Memorial Day

image

What good is a memorial if we’ve forgotten its purpose?

In the United States, we set aside the last Monday in May as an official memorial to honor the fallen.

Since most people are given the day off, it’s usually used to kick off summer, have a barbecue, and hit the beach.

For others, it’s a trip to the military cemetery to sit with the remains of a husband, wife, father, mother, brother, sister, or friend.

Today is a time to reflect on those who died to make us a free country, to end slavery, to deliver the oppressed, and to make the world a better place.

Take time today to remember. Tell your children what today is for so that it’s purpose will not be lost.

 

Who Do I Fear More: Man or God?

marc-wieland-86482

When I choose the wrong path while under pressure, is it mere weakness or something more?

I lived in California for over 30 years. I learned early-on that I was often in the minority religiously, morally, and politically. In fact, if one held a remotely conservative view, silence was the recommended modus operandi… unless you wanted to lose your job, be branded as a bigot, or simply sneered at. Liberals, on the other hand, vehemently spoke on their viewpoints even when it was unrelated to the subject at hand. Continue reading

Tired of all the Negative in Your Newsfeed?

This morning I was doing some Facebook catch-up and one of my friends had posted this picture:

IMG_3219

The picture immediately reminded me of God’s Love and the awesome gift of prayer He as given us. It was a ray of sunshine into the dark of my early morning.

Intrigued by the beautiful rendering of the bible verse, I clicked over to the connected Facebook page and scanned through some of the content. Aside from a devotional or two most of what I spotted were simple designs of Bible verses. How cool is that?

My personal newsfeed gets cluttered with plenty of negative information. I don’t need to hide under a rock and pretend the world is all sunshine and daisies, but I do need to be intentional about balance. Continue reading

Forgetting God

This is Part 3 of the Series “The Effects of Knowing God” For the previous post, click here.

ben-white-197668.jpg

[God] established a testimony in Jacob…
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them…
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
and that they should not be like their fathers…
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.

~ Psalm 78.5-8, ESV

How would it feel to be the generation that ruined it all? If the United States collapsed within the next 40 years, the fault could not be laid exclusively at the feet of millennials. At least 3 previous generations would also bear the blame for our slow slide toward destruction.

But… What if there had not been a slow slide, but a completely foolish string of choices confined to one generation? Can you imagine witnessing the destruction of your country, knowing your generation was responsible? Continue reading

Am I Intellectually Lazy?

lachlan-donald-90605

The simple believes everything,
but the prudent gives thought to his steps.

~ Proverbs‬ ‭14:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A few years ago my spouse and I were driving to San Diego. Because of the labyrinth of freeways that make up Southern California, we had the GPS (Global Positioning System) running. I knew generally how to get where we were going, but it is helpful to have those little reminders of impending exits and freeway interchanges. As we were cruising southbound on Interstate 15, the GPS suddenly commanded, “make a u-turn if possible.” Continue reading

Is Your Parenting on Cruise Control?

matheus-ferrero-159452.jpg

Parenting is inconvenient.

Yes, I just said that.

Once you have a child, your life will be forever changed.

You will be humbled. Humiliated. Screamed at. Loved with abandon. Squeezed with unimaginable strength by those little arms. Amazed. Shocked. heartbroken. Overwhelmed with love. Filled with a newfound awe for your own parents.

Unfortunately, once the baby phase is over, we parents hit burn-out: Continue reading

Coming Catastrophes

despairI’ve heard it three times this past week:  “A major market crash is coming soon to a 2017 near you!!!”

OF course, there are multiple suggestions as to how to avoid said calamity:

“Be an entrepreneur”

“Invest in business”

“Buy gold and silver”

“Shore up your food supply”

“If you’re going to buy a house, buy now before rates rise.”

And, of course, all these suggestions assume you have a certain amount of capital to begin with. They all point you towards how to be self-sufficient. They point everywhere but God. 

Are these poor suggestions? No, but they require time. If a crash is imminent, you may not have time for the benefit of these efforts to be realized.

As someone who loves to read History (but is by no means an expert), I’ve come to the conclusion that disasters—natural and/or economic—do not play favorites. Certainly, the poor tend to suffer more than the rich during economic crises, but the rich are not unscathed. In fact, sometimes their devastation is far greater because they have further to fall than the rest of us. During natural disasters, the rich will die under a colapsing bridge or rising flood the same way a poor person will.

You really can’t take it with you, and you really aren’t an all-powerful, self-determining, demigod. 

It’s easy to hear apocalyptic predictions and panic—easier than falling off a log! It’s much harder to remember to lay your fears at the foot of God’s throne and go about your tasks with diligence.

Is a crash really coming?! What do I do!

For your first question—I haven’t the foggiest. I’m not God or an economic expert.

