How Do You Determine God’s Best?

How to Determine God's Best

I’m thinking about God’s best lately. What does it look like for a believer in Jesus Christ? If we are encountering God and experiencing His best for us, do we continue to have a gnawing sense of dissatisfaction with who we are, where we are or what we are doing in our present state? When things get complex, sometimes I like to revert to simpler times when things just seemed to make sense, honesty didn’t have a filter or agenda and I could see things plain as day. In many cases, I’m brought back to Denver.

Some of my favorite memories of summer in Denver have to do with an amazing amusement park just down the road from my grandmother’s house. There was no place like Elitch Gardens (Elitch’s for those in the know) for a kid during summer vacation in Denver. The Splinter, the Wildcat, Mr. Twister, all of these rides guaranteed great fun and cemented my love for roller coasters.

It made a mark on me and I made a mark on it for a long time, making sure to stick a piece of gum to the portion of the log ride where every kid and immature adult seemed to leave offerings. For me and many other North Denver kids, Elitch’s had no equal; even though Lakeside Amusement Park tried it’s best, for a cheaper price.

You know those generic/store brands posing as your favorite beverage, for example, Dr. K instead of Dr. Pepper or Green Lightning instead of Mountain Dew? That was Lakeside. I couldn’t always afford admission to Elitch’s, so I spent more time at Lakeside wishing I was at Elitch’s, for one reason in particular.

Radical Holiness

Radical Holiness

Several years ago, Stephen and I had finally reached a place financially where we could afford to use our tax return to do something we wanted, rather than sending it to pay off debt. The first thing on our list was to get rid of our old carpet that was covered in sippy-cup spots (can I get a witness?), vomit stains (thank you stomach flu), and just everyday grossness. I was finally getting new flooring! It was like 10 Christmas mornings put together!

The night before the crew was scheduled to come, we started moving all the furniture out of the living room. The last thing to go was the rug that had been lying in the same place for about 4 ½ years. We rolled that thing up and I was stunned. The carpet it had been covering up for all that time was at least 5 shades lighter than the surrounding carpet. It didn’t even look like the same flooring. It was so clean, while the rest of the carpet was worn, dingy, and disgusting. Why? This 5’x8’ rectangle was stainless and like new because, for the duration of most of its time in our house, it was covered and protected. It wasn’t exposed to the same level of wear and tear that the rest of the room was. It was shielded from the spills, muddy shoes, toddler brawls, and settled in grime. But as we were going about our days, we were oblivious to just how much damage was being done to the surrounding carpet until we saw the difference side by side.

Insert cheesy spiritual analogy . . .

Isn’t it so true though?

If you study the Bible from cover to cover, one of the most consistent themes you will find is the command and reminder to pursue holiness, to be set apart from the rest of the world.

Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing

Wolves In Sheep's Clothing

In light of my most recent post regarding the days of Noah, I’d love to take a break from all the heaviness and explore a topic a little less heady . . . . . false teachers. If you haven’t had your coffee yet, you might want to go ahead and get that over with before continuing.

I have felt so weighed down by this issue for some time now because we are walking around in a day and age where new false teachers are popping up every day and they are getting more and more clever yet brazen. The main reason being that it’s so easy for anyone to have a platform, thanks to the wonder of blogging and social media. Trust me, the irony of that statement is not lost on me.

But that is the reality we are living in. Anyone who thinks they have something to say can click a few buttons, type a few words, click submit, and bam! They’ve now put their thoughts out there for anyone with internet access to read.

The vast majority of these posts are about completely innocent topics such as the latest fashion trends on a budget, recipes for the best pot roast on the planet, and current movie reviews. To all of you, keep up the good work. You’ve saved many a buck for my family and plenty of meals at my house. But this is not who I’m talking about. The ones that we are to be wary of are those who dive into topics of the spiritual realm. Too many times now, this same scenario has played out in front of us . . .

The Days of Noah

The Days of Noah

Something that has been consistently snagging up my thoughts and wonderings, my conversations with certain friends, and my study of God’s word is the end times. It has always been something that fascinated me, but as of late, it’s moved from a fascination to almost a preoccupation.

