America, the Church & Abortion

Recently, the world mourned the loss of Cecil the Lion. This majestic and famous lion was tragically killed when it appears he was lured off of a protective park in Zimbabwe. The international attention to this killing has sparked outrage among animal conservationists, politicians and celebrities. Good, or bad. Right, or wrong. Everywhere I turned and everything I tuned into, it was talking about this tragic loss of Cecil the Lion.

As tragic as the killing of this animal was to so many people, an even greater tragedy is facing us: abortion. Many, especially in the church, are confused on this issue and have remained silent or have tried to make this about politics or cultural changes. Abortion is a spiritual problem that has huge political and social ramifications. The death of one lion, an animal, should not emotionally outweigh the deaths of millions of human lifes in America.

The church must rise up and speak to this issue with love and truth. For far too long the church and its leaders and its members have mistaken abortion as something political, and thus say or do nothing because of a belief that politics and the church should notlife-hc-pic go side-by-side. But because abortion is a spiritual issue first, the church must rise up as conduits of God’s love, His grace and His mercy when it comes to the issue of abortion in America.

The majority of babies being aborted are not from vicious rape situations or due to critical health concerns for the mother – the majority of babies aborted in America come from the choice a woman makes, and this might sound harsh, but that choice has less to do with the life she is carrying and more to do with her life circumstances and conveniences. Now is the time that we must take a stand, and help those in tough places get the right information about the sanctity of all life, even the life of an unborn child.

Many within the church have experienced abortion first-hand or are weighing their options regarding abortion. To those women and men, please know this: I do not condemn you nor wish to shame you. I do, however, long for those considering abortion to become informed before they make their choice, and for those who may be hurting from a past abortion to find true healing through Jesus Christ.

In my community, we have a wonderful resource to help you where you’ll be treated with compassion and without judgement and it is called Life Choices Community Pregnancy Clinic, located at 1201 N. Stewart St. #110 in Carson City. Go there, please, or call them (775-241-8161) and let them share with you about the options you have, the hope for your circumstances, and the restoration from your past choices. For those in other communities, I encourage you to find a pregnancy care clinic where you can get informed and helped. Visit for more information on a clinic close to you.

Esther, a queen, was reminded of her divine purpose: “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

Disciples of Jesus Christ, the world is reminding us, the church, of the challenge, and we must rise to the occasion before us and boldly, courageously and compassionately declare the whole truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – which includes the sanctity of human life. We must be the leaders in seeing the end to the legalization of abortion. And, we must rally around support networks like Life Choices and help those who have been hurt or who are wrestling with an unforeseen pregnancy. We must compassionately help them understand their options and how important their choice for life truly is.

As followers of Christ today, we must be a voice that declares, without shame or fear, that all lives matter and that abortion is tearing apart the very fabric of our society. Let us then, without fear or shame, be voices of God’s truth. for life and may we be active demonstrations of His love as we take a bold stand for life.

America needs to know that the abortion industry destroys and devalues human life. The church must address this spiritual issue for what it is and the church must demonstrate the power of God’s grace and redemption for all those touched by abortion. Let us join together to be champions of God’s love as we confront this issue that is affecting so many people. And may the church be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, being obedient to God first and foremost as we move beyond our personal beliefs and represent God’s truth for all life.

(Adapted for my blog. Originally written for the 8/29/15 Nevada Appeal, Faith and Insight Article – August 2015)

Cupcake Earrings

I had a very cool dad moment yesterday. This past year, my oldest daughter wanted me to take her, on her birthday, to get her ears pierced. Yesterday, while at the play area of the mall, we realized she had lost one of the earrings we originally had bought for her. So, I rushed down to the store and bought her a new pair of earrings.

I brought back gem-packed, sparkly, cupcake earrings. I knew she’d love them – the gems, the colors, and the cupcake shape…I hit all of her favorites. Now, I had to buy the more expensive ones. Not because she is some diva-in-the-making, but because she needed the better quality ones, the right type of medal, to help from infection, etc. And, she needed something right away, or that piercing could possibly close up.

I brought back these little gems…


She hugged and thanked me. She was so happy.

Then it happened. Then, that cool dad moment happened…

I watched her go around to all of her “friends” in the play area, pointing out her new earrings, and telling others – even those young boys who could care less – telling everyone: “look at my beautiful new cupcake earrings, with gems, that my daddy bought – my daddy loves me.”

