Monday, August 16, 2021

What Can We Do?

 We live in a sin corrupted world where violence and death too often reign, and we are powerless to do anything about the evil that surrounds us.

 In moments like these all we can do is focus on what is within our power to control. So we pray, asking God to intervene in the cares and concerns of our heart, and we commit to loving our neighbor. 

This what is under our control to do.

Seek to Discover Jesus

Reading through the book of John it becomes evident that there were great disagreements about Jesus' identity.  This is even seen in the Pharisees. Here is a group that we generally talk about opposing Jesus, but the reality was that there was a disagreement about Jesus among them (John 9:16).

In John 10:19 we again see that people had a disagreement about Jesus: When he said these things, the people were again divided in their opinions about him (NLT). 
There was this disagreement, or division, because Jesus provided a paradox for them. 

On the one hand Jesus taught with great authority and insight. 

On the other hand Jesus did not obey the culture expectations of the day. He was not always a "good" Jew.

All these centuries later, people still have disagreements about who Jesus is. 
  • Some want to classify him as a good teacher who was able to give profound spiritual insight. 
  • Some may elevate him to the position of prophet, a man of God giving people a word from God. 
  • Some label Jesus as a liar who led people astray. 
  • Some call him a myth who never existed. 
People are still divided about who Jesus is.

Since I claim to follow Jesus, it is important that I understand who Jesus is to the best of my ability. 

Now, I admit, it is easy, even by looking at the biblical account, to create Jesus in my image. To make a Jesus I am comfortable with, who will support my agendas, and promote my worldview. 
Even within the Church there are many different ideas of who Jesus is, how he lived, and what he taught.

This means we need make an effort to discover who Jesus is. 
  • We need understand the culture in which Jesus lived which provide much needed context to his teaching. 
  • We need to seek to hear his teaching through the ears of his intended audience.
  • We need to learn why see his miracles and ministry through these first century eyes.
 It is easier to engage the Gospels, as well as the whole of Scripture, at just the surface level, as we look for those eternal truths to apply to our lives. But, I have come to believe that we miss much of the truth God has for us by not digging deeper into the text. 

People will always be divided over who Jesus is, but that shouldn’t keep us from the responsibility of doing what we can to discover the Jesus of history. 

I believe that when we commit ourselves to such a study we will be blessed with the gift of getting to know who Jesus is and all that he has done for us.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Liberty Depends on Virtue

 I love this John Adams quote for a couple of reasons.

The first reason is because it reminds me that the most important thing I can spend my time doing is making disciples. Freedom and liberty are not independent of the choices that we make. 

Living with virtue makes us free from the consequences of bad choices that lead to our enslavement. When we are not enslaved we are free to help and serve those around us. This is how we live as a benefit to our community.

The second reason I like this quote is that virtue reminds us that there is an outside authority  that defines right and wrong. We are not the ones who define good and bad, rather we look to God for His wisdom to guide us in the type of life we should live.

A loss of liberty in the United States can be traced back to the reality that as a country we have lost the notion of virtue. Instead of virtue we have turned to politics to determine what is right and wrong. 

This is why every election turns into “the most important election of our lives.” 

Instead of electing people to lead us, we fight a battle to determine who has the authority to determine what is right and wrong. It is a fight that will always be nasty and brutal as dividing lines between people and groups are created.

It is impossible to have unity when there is no common understanding of what virtue is. There is no hope for unity in the United States apart from a common understanding of virtue.

Instead of using political power to try to conform people to our understanding of right and wrong, we need to focus on discipleship and teaching people the true source of virtue: the wisdom of God.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Discipled in the Way of Partisan Politics

 One of the basic truths that we need to remember is that everyone is going through a process of spiritual formation.

A big influence in spiritual formation is the information that we consume and what our minds think about. This is why the New Testament emphasizes our mind and thoughts.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Phillippians 4:8; NLT) 

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. (Colossians 3:1-2; NLT)
Our minds play a major role in our discipleship. This is why we need to be intentional about what our minds think about.

We have access to a vast amount of information. All of our devices are designed as media consumption devices. 

