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.

The Christian Response to Homosexuality in Post-Christian America

Many churches fail in their approach of addressing homosexuality. The liberal response embraces and celebrates sin. The fundamental response typically shuns and condemns sinners. The way of Jesus is neither of these approaches. The Christian response speaks truth in love and offers Gospel hope to sinners.

Here are 12 considerations to keep in mind in this day and age:

  1. Scripture is clear. Homosexual practice and behavior is sin. Both the Old and New Testaments are crystal clear on this issue. It is interesting that Jesus never mentions homosexuality, but he warned against sexual sin (porneia). Homosexuality was not tolerated in Palestine, so Jesus did not need to address this issue specifically. The apostle Paul warns against homosexuality on several occasions as he writes to Gentile churches.
  1. We have a minority view. The clear Biblical stance on homosexuality is now a minority view in America. Over half of Americans approve of gay marriage. There is no longer a prevalent Judeo-Christian worldview and ethic in our country. Younger generations are more tolerant and heavily influenced by friends, peers, media, and culture. Most Americans do not care what the Bible says about homosexuality. Christians thumping the Bible is falling on deaf ears. Satan is at work and having a heyday with this issue. While Christians must stand on Biblical truth, we also need to stay current on research and present rational arguments for our perspective. We also need to understand that most homosexuals in our culture tend to tie their identity to this inward struggle. This is a controversial, intricate, and challenging issue to unpack, understand, and address.
  1. We must become Christ’s ambassadors. Our nation no longer legislates morality in regards to adultery, divorce, homosexual practice, and abortion. We probably cannot legislate morality regarding gay marriage in post-Christian America. Even if we did, laws cannot change hearts. John MacArthur says, “Overly politically-active Christians make enemies with the lost.” He writes, “Rather than concentrating on political issues and debates, believers should be consumed with their responsibility as Christ’s ambassadors. That is the church’s mandate. When other priorities and pursuits crowd out the Great Commission, both the message and the mission get confused.” In our efforts to be responsible, voting, politically-active Christians, we can easily lose sight of eternal Gospel priorities. Satan is our enemy, not people. Homosexuals are not our enemy. We need to adjust our expectations, prepare for persecution, pray for revival, and become Christ’s ambassadors.
  1. This world is not our home. Our priorities must shift from an earthly focus to a heavenly focus. What is now seen on earth is only temporal, and what is unseen is eternal. America is not “God’s special country.” No country has ever been perfect or fully Christian. All nations are corrupt, and no nation will last. The earth will one day be destroyed. The Christian is not to ignore the political arena of the world nor his cultural identity for that would be irresponsible and disrespectful, but earthly politics and patriotism must be seen as secondary. It is essential that a believer prioritize the kingdom of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Living as an alien and stranger on earth, the Christian life is one of expectation and yearning for heaven—the better country to come.
  1. Never enjoy confronting homosexuality. There should be no applause or rejoicing in condemnation of sin. All too often, our preaching against homosexuality is a disgusting spectacle. Older generations tend to be too harsh when addressing homosexuality. The heavy duty of preaching against sin should be discharged with reluctance. Pastors should take a fatherly approach when addressing this sin, as if pursuing a wayward child. There is no joy in confronting homosexuality. We should find this difficult and heavy. We must shed compassionate tears for those who struggle with homosexuality. We must be humble and broken.

In the book, God in the Dock, C.S. Lewis presents some dangers in preaching national repentance. He writes: “Is it not, then, the duty of the Church to preach national repentance? I think it is. But the office—like many others—can be profitably discharged only by those who discharge it with reluctance. We know that a man may have to ‘hate’ his mother for the Lord’s sake. The sight of a Christian rebuking his mother, though tragic, may be edifying; but only if we are quite sure that he has been a good son and that, in his rebuke, spiritual zeal is triumphing, not without agony, over strong natural affection. The moment there is reason to suspect he enjoys rebuking her—that he believes himself to be rising above the natural level while he is still, in reality, groveling below it in the unnatural—the spectacle becomes merely disgusting. The hard sayings of our Lord are wholesome to those only who find them hard.”

  1. Homosexuality should not be singled out as the only sin or the worst sin. The apostle Paul mentions homosexuality within lists of many sins (1 Cor 6:9-11; 1 Tim 1:9-10; Rom 1:18-32). We should be honest that we are sinners and each of us are battling different sins. We should speak of homosexuality as one of many serious sins including premarital sex, adultery, pornography, etc. 
  1. Hope must be offered. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church regarding homosexuality as something of their past that had been washed and cleansed. If Christians in Corinth could be cleansed of former homosexual sin, there is hope that anyone can be washed, sanctified, and forgiven (1 Cor 6:11). We do not write anyone off. There are people attending your church every Sunday who are struggling with same sex attraction and homosexuality. Many are carrying pain and guilt. They need to know that they are accepted even as they struggle with this issue. All sinners need encouragement to struggle against sin, no matter what kind. Individuals should not be penalized in the church for struggling with same-sex attraction while living a life of holiness. We offer real Gospel hope to sinners knowing there is substantial healing in Jesus Christ.
  1. Love must be paramount. Jesus said we will be known by our love (John 13:35). Remember that it was God’s kindness that led us to repentance (Rom 2:4). Love and kindness must be communicated in every conversation on this issue.
  1. Every word counts. Always be ready to give an answer (1 Pet 3:15). Our words can be easily misunderstood and twisted. Jesus said we will give an account for every careless word (Matt 12:36). We must guard our words carefully, especially in this day and age.
  1. There is a time to be silent. Pray for wisdom when to speak and when to be silent. There were times that Jesus did not open his mouth (Isa 53:7; Acts 8:32; Matt 27:12; 1 Pet 2:23). Sometimes we talk too much. Jesus cautioned Christians to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). The apostle Paul recommends that we not judge those outside the church (1 Cor 5:12-13).
  1. Some of our approaches are different.Christians are forced to make difficult decisions when close friends or family members pursue an active homosexual lifestyle. When invited to attend a gay wedding, a Christian has to prayerfully consider his response. There should be opportunity at some point to verbally speak truth in love. Once the Gospel has been shared and concerns voiced, it is important to show respect and love. Some would argue that attending a wedding would show complete support and approval of the marriage. Others would argue that avoiding the wedding would cause offense and irreparably damage a family relationship. These are difficult decisions. Each individual must count the cost. There are repercussions to either approach. Godly men and women have freedom in Christ to prayerfully approach these hard decisions and make wise choices. Be respectful of those who may have a different approach than your own.
  1. Do your best to avoid hypocrisy. Yes, the church is full of hypocrites. None of us have arrived. We must admit that some of the accusations we receive are well deserved. Our attitudes and words often cause unnecessary barriers. There are times to set clear boundaries. Pastors and clergy have to draw real lines when officiating weddings. If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, try to live at peace with all men (Rom 12:18). In our efforts to stand for the sanctity of marriage, we must be careful to not show partiality and favoritism. Homosexuals are sinners like us created in the image of God who are worthy of dignity and respect. Christians in society should not have a vendetta to refuse business and services to all homosexuals. For example, suppose you own a cake-making business. If you refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding, do you also refuse to make a cake for those who had premarital sex? Try to be consistent. Otherwise, you are showing partiality and favoritism to “certain sinners.” This does not communicate love. This shows hypocrisy and gives Christians a bad name. Philip Yancey’s new book, Vanishing Grace, laments how Christians have lost respect, influence and reputation in our culture. Some of the disdain we receive from the lost is self-inflicted.

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