After she did this to about 4 or 5 other kids, our eyes met and the smile on my face must have been as big as the sun because she came over and asked: “why are you so happy daddy?” I told her, that her joy is contagious and it makes me happy to see how she wants everyone around her to know her joy. We hugged for a few moments and she ran off to play again.

As I was reflecting on that great moment I had with my daughter, the Holy Spirit impressed this verse on my heart: “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine.” (Exodus 19:5)

In a day and age when everyone fights to be an individual, to make a way for themselves, to be their own person – we forget the tremendous value we have in knowing that we belong to God, and that He delights in us.

In our longing to be an individual and unique, we’ve rejected our true identity in Christ. 

No wonder so many today suffer from feelings of rejection, self- hatred, insecurity, great fear, being a people-pleaser, loneliness, and various unfulfilled cravings for approval, etc. No wonder so many people have lost sight of who they are in Christ: His beloved, a treasured and highly possession, one that can declare His goodness to all those they encounter.

When we are consumed with doubt, hurt, or selfishness, we cannot clearly reflect our belonging to God. We reflect then, that we belong to that doubt, or fear, or hurt – rather than our Redeemer and Restorer.

Many of us need an intervention from the Lord. What we need is for the Lord to breakthrough our wish-washy “feelings” and birth in us a hope and peace that only He can provide. But are we actually wanting this type of experience with God? Are we willing to let go of our desires to be known for what we can do and to be known for who we truly are in Christ alone? 

We have tremendous value, not because of what we can do, but because of who we are. We seek to add value to our lives through the things we do. And although experiences in life add much to our lives, they do not make us greater – our life richer perhaps, but they do make us more valuable.

My daughter has no idea the quality, nor the cost – the value – of those cupcake earrings. What she does know is that her daddy hand picked them for her, and they were the best, not because of the quality of medal, or the cost, but because I gave them to her. The value of those earrings to her, that produced great joy – joy that she shared with everyone – the value came from me giving them to her, something that demonstrated my heart to provide for her and her needs.

Run to your Heavenly Father today. Allow Him to speak to the deepest needs in your life. Do not let any other relationship, a promotion, success in the gym, or any other accolades in life to fill you with true value. That is fake value, temporary stuff that fuels that emotional tug-of-war in your mind and heart – and it is only temporary.

We have tremendous value, apart from what we can do on our own, in our own strength. We have value because of who we are in Christ and what He has done, and given, and poured into our lives.

So for those suffering from feelings of rejection, self- hatred, insecurity, fear, people-pleasing tendencies, loneliness and unfulfilled cravings for approval – run to your Heavenly Father. Feast on His Holy Word for your life. Let Him define for you, your value. Let Him replace your sorrow with His Hope. Let Him take away your pain and put on you His peace. Let Him provide for your needs by trusting in His provision and timing.

Run to your Heavenly Father. Abide in Him. Trust in Him. Obey Him. Deuteronomy 26:17-29 says: “You have today declared the Lord to be your God, and that you would walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments and His ordinances, and listen to His voice. The Lord has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments; and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honor; and that you shall be a consecrated people to the Lord your God, as He has spoken.”

God has spoken. Let your Heavenly Father fill your mind and heart with the truth of who you are. Let Him remind you of who you really are and how He will address every feeling, every concern and every problem in your life, according to His Holy and Divine will. “The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”

That moment I shared with my daughter and those cupcake earrings, it made me feeling like a million bucks. God, He is a victorious warrior and the greatest hero of all – and He, as we seek and obey Him in all things, will rejoice over us and fill us with a joy that we won’t be able to contain. And what God longs to do in your life, it will be greater than a pair of cupcake earrings. Run to Him, let Him fill you with His presence, with His truth, with His will for your life.

be genuine

While out at the store, I came across a wallet made of leather and stamped into the leather wallet was the word: genuine. For something to be genuine, it means it has to be real – to be pure, to not be counterfeit or fake in any way. I reached into my pocket to compare this wallet with my own, wondering how real my wallet was.

