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

Sacrifice of Thanks

The Israelites lived a life of rituals. It was their lot in life. Mainly because God had commanded a life of physical and spiritual purity. There were many laws and customs that the Israelites were required to follow. Some were for keeping physically clean, most likely for health reasons. Other laws were for spiritual purposes. After all, the Promised Messiah had not been delivered to the earth, so they had no Savior. Their sins were forgiven by offering animal sacrifices.

And sometimes, it was easy to sin and just offer a sacrifice without being truly sorry for the wrong that was committed. Just kill a cow and your sin will be forgiven. That was the thought in some people’s minds. But God saw their hearts. He knew they weren’t truly sorry. And he called them out on it.

He reminded them that he owns all the cattle on a thousand hills. He owns every bird on the mountains. So he doesn’t really need their sacrifices. He doesn’t let them know when he’s hungry, because he’s not human. He doesn’t need food to sustain himself. He needs their obedience and allegiance. He wants their sacrifice to be thankfulness. Their thankfulness emphasizes what God has done for them, not what they’ve done for God.

I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer. But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens. For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine. Do I eat the meat of bulls? Do I drink the blood of goats? If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it. Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Psalms 50:8-14


And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2


Oh. How that still stings today. God sees our hearts. He knows our bent toward sinning. He sees the rituals that we cling to so we can call ourselves Christian. Sure. We go to church. We give our tithe. We volunteer to serve in church ministries.

But the question is. Are we offering our “rituals” with a pure heart? When we walk through the church doors on Sunday, are we there out of love and thankfulness? Are we there to worship God and stand in His presence? Are we there to fellowship with other believers? Or is it just a habit that we haven’t yet broken? Is it only a social gathering? When we tithe, is it because the bill is set to autopay without a second thought? Or do we give sacrificially because of our desire to help spread the gospel? Are we giving a gift of thanksgiving for God’s provision? When was the last time we asked ourselves if we were giving cheerfully or just out of duty? When we accept the cup and bread of communion, is it an act of reverence and honoring of Jesus’ broken body? Or is it a ritual we’ve come to expect on Sunday? Is it an impersonal act we perform without considering the sacrifice of God’s only Son on the cross for our sins? Do we perjure ourselves by presenting our unclean selves as holy before a God who knows our hearts?

If we’ve lost the joy of being a Christian, how can we turn our hearts around? How can we fall in love with giving our tithe and not feel like it’s a drain on our finances? How can we reclaim the deep burning desire to be in church worshipping with fellow believers every Sunday? What will it take to get excited about serving God in the church again? How do we reclaim the joy and thankfulness we experienced as new believers?

Perhaps it time to stop and renew our relationship with God. Perhaps our fire has burned out, because we’re not putting God first. If God cares so much about the animals, he cares much more about we who are made in his image. God does not need anything from us. He accepts our offerings. And our service. And our worship. He commands we honor him. But rituals won’t satisfy him. He wants our hearts. He wants our confession. He wants our obedience. Our allegiance. Our trust. He wants our full surrender to his will. He wants our sacrifice of thanksgiving.

Does he have it?

Therefore, change your hearts and stop being stubborn. Deuteronomy 10:16

All or Nothing

It was his first year on the job as king of Israel, and it was unremarkable. Oh. It wasn’t a job he asked for. It was one his fellow countrymen had been asking for. They wanted a king. So God gave them a king. And when Samuel warned them that their desire for a king was sinful, they said they didn’t care. They wanted to be like every other nation around them.

This king, Saul, was chosen by God. And Saul failed early on in his reign. He failed because he was not a man after God’s own heart. He was after his own selfish ways. Never mind God. Saul would do what Saul wanted. And pay the consequences later, if need be.

And during his second year in power, he received a horrible performance review. Samuel told him that because of his disobedience to God, he would lose the kingdom. Saul’s early sin of offering a sacrifice that only the priest should make cost him his kingship. Oh. He remained in power, but none of his sons would inherit the throne. It would go to another.

