If The Unborn Could March

With a soft coo and gentle kick my delicate infant smiles at me.
It’s humbling to think all she needs comes from my charity.
She cannot clean herself, change her clothes or even prepare a meal.
For her needs to be met and heart content she’s fully dependent on how I feel.

By God’s design at our first breath we find our greatest strength.
It’s not in our wealth or might of hand but a heart of interdependence we take.
Independence with selfish pride works to subjugate.
And if a life makes them feel threatened they may even terminate.

It’s always been this way. Notice what they say.

It’s humane, they feel little pain and it helps our research grow.
Said Nazi Germany to the Jews as the gas chambers glow.

The baby lives in my body so it’s my choice.
The land owner says they live on my land, I represent them, they have no voice.

It’s education and intelligence that determines tissue’s worth.
Slaves aren’t educated or intelligent, it’s the purpose of their birth.

If we let them live think of the societal cost.
If we let them free think of the profits lost.

Let me pause and ask some questions as I think about humanity’s direction.

Who is strongest?
Who will last?

We stand strongest not as a me, but we.
It’s a complex selfless group of people that embrace their diversity.
It’s the ones that voice their passion not for themselves but for the weak.
Selfless love must bind us tight not merely protect me.

My strengths covering your weakness, my weakness covered by your strength.
I came into this world incredibly needy and will leave it just the same.
The more complex our charity gets the stronger we could be.

The oldest, the youngest, those born to the poor.
Black, White, First Nation and Asian, we need interdependent love to soar.

How do you practice this? How do you grow? How do you become the ones the world needs to know?

You stand up for their rights.
You sacrifice for their needs.
You stand up for the ones who do not yet have, instead of fighting just for me.

If you only march for what you may lose you don’t understand my call.
The key is selfless charity that makes us powerful.

Even if you feel the victim, model speaking up for others.
Mature a countenance in a people of sacrificing for another and another.
It’s a call not only for the babies, it’s a call to provide for the mother.

Who will march for the weakest of these?
Who will grow the charity society needs?

Can you see it? The unborn can’t march. They can’t say, “What about me?”
It’s more than saving a life. It’s saving the heart of humanity.

-An excerpt from Mike’s personal journal.

Finally… We know you can’t support every ministry family. The next time you do support a ministry would you consider supporting us? We love doing this and would love your help to keep this going. Click on the link below to see how you can help. https://luke117.givingfuel.com/luke117

Where is the king?

Have you ever come to a place where you felt you were at the end of your strength? Couldn’t go another step or face another day? Inwardly you just had nothing left and were ready to throw in the towel and give up. Perhaps that’s where you are at this very moment.

A few years ago I was re-reading through the Chronicles of Narnia. (I know these are considered children’s books, but there’s so much that speaks to the hearts of us grown-ups. It’s like peeking through an imaginary world and seeing real world truths behind it.) There is a scene in “The Horse and His Boy” that resonated deeply with me. The main character Shasta had been on a grueling journey, running for his life from what he thought was a ferocious lion that sought to devour him. He sought the king to warn him of the enemy closing in, and finally reached what he thought was his destination, completely spent. He encounters an old man, hoping this was the king, but the old man informs him that, no, he is not the king.

“If you run now, without a moment’s rest, you will still be in time to warn King Lune.”

Shasta’s heart fainted at these words for he felt he had no strength left. And he writhed inside at what seemed the cruelty and unfairness of the demand.  He had not yet learned that if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.  But all he said out loud was: “Where is the King?”

I feel ya, Shasta. I imagine perhaps what he really wanted to do was throw a hissy fit, kicking and screaming and shouting, “NO! I won’t do it! It’s not fair and you can’t make me!” Or maybe he just wanted to curl up in a ball and sleep for a few days. Either way, that’s not how he responded. He saw the bigger need and all that was at stake and knew he must keep going.

I’m gonna level with you. I relate with this so much because I have so often felt this way in recent years.  We have five kids and are in full time ministry (so basically two full time jobs). These last few years I’ve experienced some personal challenges, our marriage has had some growing pains, baby number five showed up unexpectedly, and then of course throw in COVID and all the challenges and complications that has brought. As delighted as we are to welcome this fifth child into our lives, it has been an adjustment. This is the first time I’ve had a job outside the home while also caring for an infant and I often feel stretched thin. There have been and are so many moments where I feel like Shasta…once I finish one good deed, the reward is to be “set to do another and harder and better one.” My insides writhe at all the demands, but in action, “out loud” I need to be what the people in my life need me to be. It often feels like I have to keep showing up for them “without a moment’s rest.” The rest I long for seems an unattainable luxury.

