Devotional Thoughts

Defeat Is Just The Beginning

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.

Daniel 1:1

…The book of Daniel begins with defeat. For the people of God it was a time of disappointment, difficulties, and downright despair as they watched their city invaded, their armies defeated, and their young people led off into captivity. Certainly, to say the least, it was not their greatest moment. And yet, that was the very starting point God used as the backdrop for one of the Bible’s grandest stories.

Yes, your story might very well be one of “defeat” right now. But that doesn’t mean your story is over. In fact, in the Kingdom of God, it means your story is just beginning. Never forget that God loves to build on the ruins and He loves to use our greatest setbacks as the backdrop for His most glorious works. Take heart. Your best days are before you and your best chapters are yet to be written.

Devotional Thoughts

Time To Stand Still

When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.

Joshua 3:8

…Stand still? We are too quick to try to escape our struggles. We are far too ready to run from our obstacles. If there is a path of least resistance in our lives, we can be certain that it has become well-worn through frequent use and travel. God did NOT redirect His people away from the Jordan. Instead, He told them to face it, walk towards it, and when you get to it, “Stand still.” Don’t avoid it. Don’t run from it. Don’t rush through it. But face it. Square your shoulders, take God by the hand, and face it. We are too quick to forget that our God is greater than any problem, any pain, or any present predicament. If He brought you to it, He will bring you through it. And in the end, it will all have worked out for His glory and your good. In fact, it’s just possible that was His purpose from the beginning. Now is not the time to run and hide. Now is the time to stand still and see the salvation of your God.

He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;

Psalm 46:10
Devotional Thoughts

Suffering Shouldn’t Be Surprising

And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and slammed against that house;

Matthew 7:25

Christianity is NOT an exemption from suffering…

You would think that the personal experience of multiplied thousands of believers combined with over 2,000 years of church history would have convinced us of that reality by now. But for some strange reason, we still cling so desperately (and foolishly I might add) to the notion that once we come to Christ the rest of our years here on earth will all be roses, rainbows, and puppy dog tails. It’s tragic really. I’m not sure why the idea is so prevalent in contemporary Christianity but I imagine that part of it is our fallen natures. We want the easy path, the painless existence. Part of it is the tendency in this present church age to run to teachings that “scratch our itching ears.” We want to be told that it’s all good. We want to be told that faith is an exemption from tears, trials, and temptations. Couple that together with pastors who desperately seek the favor of men rather than the approval of God and you get the present result. The real tragedy is that the crucial issues of human experience are swept under the rug. Rather than dealing with suffering from a Biblical platform we blame those who find themselves struggling with trials for their lack of faith and push the hurting people to the far corners of the sanctuary.

Before we move to the really deep end of this discussion, why don’t we just let the Bible speak for itself on the matter:

James 1:2, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,…” Not if. But when. And secondly, he addresses this to the brethren. Yep, that means fellow-believers.

1 Peter 1:6, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,…” Necessary? When was the last time you heard a message on necessary suffering?

John 16:33, “In the world you have tribulation,…” The speaker of this verse? None other than Jesus Himself. What does that popular bumper sticker say? Oh yeah… God said it, I believe it, that settles it.

2 Corinthians 4:16, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us…” What a humbling statement when one considers Paul’s résumé. Next time you think you have it rough take a look at 2 Cor 11:23-33. Paul says that was light affliction. What?

1 Peter 4;12, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;…” Don’t be surprised. And don’t think it’s strange. God’s children are not exempt from tough times.

I could continue but I think we all get the point. Trials, testings, temptations, and tough times are all par for the course. They should be expected, even anticipated. On this side of eternity, we are going to encounter difficult and demanding situations. Death, pain, disease, tears, and suffering are part of this sin-fallen world. But so many of His children live in a land of make-believe theology. We are convinced that our righteousness (filthy rags at best) and a past decision to walk down the aisle somehow has placed us in a special category of exemption. We have trained ourselves to believe that bad things only happen to bad people. Unfortunately, it’s just not true. Adversity and suffering come to us all. Even Job realized this when he told his wife, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”

Now, I know what some of you are thinking at this point. “Gee, what a hope-filled devotional!” (Sarcasm is hard to write but I can hear it in your voice :)) Hang on. I’m not finished. Look back at the opening verse to this blog. In Matthew 7 Jesus teaches about 2 different types of people. Both people built a home and both people encountered the same storm. The point of separation however was realized in two areas. The first distinction is that one person listened to the Word of God while the other ignored it. The second major difference? Once the storm had passed, the house belonging to the person who had listened and obeyed was still standing. I have told people for years that the storms of life will eventually find you. And if you are smart, you will do two important things in advance. Accept it. And prepare for it. Suffering will come. You are not exempt.

But suffering doesn’t have to be the final chapter in the story of your life. Be like the man who built his house on the rock. Realize that life is not gonna be all sunshine and summer. Night and winter comes to us all. Don’t wait until it is too late. Don’t wait until the storm is beating down the walls of your life. Get prepared today. Get in his Word and let His Word get into you. Obey what you know to be truth. Build your life on the firm foundation of faith in Christ. That way, when the storm does come, you won’t be surprised and neither will you be undone.

Devotional Thoughts

All You Need Is Love

“Love is all you need.” ~ “All You Need Is Love”


Love. We all want it. Long for it. Chase after it. We will pursue it to the ends of the earth if necessary. And yet, for so many it seems ever-elusive, like some mythical creature of ancient lore. We have seen pictures. We have heard the tales. But personally? We haven’t experienced it. Sure, there have been those fleeting encounters, those fly-by-night, left-us-feeling-unfulfilled relationships that we called “love.” But in the end they left us disappointed. Promises were broken. Vows were cast aside as meaningless. We were hurt. We were wounded. Betrayed. Broken. And left emotionally bankrupt. In the end the love we desired was not the love we encountered.

If you have found yourself nodding in agreement this whole time, then let me encourage you with this thought. Real love does exist. It can be found. It can be experienced. The Bible tells us that God is love. Not that kind of love that we so flippantly use when we talk about things like pizza or our favorite sports team, but real, lasting, life-changing, soul-satisfying love. No, I’m not talking about religion. But rather, what I’m talking about is a relationship. God wants to have a personal, intimate relationship with each of us. And that includes you. Why? Because God loves you. He created you. His Son died for you. And now, He wants to live in fellowship with you. Love is all you need. It’s true. Just make sure it’s really love that you are experiencing. Because in the end… love is all you need.

Devotional Thoughts

What Would You Change?

“The church is always trying to get other people to reform; it might not be a bad idea to reform itself a little, by way of example. ” ~ Mark Twain

Let me say upfront that I am not looking to start a debate. Rather, my interest is a discussion. I’m not looking for angry people who want to assault one another as they hide behind the computer screen of anonymity. I want honest, genuine contributions, comments, and yes, even criticism. Of course some will disagree with this statement (that’s all part of it) but I think that the church has been in a state of decline for some time now. Yes, there are pockets of wide-spread growth throughout the world. But here in America? Apart from the proliferation of the mega-church movement, attendance is declining and impact is waning. At least that is how it looks to me after over 2 decades of pastoral ministry. With each day we appear to be more rapidly losing our relevance in the world that surrounds us.


My question is simple. What would you change?