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We are on a journey through unprecedented storms and the chaos they produce. For most of us, the storms are coming from multiple directions and the chaos exists on several levels. We must remember that God truly is in control. In fact, He is a very careful and adept orchestrator.

Do we believe that He works all things to the good of those who love Him and are called to His purpose? If the answer is, “We’ll see”, then we do not believe it. The storms and chaos are not intended to prove Him, but us!!

The perspectives we take with us into the storms of life are critical, make-or-break paradigms. If we think like the world, we will seek worldly solutions. This is the only option for most of mankind.

Christians, on the other hand, have the perspective of heaven (Ephesians 2:6). We would be foolish to set our minds on anything else. We therefore offer the following perspectives for your edification and encouragement.

Chaos and Caterpillars

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2Corinthians 3:18

Consider the ugly, leaf-bound, and leaf-eating caterpillar who metamorphoos into a beautiful, free-flying, and nectar-eating butterfly (the Greek for transform is metamorphoo). Dying to his old way and form, the caterpillar becomes a glorious new form of God’s creation.

Similarly, God will use the chaos of this decade to dramatically transform the individuals, families, and fellowships who keep their eyes focused on the Lord and their minds set on things above. The Holy Spirit waits for God’s people to submit to His transforming – metamorphoo’ing – work.

Our response to this work will require leaving something behind. Many times, it is security, long held beliefs, routines, even people and places we have grown to love. Rarely does this call not involve a dying to ourselves. And so, there must be grieving – something best done with others.

It will help us (and those we love) to remember that chaos is normal for every Christian committed to following Jesus Christ. Sacrifice marked the life of Jesus, and He sends us as the Father sent Him (John 20:21). As He did with His son, our Father in heaven has great purpose for the chaos He introduces or allows into our life. Read the rest of this entry »

I grew up hearing that “opportunity knocks”. Either that was wishful thinking, or opportunity has changed its modus operandi. It seems that these days opportunity must be hunted down and wrestled to the ground.

This has been the case for most successful business people I know. Opportunities are the result of wise preparation and hard work. Opportunities are more like doorways we must strive to enter.

Did you know that our opportunity to enter into the kingdom of God is the same?

And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Luke 13:22-24

Jesus did said, “Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you.” However, finding the door, and having it opened for you, do not equate to entering through that door (or gate). We must respond to the open door by striving to enter into it. I hope this is as sobering for you as it has been for me.

The Greek word for “strive” is agōnizomai. We get our word agonize from it. It is also means “to fight” and “labor fervently”.

Agōnizomai: To enter a contest: contend in the gymnastic games; to contend with adversaries, fight; metaphorically, to contend or struggle with difficulties and dangers; to endeavor with strenuous zeal, strive: to obtain something. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

Does this describe your pursuit of the kingdom of God? It may sound a bit different than what you have been taught. It may be challenging the way you think. Don’t get discouraged. We all need our minds renewed.

Workplace Ministry Tip: The fervency with which we pursue the opportunities in our life is inevitably proportional to their perceived value. The realization of those opportunities is proportional to the fervency with which we pursue them.

Humbly yours and forever His,

To the beloved, whom I love in truth:  I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers; just as you walk in the truth.

I have had a good season of cycling this summer. I have logged some extra hours riding with my wife; and I have been intentional about riding the harder hills around my house. Those hills are not as hard as they use to be.

It occurs to me that I can choose to enjoy the ride being easier, or I can apply my recently developed strength to push up the hill faster. Settling for the former leaves me at a plateau in my conditioning. Choosing the latter leverages what I have gained, preserves developmental momentum and, in this case, leads to stronger legs and lungs.

Don’t get me wrong: We all need to rest and relax. I am not necessarily suggesting you “work harder”. I am suggesting that you leverage what has been established in you during seasons of increased effort. This is particularly applicable to Christians in the workplace – with one bit of explanation. Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowEnter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14

There was a time when this saying of Jesus was well known to all Christians; now, perhaps not. Even those of us who have heard it many times have failed to grasp – or have lost – the gravity of its meaning. Entering the kingdom of God is not as easy as we would like to think; nor communicate.

First, let’s deal with the meaning of the narrow gate. The Greek word used here means: Well, it means narrow – as in not wide. Jesus intends for his disciples to visualize a gate that is difficult to pass through. Maybe not the eye of a needle (for everyone), but certainly narrower than a standard doorway.

In a later conversation, he made this abundantly clear.

Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Luke 13:23-24

Nothing short of striving will get us through the narrow gate. Whatever striving looks like for you, I am sure it is not easy. It is important that we search this out – for ourselves and for those whom we are responsible to God. These articles will help: Call to Action: Strive to Enter; and A Storm is Coming – Strive to Enter into Community. Read the rest of this entry »

Military Salute from iStockThe LORD has encouraged me to ask each one of you, “Are you striving?” And so, I am asking. Consider this passage:

And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Luke 13:22-24

It occurs to me that Jesus said, “Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you.” Notice that finding and having the door opened does not equate to entering through the door (or gate). We must respond to the open door by striving to enter into it. I hope this is as sobering for you as it has been for me; particularly considering the storm that is coming.

The Greek word that has been translated as “strive” is agōnizomai. We get our word agonize from it. It is also translated to “fight” and “labor fervently”. Here is Thayer’s definition:

Agōnizomai: To enter a contest: contend in the gymnastic games; to contend with adversaries, fight; metaphorically, to contend or struggle with difficulties and dangers; to endeavor with strenuous zeal, strive: to obtain something.

Does this describe your pursuit of the kingdom of God? It may sound a bit different than what you have been taught. It may be challenging the way you think. Don’t get discouraged. We all need our minds renewed. Read the rest of this entry »

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