I know many face much harder things than this. But hard is hard, and this is my hard. What’s your hard?

(One benefit of the hard is the necessity for creativity and adaptability that it breeds. Even as I write this, I am nursing a baby while wearing earbuds playing white noise to drown out a busy household. We have five children ages 2 months to 17 years with virtual learning still happening and a too small house where we are often on top of each other – not exactly conducive to efficient blog writing. Truly I’m not even sure how I have any functioning brain cells to put some sentences together, but somehow it happens. Adaptability.)

Hello doctor, how much Benadryl is too much to give to my children?

I wish I had some great encouragement for you! And of course, there is encouragement.  From God’s Word we pull promises that tell us “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13), that God is in my midst and will “strengthen me when morning dawns” (Psalm 46:5). I cling to the truth that God is my provider and will give me what I need. It is these simple but powerful reminders that carry us onward.

But sometimes it is just hard, and we are weary. Let’s just take a moment and give ourselves permission to acknowledge that.  That is at least part of the comfort, in knowing we don’t have to force ourselves to “just be okay,” in the kinship of knowing “the same sufferings are being experienced by your brotherhood around the world” (1 Peter 5:9). And then we continue to put one foot in front of the other because there’s too much at stake to give up, others are relying on us. The King had to be warned of the enemy closing in, after all.

My prayer for you today, dear reader, is that you will be strengthened in your hard place. As Paul says in Ephesians 3:16, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” The present circumstances may not change, but inwardly we can be changed.  God has done this for me, many times, and I know he can do it for you. If nothing else, take heart in knowing you are not alone. When, like Shasta, your insides writhe at the unfairness of the continued demands placed on you or the hardship that you feel you can no longer bear, when you feel you lack the strength to complete the unfinished task in front of you, may God give you the courage and strength to simply say, “Where is the king?” 

Also, meet a friend for coffee, or take a walk, or watch a sunrise, or soak in a bubble bath, or get a massage. Make time for a little self care…because really there’s no king in your story and anyway he can wait.

An open letter to my church about the current political landscape

This chaos is not new:

Let’s be clear up front. Racism is sin. Anyone who marched or assembled on belief of manmade hierarchy isn’t Christian according to Christian doctrine (Gal. 3:28). We are all created in the image of God. However, this letter isn’t about racism. This letter is to those in my church who have identified with one of the two political parties and now you find yourself at increasing disillusionment. This is for you.

There have always been out of control “Zealots” and “Roman sympathizers” Jesus (and Christian history) had to correct. Both groups claim to follow God but try to create a true kingdom in a wrong way. This doesn’t work. The end doesn’t justify the means in real Christianity. They both end up in sin and creating the very types of societies they claim to reject. 

In the last week (and year) we have seen this very scenario play out. The same one that has been playing out for thousands of years many times over. 

Both of these groups (Zealots against the politics of the day and Sympathizers who support it) have consistently through history used the Lord’s name in vain. Meaning, they took action under the banner of God that wasn’t actually of Him. Both sides miss the mark and damage the name of Jesus. Both sides justifying sinful means (actions) to win what they consider a “good” end. This never works. 

Jesus is about another Kingdom:

Jesus brought a new kingdom. It begins in the heart. Hate and vengeance are traded for forgiveness and charity.

Love in the Bible (khesed, Hebrew or agape, Greek) is more like a promise of committed continual acts of charity. In my home and church, we define Biblical love as doing good unto another independent of their capacity to reciprocate. That’s right, even my 12-year-old defines love like this. Real Christians trade revenge for love and trust.  We love our “enemies” and believe that they are not actually the enemy, but victims of the real spiritual enemy. We trust that God will make all things right (Rev. 21:4). 

Christ sacrificed immeasurable personal rights and His personal safety to demonstrate love to those that hated him. His actual followers should do the same. Christians today keep responding with “you go first.” I can only imagine Jesus saying, “I already did.” Moreover, the “you go first” attitude is evidence the person’s heart doesn’t actually get Christianity or Christ yet. 

