The Benefits of Christian Vulnerability

By nature, God created his people to yearn for community. When we hurt, we long to find comfort in others. When we’re joyful, we can’t wait to share the source of our joy with the people around us. We see examples throughout scripture of God’s creation finding joy in the presence of others:

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! (Psalm 133:1, NIV)

And again, Paul reminds us in Romans:

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:4-5, ESV)

Apart from an individual’s time spent daily in the Word of God, I’m convinced that Christian community is the most important facet of our growth and development as Christians. Community brings accountability, community brings mutual joy, and community brings encouragement. But without vulnerability in those settings, we sell ourselves short of the true reward that God has promised to give us “when two or three are gathered.”


The Fear of Vulnerability

Being open is hard. We all have flaws, but there’s a reason that Paul claimed to be the “foremost” sinner – it’s because we only know the true extent of our own sin. I’m terrified of being honest about my struggles. I’m scared of losing my ministry, I’m scared of being viewed differently, I’m scared of showing a side of myself that nobody else has ever seen. As a human, I’m inherently prideful. As a man, that flaw is only magnified. If I talk about my shortcomings, will people question my leadership? If I’m honest about the failures I face on a daily basis, will I still be invited to “come as I am?” How can I lead others in worship, how can I pour into younger guys, how can I set an example for the people around me if they know how deeply flawed I really am?

I’ve wrestled with this a lot lately. I’ve found myself in a church community that I truly feel at home in for the first time since my high school days, and while I’m enormously thankful for that blessing, the flip side of the coin brings the issue of vulnerability back to light. You see, when we’re just “coasting” through our church community, never trying to be intentional or open with the people around us, it’s easy to ignore the urging that God gives us to be honest about our weaknesses. Without a culture of acceptance and intentionality among believers, we can go on indefinitely without ever admitting our issues. Stepping back into that routine is frightening, but it’s clear that’s what God calls us to do regardless of our hesitance.


Creating a Culture of Transparency

Perhaps the most effective lie that Satan tells Christians pertaining to this issue is that we’ll somehow be cast aside by our brothers and sisters if we were ever to embrace our vulnerability and bring our sin into the light of God’s grace. “Your sin is worse than the rest,” he’ll say. “How could anyone possibly love you if they knew that’s what you’ve done?” We become flooded with the fear of rejection, but what we fail to realize is that our willingness to be open does more than just provide us with a source of accountability; it creates a culture of transparency that encourages others to follow in the same footsteps. If I’m willing to show that I will not be held captive by my sins, perhaps someone else in the congregation, in my life group, in my worship team will find the same boldness and allow Christ to throw off his or her shackles as well. See, we can’t step forward as Christians by our own power; we’re simply incapable. But God’s power is made perfect when we can finally come to that realization. Listen to Paul’s thoughts on the subject, a passage I’ve shared a few other times on this blog:

7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. (2 Corinthains 12:7-10, MSG)

God doesn’t expect us to hold it all together. In fact, he encourages us to do nearly the opposite and admit that we couldn’t possibly navigate our lives on this side of heaven without his help. But the fact is that many church communities haven’t modeled that behavior, and it’s facilitated a cycle of privacy and fear that Satan feeds off of. It’s hard to be open, especially in a culture that may not have seen such extensive honesty before. But there’s beauty in making the fighting of sin a team effort, and there’s great restoration when we can come alongside each other in such a special and unique way.


Embracing Accountability

Though the first step in transparency is to admit shortcomings, the next part of the road is perhaps the most rewarding. The church receives the beautiful privilege of coming alongside its members, providing the accountability and support that can conquer sin in Jesus’ name. When one person chooses to step forward in faith, it shows the rest of the church that they, too, will be loved and accepted regardless of what they’re struggling with. Taking that first step can ignite a revolution in our local church bodies, but in order to get over that hump we first have to be willing to face our fear of rejection. It’s a hard choice to make, but it’s one that we’re called to.


Have any insight on this post? Let me know in the comment section below.

