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. 😉

The Wait of it All

“There is one thing that we can be sure of, even as we wait, God has not and will not forget about us.”

“We have done everything we can…all we can do now is wait.”

This is what I usually say to well-meaning people who, with a smile on their face, ask me about our adoption process. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the questions at all. In fact, the other night I asked my wife if she ever got frustrated or saddened by questions that reminded her that we don’t have a baby yet. She said no. We both can see the love and genuine concern that people have for us that leads them to ask these sorts of questions. We don’t mind thinking about it. We don’t mind talking about it.

But what we do mind is the waiting.

It’s hard to explain the feeling – a sort of excitement and expectation mixed with frustration, joy, hope, and a bit of disappointment.

But I think what bums us out the most about waiting is that we can’t control it. We can’t do anything to make it go faster. We just have to wait.

If you know my wife and I, then you know that we and doers. We do things. We get things done. Go-getters are often a step behind us because we have already gone and gotten.

And that’s why this period of waiting is so important for us. It’s why it is so good for us. God will/is/has been teaching us lessons about the waiting, and through the waiting, whether we like it or not.

I did a quick search and found the word “wait” in one form or another in the Bible upwards of 135 times. The most common words from Hebrew that get translated into the English “wait” would be: קוה and יחל. Now, I know those squiggly lines may not mean much to you so let me just tell you what they mean. קוה means- to await, hope; to wait for. יחל means-to wait; to cause to hope. You don’t need to know Biblical Hebrew to see the common theme of hope.

In the New Testament the three most commonly translated words for “wait” are: προσδοκάω, ἀπεκδέχομαι, προσδέχομαι. Their definitions are in the same order- wait for; look for; expect – await eagerly – and wait for; look forward to. Here also is a common theme of eager expectation. I would even say that the Greek words help to “sum up” and complement the Hebrew.

Waiting, more specifically, waiting on God, has to do with hope which is an eager expectation of what will most assuredly come.

So why does the Bible talk about waiting so much? Well, there are a few reasons, but I will just highlight two in this short time.

First, the Bible talks about waiting a lot because it is a natural part of life on earth and we ought to know how we should respond in a God-honoring way.

Psalm 37:7-9  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. (Emphases added.)

While we wait we still need to continue to live our lives, and the quality of how we live our lives needs to be worthy of the Gospel by which we have been saved.

Second, waiting teaches us about God and His genuine care, steadfast love, and kindness towards us.

Romans 8:15  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Psalm 33 20-22  Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

God loves us with a love that is far beyond our own comprehension. But there is one thing that we can be sure of, even as we wait, God has not and will not forget about us. He will not forsake his own adopted children. If you are like us, in the midst of a wait, be encouraged. He is our shield. He is our help.

He is greater than the wait, and He is using this time to teach us and to draw us closer to Him and to one another. It kinda hurts, but I’m really thankful for it.

Proverbs 3:5-6