And so the downhill decline started. So early in his reign, Saul saw his kingdom and legacy faltering. He was not a man of God. It didn’t have to be this way. But Saul made poor decisions early on in his reign that began a downward slide of continued disobedience to God’s commands. Saul led the nation of Israel poorly, and it showed. His monarchy would come to a screeching halt after his lifetime. It would not be carried down to the next generation. And he knew it.

I wonder how often Saul relived that day Samuel anointed him in private to be king of Israel. Didn’t he walk away a new man? God had given him a new heart. Once afraid, he was filled with boldness and bravery. He was now a statesman appointed to lead a nation. Oh. Saul did some good things. He won some battles. He rescued people from their enemies. He even prophesied. He was humble as he began his reign. But oh. How the tide turned.

Over the course of his reign, Saul’s sins were many. He was impatient, foolish and jealous. He attempted murder. He was vengeful. He consulted with a witch and disobediently offered sacrifices. When Samuel helped him guide the nation, things went well. Once Samuel stepped aside to let Saul lead the country on his own, Saul appeared to be awkward and weak. When left to his own devices, he made poor decisions.

Saul had a bent for disobeying the God who had chosen him as the first king of Israel. God rejected Saul, because he saw that Saul’s heart was set against him. Saul was self-centered and proud. He told himself he was being self sufficient when he took matters into his own hands, instead of waiting for Samuel to arrive and perform his priestly duties. Saul acted as his own priest. Because. Why not? He was king. He could do everything the priest could do. But that act of rebellion didn’t go down well with Samuel or with God. Saul thought he didn’t need God to instruct him. If only he obeyed God, his reign would have been a powerful statement of God’s grace. Instead, it was a powerful statement of how powerful men can be broken by sin and disobedience.


The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? Jeremiah 17:9


I wonder if King Saul ever stopped to examine his life and his decisions. Did he ever feel guilty about turning his back on God? Was he ever regretful for the many attempts to kill David? Did he realize he didn’t have to lose the kingdom to David? If only he had obeyed God, his family would have remained in power. But Saul was bent on having his way in his own way.

We never know how our lives will be impacted by responding wrongly to God’s will in our lives. Do we stop to think about how one decision can turn our lives in a totally different path with our disobedience? Or do we just go merrily about our business without a care? Disobedience doesn’t come out of nowhere. It starts in the heart. A turning of desires from pleasing God to pleasing self. It may start small. With just a glance. Or a thought. And it builds from there. Until one day, the desire to please God is a far distant thought.

Disobedience becomes easier the more often it happens. The conscience eases. The guilty twinges subside. Until disobedience becomes a lifestyle of comfort and selfishness. Our self sufficient attitude becomes an act of defiance to an all-sovereign God of the universe. And not a thought is given to pleasing God. Disobedience grieves the heart of God. Nothing about it pleases him.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We know that. Hearts can change. Hearts can be turned back toward God. Hearts can still be convicted if they are open to hearing God’s truth. Repentance can happen. Forgiveness is open to everyone who calls on the name of the Lord. Those who seek forgiveness will be saved. God is working in hearts and lives today. But we must seek him while he may still be found.

According to 1 Samuel 12:14-15, blessings await those who obey the commands of the Lord, while troubles are in store for those who disobey. Choose you this day whom you will serve.

Be Blameless

I think of the times when I’ve started a new job. I don’t know whether the experience will be good or bad. I don’t know if I’ll be successful or a complete failure. I have no idea if my boss will be considerate or a control freak. Will I make friends? Will I like the job, or will I live to regret my decision? Will I stand up for my faith, or will I be silent? Only time will tell.

As I walked in the door on the first day of my new job, I wondered what my new co-workers would be like. Would we get along? Would I build strong relationships with them? What would we talk about? What would they teach me? Would they learn anything from me? Would this be a good experience? Only time will tell.

We all have times when we get a fresh start. We start a new job. We move across the country or to a new neighborhood. We go away to college. We begin a new relationship. And with each new start, we will have new experiences. New conversations. New opportunities. New learnings. New blessings. New temptations. New memories. And we must make a decision about how we will approach each new situation. Will we live in obedience to God? Or will we choose to disobey?