Don’t worry, I’m not secretly working on my sandwich board and making plans to storm the street corners shouting, “The end is near!” But I am wondering more and more if, as believers, we need to be paying this a lot more attention than we currently are.

I don’t pretend to be convinced that my generation is going to see the second coming of Jesus before we die. Maybe we will, and maybe we won’t. However, we can’t ignore the fact that many of the events prophesied in scripture are happening and that we are experiencing a number of things Jesus himself said would happen. As I’ve been reading up on exactly what the Bible says about the ends times, I noticed something that I had never really caught before, probably because I just breezed by it as a casual statement.

In Matthew 24:36-39, Jesus says, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”

Luke 17:26-27 records almost the exact same thing – “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.

At first glance, one might read that and think that Jesus is just comparing the days leading up to his return as being “business as usual,” causing everyone to be caught off-guard, just like the people were when the flood took place. But if that were the case, couldn’t Jesus have used any number of other comparisons? I believe he intentionally chose to draw this specific comparison because of the things that marked the days of Noah, leading God to take the drastic actions He took.

Stewardship > Excellence

Stewardship > Excellence

I’ve really been processing lately what it means to be a faithful disciple. I oftentimes find myself praying and talking with others saying, “I just want to be faithful at the end of the day.” So it probably shouldn’t surprise me that I believe God has been teaching me a lesson lately on what it means to be faithful and I believe He has been showing that to me through stewardship.

I want to do all things with excellence. I want to be an excellent follower of Jesus, an excellent husband, an excellent father, an excellent employee, and an excellent friend. The problem is I focus too much on the “excellence” piece of everything while the whole time missing out on the stewardship side of things and therefore, actually become unfaithful in the calling God has placed on my life.

I believe God has called us to be a great steward of the things and relationships He has entrusted to us and not to focus on just being excellent.

Striving For Excellence Can Be Dangerous

Should we strive to be obedient as followers of Jesus? Of course! Is it a good thing to want to be a better husband and father? Absolutely!

However, what I’ve found in my own life is that I miss out on stewardship when I focus too much an excellence. Here are a few examples:

Why Is Encouragement So Important?

Why Is Encouragement So Important?

We live in a day where discouragement is all around us. I don’t know about you, but I don’t go a single day without running into someone who is complaining, being negative, or is very discouraged. Oftentimes I find myself being that person too.

  • What is the deal?
  • How can everything be so discouraging?
  • Is the world doomed?
  • What is the Christian’s response in this scenario?

I think encouragement is written about so much in the Bible for a very specific reason…we are easily discouraged people… but when we are encouraged…we start to live the way God has designed us to live in the first place.

Where Discouragement Begins

If you think about it, discouragement has to come from somewhere. We don’t just drift into discouragement and it doesn’t just happen to us. Discouragement comes from sin. God is not a God who has designed us to live a life of discouragement or to lose hope. That is not who we really are and you can be assured if you’re living this way, that’s not who you really are. Your life has tremendous value.

Sin is bad. It’s ugly. It’s terrible. It’s deceiving. It’s evil. It’s mean. It’s negative. It’s discouraging.

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” – Hebrews 3:13

God calls us to encourage one another because otherwise, we’ll be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Sin will actually harden us more and more and make us even more discouraged. What’s challenging about this is that if we don’t encourage others, we allow them to become more hardened by sin, but at the same time, the encouraging part of this is that there’s an answer to discouragement.

Where Encouragement Begins

Encouragement begins with Jesus.

If we remember what Jesus has done, we’ll immediately be encouraged. How could we not be?

He came, He lived a perfect life, He died and took the wrath of our sins…all of them, and then He rose from the grave defeating death and sin in victory. How in the world could we not be encouraged by someone who has done so much on our behalf?

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29

In light of the cross, God calls us to encourage and build up one another. We need it. We constantly are battling sin including forgetting what Jesus has done for us and we need to be reminded over and over again what He has done. Once we remember Jesus, our perspective immediately gets realigned with His perspective.