What Can We Do At A Time Like This

I don’t want to write about the Coronavirus.

I’m sure you don’t want to read about it (more than you need to) either.

So, the only time you will see that word in this post is there in that first sentence. However, there are so many things that need to be talked about. We need to think deeply about the issues and circumstances in which we find ourselves.

As Christians, how we act and react right now matters more than ever.

So, in order to speed up the reading process, since I am sure any moment now there will be another press conference or breaking news article, I will list my thoughts in bullet-point form.

As believers in Jesus Christ

  • We will not fear.
  • We need to use wisdom.
  • We need to love our neighbors.
  • We need to be proactive and not reactive.
  • We must use this time to talk about the Hope that is within us.
  • We must be praying that when this is over many people will say, “I became a Christian during the pandemic.
  • We must be willing to care for those who cannot care for themselves. (Shopping for supplies, etc.)
  • We should hold fast to a sovereign and almighty God.
  • We should use this time of forced “slowing down” to grow deeper in our faith and time spent with God in the Bible and prayer.
  • We should use technology as a tool to continue to interact with and encourage people during this time.
  • We should continue to be The Church.

Will you commit to doing these things with me?

And will you commit to prayer even more so during this time?

Let’s pray

  • For God’s Will.
  • For a cure.
  • For those who are weak, hurting, sick, or mourning.
  • For the Gospel to spread and take root in people’s hearts.
  • For an unprecedented Revival to take hold in Jesus’ Church.
  • For God to be Glorified in our words, thoughts, and actions.

Philippians 4:6-7 | John 14:27 | 2 Timothy 1:7

Good Looking Trash

I was at the store the other day and I saw a garbage can on sale for the bargain price of only $265.99. I must assure you I did not purchase the garbage can, but it did get me thinking, what can I learn from an expensive garbage can? Turns out, quite a bit.

I got curious and did some research and believe it or not there are such things as “smart garbage cans” that are capable of (among other things) compacting your waste, playing music, and opening and shutting with just a simple voice command. These cans can cost over a thousand dollars.

Aside from the functionality of “smart cans” I began to think about the concept of spending a large amount of money on an item that, while it may look good on the outside, when opened is still simply full of garbage.

If there is garbage on the inside it doesn’t matter how good the outside looks, it will still stink.

  • 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us that while people tend to focus on outward appearances, God is focused on our hearts.
  • Peter tells us that finding ourselves beautiful in God’s sight is far more important than being outwardly adorned.
  • And in 1 Timothy we can read that even though being physically fit has some value, being spiritually fit (godliness) is valuable in every way.

The Bible makes it clear that what is on the inside is far more important than what we can see on the outside.

As a human being, we do tend to care deeply about what others think of us. We will get certain haircuts or buy a specific style of clothes to fit in. And while being trendy is certainly not a sin, seeking the approval of people over the approval of God is. How we dress and how we look physically need to always be secondary to how we love, trust, and obey God.

Another layer of this discussion is that we, sometimes, will “dress up” in more ways than just hair, clothes, and jewelry. Sometimes we try to dress up our lives with little “white lies” that make us look better than we actually are. Our straight-A kids have C’s, our promotion was really just a cubical change, and it only took 8 tries to get that candid photo we posted on the ‘gram.

God knows us. God sees what and who we truly are.

Now, please don’t walk away from this thinking that I am calling all of us trash. Well, maybe I am. But if I am it’s only because, compared to everything that Jesus has done and everything that He is…we kind of are. Our own goodness could never ever compare to His ultimate righteousness.

So, let us commit to worrying less about what’s on the outside, both in our own lives as well as how we view others. Let us also commit to asking God to not just make our outsides look good, but more importantly, to take away all the garbage that we have been storing up on our insides.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” -Psalm 51:10

Swimming Against the Current

Water is so versatile. It can sit, as still and clear as glass in a sleepy pond. It can rush, violently and chaotically over a waterfall. An ocean will overwhelm you with its vastness, and a stream will calm with its trickle. It can also flow steadily and relentlessly in a river.

I once heard someone compare the spiritual life to a river. We are in the middle, they said, and our goal is to get upstream towards a deeper relationship with God.

We are left with three options. The first is to actively swim with the current. This option is obviously easy, but we very quickly will find ourselves farther from God. The next option is much, much more difficult, we swim upstream, against the current. If we choose this option, we will inevitably be hit by debris that is being swept along by the current, our strength will fade, and we may feel as though we are not making much progress.

