The Stuff You Can’t See


Faith, this little word which we’re told the just live by(Habakuk 2:4), is defined by the author of Hebrews as ”the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In the Old Testament and New, it’s the bedrock of belief.

Faith is an idea that runs in direct opposition to our modern, western ways of thinking in which we want all our i’s dotted, all our t’s crossed.  It’s contrary to our desire to know the next five steps before we take the first, or what’s around the corner, or what will happen if (insert your scary proposition for life here).

But for the follower of Jesus, faith is the evidence of things NOT seen.

Wouldn’t it be great if it said “faith is the evidence that’s right in front of your face…see, there it is?”   But by definition, it’s not.  For the Christian, our entire lives (both now and into eternity) hinge on faith!

We must have faith that God’s grace is sufficient.

We must have faith that He loves us so much He sent His Son to pay the price for our sins.

We must have faith that Jesus not only died for our sins but rose again three days later, victorious over sin, death and hell.

We must have faith that He forgives us, faith that He is coming back, faith that He will take all who put their trust in His grace to be with Him for eternity.

We must have faith that death is not the end, faith that His Word is true, and faith that He does what He says.

The evidence of things not seen.  

And, follow with me…if we can trust God with our eternity, can we not trust Him with our now?  

Truth is, it’s easy to live in a kind of blissful ignorance when you have food to eat, a roof over your head, clothes on your back, a job, your health…it’s easy to talk about having faith while never really having faith in “the stuff you can’t see.”

Until God allows that faith to be put to the test.  What then?  Will you trust Him?  Will you, like Peter when Jesus called to him from the sea, step out of the boat and trust that if God is calling He won’t let you drown, trust that He has you?  Or will you, also like Peter, take your eyes off what Jesus has said (come to Me), and begin to sink?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a  “ye of little faith.”

Faith says “God has spoken…I don’t understand it, but I know I must follow it.” Faith doesn’t have it all figured out.  Faith, by definition, puts it’s trust in the God Who DOES have it all figured out.

Faith steps out of the boat when the Lord calls.  This isn’t name it, claim it.  This isn’t about prosperity.  This is about following the Master where He leads.

I’m the Chief


The man that penned these words also wrote the bulk of the New Testament.  He was the man chosen by God to take the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.  He braved shipwrecks, prison, beatings, stoning, snake bites and more as he criss-crossed the Roman world carrying the hope of Jesus to the lost.  And yet, years later, nearing the end of his life and ministry, he could write that he’s the chief of sinners.

Let that sink in:  The man largely responsible for the spread of Christianity to the Western world considered himself to be the chief, the head, the foremost of sinners.

I think what we are see here in Paul is what we see in the lives of saint after saint throughout history, those who were faithful to follow the Lord, those who truly gave their lives over to what A.W. Tozer called “The Pursuit of God”, which can be summed up like this:  the closer I get to Jesus, the more I see my own wretchedness.

This is not some kind of morbid “woe is me” mentality, either.  Read the rest of Paul’s 2 letters to Timothy…he was secure in who he was in Christ.  He knew what God had called him to, what He had saved him for.

It’s not a pity party.  It’s not a plea for sympathy.  Nor is it simply about the things we did in the past, before we knew Jesus, before we experienced His grace.  If you’re constantly dwelling on who you were before Jesus you’ll never become who He saved you to be, nor do what He saved you to do!

No, I think Paul’s words are simply the reality of what John the Baptist’s said in when Jesus arrived on the scene:  “He must increase, I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

Think of it like this:  If you could draw closer to the sun, the brighter and hotter it would become, and the smaller and more frail you would become.  The same goes for drawing close to Jesus, the Son of God.  The closer we get, the more we see the incredible intensity of His holiness, the greatness of His goodness, the unfailing nature of His steadfast love towards us, and in that light, we see our frailty, our brokenness, our desperate need for a Savior.

And we end up finding ourselves arguing with Paul, realizing that “I myself am the chief of sinners.”

This is not condemnation, but rather realization of the greatness of God’s grace towards us in Christ Jesus.  Paul in fact, just a few verses later, breaks into song, declaring:

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever.  Amen.”  (1 Tim. 1:17)

I don’t have this all figured out.  I’m just a sojourner on this earth along with the rest of you.  But I know this:  Jesus is everything.  He is the source and summit of my life, the goal and the sustainer, the One who wakes me up each day to draw ever closer to Him.  And He is worthy of everything I have.

May He increase in each of our lives as we decrease.



Fret Not

And no, I’m not talking about guitars.

