OUR “OFFERINGS”: The “Why’s” and “How’s” of Our Giving


Genesis 4:1-5  (N.L.T):

“[1] Now Adam had sexual relations with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant.  When she gave birth to CAIN, she said “With the Lord’s help I have produced a man.”  [2] Later she gave birth to his brother and named him ABEL.

When they grew up, ABEL became a shepherd, while CAIN cultivated the ground.  [3] When it was time for the harvest, CAIN presented some of his crop as a gift to the Lord.  [4] ABEL also brought a gift–the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock.  The Lord accepted ABEL and his gift,  [5] but he did not accept CAIN and his gift.  This made CAIN very angry, and he looked dejected.” 

THE DIFFERENCES: Revealing the “habitude” of Giving:

Approaching and knowing God eventually determines our destiny in eternity.  In willingly accepting Him solely, the basis of FAITH in God’s provision through the shedding of blood by our Redeemer, God’s Lamb, we are spiritually of the heaven-born “seed of the woman” and restored to God’s presence in fellowship.

All that said, if a person continues down the path distorting and rejecting the Word of God–The Scripture–and relying on their own merits to earn salvation, they are interposing their own will in place of His, presuming to be as “gods”, knowing good and evil, consequently becoming the “serpents seed.”


I am an older brother by seven years.  Seven years is a big difference.  I remember how excited I was when my parents told me at 7, that I, was no longer going to be an “only child.”

There wasn’t graphic sonograms in the late 40’s, so the anticipation of a brother or sister didn’t come into play.  Although, I think I really wanted a baby sister (Sorry, Larry).  On ‘boy-child’ in the family would certainly enough for my parents to handle.

In growing up as “the older brother,”  and looking back on those formative years, there were FOUR THINGS that stood out in our relationship:

1.   We had very little in common.

2.  My parents let him get away with everything!

3.  We had very little in common.

4.  My parents let him get away with everything!

Okay, maybe I’m just a bit repugnant–but I think you get the point.

After I got married, had children and seemed to be struggling  with staying employed…at the same time, my brother was graduating from Seminary with a Master’s Degree, then later, a PhD.   Me, I was a college dropout, trying support s family and was “Mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore” -[ii] kind of attitude.

Although I’ve always been proud of what my brother has accomplished in life… I was always jealous, envious of the opportunities I thought was made accessible from mom and dad.  I felt somewhat cheated and wanted to scream out to everyone that would listen,  “Mom and dad always loved you best!.”

Cain and Abel–Biblical Names Had Meaning! 

Giving names to the newborns  today is much different from Biblical days.  NAMES in the Bible were significant in a variety of functions.

—  A Record of some aspects of a person’s birth.

—  Sometimes expressed the parents’ reaction to the birth of their child.

Biblical names could be also used to communicate God’s message.

Here’s a really interesting part I discovered while researching BIBLICAL NAMES GIVEN:  Names were often used to express the NATURE, FUNCTION of a person, to indicate a person’s PURPOSE in the world.  Now, that’s a lot of pressure put on a child; trying to live up to your parents expectations.

The greatest example of this type of naming is JESUS (Matthew 1:20-21)–the Savior of the world!

Adam and Eve Become Parents of Two Boys:

The name “Cain” means “gotten”, derived from Eve’s exclamation of joyful birth, even though the suffering associated with the childbirth was there…she also had seen God’s faithfulness in giving her a son.

The Younger Brother–

Perhaps Eve hoped her firstborn might be the promised Deliverer (Genesis 3:13), even though he was not in a specific biological sense, a “seed of the woman.”  In fact, he “was of that wicked one (1 John 3:12)–first in the long line of the Serpents seed.

“Abel” on the other hand, was in the household of faith and the very first mentioned in the long line of men of faith recorded in Hebrews 11, (see verse 4).  He is called “righteous” and a prophet (Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:50, 51).  

The name “ABEL” means “vapor” or “vanity”, and suggests that, by the time of Abel’s birth, his mother had become thoroughly impressed with the impact of God’s curse on the word.  God had indeed made creation “subject to vanity”  (Romans 8:20).  I don’t recommend naming a child today, “Abel.”  You might just get what you ask for!

We also know from God’s word, the younger brother Abel, became a rancher.

Just a side-note before going on:  Man was not authorized until after the Flood to use animals for food (Genesis 1:29; 2:16; 3:19; 9:3).  Animal Skins, were used for a covering (Genesis 3:21) and not the “blood”.

God’s Choosing of What Is An Acceptable Offering:

God has but one standard.  He values everything based on His excellence.

When we think of the story of CAIN and ABEL, sometimes we picture the scene set forth like this:

*  Two men – brothers – Cain and Abel…

Cain's Offering
Cain’s Offering

*  Cain is a farmer;

*  Abel is a rancher;

*  Cain goes out to harvest his crops.

*  As he does, he puts together an offering to God.  Being the older brother, Cain had been giving offerings to the Lord for sometime.  It might have even become a “habit”.

*  Abel also puts together an offering to God

*  He picks out an animal and offers it to God

*  God looks at both offerings–Cain’s on the left, Abel’s on the right

*  After considering them both, He chooses Abel’s over Cain’s

*  It’s as if God is saying,  I’ll take “lamb” chops over “brussels sprouts and carrots.”

Abel's Offering
Abel’s Offering


First, we are never told that the offerings were made together.  Each offering is made independently of the other.

In verse 3, we are told that Cain brought an “offering of the fruit of the ground.”

In verse 4, Abel also made an offering: “the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions”.  

Nowhere are we told in Scripture these offerings were made together–as if they are in “brotherly competition”.  We are simply told, they each made an offering.

God on His part considered each offering–

He didn’t make a comparison to each other–He considered each offering based on its own merit.

