Past Exhilaration

Forgetting Forward

Roller Coaster

I can still remember the day that I got through the fear. I remember it well. I was in the eighth grade and my parents took me and my brother to Disney World. The drive to get there from our home just outside of Washington DC seemed like it took forever, which is one of the things that helped me get over my fear. I told myself, “I’m not traveling all the way down to Disney World and not riding these awesome roller coasters everyone’s talking about, just because I’m afraid!”

So, there I was standing with my brother outside of the coaster I heard about the most: Space Mountain.

After the ride was over I realized a couple of things: one, I was still alive, and second, that was actually exhilarating! Like, I want to ride that again! I think we rode that crazy roller coaster eight times strait!

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In the Beginning, God… An approach to the New Year


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In the beginning, God… These words probably seem familiar because they are the beginning of the Bible. And, what great words they are–of beginnings. I can think of no better place to begin reading on the first day of the year than Genesis 1:1.

That’s what I love about celebrating the New Year, it’s a beginning. The beginning of something new.

Beginnings are great, especially if you understand why there is a beginning at all. The best way to understand the beginning of your New Year is by looking at the beginning of the beginnings. In the beginning, God…

  • Beginnings are deliberate.

If they weren’t they wouldn’t begin. In the beginning when God created, he created with and on purpose–deliberately. He began because He wanted to produce.

You have an opportunity to begin in many ways new, but this new beginning will not happen by accident. Beginnings never do. So, as you look at the beginning of a new year, what in this year would you want to see happen in your life? As you answer that question know this: your answer will never happen unless you’re deliberate in doing it.

Want to begin a new job? Want to begin a new hobby? Want to learn another language? Whatever it is, it will not happen unless you work at it on purpose.

Be deliberate.

  • Beginnings have a clean page.

In the beginning of beginnings it all began with a clean page on which God could begin His narrative. “The earth was without form and void,” was the beginning with which God was working. He could make it whatever He wanted to make it.

This may not be as true for us, since we are not God, but we do begin the New Year with a clean page. A page on which to write your story this year. More on what to write later, but the only opportunity squandered is an opportunity missed. So, don’t miss a great opportunity that comes with a beginning, the ability to write your story.

It doesn’t matter what happen last year. You cannot live this year on last year’s successes, nor are you confined this year to last year’s failures. You are free from that past. That is why Philippians 3:13-14 mean so much to me:

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13–14, ESV)

Start Fresh.

  • Beginnings have a plan.

God began with a clean page but not an empty mind. He had a plan for that which He would create. He didn’t lay out the plan for His creation to see before hand but we can clearly see, through the intricacy of what He created, that He certainly had a plan. And God fulfilled the plan He had. Earth, Heaven, the sun, the moon and stars, fish and animals, and yes, even you and me are a result of that plan.

To adapt a statement from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, I’d rather try something and fail then try nothing and succeed. The best way to see your new beginning produce something deliberate is by having and working a plan. Without a plan you only have a dream. But, with a plan you ensure that you will always be doing something instead of nothing and something always produces…well…something.

Make a plan.

  • After beginning comes rest.

God gave a very necessary example to us when He finished working His initial plan. He rested. Hopefully you’re thinking something like, “The infinite God of all creation cannot get exhausted like me, so He had no reason to rest.” And, you’d be right. He wasn’t tired. But, He did “deliberately” gives us an example.

This example that God gave became part of the Mosaic Law. We are not under that Law, something for which we should all be thankful, but we do have permission–permission to rest. And, we also have a need to rest. As I’m writing this I’m writing it to me: make sure you take time to rest so you will have the energy it takes to continue to work the plan. Give yourself permission to rest!


One more thing:

What story should I be writing and what should be my plan? The answer to this question goes back to the beginning; back to the beginning of beginnings. “In the beginning, God…”

Know that when God began deliberately, and with a clean slate, and with a plan, He had you in His plan. The best way to see success in your plans are to make sure they match His plans for you.

