2020: The reality show

More than a few people have made online references saying this election season is the Season Finale of the show “2020”. If that is indeed the case, as Christians, lets end the show with a real plot twist and the ultimate surprise ending. Here’s the script…

[Scene 1] Do not engage in fruitless arguments.

Seriously. Don’t, just don’t. The temptation is going to be incredibly strong to voice discontent, frustration, and anger online about your feelings in regard to this presidential election, especially the voting process. No matter how justified you might feel, such activity will not change anything nor will it positively influence anyone directly involved or even passively watching or listening. The reality is this: no matter what the optics are, we truly don’t KNOW everything that has transpired which means emotions are being generated by speculation. Speculation, while probably containing varying elements of truth, almost always leads to a conclusion which provokes powerful and generally unhealthy emotions which ultimately foster resentment and bitterness.

Am I saying we shouldn’t engage in conversations about these issues? Not in any way, shape, or form! Before we do though, please consider the following scriptural instructions:

2nd Timothy 2:16“…avoid worldly and empty chatter for it will lead to further ungodliness.”

As much as I enjoy good memes like the rest of us, can we please admit that while they can be entertaining and can illustrate principle, they are mostly worthless for anything truly edifying. In my mind there is nothing in our world that defines “empty chatter” like the meme shots we take. But hey, they ARE fantastic at eliciting a defensive and antagonistic response.

2nd Timothy 2:22-24 – flee youthful lust…pursue righteousness…refuse to be quarrelsome

“Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged…”

One of, if not the most, powerful of youthful lusts is the lust to win an argument, prove ourselves to be “right”, and vindicate ourselves. In fact, within the context of 2nd Timothy 2:14-26 that is most likely the “lusts” Paul is referring to. Don’t strive to win an argument. Don’t strive to shut your “opponent” up or beat them down. Paul reminds us in verse 24 that we are the Lord’s bondservant; not the servant of our party affiliation, not the servant of our ideology. As the Lord’s bondservant make it your goal to pursue righteousness, that is, being right with God. If our goal is merely a societal morality that aligns with what we believe the Bible says we are falling far short. We must ask ourselves, how are we in our discussion of politics and political processes pointing people to the Savior by reflecting the Savior?

Instead of venting your frustration online, submit your emotions to the Lord. Cry out to the Lord. He DOES know everything that has transpired, both right and wrong. Read the Psalms. Find the heart of David as he asks God for justice and vindication and rests in the faith that God is above the nations.

Ephesians 4:26-27 and James 1:19-20 – Deal with your anger and don’t let it dominate you

Ephesians 4:26-27 BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.

James 1:19-20 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

Are you angry over what has transpired? Fine. Anger is a God-given emotion. Spend your time seeking ways to be angry without being sinful. The effects of unrestrained anger have been plainly seen in our society. Just because you aren’t smashing windows at the local Best Buy and stealing a flat screen or lighting a police car on fire doesn’t mean your anger is squeaky clean and your indignation is righteous indignation. Your anger may not manifest itself thusly but that does not mean your anger is not equally destructive.

[Scene 2] Remember your calling – 1st Peter 3:8-12

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For,








If you are a follower of Jesus, a believer, the people of God, remember that you have been called to inherit a blessing; a blessing which will come in God’s time and in God’s way. Notice in this text the fullness of what Peter connects with our inheritance of God’s blessing.

*Be harmonious

*Be sympathetic

*Be kindhearted

*Be humble

*Not returning insult for insult (see also 1st Peter 2:21-24)

*Be a blessing

*Keep your mouth from evil

*Seek and pursue peace

This is where we exhibit the reality of our faith or the genuine lack of it. Do you believe God is sovereign? Do you believe nothing gets past Him? Do you believe He will deal with wickedness? Genuine faith finds rest while the world around us rages.


[Scene 3] Play our trump card – 1st Peter 2:13-17

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

Did you see what I did there? How clever of me. Seriously though, if ever there were a time to play our favorite political card, now is it.

We love this truth when the person we voted for wins and is in office. Now we get to live it. Now is when the world will see what faith looks like. Now is the time for faith to shine. Though the votes aren’t all in, Joe Biden has been declared the President of the United States. He is my president. Did I vote for him? Nope. Do I passionately disagree with much of what he and the Democratic Party stand for? Yep. As a citizen of heaven who finds my earthly citizenship in the United States, he is my president. If Peter can call his readers to honor Nero (who had no honor), we can give honor to the president elect of our nation, who by the way, we would most likely welcome if suddenly we found Nero as our king.

Trust the Lord, He is probably doing something you wouldn’t believe if He told you (Habakkuk 1:5). Our citizenship is in heaven; our King is not elected and will never be de-throned. Live like it and rest in it.

Let’s flip the script.