As we consume media and as that information directs our thoughts and emotions, our spirits are being formed. 

This is the reason the world feels so divided now. Everything in life has become political. 

Politics deals with the best way to run the world. We come to believe that our side has the best way to run the world and the opposite side wants to destroy our way of life.

Making everything political has led us to live with fear and declaring everyone who doesn't agree with us as our enemy. 

In this environment, imagine what happens when the pastor says something that you don’t agree with?

Too often the pastor becomes the enemy. You can convince yourself that he has, at the very least, been influenced by the enemy, if not entirely in their camp. 

If you are able to see the pastor as an enemy, who is leading the church astray, leaving that Christian community behind is an easy thing to do.

The sad reality is that many Christians in the United States are being discipled, not in the way of Jesus, but in the way of partisan politics. It is hard to breakthrough this partisan barrier because people have convinced themselves that their politics are the politics of Jesus. 

Instead of consuming and meditating on cable news, podcasts, Facebook, and Twitter, we need to read and  meditate on the Bible. 

If we are going to be discipled in the way of Jesus, then we need to let Scripture challenge us in all the different areas of our lives. 

We can't allow our partisan political culture to be the greatest influence in spiritual formation. If we do, then we will end up looking just like the world.

That is not what God wants from our lives.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Should We Listen The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill?


This tweet popped up on Twitter last week. It got me thinking about listening to a podcast like The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, because I do think there is a danger to it.

1. We need to avoid treating in like gossip. This might be my #1 issue with it, because after listening to an episode I want to Google “Mark Driscoll” to see what he is up to now. So there is a fine line there between the journalistic storytelling the podcast is and gossip.

2. We need to see the big picture. This isn’t just about Driscoll and Mars Hill, it is about Evangelicalism and celebrity. How we justify certain behaviors if we believe they are getting the right results. There is a parallel here with the Evangelical support of President Trump. Evangelicals were okay supporting Donald Trump, in spite of his treatment of women, because he promised them things they wanted. They believed he would deliver the results they wanted. People justified Driscoll’s behavior because he appeared to be getting good results.

3. We should remember that in the midst of bad that happened at Mars Hill, God still brought about God. Remember, we worship God, who is so powerful that He is able to bring good out of bad and life out of death. This is what Paul wrote; “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28, NLT). Yes, the Mars Hill story contains tragedy, but it also contains examples of God’s grace and transformation. This is one of the great lessons from the podcast.

Should we bee listening to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill?

I think it is something worth listening to as long as we avoid the temptation to use it as an excuse to cast judgment on Mark Driscoll. This podcast gives us the opportunity for self reflection and consider the question: In what ways am I using God and His Kingdom to build my own platform?

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Are Christians Coerced?

 Are Christians coerced into following Jesus?

I can understand that view if the primary focus of what God is doing through Jesus is rescuing people from Hell. Then the fear of Hell would be one of the main reasons for trusting Jesus.

To be honest fear of Hell was a motivating factor for me when I was baptized and started my journey following Jesus.

That may have been my starting point, but it certainly isn't where I am today. While I accept the reality of Hell (leaning towards conditional immortality), it is not a motivating factor in my life. 

To be honest, I hardly think about Hell. 

Rather, my focus is on my calling to make disciples and the hope of New Creation that comes through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. 

As we mature in faith our reasoning for following Jesus should change. 

The fear of Hell might be the initial reason why a person puts his trust in Jesus, but it shouldn’t remain the primary reason for faith. 

There should come a time when love overcomes the fear, and the reason for faith is to love: God and people.

1 John 4:17-21 (NLT )
And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.

 John wrote that love empowers us to be confident on the day of judgment. He emphasized that it isn't just our love for God, but God’s love for us that gives us confidence and drives away fear. 

This love is made real in our lives as we follow Jesus.

Fear doesn’t transform our lives. 

Yes, it might get us started making changes, but that intense fear can't sustain the transformation process. 

Only love is able to do that. 

As we move from fear to love as the primary motivating factor for following Jesus, we move away from being coerced to being a partner in the work God is doing in the world.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Live as an Exile

A follower of Jesus Christ is a person in exile. 

