The Story of Your Life

Life is precious, brief, and unpredictable. Your life is a journey with a beginning, a direction, a purpose, and a destination. You will have good and bad days. Some days are an emotional rollercoaster that include both joy and sorrow. Some seasons it will be difficult to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. God is working in every season. Do you trust Him?

As you live each day by faith, there is so much unknown. The questions are many: Where is God taking me? Where will the adventure end? What will God do next? How will God work this out? When will things be settled? Why is God doing this? As you cry out with honest and raw prayers, God is listening. He is working in your waiting.

The apostle Paul said that your life is “a letter from Christ, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Corinthians 3:3). God is writing the story of your life. You may not see it or feel it, but He is working all things for your good and His glory. Be still, relax, let go, cease striving, and know that He is God. Trust Him as He continues to write the story of your life.

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The Adoption Journey

My wife and I rejoice in our recent adoption. We sat in the courtroom and were handed the official decree of adoption. After 2 years and 7 months of transitions with foster homes, our daughter is an official member of our family. We ate cupcakes and rejoiced with officials and friends.

There are so many spiritual connections that we have seen in our adoption journey. As Christians, we have been adopted into God’s family. Each of us were previously enemies of God and alienated from his family. But through the love and mercy of Christ, we have been adopted into God’s family receiving all the blessings and benefits of his children. The boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6). We are full heirs of God’s rich inheritance.

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 4:4-7 NIV)

As a natural response of the great love we have received, we open our arms to the needs of others. The Bible tell us that true religion is “to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27). Jesus says, “Whoever receives one such child in my name, receives me” (Matthew 18:5).

We live in a broken, needy world. Each of our gifts and callings are unique. What is the next step God is taking you to take? May we not waste our lives pursuing empty, fleeting pleasures. How we live today really matters. Let’s make every day count for the kingdom of God.

God is Working in Our Waiting

Every person who walks this earth will experience periods of waiting. One of the hardest aspects of life, the concept of waiting is frequently mentioned in the Bible. From the cradle to the grave, each of us will struggle with waiting.

What do we do in our waiting? Many of us will walk through stages of grief: anger, denial, and questioning God. As we lift up our desires, we hope, pray, and wonder when the answer will come. Not knowing the mind of God, we question whether the Lord is telling us no or to continue waiting. The apostle Paul asked God three times to remove the “thorn in his flesh.” As months and years go by, we wonder if it’s time to let go and move on.

My wife and I have been married nearly seven years. Marriage is wonderful, but the years of hardship we’ve experienced have been brutal. Most of our journey together has been bombarded with trials. We have faced job loss, near foreclosure, infertility, and years of waiting on an adoption match. When we finally got matched with a baby girl, we prepared her bedroom and enjoyed a baby shower with friends. But the adoption didn’t finalize. We sat in an empty bedroom and cried. Husbands and wives grieve differently, but the pain we share is felt to the core. I felt like I needed to be strong for my wife when all I wanted to do was fall apart.

In these difficult moments, if we are not careful, we can begin to question the goodness of God. The hymn writer William Cowper wrote the lyric, “Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face.” As we dig into the Scriptures, we see that God is good, loving, and sovereign.

Our story is just beginning, and we rejoice in the daughter God has brought into our family. My wife and I can both say she was worth the wait. Our darkest days of waiting drew us closer to Christ and made our marriage stronger.

Dear friend, God is working in your waiting. You may not feel or see it, but He is working for your good and His glory. His plans are so much higher. Trust him. Waiting is hard, and some days are cruel. Lean into Jesus for your strength. He is sufficient and more than enough. In each season of life, God is working in our waiting.

Break Every Chain (Monologue)

The Bible is God’s love story to written to us

Let’s begin with the bad news

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God

Each of us have been born in sin, with a sin nature

We are blinded in sin.

Scripture tells us that men love darkness rather than light

 

We have spurned God’s law

We are bound and shackled in the chains of sin

Chains of pride, selfishness

Chains of envy and jealousy

Sinful chains of lust

Chains of addiction, laziness, indifference, ambivalence

 

Our transgressions are many

Our sins outnumber the grains of sand

We stand helpless and broken

Our situation is bleak

If you, O Lord, kept a record of wrongs, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared

 

Here is the good news

There is power in the name of Jesus

There is power in the precious blood of Jesus

That can cleanse every sin, every stain, every addiction.

He died so that you might live

Repent and turn to God

so that your sins may be wiped out

and times of refreshing may come from the Lord

 

There is no one too far gone

There is no one beyond the reach of Almighty God

Jesus can break the chains of sin and death

He can shatter every chain that binds you

Turn to him, trust in him today

You Are Not Alone (at Christmas)

Genuine relationships with people are important. We were not meant to live life alone. We are better together. Marriage and family relationships were created by God. And the church is God’s design and plan for community. But in this dark world, many of our core relationships have been broken. The wounds we carry are deep. Life is hard. Each of us will walk through seasons of suffering, pain, and loneliness. At times, we feel hopeless. We can easily be led into despair.

