My Lighthouse

The ocean is incredible.

Out of all of God’s amazing creation (human beings aside), I would argue that the ocean is my favorite. Mountains are spectacular, forests are beautiful, prairies are elegant, deserts and canyons are really neat, but none of those environments fill me a sense of overwhelmed joy that the ocean does. I am captivated by the sound and spray of waves, and I could contently sit and stare for hours.

I am a Midwesterner born and bred. So, admittedly, my experience with the ocean is far less than my experience with flat land, corn fields, and rivers. Nevertheless, I think it is safe to say that I have fallen in love with the sea.

But as beautiful as the ocean is, it is just as dangerous. In fact, its beauty oftentimes hides its true peril.

For centuries sailors have fearlessly sailed the oceans, navigated through storms, and charted coastlines. Through it all their greatest ally was always the lighthouse.

Shining in the dark, a lighthouse was a fierce and yet, welcomed reminder of the imminent danger that the sailors knew was there, but could not see for themselves.

Lighthouses keep people alive.

I have a lighthouse, so to speak. My lighthouse actually calls Himself the light of the world and promises that whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness, but instead, will have the light of life. (John 8:12)

Jesus shines brightly in the darkness that surrounds me. He keeps me away from the danger that I can see, as well as the danger that I cannot see. And He guides me safely so that I can have rest.

Lighthouses keep people alive. Jesus makes people alive.

Friends, I don’t mean to sound preachy here by any means. But life, just like the ocean can be incredibly and wonderfully beautiful. But it is also just as dangerous. In fact, life is more dangerous than we may even comprehend, and I am not just talking about physical danger. There are emotional and spiritual dangers that are always lurking before us and we will crash into them if we do not look to the lighthouse to guide our way.

We need Jesus to guard and guide our hearts, minds, words, and steps if we are ever going to thrive in this life.

We need to look to Jesus because He will not and cannot lead us astray. And His light cannot be dimmed.

After all, as one of my favorite verses tells us, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

Jesus is trustworthy and true. He is the light.

What or who are you looking to?

Believing The Bible

The Bible is full of incredible events, people, and transcendent truths. It tells of God’s unfailing and unchanging love for people, and of His incredible freely-given grace.

The Bible, as God’s own Word, is inerrant (contains no errors) and infallible (incapable of containing errors of being wrong) in its original manuscripts, and it is authoritative in our lives.

2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” One of the keywords in that verse is the word “all.” There have been some who have come to think that the Bible is a mere collection of helpful stories or ideas some of which may be true, others, however, not so much.

The idea is that there are some stories which are just too hard to believe because they are too fantastical or too imaginative. “Surely a sea could not be split in two. Surely a donkey is incapable of speaking. Surely a man cannot rise from the dead…wait, no we like that last one.”

Nope. It’s all of it or none of it.

You see, we cannot just pick and choose parts of the Bible that are easy to digest and only believe them. We must be consistent. If we believe part of it, we must believe the whole.

For example, some have begun to believe that Adam was not a true historical figure, instead, the thought is that he was some sort of allegory. The idea behind this thinking is that it is easier to believe that the human race came from a group of people rather than from just one man. Now, it is not my intention here to fully debunk the allegory theory, but rather to remind us of the interconnectedness of the Bible.

With that said, one problem with thinking that Adam was not a real historical person is that in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 we find these words, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”

It becomes quite clear that the first man talked about in verse 21 is Adam. His real-life choice to sin against God brought about sin, death, and destruction for all of mankind. And that rebellious choice thrust us all into sinful separation from God.

But then, the second man, Jesus Christ, came and His life, death, and resurrection undid all the harm that was done by Adam. (*Insert Amen-Halleluja here*) Because of Christ, there can now be life and eternal relationship with God. If Adam did not exist as a real historical person then it becomes unnecessary for Christ to come in order to undo what was done, since Adam would not have sinned if he was simply an allegory.

Scripture is interconnected.

The parts that we may think are not as easily verified need to be trusted and paid attention to just as much as the parts that are “easily” historically verified. All Scripture is equal in its authenticity and authority.

If we want to believe the words, “for God so loved the world that He gave His only son,” then we also must believe the words, “then the Lord God formed the man from the dust.”

Tim Keller has a wonderful quote about the believability of the incredible miracles that we read about in the Bible. He says, “We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order. The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it… Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming.”

What an amazing thought. I pray that God would reorient our hearts and mind to see things the way He intends us to see them. And that He would give us greater faith to take Him at His word.

“But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” -Matthew 19:26

When You Bump Your Head

Do you remember the feelings of frustration, determination, and excitement as you took your first steps?

Of course, you don’t. Well, more than likely you don’t remember that far back.

For those of us that don’t remember learning to walk, it’s good to remember that it was a bit of a bumpy and difficult process. God really knew what He was doing when He created babies to have a little extra junk in their trunk in order to support all the falls.

