Live in the Present – August 27, 2021

Yesterday my oldest went to High School. Today my youngest becomes a teenager. Days like today cause me to pause and consider life. It seems like yesterday that they were preschoolers terrorizing the house. As I think back on this, I consider the times that I took it all for granted. I became so busy working for the future that I forgot to live in and make the most of the present. Time is one thing that we can’t have back. Once used, it is gone forever.

How often do we fail to live in the present? When we are younger, we seem to live in the future. Everything is geared towards building our career, buying the house and toys, and working towards retirement. When we are older, we seem to live in the past. We long for the good old days (which seem to get better with every telling). In both situations we fail to recognize that God has placed us in a particular place today in which to accomplish his purposes. Perhaps this is why many seem so unhappy.

In Philippians 4 Paul stated that he learned in every state and stage of life to be content with God’s work in his life. He did this because of his focus on Christ who strengthened him. That change in life you are convinced will make you happy and content will not accomplish what you think it will accomplish. You will be the constant unhappy self. Instead recognize the gifts that God has granted you today and make the most of them. A statement I find myself saying to my boys regularly is, “Be where you are.” I say it often because I need that message as much as they do.

Instead of looking towards what we don’t have. Instead of focusing so much on the future or the past. Look at what God has for you today. Dad, stop the project you feel you have to accomplish or the hobby you just can’t get away from and spend some time with your children and wife. Mom, the house will always need cleaning, watch a movie with your kids and husband. Grandparent, the past was not as great as you remember. Instead of griping, encourage and invest in your family. Let’s take the time to get to know our neighbors. Let’s not put off to tomorrow what we should be doing today. Remember, time is something you never get back. Be content with what God has granted you. Live in the present and cherish the moment.

Pray for Afghanistan – August 20, 2021

Any who have followed current events have watched in horror the challenges in Afghanistan this week. It is certain that God will hold accountable those political leaders who made such disastrous decisions and fell asleep at the wheel. Yet, today, I do not want to focus on the political failures (although they are massive), but rather on the need to bring our brothers and sisters in Christ before the Throne of Grace.

Reports continue to come from Afghanistan that the Taliban is actively searching for and executing believers and committing gross atrocities against their families, specifically against the young women in their families. The borders to neighboring countries are guarded and closed, the cities are no refuge, so many of our fellow believers are taking to the mountains to hide. All the while, they are still doing their best to gather and worship.

All that is happening serves as an important reminder to us. First, this reminds us of the reality of persecution. In America we have been largely immune to it. Yet, as it draws ever nearer, we look to those who are now suffering it as an example to us of faithfulness. Second, it reminds us of the blessing we have to worship together in freedom. I have been saddened by the propensity in our nation and frankly our church for believers to use every excuse not to gather with their fellow believers on Sunday morning. Camping, seasonals, house chores, unnecessary events, and frankly just being tired have all replaced the desire to gather with God’s people. This ought not be the case. We should long to be together. We should do all we can to ensure that we are there. Be in church on Sunday. Don’t miss for something that can be avoided. Third, we should drop to our knees and pray desperately for our brothers and sisters around the globe who are suffering for the cause of Christ.

Hebrews 13:3 reminds us, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” We cannot forget to bring these brothers and sisters in Afghanistan to God. We cannot allow the business of life to move our care for them to the background. Take some time right now to pray for them. Below are some links to help you in your prayers.

Lament and Hope: How to Pray for Afghanistan’s Women (

Afghan Pastors Ask for Prayer : 9Marks

Run with Focus, Part 2 – August 13, 2021

While the Olympics are over, I would like to finish the conversation we started last week. Like the Olympic runners, we are also in an important race: the race of the Christian life. Today I would like to continue to draw our attention to the parallel found in Hebrews 12:1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Last week we examined the need to lay aside everything that slows us down in the race. Sin is included in this. But also included are things that are not necessarily wrong but steal our focus. Next, we learn that we must run with endurance. The race of the Christian life is long and hard. It will require endurance. Despite the message of many major preachers and churches, the Christian life is not always fun, easy, or painless. In fact, an honest examination of Scripture reveals that often, it is hard. So, we must learn to press forward with endurance.

The writer gives us the key to this endurance: our focus. In all of life, we are to focus on Christ. He is the one who authored this Christian life. The eternal plan of God called out you for this race. He planned every step of this race. So you can trust His sovereign care in the race. Further he perfected (or finished perfectly) the race. Earlier the writer of Hebrews reminded us that we have a savior who feels our struggles because he lived a human life perfectly. He will help us through this race.

