Tag Archives: god

God Doesn’t Use Bubble Wrap


Have you ever seen a parent that hovers and smothers? This kind of parent protects their children from everything that might happen to them. Ever. If they had their way, they would wrap their children in bubble wrap before sending them anywhere.  They don’t want their children out of their sight. 

Maybe you’re that kind of parent. There are times and places where that is not unreasonable, but for most circumstances children need the freedom to be able to make mistakes and even suffer some scrapes and bruises. 

Mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn. But we only learn from these mistakes when we have the proper attitude. 

God is called our Father. He is good. He is the definition of good. Yet he doesn’t rescue us from all our mistakes and situations we find ourselves in. 

Sometimes we wonder why he allows bad things to happen to his children! This is because he isn’t the smothering, controlling God. He’s the loving God who uses each circumstance to help us grow. 

Lessons thrust upon us by outsiders may be intellectually learned, but lessons learned through our own experiences are typically much longer lasting. We learn by experience naturally. We learned to walk by trying to walk. We learn how to communicate with others by communicating and seeing responses from others. We learn what not to do often by doing it first and reaping the consequences. 

God says to endure hardship as discipline. This isn’t because God wants to punish you. It is because he wants you to grow in perspective so that you may learn from each situation you create or find yourself in. In doing so we grow. 

As we grow in our perspective and ability to learn in every circumstance, then the promise from Romans 8:28 comes true: He works all things for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose. 

How do you respond in hard times? Do you wish God were more controlling and protective? Can you see the health in His allowing you to grow through your experiences?  As we endure we find patience, persistence, perspective, compassion for others, capacity to help others, identity, personality, coping skills, contentment, and many others traits necessary for joy in this life. 

God isn’t punishing you. He loves you and wants you to grow through your situation. And He has promised to never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). So keep moving forward. This too shall pass. And if you allow yourself to grow in it, this situation can help you become the kind of person God wants you to be. 


Who’s Your Daddy?

Several years ago I was introduced to a book that would shape the way I think about grace and love and God. It is one of the top four books I’ve ever read, and ever so often I revisit the book to find encouragement. This March, a movie will be released that is based on this book, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. 
What’s the book?  The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. 

Even though this is one of my favorite books, it is causing quite a stir in the Christian community especially because of how he book portrays God.  This book, when you first meet God, portrays him as an overweight black woman named, Papa. 

How does that affect you? 

So much of our culture emphasizes the masculine. We talk about God as Father and King and rightly so. We refer to God as “him” as the bible does. But could God portray himself as a woman?

In order for us to fully understand the concept of God, we must remember that God created man and woman. There is no way on earth a man could comprehend a woman enough to create one. They’re just too enigmatic to us guys. The Creator, by necessity of the concept, must transcend the limitations of his creation. God is not a man, nor is he limited to our concepts of manhood.

God is not physical at all. The scripture says that God is Spirit (John 4:24). In the Hebrew, the word for spirit is “Ruah”, a feminine word. In fact, in this book/movie, the Holy Spirit will show itself as a woman. 

In order for women to be made “in the image of God”, they must display the attributes of God. The things that you think of as feminine personality characteristics are throughout scripture as characteristics of God – not merely manly characteristics. Characteristics like love, nurture, and compassion are traditionally associated with women in our earthly culture. 

So, I don’t have a problem with this book allowing God to portray himself as a woman if the situation calls for that manifestation (spoiler: later in the story, he switches back to the elderly father-look).

What’s the point? God, Jehovah, is God because he is grander than our ability to comprehend. His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). His foolishness (if that even makes sense) is wiser than man’s greatest wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:25). He existed before there were the constraints of our universe, including time. He is an other-dimensional being that we cannot fully comprehend. If we could, he would cease to be God. 

Every time humans try to put limits on God – put Him in a box – He breaks the box. There are no limits to His grace and love, though many have tried to say there is. He doesn’t sleep or get tired (that gives different perspective on the need for the seventh day – rest – in Genesis 2). He is the God of the universe, above the universe, who holds the whole world in His hands. 

That’s my Heavenly Father. That’s my Papa. And just like a kid comparing his dad to others’, I can’t accept any lesser God to take his place. 

