In this brief blog post, I want to make a case for the biblical importance of hospitality and even issue a prophetic warning about closing our hearts and homes to especially others different than us. Hospitality or the lack thereof is one measure by which we can judge a culture, church, or self-professing Christian. Hospitality is one of the core character traits that are necessary when considering and selecting leaders (1 Timothy 5:10). Of all people, Christians should be the most hospitable of all and are in fact commanded to show hospitality without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9) and without fear (Hebrews 13:2). … More A Call to Hospitality
And this is where my insight into suffering and God’s seeming silence and absence enters. I think we have confused God’s silence with God’s absence. I think his silence is evidence of His mercy rather than evidence of his absence. I think we have this all backward! … More Suffering
Two young kids. Two young parents. Take a good look into their eyes in the picture below. Their eyes were the first eyes that mine locked in with when I arrived at the border. They had just spent their last day at the nearby detention center and finally were on their way to their sponsor family in another location in the US. They are here because they had no other choice. A criminal gang had taken over their land in Mexico. If they stayed, they would be killed. As many of them said, “”We would rather die on the journey trying, then go back and definitely die.” … More A Day at the Border
There is a growing crisis in America that is beginning to become “normalized.” It is manifesting itself in the dehumanizing political rhetoric we hear everyday and also in the gun violence that seems to play out on a near weekly basis at this point in some city, school, church, store or location around the United States. What in the world is happening in this culture that has brought us to this point? How do we see real change? … More Restoring Human Dignity
Let me cut to the chase: too many who identify as “America Christians” are putting “America” ahead of the “Christian” part. Yes, I am an American myself, but I am first of all a follower of Christ. I am a citizen of the United States of America; but I have a higher citizenship as a citizen of heaven. I was born an American; but I was born-again into the family of God when I trusted in Christ. This identity and citizenship in the kingdom of heaven is one that is eternal; while any earthly citizenship is temporary. … More American Christianity
In other words, it’s a lot of work, time and care to see anything of value grow and be sustained over time in a healthy, fruitful way! The same is so true most of all with our hearts and relationship with God. Sin, like weeds, springs up so quickly and easily, choking life and fruit. Our hearts are in constant need of the nutrients of God’s Word and the water of the Spirit. Our relationship with God also needs guarded, protected and tended to with time, care and effort. … More Tending to our Hearts
Here’s the problem however for us: we want to understand with perfect clarity in the present what often only makes sense looking back. But as followers of Jesus, we need to come to a place of understanding that we won’t always understand everything right away…and that is ok! Part of what it means to follow Jesus is to submit to an authority higher than own, to One who sees a picture bigger than we see, who knows the end from the beginning, and whose ways are not our ways and thoughts not our thoughts. … More Faith & Understanding
We are living in the midst of a culture that is polarized, anxious and fearful. Even among Christians, there is a sense of insecurity and instability. In an age marked by the rejection of eternal, absolute, objective truth and one transcendent God; there is a corresponding lack of deep rooted trust, peace, security, confidence and stability. … More Security & Stability
Ironically, it might help to begin this post with something that could upset everyone on the two main political spectrum’s. First, the title of this article has probably already upset many of my conservative friends, as apparently 68% of white evangelicals believe that the US has NO obligation to accept immigrants. I find that revolting. However, this article, and my views, are not some left-wing liberal propaganda either. … More 4 Major Immigration Myths
We live in a culture and age (even among professing and church-going Christians), where much like the book of Judges, people are doing what is right in their own eyes, according to their own standards, feelings and desires. There is a loss of respect for God, awe of God and reverence for God that leads to a real relationship with God. There is a lack of engagement in taking Scripture seriously, let alone even reading it anymore. There isn’t a sense of daily seeking the Lord first in our lives as more important than anything else and living in light of eternity. There is a nonchalant attitude towards giving, missions and praying. There is a lack of trembling at his word, being aware of his presence, and being convicted of our sin. There is barely any talk even of hell or the judgment to come from many pulpits. … More Where is the Fear of the Lord?
