Monday, July 14, 2008


Vol. 2, Issue 26

July 07, 2008

Starry, Starry Night

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” (Psalm 147:4)

My buddy Roger called last week. He wanted to share a new software program with me; “Stellarium.” Stellarium is a star watching program. You tell it where you live and it takes you to a grassy meadow (supposedly right outside your door) and shows you the sky. If it’s daytime, you can even ‘turn off the lights’ and view the stars that daylight is hiding in the real sky. You can speed up time and watch the starry skies pass over head. You can rotate perspective to view the north, east, west or south skies. You can move to Australia and view the night sky from Adelaide or Sydney. You can even travel to the moon and watch the stars from a lunar landscape.

After dark I like to take a look at the screen, and then walk outside to see if I can find the real constellations in the real sky. It’s a pretty neat little program if you like to watch the stars and don’t know much about what you’re looking for. Best of all, it’s free. You can download Stellarium at


Ever wonder why we have such a fascination with the stars? I mean, it’s not like we don’t already have our hands full with stuff here on earth. There’s survival, getting to work on time, paying the mortgage, making sure the kids do their homework. And then there’s Disneyworld, the Grand Canyon and HBO. Why bother with the stars?

Who cares if Betelgeuse (yeah, there’s really a star named “Betelgeuse” and it’s really pronounced beetle-juice) is 427 million light years away from earth or that it’s so big that if you stuck it in the middle or our solar system its surface area would take up the sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and go a ways toward Jupiter.

Betelgeuse is a long ways away and big beyond our ability to comprehend; but who cares? Why should man be so hung up on the stars? Not only have we tried to count them and name them, we’ve connected the dots and turned them into constellations … and we’ve turn the constellation into picture stories - Orion, the hunter; the Pleiades, the seven sisters; Ursa, the bear. This fascination with the stars begs the question; “Is there something more to the stars than just far away pinpoints of light in the night sky?”

I started doing a little digging in my favorite book to see what He says about the stars. What I came up with surprised me. The word star (or stars) is mentioned 67 times in the English Standard Version Bible; it’s about the same in the KJV – 66, with a wildcard “stargazers” thrown in. That doesn’t count “heaven,” “heavenlies,” “celestial bodies,” or “sun.”

God created the universe and the universe has a lot of stars in it, so it’s not a shock that the Bible mentions them 67 times. Here’s the shocker: more than half of the “star” references in the Bible are directly associated with a persona. That is, more than half of the references refer to somebody, not something.

Isaiah 14:12 speaks of Satan: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!”

Job 38:7 mentions a time “when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Psalm 148:3 commands, “Praise him, sun and moon, praise him all you shining stars.”

Does scripture really relate heavenly bodies to heavenly bodies – personalities not of this world? Or is this just a poetic way of speaking that really doesn’t mean anything literally?

Let’s find out.

The book of Revelation describes a vision of the apostle John where he saw “someone, ‘like the son of man’” and “in his right hand he held seven stars ….” (Revelation 1:16) The one “like the son of man” tells John, “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches ….” (Revelation 1:20)

Revelation goes on to describe other heavenly bodies, personified stars, as it unfolds the final fate of man. “The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood.” (Revelation 8:10-11a)

“And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.” (Revelation 9:1)

Here’s my favorite: “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

Wow. Jesus refers to Himself as the “bright morning star.” Maybe there’s something more to the stars than just being faraway night-lights.


God mentioned the stars when He made a promise to Abraham. “He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’” (Genesis 15:5)

There are plenty of “star” mentions in the Bible referring to the Abraham’s “offspring.” God talking to Abraham: “I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven ….” (Genesis 22:17)

God talking to Isaac: “I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven ….” (Genesis 26:4).

Moses talking to the tribes of Israel: “The Lord your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as numerous as the stars of heaven.” (Deuteronomy 1:10)

The writer of Hebrews talking to early Jewish Christians: “Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven ….” (Hebrews 11:12)

There’s more, but you get the picture. The Bible makes the connection between stars and heavenly beings – angels (fallen and not fallen) and Jesus himself. And the Bible makes the connection between stars and the number of Abraham’s descendents. Any more connections we can make?

Well … there’s the connection that “… if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:29) Okay. So that means you and I, if we belong to Christ, are considered Abraham’s offspring and we share in the inheritance God promised to Abraham.

And … there’s the connection that “… in the resurrection they (we) neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” (Matthew 22:30) And what kind of bodies can we expect to have then? According to Paul, “There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.” (I Corinthians 15:40-41)

Before we get any deeper into this connecting the dots business, let’s get a grip on what I’m saying. Am I saying that angels and even Jesus Christ are really stars and stars are them and someday we’ll be stars too? Nope. That’s a bit of a stretch.

What I’m saying is this: In the Bible there’s a connection between stars and heavenly beings. Whether it’s a physical or allegorical or spiritual connection, it’s definitely a connection. And if you want to accept God’s Word as true then you can’t ignore that the connection exists.

There’s also a connection between us and the promise God made to Abraham and that promise is counted in the stars.

There’s also a connection between what kind of bodies we will have in the resurrection and the kind of bodies heavenly beings have now.

So what’s my point?

You know how I keep talking about how your purpose and my purpose are woven together into a great tapestry that, as a whole, reflects God’s purpose? Well, even the stars are a part of that tapestry. How many, where they’re placed, the constellations, their relation to the angels of heaven - all of it is according to purpose. And being a part of His purpose, we share in it.

Like the story of our lives and our purpose, the stars tell a story. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)

The story they tell? We’ll get into that next week.

Until then I’ll leave you with the story of another friend of mine. His name is John. And like the John of Revelation, he had an experience of being ‘transported’ in the Spirit beyond this grassy meadow we call earth. According to my friend John, God took him above and beyond this earth, whether in reality, in the Spirit, or in his mind’s eye, I don’t know and he can’t say; but he knows he went and he knows what he saw. God showed him the earth and the planets and the stars – the whole vastness of the universe. You know what God told my friend John? “Do you see this?” “I am not in this universe; it is in Me.”

If what John said God told him is true - that God is so vast the entire universe exists in Him, what could possibly compare with that immensity and power?

Another thing I talk a lot about is perspective. What’s big in your world? What keeps you up at night? Worried about your job? Sweating this month’s house payment? Upset over the tiff you and your spouse had this morning? Worried that your kid isn’t going to make the grade in school?

Step back and look at the stars. Remember Who has a plan for your life. Remember Whose tapestry your future is woven into. If you have a problem too big to handle, put it into His hands; it’s a lot smaller from there.

In Him,

Steve Spillman

Vol. 2, Issue 25

June 29, 2008

The Great Treasure Hunt

“‘But you, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home. I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, and I will multiply the number of people upon you, even the whole house of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will increase the number of men and animals upon you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then you will know that I am the Lord. I will cause people, my people Israel, to walk upon you. They will possess you, and you will be their inheritance; you will never again deprive them of their children.’” (Ezekiel 36:8-12)

We just returned from Israel. Zion Oil & Gas held its second shareholders meeting as a public company and celebrated the dedication of its second oil well, to be drilled in September. I’m not in the oil business and I’m not a Zion Oil shareholder. I’m just an interested party.

Twenty seven years ago my father wrote a little book titled The Great Treasure Hunt. It explained his idea that Jacob (Israel) had left an inheritance to his sons that wouldn’t be available to them for a while. Not until, as Jacob put it, “in the last days.” (Genesis 49:1)

Jacob passed on an inheritance to his sons that God had promised him – the same one God had originally granted his grandfather Abraham.

“‘…Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.’” (Genesis 13:14-15)

In Jacob’s Blessing were passages that hinted at something more than the typical inheritance of those days. Crazy as it sounds, my father believed some of those passages referred to oil … not olive oil … petroleum.

Like I said – crazy.

There wasn’t any geological or historical proof when Dad made public that the Bible promises the children of Israel a great petroleum discovery for “the last days.” Only scripture and only the faith that God’s Word is true, regardless of the evidence.

But faith and scripture seems to be enough for some folks. It was enough for Dad. And it was enough for John Brown, who had just undergone a dramatic personal experience with God; a life changing, life giving metamorphosis, we refer to as being ‘born again’, when he ran into my dad.

By 1981 Dad had known about the Bible’s promise of an oil discovery in Israel for some time. Dad too, thought the idea was a little crazy … even though he believed God showed it to him … even though scripture promised it. It took him five or six years to get his head and his heart and his research around the idea enough to share it with the rest of the world.

