Friday, March 30, 2007

Doubt Turned Into Faith

In our reading today as we "Walk in the Word" we come to John 20. At this point of the story Christ has been crucified, buried and raised. The disciples have gathered behind locked doors and receive a surprise visit from Jesus. They are “overjoyed” (20:20) to see Jesus.

And why wouldn’t they be. They had just experienced the worst weekend in the history of the world. Their Lord and Master Jesus had been crucified on Friday. They had to have their first Sabbath without Jesus since becoming Jesus’ disciples. The first time you do anything after a person has died is the hardest time. Then Sunday comes and they find an empty tomb and they hear strange stories from Mary and Jesus’ mom.

They were experiencing a crisis of faith. Gathering that night there had to have been a lot of questions and discussions about what they were supposed to do. They must have talked about what they remembered Jesus teaching them for the last three years followed by moments of awed silence.

In the midst of the meeting they must have sent Thomas out for pizza or something and while he was making the run to the corner, Jesus showed up. Everyone was thrilled. They believed. They understood. He is alive!

Then poor Thomas gets home and thinks his friends have lost their minds. Everyone must have been talking about seeing Jesus, but Thomas was a practical man. He needed to see Jesus for himself. All week long they were talking and believing while he was listening and doubting.

I love Thomas. I’m afraid I would have been the same way.

I’m also thankful for Thomas. His desire and need to see Jesus along with Jesus’ willingness a week later to come back to reveal Himself to Thomas so Thomas could touch Him and talk to Him and believe in Him strengthens my faith. We learn a lot from Thomas’ encounter with the risen Christ. We learn a lot about the resurrected body of Jesus that we will one day have among many other wonderful things.

Thomas’ doubt was turned into faith and his doubt strengthens my faith today.

It all started with a crisis of faith caused by doubt.

At Living Hope we are at a point in our church life where we must have great faith. We are about to relocate to a new location and there are many things that could make us doubt. This is a defining moment. We are facing a crisis of faith caused by doubts about our ability to do what we believe God wants us to do. I know God is going to turn this doubt into great faith, but for that to happen we must walk through this challenging stage of sacrifice and grow from it together. God is going with us and we are going to see miracles.

Henry Blackaby writes in his workbook Experiencing God: “When God invites you to join Him in His work, He has a God-sized assignment for you. You will realize that you cannot do it on your own. If God doesn’t help you, you will fail. This is the crisis point where many decide not to follow what they sense God is leading them to do. The crisis of belief is a turning point where you must make a decision. You must decide what you believe about God. How you respond at this turning point will determine whether you go on to be involved with God in something God-sized that only He can do, or whether you will continue to go your own way.”

At Living Hope we have a real opportunity to see God work. We cannot relocate this church. This is a God-sized project that He will have to accomplish. He will do it with us and through us. But He will make it happen not us.

Be in prayer for Living Hope and be in attendance at our “Family Meeting” on Wednesday, April 18th as we begin a conversation about the future of the church and what it is God has called us to do.

Let’s walk through this challenge together and see any doubt that exists among us turned into faith.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Answer to Life and Loss

“Why did God let this happen?”

“Why doesn’t God do something?”

“Where was God when this happened?”

“How can God let this happen to me?”

These are real life questions for people living in a real world with real problems. During the tough times in life when things are hard, people often wonder where God is. The answer is He is exactly where He was and always is. He is at work in His creation fulfilling His perfect will.

“What is that perfect will?” you ask. It is to bring glory to the greatest holiest most blessed being in all creation. It is to honor the One who is worthy of the highest honor. God’s will is to bring glory to Himself.

For self-centered needy people, that doesn’t sound like what we want. But actually it is. We need order in our lives. We know we are not perfect and worthy to be worshipped and praised as the highest and best being in the universe. We know that God alone is worthy to be worshipped and praised.

When we know that and live for that end, we find peace, joy, and comfort in any season of life. Those who cannot find peace, joy, and comfort in any season are people who are looking to have peace, joy, and comfort provided by something that cannot last. They lose peace, joy, and comfort the moment the thing they were counting on is threatened or lost.

When we glory in God alone and seek our peace, joy, and comfort in Him alone, we never are lacking because God is eternal and perfect and cannot cease to be. By living for Him and loving Him above all things and worshipping Him as the greatest good we gain order and strength in our lives.

Speaking of Lazarus’ impending death Jesus said in John 11:4 “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

No one who trusts in God dies to God. Our bodies die, but our souls live forever in God’s glory. Those who live in God and for His glory die that way. In between now and that time when thye see God face to face they will have struggles and hurts. People they love will die and plans they make will occasionally fail, but in the end they will live at peace and have joy and receive God’s comfort because they are not counting on anything except God. And God never fails!

