Showing posts from January, 2021

Verse 2

 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalms 33:11 NIV

Verse 1

 A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11 NIV


  Today’s Topic of Prayer and Fasting: Purpose Take a moment to wash off your day. Grab a pen and paper in expectation of having a heart to heart conversation with your Heavenly Father.  Rid your mind of distractions, overwhelming feelings and thoughts, and the busyness that comes with our daily lives and intentionally choose to lean into God’s presence.  What is God speaking to you today about your purpose?  How will your growth in understanding your purpose affect those around you?  What commitment will you make today to become more aware of God’s purpose for your life?  Prayer:  Jesus, thank you for the gift of purpose and for allowing me to continue to understand what you have called me to do. Help me to continue to seek you when I lose my way and allow me to trust that you have given me everything I need to impact the lives of others.  Amen. We encourage you to continue to lean into this time of prayer and fasting and watch God show up in your life!

Verse 3

 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord ’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21 NIV

Verse 2

 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:17 NIV

Verse 1

 your kingdom come,  your will be done,  on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 NIV


  Today’s Topic of Prayer and Fasting: God’s Will Take a moment to wash off your day. Grab a pen and paper in expectation of having a heart to heart conversation with your Heavenly Father.  Rid your mind of distractions, overwhelming feelings and thoughts, and the busyness that comes with our daily lives and intentionally choose to lean into God’s presence.  What is God speaking to you today about His will?  How will your growth in understanding God’s will affect those around you?  What commitment will you make today to become more aware of God’s Will?  What areas in your life are you needing God’s will?  Prayer:  God, today I am asking for your will in my life to come to pass. I believe that all things work together for my good. Thank you for the peace that comes in trusting your will for me and my family’s lives.  Amen.  We encourage you to continue to lean into this time of prayer and fasting and watch God show up in your life!

Verse 3

 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26 NIV

Verse 2

 The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Psalms 34:10 NIV

Verse 1

 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NIV


  Today’s Topic of Prayer and Fasting: Provision Take a moment to wash off your day. Grab a pen and paper in expectation of having a heart to heart conversation with your Heavenly Father.  Rid your mind of distractions, overwhelming feelings and thoughts, and the busyness that comes with our daily lives and intentionally choose to lean into God’s presence.  What is God speaking to you today about His provision?  How will your growth in understanding God’s provision affect those around you?  What commitment will you make today to become more aware of God’s provision?  What areas in your life are you needing God’s provision?  Prayer: Father, Thank you for your continuous provision in every area of my life. Today, I am trusting that you are my provider and you will supply every need according to your riches and glory! Amen.  We encourage you to continue to lean into this time of prayer and fasting and watch God show up in your life!

Verse 2

 For this is what the high and exalted One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15 NIV

Verse 1

 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Psalms 85:6 NIV


  Today’s Topic of Prayer and Fasting: Revival Take a moment to wash off your day. Grab a pen and paper in expectation of having a heart to heart conversation with your Heavenly Father.  Rid your mind of distractions, overwhelming feelings and thoughts, and the busyness that comes with our daily lives and intentionally choose to lean into God’s presence.  What is God speaking to you today about revival?  How will your growth in praying for revival affect those around you?  What areas in your life are you needing revival?  Prayer:  Lord, thank you for the revival in my heart and the hearts of those around me.  Today, I ask that you show me the areas in my life that need revival! Have your way in my life.  Amen.  We encourage you to continue to lean into this time of prayer and fasting and watch God show up in your life!

Verse 2

 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. Proverbs 29:18 NIV

Verse 1

 Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. Habakkuk 2:2 NIV

New Plan: Prayer & Fasting (Day 1)

  Prayer is our first response and not our last resort and is the sauce to everything we do as believers.   To understand how to have a lifestyle of prayer, we can look at the example Jesus gave during His life on earth.  HAVE A CERTAIN TIME  Jesus got up early in the morning to spend time with His Heavenly Father. Make a daily appointment with God — whether it’s first thing in the morning, at lunch, or in the evening — and faithfully keep it.  HAVE A CERTAIN PLACE Jesus had a specific place He went to pray. Having a designated place to pray helps us remove distractions and frees us to worship and pray out loud.  We know that this may not always be possible, but find a place where you feel comfortable to fully lean into God's presence.  HAVE A CERTAIN PLAN  When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He gave them a prayer outline. We recommend what we like to call the  Thirsty 30.   10 minutes of worship  10 minutes of prayer  10 minutes of reading your Bible every day as a starti


