Finding Your Way Back to God

Over the course of the past six weeks Judy and I have been hosting a Life Image result for Road to GodGroup in our home. We’ve been following a series being led from our church entitled “Finding Your Way Back to God.” The series has been intended to help us focus from any starting point on our pursuit of and relationship with God. The biblical context for the series is the story of the prodigal son as found in Luke 15.

For most people, finding our way back to God is not a six week study or exercise. Even the stories shared in the accompanying videos talked about a lifetime of searching for something more. We have a tendency to get stuck in our day-to-day lives, but we were made for so much more. God tells us that “I know the plans that I have for you ..” (Jer 29:11). These plans have been in place before the foundations of the earth were laid. Psalm 139 tells us that God knit us together in our mother’s womb, and that this work was being done with the knowledge of each of our days.

So even before we were being formed, He was making plans for us. God had written in His book every one of our days that were made for us. Is it any wonder then, that we have this longing for more? He formed us with intentionality to meet the needs of the days that were made for us! Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do!

It boggles the mind that God created Adam and Eve knowing full well that they would fall into sin. It certainly was no surprise to Him and He did not have to scramble to come up with plan B. God loved us so much that He gave us a free will that would be free to sin and free to love Him. He sent His one and only son to die for our sins and failings, so that by faith in Christ we could be restored into relationship with Him. With those same global concepts and thoughts, He created each one of us, intentionally, with a purpose, knowing that He would need to draw all men to Himself so that they could make the choice to open the door to their hearts and let Him come in.

We all take different paths. I have been blessed recently to observe and encourage a couple of friends in renewing their walk of faith in Christ. Each came by a different path, but both, clearly came in response to the beckoning of the still small voice, that gentle knock on the door of their hearts and the engagement of plain folks like Judy and me. Along this journey, I have had a very real sense of fulfillment of the purpose for which I was made. That purpose began before I was being physically knit together in my mother’s womb.

Much more to talk about regarding such journeys. For now, I ask of my reader, where are you in your relationship with God? I am reminded of an old family friend whom I hadn’t seen since childhood, but a man who had been friends of my parents’ for all of my lifetime. Our paths crossed, ever so briefly, in the lobby of a multi-organizational meeting. Almost without taking a breath after our introduction and greeting, he looked me squarely in the eyes and said to me, “So, Bill, tell me how things are going with you and God.” I confess that I was a little taken aback, but at the same time I felt as though I had just been touched by God Himself. I gave our friend a response that I’m sure in retrospect might have seemed a little shallow, but I promise you that I have never forgotten that very brief interaction. That story, too, is part of my journey and part of my story.

Blessings!

Do you think you are pushing things too far with Jesus? That is the only way to know how far you can go.

Great thought expressed here. How vast is our God? How limitless are His resources. You have not because you ask not. Thanks to my friend Michael Wilson for pushing my thinking today.

Jesus Quotes and God Thoughts

Jesus Challenges Us Jesus Challenges Us

God challenges us to get radical for his blessed son Jesus, the Messiah. This is not a life for the faint of heart. Jesus has won the victory and challenges us to live that life as well.

We need more passion not less.

We need to be more radical not softer.

We need to pray to be more bold.

This is his way.

Do you think you are pushing things too far with Jesus? That is the only way to know how far you can go.

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Faith and World Events

Today is the 14th anniversary of the comandeering of four commercial aircraft. Three of them crashed into (1) World Trade North Tower, (2) The Pentagon, and (3) World Trade South Tower. The fourth hijacked over Pennsylvania, presumably to head for the White House. That hijacking was subverted by some very brave people and the plane crashed in a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania killing all aboard. Thousands of lives were lost that day as the World Trade Towers crumbled from the heat of the fires created by the planes flying into them. It was a horrific scene.

