Taking God at His Word

My 95-year- old aunt passed away in November, 2016.

And my almost-93- year-old Dad passed away in February, 2017.

Both of them had pre-paid their funeral costs. Years ago they met

with the local funeral home director, selected the casket and made

monthly payments until everything was paid for—including the

honorariums to pay the minister and musicians.

What an incredibly generous and loving act that was! My

brother and I weren’t burdened with the tremendous expense of


The Bible gives us a similar example in Genesis 23. In fact, an

entire chapter is devoted to Abraham’s purchase of a cave for the

burial of his wife, Sarah—and where he would also be buried years



You may remember that God told Abraham to move, but he

didn’t know where God was taking him. In faith, Abraham and Sarah

followed God. As a result, he didn’t own any land in Canaan. But in

Genesis 17:8, we read that God had promised to give Canaan to

Abraham’s descendants.

So Abraham was actually moving in faith when he purchased

the burial plot for himself and his wife. He took God at His Word,

believing he and his future relatives would fill the land.

Abraham was proving his faith in what God had promised!

I want to be more like Abraham.

Oftentimes, we say we believe God’s promises, but when we’re

faced with difficulties, we fail to put our faith into action and claim

what God has already promised.

How about joining me in living inside the promises God has

given us?


This weekend I’m speaking in Rocky Mt., N.C. and would love

to know you’re praying for me.

It’s one thing to say we believe; it’s another to

prove it.

Many times professing Christians act like

atheists. We say we believe but when we make

decisions or deal with hardships, we act like we don’t



I am praying that I will be more like Abraham and live

what I believe. Will you join me in that prayer?

What’s the Big Deal About Easter?

It doesn’t get as much splash as other holidays, but it can hold its own!

We need to give Easter a little help.

Bless its heart.

It just doesn’t measure up to Christmas.

Of course, how can you compete with lighted trees surrounded by brightly wrapped gift packages?

If we surveyed everyone in North America, they’d probably place Easter behind Halloween. While Easter gives us a few chocolate bunnies, Halloween gives us entire sack loads of candy. And for those who choose not to participate in the world’s custom of trick-or-treating, churches open their parking lots, malls extend their hours and people can still get all the candy they want without ever having to mutter “Trick or treat.”

And Valentine’s day captures our hearts. It’s the time for romance and the opportunity to share love with friends and family members. The day is filled
with the smell of roses, boxes of chocolate hearts, candy hearts, exquisite cards—all declaring love.

But Easter?

No tree. No parties. Not many decorations.

What do we get at Easter?

A sermon.

And sometimes even that’s a little flat!


A Little Help, Please

So maybe we should spruce Easter up a bit. If we could get some really cool celebrities to get behind it, Easter might mean more. It seems whenever we have a devastating tornado, tsunami or earthquake that takes out a city, the celebrities rush to get involved and make a difference.

So if we could get Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Taylor Swift and a few of their friends to really embrace Easter, we’d be off to a great start. And we’ll recruit some athletes, of course. Serena Williams, Lebron James and Steph Curry can get us started.

Imagine all of the above promoting Easter on television ads!

That would be a great start, but we’d still need a good marketing plan. So maybe we bring the fashion industry into this. Put a few models in some super cool T-shirts that boast “Easter Is Cool,” “Vote Easter Best Holiday,” “Easter Is #1,” “Easter Rocks!”

Yes. If we can get the celebs, the athletes, the models and a creative marketing plan, Easter might have a chance!


Wrong Plan

I’m glad it’s not up to us to make Easter popular.

Easter was never created to be popular.


Because it’s the message of the Cross.

And the Cross is an ugly message.

The Cross means death. And death doesn’t sell well.

You see, even if we could get the celebs to promote Easter . . . if the celebs haven’t experienced and embraced the Cross the way Christ did, what good would it do?

The truth is: God doesn’t need any celebs to take on Easter. He doesn’t need help promoting it. He doesn’t even want help promoting it. He doesn’t want people embracing Easter for the wrong reasons. He wants true followers.

