Thursday, April 30, 2015

Find Your Passion

Do you ever sit back and wonder what you want to do with your life? What do you want to pursue for a major in college? What do you want to do for a career? What do you want to devote your life to doing? What do you want to accomplish over the course of your life?

Find your passion and pursue it. Find what you love -- what excites you, what inspires you -- and make a career out of it.

My career started with my love for mathematics. I loved it as a child, in high school, and in college. I became a math teacher, and I found I loved passing my love for mathematics to others.

I also love learning. I enjoy reading, exploring new topics, and conquering new skills. I enjoy teaching, seeing students learn, and helping teachers further develop their teaching skills.

I deeply love Jesus Christ and the Word of God. I enjoy theology, and I get excited helping others develop their faith and walk.

These passions all meet in my vocation. I am a Christian school leader. For the past 22 years I have worked in Christian schools as a teacher, coach, principal, and head of school.

What has God designed you to do? Pray about it. Seek advice from mentors and leaders around you. Explore opportunities around you. Develop your gifts. Volunteer in situations where you can learn more and use your talents. Work hard. Study hard.

I know God has a calling for you. I know he has a mission for you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Take Your Mentor Out to Lunch

Do you have a mentor?

Do you know one person that you respect for his/her faith, character, relationships, accomplishments, and priorities?

Is she your teacher, coach, or youth leader? Is he your boss, a member of your church, or a family friend?

Identify one person and take him/her out to lunch. Use the time to learn and grow in wisdom.

Here are some questions to consider asking:
1.       What are some things you wished you knew when you were my age?
2.       How did you end up in the career you have?
3.       Why did you choose your career?
4.       How does your faith affect your daily life?
5.       How do you keep your family a priority?
6.       How do you keep your faith strong?
7.       How have you seen hard work pay off in your life?
8.       How have you learned from mistakes?
9.       What are your main priorities in life?
10.   How do you approach social media?
11.   How do you make hard decisions?
12.   What are some of my strengths?
13.   What are areas I need to improve in?
14.   If you were me, what college would you attend?
15.   Who is another person you think I should take to lunch and get advice from?

I am sure there are thousands of other questions you can ask. The key is gleaning wisdom from this person you so respect. Come up with your own questions, take notes at the meeting, and if you cannot get through the entire list meet again in a couple weeks.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Prophetess Anna (Luke 2:25-40)

In Luke 2:25-40, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple soon after his birth. There they met two remarkable individuals, Simeon and Anna, who testified of Jesus as Savior of the world.

In commenting about their interaction with Anna, J.C. Ryle made the following points about Anna in his book Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (Luke):

  • Anna was a woman of irreproachable character – The fruit was evident despite experiencing many trials and living so many years as a widow.
  • Anna was a woman of great self-denial – serving God in fasting day and night.
  • Anna was a woman of much prayer – serving God in prayer day and night.
  • Anna was a woman who held communion with other saints – quickly telling others about Jesus.
  • Anna received a rich reward for all her diligence in God’s service – seeing the Messiah before she died.

The account of Anna is brief and only found in the Gospel of Luke, but there is much for us to learn from her life.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Growing Up Christian -- Study Guide -- Chapter 2

Here is a section from the study guide that guides the group through chapter two. If you would like the complete study guide, please email me through growingupchristian.com.


CHAPTER 2: IN or OUT?
The danger of false assurance

Pre-Assignment
1.      Read chapter 2
2.      Complete the “A Look in the Mirror” self-evaluation below or in the book
3.      Write down one question you had as you read the chapter
  
A Look in the Mirror
Take a few moments to read, consider, and answer each of these questions.

When You Are By Yourself…
1.      Do you pray?  What do you pray about? 
2.      Do you read the Bible?  Do you enjoy reading your Bible?  Do you experience God teaching you when you read your Bible?
3.      Do you worship God?  Why do you worship?
4.      Do you think about God?  What aspects of God do you think about?

5.      Do you confess your sin to God?

Your Motives
1.      Why do you pray?
2.      Why do you read your Bible?
3.      Why do you go to church?
4.      Why do you attend youth meetings?
5.      What do you think about in times of corporate worship?
6.      Why do you do good works?
7.      Why do you acknowledge sin in your life?
8.      Why do you obey your parents?

