Join Me on a Free Lifeway Webcast, with Pete Wilson, Ronnie Floyd and Eric Geiger

I recently completed a Bible study for Lifeway on addressing conflict within relationships. (Not that any of us would need such a thing. :) ) Several other pastors are involved in this project, addressing other areas, but all in the newly designed Bible Studies for Life Series by Lifeway. I was honored to be a part, because I think it will be helpful, practical studies.

Along with the release of this project, Lifeway is providing a free webcast, Wednesday, May 8th, from 12:00 to 12:30 CST. I will be one of several prominent names, Eric Geiger, Pete Wilson, and Ronnie Floyd. (Again, I’m honored to be a part.) You can find more information and register for this at BibleStudiesforLife.com/webcast.

For a preview, here are a couple of videos about the webcast…one from me, and one from my much cooler friend, Pastor Pete Wilson.

Hope to have you online with us.

10 Considerations for Understanding Biblical Faith

Praying man silhoutte

Are you struggling to understand faith? 

To understand faith I always have to put it in terms of a relationship.  When we speak of a Biblical faith, we are speaking in terms of having faith…trusting…based upon our relationship with God through His son, Jesus Christ.

With that in mind…based on my understanding of Scripture…

Here are 10 considerations of understanding Biblical faith:

1. Faith is defined for us as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1-2)

2. Faith believes even when it makes no sense to believe, not because of the proof before you, but because of the trust you place in the object of your faith.

3. Faith is based on the will of that person in whom you place your faith, not my will. You can have faith that the person you love most will never hurt you, for example, but whether they do or not is up to their will, not yours.

4. Biblical faith is in a person, the person of God.  (God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit…they are One.)  Faith is not in me or my abilities, but on God and His abilities.

5. When Jesus used the illustration of moving mountains He was giving an example of the power of God and how we should place our whole faith in Him.  He was not talking about the power of my ability to have faith, but rather the power of the One in whom we place our faith.  If God’s will is to move a mountain, He will surely move it. You can even ask Him to by faith.  (Remember, Jesus also said, “apart from me you can do nothing”.)

6. When we talk about faith in God then, we are talking about His will, not our will.  That’s how Jesus taught us to pray….”Our Father, who is in Heaven…thy will be done…” Faith is based on God’s agenda, not my agenda. It’s not your ability to move mountains. It is God’s ability.   It’s not your will to move mountains; it’s God’s will.

7. Faith is based on the promises of God, not our hopes or desires. When you struggle with faith, you don’t doubt your ability; you doubt God’s ability. Sometimes we get upset that God hasn’t done something we think He should do, but God never promised to do it.  It may have never have been His will.

8. When you pray by faith then, you are praying that you trust God to do His will in your life, based not on your wishes or desires, but on what He has promised to do.  Some things we can always have faith that God will do, because he has promised to do them, such as “love you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3), “work all things for good” (Romans 8:28) and “never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:8). We can’t always know that God will heal every sickness, for example, because He’s not promised that He will. In fact, He promised we would have trials, but that throughout it all we could rejoice in our sufferings.

9. God is trustworthy…worthy of our faith. I love how The Message Version puts 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!” Do what?   His will. Faith in the person of God is based then on your trust that He is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do.

10. When your faith lines up with God’s will, you can absolutely, positively, unquestionably claim by faith that God’s will be done. One of the reasons it is so important to know God personally is so that we will know His will, so we can know how to pray in God’s will. (Romans 12:1-2)

What would you add in understanding Biblical faith?

(This is a revision of a previous post.)

The Lord is With You

The Lord you God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Take a moment and savor that verse. Read it. Read it again. Read it one more time!

Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

God takes delight in you! He rejoices over you with singing!

When my boys were little I loved the smile on their faces when I told them how special they are to me. It still seems to bring such peace to them to hear me brag on them. They seem to want to know my pleasure in them.

I find the same joy in my heart when I read this scripture!

The idea that God delights in me! I don’t know about you, but sometimes I don’t feel very delightful! Sometimes I wonder how I can even stand myself! Yet, God, the Creator, Sustainer, Lord Almighty, the Great I AM, takes personal delight in me! Me!

Picture this! God rejoices over you and me…enough that He does it with singing! What a wonderful testimony of the depth of our Father’s love!

As you lay down to sleep tonight, listen carefully for your Father’s tender voice, as He takes great delight in you and rejoices over you in song! Somehow I picture Him having a special tune…a unique lyric…words that are designed just for you.