Your life may feel overwhelming, and you may wonder how you can continue. You are tired and weary. Yet you need not quit. Consider Christ and all that he faced for your redemption. He saved you, he will not lose you. When we contemplate Christ, it will give us the strength to carry on. He awaits us at the other side of the finish line with the wreath of victory, ready to proclaim, “Well done!” See Christ and press forward. Don’t get distracted by the things of this world. 

Run with Focus – August 6, 2021

Perhaps like me you have spent time over the past few days watching the Olympics. We are fascinated by the amazing athletes accomplishing things we could never do. One aspect I particularly enjoy in the Olympic games is the track and field aspect. The speed, agility, and strength of these athletes is astounding. However, I am constantly reminded of the parallels the Scripture writers make between the Olympic races and the Christian life.

Today I would like to draw our attention to the parallel found in Hebrews 12:1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

The writer of Hebrews has just concluded an amazing chapter regaling the faith of the Old Testament saints. All of them longed for the thing that we have: the knowledge of the cross. They had faith that God would redeem them; they just didn’t know the details. We do! As a result, the writer pictured these saints as the spectators in the crowd looking down on us running our race. They have finished their race and are waiting to see how we finish ours.

So, we are challenged to run this race in the most efficient and successful way possible. We are to set aside the things that will slow us down: weights and sin. Our Olympic athletes wear uniforms designed to weigh as little as possible and reduce as much drag as possible. We would be appalled to see an athlete show up in the starting blocks dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. That is not a bad outfit, we wear it all the time. But it is not the best outfit for running in a high-level race in which the athletes are separated by hundredths of a second. We each have many things in life we need to set aside to run our Christian race effectively. Things that are not necessarily bad, but do not help us advance towards Christ. The wise and effective Christian will regularly examine their life and eliminate the unnecessary items that are hindering their walk with God. Just because it is not sin is no reason to keep it.

Beyond these weights, we also are beset by ever-present sin. Too often we excuse and justify sin instead of eliminating it. We must recognize that these sins will always come with a cost. So, examine your life and eliminate that which is holding you back from being an effective Christian. Prepare for your Christian race like the athlete prepares for the Olympic race.

The Importance of the Family – July 30, 2021

I am so thankful for the time that I am able to spend with my family. In the busyness of life, it is easy to forgo these important times. At creation, God instituted the family. As a result, it stands as a bedrock of society. When a society devalues the family, the road to societal collapse begins. If we are to live differently as Christians, it is vital that we value the family.

First, we must value our immediate family. Husbands and wives, value one another. Ephesians 5 informs us that our marital relationship is a picture of the gospel. Husband, value your wife. Take an interest in her interests whether they are something you particularly enjoy or not. Date your wife. It saddens me to see so many Christian husbands who do not value their wives enough to set aside time to take them on a date. It doesn’t need to be somewhere expensive. Some of the best dates my wife and I have been on have been to McDonald’s or the local diner for pie and coffee. Help her with housework. It is not “the wife’s job.” It’s your job to serve her. Wives, gladly serve your husband. Don’t be a nag. Don’t harp on him. Don’t take your emotions out on him. Love him in spite of his mistakes. Value one another. Parents, value your children. The time is quickly coming when they will be out of the home. Value the fact that life is a little louder with them around. Value the times they ask you to “look at this.” Spend intentional time with them. Don’t see them as a distraction. That “distraction” will be gone soon enough.

Second, we must value our extended family. This can be harder at times but is no less important. The command to honor our parents does not have a time constraint to it. Take time to talk to them. Help them with their needs. Value their advice. Value your siblings and their families. We all know that family can be challenging. But it is the front lines for our gospel example. So don’t dread the family gatherings. Be thankful for them. Ask God to allow you to be a blessing to them and receive a blessing from them.

Society continues to devalue the family. Parents are encouraged to farm out the raising of their children to others. Husbands and wives are seen as the “old ball and chain” that weigh us down. Extended family is to be tolerated at best. Yet, without the family unit, society degrades. See your family as a gift from God to be valued and nurtured. And watch God work in your own life to grow you through your family. May we be known as different for our relationships with our family. 

As the Rain Falls – July 23, 2021

Sitting in my office, watching the rain falling outside, I think of God’s statement in Isaiah 55: For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” And as I think about this statement, I remember that I often underestimate the Word of God.

