The Scripture Cannot Be Broken

Introduction

This may make purists cringe a little bit, but I have an affinity for inspiring sports movies: Hoosiers, Rudy, The Rookie, etc. What some find cheesy, I find inspiring. In almost every one of these stories, there’s a moment when the protagonist gives a huge speech with inspiring music. The music makes you forget about the fact that the words may not be all that inspiring in themselves. This isn’t unique to sports movies though.

There are epic moments in many films where the hero stands and inspires the hearts of those around him to stand against overwhelming odds. And those moments are made all the more spine tingling by grand, sweeping soundtracks. One of my favorite speeches is given by one of my all-time favorite characters, Aragorn, at end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy:

Sons of Gondor! Of Rohan! My brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of Men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand!

Storyline of Scripture

Scripture has its own sweep and drama and grand storyline. There are plot lines in the epic story of Scripture that are more momentous than others. The entire story is true, but there is background information, rising action, and initial climax in the redemptive work of Christ. The Bible points forward to the great final climax, the consummation of the age when Jesus returns as Christus Victor and sets all things right again.

Another thing I love about the Word of God is its ordinariness. It’s an ordinary means of God’s grace to us. There are moments I would set apart with fanfare, sweeping landscape shots, and inspiring music. But they happen in the midst of ordinary life. I’d like to introduce our series on the Word of God by looking at one of those ordinary moments. There are classic passages on the Word of God: Psalm 19, Psalm 119, 2 Timothy 3, 2 Peter 1. But one of the most remarkable statements about the nature of the Word of God comes in the middle of a conversation between Jesus and the Jews in John 10.

In one of many conflicts between Jesus and the proud religious leaders of his day, Jesus makes a statement—almost a parenthetical statement—and says, “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). God’s Word cannot be broken, cannot fail, because God cannot be broken; God can never fail.

From the very beginning, the testimony of God’s Word has stood faithful, unbreakable and true. And it is the Word of God itself that the enemies of God attack, because there is an integral link between God’s Word and God himself.

This is the nature of human interaction as well. We build relationships with our words and accept or reject one another on the basis of our words. Imagine going through one of the most difficult experiences of your life. You share the burden or hurt of that experience with your closest friend—someone you love and trust. And that person looks at you skeptically, maybe even questions what you’ve said. At the end of the day, it’s not merely your words that the person is questioning. No; you know they’re questioning you. They’re rejecting you. The same is true, but infinitely more so, of the relationship between God and God’s Word. To reject God’s Word is to reject God himself.

The very first interaction of God with his creation is his Word in Genesis 1—”God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” And the same is true for God’s relationship to humanity. Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Attacks Come on the Word of God

“And God said …” The Word of God is the foundation upon which the revelation of God’s character is revealed to us. Yes, we have the revelation of creation, as Psalm 19 so beautifully says: “The heavens declare the glory of God.” But it’s the specific revelation of the Bible that shapes our understanding of general revelation. Without the Bible, we cannot know God. It’s for this reason that the very first attack on the relationship between God and man comes as a subtle attack on the Word of God.

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say …” On the one hand, you have the enemies of God attempting to question, to tear down the Word of God. On the other, you have Jesus declaring, “The Scripture cannot be broken.”

Satan can question God’s words. He can even deceive us into believing a lie. Not only did Satan question God’s Word, he changed it: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” God had actually said almost the opposite: “You may eat of any tree, except one.” The Word of God can be questioned; we can be deceived, but the Word cannot be broken.

Conclusion

Everything that God had declared to be came true. Satan couldn’t undo the Word of God in the Garden. The prophets of Baal couldn’t break the Word of God at Mount Carmel. The proud religious leaders couldn’t break the Word of God in Jesus’ day. The mighty Roman Empire couldn’t destroy the Word in the days of the early church. The corrupt popes of the Middle Ages and Reformation couldn’t undo what God had declared. Neither could Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, or the higher academic critics of the 20th and 21st centuries. In a Western world that increasingly prizes the fallible thoughts of men over the infallible Word of God, the Scripture cannot be broken.

It might not be set to music. It may not have grand sweeping shots of landscape, but it is magnificently, gloriously true: God’s Word will stand forever; the Bible will prevail. It can never, never fail. The Scripture cannot be broken. God has declared that this is true, so it is true.