 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace Ephesians 1:7 NIV

Chosen (Day 7) Last Day

  “That’s it, I’m ending it all.” This text showed up on my friend Ryan’s phone from an unknown number on a Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. He had just sat down on the couch after kissing his kids goodnight after a long day.  “I’m sorry, who is this?” he texted back. Her name was Sarah. She realized she had texted the wrong number and apologized.   “Wait a minute” he texted. “I can help.”  They started texting back and forth for around half an hour. She told him her story. It was tragic. The final wound was her current abusive boyfriend breaking up with her. He kept trying to let her know about the love of Jesus and her worth to God in spite of all she felt. He told her not to base her life on the opinion of a twenty-two-year-old boy.  “It’s too late” she texted, “I just downed an entire bottle of pills.”  Ryan begged her to tell him where she was. He told her he and his wife would come bring her to the hospital. She told him, and they rushed her to the hospital, where doctors immediately t


 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “ Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:14‭-‬17 NIV

Chosen (Day 6)

  In a dusty village in Nepal near the shadows of Mount Everest, close to 80 percent of the girls are destined to be sold into brothels because they are the lowest subgroup of the lowest caste in the country, the Badi people. Their religion teaches in a past life they must have racked up a serious number of sins for Karma to punish them and send them back to earth in their caste. People do not even help them, because they do not want to prevent Karma from punishing them. As a result, Badi girls are some of the most trafficked people per capita on the planet. The caste they are born into means they are doomed to be treated lower than a dog—used, sold, and abused.  It was here my friend Ryan met Landana, the most beautiful ten-year-old girl. Her father had agreed to sell her to an Indian brothel. Her mother couldn’t bear the thought and tried to prevent her husband from selling her precious girl. But he would not have it. He started beating his wife because she did not want to sell their

Verse 2

 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV

Verse 1

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3 NIV

Chosen (Day 5)

  I nearly dropped the book when I read David Bentley Hart’s translation of the word “blessed” in the Bible. The famous scholar talks about how blessed has lost its meaning in our culture: it is used more or less as “lucky” or “fortunate.” Instead, Hart argues the real meaning would be much closer to our word blissful or a state of enraptured happiness.  This is what God has done for us in the gospel: He has given every eternal blessing imaginable to us to the point that we are full of bliss!  Our daily choice, our daily fight, our daily trial is whether or not to remember, realize, and live in this reality.  And it is not based upon circumstances. It’s really not. A young man, Meisha taught me this in a way I won’t ever forget.  Meisha was a refugee in a war-torn country. His village and all he had ever known were destroyed by an oppressive army, and he was forced to be a porter, carrying the supplies of a soldier through a rainy jungle while staring down the barrel of a gun—much like


 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Romans 8:11 NIV

Chosen (Day 4)

A local church once took a mission trip to build a church in a remote village in Russia. They were building the house of worship from the stones of an abandoned Russian prison. What a powerful scene!  Careful attention was taken to preserve the stones. While removing one of the large stones, they discovered a hollowed-out stone with a canister in it; inside the canister was a hastily written note: “We are a group of Christians being forced by Communists to take the stones of our church and build a prison where we will stay until we die. Our prayer is one day these stones would once again be used to build a church.”  When Christ rose from the dead, He chose to reveal Himself first to Mary Magdalene. In those days, the testimony of a woman would not even hold up in court. But Jesus picked a poor minority woman as His first witness, showing the world a minority woman with the greatest news in the world can subvert the largest, most dominant empire in the history of humankind. And now toda

Verse 2

 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 NIV

Verse 1

 Praise the Lord , my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Psalms 103:1 NIV

Chosen (Day 3)