Dad had just begun telling people that Jacob’s Blessing included a huge last days oil discovery in Israel, when he received a call inviting him to speak at a church in Clawson, Michigan.

It was winter and it was Michigan, and he had already scheduled the time for a sunny beach in Mexico. But he felt the tug he recognized as the Voice of his Employer. When God said, “Go here, and not there,” Dad generally complied. Shorts and sunglasses went back in the drawer and Dad went to Clawson.

Dad had been speaking to audiences for years. He could speak on a thousand topics at the drop of a hat. In Clawson he spoke about the promise of oil in Israel … the Voice again.

John Brown was in the audience that day. He was a newbie when it came to things Christian. He may have not been up to speed yet on just how things were done in the religion, but he figured out one thing pretty quick … the Voice. Like my dad, when John felt like God wanted him to do something he did it.

John listened to the story of Jacob’s Blessing and the promise of oil in Israel that day and he believed it. A few years later John traveled to Israel for the first time. While he was there he came upon a passage of scripture from Solomon’s prayer of dedication over the first Temple in Jerusalem.

“‘As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name - for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm - when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.’” (I Kings 8:41-43)

John saw himself as a “foreigner … come from a distant land because of [God’s] name.” He went to the Western Wall of the Temple, the Wailing Wall, and he prayed “toward” the temple. He asked that God would allow him to discover Israel’s oil.

From that day forward John brown dedicated his life to finding the oil promised in Jacob’s Blessing. A lot of water, as they say, has gone under the bridge since then.

Knowing something is true doesn’t necessarily make it real to the rest of the world. Believing in something so much that you stake your life on it doesn’t mean anyone else will believe it. Discovering the existence of a buried treasure today doesn’t mean it will pop to the surface tomorrow.

Dad shared the story of Jacob’s Blessing with a lot of folks in a lot of places around the world. A lot of good folks put their money into finding Israel’s oil. Some good men tried and failed to find Jacob’s Blessing. Some bad men used the story, and the belief of others, to line their own pockets. But nobody found the oil.

John Brown spent a lot of years and a lot of money, most of it his, looking for Israel’s oil. Most people thought he was just another religious nut, come to the Holy Land to discover treasure promised in ancient scripture. But John persisted.

Dad and John didn’t meet until 1997; sixteen years after he had first shared this story with the world, fourteen years after John has made discovering Israel’s oil his vision quest. When they finally met they connected spiritually in the way that veterans of the same foreign war connect when they first meet. They understood each other’s scars.

Dad finished his time in this world without seeing the vision of oil in Israel become a reality. I wonder if he was disappointed. I wonder if he wondered why, after being allowed to ‘discover’ the treasure hidden inside of Jacob’s Blessing, he wasn’t allowed to see it come to pass. I wonder if he just took his role in this story by faith; not questioning why it didn’t come to fruition in his lifetime. I don’t know.

But John persisted. He asked geologists and oil professionals to take a look. They politely declined. But John persisted. They doubtfully agreed to ‘take a look’; warning him in advance that they probably wouldn’t find anything.

Their findings surprised them; there was definitely ‘something’ there. It didn’t surprise John though; he knew it was there – not because of their findings, because God’s Word said it was there.

That’s the thing about faith – you don’t need any corroborating evidence. Lack of evidence doesn’t necessarily make something untrue, any more that stacks of evidence necessarily make something true. If truth is really truth, then the evidence will eventually have to submit to it.

As of last week’s meeting in Israel the evidence is submitting nicely.


Twenty-five years ago I left California for South Carolina. I traded the west coast for the east and the life I had known for a new life. I never looked back. I built a life for myself and my family here.

Three thousand miles is a lot of distance. If you’re not estranged to begin with the miles will do the estranging for you. My parents and siblings became family we phoned on the holidays and visited occasionally; not family we lived with.

The Great Treasure Hunt and the story of oil in the land of Israel became family history for me. Just another one of the books Dad wrote ‘back then.’ Building a new life causes the old life to fade.

We did a pretty good job building too. Elaine and I worked hard and didn’t look up too often. I got a job in a factory … twenty years and a lot of effort passed and when we finally did look up our name was on the door of the factory.

We succeeded alright; it’s just that we thought it would feel different. It was nice, it just wasn’t enough; and we knew that even if it got bigger it wouldn’t necessarily get any better. We decided to quit, sell everything and do something else.

I had always wanted to publish books but survival pushed that dream to the back burner. Survival was no longer an issue. We didn’t know anything about publishing and had no books to publish but facts have never prevented us from launching into new adventures. That was Thursday May 13, 2004.

On Saturday of the same week Elaine came home and told me that she had heard some guy mention Dad’s name on the radio. The guy’s name was John Brown and he had an oil company in Dallas, Texas named Zion. He said that he had heard a man named Jim Spillman tell about Jacob’s Blessing and discovering oil in Israel and that he had been looking for it full time since 1983; ‘coincidently’ the same year we moved east to start our ‘new life’ in South Carolina.
‘Coincidently’ I had a business meeting in Dallas the next week and we stopped in to meet this John Brown of Zion Oil. ‘Coincidently,’ after twenty years of effort, Zion Oil was drilling its first oil well in Israel the following spring and John invited Elaine and I the opening ceremony.

‘Coincidently’, our first book, Breaking the Treasure Code: The Hunts For Israel’s Oil, came out that summer.

Funny how things work out.


If you’ve read this letter for any time, you know that I believe each of us has a unique purpose that was in God’s mind long before we ever came into existence.

All those individual purposes are woven, like threads in a great tapestry, into a Single Purpose … His Purpose. We being mortal, short of vision and short of time don’t always see how our thread is woven into the tapestry. It’s a unique experience to see how other threads are woven together with yours to form a part of the picture.

I’m humbled and thankful for being allowed a glimpse of it; but there’s a purpose for that too. He may have showed me a little bit of how the threads go together in my part of the picture so I can share with you that yours aren’t woven any differently. Whether you see your piece of the picture or not, it’s there and you’re a part of it.

I don’t believe Dad wonders about it anymore. I think he sees his part of the picture pretty clearly now. One day we’ll all be allowed to step back and view the finished product. That’ll be a glorious day.

Until then, allow yourself to become a part of His tapestry. He knows exactly where to weave you in.

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (I Corinthians 13:12)

Until then.

Steve Spillman
“Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:17-18)

Purpose Weekly

Vol. 2, Issue 23

June 8, 2008,

“Is ‘Church’ a Dirty Word?” Part IV

Well … this is week four on the “church” subject. As far as I know, it’s the last one. I’ve been telling you what “church” isn’t. This week I’ve promised to tell you what “church” is – according to the Bible.

From what we’ve been through we know that Webster’s may have been right in his definitions of “church” … as far as how we define “church.” That’s his job, right? Define the words in a way that’s meaningful to us? So, Webster’s is off the hook. Regardless of what the Bible says “church” is Webster’s wrote down what we think “church” is. He upheld his part of the bargain.

According to Webster’s (and those he serves) “church” is:
1. “a building”
2. “a clergy or officialdom”
3. “an organization of religious believers”
4. “a public divine worship”
5. “a profession”

We discussed that the word “church” wasn’t used when Jesus told Peter, “… upon this rock I will build my church.” Jesus, of course, didn’t say this to Peter in King James or any other sort of English. He said it in Aramaic, and Matthew wrote it down in Greek. And the Greek word Matthew wrote down was “ekklesia.” About the closest we can come to a literal translation of “ekklesia” is, “called out.” The term was used to denote an assembly of citizens being “called out” for a special purpose or event.

Let’s back up a day before the conversation between Jesus and Peter when the word “ekklesia” or “called out” was first used.

The day before Jesus talked to Peter about His “ekklesia” Jesus was wrapping up three days of ministry to a group of about four thousand, not including women and children. So maybe twelve thousand people? Maybe more?

At the end of the three days He knew these folks didn’t have any food with them and He knew they were hungry. So He took the food the disciples had left; seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. He gave thanks to His Father in Heaven for what He had and then He broke up the loaves and fishes and fed the crowd … all twelve thousand. Wouldn’t you know it – it was enough to go around; and with seven baskets of left-overs. How’d He do that?

The next morning, along come the Pharisees and Sadducees; the RGIC’s (religious guys in charge). By the way, the Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t like each other. But they didn’t like Jesus more, so they were allies. Kinda like the Russians and Americans in WWII.

The Pharisees and Sadducees said to Jesus, “If you’re the real deal, show us a sign from heaven.”

What? The Guy just fed twelve thousand people with seven loaves of bread and few fish! “Show us a sign from heaven.” Right.