We see Jesus teaching His followers about giving offerings, “casting money into the treasury…throwing in large sums.”

ATTITUDE OF THE HEART in versus the ABUNDANCE of the wallet–

“And a widow who was poverty-stricken came and put in two copper mites [the smallest of coins], which together make half of a cent.

And He called His disciples and said to them,  Truly and surely I tell you, this widow poverty-stricken, has put in more than all those contributing to the treasury.

For they all threw in out of their abundance; but she, out of her deep poverty, has put in everything that she had–[even] all she had on which to live” (Mark 12:41-44 AMP).


As God made His choice in accepting the OFFERING OF ABEL, and not the OFFERING OF CAIN in Genesis 4:4, 5, we see His conclusion:

[4]  Abel also brought a gift–the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock.  The Lord accepted Abel and his gift  [5] but He did not accept Cain and his gift.  This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.

In studying this passage, I came to the understanding that God didn’t reject Cain’s offering because Abels’ was better, and He didn’t accept Abel’s offering because Cain’s was inferior.

Our “OFFERINGS” Viewed from God’s Perspective–

Maybe we can make some conclusions here–conclusions that certainly helped my investigation into God’s Word in how to offer better sacrifices  on Sundays or anytime–giving financially and in giving our worship!

Consider Cain’s Offering…

I think as parents, Adam and Eve might have been hoping God’s Word would be fulfilled with and in their “first-born son”:

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her Offspring…

There was hope and optimism towards the “light at the end of the tunnel.”  They no doubt were certain that their first-born son would eventually crush Satan’s head.

It wasn’t long, however, that hope and optimism began to dwindle.

Disillusionment revealed..

By the time their 2nd son was born, calling him “Abel”–“Abel” by the way means; “emptiness”–life in the family began to change.  In my study, I found all this detail given, a great importance:  It tells us an awful lot about the person “Cain”.

What a disappointment he must have been to mom and dad in choosing the given names.  So much so, that when his little brother was born, they would say with regret,  OK no, not another worthless child.

Think about it for a minute:  They had hoped that their first child, be the “deliverer.”  Instead, their joy–their hope–in their first-born son would fulfill God’s promise–would be a person who became selfish, prideful and egocentric.  Cain’s every thought seemed to focus on his wants, his needs, his fulfillment.  Do you see the irony in the boy’s names they received?

CAIN, which means “of God,” turns out to be worthless.

ABEL, which means “worthless,” turns out to be the righteous one.


It was never the CONTENT of the OFFERING at all that God rejected.  It was the person making the offering.

Notice the wording in Genesis 4:5:

“But He did not accept Cain and his gift…”

It wasn’t just the “offering” God rejected, but Cain himself.  It seems to me that Cain’s sacrifice was more of an attempt to appease God, than an act of FAITH & WORSHIP.

Christianity can sometimes be practiced today…

On Sunday mornings between 10:00 to noon.  A person goes to church every Sunday, hoping that this “sacrificial giving” appeases God…or their church.

Then, from noon of Sunday till 10:00 the next Sunday, live their lives the way they want.  No regard to a holy and just God.  Practicing all kinds of selfishness.

We are FILLED with ego and pride; live day-to-day filling our lives with things that offend our Lord.

We give bo regard to our neighbor, to the hurting, to the needy.

We have little time for devotions, prayer, and Bible study; about the only time we even remember God is when we specifically want something.

God spoke to me a few years ago on a Sunday morning, right before the musicians headed up to the stage-platform:  “Mel, what you do within these 4 walls every Sunday morning beginning at 10:30, is NOT CHRISTIANITY!” 


God can only accept our WORSHIP on Sunday morning IF….

Our lives demonstrate our FAITH the rest of the week.

That’s where CAIN FAILED–and when he discovered his worship wasn’t acceptable to God, he became angry.

He comes to God with the OFFERING…God seeing that his HEART isn’t right…can’t accept it.  Cain, instead of repenting and changing his life, storms off angry, bitter, and jealous of his brother’s acceptance…”God always loved you best Abel” attitude.

Wrong Thinking Developed from an Unrighteous Heart Condition–

Cain says to himself:  If I get rid of my brother, no one else will know and God will have to accept me.  And his heart remains cold and unresponsive to God’s leading.

Looking at Abel’s Offering…why was God willing to accept the sacrifice?

I found the main reason, probably the only reason in Hebrews 11:4:  “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith…”

If there is but one word that makes a difference between these two offerings, this it:  FAITH.

By faith, Abel offered to God…he knew he couldn’t appease God.  Abel knew and understood that he needed God’s grace–it was God’s mercy, so he made an “OFFERING” that represented his hearts desire.  A DESIRE to follow the Lord with a broken and contrite heart.  ABEL, had sacrificed the “first-born” of his flock.

“But for CAIN and for his OFFERING He [God] had no regard”–

God regarded the person over the offering.  WHY?  Because of the brother’s hearts–not because of their offering.  I’ve grown to understand, WORSHIP is a matter of my HEART–not the matter of form.

Cain’s form was fine–nothing wrong with a “grain offering.”  He could make all of the sacrifices that he wanted to, but until his HEART CONDITION was right…he would never have a relationship with God.


Millions of people think GOD LOVES CHURCH ATTENDANCE.  They are leaders in their church and in their communities.  Teaching Sunday School, Nursery Workers, Singers on the church stage…hoping and praying all of this will make them acceptable to God.  That their GIFTS, GOOD DEEDS, TITHING REGULARLY…will “punch their ticket” to heaven.

That fact is, God has already been appeased…

Jesus Christ bought and paid for our SALVATION on the Cross of Calvary.

