The Fear of Failure

Who really wants to talk about failure? A recent article reported the phrase “fear of failure” as one of the top internet search items, so it appears to be on the mind of many today. Years ago, I experienced a failure “trifecta.”  After nearly 10 years of sweat equity and short-lived successes, my business venture with many investors failed financially.  Despite much prayer and counseling, my marriage of 12 years ended in a difficult and costly custody battle involving our 3 young kids.  My body started to fail as financial and emotional stress coupled with sleep deprivation further diminished my ability to do even simple tasks.  My thoughts became cloudy and my emotions often got the best of me. While it didn’t happen overnight, it all came crashing down in a matter of a few months.  I had been walking with Christ for over 10 years at this point but often found myself fearing failure more than fearing God.  In one of my worst days while I was cycling through deep anger, sadness, and doubt, I was crying out to the Lord and searching His Word for answers when I came across this passage in 1 Peter 5:6-10. “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. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren...
The Agency of Coronavirus

The Agency of Coronavirus

Throughout history, from the shut gates of Eden to the present, there has been disease. Disease literally means discomfiture, and each bacterium and virus, God-made and God-given, is divinely designed to discomfort men and women at ease with themselves. God says through his prophet, Amos: When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it? (Amos 3:6b) And through Isaiah: I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things. God uses many agents; he uses wind, rain and fire. He ignites volcanoes and shakes the foundations of mountains with earthquake. He commands disaster and calamity. To think otherwise, can only mean one of two things; either God is not omnipotent or that he is indifferent. Both positions would require us to find an alternative object for worship. With the former, we would necessarily seek the higher power; and for the latter, there can be no use for a careless deity. That is all very well, but to what purpose is this suffering? Unless we trust God there can be no good purpose. We must know: The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. (Psalm 145:17) Unless we trust God to act in our best interests, hardship is the product of an indifferent cosmos. It can only have meaning if God purposively directs the hardship: …do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves… (Proverbs 3:11-12) Any agent, however unpleasant, painful or inconvenient is visited on us by God, not randomly or cruelly but restoratively and redemptively. Regretfully for humankind, correction can only be achieved by agents...
Edification

Edification

Matthew 11:28… Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. I find that in spite of my best efforts and intentions to focus on our Lord in my life, life (in this world) still often times becomes burdensome. I often get caught up in the issues of “being in this world” and lose my focus and where my focus ought to be. For me, this most often involves either business or family issues that often make life feel “very heavy.” During my morning quiet times, when I sometimes find myself feeling sorry for myself, our Lord reminds me and convicts me of others in my life who have “real burdens!” Two fellow believers who are battling cancer and another brother whose wife, in her mid-50s, has just been diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s just as she retired from teaching a year ago! As a result of much meditation and discernment, I have felt a strong call to edification in my ministry. Even committed Christians often get tired, discouraged and overwhelmed from carrying the weight of worldly responsibilities. They need to be reminded of where their true hope is in Jesus and his promises. They need to be told that you care about them and are praying for them! No one will doubt that Paul was a great evangelizer! But he also constantly edified the Christian communities he established. How many times do we read in Paul’s letters that he is thinking of them, thanking them, showing appreciation and encouraging them to trust God to help them work through the difficulties they...
Six Commitments in Walking by Faith

Six Commitments in Walking by Faith

Because we walk by faith, it must have challenges; otherwise, we would not need the God-given faith. Our only evidence that our faith is in God is how we walk by faith. Everyone does walk by faith; the question is, “faith in what?” The evidence of faith illustrates whether our faith is in God or elsewhere. God intends us to love Him as He loves us. He loves us unconditionally—we are totally undeserving of it. God’s love is a matter of choice. God gives us our faith to walk with Him regardless of the challenges and to love Him as a matter of choice. Joni Eareckson Tada is perhaps the greatest example of this in our time. As a quadriplegic, she has demonstrated this choice of faith in God and impacted countless lives. Her ministry of Joni and Friends distributes wheelchairs and other aids to indigent people all over the world. They share their faith while doing so. She has influenced the lives of many people who had no reason to hope. (Joni has published a book telling her story.) She had every worldly reason to run from God but has stayed the course, even though in tremendous pain. She says she simply turns it over to Jesus. I believe that if you intend to walk with Jesus there are some commitments you must first make: 1. The bible is the infallible Word of God and the inerrant Word of God. The giant question for those who do not agree with this, yet profess Christianity is what then is your source for knowing God? 2. You must continually work...
Sacrificing Truth

Sacrificing Truth

Throughout Scripture we are exhorted to follow, believe, do, understand, speak, know, trust in, and be in, the truth. Our post-modern understanding of truth is a funny thing, though, and we’ve gotten far off the mark these days. R.C. Sproul’s definition of truth is “…that which conforms to reality as it is perceived by God.” This simple definition works for me and in this context, I am the chief of sinners. Certainly, most believers see this problem as it exists in the world today, but I contend that this is even more prevalent within the church than without – which may be a much greater evil. Here are five ways in which I’ve witnessed my own the sacrificing of truth: 1. Call it cultural. If it wasn’t meant for me, I don’t have to do it. 2. See No Evil. If we intentionally ignore evil, we aren’t accountable for it. 3. My Truth, Your Truth. There are many “truths,” and one is as good as the next. At the heart of this deception is the “figurative vs. literal” debate. I do not want to live in a world where I get to determine what is true. 4. The Sliding Scale. Perhaps the most prevalent, easiest to adopt, and hardest to recognize, this deception suggests that some “truths” are more important to God than others. 5. Love Conquers All. “Loving” others while disobeying God is to hate God, clear and simple. J. C. Ryle once quoted “Never let us be guilty of sacrificing any portion of truth on the altar of Peace.” I do not know how narrow the gate...
Right and Wrong: Who Decides?

Right and Wrong: Who Decides?

“…but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” Ephesians 6:6 A friend facing a moral dilemma recently said to me “I am struggling with my decision, but I want to do the right thing”. As we talked together in an attempt to work through the issue, I asked the question, “Do the right thing by whose standards?” This seems to be the key question as we face many of the difficult decisions of life and attempt to do what is right. “Do the right thing by whose standards” is the question. It is not that there is a lack of standards. Standards abound all around us. Everyone has their standards because everyone believes in moral absolutes. Meaning that everyone has a point where they declare what they believe to be right and wrong. At some point everyone will say “that is wrong” and in so doing they declare what is for them a moral absolute. The issue isn’t whether or not people believe in moral absolutes, the issue is who gets to decide what the moral absolutes are. That was the issue in the Garden of Eden and it is the issue today. A key distinction of being a Christian is that we affirm the fact that God gets to decide what is right and wrong and, in turn, we get to obey. To do otherwise is to expect to have a relationship with God on our terms as opposed to His. Something He is not anxious to do. As Followers of Jesus Christ we must not succumb to the pressure from the world...