Paul’s prayers—like his letters in general—so overflow with richness that you feel like you’re working to catch every drop as it pours out. There’s always more to be seen and acted on than what you find in the moment. This makes studying the Bible exciting, knowing there’s always more to be found later when we return. We never run out of “fresh grass” to feed on. Continue reading Learning to Pray from Paul
The Bible is full of admonitions to remember God, what He’s taught us, and what He’s done for us. Through remembrance, we hold on to what we’ve learned in the past and live in light of it in the present. Throughout the Bible, God’s people face future fears by recalling God’s former faithfulness. Remembrance stirs up greater trust in God, it brings to mind what He’s done and said in the past, and it reminds us what we’ve learned from God.
Indiana winters hang on, leaving us longing for sunshine. You’d think spring would offer relief, but it isn’t much better with rainy days set to repeat. I always look forward to late spring and summer when the sun comes out, the windows open, and we can get outside.
In Philippians 2:1-4, Paul tells us to pursue unity through humility. Pride promotes division, but humility nurtures harmony. He pleads with these believers to be of one mind, one purpose, and one love by laying down their personal priorities and privileges.
The Virgin Islands offered a vacation both my wife (Melissa) and I were looking for. She likes relaxation on beautiful beaches, and I wanted adventures beyond the beach. She likes the water, and I like visiting national parks. The Virgin Islands, especially St. John and Virgin Islands National Park, fulfilled both of our desires and outdid our expectations.
I’m not a huge beach guy, both because my pale-skin is quickly burnt and my restless spirit gets easily bored after about an hour sitting in sand, but the beaches and water of the Virgin Islands were picturesque. Even I wanted to stay put and soak up the post-card worthy views of the white sandy beaches sliding under crystal clear waters moving from aqua to turquoise to teal. But thankfully, the calm beaches were complemented by awaiting adventures such as great spots for snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, hiking, and swimming, of course. A wide variety of animals were observable in the water (we saw green sea turtles, stingrays, a nursing shark, all kinds of fish) and on land (bright birds, large iguanas, deer, and small scattering geckos).
When we walk through spiritual droughts, we’re tempted to believe this time is an unusable, accidental derailment in our Christian journey. Maybe God was asleep at the wheel or took a wrong turn, but somehow, we’ve veered off the road and gotten lost in this desolate place. Read the rest here at For the Church.
I took the above photo of Mt. Baker from Port Townsed, WA (a great place to visit). Many have compared the differences between a rowboat and a sailboat to the differences between living under law versus living under grace. Under law, we trust in our own works and rely on our own power. Much like a rowboat, we do it all, and we quickly tire out. With a sailboat, there is much work to be done by those in the boat, but it’s all done working with and in reliance on the wind. The wind will drive the boat forward. It gives it the power it needs and we work in tandem with it. You can only row for so long, but you can keep moving forward in a sailboat for as long as the wind is behind you.
“To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood.” (I Peter 1:2)
Throughout his first letter, Peter reminds his readers their suffering, rejection, and experience as exiles is normal. The kingdom of light is no more welcome to a kingdom of darkness than the bedroom light being flipped on while I’m sleeping is welcomed. And yet, as exiles they are God’s people, and are called to reflect Him. Though kicked to the curb by the world we are called into a new family and given a sense of belonging by our Triune God. Even as we struggle in a world that’s against us we are empowered by a God who is for us. Only this God-given grace, not the weight of duty or demands, can motivate maturity and obedience when we’re constantly swimming upstream. Continue reading Fresh Air in the Atmosphere of Trinitarian Grace
Anxiety is overwhelming. It can affect our bodies. It wreaks havoc on our emotions. And it consumes our thoughts. They race like a runaway train or get caught in a vicious cycle of spinning round-and-round with “what if…”, “if only…”, or many other possibilities. Anxiety awakens us in the dark hours of the night. It can rob us of a day’s joy and suck the life right out of us.