Our Response?  It must be the same as Abel’s.  The only way we can have RELATIONSHIP with God is through FAITH.  

What is FAITH?  

Most of us understand FAITH to mean–“trust” or “believe” and these are good definitions.  In fact, if you think about it, EVERYBODY has some kind of faith in their lives:

—  Some trust in their own deeds – believing like Cain;  “I can do the right things”

—  Some believe there is no God – a stupid kind of faith, but “faith” never the less.

—  Some trust and believe in Jesus!

They are the ones, the believers in Jesus, who have a relationship with God.

Why was God pleased with Abe’s offering and not Cain’s?  Because God was pleased with Abel and not Cain.

So it doesn’t matter what you SACRIFICE for God, if your heart is not right with Him,  He cannot and will not accept your offerings.  God doesn’t need your money put in the offering basket every Sunday…He wants your HEART first of all!

An Acceptable Offering
An Acceptable Offering

However, if you have received JESUS CHRIST as your Lord and Savior, your OFFERING…your SACRIFICE OF WORSHIP will be a pleasing aroma before the Lord.


Footnote:  [1]  Line from the movie “Network”.

Photos: by Photo Pin




Our Responsibilities as God’s “Plenipotentiary”

“Plenipotentiary” Definition:

Noun – a person, invested with the fill power of independent action on behalf of their government.

Adjective – having full power to take independent ACTION as a designated representative.


United States Ambassador
United States Ambassador

When United States DIPLOMATS negotiate a treaty, attend a state dinner, or arrange a visa for a traveler to the United States, they all have the same mission–REPRESENT THE INTERESTS and policies of the United States.

An AMBASSADOR is the President’s highest-ranking representative.

His/her qualities should be as follows:

—  A strong leader.

—  A good manager.

—  A resilient negotiator.

—  And, a respected representative of the United States.

Benjamin Franklin speaking to the qualities that should accompany a “plenipotentiary”– diplomat, said it this way:

“[The qualities of a diplomat are] sleepless tact, unmovable calmness,

and patience that no folly, no provocation, 

no blunders make shake.”


2 Corinthians 5:20



Joel Santos says it this way–If God were like me, he would have used legions of angels, proclaiming, singing, shouting his message nonstop, simultaneously around the world.  But praise God, He is NOT like me! [i footnoted].

In 2 Corinthians 5:11-20, the Apostle Paul, responding to criticisms about his ministry by giving reasons why Christians should be involved in MISSIONS.

GOD gave us ALL… the ministry of reconciliation…

This GOD-GIVEN COMMISSION is plain and clear–God’s mission of reconciling the world unto Him will be brought to completion through us, the redeemed!

Preparation For Being AMBASSADORS:

Before taking this honor as Plenipotentiaries, we need to make an honest attempt of knowing our responsibilities.  Consider the Christian as an AMBASSADOR who has a special motive of serving–the love of Jesus.

JESUS expressed LOVE in many ways, and as His AMBASSADORS, we need to take note:

He loved the lost – (Mark 10:21).

He wept over the lost – (Matthew 23:37).

He loved the outcasts of society – (Illus.: Luke 19:1-10).

The lack of love angered Him – (Mark 3:5).

He proved His love on Calvary…He died for us, so we live for Him.

A Christian Ambassador Responsibilities and Duties in the World– [ii]

1.  BE READY –

To be alert for chances to represent Christ while not backing away from a challenge or an opportunity.


Not quarrelling with others, but will listen in order to understand, then with gentleness, seek to respectfully engage those who disagree.


Have informed convictions based on God’s Word/Scripture (not just feelings), give reasons, ask questions, aggressively seek answers, and will not be stumped by the same challenge twice.


Adapt to each unique person and situation, maneuvering with wisdom while challenging bad thinking… presenting the TRUTH in an understanding and compelling way.

A Personal Experience of Being “Tactical”:

I have been blessed to be a part of 4 Billy Graham Crusades over the years.

As a counselor, when the Crusade Choir starts singing “Just as I am, without one plea”, was my cue to start my journey towards the center field of the football stadium.  To be qualified as “counselor”, we had to go through a week of training before Crusade began.

Mr Graham was positioned on a platform and after his message, those in attendance, started flowing down the long series of steps to the field. As counselors, we were to be sensitive to people’s needs, look forward to God-given opportunities, then to listen and share God’s Word with those who accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour.

After meeting and talking to several people one night, and as the crowds gathered on the stadium floor began to disperse,  I also turned to leave.  When out of the corner of my eye, I noticed 3 men heading towards me at a rapid pace.  Two of the men, who were giants among men, were carrying a much smaller man by his armpits, his feet not touching the ground.  As they approach, I didn’t know whether to stay frozen in place, or turn my back and quickly remove myself from their sight.  I decided to stand my ground with trepidation.

One of the men spoke up and declared, “We our Marines, stationed at Camp Pendleton.  We were here last night and got saved.”

Releasing the smaller man so that his feet could touch the ground, he continued saying, “This is a fellow-Marine.  We brought him here tonight so he too can be saved!”

 I thought to myself,  “Mel, this is a unique situation with unique men.  Lord, I need to quickly adapt to and apply Your wisdom…NOW!” 

Immediately, I proceeded to explain that their “fellow-Marine” needed to make his own choices in accepting JESUS;  their forceful and insistent encouragement might do more harm than good.  Scaring someone to Christ might sound “convicting”, but no, God’s Word doesn’t tell us to do so as His Ambassadors.

I then began sharing the Gospel Message with the help of a B.G.C. (Billy Graham Crusade) tract, and the young Marine accepted Jesus as his personal Saviour.

5.  BE CLEAR – 

Being careful with our language and not relying on Christian “lingo”.  [Ex.: manifestations, glorified, the rapture, justification, reconciliation, etc.].  Keep it simple.