Your Relationships
1.      Do you talk about God with your friends?
2.      Do you tell non-Christians about your faith?
3.      Do you have a good relationship with your parents?
4.      Do you enjoy spending time with true Christians?
5.      Do you desire to serve others?
  
One Question:
Write down at least one question that came to your mind as you read this chapter:

Small Group Discussion Questions
Here are the small group discussion questions found at the end of the chapter, plus a few more:

1.      What is false assurance of salvation?  What is true assurance of salvation?
2.      Why do church kids tend to assume they are Christians, even if they are not?  Why is this so dangerous?
3.      How does a person become a Christian? 
4.      How can you know if a person is a Christian?  What kind of words and actions would you expect in the life of a true Christian?
5.      Who is one person you know that you are confident is a Christian?  How do you know?
6.      Why is it important to consider the thoughts and motives behind your actions?
7.      What did you learn about yourself through the “Look in the Mirror” II Corinthians 13 self-test?
8.      Are you a Christian?  How do you know?
9.      Do your parents believe you are a Christian?  Why?
10.  If you are a Christian, do you remember a specific time when you first believed?
11.  What is the gospel?  What does it mean to believe the gospel?  Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?

Take Away
1.      What is one point that challenged you from the small group discussion or the reading?
2.      What is one specific application for your life today?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Growing Up Christian -- Small Group Discussions & Study Guide

I have created a study guide for small group discussions. If you would like a free copy, email me through growingupchristian.com, and I will send it to you.

Here is a section from the study guide:


SUGGESTIONS FOR LEADERS
As you lead your small group discussions

Encouragement
First let me encourage you as you seek to reach the hearts and minds of the teens in your youth group or discussion group. I pray that God gives you wisdom and creativity for the task. And I pray that God will use you to help each teen develop a faith an a walk of their own.
  
Get Them Reading
Teens are busy with school, extracurriculars, and work. Be creative in getting them to read the book before you discuss it. You may even want to take 10 to 15 minutes and have them spread out and read the chapter. This is a simple way to make sure they read it, and it will be fresh on their minds as you transition to discussion.
  
Get Them Talking
Prayerfully consider ways to get your teens talking. That is, get them talking and resist lots of talking by adults to them. Ask good questions that require more than “yes” or “no” answers. Follow up initial answers with, “why do you think that?” or “can anyone add to that?” or “what do the rest of you think of that?”

Get Them in the Word
Help your teens see the connection between the Bible and their lives today. Have them bring their Bibles to each meeting, have them read it aloud, and have them make connections to their lives today.

Friday, April 24, 2015

We Believe – Newsboys

I love the song We Believe by the Newsboys. The lyrics and the tune are powerful. 

What we believe matters. What do we believe about God the Father? What do we believe about Jesus Christ? What do we believe about the Holy Spirit? What do we believe about salvation? What do we believe at the crucifixion? What do we believe about the resurrection? What do we believe about Jesus' second coming?

This songs gets as thinking about the basics of the Christian faith, our core beliefs. Take some time today to listen to this song, read the lyrics, and consider what you believe.

Here are the lyrics:

In this time of desperation
When all we know is doubt and fear
There is only One Foundation
We believe, We believe
In this broken generation
When all is dark, You help us see
There is only One Salvation
We believe, We believe

We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He’s given us new life
We believe in the crucifixion
We believe that He conquered death
We believe in the resurrection
And He’s comin’ back again, we believe

So, let our faith be more than anthems
Greater than the songs we sing
And in our weakness and temptations
We believe, We believe

We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He’s given us new life
We believe in the crucifixion
We believe that He conquered death
We believe in the resurrection
And He’s comin’ back again

Let the lost be found and the dead be raised
In the here and now, let love invade
Let the church live love our God will see
We believe, We believe
And the gates of hell will not prevail
For the power of God, has torn the veil
Now we know Your love will never fail
We believe, We believe!

We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He’s given us new life
We believe in the crucifixion
We believe that He conquered death
We believe in the resurrection
And He’s comin’ back,
He’s comin’ back again
He’s comin’ back again
We believe!
We believe


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Longing for Heaven

Yesterday I came down with a cold. My sinuses were packed, my head throbbed, and I had a fever. After pushing through the day, I crashed in bed. I could not stop shivering. I jumped out of bed, put on another layer of clothing, and grabbed a winter hat. I glanced at the temperature reading on the wall, and it said 71 degrees. I should not have been cold, but I was freezing.

