Weekly Devotional

Baseball, Bumblebees, and Politics – A Sabbath Selah Devotional

One day, a child was playing with a baseball bat in the yard while his parents were off in the distance near the trees.

The boy threw a baseball into the air and struck it.

For a moment, he was worried it would hit his parents, whom he loved very much. Instead, it went into the trees.

Relieved, he waved to his parents, who saw him and smiled.

Then, suddenly, the father started beating the boy’s mother.

He was whacking her all over, and she was screaming, and they both fell to the ground.

But the father KEPT ON beating the mother.

Then the father got up and jerked her arm hard, dragging her away.

The boy stood wide-eyed in horror.

Then he gathered his wits and ran toward them, screaming, “Stop it! Stop hurting my mommy!”

He lifted his baseball bat, and came at his father, ready to protect his mother. . .

The only problem was that his father was not beating his mother.

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Smashing Idols with Abram – A Sabbath Selah Devotional

smashing idols devotional image

As I write my next novel based on the early life of Abram, I’m struck by the fact that a man born to an idolater in a pagan city in ancient Mesopotamia would somehow serve the one true God.

The Bible does not explain how this came to be.

Like much of the Genesis narrative, it leaves many of the central questions unanswered.

But for Abram, at least, we’re not left without clues from other potential sources. (Albeit dubious clues.)

Because Abram is a central figure in three of the world’s main religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

As I’ve studied the different traditions surrounding Abram’s life, I’ve found some very interesting stories, along with some extremely strange ones that are hard for me to believe.

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Eat the Bible – A Sabbath Selah Devotional

eat the Bible devotional

Is the Bible really that important to our practical lives?

First, let me affirm that the above question is a stupid one. But before we get to why, let me show some reasons for why I asked it repeatedly for most of my life.

In a previous devotional (read it here), I shared how I used to lack an emotional connection to the Bible. It seemed useful for head-knowledge, but I doubted that it really changed anyone’s lifestyle because it never really trickled down into the engine of my life: my heart.

That made reading the Bible a chore. One that took so much work that it made my brain buzz (anyone else know that feeling?).

So, to fit my bias against reading the Bible, I invented hypothetical situations to “test” my “ideas.”

I considered a man locked up in jail for being a Christian. Surely a persecuted Christian who is not allowed a Bible but has all the time in the world to pray can grow spiritually and do well without a copy of Scripture. Right?

And speaking of persecuted Christians, what about those in areas like Iran, Eritrea, North Korea, or Bhutan, which are violently opposed to Christ followers? Surely the fact that they are not allowed a Bible would not be a hopeless crippling of their spiritual lives. Right?

I mean, God couldn’t let something like that happen. Right?

The only problem was, I tried to live a spiritually healthy life without reading the Bible, and failed miserably.

And I mean crash and burn and suffer third-degree curled toenails sort of failure.

You can’t get much deader than dead, and I was spiritually dead.

So, out of desperation, my brilliant brain designed another test.

Perhaps I should read the Bible consistently over a longer period of time to see if it really did its thing.

After all, not reading the Bible wasn’t helping, so perhaps reading it would do what everyone said it would.

But what part would I read first?

Now this is an important question. Different parts of the Bible achieve different purposes. Now more than ever, I think that this is a vital truth to be aware of.

If you go into Leviticus expecting to be lifted up and taught how to become an elder in the New Testament church, you’ll be disappointed.

Now, a theologian can show you Christ all over the Scriptures. But each book of Scripture differs in its goals.

So, when I started reading the Epistles, they helped me understand theology, my relationship to God, and how to respond to his offer of redemption and purification.

The book of Psalms showed me how to pray, and taught my heart the right attitude to approach God with.

Proverbs showed me the wisdom of the pure that has transcended generational boundaries for millennia.

The Gospels showed me the person of Jesus, and the depth of his experience on earth.

And Genesis showed me our origins, and the complicated relationship humanity has had to God from the beginning.

And the more I read, the more I realized the Bible was changing me.

Because reading the Bible actually is a necessity for spiritual growth.

The Bible is how God has revealed himself to us in this age, and given us the wisdom and direction we need to get to know him and walk faithfully with him.

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” – Psalm 119:9-11

The only way to live pure is to know God’s word (the Bible) and guard our lives according to its instruction.

The only way to seek him with our whole hearts is to do so with our whole person: our mind, emotion, and body.

We read his Word, bend our wills in thanksgiving and praise through prayer, and live faithfully in response by offering him our lives and obedience.

The only way to keep our wayward hearts from leading us astray is to put up guardrails by memorizing Scripture.

Even Jesus didn’t face temptation alone. He fought back with Scripture.

Jesus would read Scripture constantly in the synagogues. He knew Scripture because he studied and memorized it.

Then he would often go into desolate places to be alone in prayer.

And so he was faithful to his Father, who said, “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased.”

So, if we long to hear God say he’s pleased with us when we pass from this life into the next, we will devour God’s Word. We will read it constantly, and seek it joyfully like food to a starving man.

Then we will respond to the words we read by living a life of humble prayer and joyful dependence on God, living in step with his Spirit and guarding ourselves according to his commandments.

Let’s pray.


Jesus, give us a desire for your Word. Give us joy in your Scripture, and diligence in seeking you through reading the Bible. Show us the power of your promises and commands. And give us the strength to respond to them with faithful obedience. Amen.


Read the Bible right now. 🙂

Why Can’t I Ever Change? – A Sabbath Selah Devotional

Why can't I change?

You know the feeling. You’ve blown up in anger, and said things you regret. You’ve broken your promise, and made a fool of yourself. You’ve fallen short of who you wanted to be, and felt that familiar, growing sense of self-disgust.