The people of Israel were getting ready to move into the land that had been promised to them forty years earlier. Oh. It was promised to their parents, but they didn’t live to see it after they had disobeyed God. Their punishment was that they would die before reaching the promised land. Now it was to be awarded to their children. And it was time to move in.

Moses gave the Israelites a long list of instructions to live by once they were in their new land. He warned them of the trouble they would face if these new laws were broken. He also spoke of the benefits they would experience if they obeyed the laws. God would bless them and multiply their nation if they were faithful to him.

But in his message, Moses warned the people that they would disobey God. He told them that they would turn their backs on God and follow their own ways. He warned of the trouble they would face when this happened. God had also commanded them to destroy all the towns and all the people in them. This was because the people they were displacing were evil. And God didn’t want his people to be tempted to turn from him by living with people who dishonored God.


You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy. Leviticus 19:2


God was commanding the people of Israel to live holy lives. They must be blameless, because the people they’re about to displace are not holy people. They must be prepared for that. And they were to avoid all the pagan practices that they were going to encounter. They were not to imitate the detestable customs of the people living in those places.

As followers of Christ living in a post-Christian culture today, we must be blameless. We must avoid the pagan practices of those we encounter each day. We are not to imitate evil customs. We are to avoid anything that God hates. God calls us to be in the world but not of it. We must live above the evils that surround us. We must stand for truth and not tolerate the lies that are being told. We must not bow down to any other gods.

When we’re starting fresh, we will come face to face with many new situations. Some will be great opportunities, and others will be temptations to disobey God. We always have a choice. In the middle of the warning to the Israelites, Moses commanded the people to be blameless before the Lord. Just as the Israelites were to be blameless, we too are called to be blameless.

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there. For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord . It is because the other nations have done these detestable things that the Lord your God will drive them out ahead of you. But you must be blameless before the Lord your God. The nations you are about to displace consult sorcerers and fortune-tellers, but the Lord your God forbids you to do such things. Deuteronomy 18:9-14

Put to the Test

He had waited years for an heir. God had told him multiple times that he would be the father of many nations. And at age one hundred, the promise was fulfilled. His son was born. Isaac. Born of Sarah, who was ninety. This son held great promise for the future. There was hope, because the family name would be carried on. Oh. How proud Abraham must have been.

And several years later, God put Abraham’s faith to the test. He instructed Abraham to sacrifice this son as a burnt offering. What?! And Abraham did exactly as he was told.

You can read the full story about Abraham’s obedience in Genesis 22.

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead. Hebrews 11:17-19

How many of us have seen the fulfillment of God’s long-awaited promise? Regardless of what was promised, the wait was excruciating. We thought the wait would never end. But we knew we had a clear promise from God. He led us down this path. Now he would fulfill his promise. Wouldn’t he? Wouldn’t he?

And then one day the promised event actually came to pass. Our hearts were filled with happiness and wonder. Relief. Confirmed trust in our Maker. We got the job. A baby was born. The lab results were negative. The debt was fully paid. The bank account was overflowing. Life was good.

And then another day came. And God asked for that promised thing or that promised person to be laid on the altar. He asked us to give the promised gift back to him. For his use. He asked us to sacrifice the gift that was so long awaited. And now we’re being asked to return it? What? To hand it over, as if it’s no longer ours?

But that gift was an answer to a long-prayed prayer.

God asks for our simple obedience. All the time. In every situation. Sometimes, obedience may feel complex rather than simple. But it’s either a Yes or No that God is looking for. That’s the simple part. It gets all complex and uncomfortable when we have to put that Yes into motion. Because that takes the control out of our hands. And we don’t know what God has in store for us when we give Him control.


And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:6


Oh. God wasn’t planning to kill Isaac. He wanted to make sure Abraham was not making an idol out of Isaac, this long-awaited son. God tested Abraham’s faith. God may ask the impossible of us. What will we say? Will we surrender our most prized possession? Will we turn our long-awaited treasure back to God to use as he sees fit?

Or do we take that treasure and hide it? Do we hoard our treasured gift?

There are those who run from hard times. They take the easy road. Or they just ignore the request to make a sacrifice. But Abraham walked right into the face of obedience. Perhaps it was the hardest thing he had ever done. He loved his son. But he never looked back.