To a world that says, “Did God actually say …,” we reply, “The Scripture cannot be broken.”

Reflections after Ten Years

imageThe post below is more personal than a typical post, but it seems appropriate on a day like today. I apologize in advance for its length.

Some days mark our lives more than others. Ten years ago today, July 29, 2005, was one of the most terribly memorable days of my life. My dad died suddenly while playing basketball. I and other family members were in the room and saw it happen. He was literally there one moment and gone the next. There have been many moments in the past 3652 days that I’ve had occasion to question God’s wisdom in taking my dad when He did. At the same time, there have been many times when I’ve been moved to prayer, worship, and faith in God’s sovereignty as I’ve reflected on all that God has done (in spite of still not knowing the answers to all of my questions).

There are times when that crystal-clear moment seems like it was yesterday, and there are other days when that instant feels like it was 100 years ago. Grief is a weird cycle of intense/dull/intense/dull/etc. Thankfully the immediately intense grief of that day has lessened, but that’s a pain in and of itself, as it reminds me that he’s been gone long enough for the pain to lessen somewhat—or at least morph into a different kind of pain. Sometimes the cycle is related to important dates (e.g., Father’s Day, birthday, holidays, etc.). But it’s often completely random—driving alone in the car when a memory comes to mind unbidden and unexpected.

Life has been marked with further losses since the passing of my dad, and we’ve grieved with others who have lost loved ones. Sadly, this world will leave all of us carrying burdens of grief and loss. The burdens look different for each person, but they’re real for us all. It’s times like these that teach the children of God what it means for God to be our Shepherd (Psalm 23), our Father (Psalm 103), and our Peace (Ephesians 2).

Even those who experience the same loss feel that loss differently. My mom lost a faithful husband of three decades. My youngest siblings lost a dad for their childhood and formative years. My middle siblings lost a father-figure guide for their terribly difficult adolescent and young adult years. And we older siblings lost a rock, guide, mentor, friend. We all miss him, but we all miss him through the grid of our relationship. Recognizing this allows us to empathize with each other yet also recognize that there are parts of the grief of others that we can never fully understand. The only one who can fully understand is Jesus the Priest who experienced life as we experienced it, who endured much greater grief than we’ll ever experience as he bore the wrath of God in our place. And I thank God for that; I thank God that Jesus is a friend for sinners.

This post is part reflection and part gratitude. And I’d like to thank God here for the dad He gave me:

1. I’m thankful that my dad had a unique combination of high expectations and full acceptance.

There was probably no one in the world harder on me than my dad, yet I also felt fully loved and accepted by him. I’m thankful for the way he pushed me in my work, in my play, and in my walk with Christ. I’m also thankful that I don’t ever remember feeling like failing would change his love for me one bit. My dad knew the worst things about me and still fully accepted me. In this way, he beautifully modeled the love of God for me.

2. I’m thankful that my dad consistently worked to make time for each of his nine kids.

Our house was. full. of. kids. We loved it, and I still love it. At the same time, being a father myself now, I recognize the sacrifice of time and love it took for him to get down on the floor and play “Candyland” with my youngest sister, then get up and hear the relational heartaches of his older children.

3. I’m thankful for the example of my dad and mom in their faithful perseverance in marriage.

A friend once told me, “Marriage is the best and the hardest thing that’s ever happened to me.” And he’s right. It’s awesome, and it’s hard. I’m thankful for my dad’s example of leadership and my mom’s example of commitment that led them to persevere in a loving relationship in good times and bad. I never thought their relationship was perfect (I lived with them, after all—like my kids do with me), but it was awesome to experience a double date with my parents the night before my dad died and see their fresh love in the 30th year of their marriage.

4. I’m thankful for my dad’s work ethic.

I’ve never known anyone who worked harder than my dad. “Work hard; play hard,” he said.  And we did. I’m thankful that he passed that legacy to his kids and urged us to fight through and repent of childish laziness.

