A Necessary Fear

In our Foundation’s Bible Study, we have been going through the book of Romans, and recently wrapped up the first major section of the book.  Paul, breaking from current writing strategies, begins his book speaking of the ‘bad news’.  He spends the better part of three chapters outlining the desperate nature of man before God.  In 1:16, Paul speaks of the Gospel being the power of God on display.  Then, to help us understand the extent of this power, Paul explains the depth of the gulf that separates us from God.

By the time Paul reaches chapter 3, he has vividly explained how all stand hopelessly condemned before God, regardless of your background or lineage.  While man is not necessarily as sinful as he could be, all have rejected to honor God and give Him honor.  We all stand guilty and condemned.  In 3:10-18, Paul uses a litany of Old Testament passages to convey the fact that this is an eternal truth, not one he has created.

When he gets to verse 18, Paul sums up humanity’s problem:  “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”  Fundamentally, every root of sin comes to a failure to fear God.  Man has failed to fear God, sending us hopelessly down a swift river of destruction.  Each sin can be traced to some failure to fear Him.  Each transgression betrays a failure to apply the knowledge of God and His holiness to our lives.

It is a simple fact that if we were to appropriately apply a fear of God to our decisions, we would not choose rebellion.  But we far too often fall into the trap Paul introduces in chapter one.  We suppress the truth.  We may not suppress the truth of God the same way we would before God stepped in to redeem our hearts, but we still hold back the application of what we know to be true about God to our lives and the decisions we make.

Each and every time I sin, each and every time I fail, it is because I failed to fear God.  I didn’t take what I know about God to be true and apply it to my life.  I functioned like an atheist, not a sinner saved by grace unto obedience.  So let us be about the business examining our hearts, our motives, our decisions to see if they are being educated by the fear of God.


Trusting God in the Void

For the last 8 years, God has sovereignly had me working at Lowe’s, helping me, in His abundant goodness, to support my family and supply exactly what I need when we needed it.  The road has not always been smooth, and was full of ups and downs, but it was always obvious that God was sustaining me and preserving me.  Through this long and winding road, God has always shown Himself to be good and generous.

Last week, this road came to an end.  I always knew that eventually my time there would end, so it wasn’t a shock when it finally came.  In my last five years as an Assistant Store Manager I have realized that there aren’t many people who retire from Lowe’s.  God has shown me enough over these years for me to not doubt His plan for provision in our lives.  But I know that there are things that I can only learn through circumstances like these.  Here are some of the things that have been floating in my head:

  • The thing that pains me the most about leaving Lowe’s is the relationships that I will inevitably lose.  When you work at a place for 50+ hours a week for 5 years, you form some significant and strong relationships.  Like any family, there were some members of the family that you aren’t as fond of, but I truly cared for them.  In the first few days, I felt like I needed to be there to support them and help them.  I even dreamed of my phone constantly ringing (which it often did) and me trying to help as much as I could.  I feel like a shepherd has been torn from his flock.
  • I will miss the opportunities I had for the Gospel.  In the past few months, I had lost two very special men that I had managed to the grave.  I will miss listening to what is going on in families, the sicknesses and illnesses, the ups and downs.  I will miss being able to point people to a hope greater than this world has to offer.  I will miss the little conversations and questions that were often posed to me.
  • Another lesson that I am presently learning is how far your trust in God goes.  We all have different levels of trust, some a lot, some not at all.  But it is in situations where you really have no idea what is going to happen that you find out how deep it is.  And when you find the bottom of that barrel, God starts digging some more, showing you where your trust must grow.  Your trust grown context.  All I can do is look back, see the trail of grace that has brought me thus far, look to the Word of God to see His eternal trail of grace, and look to the future to see where the path goes.
  • Along the same ways, I don’t want to waste this trial.  I want to learn everything I can.  I want to take opportunities that I haven’t had before.  For the last 5 years, I’ve been scheduled 55+ hours on a very eclectic schedule, leaving my body craving some sort of consistency.  One day I would be there at 5 am, another working to midnight.  I can now dictate that.  I can wake up each morning at the same time and establish habits, like starting each day in the word and prayer, something difficult to do when the start came at 4am.
  • I also don’t want to waste this time with my family.  While I have worked a lot, the schedule did still allow for me to be with my family.  Homeschooling always allowed for us to spend mornings together when I would close or afternoons when I opened.  But we’ve never had an extended time like this together.  While we won’t have money to have too much fun, I’m cherishing the moments of availability.

When I walked into Lowe’s the first time, I couldn’t have imagined that it would have lasted like it did.  I truly thought I had another job lined up and was just going to get paid for a few days of training.  But God had plans of gracious provision in ways I couldn’t forsee.  And just because I can’t see His future plan doesn’t mean it isn’t written.  I’m just excited to see where the path goes!

