Devout or Deceived?

Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.‘” Matthew 16:24-25

Looking at this verse, it’s clear that Jesus had a high standard for those who wanted to be called his disciple. He wouldn’t accept just anyone who came along and, on a whim, or even with moderate sincerity, be identified with Him. This leads one to wonder, “What did it mean, in Jesus’ context, to be a disciple?” In his book, The Complete Book of Discipleship: On Being and Making Disciples of Christ, Bill Hull explains there were numerous ways that the discipleship process was lived out in Hebrew life on a day-to-day basis. At the very least, from the days of Moses onward the need for a learner, an apprentice, one who would submit to learning how to be like his master/teacher was  a foundation of society. Whether one fished, farmed, led the nation, or served in the priesthood, the young men were to be trained by the older. If you get a chance to read his book, by all means do; Hull does an excellent job of framing what it means to be a disciple and providing context for what it means in modern life. This leads us to ask, however, what does it look like to be Jesus’ disciple?

In the West, many Christians are under the impression that saying a simple prayer, mentally assenting to Jesus’ preeminence, and believing He is their God will get them into heaven. Oh, it’s possible that something called ‘discipleship’ may be needed early on, but that’s really just for new believers who don’t know much and they will soon graduate from such basic programs. Come now… look to the Great Commission in Matthew 28.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (vv. 19-20)

Notice that all nations are to be made disciples, not just new believers, or those who may need assistance in their Christian life. This is something that is fundamental to the life of a believer, not merely optional; furthermore, we are to be taught to observe/obey all that Jesus commanded. In a very literal sense, we are to be submitted to the training, teaching, and transformation brought on when we surrender to Jesus and submit to His will for our lives. If this was so important to Jesus when He was on earth, should we not be growing in our discipleship under Jesus through other believers in the Church? In our desire to make the gospel of Jesus as accessible as possible, is it within the realm of possibility that we’ve flung the doors so wide that some are receiving a powerless, counterfeit salvation that requires no discipleship, surrender, submission, and transformation?

A few key things that disciples were expected to do were: 1) submit to and memorize the teachings of the teacher, 2) learn the teacher’s methods of living, further his ideology by making your own disciples. These are just a few things that Hull discusses in his book. Can those who claim the name of Christ honestly say this is consistently representative of our lives after surrendering to Jesus and becoming His disciples? Do we even emphasize, much less make, disciples outside of a stripped down beginners program?

Jesus said that to follow Him we would have to deny ourselves, take up our cross, make disciples of all nations, baptize them, and teach them to observe/obey all the things He instructed us to uphold. Following Jesus should radically transform our lives and see us becoming more thirsty, more desperate, to know Him and to make Him known. This is much more than just a smiley-faced salvation sticker that keeps one out of hell and serves as a stripped down version of fire insurance.

Can we honestly say that all believers pursue a relationship with Jesus in this relentless way? If we are not following through in submitting ourselves to become disciples of Jesus via those more mature believers He places in our lives, are we really even Christians? Are we operating in a measure of disobedience and taking His name in vain? Studying this issued a sharp challenge to me and to the Christian world in general to either change the attitude and actions associated with following Jesus, or to change our name from Christian to moral theraputic deist; we can’t follow Jesus as our Lord if we’re not willing to obey His explicit commands in the Bible.

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Deserving of Honor?

Imagine you’ve just been entrusted with a crystal clear word from God on how to move forward in life with those around you, and what roles everyone is to play. You eagerly share this with your friends, and while eight or nine of your friends are happy, the other three are upset. Rather than supporting you or seeking the Lord’s will, they instead rally their friends against you and seek to remove you from your friends, as well as from the position and direction the Lord has assigned you in which to move.