5. I’m thankful for my dad’s foresight.

My dad worked at a church my entire life and managed a household of nine children. Yet he planned ahead for provision for his family, in case he were ever absent. He didn’t expect to be gone, but he had prepared for that day. When I was twelve or thirteen, my dad had me sit down and write out how many hours I’d need to work at a given wage to pay my way through college. He expected all of us to pay our way, but he helped prepare us for that reality. I graduated college with a car, a computer, and some cash in the bank—thanks to my dad.

6. I’m thankful that my dad loved people.

It was shocking to see some 3000 people show up to my dad’s visitation and to hear story after story of people he had blessed or encouraged. I had no idea. He was just my dad. Yet he somehow made time for us and also managed to touch the lives of thousands of other people. It was an overwhelming moment and is still a legacy I treasure.

7. I’m thankful that my dad loved telling people about Jesus.

He was a faithful, persistent witness who spoke the gospel and lived the gospel. He shared the gospel with two non-Christian men the day he died. His lifestyle of evangelism is convicting and motivating.

8. I’m thankful that my dad loved his local church.

My dad was a businessman with a pastor’s heart. He spent his life serving the church vocationally as a financial administrator, and he made sure his family loved and served the church too. If the doors were open, we were there. And we loved it. He helped me process the flaws of church and of people without turning my back on the church and the people in it. That’s a legacy that is a huge gift to me, a deeply flawed pastor of a congregation of flawed people.

9. I’m thankful that my dad (and mostly my mom, I’ll admit…) gave me eight siblings/friends.

It was awesome growing up, and it’s awesome having a family/team of people that love each other, are pulling the same direction, and think about life roughly through the same grid. I loved working with them and playing with them growing up, and I love talking to them and hearing about their lives now.

10. I’m thankful that my dad was a man of conviction and courage.

I saw my dad take courageous stands in great and small ways. Sometimes it was the courage of relationship—being willing to say a difficult thing—and other times it was courage of integrity. I will never forget the eighteen months he spent graciously pointing out the proud and selfish way I was treating others as I proudly and selfishly ignored him … until one day God’s Spirit opened my eyes and moved me to tearful repentance through my dad’s courageous persistence.

11. I’m thankful I had 24 years with my dad and that I get to see him again.

Some have much less. I’m so thankful. And I’m grateful that my dad knew Jesus and led me to know Him too. It was my dad that led me to Jesus 30 years ago, and because of that we’ll get to sing “Jesus, Thank You” together one day.

Daddy, I (we) miss you, love you, and can’t wait to see you again.

“Homesick” by MercyMe

You’re in a better place, I’ve heard a thousand times,
And at least a thousand times I’ve rejoiced for you.
But the reason why I’m broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you?

Help me, Lord, cause I don’t understand your ways.
The reason why, I wonder if I’ll ever know.
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same,
Cause I’m still here so far away from home.

In Christ, there are no goodbyes,
And in Christ, there is no end!
So I’ll hold onto Jesus with all that I have,
To see you again,
To see you again.

And I close my eyes, and I see your face.
If home’s where my heart is, then I’m out of place.
Lord, won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow?
I’ve never been more homesick than now.

Response to the SCOTUS Same Sex Marriage Ruling

I shared the following statement with our congregation at Morning Star Church this past Sunday morning:

I want to take a moment this morning to comment on an important event in the life of our nation this past week. Friday, June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that same sex marriage must be legalized in every state. To quote FDR, Friday is “a day will live in infamy.” Homosexual sin is nothing new, just like heterosexual sin isn’t new. These sins and worse have been with us since the days after the Fall in Genesis 3. The law of God in the Old Testament and the righteousness of God in the New Testament call out these sins. However, our government’s calling something that can never truly be marriage a marriage is a new step in our culture.

My point is not to comment on the legal or cultural ramifications of the Supreme Court ruling. There are others better suited and certainly more qualified to do that. However, I do want to take a moment to help form our response as a congregation to this ruling. How can a congregation committed to the inerrancy of Scripture and the supremacy of Christ in all things respond at such a time?

1. Rejoice, the Lord is King!
Rest in the good, sovereign hand of God. He reigns yesterday, today, forever. As Abraham Kuyper famously said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” That was true June 25, and it will always be true.

2. Grieve the ways that our fallen world is marked by sin.
It’s good for us to remember that we’re pilgrims here, just passing through. This world isn’t our home; we look for a better country, that is, a heavenly one.