Lying in bed, I thought about heaven. I was instantly grateful that there will be no more sickness and no more suffering in heaven. There will be no fevers, runny noses, shivering, or sore throats. There will be no broken bones, diabetes, or cancer in heaven. There will be no blindness, hearing loss, or speech impediments in heaven. 

We live in a fallen and broken world, but Christians are ultimately citizens of heaven. We dwell on earth for about 80 years, and we live forever in heaven.

I cannot wait. Evil, injustice, and hatred will have no part of heaven. Joy, love, and praise will fill the atmosphere of heaven. We will not struggle with sin, and we will not experience sickness. We will live in faithful, complete praise of the Father, and we will have new bodies that are whole and complete.

The last 24 hours I have not felt well at all, but I have thought a lot about heaven.

Do you long for heaven? Do you think about the glories of eternity with the Father?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Hope & A Future (Jeremiah 29:11)

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

This passage is a prophecy to the Israelites who were in exile in Babylon, and it applies to us today.

God has a plan for each of us. He has plans for us that are good and not for evil. He works all for good for Christians, and he is completely good and loving. He uses trials to refine us, he uses discipline to shape us, and he walks with us in the midst of suffering.

The Lord has a future for us. He has given us gifts and talents that he wants us to develop and use. He has a future calling for us to work for him, to serve others, and to make a difference for Christ in the world.

Jesus Christ gives us hope. His death on the cross for us defeated the power of sin. He restored our relationship with the Father, and we who believe can look forward to eternity in heaven. We can have hope for today, hope for tomorrow, and hope for eternity.

This is a good verse to pray through.

Lord, thank you that you have a plan for me. Thank you that you are good and loving and your plans are for my good and never for my bad. Thank you that you have a future plan for me. Show it to me. Open wide doors that you want me to walk through, and close doors you do not want me to walk through. Thank you that you are a God of hope. Give me hope today. Give me hope for tomorrow. Give me hope for the future. Give me a glimpse of heaven, and help me live today with an eye towards eternity with you.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Peace of God (Ephesians 4:6-7)

Last night I went to bed with a lot on my mind. Thoughts of projects I need to finish, people I need to call, and tasks I need to be complete filled my mind as I tossed and turned in my attempt to fall asleep.

This morning I woke up with a lot on my mind. The same unfinished work immediately popped into my mind when I opened my eyes. Fighting to get back to sleep, I began to review my to-do list, which seemed to only get longer and longer. I gave up, and I jumped out of bed early, with a lot on my mind.

What do you do when you have a lot to do and a lot on your mind? What do you do when your to-do list is extremely long and overwhelming?

If you are like me, you get anxious and worry. That’s why today and every day like today, I need to live in Ephesians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In this passage God directs us to turn to him in prayer, lifting up our requests to him with thanksgiving. This means we can counter worry and fears with Jesus and finding peace and strength in him. We need to pause from our thoughts of the day ahead and focus our thoughts on Christ, who is interceding on our behalf at the right hand of the Father.

The promise is amazing – the peace of God, which transcends all understanding. Instead of fretting and losing sleep, we can experience peace from God. Instead of anxiety and worry, we can experience calm from Jesus Christ. This is freeing!

So today join me in living in Ephesians 4:6-7. I need to the one who is Lord over my situations, the one who is all powerful, and the one who knows all.  I will experience the peace of God which transcends all understanding to guard my heart and mind.

Monday, April 20, 2015

On The Throne by Desperation Band

At my church yesterday morning, we were introduced to a fantastic song called On The Throne by Desperation Band, which is a worship team from New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO.

The song touched my heart. In particular, the chorus jumped out at me,

     For the Lord is, He is able
     He is faithful
     Higher than the mountains that I face
     Every season, I will press on
     For God alone is on the throne

The song inspires us to trust God even in the midst of trials. No matter our circumstances, God is mighty, able, and faithful. He is fully in charge and much bigger than any challenge that we face. We can trust him for peace, strength for the next step, and future victory.

Take a few minutes to listen to On The Throne yourself.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Effective and Fruitful for Christ

I
Do you want to live a life that is effective and fruitful for Christ?