I remember that I had just concluded a meeting at Starbucks near our home and had returned home, clueless to what was going on. As I turned on the television in our family room, I was watching a reporter talk about the plane that had crashed into the North Tower. The North Tower was engulfed in flames in an area quite near the top. As he talked, I noticed a plane flying across the skyline and thought little of it until the South Tower exploded before our eyes on live TV. As the horrors of the scene continued to unfold, we learned that a commercial airliner had crashed into the Pentagon. The pieces then began to fall into place that our country was under attack. We later learned of the fourth plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

We had no idea how these events would change our world. During the ceremonies of remembrance today, one person being interviewed commented that unlike Pearl Harbor which was attacked by Japan, there was no country or political entity that had created this event. What we were dealing with was a fanatical Islamic religious group that worked out of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and some of the middle eastern countries. We found ourselves at war with an ideology rather than a country that could be punished or counter-attacked for such an attack. This was a new world and we knew little about how to combat an ideology. To this day we know little about maintaining a safe world, given the challenges of identifying the enemy. So where does this leave us?

Our God is a sovereign God. Nothing happens in this world that surprises Him. Could He have stopped the attacks? Yes, but throughout history, He has chosen to give man a free will. And guess what? Despite many who want to believe that man is inherently good, the Bible tells us that we are ALL sinners (Rom 3:23) and that through Adam (one man) sin entered into this world. From the time Eve believed the serpent and gave Adam some of the apple, sin has been a part of who we are. Even Adam’s son, Cain, killed his brother Abel. From those tragic beginnings, the Bible tells us that everyone has sinned and the devil has been allowed to “prowl around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) We are in a season where the devil who is called “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience,” is being allowed to roam this earth. As long as he is allowed to roam free, we will have a battle on our hands. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers and authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present  darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” So there is a spiritual battle going on for which we need to be prepared. The rest of Ephesians 6 describes for us the “whole armor of God” that helps us withstand the spiritual forces that will attack our hearts, minds and souls. Romans 5:6 tells us that “While we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.” God has a plan and that plan is at work. He says that Jesus will not return until every nation has heard the gospel. While we are fast approaching that milestone, know this. God’s timing is perfect and He will come to claim those who believe in the name of Jesus.

I said above that God is a sovereign God which means that He is in control. The Bible tells us that He even puts the political powers in place. Romans 13:1 says, “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement.” An appropriate warning for our day, when Christians are so prone to protest and not comply with the law. It is important to remember during the days of Christ, the Roman government was as corrupt and debased as any in the history of man. In that light it is interesting that scripture does not record Christ railing against the government. He repeatedly chastised the church leaders, but never spoke about those in government. In fact, even after he had been anointed as the next king of Israel, when David had opportunity to kill Saul, he refused to kill the man who was out to kill him, because he was the Lord’s anointed. Another man’s wrong does not justify wrongdoing on our part.

How then should we live? In the U.S., our government has long approved and funded abortions, more recently it has approved the marriage of gay and lesbian couples. We see many in the Christian community at a point of rebellion against our government, to the point that our speech has become hateful and unloving toward sinners just like us. God calls us to love Him with all our heart, and soul, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we focused more on loving our neighbors and less on hating the government that was put in place by God, perhaps we’d have a more attractive faith. Perhaps we’d be viewed not in the same light as the radicals Islamic terrorists. I’m not suggesting that we condone sin. Christ never did that, but still He loved the sinner. He told the woman who was about to be stoned for adultery to go and sin no more.

A man asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus gave him the list of several of the commandments, to which the man replied, “All these I have done.” The next words are stunning … instead of berating and correcting him, the book of Mark records that “Jesus, looking at him, loved him …” and told him to go sell everything he owned and give the proceeds to the poor. I fear that in today’s Christian community we would be prone to show our skepticism and dismiss the person out of hand by saying something to the effect, “Yeah, right!” Our challenge is to be Christlike. Be a Berean by studying the scriptures so that you know how to respond.

In the context of today’s world, most people of middle eastern descent and especially followers of Islam are viewed with suspicion and often with disrespect. We’ve come through a Civil War which started this country on the path to respecting all races. We still have a ways to go. In light of the radical Muslims who attacked us on 9/11/01, we need to be careful not to paint all people of Islam with the same brush. Is it hard to tell who can be trusted and who cannot? Sometimes. But suppose we started from a position of trust until proven otherwise. Suppose that we followed Christ in loving even those who railed against us. Suppose we really were able to love our neighbors as much as we loved ourselves. Just suppose …

Christ told us to love those who hate us and to love our enemies. That is not a model I’m seeing widely practiced in the public arena today by “Christian” politicians or even those who are posting on the social media. We are throwing the Bible at these sinners and expecting them to live up to our standards without the help of the Holy Spirit! Let’s think about our rhetoric and vitriol before denouncing unbelievers and trying to hold them to biblical standards. 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 tells us that it is not our job to judge those outside the church. That is God’s job! Our job is to love those outside, so that they will come into the church. The Holy Spirit then convicts men of sin.