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Pestilence, Disaster, and God’s People


The uncertainty and question marks of the days in which we live span  the expanse from “How much of society will get shut down?” to “Anyone have any toilet paper?” to “How many will die from this?” It doesn’t take much imagination at all to conjure up endless possibilities of where this virus could take us. One of the most significant consequences of the state of the current state of our world is the panic which has so quickly set in. I’m not going to deny that uncertainty breeds fear and fear does breed panic. It IS fairly normal. While we don’t have many answers on the medical or scientific level, it is critical for us to keep our eyes looking above the seemingly barren landscape of no toilet paper, no sports, and significant health issues. 

As we face the panorama of uncertainty, here are four truths for us to hold onto.  

1) God can and will sustain His people amid great grief and turmoil. 

The Bible is filled with a seemingly endless array of dramatic and sorrowful scenarios involving individuals as well as entire nations; none though would probably be greater than what is found in the first chapter of Lamentations. In graphic terms Jeremiah describes the pain and misery as Judah is led away into captivity by the conquering Babylonians. The life and glory of their nation had been stripped away and all that seemed to remain was sorrow and turmoil. Many were to be led away to live in a foreign land, their homes destroyed, their lives stripped away. Those left behind were to live in the broken down ruins of a once great nation. 

The promise of Jeremiah 27 and 29 though, was anything but hopeless. God was bigger than the Babylonians. God was better than their turmoil. While their eyes could only see uncertainty, there was no uncertainty in the hands and mind of their covenant Lord. In the worst of times, in the seemingly most desperate of situations, God was able to sustain and bless His people. It is in God we must find our stability. 

Now, let’s be clear, God allowed Judah to be conquered, captured, and deported because of her sin and unfaithfulness. I am NOT saying the current state of our world is God’s judgment for sin. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. In one sense, it really doesn’t matter. What DOES matter, above all, is that we keep our eyes and hope fixed on God. He can and will sustain us amid painful days. Our lives may become exceedingly inconvenient and painful, but God is faithful and will bear us up during whatever may come. 

2) The misery and trials of God’s people drives them to seek Him. 

The book of James is without question a hallmark for properly responding to suffering. Chapter 1, following the call to “consider it all joy…when you encounter various trials”, implores those so suffering to do two specific things: Seek the Lord for wisdom and receive the Word.  

Our lives are filled with trials of all sizes and magnitudes. No matter how insignificant or how life-altering they are the answer is still the same. We are called seek the Lord through prayer and reading His word with a heart of expectant faith and humble submission.  

God is never flippant nor whimsical with the trials He allows (or in some cases sends) upon His people. God allowed Job suffering beyond what I can possibly imagine to both vindicate him as well as to reveal Himself at a greater level to him. Jesus fell asleep in a boat knowing a storm was brewing; a storm so powerful it was able to terrify a group of seasoned boatmen. He did so to force them to cry out to Him and for Him to demonstrate His ability to provide for them when situations were bigger than their ability to cope. 

Without speculating what the coming days will look like, let us be faithful to not only trust the Lord, but to seek Him. 

3) Trials, inconveniences, and suffering are opportunities to reflect the Savior. 

One of the greatest lessons Jesus taught His followers was that of being humble servants. In Mark 10:45 He told them, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many.” 

Paul, essentially continued this line of instruction when taught the Philippians what it meant to follow Jesus when he wrote, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:3-5).  

Let us look to mirror the heart of our Savior as we walk whatever this road turns out to be and wherever this road leads. No matter how inconvenienced we may be, no matter how we may have to suffer, may people see Jesus in us and experience His grace and kindness through us. A self-centered life is never of God but especially now.

4) Trials, inconveniences, and suffering are opportunities for the gospel. 

Without question, people will be experiencing hopelessness and despair at any number of levels. Questions about the future can rattle even the strongest and most secure. Let us be ready to point them to a faithful Creator and a merciful Savior. Let us be ready to lift the heads of the weary and frightened by pointing them to what is above and beyond this earth. 

Let us not forget the image of Paul and Silas sitting in prison singing praises to the Lord (Acts 16) and while chained as a prisoner the gospel was never chained (2nd Timothy 2:9). Let us seize this opportunity given by God to arm ourselves with the gospel and bring hope to a needy world. 

What shall we do about Kanye?

1) Check your heart for self righteous arrogance.

It’s a bit of a challenge to believe someone like Kanye could get saved isn’t it? The notion that this could be nothing more than a publicity stunt wouldn’t be too far-fetched. He has been so arrogant and so blasphemous in the past he must be “too far gone” to ever come to faith in Christ.

If that is how we are feeling we need to think about what that says about our own self-righteousness. He is too much of a sinner to be saved but we were not? If you or I think we were “good enough” to be saved but Kanye isn’t, it is imperative that we stop right now, confess our sin, and repent of our self-righteous heart.

What holds true for my salvation holds true for Kanye’s. I need, you need, as much mercy, grace, and love from God in Christ as Kanye does.