The God of color and rhythm and the Grand Canyon and kangaroos and gravity and Niagara Falls and sound and lightening and donkeys who talk and hyenas that laugh could have created an amazing marketing strategy to promote Easter. But He’s not into marketing. He doesn’t think strategy. He thinks love.


The Truth

The message of the Cross is an invitation to die. “Wanna follow Me?” Jesus asks. “Then pick up your cross. We’re going over there. It’s a hill called Golgotha. We’re going to die.”

How do you market this?

How can you make this sound glamorous?

You don’t. You can’t. If you try . . . you’ll miss the meaning.

But the truth behind Easter is dying with Jesus.

Why would anyone do that? They wouldn’t.

Unless—they’ve experienced first-hand the death of Jesus for their own sins.

You see, once a sinner realizes that Jesus willingly picked up the Cross and died in her place, she’s overcome with joy and love for her Father. She wants to live for Him, obey Him, serve Him, follow Him, die with Him.


A High Price Tag

Jesus told everyone to count the cost before deciding to follow Him. (See Luke 14:25-30.) He reminds us that a contractor doesn’t start to build a house without first counting the cost of all the materials. If he doesn’t do this, he may only build half a house and run out of money.

What does it cost to follow Jesus?

It costs a lot.

It costs everything.

You see, Jesus isn’t looking for half-hearted followers. He’s not interested in being the next big fad. He doesn’t recruit with a polished benefits package. That’s not the way He works. He’d rather have 12 sold-out disciples than an entire world that’s only talk.

So why would anyone want to follow Jesus?

Because of love.

No one loves like He does.

And forgiveness.

No one else has offered to pay for our sins.

And eternal life.

The only way to God (and to live forever in heaven) is through Jesus (see John 10:10).

And peace. And purpose. And meaning. And joy. And real life!


They Don’t Compare

If you stack Jesus against all the other gods, none of them even compare with Him! Think about it: In all other religions, you have to work really hard to reach your god. You have to pray so many times a day, or sacrifice so much, or travel thus far or . . .

All other religions show man reaching up to their god. ONLY Christianity shows God reaching down to man! Wow. Read that again, because it’s mega-powerful. ONLY Christianity shows God reaching down to man!

Christianity is the only religion that offers free salvation. You don’t have to earn it. You can’t pay for it. You’ll never be good enough to deserve it. So God reaches down to YOU by sending His only Son wrapped in human flesh to die an ugly death on the Cross for YOUR sins.

That’s love!

And He invited you to participate.


Make This YOUR Easter

Many of you reading this have already accepted Christ as your Savior. You’ve already asked Him to forgive your sins. (If you haven’t done this, you can do it right now. You can tell Him you’re sorry for disobeying Him, ask Him to forgive you and place your faith in Him.) But many of you reading this right now really want to go deeper in your relationship with Christ. We call this Lordship.

If you desire to give Christ your all, you can pray this prayer. No, it’s not a bunch of magic words. You really have to mean it. And God will know if it’s genuine.

Dear Jesus:

Thank You for forgiving my sins. I’m so grateful that You died for me. I love being a Christian. But I want to go deeper. I want to give You everything! So right now, I’m choosing to die. I’m dying to my will, my dreams, my way, “me first,” my future. I want You to be LORD of every area in my life. I’m moving to the back seat; You’re now in the driver’s seat. You’re in complete control. Please release the power of Your Holy Spirit within me and enable me to live a holy life pleasing to You. I love You, Jesus. Amen.


New Plan

If you prayed that prayer and meant it, this Easter will become something brand-new to you. More than just another holiday, it will be your love response to a God who’s crazy about you. He doesn’t need a few celebs; He needs YOU.

You are His marketing plan.

YOU . . . simply loving one person at a time to Him.

You . . . dying to yourself and coming into new life through Him.

You . . . celebrating His resurrection from death.

You . . . living forever with Him.

This is Easter.






I’m not speaking anywhere this weekend. I’m enjoying soaking in the Truth of Easter in my home church in Bethany, Okla. But next weekend I’ll be speaking in Brookings, OR and would love to have your prayers behind me. Love you all!