Just suppose that we loved our enemies and those who hate us. Might there be fewer, then, who hate us? We’re doing a fantastic job of making new enemies with each self-righteous statement that we make.

Something to think about.

What Do We Make of ’90 Minutes in Heaven’?

Don Piper’s story, now made visible in the movie 90 Minutes in Heaven (out this weekend), records his experience of “dying” as a result of a head-on car crash and experiencing some moments (90 minutes of them) of glorious encounter with “heaven” where God, a suffusing and overwhelming light, resided in the middle of the heavenly city.

In that near death experience (NDE), Piper saw and heard the voice of many of his fellow Christians as they were journeying toward the gate of heaven—but he never entered. A fellow pastor was praying for his recovery at the crash scene, and he found himself singing along with the pastor, back on earth.

The slow-developing movie focuses far more on the pain both Piper (Hayden Christensen) experienced and his family, especially his wife (Kate Bosworth), endured as he lay in hospital beds for months—suffocating with a desire to return to heaven and unwilling to communicate either about his NDE or what was happening in his soul. The slowness of the scenes accentuates the slowness of his recovery. But recover he did, to find a purpose in life—to tell people that heaven is real and that prayer really works.

Piper’s story is encouraging, and surely in the top two or three of hundreds of NDE stories I have read.

I do not disbelieve Don Piper’s story. He seems credible, and his experience is far from unusual. Mally Cox-Chapman, a skilled journalist, read and interviewed and tracked down one story after another. In her book The Case for Heaven: Near-Death Experiences as Evidence of the Afterlife, we read the fairly common pattern of near-death experiences:

  • Feelings of peace and quiet
  • Feeling oneself out of the body
  • Going through a dark tunnel
  • Meeting others, including one or more beings of light
  • A life review
  • Coming to a border or limit
  • Coming back
  • Seeing life differently
  • Having new views of death

Not everyone has each element. But the pattern is so common, and spans the religious spectrum so noticeably, that we can speak intelligently of the “NDE Pattern.” Christians of all stripes, Muslims, Buddhists, and others tell similar stories. In fact, there are NDE stories going all the way back to ancient Egypt and ancient Rome. Many of those stories have similar elements, though each religious orientation causes a reshaping of those elements.

Piper experienced the first two, not the second, the fourth, not the fifth, clearly the sixth and the seventh, and from that point the last two elements have reshaped his life and ministry. And the movie shows far fewer specifically Christian themes than his book did.

My concern is neither the movie nor Piper’s story; my concern is what to do with NDEs. What are we to make of them? Are they all true? Are they all bogus? How do we know?

And I have another concern: If death is irreversible, how can these be seen as experiences of what happens after death? Most would say these people have not, in (scientific) fact, died. Instead, they have entered into a pre-death experience that may glimpse heaven or the afterlife (or it may do neither).

But is not the deeper ache for an “after-death” experience? One where someone has scientifically died and told us what is in the Beyond? (We have such an account in the Gospels of the New Testament.)

The issue then is what to make of NDEs. After studying story after story of the NDE Pattern, Cox-Chapman landed on at least three conclusions, and these conclusions need to be considered before we rush to affirm too quickly the truthful witness of NDEs.

First, Cox-Chapman concludes that those who have an NDE become believers in an afterlife or in some kind of heaven. This is surely Piper’s experience.

Her second conclusion ought to warn those who find their faith most confirmed by these NDE stories: those who have NDEs become more universalistic in their faith. (I have not read anything by Piper that would indicate this, but there is plenty of evidence in NDE collections that this occurs.)

Cox-Chapman’s final conclusion startled me: the diversity of the experiences and the variety of religious ideas at work in those experiences lead her to conclude that “we will be provided with the Heaven that is right for each of us.”