How do you know His plan for you? Well, let’s begin right here:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27, ESV)

God’s primary purpose for you is that you live and reflect His image. He created you for that. Here’s one more:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… (Romans 8:29, ESV)

As you deliberately write a plan on the clean page of your life this year, begin  at the beginning  God has given you, to reflect the glory of God the Son. Make sure your plans merge with God’s plan and live the New Year in a great way for Him. As Dr. Henry Cloud wrote: “God did not put us on the earth to fail to reflect His likeness.” Succeed in that and succeed in your New Year.

Be deliberate, start fresh, make a plan, and rest.

Happy New Year!


The Great Divide


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Unless you’re living in a vacuum, I’m sure you’ve noticed that on many major issues of our time, the people of our society are greatly divided. This division in thinking and ideology seems to be widening by the minute these days. But why?

At times, we seem to have the same chance of closing the gap between sharply contested topics like homosexual marriage and abortion as Evel Knievel had jumping the Snake River Canyon in his Skycycle X-2. (If you weren’t around in 1974, Evel Knievel didn’t come close to making it.) There are a lot of good people trying to have conversations to close the gap, of which I’m in favor, but the canyon between us seems to be widening ever further.


The differences of opinions and reasoning behind stances on such hot topics like same-sex marriage can become complicated quickly, but the reason for the chasm between the opinions of such an issue is actually quite simple:

The source of our information. Our starting point.

So much of the gap between the sides of the conversation, or at times the debate, is because we are working through completely different lenses of thinking. If the foundation and framework of our thinking is different, our conclusions can never be the same.

It’s seems so much of the debate ends up with the calling of people with opposing views evil or to have ill-intent. I don’t think that’s the case. At least, not all the time.

So, can we bridge the gap, or, at least bridge it enough to have a conversation? 

Since the audience of my writing is primarily Christian, I think it’s a good idea that I begin with us.

Do I think Christians should change the framework of our thinking? Heavens no! But, it may be that we need to change the way we have the conversation. (Before you come to some conclusion that I’m going to suggest we water down truth keep reading).

You see, so many engaged in public debate over these issues seem to think yelling the position they hold louder, or in a more provocative or inflammatory way, will win the argument. But, that’s actually not possible. It only widens the gap between us. Christians on street corners holding signs and screaming that marriage should be between and man and woman or that abortion is murder, isn’t going to change the minds of those who don’t view marriage or abortion the way Christians do.

How do I know? Because all the picketing and yelling about people’s rights to marriage or the woman’s right to choose does absolutely nothing to change my mind. My thinking is resolute.

So, where do we begin?

First, let’s talk about the best place to not begin. With everyone’s feelings.

If we can’t speak objectively, we can never come to a conclusion worth having. We have to have some kind of source for truth and my feelings or your feelings are not a reliable foundation for that. They never can be. They’re subjective.

Christian, if you and I are going to have a conversation worth having with those who may not believe the way we do, we can’t begin with our feelings either. We must begin with the objective truth as it’s been given. And, it has been given!

When it comes to any conversation of truth or seeking truth, the Apostle Paul gives some incite on where we should begin; at our foundation:

that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men. (1 Corinthians 2:5)

But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. (1 Corinthians 2:7)

Tim Keller does a great job in explaining that the “secret” wisdom that Paul is speaking about is not something that’s kept from man.

In the Bible, this word is used to mean not some esoteric knowledge known only to insiders but rather some wondrous, unlooked-for truth that God is revealing through his Spirit.

My conclusions on these difficult topics do not come from how I feel or whether or not I want someone to be able to live out their rights. It comes from questions like these:

Why are we here? Were we created? Do we have purpose? In searching within the truth for these answers we find the foundations that answer so many more questions.

Christian, don’t just know what you believe, know why. Search the truth of the Word and let God, through the wisdom of His Word, found and shape your thinking. It will be through Christians knowing why, that the chasm between the sacred and the secular will narrow through real, profitable conversation.

What to remember on 9/11


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As I remember September 11, 2001 I remember it vividly, as you probably do too. Like so many others I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. I also remember how I felt. The thought of all those people who just went to work, another day like so many they’ve worked before. Then, out of nowhere a horrible tragedy  occurs that’s difficult to put into words.