Here’s a piece of advice. Anybody who says, “show me a sign from heaven,” wouldn’t believe if God came down and sat in his lap. It’s a front; a smoke screen. These guys’ minds were already made up. They just wanted Jesus out of the way.

Jesus saw through the hypocrisy of the RGIC’s and He needed to bring His disciples up to speed – get them ready to do what they had to do when the time came. He said to them, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” The disciples thought He was talking about bread. Knuckleheads.

Jesus brought His disciples through three days of teaching and miracles, feeding twelve thousand people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish, blowing off the RGIC’s and then warning His disciples against their hypocrisy. He had them prepped when He asked, “Who do people say I am?” They had lots of answers. Then Jesus asked the million dollar question. “Who do you think I am?”

Peter, a guy who always shot from the gut (definitely not the head) said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter was usually either a total idiot or absolutely brilliant. Today he was brilliant.

“Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:17-18)

That’s the first time “church” (“ekklesia”) is mentioned in the New Testament.

What do you think Jesus meant? He gave Simon a new name, which means ‘rock’ and said that on this “rock” He will build his “ekklesia” – those whom He has “called out.”


At this point I’ve got to confess something. When I said that the “church” isn’t a building, I wasn’t being completely forthcoming. The “church,” according to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians again, that figures) is a ‘building’ … but not one made of bricks and mortar.

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)


We’re the bricks and mortar. Starting with Abraham, Moses, David and the rest of the OT building materials, along with Peter (the rock), John Baptist and John Revelator, and the disciples who walked and ate with Jesus and Paul himself, and those Ephesians who believed and the Roman and Jewish and Corinthian believers, and those from every tribe and nation who heard and understood and believed the message that God had come in the flesh, down to you and me; we’re the “church.” We’re those who Jesus “called out.” We’re a building, a temple, that God lives in. All of us. Together.


The word “church” has packed a lot of baggage over the last two thousand years. It’s come to mean a lot of things to those it’s touched. Say “church” today and people hear “building,” “clergy,” “organization,” “profession.” Sometimes they hear “hypocrisy,” “greed,” “prejudice.” Sometimes they hear “family,” “charity,” “safety.” “Church” has a lot of definitions.

Jesus only had one; “My called out ones.”

It’s probably a little late to think about repainting all the “church” signs in the world to say “ekklesia.” I’m sure a lot of people have already tried that in their own way. Don’t like your “church”? Call it something else: “fellowship,” “gathering,” “congregation,” “meeting place.” Don’t like how things are done? Switch it up a little. Throw out the organ and get a guitar; serve doughnuts and coffee; wear cut-offs and t-shirts – now you’re getting real.


If you don’t know who you are, what you are, all the change-ups in the world aren’t going to do you any good. Unless you change your eyes and your heart and understand that you are the “church,” the “ekklesia,” the building where God lives - along with every other person that’s ever believed in Him - then you’re just part of another man-made “church”; a little louder, with a bad wardrobe and running on a caffeine/sugar high, but really no different than the “church” you left.

How do we do “church”? I don’t think I know that one. I’m still blown away by the realization that we are “church.” If we’re all bricks in the same building, stretching back over thousands of years and covering the whole earth, then I have trouble with the idea of my “church” and your “church.” Like my buddy Roger said, there’s only His “church.” And that’s us.

Yeah, but Steve; how do we do “church”?

I don’t know.

But I do know this. Jesus promised something to His disciples, the ones He “called out”: “For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.” (Matthew 18:20)

I’ll start there.

In Him,

Steve Spillman
“You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’ So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” (Romans 14:10-13)


Vol. 2 Issue 24

June 17, 2008

Just Another Brick in the Wall

Something I said in the last letter has had me thinking. “If we’re all bricks in the same building, stretching back over thousands of years and covering the whole earth, then I have trouble with the idea of my ‘church’ and your ‘church.’”

There are a lot of fellow ‘bricks’ who kinda creep me out. If there’s no my church or your church, only His church, and if you and I are the church, I’d better get used to the idea that you and I are joined together forever, fellow bricks in the building that is God’s temple.

But what if I don’t like you? What if I think you’re way wrong about a lot of things pertaining to Him? What if I think you’ve missed the boat on some pretty important theological points?

What if you think the same thing about me?

Why can’t I just have my church and you have your church, and then we’ll let God sort things out in eternity?

See how easy it is to slip back into that “church is a building/ officialdom/ organization/ profession” thing again? Remember the church is us. You and me and all of those whom Christ has “called out.” It’s made up of all of us … even those who creep us out.

“Whoa Steve, you’re treading on thin ice here.” (What else is new?) “Surely you don’t mean just bunching us all up together!” “There are doctrinal issues at stake!” “Are you asking us to compromise the doctrines that make us different?”

No, not at all. That is, unless your doctrine is wrong. Then go ahead and change it.

“You’re not talking about Ecumenism are you?”

For those of you who don’t stake your lives on man’s theological constructs and their definitions, “ecumenism” is the idea of moving toward ‘universal Christian unity.’ A catholic church.

Don’t panic.

Not the Catholic Church. “Catholic” means “universal” and pertains to the idea of a single, undivided “church” … the way the first church was back in the first century. The way it will be when Christ returns to claim His church.


Something else I said in an earlier letter is relevant to this week’s topic.

“Any time you get a bunch of humans together (Christians fall into this class too) they have a tendency to muck things up.” (Purpose Weekly Vol. 2, Issue 22)

I was talking to a friend on the phone the other day about the early church. We were pretty amazed at stories in the book of Acts about all the believers sharing meals and having everything in common and how a person who had something went out and sold and shared the proceeds with everyone so that no one had too much and no one went without.

Halfway kidding I said, “Communism isn’t a failed ideology; we’re a failed species.” Then I thought about it a little. Then I wasn’t kidding so much.

Communism doesn’t work. Not because it’s broken … because we’re broken.

For the same reason ecumenism, the practical establishment of a single universal church, doesn’t work. As fellow bricks in the wall we disagree with how the wall is built and what it should look like. Each of us is convinced that he or she is right and the brick that doesn’t see it our way is wrong. And we are right … unless we’re wrong. But we stick to our guns - I make my church and you make your church and that’s the way it is.

There will come a day, however, when He returns to receive His church. My church and your church will fade away pretty quickly. My stuff and your stuff won’t be important anymore. It won’t be because He fixed our systems or ideologies or the other guy’s screwed up beliefs; it’ll be because He fixed us.


Artist’s oil paint comes in little tubes, like toothpaste. Between manufacturers there are thousands of colors and tints to choose from. Personally I can’t see the difference between “Brown Ochre” and “Burnt Sienna”; I must not have an artist’s eye for detail. Each pigment has its own unique shade and tint, no matter how subtle … or so they tell me.

But if a crazed pigment terrorist were to sneak into the factory and squeeze all the contents out of all the tubes into a giant pot and stir them all up with a giant stick he wouldn’t get a rainbow of all the world’s unique shades and tints of color. Each individual pigment would be compromised as it was stirred into the mix. They would all meld into one greenish, brownish, grayish goop. What a mess.

In order to graduate from college I ‘had’ to take an art appreciation class. The university wanted to be sure business and science majors had at least a dash of civilization so the institution wouldn’t be embarrassed by news of their alumni not knowing a Cezanne from a Chagall.

I’m fairly dull regarding the finer arts, but I did see a lot of pretty paintings and hear a lot of pretty music in that class and the professor did his best to penetrate our thick business major skulls as to why we should appreciate the ‘Masters.’

I don’t remember much about Cezanne or Chagall other than I’m pretty sure they were painters and not musicians. But one guy did stick in my mind. His name was Georges Seurat. He was a post-impressionist painter (don’t ask me the difference between that and a pre-impressionist painter). What I remember about this guy was that he used a painting technique called “pointillism.” That means his paintings, usually huge canvases, were made up of thousands of tiny uniform dots. It fascinated me that all those individual dots together on the canvas made up a single picture that I could understand and appreciate.

That’s about as close as I can come to explaining the “church”; those whom Christ has “called out.” Individually we’re unique colors of every imaginable shade and tint. Some of the colors go well with others, some clash. If we put all the colors together in a big pot and stirred them up with a big stick we’d get a greenish, brownish, grayish goopy mess. But in the hands of the Master all those individual pigments can come together in a wonderful whole.

It’s beyond me.

I’m beginning to learn my job as a brick; my responsibility as a tiny dot of color. It’s to fill my spot in the whole. That’s it.

