Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, podcast, Uncategorized

New Beginnings

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:2

Before Christmas I was listening to an episode of White Horse Inn, a podcast by reformed theologians and pastors.  The episode, titled O’ Holy Night, focused on the beauty and glory of what happened that first Christmas night.  They started by explaining how Mary was, in effect, barren, empty.  God used her barrenness like He did the universe to create something new, something out of nothing.  It was the reason a virgin was selected to show how God is the great Creator.  

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  Luke 1:34-35

Each time I hear or read of a connection that weaves through the Bible from the beginning to the middle and to the end I find myself having an “ah, ha moment.”  Barring heading off to theology school and learning about all these connections in a short time span,  I hope to keep hearing about the Grand Story and all its connectedness throughout my days.  It’s like coming upon a complete sand dollar at the beach or a beautiful, out of place flower in an otherwise barren landscape.  You, at first can’t believe your eyes; then you stoop down to look closer.  And then you pop up looking around to tell someone – because it might not be true unless you can verify it.   You want to share the moment, the beauty, the awesomeness of it all.  Meanwhile others pass by seemingly uninterested or unseeing.

About a month ago I had the opportunity to attend a weekend workshop by Nancy Guthrie on biblical theology.  For those unfamiliar with the term, it’s taking a theme found in the Bible and tracing its path from Creation to Consummation (typically Revelation).  It helps us to see the Grand Story of God and all the tiny threads that create one massive character profile of our Creator.  And how all stories lead us to Jesus.

I decided for this next series to take up the challenge Mrs. Guthrie gave us that weekend.  To start looking at chapters in this thousands-year old story as one through various themes.  And who could resist starting the new year with the theme of New Beginnings?  

We live out our own lives through a long series of new beginnings.  From the creation of our very being to our entry into society and from there taking on new challenges whether school or jobs, a marriage or even a marriage to the church we look toward tomorrow for that new step.  

If we are blessed to live a long life, we will find ourselves with new beginnings in our families and as we reach retirement.  And for some, new beginnings may be what it takes to remove ourselves from addiction, abusive relationships, broken marriages, and even criminal behavior.

In the next few months, we will walk through a number of new beginnings found in the Bible.  Beginnings, like Noah that needed just one small family to see the entire Earth be reborn.  Beginnings like Rahab’s that started out of selfish need and God turned to good.  And beginnings like Jonah who ran as fast as he could from starting new but God, when He selects you for change won’t let go.  And quiet new beginnings like that of Onesimus who sits in the background of the letter by Paul to Philemon.

We will see how the character of God shows up each time – from beginning to middle and end.  How He keeps His promise to never leave us, to never forsake us even when we feel so alone.  And we will see how His will is always done and it is good.

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;" Ephesians 4:22-23

My friend, you might be right on the cusp of a new beginning.  It might look terrifying.  It might look exciting.  You might not even realize it at all until you are in the thick of it.  Some of you are longing for a new beginning.  I can promise you this, God’s plan is at work.   He’s right there watching and guiding.  So as this new year begins let’s say a prayer to the Creator.  To help us hear and see what new things He wants of us.  And what old things He wants cast off.  He has a story to tell with you.  Let’s help Him publish it for all the world to see.

30daysofpraise, christian encouragement, Uncategorized

God the Recycler


So here we are — Day 30 of 30 Days of Praise! And although my daily prayer praise of the Almighty doesn’t end with today, my challenge to find different ways to write about God’s amazing characteristics is complete. When I started this more than 30 days ago I was on a journey to help me learn a new way of praying. I felt comfortable with thanking God, asking God for help, and asking Him for forgiveness. But praising God seemed so strange and uncomfortable to me. True to His character He placed a challenge on my heart and mind to help me grow.

I heard a great comment about God’s character yesterday. “God never allows us to fail a test, he just gives us the test over and over until we pass.” It goes right along with Charles Stanley’s Life Principle #7:

The dark moments of our life will last only so long as necessary for God to accomplish His purpose in us.