6.  BE FAIR –

Be sympathetic and understanding towards others, acknowledging the merits of contrary views.


Being careful with the facts that will not misrepresent another’s view, overstate his own case, or underestimate the demands of the Gospel.


Do not press a point beyond what the persons evidence allows.  Know that their understanding of the TRUTH is fallible.


Act with grace, kindness, good manners (“fruits of the Spirit”)–do nothing that will dishonor the One who has sent you on the mission.


Know that your effectiveness requires joining your best efforts with God’s POWER.



As Christian Ambassadors, “Plenipotentiaries”, we are to shine forth God’s Light–proclaim the message of SALVATION whenever and wherever we may be.  Sadly, Christians have lost the sense of our godly appointment in this world.  We’ve got our “ticket to heaven” punched, and we are home free!

May it never be, that as Christ’s Ambassadors, we are ordinary citizens in the world.  For if we feel that way, we will never fulfill the mission:

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion,  Your God reigns!”  (Isaiah 52:7 AMP).


[See previous Blog: July 8th, 2011 – https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/christ-ambassadors;-our-power-to-influence/.] 

Footnotes:  [i] Pastor/minister @Evangelical Christian Church – Network of Churches and Ministries in the Philippines.  [ii] Adapted from Greg Kouki,  “Ambassador’s Creed” and Roger Morris’ Characteristics of a Christian Ambassador.



Kisses Sweeter than Wine


Song of Solomon
Song of Solomon

I’m going to date myself a bit, but there was a song recorded by The Weavers in 1950, which later became a top Billboard hit in 1957 by Jimmie Rodgers:

“Sweeter Than Wine”

Well, when I was a young man and never been kissed

I got to think’in it over how much I had missed.

So I got me a girl and I kissed her and then, and then

Oh, lordy, well I kissed her again.

Because she had kisses sweeter than wine

She had, mmm, mmm, kisses

sweeter than wine.

(Sweeter than wine)


There are different interpretations Bible Scholars point to in the Song of Solomon–Song of Songs–The Canticle.

The three main theories: [i] See Footnotes

The Allegorical = Between God and Israel, or Jesus and His Bride the Church.

The Literal = A series of LOVE POEMS or SONGS between a husband and wife with God’s teaching on MARRIAGE.

The Typical = A POEM reflecting Solomons actual experiences of warm human emotions derived from devotion.

All three have significance when it comes to RELATIONSHIP.  However, with the Holy Spirit’s prompting… I’m going to stick to the Love between Jesus and His Church theory.

A Love Song…Literally Not Being Ignored!

Song of Solomon is a LOVE SONG between a man and a woman.

The Bible also provides a picture of intimate love between God and His people, between Christ and the Church.  In the literal meaning, we can learn much of our spiritual love walk (relationship) with our Lord.

Divine Romance…

The Bible is all about a Divine Romance — starting with the Marriage of Adam and Eve and ending with the Marriage of Christ and His Bride.

The BRIDE of CHRIST, the Church
The BRIDE of CHRIST, the Church

We, the church, are the Bride of Christ, He is the Bridegroom (1 Corinthians 11:1-3; Ephesians 5:22; Rev. 19:7, 8; 21:9, 22:7).


The Holy Love language used in Song of Solomon is communicated for every believer in Christ Jesus; a super natural connection directed to his/her heart from our Lord Jesus.  It displays the intensity of Christ’s LOVE for His Bride, the Church.  And by the way, His intensity…His passion, doesn’t diminish!

John Gill takes it a step further:  [ii]

The church expresses her strong desires and most ardent wishes, for some fresh discoveries of the Love of Christ to her, and therefore needs the strongest language to express it 


Isaiah 54:a, N.L.T. – “For your Creator will be your husband…”

Matthew 9:15, N.L.T. –  [Jesus speaking] “Do wedding guest mourn while celebrating with the groom?  Of course not.  But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

Ephesians 5:25-26, N.L.T. –  [25] “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church!  He gave up His life for her.  [26] To make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.”

The Song of Solomon is a picture of a beautiful relationship between husband and wife, and also an allegory of our loving relationship with Jesus, our Savior.  BOTH!  God wants us to have a happy, holy, and passionate relationship in our marriages, at any age of our lives.


1.  The King (1:4).

2.  You whom I love (1:7) – We LOVE because He first loved us. – Preach the Cross!

3.  The Shepherd (1:7).

4.  The Beloved (1:16) – Mentioned 38 times in this song.

5.  The Rose of Sharon (2:1) – Telling us He is precious.

6.  The Lily of the Valleys (2:1) – Telling us He is beautiful to look at.

7.  The One I love (3:1-3).

8.  The Chief among 10,000 (5:10).

9.  Altogether lovely (5:16).

10.  My Friend (5:16).


“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!  [she cries.  Then, realizing that solomon has arrived and has heard her speech, she turns to him and adds]  For your LOVE IS BETTER THAN WINE!”  (Song of solomon 1:2 AMP)

The kiss in that day was the pledge of peace, a token of peace.  Solomon’s very name means peace.  He was a prince of peace and he ruled in Jerusalem, the city of peace.  The Shulamite girl is the daughter of peace.

The kiss indicates the existence of a very personal, close relationship, such as the Lord Jesus has with His own.  He is able to communicate His message personally to you and me through the Word of God.  That is why there needs to be a return to a study of the Word of God–more than just learning the mechanics of the Bible, or even memorizing the Word, but a personal relationship with Him, so that He can speak through His Word to hearts.  “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!”  He has spoken peace the human heart.

