The Difference of a Word

From an early age we seem to be drawn to wanting more, or wanting different. We say or think the phrase, “I wish _____”. As kids we wish for a new toy, for something different to eat, to be able to do whatever we want, or even to be someone different. We live a life pursuing an alternate reality. Given Eden, man wants to become God. Our hearts are desperate wanderers. Even in the best of circumstances, we still long for something more or different.

He never promised you the job, the education, the spouse, the marriage, the kids, the church, the city, or the circumstance of your dreams.

Garden City Publishing

I think a lot of us actually feel like God did promise us these things. I say that by how we are all so guilty of taking these things for granted. Myself included. Instead of finding overwhelming gratitude and contentment, we see what we perceive as missing in our lives. The ‘haves’ in life are drowned out by the ‘have nots’, and we’re left reeling for more. The pity party begins rather than the praise party which should be a constant in our lives.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Paul was a man who gave his life for the mission of God. A mission that all of God’s children have. And life was by no means easy for him. Prior to speaking these words the man had been beaten, left for dead, ridiculed, shipwrecked, bitten by a serpent, mocked on trials, and yet, with the same breath, he said rejoice always. Not sometimes or in the highs of life. But always. Why? How could he say this? Because there is always something to rejoice about. There is a God Who loves us. A God Who made and designed us for a purpose. A God that has woven value into every single one of us. A God that has pursued us every moment of every day. Even when we didn’t know He was there. And even when we were running away. A God Who paid the ultimate price so that our sins wouldn’t be the final chapter of our story. A God Who has prepared a home for His children to be welcomed into a glorious eternity.

This is so much greater than anything we could wish for. Instead of saying “I wish” let’s start saying “I have”. Dreaming and hoping for things is not a bad thing. But if it wrecks our hearts or sours our souls, then we have lost sight of all that we have so graciously been given already. A heart that requires nothing else is a heart that has found peace. In the midst of Job’s darkest days, he never forgot to praise his maker. Wherever we find ourselves today, in abundance or in trials, let’s make our lives a worship song.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.

Our Love is measured by our generosity

If you’ve ever wondered just how loving a person is, you need look no further than how generous they are. The Bible defines love as being others focused. That means sacrificing and serving. It’s giving our time, energy, and resources to the improvement and benefit of others.

Generosity is far more than giving money. Think of the selfless parent who devotes every waking hour for their family. Or the spouse who actually stays by their partner’s side through sickness and health, richer or poorer, rain or shine.

Professions of choice can be a reflection of a generous heart. The soldier or policeman who puts their life on the line for freedom and security and their brothers and sisters in arms. Or the teachers who tirelessly strives for children, who are not even their own, to be able to have an education and a future. The nurses and doctors who work incredibly long hours to provide healthcare to society and save lives.

But we can’t set aside the times people use their financial resources to bless others, or more than that, even save others from ruin. I know more than one person who gave a vehicle away to people in need. They didn’t sell it cheap to them, they gave it to them. And they were good vehicles. Not junkets that they never use. I know people who have given thousands and thousands of dollars. Sure, not all of us have those resources, but we all have something. The problem for some of us isn’t that we don’t have enough, it’s that generosity is too big for us.

True generosity, the kind that honors our God, is the kind the causes us to sacrifice. Donating leftovers is no better than throwing table scraps to our dogs. Love is sacrificial therefore generosity must be as well. To be generous, it must cost us something. And I don’t mean that it costs a couple Starbucks drinks. I mean real cost.

Generosity also doesn’t include loans. In fact, God tells us not to demand repayment or to give to those who can repay us. To give a loan, means you’re getting payment in return. Banks aren’t considered generous, they a business. So is the person who gives expecting repayment. And that goes further than money. Reciprocal giving and serving is not generous. If we expect or demand anything in return, it can’t be labeled as generous.

We have to get in the back seat of our lives. If we are to grow in love, we must grow in generosity. Pray for me and I will pray for you. Peace and Christ brothers and sisters.

The Power of Consistency

No one should ever underestimate the effects of living a consistent lifestyle. We have to fight for positive godly habits. When we incorporate them into our lives they will produce amazing results.

I know a lot of people that bag on the rituals of the Old Testament, but they served to create a pattern of worship in people’s lives. Of course, there’s always the chance that someone will get fixed on the rituals and lose sight of God, but it isn’t meant to be that way. That’s a heart issue. Just like how the Pharisees and Sadducees were so concerned with the law that they couldn’t even see the law giver walking among them in the person of Jesus. But the pattern of living a life of worship is meant to draw us closer to the One we worship.