Charles Stanley, 30 Life Principles

God Allows Us to Be Reduced to Brokenness

You see, I didn’t start my journey of learning how to praise God 30 days ago. I started the day God spoke to me in my bedroom a few years ago. While I sat enjoying my little pity party God said, “Enough is enough.” He shook me with the simple statement: “What have you really done?” You see I was whining about being such a “good Christian” and yet my life felt like a mess. He spoke those words loudly again, “Yes, what have you really done?” He had been letting me do things my own way for a long time. But He loves us too much to let us continue down destructive paths for too long. That day started my training. And it was intense. He taught me that the secret to a peace-filled life was a lot simpler than what I imagined. I didn’t need to be “doing” so much. I just needed to obey Him — no matter the consequences, no matter how outlandish the request sounded. 1 John 2:25 says:

But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them.

1 John 2:25

Not only was I reduced to brokenness but God was right there to put me back together as a much more simple, faithful Christian with one goal: Obey.

God Re-Uses Lessons To Get Us to Listen

Throughout my continuing journey I have experienced many times when the same lesson pops up over and over. It’s when I give in and say, “ok, ok, I get it!” that He finally moves on. From podcasts, to daily devotionals, and songs on the radio to a Bible study, His Word weaves its way seamlessly throughout our lives. On August 1, I started with my devotional, “New Day, New You” by Joyce Meyer. The day’s lesson? “Simple, Believing Prayer” based on Matthew 6:7. “And when you pray, do not heap phrases as the gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking.” Good start as I then turn to my “30 Life Principles” Bible study lesson for the day: “Listening to God is essential to walking with God.” In it the question was asked, “What does Jesus say about the use of many words?” Based on, guess….. Matthew 6:7. I saw a message forming here. I then decided to read a bit of my “Spurgeon on Prayer & Spiritual Warfare.” I don’t read it everyday but I felt led to that day. And lo and behold, the topic was approaching God with reverence, joy, submission, confidence and sincerity. Not babbling on with useless words intended to make myself sound “christian-like.” Point taken.

What if through this odd little coincidence, or answered prayer, He’s sending you–you… out of all of those billions of people–a direct personal message of reassurance? To stop worrying? To keep the faith? That everything will be all right? 

Squire Rushnell, Godwink stories

God Takes Trash and Makes It Into Something Beautiful

Each Sunday we would see him. A man in about his 40s dressed to the 9s. Not just full suits but “zoot” suits. Big shoulder pads, double breasted suits. But what was most impressive was his hair. I dated a guy back in the 80s who played in a 60s throwback band with that same hair — pumped up, rockabilly pompadour. He stood out among the mostly white, upper class 60-80 year olds. It came to pass we ended up in the same membership class. I told him how I enjoyed seeing what cool and interesting outfits he was going to show up in each week. And, I was definitely impressed with his hair. Both being named Chris/Kris we of course, hit it off. When it came time to tell our testimony I realized what a blessing it was that God put me in the same group as Chris. He told us how his family growing up were Christians. But he rebelled. He wanted long hair, hard rock and a free spirited life. One day when he was 15 his father came to him and said, “We are going to Africa to be missionaries. You have two choices, you can cut your hair and come with us or you stay here in California and find your own way.” He chose to keep his hair. He also decided that Los Angeles was the place to become a rock star. He played bass and guitar. He ended up on the streets, homeless. And he turned to drugs which eventually led to heroin. He told us he should’ve died at least 10 times. But God was not done with him. He pulled him from the fire after yet another devastating drug-fueled, car accident. And led him on the path to recovery. He now goes all over the country speaking on the perils of heroin and his faith in God. He jumped in to help mentor middle school and high school kids at our church. He’s one cool cat. Chris was like the trash that rolls along our city streets, finding its way into doorways. Crumpled up and seemingly useless. God transformed him into a true follower of Christ — a thing of beauty. His transformation story gives me hope for my, much smaller problems.


I praise God today for all the work He has done and will do in our lives. He whispers to us. He shouts at us. He shakes us and he nudges us. He will never force us to follow Him. And He will never fully let us go. Click on the photo below to enjoy the song, “Raise a Hallelujah” by Bethel Music — but here’s a hint, play it loud and raise your hands high!! I look forward to having you join me on my next challenge — “His Works Project”– coming soon!