Truth or Consequences

As I was reading Jeremiah 26-29, I read that the prophet Jeremiah had a message from the Lord for the people of Israel. And this message was that if they repent and return to God’s ways, he will revoke the punishments he has planned for them. And when Jeremiah shared that message with those in charge, they didn’t like the message. Jeremiah confronted the evil of the day, and they wanted to kill him. He had to defend himself against an angry mob. Some of the leaders agreed that he shouldn’t be killed. Then when someone else prophesied the same message, he was killed. But a courageous man named Ahikam stood up for Jeremiah, and Jeremiah’s life was spared.

Nevertheless, Ahikam son of Shaphan stood up for Jeremiah and persuaded the court not to turn him over to the mob to be killed. Jeremiah 26:24

Now there was another prophet named Hananiah who also shared a message he said was from God. Only the message was a bit different. This message said that once the Israelites were exiled to Babylon, they and all of the items removed from the temple would be returned to Jerusalem in two years. And that was in stark contrast to God’s message to Jeremiah that they would be held captive by the Babylonians for 70 years. And yet Hananiah said it would only be two years. Of course, the people wanted to believe Hananiah because a two year exile was much different from 70 years.

Jeremiah continued to tell the Israelites of God’s warnings and plans to punish them for ignoring him and turning their backs on his commands on how they were to live their lives. They disobeyed God and bowed down to idols. They worshipped the creation instead of the Creator. When Hananiah had given his message that their punishment would only be two years, Jeremiah told him that he had shared a great message. I hope you’re right. Jeremiah said. But the only way we know that if the message is from God is if it comes true, because all of God’s promises and prophecies come true.

This story reminds me of a story in the New Testament. A man named Stephen was sharing the gospel, the good news that Jesus Christ was the actual promised Messiah, the Son of God. Many people didn’t believe it and were hunting anyone who shared or believed this type of message. They would hunt them down, imprison or kill them. And when Stephen had the courage to speak up and share his testimony, the crowd went crazy. They grabbed him and took him outside the city gates. There they stoned him to death. As they were stoning him, a man standing by the wayside was holding the coats of the people throwing stones. He stood by silently watching these people kill Stephen. And as Stephen knelt on the ground being pummeled by stones, he looked up into heaven and said, Father forgive them. Don’t hold them guilty for this. He begged. Even in his final moments of life, he was still asking God to forgive these people of the damage they were doing by killing Christians. He didn’t want them held responsible.

And this man holding the coats of those who were stoning Stephen was just as guilty as any one of the stone throwers. He could have stopped them. He could have stopped the people from throwing stones. He could have stopped this death penalty verdict that was handed out so easily. He could have spoken up. But he didn’t speak a word. He agreed that Stephen should be killed.

People didn’t like what Stephen was saying. They totally disagreed with him, because he was preaching a new way. He was preaching that the Promised Messiah had come to earth already. And these other Jews did not believe it. So they were hunting him and others who believed that same message. They were hunting them down and Saul stood there in silence, approving this act of violence against an innocent man. And that day Stephen faced his eternity and found himself in heaven with Jesus Christ. His suffering was no more.

We know that Saul approved of the killing of Stephen. Saul was trained in the Jewish tradition by a sought after rabbi named Gamaliel. Saul observed the Jewish traditions. He could quote the Torah. But he hadn’t accepted the message that Jesus was the promised Messiah. He fought the truth when the truth was staring him in the face.

Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. Acts of the Apostles 8:1

Now in the Old Testament, Ahikam stopped the killing of Jeremiah the prophet. Ahikam, the protector of the prophet, came from a strong family line. His father was a prominent scribe, who also led the restoration of the temple. This family was well respected in their time. So it was right that this son stood up for the prophet, Jeremiah. And when he spoke, the people listened. Jeremiah’s life was saved.

We read in the New Testament of what happened to Saul when he approved the killing of an innocent man. We also know that Jesus spoke to him and called him to preach that Jesus was the Son of God. And Saul’s life was changed. He recognized that he was chasing innocent people. He was going after the wrong crowd, imprisoning them. He had a change of heart. He became one of the hunted instead of the hunter, because his message of forgiveness and redemption was powerful. He had first-hand experience of what a changed life was like when Jesus saves you from your sins. He lived forgiven and he shared the message that forgiveness and salvation were available for everyone. Saul realized that he had been wrong. He had been standing for the wrong message.


Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14


Who do you identify with?

So today, we also have a choice. Are we going to be like Stephen and Jeremiah who speak the truth? Are we going to stand up for biblical truth, for justice, and for right. When those who disagree with us want to cause physical harm, financial ruin, or job loss, are we still willing to stand? Or will we silently stand to the side?

Are we willing to stand as Jeremiah and Stephen did, or will we take the easy way out? Will we go with the crowd and stand by silently approving the harm of innocent people. People who are determined to be courageous in a fight for truth. We need to seriously consider how we’re going how we live our lives. What we’re standing for and what we’re standing against.

Truth seems to be a rare commodity these days. Something else that’s hard to find is those who will support truth tellers. Why is it so hard to stand for truth these days? Oh. We’ve never faced persecution and threats for speaking the truth, but the tide has turned. We may become the hunted. Are we prepared?

Will we stand with Ahikam for those who speak biblical truth or will we remain silent as Saul and overlook the persecution of believers? We have a choice. Will we find our voice before it’s too late?

Just so you know, Satan wants to bring God’s followers down. We too could be hunted and threatened. Are we willing to accept that? Oh, we say it’s not happening to us because we live in America. That doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen. It is happening in America today to people who stand against biblical truths. They are sued and repeatedly taken to court for daring to stand for their beliefs. Their faith has not wavered. Is my faith that strong? Am I that courageous? We need to stand true and strong to our beliefs. God help us.

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12

When Life Is Hard

She got a new job a few months ago. She had been so excited. It was more responsibility. A lot more money. Permanently remote. Just what she was looking for. She was over the moon. For multiple reasons. She was leaving a job that she had soured on months earlier. She was getting a fresh new start. She would have less projects but an expanded role. She would have a work/life balance. And then she started the job.

A couple months in, she was at her wit’s end. She was struggling with all the newness and learning it remotely. She felt she had no support, because she knew no one. She had been assigned many more projects than she felt comfortable with. She worked morning and night, sometimes without eating. She found herself crying multiple times during the day. She wanted to look for a new job, but felt it was too soon. After all, this job was her new start. And after a few months, she was overwhelmed.

A couple more months went by. She texted me one morning. She said she had updated her resume and was looking for a new job. The work load was out of control. The demands from her superiors were overwhelming. She found herself in tears more often than not. She just wanted out. She was done.

Oh. I’ve been in similar situations. Some struggles sounded familiar. Others were new to me. But all the same. I could understand her frustrations and anxiety. I could relate to her uncertainty. I had been down that road more than once. I didn’t want to be in a hard time. But what I wanted and what I got were often two different things.

But I began thinking about her situation. I wondered what she would do if this was the only job left in the world for her. What if she had to do this work in this situation for twenty more years. Could she handle it? Could she rise above the stress and make the situation work as much in her favor as was possible? Could she do a hard thing with no end in sight if that was all life offered her?

Someone else I know is undergoing intense physical therapy. She’s working to become stronger and more independent. The work she’s doing each day will strengthen her muscles and improve her coordination. She wants that, so she’s willing to do the hard work. It isn’t easy on her. Or her parents. She’s only eight years old.

But she knows that if she does the hard work now, she’ll improve her chances of walking independently and more steadily. Oh. I’m sure she has moments of anxiousness and fear. But she doesn’t let it hold her back. She is one determined young woman. And that determination and perseverance will take her far in life. She isn’t giving up even when she is faced with doing hard things.

I read the story of a young woman who was assaulted by several guys. The attack ended in pregnancy. This brave teenager made the decision to give birth to this baby conceived in the most traumatic of situations. She is now the mother of a baby girl. Not knowing who the father is, she chose life for her child. Oh. Sure. There is trauma from the attack. There are obstacles she faces. She didn’t ask for this. But she chose life for her innocent child. And life is hard. But it’s worth living. For both of them.

We don’t have to be a victim when we’re given difficult situations. We can be overcomers.