When Suffering and Sovereignty Collide

After the death of a close family friend this weekend, I’ve been struggling with God’s sovereignty. Doubt has crept in. Anger, fear, and pain have come.

“Why did you allow this to happen?” I asked. “Why him? I questioned. “Why?” I cried out.

And I heard no answer.

Perhaps God didn’t respond. Perhaps my hardened heart was too proud to hear him reply. Perhaps he never heard me in the first place. As I roamed around the lake outside of my dorm, a simple and small thought entered my mind. I know that God is perfect, incapable of any wrong – but sometimes I wish he wasn’t so that I could have someone to blame these tragedies on. What a relief it would be to finally have a scapegoat for these horrible events; the shocking accident, the devastating hurricane, the death that has simply come too soon. What a great weight it would take off my shoulders to finally have someone to point my finger at! After all, if he won’t answer me now, maybe he isn’t listening. And if he isn’t listening, how can he truly be good? The whole point of a loving god is that he is here for us, and if he can’t even do that, how can we put our trust in him?

As that destructive little thought blossomed and grew in my head, though, the piercing light of God’s truth came down at a seemingly perfect time.

“Trust me,” it said. “You don’t need to understand why. That’s my job.”

Isn’t that the whole point of our faith? If God were within our realm of understanding, he wouldn’t be God. If we, as imperfect sinners, were able to grasp the edges of God’s plan, would he truly be greater than us? God couldn’t really be God if he could fit inside our heads, but that’s something that I will always struggle with. When hell and high water come, and they will, we’re stuck with this paradox of God’s accessibility versus God’s perfection, a conflict that we just won’t understand here on earth.

It would be great to blame these awful circumstances on God. I’ll even go so far as to say that it would bring relief there in the moment. But months, weeks, even just days down the road, we’d remember the deep longing that we have for a perfect and sovereign Creator, a God who knows our deepest needs even better than we do. I may not ever understand why my friend died, just like you may never understand a tragedy in your own life. And I may even struggle with that reality for the rest of my life. But God doesn’t ask us to understand; he commands us to trust and obey. And in doing that, we find peace that would otherwise evade us – a peace that surpasses all understanding.

“Trust me,” he said. “You don’t need to understand why. That’s my job.”

Why I Won’t Praise God All The Time

Praise is a pretty common theme in the Bible. So common, in fact, that we see commands and declarations to praise our King around 250 times throughout the Old and New Testaments. It’s natural; as we’ve examined before, it’s an action that God literally created us for. We are beings made with the sole purpose of glorifying God and enjoying him (John Piper, Desiring God). Why, then, is it so difficult for us to consistently sing songs of adoration towards our faultless God? Why is it that at the first sight of trouble or hardship we so often turn from our anchor and throw ourselves into the raging seas?

Praise is Hard

In the most simple answer, it’s because praising an unseen God is hard. It’s difficult for us as visual and nearsighted beings to focus on the plan that God has for us down the road that we may not see at the time. We see the fire rising but fail to see the helping hand on the other side of the flames. It’s this lack of vision that not only keeps us from praising God, but causes us to follow our own sinful and selfish ways in times of even slight trouble. Praise is hard, yes. The original sin that we are born into (Ps. 51:5, Eph. 2:2) ensures that our gut reaction will never be that of praise until the Spirit works in us. But praise is also something that God commands even though he knows we will struggle with it.

Praise is Commanded

God commands our praise not only because that is what he created us for, but also because he knows that is what will facilitate growth in our lives. Take the book of James, for example:

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. (James 5:13, ESV)

Not only is this an affirmation of God’s purpose for us, but a reminder that drawing near to our Savior is what will be the only true and lasting source of healing. Examine now the 8th Psalm, written by David in the face of dangerous opposition from his adversaries:

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers – the moon and the stars you set in place – what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? (Ps. 8:3-4, NLT)

David could choose to dwell on his clearly less-than-favorable circumstances. He could focus on the pain God is allowing him to experience instead of the promise God made to deliver him. But instead, David (a man repeatedly described as a “man after God’s own heart”) chooses to sing God’s praise and observe the beauty of his creation. What does this tell us, then, if a man experiencing the unfathomable suffering that David went through still chooses to worship and admire our King? Sure, David still points out the pain he is in. In fact, many of the Psalms chronicle his doubts and fears. But the difference here is that he contrasts these waves of uncertainty with the overwhelming flood of God’s grace. God doesn’t ask if we’re okay with praising him. He creates us to do it. He tells us it’s necessary. But he also tells us that our praise will bring us peace.