The Apostle Peter teaches us about this in II Peter 1:5-8, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Take some time to carefully think about each phrase or term in this passage. Grab your journal, pull out a sheet of paper, or sit down at your computer and in your own words explain what each of these phrases or words means. Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you grow in each of these areas.
  • Make every effort
  • supplement your faith
  • virtue
  • knowledge
  • self-control
  • steadfastness
  • godliness
  • brotherly affection
  • love
  • if these qualities are yours
  • and are increasing
  • they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful
  • in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ
Peter assumes that the readers believe in Jesus. He wants them to supplement and add to their faith, and he sees their need for growth. He wants them to be effective and fruitful for Christ.

Is this the desire of your heart? Do you want to impact your classmates, friends, and family for Jesus Christ? Do you want to be an example of the power of the gospel? Do you want others to see your life and want to have the same God that you have?

If so, consider how you can supplement your faith by adding the godly qualities mentioned here. Look up each term so you know exactly what Peter means. Get practical and identify specific steps you can take to grow in these areas. Pray for help.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

What defines you?

I wear hearing aids. In the early 1990’s I lost most of my hearing in my left ear, and I lost about half of my hearing in my right. The condition is called cochlear otosclerosis, and I do not know why this started affecting me in my early 20's.

During my first year of teaching, I struggled to hear my students. After multiple hearing tests, I was diagnosed and fitted with hearing aids. They helped significantly, but didn't solve my hearing problems.

On the positive side, in bluetooth mode, I can listen to the TV directly through my hearing aids, which is fantastic. Sounds in the night do not wake me, because I take out my hearing aids when I sleep. In fact, sometimes I do not even hear my alarm in the morning, but thanks to my wife I get up on time.

On the negative side, I have to ask my wife and kids to repeat themselves a lot. If someone talks to me from the other room, I can rarely understand what she says. If someone covers his mouth when he talks to me and I cannot read his lips, I usually cannot discern his words.

Yes, I have hearing loss. Yes, I wear hearing aids. But, my physical handicap does not define me.

I am a Christian.
I am a child of God.
I am a husband and a father.
I am a son and a brother.
I am a Christian school leader.
I am a writer.

Life does have trials, and many of them are extremely difficult. But God promises to work all for good for Christians (Romans 8:28), and he uses trials to refine us (James 1:2-4).

The Apostle Paul wrote the book of Philippians while in jail with the fear of death hanging over his head. Yet his trial did not define him. His imprisonment did not define him. Instead he boldly stated,

  • "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion." (Philippians 1:6) 
  • "...so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." (Philippians 1:20)
  • "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord..." (Philippians 3:7) 
  • "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! The Lord is near." (Philippians 4:4-5)
  • "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)

My trials do not define me. My limitations do not define me. My handicaps do not define me. 

My relationship with Jesus Christ defines me. The love of my heavenly Father defines me. The power of the Holy Spirit living in me defines me.

What defines you?

Friday, April 17, 2015

I'll Stand -- Completely Surrendered

Hillsong United produces some amazing Christian worship songs.

In their song I’ll Stand, the chorus states,

     So what can I say?
     What can I do?
     But offer this heart O God
     Completely to You

In response to the amazing love of God, what can we do? In response to the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ for us, what can we do? In response to the stunning reality that God chose us to be his sons and daughters, what can we do?

We can offer our hearts completely to him. We can give all of us to him. We can live fully for the glory of God.

The bridge states,

     So I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned
     In awe of the One who gave it all
     So I’ll stand, my soul Lord to You surrendered
     All I am is Yours

How does a Christian live? We worship. We abandon all for Jesus. We stand in awe of our almighty God. We surrender all for him. We give up our will and our way and we completely pursue his way. We declare that all that we have is his.

We live the greatest commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Blessings of Growing Up Christian

Here is a section from chapter one of Growing Up Christian.

Growing up in a Christian home is a wonderful privilege.  Church kids have been given so much: godly parents, training in the Word of God, friends from Christian homes, support from a Christian church community, and most importantly an opportunity to know God at a young age.  Throughout our lives, we are repeatedly taught about the love of God, his plan of salvation, ways to recognize and resist sin, and living for the glory of God.