Both were black in color, both had a sleeve for cash and several sleeves for cards, etc. And both had a clear sleeve for a drivers license. Now both wallets looked like they were leather and yet here I was, holding my wallet and now also holding a wallet that was marked as genuine. How genuine was my wallet then, in this side-by-side comparison, with the new wallet marked as genuine?

As followers of Christ, we must be genuine and our lives must be stamped with this truth. We must understand though, that in order for our lives to bear witness to a true, genuine faith in the Lord, then we must be devoted to taking in the Word of God and then living it out. This is what we are to compare our lives to.


James 1:26-27 says: “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

This truth from James gives us three markers of what it means to be genuine in our pursuit of knowing God’s Word and then living it out. First, tame your tongue. Second, care for those in need. And third, avoid worldliness. When we do these things, we walk in God’s Word, we are more apt to have His stamp of “genuine” upon on our lives. When we know this truth and live out, we genuinely represent God to others.

We say we want to take in and live out God’s Word. We say we want those around us to know we belong to the Lord. And we say we desire to have a genuine faith. And yet, our “religion” is useless if it what we take in from God’s Word, if it does not tame our tongues, if it does not move our hearts to serve and and if it does not separate us, or distinguish us in word and deed, from the rest of the world.

Take time to consider what the Lord may be speaking to you through these verses in James. Reflect on your journey with God, because it is possible that you are looking to others and thinking you are genuine in your faith, but you may be far from that truth. We cannot compare ourselves to others. We must compare ourselves to God and His Word. So, when you look at your life – at what you think and believe, in what you say and do – are those actions and elements true, pure and genuine? One can compare wallets, and hope or think they are the same – both being genuine – but the truth is that only the one marked as genuine is the real deal. As a disciple of Christ, are you the real deal – or do you merely hope or simply think you are? Have you been deceived by your “religious” activities and busyness?

Controlling what we say, passionately caring for others, and remaining separate from the ways of the world – it will require that you know God’s truth and abide in His truth. It  requires of you to compare yourself to Christ and His Holy Word, not others. We cannot desire to influence the world around us if we are allowing the world to influence our thoughts, our words or our actions. May you make the time to reflect on this truth and then allow God to show you the condition of your heart.

(Originally written for the “Faith & Insight” column of the “Nevada Appeal” – April 2015)

Abandon Our Excuses

Many of us suffer from a condition, a toxic spiritual condition that we often try to mask or explain away. Many of us have become all to familiar with this state of life and we have allowed it to become an intricate part of our daily lives.

This condition is called: excuses. We are quick to have an excuse ready for all of our short comings. In fact, often our excuses try to shift the blame to others or to something else. Often times, it is no-more-excuseseasier to make an excuse then to actually address our true need. We live in a time where excuses are everywhere and people have settled for living in a state of excuses rather than in a place of truth and freedom.

Why? Because truth is costly. And freedom actually requires sacrifice. But an excuse? Well, it is often clever and quick and is “just enough” to get us by. And we’ve settled for a life of excuses, rather than a relentless pursuit of a loving and holy God who wants to full transform our minds and hearts to reflect Him.

Have you been carried away by excuses? Has your spiritual growth been hindered by habitual excuse making?

In order for us to abandon our excuses we have to confront the reality of sin and temptation in our lives. James 1:13-15 says: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

Far too often we find ourselves under pressure, and that is when we cave to excuses. The temptation we face comes from ourselves, for God is impervious to evil – meaning He is holy and untouched by evil, but we are born into sin and must daily choose to say no to sin and yes to the Lord and His mighty work in our lives. We let everything else in this world entice us and set our priorities. We let those forces drive our decisions, rather than the cry of God to work more fully, more deeply in our lives.

Excuses allow sin to grow in our lives, that is why we must abandon our excuses. We make excuses about staying away from God and the church. We make excuses from submitting ourselves to the revealed word of God and true Biblical authority. We allow everyone else’s opinion to matter more than the Lords, and we make excuses for it.

God wants to redeem and restore every broken place in our lives. He wants to provide an escape for the enticing sin that lingers before us.

My 8th grade football coach always told us: “Emery, excuses are like…(I’ll save you his wording, I am sure you’ll get it)…we all have them, and they all stink!” Friends, you know what else stinks? Sin! We have allowed ourselves to wallow in our sin and excuses rather than reaching for the hand of the Savior who longs to pull us out, fully and forever, from the muck and mire of our sin saturated lives. Now is the time to abandon your excuses and to fully press into God in this present moment.