My nephew has been walking for about a month now. It has been awesome to see his legs become steadier and his falls become a tad less frequent. But he still trips, he still stumbles, and he still utilizes his built-in cushion quite a bit.

It is neat to see his confidence grow though. We have this game we play, I walk somewhere and he follows me, it’s simple and silly but it’s the most fun thing in the world to him.

I was watching him follow me down the hallway, and when he saw that I was watching, his smile grew, and he began to pick up speed. He was booking it! Faster and faster straight towards my open arms. It was at the exact moment that he was just barely still out of my reach that he suddenly swayed back and lost his balance. Normally this would not be a big deal but because of his excess speed, he went down harder and faster than expected. His little legs went flying up in the air as he tumbled backward and all I could hear was the gut-punching sound of his head hitting the floor.

A half a second later, tears.

I scooped him up, grabbed an ice pack, and hugged him tightly.

After a few moments he calmed down, tears/snot was wiped away, and he snuggled into my arms. I thought, “ok, well that’s the end of that for now.”

But what happened next surprised and inspired me. He started to wiggle.

With a smile, he wiggled until I finally put him back down on the floor. The instant his feet touched the ground he was off again. He triumphantly power walked right past the spot he had fallen and continued to move undeterred and unafraid.

A few minutes later he fell again, but that beside the point.

The point is, he didn’t let a hard fall take him out of the game.

Too often in life, we let hard falls take us out of the game.

Life is messy and frustrating and hurtful. It is pretty much guaranteed that we will bump our head a time or two or hundred. But what really matters is how we respond to that bump.

Do we shrink away? Do we get angry? Do we blame others? Do we feel sorry for ourselves? Or do we trust in God to pick us back up and keep moving forward?

In the book of Philippians, Paul, who was knocked down plenty of times, by the way, talks about pressing on towards the ultimate and final goal.

“…I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul had been broken and beaten down time after time again, but he did not allow bumps on the head (or even his accomplishments for that matter) to keep him from straining towards the goal. He got back up and continued to be used by God. He got back up, kept his eye focused on Jesus, and shared the good news of God’s love.

When you bump your head don’t give up. Allow God to scoop you up. Keep moving forward. Keep straining forward to what lies ahead. Press on to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16–18)

Pride Comes Before The Card Game

I am not perfect.

I hope that is not ground-breaking news to you.

Each week, and day for that matter, it is apparent that I am still in process. Thankfully God loves to work in and through us, in-process-people. God will use small things/events in our lives in order to refine us and develop our character.

Ultimately, the goal is that each day we look more like Jesus than we did the previous day.

Just a few days ago my wife and I were invited to a good friend’s house for a game night. Our friends introduced us to a new card game we have never played before. We were all a bit hyper and having loads of fun. After the first round, I still didn’t fully understand the game, but there was one thing that was crystal clear. I was winning….by a lot.

Now, I need to explain something for a moment. I am a tad bit of what you might call a “competitive person.” With that being said, for a couple of years now I have been working very hard to become less competitive. Sometimes with success, sometimes not so much. The other night was one of those “not so much” nights.

After I won the first round I made sure to let everyone around the table know about it. We were already having a fun time, but I made sure to let everyone know that I was, in fact, having just a bit more fun than everyone else. After the next round, I was still in the lead and it seemed near impossible that the outcome would be anything but my ultimate victory.

I was feeling good, I was bragging, my pride was oozing out.

And that’s when it happened. I lost the next three rounds. And when I say “I lost the next three rounds” I really mean to say, every bad and negative thing that could happen to someone in the game only happened to me during those three rounds.

In a matter of minutes, I went from “there is no way I can lose” to, “there is absolutely no way I can win.”

As I began to sulk I remembered Proverbs 16:18. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” And also, 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” And Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”

Talk about a wake-up call. If I was able to get so prideful of a couple of short rounds of a game, what other things in life am I capable of becoming prideful in an ungodly and unhealthy way? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say, I’m not the only one who has had a realization like this.

Pride is so dangerous because it leads us to think that we can stand on our own strength, and it causes us to selfishly keep glory that we do not deserve. Well, we cannot stand on our own strength, we are incapable of doing anything of eternal significance on our own strength alone. Additionally, God alone deserves all the glory and honor, there is nothing that we are, or have done, that hasn’t been given to/done for us by God.

Pride lies to us and tells us that we are doing okay and don’t need anyone else. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We are so much weaker than we realize. We need others and above all, we need God.

There is no room for pride in the life of a person who is fully devoted to God. We need to do better. I need to do better. Thankfully, God gives us little reminders and teaches us small lessons during card games to show us how we need to grow. Let’s pay attention to those lessons and allow God to be at work in our hearts.

Lord, tear down our pride and make us more like Jesus.

“To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” -1 Timothy 1:17