Titus 3:4-7 (NASB)

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

2) Check your heart (part 2). Pray for his discipleship.

While it is true that his needs as a believer are the same as the rest of us, the public and private pressure on him is (and will continue to be) enormous because of who he is. Rather than take a sit, wait, and watch approach to his faith we need to pray for him. He needs discipleship by someone older and mature in the faith. He needs to be taught the scriptures. He will need perseverance and steadfastness because of arrogant, self-righteous “Christians” who can’t handle someone “like him” coming to faith in Christ. I imagine the temptation to prove himself to the naysayers must be enormous and that distraction alone could be enough to take his focus off of Jesus.

Acts 9:26-27 (NASB)

When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.

Philippians 1:9-11 (NASB)

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

3) Check your theology. God saves sinners.

This is an extension of #1 above. God saves sinners. Period. He saved the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43). He saved the murderous Saul (Acts 9:1-31). He brought Nebuchadnezzar low to lift him up (Daniel 4:28-37). Kanye’s salvation can’t really be out of the realm of possibility can it?

Maybe one reason our churches are so ineffective at the work of evangelism is that in the deepest recesses of our hearts we ultimately reject the belief that God is able to save sinners. Can it be we don’t believe Jesus is sufficient for any and all sinners who turn to Him?

1 Timothy 1:15 (NASB)

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

4) Check your theology (part 2). Celebrate a sinner’s salvation not a celebrity’s addition to the lineup.

I’ve heard (maybe you have, too) Kanye’s salvation is a win for the Kingdom because he will reach people we can’t and his celebrity status will give him a hearing we will never have. Ok, I’m not going to lie. That IS pretty exciting and encouraging. He will be (and has been) used to reach people for Jesus. Absolutely.

Again, lets check our theology though. God doesn’t NEED him, just like he doesn’t NEED us. God wasn’t desperate for someone to reach Noah to build the arc. God wasn’t waiting for someone to call Abraham to faith. The reason Paul didn’t come to faith earlier wasn’t because nobody told him the gospel. God reached them ON HIS OWN. It is by God’s grace we are called into His service and are used by Him to accomplish His redemptive purposes. He really is in good shape on His own. He is supremely self-sufficient and self-sustaining.

It is imperative we follow the angels example in celebrating the only truth worth cheering about: A sinner came to faith in Jesus and was redeemed by the grace of God.

Luke 10:20 (NASB)

“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”

Luke 15:10 (NASB)

“In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

5) Check your expectations. Don’t expect a child to be an adult.

Yes, Kanye will do and say dumb things. He will act inappropriately at times. He is a new believer. He may be chronologically older, but spiritually he is a baby. We would never demean our two year old for not being able to tie their shoes, properly load the dishwasher (few adults are capable of THIS), or make dinner for the family. In a spiritual sense, don’t demean Kanye for being a spiritual infant. Sure, he did an event at Joel Osteen’s church. Good for him! Joel needs to hear about Jesus and it was probably the first time Jesus has been proclaimed there.

Ephesians 4:14-16 (NASB)

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

6) Check your expectations. Don’t expect him to be a polished theologian.

See #5 above. He doesn’t know the Bible nor will he be fully versed in a year. He will make statements about the faith that will undoubtedly make us cringe. Learning takes a lifetime. Some of us might need to look in the mirror on this one. We all see the “spiritual truths” you post online…that you learned from your pet…in the clouds…from the whisper of the wind in the trees…

Acts 18:24-26 (NASB)

Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

Jesus, I pray Kanye’s faith is genuine. Please sustain him and keep him rooted in you, focused on you. Please surround him with people who know you, love you, and are mature saints in their faith. May he be teachable and moldable. Please compel us to be kind, loving, and gracious toward him. Please convict him of sin and grow him in obedience to you. In your name and in your power alone Jesus, amen.

My hope is built on…the World Series?


Well, not really, but seriously, it really is, or was.  That is, until the Dodgers game 5 defeat (collapse, disaster, whatever you want to call it) at the hands of the Washington Nationals in the opening round of this year’s playoffs. All year we have been planning a trip to visit Troy and Cassie down in Idaho and the dates for our visit were specifically chosen to coincide with the World Series. The hope was for me and Troy to be able to watch, and celebrate, the Dodgers in the World Series. The trip will still happen and we will enjoy our time together as a family but our hope of cheering the Dodgers to victory together is gone and nothing can bring it back. How sad that a year of planning could be dashed by the events of 3 days which actually totaled (at most) 12 hours. Crazy, isnt’ it? I mean, crazy to base the events of a vacation around something which has more likelihood of not happening as happening.

But, is it really THAT crazy though? Don’t we do that all the time? Do we not in fact base our hope on things which are guaranteed (at some level) to let us down and not produce everything we had hoped? Even if all the bad that can happen doesn’t happen, isn’t everything we base hope, stability, fulfillment, and/or success on nothing more than a gamble with no promise of any positive fruition? The reality is this: There is nothing in this world which is absolutely, unequivocally safe to set our hope on. Our health, our finances, our relationships, our families, our mental well-being (among many other things) all leave us vulnerable in the extreme.

