Tag Archives: Life

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One of the often neglected benefits of the Church is her people.

We tend to see the worst of Christians in movies and sitcoms, but of the hundreds of Christians I am blessed to know, I am continually amazed by the compassion that I find. Take a bunch of sinners, put them in a room together, and you’ll be amazed by what God can do with them.

As I reflect upon the church, it is saddening that people live without it — not merely the experience of worshiping a Holy God, but the experience of knowing His people. And I’m not just talking about people to hang with, but people to hurt with — people who will shelter, feed, and comfort in the midst of life’s worst moments. After all, the church is not a building of wood or stone, but a people of flesh and blood.

If you haven’t experienced the life within a church, or if it’s been a while, send me a message. I’d be glad to help you find a local church in your area.

#GiveChurchAChance
#BeTheChurch

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FROM A ROOM

 

i have held photos and heard rumors
of the mud hills of montana,
the fire falls of yellowstone,
and the patient rain of seattle.
a decade has passed by now, and i am here,
waiting in a room, writing poems
about far away places.

with time, the room changes from a living room
to a coffee shop to a doctor’s vestibule,
but my hand remains constant on the pen.
my pen digging deeper into pulp,
into paper harvested from the wild,
i wait for nature to claim its own,
for life to lead me to new life.

 

 

 

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First and foremost, resurrection is not a subjective feeling, but an objective reality. Any benefit that we receive on a personal level is grounded in the fact that Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead.  

In other words, our hope does not arise from positive thinking, fuzzy feelings, or religious sentimentality, but from the historical reality of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. His physical body rose from a physical tomb, and because of this objective reality, our hope is not based in ourselves or our passing emotions, but in Christ.  (1 Cor. 15)

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It is important to apply Colossians 3:23 to all aspects of life. In that verse, Paul reminds us that “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men.” In other words, our work should be defined by maximum effort and the right motives.

Many of us miss the mark in one way or the other. Some people become accustomed to their situation, becoming overly comfortable, and slow down in their efforts. They may have good earthly reasons, such as a lack of pay or a mean boss, but they forget the ultimate purpose of their work. Other people work hard, but for the wrong reasons. They work to please men instead of the Lord, and in so doing, get distracted from the goal.

A.W. Tozer pointed out that we often live out of fear. We choose the easy route (fearing hard labor) or the common route (fearing opposition from others). In reality, the best choices in life are usually difficult and unpopular.

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The family was designed by God to be a unique place, the most basic form of community, where much of our spiritual growth can occur.

Because God designed families, churches should support families and minister to them. In this effort, churches need to encourage families to live out their faith outside of Sunday morning. It is during the week, within the natural context of our home, where we make our daily decision to follow Christ.

At a formal level, midweek gatherings help parents, children, and youth to refocus on Christ. At the same time, there needs to be balance. Especially for young families, rather than “over programming” and having families over-commit (which can be counter-productive to spiritual growth), churches should support spiritual growth that can take place within the home. Extra help should be provided for young families who are just starting their journey.

We should never forget that churches need to be a “second family” for dozens, if not hundreds of people. Many do not have families, and others do not have healthy families. Because of this, it is important for the church to be sensitive to these needs and provide a safe place for orphans, singles, divorced, and widows. As the church loves as a family and ministers to those in need, the gospel is supported and enabled to spread (Acts 6).

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Missional has become a buzzword in Christian circles, but what does it mean? There are many different responses to that, but in my mind, here are a few descriptions of what it means to be missional:

Incarnational:
You display God’s good news in the way you live.

Contextual:
You connect God’s good news with everyday life.

Personal:
You view yourself as a missionary wherever you are.

Communal:
You connect with others in order to spread the good news.

Cultural:
You communicate God’s good news in a relevant way.

Continual:
Your entire life is committed to God’s mission.

Looking at that list, all of us can strive to be more missional. Before we label ourselves as “missional,” we need to be careful to recognize that being missional is more than a label. It is not a simple yes or no. There is always more that we can do.

First Ice Cream

I wonder how much time we spend wanting something else. When a child, we want to be adults. When we are adults, we want to find a job and a spouse. Then we want a child, maybe a few. When we have children, we want a house, then a bigger house. We also want a car, a television, a computer, and so on. Our cravings never seem to cease.

I was reminded of this today when my daughter ate her first ice cream cone. She never asked for ice cream because she never knew that it existed. But when it was offered to her, she entered baby heaven! She wasn’t consumed with all of the possible deserts or all that she did not have. Rather, she was so delighted with one simple ice cream cone. Her smile was bigger than I have seen any adult smile in months, if not years.

King David once wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” (Ps. 23:1) If we could fully grasp that, most of our moaning and groaning would cease. We would not be consumed with what we do not have; instead, we would realize that we have all that we need in God. And when content, we are filled with deep and inexpressible joy, no longer enslaved by temporary things.

 

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It is good to ask God, “Where are you?” Some of us are afraid to ask, thinking that our faith or our soul is in jeopardy. But in reality, it is quite the opposite. If we are asking God where He is, it means that we care and that we want to know where God is. In fact, we are better off when asking this question. As Scripture says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)

Living in New Testament times, we are apt to answer this question too quickly. We dismiss passages like Psalm 22, where David asks, “Why are you so far from me?” Often we flippantly respond that David didn’t know the whole picture. Now that we have the New Testament, we know that God’s Spirit lives inside of us (1 Corinthians 3:16, Romans 8:11), so we no longer need to ask God where He is.

But honestly, that is only part of the picture. In Psalm 22, David is not asking a question about spatial location. He was well aware that God is omnipresent; in other words, there is no place where God is not. (Psalm 139:7-12). Nor was David doubting that God was within earshot. Otherwise He wouldn’t have prayed when He felt distant from God. (Psalm 51:11, Ps. 44)

What did David mean, then, when he asked God, “Why have you forgotten me?” He felt distant from God in terms of God’s relational presence. We do not know whether God was actually distant (because of sin in David’s life) or if He only seemed to be distant (because of David’s feelings). In either case, though, it was good for David to ask.

In the first case, when we sin, we should always ask God where He is. We should reject our sin and turn back to Him. As 1 John 1:9 reminds us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Though we have gone astray (Is. 53:6), God is faithful. When we are willing, we will always be able to find Him.

In the second case, we should also seek God. Our feelings are easily swayed by our circumstances, trials, conflict, chemical imbalances, or even a lack of sleep. Because of this, when we feel distant from God, we should immediately seek God. Just as God can heal our physical body, He can also heal our emotions. (Exodus 15:26) It is so important that we trust God with our entire lives, not excluding our emotions.

This is wonderful news for anyone who believes in Jesus Christ! God provides a perfect balance for us. On one hand, we are not called to a fake happiness or to smile all of the time. As it says in Eccelesiates 8:6, “there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.” There is a time to face reality and mourn. (Ecc. 3:4)

At the same time, we do not need to needlessly struggle with depression or downheartedness. We can rejoice and experience inexpresible joy in our life — not because of who we are, but because of our hope in Jesus Christ. Our hope is a living and secure hope because it focuses on God who, unlike our circumstances, does not change. It does not spoil, fade, perish, or ruin. 1 Peter 1:3-9 helps us remember the hope that we have in Christ.

In closing, hear the word of the Spirit, who is able to encourage us whenever we feel like David:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Pet. 1:3-9)