“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
John 3:16 is one of the most famous verses in the Bible. It’s written on hand-held signs at sporting events, emblazoned on clothing, and plastered on billboards. And we all assume that we know what this verse means: If you “believe in Jesus,” you’ll be saved.
I think we’d all agree—the world is not doing so well. Read the headlines, listen to the news, and we aren’t surprised to find that people lie and cheat and murder, innocent people suffer, and loving kindness is in very short supply. How did we get into this mess?
If you’re a Christian, you probably blame it all on Satan, who enticed Eve into eating that forbidden fruit. The story in Genesis 3 is very familiar; we’ve read it many times. And whether you take it literally or symbolically, the end result is the same. Mankind fell for the lie and the results are all around us.
Pete and I were chatting with a friend, sharing stories about how we’d learned to trust God. So often we’re focused on what’s happening now that we forget to look back at the many years of God’s faithfulness and direction. As Pete related one major lesson he’d learned many years ago, explaining how it laid the foundation for so much of the ministry he had now, I realized that it’s a story worth sharing. I didn’t know Pete when this happened—I met him a month later—but it’s had a huge impact on my life. Maybe God will use it in your life, too. Continue reading
God must love road trips. He took the Israelites on a 40 year road trip in the desert. You wouldn’t think it should take 40 years to get from Egypt to the Promised Land, even walking, but God doesn’t always travel in a straight line. There are too many lessons He wants to teach us along the way.
Exodus 13:17-18 reads:
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert toad toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.
Advent is a time of waiting. Children (and plenty of adults) are eagerly waiting to open their gifts, while others can’t wait to see their look of surprise and delight. We may be anticipating the arrival of family members who live far away, or we may be the ones traveling to see them. If we’re frazzled by all the holiday bustle, we may simply be waiting for January!
In the church, advent is a time of waiting for Jesus. Yes, He is already here. But each year we anticipate His birth anew, and the difference His presence makes in the world.
Do you know the story about Jesus healing the paralytic? (You can find it in Mark 2:1-12.) It goes something like this. Jesus is teaching. He’s in a building, perhaps someone’s home. It’s a full house—packed with eager listeners, along with the usual contingent of Pharisees, trying to trip Him up. It’s so crowded that, when a group of friends arrive, they can’t get in the door.
It’s important for them to get inside because they’ve brought another friend who has been paralyzed for years and years. Everyone had given up hope. Then Jesus comes onto the scene, healing folks. Clearly, this is the big chance. If anyone can heal this man, Jesus can. So they scoop him up and bring him to Jesus. And now they’re reached a dead end. They can’t get inside!
There’s a new problem plaguing our society. It’s not caused by a virus, as is Ebola—or the flu. It’s not violence or drugs, although I suspect it’s more pervasive than either of those. No, this is something I had never heard of until I read Brady Boyd’s new book, Addicted to Busy: Recovery for the Rushed Soul.
I’m talking about the curse of FOMO. Are you familiar with this condition? A quick Google search turned up over 75 million hits, so you might already be familiar with it (I tend to be out of touch at times). FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out. The Urban Dictionary defines it as: “The fear that if you miss a party or event you will miss out on something great.”