How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world. You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues. Psalms 31:19-20


In the book of 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul wrote of the many hardships he faced in his life as a follower of Christ. His was not a life of ease. His choice to follow the teachings of Jesus placed a target on his back. And he wore that target with courage. Because all his sins had been forgiven. All the persecution of Christ followers that he had led was forgiven. The slate listing all his sins was wiped clean. Oh. I’m sure having a target on his back was a heavy burden. He was regularly persecuted for speaking about the risen Messiah. He was sought out for his faith, just as he had once sought out those who believed as he now believed. So he knew the risk. He knew that his life might be cut short. But he did it anyway.

Here’s what Paul wrote about his persecution.

Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. 2 Corinthians 11:23-28

Paul’s life was one of his choosing. He could have continued down the path of persecuting believers. But instead, he chose to follow the teachings of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. His life changed in an instant. He became an ambassador of Christ. He taught the good news of salvation to both Jews and Gentiles. He dared to do hard things even when he faced hard times. He knew that he would be on the short list to be prosecuted for the message he preached. Those in pursuit of him never gave up. They tried him on false charges. They did physical harm to him. They imprisoned him. But he continued. At all costs.

We too can continue down the road of hard times. It may not be our faith that causes hard times. It could be a financial setback. It could be physical issues. Health challenges. Job loss. Family or relationship issues. Pandemics. Lockdowns. Life can be hard. And we can’t avoid it. But through the hard times, our God will be by our side. Every step of the way. We can do hard things. Let’s keep our faith in God strong.

Paul faced a situation that wouldn’t go away. He begged God three times to remove it from his life. But God didn’t. So he continued down the path he was on, all the while, keeping his faith strong.

So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

I don’t know how I would respond if I were persecuted for my faith. If I were beaten. Lashed. Stoned. Imprisoned. Starved. Sleepless. I pray my faith would stand strong. Oh. I’ve lost my job. I’ve lost family members. I’ve lived in uncertainty. I’ve been bullied. But through it all, my faith became stronger as I relied fully on God to provide for every need. I pray that throughout any hardship I may face I will continue to to turn to God and to trust him. No matter what happens in my life. Living for God is worth any hardship.

You must remain faithful. Your devotion to God is being tested, and you must hold onto him. How you live in these points of crisis will define your relationship with God.

Andrew Brunson

Following

I’m a follower. Of people. I follow people on social media. I’m not a stalker. I just like to see what is happening in their lives. I follow one who is into fitness. One who is a follower of Jesus Christ. Another is a cook who is now feeding four young children trying to be an influencer of moms with young kids. Another is an influencer who uses her clout to inspire others to purchase products that she has endorsed. Still another speaks biblical truth to the current cultural lies. They’re from all walks of life. And I see a glimpse into their lives on almost a daily basis. It’s fascinating.

The person who is into fitness just opened a micro gym. She is now able to offer one-on-one fitness lessons to anyone willing to pay her price. Oh. She takes her fitness very seriously. If you look at her photos, you can see the results of discipline and sacrifice. So. If she can become fit at her age, then she believes anyone else can do the same.

The Jesus follower recently had a new book published. It appears to be all the rage for her fan base. She’s introduced a study with videos that people can use to dig deeper into this latest book of hers. She shows beautiful photos of her family and home life for the world to see. But deep down, I wonder if she’s in agreement with her country’s leadership. She lives in another North American country that has been hit hard with mandates and tyranny. Oh. She never says a word about it on social media. And perhaps that’s best. But she shares how to live a solid Christian life in an unchristian world.

The young mom I follow intrigues me. She’s had four kids in four years. The last two are identical twins. Her brand started as a cooking blog, where she created plant-based recipes. Oh. I’ve never tried any of her recipes. I just watch from the screen. And now she’s expanded to cookbooks for child eaters of any age. She’s also partnered with financial institutions and cleaning product companies, all in the name of expansion for her growing list of followers. I follow to see the cute photos of her kids. No. I don’t agree with all of her political and cultural leanings, but I don’t have to.

Then there’s the influencer who earns a living strictly on endorsing products that she uses. She creates product and gift guides so others can buy the items she suggests. And then she makes money off of each purchase. And she earns lots of money. She has seven employees who help her in this business. Is this really a job?

