What is Not

One of the things that is always most inspiring, and honestly, intimidating, to me about the saints of scripture is the amazing faith they had.  They had an ability to trust, to see, to hope, that is without a doubt, other-worldly.  Today, look at Abraham.  This is what Paul says in Romans 4

19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

Think about that for a second.  How easy would it have been to give for Abraham?  How easy would it have been to say, ok, that’s enough. Check please.  I’m done.  I’m headed back to Ur.

But, he didn’t.  He still had faith. Now, we know if we go back and read his story in Genesis, we’ll see he wasn’t perfect.  He did some dumb things.  He made some bad mistakes.

There were times when struggled and had doubts.

But, we see in the end, he had faith. He trusted. He believed. He trusted.  Even when he didn’t see.  He about the faith to see what is not there. And know that it will be there.  One day.

In our lives, on the roads we walk, there will be times we doubt.  There will be times we struggle. There will be times when we are down cast.

So in those times, hold fast to your faith. Hold fast to what is good and noble and true.  Hold fast to what you believe. The doubts and trials and struggles and darkness will come.

Hold onto what is of God. What is of faith. What matters.

Don’t lose sight of what God is doing. Sometimes faith is the ability to see what is not there.  But know that it will be there.

And remember, that God is bigger than all we face.  God is bigger than our doubts, our fears, our hopes, our dreams.  God is bigger than our vision.  God is bigger than our sight. That’s why we walk by faith, not by sight.

We see with the eyes of faith.  We see not just what is there.  We see what will be there. Hope. Trust. Have faith.

God is at work. Today, and always.  Hold onto Him.


Today as I was reading the New Testament Reading for the day in Colossians, something really jumped out to me.  Here are verses 11-14

11 May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

We are encouraged to be strong – but not with our own strength, but with the strength that comes from God. Why? Why are we to be strong in that strength in particular? Aren’t we strong enough as it is?

The text tells us we need to be ready to endure everything with patience.  In other words, trouble is coming. Trouble is coming down the road at some point. It could be today, it could be tomorrow. It could be a year from now, a decade from now. Who knows. But, trouble. is coming.

And, Paul tell us not just to suffer through this trouble, but to endure it with patience, and even joy. Now, I can’t do that. I don’t even like waiting at a red light, much less endure troubles with patience and joy. If I’m going through something I don’t like, I want it to be over as quickly as possible.

That’s what I want.  That may not be what God wants.  God may be wanting to teach me something through a time of trial. He may be wanting to teach me dependance upon Him.  Trust of Him. Faith in Him.  To teach me that this world is not my home.  That my life is not not found in the stuff of the world.  He may be wanting to teach me many, many lessons.

But, without the patience that He longs to give me, I will miss them.  And, without His strength, I do not have that patience. Without His strength, I do not have His wisdom. Without His strength, I will not learn, I will just muddle through, whatever I’m doing.  Even the good stuff.

So, that means for us today, if things are great, then we need to be faithful. We need to be worshiping, reading scripture, and praying. We need to be connected to God and to His people. We need to be living His life. Because, trouble will be coming some day. And for us, this may be the day of preparation for that trouble that is to come.

And, if we are going through troubles, remember. Your strength is not found within you.  It is found in God. Don’t rely upon yourself, your strength, you wisdom. Trust in God.  Lean on Him.  Turn to Him. Rest in Him.

And, then you will find more strength than you ever through possible.

Today, and always, for strength, turn to the source of our strength. Turn to God.

What You Were Made For

Yesterday in a Bible Study, we were talking about the weather that’s come through the area recently, talking about the flooding thats hit Nashville and Memphis, talking about the river of oil rushing towards the Gulf Coast, talking Coal Mine disasters, talking about earthquakes, talking about Icelandic Volcanos, talking about all that’s been happening in the world.

And then a question was asked that didn’t really expect.

Is the world coming to an end? It was not asked in a wild-eyed, conspiracy laden way, but in a calm, sober voice. One that looked around at all that’s been happening and wondered, wow, what are we to make of all this.

I responded with the assurance, yes, each day we live, we are closer to the return of our Lord. Now is the return to be today?  Tomorrow? The day after?  That I don’t know, and that I leave in God’s hands. Because even Jesus said no on knows the hour or day.

I was thinking about when I read a passage from 1 Thessalonians this morning:

9 For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

Paul was writing to the people there about the Second Coming. He writes about all that is to happen, about all these mysteries. But then He begins chapter 5 with this passage about being faithful and reminds them – you were made for salvation.

You were created not for wrath, but for salvation.

God is not out to get you.

God is not out to punish you.

God is not out to crush you.

We were not made for that.

We were made for salvation, for life, for love, for grace, for hope, for all that is good and noble and peaceful.

