Make Music

LifeLink Devotions

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

When I Was young, I loved making music. I took piano lessons. I learned to play the trumpet. And in Middle School my band director asked me to learn a few more. I played the French horn, the tuba, the baritone, and ended up on trombone. Meanwhile, I also learned the bass fiddle and the marimba for a Tijuana Brass band. If you are under 60 you may not get that reference.

But one instrument I always wanted to learn and never did was the saxophone. So on Saturday night, when Danny Gokey’s tenor sax player came forward to play, I was enthralled. It lifted me to a place of worship of Jesus that came from deep in my musical soul.

Afterwards, Danny spoke about the saxophone. He reminded us that it was just a musical instrument, designed to make music but absolutely incapable of doing it on its own. It needed the breath of a master flowing through it. He reminded us that we are instruments, designed to make music that glorifies God, but we are incapable of doing it on our own. We must have the Breath of the Master flowing through us, and the Master must be playing the keys.

The Holy Spirit is the Breath of Jesus Christ, the Master. Unless He is flowing through you and playing every key of your life, nothing you do glorifies Jesus. NOTHING. Only the things done by the Spirit and in the Spirit can glorify the Master. Without the Spirit of God breathing in and through us, we are nothing more than a musical instrument standing on a stage but producing nothing. You can hook all the microphones up to it you want, and turn the sound system up as loud as it will go, but there will be no music. None of us is capable of blowing our own horn to the glory of Jesus.

Every day we must become empty of ourselves so that we can invite the Holy Spirit to breathe in and through us. Only then will our lives make beautiful music for the Master.

Go on, make some music today.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Just a little over a year ago, as I was driving my dad home from the hospital, he suffered a massive heart attack in the car. His head fell forward and sideways as his arms stiffened in front of him. I yelled at him to see if he could still hear me.

No response.

I yelled again as I held his head in my hand to keep it upright enough for him to breathe.

There was no breath.

Then suddenly there was a deep exhale of air that came forth in the sound of a loud groan which I will never forget. It was a groan that revealed a groaning fulfilled.

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,  if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage.

 2 Corinthians 5:1-6

I hear a lot of groaning these days. We groan about the experiences of the past. We groan about the present effects of those past experiences. We groan about politics. We groan about other people’s behavior. We groan about slow traffic. We tend to groan about everything that causes us emotional turmoil. It’s too bad that Christians groan so much over all the wrong things. When was the last time you groaned correctly?

I studied the uses of the word “groan” in the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament. It was very interesting to not find a single reference to groaning in the context of carrying emotional burdens unless they are directly related to being poor, hungry, or spiritually oppressed by another person. And every one of those references is in the Old Testament prior to God giving us His indwelling presence through the Holy Spirit.

There is only one use of the word groaning in the New Testament that refers to complaining, and it’s a command not to groan about obeying and honoring the leaders of your church. All the other New Testament usages refer to waiting for and praying for the return of Jesus. We have permission, along with all of nature, to groan for the return of Jesus. One commentator put it this way…

“We are a bride who, at the very moment when she was fully attired for marriage, saw the bridegroom die. She still stands with her fresh crown and in her bridal dress, but her eyes are full of tears.”

Is it possible that there is only one groaning that will ever be satisfied – the groaning to be glorified with Jesus? I say YES! All other groaning may be nothing more than complaining, and that is not the ministry of the Holy Spirit in us.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotional

Monday, July 26, 2021

I was extremely blessed to spend the weekend at OneFest, the Chippewa Valley Christian music festival. It was invigorating to see over 4000 people united in the worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

One song especially blessed me. It was by the group Rend Collective. I pray the lyrics also bless you and help you start your day with praise.

He’s our rescuer
He’s our rescuer
We are free from sin forevermore
Oh how sweet the sound
Oh how grace abounds
We will praise the Lord our rescuer

There is good news for the captive
Good news for the shamed
There is good news for the one who walked away
There is good news for the doubter
The one religion failed
For the Good Lord has come to seek and save

He is beauty for the blind man
Riches for the poor
He is friendship for the one the world ignores
He is pasture for the weary
Rest for those who strive
Oh, the Good Lord is the way, the truth, the life
Yes, the Good Lord is the way, the truth, the life 

So come and be chainless
Come and be fearless
Come to the foot of Calvary
There is redemption
For every affliction
Here at the foot of Calvary

Oh, he’s our rescuer 
He’s our rescuer 
We are free from sin forevermore (we are free indeed)
Oh how sweet the sound 
Oh how grace abounds 
We will praise the Lord our rescuer
We will praise the Lord our rescuer


LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

I am so thankful to be the pastor of a church that wants to focus on the truth of Scripture and declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I am concerned for the number of churches who seek to please people and claim numerical growth as the ultimate goal of ministry.

Read these words from the Apostle Paul in Galatians 4 verse 9.

“But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?”

This morning the Babylon Bee, a satirical news site, posted this.  It illustrates the sad reality of churches who are falling away from the Gospel.