The one who speaks biblical truths to the cultural lies does so in a very public way. She’s on social media defending truth and cutting through the lies. She walks closely with the Lord. She shares biblical truth as if it’s her job. And it is her job. She has taken to the task in a bold fashion and is not backing down. She is a faithful warrior fighting a battle that few believers are willing to fight. She says she isn’t an influencer, but her message influences masses.


Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Psalms 119:133


And then there’s the ultimate One I follow. Oh. He isn’t on social media. He seems to have no social standing at all in this world. But yet, he’s everywhere. His impact is of a spiritual nature. And it’s clear when his plan is being followed. Or not. It’s noticeable when his selfless, sacrificial gift to all mankind is being rejected. We see that rejection every day. We just call it by a different name.

This One I follow is the Creator of the universe. He’s the lover of my soul. He’s the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. His only and only Son came to earth as a babe. He gave his life on the cross so that I could have eternal life with him. Why wouldn’t I follow him? Why wouldn’t everyone follow him? But so many don’t. And others only follow halfheartedly. And he gave his all for each of us.

So. As I follow the Leader of my life, I too must give him my all. No shirking. Following the leader requires constant obedience. No turning to the left or to the right. Just following the one who is guiding my every step. Sounds simple enough. Until my selfish nature gets in the way. Until I want what I want and my want doesn’t match the One I say I’m following. Oh. Then life gets sticky. I either bow to his way or I bow out of his will. Either decision is life changing. If I choose to bow to his way, then I feel the peace of submission and obedience. I draw closer to him and have a deeper desire to always obey. But if I choose to bow out of his will, then I am claiming that I know best for my life. I’m saying his plan isn’t good enough for me. I know what I’m doing. Oh. What a tangled web we can weave if we don’t stay fully surrendered to him.

Since He has placed me in this world at this appointed time, I must use my gifts and talents to honor him. As his follower, I must walk the path he has laid out for me. Oh. There will be moments the path looks too steep and treacherous. It may be rocky or full of potholes. Or it may be newly paved. Regardless of the condition of the road, I must keep plodding forward. One step at a time. Because he is walking with me each step of the way.

As I follow the Giver of Life, I must be willing to lay down my life for him as he sacrificed his for me. I must obey his leading at all costs. Oh. The price may be high. No one ever knows until it’s time. But for this time, I am called to live humbly, justly and obediently.

We must be faithful to what He asks us to do, to what He asks us to believe, and to how He instructs us to live.

John Stonestreet

This is Your Time

Did you know that you were born for just this moment in history? It’s a fact. God knew you before you were born. He knows the number of hairs on your head. He knows the number of days allotted for you. He knew the date and time you were to be born. He knew the circumstances of your birth and of your lifetime. You were born for this time and place in history. All your days of breath have brought you to this moment.

Oh. It’s easy to wish for the good ole days. Whatever they are. These days are meant for you. You were meant for these days. God is working his plan and you are a key player. Don’t forget that. And don’t be afraid. God is in control.

In twenty or thirty years, these will be the good ole days for the younger generation. So make these days count, because who knows what will life be like then.

Parents with young children may be wondering if the world they’re raising their kids in will be stable and secure. They may be wondering if their kids will have to face persecution and trials as they become adults.

Young couples thinking of starting a family may be wondering if it’s a wise decision. They may be wondering if they should forego parenthood. After all, this world seems rather volatile right now. There is a lot of instability and uncertainty. They may be wondering if it’s safe to bring children into the world.

 Yes. These times are troubling. But have kids. Raise your children with a deep abiding knowledge of God Almighty. Train them to know biblical truths so they will stand strong when times are tough. Be faithful to train them to be faithful people.

Those building a career may wonder if they’ll ever land their dream job. Those who have already moved up several steps on the success ladder may realize that their work isn’t as fulfilling as they imagined. They’re only in it for the paycheck. They may have begun to question why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Some may be wondering if their college debt was really worth it. College isn’t for everyone. Everyone isn’t for college. Trade school offers great long-lasting career opportunities.

If your work isn’t fulfilling, perhaps it’s time to start a job search. Perhaps it’s time to narrow down what you’re passionate about and seek a new opportunity. Money isn’t everything. Everything shouldn’t be about money. Oh. Money is important. Don’t get me wrong. But deep personal fulfillment doesn’t come from a paycheck or a job title or a degree on the wall.

