Category Archives: Devotional

On Valentine’s Day, The FBI Warns Against Romantic Scams…and So Does God!

This Valentine’s Day, the FBI has a message for you: “Avoid romance!” Well, not really, but you might think that is the message if you listened to recent warnings. Romantic scams have become a serious problem, and the FBI is warning you to BEWARE!

As online dating grows, it is more common for couples to meet through dating websites and online boards. In fact, it is the new normal for many. But online relationships are also a breeding ground for scammers looking to bilk unsuspecting romantics.

Did you know that the FBI “received more than 15,000 reports linked to romance scams last year?” They estimate that losses exceeded $230 million for 2016. Their advice? Be skeptical!

The problem, of course, is the heart. It wants what it wants. The FBI says that even intelligent, cautious individuals lose control when their feelings outweigh their rational minds.

One victim, Debby Johnson, said, “At this point your heart rules your head, and I was doing what my heart wanted me to do.”

There is nothing wrong with romance. In fact, love is the greatest emotion and spiritual gift. But a heart that rules the head is in grave danger. And, spiritually speaking, it could lead to eternal disaster.

God warned us long ago about the danger of letting the heart rule the mind: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Our hearts might FEEL that something is right, but living according to God’s Word is ACTUALLY right. That’s why Jeremiah said, “a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).

God wants your heart and your mind. He gave us “everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). Feelings change. But the Word of God will never deceive.

Don’t be scammed! True knowledge in Him is the basis of true love. Anything else is just a con.

It Didn’t Take Torture…Just Truth

Kim Hyon-hui is back in the news. You probably don’t know that name. It was forgotten long ago by most. But Kim gained notoriety 30 years ago, when South Korea hosted the Olympics in Seoul. She was a North Korean spy, and she placed a bomb on a 707 headed for Seoul, killing 115 people.

With the 23rd Winter Olympics set to begin this weekend in Pyeongchang County, South Korea, Kim’s story has resurfaced. And, it is an amazing story. She was recruited at 18 years old; she learned to perfect Mandarin and Japanese; she was given weapons and martial arts training; and she was taught to blend into other cultures.

Nevertheless, Kim’s 1st mission, the 707 bombing, would be her last. She was captured while fleeing, and unsuccessfully tried to take a cyanide pill. She was imprisoned, but eventually pardoned. At 56 years old now, she lives a fairly quiet life, working for the South Korean government in witness protection. She has raised 2 kids, and she is still hunted by the North Koreans.

Of course, when she was captured, Kim expected to be tortured in interrogation. But her captors chose a different path. A simple ride around town eventually changed Kim’s ideology. She had been lied to her whole life. She was told that South Koreans lived in squalor; they were terribly unhappy; and they would love to live in North Korea.

Driving through South Korea exposed those lies. People had smiles, enjoyed life, and were free to go where they wanted. When confronted with the truth, Kim, to her credit, changed her false belief system.

Consider this, friend: if someone had been taught that Christians were hateful, vengeful, sexist, racists, bigots, etc…would a “ride” through most churches help change minds? You see, reality immediately exposed the lies Kim had learned. Christian life should prove the love of Christ to any who are “riding through” our midst (Acts 2:44-47).

Kim still experiences a deep pain and shame for what she did. She wrote about her experiences and donated book proceeds to the families of her victims. She hugs and weeps with the families. She has been pardoned, but she still desires forgiveness.

Unfortunately, even though she has been to church, true forgiveness still eludes her. In an interview recently, she wondered, “Can my sins be pardoned?” Sadly though, she answered, “They probably won’t be.”

Kim hasn’t experienced the great joy of salvation. Paul told Timothy that he received mercy to prove that all people can be saved no matter their past (1 Timothy 1:15-17). John assures that our forgiveness can be known (1 John 5:13). If our faith remains, we expect the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).

It didn’t take torture to change Kim’s mind about her past sins; just being exposed to the truth did the trick. I hope that one day she learns the great joy of salvation – the confidence that comes through believing, repenting, confessing Jesus, and being baptized into the forgiveness of sins. I’ll probably never get to share that with her, but I’d love to tell you the same, and guess what? I just did.

Simmer on Truth Before Throwing Out The Crock Pot

It is an old story. Esau sold his brother his birthright for some stew. Then Esau got mad and blamed the slow cooker and threw it out the window. Wait, what?

Don’t remember that part of Genesis 25:29-34? That is because it didn’t happen. But what happened next is just as irrational and could be good lesson for “This Is Us” fans.

If you haven’t seen the show, I’ll catch you up. Jack, a popular character, recently died, and fans were really upset. Even though they know it is just fiction (I think), they lashed out against the villain who killed their “hero.”

The only problem? The villain was a slow cooker!

A faulty slow cooker burst into flames and burned the house down. So fans took to Twitter vilifying Crock Pot. Some wrote that they were throwing their Crock Pots out; others said they were removing Crock Pot from their wedding registry; and others disparaged Crock-Pot for making a faulty product!

The backlash was so bad that Crock Pot issued a statement:

“For nearly 50 years with over 100 million Crock-Pots sold, we have never received any consumer complaints similar to the fictional events portrayed in last night’s episode… the safety and design of our product renders this type of event nearly impossible.”

So…back to Esau. He blamed Jacob for the loss of his birthright. Now, to be fair, he didn’t blame the stew. But just as irrationally, he blamed Jacob! Instead, his foolishness was to blame.

Of course, we act the same. We refuse to blame ourselves so we pick a villain – no matter how irrational it is. We should blame the true villain, our own sins (James 1:14-15).

Am I disappointed when things don’t go my way? Sure. But do I throw out my Crock Pot because a fictional character on a fictional show has a fictional death? Please.

And stew on this…my sins and yours caused the real Son of God to come and really die on a real cross. That’s no fiction. How will you react to that?

Allow simmering for 6-8 hours…

Sinkhole or Firm Foundation? Better check before things go BOOM in the night!

It happens to every homeowner. Tucked in bed, sound asleep, and you hear a noise. You get up and look around, but don’t find anything. So you go back to bed. The next day, you discover a mess somewhere, and with an “Ugh,” head to get the broom.

Now imagine an extreme version. That’s what the Bushes, an Idaho family, experienced recently. They heard a loud noise and looked around. They didn’t find anything so they went back to bed. The next morning they checked their garage…and the floor was completely collapsed in a sinkhole!

Turns out, their garage had been built over an old basement. In the “secret room,” they found shelving, old toys, letters, and other items. Engineers told them it is amazing the floor hadn’t collapsed years ago since it was just 2” of concrete!

What would you do if the floor fell out from beneath you? Would it surprise you to know that it can reveal a lot about you? There are many warnings in the Bible about maintaining firm footing on the proper foundation.

In one example, King Ahaziah “fell through the lattice in his upper chamber” (2 Kings 1:2). Scholars debate the full meaning of this. Some claim it is a lattice “wall,” others say a “window,” while many teach, “skylight.”

Regardless of what exactly it is, he trusted in something that collapsed under him. And when he fell through, he became bed-ridden from the injury. What happened next reveals a heart issue. He didn’t call on God or look to godly advisors.

Rather, he sent messengers to enquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether he would live or die. Therefore, God, through Elijah, told Ahaziah that he would die in that bed. He trusted in idols – a flimsy foundation.

We all have secret rooms filled with junk. We hide them with flimsy walls and floors. But they will all crash eventually. Like a BOOM in the night, when Christ returns, all will be revealed.

Therefore, be careful how you build and what you build on! Christ is the only firm foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10-17).