What Does the Church Mean to You?

Over the course of the last year, I have seen more and more people I care deeply for become less and less captivated by the Church and gradually slip away from any level of commitment to a local body of believers.  There can be many reasons for this, but that is relatively irrelevant.  No matter what the reason is, the removal of oneself from the local body of Christ puts you at great danger and is incredibly contrary to Christ’s plan for your life.

It may sound harsh to say it doesn’t really matter what the reasons are for ceasing to commit to a local Church, but no matter what the reasons are to ‘de-fellowship’ oneself, they all fail to outweigh the reason we ought to commit to one.  I will explain with an illustration I recently heard in a sermon preached by Art Azurdia this past summer entitled “The Personal Possession of Jesus Christ”.

Pastor Azurdia begins his message by offering to sell someone a sports jersey.  If I told you that I had a jersey with a number on it, you might pay a few bucks for it.  If I told you that it was a Tom Brady jersey, you might pay more.  What if I told you that it was a game worn jersey?  The price went into the hundreds!  Now, if I told you that it was THE jersey worn by Brady in the Super Bowl, yes, the one that was stolen (don’t ask me how I got it!), the asking price would skyrocket!  When the jersey was stolen from his locker in the postgame celebration, it was said that it could go for as much as $500,000 on the open market.

Why the steep increase in value?  Because the inherent value of something is in direct correlation with to the one owns it.  If it was a cheap imitation jersey from Wal-Mart, then it’s not impressive.  But if it actually came from GOAT (greatest of all time), then we have a great value!

The same would be true, says Azurdia, if I tried to sell you some ruby shoes and then mention they belonged to Judy Garland in her performance in the Wizard of Oz.

So what does this all mean about the Church?  The Church belongs to Jesus Christ.  He is building His Church (Matthew 16:18).  The Church should mean everything to us because it meant everything to Christ.  He laid down His life for her!  She is His bride!  She is priceless and worth our deepest and strongest efforts.  Not because the individual people in the Church are worthy of our praise or esteem, but because it is the personal possession of Jesus Christ and it cost Christ His blood to establish it.

There are many reasons to commit yourself to a local body of believers, but the greatest is because Christ showed us how much He values it with His death on the cross.  The Church is Christ’s, therefore it is precious and worth our self-sacrifice, our service, and our commitment.

New Sight, New Vision

For a few months now, we have know that Micah is badly in need of glasses.  When your child is thrilled at new hymnals that have more of the songs your sing at Church, you know he really needs to see better.  A few weeks ago, his eye appointment finally came and sure enough, he needed glasses.  The whole experience was one that reminded me much of a our faith.

After they deduced that he does indeed need glasses, he had to try on different glasses.  What he didn’t realize was that these glasses just had nonprescription lenses in them.  After initial excitement of being able to see, he tried on a few pair of glasses only to be disappointed that they didn’t ‘work’ or help him.  Leah quickly assured him they weren’t supposed to help him see, and he was relieved.

Then came the waiting game.  He picked out some frames and then waited a few days to get them.  When we got the call that they were there, he went and got them right away.  The moment he put them on, he looked up and around with a look of simple awe at what he could now see.  He didn’t even know what he couldn’t see.

A couple of days later, I ran an errand and had him come with me and told him to wear his glasses so he could see the details around him.  As we were pulling out of the driveway, he said, “When you, Mom, or Hannah talked about how something was ‘beautiful’, I just couldn’t see it.  But now I can see what you were talking about.  It IS beautiful!”

I told him that was a great illustration for how we see everything before and after salvation.  You can tell someone about the great things God does, show them examples of God moving, take them to the Word, but without the Holy Spirit changing their vision, they simply can’t see it.

That week, a woman at our church at shared a testimony of one of the times she knew she was saved.  She said before she was saved, she read through the book of John, and was utterly confused.  She didn’t get it.  After ‘getting it’ and getting saved, she went back to read that same book.  But she couldn’t find it.  She found a book named “The Gospel of John”, but it wasn’t anything like she had first read.  She went to I, II, and III John, and those weren’t it either.

It turned out that her new vision gave her new understanding.  Where there used to be confusion and discouragement, there was now understanding and encouragement.  Where there was ignorance, there is now knowledge.

Psalm 34 instructs us to ‘taste and see that the Lord is good!’  David isn’t telling people, give God a spin.  He is instructing for people to come and experience and know the goodness of God, and that is only possible through repentance and faith.  No one can truly taste and see that the Lord is good without being redeemed, gaining spiritual eyes.

So, let me ask you, can you see?