(Originally written for the “Faith & Insight” column of the “Nevada Appeal” – March 2015)

Right & Wrong Questions

My kids ask a ton of questions. From the classic “why dad” to even more intricate ones about death and life and Jesus. I never want to give them some fluff answer either. I want to be ready to answer what I can, or help them find the answer to the questions they have. I want to always be able to respond to their questions with great wisdom.


But asking the right question, at the right time, is very crucial. The right question, it yields the right answer. The wrong question, it leads us in the wrong direction. And although there many never be a “stupid” question – there definitely are questions we are asking that are keeping us from the truth of what God wants for our lives.

Poor questions yield poor responses and we live in a time where the tension between good and poor is very real. We must be faithful at seeking God’s wisdom for our lives – for our needs, for our relationships, for our future and for our spiritual journey. We must seek God’s full wisdom for our lives and trust in what He reveals.

James 1:5-8 reminds us that: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

Perhaps part of difference between is a good question and a poor question is our intent behind our asking. If we are faith filled followers of Christ who intend to actually seek and apply, then we actually build a base with a solid question that can truly search for the right wisdom that the Lord will provide. That kind of foundation will enable you to live out the wisdom that you seek. It takes you deeper than superficial questions that focus on your own self-interests and immediate needs. Seeking out God’s wisdom for your questions is the best thing to do and we must do it with every question.

The Lord is faithful and He will provide for you, the answer to your questions. God speaks in a variety of ways. We have to guard our hearts to not read into things that aren’t there. We have to position ourselves in the right places to hear from the Lord as He blessings us with His wisdom so that we can apply what He has revealed.

Sometimes God reveals His answers, His wisdom, to us through His Holy Word. Sometimes He speaks to us through times of prayer where He speaks right into our hearts. And sometimes He speaks to us through a person who loves Him and whom you can trust. God is faithful and He will reveal to us His wisdom when we seek it. The wisdom God produces in our lives never contradicts His character or His revealed truth in the Word. So check your prayer life against that. Check the input of those in your life with God’s truth. God is faithful and He will provide you with the wisdom you seek.

So what is one area you need wisdom in your life? Seek the heart of God, ask the right questions and do so without doubt. Doubt will cripple you and it derails your pursuit of God saturated wisdom. May you go to the Lord with every question, but may you go with the intent of believing in God, the granter of great wisdom, ready to apply and live out the wisdom from the Lord that you have sought.

(Originally written for the “Faith & Insight” column of the “Nevada Appeal” – February 2015)


One dictionary defines “advocacy” as “active help, especially of a cause.” And, in my opinion, one of the best advocacy efforts happens every October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month – an annual campaign aimed to increase the awareness of this cancer. Pink is the color and we see it everywhere. My favorite football team has tones of pink this month in their uniform. You see pink and you think…well, we know what you think.

In late August 2014, many were blown away at how quickly the cause of ALS had spread. In such a short period of time, people from all over and from every walk of life were participating in the “ice bucket challenge” and donating to the cause. The ALS Association reported that they had “received $88.5 million in donations compared to $2.6 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 26). These donations have come from existing donors and 1.9 million new donors to the association.” This was a powerful advocacy effort – one that surprised everyone.

Breast cancer awareness month is very intentional. Events and activities are planned out. The ice bucket challenge grew faster and went farther than anyone could have planned for. Both have made a huge impact for their respective causes.

eggpictureRecently I went to the grocery store. I went to buy some fresh eggs. My favorite eggs right now are Egg-land’s Best. As I reached for my beloved egg and was a bit shocked, but then, I actually wasn’t. Why? Well, the labeling looked different. It was all shades of pink. And instead of their own company initials stamped on each egg, there was also a pink ribbon.

Apparently this company places a high value on advocating for the disease of breast cancer. I wonder why? I wonder what happened at HQ that caused them to say: “this is a cause worth promoting.” Perhaps it isn’t anything deep. Perhaps it has less to do with good intentions and more to do with corporate partnership and shared publicity. Regardless, they have joined in the promotion of this cause.