3. Remember, there’s nothing new under the sun.
It’s tempting to believe the lie that no culture has ever been as bad as ours or that we’ve got it worse than anyone else. There have been atrocities ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden. Each era of history experiences brokenness in a different way, but sinful tragedy has always been with us. The arrival of Christ in the world was marked by the slaughter of all the babies in Bethlehem. The victory of Christ over sin was marked by the death of the only perfect man who has ever lived at the hands of profane criminals who deserved to die.

4. Pray for our nation, for our world, and for the return of Jesus.
The only way that true, lasting righteousness will fully and finally reign in the world is for Jesus to come back and make it all right again, to make creation new.

5. Thank God that light shines brightest when it’s the darkest.
It’s not a bad thing for the cost of discipleship to actually cost something. The term “cultural Christianity” is fast fading into oblivion, and it’s a good thing for us to take up our cross daily and follow Christ.

6. Trust God.
Don’t despair. Don’t capitulate to the world’s culture and believe a lie. Trust in God’s Word, which has always been true and will stand the ultimate test of time. And pray that we may persevere and be found in Christ at the end.

Isaiah 26:1-4
1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks. 2 Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. 3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Some Thoughts on Mercy Ministry

Mercy

Mercy ministry is the body of Christ taking active steps to minister mercy to those with physical or material needs. One thing that makes this particularly difficult in our culture is that we have access to help that can actually exacerbate some root problems of poverty, like laziness or greed. Some people avoid working, because the benefits of not working are too lucrative.

On one hand we have Proverbs 14:21: Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.

And on the other hand, we have Proverbs 20:4: The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing. Paul says it more strongly in 2 Thessalonians 3:10: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

We sometimes think that simply giving food or money away is the answer to the problem, but that can actually be a barrier against getting to the root of the problem. Our mercy ministry must ultimately get at root bondage, not merely alleviate temporary issues.

How then, should we minister to the physical needs of those in need? Here are some guiding principles:

Sometimes by giving money or food. 

But we must stop assuming that giving money or food will solve the problem. The messy work of offering real help requires more time and effort than we often want to give.

Sometimes by not giving money or food, when the person needs to get up and work. 

Read this book: When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor and Yourself.

By not assuming that economic issues are because of laziness.

The unemployment rate in our church’s neighborhood is 17.7%, and the percentage of people at or below the poverty level is 36.5%. It’s easy to assume that those problems exist because of laziness. But …

While laziness is a real temptation for all of us, there are significant contributing factors that make it difficult for industrious people to break out of poverty. Here are just a few in our neighborhood:

  • Limited transportation
  • Limited access to childcare for those who can work
  • Lack of employment opportunities in poor neighborhoods
  • Language barriers (32 spoken languages in our neighborhood)

By not assuming that economic issues are not because of laziness.

… because they might be.

By developing relationships to begin digging to root causes and meet true needs.

And this takes a lot of time and effort. Get your hands dirty; labor hard in the church; don’t wait for others to do the work.

By remembering that God is the only one who can fix humanity’s greatest problems.

Poverty and hunger aren’t our worst enemies. The wrath of an infinitely holy, just God against sin is our greatest foe. The only hope that any of us have against that enemy is an infinitely loving and gracious Savior. God’s justice and mercy meet at the cross. Our only hope is turning from sin to Christ for mercy and rescue.

Looking for Margin

Margin is the space to rest, to recharge, to enjoy life with those we love … space to decompress and breathe.

As I get older, the pace of life seems to pick up more and more. Occasionally, I’ll hear someone (often a teenager) comment, “I’m bored.” I honestly can’t remember being bored—other than perhaps occasionally during a class lecture that was particularly tedious. But as far as looking for something to stimulate my mind when I had some “free” time? I just can’t remember that happening.

Life seems to bring a different problem my way—the need for breathing room. You might call this looking for margin. There was a time in my adult life when it was just me … then just me and my wife … then me and my wife and a kid … and then me and my wife and two kids … But I don’t think that margin is about the number of people involved in my life (though increased relationships and responsibility do affect margin).