Are they sad when people they love die and their plans fail? Yes! Even Jesus wept as He came close to the grave of Lazarus. But Jesus always had hope and joy and peace and gave comfort because He knew even in the tragedy of death and loss God would receive glory and good always follows when God is given glory.
If you have a question or would like to share a thought, email me at

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

In THE KIDS' Best Interest?

Is all the activity we have them in really in our kids' best interests? I like what Al had to say. Click the link below.


Sometimes I make things more complicated than they are. The Christian life is not complicated. It's a matter of trusting and obeying

The old hymn says it right.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Friends & Enemies

We are clearly taught in Scripture not to be a friend to the world. James 4:4 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

At the same time we are required to live in the world. So we are in a tough spot. We are commanded by God not to love this world or to be of this world and yet we have to live in this world. More than that, we are commanded by God to change this world and to serve as ambassadors of Christ so that the people of this world might know Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:20 “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

In order to be an ambassador to the world we have to live in this world without being like the world. One way we are encouraged to fulfill our role as ambassador well is by becoming like the world. 1 Corinthians 9:22 “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”

How do we do this? How are we both like and unlike or friends and enemies of the world?

I received some insight on this today from a collection of letters by Francois Fenelon to his friends in the book “Meditations on the Hand of God.” He gives two pieces of advice. The first is to recognize the world for what it is and what it is doing. The other is to die to the desires of the world, while living to God in it.

Fenelon’s attitude on the world that I hope to share is this. “Ah blind world, what an unjust tyrant you are! You flatter so you can betray, you amuse and entertain so you can strike a death blow. You laugh and you entice men to laugh... all you want to do is enchant the senses with a vain joy that turns into poison.”

Fenelon’s advice is to live as we truly are in Christ – dead to the world, but alive to God. In response to Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” and Romans 6:4 “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Fenelon writes, “Indeed all of us Christians, through our baptism, have renounced the world. We are in search of the safe harbor if we turn and flee the raging storm.”

In order to effectively serve the world without becoming like the world, we must “become all things” that is loving people where they are in their sin without joining them in their sin. We must acknowledge what the world wants people to live for and identify it for the evil it is and help others see the light and love of Christ who gives significance, security, and eternal salvation as apposed to what the world gives - a brief good time with lifelong negative consequences.

Let’s look for the eternal hope, love, joy, peace, and satisfaction we want in the only place we can find it – God. Let’s not be classified as of the world as Fenelon describes it. “‘The world’ is nothing other than all people who love themselves, and who love things without regard to God... (for a person) to be classified as ‘the world’ is to love themselves and to try to find in created things that which is only found in God.”

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Friday, March 2, 2007

What of Your Life Is Off Limits to God?

Last night we had a wonderful staff appreciation dinner provided by the deacons of Living Hope. After the dinner, we were treated to a concert by Andrew Peterson. A song that he sang “Holy Is the Lord” brought tears to my eyes. It is the story of Abraham being called by God to sacrifice his son Isaac.

Here is the last verse of the song:
So take me to the mountain
I will follow where You lead
There I’ll lay the body
Of the boy You gave to me
And even though You take him
Still I ever will obey
But Maker of this mountain, please
Make another way

This story in Genesis 22 has always been a favorite of mine for a number of reasons. One, God later did to His Son what He did not require of Abraham that day. Some 1,500 years later on that same hill where Abraham tied up Isaac and was prepared to kill him, God sacrificed His Son, Jesus Christ, to pardon us of our sins to set us free from the punishment of eternal hell. Two, Abraham’s faith was what it should’ve been. It was steadfast even in the face of great sacrifice. Abraham was willing to obey God no matter what. Three, God provided a ram for the sacrifice. It reminds us that God always provides.

As I sat and listened to Andrew sing last night, tears began to well up in my eyes as I considered my own faith or I should say the lack of it. I asked myself, “Would I sacrifice one of my sons? Would I give to God whatever He asked of me?” And I had to repent because I saw some things that were off limits to God. In my heart I opened my life and said, “God you can have my reputation – no one has to love or appreciate me. You can have my life’s work – nothing of significance has to happen for me to trust and love you and be overjoyed with you. You can have my family – they are loved more by you than me and I trust them into your care. You can have my income and all my possessions – all I need is you. Do what you will. I am yours. I would rather have you and no earthly thing than have any earthly thing but not you. ”

As soon as I prayed that prayer, my mind immediately went to a scene in an old movie. It was the 1966 movie “The Bible: In the Beginning...” In that movie there is a scene where Abraham is about to sacrifice his son Isaac who is bound and lying face up on the altar he had helped his father Abraham build. Isaac looks up at his father and asks, “Is there nothing that he may not ask of thee?” And Abraham replies, “Nothing.”

What about you? Is there anything that God cannot ask of you? Can he ask you for your time, your abilities, your income and possessions, your reputation, your family, or your need to be significant and successful?

Is there anything of you that is off limits to God? Or are you like Abraham. Can the God who bought you with the blood of His Son have all of you? Is God truly Lord of all of your life?

Send me your questions or comments to