I know that I’ll run into other bricks in the Temple, other dots of color on the canvas, whom I disagree with. If I run into a difference that’s too big to ignore I’ll try to follow Paul’s advice. “If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” (II Thessalonians 3:14-15).

The truth is though, that we tend to focus on differences, even if they’re not so important; we’ll make them important enough so we can be at odds over them.


God, knowing I’m a little dull, usually throws an object lesson my way when He wants me to learn something.

I had lunch with a guy last week who I didn’t think I really wanted to have lunch with. I had decided that I disagreed with this guy on a few things and those few things were important enough for me to decide that this guy was one of those ‘bricks’ who creeped me out.

I was wrong.

First of all, I didn’t know the guy at all. I’d seen him around; I had heard him and heard about him, I’d been in some of the same places at the same time. But I didn’t know the guy.

That didn’t stop me from judging him though. And it didn’t stop me from privileging the world with my opinion either. I was wrong. I apologize.

There are a few things that this brother of mine and me see differently; but we’re both ‘bricks’ in a same temple; both tiny dots of color on the same canvas. Our responsibility is to fill our spot. That’s it. We’ll leave the big picture to the Master.

I’ll end this week’s letter with a classic. I should have this one on a note, pinned to my shirt.

“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? 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? 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.” (Matthew 7: 3-5)

Until next week.

In Christ,
Steve Spillman

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Vol. 2 Issue 22

June 3, 2008

The Weekly Newsletter of True Potential Publishing

Is “Church” a Dirty Word? Part III

I may have opened a can of worms by bringing up the definition of “church.” At this point in Christian history we’ve been so ingrained with our concept of what “church” is, it can be a real shock to our systems to find out what the Bible says it is.

I got a phone call from my buddy Roger this morning. He’s a pastor; he reads the Purpose Letter each week and either encourages me or sets me straight. Sometimes both. He’s been reading the last few weeks and wanted to give me a few tips about treading on thin ice.

After we discussed “church” for a few minutes – about what it was and wasn’t and was supposed to be – I asked him, “Roger, is God’s work done on earth through the church or in spite of it?”

He answered, “God’s work is done through His church and in spite of ours.” Touché.


Last week we examined Webster’s definition #1 of “church” being “a building for public and especially Christian worship.” We also figured out that when Jesus first brought up the idea He didn’t use the word “church” and He wasn’t talking about a building … at least not one made from bricks and mortar.

Which brings us to Webster’s definition #2: “church” is “the clergy or officialdom of a religious body.” These are the folks who run things. Their offices are in Webster’s #1 – “church”- the building. They’re what’s known as “the clergy.” We (us in the pews) are what’s known as “the laity.” I’m one of “the laity.” Roger is one of “the clergy.” That’s how he knows so much about thin ice.

Just so you know, “clergy” means, “ordained Christian ministers collectively.” “Laity” means “people who are not priests or clerics collectively.” That’s pretty simple. According to Webster’s #2 the clergy is the church.

What’s the laity? Chopped liver?

I’m not being fair. Webster’s definition #3: “church” is “a body or organization of religious believers.” That includes the laity doesn’t it? Darned right it does. Thank Webster’s we’re still included in the “church.” But to be completely fair, Webster’s definition #5: “church” - “the clerical profession” does exclusively mean the clergy. Clergy two - Laity one ... but at least we’re mentioned, even if it’s “professional church” versus “amateur church.”

I’d better stop here and toss out a disclaimer.

I’m not throwing down on pastors, priests, bishops, deacons, prophets, apostles, reverends, or anyone else with a title who makes his (or her) living off an organization called “the church.” If it wasn’t for these folks there wouldn’t be any organization in the organization and all of us laity would be left to our own devices on Sunday morning. It’d be a mess.

My objective in all of this is to point out what Webster’s says “church” is (and definition-wise Webster’s speaks for all of us, clergy and laity alike. I mean, we bought the dictionary, didn’t we?) as opposed to what the Word says “church” is.

So let’s see if Webster’s holds water – biblically speaking.

The words “clergy” and “laity” don’t appear in the Bible. To be fair, “priest” and “priests” appear in the Bible lots and lots. “Layman,” “lay person,” and “lay people” appear too – always described as opposed to the priests. So there is a biblical precedent for the separation of “priests” and “lay people” … in the Old Testament.

The New Testament mentions “priest” and “priests” a lot too. And it seems to make a distinction, but not between priests and lay people (no mention of laity in the NT); the distinction is between “priests” and a “priest.” First there’s the “priests”; these were the “clergy” or “officialdom” of the Jewish religious world in Jesus’ time. They were also the guys always at odds with Jesus.

Probably a little jealousy and competition there.

These priests were the mediators between God and the Jewish community. They were in charge and they liked it that way. Then along comes this scruffy prophet from Nazareth (like anything good could ever come out of Nazareth) with a ragtag gaggle of disciples. Jesus dared to challenge these priests publicly, calling them hypocrites. He broke the Sabbath laws and when they called him on it, he told them that he was the “Lord of the Sabbath.” Blasphemy! He was constantly saying seditious things against these priests, the Temple and their religious system in general. There was no love lost between these priests and Jesus.

Jesus wasn’t laity, but he wasn’t one of the “priests” either. He was a priest; more accurately, the Priest. A “priest in the order of Melchizadek.” What does that mean? According to the writer of Hebrews it meant that this Priest was the last Priest, the only Priest men will ever need again.

“Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need - one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” (Hebrews 7:23 -28)

So much for the “clergy or officialdom” of Jesus’ day.


So if the “church” isn’t a building and it’s not the “clergy” what is it? Before you fire your pastor or convert your church building into condo’s let’s dig a little deeper.

The first record of any sort of “officialdom” in the New Testament Church (only it wasn’t “church”; it was “ekklesia” - “assembly of called out ones”) appears in Act’s 6 when the Greek “called out ones” launched a complaint against the Hebrew “called out ones” for skipping over the Greek widows at food distribution time. The disciples (they were in charge by default) didn’t want to spend their days policing the food line, so they asked the “ekklesia” to choose seven spiritually and managerially qualified men to wait tables.

The “church” of the New Testament didn’t include a “priest” class. Individual members of the “ekklesia” were given gifts by the Holy Spirit in order that through each member’s gifts the “ekklesia” could function as a whole. Paul used the analogy of a body. Which is really what the “ekklesia” is - a body.

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.” (I Corinthians 12: 12 – 14a)

If we back up just a little, Paul tells us why he’s going over all of this with the body at Corinth. Any time you get a bunch of humans together (Christians fall into this class too) they have a tendency to muck things up. Individual interests start to bubble to the surface and my individual interests are pretty much always guaranteed to be different from your individual interests. The same thing was happening at the church/ekklesia/body in Corinth.

Paul, who was the guy who brought the gospel to the people of Corinth, was also the guy responsible for straightening them out when they drifted off the path. Which was what was happening in Corinth, which was why Paul had to write them a couple of letters. It seems that the church/ekklesia/body in Corinth was made up of individuals. And these individuals were adept at expressing their individualism by fulfilling their individual interests. Everybody did his own thing and those who had the power to put their individual interests above another’s did.

Paul’s job was to wrangle all these bodies into one Body.

“In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!” (I Corinthians 11:17-22)

Paul has to explain to them that this new group, what Jesus called His “ekklesia” isn’t a bunch of individuals but a single body. And in this body the individuals may have unique gifts or tasks, but the idea of one individual in this new body having a higher ranking than another because of his gift or task was about as ridiculous as a person’s ear having a higher ranking than his foot.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” (I Corinthians 12:4-6)

Then Paul names some of gifts or areas of responsibility that are necessary to the function of this new body (and this is where history takes over). These gifts, having names, over time, became titles. Titles, having some perceived status became offices. Offices became ranks and ranks became a hierarchy. And, Voila! A new priest class was born!

But that’s not the way it was meant to be. Let’s listen to Paul as he explained it the first time.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts.” (I Corinthians 12:27-31)

Some scholars say that the last sentence can also be translated, “But you are eagerly desiring the greater gifts.” Which sounds like something the folks in Corinth might have done. Which may be why Paul went on to “show [them] the most excellent way”; telling them just how important these church offices were, in light of eternity.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears…. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:8-10, 13)


Well, I’ve beat this horse enough. How ‘bout I wrap up this letter by making my point?

The “church” isn’t a building. It’s not an “officialdom of clergy.” It’s not divided into classes – “priests” and “laity.” According to Scripture, it’s not even a “church”; it an “ekklesia.”