He took his son on a journey to worship God. A sacrifice was required. And his son knew it. But no lamb was taken on the trip for the offering. Isaac asked about it. Abraham replied that God would provide. And later when Abraham tied his son with rope and laid him on the altar, I wonder what Isaac was thinking.

I wonder the thoughts swirling through Abraham’s mind as he drew the knife to slay his son. Oh. He was willing to offer his promised heir if that’s what God required of him. But God stepped in and told Abraham not to harm his son. God saw that Abraham was willing to give up his beloved son, if that was what God asked. And in the distance, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. The sacrifice was provided by God. Isaac, the long awaited son, was saved.

Abraham responded to God in faith. Not knowing the outcome, he moved in step with God’s heartbeat. He was ready to sacrifice what was dearest to him in a courageous show of loyalty to God. I have to ask. Would I be willing to do the same? Would I be willing to hand over the thing or the person most dearest to me in an act of selfless love for my Savior?

We don’t know what we may be called to sacrifice. It may be financial security. Or a close relationship. It may be a fulfilling career. Or our dream home. A prized possession. Our freedom. Our health. Are we willing to sacrifice for obedience to God? Because if God isn’t first in our lives, is he in our lives?

Don’t Play God

Life isn’t fair. It rarely is. And when it isn’t fair, we tend to complain. Or we take matters into our own hands. And that’s exactly what she did.

She was barren. And as all men in those days, her husband wanted and needed an heir. Because, you see, they were very wealthy. And if she didn’t produce a son, her husband’s servant would inherit all their wealth upon her husband’s death. That’s how unfair life was in those days. Because she certainly wasn’t in line to inherit her husband’s wealth. She was a woman.

So she did the unthinkable. She offered her servant girl to her husband with the hope that a baby boy would be birthed from that union. And so it happened. The servant became pregnant. And the wife became jealous. What did she think would happen? When a woman offers her husband to bed another woman and he accepts, does she think it will be all sunshine and roses? Did she think she could claim the child as her own? Did she imagine warm and fuzzy conversations about choosing the name with her servant? No. The women turned against each other. Obviously.

Oh. God had promised her husband that he would have as many descendants as the number of stars in the sky. But God’s timing is his own. To him, a day is a thousand years and a thousand years is a day. When he made the promise, Abraham was at least seventy-five years old.

Sarah took matters into her own hands. She decided that she would play God and make sure her husband had an heir. And the whole affair blew up in her face. I wonder how long it took her to regret her actions. This boy child born to her husband was not the child God had promised. This child was an act of Sarah, Abraham and Hagar. Not an act of God. Abraham was eighty-six years old when this child was born.

If we choose to play God and move his agenda forward when he isn’t in control, chaos ensues. This one act created a nation of people who have tried to rule the world in an evil way. And it’s all because one woman made one wrong decision. And that decision has impacted the world for all times.

But we know that God is in control.

When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him. He again told Abraham that he would be the father of a multitude of nations. Then God told Abraham that Sarah would have a son at the same time the following year. When Sarah heard the news, she laughed silently to herself. But God heard her laugh and called her out on it. She was afraid and denied her laughter.

A year later, when Sarah was ninety years old , she gave birth to their son, Isaac. Abraham was one hundred years old.


What is impossible for people is possible with God. Luke 18:27


It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them. Hebrews 11:11-12

At times, someone will promise us something and it doesn’t happen. And we know they’ve broken their word. We lose trust in them. We learn to doubt anything they say. We have selective hearing when they’re making a new promise. We know we can’t trust what them. Because they have failed us.

So when God dressed as a man paid a visit to Abraham and Sarah, he brought along two angels also dressed as men. And they sat outside the tent with Abraham. Sarah had no clue that the men who sat with her husband were of the heavenly sort. And when one of them said that she would have a child, she laughed to herself. She was almost 90 years old. Well. You can imagine what went through her mind. And God heard her laugh.

Sarah laughed because she was skeptical of God’s promise. Her laughter wasn’t filled with hope and expectation. Oh. She had already tried to fulfill the promise and made a sorry mess of the situation. Then God dressed as a man asked a question. Is anything too hard for the Lord? And his words stopped her in her tracks. He had heard her laughter, and he knew her barren anguish. He saw her heart, and he knew she believed. Perhaps a babe would spring from her worn body. Even at such an old age. Hope was rekindled.