Praise is Rewarding

If we are to examine the example of the Psalms, then it is only necessary that we flip a few pages back to see the story of Job as well. If there is anyone in the Bible that deserves a “get out of praise free” card, it’s Job, a man who lost literally everything he had. Yet we see from the final chapter of Job that not only did he continue to worship the Lord, but the Lord rewarded him with even more in the second half of his life than he did in the first (Job 42:12, NLT). It’s not just rewards for being faithful that we have to look forward too, though; it’s the perfect peace that God offers to those who find their rest in Him. In Isaiah, we read the following:

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. (Is. 26:3, NIV)

And again in Romans:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:30, NIV)

Perhaps the most important takeaway we have from these verses is that they are conditional: we are told that we will experience peace when we trust in God. We aren’t told that our troubles will go away, we aren’t told that it will be easy, but we are told that we will surely experience God’s healing and restoration as long as our hearts and minds are steadfast and we trust in the Lord God alone.

I won’t praise God all the time. I will struggle and fall short of the commandments he gives me. But what I know without a doubt is that when I do choose to participate in the act that God created me for I will experience peace that surpasses understanding, peace that brings healing to my troubled soul. Take some time today to thank God for his blessings, both those that you see now and those that he hasn’t yet revealed to you. Take some time to thank him for the parts of his plan that he has shown you already and the parts that you don’t understand yet. Remember that the same God who split the seas for our sake is the one that will reconcile all our pain in the end. And in all things, praise him for what he has done and what he will do.

You will be praised, You will be praised. With angels and saints we sing “Worthy are you, Lord.”

Bethel Music – Ever Be

Have any insight on this post? Let me know in the comment section below.

The Art of Active Patience

I’ve developed a habit over the years of getting my hopes up about things that I desire. Maybe it was a college I wanted to attend, a friendship I wanted to last, an opportunity to do something special. If I even had the slightest reason to believe that something could happen (whether it was probable or not), I latched on to that hope with all my strength. I was so motivated in all those different situations to get what I was waiting for that it often crashed and burned, and the hope I started with resulted in a lot of pain or disappointment when I couldn’t get what I wanted. So how do we get through situations like that? How, in the presence of such great disappointment, can we keep our heads held high and trust in God’s provision? It’s not easy. And that’s exactly why Satan continues to try and drag us down in these situations – because he knows they can break our hearts and crush our faith. However, when we strive towards a more active and engaging form of patience, we can begin to see the strength that these trials produce when we come out on the other side, praising God along the way.

Life Sucks, but God is Good

It’s a simple fact that everyone comes to grips with at one point or another – life can be really unpleasant sometimes. Perhaps it was a failed relationship, a pregnancy complication, maybe you lost your job. These things hurt, and they can cut deeply. However, the presence of difficult circumstances does not mean that God has forsaken us. He can still be a just and perfect God even if we do not understand how or why he is working in our lives in a certain way. Our task during trials, then, is to remember that God’s glory transcends our understanding. Let’s take a look at a passage that illustrates this clearly:

Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not! For God said to Moses, ‘I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.’ . . . Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ (Rom. 9:14-15, 20, NLT)

And another verse from a book that has very good insight on the topic of suffering:

Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil? (Job 2:10, ESV)

God is not obligated to bless us with lives that are easy. God is not obligated to bless us with the absence of difficult circumstances. Growing up in the wealthiest nation the world has ever seen, we sometimes get this entitlement mentality that if anything goes wrong, God must be being unfair or must have forgotten us. But that’s not the case, and if we choose to believe that it is, our faith can be completely demolished. We will face hard times, but God’s faithfulness will not change in the slightest.