Every person has the same number of hours in a day and in a week. My days and hours fill up, whether I fill them up or not. So … I’m learning that the only way to have margin is to create margin intentionally, by making sure that there is time for the most important things in life: my relationship with God and local church, my relationships with my wife and kids, and my relationships with friends and other family.

Life will run away with you if you let it; sometimes it even runs over you! Take intentional steps to create margin in your life—for worship, for rest … and yes, even for fun. God designed us to live life with rhythm and margin, and it takes discipline to create margin for the most important things. If you don’t live life with intentionality, you’ll look at your hectic schedule one day and realize that life is out of control.

My fear in life isn’t that I won’t get anything done. It’s that I’ll spend my life doing things that don’t matter or doing things that don’t matter the most.

Embracing Trials with Joy

James 1:2-4 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

We should embrace every trial with joy, because trials make us like more Jesus. How do we know we’re embracing trials with joy? The diagnostic below might help to understand how you respond to trials:

Signs that you might not be enduring with joy:

  • If your first response is to complain, you might not be enduring with joy.
  • If your first response is despair, to go into a shell, you might not be enduring with joy.
  • If your first response is anger and resentment at the people causing the problem, you might not be enduring with joy.
  • If your first response is denial, to ignore the problem, you might not be enduring with joy.

Signs that you are growing in joyful endurance:

  • If you recognize your sinful response, repent of it, and thank God for the trials … even the inconvenient ones.
  • If you can zoom out from the immediate circumstances and recognize God’s sovereign hand governing your life.
  • If you can take a long look at your life and see that you are growing in joy over time, even as you are aware of the fallenness in you and around you.

 

 

 

If You’re Bad at Sharing the Gospel, This Is for You.

How are you doing with mission #1?

God’s plan for spreading the message of the gospel is for His people to speak the message to others. In other words, it’s our responsibility and privilege to share the gospel with other people. Let’s have a moment of honesty here. We’re often not very good at sharing the gospel. But when we consider our responsibilities as God’s children, our number one mission is calling people to follow Jesus.
2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

Paul says that we carry the gospel treasure in jars of clay. What’s implied by this kind of jar? It’s breakable; it’s ordinary; it’s replaceable; it’s useful; it’s normal; it’s everyday. By nature, it’s fragile and relatively unimportant. If you carried a treasure around in a clay pot, would you ever be tempted to wonder whether the treasure or the pot was more important? God uses ordinary people to spread the gospel.

Why does God use ordinary people to spread the gospel?

The gospel is built around grassroots movements—ordinary people captured by the light of the gospel, carrying the treasure of the gospel around with them and spreading it like seed on a field. Some falls on good ground; some doesn’t. God uses ordinary people to remind us that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
You see, if we were awesome, people might get mixed up. They might start to think that we are the point … when we exist to point to someone greater—to point to the Creator of the universe, the Redeemer of sinful men. The eternal worship of the triune God is the point of the gospel! We exist to point to Him, to call people to worship Him! If the light is about us, if we’re the treasure, then people won’t clearly see the One whom life is truly about.

What are the implications for you as you share the gospel?

  1. If you’re bad at sharing the gospel, that’s ok. It’s not about you! (Do it anyway.)
  2. If you don’t share the gospel, you’re acting as though you’re the point.
  3. If you share the gospel well, that’s because God delights in using ordinary, humble people. You see, it’s still not about you; it’s about God.
  4. We should share the gospel everywhere we go. Because we carry the gospel in us, we should speak it to those around us.

How can you get better at sharing the gospel?

  1. Pray for God’s help.
  2. Get comfortable with the idea that it will be awkward. And that’s ok.
  3. Talk with someone else about your fear and awkwardness, and ask them to pray with you and encourage you.
  4. Talk about God as though He’s real. Talk about Jesus as you talk about the Super Bowl, your job, your favorite movie, your family. But talk about Jesus more. It’s not a special category that requires a switch into “spiritual” mode. It’s something that you can do everywhere you go.
  5. Get to the gospel. At some point, commit to sharing the gospel with your friend. What if they reject you? They probably will. Don’t be rude, but be persistent. This is a treasure worth sharing!
  6. Rejoice that you get to carry the gospel with you everywhere you go! If we don’t share the gospel because we’re scared or embarrassed, we’re acting as though we, the clay pots, are the point. Don’t forget about the treasure!