While this example is drastically scaled down, this is the situation in which Moses finds himself in Numbers chapter 16. Korah, a descendant of Levi, which would have made him eligible to minister as a priest, and Dathan and Abiram, descendants of Jacob’s oldest son, Reuben, decided they didn’t like Moses and Aaron being the ones the Lord used to direct the country. They didn’t like the fact that the Lord gave words to the nation of Israel through Moses and his brother (even though the whole nation turned from intimacy with the Lord at Mt. Sinai and turned away to an idol literally right underneath the presence of God while at Mt. Sinai). Since they were all God’s chosen people, these men argued they were all holy and able to be used by God. They set themselves against the ones God chose, and subsequently surrendered themselves to God to be used by Him, something these guys had already foregone.

Moses immediately recognized who these guys were really taking issue with; though they were against Moses leading, since Moses was appointed by God to lead, these men all set themselves against God. Moses didn’t try to defend himself, but left his defense to the Lord. Read the chapter to find out all that happens. Key take-aways: coming against those in leadership is to come against the one who put them in leadership. For Christians, there’s a biblical precedent on how to disagree with someone and express differences within a biblical context (Matt. 5:23-25; 18:15-17). Your heart and the manner in which you express your concerns or differences with established authority will determine how the Lord responds to you. Since all authority, at every level, has been established by God, all actions and attitudes that would come from or feed a prideful attitude, a selfish heart, and or a rebellious spirit are expelled from God’s presence. Nothing separates us from Him faster than gratification of self. Again, there’s a right way and a wrong way to field differences with authority while still having a proper attitude and spirit; on the flip side, it’s entire possible to be completely right in your differences, yet come out completely wrong because of the way you express them or the heart in which they’re expressed. God takes authority seriously, and we are reminded of this several times in the accounts of Moses and the children of Israel.

Further reinforcing the point, we are told not to “speak ill of the ruler of your people” (Ex. 22:28 & Acts 23:5). Instead, we are to submit to the ruling authorities (Rom. 13:1-7). Again, this is not to say you cannot disagree, but there is a right way and a wrong way for that to happen. You can still disagree and be in submission to authority, just like you can obey and still be in rebellion. 

This plays out numerous times with Moses and the children of Israel, with David and Saul, David and Absalom, and even Ananias and Saphira in the book of Acts, just to name a few examples. This becomes especially difficult in the case where your boss may not be a shining beacon of virtue in the workplace, or your spouse has done nothing worthy of love/respect, or you’re convinced there’s a better way for something to be done; moments such as these are when rubber meets the road in regard to your integrity. Will you handle your differences in a godly manner with obedience and submission to the authority God has entrusted to lead you, or will you pull a Korah/Absalom and say to yourself, “Things would be better if I were in charge…”?

I felt a check from the Lord recently as I read this passage and the passage in 2 Samuel about Absalom and the situations leading up to him. While not every decision a leader makes will be the absolute best one, there’s a beneficial, godly, constructive way to field concerns and suggestions, and then there’s the selfish, prideful, arrogant, rebellious way of getting things done, which usually feels better and morally superior in the short term. If we respond in such a way, then while we may believe that we’d be justified, unless that leader is asking you to do something sinful, you must submit. Jesus takes authority very seriously – if He’s not Lord of all of us, then He’s not Lord at all in us; He’ll not tolerate being tipped someone’s allegiance and attention. He wants our heart and devotion, which requires our love, submission, and surrender.

Is There No Justice?

We’ve all experienced it, though some certainly to a greater extent and gravity than others – when we are wronged by others who seemingly get away with it. Maybe there is some sort of miniscule consequence, a slap on the wrist, so to speak, though it seems more often than not even that is not always guaranteed. In cases when we are violated on some of the most basic levels of who we are, areas like race, biological gender, beliefs… how are we to respond? I’ve heard this question posed in a few different ways over the last couple months, each time a different facet of this question expressed, and it definitely holds some quite serious and sobering implications about our relationship with the Lord and how that relationship informs the way we live. Prior to moving forward, there are a few things to both acknowledge and consider.