As I went to crack those eggs for a meal, I was reminded of something very valuable. As a disciple of Christ, advocating the mission of Jesus should be our chief aim. It should saturate every aspect of our lives – our thoughts, our actions, our schedules, and our choices. His cause, should be something that is marked by all that we do. And what is the mission, the cause of Christ? 1 John 2:1-3 says:I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the ]propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments…” His cause was to advocate on our behalf so that we would be able to experience eternal life. When this happens, it forever changes our future. And this change should produce within us a strong desire to see others experience the forgiveness of our loving and gracious God. His advocacy for us, is to be duplicated in our lives – as we too are to advocate for this cause in others.

Romans 1:16 says: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Has His advocacy impacted your life? Have you taken on the cause of Christ to live out and proclaim His desire to restore and redeem a lost and broken world? What are the “causes” that you have been committing your time and energy to? Is being His disciple and making more disciples of Jesus Christ the greatest cause in your life? If not, then what is keeping you from being a fully devoted, fully committed advocate for the cause of Christ in your community?

In his book, “The Dangers of Shallow Faith,” A.W. Tower said: “Either God is Lord of all or He is not Lord at all.” Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and to show you were there needs to be less of yourself, and more of Him. May your advocacy of the cause of Christ represent your radical personal pursuit of true intimacy with our Heavenly Father. May you seek to grow daily in God’s grace and truth, while sharing with the world around you His plan for restoration. And may you be unashamed of your advocacy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all that you say and in all that you do.

conquering fear

My children just completed their second week of swim lessons. We did a two-week class last year and saw first-hand how they learned to not fear water (pools & lakes) as much anymore. This year we hoped to build on this and what I witnessed in my kids made me so proud.


On the last day in this two-week class, all of the kids in their groups are taken to the diving board and the water slide. Those who are willing to climb up on the board are able to jump off. (Now one of the swim teachers walks out with them and another teach is already in the water.)

With a 3 year old and a 5 year old, the teachers are very hands on. Both of our kids in the class climbed up on the diving board. I could see in the younger one the fear as she gripped the side-rails and wouldn’t walk forward. I yelled at the top of my lungs: I believe in you; you can do this – be my brave girl! Both kids, with the help of their teachers, made it off the diving board and into the water below.

Then out at the slide the oldest one had already gone and she loved it. Last year she cried so hard at the top of the slide that her teacher had to carry her down the stairs. This year she climbed those same stairs and slide down the slide that she feared so much. Afterwards she told us that this was funnest thing she had ever done. I watched her swim in the pool after with more confidence and more happiness now then ever before. Funny how facing a fear and conquering can bring so much joy and courage.

As the younger one went out to the slide with her class you could see how scared she was and she was saying how she didn’t want to slide down the water slide. Yet, she did and as she came down the slide her whole family cheered her on as loud as possible. Everyone there saw her whole family join in the excitement and joy of her facing her fears.

As a father, nothing makes me prouder than to see my children face their fears and then, to have victory over those things that they are fearful of. And yet, I can only imagine that what I experience as a parent with my own children is just a small fraction in comparison to the joy our Heavenly Father has when we, as His beloved, face our fears and then gain victory over what holds us captive and fearful.

What fear needs to be faced and conquered in your life? Is it with something like honesty? Have you failed to be honest about something or with someone over a specific issue? Or is fear keeping you from making a change that you know you need to make? Has fear held you captive from the joy that freedom over fear brings?

Psalm 23 is a very popular section of Scripture. Verse 4 is a vital part of the amazing promise God has for those who trust in Him. It says:Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” In God’s presence, we lack nothing! No matter what fear we face, when we abide in Christ and He and in us – then we can take comfort in knowing God is with us even in that moment or season of fear that we face. 

Max Lucado, in his book “Fearless” asks the question in chapter 1 – “Why are we afraid?” (Click here to read chapter 1) In this chapter he not only answers this question but he goes on to say that: “Christ-followers contract malaria, bury children, and battle addictions, and, as a result, face fears. It’s not the absence of storms that sets us apart. It’s whom we discover in the storm: an unstirred Christ.” In this life we all have to face our fears. Would you rather live life a slave to your fear or in freedom and joy over your fear? The choice is yours and the Lord is willing to fill you with His strength and courage to help face and conquer your fears. He is also right there, cheering you on and interceding on your behalf for He longs for you to be free from the fears that pull on you and control you.

