Matthew 15:10-11 NIV
Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. [11] What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
clean hands

   To give these verses some context we might look at what Jesus said further on down the passage.

19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. 20These are what defile a man, but eating with unwashed hands does not defile him.”
What do you think? Are there still traditions that we hang on to? How can we keep these traditions from taking first place in our hearts, over the love and instructions of Jesus? How can we keep our traditions from taking root in our hearts?


Matthew 7:3-5 NIV
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? [4] How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? [5] You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

large lumber being sawed by a chainsaw                                                                                          Large lumber being sawed by a chainsaw

What do you think? What would be an example of a “plank”? Can you think of an example of a “speck” in someone else’s eye? How does grace fit into this?
(I can think of lots of planks I have had in my own eyes at times – bad attitude, wrong thinking about myself and others, minimizing my sin or God’s grace, wanting blessing for me and cursing for them. And, yes, these words are convicting.) Lord, have mercy on us all.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. [26] Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

open bible

open bible – God’s word

Jesus knew the hearts of these Pharisees and teachers of the law. Maybe these religious leaders were focused on the outside appearance, something they and others could see. But that outside appearance didn’t change what was in thier hearts and that is where the real issues lie. 

With that in mind, here are three questions:

1.) How does a person get into this state where they focus only on the outward appearance?

2.) What does it take for God to get our attention and get us to focus on the inner life and our relationship with Jesus? 

3.) How can we keep the inside and the outside of the cup of our heart clean, or is that Jesus’ job?


without guile


Luke 15:3-6 NIV
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.

Let me ask you a few questions about the passage above and see what you think. Ready? Go.

(Please “Leave a Reply” below the post and mark which question(s) you are answering.)

  1.  What kinds of trouble might a sheep (or a person) get into if they are separated from the flock and the shepherd? How could they be harmed, or do you think they would be okay?
  2. Does this verse indicate that the shepherd is aware of where each sheep is? What does this tell you about how Jesus looks at you and me?
  3. Have you ever felt like the lost sheep? I know I have. How does this verse help you in your walk with Jesus? What questions or comments does this passage bring up?

One thought: In today’s society the shepherd might be encouraged to think “Oh, the sheep is just exploring his or her options. They have to discover things for themselves before they can really learn it. Maybe the one sheep thinks they can find a new path. After all, we want to encourage their creativity, right?”

What do you think? 

Next time I tune a piano, I will be ready. I learned the hard way about the importance of being prepared or even over-prepared. Well, maybe that’s not such a good idea, but here’s the gist of it – I wasn’t as prepared as I might have thought. 

piano tuning

On Monday, I had a piano tuning job in Jackson, about 20 minutes away. I had directions on my phone and it looked like a pretty easy trip. It wasn’t. For one thing, there were lots of turns. I thought I could just look at my phone every time I needed to know which turn was next. What I didn’t think about was that I would have to pull over, stop, type in the pin number on my phone, pull the app up, and confirm/reconfirm my next steps. Mistake number one.

Because of my confusion over directions, which would have been solved if I had written them out, I was late for my appointment. The homeowner was late too, so that worked out. The tuning itself was pretty straightforward, but it would have made it smoother if I had batteries in my headlamp and sticky notes to mark the tuning pegs. The tuning took a little over two hours, which is about right. The owner was very appreciative and said his neighbor also wanted her piano tuned. I gave him my number to give to her, so that was cool.

The man’s house was in a subdivision – a very big subdivision. With no battery power on my phone, I had no GPS. I ended up making a wrong turn and was late coming home, which made Karen late for a Sunday School get together.

So with all that said, what is the spiritual application? I think it is this: We need to be ready for when Jesus returns. How can we get ready? I can think of three things off the top of my head.

1.) Keep in communication with Jesus, all day long, in every situation. If there is something you need to know, ask Him to show you what it is.

2.) Keep growing in your faith by digging into the Word, spending time with other believers, and taking steps of faith when the opportunity arises.

3.) Look for opportunities to share the love and Word of Jesus.

None of this is required. It is in response to a growing relationship with Christ, just spending time with Him, crying out to Him, just whatever else comes in a growing relationship.

(Note: I apologize for the delay in getting this posted. More posts coming soon.)

Beloved site members,

What is your favorite scripture verse or passage and what does it mean to you? What scripture is most helpful for senior citizens? What scripture would you like to study together? We have the potential to learn and grow from each other. Studying scripture is one way to do that. 

Please go below this post and “leave a reply.”


How Do You Serve The Lord With Gladness?

someone standing in a lake with head down with the words speak, Lord your servant is listening 1 Sam. 3:9

Pastor John

In the download available from, we can find scriptures that help in times of crisis, specifically in times of national disaster, death of a child, suicide, and funerals. These scriptures would be helpful to any of us for our own use or to build up and encourage others in their times of crisis. I am going to give you one scripture from each category to get you started. You can find more helpful resources by following the red link below.

National or community disaster:
Gen. 5:20 – “You intended to harm me, but God meant it for good.”

The loss of a child:
2 Sam. 12:18-23 – David, after the loss of his son: “I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

Job. 19:23-27 – “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.”

Gen. 1:26 – “Let us make mankind in our own image.”

Find all the scriptures at this link:

God bless you in your journey of faith, as you continue to rest in Him, to strive to enter the Sabbath rest. (Hebrews 4:11)

Pastor John

let us pray

                               praying hands

Without giving any names, I am asking you to join me in going to the Father for these requests. Remember that we have full access to go to Him in prayer through Jesus. Lord, we pray for:

  •  a site member with a special needs daughter with multiple challenges of body, mind, and spirit. Pray for mom S. and daughter E.
  • a site member who has crisis level needs for housing. He is living in his shop, which is leaking. He wants and needs a small house of his own. It is the rainy season there and that makes things very difficult.
  • several site members with long term medical issues who are looking for relief, wisdom, and healing. My wife still has a cold. I am awaiting surgery. others have mobility issues and pain. Lord, please bring your healing and peace to all these needs. Let us hear the good reports so we give You the credit for answered prayers.
  • What do you want me (us) to pray for? To let us know, just “leave a reply” right below this post. (You must be signed in to make any comments.)

Thank you for your prayers for all site members. Let’s lift each other up and then look for how God is going to answer these prayers. 

Pastor John

prayer picture

girl praying

In the past 24 hours or so, at least three prayers have been answered about this upcoming surgery. Here they are:

1.) The procedure (removal of three large bladder stones) was approved in one day. That was really fast!

2.) The PSA results came back quick. Normally it takes two weeks to get those results. However, the person who read the results “happened” to be there. As a result, the surgery will be much less invasive and much simpler, as will be the procedures before the surgery. Right now, my only instructions are “no food and water after midnight.” I can do that.

3.) The PSA was normal! That hasn’t happened for at least a couple of years! That is a huge blessing and answer to prayer.

I will keep you posted as things develop. For now, just let me say, “thank you for your prayers, and praise the Lord!”