With all the connection that technology offers us, many of us feel alone. We can be surrounded by people and feel lonely. We can interact with thousands on facebook, twitter, and instagram. We can connect with people around the world within seconds. All this connectedness still can leave us feeling isolated and lonely. Columnist David Brooks writes: “The suicide rate has surged to a 30-year high — a sure sign of rampant social isolation.”

There is a desperate craving in our hearts. We can search for meaning and purpose in the pursuits of friendships, relationships, marriage, family, pleasure, money, career, and more. All these things will leave you feeling empty. Nothing on this earth can satisfy your soul. It’s never enough.

King Solomon is known for his wisdom. In his lifetime, he pursued everything . . . education, agriculture, construction, and romance. Nothing could satisfy. At the end of his life, he said all these pursuits were meaningless, empty, a chasing of the wind. In his book of regrets, he concludes with this simple advice: Fear God.

In our hearts, there is a yearning and a longing for the One true living God who created us. God is here, and he is not silent. His name is Emmanuel, God with us. God came to dwell among us. Jesus was born on Christmas to die for our sins and provide hope and forgiveness. Acts 17 tells us that God appointed the very times and places that we lives so that we might reach out and find Him.

This Christmas season, I pray you hear the voice of God calling out to you. You are loved. You are not alone. There is hope in Jesus. Reach out and find him. He is not far away. He is near. God is with us. This is the hope of Christmas.

Class Notes: Respectable Sins (Bridges)

Kevin Jones and I are teaching through Jerry Bridges book, “Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate.” In this discipleship class we will carefully examine the most common overlooked and pervasive sins we encounter and succumb to on a daily basis. Join us on this 8-week journey in April/May which will challenge and encourage us to examine our thoughts and actions more closely.


Our main textbook is:

Bridges, Jerry. Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2007.


Class Notes:

Outline & Recommended Books

1. Understanding Sin

2. Remedy for Sin

3. Ungodliness & Unthankfulness

4. Anxiety, Frustration, Discontentment

5. Pride & Selfishness

6. Impatience, Irritability & Anger

7. Judgmentalism & Sins of Tongue

8. Self-Control

Some Thoughts on Decision-Making

Below is a recent letter I wrote to a friend seeking advice for wisdom in decision-making. I pray these thoughts are helpful.

Generation X tends to often struggle with doubt and indecision, and that has been my story. I have regrets of hopping churches and dabbling in dating over the past 10 years and had developed a reputation of being indecisive and uncommitted. It took most of my 20’s to conquer doubt and indecision with church ministry and dating relationships. I’m so glad the Lord restores, gives substantial healing, and uses us in spite of ourselves.

These 2 books have been very helpful to me:
1) God in the Dark: The Assurance of Faith Beyond a Shadow of Doubt by Os Guinness
2) Just Do Something: How to Make Decisions Without Visions, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Wet Fleeces, etc. by Kevin DeYoung

Os Guinness’ book helped me identify that struggles with doubt and decision-making were linked to sin issues of ungratefulness, lack of commitment, and fear/running from pain/difficulty. I am learning to be grateful where I am, commit long term, and embrace suffering through Christ.

This may sound crass . . . God doesn’t care where you live or where your paycheck comes from. Yes, he cares because he loves you, but ultimately, He cares more about HOW we live than WHERE we live. God’s will is clear in the Bible: rejoice, give thanks, pray, love God, love people, be holy, commit to and serve in the local church, make disciples, share the Gospel, marry a Christian, etc.

The place you live doesn’t matter. There is no perfect job, and there is no perfect spouse. Life is hard. It has it’s challenges. But things usually get sweeter through longevity and stability. Yes, there is a time to leave and a time to stay. But our generation is poor at commitment and sticking it out for the long haul. Our grandparents’ generation did much better at this. They got married, got a job, and made it work. There’s something good about that. We have so many options available to us, and we grow idealistic. We also tend to overanalyze and consider the repercussions of every decision, which becomes paralyzing and leads to worry.

Psalm 46:10 says to be still, relax, let go, cease striving and know that He is God. Relax. God has promised to meet your needs. Jesus promised to be with you even to the end of the age. Christians will go through trials and suffering, but the Lord will not give more than we can bear. He will provide all that you need so that your faith will not fail.

The godly man/woman of Proverbs knows truth and is a wise, confident decision maker. Be careful to not overspiritualize your decisions. We cannot trust emotion, feelings, etc. Walk in confidence in Christ. Know the Bible, pray, get counsel, and make wise decisions. As you move forward, trust God to meet you on the other side of that decision. He appoints the very times and places that we live.

Another comforting thought . . . nothing is wasted. God uses even our mistakes and sins for His glory. As Paul said, “Forget what’s behind and press on to what’s ahead. I press on toward the goal of the prize” which is knowing Christ.

So what is the Lord’s will? Again, God’s will is clear in the Bible: rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, love God, love people, be holy, commit to and serve the local church, make disciples, share the Gospel, etc. Do these things, and everything else will fall into place.

Press on. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Run the race with endurance. You are in my prayers.