There are some of the “called out ones” who have been given gifts and assignments for special tasks within the body of “called out ones.” Some of these tasks involve being in-charge of certain body functions. Some of us (us: the body, not us: me) make their living at it. But, making a living from your task in the body doesn’t give you any more status in the body than making your living as a plumber. In this body, there’s no such thing as a professional, and there’s no such thing as an amateur. There sure aren’t any spectators. We’re all full members and we all have a job … even if it’s just being a toe.

Next week we’ll talk about what “church” … sorry, “ekklesia” is … or at least what it was meant to be. You’ll find out why I thought it was important enough to spend all this time telling you what “church” isn’t … for some of you, maybe even eternally important.

In Him,

Steve Spillman

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Vol. 2 Issue 21

May 27, 2008

The Weekly Newsletter of True Potential Publishing

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”(Matthew 16:18)

Is “Church” a Dirty Word? Part II

Last week we started talking about “church.” We brought out our trusty old Webster’s Dictionary to tell us what “church” meant. According to Webster “church” is:

1. “a building for public and especially Christian worship”

2. “the clergy or officialdom of a religious body”

3. “often capitalized : a body or organization of religious believers: as

a) the whole body of Christians


4. “a public divine worship

5. “the clerical profession

According to Webster’s first three definitions (we talked about those last week), “church” is either a building, a bureaucracy, or an organization of religious believers.

Definition four, “a public divine worship ,” still has us going somewhere; like to a church (definition one). Only this going to church sounds more like going to an event, or a happening, than a building. Maybe we’re getting closer.

Definition five has “church” as a “profession” or “career.” I guess that’s where the guys who make up the “clergy or officialdom” come from.


I apologize if all of this sounds a bit confusing or repetitive, or circular … but that’s because it’s confusing, repetitive and circular.

Here’s the point – Webster’s is a dictionary. Its job is to define a word accurately in light of its present meaning. What that means is that todaychurch” means just what Webster’s says it means. What Webster’s doesn’t tell us is that its definition is what “church” has come to mean. Webster’s is a modern definition. In this century “church” means exactly what Webster’s say’s it does.


You want to know why bummer?

Because what “church” means today isn’t necessarily what it meant twenty centuries ago. That means you’re trying to reconcile a first century idea of “church” with a twenty-first century definition. And most of what “church” means today isn’t what “church” meant back when Jesus first introduced the idea. If you’re a Jesus follower rather of a “church” follower, maybe that’s why you’re so frustrated with “church.” It’s certainly why I am.

If you’re starting to get your feathers fluffed a little, just relax and hear me out. You may have a great church, a wonderful church, a church that meets all your needs. I may not be talking about your church at all … of course, maybe I am.

All we’re really interested in is what the Bible says “church” is. And if your (or Webster’s) definition of “church” doesn’t jibe with what’s in the Word … well, then I guess you have a decision to make, don’t you?

Let’s start with what “churchisn't, according to the Bible. Since Webster’s has given us a pretty good idea of what “church” means in the 21st century, we’ll hold its definitions up ‘to the light of scripture’ to see if they’re light-proof.

Webster’s # 1: “Church” is a building. We all know that. Depending on where you’re from, churches are made out of limestone blocks, red brick, white clapboard, or metal siding and I-beams. Most of the time they’ve got a steeple and a lot of those have a cross on top. One thing we can all agree on - a “church” is a building.

I wonder if Jesus meant “building” when first introduced the idea of “church” to His disciple Peter? “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”(Matthew 16:18)

He says “build my church” maybe He does mean that “church” is supposed to be a building. Seems to make sense reading the verse. It must be a pretty strong building too; “the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

There’s one teensy-weensy little problem with the verse though, and I’d better bring it up. Jesus didn’t say “church” in this verse; He said “ekklesia.”

Our word “church” comes from the Middle English word “chirche.” “Chirche” comes from the Old English “cirice”; that comes ultimately from Late Greek “kyriakon.” “Kyriakon” or “kyriokos” means “belonging to the Lord (or lord).”Kyriokos” appears in the New Testament but usually in reference to the “Lord’s Supper” or the “Lord’s Day”; never in relation to what we know as “church.”

So why the Middle English/Old English/Late Greek lesson? Is it really so important to know all this root word history stuff? What’s the problem with just reading the Bible as it is and taking the preacher’s word for what it means?

Here’s where the teensy-weensy problem in Matthew 16:18 becomes a big problem. The King James translators got the word “ekklesia” wrong the first time it appeared – here where Jesus introduced the idea to Peter. Then they went on to get it wrong 114 more times.

But they did get “ekklesia” right three times. The word means literally, “called out ones.” It has the connotation of being “called out” to an “assembly” or an assembled group of people.

The three times the King James translates “ekklesia” correctly, as “assembly” are all lumped together in the back half of Acts 19.

Luke is telling the story of a group of Christians, they were called “the Way” back then, were in a city called Ephesus; telling people about their new faith. So many Ephesians were coming to “the Way” that it began to affect business.

Ephesus was a temple town. And their temple was for the goddess Artemis. The city’s craftsmen made and its merchants sold statuettes, idols, to everyone who came to worship “the great goddess Artemis.” The Ephesians even had their own fight song, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians.” “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians.” What they were saying in effect was “Artemis is great and our Artemis is greater than yours.”

Well, when people started believing in “the Way” they didn’t need Artemis anymore … or the little statuettes that kept the city’s economy humming along. So the merchants and craftsmen started a riot and called the whole city into a great “assembly” at the local stadium. This “assembly” of Ephesians rioting and chanting their Artemis fight song is the only time in the KJV that “ekklesia” is rightfully translated “assembly.”


Back to “church” as a building.

You want to know something else that’s pretty interesting? The only time “church” is referred to as a building (the Greek word “hieron” means “temple”) is in this same story. It was these guys again, the Ephesians, talking about their temple of the goddess Artemis.

So, at this point we know a couple of things:

When the KJV Bible says “church” (115 times total), 114 times the original word is “ekklesia” or “assembly”; one time the original word is “hieron” or “temple.” (By the way, I’m not picking on the KJV. All English translations use “church” to translate “ekklesia” … just not as much.)

The English word “church” comes, ultimately from the Greek word “kyriokos,” which means “belonging to the L(l)ord.” The problem is, when Jesus and the apostles talked about the “church” (114 times) they never said “kyriokos”; they said “ekklesia.”

Any way you shake it, when Jesus and the apostles spoke about the “ekklesia” they weren’t talking about a “hieron” - a temple or building.

But that’s not how it is today. And I’ve still got to agree with Webster's; a “church,” among other things is a building. The problem, as we’ve seen, is that when Jesus told Peter, “upon this rock I will build my church”; he didn’t say “church” he said “assembly.” Jesus wasn’t talking about a building.

Next week we’re talk more about what Jesus wasn’t talking about. Maybe we can get to what He was talking about.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Vol. 2 Issue 20
May 19, 2008
The Weekly Newsletter of True Potential Publishing

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25)

Is “Church” a Dirty Word?

I’ve always felt a little guilty over church. I felt guilty when I didn’t attend; felt guilty when I did attend; felt guilty if I didn’t become a member; felt guilty after I became a member; felt guilty when I stayed at a certain church; and felt guilty when I left that church. Then the cycle would begin all over again.

What is wrong with me? Can’t I just be satisfied with church like other Christians? Isn’t it our duty to go to church; to join the church? Doesn’t the Bible tell us that we must go to church if we are truly Christians?

I’ve had pastors tell me that my salvation was in jeopardy if I didn’t attend church regularly (in my last episode, the pastor was referring to Sunday night and Wednesday services, seeing as I was already there to get yelled at on Sunday morning).

If the Bible and the pastor tell me that attending church is an integral part of my Christianity, that my Christianity isn’t really Christianity at all without regular church attendance, then why do I feel so lousy when I do attend church? Do I possess some basic fault, which apparently doesn’t exist in other Christians, to make me feel this way?

I haven’t developed this aversion to church overnight. And, to be fair, when I do go to church, I enjoy a good bit of it. Of course, I do my best to avoid any church that I may not enjoy a good bit of.

I’m conflicted and here’s the conflict.

I’m a born-again Christian. I write on born-again Christian topics – like telling other born-again Christians how to behave. I publish books by born-again Christian authors who write about how born-again Christians ought to behave. I ought to have come to terms with this whole church thing a long time ago … but I haven’t.

And since I just turned fifty, I figure its time to deal with any basic incongruities still hanging around in my life.

Does this mean I’m going to take my place in the pew, keep my mouth shut and join the ecclesiastically satisfied masses?


