Writer’s Desk

Eternal Refuge and Everlasting Arms

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27a
 
This verse speaks to me on several levels. I love the image of God as our refuge, sheltering us during the fiercest of trials and storms. We often don’t recognize that He’s sheltering us. Sometimes His sheltering comes in the form of telling us “no” or blocking something we want, but we can trust that He has a very good reason for sheltering us in that way.
 
More than that, I love the image of His everlasting arms underneath us. He upholds us when we’re weak. He catches us when we fall. And because His arms are everlasting, we can trust that He will always be there to comfort, catch, and sustain.
 
So if you’re going through a storm right now, find your refuge in our Eternal God.
 
If you feel like you lack strength, rest in the everlasting arms.
 
And if life is good, thank Him for being your refuge and carrying you through the dark times… then look for those around you who are struggling and show them Jesus in your words and actions. Sometimes God uses ordinary people like you and me to extend His everlasting arms to those around us.

How Do You See Jesus?

Happy Resurrection Day, everyone!
 
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” Luke 24:5a-6a.
 
Where do we look for Jesus? How do we view Him? Is He still the beaten and bloody man nailed to the cross? Is He the “gardener” who appeared to Mary in the garden (John 20:11-18)? Is He the friend who fed His tired disciples a fish breakfast (John 21:1-14?)
 
Yes to all the above, but He is so much more!
 
As I ponder our Living Savior today, I am reminded so clearly that His story is not finished. He came once to die for the sins of the world and defeat death by His resurrection, but He will come again to banish sin for good and rule in perfect justice.
 
The first time, He came as a Lamb – gentle and meek, for the purpose of being a sacrifice for sin. But next time, He will come as a Lion – strong and powerful, the King of all.
 
In fact, if you want to really challenge your current view of Jesus, check out how John describes this coming King in Revelation 1:12-16 and 19:11-16. In those passages, we don’t see gentle Jesus, we see the righteous judge ready to deal with sin permanently and rule perfectly.
 
So as you celebrate the salvation Jesus so graciously offers to us, remember that His story is not finished. The empty tomb was the climax, but the end of the story is still pending.
 
While we don’t understand all the prophecies concerning what’s coming, we know the end of the story. Revelation 22:7, spoken by Jesus Himself: “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.”
 
May we, like John, respond with “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20b.
 
Are you able to honestly say that? If Jesus returned today, would you be ready for the glorious warrior King?
 
If not, I invite you to explore these things further. You can email me, walk into any number of Bible-teaching churches, or talk to any of the Christians around you.
 
Come, Lord Jesus!

Join the 3 Legged Race!

Have you ever watched people participating in a 3-legged race?
 
If the people tied together are in tandem, they can make really good progress. But what happens if one of the parties decides to do their own thing?
 
God gave me this image as I was confessing my divided heart. See, sometimes I’m focused on the Lord. I’m walking with Him, serving Him, worshipping Him. And other times? I get distracted by the things of this world. They aren’t necessarily bad things. Family, work, fiction… all gifts from God. But when they pull me away from Him, they need to be brought into submission.
 
When we come to Jesus, we get “tethered” to God. If we walk with Him, following His lead and stepping as He directs, He will do amazing things in and through us.
 
Yet too often, that untethered leg starts veering off in another direction. Sometimes, this slows our progress with God. Other times, it tears us apart.
 
Maybe you can relate to that. If so, know that this is not a new struggle.
 
In the Psalms, the writer prays “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” Psalm 86:11.
 
There’s hope!
 
In Ezekiel 11:19-20, God promises: “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”
 
If you’re currently walking in sync with the Lord, keep going! The race is wonderful when you’ve got the right Person by your side!
 
And if you feel that “free” leg carrying you in a different direction, echo the prayer of the psalmist and claim the promise from Ezekiel. God is waiting to bring you back into step with Himself!

What Happened to Common Sense?

I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying that common sense isn’t so common. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why that’s true?
 
I think Proverbs gives us a few clues on this topic. Proverbs 9:10 states “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.”
 
To fear the Lord is to show Him the respect and honor He is due and to recognize His might and just wrath. There is a severe lacking of the fear of the Lord in today’s culture – which means a severe lacking of true wisdom, for the wisdom of this world has no foundation.
 
Proverbs 2:6-7 says “For the Lord grants wisdom! From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. he is a shield to those who walk with integrity.”
 
If we tie those 2 passages together, we see that we must first fear the Lord, which lays the foundation for true wisdom, which comes from Him. Wisdom gives us knowledge and understanding, which equip us to exercise common sense – which also comes from the Lord.
 
Do you feel like you’re lacking in wisdom or common sense? If so, check your view of God. Do you respect Him as you should? Do you have a reverent fear of the Lord? If not, Proverbs exhorts us to begin there.
 
James 1:5 promises that God grants wisdom generously to those who ask Him for it. If you are walking with God and fear Him, ask Him for wisdom and believe He will give it to you. You might be surprised at the changes that prayer will bring into your life and your circumstances! We have a generous and gracious God!

How Do You Reach Others?

Do you believe your words have impact?
 
A week ago, I was at a church small group and one of the ladies shared about a Sunday School class she was taking through her church. The class was about gender identity and sexual orientation – specifically, how do we as believers approach people of alternate lifestyles?
 
As she was sharing, I was convicted by how quickly we – myself included – jump to judgment. When we are speaking with non-Christians, why do we feel the need to jump straight to confronting them with their sin?
 
This applies to all areas, not just the ones referenced above. We see someone who gets drunk and does drugs and we jump all over them because of those sins. We confront lying, cheating, laziness, gluttony – the list goes on.
 
And yet… Jesus never responded to people that way.
 
Over and over in the gospels, we see Jesus interacting with “sinners”. His first step? Not pointing out their sin. No, He meets them where they’re at. He addresses what they think is their greatest need, then gently points them to what their greatest need truly is – Himself.
 
I’m not saying we should ignore sin. Scripture makes it clear that sin is serious and that believers are called to speak truth into the lives of others.
 
But what if we followed Jesus’ example? What if we met people where they were at, loved them there, then gently and lovingly – at the right time – explained to them that God’s way is better than our own?
 
I think there’s no story that illustrates that more strongly than the one shared in John 8:1-11. The religious leaders drag a woman caught in adultery and toss her in front of Jesus, demanding He uphold the law and stone her.
 
Jesus’ response? Mercy.
 
Was she guilty? Absolutely. Was her sin an offense before a holy God? No question. But did Jesus jump on the condemnation band wagon? No way.
 
He offers her mercy first and foremost, then challenges her to sin no more.
 
He did the same thing with the lame man in John 5:1-15. In fact, if you read through His miracles, rarely does He address the sin nature of the individual who sought Him out. Instead, He heals, loves, and ministers.
 
How do you approach those who don’t know Jesus? Do you throw their sin in their face right away? Or do you reach out in love, reflecting the God who loves them, and wait to address the sin in a way and time that’s consistent with the life of Jesus?

Your Story is Powerful!

There is power in YOUR story!
 
Do you ever feel like your story doesn’t matter? That you know you should share the gospel, that you should tell others about what God has done for you, but that you don’t have a great story to tell?
 
Trust me, I’m right there with you.
 
We hear these people with amazing testimonies, how God pulled them out of a life of drugs and despair, turned them around, and now they’re living for Him. Praise God for those stories! They demonstrate His power and grace in amazing ways.
 
Yet for those of us who weren’t pulled out of a life of drugs, who don’t have a defining turning point but have just steadily walked with God for years, we often feel like our story lacks the power to reach people. If we’re honest, we often feel like our story is unimportant.
 
Or maybe we feel like we can’t share Jesus with others because they might ask us questions for which we don’t have the answer.
 
Have you been there? I have!
 
Be encouraged by the woman at the well! Scripture doesn’t even give us her name. She encounters Jesus during the course of her mundane daily activities – getting water from the well. That encounter with Jesus radically alters her life, so much so that she immediately runs back to town and tells other about it.
 
What does she say? “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” (John 4:29)
 
That’s it. She doesn’t speak eloquently or poetically, she doesn’t persuade everyone that she’s right, she doesn’t even rehash the entire conversation. She just shares her experience with Jesus in a simple – yet powerful – way. We can see she doesn’t even have all the answers, for she asks if Jesus could be the Messiah.
 
The results of her simple story are amazing. John 4:39-42 say that many in the town believed in Jesus. And it all started with one woman who was willing to share her story.
 
What story has God given you? No matter how seemingly boring or insignificant, there is great power in your story. Share it today! You never know how God might use your story to change someone else’s life for eternity.

The Beauty of God

sunrise

Why is there beauty in this world?

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself this question? I did, just the other day as I noticed a beautiful sunrise. Yes, there’s a science behind the sunrise, I understand that, but ultimately, we have beautiful sunrises because God created it that way.

But why? What is the point of beauty? A beautiful sunrise serves no logical purpose… or does it?

Psalm 19:1-4 might argue that it does.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.”

A beautiful sunrise testifies to the beauty of – and existence of – God.

When God paints the sky with color, I’m reminded of just how amazing He is. He didn’t have to give me a view of a magnificent sunrise – in fact, just a few minutes later and I would have missed it entirely – yet He displayed His glory before me in a bright and colorful way.

So the next time you see something beautiful, turn your eyes to the One who made it. From the powerful ocean to the majestic mountains, from the delicate flower to the magnificent trees, from the variety of animals to the uniqueness of every human being, every aspect of nature points us to the Lord, the powerful Creator of all.