That is, NDE studies make us think each person gets the heaven they want.

This is where our deepest concern breaks through the surface: the variety of NDEs, if they are true experiences of the afterlife or heaven, may well be a deconstruction of all faiths.

So a very serious issue arises for anyone who cares about how Christians determine what Christians are to believe about heaven and NDEs. In other words, if many Christians—the numbers who buy NDE books, the numbers who go to this movie—believe a story like Don Piper’s because it confirms their faith, a faith that comes from the Bible, then they are only believing what the Bible says, and don’t need the NDE story. In which case, let’s focus more on the Bible and bring the discussion back to what the Bible clearly teaches.

But we can turn this around slightly and look at it from a different angle: if many Christians disbelieve elements of many NDE stories because they don’t cohere with the Bibleand the elements that don’t cohere with the Bible are legionthen they don’t need the stories either! In which case, let’s focus on what the Bible teaches, not what NDEs suggest.

There is a more negative undercurrent to the NDE stories: if you believe the NDE stories because of the power of the experience being told, then you don’t need the Bible. If the experience itself is what determines what you believe, then you will believe the experience regardless of what the Bible says about heaven.

My reading of hundreds of NDE stories is that they in fact often don’t confirm what the Bible says. In fact, they bring into the light the faith and convictions and suspicions and hopes and dreams of what that person already believed. In this case, the Bible is being pushed to the side for the sake of the experience.

Again, this more negative consideration can be stated from a slightly different angle: if you believe the elements of the NDE stories because of the power of the experiences, you will need to believe every element in these stories. Which leads me to a question that haunts me every time I hear fellow Christians clap so loud about NDEs: How then does one distinguish which elements in these NDE experiences is what heaven is really like from what is not? I just don’t know that there’s a way of believing in the experience of the NDE, filtering out what is unbiblical and affirming as a witness to heaven what matches the Bible.

It seems to me in the flourishing of these NDEs, many Christians will want once again to take a whole new look at what the Bible says about heaven. What they will find, in almost all cases, is a view of heaven that is quite unlike what is experienced in the NDEs.

Scot McKnight is a New Testament Professor at Northern Seminary, the writer of the popular blog Jesus Creed, and author of the forthcoming book The Heaven Promise: Engaging the Bible’s Truth About Life to Come, (Oct. 6, WaterBrook Press).

Faith – Heritage and Legacy

In the picture below, are Bibles and a worship book. The worship book (bottom) belonged to my great grandmother and dates back to 1873. Of the four Bibles, the top one belonged 20150720_213816-2to my grandfather, the  next two to my father, and the fourth one down was mine. Naturally, there are stories that go with each of these Bibles, but the important point for this article is that they are symbols of the past, present and future. You see, the Bibles and the worship book were carried by men and women who were people of faith. The Bible that is the second from the bottom was given to me by my parents as a Christmas present when I was 12 (ok, 1958 so you don’t have to do the math). This Bible represents one of the ways that my parents delivered to me a heritage of faith. They put me in a position to make my faith my own by giving me a resource for use in church, yes, but their intent was that I would study God’s word for myself. As you can see by the worn cover, I took them up on the challenge to learn to apply God’s word to my own life. It was with this Bible that I developed my views on the church’s position on serving in the military during the season that I was being drafted for military service. It was with this Bible that I learned the intent of baptism and why I should be baptized. It was with this Bible that I engaged in numerous Bible drills, a competition to see who could find a particular passage first. I actually got pretty good at it because I knew my Bible and where the different books would be just by looking at the closed book. Most importantly, this Bible served me well as I built a platform for my faith and theology, those thoughts of God that determined how I would view life on this earth.

So what is the title all about? The title, “Faith – Heritage and Legacy” means that we learn about faith from our parents and grandparents. We have a choice whether to adopt their faith or become convinced of our own faith. But here is the key, (1) we all have a view of God (faith) whether it is right or wrong, and (2) we will all leave traces of our faith with family, friends, and others in our sphere of influence. Thus, we will all have a legacy which we will leave behind. I can hear some saying now, that their legacy will be completely neutral permitting others to conclude truth for themselves. Any of us who interact with other people (human beings) leave an imprint, a fingerprint that is uniquely ours. After each interaction, people decide (a) whether they like us or not, (b) whether they agree with us or not, (c) whether they care to see us again, or not, (d) and the list goes on and on.

