Month: September 2017

Friday Favorite – Faith Unfolding by Jim Osterhouse

Faith unfolding is a very short book (only 80 pages!) that has inspired my current F.A.I.T.H. 201 sermon series. The Gospel is the center of Christianity, and Faith Unfolding will deepen your understanding and living of the Gospel. It is a short, yet powerful study of God’s grace and sovereignty. The link to the Amazon page is below.

A Dog’s Passing & Loss

Susie was 14 years old, and a beloved member of the family. She lit up the room, especially my father, when she walked in. Susie was my father’s faithful dog, her princess, for over a decade. He loved to spoil her, take her with him on work trips, and snuggle with her during Sunday afternoon naps. A few weeks ago, my parents made the hard choice to put her down after a short illness. Their house won’t be the same. They provide us with unwavering love, faithfulness, a house covered in dog hair, and, sometimes, a few too many kisses. Losing a pet might not come across as a big deal to some. We’re not talking about a friend or relative. But any pet owner will tell you. Dogs are a part of the family. ¬†Their personalities influence the atmosphere in our home. Their loss is painful to the kids and adults alike.

Throughout our lives, we face many losses. We may get laid off or let go from our work. We may have to say goodbye to a home or a business. We may move far away and say goodbye to friends and neighbors. We have to say goodbye to beloved friends or family who pass away or move away. Someone once said that the only constant in life is change. With changes comes loss. Have you ever felt that the harder you try to hold onto to the old way of doing things, the more God seems to be carrying you into something new? Regardless of the losses that we face, one thing remains the same. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT) says, “Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” God loves you more than you can fathom. His love for his sheep will never run out or be cut off. His love for you lives on throughout the losses and changes that we face in life. His face shines upon you as his beloved child. Whatever you may be facing today, ask the Lord to remind you of his love throughout today.

Friday Favorite: Outrageous Love, Transforming Power by Terry Wardle

There is a crisis of immaturity in Christian leadership, Terry begins this books. Do we know the Scriptures? Yes. Do we attend church regularly? Yes. Do we strive to learn more and pray? Probably. Yet, the church needs leadership that is immersed in the Spirit and has its identity rooted in Christ. This is a book that I reread every year to remind myself where I am and where God desires to take me. I highly recommend this short book to all believers.


Faithful Presence: 7 Disciplines that Prepare the Church for Mission by David Fitch

This book is an excellent read that inspired the current sermon series, God in Our Midst. As God’s presence impacts us through the work of his Holy Spirit, we are his Faithful Presence in our community, homes, and workplaces. An excellent read for any believer. The Amazon page is below. It is available in paperback, eBook, audiobook, and CD.

The Season of Storms Continue

A church member asked for prayers for the hurricane that was hitting Florida this past weekend. In follow-up to that, I mentioned that we need to be praying not only for the victims of Hurricane Irma, but also the victims recovering from Hurricane Harvey. Then there’s the people of Mexico recovering from an earthquake and Hurricane Katia. Then, we should also be praying that Hurricane Jose harmlessly blows out to the Atlantic Ocean. One storm after another has hit the news over the past several weeks. Meanwhile, there has been repeated calls for relief efforts. Electrical grid workers are flooding Florida to rebuild what Irma destroyed. As the news continues, it makes me wonder, doesn’t this hurricane season feel like certain seasons in our lives?

In Psalm 13, the Psalmist wonders if the Lord has forgotten him. He wonders how long the Lord will hide his face from him. Then verses 5-6 say, “But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.” The storms of life may leave you feeling alone and forgotten. Yet the Psalmist shows that on the other side of a continual season of turmoil, we will recognize God’s provision and love throughout. We see that the Lord has heard our prayers, just as the Lord heard the Psalmist’s prayers. If this is you, I would encourage you to listen and follow the words verse five. Trust in his mercy and rejoice in the salvation he has provided you.

Success & Showing Up

Woody Allen once said, “80% of success is showing up.” I’ve heard similar quotes about ministry. The truth is that we live in a success driven, yet discouragement filled world. A world of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram where we see the amazing lives of everyone around us. Yet, our lives typically don’t feel the same. In a way, social media is a highlight reel of everyone’s lives, and we compare our normal lives to everyone’s highlights.

Jesus called out disciples to follow him. There were many more that listened to him and followed him for a time, but he chose twelve to truly be present with. Within the twelve, he chose three, Peter, James, and John, as his inner circle. Jesus didn’t try to do everything, try to be all to all, or to match the worldly success of the greats of his day like Herod and Caesar.

John Maxwell has defined success as being respected by those who are closest to you. That’s a success that we can all achieve. That’s a success that builds community and relationships, instead of driving us away from people. Worldly success tends to drive us to work long hours and to use or manipulate people for our own ends. Jesus taught a different success, a deeper form of success. His form of success is focused. His form of success builds relationships and community. His form of success ultimately helps us be more successful. Not by what we do, but by what we don’t do. We don’t overstretch ourselves. We simply show up. We stick with it. We seek trust and to be trusted.