So, who’s your daddy? The limitless God, or some idol concocted by tradition. Mine is Jehovah. 


Thank God for the Rain

  So much of the outcome of our daily lives is determined by our perspective. 

When Jody and I were getting married we had a beautiful service planned. We had picked out a great spot in a park with a huge gazebo.  We got chairs and decorations for everyone to sit on the grass out front while Jody and I, the minister, and the bridal party stood in the gazebo. This set up would allow for us to have a sound system so that I could sing while Jody was being escorted down the aisle. It was a picture-perfect plan. 

Then it rained. 

It didn’t just rain a little. We had been in a drought that year, and it was like God was saving all the rain for our wedding day. I kept thinking about that line in an Alanis Morissette song, “it’s like raaaain on your wedding day”.

We were going to take pictures before the wedding after a private moment between Jody and me, but instead of taking our pictures on a sunny day in a beautiful park with a gorgeous gazebo, we took pictures in the hotel lobby. Jody and I were already planning on being barefoot, but now the whole female side of the wedding party was going to have to go shoeless. I drove to every store I could think of to find umbrellas for the wedding party that would match the girls’ dresses (which I miraculously found). 

When the time came for the wedding the guests had to stand in the gazebo. With us. Crowded together in an intimate ceremony. Instead of singing while Jody was escorted down the aisle, I had to wait until we were face to face and sing.  The bridal party even had to jump a small, newly formed creek just to get to the gazebo. 

When the minister began to speak he said something I’ll never forget. “In Africa, rain is always a blessing.” 

Jody and I still think it was the most beautiful wedding we could have had. We love the rain. 

Lately it’s been raining. A lot. Since we live in the desert we are overjoyed at the rain, but it doesn’t bring joy for all people. Some people can’t stand the rain. Some people get depressed when it rains. Some people get frustrated that their plans have to change when it rains. 

It’s all a matter of perspective. 

In Jesus we are called to have a perspective shift. When the storms of life rage around us we have the Holy Spirit living inside us as a guide through the storm. When we’ve created the storm we have a God who loves us and has promised to turn everything for our good because we love Him. 

He has not promised to take away the storms, but He wants to help us have a more positive perspective within them. Remember, God invented rainbows, but you don’t get those without first enduring the rain. 


Wearing a T-shirt to a Black Tie Affair



Respect is an idea that is becoming more uncommon in our world. As parents behave like teenagers and raise their children to be even less mature it is a struggle to teach kids basic manners of respecting their elders or even respecting the atmosphere to which they have been invited. 

What would happen if you were invited to have dinner with the governor? Imagine you showed up to this formal event wearing your most comfortable shorts and t-shirt. Would that not give an air of disrespect to the sanctity of the event? Then, when greeted by the governor you refused to shake his or her hand or even acknowledge his or her presence. How long would you expect to be allowed to remain at that dinner?

This concept is not hard.  It is not a foreign concept that has to be militaristicly taught to the upcoming generations. It merely needs to be modeled and then expected. 

Within our churches many have created a much more relaxed atmosphere. God looks at the heart and not the outward appearance.  I believe this is good and creates the inviting atmosphere needed for people to feel comfortable coming and learning about and experiencing Jesus. 

One of the concepts that we trend toward losing in our desire to be colloquial is that of reverence and honor before the Lord. 

When we sing, we are singing to Jehovah, the Creator, in His presence. When we study, we are studying the very words of God. When we see our brothers and sisters, we are encountering those who have been clothed with Christ and in whom lives the Spirit. When we partake of communion, we are partaking of the body and blood that was shed for our sins by the One who Created us. 

Malachi 1:6 says this:

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. (NIV)

When we come together we should be showing our children what reverence looks like. If they do not understand it, then we should be instructing them in the ways of honoring the Lord. 

God accepts us where we are, but He doesn’t leave us there. He wants us to grow in our understanding. He wants us to grow into the image of His Son. “Outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10 ESV).”

Next time you’re in worship with your brothers and sisters pour out your heart. Worship the Lord with all of your might. Remember what He  has done and is doing for you every day, and show your children what it means to honor the Lord. God isn’t looking for your suit and tie, but He is looking for your heart of reverence toward Him, and He’s looking to us to instill that mindset and heart of reverence in our children as well. 