On the second question, I have a simple three-step process:

#1: Lay your fears before God.

Give thanks for all the times He has made provision for you and humbly ask Him to continue. Tell Him about “the impossibilities” and ask Him to grant you wisdom.

#2: Do The Next Right Thing

Be the best steward you can be today, in this moment, for you may not have tomorrow. Take care of your family, love your neighbor, and serve God. Do what is before you today and let go of your fear for tomorrow. To worry is to steal joy from today over what might not happen tomorrow.

#3: Take time to Remember

Do a quick search on “trust” in your Bible app and locate verses about God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. Read them, pray them, and write them.

Once you’ve done that make a list of at least 3 times God has provided for you or answered your prayers. Have this list with you when you repeat step 1.

Do all three things and then repeat!

Prepare yourself for the evil day by giving yourself to God this day.

Is a crash is truly coming? I can’t honestly say. A nuclear bomb or a terrorist strike or a thoughtless driver could strike me tomorrow and I would have no way to prevent it. Don’t waste today’s energy fretting about tomorrow’s troubles. Leave your unpredictable future in the hands of our faithful God.

What are Your Study Habits?

IMG_3086

When I was a green seventeen-year old beginning my first year of college, I went through an orientation week affectionately called “WOW week” (aka Week of Welcome). In one of our mandatory sessions, the Dean of the College of Sciences asked us the following:

How many hours did you study in high school?

Do you know how to take notes?

Do you know the importance of rest?

Having graduated second in my high school class, I had little concern about my study habits because I knew they were sound. I am not a genius so I had to spend hours (about 30 hours/week) studying, taking detailed notes, recopying my notes as a study method, and prioritizing my projects. I continued these habits in college and managed to graduate cum laude. Persistence really does pay off.

A few years after college, this question was posed to me:

“Do we devote as much time to studying the Bible as we did studying for our chosen professions?” Continue reading

Are you counting on the right safety nets?

andres-canchon-37439.jpg

The United States is what I would call a safety-net country. An abundance of government-led programs prevent the widespread devastation of economic crises and natural disasters. In fact, these programs have made many believe they are entitled to invulnerability of any kind.

“Everyone has the the right to eat!” So the government spends billions on WIC, EBT, SNAP and other welfare programs.

“Nobody should lose everything if they are laid off from a job!” So we’ve been given unemployment benefits.

“No elderly person should have to work until they die, or starve if they can no longer work…” So we have Social Security.

“No disabled person should have to beg for food!” So we have disability benefits.

“No person should get abandoned in a catastrophe!” So we send in FEMA

To many, these safety nets are like gods themselves… Continue reading

Why The Resurrection Matters

IMG_3051Some may ask why the resurrection is essential to our faith. Why can’t we just believe Jesus was a good teacher and follow His teachings? Why does it matter whether He had divine power?

If there was no resurrection, what do we have beyond this life?

If there was no resurrection, our Savior has no power to save.

If there was no resurrection, being a Christian is downright crazy.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

~ 1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:17-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus’ disciples walked with Him for 3 years. Show-stopping miracles were a regularity. The blind saw. The deaf heard. The lame walked. Demons fled. The disciples bore intimate witness to His divine power.

And yet, as Jesus was led away by an angry mob, they ran for their lives.

The disciples, like most humans, feared death. Like the rest of the Jews, the disciples believed Jesus was going to restore the kingdom of Israel to earthly power. When He died, their misguided hopes died with Him.

Dark despair hung over the disciples as Jesus’ body reposed in the shadowy tomb.

Sunday morning, the sun crept over the horizon, softening the earth with its gentle warmth and light. At that same golden moment, a brighter, more glorious Son, rose from the realm of death.

Hope crushed despair.

Love conquered death.

Jesus overpowered Satan.

After Jesus’ resurrection, we see the apostles boldy preaching the gospel in the face of inevitable persecution. From the depths of prison to a dusty, blood-strewn road, their voices rose in praise. Death no longer frightened them. Fear no longer controlled them.

What changed?

What made them embrace death without fear? What made them choose lives of sacrifice?

The Empty Tomb.

The Living Savior.

The Resurrection.

When Jesus revealed His resurrected self to the apostles, all doubt vanished. Why fear death when your King has demonstrated His power to vanquish it?

The resurrection is crucial.

Without the resurrection, we have no hope.

Without hope, joy is lost.

Without joy, life is meaningless.

But Jesus has risen, hope is assured, and our lives overflow with joy inexpressible.

Our hope is not in this world or this life. Our living hope is the resurrected Christ. We take up our cross daily, crucifying the old man of sin, dying to self until he returns or we go home.

Today, and every day for the rest of your life, treasure this gift from God. We have an unshakeable hope because Jesus rose and Jesus lives.