  One of the primary ways we train our souls to love God is by preaching the Gospel to our souls. The more your soul sees the cross of Jesus, the more gratefulness and adoration will well up within you. Humans are conditioned to respond that way to sacrifice. And it would be difficult to imagine a greater sacrifice than what Jesus did.  If you travel the world, one phrase that almost universally resonates—across every kind of culture—is the familiar line from Psalm 103:1 “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” Break this phrase down. David is training his soul by preaching to it. David told his soul how to feel and how to respond to the Gospel: Soul, bless God, whether you want to or not. He was not just singing a pretty line; he was talking to himself, challenging his soul to step up. Scripture describes this habit, saying, “David strengthened himself in the Lord” (1 Samuel 30:6, esv).  It’s truly a lost art of Christianity, a beautiful discipline. Instead of taking cues from your current mood,


 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. Hebrews 2:1 NIV

Chosen (Day 2)

  My friend Ryan shares a story of a man named Mr. Bi who was a professor at Beijing University, known as “the Harvard of China.” He made a joke in class about the Communist party to a group of students. One of those students reported his joke to the police. The next day officers burst into Mr. Bi’s office and brought him to a remote, cold Communist prison—without warning, without a trial.  He woke up that morning as a professor chairing one of the most prestigious academic positions in the world. By nightfall, he was behind bars in prison. Chinese prisons at this time were some of the worst places on earth—horrible lairs of disease, torture, and death. Mr. Bi quickly plunged into depression and despair. His depression led to thoughts of suicide over the course of weeks. One afternoon, in a cloud of sadness, he brought himself to the window of his eighth-story prison cell. The Chinese did not put windows in the higher floors of prison cells. If a prisoner decided to throw himself to hi


 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16‭-‬19 NIV

New Plan - Chosen (Day 1)

  What would happen if you woke up and reminded yourself of the Gospel every day?  If you are like me, you are tempted to take the Gospel for granted and stop rehearsing it because it’s become so familiar. We store it in our story somewhere in the past and subconsciously try to move on from it. But we need to hear the Gospel every bit as much today as we did the day we heard it for the first time.  If we remind ourselves of the Gospel each morning, we will wake up and live in grateful joy that the toughest battle we are going to face today has already been won.  How different would your life be if you preached the Gospel to your own heart more regularly?  There are dozens of ways the Gospel positively impacts and shapes our everyday lives. We all need regular reminders of these benefits, and we need God’s power to grasp them more.  Too many believers think the good news is old news. We haven’t heard the Gospel too much; we haven’t heard it enough. Like many facets to a beautiful diamon

Verse - from "-" is Written in Red

 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.  Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. Mark 6:45‭-‬52 NIV

JESUS OVER FEAR (Day 5) Last Day

  Jesus just fed the 5000. The disciples jumped back in their boat and headed back to the other side. Jesus stayed behind for a few last parting words to the crowd. Then Jesus decided to go and pray for a while, as the disciples fought the winds to get to the other side. When Jesus finished praying, He began to walk on water. When the disciples saw Jesus, they thought He was a ghost, screamed, and they all were terrified.  Jesus responded with, “Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid.” Jesus hopped into the boat, the winds ceased, and all the disciples were astounded. Astounded. Amazed. Shocked. Surprised.  In the middle of your storm, do not be afraid. In the middle of your marriage, do not be afraid. In the middle of your big decision, do not be afraid. In the middle of your aloneness, do not be afraid.  Once you believe the words of Jesus, you will be astounded at what He does in your life. You will be amazed. You will be shocked. You will be surprised. Jesus will show up for you.  B


 An "You...", "How..." are Written in Red.  The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.  By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”  But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take


  Maybe it was days later. Maybe it was weeks. It couldn’t have been longer than a couple of months. Jesus showed up to Decapolis (the place He sent the demon possessed man). A large crowd began to gather, and Jesus had compassion on them and began to teach them. Jesus was teaching into the evening, when his disciples asked him to stop and let the people go back to their houses to eat dinner. Jesus responded, “You give them something to eat.” The disciples didn’t have anything, but they gathered up a few loaves of bread and some fish. Then Jesus said, “Go feed the people.”  His disciples had to be freaking out. “This isn’t going to work, Jesus. We don’t have enough food, Jesus. We are going to look like fools, Jesus. I know you have asked us to do it, but we are afraid you are not going to show up and provide.” Has Jesus ever asked you to do something, and then you became fearful that he wouldn’t show up? Maybe Jesus brought you and your spouse together, but fear leads you to believe J