The Danger of Passive Patience

Often times, our only option in these hard times is to be patient. Yep, that one course of action that everybody loves and never struggles with. But patience can be approached in two very different ways, and each one has a totally different outcome. In his study The Letters of Peter and Jude, Scottish theologian William Barclay defines true patience:

The word never means the spirit which sits with folded hands and simply bears things. It is victorious endurance . . . Christian steadfastness, the brave and courageous acceptance of everything life can do to us, and the transmuting of even the worst into another step on the upward way. It is the courageous and triumphant ability to bear things, which enables a man to pass breaking point and not to break, and always to greet the unseen with a cheer.

Patience is, as stated here, an active attitude, a daily decision to trust in the fact that God will work things out according to our good. He calls it victorious endurance for a reason: because it takes a lot of fighting much of the time. We will reach these “breaking points” time after time, but the acknowledgment that God is in control is the only thing which can enable us to pass these points without truly breaking. Because of our right standing with God that is gained through faith, we have a foretaste of the future glory that we will receive – a day where our suffering will end and we will enjoy uninhibited communion with God. This is what gets us through. Patience is not passive. Patience is an active reliance on God’s faithfulness even when it is unseen or not understood. We’ve got to take small steps each day to show our complete dependence on God – giving our needs to him in prayer, confessing our times of wavering faith, letting down the walls that our quickly-changing emotions can so easily build up. It is in the times where the night seems darkest that we must, in faith, sing “great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me,” because we know it to be true even when we cannot see it at the moment. We will reach what we believe to be the end of the road, weary and beaten down by the things that this world can throw at us. But God will always be there waiting, ready to revive our tired souls.

You’ve brought me to the end of myself and this has been the longest road. Just when my hallelujah was tired, you gave me a new song. I’m letting go and falling into you.

Bethel Live – Letting Go


An Authentic Appreciation of Grace

Before I begin, I’d like to take a moment to wish a happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful women out there who have had the responsibility of raising a child. You are truly extraordinary.


Growing up, I spent a lot of time with “adopted” family members in our house. Since my parents both have a tremendous passion for their ministry to college students (and just young people in general), we had a few different situations where we opened our home to students for a summer, semester, or even a year or more. Because of this, my brother and I lived in the same room for a big chunk of our childhood, a situation that brought us endless joy from willingly and gladly sharing every possession with each other. Rooming with Benjamin for so long taught me to have a certain amount of value for cleanliness, though; after spending so much time in a room that was perpetually messy, I developed quite the appreciation for time when I could have some cleanliness. With that being said, I was even more excited once I got to college and found out that both of my roommates (shown below) were reasonably clean. I appreciated it right from the beginning, but it was an appreciation that wouldn’t have been so strong without the years spent in a messy room.

20140428_173414The Men of Quincer 210

Now, my point for writing today wasn’t just to talk about the cleanliness of my dorm room, but rather to focus on an important truth: in order to appreciate things fully, we must first know what it’s like to be without them. I wouldn’t love Zach and Elijah’s cleaning habits as much if I’d always grown up with a spotless room. I wouldn’t miss Indianapolis as much if I had never left for Michigan. And, on a completely different level, if we don’t know the extent of our sinfulness, we can’t appreciate the extent of God’s grace.

We are guilty…

Let’s take a moment to observe what may be my favorite book of the Bible, Romans. Paul doesn’t go into specific detail about the grace of God until he has taken time to discuss God’s judgment. Why? Well, it’s because he wants to guide us to a proper realization of our need for grace. The fact is, we’re all guilty of sin that leads to death. We’re born with a shattered reflection of Christ, something I spoke about in the last post as well. On our own, we can do no good – even “morally good” acts have no ultimate weight if they’re done outside of our faith in Jesus. Sin is a disease, and apart from God there is no cure. This is a fundamental truth for all people to understand; without it, we cannot fully grasp the weight and meaning of our salvation. A proper understanding of our hopelessness without God is imperative for our ability to comprehend God’s great grace. Take, for example, David’s words in Psalm 14:

¹ The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. ² The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. ³ They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

This is strong language, especially for a culture today that fights adamantly for the acceptance of secular morality and humanism. But David’s point is clear: we are capable of no good works outside of faith in the one true God.