First – just as God is love, God is just. His justice is not in conflict with His love; He is infinitely, transcendentally all that He is. God is not bound by space and time – He operates within space and time, but is self-existent. He formed and sustains all of creation, including space and time. That being the case, even when it doesn’t seem like justice has been served, God tells us that He neither slumbers nor sleeps (Ps. 121:4). While some people use the problem of people perpetuating evil on others to discredit and break fellowship with God, the fact that God will judge each person is one aspect of His nature that causes me to trust in Him. Please don’t misunderstand, it’s not that I want horrible things to happen to people. Rather, based on how the Lord has revealed Himself throughout Scripture, I can rest in His faithfulness that He will do what He says He will do – a fact that is both comforting and terrifying depending on where you are in relation to Him. Once God has stated something, it is fact; when we see God stating and revealing things about Himself in Scripture, it gives us a foundation to build our relationship with Him upon. Contrary to the changing nature, whims, and questionable integrity of humans, when God states something, you can know that He is being truthful; it’s impossible for God to lie (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Ps. 89:35; Heb. 6:18).

Second – God states that the wicked will not go unpunished (Prov. 11:21; Is. 13:11; Psalm. 37:34, 59:5; Ezekiel 3:18). By forcing those who have wronged us to suffer, whether physically, emotionally, or otherwise, we are taking revenge into our own hands and out of God’s hands. We are told that vengeance is God’s and to leave room for God to work in situations where we’ve been wronged (Deut. 32:35; Rom. 12:19). While I do desire that as many people as possible would come to know the Lord and follow Him, I also understand that implies the forgiveness of some people who have done some pretty heinous things. This is where it’s good that I’m not God, because I can’t see people’s hearts and would likely be pretty harsh to those who didn’t treat my family rightly (and if in this example I’m God, that’d be a huge family and a lot of authority to be wielding). All that being said, we don’t always see how God is dealing with someone – if it’s emotionally, mentally, relationally, physically… or even if said person will not be judged until they’re in eternity. It’s not for me or you to assign a final judgment or anyone, even for people as twisted as Stalin, Hitler, or Mussolini. God has said that He will avenge; that enables me to rest in His faithfulness and know that I can trust Him to keep His word. Don’t try to force payback; give God room to work. “Revenge [unforgiveness] is a blade that saves its most lethal cut for the one who wields it.”

Those two points serving as the foundation for our response, let’s consider a few things. The first thing is that each of us has a choice to make when we’ve been wronged. We can choose to let what’s happened destroy us, or we can choose to surrender it to Jesus and allow Him to draw us closer through the resolution He has for us. I completely understand that this can be very difficult, especially in cases of things like wrongful death, rape, abuse, or even the suicide of someone who was close to us. I don’t mean to imply that forgiveness is necessarily something that will be as easy as breathing, but it is a daily process that we are called to as Christians. Jesus calls His followers to “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:24-25). South African Anglican cleric and theologian Desmond Tutu says, “Forgiveness is not cheap, it’s not facile – it’s costly; reconciliation is not an easy option. It cost God the death of His Son.”

One thing many of us fail to consider when bearing grudges is this – because of our sin, Jesus had to die to enable us to enter into relationship with God once again. While we are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus, God did have to surrender His Son to death for a crime He didn’t commit. God is a person; He has feelings; think about the heart-rending struggle this would have been for the Father. Though God the Father would have had every right to hold Jesus’ death against us, to hold our sin against us, He forgives us when we turn to Him and repent, or walk away from, our sin. Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are, but was without sin (Heb. 4:15). If you’ve been victimized by someone, I won’t be so callous, dismissive, and flippant as to say I know what you’re going through – as a separate person how can I exactly know? – but Jesus does. He sees you, and not only sees you, but wants to walk with you and reside in you to lead you in your healing. 