There are a lot of people that want to weaponize the Gospel.

Christian love can only be expressed by people who know deep down they were (or still are) just as lost in sin and evil as their enemies (Rom. 3:23). They finally see that God chose to love them immeasurably while they were still a total mess and didn’t deserve it (John 3:16). In light of this, they finally get how love (charity) works. It’s an immensely kind response they don’t deserve (Rom. 6:23). Their hearts become full of gratitude, and humility takes the place of pride and arrogance. The Christian Gospel (euangélion) isn’t a weapon to be used against others, it’s good news that there is a surgical scalpel that can cut the cancer out of our own hearts. You could live forever in heaven. You are the one that’s been sick, and you need the good news (Matt. 7:5).

No doubt there are countless “Christian” people who wave Christian flags and wear Christian t-shirts that aren’t actually Christian at all. They weaponize Christianity– using the spiritual scalpel on others that is meant to be used to save their own hearts. 

Let the Bible speak:

Let’s lean into the famous sermon from Jesus

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” -Matthew 5:43-47

Let’s also let the Apostle Paul speak up. 

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary:

‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” -Romans 12:9-21

This is true Christianity, and this Kingdom awaits those who follow Jesus. But true Christians don’t idly wait, anticipating this reality. True Christians work to bring the Kingdom of God to earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10). True Christians work to bring the Kingdom to those around them– those they work with, their neighbors, and even their enemies. That is why in Christianity, the end does not justify the means. The end is accomplished and done in Christ. Our responsibility as followers of Christ is to honor Him in the “means.”

To my Christian liberal and conservative friends: 

To my more conservative Christian friends:

Let’s be clear up front. Your movement is not perfect and it is not heaven. Christ’s ultimate kingdom can’t be stolen away or lost. It’s already solidified and every temporal kingdom in this fallen world will pass away and make way for it. Expect our manmade systems to fail us. Expect the systems you made to fail you and your children. They all will fall at some point. Hang on because things will get worse before Christ comes back. No need to panic, the mission might be tough but Christ’s real kingdom will never fall. Yes, vote kingdom values, but place your hope and peace of heart in the promises of Christ. Commit to work with and understand your eternal family members, no matter what party they vote for. Commit to redeem, rather than defend, your party’s spiritual failure.

To my more liberal Christian friends:

Let’s be clear up front. Your movement is not perfect and it is not heaven. Hope in a new manmade system is equally empty. All through history we see humanity trade suffering for another version of suffering. You are absolutely allowed to have dialogue about better systems but don’t give your heart to a passing away world. The true kingdom where all is truly fair and just is done and eternal and already coming! In the meantime, hang on because things will get worse before Christ comes back. Yes, vote kingdom values, but place your hope and peace of heart in the promises of Christ. Commit to work with and understand your eternal family members, no matter what party they vote for. Commit to redeem, rather than defend, your party’s spiritual failure.

To those I am called to steward:

The world is lost. We are not. We are also not at war with each other. Our allegiance is first to Christ’s Kingdom. That’s your true family. Like you prefer a sports team, you can prefer a political party. But, 1,000 years later when you are in heaven, it’s your true allegiance that will remain. We know how the story began. We know what went wrong. We know what the solution is. We also know that the fix has already begun. Christ has died and is risen! He has gone to prepare a place for His people, us. We trust in the Lord, and live in accordance with our name. We are Christian. That means you are not lost, and you worship with your eternal brothers and sisters. Act like it. You have an eternal glorious family. Hold your head up, and place your trust where it belongs, in the power of Christ.

Tune in online or sign up to join us live, at Trinity Church. Christ is King! #familyfirst

*pictures: https://sites.google.com/site/zealotmovement/; https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/what-does-the-garden-of-eden-reveal-about-gods-plan-for-redemption.html; https://nextlevelchurch.net/project/lamb-donkey-elephant/;

What to consider when choosing a career.

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“Who here is working in the career they were educated for?”

A few years ago I was teaching a group of young adults and I posed the above question. To my amazement only about a quarter of the people in the room raised their hands. Most people in that room were working in careers that didn’t match their education. Why?

I asked them. Here were the common answers.

“I learned my degree (job) didn’t pay enough.”

“After a few years of doing it I realized I don’t like the work.”

“I had to start at the bottom. It’s too competitive.”

