Spring Snow

I don’t care what the weather says…it is spring.

The calendar doesn’t lie, Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 was the official first day of Spring.

For many people across the country that is very welcomed news. However, those same people might be having a hard time believing that Spring has indeed sprung. I recently heard someone say in passing, “the weather didn’t get the memo.”

It’s hard to think about the things that define Spring; baseball, tulips, and grass that is actually green when there is still snow falling from the sky. Now, let’s be fair…this kinda happens every year, at least in the Midwest. So, with that in mind, we really shouldn’t be surprised. In fact, shame on us for expecting anything different.

Personally, I am in no hurry to usher in allergy season. However, I can still understand and sympathize with those who look longingly towards the warmer weather.

It can be an extremely frustrating thing when, even though you can see the start of the next season, you just can’t quite grasp it yet. And yes, I’m still talking about the weather, but I’m also kind of not.

You see, looking forward to the future and the sunny days that it brings can be a very healthy and helpful thing to do. The problem, however, is when that is the only thing we do.

When we only look forward to what is to come, we actually might miss some of the extraordinary things happening right in front of us. Like the strangely beautiful juxtaposition of fresh snowfall on newly budded flowers. Or a well-used snow shovel propped up against a lawn chair. Or even the fearless bit of green that pokes up from the frost covered dirt.

We cannot forget to be faithful to the present as we look forward to the future.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, this is something that I must continually remind myself of. Jesus said in the Bible that He would, one day, return to gather His church, home to Heaven with Him. Jesus told His disciples, “don’t be troubled… I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself.” (John 14:1-3)

In the book of Acts when Jesus ascended into heaven angels spoke to the disciples and said, “why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

And Jesus, Himself, told His disciples, and subsequently, all who follow Him after, that they are to be His witnesses. And in Matthew 28 He commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Jesus promises eternity in Heaven for all who believe in Him. The wonder and magnitude of that alone is incomprehensible. And yet, we are still here…on earth. Why? Because there is still work to be done. There are still people who need to know about the love and life that Jesus gives.

And so, we need to be faithful while we wait.

I would encourage you to have this same approach to the seasons in your life, those that are weather-related and those that are not. Faithfulness in the present, alongside expectations of the future, are two things that can actually coexist. But we must be diligent not to only focus on one over the other. If we only focus on the snow on the ground, then we can easily miss the greenery underneath. But if we only focus on the coming greenery then we forget our responsibilities in the present-like shoveling snow and putting the grill cover on.

So, once again, let us be faithful while we wait and trust in God’s timing. …Besides, it’ll probably snow again in May anyway.

Your “Insignificance” Matters

There are many people, chances are that you are one of them, who walk through life feeling insignificant at one time or another.  We feel this way because, for the most part, we are. Ouch.

This is a very frustrating reality for a majority of us who crave to “make a name for ourselves.” But I got good news, our insignificance is okay. In fact, our insignificance matters more than we realize. You could say, our insignificance is actually really significant.

I want to take a moment and tell you about an insignificant guy. His name was Edward and he lived a long time ago. If you were to Google his first and last name looking for a biography you wouldn’t find all that much. Most stories about Edward would start with the fact that he was an ordinary, run of the mill, dry goods salesman who was talked into teaching a Sunday School class at his church.

Well, this ordinary salesman taught his class of teenage boys faithfully, even when they acted like…teenage boys. He loved his class and prayed for each of them to come to know Jesus. He was never applauded for teaching his class. No one ever gave him an award or graduated him to the “big leagues” of teaching an adult Sunday School class.

God did use Edward, however, because he led at least one teen boy (probably more) to Christ. That teenager’s name? Dwight. Thanks to Edward’s faithfulness Dwight trusted in Jesus for his salvation and began to grow in love with his God. Dwight developed a passion for reaching people with the good news of the Gospel.

Dwight became relentless in his evangelism and his commitment to serving God. At an event that Dwight was speaking at, a man named John Wilber decided to put his trust in Jesus Christ.

Since the Gospel is contagious, and since John Wilber couldn’t stop talking about his Savior, Jesus, soon after another man, Billy, put his trust in Jesus thanks to J. Wilber’s sharing. The newly converted Billy went on to become a very famous evangelist. And at one of Billy’s gospel crusades, a man named Mordecai decided to put his trust in Jesus.

Mordecai also decided that he needed to share the Gospel with anyone and everyone who would listen. One person who listened was another young man named Billy. From that day forward Billy dedicated his life to serving Jesus with everything he had. He faithfully served his Savior up until he went home to see his God on February 21, 2018.

So, in case you got lost, here is the chain of events described above.

Edward Kimball led Dwight Lyman (D.L.) Moody, the most impactful evangelist of the 19th century, to Christ.

Moody hosted and spoke at a Gospel rally where J. Wilber Chapman came to know Jesus.

Chapman led Billy Sunday, an evangelist so influential that even Frank Sinatra sang about him, to Jesus and mentored him.

Billy Sunday spoke at that Gospel meeting and his preaching influenced Mordecai Ham to trust Jesus.

Mordecai Ham began to hold Gospel crusades. It was at one of those crusaded where Billy Graham, the most impactful evangelist of the 20th century, who preached the Gospel to literally millions of people, decided to trust in Jesus as his Savior.

Thank you, Edward, for your faithfulness. Thank you, Edward, for not being afraid of insignificance.

Your insignificance matters. You may not be the next D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday, or Billy Graham, but that is OK. We need more Edwards. It’s very clear that God uses the Edwards of the world. God can use YOU.

