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Pray and Don't Worry

Monday, June 03, 2024

Clown World is in full swing these days, and craziness abounds everywhere. It’s easy to feel like the world is coming apart, our social fabric is ripping, and we can trust no one.

We have seen politically motivated upheavals at unusual levels over the past few decades. Rioters have burned cars and shops in some of our major cities, commandeered sections of those cities, swarmed the capitol building as elections were being counted. We have seen unrest on many major university campuses as young people protest the war waged by Israel against Palestinian terrorists.

We see injustice, and we cry out against it. It hurts our souls. We might say, alongside Solomon,

“When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
but when the wicked rule, the people groan” (Proverbs 29.2).

Our hearts groan deeply, and we hear the cries around us.

“He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous
are both alike an abomination to God” (Proverbs 17.15).

Moses wrote:

“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 16.18–20)

When we see leaders and people in power who seem to blatantly disregard the rule of law and execute end-runs around the truth, we want to pull out our hair. We cry foul, but who is listening? Who cares?

The good news for Christians is we don’t have to worry about it. It is right to be upset about a travesty of justice, but we don’t have to worry in the sense of despair. God gives His people a peace the world cannot understand and a joy that cannot be stolen. How can we enjoy this supernatural peace? It is anchored in the knowledge of our God (Eph. 3.14–21), that He loves us and is for us and will never forsake us (Rom. 8.31–39). We don’t worry because our Father holds all things in His hands. We don’t worry because our Elder Brother is King over all nations. God reigns over Clown World.

Our little nation could crash down around us, cities could burn, the United States could become the Divided States, yet our Father and our King will always remain sovereign. They still love us. They still hear us. They still act on our behalf.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4.4–7)

So let us ask God for His help in all these things. Ask Him to judge all the injustice and to keep His people in the palm of His hand. This is the way to eliminate anxiety and be at peace.

Book Review: Strangely Bright by Joe Rigney

Sunday, May 19, 2024

I recently listened to Joe Rigney read his book, Strangely Bright, and I have been greatly blessed! You can get his book on Amazon here.[1]

The tag line under the title reads, “Can you love God and enjoy this world?” This is the theme of the book—how do we balance our love for God with our love for the things of this world. Doesn’t John tell us not to love this world or the things in it (1 John 2.15)? On the other hand, it seems obvious that God wanted Adam and Eve to enjoy the good world He had made for them. He wanted Adam to enjoy Eve, and Adam broke out into verse as he saw his beautiful wife for the first time. Adam spoke an ode about the woman, and men have been doing so ever since.

The verses which tell us not to love this world or to hate father, mother, sister, brother, etc. must be understood in their contexts. God is not telling us to despise all the things He has made. We know every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights (James 1.17). God gave us food not only to sustain us, but also for our pleasure. When God says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34.8), we understand that because God has given us good things to taste. God gave us delicious food to show us a little about Himself! When David says God’s word is “sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19.10), we get it because we love the sweetness of honey.

Joe Rigney points out that we cannot, in fact, love God the way we should if we don’t love what God has given us in this material world. Some Christians fear loving someone too much. What if they loved someone more than they love God? We should certainly avoid idolizing anyone, but it is virtually impossible to truly love someone too much. Of course, the more we love someone, the more pain we will inevitably experience when we are parted from that person, and we might avoid loving because we wish to avoid the pain. But a love for a spouse, a love for a child, a love for a bosom friend reflects the love God has for us and we for Him. Our close relationships on earth teach us more about God’s love.

When we appreciate beauty in nature, we see what God loves, and we learn to love what He loves. This should lead us to praise Him with hearts full of gratitude. And if He has made such amazing things here, what has He prepared for us there (John 14.3)?

Yes, we can love God and enjoy this world. God intended for us to enjoy His creation, and if we are not enjoying this world, we are missing a boatload of blessings!

I encourage you to grab a copy of the book in print or audio—it’s worth the read!

Is This World Getting Worse?

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

I remember my parents’ generation saying, “This world is getting worse and worse. I fear for our kids. What will they have to deal with?” I hear people of my own generation saying the exact same thing now. Most seem to have a rosy remembrance of their childhood years, but the glasses come off as they get older. Perhaps it’s better to say they replace the rose-colored glasses with gray-tinted lenses; they see this world with overly negative vision.

Just because you now know the world is bad doesn’t mean it hasn’t always been bad. Human beings are evil creatures in their natural state. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2.14). Before God shines the light of the gospel into our hearts (2 Cor. 4.6), we are miserable men indeed!

God instructs us to “no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity” (Eph. 4.17-19).

Humans have been this way from the time Adam and Eve swallowed that prohibited produce. We are selfish, prideful, greedy, and sensual. We have twisted worldviews as we have attempted to find our own way apart from God’s direction and wisdom. We engage in sexism, racism, fascism, communism, authoritarianism.

But that battle has always raged, hasn’t it? God’s kingdom continues in pitched battle against the kingdoms of men, and we know who will ultimately conquer. The kingdoms of men continue to crumble while Christ’s dominion continues to increase. “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

I suggest we stop talking about how bad things are getting because…

  1. It’s not productive. When you are pitched in battle against an adversary, it is useless to complain about his strength or that he seems to be winning. This is counterproductive, unhealthy, and generally causes unneeded, harmful fear.
  2. It’s not the truth. If we listen to the Lord, we understand man’s heart is evil from his youth. It’s not like the world used to be a good place, but it’s been sliding. The battle between good and evil continues to wage.
  3. It is a statement of unbelief. When we use this language, we teach our children the devil is winning here on earth, and that’s not a biblical picture. It’s a statement of unbelief. Remember Elisha’s servant who could only see the great army coming against them until Elisha prayed that his eyes be opened. Elisha said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Elisha’s servant could then see the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6.15-19)! Faith is knowing that God is winning here on earth even when we cannot see it, and we need to speak to our kids with language of faith. The good guys win!