The human mind is a fascinating thing and is able to make value judgements while interacting with another person. We all do it without even trying to be judgmental. We get down on people who are judgmental. We like people who make us laugh. We tend to like people who see society and matters of faith very much as we see them. Whether we want to admit it or not, we will leave an impression, a legacy, that encourages people to see things as we saw them or they may be so disenchanted by us that they will avoid adopting any similarities to us. Either way, it is a legacy. It should come as no surprise to you that my view of God (faith) played a significant role in my life, my work, and my interactions with family, friends, and business associates. I pray that my life has had a positive influence that invited others to examine their relationship with their Creator.

The book of Proverbs is filled with exhortations to a son to heed the instruction of his father and mother. Chapter 1:8 says, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” This theme is repeated over and over again. The Ten Commandments tell us to honor our father and mother so that our days may be long in the land that God is giving to us. Paul says to Timothy (2 Tim 1:5) I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” The role of the parent and grandparent in encouraging the next generations in the faith is clear. So many of us have heard the testimony of Rachel Scott who was killed in the Columbine High School shootings in 1999. Still today, after being killed at age 17, her testimony is being told.

My friend, Crawford Loritts, pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, GA, said in his book “Unshaken,” “Faith is both our heritage and our legacy.” We may have received a strong faith passed down from our parents, or we may have received a confusing set of theologically conflicting concepts. In the scriptures, Hebrews 11 gives us a list of people and how they expressed their faith. The scriptures are a resource to help you define and declare a true faith in God. The major point, however, is that we are and will be held responsible for that faith which we pass along to those who follow us. Think about how you build your reputation. Think about how you are known.

A distant relative recently passed and someone close attended the man’s funeral. As the event was being described to me today the comment was made that much was made about the man’s work accomplishments and his hobbies. While that is not bad, the next words of the story were troubling. They said, this was so different from this man’s dad’s funeral where his dad was described as a man who loved God and recollections were made of that man’s walk with the Lord. As for the man who was just buried, there was passing mention that he had placed his faith in Jesus Christ. The contrast between the two was striking. How will you be remembered? About what things were you most passionate?

Significant to My Faith Journey

This morning I posted three Bible verses written in my mother’s Mom's Verseshandwriting. The three verses were Luke 6:31, James 5:16 and 1 Corinthians 6:20. Obviously, the fact that these are in Mom’s handwriting brings back a lot of memories. Memories of her notes all around the house. I always admired the artistry of her handwriting. I thought is was delicately feminine and elegant at the same time. But beyond all that, the fact that she chose not to memorize from her Bible, and rather to sear these words in her mind by writing them first and then committing them to memory. This was a habit she continued until the day she went into the hospital where she transitioned into heaven two weeks later. As the years wore on, she took to memorizing chapters and then entire books of the Bible. She hid God’s word in her heart, she meditated on God’s wisdom day and night. When one of us would be feeling down, or acting up, she could draw from memory a verse that aptly applied to the situation on our minds or that would have the effect of easing the tension in our home.

She encouraged us to memorize as well. In our small town in Manitoba, there was someone who was impassioned about children’s need to learn the scriptures. So he made an offer to anyone who wanted to go to summer camp. For anyone who would memorize 100 verses, he would pay their camp fees. This prompted my parents to encourage me to take up the challenge, which I did! I remember to this day, saying the last 5 verses to the person in charge, as we were literally loading the kids onto the truck. I had made it! I had memorized 100 verses and earned a free week at camp! I jumped onto that truck feeling as high as the sky! Many, if not most, of those verses still stick with me and I can recall them when I hear the reference or am able to finish them when I hear the pastor begin to cite a verse. Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee. Psalm 119:11.

All this memorization was done in the King James version in those days, so quite frequently when I think of a verse that applies in a current situation, but can’t remember the reference (address), I’ll have to look in the King James version of my electronic Bible to find it. What a boon to my faith and to my grounding in the faith. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Jeremiah 17:9 is one of those passages that has regularly provided a word of caution in assessing my own motives and desires.