Finally, “Pastor Mike, they were asking me to do things I felt weren’t right.”

I know fear and regret around work is a big deal for young adults and now that I am getting ready to launch one out of my own home I thought I would share what I counsel in ministry and in my house.

First, don’t forget the world is cursed. Work is toil (Genesis 3:17-19). If you are expecting to find a job that only produces what fulfills and satisfies, you will be greatly disappointed. The most fulfilled version of your work will come when Christ has redeemed the world (Revelation 21:3-5).

Expect work to be well…work. Expect work to be a reward when God has redeemed it.

It’s true. In this world you will have misaimed desires that God shouldn’t allow to be fulfilled but you don’t understand why. You will have rightly aimed desires that won’t be fulfilled because of sin. You live in a world of rot, theft and disloyalty. Only in Christ do we have the promise of work becoming true fulfillment and joy.

With this in mind I have four “spheres” (or reflective questions) to consider when making a career choice.

1. What do you want to do?

Take a moment and write out what you enjoy doing.

2. What are you good at?

It’s really import to honestly consider your God-given skill set. Yes, education and practice can do wonders but raw capacity does matter. Consider it. To ignore this completely is to deny the creative uniqueness of God. How did He equip you naturally?

3. What has earning power?

This is often ignored because all know deep down it’s a messed up system and is unfair. Some of the most important jobs in this world have little or no earning power. Think of all the creative arts! Yes, the .001% are wealthy but the vast majority are broke. It is unfair but it is reality. Consider the likelihood of actual income.

4. Does it honor God?

This is the “trump card” for Christians. If you find yourself able to accomplish the first three but the fourth is clearly out of alignment, you are placing your eternal state behind your temporal needs and wants. What good is it to gain the whole world and lose your soul? (Mark 8:36)

A few other things to consider.

Hobbies:

In our modern world we have virtually done away with hobbies. For those that don’t know, hobbies were work that your grandparents did that they enjoyed but didn’t foot the bill. We, understandably, want our hobbies to be our career. This desire is good but most often unrealistic and when it doesn’t work out you’re broke and bitter. Many of you may find a much more fulfilling life and family by picking something with good earning power that you kind of enjoy AND having a hobby like art or playing an instrument. If the hobby takes off? Awesome! Run with it, but if it doesn’t you can still have a “good” life. Get a hobby.

Longevity:

You don’t have to have the same job your whole life. So many young adults experience failure to launch because they were afraid of getting “it” wrong. You will get it wrong, at least parts of it. Don’t let your fear of not seeing your future clearly prevent you from moving into a wise future at all. If you want to change jobs or hobbies along the way, go for it. Just consider the 4 spheres again.

Money:

I want to bring this up again. We have become a culture that shames people that talk about money. That’s so wrong! Jesus talked about money and material things a lot. In fact, money and what to do with material things is mentioned more than 800 times in scripture. It’s the second most referred to topic! Know, life isn’t fair, not all important jobs pay well and being blind to that reality is a bad move. Please consider earning potential.

What else would you consider when looking for a job?


I also did a series where we built a right theology of work.

There are sermons and lecture notes at the following links. All FREE!

Session One: Work in a Perfect World: https://www.encountertrinity.com/messages/archive/?page=3#beyond-the-daily-grind

Session Two: Work in a Perfect World Part 2: https://www.encountertrinity.com/sermon/work-in-a-perfect-world-part-2/

Session Three: Work in a Fallen World: https://www.encountertrinity.com/sermon/work-in-a-fallen-world/

Daddy, hold on to me

When one of my daughters was potty training, she had a fear of public restrooms.  The loud noises from the toilets flushing and super sonic hand driers were unsettling to her.  She also found the size of the toilets intimidating.  She must have been afraid of getting flushed because every single time she would say, “Mommy, hold on to me.” She’d say it multiple times, mentally preparing for the experience while we were walking to the restroom and saying it a few more times for safe measure once we reached the bathroom, just in case.  At home she had a little potty seat that fit on top of the regular seat, making it the perfect size to ensure her toddler sized self would stay safely perched above the basin. Without that security, faced with the daunting experience of using a public restroom she was always prompted to repeat her mantra, “Mommy, hold on to me.”