As I reflect today, I sense the need to remember that day in some other ways too.

Jesus told a story in Luke 11 of some people who lost their lives in very tragic ways. Some by way of murder and others by way of accident. He told the story to make a point which was this: the people who perished didn’t do so because they were somehow worse people than those who didn’t. They perished because they were the ones who happened to be there.

He goes on to say, in a statement that can been difficult to hear, that the same thing could happen to us. It could happen to anyone. So, the most important thing we need to know today is that we’re in right relationship with God, through Christ.

As you remember 9/11 remember this:

Remember to live today ready to meet Jesus.

The Apostle Paul spoke of not being ashamed of His coming. That is, live everyday expecting Him, living your life with such a heart-attitude that you’ll be glad to see Him. Would you be happy to see Him today or ashamed?

Remember to make God the source of all your satisfaction and sufficiency.

He really is the only way to live a satisfied life. Work can’t do it, physical fitness can’t do it, the right boyfriend or girlfriend can’t do it; only Christ.

And, Remember the countless men and women who through the years gave their lives so what we’d be free to speak and write like this.

We all must remember today that freedom is not free. It wasn’t free for our nation and it wasn’t free for our soul. Every time I contemplate the cross of Christ I remember. And, every time I think of 9/11, I remember.

I still have that feeling when I think of 9/11. The fear, tragedy and horror. I remember all the pictures of the missing people posted on walls and light poles in New York. I also remember that I’m not guaranteed tomorrow when I live on this earth. I remember that God has used this tragedy at least for one thing good, to remind us…of our need for Him. 


Religious Liberty – American Christian’s Most Important Pursuit?


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I’ve had a lot of response from my post about Kim Davis and my opinion about what she’s doing. I thought it may be beneficial if I share the underlying truth that drives me to my conclusion. This especially since the topic brings much debate and because some Christians may struggle to understand why I said what I said. (If you haven’t read that post you may want to take time to read it by clicking here).

Several years ago I read a book titled, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxes. To say I was impacted by the book would be an understatement. If you’ve read it (and you should if you haven’t) I’m sure you were as impacted as I was. The lingering question in my mind after reading that book was, where was the church during the rise of Nazism? Why were the German Christians seemingly silent during one of the worst human atrocities in history?

The reason the church was silenced in Nazi Germany wasn’t because they failed to rise up against the regime and fight for their rights. The reason the church was marginalized and silenced was because they had long before stopped relying on the Gospel and living for it. The church in Germany forgot the mission of the Gospel and therefore they were silent.

As I look now at the landscape of Christianity in America, like you, I see a movement to remove religious liberty from the fabric of our nation. I’m not comparing what’s happening in the U.S. to what went on in Nazi Germany, but, I am comparing how the church as a whole views their purpose. So many Christians seem to think that the most pressing issue for Christians today is ensuring we don’t lose our religious liberty.

This is a major problem.

Look through the book of Acts and look through the New Testament epistles; can you find anywhere that Jesus, Paul, Peter or any other New Testament writers covered the Christians pursuit of religious liberty? No. Not once. Why?

You can also read through The Book of Martyrs by John Fox. You also will not find, anywhere, Christians fighting for their religious liberty much less their freedom or any other rights. To the contrary, they were willing to die for their faith with no thought of what we call human rights today. Why?

They knew that when they began to follow Jesus Christ they were giving up their rights. More than that, they were completely giving up even worrying about their rights, liberties and freedoms because they were consumed with the person of Jesus Christ and what He called them to do. Simply, live the Gospel.

When I look at the history of the church I come to this conclusion: God is not obligated in any way to preserve our religious freedom. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pray for Him to do so, but the answer could be “no.” Are you okay with that?

So, why are American Christians so consumed with religious liberty? What should be the paramount work of the person who follows Christ? It is to make sure we don’t lose our religious rights in America?