If we look at the timeline from when God first promised to make nations come from Abraham, it took twenty-four years for the promised babe to arrive. Who of us wants to wait twenty-four years for someone to make good on their promise? We are slow to believe. Perhaps lengthy delays weaken our faith. Things thought impossible are achievable only through an act of God. And he proved his love for Abraham and Sarah by giving them a son to carry on their line. Isaac was the long-awaited son for this aged couple.

We can’t rush God. We just can’t. His timing is his own, and if he makes a promise he will keep it. God doesn’t lie. But he also doesn’t give in to our whining and whims in order to please us. In order to meet our self-imposed timeline. Eternity is at stake. And even though we can’t see the big picture, God is still working. Even when it takes years to see his promise fulfilled. Even if we don’t see his promise fulfilled in our lifetime. God will keep his word.

Ark of Faith

He was commanded to do the impossible. Literally. God told Noah that he was going to destroy all living creatures and people on the earth, because of all the corruption in the world. God couldn’t find any righteous people on the earth. Except for Noah. God told Noah he was going to flood the entire earth. And he gave Noah specific instructions on how to build a boat that would house two of every living creature and all of Noah’s family. So Noah started building the boat. Without question. He just started gathering lumber and laying out the dimensions.

Oh. It took him approximately fifty to seventy-five years to finish the construction of this boat. And oh yes. He was laughed at. He was ridiculed. He was humiliated. In our day and age, he would have been canceled. No doubt. But Noah kept plodding along. Never looking back. Never stopping. He worked until the boat was finished. And it was a show stopper. Everyone could see it. It was huge.

It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

Hebrews 11:7

Noah’s faith condemned the unbelief of his neighbors. His obedience to God condemned their contempt and rebellion against God’s commands.

I have to ask myself. If I were in Noah’s situation, would I have stepped forward in faith? Doing what God asked me to do? Would I have built that ark in front of my neighbors? In front of my community? And have them ridicule and laugh at me? Would I have done that?

Would I have been willing to put myself out there? Based on God’s command, would I have obeyed?


Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? 2 Corinthians 2:15-16


And I think of that today. Am I willing to obey God and put myself out there in front of my neighbors and community and boldly obey God even when it seems like it’s a joke? Even when others may ridicule and mock me and say I’m crazy. Am I willing to obey God’s still small voice? Even when that task will prove to be unpopular in the eyes of those around me? And I’m the only one being asked to do a certain task?

Who am I trying to please, anyway? God or man?

What would have happened if Noah hadn’t obeyed? What would have happened if God found no one else who was righteous? There was no one else for God to choose. Did Noah know that? Would God have just destroyed the entire earth if Noah had refused?

But Noah said yes. And it took him years to build that boat. And during the time he built that boat, he had sons and they grew up and began to help him. He didn’t give up on obeying God, no matter how long it took him to finish the task. He continued. He pushed forward regardless of what his neighbors said. Regardless of the names his neighbors called him behind his back. He was the laughingstock. The butt of the joke.

Am I willing to put myself in a similar position if God requires it of me?

What if I’m the only righteous person God finds for the task? I find that highly unlikely. But perhaps Noah felt the same. Perhaps he felt unworthy of the task set before him. But he did it anyway. Can I?

What did the neighbors think when the animals started coming two by two to the ark? What did the neighbors think when the rain started falling? God hadn’t called them to build an ark. He hadn’t chosen them as righteous people. God knew they were wicked. And he left them out of the ark. They all perished in the flood.

How many of us will be called faithful today? How many of us would God reach down and say, I’m choosing you? Because you are righteous, and you obey. How many of us would not be chosen? How many would be left out of the ark today? It’s not mine to answer.

We all have a choice. We can stand faithful to God and obey him regardless of what anyone says about us. Regardless of how long it takes us to fulfill that obedient call. Are we ready? And are we prepared to answer? Am I prepared to let others know that God has set me apart to do a specific thing that only I can do? If God chooses me to do this task or to run this ministry or speak certain words, whatever it is, God is asking. Am I ready, willing and prepared to say yes at all costs? Am I willing to stand for God’s Word and truth regardless of what the world says?