When we compare the two options it is clear that one looks much more attractive than the other. Now, let me be clear, I am talking about maintaining a relationship with God, not earning salvation.

The Bible is very clear salvation is a free gift of God, not something that any amount of good works can earn us. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

So, while we cannot earn our salvation, it is clear that the depth of our relationship with God is impacted by the choices that we make. We are either being conformed to the world around us or we are being transformed by the renewing of our mind in Christ Jesus. (Romans 12:2)

Our choices either bring us closer to God or drive us further from him.

So far, I only talked about two options, but there is a third. The third option is sneaky and dangerous, and it often takes us farther than we ever intended.

We drift. We just simply do nothing.

This option is by far the easiest because it requires the least amount of effort on our part. We aren’t actively running towards God, but we haven’t decided to sprint the other way either. The problem is, we are still moving.

The current is sweeping us away, sometimes quickly, sometimes so slowly we do not even realize we have moved.

My fear is that far too many people are content to just drift.

Drifting in the current may seem like an innocent enough option, but there is no such thing as inaction when it comes to the spiritual life. We will always either increase in the depth and quality of our relationship with God, or we will decrease. We are either moving closer to God or further away. There is no in-between.

Will you join me in my commitment to swimming against the current? Let’s unashamedly live for Jesus. Let’s happily live different from the current of the culture around us.

Let’s be messengers of truth and neighbors of love.

Let’s swim against the current and not just simply allow it to drag us along.

Built To Last

“They just don’t make ‘em like they used to!”

Have you ever heard that phrase before? It’s usually said by a weary homeowner who has just gone through the process of replacing something expensive. Recently, I was having this exact conversation with someone who was frustratedly telling me about how companies used to guarantee their products, sometimes even for life. Refrigerators, dishwashers, heaters, and so on, all of these at one point would last for double-digit years at the minimum. Now, expect to replace those items in half that time or less. Our conversation left me pondering why. Why aren’t things built to last anymore?

A few months ago, when I was on the Greek Island of Lesvos (read why here) I saw one of the most magnificent sights I’ve seen. I have been blessed to travel to many places. I have seen incredible natural wonders and impressive manmade structures. But this. This took my breath away.

There, seemingly untouched by tourists, in the middle of an olive grove, accessible only by a footpath or a half-a-car sized dirt road was the sign the simply read, Roman Aqueduct.

I quickly snapped the picture shown above and then just as quickly put my phone away to just simply soak it all in.

The structure stands an impressive 600 meters tall (1969 feet) and was built in the late 2nd century. In its day it would carry 127,000 cubic meters of water a distance of 22 kilometers each day. While it certainly isn’t functioning today and is only a remnant of what it once was I couldn’t help but think, “now that was built to last.”

If that was built to last, then why isn’t my refrigerator?! The answer is sadly simple. That’s not a good business model. Many companies have gone under with the business model of “built to last.”

In our consumeristic culture where newer is always better and materials and production are dirt cheap, it makes no sense to build something that will last a long time. A disgruntled and yet repeat customer is preferred over a happy but one-time customer.

That’s a problem, but here is the greater problem…we have come to accept it. We have come to realize that doing repairs just isn’t worth the work when it is easier, and often cheaper, to go get a replacement.

And I’m not only talking about refrigerators anymore.

This thinking has crept into our mindsets concerning our relationships, faith in God, and how we view the churches we attend.

“Why fix it? Just walk away. Go find someone new. Go worship somewhere else. Go follow a God that doesn’t require quite as much from you.” These are the things that we are up against.

Nothing seems built to last anymore.

Please understand, I am not advocating against change. Change is a good and necessary part of all life. But I am advocating for a renewed commitment to the people in our lives, the churches we go to, and the God we follow.

Let’s build our relationships to last. When times get hard don’t run away. Don’t cash in for a new model. Fix what is broken. Work together to find reconciliation and honor God together.

Let’s build our churches to last. When times get hard don’t run away. Don’t cash in for a church that will meet your consumer needs better. Ask God to use you to fix what is broken. Work together to share Jesus’ love and to make His name great.

Let’s build our faith to last. When times get hard don’t run away. Don’t settle for a cheaper version of grace. Ask God to fix what is broken in you. Trust in Him and do not lean on your own understanding.

There is only one cornerstone, only one solid rock. The only things that we can build to last are the things built upon Jesus.

Matthew 7:24-27