Bricks In My Foundation

Throughout my life there have been times where I haven’t been able to see how certain things could ever work out. The first “big” one in my life was after my freshman year of college when I was finally giving in to a call to ministry. Instead of working for the remodeling company that I worked at the year before, I was going to cut back to part time and take on an internship at my parent’s church for the summer which was a significant pay cut. The church graciously offered to take a freewill offering for me at the end of the summer that more than paid for me to continue the next semester at college. I stood in the garage with my dad the afternoon after I found that our bawling at how God provided for me. He said, “Michael, just think of these as bricks in your foundation of continuing to trust that God will provide.”

As I’ve mentioned before, April was an incredibly difficult month for me in so many areas, yet in the midst of it all God graciously reminded me that He will continue to provide for me in ways I don’t deserve. This happened again this past week for me as I’m looking at buying a new car to get me to seminary in Denver and back once a week. I was applying for loans and stressed out that I’d never be able to afford the payments for it and that the interest rate would kill me. I should have trusted. The third place I went to not only gave me a great rate, but is running a special where I don’t have any payments due for 100 days. And this all started with a friend from church suggesting I look at their neighbors car which is 4 years old and only have 16,000 miles on it. Isn’t the way God provides amazing?

So this week I’m needing to remind myself that I can trust God and He will continually come through in astounding ways. He really is an amazing God who loves to lavish His gifts upon us! I’ve been listening to a song off Matt Redman’s new CD on repeat this week titled “Good Forever.” The first line is “Blessings before me, blessings behind me, forever You are good.” What are some of the bricks you have in your foundation that you can look back on and trust that God will see you through everything?

A Childlike Faith

As Relevant reminded me, today is GK Chesterton’s 140th birthday. I have been meaning to get to a biography about him but have yet to actually start it, but I read a quote of his in another book (Boring) a few weeks ago that’s been in the back of my mind since that I read again today. Chesterton said

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

I am someone who thoroughly enjoys spending time with children and I never tire of the endless “do it again!”s that characterize younger children. Yet how often do I spend the same energy both physically and mentally in awe of God’s grace in my life, which is new every morning? Moving from the midwest to a state full of mountains has been quite the transition, and every time I see the mountains I’m struck again at how beautiful they are. Those who grew up here don’t seem to have the same appreciation for these things that I do, but every trip I take to Denver where the Rockies are out my passenger window never ceases to amaze me.

There’s a certain amount of repetition in all our lives that quickly becomes monotony. We tend to wake up at the same times, do the same things at work and probably even eat similar things from week to week. It can be so easy for us to get into the rut of doing the same things while refusing to be at awe at what’s going on around us. Our bodies continue to convert oxygen to carbon dioxide which allows our heart to continue breathing which allows us to continue living. Most, if not all of us, have computers in our pockets that are more powerful than what put us on the moon. We can pull it out and text or call our friends in different parts of the world and and hear back instantly. And every day the sun rises and the sun sets. When is the last time you took some time to be in awe at what God does for us on a daily basis? Even though we sin he remains faithful. Even when we ignore him, he relentlessly pursues us. He daily lavishes his grace upon us. Through the work of his son we are now sons and daughters of the creator and sustainer of the universe. And what good is dwelling on all these wondrous things if we’re not using it as an opportunity to worship God? Worship should be relegated to Sunday mornings, but should define our entire lives.

So stop.

Right now.

Walk outside.

Behold God’s wonderful creation.

And worship.

Love God and Love Others

This has become one of the biggest themes I’ve heard repeated throughout the church recently. We are called to love God and love others. This is very true and what Jesus commanded in Matthew 22:34:40. In fact, Jesus said that those two commandments sum up the entire Law and the Prophets, so the message of the Old Testament is the same as the New: love God and love others. I worry that we have forgotten to first part of that phrase, and the only true way that we are able to love others, by loving God first and foremost above everything else. Jesus even takes it further than summing up the Law and the Prophets by telling his disciples in John 13 that love should be the mark of every Christian, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” This commandment is the very foundation of our faith and is revealed to us in the beginning of Scripture in the creation of the world. 