That is, except for one glaring exception: those whose hope is set on Jesus Christ.

The foundational promise is this,


He who believes will not be disappointed. Now THAT is a promise! The promise of faith in Jesus is that no matter what happens, no matter how life feels or seems RIGHT NOW, when I get to the end of my life and stand in eternity, I will NOT say, “Wow…I didn’t see THAT coming. Now what am I going to do?!” It is the promise that every pain and sacrifice will be redeemed, every wrong made right, and every sin forgiven.

We have this assurance made clear by the words of Jesus in John 14,

“‘Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.’” (John 14:1-3)

Jesus was telling His followers they were safe. They, and ALL who confess Jesus as Lord, are safe by the promises made in the short phrase “… I go to prepare a place for you…”

“I go” — where Jesus was going was NOT heaven, but the cross. Although at that moment they were terrified by the revelation that He was to be betrayed and killed, that was the path to their safety.

“To prepare a place” — again, not heaven. Specifically mansions or rooms in heaven. The text specifically states the dwelling places in the Father’s house are already in existence. Jesus did not have to, nor is He currently, building us a mansion. The “place” Jesus speaks of is not a location but an eternal residency in the Father’s house. Our rightful place in the Father’s house was paid for by the shed blood of Jesus on the cross which bought our forgiveness and removed our guilt.  We have a hope made sure that any ministry service, any sacrifice, any suffering for what is right, any gift in Jesus name, any obedience, and any act of faith will not have been wasted. They are all safe in the Father’s hands.

“For you” — You who believe (1st Peter 2:6). Only those whose faith is placed squarely upon the grace given by God through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross have this assurance.

We can be at peace knowing that our toil is not in vain. We are free from the fear that in the last innings there will be no chance of heroic home runs from the opposition leaving us in shock wondering, “What just happened?!”

The precious words of Edward Mote in his famous hymn will always ring true…

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand.


When darkness veils His lovely face,

I rest on His unchanging grace;

In every high and stormy gale

My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand.


His oath, His covenant, and blood

Support me in the whelming flood;

When every earthly prop gives way,

He then is all my Hope and Stay.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand.


When He shall come with trumpet sound,

Oh, may I then in Him be found,

Clothed in His righteousness alone,

Faultless to stand before the throne!

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand.

Are you as tired as I am?

Over the last decade or so, I have learned three truths which become more evident with every passing year.

The first my dad taught me as his life was slowly ebbing away. I’ll never forget hearing him say, “Dying is not for the weak.”

The second is closely related. I’ve heard it from many and am experiencing it more with every passing year; sometimes with every passing month. That is, growing old is not for the faint of heart.

The third, I’ve come to see upon personal reflection and conversations with people of all ages and walks of life. Before dying and getting old, life is not for the weak.

It matters not where or who you are, life is exhausting, every part of it. Sometimes it seems like we are doing nothing more than trying to climb an unassailable mountain. 23481287704_9a29272c56_z

Our world, our social and professional venues, our relationships (both social and familial) challenge us and test us. Most of all, we have ourselves. We struggle, fail, and face our own limitations daily. It has been rightly said, the most difficult and challenging leadership role is that of leading ourselves.

A life of faith following Jesus is no different. Living by faith is exhausting. Living obediently is a constant battle. Striving to live like Jesus is overwhelming. The world around me and my flesh within me work tirelessly to undermine my faith and strive to to tempt me away from my Savior.

Serving, leading, and caring for others is often met with minimal effect. My own personal self-centeredness, pride, and arrogance meet me at every turn. Sometimes I just get tired and the Enemy tries to get me to say “What’s the use, what does it matter anyway?”

There is a promise though. The promise of rest. The promise of a harvest. The promise of glory which can’t compare. It calls me to persevere through the daily grind of serving, of endlessly having to confess my sin, and my unending need to rely upon Jesus. Daily I’m reminded that life is only a vapor (Psalm 90) but eternity is, well, forever. The promise of life in Jesus calls me to see now with a view to eternity; past the toil, struggle, and pain of this life.

Hebrews chapter 4 teaches us there is coming a day of rest; rest from the toil and burden of the evil around me and the sin within me. One day, those who through faith have had their sin forgiven and have been re-born by the work of Jesus on the cross, will have their tears wiped away for eternity when they finally stand in the presence of the Lord (Revelation 21:1-4).

Paul called his Galatian readers to “…not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Galatians 6:9). I was recently asked, in essence, what will we reap, what good will come? The thought was expressed out of frustration that God hadn’t answered their prayers the way they had wanted. All I could say was, “I don’t know!” He just says we will reap for doing good. In God’s economy “good” will bring “good”. Most often Scripture does NOT tell us exactly what we will receive, just its quality (cf. 1st Peter 1:3-5); a quality so good according to Romans 8:18 that it won’t even be in the same universe as the pain and suffering we experience in this life.