Yes, the world, because of sin, is a battleground, but God created it first as a playground. It was sin that made us serious and caused us to lose our joy, playfulness and child-like awe. … More The Playfulness of Jesus
While it would take too long to cover all aspects of what Jesus’ ascension means for us today, one of those aspects is that because Jesus is Sovereign over all, there is no greater authority above him. This is what gives us assurance, security and confidence in knowing that not only is God for us in principle and with us through his very presence in the person of the Holy Spirit, but he also possess all authority over every other authority that would threaten us, accuse us, condemn us or undo us. … More What Jesus’ Ascension Means
The desert is a familiar place for the most anointed people and leaders and prophets of God! Of course the desert speaks of obscurity, hiddeness, dryness, uncomfortablness, challenge, danger, even isolation. Yet, this seems to be the place the Spirit of God himself leads his most trusted servants. It seems to be their “proving ground”, the place their character is forged, sharpened, and strengthened. It is the place they are tested and tried, and although feeling weak, emerge with a strength of spirit unrivaled by others who have grown up in more pleasant circumstances. … More When You are Led Into the Desert
Pentecost: The descent of the Spirit of God on the people of God to make real the reality of God. When the Spirit comes he comes with power and gentleness. When the Spirit comes he fills us with a sense of the Divine Presence of God inwardly and externally. When the Spirit comes, it is heaven interacting with earth. When the Spirit comes, there is a passion and fire that rests on and fills God’s people to declare his glory to all people. When the Spirit comes he disrupts our lives and transforms our lives. When the Spirit comes, he fills us with the reality of God and sends us out to take that reality to others. … More Pentecost Insights
I just returned from a fantastic time and trip to Ukraine on behalf of ServeNow, the mission organization I lead as President. I thought I would share a few personal highlights of this trip as a means of conveying the needs we saw, but especially the ways God is working in transforming real people’s lives and hearts in Ukraine. … More Ukraine Mission Trip 2019
Jesus is not some outside observer of our suffering. God is not a distant God removed from the pain of human injustice, suffering, abuse and trauma. On the cross, he absorbed all our personal and collective pain. Through the resurrection, Jesus overcame and rose to new life by which we can find healing for our broken and shattered lives as well. … More Abuse & The Cross: 3 Powerful Truths
The church is no place for a “good ole boy’s” network to thrive. The church is a place for all people, of all backgrounds, to come together as a diverse people, around the person of Jesus Christ, the only one worthy of our unconditional loyalty and obedience. The age of celebrity churches and leaders needs to end if we ever hope to truly be a healthy people and credible witness again to a world that is watching with deserved skepticism. … More “Celebrity” Church Culture Needs to End
Let me just come right out and say something that this article is about: leaders and churches need to review their theology on mercy, justice, repentance, forgiveness, church discipline and trust. They need to stop enabling perpetrators of injustice and sexual predators while doing nothing serious to protect the abused and vulnerable. … More Enabling Abusers or Protecting the Vulnerable?
Part of the issue with our anxieties is also our expectations. When I am anxious about something, I want the cause of it to be resolved. I want solutions. I want my circumstances to immediately change or troubles to go away. I want his provision now for what I may actually only need later, which means I am really wanting to find security and certainty in the provision instead of the Provider. However, this is not what Jesus promised us. He has however, promised us his peace in the midst of situations that are not ideal as we pray. … More Anxiety Antidotes
In our need to explain God we have failed to experience God. In our need to understand the Trinity, the Lord’s Supper, Miracles etc; we have failed to receive, rest in, and be comfortable with the supernatural. We have reduced the Sovereign unpredictability of God to religious formula’s. We have replaced relationship with God with principles. We have it all figured out instead of daily admitting our need for God and trusting in him to lead us. In doing so we have lost a healthy fear, reverence, awe and dependency on God. … More We Don’t Need to Figure it All Out
Over the past four years I have been traveling around the world and the US with the mission organization I lead called ServeNow. It has been awesome, exhausting, inspiring and exasperating! I have learned much, my faith has been stretched, my patience tried, leadership enriched, and eyes opened even more to the vibrancy of faith around the world. I have been humbled by the sacrifice, service, passion, compassion and joy of fellow believers and co-labors in other nations and many generous people here at home. But, I have it on my heart to share five insights I think the church in the US is in desperate need of being challenged by and encouraged with. I pray this article could be used for both those purposes. … More 5 Things the US Church Needs to Realize
