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God is not optional

Posted on May 25, 2019 · Posted in Apologetics, World View

Humans have somehow gotten the idea that God is optional.  We have come to think that God is a choice, that we can take him or leave him as we think best. But the universe doesn’t work that way. Everything was formed at the command of God and designed to function as he determined, people included. As Paul told the leading thinkers of the Greek-Roman world, everyone depends on God for everything, including their next breath. People think God can be picked up or discarded as we choose. If you.. read more

In the Presence of My Enemies 

Posted on May 23, 2019 · Posted in Faith, Godward Orientation, Sanctification, World View

Psalm 23 ends with God stating what is always true. A feast is always available for the sheep of God’s pasture. This psalm reminds us that no matter what our circumstances appear to be, the good Shepherd is always caring for his sheep.   What does this mean when you inhabit the dark valleys of life?  The human heart is capable of journeys immeasurable delight and equally immeasurable despair. David, the shepherd, the king, the father, the sinner knew these highs and lows. He danced with joy and he wept.. read more

Positive Instruction that Adorns

Posted on May 21, 2019 · Posted in Anger, Communication, Parenting

  Instruction or manipulation: Eight-year-old Ryan is having a hard day. Several things he has wanted to do haven’t happened. Now a thunderstorm has wiped out playing with his friends outside.  He feels he has every justification to be grumpy. Then Mom says this: “Ryan, I need your help right now in getting ready for company tonight. Would you watch your sisters for me?” “Mom! This isn’t fair. All day things have not been fair. And now you want me to watch Sarah and Michelle?  Can’t I have a break?”.. read more

Strength in the Valley of Anxiety

Posted on May 17, 2019 · Posted in Faith, Fear, Wisdom

The middle portion of Psalm 23 begins with a commitment to renew your strength and to lead you along paths that are true. These comforting assurances are exactly what is needed to walk through the dark valleys of life. David understood well how dark these valleys can be. His song is filled with the emotions of loss, betrayal, grief, guilt, and sadness. He knew intimately the depth of despair that inhabits these valleys.   Remember that David’s own sons attempted to take away his kingdom. One wanted to kill him… read more

Peace in the Mess of Life

Posted on May 14, 2019 · Posted in Wisdom, Worldview, Worry

The twenty-third psalm is often read at funerals to give hope and comfort for mourners. However, the psalm has a powerful message for life. It is a message that will center you on God’s care. The psalm looks at life from God’s perspective.  Here are the first two verses: The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. These words are from David. If you think about his life it was not one of idyllic.. read more

Aggravating People

Posted on May 10, 2019 · Posted in Anger, Sanctification

When was the last time you encountered an aggravating person? It is possible it was only a few minutes ago!  The truth is, you should not be surprised when people are aggravating. God wants you to be prepared for aggravation. It is time to stop being shocked that people sin or see things differently than you do.  Isn’t that negative thinking? No, it is just realistic thinking. The Holy Spirit tells you to be ready to deal with people who are aggravating and irritating. Being prepared can turn potentially negative.. read more

The Unique Gift of Joy

Posted on May 9, 2019 · Posted in Ruling Desires, Sanctification, Wisdom

God provides his people with unique gifts that make life special. One of those gifts is joy. Only the work of the Holy Spirit can bring the wonder and endurance of joy to the human experience. Joy is the fruit of his Spirit given to you by virtue of your new birth in Christ.  The world around you knows a sense of joy because of the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. (Acts 14:17) However, the fullness of joy is found only in the wonder of Christ. Because true joy.. read more

Heart Attitudes and Prayer

Posted on May 4, 2019 · Posted in Parenting, Prayer

Parents, if your desire is to see your children’s hearts become responsive to the gospel, the place to start is with your own heart. Here are 3 core heart-attitudes to cultivate that will help mold your heart to be God’s instrument for presenting Christ to your children.  The first attitude is humility:   Humility is the source of the power that you need to represent Christ well to your children.  Humility means that you trust God and follow him. Pride means that you trust yourself and fail to consistently rely.. read more

What Captures your Heart?

Posted on May 3, 2019 · Posted in Earthly Treasure, Godward Orientation

What is it that captures your heart? What matters more than anything else? Whether you are conscious of it or not, these questions drive both you and your children. Jesus graciously leads us into this discussion in Matthew 13:44: The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. This man found a treasure. He quickly buried it again hoping no one noticed. Filled with joy,.. read more

Where is God?