It can be agonizing to forgive people who have wronged you. I’m sure Jesus understands that struggle all too well. If you’re at a place where you don’t feel like you can instantly offer total forgiveness, why not start with a “prayer before the prayer”? Before coming to the point where you pray to offer forgiveness to the other person before the Lord and to that person as well, why not pray for the Lord to help you begin looking at forgiving that person, to soften the heart of stone you may have developed and exchange it for a heart of flesh. Forgiveness of this kind is radical, and even supernatural – it goes beyond what we could do naturally on our own, but for evidence that it can be exercised, look at the family of missionary Jim Elliot and how they responded to his killers in the account described in the movie, End of the Spear, or how the church subjected to the St. James Day Massacre forgave the murderers who shot up the church, or how the kids of a man who was carjacked and shot live on the internet forgave the killer. 

One of the many great things about God is this, He wants you to be honest with Him about how you’re feeling and allow Him to lead you in the process of healing and restoration. Don’t try to hide how you’re feeling from God; He already sees your heart and wants you to be honest and open with Him. If you’re uncertain of what to do or where to start, why not take a look at Psalm 73? It outlines the heart cry of one who has been wronged by people who seem not to care in the slightest, and even seem to have gotten away with it. At times, only the Spirit of God can soften our heart to the point of forgiveness. If you find yourself struggling with forgiveness, don’t walk that road alone. Let Him work on your heart.

One point of caution when talking about forgiveness – we must forgive or we will not be forgiven (Matt. 6:14-15). This is so serious that Jesus instructed His followers that even if they were in the middle of prayer and worship and remembered they were harboring a grudge against someone, they were to drop everything and seek reconciliation/forgiveness with them. Make it right. This is mandatory, not optional. This is not to say that forgiveness is as easy as flipping a switch; it can be a long, even day-by-day or moment-by-moment process. Your heart is what will make the difference. Are you open to the Lord molding your heart and personally extending forgiveness to the one(s) who wronged you? It’s okay if it’s a process, but the Lord sees your heart and will not accept only partial reign in your life; He’s either Master of all or not at all. 

All this being said, no justice and no recourse for injustice is not okay. God is Judge, He is love, He is just, and holds us all accountable for what we’ve done. If it’s not addressed in life, you can be certain it will be addressed when we all stand before Him. If you don’t know Him as your personal Master and Savior, the Bible says you must confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. Then get baptized to identify yourself publicly with Jesus’ death and resurrection. Then get plugged into a bible-believing church that is serious about realizing the Great Commission in Matthew 28. If you don’t know Him, but you want to, and you want Him to being healing the wounds in your life, say, “Dear Jesus, I come to You as a sinner. I need You; wash me; cleanse me; make me new. I ask you to be my Savior, be my Master, and my best Friend. I am Yours; You are mine. Live Your life in me. I give myself to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” If you prayed that honestly believing that, you’re now a part of God’s family. Get plugged in to a church with other Christians and see what God has in store for you. Forgiveness can be hard, but God will sustain you with His incomparable grace and power.

Deep and Wide…

If you grew up in or around the church, you may be familiar with a song known by the above title. “Deep and wide, deep and wide, there’s a fountain that’s flowing deep and wide”…brings back good memories. While the love and grace of the Lord is vast and bottomless, and while His mercies are new every day according to Scripture, there’s something else that runs deep and wide that I feel nudged to touch on today. What else is far reaching and can be all-consumingly deep? What else affects not only me, but those around me aside from God? Sin. 

Sin, simply defined, is missing the mark; failing to meet God’s standard; anything Jesus wouldn’t do; anything that removes God from His place of authority and kingship in our lives and exalts either one’s self or the sin itself. Due to God’s sovereignty, every person has a choice to accept or reject the Lord. Every person has the ability to choose to love and serve God, which makes the love mean something, but also opens us up to the ‘ability’ to miss the mark and make some pretty poor choices along the way. Every person is vulnerable to this fatal flaw in humanity called sin – only one person ever got through life without sinning, Jesus of Nazareth. The rest of us are not only vulnerable to sin, but have repeatedly fallen short of God’s glory. Just look at David.