Many are soon to retire. It’s baby boomer season in the retirement world. Some may have begun to think that the boom has busted. Is retirement even possible? Will the nest egg be full enough on that appointed day? Only time will tell.

There are those in retirement living on a fixed income. There are news reports that their government support may not be so supportive in their final years. What will happen? Will their money last as long as their heart beats?

Things may look bleak, but God is still on the throne. He has known the events of today for as long as he’s been around. And he’s been around forever. He’s been patiently awaiting this time and these events with you in mind. Know that he has you on his mind. He hasn’t forgotten. Nor will he. He knows your name. He has your days ordered.


God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Psalms 46:1-3


We’ve lived through every day of the virus. We’re living through the horrors of Afghanistan. We’re living through the worst inflation in many years. We’ve worn masks together. We’ve social distanced together. We’ve sheltered in place together. We’ve survived a questionable election. We’re now hearing of mandates.  We are survivors. And we are resilient. Don’t forget that.

We’re remembering the horrible, offensive acts of twenty years ago. The events that rocked a nation that thought it was rock solid. Our faith and hope wavered, but the flag still waved strong. Our allegiance for our nation grew as we felt the loss of every heartbeat that fell silent as the towers fell.

Oh. Things appear bad. But they could get worse before they get better. And things may never get better. But we are resilient. We can live through hard times. We just don’t want to. We need to toughen up now before we’re forced to. 

Let’s save more. Let’s give more. Let’s live with less. Let’s be content with what we have. Because we are a blessed nation. We don’t have to have it all to have a great life. Sometimes less is more.

Know what you believe and why. Read and study to show yourself approved by God. Don’t just believe everything you’re told. Test it. Prove it. Disprove it. Be able to discern truth from lies. Just know what you believe and why you believe it.

Read the classics. Read American history and world history. Read autobiographies of those who have suffered and those who have prospered. Let’s not forget the experiences of those who have gone on before us. We can learn much from those who have suffered and lived to tell of it. And we can learn from those who were martyred.

Esther was a young Jewish woman living in a troubled land. The king had removed the queen because she publicly embarrassed him. He sent out an announcement asking for all the young virgins of the land to audition to be the new queen. Esther was brought with many other young women to give themselves to the king in the hopes of pleasing him. Esther pleased the king, and he named her as his new queen. Unbeknownst to the king, Esther’s people were Jewish and were not in immediate favor. She had been advised by her godly uncle to keep her nationality quiet. When someone threatened to kill off all her people, she knew she couldn’t keep quiet. So she spoke up. God used her in a difficult situation to save her people. If she had not come forward, she and her people would have been annihilated. But God, in his mercy, spared her and the Jewish nation who had been threatened by an evil, power hungry man. Her moment in time had come, and she fulfilled her life-saving purpose.

You can read the full story of Esther in the Old Testament.

There’s a song that tells us that if we’re not dead, then God’s not done with us. Let’s remember that and know that God has all of our days numbered. And in our numbered days, God is with us. He will not forsake us. He will use us, but we must be faithful to obey him. Even in hard times. Even when the task seems insurmountable. God’s strength and power are more than ours. Let’s use his power to do his work.

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Stand Up

The story is all over the news. I’ve read the account. I’ve watched the video. A black man was killed by a white cop. The video shows her saying she was going to taze him. Instead. She pulled out her service weapon and shot him. He did not survive. Two lives changed forever. Two families changed forever. Another city filled with rioting and violence. Some say the shooting was a misjudgment. Others say it was intentional. She’s already lost her job and been charged with a crime. Both families are in mourning.

There’s another person in the story who is trying to keep their head down. They’re trying to keep the focus off themselves. Initially, the city manager boldly and publicly stated that there would be due process in investigating the incident. But the mayor didn’t agree. So the city manager and the police officer have both lost their jobs. But these aren’t the individuals who are trying to lay low. They’ve already been laid low. They’ve been placed in a position they never thought they would be.

One of the council members said she felt the city manager was doing a great job. She liked his work. But when asked to vote whether he should lose his job or not, she voted to remove him. She placed her vote against him, because she was afraid she would be personally targeted if she agreed with him. She didn’t want rioting and persecution on her home front. So she voted to fire him. Even though he was just doing his job. Even though he had done nothing wrong. She voted to get rid of him, because her approval of him would bring unnecessary, unwanted attention on her. Apparently, she disagrees with due process.

