Let God Work


Above is a picture of my driveway shortly after I shoveled the snow that fell last night. It looks like I didn’t do such a good job, as there are patches of snow still left on the driveway. Given the time (and effort), I could have scrapped the driveway clean, so that no snow would remain. However, today is one of those cold, sunny days in the Midwest where the sun sparkles off the snow to create a beautiful scene. I know that the sun on my black driveway will melt the snow and do a far better job clearing away the snow that I will ever do. Here’s a picture of my driveway I took about two hours later.


Notice how the sun has done it’s work! My driveway is practically snow free! Look closely and you can see the water draining down the driveway. By the end of the day, I’m sure that all of the snow will be gone, without me lifting a finger. The lesson is clear: let the sun do the work.

There are many times in this life when we try to do all the work ourselves, as if all depended upon our effort. But God is working in our lives far more than any of us realize. It is better (and more efficient) (and more glorifying to God) to let God do His work. Sometimes we simply need to “be still, and know that [He] is God” (Psalm 46:10).

When the Egyptians were pursuing Israel by the Red Sea, Moses said, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you today. … The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:13, 14). Jesus said, “Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ … Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (Matthew 6:31, 32). When worried come your way, “Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Give your cares and concerns to God and let Him work.


My Book!


For the past few weeks we have been taking care of a two and a half year-old boy through Safe Families, a great organization that seeks to provide temporary homes for children without foster care or the courts. His mother is looking for a job to support her family, which is difficult to do while caring for a such a young child. As we have taken this boy in our home, the mother has been freed up to find a job. We are praying for her to find a job, and be united with her family.

This little boy has a very sweet disposition and we have enjoyed bringing him into our family for this short time. And for the most part, things have gone quite smoothly. Last night, however, we had a bit of a run-in.

One of the things that this boy really appreciates is bedtime stories. We have set out about twenty books that my wife pulls from to read with him shortly before putting him down for the night.

Well, last night, my seven year-old son happened to be in the room around reading time. He began looking at some of the books that were going to be read in a few moments. I think that this little boy felt threatened. He began taking the books from my son’s hand and yelling at him, “No!” He said, “Mine!”

Now, I have great compassion for this little boy. He’s alone, apart from his mother and family, and in our house, not his own. These books have probably become a sense of security and joy for him. And when my son began to look at them, he was justifiably upset.

However, he was wrong. These books weren’t his. In fact, they are my son’s books, that he has willing let this boy use during his stay with us. So, we took this little boy into the bathroom and tried to explain this to him.

As we were talking to him about these books, I thought of how I often respond in a same way toward God. Everything that we have is His gift to us. “The earth is the LORD’s and all it contains” (Psalm 24:1). He gave us life and breath and all things (Acts 17:25). The apostle Paul rightly asks, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). And yet, many times, I am possessive of “my things,” not realizing that they are really the LORD’s, which I am using for a brief time.

May we all hold our possessions loosely.

Rose Bushes


On the west side of our house lies a whole row of rose bushes which my wife has planted. When blooming, the look of the red flowers against the white wall of our house is dazzling. When you approach the roses to smell them, the fragrance is pleasant. But, should you lay hold of the stem, watch out, you may be cut by the many thorns.

I have found ministry to be much like these rose bushes. There are times when the ministry is strikingly beautiful. When the Lord is clearly working in the lives of His people, it is stunning. And when the church is walking in unity and love and humility, it is pleasant for all around, especially for pastors, who get to enjoy the blessings that come.  “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

But, that’s not to say it is always this way. Whenever you live closely with others, sparks are sure to fly. Members sin against each other and tensions come among the believers. In Philippians 4:2 Paul urged two church members to get along, because they were not united.  Darts are often directed toward the leaders of the church. And they can be painful, like the thorns of the rose bush.

But, overall, I’m thankful that the joy has been much and the thorns have been few.




Have you ever driven by a field of sunflowers? The flowers of the plants are large and beautiful. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about sunflowers is that they follow the sun throughout the day. In the morning, the plants face east, where the sun rises. In the middle of the day, they face up toward the sky. In the evening, they face west, where the sun sets.

We can learn from sunflowers. However, rather than following the sun, we need to follow the Son. Wherever we see Jesus shining, we ought to be looking in that direction. “They looked to Him and were radiant” (Psalm 34:5).


Nothing Better?

Are you convinced that Jesus is better than anything? In Psalm 73, the Psalmist cried out, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth?” (Ps. 73:25). Can you say that of Jesus?

Jesus, I desire you more than my checking account.
Jesus, I desire you more than my iPhone.
Jesus, I desire you more than my vacation.
Jesus, I desire you more than my movies.
Jesus, I desire you more than my Facebook.
Jesus, I desire you more than my food.
Jesus, I desire you more than my running.
Jesus, I desire you more than my health club.
Jesus, I desire you more than my sports team.
Jesus, I desire you more than my coffee.
Jesus, I desire you more than my really cool car.
Jesus, I desire you more than my fashionable clothes.
Jesus, I desire you more than my grades.
Jesus, I desire you more than my popularity.
Jesus, I desire you more than my well-paying job.
Jesus, I desire you more than my good career.
Jesus, I desire you more than my nice house.
Jesus, I desire you more than my big play set.
Jesus, I desire you more than my television.
Jesus, I desire you more than my pets.
Jesus, I desire you more than my internet.
Jesus, I desire you more than my 401K plan.
Jesus, I desire you more than my cabin at the lake.
Jesus, I desire you more than my health.

Such is the heart of every believer in Jesus Christ. May God strengthen us to live this way.

When the Trials Come

In this life trials will come. It’s not a matter of “if” trials will come, but rather “when” trials will come. So, the question that all of us face is this: what will sustain you when the day comes?