I know that it doesn't feel that way. 

We were born in this world. 
We are comfortable with the culture that we live in. 
This world is familiar. 
It feels like home. 

We may sing songs about this world not being our home or talk about how God has mansions waiting for us in heaven, but the reality is that we like it here.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. 

God created a good world, and that means there are many things that are part of this world that are enjoyable. We should find joy in this life.

Yet, one of the themes that runs through the Bible is that God's people are to be a holy people, a set apart people. Over and over again God's people choose to be another "Canaanite people" rather than God's covenant people.
We have this tension of living in a world that God intended for us to enjoy while seeking to live differently from the world around us.

To do this properly we need a shift in our thinking.

Traditionally we ask the question: "How close to the line can I go?"

More often than not we are interested in how we can push God's boundaries so we can live comfortably in the world.

We need to make a shift to turn away from the world and move in the direction of Jesus.

You and I are created in the image of God. This means we are to demonstrate His character in this world. We do that best when we follow the example of Jesus. 

Jesus lived as foreigner in this world:
I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. (John 17:14, NLT)
In his prayer to the Father, Jesus confessed that the world hated him and his followers because they did not belong to it. Jesus' teachings and his way of life were foreign to the the way of the world.

Foreigners stands out because they are different.  

They speak a different language. 
They dress differently.
They celebrate different holidays.
They have different values.  

Christians are to live like foreigners in a strange land.  Our goal isn't to learn the language and the customs of this world, but to adopt the customs of the Kingdom of Heaven. 

The apostle Peter wrote:
Dear friends, I warn you as "temporary residents and foreigners" to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. (1 Peter 2:11-12; NLT)
How does the apostle Peter want us to live?  As "temporary residents" and "foreigners"! We are displaced.  We are not at home!

I want you to catch this: when we live like the world we are not part of God's Kingdom!  

God isn’t interested in people who will merely confess Him and believe in Him.  The Bible teaches us that everyone will bow a knee confess Jesus as Lord. What God wants is a people who will live by faith, people who will bow before Him now.  

People who will be motivated by a different set of desires.  
People who live by a different set of standards.  
People who love people no one else will love.  
People who will not abandon the customs of their home country, but will teach those customs to others.  
By living differently we proclaim to the world that there is a better way to live!

In his book The Barbarian Way, Erwin McManus wrote:
From the moment we become citizens of the kingdom of God, we become aliens and strangers in a world that chooses to live absent of God.  From the first step taken to follow Jesus, we are out of step with the rest of the world.  Once your life is in sync with the story of God, you become out of sync with any story that attempts to ignore or eliminate God.  You are a stranger to them, an alien among them, a nomadic wanderer who, while refusing to be rooted in this life, seems to somehow enjoy this life most. (p. 93)

Are you walking out of step with the world?  

My great concern for American Christians is that we are not.  

I know that many of us have a different moral standard than the world, but our hopes and dreams are the same dreams the world around us has.  Our dreams and desires center around success, money, happiness, and love.  The list could go on, but the point is that while we are morally different from the world we are not spiritually different from them.  

That my friends was one of the problems Jesus had with the Pharisees.  They looked good on the outside, but on the inside they were filled with dead men’s bones.  White washed tombs.  

We need to quit fooling ourselves that to be different from the world is just about having a different moral standard.  Being different from the world is primarily about our desires, dreams, attitudes, and thoughts. It is about the direction of our lives and what we are willing to sacrifice to accomplish.

A temporary resident doesn’t put down roots in the land he is living.  Instead he hopes and dreams for his home and thinks of the day when he will finally join his family there.  

How can we think about settling for the things of this world when God is offering us so much more?
How can we think about being like the citizens of the world when God is calling us to be citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven?  

Since this world is not our home let us live like citizens of Heaven.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

An Example to Follow

Show me how a person responds to life, and I will show you what he truly believes.

While it is unfair to judge a person based solely on one or two situations, it is certainly true that choices a person makes over the course of his life reveals what he truly believes.

Our lives, for good or bad, are telling the people around us whether or not we truly have faith in what we say we believe. If we claim to be Christians and yet live lives the resemble the world, then we are telling people that we don’t really have faith in Jesus.