I now watch this panic rise up in Christians and you can see the fear all over what they’re saying. Christians in America are afraid of losing the religious liberty. But why? Do you think that the only way you and I can truly be Christians is through religious liberty? What I see in history, when the church flourished the most, is it doing so without religious freedom. Actually, the church has flourished most during times of persecution.

The reason the church flourished was because the Christ follower’s greatest concern was the Gospel and nothing else. Christians today seem to be more worried about their religious freedom than to their calling to the Gospel.

If you didn’t know, the church in America has been on a long, slow decline for a long time. Churches are closing at a rapid rate and many are walking away from the faith. All that began during a time of religious liberty. So, if you want to argue that we need religious liberty for the Gospel to survive in America, you’re not looking at history nor do you see the Gospel right.

So, why am I critical about the way the Kim Davis case has been handled? Why does seeing and hearing all the Christians jump on that band-wagon bother me? Because it seems that we’ve set aside our purpose of the Gospel and replaced it with a purpose of religious liberty. And that’s not our calling!

The reason there is such division between Christianity and secularism in America is simply because the church has lost it’s voice. It’s lost it’s voice because Christians are ever so ready to use their freedom of speech to speak in ways that are not filled with truth and grace. Many Christians seem to be more concerned about their rights than they are about the Gospel.

Don’t forget, when you said you’d follow Christ you said you would “deny [yourself], take up your cross and follow [Him].” If you didn’t say that, you’re not following Him. This is a path that leads to death, not rights.

Here’s the point: Everything that we’re doing and saying as Christians should be about the mission of the Gospel. Not our rights.

If we get that wrong, we’ll continue to lose our voice to this generation and lose our ability to live out our calling in the Gospel.

Kim Davis — Kentucky Clerk — Martyr? Really?


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Kim Davis

With social media all a buzz about Kim Davis, the clerk from Kentucky, and so many Christians ready to make her the next Christian hero, I’m finding myself not so ready to do that. By the way, I am a Christian. By that I mean that I am a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ. But, my take on Kim Davis may be a little different from yours.

It seems that many Christians in the social media world are ready to make Kim Davis a poster child of the Christian’s plight in America. Is this person someone who Christians should be deeming a hero of their faith?

Take a couple of minutes and think this through with me:

Is what Kim Davis is doing actually a biblical response?

When Kim Davis ran for public office, she actually, by choice, placed herself under the authority of the government. That means she placed herself in the position to submit to that authority as long as she holds the office.

Paul wrote of the Christian response to government authority in Romans 13:1-6. By the way, the Christians to whom he was writing lived under the rule of a government that wasn’t overly friendly to their faith. I won’t quote the entire text, but here are the headlines of what Paul was saying:

  1. Every Christian should be subject to the governing authorities.
  2. To resist the authority is ultimately to resist God.
  3. The ruling authorities are not a “terror” to us unless we’re doing something wrong.

Though this text doesn’t cover everything in regard to Kim Davis’ case, I don’t think anyone can truly make a biblical case for what they’re doing without dealing with these pivotal New Testament verses and how they apply to us today. Kim Davis deliberately put herself in the position to submit to the government authority.

Peter also wrote about our attitude toward the ruling authority over us to people who were being persecuted for their faith:

“Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17, ESV)

The truth is, the government can’t make me marry someone else who is my gender. I can live my life under this government as a Christian without being forced to live a way that compromises my faith. So can Kim Davis.

I don’t like the fact that through one court decision the Supreme Court of the United States changed the law about marriage any more than many of you. I don’t like that for a lot of reasons that go beyond the decision they made. That’s not what the Supreme Court is supposed to be doing per our nations constitution. But, that, tragically, is the way it is!

That means that Kim Davis, as long as she’s a county clerk in Kentucky, must live under that law and the oath she made when she took the office. In case you’re wondering, I don’t think that Kim Davis should just simply “do her job” as so many on the blogosphere seem to think. I think she should quit her job.

I’ve also read where some Christians want to equate her to Daniel, and his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. (That’s their Jewish names) They weren’t elected officials, they were disposed captives and had no choice but to do as they were told to do. That’s a big difference from someone who purposely ran for a public office. Daniel and his friends would have gladly resigned their posts to live faithfully set apart for God’s work. They were forced to make hard choices as the way things were. So is Kim Davis.