…but God redeems us.

Here’s the part we’ve all been waiting for, the part that gives us hope – God is merciful. After we’ve recognized the weight and consequence of our sins, we are finally able to fully enjoy the benefits of Christ’s substitutionary atonement. God doesn’t require any atonement on our part, he doesn’t expect us to earn our salvation. All that he asks in return is for our faith: that we are willing to trust in his provision and sanctification in our lives. Let’s look at another Davidic Psalm, Psalm 32:

¹ Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. ² Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

David’s praise is not simply on the holiness and perfection of God, but rather focuses on God’s promised redemption for our sin. His realization of his own sin leads to increased gratitude for God’s power to save.

Without sin, there’s no need for grace. If we were able to abide by the law that God has given us, he wouldn’t have needed to send Jesus. Do we, when reflecting on Jesus’ time on the cross, truly believe that we deserved that same punishment? Yes, he died in our place, but do we actually accept the fact that we should have had nails in our hands instead? If we don’t know the extent of our need, we can’t appreciate the extent of his grace. Yes – we are sinful and broken. But it’s through our weakness that we can rely more fully on God’s strength.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

Have any insight on this post? Let me know in the comment section below.



Growing Up is a Choice

While preparing to leave for college last summer, the part that excited me most was the prospect of finally being on my ownI could finally do what I wanted when I wanted, I could go places without asking permission, I could explore the entire universe without worrying about making it back before curfew. Oh, how great it would be! I was finally going to be an adult – I even got to start paying bills like they do!

Ok, all joking aside, my point remains. I got to be my own little naïve entity, gently floating through the vast expanse of West Michigan. However, as my freshman year of college quickly blew by, I woke up from my sleep-deprivation-and-ramen-noodle-induced coma in mid-February and realized that life was not quite how I imagined it to be. I had not, in fact, grown up. Actually, I felt like I did the opposite. See, I had high hopes for my life once I left for college. It would be my first experience in Christian education, and I just sorta figured I would snap my fingers and immediately stop making stupid decisions or saying hurtful things. Now, here’s a real spoiler for those of you who plan to attend a Christian college, so feel free to skip over it if you like surprises: Christian colleges are full of sinners too. And to borrow some humbling and eloquent words from the Apostle Paul, I was the foremost. I still acted arrogantly, I still said things I wish I could take back, I still struggled with a lot of the same things that I did during high school. But wait, you ask, I thought you were an adult now! 

I wasn’t. I’m still not. But I’m choosing to work harder at getting there.

Maturity is a Choice

See, I think that maturing is a choice that we take. Your work ethic, your self-control, your ability to act responsibly, they’re all options – you can choose to embrace them or cast them aside. I viewed my maturity as inevitable; once I got in an environment filled with Christians, it would just magically happen, like flipping on a light switch. But the truth is, that’s just not gonna happen. One of the consequences of the fall is that we are a broken image of Christ now, like a reflection in a shattered mirror. We aren’t inherently good, we’ve been tainted by sin. And because of that, the choices that we make to grow closer to God are hard: they don’t just happen automatically. This year I had a lot of problems with the way I conducted myself, especially in my dorm. In an all-guy culture, I naturally got more competitive (and with that, I built up a lot of arrogance as well) and it permeated my actions even outside of campus. I was faced with strings of choices each day: respond with pride or humility, speak or hold my tongue, build up or tear down. And I screwed up over and over again. But here’s my point – they were choices that I consciously made. Not things I was doing subconsciously or without realization, but rather things that I knew were wrong. Let’s take a moment to look at some Scripture:

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jer. 31:33-34)

The beauty of the New Covenant, as described here in the book of Jeremiah, is that we no longer have an excuse for sin – God’s word is now written on our hearts. No, we’re not inherently good. But we are born with the opportunity for salvation because of this beautiful promise that God made to us. But what does this mean in the context of growing up? Well, it means that we’re presented with a choice to do the right or wrong thing at any given moment. It’s an obvious (but strangely hidden at the same time) realization, and one that can change our actions and our thoughts dramatically.