A quick word about the truck mentioned above. In those days we didn’t have the luxury of things such as school buses. While this will horrify moms and dads today, we would get probably 30 kids up on the back of an open box 5-ton truck, and ride the 93 miles to the camp in a standing position. Great times were had in those trucks and we thought nothing of the safety aspects. This was the transportation available to go to camp! Another truck followed behind with our bags containing a couple of changes of clothes and swim suits for the week.

The teachings we had at those camps were often times evangelistic, but also instructional for spiritual growth most often. It was in the woods of that camp where I would go to reflect and think about what God wanted with me. I wasn’t worried about my friends, but I sensed from those early days that God had His hand on me. All part of the journey. God wants to have His hand on you as well, if you’ll invite Him to lead you in the way that you should go.

Just a brief reflection in the rear view mirror …

The Path of Faith is Smooth Sailing (Not!)

Despite what some people may want you to believe, the path of faith doesn’t always come with a smooth ride. You may hear things like “Ever since I gave my life to Jesus, life has been wonderful!” Folks, the Bible tells us that we are aliens and strangers in this world (1 Peter 2:11). The ESV calls us sojourners and exiles. That same passage tells us we live in an evil world that wages war against our souls. In addition to the spiritual warfare that is going on in this world these days that includes things like abortions, men and women pursuing unnatural relations with one another, a society in which over half the country is on the government dole, and so on, we have the daily stuff of life. The need to work to provide for one’s family, the beautiful thing that is called marriage where two distinct individuals are to become one flesh, raising children in the way they should go and all that is entailed in these endeavors is enough to make some days feel pretty daunting.

I’m reminded of the days early on in our marriage when the manufacturing world seemed to have a limited future. After praying together about what God might have for us, we were led to an opportunity at IBM. Interestingly, the IBM opportunity called for a 25% cut in pay. This caused us to pray more earnestly about what God wanted us to do as we had a 2 year old daughter, a new home and a new car. Yet, in faith, we felt God was leading to this new job. I was attending the University of Omaha at the time which placed additional demands on my time available with the family. But we were convinced in our hearts and minds that God had led us to the IBM opportunity and that He would provide. Little did we know that His provision and the path ahead would include taking on two additional jobs and dropping out of college to make the financial pieces fit and family life work.

You know, Abraham’s journey from the land of Haran and his father’s people to another land he didn’t know, was based on a promise from God. Rom 4:20ff says “No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” In the same way, we were convinced that God had taken us to IBM. This next bit will give you pause about my maturity, experience, and wisdom in those days. To be perfectly honest with you, I did not know that IBM made office equipment. That was the division where I had my first jobs in IBM. God literally led me to a place in which I had no idea what God would do with me there. I only knew that He had led us to this place. Even, after the first 90 days when my manager told me I would never amount to anything at IBM, I knew God had brought us there and would see us through. I had no idea what this was going to look like. I only knew what faith in God had brought about in our lives and I knew that He was faithful! When the Bible says He uses the simple things of this world, I was and still am a living example of that truth!

But God, brought us through those days and blessed us. But God put people into my path and took a few out as well, to accomplish His work in and through my life. My story never ceases to amaze me. When we sing the song “Amazing Grace” my mind begins to wander over the years to see his grace at work in my life and I am left in tears of gratitude, crushing humility, and just falling at His feet in adoration for the great things He has done. Hallelujah!

In the walk of faith, there are many challenges, both from inside and outside the faith. As Paul says in Romans 14:5, “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” Everything we do should be to honor the Lord. Being fully convinced means that we have been Bereans (Acts 10) looking into the word of God to see what He says to us. Only by prayer and searching God’s word can we walk confidently in faith. When we are challenged, we go back to God’s word as our consistent source of strength and truth. Then we can put on the full armor of God and are prepared to do battle with a world that rages against the truths of God.

As we navigate this world in which we are aliens and strangers, Philippians says, “with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Does the path guarantee smooth sailing? No, because the world is filled with trouble and we, ourselves, are not sin free. But if we lean in to God and throw our cares on Him, by making our requests known to Him, He will give us peace in the midst of the storm.

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