Isaiah 41 is powerful chapter in the Bible on encouragement. In verse 13 we are specifically encouraged by a promise straight from God: “For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, do not fear, I will help you.” Often times we struggle with trust – especially with God. We struggle trusting that God will provide and transform. We struggle in our faith and in our belief that the Lord is truly there to help us.

Yet, in an interview with Dr. David Jeremiah, he says: “Christians are not immune to fear. It isn’t sinful to fear; Christians experience fear. Fear isn’t necessarily an evil thing; it’s what fear does to us, when we allow it to take over in our lives.” His book on fear looks at a “Top 10 List” of fear and then goes to God’s Word for the answers. Our faith and God’s Word can help us conquer the fears we face – we just have to trust and believe in God’s Word and then seek His Word out for our source of deliverance. When we truly do this, God’s Holy Word transforms us and equips us to be successful in conquering the fears that we face.

God longs for each of us to know Him personally and to know who we are in Him. This moves us beyond a head knowledge about Him or even the Bible, to a deeper encounter of intimacy with the Lord and His Holy Word that daily changes us and stretches us. 2 Timothy 1:7 says: “For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline.” Are you truly walking in who God has called you to be – fearless? Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

May you turn and face those things you fear the most. May you do so centered on the truth that God loves you and that He wants you to encounter an “unstirred Christ” as you face those fears. And may you long more for the peace of Christ then the pain of fear and thus be so compelled to stop at nothing less than to seek the joy of the Lord as you breakthrough those barriers of sin and self and conquer those fears that are holding you back.

faith & easter

How would you define faith? Now, how would you define Easter?

For me, both words are connected to my relationship with the Lord. Yet I recognize that people can have faith in many things, even in people and still not define the word “faith” from a spiritual standpoint like I would. The same is true for Easter. Even though most churches see more people on Easter Sunday than any other time of year – there is large cluster of people who would define Easter in terms like: Easter Bunny, Easter Egg, Easter Egg Hunt, Easter Basket, Easter Dinner, etc. – things that don’t even imply the Christian celebration of Easter, the remembrance of Christ resurrection and victory over sin and death.

Now for some that may not seem like a big distinction. And perhaps for others their definition of Easter would contain elements for both. People may debate the correctness of that – I won’t, probably ever. My kids will probably know both perspectives of Easter – the Easter bunny and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet just like my definition of “faith” and “easter” tend to center on my relationship with Christ, so should the way I live out my faith and the hope I have because of that first Easter.

I have encounter many people who struggle with believing God, with having a saving faith in Him. They have their lists. And those list are long. And the validity of their lists are scary. And I have encountered people who struggle with Easter. They struggle with all the ways the Easter story of Jesus Christ blows holes in their common logic or personal experiences. Both the lists of “why I am not a Christian” and the statements regarding the resurrection of Jesus being illogical, etc. are for many, very valid.

Yet tolerance can be a scary thing, can’t it? Tolerance keeps us from action. And with issues regarding our faith in God and with the true meaning of Easter, tolerance, in my opinion, cannot be afforded. Yet we often allow tolerance to creep into our relationship with God. And tolerance begins to destroy our faith. Some of you reading right now, may be shaking your heads in disagreement with this idea. Yet if you’re pro-tolerance, then why can you shake your head at what I am saying now? Doesn’t that speak against the very spirit of tolerance?

Faith has to be defined in a very specific way, not just tolerated or even put into our schedule or calendar. We have come to tolerate too many definitions of a saving faith in God. We have allowed to many others things to define faith and use the word faith as their describer – and the same is very true with Easter.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything. All of history pointed to a Messiah that would come and save us all from sin. And all of history has pointed back to that moment when Jesus conquered sin and death. Faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything for us as followers of the Lord. Every aspect of our lives, every day, should reflect the promise and power of the resurrection.

This Easter I have been reminded how to define faith and how to live in the promise and the power of the resurrection. We make believing in God and in the story of the resurrection so very complicated. Many have been hurt by the church or appalled by hypocritical Christians. And although I feel like I understand why this happens, but they let those things keep them living a life of faith, fueled by the promise of the resurrection.