I am reminded of my routine of planting flowers each Spring. Every May I buy several bulk packages of what is simply labeled as “wildflowers”. From year to year I have no idea what kind of flowers will grow but grow they do! Each year is different and each year’s flowers are beautiful. I really don’t need to know what I will “reap” for not growing weary, I just know I will and it will be good because God is good beyond my ability to even comprehend.

Yes, every bit of life is exhausting, but don’t lose heart. Don’t give in to the weariness.

When the World Seems to Win

50330754_2080232692023605_1616641349665161216_nOn January 22, 2018 a significant battle was lost in the war to proctect the lives of unborn children when New York legalized abortion up to the moment of birth.  All, no matter which side of the line one is on, recognize this is not merely one battle in a chronology of many. This was a momentum changer. This was the type of battle which could determine the outcome of an entire war. Inevitably, this will be the first of many such events in our nation in the days, weeks, and months to come.

So what do we as Christians do? How do we, how SHOULD we respond when the world seems to be winning, and that in a landslide?


A number of months ago I made such a statement in regards to the political climate we were living in and received a fair amount of criticism. I was accused of being trite and a acting like simpleton. There is nothing trite nor simplistic about exercising trust and faith in His Lordship, sovereignty, goodness, and omnipotence. Faith is foundational to our relationship with God. The writer of Hebrews states, “…without faith it is impossible to please Him…” (Hebrews 11:6). Faith and trust are active. It is the ignorant and simplistic who themselves believe a call to trust is a call to inactivity. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Genuine faith moves the faithful to action and sustains their faithful actions even when times seem hopeless. Genuine trust looks beyond what is visible to the eyes and emotions, not allowing passion to turn to panic. Psalm 37 calls men and women of God to persevere in wicked times without sinking into the depths of fret and worry.

A couple thousand years ago a truly innocent, righteous, and holy man was executed by an angry mob, liberal and vain religious leaders, and evil politicians. Wicked injustice was celebrated with cheers of victory and His followers retreated into hopeless defeat.

Then, when all seemed lost and the darkness of despair seemed to be swallowing them whole, Jesus was raised from the dead in an unmistakable display of victorious glory. In a few short weeks those who had called for His death and cheered His demise were calling out in terror, “What shall we do?!” (Acts 2:37). THAT was the game changer as 3000 were turned to Christ in one overwhelming work of the Spirit upon the hearts of sinners.

Yes, let us trust and faithfully “…hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful…” (Hebrews 10:23).


While in the midst of challenging times it is critical to keep reminding ourselves of what our purpose is. Our calling is simple. We have been called to make disciples. Discipleship contains many elements but teaching is central. A disciple is a learner.

The victory being celebrated is based on the passing of a legal matter into law. Law though, has limited ability to bring about good in society. Laws will indeed restrain some and laws will give freedom to others regarding morality. The truth is though, law has almost zero ability to transform individuals and society.

Let’s not be ignorant. Law reflects a society’s moral world-view and the application of law will have significant impact on the lives of those living under its rule. Those truths are certain. What will bring about transformation though is not changing the laws of society, it is changing the MIND of society. To change society we must change individuals. To change individuals, we have to change their mind.

Do we want change the way people view abortion? We must return to our biblical roots. We must teach God is Creator. We must call people into submission to His sovereign lordship. We must teach our eternal accountability to our Creator. We must personally be devoted to those truths and live those truths. We must demonstrate the value of life by the way we love and care for all people, born and unborn alike. We must confess our hypocrisy of caring for the unborn child while having wicked hatred in our hearts for those pass laws allowing for their death. Let’s not forget there is a difference between hating the immorality and evil of those who celebrate the death of children and hating THEM. Remember, they were once an unborn child we fought to protect. Just because their thinking has become repugnant, they are still a “life” Christ died to save.

Yes, let continue to fight for laws which are right, good, and moral. Let us even more submit ourselves to the Lordship of Christ and be ready to make a defense of our hope (1st Peter 3:15).


Yes, talk. Talk to God. Talk to Him passionately, emotionally, consistently, and in humility. We need to cry out to God on behalf of those whose hearts are hardened and for those whose lives are most vulnerable. 

The prophet Habakkuk cried out to God. He cried out for the Lord to help. He was surrounded by violence, iniquity, wickedness, injustice, and the resulting destruction those elements will always produce (Habakkuk 1:1-4). God answered the prophet’s despairing cry. God responded with the assurance that He was about to do something “…you would not believe if you were told…” (Habakkuk 1:5). 

We are called to teach and proclaim God’s word and to be a light to the world. We are called to care for those God places into our lives. We are called to live driven by conviction and purpose. We are called to be diligent, faithful, and hard-working in serving the purposes of God. Ultimately though, we are called to believe (and trust!) that only God can change the human condition as well bring about justice.