Here’s the thing. She thought he was doing his job well. She supported his work. But in his moment of need. When he was doing what the law allowed him to do by giving his police officer a fighting chance to tell her side of the story. She voted no. This council member instead voted to protect herself. Her well being was more important than anyone else’s.


Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10


I read another story this week. It was about a man named Peter who had been traveling from city to city preaching the good news of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. He was telling others that this Jesus was the Son of God who died on the cross and rose to live again. He was sharing this story in all the Jewish towns. And then one day as he waited for lunch, he had a vision. As a Jew, he only ate certain animals that were considered clean. But God showed him in this vision that nothing was off limits. He could eat any meat he chose. As he came out of the trance, visitors knocked on the door.

A man named Cornelius lived in a nearby city, and also had a visit from God. God instructed him to invite this Jew into his home to hear the good news that he had previously only been sharing with Jews. He sent for Peter, who had just seen a vision from God. And Peter realized that God was telling him that the good news of salvation was for everyone, not just for the Jews. So he went to the nearby city and shared the story of salvation with Cornelius and those in his household.

What if Peter had said no? What if he said that he was afraid for his personal safety and wanted nothing to do with sharing the truth of God’s love to anyone in need? What if Peter had refused? What if he hadn’t obeyed God? The Gentiles, those who weren’t Jews, wouldn’t have heard the story of salvation.

Peter’s obedience and willingness to move outside his comfort zone opened the message to a lost group of people. His faithfulness in sharing God’s message of love and forgivenesss brought salvation to anyone who was not a Jew.

I wonder. How often do we keep quiet or vote for our own comfort, when we have the opportunity to stand up for truth and reason? How often do we put someone else’s need before our own?

Don’t we realize that there is someone else standing in the fire with us? There is someone parting the seas for us to walk through? Even during times of testing and persecution, God is with us. He never leaves our side. We must keep our eyes on him. 

Even when we are uncertain about what lies ahead, we know who is holding our hand. And we walk forward regardless of the consequences. Sometimes doing the tough thing is the best thing we can do.

Shipwreck

It was a trip for the ages. 

Paul was in prison and had requested a trial before Caesar. That meant he must get to Rome, Italy from Caesarea, Israel. What he didn’t know was that he could have been released from prison if he hadn’t asked for a trial with Caesar. But since he asked, he was sent to Rome.

It was to be a long and dangerous trip over treacherous waters.  On the journey, they met with a huge storm. God spoke to Paul time and again on this journey, so he advised the crew on what to do to survive the trip. The storm lasted 14 days. Imagine. 14 days on a wooden ship in a terrible storm in the middle of the sea. There’s nowhere to go. There’s no chance of escape. They must ride out the storm. Will anyone survive?

When God spoke, Paul listened and shared the message he had been given. God told Paul he would survive the trip and stand in front of Caesar. So Paul was calm. He showed no fear. God was with him. God was for him. Not against him.  Paul listened to God and obeyed. His life was spared. He earned a great reputation on that trip. He stayed true to God during the difficult storm. 

They had started the trip with good intentions. The ship was loaded with provisions and trade merchandise for their stops at different ports. They had even tied a lifeboat and pulled it behind the ship. But when the storm arose and never let up, they had to start throwing items overboard. They had to set priorities on what was most important. In the end, they threw out most everything. Then they realized they were close to land, so they decided to run the ship aground. Their bet didn’t work. The ship hit a sand barge and busted up. 

When the boat began to tear apart, the soldiers thought to kill all the prisoners. But no. The commanding officer wanted Paul alive because he spoke with great wisdom and truth.  So the prisoners were spared.

Everyone had to swim to shore with only the wet clothes on their backs. But everyone survived.

They. Lost. Everything. 

For the full story of Paul’s shipwreck, read Acts 27.


In this way, I will show my greatness and holiness, and I will make myself known to all the nations of the world. Then they will know that I am the Lord. Ezekiel 38:23


We may think we’re living in tough times. This past year has been a blur, but yet our eyes have been opened wide. Some people have had the worst year of their lives. They’ve lost much, and there seems to be no end in sight. They struggle to make ends meet. Their kids are still schooling from home. Unemployment has dwindled or dried up. Thousands of jobs have been eliminated. Families have lost loved ones and haven’t been able to say goodbye.