Faith is more than what we confess with our lives, but it is also how we act with our hands and where we go with our feet. If faith is just about what we confess then the only value it has for us is a way to escape hell. Instead, faith is to be the path of transformation.

Not only is faith the path of transformation, but it is also an example to follow.

In Scripture we are urged to follow the example of Abraham (Romans 4:16) and Paul urged others to follow his example (Philippians 3:17). We also know that we have been influenced by the lives faithful people. Our faith is connected to the example they gave to us.

What this teaches us is the importance our lives have in influencing others. Just as the example of faithful people influenced our lives, our faithful example can be a powerful influence in the life of another person.

A life that faithfully follows Jesus provides an example for others to follow.

In sense we have to see ourselves as teachers.

To be a good teacher requires us to be knowledgeable about what we are teaching and the ability to demonstrate how that teaching looks in real life. Humans need examples to help us move from theory to reality.

The Pharisees where part of the religious class of Jesus’ day. They interpreted Scripture for the people and taught them how it applied to their lives.

Yet, they missed a key component in their teaching: they didn’t live what they taught. This is one of the points that Jesus confronted them about.

1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. (Matthew 23:1-4; NLT)

The underlying theology that the Pharisees taught was okay. In fact, on many key points Jesus agreed with the Pharisees. The mistake Jesus highlighted was the burden the religious leaders placed on people with laws upon laws.

These men were able to teach what a faithful life was supposed to look like, but they could not provide the people with an example of what faithful living looked like.

Jesus did not tell the crowd that the Pharisees had bad theology, but that they had bad faith. Jesus urged the crowd to listen to the Pharisees teaching, but discouraged them from following their example.

As Christians who desire to influence the world for Jesus Christ it is essential that we remember that there are two parts to effective teaching: communicating true ideas and letting putting those ideas to practice in your life.

When our lives do not reflect the truth of the Gospel then people will wonder whether or not the Gospel is really the truth.

The best evidence for the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are the faithful lives of his followers.

When we live faithful lives we make the teachings of Jesus come alive.

Without our example Jesus’ teachings remain simply a theory – a nice way to live.

Having the truth doesn’t do us or anybody else any good if we don’t apply that truth to our lives.

The life of faith is the life that is lived based on the truth that we know.

As we live out the truth we believe we become examples for other people to follow. This is how Jesus is able turn ordinary people into lights of the world. Be a light worth following.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Remembering a Conservative Icon


I don’t remember the last time I listened to Rush Limbaugh.

That might come as a surprise for people who knew me in high school and college. Back then I was one of the biggest “ditto heads” around.

I started listening to Rush shortly after his show was nationally syndicated. My dad had WHO (the great radio station from Des Moines, Iowa) on as we worked around the farm, and that meant everyday at 1pm we would listen to The Rush Limbaugh Show and for 3 hours the Doctor of Democracy taught me what I needed to know to be a good conservative in the United States.

One of the things I have grown to appreciate about Rush was his ability to hold the attention of people for 3 hours on the radio. Being a pastor I put together sermons and lessons, and what Rush did everyday was amazing. There is no way I could go on the air 5 days a week and fill a 3 hour slot and make it interesting. The skill Rush had on the radio was amazing.

He basically invented political talk radio and became the first real conservative voice in the country. The secret to his success was that he was engaging and entertaining while providing a narrative the lined up with a more conservative worldview. This was a worldview conservatives felt was under represented in the main stream media.

The things that I learned from Rush are:
  1. The value of following the Constitution. This stuck with me from the early days of listening to his show: the Constitution provides the framework for our government to follow.
  2. Making the complex simple. Rush would say he was making the complex simple. In my teaching and preaching this is something I have tried to emulate. One of the keys to good communication is making things understandable. 
  3. The importance of living out what you believe. I think it was in See I Told You So, Rush wrote something like "Be a beacon of light for that which you advocate." That phrase has stuck with me all these years, and something I try to live up to.
  4. Influence people to make the right choice. Rush was pro-life. Something that he said in those early days of the program that I continue to think about was that he was in favor of people having a choice and he wanted to make sure that choice was life. This maybe be the idea that has influenced me the most over the years. I want people to have the liberty, which means they have the ability to make choices I think are wrong. Which means as a Christian I have responsibility to help people make the right choice.
There is no doubt that my intellectual and political life was influenced by Rush. I listened to him during those years that many of us start to think for ourselves and form our own opinions. I am grateful for the positive influence that he had that still lingers in my life today.