No matter how insignificant your day to day life might seem I can assure you, it is significant.

There is no telling what kind of impact on eternity you can have if you would just be faithful in doing what God has instructed you to do.

Romans 10:14

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

Don’t miss your chance to let God use you. Make the most of every opportunity, even if it seems insignificant.

Transforming Society

Chances are that this last week, whether on the news or in a casual conversation, you heard the questions; Why did this happen? and What can we do?

The answers to those questions are both very complicated and yet plainly simple.

This, along with every other mind-numbing tragedy, happened because of sin. And what can we do? A lot.

Before you read on I would challenge you to stop for a moment and pray. Pray for all of those who have been impacted personally by the horrific events of last week. I would also encourage you to pray for the transformation of our society of which has become numb to death and destruction.

It is saddening to see “shares” on social media of numbers of deaths caused by guns vs. drunk drivers vs. knives vs. etc. Giving into those arguments only continues to make us numb. I fear that we have gotten to a place where we forget that there are real people behind each of those numbers represented. Human life is worth more than that.

Laws are important, but I do not want to get into any sort of debate here. The reason is that neither the right nor the left have the remedy for what ails us. That remedy only comes in one form and one form only. His name is Jesus.

Jesus is the centerpiece of the Bible and He carries with Him the message and the mission of the Bible: redemption. In simpler terms, God heals what is broken.

Our society is broken. Our neighbors, co-workers, families, and friends are all broken. We are broken. Jesus can fix that.

2 Corinthians 5:17 promises that if anyone belongs to Jesus they have been made new.

Ephesians 2 tells us that we can be transformed from death to life because of God’s great love.

Romans 5:6-8 reminds us that Jesus welcomes us in our weakest, ugliest, and worst states.

So, what are we, those who have been transformed by the love of Jesus, to do in the midst of times such as these? We do what Jesus always intended for us, the church, to do.

We transform society. (Matthew 5:13-16)

We shine so that others may see. (Matt 5:16)

We don’t conform but rather allow the Holy Spirit to transform us. (Romans 12:2)

We remember where we come from. (John 17:16)

We stand up against what is wrong. (Daniel 1 & 3)

We remember what our mission is. (John 17:15 &23)

We remember who is with us on this mission. (Matthew 28:18-20)

We tell others what Jesus came to do. (Luke 19:10)

We walk what we talk. (James 1:19-27)

We trust God to make beauty from ashes. (Genesis 50:20)

One of my favorite Missions organizations (Send me a message if you’re interested in finding out which one and I will tell you all about them!) has an incredible missions statement. Here are my favorite parts of it.  “A movement of God…that finds its home in the local church and transforms society.”

I love that statement so much because a movement of God that is fueled by local churches and transforms society can and should happen anywhere. Whether we are here or there, God can and will use us, His church, to impact the world around us. Imagine what could happen if believers everywhere began to focus all their time, effort, and energy on transforming society. We transform society by telling people about Jesus and by living our own lives like He did.

We can’t afford to not tell people about Jesus. We can’t afford to not live for and like Jesus. The people around us can’t afford it either.

Revelations 21:3-6

Come soon Lord Jesus.

Love Love Love

I love pizza. I love The Bulls. I love winter. I love my wife. I love donuts.

One of these things is not like the others.

We talk about love a lot, or at least we say the word “love” a lot. We talk about the things that we love, the places we love, the characters on our favorite T.V. show that are now “in love.” But I fear that in our love-soaked speech we have actually missed, or at least heavily diluted the true meaning of love. We have overused the word without actually understanding what it means, or who it should be connected to.

So, with that in mind, here are a few verses that will help remind us of the true meaning and true reality of love.

John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

Jesus did just that, He died for us showing greater love to us than we deserve, which leads into the verse below.

Romans 5:8 – “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

At just the right time, while we were His enemies, while we were weak, while we were completely unlovable…Jesus loved us in the most powerful of ways.

1 John 4:7-8 – “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love.”

If we have been impacted by God’s love, then it ought to be evident in our lives.

1 John 4:19 – “We love because He first loved us.”

We can only understand what true love is because God first showed us that true love.

Today, I had the privilege of preaching the good news of the Gospel, the good news of Jesus’ love, at Pacific Garden Mission. It’s a wonderful ministry that serves men, women, and children who find themselves in the midst of some of life’s hardest circumstances. (If you would like to know more about this rescue mission click here.)

Today, as I shared the good news I, of course, focused on the word love. It’s fitting since Valentine’s day is right around the corner. (Hint-hint, guys it’s tomorrow and yes, you’re welcome for the reminder.) The encouraging thing is that God doesn’t need a special day out of the year to profess His love for us, and He certainly doesn’t need a reminder.

Anyway, while I was down at the mission I was reminded of this incredible truth; that no matter who you are, no matter what your background, God loves you. God loves people who are struggling with homelessness just as much as those who are sitting in mansions. God loves us and none of us, myself included, deserve it.

We cannot afford to think about love without thinking about God. We are foolish if we talk about love without talking about the cross. And we cannot understand love without understanding what Jesus did for us.

So, I hope that this little blog of mine impacts the way that you think about love. I hope that we can even rethink the ways in which we use the word. It’s not just a word that we should use flippantly, nor is it something that we should take for granted. Love is a gift from God. Love is what Jesus did on the cross. God is love.

Romans 8:38-39

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Also, to be clear, I love my wife waaaaaay more than I “love” donuts. 😉