The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save!

Are you listening? What do you have to worry about with a God like this?

10 Random Post Election Thoughts

I couldn’t get on with my day until I processed a few random thoughts. So many. Many undeveloped. Very random. More to come.

I see so many comments through social media. Some of hurt. Some of frustration. Some of anger. Some of rejoicing. (I am glad I have friends on both sides of the political spectrum.)

10 random post election thoughts:

God isn’t perplexed today about the state of our country.

Fear is an emotion and not necessarily a reality, but perfect love casts out fear. If I’m afraid I should trust in You…in God whose word I praise.

I am supposed to pray for even my enemies…and those with whom I may not agree. Have I done that?

I wonder if our unifying answer is beyond our current two dominant party choices.

Christians have a unique responsibility. We are to respect authority, pray for our nation, and care more about its soul than its economy. I wonder how well we are doing that?

Just because God allows a king doesn’t mean He has chosen to bless a nation with one. That could be true of either party candidate who was elected. Remember the story of Saul and David?

Our country needs the Gospel even more than it needs new jobs. Revival often starts with a few people.

When the country is less unified, the church should be even more unified.

What if President Obama chose Mitt Romney as his new Business Czar? (Supposedly a position he’s proposing.)

I am looking forward to Sunday. My favorite day of the week.

Listen, as an encourager and teacher of God’s people, speaking to the church, let us not become weary in doing good. In due season, we will reap what we sow. Let us be be an example for our nation today. At work. At home. In our hearts. Let us show and be the love of Jesus. He is still our hope.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to us. (James 4:8)

(By the way, I have another theory about the state of the church as it relates to the state of our nation, but I’ll save that for another day.)

Back to work.

An old story…A timeless truth

I read a new detail and was reminded of an old principle…from an old story.

Maybe you’ve heard this one:

Pharaoh then commanded all his people: “You must throw every son born to the Hebrews into the Nile, but let every daughter live.” (Exodus 1:22 HCSB)

But, you know what happened:

Now a man from the family of Levi married a Levite woman. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son; when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with asphalt and pitch. She placed the child in it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. Then his sister stood at a distance in order to see what would happen to him. Pharaoh’s daughter went down to bathe at the Nile while her servant girls walked along the riverbank. Seeing the basket among the reeds, she sent her slave girl to get it. When she opened it, she saw the child-a little boy, crying. She felt sorry for him and said, “This is one of the Hebrew boys.” (Exodus 2:1-6 HCSB)

It’s an old story. You know it.

But, do you see the part in bold? (I added the bold, of course.)

Moses was crying. Somehow, I’ve always missed that. It wasn’t the childhood Sunday school picture I had in my memory, where a sweet little baby is cooing in a basket floating behind some grass along a quiet river.

It was a crying baby. Moses was upset. Probably hungry. Needing a diaper change perhaps. It’s what got Pharaoh’s daughter’s attention.

But it was a good reminder of an old principle.

God uses tears to bring forth joy.

This story of Moses ends well…he was protected…well fed…diaper clean…you remember the good part of the story, right? That’s the part I always chose to remember…but it started as a story with tears.

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5

Are you in a moment of tears?

Leave a comment and we will pray for you.

God is working…even now…towards an ultimate joy.

7 Suggestions for Processing Pain

I tweeted recently: We all make a decision how we respond to the pain in our life. It is one of the most important decisions we’ll ever make.

Someone tweeted back a great question. What’s s great way to process (emotional) pain?

Here are 7 biblical ways:

Expect God to use pain for good – Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28

Use it to comfort others with similar pain – 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Reconsider your perspective on the pain – Romans 8:18

Receive the honor of suffering pain – Philippians 1:29

Accept the normality of pain – 1 Peter 4:12

Celebrate His sufficiency during pain -2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Look for the reward in suffering through pain – 2 Timothy 4:7-8

How we respond to emotional pain is a choice we make. The promises of God are real, even during our times of suffering. In the earliest days of any trial, we may not see any of these truths at work. That’s okay. We are frail people. The key is as we move forward, what we do with the pain in the days to come. Painful times are not going away in this earthly life. Jesus told us that. Learning to rest in Him is part of maturing as followers of Christ.

Suffering reminds us that His grace is sufficient for all our pain. In fact, though I don’t completely understand it, His power is perfect in our weakness, but only when I surrender the pain to Him.

We are not intended to handle pain alone. Thankfully, by His grace, we don’t have to.

Are you learning to “cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you”?