Most of the time this made me smile.  It’s cute, right?  “Mommy, hold on to me,” she’d say in her sweet little voice as she marched herself to the bathroom.  Sometimes, though, I admit I found it a little irritating.  I didn’t need her to remind me every time, she’d said it enough I knew the routine, and if you’ve ever had a toddler you know how tiresome their inclination toward repetition can be.  But there was no use trying to tell her she didn’t need to remind me.  She continued to every time.  

I began to realize my daughter was teaching me something about prayer.  We tire of asking God the same thing over and over.  As a parent, I get tired of hearing the same thing over and over.  Not so with God.  God is infinitely young and does not grow weary like we do.  As G. K. Chesterton says, “It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”  As a child does not tire in monotony or repetition, neither does God.

Why does God want us to bring our requests to him?  With my daughter, she didn’t really need to ask.  I already knew what she needed.  I already anticipated her fear and knew how I could ease it and was willing to do so.  I also knew she wouldn’t actually fall in the toilet, and I certainly wouldn’t have let harm come to her, yet I still held on to her just the same.  Why?  Simply put, because I love her.  I knew her fear was irrational and unwarranted, but when she looked at me with that sweet little face and reminded me to hold on to her, my heart filled with tenderness and I assured her I would most certainly hold on. It would have been of no use to assure her she need not worry about falling in.  I’m smarter than her and have a better understanding of how things work, but she didn’t need my rationale.  She just needed the security of feeling my hands around her, holding her up to ensure she didn’t fall.  God is infinitely more loving and gracious than I am, and also immeasurably more wise and powerful.  If my heart as a parent is inclined toward tenderness for my daughter, how much more so must God’s be towards us? What a secure feeling to imagine him holding me up with his sure and loving grip.

So back to the question, why does God want me to ask Him if he already knows?  Why does he want me to keep asking for the same thing over and over? Isn’t he smart enough to know what I need without asking? 

In the asking, it reveals my need for him.  As my daughter needs my help, so do I need the help of my Father.  The places of need in my life teach me to rely on him.  It also reveals where I should place my trust.  My daughter trusts me completely.  I never once let her get flushed (in case you were worried).  She continues to look to me in simple, sweet faith.  Trusting God to provide the things I need or talking to him about my fears reminds me that because God is who He is, I have nothing to fear.  That’s an important purpose that prayer serves, reminding…and boy do we need reminded (enter 2020).

Sometimes as adults it can feel like our own lives or the world around us (or both) are precariously close to getting flushed down the metaphorical toilet. Job loss, relationship issues, financial instability, health concerns, political unrest…while we may outgrow the fears of childhood, all that really happens is they are replaced with the fears brought on by adulthood.  In our minds they’re justifiable fears, based on real grown-up stuff. I imagine God looks at us the same way I looked at my daughter, a loving smile, knowing everything is going to be just fine and there’s nothing to fear, reaching down with his assuring arms. 

Let’s take a lesson from my 3-year-old daughter’s sweet, simple faith in my ability to keep her safe from falling and say to our heavenly Father in the face of our own fears, “Daddy, hold on to me.” And we can ask again and again, as many times as we need to.  Sometimes in the face of all the complexities of life that’s all we need, the simple reminder that he’s got us.

Everyone longs to be naked

I know the first reaction of many to the prior phrase is that it is mere “click bait”. 

It’s not. I literally mean, everyone longs to be naked. 

If we go back to the moment the world fell and sin washed over the earth, we see a very sad scene. A man and a woman suddenly awash with a new shame and desire to cover themselves and control what others can see. With the realization of their vulnerability also came this innate new instinct to protect and hide what they believed was fragile in themselves. They hid from God; they hid parts of themselves from each other. 

From this moment on humans have had two competing instincts. The first, a desire to be fully known, to put on display to someone who we really truly are, and second is the desire to “clothe” ourselves, to mask what we think makes us vulnerable. We love and hate all the “clothes” we put on. We struggle with our finances, body image, intellect, addictions and fears but “clothe” ourselves and hide away these things, working to show the world a false image. We both love that we can do this and hate that it makes us feel less connected. This is how one has hundreds or thousands of friends and feels very lonely. See, the true them actually has no friends. 


Even social media is a “layer of clothing.” It’s a way to hide the parts of us that are vulnerable and only expose or exaggerate what we feel confident will impress others. 

We both love and hate these “clothes.”