Just as the rain falling outside is essential for the growth of the fields, gardens, and grass, so the Word of God is essential for my growth in life. In times of drought, the world turns brown and dead. Crops fail, and gardens wilt. In those times, no one thinks that the answer is to plant more. Everyone understands that the problem is a lack of water. So often in life, we create a spiritual drought. Trials come, friends fail, money gets tight, bodies break down, and relationships suffer. Yet so often, we turn to all the wrong things for the answer to our discomfort. We look to the wrong things to provide us with direction, satisfaction, and happiness. Yet, time will reveal that these things cannot do what we are asking of them. Instead, we need the water of the Word.

Yet, this Word comes with a promise. As it leaves God’s mouth, it will not return without results. What God purposed with the Word will be accomplished. It will produce growth. At the beginning of Isaiah 55, God invites all who are thirsty to come to him to find water; all who are weary to come to him to find strength; all who are discouraged to come to him to find hope. We find him in his Word.

As you walk through the various valleys and struggles in life, look to the Word for hope and comfort. Discover in the Word the strength to carry on. It will not fail. Through faithful study and meditation of the Word, you will thrive in life regardless of the circumstances. When you are in the drought times of life, remember the rain and turn to the Word of God.

Our Great High Priest – July 9, 2021

Believers ought to be the most joyful people in the world. We have a God who invites us to come into His presence and cast all our care on Him. This thought is captured by the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 4:14-16: Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.



Jesus came as our great High Priest. The role of the high priest is to mediate between God and man. Throughout the year, he was to lead in the worship and sacrifices as God’s people worshiped. Once a year he was to enter the Holiest place and offer the sacrifice of atonement for the people. As our great High Priest, Jesus did this once. He offered the perfect sacrifice so that no other sacrifice would ever be required. With this great sacrifice, He opened the way into the throne room of God for all of God’s people. As our great mediator, He invites us in. If we recognize this, we can stand firm in our faith even through life’s most difficult storms. We can hold to our confession of faith.

Even more amazing, Jesus, our great High Priest, endured the pain and suffering that we endure. He is able to sympathize with us in our struggles. He was tempted in every way that we are yet did not sin. Further, this perfect righteousness of Christ was placed on us through faith. This means that when we come to our great High Priest, He experientially understands what we face. He does not mock or ridicule us for our struggles. He does not question why we are not stronger. Instead, He interacts with us sympathetically. He engages our struggle with power. And He comforts us with His love.

If we believe this, then we will come boldly into God’s throne room with our anxiety and our care. We will not come timidly. We will not come as a last resort. Instead, as God’s children, we will come with absolute confidence that God will help because of our great High Priest. And we recognize the promise that we will gain mercy and grace to help in our time of need. The circumstances may not change, but our perspective and strength will change. We will find mercy. God will intervene on our behalf and keep the trial from destroying us. We will find grace. God will grant us the power to thrive in the trial and glorify Him in our response. So today in the midst of life’s struggles, remember you have a great High Priest.

Thankfulness for America – July 2, 2021

Each year at this time, we celebrate the founding of our great country. Any kind of travel around the world quickly reveals that this is indeed a great country. While it is not without its faults and problems, any honest assessment reveals that we have been truly blessed to live here today. So, we celebrate with enthusiasm.

I am thankful for the economy of this country. Capitalism has allowed creativity to thrive and advancements to proceed. The inventions which have made modern life comfortable were largely products of American ingenuity. Not because Americans are smarter, but because the system rewards ingenuity. I am thankful that even the poorest among us are rich by the standards of the world.

I am thankful for our political system. Yes, it seems broken at times. But it does allow the average citizen to participate and have a say. It protects the smallest states. The checks and balances are still working for the most part. And when we disagree with our politicians and express that disagreement, we are not afraid of being arrested. This is not normal in world history.

I am thankful for our religious liberties. The past 200 years are an aberration in world history. We can worship in freedom. While we recognize that this liberty is under assault, we have addressed that in other venues. For the purposes of this letter, I simply want to express gratitude for what we have. Sunday we will gather without fear of persecution. We are not worried that the police will close our doors. I am not worried that I will spend time in prison for what I say on Sunday. We must not take this for granted. And we cannot allow this liberty to make us passive in our worship of God.