The prophet loved his people. He was despairing at what he saw and experienced. The intercession he raised to the Lord on behalf of the nation did not rescind his responibility as prophet but revealed the source of change if change was to happen.

Our greatest efforts will come to naught without the intervention of the Lord. Likewise, any success cannot be attributed to our own good efforts but to the power of God working through us; many times in spite of us.

Yes, let us trust and not despair. Let us keep working, teaching, and pleading with those whose hearts are hard. Let us keep bringing our efforts and those we seek to minister to before the Lord, the only author and perfector of faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Happy New Year or Happy for a New Year?

So, how was your year? Was it everything you hoped for and wanted it to be or was your year such that you are one of those who can’t wait for 2018 to end? I have spoken to more than a few whose thoughts are that 2019 better not be worse than 2018 as it was a year they would rather forget. Here’s hoping to a better 2019, right?

I understand the point. Nobody wants, pain, disappointment, hurt, and/or grief. We all know those experiences are normative in life but having a break from them for a year isn’t too much to ask is it? This mindset becomes a problem though when we begin to live with the view that a pain-free existence is what is owed me by God and thus what I deserve.

The hard truth of the Bible is this: Christians have been called to suffer. No, not in some masochistic, “woe is me”, martyrdom, with an Eyore complex but with the purposeful work of the Lord in our lives and following the example of Christ Himself.

Peter wrote in his first epistle,

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness… (1st Peter 2:21-24)

If we are to understand the role of suffering in our lives and embrace the will of God in the midst of it all there are a couple of points we need to consider.

1) Our suffering as Christians is tied directly to our salvation and our life in Christ.

We must first realize our suffering is purposeful. Suffering in our lives is never whimsical or meaningless. God doesn’t allow or even bring suffering into our lives simply for the sake of suffering. As it is part of the purpose of our salvation we must trust that our suffering is likewise part of God’s plan for us; both in us and through us.

This comes into focus with crystal clarity when we look past our suffering to the suffering of Jesus. He didn’t just suffer on our behalf, He suffered both as an example for us to follow as well as a path in which we are to walk.

2) Suffering is intrinsic to God’s redemptive purposes.

Jesus suffered ultimately so save us from our sin. Peter states that Jesus “bore our sins in His body on the cross”. The holy and sinless Messiah took our sin upon Himself on the cross. In taking our sin and paying our price for sin He took our guilt and God’s wrath which we alone deserved.

LIkewise, the purpose of our suffering is to be seen as redemptive; not redemptive in saving ourselves or others from their sin but yet working with Christ’s redemptive work on the cross to accomplish God’s purposes in us and through us.

If we are to follow Christ’s example in suffering, we must learn to look outside of ourselves and beyond ourselves. In 3:15 Peter encourages his readers to always be ready to make a defense to any who would ask of the hope within them. What would compel someone to ask us about our hope? How we live while suffering! As we follow the example of Christ two realities will flow out of us as we suffer.

First, we will exhibit faith. Peter reminds us in 2:23 that while suffering He “kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” Jesus was able to go the cross, take our sin and guilt, and suffer the Father’s wrath for sin because He had complete trust in God to judge Him rightly. In other words, He trusted God that His suffering would ultimately end well for Him.

Secondly, we will demonstrate a level of unexplainable joy. The writer of Hebrews in 12:2 wrote, “…who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.” Similarly, James instructs believers to “consider it all joy” when we encounter all manner of trials (James 1:2). Joy is different than happiness. God doesn’t expect us to be happy when we suffer, rather, He calls us to be joyful. What’s the difference? Happiness is solely focused on circumstances. Happiness is the absence of pain while experiencing personal pleasure. Joy, on the other hand, is the settled contentment and satisfaction of resulting good, regardless of pain or the lack thereof.

In this way, our suffering works as a platform for the gospel to be proclaimed through us to those who need to experience the saving work of Christ. There is no more powerful a witness than to trust in the midst of incredible crisis and to have a joy amid grievous circumstances because of our settled trust in God’s goodness to us no matter what we may see or feel.

Suffering is also personally redemptive. Suffering puts in the place of continually learning to trust God more and more. As Jesus “entrusted Himself to Him who judges righteously” it teaches us to trust as Jesus Himself had to trust. It also compels us to draw close to the Lord. James continued addressing trials when we wrote, “…if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God…” What wisdom is needed during trials? In context it would be two specific things. We need to seek the wisdom to know how to be joyful in our trials and how to have perseverance in our trials. Joy and perseverance, two critical areas of growth we all need. Trials and suffering work to get us there, to a place of God-glorifying maturity and wisdom.