I think many Christians lack godly habits of worship that are consistently engrained in their day to day. It has become an all too common practice to just work them in when they’re convenient instead of allowing them to shape our lives in a way that we plan everything else around our worship of God. The result of such a lifestyle is a somewhat empty walk with Jesus and a life that lacks Holy Spirit power.

When Jesus talks about abiding in Hin and then His love that as a reference to a constant state of being. We can’t possibly abide in Christ if our acts of worship and devotion are spotty at best. If our life is too busy to be in a consistent state of worship on an individual basis, with our family, and then a community of believers, then it is simply too busy and out of alignment.

When God said that we need to write His law in our hearts and minds and door posts and meditate on them when we wake and when we lay down and when we go about our way, He never inserted a clause that said when you have time. He obviously meant this to be a consummation of our entire lives. If prayer, meditation, devotional, worship, and serving others aren’t things we do everyday, then we need to pause and reevaluate how we’re spending our time. That’s something that should be done often anyways. I know I have to.

What can you do today to create a more Consistent life of abiding in Jesus?

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters!

Live like we have life

“And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John‬ ‭5:11-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The gospel message is pretty clear: Jesus equals life. An eternal life and the life blood of God’s Spirit here and now. But how many of us are actually living like we believe that? How many of us are filled with unmovable hope? Does joy mark our existence or are we weighed down by the worries of this life? More than all of this, what are we doing to get the message out? If we believe Jesus is life, shouldn’t we do everything in our power to let others know that? But many of us keep to our own Christian circles and rarely look for chances to share the gospel with those outside. I guess until we fully realize the magnitude of the offer Jesus has given to us, we can’t fully understand what we are meant to share with the world. Lord please renew in us a full appreciation for your loving grace. Awaken our hearts again to the joy of your salvation.

Pray for me to be bold and I too will pray for you all. Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.

Allusive Peace

When Jesus said we can have peace through Him, I believe Him. But I will be the first to admit that it’s allusive at times. At least that’s how it seems. The problem is my innate ability for distraction and misplaced priorities make it difficult to maintain a state of peace. I work a lot. I mean a lot. I have a family with three little ones, Bible Study, a business, and a teaching career. I find myself constantly battling the concerns of being a husband, father, teacher, business owner, etc,,,that I don’t often stop to smell the roses. I’m living month to month, instead of minute by minute most of the time. It’s a cycle that deepens as life progresses. But it’s also a cycle that can be broken at any time.

This is my manifesto. I will choose the moment rather than planning all the upcoming moments. I will soak in Jesus presence as often as I can possibly make time. I will choose to look at the silver lining in all circumstances. I will be the rock my family needs. I will stop allowing the stresses of life to have any hold on my heart. My life is good because I have Jesus. And because I have Jesus, I have salvation, rest for my soul, and peace with God. And it just so happens that God has blessed me with a wonderful wife and three awesome kids.

Money will come, because God will not abandon His own. Life will go on and we will all be under His loving watch. His peace will no longer be allusive in my life. How about yours?

Maybe today is the day for you to write your manifesto. Wherever you’re at, today is a gift. Let’s receive it with joy.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John‬ ‭16:33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Age old lessons

There are many things that our parents and grandparents taught us that have never ceased to be important. There is a such thing as transcendent truths. What was good for society a hundred years ago still holds strong today.

One of those lessons that seems to be getting shoved to the back is the quality of follow through. In an ever-changing society we see people dabbling and not committing. When relationships get tough more and more people want to bail. When perfection can’t easily be achieved, giving up seems like the best option. Try this for a little bit then when you’re tired of it, move on. But where is the staying power? Where is fortitude? Is perseverance no longer a quality to strive for?

I am not much for ranting. I’d rather spend my time encouraging and empowering. That’s how real change can occur. I implore you, brothers and sisters, set an example of endurance. Let’s be a people that do what we say we will do. As believers in Christ, our commitments can not be empty promises. Just think, if Jesus would have quit when things weren’t easy, the world would have been lost in sin. If God had no follow through, we would be lost in darkness. God’s faithfulness is our example.