What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you seem to change your attitude? It should be simple, right? After all, you’re a Christian. But no matter what you do, you aren’t getting any better.

Scripture, at times, seems to make it sound easy.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” – Galatians 5:16-17

So, now that we’re Christians, it should just be that we live a good life, and that the Spirit will just magically keep us from doing the evil that we’ve wanted to do our whole lives. Right?

But that’s not what we experience. In fact, we experience so much failure when we think in this way that we must grapple with whether or not this passage of Scripture is even true.

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Who Do You Want to Be in 3 Years? – A Sabbath Selah Devotional

Devotional who do you want to be in 3 years?

I like thinking about the future. I hate thinking about the past.

Until I got married, I didn’t know any other normal human functioned differently.

I’ve since come to realize MANY people actually love looking at old pictures of themselves.

Honestly, I’d rather scrub toilets.

Many also rarely spend time actively envisioning the future they want.

I find that pretty weird, because that one activity takes up roughly 20% of my spare brain power.

Many actually prefer either rather living in the present (boring), or dwelling on the past (like Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite: video clip here).

As I’m sure you can already tell, I’m always projecting what I want to accomplish in my career 1, 2, 3 years from now. This includes planning countless contingencies.

That’s why I was stunned when I realized I rarely ever envision how I want to grow spiritually.

Why is that?

I keep trying to answer that question, but over and over find that . . . I just don’t think that deeply about it.

Which is embarrassing to admit.

It’s not that I don’t care deeply about Jesus, or about my spiritual growth. It’s not even that I’m not being self-reflective (I’m overly self-reflective, if anything).

It’s just that I don’t take a very active roll in planning out life changes that will help me obtain the spiritual growth Christ calls us to in the same way that I do for my career.

The more I thought about it, the more disturbed I got. Because I had to admit I put a lot more thought and emotional effort into growing my career than I ever have into my spiritual life (which is about 10,000 times more important).

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Servanthood is Not Slavery – A Sabbath Selah Devotional

devotional on servanthood

It’s fascinating to me that modern portrayals of feminine power tend to show women doing macho things.

Women superheroes show their power by beating up the baddies.

In fantasy settings they don armor, or wield dangerous magic.

And in modern settings, female fighters strut into war like it’s an ice-cream parlor they’re about to destroy for gicks and kiggles (say it out loud and you’ll taste my lame sense of humor).

I don’t know about you, but most of the time these portrayals ring false.

Also, they tend to be boring, and misogynistic.

When I think of my mother, who’s a strong woman, the strength I admire in her never resided in biceps, or a psychopathic willingness to dominate and kill.

And it’s nearly exactly the same with modern portrayals of masculinity.

I never looked up to my father because I perceived that he would throw himself into the frontlines of a war.

The last thing I wanted was a dad who went to war.

I looked up to my dad because he was emotionally strong, because he protected me and guarded me, because he taught me how to live well and modeled it in his own life by serving me and the rest of my family without grumbling.

I looked up to him because he was strong enough to not hurt people.

He never viewed servanthood as slavery. He viewed it as a privilege, and nothing in my life has made me feel more loved.

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You Have Need of Endurance – A Sabbath Selah Devotional

devotional image endurance

“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” – Hebrews 10:35-36

The first casualty in times of upheaval is our confidence in our future. The second is our motivation to continue.

For example, when Covid-19 hit, many of us faced the possibility of losing our jobs (and many more actually DID lose their jobs).

No sane person would tell someone in this situation that they should feel confident in their job stability.

Neither does God tell us that we should feel confidence in him without good reason.

So, let’s pick apart what reasons the author of Hebrews gives the reader to have confidence in God. Then, let’s consider why that should be our motivation to remain faithful to him.

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Preparing For Trials and Blessings – A Sabbath Selah Devotional

preparing for trials and blessings

You know a year has been filled with trials when jokes about alien invasions and the general apocalypse sound old.

Many of you reading this have been pushed through truly painful events this year. I know because you’ve commented some of them; and where there’s a few, there’s more.

It’s difficult, when you’re in the midst of a calamity, to influence your level of trust in God. In times like that, you feel like all you can do is dig your fingernails in to keep yourself from falling off the cliff.

There have been myriad times in my life where I’ve been blindsided by terrible news that I was not spiritually prepared for. When this happens, the best response is to throw yourself into the arms of Jesus.

But I’ve walked away from those experiences thinking, “If I would have prepared myself beforehand, I would have had the spiritual maturity to have handled that much better.”

And it’s true.

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Fighting Laziness – A Sabbath Selah Devotional

My natural desire after punching out at work is to lie around like a bum and enjoy cheap entertainment.

Oh, and snack on chips and cookies.

And ignore every chore possible.

In fact, I’ve been ignoring my evening tasks so much that even after deciding I was going to work ahead on these devotionals, I realized I hadn’t even written this week’s devotional!

So, I figured, “What better devotional to write than something that would help me? Kill two birds with one stone.” (That’s the lazy man’s way.)

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The Only Way to Understand Jesus – A Sabbath Selah Devotional

understand jesus

I remember thinking when I was listening to sermons at about the age of 7 that the Pastor seemed pretty preoccupied with knowing things.

You must KNOW the WORD OF GAWD. You must KNOW the GAWD of the universe.

I reasoned that if it were a big enough deal to be so dramatic about it, I should figure out why.

So, I paid attention in Bible class, did well at memorizing verses for Sunday school competitions, and built up a hefty knowledge of Biblical trivia.

But I never felt more than intellectual interest in Scripture.

Even after I experienced my first eye-opening recognition of my sin and Christ’s sacrifice for my sake, my emotions faded long before they connected with my reading the Bible.

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