John 1, echoing the phrasing of Genesis 1 tells us: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through him…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” God didn’t have a need to create us to receive for honor or worship, but chose to create us from an outpouring of his love and perfect fellowship that he has experienced among the Trinity for eternity. Tim Keller in his book Center Church writes that, “he created us to share in his love and service.” The holy and perfect God chose to share his love in his creation of us. Then in the overflow of that love, he allows us to enter into a relationship with him as sons and daughters. He was the one who initially modeled the “love God and love others” within the Trinity. The commandments that sum up our entire Scriptures have been forever displayed by God to bring about his glory. Then as we continue to love God we are able to even more abundantly love others. The overflow of God’s love in our lives should pour over into the lives of those around us – both believers in the church, and nonbelievers we are sharing the Gospel with in word and in deed. 

This whole idea leads me to my focus the past few months – my love of the church. The way we are expected to show our love to our brothers and sisters is through the church. We meet together to: “encourage one another” (Heb 10:25), partake in the Lord’s supper (1 Cor 11:17-34), “address one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph 5:19) and “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture” (1 Tim 4:13). These things should be a part of all of our meetings and allow us to grow and “stir one another up to love and good works” (Heb 10:24). Love is best demonstrated within the local church and helps us better demonstrate Christ’s love to the world. How have you demonstrated Christ’s love this week? How can you better demonstrate Christ’s love?

Drinking Beer to the Glory of God

Can beer be reconciled to the Bible? And can beer be consumed to the glory of God? I would argue that it can and should be enjoyed by those who are able to be responsibly with alcohol, as would David Valentine, who wrote a piece titled ‘Beer & the Pulpit‘ for Relevant magazine. In it, David argues against two extremes when it comes to alcohol: first, we should not over consume to the point of being drunk. Scripture clearly says that’s a sin (Ephesians 5:18). And the second extreme is to simply ignore it. I agree with David that the church should be a place where we can talk about something like alcohol, but how should we do that?

I know some people who abstain from drinking because it causes them to take it too far. If you are one of those people, do so to the glory of God, but don’t hold the same expectations for everyone around you. If you are one who can drink, do so to the glory of God, but do so in a way that doesn’t harm your witness to the world or become a stumbling block to those around you. I try to be very careful about who I will consume alcohol around, not because I’m worried about what people will think, but because I don’t want to harm my witness to others.

I’m grateful for a group of guys right out of college who taught me to appreciate a good drink. We would find different local beers we could try and pair it with a great meal. I’ve gone a much different direction than my parents with it as well, as neither one of them drink. They don’t think it’s a sin, but have chosen to abstain because they have both seen how it affects people.

What does your church say, if anything, about alcohol? How have you been raised in your treatment of alcohol, and has it changed as you’ve gotten older?

Awful At Being In Awe

Hebrews 12 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. It starts off with such a beautiful picture of those who have gone before us and points everything to Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith.” But then the passage goes on to talk about entering in to the presence of God and ends by saying, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” This fire brings to my mind a couple occurrences of fire in the Old Testament. First, a fire that led the people of Israel through the wilderness (Exodus 13:21), and secondly a fire that consumed a very wet offering that Elijah gave to God on the top of Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). How often do we view God as a consuming fire? Perfectly holy and just and apart from a perfect sacrifice unable to have anything to do with sin.

Many people I’ve talked to do not want anything to do with God’s holiness. They insist that God’s love covers over any other attribute he may have, and while it’s true that God is love (1 John 4:8), if that’s the only characteristic we have of God, we have an incomplete and false perception of him. One of the books I’d recommend on this article is ‘The Hole in Our Holiness‘ by Kevin DeYoung. We, generally, are awful at being in awe of God. We too often turn the glory in on ourselves instead of marveling at the incredible creator who cares about the intricacies of our lives. As I once heard Matt Chandler say, you never hear anyone stand in the Grand Canyon and talk about how much they can bench. That would be ridiculous! But we will look at the God who created the universe and try to tell him how much he owes us.

How can you work at being more in awe of God this week? How can you encourage your church to be more in awe of God?