A Sunday Testimony–My Best Friend!  [See Footnote iii]

One Sunday, our pastor had just returned from a short vacation to New York City.  So preparing for a morning message, with “jet lag” setting in, can sometimes be a challenge.  Pastor Kyle thinking ahead, decided this one Sunday would be a good time to have a church member give HIS TESTIMONY. [ http://myvalleychurch.net/04_06_2014_Sermon_Mark_Passe.mp3].

The man’s name was Mark Passe.  He had lost his wife to cancer nine months earlier.

They had been married for 33 years, and in that 33 years, they were the best of friends.  Mark mentioned he had never developed any close male friendships in his life before.  His one and only “best friend” was his wife.

For over an hour, Mark testified how difficult it was to lose his wife, mother of their children.  The questions that entered his spirit, such as… “Why her Lord?  She was too young to leave us all.”  Now I’m not a person who gets emotional very often, but after hearing his struggles in dealing with DEATH, there were tears all around the congregation, and sniffles from yours truly.  [See Footnote link.]

Why am I giving you Mark’s Testimony at this point?  Mark mentioned that someone had come up to he and his wife after church one Sunday, and said to them both:  “You are the only couple I’ve seen in church who KISS in front of everyone else gathered.”

Mark’s Challenge to the Body of Christ–

Mark asked those of us gathered in church that Sunday, to KISS your wife/husband right now!  And with his prompting, my wife and I didn’t hesitate to kiss one another.


That moment in time…it wouldn’t be the last time we would openly show our love for each other with a passionate KISS for others to see!  And certainly,  not forgetting demonstrating my passion towards Jesus for others around me to see!


“Tell me, O you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon.  For why should I [as I think of you] be as a veiled one straying beside the flocks of your companions?  (S.O.S 1:7 AMP).

First of all, note the bride’s longing to be where her husband is.  In the same way as Christians, we should long to be where Jesus is.

JESUS is not only King, He is also Shepherd–Psalm 23:1-3 a

THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.  He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.  He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in paths of righteousness…


How can our RELATIONSHIP with JESUS be made stronger?

“Follow in the footsteps of the flock,  And feed your little goats  Beside the shepherds tents”-

Getting to know JESUS better becomes, e Church!“Following in the footsteps of the flock!” – The Church!


Song of Solomon 2:4-5 AMP:

[4] He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love [for love waved as a protecting and comforting banner over my head when I was near him].

[5] Sustain me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am sick with love.

JESUS refreshes us at His banqueting table.

The first thing we need to learn about God is that HE IS LOVE–“JESUS loves me, this I know”.

OUR CRY, “Sustain me and refresh me” and answered by the Shepherd who restores my soul.

Do we know what it is like to be “lovesick” for JESUS, longing to be with Him?

“O God, You are my God”…

That is a personal relationship!  You are “MY” God.

“O God, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is”  (Psalm 63:1).

“Romancing the Divine”

I wrote a brief Devotional [https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/true-love/], based on Mr. Don Nori’s book,  Romancing the Divine – A Story About True Love; [iv].  It is a fictional allegory, it is the story of one person’s struggle with his inadequacies and sense of failure on one side, and his longing to know the reason for his existence on the other.  Much to his surprise, he finds TRUE LOVE.

Songs 2:8-9:

The voice of my beloved [shepherd]!  Behold he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills.

My beloved is like a gazelle or a young hart.  Behold, he stands behind the wall of our house, he looks through the windows, he glances through the lattice.

Jesus Passionately Pursues Those He Loves–

“The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me”  (John 10:27).

This is the theme, the whole story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation–GOD longing for us.

But notice that He is a gentleman:  Standing outside, waiting to be invited in (Revelation 3:20).  Know this, JESUS IS CALLING and INVITING US into a personal relationship with Him.

He wants us to be OUR FIRST LOVE; to always remember–A LOVE THAT’S SWEETER THAN WINE!

A MESSAGE TO THE CHURCH–And we are the Church!

“But I have this [one charge to make] against you:  that you have left (abandoned) the LOVE that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love]”  (Revelation 2:4).


[1] Oxford Bible Church Commentary.

[ii] John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible.

[iii] Mark Passe Sermon; April 6th, 2014@ Valley Church Assembly of God; Nooksack, Washington [See link].

[iv] Romancing the Divine – Don Nori author: Destiny Image Publisher – Copyright 2001–Don Nori.


True Love

I’ve been reading and studying God’s Word of late in the Old Testament.  Specifically, the Song of Solomon.  This book of the bible is one that is often overlooked, ignored, and put aside.  Why?  Well there seems to be some misunderstandings in the content.

Some have thought it to be a collection of songs, but it is more generally understood to be a sort of drama, the positive interpretation of which is impossible because the identity of the speakers and the length of the speeches are not disclosed.

Although there are three main theories (allegorical, literal, and the typical), what can’t be missed in the different interpretations, is the story that takes place is about True Love in relationship–between God and Israel, Jesus’ relationship with the Church, and the experience of Solomon and a Shulamite maiden–God’s teaching on marriage and sexual relationships.


Most of us over the years have experienced HUMAN LOVE.  Some remember their first romance with the opposite sex: overcoming shyness, overcoming rejection, dating, the first kiss.  We even remarked, “This is it! This feeling will last forever!”–later to find out that it was but an infatuation and not TRUE LOVE!

One of my favorite allegorical books ever, is a book written by Mr. Don Nori:  Romancing the Divine – A Story About True Love.   As an introduction to his story, he gives us a vivid pictorial of TRUE LOVE and I wanted to share it with you as a Devotional.

~True Love~

How noble true love is!  How invincible!  How pure!  How innocent!

Love simply comes, often undetected even by the one overtaken by 

its mysterious powers.