Even if there were strict abortion laws, people would find a way, because the problem goes deeper than laws; it’s a problem of the heart. And on top of this, it is a problem of real demonic evil. … More A Perspective on Abortion
The Christian faith is not a blind, irrational, subjective faith devoid of reason, reality and evidence. As Christians, we should not turn our minds off and fail to engage the culture around us and questions people have. In fact, we are commanded to be ready to give “the reason” for the hope that we have. This is called “apologetics”; not because we apologize for our faith, but because we are to defend our faith with credible reasons for why we believe. True Christianity does not fly in the face of reason; rather reason supports the claims of Scripture! … More A Reason For Your Faith
“After 10 years of research, LifeWay states two things about maturity: 1. Bible engagement is the #1 spiritual discipline for growth. 2. Bible engagement affects every other discipline. People who engage the Bible give more, go more, & evangelize more. Read the Bible this year!” -Ed Stezter, Christians in the Age of Outrage … More Bible Engagement
Jesus has called us as believers to bear fruit for his glory. We are expected to be effective and productive in our witness of him in this world. But bearing fruit and being effective requires a deep commitment and being intentional. It doesn’t just “happen” without effort, discipline and focus on growing in the very character traits Peter highlights above. … More Becoming Effective and Productive
Faith becomes most real when trust has to be exercised in the midst of doubt, not because of lack of doubt. … More Unfulfilled Expectations
So, what’s the deal with this promise of peace on earth? Why after so many years, if Jesus truly is the Prince of Peace, has peace not come or stayed? And it’s not just wars around the world between nations, it’s the fighting, conflicts and destructive wake of broken relationships we have all experienced and been contributors towards. Has this promise failed? Is Jesus who He claimed to be? … More Peace on Earth?
The gift of Christmas is not just the historical event of the birth of Christ. It is the unfolding of the promise of God’s presence in our lives as we trust in Christ. This promise of his presence is fulfilled in the person of the Holy Spirit to all who believe. Yet how often do you think of the Holy Spirit? … More The Gift of the Holy Spirit
When you think about it, no one has suffered greater abuse, trauma, rejection or injustice than Jesus. Having committed no wrong-doing of his own; he was wrongly condemned to the horrors of crucifixion. Having lived a sinless life, he was sentenced to death on a cross. If anyone ever had the right to take upon themselves the identity of “victim” it was Jesus. And yet, this is not the identity Jesus took for himself … More Victim or Victor?
One of the devil’s main tactics is distraction. Often subtle, but extremely effective. And I am growing more and more convinced he is succeeding in distracting our current generation. We are daily inundated and over-stimulated with an unprecedented amount of information and sensory overload through technology, entertainment, activities, social media and media in general. We are a distracted generation…with studies showing an attention span that is less than a goldfish! … More Distracted & Over-Stimulated
There seems to be on ongoing trend and growing problem in the church world that I believe needs addressed. It is something that flies in the face of the very message of the Gospel and way of life we are called to model as representatives of Jesus and brothers and sisters in Christ. The issue I am writing about is how easy it is for us to get offended and walk away from relationships, friendships and churches, instead doing the painful but biblical work of seeking reconciliation … More Offense & Reconciliation
It has been a while since I have written a blog article. A major reason has been because of needing to prioritize other things in my life and schedule. Another reason however, is a sense of despair in wondering what difference it really makes in a culture that is so bitterly and politically divided on nearly every issue. There are a thousand voices out there all trying to speak to these issues, an endless stream of information, and yet all I see is it either re-enforcing previous held positions or entrenching people deeper in their views that they are right and the other side is wrong… … More Division & Outrage
The battle of the Christian life is a battle to believe that God is indeed good, his word and promises are true, and he is not holding out on us…no matter our circumstances and regardless of any situation we ever go through in life. … More Battling to Believe
The key to being used/blessed by God is the humility found in a person of faith who knows their desperate need of, and continually receives, God’s abundant undeserved grace in their lives. … More Amazing Grace…
He knew that the very men he had poured three years of his life into, were about to abandon him. He knew one was going to betray him. He knew the “rock” (Peter) was about to deny even knowing him…yet He loved them to the end. The question is how? … More The Messiness of Relationships & Ministry
Recently, I found a book titled “The Lost of Reading Nature’s Signs.” While not intended to correlate specifically with “biblical truth” there was nonetheless some fascinating spiritual insight and life lessons I wanted to write about in this blog article (and perhaps subsequent one’s), that I hope you enjoy and will find edifying! … More Lessons from Nature
What is your dream?