I have come face to face with a simple fact: God loves me too much to keep me comfortably free from suffering. Suffering puts me in position to be and do what He calls me to do and promises to bless me for. By suffering rightly, I am a witness for Him. By suffering rightly, I grow closer to Him. Aren’t those two actions what we all desire as Christians?

No, I don’t want pain, nor do I wish pain upon anyone. I do know though, God will use and redeem the pain He brings or allows for both my good and His glory. I pray that is good enough for all of us.

Here’s to a Joyful 2019.

A Matter of Perspective

Perspective is a funny thing. While watching the Dodgers in the postseason I noticed my opinion changed depending which side of the ball the Dodgers were on. If a Dodger whiffed on a pitch it was because they were a buffoon. If the Braves/Brewers/Red Sox whiffed it was obviously due to the amazing skill of the Dodger pitcher. The Dodgers received either all the credit or all the blame. That’s my perspective and I’m sticking to it.

The problem with that is my perspective is flawed. It is emotional, often irrational (usually), and most assuredly self-focused (always). My perspective is based on my wants, my desires, and my pleasures. If someone or some situation does not contribute in some way to the fulfillment of those things it is universally viewed as “bad” and must be “wrong”. In baseball that is mostly acceptable and appropriate. I’m a fan and a fairly passionate as well as opinionated one at that (shocking, I know)! That is how being a fan works. Viewing the events of my life through that same lens though is anything but healthy and overtly contrary to Scripture and the life of faith.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NASB)

He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

Isaiah 46:9-10 (NASB)

“Remember the former things long past,

For I am God, and there is no other;

I am God, and there is no one like Me,

Declaring the end from the beginning,

And from ancient times things which have not been done,

Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,

And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;

Romans 8:28 (NASB)

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

1 Peter 5:6-7 (NASB)

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

I have been created to understand and know the significance and value of the events and workings of my life but that sacred knowledge comes only through faith in and knowledge of God. It is rooted in His proven and unassailable character which He has demonstrated through the ages. God knows me and knows what is best for me. Every move He makes in my life is based on His perfect knowledge, His perfect love, and His perfect purposes. My life simply needs to be lived in a settled and abiding trust He will make good on His promises and purposes in my life and in the world.

My focused pursuit of personal happiness will only lead me away from what is good and will always be in opposition to what is of God. Only via a resilient reliance upon Him will I realize meaning and satisfaction to the seemingly tumultuous events and circumstances of my life.

Now, if I could just get the same from the Dodgers…

A Tale of Two Bushes

06989786-EB08-414A-8F36-2BE4B5A1445EOne of my lifelong dreams has been to live somewhere I could have wild berries growing in my yard; not just a few in pots scattered around the patio mind you, but an actual berry patch. This fantasy land in my mind has begun to take root and sprout into reality since we moved to Alaska.

Two summers ago we planted both raspberry bushes and blueberry bushes around our yard. While the blueberries have yet to come close to thriving or bearing fruit, the raspberries settled in and established themselves nicely to the point we could legitimately say we had a small crop last year. Furthering my excitement, several of the bushes began to send out runners and spread through the yard; my bear patch…er, I mean…my berry patch was indeed coming to fruition!

With great excitement and anticipation, I began examining each bush for signs of spring as soon as the snow had melted and weather began to warm a month or so ago. I wasn’t too concerned initially, but after several weeks of seeing nothing but brown sticks where there once were berry bushes, I began to fear my precious fledgling berry patch had become a casualty of a long winter. About the time I was giving up hope, several bushes suddenly came to life! Brown was morphing into green, stalks were turning into stems and leaves. Hope was kindled! 

As I began to diligently search each bush for life though, I once again struggled to stay encouraged as it appeared less than half of my bushes had survived the winter. I was tempted to give up on the brown and focus exclusively on the green. In reality, it wasn’t a great loss. I still had the makings of my dream berry patch. Yet, something within me said, don’t give up, keep watering. Faithfully, I continued to water and care for those lifeless plants in the same was those who by now were bursting forth with life. Then, just yesterday, I noticed something on the one bush which looked more like a bush-equivalent from The Walking Dead. There amongst the seeming deadness, was the smallest sign of life. It wasn’t much, just a tiny green sprout, but it was alive! With a renewed energy I got on my hands and knees to check each of the other moribund bushes. To my amazement each “dead” bush was showing signs of unmistakable life. In my rush to judgement and in establishing my own chronology for these plants I came close to uprooting them and casting them aside.

The discovery of life amongst my raspberries reminded me of truth carrying significantly greater consequence. People grow in different ways, at different times, and much differing contexts than I am often willing to accept. It is so easy for me to think I know what is alive, what is dead, what is worthy of casting aside, when the reality is, I don’t. It is God who sees the heart, it is God who springs up life within sinful people, it is God who causes the growth.

The Apostle Paul penned these words in 1st Corinthians 3;5-7,

What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.

My calling is only to be faithful to water and care for those in my life and to do so for as long as I am able. That is my only responsibility. God loves all people more than I ever can or will. He alone sees their hearts, knows their needs, and establishes their life’s chronological narrative.