True love.  The lonely covet its reality.  The arrogant flaunt

its presence.  The ignorant snub its wonder.

It is illogical as anything can be.  It is hopeless to describe it

and folly to shun it.

The greatest philosophers have sought to define it.

Religion has tried to buy it.  Many have tried to elude it.

Love is as hopeless to understand as it is impossible

to deny.  Yet reason and logic are helpless against

love, for it is  a most formidable foe of the mundane and

the average.  True love, you see, dares to go places 

where reason cannot tread.  Love sees realities about which 

philosophy can only hope to dimly speculate.

True love knows what tradition can only distantly remember.

True love draws the least lovable.  It can make anyone

a hero.

True love is the sustaining power of the universe

itself, yet is so lovely that it abides fully in the hearts of

those foolish enough to respond to its rapturous invitation to come.


Becoming SATISFIED In Christ Alone!


1 John 2:15-17 [Amplified Bible]:

[15] Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world.  If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.

[16] For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]–these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself].

[17] And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the list) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever.


Bible scholars have concluded that the content, style, and vocabulary  seem to warrant the conclusion that the three letters of John, the apostle, including the Gospel of John, were addressed to the same readers–Christian believers, and John’s message is timeless!

The Timeless Message–

The “timeless message” given, is one of contrast.  A COMPARISON of love for the world versus the love of our Father, that is, GOD.  As surely as we cannot SERVE both GOD and MAMMON– (*See footnote [i] )– neither can we LOVE both the world and GOD.

Every Person Is Tempted (James 1:14):

We ALL BATTLE with trials and temptations on a daily basis; with the things and people who influence us for wrong reasons and the wrong purpose.

The World–

Sometimes like a “magnet”,  the world tries to pull us in the wrong direction.

GOD calls His children [Christians] to live “in” this world but not be “of” this world.

A difficult balance…

ME:  “Should go tonight and show up; help out at my church’s Soup Kitchen and serve.  BUT…I’ll miss out on the Football Game on television during the LOVE FEAST down the road.”

WE:  Go to church, spend time with GOD and friends, yet there’s a FORCE trying to pull us away from the fellowship of believers.

It’s sort of like when I was back in school and didn’t want to get out of bed.  “Mom, I feel kind of ‘sick”.  My mom would ask me suspiciously, “What do you mean…’kind of sick’?”  She knew that I wanted to stay home and do what I wanted to do–watch TV, anything but go to school.  She would then inform me, “If you’re sick Mel, then you have to stay in bed ALL day!”  That stopped my plans in their tracks: “Mom, I think I’m feeling a bit better and will go to school after all.”

The Seemingly “Grey Areas”…

So many times we find ourselves tolerating certain things, but it feels good…we think it probably won’t hurt anybody…nobody will find out.

And then all of a sudden, we wake up one day and ask ourselves, “How in the world did I get here?”  Or, “What did I just do?”


1 John 2:15-17  (N.L.T.):

[15] Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.

[16] For the world offers on a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.  These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

[17] And this world is fading away…

What else does the Bible have to say about the world we’re living in today?

“Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world”  (1 John 4:4 AMP).

“We know [positively] that we are of God, and the whole world [around us] is under the power of the evil one”  (1 John 5:19 AMP).

(Jesus talking) – “If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before it hated you.  If you belonged to the world, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own.  But because you are not of the world [no longer one with it], but I have chosen (selected) you out of the world, the world hates (detests) you”  (John 15:18-19 AMP).

“…Do you not know that being the worlds friend is being God’s enemy?  So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God”  (James 4:4).

The WORLD will always fool you and never fully satisfy you!

The New Living Translation calls it a “CRAVING” in verse 16.

3 -Types of Temptations:

stock-photo-road-sign-metaphor-with-craving-ahead-470902091.  CRAVING FOR PLEASURES…or, “The Lust of the Flesh.”

I’m sure you know what it is to “crave” for something: chocolate, creamed-filled donuts, sour pickles (pregnancy?), liquor, a ‘smoke’, etc.

In any dictionary that you look up the definition, “crav-ing” – A powerful desire for something! Synonyms: longing, yearning, desire, want, wish, hankering, hunger, thirst, appetite, greed, lust, ache, need, urge.

“ENOUGH…I get it!”  But let’s take the definition a little further to make a point:

Merriam-Webster:  “an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing.”

I think you’ve probably got the idea of what John is referring to in the above Scripture.

In Creflo Dollar’s Book, Winning in Troubled Times (Chapter 19), he mentions “Lust is the driving impulse behind addictive behaviors; trying to break habits formed through will-power fall prey to the same temptations over and over again.”


 LUST OF THE FLESH has one purpose–to move us out of the will of God of our lives.  It will destroy marriages and relationships.

DESIRE in and of itself is NOT BAD…

GOD gave us natural, healthy DESIRES…desire for food and water, desire to be unconditionally loved and accepted.  But when the “craving” enters the picture….it leads to death.

“Seed Time and Harvest…”

“But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions).    Then the evil desire, when it is conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings for death”  (James 1:14-15).

A CRAVING for everything we see (NLT) or Lust of the Eyes (Amplified)–

“Temptation to Have” – I see it and I want it.  I have to have it now!  Ever been in this state of mind?

Materialism – “Live for the acquisition of things”:

He with the most toys wins…what?  Debt?  Stress?

Examples:  Having the latest I-Phone (5-s; the 6 will be out in Sept. 2014)….Latest Model – Car…Houses – upgrades, newer model, keep up with the Jones…Latest Styles – clothes or shoes – “Impulse Buying”  (Ex: I can go to Van Wingerden Garden Center in Birch Bay, Washington…it’s like the angels are singing…).