So when I think about Noah’s neighbors, and all the people on the earth at that time, I wonder. Did they think they were living in obedience to God? Did they think their lives were a pleasing aroma to God? Or were they willfully disobedient? Were they willfully living in opposition to God’s will? Did they flaunt evil in the face of God? And when they saw Noah begin building the ark, I’ve got to assume that they laughed at him. Did it bother them that Noah never gave up? Did their taunts grow louder the longer Noah worked on the ark?

Noah never gave up building the ark. He never stopped working on it. And all those years, Noah was faithful to the call of God. He didn’t give up when times got hard. He didn’t wait until his boys were old enough to start helping him. He dug in and began building the ark when his boys were young. So he answered the call of God immediately. And he remained faithful for many, many years.

Who of us would do that? Who of us today would God use? Who of us living today would remain faithful for so many years? When all we had was the voice of God saying, “Do this for me.” And there was no other evidence that God had spoken, but just his nudge. His quiet voice to you. A whisper in your ear. Here is the path I want you to take. Who of us would have remained faithful for so many years?

Noah was faithful. He stood strong. He withstood the test of time. When all the other people on the earth could not stand the test of faithfulness to God, Noah did. And they died because of their lack of faith. Because of their lack of obedience. Who of us on this earth today would pass that test?

Think about it.

The Act of Obedience

She was a teenage girl engaged to be married. She and her fiancé were waiting to consummate the marriage. And then she received a visit from an angel who shared with her that she had been chosen for a very important role in history. She was going to have a baby, the Son of God. And she agreed to do this with just one question. How can this happen since I am a virgin?

Mary believed the words of the angel. She accepted the fact that she had been chosen to carry the Son of God in her womb. She agreed to be his mother. She didn’t argue with the angel. She accepted all the knowns and the unknowns. She had no idea how this baby would upend her life. For the rest of her life. But she laid down her will and plans for a simple life and followed the will of her Heavenly Father.

I wonder. Did Mary, a teenage girl, ever wonder why she was chosen to be the mother of the Son of God? Oh. She may have wondered. The Bible says that she pondered things in her heart. She knew her son was different, but she followed God’s plan.

Mary was a woman after God’s own heart. This was confirmed by her visit to Elizabeth, as she sang allegiance to Him in affirmation of her obedience to this heavenly request.

Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him. His mighty arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones. He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.”

Luke 1:46-55

God chose you out of all the people of the earth as his cherished personal treasure. Deuteronomy 14:2


Joseph has his own side of this story. When he learned that Mary was pregnant, he knew he could divorce her. Because having a child outside of marriage could bring ridicule and shame on her for the rest of her life. And she was only a teenager. Did he want to raise another man’s child? Joseph considered divorce, but he was a good man. He was a godly man. And when an angel appeared to him in a dream, Joseph learned that Mary had been faithful to him. This child was God’s. Joseph believed the angel, and he willingly agreed to obey God. He would not divorce Mary. Joseph agreed to marry a woman who was pregnant with someone else’s child. He would not walk away from her.

Joseph later had other dreams where God gave him instructions. Each time, God warned him to leave his location or not to move to a specific place. God was guiding Joseph to protect the life of the child who didn’t carry his DNA. He never once questioned God’s commands. He obeyed without hesitation.

Joseph was a man after God’s own heart. He was the stand in earthly father to the Son of God. Imagine the thoughts he must have had when he laid his head on his pillow at night. What am I doing? Who do I think I am? Trying to be a father to this boy who is God. But he never backed down from the assignment.

I wonder. Did Joseph ever doubt that he had made the wrong decision? Did he wonder if he could do the job that he was tasked with? Did he wonder if he was capable of being father to a boy who was God himself? Oh. He may have. But he didn’t walk away from the call. He didn’t back down from obeying God. He walked into the path God set before him and kept on walking the road of obedience.