 An "-"!, "-"?, an the last "-", is Written in Red.  They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.  When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.  When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”  Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of t


  Jesus and his disciples reached the other side of the lake. As the disciples were recovering from their fearful night on the water, a demon possessed man ran toward them as they are getting out of the boat. He was scared. Possessed. And fearful. The man ran toward Jesus and screamed, “What have you to do with me, Jesus. Do not torment me.” This man was fearful of God. Maybe he was fearful that Jesus would treat him like everyone else did. Other people shackled him, tortured him, bound him and subdued him. Would Jesus do the same?  Some of us become fearful of Jesus, because of the way people have treated us in the past. You think, “Maybe Jesus will leave me like…., Maybe Jesus will judge me like…. Maybe Jesus will attack me like… Maybe Jesus…” The demon possessed man was fearful of Jesus, but he still approached Jesus and fell on his knees before Him. When was the last time you fell on your knees and begged Jesus for something? I challenge you to bring your biggest fears to Jesus tod


 All the quotes from " to ", except for the last one is Written in Red.  That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”  Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”  He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”  They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:35‭-‬41 NIV


  I have never been in a boat in a wild storm. I did go fishing by the jetties in Jacksonville, FL with 6-foot swells one time. My stomach couldn’t take it. It didn’t end well. We caught a lot of fish though.  Have you ever been driving in a torrential downpour? You can’t see 6 feet in front of you. Your heart is pounding. You try to not blink. You are calm but freaking out all at the same time. 18 wheelers splash water on your windshield, and your life goes dark for seconds. Sometimes you just have to pull over.  What about storms in the middle of the night? I have three small kids, and when it gets bad, when thunder shakes the entire house or lightning lights up their entire room, they run to me looking for safety. In Mark 4, Jesus and his disciples are in a boat in the middle of the storm. Waves were crashing and the wind was whirling. The disciples were losing their mind over fear of a shipwreck. Fear of death. Fear of not making it through. Fear of a lost cause. Fear of disappoint


 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.  You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but C

New Plan - Jesus Over Fear (Day 1)

  Growing up I was scared and fearful of three main things: the dark, the boogie monster, and Shamu.  The dark is just scary. It’s hard to see. It’s hard to trust. It’s just dark. The boogie monster is a different animal. He is the monster that lives underneath your bed and comes out at night. I don’t know how he terrorized you, but most nights I would fall asleep with my socks on, under the covers, and when I would wake up my socks would be missing. I found out years later, when my mom would wash my sheets, all of my socks would be stuffed underneath the sheets at the end of the bed.  And then there is Shamu, the massive whale at SeaWorld. I grew up in Austin, Texas, and there was a SeaWorld in San Antonio. Commercials would come on all the time, showing Shamu sliding up on the side of the pool, waving his massive fins at the camera. I was terrified!  The dark really isn’t scary, unless you are in an unfamiliar place. The boogie man isn’t real and Shamu… well I think he has done some


 Give thanks to the Lord , for he is good; his love endures forever. Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.” Let those who fear the Lord say: “His love endures forever.” When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord ; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They swarmed around me like bees, but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them down. I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my defense ; he has become my


  Unlike human love, which is often fickle and temporary, God’s love never fails, no matter what. I love Psalm 136. I love all of the psalms, but Psalm 136 blows me away every time I read it. I love the repetition that makes this psalm stand out from all the others. I love the fact that Psalm 136 is a history psalm that, because of its refrain, gets turned into a love poem. I love that it affirms again and again what we desperately need to hear again and again—not once or twice, but twenty-six times! Now, I think that whenever God speaks, you and I should humbly shut up and listen, but I also think that we should pay careful attention to those places where God chooses to repeat Himself, and even more so when He repeats Himself so many times!  Why does God repeat, over and over through the pen of the psalmist, “for his steadfast love endures forever”? There are two answers to this question.  First, there is no reality more radical and foundational to a biblical worldview and a personal


 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life ?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?   “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!  And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.  For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.  But seek his kingdo