Yet this Easter I was reminded of what simple, yet powerful faith is all about. I preached today about the promise we have from God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I wanted to give those in church who had never accepted Christ as their Savior, a chance to confess their faith in the Lord and in their desire to live out the power of the resurrection. Two of those who raised their hands were mentally handicapped adults. I don’t even normally ask people to raise their hands, but I did today. I told them I wanted to see their faces and to pray for them specifically.

A simple, yet powerful faith is one that is trusting. It looks past those who might be watching and goes straight to the core of the issue. Without hesitation, those adults raised their hands. Their hearts and minds, I am convinced, have the freedom of a child. Nothing holds them back. They want to claim a saving faith in God. They don’t question it. They don’t limit it because of the other things they’ve faced in life. The just do it. The raise their hands and they are all in. And they want others to know.

From the very start, they stop and proclaim what God has done for them. Perhaps that is what has happened to us as tolerance has crept into our lives? We stopped proclaiming the promises of Easter daily, and we settle for a once a year remembrance on Easter alone and regardless of how you define it, faith should change us.

The promise of the resurrection begs us to understand this and to live it out everyday. Throw that tolerance to the wind – let that go – and embrace this year as a chance to live each day in power of the resurrection. Let yourself redefine faith like a child would. Don’t hold back. If you belong to God, then display that to your world. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be fearful. Don’t let the value this world places on faith, be your guide for living a life of true faith in God.

Everyday is an opportunity to live out the promise of the resurrection. We just have to choose to live a life of faith like this. Allow the first Easter to define for you how to live a life of dynamic faith and true hope. We serve a living God who didn’t sacrifice His life for lie. Everyday we live should be a celebration of our faith in the Lord and in the promise of the resurrection of Jesus.

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our struggle with change

Every time I have made a big change in my life, I become more aware of the struggle with change – you feel it personally in every way. And yet, change is everywhere. We make changes in our diet. We make changes in our routine. We experience change in leadership or in the workplace. We experience change with businesses and even their products. Change is everywhere. 

More often than not, we respond to change in one of two ways: we accept it or we resist it – we embrace it or we reject it – we celebrate it or we condone it. Just like genuine acceptance of change can be wide-spread, so is our struggle with accepting change. 

When you have experienced change, in whatever setting – big or small, how have you responded to it? Take a moment and reflect upon those experiences. There are probably different aspects of change each person naturally responds to in a positive way. And there are probably different aspects of change that you have encountered that you struggle with more. It is vital to know these things about yourself. 

With recent change in my life, I have been learning that the first step in this battle with change is to identify for yourself (and each one of us is a bit unique in this), but to identify for yourself those elements of change that are easy for you to respond to and then to also identify what types of change are harder for you to deal with. The first step is knowing your strengths and then operating from within your strengths. If we focus on our failure or areas of struggle first, then we are constantly in an uphill battle with our emotions and even our actions. Change is everywhere, so become more self-aware about how you either champion change and how you struggle with it. 

I have also been learning how valuable communication is to combat the struggle with change. If you think about it, when we start to fail to thrive with change or when we fail to cope with change it comes back to communication. And we have to be honest about all methods of communication. Discussion of half-truths or misconceptions about the change we face, only tends to lead to gossip and gossip does not usually help combat the struggle with change. 

So you can talk about an issue over and over again, but the way you talk about it and who you talk about it with can either help you process the change or spiral you into a deeper struggle with change. Such a simple step, such a small action – it can help you or hinder you. When change has occurred in your life, who do you go to and discuss this change with? And where have those discussions lead you? Have they given you perspective and allowed you to vent and process the change you face so you can respond in a healthy way?

When we encounter change, we need to know if this change is something we can handle, or if it falls within an area we struggle in. And we need to communicate about the change. We need to ask clarifying questions that are productive. We need to speak out how this change makes us feel or impacts us or the things that are important to us. We cannot remain silent if we are confused or frustrated – that never results in anything good. Yes, if “you do not have anything nice to say, then say nothing at all.” Yet, we must process change and discuss it in a way that is good so that it can be talked through. Your voice, or your concern with change, is most powerfully heard when it is spoken the right way and when it is spoken to the right people. 

Change is everywhere. Some change is big and some change is small. Ultimately we cannot control how others respond to change. We can not them them how to deal with their own struggle with change. However, we can help ourselves and others by learning how we personally process with change and we must examine how we discuss change – to eliminate for ourselves those modes of communication that keep us struggling with change. We can become examples of how to deal with change – not just contributors to the struggle with change.