Secondly, they were told that they were not allowed to live their faith, at all. That’s not happening with Kim Davis in Kentucky.

The office she holds is not one that brings change to law or policy, it follows it. If she wants to bring change to the law of the land, she needs to run for a different type of office. As a Christian in America, she still has the right to do that.

Is what Kim Davis is doing really some kind of martyrdom?

The Kentucky clerk worked for the state and in taking that job, like everyone else in the world, agreed to work the requirements of that job. Here’s the thing: she’s been filling an office for the state that has never been in agreement with her faith. This is nothing new.

But, it seems, now, that many Christians want to make her a martyr. To put her on the level of someone who’s been dragged out of her house in the middle of the night in India and beat to death in the street, or the people in North Korea meeting in secret and fear just to read the one Bible the group has hoping to worship together without being caught and arrested, is ridiculous.

She’s not being prosecuted or persecuted for her faith. She’s being prosecuted for being a government official, by her own choice, then not doing what the government for whom she works tells her to do. To call that some kind of martyrdom is an insult to true martyrs.

This is also not the same thing as a government official walking into a church demanding a pastor to officiate a marriage that He doesn’t believe is biblical. Not even close.

If she wanted to make a statement about her faith, she should have resigned the day she learned she would be required to issue marriage licenses she believes to be un-biblical.

Do I want Kim Davis representing me?

I preached a sermon series back in the spring called “Word.” During one sermon in that series I spoke of how the church has lost it’s voice in the American culture. One of the ways the church loses it’s voice is the when Christians speak in ways that are not gracious and loving. That’s being done more than I’d like to admit in the discussion of homosexual marriage. (By the way, I’m writing and about to begin a series that will discuss marriage and homosexual relationship and marriage in-depth; biblically).

Just so you know, I don’t believe there is such a thing as gay marriage. But, that doesn’t mean I have to agree with the way all people who call themselves Christians talk about it or act about it.

If you haven’t noticed, it’s not a good idea for anyone or everyone who claims to be a Christian to be the spokesperson for our beliefs. Kim Davis is not my spokesperson for two reasons:

  1. She’s only been a Christian for four years. She’s not ready to be my spokesperson, or any other Christian’s either. There’s a reason Paul told Timothy that people seeking leadership in the church should first be proven. She’s not qualified to lead.
  2. I don’t espouse to her theology. Believe it or not, not all Christian theologies are equal. I can’t fly the banner of Kim Davis any more than I could ever do so with the Duggars. Though in some ways different, they both hold to a legalistic, works based evaluation of holiness and godliness. They believe the Christian must change their behavior, when the New Testament clearly teaches holiness and godliness comes when God changes our thinking and the heart of our thinking through “the renewing of [our] mind(s).”

I’m not looking for a hero in her, the Duggars or anyone else. By the way, I’m not trying to retract the Duggar flag now in light of the Ashley Madison scandal either. Because I never flew it.

Here’s my advice: before you make statements calling Kim Davis a hero, use vitriolic voice to speak about what’s happening in our nation, or share information on social media that others are saying, stop and think. Think about who they are and what they’re really saying and doing. Think about how that really works out, biblically.

Not every Christian who speaks or acts, is representing Christ well.

Christians are so busy looking for a celebrity for the cause; looking for a hero. Why? We’ve always had one. His name is Jesus. If you’re looking for a banner to fly let it be Him. That way, we can reflect who He is, as He is, “full of grace and truth.”

Past Exhilaration


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Roller Coaster

I can still remember the day that I got through the fear. I remember it well. I was in the eighth grade and my parents took me and my brother to Disney World. The drive to get there from our home just outside of Washington DC seemed like it took forever, which is one of the things that helped me get over my fear. I told myself, “I’m not traveling all the way down to Disney World and not riding these awesome roller coasters everyone’s talking about, just because I’m afraid!”

So, there I was standing with my brother outside of the coaster I heard about the most: Space Mountain.