  Don’t be discouraged today. You can leave your “what-ifs” and “if-onlys” in the hands of the One who loves you and rules all things. Even though you’re a person of faith who has acquired some degree of biblical literacy and theological knowledge, there’s one thing you can be sure of—God will confuse you. Your theology will give you only a limited ability to exegete your experiences. The commands, principles, and case studies of Scripture will take you only so far in your quest to figure out your life. There will be moments when you simply don’t understand what is going on. In fact, you will face moments when what the God who has declared Himself to be good brings into your life won’t seem good. It may even seem bad, very bad.  Now, if your faith is based on your ability to fully understand your past, present, and future, then your moments of confusion will become moments of weakening faith. But the reality is that you are not left with only two options—understand everything and rest


I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:4‭-‬9 NIV


  Yes, it is true—God will remain faithful even when you’re not, because His faithfulness rests on who He is, not on what you’re doing. Second Timothy 2:13: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.” This verse pictures a radically different way of living, one not natural to most of us. Most human beings buy into a view of life characterized by the “life is on your shoulders,” “you make or break your life,” “pay your money and take your choice,” or “ you have no one to look to or blame but yourself” outlook. In this view, you are the master of your fate. You have little to rely on other than your instincts, your strength, the wisdom that you’ve collected over the years, your ability to anticipate what is around the corner, your character and maturity, and the natural gifts that you have been given. It is a scary “you against the world” way of living.  But your welcome into God’s family turns all of this upside down. God not only forgives your sins and guaran


 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of Lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. 1 Timothy 6:11‭-‬16 NIV


  God calls you to persevere by faith, and then, with powerful grace, He protects and keeps you. It is a wonderfully encouraging name for the God you serve, yet it’s possible to let it pass through your eyes and into your brain without stopping to celebrate its glory. In Romans 15:5, Paul calls your Lord “the God of endurance.” This title really gets at the center of where your hope is to be found. Let me state it plainly: your hope is not to be found in your willingness and ability to endure, but in God’s unshakable, enduring commitment to never turn from His work of grace. Your hope is that you have been welcomed into communion with One who will endure no matter what.  Why is this so important to understand? Because your endurance will be spotty at best. There will be moments when you will forget who you are and live as a grace amnesiac. There will be times when you will get discouraged and for a while quit doing the good things God calls you to do. There will be moments, big and sma


 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 2 Corinthians 6:4‭-‬10 NIV


  If you have been freed from needing success and acclaim to feel good about yourself, you know grace has visited you. It is an intensely human endeavor. It is the quest we all pursue. We all want to feel good about ourselves. We all want to think that we are okay. It is a fearful and anxious quest from which only grace can free you.  Here’s what happens to us all—we seek horizontally for the personal rest that we are to find vertically, and it never works. Looking to others for your inner sense of well-being is pointless. First, you will never be good enough, consistently enough, to get the regular praise of others that you are seeking. You’re going to mess up. You’re bound to disappoint. You will have a bad day. You’ll lose your way. At some point, you’ll say or do things that you shouldn’t. Add to this the fact that the people around you aren’t typically interested in taking on the burden of being your personal messiah. They don’t want to live with the responsibility of having your


 Give thanks to the Lord , for he is good; his love endures forever.  Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,  those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.  Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.  They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.  Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.  He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.  Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,  for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.  Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains,  because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High.  So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help.  Then they cried to the Lord in their troubl


  The DNA of joy is thankfulness. Have you noticed that entitled, complaining people don’t happen to be very joyful?  I wish I always carried it with me.  I wished it always shaped the way I look at life.  I wish it directed my desires.  I wish it was the natural inclination of my heart.  I wish remembering your boundless grace would silence my grumbling.  I wish my worship of you, my trust of you, my rest in you would drive away all complaints.  If my heart is ever going to be freed of grumbling and ruled by gratitude, I need your grace: grace to remember, grace to see, grace that produces a heart of humble joy.   