Not only are church kids given much, we are also protected from much.  Our God-fearing and loving parents wisely limit our entertainment options—television, music, movies, books, and magazines.  They carefully monitor our friendships and our exposure to the message of the world.  We learn about the lies of secular values and other religions.  We are trained to evaluate all of life according to the standards of Scripture.

Daily, I benefit from years of being taught the truths of Scripture and from countless hours of reading the Word.  My parents have provided for me a clear example of living all of life for the glory of God, maintaining a strong marriage, and raising children.  Because of faithful training by my parents, teachers, and church leaders, I have not had to break many bad habits and regret years of godless living.

I have a friend who became a Christian at the age of 41.  He is determined to live every moment of his life for God because he feels like he wasted his first 41 years.  My friend wishes he had the opportunities that the young people in his church have.  He sees how they know more about God than he does and are only a third of his age, and he gets excited about the difference these church kids will make for Christ as they move into adulthood. 

When I think that I have lived almost 40 years as a Christian and (Lord willing) may live another 40 years, I’m amazed at God’s love and kindness towards me.  It truly is a great blessing to be a church kid.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

J.C. Ryle -- A Faith & a Walk of Your Own

“I ask the children of religious parents to mark well what I am saying.  It is the highest privilege to be the child of a godly father and mother, and to be brought up in the midst of many prayers.  It is a blessed thing indeed to be taught the gospel from our earliest infancy, and to hear of sin, and Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and holiness, and heaven, from the first moment we can remember anything.  But, oh, take heed that you do not remain barren and unfruitful in the sunshine of all these privileges: beware lest your heart remains hard, impenitent, and worldly, notwithstanding the many advantages you enjoy.  You cannot enter the kingdom of God on the credit of your parents’ religion.  You must eat the bread of life for yourself, and have the witness of the Spirit in your own heart.  You must have repentance of your own, faith of your own, and sanctification of your own.” 

J.C. Ryle, Holiness, Moscow, Idaho: Charles Nolan Publishers, 2001, p. 199.

Monday, April 13, 2015

What’s a Church Kid?

Here is a section from chapter 1 of my book Growing Up Christian.

Once, I spoke at a high school leadership conference where a few of the teenagers didn’t like the term “church kids.”  To them it had the same connotations as “pastor’s kids”, a term often synonymous with troublemakers.  Maybe you feel the same way, but when you really understand what a church kid is, I think you will see that it’s an overwhelmingly positive term.

Church kids are individuals who have grown up in the church.  They come from Christian homes, have Christian parents, and have attended church their entire lives.  They live in a Christian culture surrounded by Christians at home, church, and often school.  It is a wonderful privilege to be a church kid.

I’m a church kid myself, and I am incredibly grateful to God for the many blessings we church kids experience while growing up Christian homes.  We have been raised and trained by godly parents; we have been repeatedly told the message of the gospel; we have been taught the Word of God from a young age; we have regularly attended church where we have worshiped God and have been taught about his character; we have lots of Christian friends; and we have been protected from many of the negative influences of the world. 

In July of 1971, God greatly blessed me by allowing me to be born into a strong Christian family in a small town in New Hampshire.  My parents did not grow up in Christian homes, but God saved them about six years before I was born.  They faithfully raised me according to biblical principles.  Our family regularly attended church, prayed together, and had times of family Bible study.  My parents sent me to youth group meetings, a Christian school, and a Christian college.  I grew up a fairly typical church kid.

Just before turning four, in July of 1975, God drew me to himself through the gentle teaching and leading of my parents.  At that time I repented of my sins and professed Jesus as my personal Savior.  I had a four-year-old’s understanding of the gospel, and in retrospect, I think a genuine conversion.  (Isn’t it amazing that the gospel message is simple enough for a four-year-old to grasp!)  I do not remember the time prior to my salvation.  I practically grew up a Christian.

As I grew older, my faith steadily grew too.  God used specific trials in elementary and high school to refine my faith and teach me how to trust him.  After high school, I left rural New Hampshire and headed to the suburbs of Chicago to attend Wheaton College, where God helped me begin to live out my faith and form a walk of my own.  He also confirmed a call on my life to work in Christian education, and since graduating in 1993, I have worked full-time as a Christian school teacher and principal.