Waiting it hard. Waiting is difficult. Waiting takes patience. Waiting is something God has been working on in my life over the past week. I don’t always know why God does what he does when he does in my life, but I’m learning and striving to trust him in the midst of the struggles. As Relient K said, “I struggle with forward motion/we all struggle with forward motion/cause forward motion is harder than it sounds/every time I gain some ground I’ve gotta turn myself around again” And David wrote in Psalm 37, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” Be still and wait. In our culture that is so difficult! We have access to more information online than previous generations had in entire libraries, yet how often do we simply sit and wait?

I read a blog today titled ‘The “Right Time” God‘ that was really helpful for me this week. One of the most impactful things for me to read was:

But we see, in hindsight, see that God was not inactive during that time, but instead knew the right “when.” We know this of course. Of course we do.

Except we don’t.

We think we do, but our impatience and frustration betrays us. In fact, I wonder today how much sin might be avoided in my life if I really believed in the perfect timing of God. Every time I think I must manufacture an opportunity I show that I don’t believe.

I’m thankful God doesn’t work in my time table, and I continue to pray and trust that God will work things our for my good and his glory!

Putting Your Spouse First

I’m the kind of guy who likes to do research. Whenever I’m about to buy something, I read as many reviews as I can find, painstakingly pick one out, then read the manual from cover to cover before the item even gets to my door. This thinking permeates all areas of my life too so in preparation for marriage, I’ve read When Sinners Say I DoThe Meaning of Marriage, What Did You Expect, and various blogs as well as talking to everyone in the church I’ve seen to have a good marriage. I’ve been doing my research! Yet one thing I’ve already learned in my 24 years of life is that until this intellectual knowledge becomes practical knowledge that I’m living out, I know nothing! One of my best friends from high school got married in May of last year and as we have been talking through the course of his first year of marriage of just how difficult marriage is. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, quite the opposite in fact! The difficulties come from two sinful people coming together in an attempt to mirror the perfect relationship God has with us.

So in my studying and research on this matter I came across this blog today. What an accurate picture of what marriages today need!

My parents were intentional that having kids wasn’t going to stop them from doing the things they did before they had kids. Their object was to bring the kids into their marriage, not allow the kids to drown their marriage in a sea of tasks for the children. For this reason, our kid activities were pretty limited.

Whoa! How many parents actually do that today? And would doing this decrease the incredibly high divorce rate in America today? I think it would! As I’ve been talking to people who have been married for 20-30-40 years they have had this mindset, or else they wake up to it sometime in their marriage. Lewis B. Smeades in an article on Christianity Today way back in 1983 said:

My wife has lived with at least five different men since we were wed—and each of the five has been me. The connecting link with my old self has always been the memory of the name I took on back there: “I am he who will be there with you.” When we slough off that name, lose thatidentity, we can hardly find ourselves again. And the bonds that connect us to others will be frayed to breaking.

As we go through life our main focus should be, in this order: God, our spouse, our children and then anything else. I know it’s one thing for my to write about this on this side of marriage, but it’s a reminder I need to begin telling myself before I get married to carry in to my marriage. Through God’s grace, I will keep Him first, and then make my spouse my priority as we do our best to live out the Gospel in our lives.

Westboro Baptist Church: A Story of Redemption

A big topic in the news this past week is that 2 members of the picketing, gay hating Westboro Baptist Church have left the church and are trying to figure out how to live life apart from the church now. You can read the story here.

One thing stands out to me from this story. Megan is quoted as saying, “I don’t know what I believe, so I don’t know what to say.” This seems to me to be a a trend: those who are in a very strict upbringing are exposed to the world and have no base to stand on so they end up believing nothing and questioning the validity of everything. This it the wrong reaction to have, but I understand and sympathize with those who have such extreme views.

The encouraging thing is that it sounds like both Megan and her sister Grace are checking out some different churches and doing as much research as they can. It really shows that God has no bounds and can reach and redeem those who we seem to think are too far removed from grace. I hope and pray that Megan, Grace and the rest of the Westboro church learn about this God who extends grace to even the worst of sinners. Until one is willing to admit that they are just as in need of God’s grace as the worst of sinners, they won’t be able to extend the same grace to the world around them. I’m thankful for a God who extends grace to my on a daily, hourly, minutely, and socondly basis.