PRIDE in our achievements and possessions (NLT) or Pride of Life (Amplified)–

“Temptation to Be” – I want to be worshipped.  I want to be envied.  I want to be “noticed”.

Climbing the “company ladder” – just for the “title” of President, CEO.

The MOTIVATION is wrong–want to get to the top–for the wrong reason.

STATUS can become an “IDOL”, and damage our relationship with GOD.


** Adam and Eve **

FRUIT that was pleasing to the eye.

** Jesus **

“And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made [loves of] bread”  (Matt. 4:3 AMP).

JESUS faced temptation (Lust of Flesh).

“Again, the devil took Him up on a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory (the splendor, magnificence, preeminence, and excellence) of them.    And he said to Him,  These things, all taken together, I will give You, if You will prostrate Yourself before me and do homage and worship me”  (Matt. 4:8-9).

Satan showed JESUS the kingdoms (Lust of the Eyes).

Pride of Life – kneel down and worship me …

“And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever”  (1 John 2:17 AMP).

So how can we CONQUER this?  How can we please God?

That’s what we really want to do as BELIEVERS IN JESUS CHRIST!  To be Satisfied in Christ Alone!

Living “In Christ Alone”:

Keith and Kristyn Getty wrote a favorite hymn of mine a few years back. [www.gettymusic.com/hymns-inchristalone.aspx/.} 

In Christ alone my hope is found,

He is my light, my strength, my song; this Cornerstone,


from through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace,

when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!

My Comforter, my All in All,

here in the love of Christ I stand.

Conquering Our Cravings, Our Temptations, Our Lusts in Life–


Hopefully, as believers in JESUS, pleasing Him should be our only desire.  Participating in God’s work in our lives is a beginning; to agree with God is our true identity found only in Him…not to place ourselves on the railroad tracks of “temptation.”  We’ll get hit by the train comng through every time!

In Creflo Dollar’s book, Winning In Troubled Times, he entitles the chapter “Declaring War On Lust”:  “The sin you fail to deal with will eventually end up dealing with you.”

When our CRAVINGS, “lustful desires“, are continually acted upon with no repentance or attempts to curb the behavior…a person can easily get into what is called “LASCIVIOUSNESS”: “having no self-control of the works of the flesh.”

Our OBEDIENCE To What We Sense Around Us…

What GOD is calling us to do in the world, should come out of a TRUST that God is our only source of life!  As we struggle, and we all do struggle; we are in the world and not of the world…especially in the “grey areas” that arise (society morality, movies, doctrine, relationships).

We can place our HOPE in God; to finish His work in us; to lovingly continue to show us the emptiness of all other “sources” available in life.  To learn to be SUFFICIENT in Christ alone.

Those thoughts reminded me of a quote by C.S. Lewis you may have read or heard before:

“When he said, ‘Be perfect.’  He meant it!  He meant that we must go in for the full treatment.  It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder–in fact, it is impossible.  It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird; it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining in an egg.  We are like eggs at present.  And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary decent egg.  We must be hatched or go bad…”  [Mere Christianity, bk4, Chs. 8, 9.]

I hope that I have given you an understanding of what GOD is able to give you in this world.  The HOPE and RENEWED TRUST in being Sufficient In Christ Alone– and not be satisfied in what the world is offering.

“Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world.  If anyone loves the world, love of the Father is not in him”  (1 John 2:15).




[i]  MAMMON – New Testament – Riches or material wealth:  Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:9, 11, 13.







Kissing FROGS and Hugging PORCUPINES

One of my favorite authors, Chuck Swindoll, in his book Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotes, wrote the following regarding ourselves and other’s “frogness” in life:

Floating On A Lily Pad
Floating On A Lily Pad

“FROGS feel slow and low, ugly and putty, drooped and pooped.  I know, because one told me.  The FROG FEELING comes when you want to be bright but you’re dumb.  When you want to share, you are selfish.  When you want to be thankful, but filled with resentment.  When you want to be great…but you are small.  When you want to care, but you are indifferent; yes, at one time or another, each of us has found themselves floating down the great river of life, frightened and disgusted, but to frightened to budge.” 

Scripture Reading in John 15:12-17  [Amplified Version]:

[12] This is My commandment; that you love one another [just] as I have loved you.

[13] No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.

[14] You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do.

[15] I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out).  But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father.  [I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him.]

[16] You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], He may give it to you.

[17] This is what I command you; that you love one another.

The Fairy Tale of Endo…

In this particular Fairy Tale (and others too), the FROG wasn’t really a frog.  He looked like one because…a wicked witch cast an evil spell on a prince.  Only a kiss from a beautiful young maiden could SAVE him.  Then one day, a beautiful young girl lays a big sloppy kiss on the frog’s slimy lips, and in a great puff of smoke…he changes back into a handsome prince.  They marry, have a ton of kids, and live happily ever after. The End.

Our Task In Our Churches Across the Land Isn’t A Fairy Tale…

“Kissing Frogs and Allowing Ourselves to Be Kissed!”

Faithful Christian LOVE has a way of rescuing kings and queens and their “frogness” [i].  I believe we must do more than “wishing” we were different in our communities.

I’ve learned by practical experience, I need to be more intentional about telling others that the church I’m a part of, is a loving community!  But it will take more than just telling…it will require me to be an active “lover”.


Because of the reason for the Command of Jesus (John:12a, 17).  Not once, but twice within six short verses: “love one another”.

Our Selfishness Often Gets In the Way of Loving the Brethren…

My wife and I never told our kids when they were little how to be selfish.  And yet our youngest, even at the age of four, on any given day, would have no problem taking one of his older sister’s toys away.

Israel’s neighbors haven’t a problem finding ways to torment and mistreat them, because of their hatred.  Certain things come “naturally” to fallen man–sin and selfishness in the heart.