I have tried to recreate my journey away from conservative Republican to the Christian anarchist/libertarian view I hold today and I can't with any accuracy. The dates and specifics are jumbled in my mind. So I am not entirely sure what caused me to turn Rush off. 

I do remember four reasons why I stopped trusting what Rush said on air.
  1. He wouldn't answer callers' questions directly. The older I got the more I realized that Rush didn't always answer the questions that people had. I remember talking back to the radio and saying, "But that isn't what he asked!" Or, "Rush, you are missing the point." I came to realize that he really wasn't interested in answering questions, rather he used the calls to further comment on what he wanted to say.
  2. He didn't fairly represent the news articles that used on the show. As the internet became bigger and it became easier to track down the articles Rush used, I would go and read them. More often than not I would come away thinking, "That isn't what the article was saying." I am not saying this always happened, but it happened enough for me to begin to distrust what he was saying, especially when it came to the liberal side of things. 
  3.  It seemed to me that Rush got away from promoting conservatism and started bashing the left. This was by far the biggest thing for me. I wrote the following in post titled Where have the True Conservatives Gone?: "A third observation is that talk radio, and Rush Limbaugh I am primarily talking about you because you set the standard for everyone else to follow, has become anti-liberal rather than pro-conservative. Every time I turned on Rush through December and January he was talking about the Clintons (Clinton, Inc.). He wasn't talking about why conservative ideas were superior just trashing the Clintons."
  4. His support for war changed between Clinton and Bush. During President Clinton's Bosnia War I remember Rush explained how the United States shouldn't be the policeman of the world and how we shouldn't be nation building. He also talked about how there needed to be a goal so we have a definition for what victory is and an exit strategy. Fast forward to the President Bush's second term and the United States is deeper and deeper into this so-called war on terror and as I listen to Rush continue to support this war I have this realization that every reason he gave against President Clinton's Bosnia intervention could be applied to the War on Terror. His principle changed based on who was in office.

There was a good 12 year period in my life when Rush Limbaugh was the major intellectual influence in my life, especially when it came to politics. There was another 3 or 4 years as I gradually stopped paying attention to what he had to say. In the last 12 years I haven't listened to him at all.

From this perspective I see Rush as a very flawed man who struggled with relationships and addiction issues, yet who had the strength and perseverance to continue to do a radio program while loudly being denounced by his critics and facing some major health problems. He had the talent to make politics engaging and hold people's attention for three hours a day, five days a week.

Rush became the voice for people who felt like their principles and beliefs were under represented in the mainstream press. He became the leader of the opposition in a world of progressivism. After all, that is what conservatism is: opposition. It opposes the changes offered by progressivism.

Though I a grateful for the influence he had on me and my thinking, I had moved on from Rush. In the end there are too many differences in our thoughts for me to call him a hero. He was a radio legend who brought  thousands of hours of enjoyment to millions of people and for that he deserves respect.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Reflecting on a Scandal

I originally posted this to my Facebook page, but thought it was worthy posting here:

This past week the board of directors of RZIM posted this letter concerning the double life of Ravi Zacharias. You can find the letter here Open Letter from the International Board of Directors of RZIM on the Investigation of Ravi Zacharias.

Ravi Zacharias had a ministry that influenced many people. The news that has been confirmed recently of his moral failure is disheartening, especially if he and his arguments helped strengthen your faith. 

In the light of this  I want to remind us of a few truths. First, truth is not dependent on the life of the messenger. When Ravi spoke truth about God, about the condition of the world, and about Jesus all that continues to be true. His grievous sin does not invalidate the truth he taught.