What prayers of others can you be the answer to?
What is keeping you from doing something, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem? … More Being the Answer to others Prayers
This is what I am seeing I often miss about the cross. I like knowing I am forgiven, but am I too willing to forgive? I like knowing that despite being unworthy, Christ shows me undeserved grace; but am I willing to extend that grace to those in my life not “worthy” of it? I like knowing there is mercy for my sin; but am I willing to show mercy when others sin against me? I find it moving to know the length to which Christ went that I might have peace with him, but what length am I willing to go to to work towards peace with others? … More What we Miss about the Cross
And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward. -Jesus, Matthew 10:42 … More Smarter than Jesus?
If anything is needed in our lives and culture today it is likewise men and women of Christ-like character. This is in fact God’s one and only purpose for our lives as Christians, that we become like Jesus. Further, when I consider my biggest regrets in life and ministry, they all revolve around a breakdown in walking in godly character. … More The Power of Godly Character
In America, we have made everything about being “right” that we have failed to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15-16). In America, we have made our focus political rather than the person of Christ. In America, we have succumbed to fear, anger and outrage with those who disagree with us or hold a different worldview, instead of living a life of hope, joy, respect and gentleness. In America, we have failed to show this generation the goodness and grace of God by our attitudes and rhetoric. … More Authentic Christianity
God can use anyone who will allow him to use them. He will use whatever “tools” you have or can find, no matter how “primitive” or imperfect they may seem. He will use even you, no matter how imperfect you may be! … More A Jawbone of a Donkey
What if the biggest perceived inconveniences and interruptions in your life are really Divine opportunities? … More Inconvenience or Divine Opportunity?
But until we turn to to the Lord and keep our gaze fixed on him, we are blinded to his beauty. His glory is veiled or hidden from us until we look to him in faith. But when we do, we discover the never ending awe and wonder of who He is. This in turn changes us, as God’s Spirit goes to work in making us more like Jesus; producing a life of joyful obedience and eternal worship of the Living God who alone is Worthy (Revelation 4). … More The Life-Transforming Glory of Jesus
When we are seeking ideal environments, we will end up disappointed and disillusioned. But when we stay focused on the faithfulness of God, we will not falter in times of trouble and trial. … More Myth of Perfect verse The Perfect One
The heavens are pointing us to a reality greater than we can possibly imagine or comprehend. They are speaking to us of the vastness of God, the promises of God and the glory of God. They are pointing us to something (or more like someone!) beyond ourselves, beyond our own little worlds, beyond our “small” problems and even beyond the universe itself. It is speaking to us of the faithfulness of God to fulfill every good promise in our lives. It is speaking to us of an eternally glorious God; a God of beauty and delight who alone can satisfy the thirst of our hearts and longing of our hearts. … More The Heavens are Speaking
I was in a meeting recently where several people were sharing their efforts in different arena’s. One man shared about his efforts to address homelessness, another spoke of prison ministry and rehabilitation, and yet another missions work around the world. There was one more who spoke about political issues.
Want to take a guess who got the biggest applause and only standing ovation that day? … More The Problem in the American Church
If anyone should be showing hospitality, regardless of political beliefs, it is Christians who claim to follow Jesus; the One who Himself was a refugee, forced to flee a bloodbath as a vulnerable child, and whose people have often been refugees, persecuted and forced to flee their homes. We are even called “aliens” and “strangers”, as this world in it’s present fallen form is not our true home. Our true citizenship is in heaven! We too are “refugee’s” looking and longing for our true eternal home. … More Welcoming the Refugee
But God has one purpose for my life and yours and every other Christian in every other generation and every generation to come, until Christ comes back and we are perfected. It is a singular purpose that is the same for every one of us. … More God’s Purpose For Your Life
Wrestling with what is wrong, must turn into working for what is right. Anger must turn to action that brings forth positive change. Bitterness must be replaced with mercy and grace. Being hurt must lead to becoming more compassionate and sensitive to others hurting or feeling unnoticed. And being upset about all the “un-Christ-like” Christians out there must lead me to becoming more like Christ myself not less. … More An Honest Wrestling: Part 2