Hey you! Yeah you, pastor! Is your church boring? Is your congregation leaving in droves to go to the cool church down the street that has hot worship leaders and laser lights? 

You gotta fix that. Here’s how to make sure your bored congregants come back next Sunday. 

1) Offer VIP backstage passes to meet the pastor: As the pastor, you are a celebrity and everyone wants to meet you. Offer exclusive VIP passes to the first 20 people! 

2) Challenge the pastor of the church across the street to a cage fight: Bible teaching is fine, but what people really want is bloody pay-per-view MMA fighting! The winner of the match gets to keep half of the other church’s members. 

3) Offer anyone who shows up a chance to play bass in the worship band: Make dreams come true. Don’t worry, you don’t have to tell them the bass is always unplugged anyway. 

4) Replace boring wafer communion with Cinnabon cinnamon rolls: Irresistible. 

5) Everyone gets a Taboo buzzer to press whenever the pastor says something they don’t like: Nothing like some audience participation! If you’re low on funds, you can give them rotten cabbage to throw. 

6) Tie a string to their smartphone and slowly pull it toward the church doors: Virtually everyone on earth is emotionally and physically dependant on their smartphones. Isn’t it time they were emotionally and physically dependant on walking through your church doors every Sunday? 

7) Put CBD vape capsules in the fog machine to help everyone stay relaxed: Maybe add some nicotine for a little chemical dependence. 

8) Advertise a new “forgive any sin” promotion: We all know God can forgive any sin, (except the sin of voting Democrat) but it feels so much better if it’s part of a cool promotion! Print out coupons for extra interest. 

Please don’t go to a church like that.  Find a church that teaches the Gospel and uses only the cross of Jesus Christ the resurrected Savior to attract people.

Pastor John

To Know and Be Known

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Random thoughts from a crazy Monday all stimulated by the truth of Galatians 4:9.

“But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God…”

  • Knowing God is insignificant unless I am known by God
  • Being completely known by God and knowing that He loves me is ultimate freedom. No more need to cover up or hide.l
  • Being known by God helps me understand grace. God knows me…everything about me…and yet His love for me is never diminished nor is my standing with Him ever changed. 
  • Being known by God transforms my lifestyle from one that pleases self to one that pleases Him. Not because I seek to earn more from God, but because I already have received every spiritual blessing from Him.  He gave it all to me because He knows me as His eternal child.
  • Being known by God teaches me the grace I need to love others even when I know things about them that seem unloveable. I can sincerely love others because God knows me and loves me.
  • God knows everything about me, yet He loves me, accepts me, works in me, and is faithful to me. Knowing this compels me to love others, accept them, work with them, and be faithful to them.
  • Understanding the grace of God who knows me helps me to show grace to others rather than be critical and judgmental of them.

Don’t be satisfied to simply know about God.  Come to Jesus and be known by God.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotional

Friday, July 16, 2021

Wednesday was the one year anniversary of my dad’s transfer to heaven. It was a hard day for me as I recalled the moment of his passing into the presence of Jesus. I tried to play golf with my friends, but I wasn’t in much of a mood to be relational. And, as circumstances dictated, I ended up riding in a cart all by myself for the entire round, sentencing me my own thoughts. I’m sure the men I played with wondered what was wrong.

When my dad died, I served as the executor of his estate. As an heir I received my share of what was left after all the bills were paid. I did not receive everything my dad ever had. I received only a portion of what was left.

As I thought about that, I realized the infinite difference between an earthy inheritance and our heavenly one.  As a son of God through faith in Jesus Christ, I am an heir of everything God has. It will not be divided. Have you ever thought about that? Everything that God has prepared in heaven is mine and yours. We don’t share it. We each get all of it. That boggles my mind.

The other astounding truth is that we already possess our inheritance. Now if you are thinking only in terms of material things this will not apply to you. But when we consider the spiritual blessings we have in Christ Jesus, we already possess everything the Father has promised us as our inheritance.

In earthly families, an inheritance may be promised to the children, but until they reach a certain age they have no access to it. But when we were justified by faith we were given the standing of a child of God. At the same time, we were adopted into the family of God. Here’s how the Apostle Paul puts it in Galatians.

“But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” (Galatians 3:25-26)

“…to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”(Galatians 4:5-7)

The Greek word for “son” in these verses is not the word for child, but the word for adult son. At the moment of our salvation, being declared righteous as children of God, we are also declared heirs as adults. That’s the doctrine of adoption. We are blessed with every spiritual blessing from on high. (Ephesians 1:3)

I was grateful to receive what I did from my dad’s inheritance. He worked hard to make sure I would get something. But I am overwhelmed with the thought that in Christ I inherit everything that God has prepared for all of us. And I already possess most of it.

So do you.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, July 15, 2021

He stood silent with head bowed before the judge. He never thought his choices would result in such tragedy. In all his 28 years of life he had never faced his own guilt, and had never admitted his own responsibility. Yet here he stood after his arrest, facing a judge who was asking him to declare his guilt or his innocence.