I am thankful for those who have fought and died to protect these liberties. These liberties have been costly. Men and women have given their lives for us so that we could continue life as we know it. I want to conclude by saying thank you to them. To the men and women of Cambria who have served our country, thank you. You sacrificed for us. We can never repay that debt. As we celebrate this weekend, we do so because of what you have done for us. May God bless you for your sacrifice. And may God bless America!

Out of the Depths I Call to You – June 25, 2021

Sadness, grief, frustration, and struggle are faux pax in Christianity today. This ought not be the case, for these emotions are often the everyday struggle of believers. The happy-clappy religion of the modern church leaves no place for lamentation. As a result, when the storms of life arise, the faith of many crumbles into the sand on which has been built.

The Bible proposes another way. God feels the infirmities we face and understands our weaknesses. Therefore, in the midst of sadness, grief, frustration, and struggle, God invites us into His holy presence to find shelter. He does not promise that the circumstances will change. He does not promise wealth and ease. But He does promise grace to help in time of need. Many believers in the midst of intense struggle, find an anchor in Psalm 130:

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! 2O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

The Psalmist does not paint a false picture of his situation. He is in the depths of despair. The world closed in around him and he had nowhere to turn. Except to turn to God. His confidence that God would help is rooted in salvation. If God counted our sin, no one would have any hope. We understand our weakness and sin. We recognize our unworthiness. But there is forgiveness with the Lord. And because there is forgiveness with the Lord, there is confidence in His help. God did not save you to forget you. God did not redeem you to lose you. God did not adopt you to desert you. Further, our hope is anchored in the promises of His Word. God promised He would never leave us nor forsake us. God promised that He would supply for our needs.

Yet, these promises do not remove the reality of struggle and trial. So, we must wait for God to work. We must speak the promises of God’s truth to ourselves lest we falter. We continue to look up to the heavens for our help, knowing that He will sustain us and help us. We don’t deny our situation. We don’t pretend that it is better than it is. But, we do so with hope and strength. For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. You can listen to a great musical rendition of this Psalm: I Will Wait for You (Psalm 130) (Official Lyric Video) – Keith & Kristyn Getty – YouTube

The Head of the Church – June 18, 2021

Because all things find their source and sustenance in Christ, He is the authority over all things. This especially includes the church. Over the centuries, churches have fought and even split because individuals believed that they were the power in the church. Some were well meaning, others were vindictive. However, in each case, they failed to submit themselves to the true head of the Church. The church belongs to Christ.

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent (Colossians 1:18). The Church is Christ’s body. We have been chosen and fashioned into the image of Christ. For the world to see Christ, they must look to the church. Yet not only is the church Christ’s body, Christ is the head of his body. As we consider the operation of the head, we recognize that this means that life, instruction, guidance, and authority come from Christ.  

The ramifications of this concept are vast. First, this means that we cannot operate the body (the church) any way that we want. We must subject all operations to the will and desires of Christ. We are not free to change and tinker with worship. We are not free to make our corporate worship whatever we want it to be. As the head, Christ dictates what we do. Thankfully, He has revealed these desires in His Word. In His Word, we discover that we are commanded to sing the Word, read the Word, pray the Word, preach the Word, and picture the Word through the ordinances. Everything centers on the Word (written and Incarnate). Every decision we make must be founded in the Word. The question is not, “What do we think should happen?” But “What does God’s Word say on this subject?”

Second, this means that we must interact with one another as one body. We are not a collection of individuals gathered together, but members of one body. For the body to be healthy, we must function in unity with one another as we follow the commands of the Head. This means that you have a vital role to play for the health of the body.

Third, this means that in any conflict, we seek Christ overall. We submit to the commands of Christ in His Word. We seek to glorify God in the way that we resolve the conflict. Our desires don’t matter. Only the desires of Christ. So, we bath each situation in prayer and the Word. We interact with humility. We are swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. We think the best of one another. While we exhort one another, we do not do so as the judge, but as the brother and sister in Christ. We love one another.

Finally, it means that church is not about you. Today’s entertainment culture has made church about the emotional stimulation of the individual. We come to church and determine the success of the service based on the feelings it produced. The songs must be emotionally manipulative, the sermon must be short and uplifting, The pews must be soft, the air-conditioning must be on, and comfort is king. However, this is not the way that we learned Christ. Church is all about Him. There will be times that the singing and preaching do not uplift, but convict and cause unease. But, as we draw close to Christ, we begin to love the Word. As a result, we love Word centered singing, praying, preaching, and reading. The church is about Christ, not about you or me! He is the head, not you or me! And that is a good thing.