We love the “clothing” because it gives us control over how others see us. We equally hate it because we know that it keeps us from being fully known and prevents someone from being able to like us for who we truly are. We know to be fully loved at some point one must fully know us. We must be exposed. There is nothing more wonderful and terrifying than being seen as our true selves. 

This is the Gospel.  

Jesus sees us for who we truly are, even the parts we “clothe,” the parts of ourselves that we are embarrassed of, the parts we are afraid will drive everyone away. Jesus sees those and says, “I still choose you.” Christianity at its core is an intimate love story, one where the beloved is flawed and deep down knows it. Yet, the lover sees through the beloved’s “clothes” (our personal hyperboles) that we use to hide and paint a false image of ourselves. He sees the real us and still chooses us. The truest and most complete love comes from those who see us for who we truly are. 

Every part of the Christian maturation process is exposure. Prayer is exposure, accountability is exposure, Christian community is exposure, even scripture is meant to “expose” us.  Salvation itself is intimacy. 

I love the “naked” gospel, the intimacy, love, and purpose that real Christianity is. This year, I want to invite you into a relationship. I don’t want to write another apologetic aimed at convincing you of Christ intellectually. I want you to see the heart of Christianity – a glorious love story that God wants you to participate in. Real salvation isn’t first a mind game, it’s a love story. 

I believe God is raising up a generation of people who long for a faith that is more than mere mental gymnastics. They long for a forever family that has real love. Even as a doctoral student, my greatest spiritual hunger is in my heart.

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Image is The Fall of Man-1616-Hendrik Goltzius

To those facing hard situations. Don’t quit. We want to help.

Some of you are hurting because of poor decisions you have made.

Some of you are hurting because of decisions made by others.

Some of you are hurting because the natural world is wrought with sin and death.

In the last few months, we have watched families devastated because of the Coronavirus. Some by the economic impact, others by the disease itself, and still more because of the emotional strain of the lockdown. I personally know families that can’t pay bills because no money is coming in. I know others who have lost multiple loved ones to the disease. I know families that are filing for divorce because they can’t take it anymore. I even know of some students that are really struggling after months of being locked at home staring at a computer screen for school.

As a pastor, I get a front row seat to the pain people feel.

History is full of examples of deep suffering. You can read about Dr. Viktor Frankl in the concentration camps during World War 2, watching his friends die and personally experiencing torture himself. You can read the famous author C.S. Lewis write about the front-line brutality of World War 1. William Wilberforce, Richard Wurmbrand, and even John Foxe have written about unbelievable suffering. The Bible itself is full of pain. The famous story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den is a story that begins with deep suffering.

Daniel watched his nation turn from Godly principles.

Daniel watched his nation crumble.

Daniel most likely watched his family killed during a foreign invasion.

Daniel was abducted and enslaved.

Daniel had his identity stripped from him.

Daniel was sentenced to die in a den of hungry lions.

Daniel didn’t know the end of his story, and what he had experienced most likely led him to believe he would die by their claws and teeth.

All these stories have something else in common, something your story has as well. They aren’t finished. Yes, the enemy is working to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10) but God is gloriously good, and immeasurably loves you. Like the rest of the verse in John, we look not at the enemy or our current circumstances to determine our future outcome. We look to the nature of our Father.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. -John 10:10

The very places where it feels like Satan is dancing on your failures, faults, and struggles, God can turn those hardships into the greatest crescendo of victory in your life. Don’t measure your future state by the enemy or your current set of circumstances. Measure it by the nature of your Father. Your story isn’t done.

If you are really struggling, please reach out to us. Seriously, right now. Text this number and we will call you back. We would like to hear your story and pray with you: 231.215.9013

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Conflict = Intimacy?

The greatest thing that happened to my marriage was our first real fight.

I remember it like it was yesterday. As newlyweds we had just moved into in our brand new (to us) apartment. It was in that tiny slightly run down little apartment complex that many of our firsts happened. One of them being our first real fight. I mean, slam the door, don’t talk to me, you are the worst, kind of fights. While she sat in the bathroom crying and I sat on our bed I remember thinking… it might be over. We just started and it might be over! 

We survived the fight, actually looking back the fight opened the door to develop a new relational tool that has since caused us to thrive at a much deeper level. With the help of some counseling we learned how to have intimacy. I’m not talking about sexual intimacy, but how to speak in full transparency with honor. 