Who am I to preach?

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I’m a sinner.

Every day I struggle with thoughts of anger and resentment. Sin is constantly trying to get me to fall into its greedy temptations, and many times I fall.

I’m not perfect.

People often expect the preacher to be better than everyone else, but I’m not. I struggle with grudges and addiction. I am not a man to be placed on a pedestal. I am a man who wants to walk with you not above you.

People think that the preacher must always have great faith, but, to be honest, sometimes I struggle. Yes, I do come back to a remembrance of all the glorious things that have happened in my life that can only be explained by God’s handiwork, but that doesn’t mean I’m strong every day.

I struggle with depression and stress and anxiety. I struggle with people who don’t see things my way.

I struggle with selfishness.

If you’re looking for the perfect preacher, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I need the grace and forgiveness of Jesus as much or more so than anyone reading this.

But I am forgiven.

I have given my life to Jesus, and though not all of my life looks like that of Jesus it is no less offered to Him.

I have been saved by the grace of Jesus, and I get the chance to start anew each day through the gift of repentance and forgiveness.

That is why I preach. I preach because I know how badly I need a Savior, and I know how great my Savior truly is. I preach because despite my selfishness I still have genuine love for those around me and want to see them receive the same gift I have been given.

I preach because the blood of Jesus didn’t just cover my sins from yesterday, but it covers my sins today and tomorrow and forever. I preach because I want to live foreverin the warmth of the love that is the presence of God in heaven. I preach because I want you to be there with me celebrating that glorious rest.

I preach because there is nothing else in the world I could think of doing. It is like a fire shut up in my bones (Jeremiah 20:9)..

I preach because I understand that nothing good lives in me, but the Holy Spirit in me brings out whatever good there is. I preach because I know that God doesn’t expect me to be perfect – He just wants me to be willing.

I preach because I love being a part of the plan of God to bring you and others to the cross and the empty tomb. I preach because I am addicted to watching people’s sins be forgiven as they connect with Jesus’ death and resurrection through their baptism (Romans 6)

I hope you can accept a flawed preacher. I hope you will allow me to walk with you as we both strive to love God, love others, and become more like Jesus. I pray that you preach too (Philemon 6).


Falling Christians

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Have you ever been around a child who is absolutely sure they know everything? They correct everyone around them, even adults. They look at others with a huff of disgust as they realize the other person doesn’t know something they think is so simple. They are constantly spouting facts to make themselves look intelligent.

When you think of these kinds of people what words come to mind? Arrogant, conceited, proud, condescending, spoiled, self-centered?

Usually these people can’t even see what they are doing and how they are behaving because their need to be right supersedes their ability to consider others. Well meaning young people with no sense of humility.

I’m reminded of what Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, once said:

Proverbs 16:18
Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.

As we examine our own lives we often find that we easily fall into this same attitude as adults. We are called to seek God, and the more we study and spend time with Him the more we realize just how little we know. The more we understand our sin, the more we realize just how benevolent and generous the grace and forgiveness of God really is.

Yet there is still an attitude among some church people today that is full of the kind of arrogance that scripture warns about time and time again. It is the arrogance of thinking we have it all figured out, and we know how to do this just right.

It is important for us to have standards and beliefs upon which we stand, but we also have to have an attitude of humility that is able to see that some don’t understand things the same way we do and that’s OK.

As you study scripture you see that some things are essentials, but many things that church people argue about are not. Salvation is essential, but Sunday morning dress code isn’t. Following Christ is essential, but having the right name on the door to the church is not. Worshipping God is essential, but the bible lists a variety of ways in which we do that with all of our being. Unity of the church is essential, but uniformity is not.

If we sit in judgment over another brother or sister then we have dethroned God and put ourselves in His place. He is the judge. We are called to love. We are called to serve. We are called to be selfless.

Some people think they have the right doctrine, but they can’t see the inconsistencies to which they themselves hold. They are busy pointing out the minute things others are doing wrong while ignoring the fact that Jesus got more angry about the arrogant religious people than the humble sinners. In their self-perceived spiritual maturity they don’t realize that they are being more immature than those they’re judging.