Transition to Morning Star Church

The last several months have been months of transition for us, as we have prayed about clear direction on next steps in life and ministry. We praise God for His kind hand in leading us to Morning Star Church in Rockford, IL. We look forward to serving them. Our transition period will be a couple of months, and we’d greatly appreciate your prayers for us and for the church. 

Here’s a letter we wrote to the church this week:

Dear Brothers & Sisters at Morning Star,

Thank you for your prayers and for the time you dedicated to getting to know us and letting us get to know you. We are excited to accept your call to serve as the next lead/teaching pastor of your body. We have sought God’s face in this decision along with you, and we have clearly seen His hand leading us to Morning Star Church.

As you can imagine, this was not an easy decision, as it means leaving people that we know well and love deeply. The good thing about the pain of saying goodbye is that it means we have loved and been loved. And we have also felt the Lord placing a deep love in our hearts for you. We have seen the Lord calling us to love and shepherd the church of God at Morning Star … that’s the joy before us.

One of our draws to Morning Star is the need of our hearts to receive care, as well as give it. We feel that Morning Star is a place where that will be true … where we will be built up in love because of the body of Christ around us. So, God is calling us to a place, but we feel most strongly His call to a people … to you. We love you. I love you and want to be your shepherd.

More than any other factor, God used the knitting of our hearts to the people who are Morning Star Church to draw us here. We are excited to get here and excited to know you better. I pray that God makes me a faithful shepherd who loves, leads, and serves the sheep, and I beg your prayers in my behalf and in behalf of my family.

The next several weeks will be emotional ones, as we leave dear friends and family. But we are excited to follow the Lord and excited to love and be loved by the body of Christ at Morning Star.

See you soon.

Grace to you, my brothers and sisters.

Joshua (for Liz too)

The Beauty of Criticism

Do you hate criticism? I guess a better question is, who doesn’t hate criticism? In his book Tribes, Seth Godin notes that fear of failure could often be more aptly titled fear of criticism. We fear being criticized so much that we don’t even make an attempt.

But criticism can be a good thing. Criticism can come from soul-sucking negativists who don’t care a bit about you. But criticism can also come (and should come) from trusted advisors, good friends, and people that love you. Feedback, even when it’s difficult to receive, makes you stronger and wiser. Every person has blind spots and needs to hear about them.

As Godin notes, even criticism from negativists has an upside—it means you are doing something worth taking note of. If you are boring and completely unremarkable, critics won’t consider you worth their time. So, don’t have a pity party or be debilitated by criticism. Listen to it; learn from it; move on.

Good criticism can foster a culture of constant improvement, of building on good things that can become great things. Good criticism can give you courage to attempt something more audacious and awesome that you’d have ever attempted without it. 

So listen to your critics … but not too much … and let the feedback motivate you, teach you, and strengthen you. You’ll be glad you did.

Do Something Great! (Even if It’s Small)

Ever wanted to do something that changed the world … or at least the world that you know? What keeps you from acting on your ambition? Perhaps it’s a lack of clarity or a lack of good ideas. Often, though, it’s fear of failure that keeps us from pursuing our passion.

For the Christian, our mission was set by Jesus before He left this earth: make disciples by speaking the gospel to every creature. Being part of accomplishing that mission is something great! What, then, is the most effective, most aggressive way you can help accomplish that mission? What can you pray for and pursue that only God can accomplish? How long have you prayed for your neighbor without sharing the gospel? How long have you developed a relationship for “relational evangelism” without ever speaking the gospel?

Perhaps it’s time to do the thing that you fear. Perhaps it’s time to risk a venture that may fail. Perhaps it’s time to speak the gospel to someone who may reject it and may even reject you. Maybe it’s time to embody and speak the gospel boldly in your community in a way that you haven’t before. You see, the fear that keeps you from doing something great (even if it’s small) is the same fear that keeps you from truly taking part in God’s mission for the church: speaking and living the gospel boldly.

“Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” (Acts 5:41, ESV)

The apostles rejoiced in rejection, because they were part of something great. Sharing the worth of Christ and the good news of the gospel may seem small, but it is a great thing to do. So … do something great! (Even if it’s small.)