Really Real

"It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that He exists and that He cares enough to respond to those who seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6, The Message) This verse goes back to my early days in Jesus as life-shaping words for my soul. As I have grown, those words have come to mean much more than I ever anticipated. They have become the essence of the really real. I get it, what I just said sounds strange, maybe even incomprehensible. Yet, how do you express the impossible? I cannot see God. In today's world, people think it strange to speak with God—like, why would anyone do that? Does God hear or care? Look at the world. Wha

Lagging Behind with Jesus

"Jesus called them together and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.'" (Matthew 20:25-28, NIV) “I call shotgun!” Those three words are a battle cry in our house. It's all fun and games until it's a knock-down, drag-out fight to the passenger-side door. I'm sure they've always been competitive, but the 'tween and teen years seem to have intensified it. The youngest, esp

The Last Shall Be First

"But many who are first will be last, and the last first." (Mark 10:31 ESV) I get a lot of compliments. Enough that I know people's eyes are on me and that they look to me as a leader and an example. At the same time, I catch a lot of flak. I make unpopular decisions that don't square well with traditions or structures, telling myself that it doesn't matter what anybody but God thinks. Then I get flung upside down as the snare closes around my ankle, and I am left dangling from a tree branch, change falling out of my pockets, and glasses slipping off my face. You see, God told me once I can be like Absalom, David's son who usurped the throne by weaseling his way into people's hearts through

The Least Important Place

"Then when Jesus noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable." (Luke 14:7, NET) Jesus had been invited to the house of a high-ranking Pharisee, and as the guests arrived, He observes that they were taking the best seats at the table. Lately, I've been considering this story in Luke 14 through the lens of missions: As missionaries, we are the guests in the story. Those in the countries to which we go are hosts. And I think the point that Jesus makes here in Luke is relevant to us. The passage begins with Jesus noticing "how the guests chose the places of honor." Might Jesus make the same observation about missionaries? Do we come in and assume leadership role

The Least in the Kingdom is Greater than Me

"I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." (Luke 7:28, NIV) John the Baptist sat in prison. The cousin of Jesus, the one whose mission it was to prepare the nation of Israel for the coming of the Messiah languished in a dungeon. Yet John’s service for God was incredibly significant. Jesus himself says here that he wasn’t just a prophet, he was the greatest of all men. However, John was now a prisoner and condemned to death. What might he have been thinking? I can imagine that his thinking went like this: "If Jesus is the Messiah whom we had hoped for, why am I, his cousin and ministry colleague

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