In the storms of life, the storms of this world, the storms of our soul, never forget that. Never forget what you were made for. Never forget God’s purpose for you.

To be loved.

Never let your fears outweigh the love that God has for you.  You were made to be loved.

By God, and by others.

Today, may we live as we were made to be. May we live in that awesome love and life of God.

Humility and Leadership

It seems like the readings each day from 1 Peter are really speaking to me. Today, as a I was reading, 1 Peter 5 spoke to me:

1 Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you 2 to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it -not for sordid gain but eagerly. 3 Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away. 5 In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for
“God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.

As I was reading through this, what spoke to me was this notion of humility. That is a virtue that our culture doesn’t really care for. And, honestly, its a culture that we as Christians don’t always care for.

And I’ll be even more honest its a virtue that is easy to forget.  I do a lot of reading in Church Leadership. I’ve been through a lot of teaching in Church Leadership. And I’ve very thankful for it, because I think it’s made me a better leader.

And the think that being a leader (either in church, in work, in your family, in the school, wherever) can whisper to you is this – “It’s all up to you!”

We can buy into the myth of our own self importance.  We forget to humble ourselves.

With all that I’d been taught, I’d forgotten that.  I’m not really all that important.  I’m really not.  The fate of the free world is not upon my shoulders. The future of the church is not dependent upon me. Sometimes, I forget.  I forget those things.  I think it all depends upon me.

We need to remember who we are.  We are not as strong or as important as we think we are.  We are not.  None of us.

Now, that sounds depressing, doesn’t it?  That sounds like we are not much.  Quite the contrarey. Since we aren’t much, there’s a freedom there that comes from just depending and trusting in God.  A freedom that says, I’m not much God, but I’m yours.  I’m not much, God, but I am who you want me to be.  I’m not much, but I’m your child.

And, if we are child of the King, what more could we want to be?

It isn’t until we submit the King, though, that we remember that we are His.

Today, remember, God is bigger that you. And it’s not all up to you.  Humble yourself. Trust.  Depend.  Listen.  Pray.

God is bigger.  May we humble ourselves before Him.


As I was praying the Daily Office this morning, the New Testament reading for today really caught my attention.  Today, 1 Peter 1: 1-5 says:

1 Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and 5 like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Two things stuck out to me today, and made me really look within myself today.

First, we are told to crave (or long) pure spiritual milk.  We are supposed to crave that time with God. We are supposed to crave being with God.  Do you?  Do I?  Do we crave time with God like we would crave our favorite treat?

And, if you can’t get what you crave, you will go to any length to get it.  If we can’t get that chocolate, or whatever, we’ll sneak off, we’ll hoard, we’ll do whatever we can to get it.

Do we do whatever we can to spend time with God?  Do we crave it?

Do we crave spending time with God? Do we desire it?

Or, do we see it as a hassle at worst, or something we have to do at best?

Just a baby craves it’s bottle, so we should crave being with God. Do we?

But notice why we are to crave.  To grow.  Just a milk causes a child to grow, this spiritual milk we receive from God will cause our faith to grow. Just like we are made living stones, like the true living stone, we are made such to be build into something greater.

You are not made to stay as you are.  You are called to be more. You are called to be something more than you are right now.  God has something great for you. God has something awesome for you.  God has amazing plans for you.

He wants to transform  you into something awesome.

But, His work with us is often driven by our craving for Him. The more time with spend with Him, the more He can transform us.  The less time, the less He can transform.

Do you crave Him this morning? Do you desire Him?  Today, may we realize that life is found in Him, and no where else.  May we crave Him, and the life that He gives.

The Long View

I had a professor of mine that used to always talk to us about the notion that the Christian faith is not just a future thing, it is a now thing.  It is a present thing. I’ve always liked that.

We’d don’t follow Jesus to simply get into heaven.  We don’t follow Jesus to avoid hell.  Now, both ofthose things are good things and things I’d like to do!  But the great thing about the life found in Jesus Christ is that it is life that is found today.

Right now.

In this moment.

As Christians, we aren’t just living for the future. We are living for today.  We don’t have to wait until we get to heaven to experience the power and joy and grace of God. We can experience that right now.  As Jesus taught us in John 10:10 – we can have that abundant life. Today.  Right now.

And that’s kind of my default position.  I know heaven will be great and awesome and all that. But, I don’t worry too much about it at this point in my life.  I feel like this life, lived to God, is pretty awesome too.

But, Paul gives us (and especially me) a very healthy reminder today in 1 Corinthians 15

30 And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour? 31 I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you-a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised,
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”
33 Do not be deceived:
“Bad company ruins good morals.”

If there is no life beyond this life, than this make this life all that matters.  If there is no life beyond this life, then where is the need for bravery?  For courage?  For doing what is right, no matter what?

