June 27, 2017

For When You Feel Like A Failure

Do you ever feel like a failure? Or get upset because you don't live up to your own expectations of what you should be able to accomplish? Last week, we had VBS at our church. There was a girl who needed to talk about something, and my tongue tied itself up terribly. I just couldn't get started with the conversation! Now, it might have had something to do with the fact that I'd just been pulled from doing crafts with the younger kids, and she was an older kid who had just come from lesson time. Plus, she's a kid who doesn't say much. I had no idea what she'd heard during the lesson, she had no idea how to explain what she wanted, and I just stumbled around trying to get the conversation [...Read More]


God’s Strength Is Enough for You

A lot of people can quote the first half of 2 Corinthians 12:9, but I’m not sure how many actually understand the power and strength imparted in its fourteen words of divine promise. I didn’t, until I actually lived it for myself. I didn’t really understand until I’d been diagnosed with a life-altering illness. Until I had absolutely no more spoons. Until I was called to spend more than I had of energy, strength, and life. We probably all know the back story of this great promise. God had graciously chosen to allow the Apostle Paul to suffer some sort of chronic physical affliction, from which he desperately sought deliverance. Have you ever been there? Have you ever been to that [...Read More]


How Does the Gospel Transform Productivity?

Like most of you, I live a busy life with too many things on my to-do list and not enough hours in the day to get it all done. Poor planning, unforeseen interruptions, and just life in general all combine to make productivity much harder than it should be. And one glance at the personal development section at Barnes & Noble reveals that many of us feel that way! In fact, a quick search for "productivity books" on Amazon returns over 36,000 results. I guess we have a problem with getting things done. Is the answer simply learning various methods and strategies to streamline our work and do more in less time? I don't think so. To be sure, those methods can be helpful -- almost anyone [...Read More]


How to Cure Sinful Thoughts

What is God's prescription for fighting sinful thoughts? It starts with knowing Him -- and His Word -- intimately, and ends with obeying Him fully and faithfully. It includes learning to see things (i.e., sin) how He sees them, and responding to them how He responds; rejecting what He rejects; and pursuing hard after what He loves and glories in. (Read the longer answer here.) But sometimes that's easier said than done! It's easy to quote Philippians 4:8, but hard to let it rule over sinful thoughts on a moment-by-moment basis. It's easy to say "obey God" but hard to do in the day-to-day moments when we're tempted by selfish desires. It's easy to say "avoid temptation" but hard to do when [...Read More]


God’s Prescription for Fighting Sinful Thoughts

Say the words "thought life" and one of the first verses that comes to most of our minds is Philippians 4:8. Even if you can't quote it perfectly, you likely can recall a handful of the adjectives used. (Hint: they include true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praise-worthy.) If asked, I'm sure you could explain what most of those words mean, and give examples of what they describe. For instance: the word true means the opposite of something that's false, and includes things like the promises of God's Word and "what is" rather than "what if's." The word honorable conveys the idea of being noble and good, respectable and upright; it describes things God's [...Read More]


Why Should You Read the Puritans?

It's been over two hundred years since the Puritans passed into eternity (as we looked at here), but they left a rich legacy of sermons and writings that speak to the whole of our being. Their works address the mind, confront the conscience, and engage the heart. Those who make the effort to mine their works carefully reap rich rewards!  Their teachings offer fresh perspective of sin, society, and holiness; frank discussions of biblical truth; and transparent exposition of Scripture. But their works are not dusty tomes best left to academia; they are vital and relevant messages for us today! Our world has changed drastically in the last few hundred years (good grief, it's [...Read More]


Who Were the Puritans, Anyway?

From the sixteenth to eighteenth century lived a group of men and women who plunged diligently into the depths of Scripture, passionately upholding it as the ultimate standard for both belief and practice, and leaving a rich legacy of writings on the practical application of biblical doctrine. They were known as the Puritans. You might recognize some of their names: John Bunyan, Stephen Charnock, Richard Baxter, Matthew Henry, Thomas Brooks, Richard Sibbes, John Flavel, John Owen, Isaac Watts, Jonathan Edwards . . . the list goes on to include over 2,000 great men of God. They were intelligent men, though not necessarily well-known outside their circle of fellow believers. Many [...Read More]


You Don’t Need to Learn How to ‘Love Yourself’

Last week was Valentine's Day, and I couldn't believe how many times I saw the phrase love yourself. The world of greeting cards, inspirational books, and social media posts is filled to overflowing with this idea that we must love ourselves better (or more) before we can love others. But I'm pretty sure that's not what my Bible says . . . What did Christ call the two greatest commandments? Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. Notice He didn't say to love yourself first so that you can love others or God. He said to love others as you already love yourself. Nobody needs to be told to love themselves! We spend so many [...Read More]


The Problem with Fig Leaves

In the beginning, God created the world and its inhabitants, and all was spectacularly perfect. And God created two special beings in His own image and placed them in a beautiful garden, filled with trees that were pleasant to the sight and good for food. Along with the trees that provided regular sustenance, there was also a tree of life and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And God gave man a very simple, clear command: "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat." One day a shining serpent appeared and began to prey on the woman's inner desire for that one forbidden thing, subtly twisting God's words and [...Read More]


Ten Important Things You Should Do in 2017

What are you hoping to accomplish in 2017? Whether you set New Year's resolutions, pick a word for the year, or simply choose a handful of goals to pursue over the next 12 months, the beginning of a new year is a perfect time to step back, reassess your priorities, and set markers to steer you in the direction you want to go. There's a reason we tend to do all that in January. My theory? All the new toys and gadgets we get for Christmas inspire us to carve out time to try new things, push us to re-organize our possessions to find room for everything, and motivate us to improve a skill or expand our understanding in some area. Plus there's the whole "new calendar" vibe that encourages us [...Read More]