2 Samuel 11 shows us that King David, a man the Scriptures tell us was after God’s own heart, fell into sin by having an affair with one of his best friend’s wives, fathering a child with her, trying to cover it up, then having this best friend, Uriah, carry orders to his commander that called for a staged setup resulting in Uriah’s death. It seemed to David, after he married Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, that he got away with his sin, that God did not see, yet we find out that God told the prophet Nathan what happened and charged him to confront David. It turned out that God did, in fact, see and punished David for flagrantly disobeying Him. David’s sin not only landed him in trouble, but it also resulted in the death of the child he and Bathsheba were expecting. David and Bathsheba were robbed of a child, and the child lost his life due to David’s sin. 

Furthermore, the prophet Nathan warned David the sin he’d opened up in secret would be brought out to the public, which eventually happened when his son, Ammon, raped his sister-in-law, Tamar. Ammon went two years after disgracing his sister-in-law, thinking “God has not seen this; I got away with it,” yet nothing could have been further from the truth. Tamar’s brother, Absalom, also a son of King David, ended up murdering Ammon to avenge Tamar, attempting to kill David, and himself violated women the king left in charge of his estate when he fled Jerusalem. Absalom ended up being slain, along with thousands of other people, when the coup against David failed.

Whether it’s a seemingly harmless sin that no one else knows about, or something that could be devastating but is well-covered, your sin never affects just you, it always takes you farther than you wanted to go, keeps you longer than you wanted to stay, costs you more than you were willing to pay, and hurts other people in the process. One sin on David’s part opened the door to a whole line of sexual sin that ravaged his family and countless others under his rule. Two things to take away from this: 1) if you’re the victim of sexual assault (not that you were flirting around, trying to stop just short of the finish line and someone climaxed too early, but you said no, wanted no part at all and were forced), you are not to blame. God sees what has happened, He’s with you, He’s for you, and He will ensure that you will be avenged. He neither slumbers nor sleeps, and He’s closer to you than your next thought; 2) Scripture shows what we ”give” to others will be given back to us ”pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” Make sure what you are giving to others is in line with what the Lord expects of us. This is the case with David, Absalom, and even believers in the New Testament!

Our world is a fallen place, one in which God’s original design has been corrupted by human pride, disobedience, and rebellion. All of creation was subsequently affected… the miry cesspool of sin is deep enough to drown even the best of people, and is wide enough that no one is outside of it’s reach and influence, save One. We all need a Savior; we’ve all missed God’s mark, but we don’t have to continue living that way. God sent His only Son to live the life we couldn’t live, to pay the price we couldn’t pay, so we could have the Life we don’t deserve. If you’ve been hurt by someone else, God sees you, loves you, and wants you to call on Him, to lean into Him and find your refuge in Him. Let His Spirit put you back together and restore you. If you’re in need of a Savior, you’re never too far gone for God; there may be consequences you’ll have to face for what happened, but Scripture tells us if we draw close to God He will draw close to us. Sin’s influence on humanity is deep and far-reaching, but the grace, love, and mercy of God transcends anything we could ask for or understand. If for you to confess what you’ve done, believe Jesus is Lord and was raised from the dead, and to surrender your life to Jesus, He will meet you where you are and take you where you’ve never been. 

Perfection & Reconciliation

Matthew 5:48 ”Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Perfection – it seems to be something of a problem today. Pressure comes from society to look perfect, act perfect, speak perfectly, get along perfectly with others. No flaws, failures, or slip-ups are acceptable. Doing one’s best is certainly obedience to God’s Word, according to Colossians 3:23, yet it seems that there is a hyper-emphasis on keeping the armor on, the guard up, and not letting anyone see your humanity. I’ve heard some fiercely defend their perfectionism by claiming Matthew 5:48. While that is certainly one way to look at things, I’d like to take a minute to discuss this with you, and to see how this passage affects those of us who are Christians.

