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Change. Change is not something widely appreciated by most people – including me. I like my socks to be in the same place in the same drawer each morning. I enjoy kissing my wife and children at the same time each night before we go to sleep.
Change? Well, it just seems like more hassle than it’s worth or perhaps too risky. What if I lose something I highly value when I change what I eat or wear, or how I behave?
Once a week, my amazing husband watches the kids while I go out by myself for a few hours to run errands. I’m certainly blessed to have a husband who cares so much about me and enjoys helping with our kiddos.
Recently, on one of my excursions I decided to stop by our local Salvation Army. My goal was to get in and get out, and score a bunch of kid’s clothes for cheap. As I was perusing through old and dusty clothing, I heard right next to me, “Excuse me? Excuse me!”
Miley Cyrus tried every move imaginable to mankind in order to get someone to look… and she did. Heads turned. Heads rolled. And most heads shook, at first, with disgust, and then with deep sadness. Gone was the rather innocent girl, Hannah Montana, who drew massive crowds of mimicking pre-teen girls. Gone was the bright, happy smile. Gone was the calm, content, and loving picture of Billy Ray Cyrus with his sprawling family in tow. Gone…
Not too long ago I was attempting to remove some of Hudson’s fancy “artwork” from the walls in our home. At first he wanted to “help Papa clean,” until he found out that I was trying to erase his “mountains…his big mountains” – yes, mountains of crayon, pencil, and unfortunately, ink.
“No big deal,” I thought to myself…
Does behavior “A” always result in “B” – every time? Is Christianity just a cause and effect cycle? Does God keep the carrot of heaven’s hope or hell’s punishment out in front of our noses so that we behave properly? Does God say, “If you behave correctly, you’ll be safe and get what you want! So you better be a nice person, give money to the church, and not have sex before marriage!” Or is there something more?
To be honest, a lot of preaching in today’s culture resembles a man dangling a carrot in front of a donkey’s nose – “Just keep going – the carrot is your cause!”
The beautiful sunshine of spring was gently cascading across the landscape as our little son, Hudson, and I drove across town to worship Christ with the Evangel church family at this year’s Good Friday service. We sang cheerily as we turned northward onto Telegraph road, just a couple miles south of our church campus.
Suddenly the ominous, startling sound of an ambulance rang through our eardrums. Hudson fearfully grasped for my hand as a large EMS vehicle raced past us at breakneck speed. I wondered what we might find up ahead, but I never imagined the scene would be so shocking…
More violence. Bloodshed. Destruction. Hate. Death…
And we wonder aloud: Are you going to put a stop to this, God??! If so, how? And when?! Are You really going to let this pass? We wonder if the wickedness, injustice, and immorality is ever going to cease…
How is the run of your life today? We are continually tempted to draw back, let up, and give in…
Maybe it seems easier to revert back to the old way of doing things – to figure out life on our own. Perhaps it seems as though God just hasn’t come through and life is only getting harder, not easier.
So how should we live in the face of doubts or the temptation to do life our way? How can you and I run faithfully for Christ?
Impure motives of pride, heartless obligation, superiority, longing for admiration, applause, success, wealth, rank, or pity are never sung aloud from our lips for all to hear. We quietly hide them, creatively disguise them, and carefully redefine them. We naturally think ourselves very good at judging the motives of others, but how about our own motives?
Ouch. That question seems to drop like a sharp knife between my toes. Perhaps the most penetrating and uncomfortable question for all of us to ask ourselves is: What is my motive?
To determine the answer to this question I believe we need a litmus test.
My wife and I are in deep sadness over the death of 17 students and teachers in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
We’re also grieved by the fact that the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, had a long history of mental illness and had been diagnosed with autism. Reports show he regularly faced rejection from classmates and neighbors.
Every part of this story is incredibly sad and heart-wrenching.
But while many will weigh-in to talk about political, legal, and psychological factors, I want to go back to a foundational issue, which is actually theological.
Yesterday afternoon, Hudson squinted up into the sky and proclaimed to our little daughter, “Hey Everlynn! Winter is over! It’s warm and I can see the sun!”
“Not quite,” I remarked, much to Hudson’s chagrin. But winter is definitely receding. Within several weeks we may see crocuses begin to emerge from the frosty ground with their cheerful blossoms. A warm breeze will melt away the icy wind. Cool April showers will bring forth life hidden dormant within. . . .
On December 3rd, I accepted the call to serve as Lead Pastor for Mayfair Bible Church of Flushing, Michigan. Our hearts are overwhelmed with praise to God. Below is a short video we produced and letter I’ve written to the wonderful flock at Mayfair…