After the ride was over I realized a couple of things: one, I was still alive, and second, that was actually exhilarating! Like, I want to ride that again! I think we rode that crazy roller coaster eight times strait!

This opened the world of roller coasters to me. That summer when we went as a family to a theme park close to our home I was riding everything they had. And, I’ve never stopped. When my daughter was six years old, I had her on every adult ride she was tall enough to climb on; and she loved it too.

But, I realized something after years of riding the same rides that used to be so exciting to me. After riding a roller coaster 50 times, it loses much of it’s exhilaration. It’s just not as exciting anymore.

You know, so many people walk into churches and they’re looking for something. And they should be! Everyone who walks into a church is looking for what they’re looking for. What I mean is they know what kind of music they like, and what they don’t, what kind of church “feel” they like, and what they don’t, what kind of preaching they like…You get the point.

When they come into church and it’s what they like, it’s exhilarating. I often have conversations with folks about that. They’ll say, “the worship is fantastic,” “the sermons are just what I need” or “the people are so friendly I feel like I’m at home.” Just so you know, to be a pastor and hear these things is definitely a win!

Inevitably, however, after a while the church can become like my experience with roller coasters. What was once so exhilarating is now, because of familiarity, no longer that big of a deal. And, it becomes easy to drift. What happens? The same thing with so many Christians in America. They stay for a while at a church, it loses it’s exhilaration, then off to the next. So many American Christians are bouncing from church to church because the excitement and newness wears off after while.

What’s the answer?

1. Remember what church is really all about.

If you’re looking for a church you should find one that makes you glad you were there. There’s nothing worse than boring church. As a matter of fact, it’s a tragedy when worship of our great God and His Word are made boring—because there’s nothing boring about them!

But, church is not about being excited all the time. It’s actually about Jesus and following Him. If you didn’t know this, following Him is not always easy and He never promised it would be.

2. Remember that Jesus brought you to His church on purpose. 

You are a part of the whole and that matters more than you may know. Paul uses the metaphor of a “body” for the local church. And a great metaphor it is. A body only functions correctly when all it’s parts are in place and healthy.

Paul Tripp explains it this way:

Autonomous Christianity never works, because our spiritual life was designed by God to be a community project.

It’s good that you loved what you saw and experienced when you first went to your church but make sure your love for Jesus and understanding why He calls the church together become important to you too. Then, you’ll become a part of the church’s mission:

Reach people with the Gospel—make disciples—change the world.

Let me tell you, there’s nothing more exhilarating than being a part of the church that way!

3. Church doesn’t exist for Christian consumption.

If Christians are always just looking to be exhilarated, the work of the church will actually never be done. And, that work is the only thing going on in this world that’s actually of eternal impact. That’s pretty important.

Thom Rainer states this very well in his book I Am A Church Member.

Rainer states that Jesus,

placed us in churches to serve, to care for others, to pray for leaders, to learn, to teach, to give, and, in some cases, to die for the sake of the Gospel.

In other words, Christ brought us together for so much more than a fleeting feeling of exhilaration.

If you’ve spent any amount of time in church, I’m sure it’s been for you like roller coasters became for me when I was a teenager—exhilarating at first but not so much with more familiarity. Just know, that for you to see the church as more than that, is incredibly important. It won’t always be so exhilarating, the sermon won’t always be exactly what you want to hear, and the song choice won’t always be the one you like the most.

But, the purpose and eternal impact of the church will never be less than Jesus gave His life for it to be. And that’s a huge calling, purpose and impact that needs to include you.

photo credit: <a href=”″>IMG_4766</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>(license)</a&gt;

The Myth of Prosperity – And why it won’t make our nation great again.


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Many of the candidates throwing their hat in the ring to be the next president of the United States are speaking much about helping our nation return to something she was in the past. Just so you know, I understand what they’re saying. Everything in our nation seems in flux these days. Many are asking questions like; how did things get this way? Why is it that our nation seems so different? What happen to patriotism?