When Life is Hard

Life always has seasons of difficulty.  It is rare for anyone to go too long in life without being confronted with a situation or circumstance that makes you realize how out of your control your life really is.  It is in these circumstances that we really find out where our trust is and where we find our encouragement.   Where do you turn for comfort?  Where do you look for encouragement?

Many believers have specific passages that are their ‘go to’ in these seasons of uncertainty.  These are passages that speak to our aching bones, that lift us out of the mire and lift our perspective to Christ.  I have a few passages that I turn to, but one has stood out in my mind, Matthew 11:28-30.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus is showing that His compassion meets us in those dark moments, when the burdens of life have brought us low.  He presents a picture of oxen in a yoke to bring us comfort.  At first glance, this hardly sounds comforting.  Having grown up in an agricultural community, I can picture the significance of this illustration.

A yoke is a tool that is used to join two animals together to accomplish a single task.  Generally, oxen wear the yoke to help keep them unified in their efforts to pull or plow.  The yoke helps guide them and train them.  596f5218871128ed7db860948b1f9521.jpg

Jesus puts His yoke upon us to guide us through these dark times.  He puts it on us to teach us things we would not learn any other way.  He guides us in these moments because it is really the only way our souls can really find rest.

The trap we often fall into is looking for an end to the trial/suffering/pain as the escape.  Maybe we think if we just ‘grin and bear it’ we will be able to survive.  Maybe we look to other things for our escape, for our peace.  But the only peace that will reach our souls and counsel our hearts comes from Christ.

You may think, “That doesn’t look very comfortable!”  But Jesus says this yoke that He gives is easy and the burden is light.  It isn’t burdensome or cumbersome.  It doesn’t bring us down, it keeps us up.

In seasons where I feel the temptation to turn to a puddle, I look to Christ and remember His yoke is guiding me through this.  If I trust Him, look to Him, then the burden will be light.  This truth sets my heart at ease and gives me a confidence that nothing else can.

What is your ‘go to’ verse or passage?

How Could You Believe THAT?!



One of the more interesting, completely unexpected, and entertaining story lines of the NBA season is the revelation that the NBA is sprinkled with “Flat Earth” theorists.  About a month ago, Cleveland Cavalier’s Kyrie Irving (proud product of Duke University) came out in an interview as believing the Earth is flat.

“This is not even a conspiracy. The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat.”

“For what I’ve known for many years and what I’ve been taught is that the Earth is round, but if you really think about it from a landscape of the way we travel, the way we move and the fact that — can you really think of us rotating around the sun, and all planets align, rotating in specific dates, being perpendicular with what’s going on with these ‘planets’ and stuff like this.”

When he was talking about his theory, it was recognized as being pretty crazy, but just an isolated opinion of someone who thinks he is smarter than the rest of the class.  But then something odd and unexpected happened: other NBA stars started coming to his defense!  Some were tame, not wanting to create controversy.  LeBron James, his teammate, said, “If Kyrie says the earth is flat, then the earth is flat.”  Obviously, he was just trying to avoid creating an issue with a friend and teammate.

But then players started coming out of the woodwork, saying they, too, thought the earth was flat.  Wilson Chandler and Draymond Green, among others, came out in support of Irving’s claims, saying they not only supported him, but agreed.  Even Shaquille O’Neal, never one to shy away from attention, initially claimed to believe it, only to days later say he was just trolling everyone.

My first reaction is to recognize the complete absurdity of this.  All one has to do is fly in one direction for long enough to end up back where you started.  These are all players who have gone overseas for exhibitions, made trips to China, and have seen the curvature of the earth from an airplane on a weekly basis.  Never mind the fact that Kyrie Irving was born in Australia!  I’m sure he has travelled plenty.  And does the water flow off the edge of the earth?  Why has someone never been ‘underneath’ the Earth?  This is clearly shooting fish in a barrel.

But it was my second thought that had me making an uncomfortable connection.  You see, when I read everyone’s quick criticism of the statements, I realized that this is the way that many see Creationists.  Creationists, myself included, have been heavily criticized for ignoring ‘evidence’ and slammed as being blind to the obvious truth of Evolution.

Here are some criticisms of the Flat Earthers:

“it is really concerning when you have people in the public eye, or you have people in general who think that the Earth might not be round because it devalues the scientific method.”   Bill Nye

Irving defended his view saying, “It’s OK to have your own thoughts and be able to function and be able to formulate your own thoughts and opinions and still be able to convey them to other people.”  The columnist responded by writing, “The problem, of course, is that not all thoughts are equal. Facts require evidence. That is essentially the point of science. Sigh.”

