I’m pretty good.
I don’t say that as a brag. In a weird way, I mean that to point out something I lack: true gratitude for the grace and forgiveness I’ve received through Christ. I’d bet your experience is much like mine. Many of the most passionate Christians I know are those who were some of the worst sinners before they knew Jesus. The gratitude they have for the forgiveness they’ve received, and the work that Christ has done to bring them from where they used to be is powerful. I don’t have that.
Different churches have different forms of wedding ceremony. In some, the groom repeats lines like these:
I take you to be my wife;
and I promise,
before God and these witnesses,
to be your loving and faithful husband;
in plenty and in want;
in joy and in sorrow;
in sickness and in health;
as long as we both shall live.
In others, the pastor asks a series of questions and the groom answers, “I will.”
Will you have this woman to be your wife, to live together in holy matrimony?
Will you love her, comfort her, honor her, and keep her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?
Some weddings have the participants write their own vows.
Regardless of the precise wording there is one noticeable absence. No “if”s. Continue reading
We are in the midst of the Lenten season between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Coming from a Protestant tradition, that hasn’t meant much to me over the years. Even if it did, I don’t get drunk, I don’t smoke, I’ve been on a diet since March 2013, so I didn’t have anything to give up for Lent anyway. Or so I thought. Continue reading
If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you’ve probably heard or read these two passages of scripture as uplifting and encouraging:
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. ~ Philippians 4:13 NLT
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11 NLT
In countless places, these verses are cited as a way to tell Christians that they can “do anything with Jesus’ help” or that “God has good things planned (soon)” for us. While I firmly believe that God loves us, wants good things for us, and gives us strength, when we look at these verses out of context it leads to all-too-human perspective rather than thinking in terms of God’s eternal plan. It makes me want to go all Inigo Montoya… Continue reading
I recently had the opportunity to read Another Man’s War by Sam Childers. It is a fantastic story of a redeemed biker, drug dealer, and otherwise bad guy who came to Christ, became a pastor, and was ultimately used by God in one of the roughest places in the planet, southern Sudan, where he created an orphanage and ministry. In large part, it was because of his rough background that God was able to use Sam in such a rough and violent place. Sam’s story was also dramatized by Gerard Butler in the film Machine Gun Preacher, which is good, but just seems hollow at points because it just doesn’t have the force of the words of a redeemed man who is now fully devoted to God.
I’ve been down a lot lately.
This is not a sympathy bid, because it is frankly embarrassing to me that I can’t seem to shake the urge to mope about some of my circumstances. I should be able to find hope in Him. I spend hours in scripture looking for that verse that will help. I spend time in prayer, though not as much as I should. I know, intellectually, that I should have joy, hope and peace, holding tight to the promises of God. I know that. I do.
I struggle anyway.
More often than not, my inspiration is a little more tangible, a little closer to home.
This is what inspiration looks like to me: Continue reading
You probably know the “love” chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. “Love is patient, love is kind…” It’s a great definition of all that love aspires to be. But I was struck today by something else Paul was getting at.
Love is an essential ingredient to EVERYTHING we do.
It has been said that God laughs at the plans of men. How presumptuous we can be, thinking we know what tomorrow holds. I have had many struggles over the last few years where I have wanted God to reveal a long term plan to me, grown frustrated when he didn’t, made my own plan, and then gotten frustrated when — surprise! — it didn’t work out. While I know He reveals long-term plans for some, He’s finally gotten me to realize He just wants me taking it day by day.
Yet how many of us seeking God’s will aren’t willing to listen when it comes. WHAT?!! That can’t be right. Quit kidding around, God.
Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, “I didn’t laugh.” But the Lord said, “No, you did laugh.” Genesis 18:13-15 NL’S
If God has unbelievably big plans for you, are you ready? Have you made a habit of being in His word and in prayer so that you’ll know His voice when He calls? Have you made a habit of acting on the Spirit’s promptings, no matter how small?
Be ready. God has plans to use you in big ways. Perhaps invite that new coworker to church. Spend more time serving others. Practice big acts of charity in secret. Maybe start a new career. Turn over a new leaf with your spouse. Forgive someone. Step out in faith. God gets the last laugh. Join Him.