There are a lot of opinions and even more questions as to why things are the way they are. Let me share, though, what won’t bring our nation back to what it was:


I completely understand the confusion, however. So many think that prosperity is what made our country great and many, many immigrants came to this nation looking for that prosperity. What the immigrants had, however, was much greater than prosperity. (More on that in a minute).

Unfortunately, the confusion continues even in and through the American church. So many look at the church as a gateway to prosperity and look at God as someone who exists to give us more and more. Megachurch pastors seem to be competing against each other to see who can build the biggest multi-million dollar mansion and who can buy their own private jet. It’s pretty bad when CNN has to tell people who Jesus was and what He taught. (See Video below).

Now, we have Donald Trump throwing in his candidacy for president, full of boasting of his own prosperity. The Donald rolls out his campaign plan by boasting his eight plus billion dollar net worth. His goal is seemingly to lead us back to prosperity. He has no hope of doing that by the way.

The problem is that the search for prosperity and our finding sufficiency in it is fleeting.

Here’s the truth: prosperity is not what made our country great. That which made our country great is what made us prosperous.

We’re not the first nation in the world to place false hopes in prosperity. It’s happened many, many times before. You can see it all through history in the story of many nations like the Greek Empire, the Roman Empire, and yes, even in God’s own nation of people, Israel.

Through the prophet Isaiah, God told Israel what their prosperity was actually getting them–nothing. Actually, it was less than nothing. Because they “did not look to the One who [gave] it,” Israel ultimately lost it. And that’s why America is losing it too. It is today just as it was then, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (See Isaiah 22:8-14)

That’s why James’ words are recorded in the New Testament:

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. (James 5:1–2)

Because prosperity does not deliver greatness!

As long as we think prosperity is what makes men great, we’ll continue to choke on it.

Will God allow our prosperity to fail? Has He? The answer is yes! Why? So we will return to the things that truly made our nation great. He knows as long as we’re enamored with stuff we won’t be seeking Him and He is gracious enough to let those things fade so we will look up again.

You see, it wasn’t prosperity that made the immigrant come to the United States. It wasn’t prosperity that made him leave his home and family in search of something better. It was hope.

Hope is why many an immigrant came to the shores of the U.S. Hope is why so many men and woman in history have looked up from adversity and found the strength to continue. They found the ability to put one foot in front of the other to work, fight, climb, and struggle to make it; to even be great. It was hope! That’s why the psalmist so long ago wrote:

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:11 Emphasis mine)

Will prosperity make our nation great again? No. Is it evan possible for our nation to be great again? Maybe not. But this I know, if we ever decide to return to what made our country great in the first place, things like faith, hope, and love; only then will we ever see greatness. Only then will we again be a place where people will want to come for a better life.

Hope in God!

(Start at 39:56 to see Trump share his net worth)

The “Amazing” of grace – My personal thanks


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The Amazing of Grace.001

Have you ever struggled to say thank you? I don’t mean struggled as in the inability to say “thank you,” but struggled in how to go about saying thank you? Struggled to find a way that is adequate? I find myself in that place. (I don’t know who all I need to thank but want to reach everyone in some way. And, I don’t want to post an annoyingly long Facebook post. You’re welcome for that).

So, here’s how I want to attempt to say thank you properly:

I’ve been so pleasantly and unexpectedly reminded of grace and why grace is so amazing.

When John Newton wrote his famous hymn he was definitely right about something, grace is amazing. What makes grace so amazing? It’s amazing because it can’t be earned or expected. Grace is a gift that comes when you’re not looking. Grace lifts your spirits even when you didn’t know you were down. Grace is salve to places you didn’t know were burning. Grace is, in a word, amazing.

As a pastor I speak much about grace, specifically God’s grace, and spend much time trying to deliberately extend and give grace. But, sometimes I can forget how much of a recipient of grace I actually am.

So often, I see the struggle; so often I am confronted with hatred, betrayal, struggle, abandonment and it can become easy, though I constantly preach grace to forget to “see” grace. God’s grace is always at work in my life through Him directly and through others who extend it. To make sure I remember that, every now and then God gives me reminders as He did so well this past weekend through you.

So, here’s my “thank you” to those who were such a blessing to me and my family this weekend. What you did was an incredible act of grace during a time of trial. I know that our personal trial was something that all of you encounter in your lives too. I also know that you were not obligated in any way to bless us as you did. Yet, you were an incredible blessing to us, it was completely unexpected and we are overwhelmed.

In doing so you reminded me again of how God’s grace works. Unmerited, unexpected and extended purely out of love.

You have reminded us of your love for us; you have been a picture of God’s unfailing love for us; and, you have reminded us of God’s amazing grace toward us. Thank you!

I leave you with one of my favorite New Testament verses:

“For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother(s) [and sisters], because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” (Philemon 7)

Thank you!

Faithful when faithfulness gets difficult


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Walking-Away Have you ever noticed that the longer you are a Christian, connected and involved in a church, the more seasons you see of difficulty? I’m speaking about the relational, spiritual and emotional challenges that cause some people to walk away from fellowship and seek it somewhere else. Often even seeking it in community outside of the church.

I find myself often talking to new and growing believers and almost warning them. I warn them because I know that what is now so fresh and so potent in their life, their new life in Christ and the unbelievably liberating joy it brings, is a feeling that they will not always have. Eventually, to continue in Christ and in fellowship with the local church in which He places us becomes difficult. There will always be seasons of that. Why does it become difficult? Because we know in our world that anything worth doing will be difficult or bring difficulties. If that is true, and it is, how much more true will that be for eternal things? So, we agree that difficulty will come. As a matter of fact, we’re promised that difficulties will come. (John 16:33)

But, here’s the question: How can I stay faithful when faithfulness gets difficult?

1.  Remember truth is not about how I feel. It’s about who God is.

On of the biggest stumbling blocks that keep Christians from continuing in what and where we’ve been called is self. In our culture of self, feelings rule. The problem is feelings so often take us away from the truth. That’s why Paul wrote Philippians 4:6-8. You’d better believe that he struggled from time to time with his feelings. But, he never let them rule his thinking. “Whatever things are true…”

2.  Keep Jesus as the greatest authority in my life.

The necessity of Jesus’ authority in life will always bring us to this question: who am I trying to please? The answer to this question will (or should) determine much, if not all, of what I do and why I do it.

This won’t be easy, however. There are times that Jesus will ask us to do things the we don’t want to do. Remember, He’s taking us away from self and toward him. We need to recognize that when He asks us to do things we don’t want to do, it’s not a curse, it’s an unbelievable act of grace!

3.  Recognize the spiritual battle.

The spiritual battle gets people off the path and out of the fellowship of faith quicker than anything. Satan wants to divide, and he’s good at it! He’s been practicing for millennia. That means that the major temptation you have to walk away may very well be straight from the playbook of the evil one.

This is why it’s paramount that when Christians have relational problems with others in the church, they go to that person, or people, and seek resolution. That’s what Jesus is asking the people of His church to do.

4.  Resist the devil and draw near to God.

This is the only response to spiritual struggle that will keep you on the path on which Christ is leading you. And, by the way, He is leading you into His church and to continue faithfully. (Jesus leads everyone that’s following him to the same place: the church, local, active and faithful. And also to the cross. But, that’s a different blog post.)

We are not told anywhere in Scripture to fight the devil. We are told to straight up run! He’s powerful and he’s a jerk. But, when we resist him the promise is that we can drawn near to God who will ultimately keep us where He wants us. (James 4:7)

5.  Pray – ask for help and strength.

Jesus connected prayer to both watching and waiting. Prayer keeps your focus right and that focus must always be the One you call Lord and Savior. Only then will you and I be able to stay faithful when faithfulness becomes difficult.

So, if your currently in community within a church and you’re struggling to stay faithful. Remember, God led you there for a reason, and He didn’t do that on a whim. Remember also that community takes patients, forgiveness and even a little work. But, because of the Gospel it is worth it! Remember, anything worth doing will be difficult.

 Stay faithful, He’s worth it!


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