“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Presence can make the act of sitting through a terrifying movie more bearable. Presence can make a nervous child more courageous. Presence can strengthen and encourage in powerful ways.
Presence can also cause a tempted eye to avoid the glance. Presence can make a child who’s considering disobedience choose to obey. Presence can remind and convict in powerful ways.
Some seasons of life bring immense spiritual growth. Your heart burns within you as you learn new things about the Lord, about yourself, and about your place in his kingdom, and you likely will remember the lessons for years afterward. But other seasons of life bring feelings of stagnation and coldness. You desire growth, but you can’t seem to detect any progress in your journey with the Lord. I think I’m currently in the latter season. Continue reading
Last semester, two friends and I decided to run a half marathon. When we signed up for the race, however, we knew we would need to change some habits. I had to break my bad habit of avoiding exercise and form a habit of regular running throughout the week. I had to pay more attention to what I ate and to when I ate, breaking my bad habits of eating whatever and whenever I desired to form new habits of practicing moderation and of eating healthier meals. The process of breaking old habits and of forming new habits was difficult at first, but the work proved worthwhile when we each crossed the finish line of the race.
Fast forward to this semester. I’ve failed to run consistently since the race. I haven’t abandoned exercise altogether, but I haven’t worked as diligently as I did last semester. Although my intentions are good, I’ve found myself slipping back into old habits again.
What happened? What affected my progress? Continue reading
Soul, be silent. Listen well.
Hope in God, and pray.
He who saved your soul from hell
Will bring you through this day.
Worry never. Doubt him less.
Know that he is God.
Learn to live in humbleness,
And trust your Shepherd’s rod.
Fix your focus. Do not shirk.
Stand as he has stood.
He will cause all things to work
Together for your good.
If this day should end in death,
Sing the last refrain.
Faithful to the final breath,
At last, to die is gain.
Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash
Sometimes stories unexpectedly stick with you.
I noticed something recently for the first time in months.
I begin to miss Chicago style deep dish pizza if I go more than a week without it. The same could be said of good hot wings: they call to me from afar. I once wrote a poem about how bacon enhances any meal. Needless to say, I deeply enjoy food. Sadly, I often gravitate toward unhealthy foods rather than toward healthier options. Continue reading
I spent my fourth through twelfth grade years participating in Bible Drill. Bible Drill is a program teaches kids to know the Bible in a competitive format. We memorized numerous verses, both individually and as tied to key themes in Scripture, and we practiced looking up the passages in under ten seconds (or eight seconds in high school). The program was great, and not just because it got us familiar with Shakespearean-era English before we took college literature classes. Continue reading
God, guide your Word like a sword for my reckoning,
Wrecking all hopes in my heart for this waste.
Cut to the quick for the purpose of quickening
Works of your Spirit to sever the sickening
Sludge that I sought in my haste.
Clauses like claws are accustomed to scratch away
Any remainder of wretchedness here.
Tear away sin and, in so doing, tear a way
Through the commotion that coaxes my heart astray
Till I have learned how to fear.
Let ev’ry phrase of your holy book break my heart
For ev’ry way I dishonor your name.
Never relent; pierce my soul from the very start
Till I reflect your resplendence with ev’ry part,
Living as proof of your claim.
Jonah strikes me as a guy who might have gotten punched in the face a few times over the course of his life. The short book that bears his name records that he fled from God when called to service, he hid his sin from those who were suffering from the consequences of his mistakes, he got angry at God for allowing his enemies to repent and for allowing his shade plant to wither, and he asked God to kill him because those frustrations made death more appealing to him than life. By the end of chapter four, Jonah seems to be the epitome of the title, “Jerk.” But when you do a bit of study, you learn that this book is likely autobiographical. In other words, Jonah is probably the author of this account. And, if that is true, than Jonah arguably highlighted his less than honorable characteristics for a purpose. So, what would make a man point out his flaws so transparently?