 “I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass,  that you forget the Lord your Maker, who stretches out the heavens and who lays the foundations of the earth, that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction? For where is the wrath of the oppressor?  The cowering prisoners will soon be set free; they will not die in their dungeon, nor will they lack bread.  For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord Almighty is his name.  I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand— I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’ ” Isaiah 51:12‭-‬16 NIV


  For the believer, fear is always God-forgetful. If God is sovereign and His rule is complete, wise, righteous, and good, why would you fear? The words of Hezekiah, king of Judah, ring as true today as they did in the scary moment centuries and centuries ago when they were first spoken. Judah had been invaded by the powerful king of Assyria, Sennacherib. Hezekiah prepared and armed Judah for battle, but that is not all he did. He addressed the people with a more significant issue. He knew that in these moments God’s people were often given to fear, and he knew where that fear came from. Often in these moments of challenge the people of God would panic because they were identity amnesiacs. They would forget who they were as the children of God and they would forget who God is in all His almighty power and glory. So at this moment, Hezekiah knew that he couldn’t just be a good king and a skilled general; he must also be a wise pastor to his people.  As they were preparing for the Assyri


 All the words between " to " are Written in Red.  The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.  By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”  But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take mo


  God calls you to believe and then works with zeal to craft you into a person who really does live by faith. I don’t know how much you’ve thought about this, but faith isn’t natural for you and me. Doubt is natural. Fear is natural. Living on the basis of your collected experience is natural. Pushing the current catalog of personal “what-ifs” through your mind before you go to sleep or when you wake up in the morning is natural. Living based on the thinking of your brain and your physical senses is natural. Envying the life of someone else and wondering why it isn’t your life is natural. Wishing that you were more sovereign over people, situations, and locations than you will ever be is natural. Manipulating your way into personal control so you can guarantee that you will get what you think you need is natural. Looking horizontally for the peace that you will only ever find vertically is natural. Anxiously wishing for change in things that you have no ability to change is natural. Gi


 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.  You, however, are not in


  Every day you need it. You and I simply can’t live without it. What is it? The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. I don’t know where I was when the memo went out. I’m not sure why I missed the discussion. I can’t explain why I had this miserable gap in my understanding of the gospel. I can’t tell you why this item was missing in my theological outline, but it was, and the fact that it was missing made my Christian life pretty miserable.  Here was my functional theology of my life as a child of God: I knew that by grace I had been granted God’s forgiveness and I knew that I had been graced with an all-inclusive pass into eternity, but I thought that between now and then, my job was to just gut it out. It was my responsibility to identify sin, to cut it out of my life, and to give myself to living in a much better, more biblical way. I tried this, trust me; I tried it and found it didn’t work. I messed up again and again. It seemed that I failed more times than I succeeded. I beca


 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:7‭-‬10 NIV


  Contentment celebrates grace. The contented heart is satisfied with the Giver and is therefore freed from craving the next gift. Sin does two very significant things to us all. First, it causes us all to insert ourselves into the center of our worlds, making life all about us. In our self-focus, we are all too motivated by our wants, our needs, and our feelings, and because we are, we tend to be more aware of what we don’t have than of the many wonderful blessings that we have been given. But there is more; because we are self-focused, we tend to be scorekeepers, constantly comparing our piles of stuff to the piles of others. It’s a life of discontentment and envy. Envy is always selfish.  There is a second thing of equal significance that sin does to us. It causes us to look horizontally for what can only ever be found vertically. So we look to creation for life, hope, peace, rest, contentment, identity, meaning and purpose, inner peace, and motivation to continue. The problem is th


 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?  Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”  Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”  So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.  For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse,


  If you obey for a thousand years, you’re no more accepted than when you first believed; your acceptance is based on Christ’s righteousness and not yours. The fact is that sin is a bigger disaster than we think it is and grace is more amazing than we seem to be able to grasp that it is. No one who really understands what Scripture has to say about the comprehensive, every-aspect-of-your-personhood altering nature of sin would ever think that anyone could muster enough motivation and strength to rise to God’s standard of perfection. The thought that any fallen human being would be able to perform his or her way into acceptance with God has to be the most insane of all delusions. Yet we all tend to think that we are more righteous than we are, and when we think this, we have taken the first step to embracing the delusion that maybe we’re not so bad in God’s eyes after all.  This is why the reality check of Romans 3:20 is so important. Paul writes, “For by works of the law no human being


 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?  Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord , or instruct the Lord as his counselor?  Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?  Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.  Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.  Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.  With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him?  As for an idol, a metalworker casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it.  A person t