I am wrapping up an inspiring trip in the Middle East on behalf of ServeNow. There are so many stories to share and thoughts to articulate. But allow me to summarize a few fundamental realities in the top five words that come to mind.
As we approach the Easter season, my thoughts are directed towards the problem of evil in a new way. The issue of evil is humanity’s age-old problem, and even the greatest saints in Scripture and throughout history have wrestled over it. The dilemma is this: If God is God, then he is all-loving, all-wise, and all-powerful. How then do those three realities reconcile with the reality of evil? What do we do with the horrors we see unfolding in Ukraine, for example, this year?
Christmas is not just about a child in a manger. It’s about a King who will come again to rule and reign. We are not just preparing our hearts to celebrate his birth as a baby. We are preparing our hearts for his return as King.
The reminder and command regarding the poor serves to check these two extremes. On the one hand, we should not be so naïve as to think we can end world poverty. On the other hand, we should not be so discouraged that we grow weary and callous. Instead, we need a posture of constant pro-active generosity towards the poor who are always among us. We need to be “open-handed,” which requires an “open heart” of compassion.
Suicide can affect anyone, even those whose circumstances would otherwise suggest a “good life.” We need to talk about suicide more, because it’s an epidemic and a real struggle for so many. At its core, it’s also a loss of hope
When I travel I try to look for things God is teaching me. I just returned from a trip to Kenya and Tanzania for ServeNow. The lesson that stood out to me on this trip was a new appreciation of having an advocate on your side. For this article’s purpose, let me share what happened in the US and then Tanzania related to the COVID testing process necessary for travel.
From Hans Rosling, Mark Manson, to Fareed Zakaria, multiple authors have written that contrary to popular belief, the world has gotten better, not worse, in modern times. The standard of living has improved worldwide. Access to education, healthcare, and technology has increased. Wars and violence are at the lowest globally from a historical perspective.
And yet, it seems as the world gets better, people’s hope is decreasing. This seeming contradiction is an interesting dynamic I write about in Chapter 3 of my book Hope Rising: Finding Hope in a Turbulent World. It was probably the most interesting chapter to write and wrestle with why this is the case.
The kind of hope the Bible speaks of is confident and sure. Hope is rooted in God’s character and nature, despite our feelings or situations. It’s a hope anchored in not just God’s promises but in his very person. It’s a hope that is eternal in nature and provides confidence found not in ourselves or in our circumstances. It’s a hope rooted in Jesus…
The good news of Christmas, the Good News of the Gospel, is that Christ has come for all, and all can come to him by faith in hope and find rest for their weary souls. This is the very promise of Christ himself. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Besides COVID in 2020, perhaps the next thing that has taken our culture by storm is “Baby Yoda!” Our family just returned from a trip to Disney World, and yes, we enjoyed Galaxies Edge where we got to pretend like we were in Star Wars! Perhaps that is part of why I cannot help but think as Christmas approaches, there are certain similarities between this “special child” in a galaxy far far away and the real Chosen Child born here on earth over 2,000 years ago.
The first Christmas (and subsequent ones after) for Mary and Joseph were filled with interrupted plans, inconvenience, plans for divorce, monumental decisions, drama, death threats, murder of toddlers, rejection, uncertainty, narrow escape, refugee status, confusion, bewilderment, chaos, danger, and so much more. Joseph and Mary were swept up into an epic story far more significant than themselves. This was far beyond anything they asked for or were looking for.
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.
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.
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
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!
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?
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
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.
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.
It is the presence of God that brings fullness of joy and eternal pleasures. It’s his person that satisfies and eternally thrills the human heart. Heaven is not boring because God is infinitely fascinating! God is not a cosmic kill joy, but the source of all true and lasting joy.
Moana. Inside Out. Star Wars. Lord of the Rings. Beauty and the Beast. Field of Dreams. Sleeping Beauty. Rocky. Gladiator. Pretty much all Disney movies. What is it about these movies that we so deeply connect with, resonate with and even cry over? Want to know my theory? If not…why are you still reading? 🙂Continue reading “Why You Love the Movies You Love”
Today, on Easter Sunday, as we remember the stone that was rolled away out of which Jesus emerged to new life, I pray the same will happen for you. Whatever “very large” stone has trapped you or is crushing you, may it be removed in Jesus’ name! May you experience His resurrection and victorious power.
Many of us do nothing for God because of “stones” that exist in our mind. There are obstacles that hold us back from even moving towards those situations. We feel called to serve but we see no way that we can do it, so we don’t even attempt. And because we don’t attempt, we never witness the resurrection power and reality of our Living Savior!
However, did you know this is not the last time the phrase “It is Finished” is used? While the sacrifice for sin to make possible our salvation, redemption, forgiveness and reconciliation with God was finished; the reality is there are many still living apart from God, evil still is at work in the world and heaven has not come to earth. There are more things “yet to be done.”
It may be standing right in front you.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world…I was a stranger and you invited me in… “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you a stranger andContinue reading “Serving Refugee’s”
There is such a big difference between us setting out to “work for God”, versus God doing his work in us and through us! God is not looking for us to work for him. However, he is looking for worshippers through whom he can do his work! (John 4:23).
One of the core tenants of the Christian faith is the concept of the Trinity; one God in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). While the word trinity itself is not found in the Bible, the New Testament implicitly and explicitly teaches this idea (Matthew 28:19, Luke 3:21-22, John 14-16, 2 Corinthians 13:14). ItContinue reading “The Mystery & Reality of the Trinity”
The other night, my wife and I went out to dinner with new friends of ours. During the course of dinner, conversation began to move to “spiritual things.” The husband explained that he was an “agnostic” and began to put forward the various reasons of why that was so. One of the main “stumbling blocks”Continue reading “The Justice of Hell”