I’m talking about the opening words of Psalm 37.  Earlier today, my wife and I were talking about this Psalm.  I was able to take some time and go outside on an amazingly beautiful (and not-so-humid) August morning to sit and read it through few times.  Such an encouraging, timely,  and calming Psalm.

There’s a whole lot of frettin’ going on these days:  the economy, the election, terrorism, racism, health care, hatred…the list could go on and on and on.  There are a lot of things that can cause us anxiety, worry, fear.  And yet David tells us 3 times in Psalm 37 “do not fret.”

So, ok, I’m not supposed to worry.  I get that.  But what AM I supposed to do?

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.  Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37 v. 3-5)

Trust in the Lord– believe that what God has promised, He will do.  Believe that He is Who He says He is.  Believe that He is sovereign.  Trust that He knows best. Remember that God is love, and that He has set that love on YOU in sending His own Son to die for YOUR sins, and to rise again.

Do good – seriously, do good.  Follow Jesus.  Do what He’s called you to do, and do it with all your heart.  Love your family.  Do your job to the best of your ability.  Serve the Lord in whatever way He’s called you.  Love your neighbor.

Dwell in the Land- The word means to settle down, to have roots, to abide.  Jesus said “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”  When you’re tempted to fret, fret not, and abide in Christ.  Turn to Him, let Him sustain you.

Feed on His faithfulness-What are you feeding on?  Think back to how faithful God has been to you.  Think back to all He’s done for you.  And if you’re having trouble thinking back, start with the Gospel.  Preach the Gospel to yourself!  You were dead in trespasses and sins!  And yet God so loved YOU that He gave His one and only Son, so that YOU could believe in Him  and have everlasting life!

Delight Yourself in the Lord – What are you taking joy in?  If it’s not rooted in God, it will be a fleeting joy.  James 1:17tells us that “every good and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”  Remember the source of all you have.  Run to Him.  Seek the Giver, not the gift.   Only Jesus can truly satisfy my soul.  Seek that.  Delight in Him.

Commit your way – I will never forget one of our associate pastors, Pastor Jeff, sharing on this Psalm, and particularly this verse.  To commit your way to the Lord means to “Roll off onto” the Lord, to take your cares, your worries, your fears and roll them off your shoulders (which can’t handle them anyway) and onto the Lord’s more-than-capable hands. Give it to Him.  He has it.  He is sovereign.  He can handle it.

And finally, Trust in the Lord  (in case we missed it the first time).

I encourage you to go read this whole Psalm.  And don’t fret…you’re only harming yourself.


All or Nothing at All

J.I. Packer, in his book “Knowing God” wrote:

“One can know a great deal about God without much knowledge of Him.” (Knowing God, pg. 26)

We can spend hours pouring over Scripture, reading theology, studying about God, and yet when it boils down to it, we don’t even know Him at all.

In Matthew chapter 7, we read:

“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:22,23)

Seems there is great danger in knowing a lot about God, but missing Him completely.

I, for one, shudder at that thought.  Lord, may it not be so with me!  I want to know You, closely, intimately, fully.

And even that prayer itself makes me shudder.  It’s…scary.  I mean, to know God?  The God who identifies Himself as a consuming fire (Deut. 4:24)?  The God who, when seen, causes men to fall down as though dead (Rev. 1:17)?  The God that no man can see (1 Tim. 6:16)?  I mean, do we really think through the things we say and sing sometimes?

But yet…anything besides Him is not enough.  Anything besides being fully His is…empty.  Having everything besides Him is having nothing at all.  And truth be told, the only way to know Him is to seek Him and follow where He leads.

And as He leads us, walking along with us, we come to know Him more and more.  His Word comes alive to us.  He speaks to us in His Word, lighting our steps before us (Psalm 119:105), leading the way in dark times, in hard times.  It’s in those trials, those valleys, those places where we never thought we’d end up that He seems to speak most clearly.

It’s in those times that we truly come to know Him for Who He is, to see His will a little more clearly, to find His heart, to realize His love, to understand His plan a bit better…even when it’s hard, even when it hurts, even when it makes no sense…because at the end of it all, He’s enough.

No, He’s more than enough.  He’s everything.

And to live this life without knowing Him…is to not live at all.

“Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation.  On You I wait all the day.” (Ps. 25:4,5)



Anxiety Abounding

You don’t have to be hyper-observant to realize that we live in troubling times, amen? Everywhere I go, there is a sense of worry, of fear.  Every media outlet, be it old-school print, or new-school social, is replete with stories of terrorism, racism, political discord, outbreaks of diseases, natural disasters, wars and rumors of war.  Everywhere you turn, people are talking about these things.  If you’re awake, you’re aware of it.