He had been arrested and charged with manslaughter for being responsible for the death of a 33-year old man. His drug and alcohol use had severely impaired his judgement. He will never forget the officer of the law shouting at him as he pointed to the dead man lying on the ground. “SEE WHAT YOU DID!?!” He will never be able to remove the image of the mutilated body he saw.

The young man replies to the judge’s question with one word: “GUILTY!”

Then something amazing happens. The judge stands from his seat as he pounds his gavel on the judicial bar in front of him. “FORGIVEN!” He removes his black robe and steps down from the bench. He moves in close to the young man who stands in fear wondering what is happening. The judge speaks.

“I forgive you and declare you innocent of these charges. There is no charge left for you to face. I can do that because I am the father of the man you killed. But I want to do more than just declare you innocent. I want you to come home with me and be my son. You can have everything my son had, including his inheritance. I want to be your father.”

The judge embraces him.

The young man cannot believe what he is hearing. But he also doesn’t understand what he is feeling. The guilt and shame are being released. He feels unconditionally loved. He is overwhelmed with the grace of the embrace.

His arms slowly raise and he returns the embrace, and as he does, he uncontrollably whispers in the ear of the judge, “Father.”

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”   Galatians 4:4-7


LifeLink Devotions

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

One evening in the winter of my freshman year at college, I sat in the front row of the packed gymnasium holding an orange landline telephone. On stage were the Imperials, with Joe Moscheo sitting at the grand piano in front of me. I was the intermediary between Joe and the Lighting Team in the sound booth. We were connected by telephone. Joe made fun of me several times that night for being on the phone, but every time he wanted adjustments to the lighting he would speak the directions to me and I would relay them to the lighting guys. It was a fun night.

About halfway through the show, the request was made to put a spotlight on Sherman Andrus. He was going to sing a song entitled “Jesus Made Me Higher.” During the song he stopped and gave a testimony, and as he did, I put down my phone. He spoke about all the things in life we use to qualify ourselves. Sex. Money. Drugs. Alcohol. Status. Relationships. Yet none of them ever gratify or satisfy. He said that there is only one thing that qualifies us – the life of Jesus Christ in us. And if we say we have Jesus, but still pursue all the things of the world, then we are living beneath our privilege.  

I will never forget those words – living beneath our privilege. So many of us are doing just that when we continue to use the law as I used a telephone that night. We use the law as our intermediary between us and God. We hear the law, we relay our obedience to the law, and we hope to see the right light. But the law cannot save us. Only Christ Jesus can save us. He is more than our intermediary. He is our mediator. He is the Promise given to us who believe so that in Him we have been given the Spirit of God and made eternal children of God.

Look at these powerful and transforming words from the Apostle Paul.

Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

By grace alone, through faith in Christ alone, we are made the eternal children of God.

Stop living beneath your privilege.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotional

Monday, July 12, 2021

I now know what writer’s block is.  I have it.  My mind is filled with the truth of Galatians 3:14 where Paul says, “so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”  But I am unable to produce any creative thoughts to present it. Yet the simple truth is that God made a promise to Abraham that He would bless all the nations of the world through an offspring. That offspring is Jesus Christ, and because He fulfills the promise of God, salvation has come to every nation. Greeks, Germans, Ethiopians, and even Dutch/Norwegians like me can be saved from our sin and be given the life-giving Spirit of God.  Because Jesus is the promise, I now have the promise.  

I am sure this simple truth is sufficient to hold me through my writer’s block.  In fact, I am in no hurry to get past it.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotional

Friday, July 9, 2021

On my first trip to the Philippines thirty years ago I joined the work of the Holy Spirit in prayer over a three-year old boy who was sick. I stood with my dear friend Victorino as we laid hands on the boy snuggled into the loving arms of his mother. When we passed by her an hour later the boy was running and jumping. We had heard from the Holy Spirit, and by faith we became the instruments of His grace, and the boy was healed.

Twenty-four years ago I sat in my office with a college student who was questioning the existence of demons. Again, by faith, I joined the work of God in this young man’s life and he was delivered from the demonic spirit that was in him.

Over the years I have seen hundreds if not thousands of miracles. I have stood next to men and women who have been delivered from addictions. I have ministered with a man who was raised from the dead. I have experienced the Lord’s healing from disease and disability in my own family.

But you may have doubts that I have seen thousands of miracles. Let me prove it to you. You are one of the miracles. Every single person I have ever met who has been born again by faith in Jesus Christ is a miracle. The most important miracle Jesus ever does is to invade your life and transform you from a sinner to an eternal child of God.

When we read verses like Galatians 3:5 where Paul says, “Does he who…works miracles among you…” we tend to think only in the context of healings and resurrections. But that is not the context of the verse. God is working miracles daily in our midst as people come to Jesus Christ by faith for the forgiveness of their sins and the transformation of their lives. We focus on the external evidence when the greatest miracle of all happened in their heart.

Maybe you have been wondering why you haven’t seen more miracles. May I suggest that you spend time praising Jesus for the miracle of your salvation. Then praise Him for the miracles of salvation in all the others in your life who have been saved by grace through faith.

You are surrounded by miracles every day.

You are one of them.

Pastor John