Take heart, dear Christian, and speak confidently from a place of faith in the conquering King! Jesus has established His church to disciple the nations, and that’s the business we are in until He returns.

Are You Confident in Your Salvation?

Sunday, May 05, 2024

"Why are you confident in your salvation?"

If you answer, "I am not confident in my salvation," that needs to be remedied! God wants you to be confident. Read 1 John 1.1-4, and see that God wants your joy to be full. You should "know that [you] know Him" (2.3), and you should "know that [you] are in Him" (2.5).

But allow me to address those who are confident in their salvation. Why are you confident?

Are you confident because of your church or your minister?

"I'm a member of the right church, and my preacher preaches the right doctrine."

Let us immediately dismiss this, for no person or body of men can ever save a soul.


For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written:

    “As I live, says the LORD,
    Every knee shall bow to Me,
    And every tongue shall confess to God.”

So each of us shall give account of himself to God. (Rom. 14.10-12)

Are you confident because you follow God's laws?

Does your assurance come from having been baptized (in the correct way and for the right reasons)? Does your confidence swell each first day of the week as you assemble with the saints and correctly partake of the Supper of the Lord? "I'm obedient."

Every Bible preacher under both Old and New Covenants preached, "Repent, and bear fruits worthy of repentance." The fruit of a changed heart surely should be seen in us, giving us a level of confidence as to our position with the Lord. However, the fruit is merely a sign of our salvation and not what causes it. The good works we do may reveal that we have been saved, but the works themselves don't save!

"He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy..." (Titus 3.5)

Are you confident because of your inward repentance and faith?

"I know my heart is right."

Please don't depend upon some attitude of your heart, some inherent internal goodness. Can you be saved without faith and repentance? Hardly! But these, like the good works above, only expose the fact that you are saved!

If we are honest, we know we are not worthy because the intents of our heart continue to hold traces of evil motives and weaknesses to temptation. When is faith ever strong enough? When is repentance ever full? We might believe our latest repentance came from complete and utter brokenness, but in a few more days our weaknesses resurface again! O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

From Where Does True Confidence Come?

Our confidence, ultimately, comes from Jesus Christ, the One whose word never falls to the ground, whose promises are never broken. He exists, He lives, and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Our confidence should never be in our seeking but in the One Whom we seek! Christ is our Yes and our Amen.


"For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." (2 Cor. 1.20-22)


Brothers and Sisters, rest confidently in this, that God saves in Christ, not because of works we accomplish but because of THE WORK Christ has done and the work the Holy Spirit continues to do in us.

In Christ do I trust. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Gal. 2.20).

Grace in Ritual

Sunday, April 28, 2024

I wonder if my generation hasn’t underemphasized ritual and overemphasized spontaneity.

Consider the husband who brings his wife flowers every Friday. He replaces the old flowers in the vase and kisses his sweetheart.

Consider, also, the husband who brings his wife flowers once or twice a year when he gets that special urge. His wife wonders what the occasion is.

Some think the second husband is more romantic and his gift would be more heartfelt. But why should it be that way? Could not the first husband’s flower ritual be more heartfelt than the second husband’s haphazard way of showing his love?

Neither necessarily shows what is in the husband’s heart, but I would guess the first husband thinks of his wife more than the second. He certainly puts more effort into his marriage, at least from a flower-gift perspective.

Think about your daily prayers. And, yes, dear Christian, you should have a daily prayer habit! Daniel prayed three times a day, and his enemies knew exactly where and when he would hit his knees. Daniel had a prayer ritual in place. Just because you pray at the same time every day doesn’t mean it’s not heartfelt. In truth, some days will be more heartfelt than others, but the ritual does not determine this. The ritual makes sure you pray.

Think about times of spiritual devotion with your family. Do you think you are more spiritual if these times are unscheduled? Dad randomly yells, “Okay, kids, let’s have some family worship!” If your kids are like mine, at least a few of them will come grumbling because you interrupted something they were doing. But if you have it scheduled, the kids tend to set aside that time and gather with a more focused mind.

What about meeting with the saints? We meet on a regular schedule, and our organized fellowship and worship looks very similar from week to week. We have rituals established. Does that mean they are not heartfelt? Not at all! The rituals give us a framework to our activities. We don’t have to think through the entire schedule every Lord’s Day, and we can focus on the important matters. We sing together, pray together, share the word of God together, and eat the Lord’s Supper together every week. Are we less than genuine? Not at all!

God gives grace through the excellent daily and weekly habits we build. The ritual helps us continue exercising what needs to be exercised. This week’s fellowship may not be outstanding or mind blowing as a single event, but our times of fellowship build momentum and we experience growth and feelings of solidarity, peace, and joy in what our Lord is doing.

Don’t fall for the lie that our worship and expressions of love must always be spontaneous to be genuine. It’s not so. In fact, we will wear ourselves out if we try to live life this way! Another grace God gives through ritual is that it prevents burnout. The husband who tries to think of something new every day to show his wife how much he loves her will eventually run out of ideas. The husband who knows a few things his wife loves and continues to give her and do those things week after week will find a steady rhythm to life.

This does not mean that spontaneity does not profit. Everyone likes changing things up once in a while! But spontaneity should be the exception, not the rule.

God gives grace through ritual. Don’t wait for the muse to hit, for lightning to strike, for inspiration to fall. Just plan to be where you need to be every day and every week and keep those commitments faithfully. Remember the tortoise and the hare and keep faithfully plodding.

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