In this life, we need the courage to do what God calls us to. Sometimes it’s scary. Sometimes its terrifying. Sometimes we don’t want to do it, we are afraid of the results, we are afraid of the response people will give us.

We are just scared.

That’s when we need to take the long view.  This life is not the end. There is something greater and better for us. There is a true life, beyond this life, we are a peace with God completely and know the life He has truly intended for us.

And to me, that gives me even more courage and desire to fully live here on the earth!  For I know that God is with me, and I have nothing to worry about!

And this moment, whatever it is that is just killing you. That is worrying you.  That is taking your joy, you sleep, you life, you hope.  It will pass.  It is not the end of your life.  Don’t take the short view. The view of only today.

Take the long view.  There is life beyond this that you made for.  Live fully!  Live boldly!  God is with you!  You have nothing to fear!  You were made for more than this moment.  You were made for eternity.  May that knowledge  help us to live for God with all that we are, in this moment.

Remember Your Chains

Today, a few words from 1 Corinthians 15 that stood out to me:

9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them-though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

Paul today says that he understands because of some of the stuff he did before his conversion (persecution of the church, the stoning of Stephen) that he has worked harder than the rest.  He knows that because of all that he has done, he has a debt, something that he feels like he needs to make clean for his own good.

Paul remembers where he has come from.  I think that’s a good thing.  One of my favorite songs by Steven Curtis Chapman is entitled “Remember your Chains” and this song shares with Paul this notion that we should remember where we come from.  We should remember that we were not always who we are now.  We should remember that it was God’s grace that saved us.

We need to remember that we are not perfect and have never been perfect. God has brought us a long way.

And, we need to remember to be merciful and grace that have not yet excepted the grace of God. For we were once there ourselves.  We are no better than them, or anyone.  It’s all about God’s grace.

God has shown us mercy.  We need to remember what God has done for us.  I know for me, that helps me to show mercy and grace to others. God has forgive me SO much.  How can I not show mercy and grace?

Even when I don’t want to. Even when they don’t deserve it.  Because I didn’t deserve God’s forgiveness of me. And He gave it anyway.

Remember where you have been.  Remember where God has brought you. Remember to forgive each other. As God has forgiven you.

Nobody Knows the Troubles I Face

Today’s New Testament reading, 2 Corinthians 1:1-7

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is in Corinth, including all the saints throughout Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering.

Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.

I get myself into the most trouble when I feel like my troubles are worse than anyone else.  I get myself into trouble I when I think I have worse than anyone else.

Surely know one knows what I’m going through.  Surely the suffering I face is worse than anyone. It’s not right, it’s not fair, it’s not the way it should be.

I deserve better.

And, since I’m having a tough time, it’s ok for me to fall back into old habits.  Old habits, old destructive things, they can be like an old pair of shoes. We fall back into them when we want that comfort.

No one knows the suffering I face.

But, here’s the thing that spoke to me in this text this morning.  What makes me think I won’t have troubles?  What makes me think I won’t have tough times?  Where in my mind did I get the impression that the Christian life would be without its problems and sufferings?

In fact, did Paul not say this morning that we are comforted in our sufferings so that we can comfort others?  Yes. We will face tough times. We will face troubles, trials, sufferings.

These things, these trials, they are not an excuse to turn from God.

They are a reason to turn to God.

Your troubles, your trials, your sleepless nights, they can either be an excuse for bitterness and old sin.  Or they can be a driving force to God.

It’s your call.

We were never promised a life without troubles.  It will come.  I don’t always respond as I should to those troubles.  It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself or feel alone.

Instead of praying.

We are comforted in our sufferings.  In our lowest moments, hardest times, loneliest day, may we turn to God.  The worse it is, the more we need to turn.

Don’t let the troubles turn you from God.  Today, may they turn us to God.

The Inside Out Life

Today’s New Testament Reading from the Morning Office was 2 Corinthians 4: 1-12

Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

I like the notion in this that faith is an inside out thing. It starts with the inside.  No matter what is happening on the outside, no matter what is happening in your life, no matter what is happening today, faith starts inside.

Life starts inside.

I find in my own life, I pay more attention to the outside stuff.  I pay more attention to the things of this world, or to my fears, or to my hurts, my wants, my concerns.

I don’t pay enough attention to the soul.  To the life. To what matters.

No matter what happens today, life is at work in your. Through Jesus. Through the Spirit, life is at work in you.

Are you seeking it?  Are you listening to it?  Are you living inside out?  If we live outside in, where the external determines how our soul feels, we are in trouble.

If, though, our soul determines our external, we will find life, no matter what.  That’s what Paul tells us today. We are merely clay jars, that have this awesome life within.

Today, where is your life?  Today, what do you pay the most attention to? Today, what are you living for.  May we live the inside out life.