You could say that anxiety abounds, couldn’t you?  And you’d be right!

As I was thinking about these things today, the words of Paul the apostle to the church in Philippi, written 2000 years ago, yet so appropriate for this day, came to mind:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentleness be known to all men.  The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:4-7)

Just read through those verses a few times.  Let them sink in.  Let them give you proper perspective in these anxious times.


Be anxious for nothing…  (I’m pretty sure that even means the presidential elections, y’all)


Be thankful…


And when you do these things, you’ll have a peace that passes understanding (because, seriously, who of us can understand all this anyway?).  This peace comes from getting your eyes and mind off of the worry and the fear and the terrorism and the elections and getting it on the One Who sits enthroned above it all:


Christians, lets keep our eyes on Him.  Let’s live like we believe what the Word of God says about the times we live in.  Let’s live like we believe God is truly in control (even when we don’t understand it).  Let’s not let our love grow cold, but let’s shine like stars in these dark times by extending the love of Christ, by sharing the good news of the Gospel, by proclaiming the only true hope there is:



There’s Not Enough


“Praise the Lord! O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever.  Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord?  Who can declare all His praise?” Psalm 106:1-2

It’s a rhetorical question.  The obvious answer is “no one!”  No one can hope to utter all the mighty acts of our God!  No one could possibly speak forth enough praise for Who He is, for all He’s done!

Charles Wesley said he wished he had a thousand tongues to try.

More recently, Rend Collective sang “A thousand years, a thousand tongues are not enough to sing His praise.

There aren’t enough songs.  There aren’t enough worship sets.  There aren’t enough church services.  There aren’t enough voices.  There aren’t enough choirs.

There isn’t enough time.

Psalm 145 says “I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever.”  Forever and ever means…forever and ever!  There is no end!  If we started now and go throughout eternity, every moment of every day, it’s still not enough to adequately praise Him for all He’s done!

Even now, around His throne, angels cry out “Holy, Holy, Holy!  Lord God almighty!  Who was, Who is, and Who is to come!“(Revelation 4:8)  Amen and amen.

So what, then?  Shall we not sing?  Shall we not try?  Obviously not!  Let us sing all the more!  Let us praise the One Who alone is worthy!  Let us write songs, let us sing songs, let us cry out every change we get, with all we have, declaring that our God reigns, that He is good, and that His love, his steadfast, never failing love, endures…forever!

The Blessing of Family


(A pic of me, my mom, dad, and three sisters.  We’re missing my big brother, who couldn’t make the trip this year.)

My little tribe and I just got back from trekking cross-country (well, half way cross-country) to visit our family in Oklahoma City.  I gotta admit, prior to the beginning of that journey, there is always some apprehension.  Oh, it has nothing to do with worry about seeing family or anything like that (after all, when you ARE the weird uncle, there is never any family weirdness for you to worry about!).  Rather, the apprehension deals with packing up the car with your three children under the age of 10 and driving 1200 miles.  Straight through.  20-plus hours on the road.

But after the road-lag wore off (thanks to long afternoon naps and cool cousins who are willing to occupy your kids),  I thoroughly enjoyed our time in the heartland with my family.  From simply hanging out and chatting over a cup of coffee (actually, mancups of coffee!) or swimming for hours on end, or guitar shopping with my bro-in-law, to church on Father’s Day  with my dad, to the beautiful outdoor wedding of my niece, it was a really great trip.

After we got home Tuesday, I was tucking my kids into bed, and each of them shared how they miss their family already, and how they had such a great time.  They told me they were thankful for their family.

Yeah, me too, kiddos.

I know that many of you reading this do not have the blessing of a close family, or even family at all.  My heart breaks for that.  I’m so grateful for the time we have with our family, both those who are close to us here in NC, and those who are miles away across the country.  To see my kids having grateful hearts for that as well…yeah, that’s pretty awesome.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to take some time off and go spend that time with my family.  I’m thankful for the memories that we created, that my kids made, that my family made.

And I’m thankful that it was hard to leave.  I’m thankful for the tears that morning as we piled into the car for the return trip.  Those tears are a reminder not to take the time we have for granted, not to “waste the second hand” (in the words of songwriter Andrew Osenga).  Time passes too quickly, and those moments we have with our loved ones should be cherished, whether they are the “big events” like a wedding, or Father’s day worship, or the “small ” simple times sipping coffee under the stars.

They’re all golden.