We learned how to fight right. Still to this day it is the places of conflict where we commit to be vulnerable and stay faithful to each other. To commit be fully known and to try to fully know the other all while choosing to stay committed. It feels really good to be in a relationship where you are fully known and still chosen. No masks, vulnerability and real intimacy in a bedrock of covenant. This speaks love (charity) at another level. One that only comes through learning how to do conflict well. These tools and truths aren’t only for marriage. They are for your church, your children and even things like real racial reconciliation. 

In the podcast below Todd Williams, Yamil Acevedo and I, three doctoral students working on three different terminal degrees from three different nationalities, wrestle with Conflict as a God given tool that can forge beautiful community. It is possible you are giving up on communities because of conflict, the very conflict that could bring intimacy.

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Breaking stubborn addictions and thought patterns.

Breaking stubborn addictions and thought patterns can be tough…really tough. 

Too many Christians have prayed for healing from an addiction or a negative thought pattern only to find themselves staring down their struggle time and time again. What do we do when we just can’t seem to find the freedom we desire? Has God rejected us? Are we unloved by God? What do you do when you don’t know what to do and everything you have tried isn’t working? Let’s ask these hard questions and grow together.

Week 1: We will unpack a word called metacognition. This is the capacity to “think about what you’re thinking about.” This second level thinking is a powerful tool in beginning the journey towards health. See the video for week 1, Christ Cares-Understanding Metacognition and the notes below.

Week 2: We look at metanoia. Retired college professor and professional counselor Dawn Marie Colaw talks about the beautiful overlap of modern cognitive neuroscience and spiritual formation. See the video for week 2, Set Free-Live Free and the notes below.

Week 3:  We will look at those long stubborn addictions and negative thought patterns. What do you do and what might actually be happening? Check out week 3, Hardship Does not Mean God has Rejected You and the notes below.

Week 4: The pursuit of holiness is often a moment of awareness and a commitment to walk a road of healing. What does that road look like? What does the continual pursuit of holiness look like? Check out week 4, It’s a Journey and the notes below.

Week 1 – Christ Cares – Understanding Metacognition: Mike Colaw

Week 1 Notes: Click Here

Week 2 – Set Free-Live Free: Dawn Colaw

Week 2 Notes: Click Here

Week 3 – Hardship Does not Mean God has Rejected You: Mike Colaw

Week 3 Notes: Click Here

Week 4 – It’s a Journey: Mike Colaw

Week 4 Notes: Click Here

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Why God isn’t giving you what your heart desires.

 

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Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

This would be a cruel verse if it was taken as many want to take it, that God is a type of limitlessly rich uncle that will give you what you want if you just buddy up to Him enough. 

Think about it in light of Psalm 16:4-5, “Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.”

Timothy Keller says it well.  Unlike ancient societies, “we may not believe in literal divine god-beings of beauty, wealth, pleasure, or fertility. But we must all live for something, and if we live and love anything more than God himself, we are trapped.

When we aim the deepest hungers in our hearts towards things that can run out, become lost, taken away, divorced, or even grow old we trap ourselves in the long run. It is to our harm to give our limitlessly hungry hearts to limited, expendable, or decaying things.  

God works to mature our desires before He fulfills them. 

The Psalms are not a picture of God giving a spoiled child whatever he or she wants if they would only suck up to Him. No, this is a maturing of the believer into the place where their desires align with God’s will. He literally gives us the right desires as we mature.  

Right desires are a much greater gift than mere perishable things. 

Moreover, I don’t believe God mutes or dulls our desires, I think God is always turning our desires up so high that only He can satisfy them. This isn’t to make us miserable; it’s to point the way to the true and limitless fountain. Can you see it? Over time the hunger for intimacy grows so high that no mere physical or sexual action in and of itself can fulfill it. Our desire for security grows so high that no walls or wealth can actually put our hearts at ease. Our desire to be known and loved grows so high that no amount of fame can satisfy. Lesser joys always leave us hungry for more. This is the gift of God, a growing desire for the fountain itself.  The truest of loves is “the only food the universe can grow on.”  -C.S. Lewis 

God will not give you the desires of your heart, no, He gives your heart right desires when you lean into Him. 

References: Timothy Keller, The Songs of Jesus, C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Want More?

Let’s take a methodical look at what pleasure actually is and how to find it.

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