Does it mean I’m all of a sudden going to start feeling good about going church, Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesdays?

Probably not.

(By the way. If you feel great about church and have no idea what I’m talking about, consider yourself blessed and take a few weeks off. There are a lot of your brothers and sisters in Christ out there, in church and out of church, who are miserable about the whole situation and want an honest answer - just like me.)

I don’t necessarily buy what a lot of church leaders are telling me about how I should feel about church. On the other hand, as Dad would say, “you can’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” Church, whether you like it or not, is a big part of the Christian life and if you call yourself a Christian and want Him to believe it, you’d better deal with church.


A little personal history.

My father was in full-time ministry since before I was born. I was raised in the church and Dad represented the leadership of the church. As a pastor and a minister, I considered my dad head and shoulders above his peers. Some of that admiration may have been prejudiced by the fact he was my dad, but looking back on his life from my current perspective I’ll stick with my story. He really was head and shoulders above a lot of his peers.

The point is that my problem with church doesn’t stem from some latent hostility toward my father as an authority figure. I liked and admired the guy when I was a kid and I admire and empathize with him more now that I’ve had the opportunity to walk a few more miles in his moccasins.

And I don’t believe my general dissatisfaction with church comes my from lack of trying. Dad was saved, educated and ordained a Baptist. His search for a more complete relationship with God, led him into baptism of the Holy Spirit (more “Pentecost” than “Pentecostalism”). Where he went, we followed. As a result, I have experienced a wide swath of churches, denominations and doctrines; most of them spending more time and effort assailing each other than winning the world.

Again, my point is that I don’t believe the answer to my dissatisfaction with church is that I just haven’t tried the “right one.”

I don’t want to be too hard on churches though. The world’s a better place with churches than without them.
The problem, I believe, is in what we think church is, the definition it has become, as opposed to what God’s desire for what the church ought to be.

The word “church” according to Webster is defined as:

1. “a building for public and especially Christian worship”

2. “the clergy or officialdom of a religious body”

3. “often capitalized : a body or organization of religious believers: as

a) the whole body of Christians



4. “a public divine worship

5. “the clerical profession

According to Webster the primary definition of “church” is a building; a place where people, especially Christians, come to worship. It’s on every street corner, in every city or town. It can be a magnificent edifice with soaring spires that reach into the heavens or a metal building with a neon sign. The church, according to Webster is primarily a structure, sometimes magnificent, sometimes humble; built by men from wood and stone.

Secondly, Webster defines “church” as “the clergy or officialdom” - the guys in charge. If we search beyond the bricks and mortar of the structure that is the church to a deeper, other meaning we discover that the “church” is not built just of wood and stone, but also of men; a hierarchy, a government, an elite leadership that represents the “officialdom” of the structure. Be it sticks and stones or flesh and bone, that, according to Webster 1 and 2, is the “church.”

To understand the “church” according to Webster’s second meaning, I had to return to the dictionary for a definition of “officialdom”. Webster’s answer was short and sweet – “officials as a class.” A class of what? The definition seemed a little lacking, so I dug deeper; this time into the Encarta English Dictionary of North America. According to Encartaofficialdom” is a word which encompasses bureaucrats and bureaucracy; specifically, “bureaucracy and those who work within it, especially when viewed as inefficient or pompous.”


Studying “church” was really beginning to depress me. I was discovering that I had spent my whole life, as my father had spent his, serving and supporting either a building or a bureaucracy; or perhaps some combination of the two. No wonder I felt so guilty and dissatisfied.

I had to push on. Maybe there was some light at the end of this. Surely there was more to church than bricks and bureaucrats. I continued my study.

Webster’s third definition capitalized “Church” and divided its meaning into three sub-categories: “a) the whole body of Christians; b) DENOMINATION; c) CONGREGATION.” I wasn’t sure why Webster’s listed DENOMINATION and CONGREGATION in capital letters. Maybe “DENOMINATION” and “CONGREGATION” took some sort of precedence over “Christian”.

Despite my confusion of capitals I was encouraged. At least we were talking about people! Not just the “officialdom” but those who occupied the pews.

That was me! If church could be defined as people like me I might find a solution to my problem. If the church was me and people like me, how could I feel guilty and dissatisfied? If I was part of the definition, couldn’t I be part of the solution? I may have found a bit of the light for which I was searching.

Encouraged as I was with this third definition, I still had to deal with why Webster divided its meaning into three distinct sub-categories.

a) “the whole body of Christians” - This definition I could understand. I was part of “the whole body of Christians.” I took this to mean people who belonged to - gave their hearts to - Christ. That was me! People who, just like me, recognized Jesus as the Son of God and personal savior and put the trust of their eternal future in His hands.

b) “DENOMINATION” Or as Dad used to say – abominations. Personally, I figure that any label beyond Christian (literally “slave of Christ”) puts me one step further away from the One I serve. I’ve got no use for DENOMINATIONS … probably never will.

c) “CONGREGATION” – It’s still in caps … that bothers me. Like “CONGREGATION” still outranks “the whole body of Christians.” We’ll have to deal with that one … next week.

The Bible talks about church. The New Testament mentions the word 108 times, so you know we’ve got to deal with it, conflicted or not. Here’s a little hope though, you may be surprised about what the Bible actually does say about “church”. It’s probably not what you’re thinking.

Next week we’ll get into a little etymology. That’s word study (not bug study).

Until then.

In Christ,

Steve Spillman

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


May 12, 2008
The Weekly Newsletter of True Potential Publishing

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:27)

The Road Not Taken

Hate my father and mother? Brothers and sisters? Sounds a bit harsh doesn’t it? Not much of a Mothers Days weekend topic, Steve. Any other cheerful aphorisms you want to lay on us while we plan our special day with mom?

That verse and its twin, Matthew 10:37 are what’s known as red letter verses. Some Bibles have all the words Jesus actually said Himself printed in red ink. That way you know Jesus’ actual words from the rest of the Bible.

Want to know what else is in red letters? "… unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." (John 6:53) That’s a tough one to explain to a third grade Sunday school class. I’ll bet they don’t make flannelgraphs for that verse.

Jesus said a lot of disturbing things.

Do you really think He wanted folks to hate their mothers and eat His flesh and drink His blood?

Probably not.

But, for a lot of us, He was saying something equally radical. Unless you’re willing to walk away from everything you know and everything you value, everything that’s secure and meaningful in your life, you’re not worthy to become my follower. To people who put their families ahead of everything else, that meant mom and dad and brother and sister. To a young rich ruler, it meant selling everything he had and following Jesus. To the crowds who couldn’t see past Jesus’ miraculous bread and fish dinners, it meant forgetting about food and feasting on Who He really was.

Jesus was a radical. He told His followers, unless you’re prepared to be a radical too, don’t bother coming along. This disciple thing ain’t no hobby. Unless you’re willing to despise everything this world has given you, family, friends, wealth, security, sustenance, even your own life, for the sake of following Him, don’t bother coming along.

It still sounds harsh.

There’s got to be a happy medium …doesn’t there?

Sorry, there’s not. You’re in or out, that’s the deal. By the way, Jesus lost a lot of ‘disciples’ every time he said something like this. Only the radicals stayed around.

I’ve got some good news for you though. Jesus loves you. The One who wants you to give up what’s dearest to you, gave up His life so you could live forever.

Another piece of good news? He’s not interested in you hating your mom and dad and He doesn’t necessarily want to you to go through life penniless or hungry. That wasn’t the point.

This is what He meant - If you’re going to follow me, someday you’re going to get hit with a choice. It may be: follow what mom and dad have planned for you of follow what God has planned for you. It may be: keep the money and possessions you’ve worked all your life to acquire or give it all away and embark on a mission only you know is true. It may be: remain in your daily grub for sustenance because it’s a known quantity or give up your loaves and fishes and feast on food that will wake up your soul.

If you want to follow Him, the day will come when you have to decide what’s important. It always does. If you’re not willing to let go of everything you’ve got, don’t follow along.


I learned a poem in high school. The only poem I’ve ever memorized. As a high school kid I thought it was pretty impressive to know any poem that didn’t start with "Jack be nimble."

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them both about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost wrote that. I rewrote it from memory … after all these years. I’m still impressed.

I’ll be fifty next week.

My high school wrestling coach, Gary Bowden, was inducted into the California Wrestling Hall of Fame last weekend. I’m proud of him, he deserves the honor. I couldn’t be there to see it. The east coast is a long way from the west coast.

I’ll call Mom on Sunday. I’ll wish her a happy Mother’s Day and she’ll wish me a happy birthday. We’re due a visit. And we’ll do it when we can, we always do. But the east coast is a long way from the west coast.