Some people think that just because a church has the “correct” name on the building then they are the true church. That too is arrogance. Again, we judge the hearts and motives of others whom we do not know just because they attend a church with a name different than ours.

Paul says this in Romans 12:3:
“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

We must remember that Christ came and brought division, but only in families where some wanted to follow him and others didn’t. He came to bring unity to the church, and that is what he prayed for fervently in john 17. We cannot set ourselves as judge over another’s intentions, heart or even salvation and still maintain the unity of the body. Our job is to teach the truth. We can’t force people to listen, but we can love them no matter what.

The next time you see someone in church acting a way you think is in error check your attitude. Are you loving or condemning? Then pray for yourself and that other person that unity can prevail in spite of differences. Finally, go spend time serving and loving that person.

The church should be defined by its love and humility – not by its arrogance and judgmental attitudes. May you grow in your ability to love God, love Others, and be like Jesus.


The Politics of Jesus: His Real Message

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I’m writing this on Election Week. All over the country people will be flocking to the polls to vote for the person they think will best run their country, state, and county. It is a grand privilege and right of every American to exercise the freedom to vote. I hope you did.

Thinking about elections, however, makes me think about Jesus.

What did He preach? Many people think that Jesus went around merely preaching that people should do good and doing good himself. When people think about Jesus they regard him as a nice man who taught many good philosophies on how to live life to the fullest. They think of all the miracles he did and are amazed at the power.

Many people think Jesus went around preaching that people should come to him. I mean, isn’t that what most churches are preaching these days? People should turn to Jesus. It’s almost like we think he was campaigning for three years. Vote for Jesus!

Look at the central event of his life – his crucifixion. Why was he crucified? Would people kill someone for doing good and being nice? Would people put someone on trial for obvious miracles? Would people kill a man preaching about philosophies of peace and unity and “love your enemy”?

No. Jesus wasn’t crucified for any of these things.

Perhaps Jesus was preaching a message of salvation to everyone that was different from the religions of the world? Maybe he was killed because of the religious implications of the messages he taught. No, this is not the case, either.

Jesus had one central sermon in his ministry, and it was the same message as his cousin, John.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Mark 1:15)

Jesus was crucified because he was preaching a kingdom that was different than any other kingdom of the day. Indeed, it is different than any kingdom that exists today.

The Jewish leaders didn’t like it because it presented a different role for them. In this kingdom they didn’t have the power to manipulate and control the lower people. In this kingdom the people truly had freedom. In this kingdom, religion wasn’t as important as they had made it out to be. Their presuppositions on how a person had to live in order to serve God were shattered.

The Roman leaders didn’t like this kingdom either. Sure, this was a peaceful movement, but the Caesar was the king of the known world. How dare they claim another king and claim allegiance to another kingdom. That was treason!

Over and over Jesus preached this message of the kingdom. Then, when he was crucified, Pilate had his title posted over his head on the cross: “King of the Jews”.

For centuries people have taught about this kingdom, but many get it wrong. Many people are waiting for the kingdom to be established when Jesus comes back and reigns on the earth for a thousand years. This is very similar to what the Jews were looking for in their messiah. However, Jesus tried to correct them over and over.

At one time someone asked Jesus where the kingdom will be, and Jesus taught that it wasn’t a physical kingdom. Rather, it was among and within the people who were the citizens. This was a kingdom with no borders.

Another time Jesus urged the people to watch for the kingdom because it would come before those who were there listening to Jesus would die. So, either the kingdom is here, or there are some really old people still living somewhere on the planet.

In Colossians 1, Paul reminds them that they have already been brought into the kingdom.

So, if you’ve been washed by the blood of the lamb, then you are no longer a citizen of the country you live in. Your primary residence is in the kingdom of heaven. But that residency starts now. You are called to live as that citizen with God as your King.

You are promised the kingdom as your inheritance. You are princes and princesses with Jesus of the kingdom. Jesus is your brother, and God is your Father.

As you plan and prepare for your time as a citizen of whatever country you live in, remember that it is a tertiary residency. Your primary allegiance is to the Father, your King. How you live here and now should reflect that.

May you live as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, and may your life reflect that citizenship. Blessings to you, the citizens of God’s kingdom.


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