Our Past Choices Shape Our Future Ones

One of the very frustrating things I’ve found throughout my life is that I am, like everyone else on this planet, subject to falling into routines. It can be a good thing in some situations, like learning to open doors for others or remembering to turn our cars off before filling up the gas tank.These are things we just do now, simply because we’ve done them so many times before. But habit can also be incredibly unhelpful, like when we set a pattern of laziness or argue when we’re asked to do something. When we act in a certain way, we’re more likely to repeat this action when faced with similar circumstances down the road. I remember a time in my life when I couldn’t finish a game of hockey without getting bored, but once I moved to Michigan and attended a Grand Rapids Griffins hockey game almost every week of my first semester of college, I fell in love with the sport. Why? Well, 1) it’s an awesome sport and 2) I just formed a habit of enjoying it. Each of us has little stories like that, and it’s because we’re creatures of habit. Because of that defining truth about all of humanity, it’s important that we recognize the significance of even our little choices to do the right thing. As we take steps to respond to others with humility and grace, to speak in uplifting and edifying ways, to respect authority, we build ourselves a foundation on which our future actions will be placed. This is the beginning of true maturity: that we create patterns of God-glorifying behavior. God doesn’t command us to offer up one act of sacrifice each day, but rather commands us to offer our whole beings. We could choose to stay in a rut, or we can choose to fulfill the incredible potential that we have through Christ.

It’s not a question of whether we can. It’s a question of whether we will. 



Have any insight on this post? Let me know in the comment section below. 

Prayer Requests

Over the last few months, things have gotten crazy. And now that they’re starting to settle down, I’d like to take some time to lift up any needs that you all may have to the Lord. So, let’s try something new: Below this post is a box with a few different categories for you to fill out. You know, the typical “name and email” thing. It can be completely anonymous if you’d like, and the only required field is the request one. However, if you’d like, you can include your name and email address as well and I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve taken some time to pray for whatever request you may have. My goal for this is to spend as much time as I possibly can praying for you, the body of the Church, and so I encourage all of you to not only share your own requests, but also to open it up to friends and family. You all have been such a blessing to me since I began writing on this little blog, and I’d love to return that blessing in any way I can.


May God bless and keep you.



Circumstances Suck.

I’m getting really sick of the circumstances I’m in. I’m sick of getting what seems like the short end of the stick in so many situations, sick of feeling hurt and sad so often, sick of dealing with such awful events in my life. They really stack up, and every once in a while it just becomes too much. There a lot of things going on right now, and sometimes I wonder why I’m the one dealing with it. The unique (and a lot of times unsaid) part of this trial, though, is pretty important to realize – I’m not the only one feeling like this. In fact, every single person who ever has lived on this planet will feel the same way; we all have crappy times in our lives, no matter who we are, where we live, how much money we make, etc. And sometimes – here’s the not-so-fun part – God doesn’t deliver us from them.

Now before you confuse that last part with me saying that God isn’t in control, let’s take a look at some Scripture:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor. 12:7-9)

A lot of times, we take verse nine in a context of seeing God’s power through our weakness. But as we look deeper, we can see an even more valuable meaning from these verses – God will not deliver Paul from his pain by removing Satan’s presence in his life. He’s stuck in that situation and God refuses to take him out of it. See, we’re always going to have bad circumstances at some point. It’s inevitable. But the temptation is often to expect God to pull us out if we pray “hard enough” or achieve whatever other stipulations we create. See, that’s just not biblical. Do you think that Job got his original family back? Do you think that Moses finally got a pass into the Promised Land? Or perhaps we’ve forgotten that every single apostle was killed for his faith. Those seem to be circumstances that God did not deliver them from. But what God does promise to everyone who believes is that his grace is sufficient – we need nothing else. See, it’s these times of trial that our faith is truly built; without hardship, we have no need for God’s provision and grace. Sometimes, God will guide us through the pain. Sometimes, he will take us out of it. And sometimes, he just reminds us that his grace is sufficient. His faithfulness does not change, nor does his love for us, but sometimes we just need a reminder that trusting him completely is the only way to move forward.