You never give up your life without getting back much more in return.

Funny thing, you get back the stuff you gave up too … only better. In the last couple of weeks I’ve spoken with high school team mates I hadn’t heard from in thirty years. Each of us recognized the other’s voice in an instant and three decades faded away like wisps of smoke.

When we do make a trip to visit family out west, it’s a real reunion. Brothers and sisters all show up; all with their own families. We get to meet the newbies, born in and married in, since our last visit. Mom’s always tickled at all the bodies and commotion. And it always ends happy/sad and much too soon, but always wonderful.

But the life I got by giving up the life I had is far beyond anything I could have created on my own. It is the one I was meant to have. I have a family and a mission and a relationship with my Master. And they are the ones I was meant to have.

It took a long time to really understand the poem. Frost was right - it has made all the difference.

"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:39) Another one of those red letter verses.

Until next week.

Telling this with a sigh,

Steve Spillman

Monday, May 05, 2008

Vol. 2 Issue 18
May 2, 2008
The Weekly Newsletter of True Potential Publishing

Courage Part 3

In those days Israel had no king; every one did as he saw fit.” (Judges 17:6)

We have met the enemy, and he is us” - Pogo

We’re going to hang with the Judges for one more week. From last week’s letter you could tell that things were beginning to go astray in Samson’s time, but after he died life in Israel really started going south.

After Samson’s story there are five chapters left in Judges. Taken as a whole the last five chapters are an unholy, depressing, disturbing mishmash. Kind of like HBO.

The theme for the whole section is, “In those days Israel had no king; every one did as he saw fit.” Whoever wrote the book just keeps repeating, “In those days Israel had no king.” It was like everybody did their own thing, no matter how screwed up, and everybody else just stood by scratching their heads wondering what was going on. Kind of like the current presidential campaign.

Let me share a little so you know I’m not kidding. Chapter 17 starts out with a guy who steals a pile of money from his mother. She throws a curse on whoever stole the money. So he gets nervous about the curse and says to mom, “Hey mom, it was just me who took your money, but here it back again. No hard feelings, right?”

Well, mom’s tickled about getting the money back. She pronounces an anti-curse and dedicates the money to God by having a silversmith mold some of the stash into idols for her son. I’m sure God appreciated that little gesture.

Son steals from mom. Mom curses son. Son returns money. Mom blesses son and makes idols with the money. Sure, I know that kind of stuff happens all the time nowadays, but back them that kind of behavior was pretty screwed up.

It just gets better from here.

Now that Micah (the son) has the idols he needs a priest. He installs one of his sons as priest … might as well keep it in the family. Between the idols and the priest Micah figures he’s got God in his corner. I can’t figure out how Micah could have mistaken a homemade priest and idols made of silver for the presence and approval of God. Boy, people sure were ignorant back then.

Then Micah cuts a better deal. A genuine bona-fide priest, a Levite, comes strolling into town. Seems he didn’t like where he came from and was looking for a better deal himself. Micah makes the deal, upgrades to a genuine bona-fide priest and sonny boy returns to civilian life. That’s much better.

In those days Israel had no king; every one did as he saw fit.”

Enter the guys from Dan. Remember back to the children of Israel entering the Promised Land? Each tribe was given it own land by God. Everything was mapped out in advance; they just had to go claim it. Well, the tribe of Dan was having a bit of trouble convincing the current residents to vacate so they could move in. They were wandering around homeless, looking for place where the indigenous residents weren’t quite so belligerent about leaving their homes.

Way up north there was a peaceful happy little place called Laish. The Bible describes the place and its residents. “… [T]he people were living in safety … unsuspecting and secure. And since their land lacked nothing, they were prosperous. Also they lived a long way from the Sidonians and had no relationship with anyone else.” (Judges 18:7) It was a lot like Vermont.

The guys from Dan, figuring Laish was much easier pickins than the land they were supposed to occupy go up to evict the peaceniks occupying the place. On the way they stop by Micah’s house to ‘liberate’ his idols and make the priest an even better deal. “Instead of being God’s stand-in for just one family, why not be one for a whole tribe?” The priest, always looking for a better deal, took them up on it. Micah, figuring losing his idols and his priest was better than losing his head, had no choice but to let them go.

The brave Danites (guys from Dan) marched on. “They took what Micah had made, and his priest, and went on to Laish, against a peaceful and unsuspecting people. They attacked them with the sword and burned down their city. There was no one to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon and had no relationship with anyone else.” (Judges 18:27-28) Such a proud day for Israel.

We’re not done yet. Next story.

A Levite (the guys who were supposed to be God’s representatives) acquires a concubine. That’s a girl who provides all the privileges of a wife without the hassle of a legal commitment. The concubine is unfaithful (gee, funny that?) and goes home to daddy. Levite guy chases after her, spends some time with dad, and begins his journey home, concubine in tow.

Levite, manservant and concubine stop for the night in Gibeah. The manservant wanted to stay in Jebus (that’s Jerusalem) because it was closer, but Levite refuses because Jebus was full of Jebusites … “not our kind of people.” Gibeah was occupied by Benjamites … “our kind of people.”
They should have stayed in Jebus.
A man from Gibeah invites the travelers into his house and they’re just getting settled in for the night when there’s a pounding on the front door. The local chamber of commerce demands that their host turn over the Levite, “so we can have sex with him.” Nice.
The host, the epitome of hospitality, offers his virgin daughter to the mob of men, trying to spare his guest from being raped by the local menfolk. Of course the men don’t want to rape a girl.

They want to rape a man. Nice

The Levite, not wanting to put his host to any trouble, tosses his concubine to the mob. Well, a concubine is better than nothing.

The proud and noble Benjamites rape and abuse the girl throughout the night. At dawn she stumbles to the front stoop of her master’s host and falls over dead. Nice.

The Levite (remember, he’s the guy that tossed his concubine to the mob in the first place) is extremely ticked over the loss of his female property. He cuts the dead girl into twelve pieces and ships a piece to each of the tribes of Israel. Nice.

Everyone is just shocked! How could such a thing happen here!? People assemble from all over Israel to address this tragedy. The Levite tells everybody his story and off they go to teach the Benjamites of Gibeah a lesson. The rest of the Benjamites wouldn’t have that so they go to join their brothers in the defense of Gibea.

Israel sent four hundred thousand soldiers to take care of business in Gibea. That’s a lot of soldiers. The Benjamites gathered to defend Gibea were only twenty-six thousand seven hundred; but they were pretty good fighters.

Battle of Gibea - Day 1: Four hundred thousand Israelites attack the city. The Benjamites rush out to meet them, kill twenty-two thousand Israelites and go back inside the city. Well, that plan didn’t work.

Battle of Gibea – Day 2: Three hundred and seventy eight thousand Israelites attack the city. The Benjamites rush out to meet them, kill eighteen thousand Israelites and go back inside the city. Dang! We need a new plan.

Battle of Gibea – Day 3: Israelites get a new plan. Most (but not all) of the Israelites attack the city. The Benjamites rush out to meet them, the Israelites run away and the Benjamites give chase. The rest of the Israelites come out of their hiding place and run into the city while the Benjamites are gone. Plan works, twenty-five thousand Benjamites are killed, six hundred run away and the Israelites burn Gibea.

Here’s where the plan gets screwed up.

The Israelites start to feel bad that they killed all but six hundred Benjamites (Now, they feel bad). To make it up to the Benjamites, they hatch a plan to find new wives for the six hundred survivors. They burn down one of their own cities, kill everybody except for the virgin girls and give them to the left-over Benjamites.

But it wasn’t enough girls. There were still two hundred Benjamites without new wives. All the other Israelites said, “You’re not going to give our girls to the Benjamites.” So they told the two hundred wifeless guys, “Look, there’s a party in Shiloh (another one of their own cities) next week. When the girls come out of the city dancing, each of you grab one and run away” (these were their own girls!).

“In those days Israel had no king; every one did as he saw fit.”

Well, that’s how Judges ends. Pretty depressing isn’t it?


It’s been an interesting week in South Carolina. An eighteen year old boy was arrested for planning to blow up his high school. Mom and dad called the police when they took delivery of ten pounds of ammonium nitrate the boy wanted delivered to the house.

Another eighteen year old boy killed his dad, step mom, little brother and step sister, and then went four-wheeling. Not a big deal, apparently.

A man drove over from Alabama and raped a fourteen year old girl he met on Myspace. That’s social networking at its finest.