In this life, as believers, we will struggle. But we persevere with God’s help. God is bigger and stronger than all our earthly struggles. He will see us through the best and the worst of times. In this storm of life, God is calling us to go deeper into our relationship with him. Let’s not just serve God on the surface. Let’s not just serve God on Sunday mornings. Let’s be faithful to him when we need him most. He will not waver or falter. Let’s hold onto him.

We will go through rough seasons in our lives. We may stand to lose everything. We may face loss of life and/or livelihood. But we will survive.  In the midst of the storms of life, God is still speaking. He is still guiding us. We must listen closely and do as he says. We must toss aside the things of life that are slowing us down. We must shift our focus on staying close to God and and obeying him.

Do you feel as if you’re in the worst storm of your life? Are waves of doubt and fear crashing in all around you? Do you fear you may not survive this storm? Have you had to toss aside all the extra baggage that you’ve clung to for security and pride? Have you prepared for the storm? Have you dug deep into God’s Word and filled up with His goodness and mercy? Are you ready for the storm that’s brewing?

And just maybe. Maybe it’s time to stop and count the number of times that God has been with us through other storms. Let’s slow down and remember God’s goodness. His faithfulness. Oh. We may not come out of the storm in the same shape we entered it. We may not come out unscathed. But we can survive and move forward one more time. Let’s remember that the God who helped us in the past will help us in the present and in the future. He never changes.

If we listen for God’s voice and obey, we will be safe in the storm. Oh. The waves may roll and the winds may blow. But God is faithful and stronger than any storm we face. We live in confidence of better things to come. We live in the knowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord. We don’t have to suffer in shame. We know that on the day of resurrection, Jesus Christ will receive us into his glory. Let’s live with that bold grace and confidence.

This could be your time. That breakthrough could be tomorrow, or it could be next year. But, you have the opportunity to turn however you’re being tested into a testimony. So many heroes were wounded deeply before they were used greatly!

Tim Tebow

Bravery Counts

The neighbor described her as a tough looking Lab. She is half Mastiff and half Lab. So the toughness is evident in her stance. In her hulking chest. Her bark is pretty tough, too. Animals cower at it. People back off at the sound. Her bite? Well, she’s never bitten.

She’s a protector of her caregivers. The one who feeds her is always guarded. She would probably offer her life as a substitute if needed. Let’s hope it never comes to that.

She loves her people with all she’s got. When one of us is not at home, she shuts down. She will lie on the bed as if she’s lost her best friend. As if she has no energy to move another muscle. But as soon as he comes home, she has boundless energy that is unmatched. She moves through the house with a smile on her face. Her pack is together. As it should be. All is well.

But then it happens. He sneezes. And that sneeze knocks the socks right off of her. You would think that that sneeze could blow a house down. As soon as she hears it, she runs for the one who feeds her. She needs protection. She is shaking like a leaf in the worst storm of the season. She can’t quite calm down until she has been comforted and consoled. This hulk of a dog cowers at the sound of her master’s sneeze. All efforts to act tough and protective are thrown out the window with a single sneeze.


Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10


As a Christian, why do I cower when my Master makes an unfamiliar move near me? When he makes his presence known? When he asks me to move out of my comfort zone? Why do I run for cover hoping he won’t find me? When he isn’t asking the impossible of me. He’s only stretching my faith and my trust. Why don’t I see that?

Why don’t I trust that he is with me even when the frightening sneezes of life throw me off guard. When those life sneezes send me cowering to my favorite hiding place. Why don’t I believe that he is in control, even when it seems all hope is lost. When life seems hopeless, the hope of life has my back. He carries me through those storms of life when I have no fight left.

He’s never failed me. He’s never forgotten me. He’s by my side. I have to remind myself that whatever happens in my life is God’s will. Otherwise, it wouldn’t happen. So it may be a life lesson. It may be a reward. It may be a reprimand. Regardless, it is the right thing for me at that moment. I have to place my trust in Him in all situations. Even though I can’t see the road ahead.