In James chapter 5, God tells us to let our yes be yes and our no be no. Failed follow through is the same as a bold faced lie. If our word means nothing, we cannot be trusted in anything. If we make a commitment, we must make a way to see it done. Haven’t we spent enough of our lives with unfinished chapters? Lord help us be people of our word, to the smallest detail.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Love’s Ink

5edd286a704e3d5768bf3715e6633ca8

In your frustrations and disappointments, let Jesus fill your need. He is our hope in the times where hope seems lost. Our problems can be consumed by the eternal fire that God breathes into our souls. Much of life can feel like groaning and yearning for greater things, or even for difficult things to pass. It is both to the future and the past that we must look. Look first at the fact that you are known and cherished and created with a purpose. Look next to the unthwarted pursuit of God in the lives of His creation. Then gaze upon a hill, where a blood-stained cross displays a love far greater than any of us deserves. But that love did not stop there. There is also a tomb…an empty tomb that shows our destinies are not surrendered to death. Our future is written with love’s ink.  Glory awaits. Freedom awaits. There will be a day when the pain ceases and joy will be the only emotion we know. Because of Jesus, our hearts do not need to remain downcast. The victory is won and an even greater victory is coming. Hold strong brothers and sisters. Pray for me as I pray for you also. God is good and He has always been for you.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Peace in Christ loved ones!

Banners of Faith

Why is it the radical faith and obedience to Jesus is criticized so much in the church? The last I checked, we are supposed to die to ourselves and live to Christ. I’m pretty sure the Bible says that we have been crucified in the life we now live we live by faith in the one who died for us. I believe that the Bible also says to be a living daily sacrifice. Doesn’t the scripture also read that we are supposed to keep our minds and hearts set on the things of heaven and not the things of earth? Didn’t Jesus commission his followers to go to the ends of the earth spreading the good news? Aren’t we to walk as he walked?

It’s an inescapable fact that Jesus didn’t sugarcoat what it means to follow him. We are supposed to be all in. We all have a cross to pick up and carry daily. Perhaps the reason why that is met with so much criticism is that complacency and comfort have exceeded conviction and our commission in the hearts and minds of so many. I feel it weighing me down so often as well. I have to fight the urge to just go about living my life, as crazy and hectic as it is, and not put the mission of Jesus at the forefront.

The Bible says that Christ is our life, nothing else. When we see people who actually live like that, we should be motivated to do the same. Paul told people in the first century to follow him as he followed Christ. Was he perfect? Not at all. But he lived sold out for the faith. Jesus was the end all for his purpose in life. That’s what being a Christian should look like. All the times I fall drastically short of this, I draw off of the examples of so many extraordinary men and women of the faith, past and present.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians‬ ‭3:1-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters!

The Heart of Adventure

Does the unknown deter you or invite you? The heart for adventure and exploration is divine. It requires faith. Abraham went to a place God would show him before he knew any details. Noah built a giant ark in a world that had never seen rain. Joseph endured many hardships on his way to save nations. David faced down a giant when few believed in him. Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, Isaiah, and all the prophets walked a path against the grain of culture to try and steer a nation back to the Lord. Mary accepted a calling unlike any human has ever been given. Followers of Jesus sold all they had to support one another and the mission of spreading the Gospel. And that’s just dipping our toes in the water when looking at all the amazing stories of adventure and faith in the Bible.

So much of life is unknown. Does that energize you or depress you? Jesus went so far as to tell His followers to go out to the nations with little to no provisions. God took an entire nation through the wilderness. And in both examples, the Lord proved faithful in providing all their needs. Christians are a people built for the unknown, for there faith abounds.

We need to stop living such a controlled and precise lifestyle and get our hands and feet dirty. We need walk into whatever God calls us to without all the answers. We need to stop hiding behind the mantra of “I don’t think I’m called to that.” Our desire to be faithful to God needs to outweigh our fear of failure. We need to be ok with things not being perfect and calculated. A life we attempt to control will be frustrating and so much emptier than the one God intended for us. That life is full of His wonders and there’s no telling what may lie ahead.

His adventure awaits brothers and sisters!

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Sabbath wild style

Candles lit, hands washed, and shofar blown, I sit down to a Sabbath meal with my family. It all goes perfectly. Not exactly. It’s always fun trying to explain to my 6 and 4 year old daughters the idea of rest and peace that the Sabbath brings, especially when my one year old son is tossing food from his high chair. Or trying to have a good chat with them about who Jesus is while they are making a mess with their soy sauce and their cherries. Or reading a few verses from the Bible while my son is seemingly trying to outmatch my voice. But it’s all worth while when we bow our heads and my girls pray their beautiful childlike prayers thanking Jesus for being their hero, teacher, and savior. Brings a tear to a dad’s eyes. Bring on the wild sabbath dinners any time. Thank you Jesus for your rest, even in the wildness of life.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters