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Showing posts from 2017

Commandment One: Nothing Shall Compare To Me

Do you remember when Sinead O'Connor sang "Nothing Compares To You"? It was a haunting song about the gaping hole left by a lost love. Her video portrayed the numbness one often feels after going through a horrible loss. Our hurt is greatest when we lose the thing we love the most. When the Tigers lost the World Series in 2006 and 2012, I felt sadness and loss but I didn't feel numb. When my daughter played her last high school volleyball game and my son played his last high school soccer game, I grieved the end of a wonderful phase of life. I felt a little numb for a few days. When I've lost friendships I thought were lifelong relationships, I felt the pain for a long time (some pain doesn't ever fully leave). This morning I lost my keys. I felt panic, but no pain or sorrow. The value with which we hold anything is reflected in the pain we feel when that thing is lost. Does it pain you when you go a week without praying? Does it leave you nu

What do Roy Moore, Al Franken, John Conyers and Donald Trump all have in common?

I don't know Roy Moore personally. I don't know Al Franken personally. I don't know John Conyers personally. I don't know Donald Trump personally. I've never spoken to any of them. I've never been in the same room as any of them. As far as I know, I don't know anyone who knows any of them. Yet, I know a few things about each of them. They each have people they love. They likely treat those people kindly most of the time. They are probably generous to those people. They certainly would not wish harm on anyone they love nor would they intentionally do anything to bring harm on those they love. They each have contributed positively to the lives of people around them. At their best, their words have likely been more gracious than some of the words we have all spoken today. At their best, their actions have likely been kinder than some of our actions today. They are all created in the image of God. They are all loved by God. Jesus went to t

4 Critical Elements of Effective Confession

After David's sin with Bathsheba, his friend Nathan confronted him. When David realized the depth of what he had done, we are told that he confessed his sin to Nathan and to the LORD. As he often did, David then turned to his moleskine? to journal his thoughts. We call David's moleskine the book of Psalms and this particular journal entry is most likely Psalm 51. You can see the Psalm in its entirety at the end of this post, but consider now what it can teach us about how to confess our sins to God: Ask for Mercy David wrote, "Have mercy on me, O God..." When we approach God, we should never carry a spirit of entitlement and we should never make demands. We should recognize that we are unworthy of his love and compassions and we are unable to cleanse ourselves. Those who ask for mercy are those who have realized they need help. Only God can provide us with the righteousness we need, apart from Him and his purification, we are broken and lost souls. Thus we a

How a Simple Typo Deepened My Understanding and Changed My Perspective

I meant to type the word "trial", but instead I typed "trail".  As I looked at my mistake I thought of James 1:2-4 as descriptive of a journey. The final destination is perfection and completeness (Christlikeness). Before we reach that destination, we must journey through the forest of steadfastness, learning how to be faithful and becoming more impressed by future glories than present suffering.  Of course the TRAIL on which we walk through and to these destinations is named "TRIALS". Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Please Pray for My Friend

In 1984 the Detroit Tigers won the World Series, the Apple Computer replaced the Macintosh personal computer, Ronald Reagan was re-elected as president and my family moved to Muskegon, Michigan. The first time we walked through the doors of the new church, a kind lady introduced herself to me and said, "My son is 'David' also. Let me introduce you to him." She walked me to the basement of the church where her son was already in Sunday School class and introduced me to one of  my lifelong friends. Since that moment, I have always been "David" because he has always been "Dave". It's been only been 33 years, but it feels like he's been with me through every part of my life. He was my vice president when we ran against Matt and Jack in the mock election. We bunked together with Brian at Lake Ann. We threw marbles down the stairs and spit-wads at the chalkboard in middle school. While I patrolled the midfield throughout high school soc

6 Verses To Remind Yourself That God Is With You

When you find yourself in the wilderness of life, it is helpful to remember that God is there with you. Whether you are facing disappointment, discouragement, abandonment or uncertainty; God is with you. Not only does He know where you have been and where you are, He knows where you are going. Use these verses to remind you of this powerful truth: Because God is with me, I need not be afraid Joshua 1:9 - Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Because God is with me, He will be my strength Isaiah 41:10 - Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Because God is with me, I can live with confidence Romans 8:38 & 39 - For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor d

How Should Christians Process Horrific Tragedies?

Every week I send an email to our church family. Often this is just an update or reminder about coming events. This week, I chose to write about the Las Vegas shooting, and how I've been processing my thoughts. Below are my words to the church: Dear Friends, Monday morning, we woke up to the terrible news that a man had chosen to destroy the lives of hundreds of people and families in Las Vegas. In times like these it is difficult to know what to say. We have questions about why God would allow this and why these people's lives were ended without any apparent reason. As I pondered these questions and this tragedy, I was reminded of Jesus' words in Luke 13.  Pontius Pilate, the cruel Roman leader, had ordered the deaths of many Jewish people. Their executions were carried out by Roman soldiers in the temple while they were offering sacrifices. This horrific act seemed senseless and horrific. For the Jews, it raised several of the same questions we are asking

Las Vegas Shooting: A Window Into Hell?

Jimmy Kimmel recently said, "It feels like someone has opened a window into hell." He is exactly right. Romans 1 suggests that at some points in human history, God releases His creatures to the consequences of their own desires. Because they worship the creation instead of the Creator (read: they believe God and His Word to be irrelevant), He allows them to see what life without Him is truly like. It is almost as if God releases His sustaining hand for a moment. "since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done." (Romans 1:28) It feels like someone has opened a window into hell. And having opened that window and seen into that window, how much more should we desire to turn from that window and embrace the loving and gracious authority of our Heavenly Father who has called us to a better path and a brighter future?

10 Thoughts on Complete Obedience to God

Sunday, I talked about the final straw for King Saul. His unwillingness to completely obey God demonstrated his devotion to himself and his own interests rather than to the sovereignty of God. As a result, he lost the kingdom. Here are 10 of my reflections from this important passage: 1. With God, there is always more to the story. He knows what we cannot know so He sometimes acts in ways we cannot understand. 2. Beware of the temptation to justify disobedience: by painting an innacurate picture of incomplete disobedience by blaming others rationalizing your intentions by promoting an external spirituality 3. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Disobedience nullifies sacrifice. You can never do enough good things to offset a heart not completely devoted to God. 4. Obedience flows from an embrace of what God says is and is not best for me. Disobedience is the result of pursuing what I believe to be best for myself. 5. God loves, but does not need our sacrifice and of

Recipients Of Grace Become Persons of Peace

We will never agree on everything. We disagree about what restaurants are best, which regions of the country are most beautiful, how much coffee is too much (hint, it’s not), who is the most trustworthy politician and who is not, where the best sports teams play and far more. We can agree on some things, though. Everyone can agree that cookies are yummy, puppies are cute and barbecue smells great. We can probably also agree that grace and peace are good and desirable. In Galatians 1 (as well as most of his other books), Paul prays for the Galatian believers to experience grace and peace. I love that he chooses this wish for them rather than success and prosperity. Receiving grace and peace in life is far more necessary than receiving success and prosperity. In fact, we need grace and peace precisely because we are never promised success, ease or prosperity. This world will always offer one more enticement for us to chase. From every angle, we are bombarded with the message that

What Am I Doing On Purpose?

I'm in the middle of moving Emma out of her dorm room today. The sun is shining and temperatures have already moved upward of 80. Our sweat levels are at a minimum though because God has graciously provided a steady wind to keep us cool. I am grateful for this small yet significant providential blessing. Sometimes we can take his provision for granted when it isn't the "big things". As we drove down, Marianne and I discussed how hard it is to believe that our baby girl is half way through college. Life seems to move exponentially faster as we age. I cannot help but think that every day and every moment is precious and loaded with potential IF we are willing to be intentional and proactive in our decisions and actions. I am reminded to constantly ask myself, "what am I doing on purpose today to bring glory to God?" That's not a bad question to ask yourself a couple times each day.  What are you doing on purpose today to bring glory to God?

Love is More Than A Feeling

1 Corinthians 13 is one of the world's most popular readings for weddings. These lines are perhaps the most poetic words Paul ever wrote. Here we find a simple and beautiful description of what love is and what love is not. Love is NOT a Feeling Feelings come and go. In a given day, any person may experience hundreds of various and conflicting feelings. Even couples who are deeply in love experience a wide range of feelings toward one another. Paul says love is lasting and eternal. On this matter, at least, Boston got it right. Love is " More Than A Feeling ." Love is Selfless Reading through Paul's description of love, it becomes clear that true love thinks first of others and lastly of self. Jesus said as much in John 15 when He said the greatest love of all is the one who gives his life for the good of others. Paul described this type of love in his Philippians 2 hymn honoring the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. God's love, in John 3:16, was mad

How March Madness Helps Me Think About The Power & Creativity of God

just for giggles... Posted with Blogsy

SENSIBLE WORSHIP: Leftovers from Romans 12:1-2

Last Sunday, I preached on Romans 12:1-2. During my preparation, I always create a personal paraphrase of the passage from which I'm teaching. Here was this week's paraphrase: After everything I’ve said, now I must call you to action. Because of God’s mercy, give your whole self over to Him. Don’t hold anything back and don’t hold on to any old sins. This type of worship is the best way to respond to Him. You’ve been renewed, so let it change the way you think. You shouldn’t look like the world anymore, but your life should mirror God’s will. That’s the best way to live. I never get to preach all the content I discover while preparing. Here are 10 Observations from Romans 12 I made while studying over the past few weeks. Paul’s appeal was based on the truths he had already shared. Primarily, Paul’s appeal is rooted in God’s mercy toward us . We must understand Romans 1-11 as an exposition of God’s mercy. Even Romans 1, which speaks of God’s wrath, is an explanati

From Hope to Despair to Hope Again: Riding the Psalm 31 Roller-Coaster

I read the first verse of Psalm 31 and sighed deeply. I could tell this wasn’t going to meet me where I was today. “In you O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.” That’s just not my experience in the past several years I thought. I tried to take refuge in God. I tried to do what was right. I tried to rely on Him to come through when the hour got darkest. And He didn’t. I was, in my opinion, put to shame. Verse 2 wasn’t much better. “Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily!” I remember praying those words. I remember begging for a speedy rescue, and then comforting myself that God doesn’t always work on our timeline. He doesn’t always provide a rescue the way we think He should. I didn’t want to read any further. I was content to roll around in the mud of my disappointing past. As often happens, the stream of memories flooded over me… the lies, the betrayals, the agonizing choices all felt as if they were my life today, not the fading past the

You Need Not Pay Rent To Live On Anxiety Island

Everyone experiences stress and anxiety in their lives, but no one needs to live there. Anxiety Island is a lonely place where we believe the lie that no one else could possibly understand what we are going through. Jesus understands because He has been there. Because He suffered in every way like we do, we know we can look to Him to find the way out of anxiety and into God's peace which is the alternative to anxiety. On the night Jesus had every reason to break down from anxiety, he prayed. Prayer is the alternative to anxiety. Philippians 4:6-7 says: "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Turning our stress over to God allows us to rest in His peace instead of rolling around in our own panic. In the previous verses, Paul recommended constant rejo

5 Ways To Exercise Your Spiritual Muscles

A while back, I downloaded a free app named " human ". The app runs silently on your iPhone and tracks your daily activity. The goal of each day is to be in motion (walking, running, etc.) for at least 30 minutes every day. Many "fitness" fanatics suggest that everyone should exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. I'm not sure if the point of the app is to help you reach that goal through your normal daily activities (not terribly effective) or to help people realize that their daily activity is not enough to keep them healthy. The first day I used the app. I woke up knowing I had a pretty busy day so I was confident I would knock out my 30 minutes easily... Probably by lunch. That night at 10:30 when I checked the app, I was devastated to discover I had only accumulated 28 minutes of physical activity. Ugh. Slowly the reality set in... My daily routine is simply not enough to keep me healthy. I need to block off time every day to pay attention to my phys