The word translated as ”perfect” is the Greek word ”teleios.” It used three times, in Matt. 19:21; 5:48; and James 3:2. In each case it deals with being complete, not lacking anything. Both Matthew 19:21 and James 3:2 reveal to us the immense difficulty of walking in alignment with the Holy Spirit’s leading toward perfection. We can’t maintain that kind of standard on our own; even Paul, who would have been deemed perfect according to the Mosaic Law, still spoke of falling short due to relying on works to save him. We are dependent on the sacrifice of Jesus to make us right with God, to wash us of our sin and allow us to pursue a relationship with Christ. There’s one more verse in which ”teleios” is mentioned that may be able to shed some light for us.

Let’s look at Matthew 5:46-48, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?Are not even tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

What is being talked about in context here? Our love for others is the context for this verse. Essentially, if we only love those we like and are nice to us, we are lacking something and are therefore not perfect. That something that is lacking is the compassion and love for people that informed Christ’s heart for evangelism and discipleship while He was here. Paul tells us that even if we sacrifice for others, prophecy, comprehend all mysteries, and speak in tongues but have no love, we have gained nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3); we are still lacking something essential to the Christian life – love.

If I lay down some bricks of golden knowledge and truth while teaching, and if I’m able to make the mysteries of God accessible for the common man and speak the truth fearlessly, but I don’t love the people I’m listening and speaking to, I’m not doing anything of importance. I’m doing things on my own, apart from God, which Solomon described in Ecclesiastes, as vanity, a chasing after the wind. Living life without God as my foundation, without allowing Him to transform and flow through me, is meaningless. If I cannot cultivate the love of Christ through the Holy Spirit’s power and allow my mind, my heart, and my life to be transformed, I’m not representing God, just my cheap version of what I think He’d be like.

Have you been allowing the Holy Spirit to transform and renew your heart and your mind into Christ’s heart and mind? If yes, what has that looked like? If no, what could be done to start that process? If we draw near to the Lord, He will draw near to us. What has that journey toward “perfection” looked like in your life?

Challenged or Changed?

 

Let me ask you, when you open up the Bible to read it each day, do you ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His truth to your heart? When He checks your spirit on a practice you currently exercise, an attitude or belief you hold, do you walk away feeling challenged by the Lord’s correction, or refreshed and renewed by the change in your life due to the overflowing life, anointing, and empowerment from the Spirit? When things go wrong and we get bad news from a doctor, we suffer a broken relationship, or offense is caused, either intentionally or through a breakdown in communication, do we kick into high gear and mobilize social media, ensuring everyone is up to date on the latest development and the maximum amount of exposure is attained, or do we take the Lord at His Word when He says, “My grace is sufficient for you”?

Please don’t misunderstand; what I’m not looking to imply is that you can’t seek support during stressful situations. It is helpful and encouraging to know there are others carrying a particular burden with you. The point I’m looking to emphasize is trust in the Lord. Could it be in our rush to make sure that all our needs are provided for, that all of our friends are made aware of our troubles, that we rob the Lord of the opportunity to show Himself mighty to save and faithful to provide for our needs? If the Pharisees lost their reward in prayer by drawing attention to themselves during prayer, how much more when, as people who profess to place our trust in the Lord and confess He is mighty to save, we consistently draw attention to what is going wrong with no hope, no redemption, and nothing more than a token acknowledgement of Jesus’ power even reminds others that we believe in Him, let alone that we trust Him.

The power of the Gospel is not revolutionary, it’s transformational. Again, when the Lord brings to light things in our lives that must change, do we wipe the perspiration from our forehead like a ‘Pollyanna’ church congregant and then revel in the fact the Lord challenged us to change… or do we change and thank Him for His faithfulness to continually mold us into the image of Jesus? Christ challenged us to die daily to our self (to deny ourselves) and to follow Him – the path is costly. According to Leonard Ravenhill, during his message ‘What is Your Life, “a salvation that costs you nothing and does nothing isn’t worth anything.” And again, a similar challenge, “Is the world crucified to you, or does it fascinate you?”