I am a church kid.  I grew up surrounded by church kids, went to college with church kids, and have worked closely with church kids for the past eleven years.  I have experienced and observed both the blessings and dangers of growing up in a Christian environment, and I have a strong desire that church kids learn to praise God for the privileges they experience and carefully navigate the dangers they face.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Accomplish Your Dream Today

When I was growing up, I dreamed about being the left fielder for the Boston Red Sox. Okay, it did not happen…at least not yet. I also dreamed about leading my own Christian school, which I have been able to accomplish. I also dreamed about writing my own book, which became a reality in 2005 after about 8 years of hard work.

What do you dream about accomplishing? What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you long to do during your life?

Everyone has a dream. Everyone has an ideal goal. Yet we rarely accomplish our dreams. They seem so far off and so far out of reach that we do not even take the first steps towards the goal. But, each of us can do something today to take a step in the direction of accomplishing our dreams.

If you long to be a full-time musician and record your own album, work hard today on your singing skills and sign up for more advanced instrument lessons. If you long to be a computer scientist, sign up for the STEM program at your school, teach yourself a computer language, and spend strategic time today building your computer skills. If you desire to play Division I basketball, shoot an extra 100 free throws and 100 extra three-pointers today and sign up for the summer basketball camp at your local college. If you hope to be a published author, spend 30 minutes today (and every day) writing, read books about writing, and get feedback on your writing from an author you know.

Dream big and work hard today to accomplish your goal. Great accomplishments only happen with great effort and long-term determination. Do not put off your dream another day. Sit down now and list one thing you can do today, five things you can do this week, and ten things you can do this month to move closer to accomplish your dream. Pray for God's help and get busy today!

Friday, April 10, 2015

5 Lessons in Trusting God from Proverbs 3:5-6

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

This passage is to be the heart cry of every Christian. Let's look carefully at each phrase and gain five insights into trusting God.

1.    Trust in the Lord

Trust the Lord of the universe. Trust the all-mighty and all-knowing Lord. He is holy, just, loving, and faithful. He never changes and will never forsake you. No one compares, and no one is as worthy of your trust.

2.    Trust with all your heart

Trust him completely. There is no reason to hesitate or give a second thought to trusting him. Do not hold back. Trust him with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

3.    Do not trust your own understanding

Do not trust anyone else, especially yourself. You may know a lot, but God knows even more. You may understand a lot, but God understands everything completely. Watch out for blind spots, and be careful of wrong assumptions.

4.    In all your ways submit to the Lord

Trusting God means believing he loves you and wants what is best for you. Surrender to his ways and his plans for you. Ask him to accomplish his purposes in your life. Be willing to give up what is dear to you if you have to. Be willing to follow his lead

5.    He will guide and direct you

When you trust him, he will guide you in the right way. When you surrender your will to his will, you will find peace. When you submit to him, he will make your way clear. When you are proud you will stumble, but when you humbly trust God you will be blessed.


This is a great passage to read slowly, consider carefully, and take to heart. Pray these truths over yourself, your friends, and your family.

Lord, please help me to trust you completely. Help me to trust you above all others. Help me to trust you with all of my heart, without fear, and without hesitation. Help me not to trust myself, my thoughts, my plans, and my ways. Help me to see you in everything and submit all of my ways to you. Make your will clear to me, and guide me in what is right and good. Amen

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Faith for the Next Step

Decisions, decisions, decisions…Where should I go to college? What should choose for a major? What should I do for a living? Who should I marry?...Big decisions!

How do we discern God’s will for our lives? How do we know the future and make the absolute best decision possible?

Sometimes we wish God would audibly speak to us and tell us exactly what to do. Sometimes we hope for God to reveal his will in a dream. Sometimes we want to be able to fast forward to the future and then return to the present to live our lives.

But, this is not how life typically works. We have to gather the facts, consider our options, ask for advice, and pray. We have to watch out for blind spots that may cause us to overlook dangers. We need to watch out for wrong assumptions or powerful emotions that may misguide us.

Have you ever been paralyzed by a big decision? Have you ever been overwhelmed with a decision that you could not act? I believe this is because we want to know God’s exact will for us well into the future. But, most of the time this is impossible to figure out, and we freeze.

Instead of focusing on the end, I suggest focusing on the next step. What do I have faith to do as a next step?

If you are junior in high school, you are looking ahead to your senior year and life after high school. You probably have college in your future. Deciding what college to attend is a huge decision, but if you just look for faith for the next step, it is not so bad.