It doesn’t take too much of an imagination or memory to recall similar things being said of those who reject the claims that the theory of evolution has been proven out scientifically.  I had an epiphany.  This is exactly how many view me.  To many, Bill Nye included, I am just as crazy as Kyrie Irving.

We’ve seen it in the recent reaction to Ken Ham’s Ark Encounters museum in Kentucky.  He’s just a raving lunatic.  He ignores the obvious evidence.  He should be ashamed of his convictions.  He should be quiet and not have any influence over people, never mind serve as an educator.

But this is the world that we live in.  And I’m content to be labelled an idiot, ignorant, or foolish for the sake of believing Genesis 1-2 is real.  Don’t be surprised when the masses turn and let this serve as a small lesson and window into how Creationists are viewed in the world today.


Learning from Other’s Repeated Failures

Every time that I read/study/teach through the Old Testament, I am struck by something different.  When I brought my kids through the last couple of years, I was struck by the constant example of a faithful God to unfaithful people.  From Adam and Even, to Noah, Abraham, the people through the wilderness, and then into the land, the people exhibit an all too familiar penchant for exchanging the glory of God for the world around them.  They pursued the creation rather than the Creator.

Over the course of our study with the Foundation’s Bible Study, I have been hit with something new.  I think this pattern is one that I have noticed now due to it connecting with my own fears.  It was never too much of a concern, but as I get older, and, more specifically, my kids get older, I realize this hits much closer to home than it used to.

The pattern is this:  throughout Israel’s history, the nation and its leaders show an astounding failure to pass God’s truth onto their children.  While I cannot say authoritatively that the reason many of their children fell away, there is definitely a pattern and many were not taught the fear of the Lord or to walk in His ways.

The list is somewhat comprehensive.  Let me provide a few examples of this pattern:

  • From the get go, Cain kills his own brother in a jealous rage over not understanding what pleases the Lord in worship!
  • Abraham’s failure to bring Ishmael up in the fear of the Lord.
  • Jacob raising sons who think killing their little brother is ok and then resigning to pretend he is dead and sell him into slavery.
  • Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, offering profane fire to the Lord.  They would have been intricately involved in leading the people in worship.
  • In the beginning of Judges, after the conquest of the land (2:10) it says, “There arose another generation that did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for them.”  The generation of the conquest didn’t pass on the fear of the Lord to the next generation, preparing the way for the constant cycles of faithlessness in Judges.
  • In I Samuel, we see Eli, the religious leader of the nation, raise two completely morally corrupt sons.  They were supposed to be leading the nation in worship before God and they were sleeping around with women who were serving God.
  • Samuel, who replaced Eli, had his own failure.  The nation of Israel was so afraid of his corrupt kids taking over that they demanded a king to rule over them.
  • David’s sons didn’t win any “Sons of the Year” awards, either.  Amnon, one of his sons, raped his half sister, Tamar.  When Absolam, Tamar’s brother found out, he eventually hunts Amnon down and kills him.  This is shortly followed by Absolam leading a rebellion and claiming the kingdom his while his dad is alive and well.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, by any means, but you get the idea. Here are examples of people, many of them who served the Lord in faithfulness, whose own children fell so far away.  One doesn’t have to look far today to see young ones brought up in Christian homes who grow to want nothing to do with their parent’s faith.

As the father of two adorable children who claim to believe and want to grow in obedience, I fear that they too will walk down that road some day.  I know that nothing I do will save them, that there is no winning formula to guarantee their desires will be for Christlikeness.  But I think the tools to put them on the best path possible lay in my hands, just as they did with the children of Israel.

Deuteronomy 4:9 “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.”


Deuteronomy 6:20-25 “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt.  And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to our fathers. And the lORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day.  And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.”


Deuteronomy 11:19 “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.”


It is clear that there is no way to guarantee your child will follow in your steps in their pursuit of the LORD, but there are things that we MUST do, not only for the good of our children, but primarily for the glory of God.  Teach them God’s Word.  Instruct their hearts to fear the LORD.  Train their hearts to beat for God’s glory.  Failure to do so is more of a guarantee that they will fall away.

It is astounding for me to read those words in Judges 2:10.  How does a nation fail to pass along the law of the LORD and tell of His great faithfulness and works on their behalf?!  A generation that saw the walls of Jericho fall at their feet, who saw armies destroyed by God, saw water just separate at His commands, fail to pass those along?  Again, it is easy to point disbelievingly at them, but the greater miracle has happened in the redemption of our rebellious hearts through the death and resurrection of God’s Son.  And there are those that fail to pass this along to their children.  May we be a people that do not hesitate to proclaim God’s unending faithfulness in our lives, and may God be gracious to open the hearts of our young ones to bring Him glory.