Obedience to God’s leading doesn’t mean that trials and troubles won’t come our way. Oh. They will. And they will be many. But the peace and joy of knowing we’re doing as God commanded will sustain us through those trying times.

God is sovereign. He has the power, authority and wisdom to do anything he chooses. He prepared Mary and Joseph to take on the task of parenting this child of heavenly royalty. God knew what he was doing in asking these two unsuspecting ones to birth and raise the holy Son of God. And they trusted him without question.

Oh. God has not asked me to do the hard task of raising his son. He doesn’t need to. He favored Mary and gave her that responsibility. But the role he has for me is still as important. In its own right. Because it’s the simple yet complicated act of obedience that sets us apart as his own. Yes. Obedience is simple yet very complicated. Simple because all we need to do is say yes. Complicated because the path is unknown and perhaps uncertain. But the Way Maker is the one who will provide the certainty and the courage. He’ll make the way when there seems to be no way. Our task is simply to follow.

Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.

C.S. Lewis

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

Be On Guard

Have you ever read something that just seemed like good practical advice? It was words you could live by without giving much thought or effort? Until something happens and you find those words aren’t as easy to live by as you thought. Then what? What do you do when you find yourself caught in an unexpected situation? How do you handle it?

Sometimes we just have to go back to the basics of living and follow sound advice. It always helps if the advice we look to is solid biblical teaching.

The Bible is full of sound teaching. Plain old good advice. Verse after verse tells us that we must live godly lives. It also tells us how to live a godly life. We must put away childish behavior and grow strong in our faith. Some of the advice will convict us to change our words, behavior and attitudes. There are the 10 commandments (Exodus 20:3-17). And the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10). The book of Proverbs is full of encouraging, challenging and rewarding words.

Be on guard. Be alert. Be aware of your surroundings. Is evil present? Should you walk away? Be aware of your weaknesses and temptations. When in doubt, don’t. Watch out for the enemy who prowls around watching for someone to devour. Put on the full armor of God, so you can stand against the devil’s plots.

Stand firm in the faith. Don’t budge when tempted to do or say something you know is wrong. Sin will take you down a path you never meant to walk on. So put on that full armor of God every day. Tighten the buckle of faith. Don’t be wishy washy with your beliefs. Know your convictions and hold to them. Don’t be bullied into something without weighing the cost. Don’t fall prey to watered down spiritual teachings. Know the truth and live it.

You have the Host of heaven’s armies on your side. He’s fighting for you. So fight for him. Fight for truth and honor.

If you are a child of God, then you are a soldier. You are fighting an enemy who wants you and all of you. Can you identify the enemy?


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


Be courageous. Heroes are bold and strong. They stand for what they believe. Say no to the enemy of your soul. Just be warned. The enemy may look beautiful at times. Or taste very sweet. The enemy may flash dollar signs and promise untold wealth. Speak boldly the words of truth and correction. Don’t be shy about saying hard things. Be speak kindly. Act mature. Don’t be foolish in the things you say and do. Don’t be a wimp when someone insults you. Be bold. Take responsibility for your words and actions. Just grow up in your faith. Don’t become stagnant.

Be strong. Strength takes work and effort. Perseverance. Strength is born through consistent training. Anyone can be weak. Most are. But true strength comes from battling your worst enemy and conquering your temptations. Satan himself is the enemy of your soul. If someone can learn to bench press 250 pounds, then they can learn the word of God. Nothing is impossible with God.

When your faith is tested, stand strong. Speak words of truth. Don’t fall prey to the enemy’s advances. God is an ever present help in times of trouble. Trust him and hold tightly to his mighty hand.

Do everything in love. Treat others like you want to be treated. Be kind. Don’t cause trouble. Speak truth but speak in love. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try walking their road of life. Lend a hand. Smile at a stranger. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but be kind when there are differing opinions. Be respectful. Honor those who have gone before you. Be attentive to those who come behind, for they are watching and listening.

God’s Word is a useful tool for everyday living. Spend time there every day. You will be surprised at some of the historical events. But lessons can be learned from all situations in life. God is faithful. He will direct our lives if only we allow him. But first, we have to know him. We must take the time and effort to build a close relationship with him. Let’s be uncommon people in a common world.