“Use it or Lose it!”

I believe we’re NOT intentional about creating a loving environment; an accepting community, a fellowship of mutual service and sacrifice and if we don’t use what God has made available, we might just lose it.

It often seems, too many churches leave “loving one another” to chance: “I’ll let my wife LOVE ON OTHERS. I’ll stay out-of-the-way of the crowds.”

The Apostle John’s Thinking On the Matter…

Jesus’ repeating command must have made a lasting impression.  Maybe more than any other disciple, John sought to obey these words of his Master.

How revealing then, a few years later, John would write in the Letter we call, 1 John, the following:

1 John 3:14:

We know that we have passed over out of death into Life by the fact that we love the brethren (our fellow Christians).  He who does not love abides (remains, is held and kept continually) in [spiritual] death.


Wow!  When I meditated on that verse (read and re-read the words), God really spoke to my spirit.  John is saying, the sure sign of being “SAVED”, is a sure internal testimony of my outward profession of my faith.  If there isn’t any fruit, there isn’t an attachment to the “Vine” JESUS (John 15:1-11).

Is Loving Our Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus Easy?

If it were easy to LOVE those of us in the church, there would be no sign of a miraculous work of God happening in OUR midst.

If LOVE for the brethren were a natural occurrence, you wouldn’t know and have the Life of Holy Spirit permeating your souls in the loving process.

If LOVING each other was something we could do apart from prayer, humbleness, and dependence of God’s grace, then LOVE would prove nothing.

But John tells us:  “Here is a sure sermon for your own soul, a testimony that you are abiding in Christ, IF…you can love Christians!”  

Even knowing this, sometimes its hard to LOVE OTHERS in the Body of Christ:  Some are crusty, prickly and painful to be around.  It’s not simply “kissing frogs”, but “hugging porcupines.”

 JESUS COMMANDS such LOVE, otherwise, we would avoid it entirely.

Hugging Porcupines
Hugging Porcupines



JESUS loved us in giving His life.  Human relationships are strengthened when a man sacrifices for a close friend.  The Apostle Paul speaks of this LOVE in detail:

Romans 5:7-8:

[7] Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die.

[8] But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.

The Family of God and their SACRIFICES:

If SACRIFICE doesn’t cost you something, then it isn’t a sacrifice.  It cost Jesus His life because of His LOVE for us.

Beginning the conversation…the Heart & Mouth Connection.

Every family has secrets–the special stories and nicknames, ways of communicating that are unique to the closest relationships you have.  In fact, one of the ways we have to bring other people into a closer relationship, is sharing with them a special aspect of our family life.  Looking for something you might have in common: family ancestry, where you’re from originally, etc.  But you are going to have to open up heart and mouth to find something in common.  Yep, we’re going to have to get off our “lily pads”.  It probably will be uncomfortable; might even feel insecure.



Jesus loves us by choosing and appointing us to bring God the glory in the world and through the FRUIT that we are to bear.

Everyone with young children, or in my case, grandchildren, knows frustration comes in helping them to do something; we’re tempted to say, “It’s easier to do it myself.”

I’ve thought at times, out of frustration, regarding the need for evangelism in Whatcom County.  God could have found a much easier way to communicate the message other than the local churches.  But of course, that isn’t His plan.

God’s Plan for His Church…

But JESUS loves us, appointed us to bear fruit in this place…at this time.  With this LOVE STANDARD as our active goal…not another “church program”, but an individual goal, create opportunities to develop and demonstrate LOVE to one another.

Many conservative churches preach “LOVE YOUR WIFE AS CHRIST LOVES HIS CHURCH–and that’s a clear biblical command.  But rarely do we talk about loving “fellow believers” as Christ loved the church.  Yet here in this passage of Scripture, JESUS says, “THIS IS MY COMMANDMENT”–this is My PLAN!

There is POWER available for LOVING one another…

JESUS has made known to us the church, the Word of God is His will for our lives.  It’s not complicated.  It’s NOT a family secret.  It is a crystal clear commandment in the Bible.  And the Word of God is LIVING & ACTIVE; it doesn’t simply just urge us to do something (enjoin), it EMPOWERS US!


“IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself” (John 1:1).

“And the Word (Jesus) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth”  (John 1:14).

JESUS HIMSELF chose us to bear fruit and Jesus is God in human flesh; He doesn’t fail.

When He commands LOVE, He also guarantees its fulfillment.

Sitting On A Lily Pad As It Floats Down the River…

With JESUS on our side, we must succeed in transforming our churches into a visibly loving and caring community.  We’re going to have to get off our “Lily Pads” ; show our community we care!

Being the peruvial LIGHTHOUSE…where the building with our name on a large out-front sign…where everyone who drives by will see and want to come in to worship is sitting on a LILY PAD.  They’re “wish-in and a hope-in” the surrounding community will see the Light.

If we want to be a LIGHTHOUSE to our community, we will need to be “moving Lighthouses”, not stationary structures.  People need to see how we LOVE one another; with FRUIT-BEARING branches and God’s Light shinning on the fruit.

Last but not least…

We have our words; our prayers.  Whatever we ask the Father in Jesus’ name, He gives.  When we pray for grace (favor)  to LOVE…even some other FROGS…God will show Himself strong and powerful answering that prayer.

Now go out and Kiss A FROG, maybe even Hug A PORCUPINE or two, and know that Holy Spirit will be there to comfort you:

John 15:26, 27 AMP.:

[26] When the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) comes,  Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth  Who comes (proceeds) from the Father,  He [Himself] will testify regarding Me.

[27] But you also will testify and be My witnesses,  because you have been with Me from the beginning.


Footnote: [i] Glenn Durham, Pastor at Church of the Covenant.