Do you have faith to check out a few colleges online? Do you have faith to tour a few colleges this summer with your family? When you identify your top 2 or 3 colleges, do you have faith to visit on a student preview weekend? Do you have faith to apply to a college?

Before you know it, you have a lot more data, and you are much closer to making your final decision. Instead of knowing God’s will completely all at once, you trust him to guide you as you take each step along the way. It requires daily surrender to God’s will and plan, and it involves taking daily steps of faith.

No, this is not a magic remedy that makes all huge decisions easy. But, it is a dependent mindset that helps us lean on God and not our own understanding, and it helps us exercise faith and build more faith as we trust God all along the way.


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Pride Comes Naturally for Me

I don’t like to admit it, but pride comes naturally for me. I think pretty highly of myself. I think a lot about myself. I tend to be preoccupied with my needs, my desires, and my preferences.

In pride, I remain silent because I don’t want people around me to hear me say something stupid. In pride, I self-righteously hold my head high, thinking I am better than others. In pride, I talk a lot about myself in a self-occupied, me-centered way.

Yes, pride comes naturally for me. I don’t really have to work at it. Can you relate?

The problem is that God doesn’t like pride at all. That’s why I need to battle pride with the truths of Scripture. Here are five verses that challenge me.

1.    Proverbs 8:13 - “Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”

2.    Proverbs 11:2 - “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”

3.    Proverbs 16:18 - “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

4.    Luke 18:14b - “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

5.    I Peter 5:5b - “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”


Lord, please help me put off pride and grow in humility. Help me to be centered on you. Help me to serve others. Help me to surrender my will to your will, my desires to your desires, and my way to your ways.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

4 Reasons to Seek Humility

“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” Psalm 25:9

God highly values humility, but we live in a world that does not. Consider these Scripture verses and be inspired to seek humility.

1.  God promises to respect and highly regard the humble.

“This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” Isaiah 66:2


2.  God promises to be with and revive the humble.

“For this is what the high and lofty One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.’” Isaiah 57:15


3.  God promises to exalt and give grace to the humble.

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”  I Peter 5:5-6

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12


4.  God promises to guide the humble in what is right.



These are stunning promises that should drive our thoughts and actions. May the Holy Spirit work in our hearts, help us to grow in humility, and enable us to live humble lives focused on loving God and serving others.


***This content comes from my book Growing Up Christian, chapter 5 (p. 85).

Monday, April 06, 2015

Center Your Life on Jesus

If I told you I love volleyball, but you learned that I never play it or watch it, you would question my love for volleyball. If I told you I love playing the guitar, but you found out I haven’t picked one up in over a decade, you would doubt my passion for the guitar.

If I told you I love to read and you learned I read every day and have books throughout my house and office, you would be convinced of my love for reading. If I told you I really enjoy ice cream and you heard me talk about my favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors, you would be convinced of my “addiction” to ice cream.

What about my faith in Jesus Christ? Does my life show Jesus is central to my life? 

What about your faith in Jesus Christ? Does your life show Jesus is central to your life?

In the book King’s Cross Tim Keller states, “Please don’t try to keep Jesus on the periphery of your life. He cannot remain there. Give yourself to him--center your entire life on him--and let his power reproduce his character in you.” (p. 162)

“...don’t try to keep Jesus on the periphery of your life.”

Don’t let Jesus just be your focus at church on Sunday morning or youth group on Wednesday night. Don’t be quiet when your friends start to talk about their faith. Don’t bite your tongue when someone asks about life after death. Don’t live like a non-Christian the majority of your week and put on your Christian “look” a few hours of the week.

“…center your entire life on him…”

Surrender your life to Jesus. Let him be your primary focus in your work, your friendships, and your hobbies. Give him your time, your energy, and your future. Commit to honor him in all you think, say, and do. Live a Christ-centered life every hour of the week.

“…let his power reproduce his character in you.”

When you live fully surrendered to Jesus and fully centered on him, you will find yourself changing. You will become more and more like him. You will grow in joy and be an encouragement to others. You will grow in humility and serve others. You will grow in peace and comfort others. You will grow in faith and be bold before others.

Commit today to not keep Jesus on the periphery of your life. Commit to make him the center of your life. You will never be the same again!