Similarly, I am also very tempted to rigidly define what life looks like and judge accordingly. I thought my plants were completely lifeless because I couldn’t see what God was doing in the unseen parts, the roots and within the stems. As I couldn’t see what I defined as life, I judged them as dead. Spiritual life though, works in just the same manner. 

Peter writes in 1st Peter 1:23,

“…you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” 

James keeps with a similar thought when we wrote in James 1:21,

“…in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.”

The life Christ gives at salvation never begins externally. Rather, as with all life, it begins internally, as an implanted seed, and only then bears the evidence of life, bearing fruit externally.

Jesus, forgive me when in my arrogance I think I know what is alive and what is dead. Please continue to remind me to simply be faithful to live and proclaim the truth of your word. Please help me not to give up on people but entrust them and my ministry to them to your sovereign, loving care. Amen.

Labels, Titles, and Position

Louis_Litt_NameWe have long been taught that labeling people is at the very least unkind and in the extreme demeaning and hurtful. Labels affect responses and expectations. No matter whether the label is viewed through a “positive” or “negative” grid, labeling is almost exclusively unhealthy.

In much the same vein, titles and position are often viewed with a jaundiced eye. Titles and position routinely corrupt the sincerest of hearts while often calling into question the purest of motives. The pursuit of title and position (and the power which accompanies them) has brought about the downfall of many otherwise wonderfully good people.

Yet, in spite of this, God is not shy about labeling His people and giving them both title and position. The New Testament is replete with labels, titles, and position given by God to His people. A cursory look reveals God’s people are called…

Adopted children  (Romans 8:15)

Children of God (Romans 8:16)

Ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) 

A chosen race (1 Peter 2:9) 

A royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9)

The People of God (1 Peter 2:10)

Furthermore, I dare say our universal aversion to labels and titles has led believers to discount, avoid, and even to a degree, deny what God has given for our good and His glory.

In writing on this topic in his little book on Evangelism, J. Mack Stiles states (page 101), “…we may not feel like representatives of the kingdom of God, but that is what we are. It is how we are seen in the spiritual realms, and it’s an astounding truth.”

Labels, titles, and positions given by God are astounding truths indeed! Though I believe the enemy wants believers to minimize and be dismissive of how God views and empowers us, as we embrace and believe what God tells we are, our lives will shine more brightly and more powerfully for Him.

Here are just a few principles to consider related to our labels, titles, and position before God.

1) Our position establishes our relationship with God. 

Our position as the children of God firmly establishes the uniqueness of our relationship with God. He is our Father, we are His children. As His children we are to obey and submit to Him. He is the one we answer to and defer to above all others. He is our authority.

That we are the children of God also assures us of His protection and provision.  He will hold us safe and secure beginning in this life and extending into all of eternity. We have nothing to fear with God as our Father. He will meet all of our needs in Christ and give us our daily provision of grace, mercy, and strength to live in relationship with Him.

The simple title “the People of God” is very significant as well. This designates that we belong to God. He owns us and by right of ownership He is able to use, direct, and command us for His purposes as He sees fit. Many people recoil at being “owned” by God but when we examine His ownership we see something to be wholeheartedly trusted and embraced.

God owns us because He bought us. He paid for us with the death of His only precious, beloved, sinless Son. He sacrificed what was most precious to Him so that we could be His people.

 2) Our labels assure us of our place of security before God.

Not only are we the children of God, we are the adopted and chosen children of our Heavenly Father. Our relationship with the Father was initiated and accomplished by His own volition and will. He is not stuck with us, rather, we are willfully His. He desires that we are His children and continues to pursue our relationship with Him. He makes provision for our growth and care not begrudgingly, but passionately. We have no fear of being abandoned, cast aside, or forgotten with God. We can live confidently within His amazing grace.

3) Our titles define our purpose and calling from God. 

God was not whimsical or flippant when He gives us the titles of ambassador and priest. These two titles define our calling as being one of service to God and service in His name. In simplest, general terms, the entirety of our lives is to be spent serving God to accomplish His purposes.

Specifically, as ambassadors, we are to speak His words, on His behalf, to those who are not His. We are to tell of His ways, His character, His intentions, clearly elucidating His will for the world He created.

As priests, we are called to serve our Lord by bearing the burdens of others, teaching them, and caring for them in the name of Christ. We are to extend the offer of forgiveness and grace in the name of Christ through the work of Christ.

As ambassadors, we speak on God’s behalf. As Priests we serve on His behalf. This is our calling, this is our purpose. These titles, though, also give to us the authority and right to speak and serve in such a manner. Our commission is from God. We do not need the approval of man nor the permission of society; the King and our Creator has empowered and authorized our work for Him.

It is time we put aside our insecurities and be the people God has labeled us, entitled us, and positioned us to be.