One consistent theme in the New Testament is the theme that we must be crucified with Christ. Religion is hanging around the cross – it’s trendy, makes us feel good, and asks nothing more of us than we’re willing to commit; Christianity is getting on the cross – it requires everything of us, requires we reach out to each other in love, and that we let the Lord bear our burdens; dead people don’t get offended. A.W. Tozer stated, “One thing you knew when you saw a man going by carrying a cross, he wasn’t coming back.” Are you crucified with Christ? Do you overlook offenses and surrender to the Lord, or do you nurse the grudges and offenses against you and take Satan’s bait?

This is not easy, though no honest person ever said the Christian life would be easy, only that it is worth it. This is something the Lord keeps at the forefront of my attention and develops in me on a daily basis, yet I’ve by no means arrived. What are some insights you’ve been given in regard to this? I’m interesting in hearing from you. God bless!

Doubt & New Things

Malcolm Muggeridge once said, “All news is old news happening to new people.” In Ecclessiastes 1:9, Solomon wrote, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” While he was writing to inform us that a life separated from God is meaningless, and thereby showing where our heart, motivation, and surrender must be, the point still stands that the hobbies we enjoy have, in some way, been done before. Short transparent moment here, part of the reason you’ve not heard from me for a while has to do with this.

Things have been busy in life as new ministry opportunities have arisen, I’ve been asked to both revise and craft new curricula over the last six months, my wife and I are expecting our second son, and the usual laundry list of other things that life has to offer. God has been so good to us over this past year; in His goodness to me, there is the reciprocal responsibility to be a good steward of that with which He’s blessed me. This need to be diligent and responsible is good, but if I allow it to move me into a frame of mind where I over-analyze and micro-manage my time, schedule, and responsibilities, this healthy, responsible mindset can quickly become debilitating. Cue the doubt referenced in the title.

In desiring to be responsible with how my time is invested, I began looking for things that weren’t previously discussed, that I could bring new insight to, or that could be revealed differently that in times past. Being that I’m a Judeo-Christian and there’s been approximately 4000 years since the beginning of Judaism, that’s a roughly 4,000 year span for the development and establishment of Judeo-Christian orthodoxy. Will I have something brand new to bring to the table after all that time… not likely. This realization that much of what we do is rehashing old arguments, thoughts, and behaviors got me questioning what I post on here for you guys. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that you’re not all wonderful supporters, but what am I doing here. Is what I am sharing making a difference? Good existential questions like that hung with me for a while.

While attending a webinar on effective writing with Dr. Michael Brown from the Line of Fire radio show, he encouraged those of us listening to be faithful to share the message the Lord has entrusted to us, to persevere in the work and trust the Lord has placed in us, and to be light that shines brightly – no hiding under baskets or blowing out the candle of the message we’ve been given. That was exactly what I needed to hear. In trying to make the best decision, I let doubt in how to proceed in the best way confine and isolate me to silence and oscillation between courage to speak and doubt as to if speaking up would be beneficial to you guys.

Not sharing at all isn’t an option, and flirting with that option for the last few months has cost me the opportunity to stay in the loop with everyone. Time is made for what is important to us, and writing is a part of God’s plan for me that He shared with me around age 8, but more on that another time. The gist of the blog tonight? Don’t let good intentions lead you into wrong behavior. In wanting to serve the Lord with my time, I took it to an unhealthy extreme and allowed Satan to corrupt what God wants to use to bless myself and others I do not yet know.

What is it you have to share that you’ve been on the fence about? Starting a new hobby? A new job? A new relationship? Or maybe it’s something like starting a blog or investing in the life of a maturing adolescent or teen that needs a good role model. While all news may be “old news happening to new people”, those people are made in God’s image, which means each person is deserving of love, acceptance, forgiveness, and respect. We each have a part to play in the ever-unfolding narrative of humanity. Ask God what He would have you do today and stand strong on His Word.