Many find solace in God’s love and care for them, which is well and good. But, those same people will often limit God’s involvement in their trial. In other words, they will say that God would never bring a trial in their life, because God has only their good in mind.

Unfortunately, those who think this way lose the comfort that could be theirs. If God is not powerful enough to keep the trial from you, what assurance do you have that God will be able to remove the trial? You have none.

A better, more Biblical course is to trust that “Our God is in the heavens. He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3). When a trial comes upon a believer, it comes from the sovereign hand of our God for our good (Romans 8:28). God will not bring it beyond our ability to triumph through it (1 Corinthians 10:13). He will sustain us through the trial (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). When it has accomplished its purposes, He who brought the trial will bring it to an end.

In other words, believing in the goodness of God AND the greatness of God is the key to sustaining you through trials.

The Crisis of Faith

Most Christians, as I can tell, go through a crisis of faith in their lives. By this, I simply mean a time in which they really question the reality of God or of His working in their lives. Sometimes it occurs when people are in their teens. At other times it occurs later in life. The result of these times is either an abandoning of the faith or a strengthened resolve to the realities of the faith.

The Biblical writers are no strangers to such feelings. More than a dozen times, we read the Psalmists expressing their doubts to the Lord saying, “How long?” (For example: Psalm 13:1, 2; 79:5; 94:3). Asaph chronicles his life by saying, “My feet came close to stumbling. My steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:2-3). Habakkuk said, “How long, O LORD, will I call for help and you will not hear?” (Habakkuk 1:2). Job said, “I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me. I stand up, and you turn Your attention against me” (Job 30:20).

And yet, time after time, we can see the Biblical writers embracing again the God who they doubted. Asaph said, “I have made the Lord GOD my refuge” (Psalm 73:28). Habakkuk said, “I will exult in the LORD. I will rejoice in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:18). Job said, “I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).

What turned these men from trouble to trust? More often than not, it was a glimpse of the power of God. God is righteous. God will judge. God will make all wrongs right. We just need to wait.

Such thoughts have helped many through their crisis of faith.

Tourist Shops

When in Nepal recently, I was walking through some of the tourist sections. It is common to see the store owner outside their shop, inviting you into their shop to look at their goods. They are trying to get you to stop your walking and come and stand in their store. I have even been invited to take a seat and drink some tea with the owner.

I was struck how similar this is to the influence of the wicked as described in Psalm 1:1, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers.” Note the progression from walking to standing to sitting.

If you are sitting and drinking tea with the owner, you are probably going to purchase something from him. If you are sitting with the scoffers, you are probably going to be like them.

Where Are They Aimed?

Psalm 127:4 says, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.” Children are like arrows, which are intended to be aimed and shot from the house.

Sadly, too many parents don’t bother to aim their children. They merely let them live their lives without the constantly directing them in the way that they should go. Other parents don’t shoot their arrows. They do what they can to keep the children at home (or lament the fact that they are gone). Arrows aren’t meant to stay in the quiver. They are meant to be aimed.

Aim for your children to be righteous in Christ and you will be glad. “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice” (Proverbs 23:24).


Tips for Memorizing Extended Portions of Scripture

Scripture memory is important in the life of every believer to fight the good fight of faith. “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). I have especially found the memorizing of larger portions of Scripture to be helpful.  Here is some advice to help you in the process.

1. Pick a portion of Scripture you want to memorize. An extended portion of Scripture is good. It helps for the sake of context. Try an entire book of the Bible or several chapters.
2. Find a form of accountability. Our family has done some memorization together. It can be great fun.
3. Using pen and ink, write out the verses you want to memorize neatly on cards. I have uses the backs of old business cards. They are portable and can be carried wherever you go. It’s important that the cards not be typed, because handwriting is unique. You can often “picture” the card in your mind.
4. If possible, secure a recording of the portion of Scripture you are memorizing. Play this tape or CD over and over and over again. It will help familiarize you with the words you are trying to memorize and will make the learning of new verses easier. It can also be used nicely for review.
5. To learn a new verse, start by reading it out loud over and over again. I have found that 10-15 times is often sufficient. It’s important that you read the verse out loud. There is something about forcing your mouth to say the words and hearing the words with your ears that helps you retain the verse. Developing a chanting cadence or rhythm to the words are very helpful.
6. When you memorize a new verse, memorize the chapter and verse as well. For instance, if memorizing 1 Peter 1:1, say “One one Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ, …” When memorizing 1 Peter 1:2, say “One two according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” When memorizing 1 Peter 2:24, say, “Two twenty-four and He Himself bore …” You may not like the practice, but believe me, it is well worth your while. It will keep you on track when reciting larger passages and it will help you recall individual verses in the future.
7. Before learning a new verse, review your older verses first. In fact, begin with the verse(s) you memorized yesterday. Then, review the verse(s) you learned the day before. It does no good to learn something new if you can’t recall what you learned before.
8. Short, frequent sessions work better than long, infrequent sessions. Your brain works even when you don’t. What is difficult today will come easily tomorrow after your brain has been working on it for 24 hours.
9. Redeem the small moments of time that you have to work on review. You would be surprised at all of the little moments that you have in your day when you can review the memory verses you have learned.
10. Consider memorizing each verse to be a bit like rolling a ball up a hill. At first, the hill is very steep and you need lots of work to get the ball up the hill. But, after a little bit, the hill isn’t so steep and the effort required to keep the ball rolling isn’t so much. Some time later, you will find that the hill is almost flat, which requires very little effort.
11. Read Dr. Andrew Davis’ excellent little booklet entitled, “An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture.” This little booklet has been of immense help to me. You can find it here. Dr. Davis is the senior pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina.