Searched By God

Before I get started, I have a confession.  Over the years, as a result of the work I was doing, I spent a lot of time on airplanes. On occasion, I failed to fully adhere to TSA guidelines for carry-on items (the confession part) and went ahead and packed that big tube of toothpaste or the massive thing of hair gel (don’t judge). In looking back on those times, I remember thinking that maybe I can get away with it and not have to throw these recently purchased items in the trash.  I knew the screening systems were sound, but there might be a chance they would miss finding the rule-breaking items in my bag.  There were several times it worked.  I was able to get the items to their destination and avoid the inconvenience of having to make new purchases.  I saved money, and I saved time.  Victory! In reflecting on my TSA smuggling efforts, I was convicted that I often view my sin in the same way. I like to think I can hide it from God by rationalizing that no one else is hurt, or it’s small enough not to matter.  After all, isn’t God merciful and forgiving?  Won’t God overlook mistakes?  One of the most under-emphasized attributes of God in the church today is His wrath.  The culture of the church continues to veer further and further away from the God described in the Bible.  In Hebrews 10:26 says, “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation...
Derailed by Distraction

Derailed by Distraction

In a world filled with multi-tasking, speedy technology, on-demand entertainment, and social media, it is easy to understand how we get distracted. I have been disappointed at times when I realize how much of my attention the computer, or some other electronic device has captured eaten up my time. What about you, when was the last time you sat still, by yourself, with zero stimulation—all in an effort to quiet your soul? My guess is that it has been awhile. In fact, if you are under the age of thirty, you may never have done anything like that. For anyone pursuing a deeper relationship with God and a closeness to Jesus, the idea of distraction can be depressing. It is challenging enough to handle the day-to-day work that comes our way, but we also live in a culture that rewards busyness over quiet reflection. What we need is a supernatural time management program, but, until that gets discovered, we can look to the Bible for three key thoughts on dealing with distraction. Purpose—The apostle Paul provides perspective on biblical purpose in Colossians 1:28 when he writes, “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.” He makes it clear that this is what he works for; to proclaim Jesus to people and challenge them to grow in God’s word. We have a charge to the do the same thing and a clearly stated purpose plays a major role in keeping us “on task”. Do you have clarity on your purpose? Priorities—Having a clear focus on...
The Cost of Christ

The Cost of Christ

In Luke 14:25-35 Jesus makes it clear that it costs to follow Him and in concise language He spells out the details on what the cost will be. The words He uses in this teaching really got my attention and challenged me to think about paying the price. His statements are direct and very absolute. Consider verse 26, where He says, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple”, or when He says in verse 27, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Statements like “hate his own father and mother”, “carry your own cross”, and “cannot be my disciple” provide little room for interpretation. Studying these verses has challenged me to ask two very specific questions of myself and I wanted to share them with you as you seek to know our savior more deeply: Question 1: What has following Jesus cost you in your life? Question 2: When have you been uncomfortable or inconvenienced for the sake of Jesus? Are these questions tough to answer? I know when I first started thinking through these questions, I really wondered if following Jesus had cost me anything. In the Luke verses He tells us that being His disciple can cost us relationships, a lot of inconvenient living, our resources of time or money, and even all our possessions. Had I given up any of those things for the sake of Jesus? Fortunately, as I prayerfully thought...
Empty

Empty

When you think about the word empty in terms of a feeling, it doesn’t feel like a great place to be. Imagine for a moment if someone you love sat down and described how they felt about something using the term empty. Would you be encouraged? Do you think you would be able to congratulate them on getting to a point where they were empty? Most likely you would respond with an attempt to help or improve the way they feel. However, when it comes to serving Jesus Christ, empty is exactly where He wants us to be. Although this may not be an encouraging thought, emptying yourself for the sake of the gospel brings with it reward and a life filled with purpose and meaning. As my wife and I have pursued growing our relationship with Jesus and engaging in His work with His people, we have recently found ourselves in the middle of a lot of pain and suffering. Sometimes it is big big rock issues such as a broken marriage, health problems, and death. At other times, it’s simply the pain we experience as we watch people make bad choices that lead to frustration and suffering. As we walk with people through these challenges, we find ourselves burdened with their pain and seeking God on their behalf for direction or deliverance. Have you ever found yourself truly feeling the pain of a friend as they suffer? I would suggest this is one way that we suffer for the gospel in the same way the apostle Paul told the Philippians they would get to suffer (Phil 1:29). When we suffer with others, we can often feel emotionally and even physically spent,...
How Big Is Your God?

How Big Is Your God?

I travelled to Haiti with a church group to serve with a team at a pastor’s leadership conference. This was the first of its kind for this group of Haitian pastors and the team who coordinated the event. There was a great turnout, and God was really working on the group who participated. At the same time, He was really working on me. For starters, I had to teach through a translator which is pretty challenging. I knew the process would stretch me, but I had no idea how uncomfortable it would make me. I remember the first time during the talk when I said something to the translator and they simply looked at me with a puzzled face. Turns out what I was trying to say couldn’t even be translated in the local language. There were moments when I had no idea what to say next, but each time God provided words and I managed to get through the sessions without any major problems. God reminded me that day how big of a God He is. The depressing part of the lesson was that God showed me how small I make Him. When I pray my prayers and look at Him through the lens of my own life, I realized I have a tendency to put Him in a tiny little box and lean on Him based on my circumstances. The idea of His bigness escaped me. However, the Haitian people sparked a new perspective in me through the simple act of prayer. I distinctly remember a time when the entire group was in prayer after one of the messages. During the prayer, I could hear the low murmur of the Haitian people...