Change is everywhere, yet true change starts within you. What do you need to transform within your thoughts and communication so that the way you experience change is more helpful for yourself and for those around you? May you seek to no longer be bound by mans struggle with change!


Lately my life has been very full, so whoever said that things slow down after the holidays – well they we wrong, at least in my case. In the last few weeks life has been very busy. Busy with greats things and busy with hard things as well. It has been filled with joy and excitement. It has also been filled with heartache and pain. And that my friends is what we call life, right? 

So how does one who claims to be on mission with God, stay focused on pursuing the holiness of God when their life is always full and busy? With all that this world demands of us – from being a parent & raising a family, to running a business or managing a team – with all that is coming our way and with all that we must do each day, how do we avoid living a life that is absent of a daily pursuit of the holiness of God? 

Brennan Manning writes: 

“Since the day that Jesus first appeared on the scene, we have developed vast theological systems, organized worldwide churches, filled libraries with brilliant christological scholarship, engaged in earthshaking controversies, and embarked on crusades, reforms and renewals. Yet there are still precious few of us with sufficient folly to make the mad exchange of everything for Christ; only a remnant with the confidence to risk everything for the gospel of grace; only a minority who stagger about with the delirious joy of a man who found buried treasure.”

Is my life – is your life, the right response to a daily pursuit of the holiness of God? Are we apart of a remnant that has the confidence to risk everything in this busy life, for more intimacy with God? The simply answer might be: pray more! Or another one might be: read your Bible more! And although those are good things to do, do they really make us more holy? Do they really give us the confidence we need to “risk everything for the gospel of grace”? Doing more, probably won’t make us any more confident. And doing more, won’t really bring us more and lasting freedom either. 

Between our hearts and God, there is a huge disconnect. I see it all the time. In college students trying to work and go to school. In single parents, trying to work and raise their family. In the business owner and this guy – right here! We think that since we are busy being parents, or being leaders at our job or in our community, and that if just stay busy enough that then we will accomplish great things in our lives – and perhaps even for God. Now don’t get me wrong, God wants us to be faithful to our spouse and love them relentless. God wants us to humbly serve Him in whatever capacity He has called us to. But we cannot neglect the former – a daily pursuit of the holiness of God – we cannot neglect the former and hope to achieve the greater – risking it all for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

This is a holiness issue. We have lost what it means to pursue the very holiness of God for our lives. 

I follow a group called Renovaré USA on a social media site. Today they posted a prayer of St. Augustine that helped me gain some much needed perspective. In the midst of trying to manage my stuff, in the midst of trying to do all that is before me – there came this simple reminder through a prayer of St. Augustine: 

“Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.”

Being busy, will always be there. There will always be an e-mail to write, a phone call to make, a card to send, a person to help, a need to meet. There will always be something that will demand our attention. If I get caught up in meeting that need, then we will always feel consumed with being busy. We will also then be more concerned about doing things, then being truly connected to God in vibrant and intimate ways. When we pursue the holiness of God, it transforms our prayer life. It brings wisdom and power to what we encounter in the Word of God and it gives us the right perspective to handle the things we face throughout each day.

How is that possible? It is possibly through God’s grace for us as our focus is on Him, first.  

When I do pray, I want that time with the Lord to be real and sincere. When I do spend time in His Word, I want the truth of God to explode within me. So excuse if I say no to you – to the demands of this world – to spend more focused time on the feeding of my soul. Excuse me if I don’t sign-up for everything or help with every project that comes before me. I don’t do it to be mean. I don’t do it to be selfish. I do it with a purpose – so that God may truly impact my life in every way possible first, so that I may be able to truly represent, with all the courage I can gather the power and holiness of the gospel of God’s grace – first in my home and then throughout the rest of my life.

May we purpose with great passion and strong conviction to seek out true intimacy with God each day Blocking out, or putting away the negative and false things from others that we face while remembering that it has always been and always will be about Jesus and our focused pursuit of intimacy with Him. May you find the freedom to say no to things of this world that are robbing you, so that you can you truly and fully say yes to a genuine pursuit of the holiness of God in your life that will have radical and profound implications on all that you do and say.