Posted on May 1, 2019 · Posted in Prayer, Wisdom, Worldview

There are times when everything goes wrong all at once. The kids are out of control. There are problems with the car, with the house. You are tired to the bone. You try to pray but it is like God is on a coffee break.  Life gets like this sometimes. Jehoshaphat had such a moment. However, instead of wondering where God was he turned to the praise of his God. Praise often is the last thing thought about when life becomes crazy.  We associate praise with good times but not.. read more

Praying for Fun

Posted on April 28, 2019 · Posted in Ruling Desires, Sanctification

If you are like most people, you like to laugh and have fun. And if you are like most people you seldom pray for God to help you have fun. If you are a teenager praying to God to have fun may appear counter-productive: what does God have to do with having fun? That is a really good question!  As strange as it may seem, fun is God’s gift to us. If it was not for God we would have no clue that fun was even a thing! All the.. read more

The Gift of Clouds

Posted on April 25, 2019 · Posted in World View

It’s cloudy this morning. As the sun rises the thick cloud cover will break open to show the blue sky. This is typical for where I live and probably where you live as well. So, why write about something so ordinary? Because seeing God move the clouds is anything but ordinary!  The Holy Spirit has made it a point in Scriptures to tell us that when we see the clouds move across the sky we are seeing God in action. Meteorologists explain how what begin as moisture rising to form.. read more

Relationships: Blessing or Curse?

Posted on April 22, 2019 · Posted in Godward Orientation

Relationships are the fuel of life. They bring out the very best and the very worst of who we are. Relationships are a gift that can give beauty, meaning, and purpose. But they can also be a weapon to hurt and damage our souls. Relationships bring joy and sorrow, healing and pain, hope and despair, fulfillment and emptiness, gain and loss. Why is it like this? How can the same thing be so good and awful, a blessing or a curse? The answer is not that complicated. Relationships that are.. read more

Saturday: It is Finished

Posted on April 20, 2019 · Posted in Faith, Gospel

Three years of hope, gone.  Jesus gave John, the only disciple with him at his death, final instructions about caring for his mother. Then Jesus spoke his final words — “It is finished.” To you and me, now, those are words of hope and wonder. Jesus did what was necessary to secure life for his sheep. “It is finished” means that our sins are forgiven, Jesus did the will of his Father.  They are words of comfort and peace.  But that is not likely what they meant on that Saturday.. read more

An Embarrassing Easter Story

Posted on April 19, 2019 · Posted in Pride

The Last Passover, the first Lord’s Supper, the intimate setting in the upper room, provides precious memories. But there is another memory of that night that we don’t recall so easily. It is a story that discloses the selfishness of the human heart. Just after the Lord’s Supper and just before Jesus goes to the garden to pray, the disciples manage to get into an argument that exposed the pride of their hearts. They were trying to figure out who among them might betray Jesus since he had just predicted.. read more

Jesus, the Only Good Son

Posted on April 18, 2019 · Posted in Faith, Gospel

John records that at the end of his life Jesus said, “it is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. These are not the actions and words of a victim. Jesus was in control of his own death. He ended his life when it was the right time when he had finished what his Father asked him to do. No one took his life from him, he laid down of his own accord (John 10:17-18). The death of Jesus was not a random moment in time… read more

Easter and Your Enemies

Posted on April 16, 2019 · Posted in Culture, Gospel, Worship

You may think you know exactly who your enemy is. Your enemy is your unhappy spouse. Your enemy is your stubborn teenager. Your enemy is your ungrateful boss. Your enemy is your friend who said something you don’t like. Your enemy is the economy or the job market. Your enemy is your sickness. Your parents are your enemy. In short, you may think life is your enemy. The truth is that most of the time you are wrong. You are likely to believe the enemy is the people and circumstances.. read more

The Resurrection: Humanity’s Story

Posted on April 15, 2019 · Posted in Gospel, Holidays

The resurrection of  Jesus Christ has become a fairy tale in modern culture. Chocolate bunnies, new clothes, and Easter church services are all tolerated as a tip of the hat to an outdated myth. So, Easter break has become Spring break. This is Easter week. Does it still matter? The media will observe this week as a religious or traditional event. But it is doubtful there will be commentary that states the fate of the world depended upon a political prisoner 2,000 years ago. It is unlikely that you will.. read more

A Prayer for Life

Posted on April 12, 2019 · Posted in Prayer, World View, Worship

Dear Father, My dreams are too small, my desires too selfish, my actions too sinful. My focus and, too often, my prayers are about what I think is best. Father, you know my weak heart and doubting faith. I pray you would give me the courage to see that my life is about Christ. I need to follow his life and love you as he did on earth. I pray my life would be about adding to your reputation. I pray my focus would be consumed by showing gratitude for.. read more

Your Middle Schooler Lied

Posted on April 10, 2019 · Posted in Gospel, Lying, Parenting

Jesus died for you. He was resurrected for you. He gave you life. He gave you the opportunity to tell your kids how special he is to you. Jesus made a commitment to you. It’s personal! Do your kids know how special he is to you? Here is a way to let them know. You have caught your middle school child in a lie. You have confronted him with his lie and he has admitted it. Then you tell your child something like this: “Justin, I know what it is.. read more