Second, the way that we live totally impacts the message that we have. Unfortunately, the revelation of Ravi’s double life is going to undo all his years of public life. This is why Jesus taught his disciples to be salt and light. Both of those metaphors deal with living in such a way that we are able to influence the world around us. Our lives provide evidence that our message is true. When we don’t live up to the message it will cause people to doubt our message.

Third, we have a choice to make when it comes to sin. It is probably true, as the letter indicates, that more accountably would have prevented some of this from happening, but accountability is overrated when it comes to transforming our lives. Accountability might help us manage the sin, but it falls short of creating holiness in our lives. When we have sin we need to confess it and seek ways to get rid of it. The Holy Spirit is able to transform our lives, but we need to give Him room to work.

The greatest tragedy here is not the moral failure of Ravi but the women he abused and their reputations that were ruined in order protect Ravi’s reputation. This is what should truly break our hearts.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Move Forward in Courage

Many men, at the core of their being, long to be courageous. 

A man desires to stand alone and face to face the danger and become the hero. 

This is certainly true with me. 

Ever since I was a young boy I have wanted to defeat the bad guys, defend the ones I love, and rescue the beauty from the clutches of evil.

This craving in my soul comes from the reality that God made me to live a courageous life and to face the dangers of life. 

Often the danger which exists in our lives bears little resemblance to the danger faced by James Bond or Batman on the movie screen. Therefore, it is easy to convince ourselves that no real danger exists and all this talk of courage is just an exaggeration to play on the imaginations of men.

Our daily lives don't seem to be dangerous because we are rarely in physical danger. We don't have bullets whizzing past our heads or bombs exploding around us. This is why we are lulled into a sense of safety and convince ourselves that danger doesn’t exist in our lives. 
Just because our lives aren’t in physical danger doesn’t mean a threat doesn't exist.

One of our main threats is the same threat Adam faced from the beginning. It is the threat of following our definitions of good and bad rather than holding on to God’s definitions. It was easy to buckle under the words of the serpent and Eve than it was to stand firm against their temptations.

Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection the failure of Adam is being reversed. 

If we are going to participate with God to bring restoration to creation we need to stand firm in this very area that Adam fell. 

The apostle Paul wrote:
A final word: Be strong with the Lord's mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against the wicked spirits in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:10-11; NLT)

I am convinced that when we experience fear in our relationships, doing what is right, or fear changing our lives, that is the enemy trying to convince us to surrender without a fight. 

Why does a husband fear talking to his wife? 

Ultimately because Satan is out there seeking destroy the marriage. 

Why does creating a budget and tithing cause fear to run through your body? 

The reason is Satan wants you to hoard what you have rather than being generous with God's provision. 

Why does the thought of giving up Facebook and Instagram cause you to fear that you might miss out on something?

Perhaps it is because Satan wants us distracted by insignificant things so we are unable to give our full attention to what really matters.

When we give into our fears we play right into Satan's hands.

God created us to live with courage! 

This doesn't mean that our lives should be absent of fear. What it means is that we trust God for the provisions we need for life, including the spiritual provisions of strength, hope, and confidence. 

When we live lives of courage we experience God's power at work in the world around us. Even if things don't turn out the way we would like, our faith is strengthened as we experience God at work in our lives.

Yet, if we live lives of fear at least two things will happen. 

First, our relationship with God will be stunted. Relationships grow with experience, and when we don’t allow God to provide for what we need, then we will miss out on experiencing Him.

Second, we put our families and friends at risk. Christians are to stand in the gap for their loved ones. My children do not have another dad who will be praying for them and loving them. I am it. I need to do that job. Likewise, I am the pastor at the church I lead, there is no one else who has been called to pray, teach, and lead like I have. It is my responsibility to do that.

It is crucial to remember: When we face our fears, it is not for us alone, but it is for all those we know and love. 

We need to resist the temptation to take the easy path and avoid our fears. The path of discipleship, the path of becoming the person God created us to be, is found on the other side of our fears. 

Today is the day to live with courage.

Philippians: The Advance of the Gospel

STOP — Philippians 1:12-20 Summarize Paul transitioned to updating the Philippians about his life. The main point that he wanted them to kn...