You want to know the screwed up thing? This stuff is all pretty common. Doesn’t even raise an eyebrow anymore. And its not just in South Carolina; it’s in California and Indiana and everywhere else.

“In those days Israel had no king; every one did as he saw fit.”

Sounds kind of like us doesn’t it?

Any good news Steve?

Yeah there is. We live here but we’re not citizens. There’s another country we belong to where this kind of thing doesn’t happen. The country I’m talking about does have a King. And everybody does what He sees fit. Things work out better that way.

People as far back as Abraham knew about this other country and they looked forward to finally settling down there. “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:13 – 16).

Keep looking up. You might catch a glimpse of it.

Until next week.

Committed to King and country,

Steve Spillman
“Let me die with the Philistines!” (Judges16:30)

Vol. 2 Issue 17
The Weekly Newsletter of True Potential Publishing

Courage Part II

What Makes a Hero?

Remember last week? Gideon fought the bad guys, the Midianites, and won. He was a Judge, remember? There was another Judge in old Israel, a few Judges down from Gideon; his name was Samson.

In the eyes of most folks Samson was a hero; the kind of stuff Sunday school stories are made of. He was bad to the bone, strong as an ox and a real ladies man. Samson was the kind of hero Israel was looking for. And they needed one. This time the bad guys were the Philistines; they had been the bad guys for about forty years. It was time for God to send Israel a new Judge, a deliverer, a hero. God had Samson in mind. You can read about him in the Old Testament book of Judges (of course); his story runs through chapters 13 to 16.

Gideon was minding his own business, just trying to stay out of the way, when the angel of God showed up to make him a Judge and a hero.

Samson's story wasn't like that. He was custom made for the job. The angel of God showed up to the lady who was to become Samson's mother. She didn't have any kids, she was sterile. God likes to prove a point. So the angel tells Samson's mom-to-be that she's going to have a very special son; he's going to be a Nazerite, and he would deliver Israel from the Philistines.

A Nazarite was someone who was set aside for a special purpose. Sometimes that meant just for a certain period of time, sometimes it was for a lifetime. Samson was supposed to be a lifetime Nazerite.

Being a Nazerite required certain behavior. For instance, Nazerites weren't allowed to touch wine or any sort of alcohol. This particular rule was so radical that Nazerites weren't even allowed to be around grapes. That's pretty radical.

If you were a Nazerite, you couldn't touch any unclean or dead thing and you couldn't cut your hair. There were a lot of restrictions.

Samson had his own way of doing things. He wasn't into restrictions.

God has His own way of doing things too. When He says something's going to happen, you'd better count on it. And how some folks think He should make His plans go down isn't necessarily the way they do.

Samson broke about every Nazerite rule there was. He liked wine, didn't mind dead things, and didn't much care for rules of any kind. He was a guy who pretty much took what he wanted ... and he wanted a lot.

Taking what he wanted got him into a lot of trouble. His strength got him out of trouble. It seems that breaking all the wine drinking, dead thing touching Nazerite rules didn't have much of an effect on Samson's strength. In the end it was getting a hair cut that did him in.

Remember the story from Sunday school? Samson goes to see his new flame, Delilah. Delilah's a bad girl in more ways than one; she's friends with the bad guys. Delilah gets him drunk, gets his attention, gets his secret, and gets him fast asleep. Then she calls in the bad guys to give Samson a haircut. Samson wakes up, jumps up and takes on the bad guys. Whoops! No more super powers. Samson finds out he's just a regular joe. The bad guys poke out his eyes and make him their slave.

The Philistines throw a huge party and Samson's the main event. They're going to celebrate by making a mockery of the guy who had made a mockery of them. By now Samson has pretty much realized he's screwed up his life. He has one last chance at destiny; one last opportunity to be what and who he was made to be. He asks the kid holding his chain to put him between the two pillars that hold the roof up. The kid, not knowing any better, does what Samson asks.

One last time, maybe the first time, Samson asks God to restore his super-strength. 3,000 bad guys got together that day to see Samson put on a show. They had no idea of the kind of show they were about to see. Samson put his left hand on the left pillar and his right hand on the right pillar. He bowed his back and pushed ... and pushed. Then something remarkable happened. There was a crack, and then a pop, and then a little dust and grit fell from the ceiling. And then the roof came down. 3,000 Philistines and one Jew were killed that day.

Samson fulfilled his purpose; he delivered his people from the bad guys.


Kind of a different story from Gideon's, wasn't it? Gideon was like Barney Fife. Samson was like the Terminator. Gideon was a pip-squeak and certainly no warrior. But he did what he knew he had to do, even though it scared the ba-hookey out him. And he delivered Israel.

Samson, super dude, ate bad guys for breakfast. He never did anything he was supposed to do and the only thing that scared him was an empty wineskin. And he delivered Israel.

So what's the moral of the story?

God's going to do what He's going to do. Sometimes ... most times .... it doesn't make sense to us. The guys who are supposed to be losers turn out to be heroes. The guys who are supposed to be super-stars turn out to be royal disappointments.

Maybe it's not about the guys. Maybe it's not about how we think things are supposed to go.

Maybe it's about Him. About what He wants done and how He wants to work. Maybe we're just supposed to show up and play our part.

Gideon didn't ask to be picked for the hero job. He listened and did what he knew he had to do; even though he didn't think he was up to it, even though the idea of being a hero terrified him. In the end God kept His promise, Gideon thrashed the bad guys and Israel lived in peace and freedom for forty years. Gideon retired and lived a long and happy life. The Bible says he sired seventy sons and had many wives (things were different back then). He died old and happy.

Samson was born for the hero job. He loved being superman. He'd kill Philistines at the slightest provocation (I think he liked it). Outside of looking like a hero, acting like a hero, and liking to do hero stuff, Samson just couldn't get his head around why he was a hero and Who made him one.

The Bible says that Samson was a Judge in Israel for twenty years; that was before the Delilah thing. In that time, as far as we know, he never did anything good for the people of Israel, never kept any of his Nazerite rules and never listened to anything God might have said to him. He got himself into plenty of peccadilloes by fraternizing with the bad guys and got himself out by killing or generally hassling same. He suffered total failure and public embarrassment as a result of his final little faux pas with Delilah, ending up in chains with his eyes poked out.

Samson pretty much blew his life and the chances (minus one) of fulfilling his destiny.

My personal opinion? This was not the way God planned it. Samson was going to be Israel's hero; that part was decided. But there was an option A and an option B.

Option A: You were born for the job, dedicated at birth for the job and given unique capabilities (super strength) for job. Everybody knows you're Israel's next hero because God said you were. Seriously, look at those biceps, you're the guy. Take your job seriously, listen for the plan and execute. Gideon figured that much out - and he was a runt! God's been with you since birth. He'll be with you in battle - show up on the field and get the job done. When God is finished with you and you've fulfilled your purpose, you may get lucky like Gideon, have seventy kids and live the rest of your days in peace.

Option B: You were born for the job, dedicated at birth for the job and given unique capabilities (super strength) for job. Everybody knows you're Israel's next hero because God said you were. Seriously, look at those biceps, you're the guy. Take your own wants and desires seriously, don't deny yourself anything. You've got it all, live the good life; there'll be time to fulfill your purpose later. Take what you want, live how you want. Who's going to stop you? You're Samson. Get into a little trouble? Power your way out of it. Use your gifts to your advantage.

Every day you wake up, do what you want and ignore your purpose. The days add up. One day you wake up with no hair, no strength and no options. You had it all and now you don't. With zero options you'll have plenty of time to figure out just what went wrong. Then you get lucky; an option pops up. Just one option. It's a suicide mission, but hey, by now it's finally dawned on you that you're here to fulfill a destiny. You could have done it the easy way, but those days are gone. Now it's the hard way. One last chance to do what you were born to do. And then you're dead.

You fulfilled your destiny. Like I said, that part was decided in advance. You're the one who gets to decide if it's option A or option B.


Folks, each of us have a destiny, a purpose; that part has already been decided. The part we decide is option A or option B.

If you're the Gideon type, do what you know you've got to do - he did fine, you will too.

If you're Samson in a suit, don't get cocky. It's not about you. God's gifts to you aren't your gifts to mankind. They're His gifts to mankind; you're just the carrier. You've got a job to do, take it seriously.

Courage isn't about doing what you know you can do because nobody will stop you. Courage is doing what you know you have to do even though you think you can't. That's what makes a hero.
There are a lot of heroes in the Bible. If I get the choice, I'd like my last day to be like Gideon's, not Samson's.

Until next week.

In the service of Him who makes us heroes,

Steve Spillman