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father; there is no shadow of turning with Thee. Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not – as Thou hast been, Thou forever will be. 

Have any insight on this post? Let me know in the comment section below.

My God Will Provide

So, today is a short encouragement (just because I’m feeling like now would be a good time to share it).

God will provide for you. It won’t always be what you’re expecting, what you’re hoping for, what you want. But it will always be given in your best interest in order to bring glory to the perfect Creator.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Phil. 4:6)

Give us this day our daily bread. (Mt. 6:11)

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8:28)

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Mt. 6:26)

Seek Christ. Desire more of him, and you will be filled with the satisfaction that only he can bring. When we look for things of this world, people and things that are broken in nature, we will never be completely filled. But when we seek the one true God, the only source of infinite comfort and joy, we will never be disappointed.


Have any insight on this post? Let me know in the comment section below.


Why does sin appeal to us?

As I turned off the Golden State Warriors game yesterday and made the trek upstairs to my bed for the night, I was confronted with a temptation that Satan often chooses to throw at me. See, each night before I go to sleep, I spend time reflecting on my day; I think about the things that happened to me that day and I think about things that are heavy on my heart. And the issue that has been heaviest on my heart in recent weeks and months is an issue of not trusting God’s plan for me – wishing I could have my own way instead of trusting His. It’s something that I struggle with nearly every day, but something that I’ve been trying to work on. And so last night when the temptation presented itself again, I took a step back and thought about my options in that moment: what choices could I make and how would each affect me and my walk with Jesus? As I contemplated my options, I began to wonder: why does sin appeal to us? Especially to those of us who are Christians, why do we, with full awareness that it is wrong, turn our backs on the Savior in favor of our own desires?

Well, it’s a simple answer – sin allows us to be “king” of our lives for just an instant. We get to have control, to pick whatever decision we want, to do what pleases us. Yeah, it’s a pretty appealing concept when you think about it, but think about this: what if we tune out the long-term consequences of sin while making those spur-of-the-moment decisions? What if we’re unable to see past “right now” and miss “down the road?” What if instant gratification clouds our view of lasting repercussions? Well, as I’ve found time and time again, that’s exactly what happens when we disregard God’s warnings about sin. We look for those “right now” rewards and end up suffering the “later on” results. They’re not fun, and you’d think with enough experience that we would learn to quit making those decisions in the first place. But that’s what is so tricky about sin: Satan comes up with new, clever ways to deceive us all the time. And when we try and fight the battle ourselves without relying on Christ’s strength, the only possible outcome is failure.

See, God wants us to avoid sin because he knows that it will hurt us in the long run. In our skewed, worldly view of sin, we’ve begun to value that which sin offers – lust, greed, selfishness. We see it as a means of gaining happiness, that if we just get one more raise or one more sexual encounter we’ll finally be happy. But in his divine design for our lives, God knows that these things bring only temporary happiness, and sometimes not even that. God asks us to deny ourselves and seek him because he knows that only he can offer true joy – nothing else, no one else. His command for our praise is not selfish, but actually completely selfless because he can see the big picture: he can see that he is the only path to lasting joy. Read these words from Psalm 1 about taking refuge in the Lord:

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away. (Psalm 1:1-4)

See what God is trying to show us? His power, his love, his grace is enough for us. It’s more than enough, actually. And as we learn to rest in that truth, we experience true meaning in our lives. Through his wounds we are healed, through his death we find life, through his suffering we experience joy.


Have any insight on this post? Let me know in the comment section below.