on…

I Am the Resurrection and the Life | John 11

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Welcome to Real Life. It (real life) is full of disappointments.

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Lazarus was ill, seriously so. His sisters, Mary and Martha, sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” They fully expected Jesus to come and heal their brother. For, Jesus was more than their Lord. He was their friend.

But, Jesus did not come—immediately. He delayed two days. And, Lazarus died.

When Jesus finally arrived, the sisters’ greetings are heavy with disappointment. "If only you had been here…"

I've felt their disappointment—keenly: when my first husband left and never returned, while drowning in postpartum depression, when my father-in-law lay ill 18 years, when my mom lost her legs, when my sister was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Lord, if only you had been here. These things would not have happened. Life would be good, as it should be. I know you, Lord. I am your follower and your friend. Why didn't you c…

Interview with Writer Peggi Tustan

Welcome to Real Life.  My writer-friend, Raani York, kindly published a recent interview with me.  

Hello Peggi,

I want to thank you first of all for your readiness to be part of this interview and permit me to publish it on my blog. I did choose you because I have heard of you before and would like for other people to know you and your writing better.

Would you explain what made you write in the first place and when you felt the need to write?


As a child, I dreamed of writing a book. I can picture my eight-year-old self on the edge of my bed, notebook in hand, penning my first novel. However, I lost confidence and never pursued the dream. Yet, writing remained an integral aspect of my being. I would journal, write for and edit newsletters, and had a strong need to capture every major life event on paper.

I’ve always been a voracious reader. Books (both fiction and non-fiction) have greatly impacted my life. Six years ago, while reading a book, God resurrected my childhood writing drea…

Throwing Stones | John 8

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Welcome to Real Life. Every been hit by a stone? It hurts.


“Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now, what do you say?”

Jesus’ radical teachings on love and grace infuriated the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees. They had religion down to a neat formula. Obey this, sacrifice that, give so much and you've fulfilled your obligation to God. Jesus messed with their system. (How can you quantify love and grace?) And, the religious leaders didn't like it one bit. If they could just catch Jesus directly contradicting the Law of Moses, they’d have something concrete to condemn him with.

So, while Jesus is teaching in the temple courts, they interrupt the lesson. They drag this poor woman before him. She’s guilty—no doubt—caught in the very act of adultery. What will Jesus do? Will he uphold the Law?

But, Jesus won’t play their game. In fact, he won't even answer. Instead, he stoops down and writes on the …