When you don’t understand why

… but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God … — 2 Corinthians 1:9

There are times when we cannot understand our lives. Challenges arise and we feel like Paul — as though we have received a death sentence.

Yet, like Paul, when we say that we are beyond our strength and we despair of life itself, we can say these things have happened to keep us from relying on ourselves and instead on God.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. (2 Corinthians 1:8-11)

When some questions really don’t matter

IMG_0048Once I realized that thinking people could embrace the Christian faith, I began to look for God in the Bible. This search has been the greatest quest of my life.

The Bible is not just a book to be read and understood. If we come to it looking for God, He will breath on us through its pages and reveal Himself in all his beautiful and terrifying glory. Not only that, he will show us our true and unvarnished selves if we are willing to see.

He will open our eyes to our sin and our gifts through the lens of his perfect and majestic love. We will come face to face with our utter otherness, our pride, our selfishness, and our rebellion (even our rebellion through efforts to do good). But we will also find a sacrificial and selfless love that transcends our comprehension. We will find a God who stepped into our reality and offered himself in our place.

We will find grace that says, “Come to me” for freedom’s sake. We will see unconditional devotion personified in Jesus as he welcomes the unwelcome-able and dines with the outcasts. We will see ourselves as either the prodigal or his spiteful older brother who share a Father that invites us both to a feast of celebration. We will find a God who writes the story of his glory and love in the pages of history and through a wandering people. We will see that his heart’s desire has always been to be our God.

And when we are confronted with this unfathomable God we will long to fall at his feet in gratitude and to live a life that proclaims His greatness and wonder not out of fear but in response to love.

And the questions we had when we started, they won’t matter much anymore because we will have found God. He will no longer be an idea, a religious system, or a moral code. He will be a person, a redeemer, a creator, and friend.

Can a thinking person be a Christian?

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In my early 20′s, I was grappling with the Christian faith. I’d grown up in church and tried to follow its moral requirements. But, my faith wasn’t robust and I began to see inconsistencies with what I believed and the world around me. Before I could even seek answers from the Christian perspective, I had to answer an important question, “Can a thinking person even be a Christian?” I had to know if a believer could maintain intellectual integrity and still hold to the Christian faith.

Initially, the answers came by way of C.S. Lewis. In his book Mere Christianity, Lewis never quotes the Bible. He talks about our universal understanding of a moral law and how it requires a moral law-giver. He aligns astute observations regarding morality, sex, and human nature with the Christian worldview in a compelling way. He evaluates human pride and says,”It is pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family. Since time began.”

In Lewis’ descriptions, I saw reason and logic but I also saw myself. He didn’t prove the reality of God to me, but he demonstrated that you could believe in the reality of God and see the world for how it really is. His arguments gave me intellectual permission to seek the God of Christianity. As I began to read and seek through the Bible and other teachers, God revealed himself.

I realized when we begin to seek God, we don’t have to be fully convinced. We can still have doubts and questions and reservations. But if we have the slightest inclination that there might be a God and then genuinely look for him, he will meet us in our quest and push open the door of our hearts. He will reveal the true source of all that is grand and good in the universe.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)


This post is part of the #ThisIKnow series. This month, I’m going to focus on the life-breathing, joy-fostering truths that I’ve come to know — not because I’ve been taught them but because I’ve experienced them, because there is a God in my every day who makes them known to me and because these are the things worth talking about. I invite you to join in the conversation. Post in the comments, share on Facebook, or tweet with #ThisIKnow. We’ll discuss together.

This I Know: Work Matters {How to respond to a bad day}

Last week, I had a late night work project to replace core networking gear for a group of facilities. The details don’t really matter much — except that it was a significant change that had to be coordinated with helpers in the field, the business, and with all team members. It was important that it go well.

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Photo Credit Peter Werkman http://www.peterwerkman.nl (Creative Commons)

I executed my carefully planned list and completed all tests successfully. As I closed my laptop and climbed into bed after midnight, I allowed myself a rare accolade. “That’s why I’m awesome,” I said to myself.

The next morning started well but a few hours in I received reports of problems. A quick check revealed a straightforward issue with some very old equipment we inherited. I reported the issue, scheduled the fix, made the change and all was working up to speed again with a 30 second outage — no big deal.

Unfortunately, at the same time another unrelated problem occurred. There were additional errors outside of my area of responsiblity and by the time it all got reported to leadership, it appeared like one big messy pile. The litany of questions began, many of them reasonable, to get to the bottom of the problems of the day. Regardless of my planning and very good execution, it wasn’t the smooth transition for which I’d hoped. My frustration rose with every phone call as the perception of the problem escalated.

What surprised me most was my level of frustration when the problems began to escalate. I wasn’t frustrated because I did something wrong. My plan was solid and our tests went well. I have a good reputation within the organization so I wasn’t afraid of retribution. Even some of the more thoughtless remarks, while unnecessary, didn’t cause me much angst. But still, I was very irritated with the fallout.

I thought through my emotional response and realized I was bothered because the project didn’t go as well as I expected. My idealism had run amok and I momentarily believed that since I had done well the whole project would go well. Reality, and the Christian worldview, tell a different story.

As a Christian, I view my work through a cosmic lens. My role isn’t just to do my tasks well but to contribute to the overall wellbeing of my coworkers and the organization as a whole. My daily grind isn’t just a way to earn a living. It’s more than a 9 to 5, ladder-climbing, self-exalting exercise. My work matters because God has given me gifts to be exercised to their fullest. The creativity and glory of God is revealed as people, both believers and non believers, use their talents to the fullest.

Christians are ministers of reconciliation and my life ought to be about reconciliation in every sphere, not just in the church or my home, but at work as well.

But, we are never promised that our good performance will yield the great results we anticipate. In fact, as we come to understand the vast impacts of the fall and we understand that sin not only affects individuals but the entire created order, we realize that full reconciliation will not occur until Jesus makes all things new.

Tim Keller explains this in his book Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work:

Everyone imagines accomplishing things, and everyone finds him- or herself largely incapable of producing them. Everyone wants to be successful rather than forgotten, and everyone wants to make a difference in life. But that is beyond the control of any of us. If this life is all there is, then everything will eventually burn up in the death of the sun and no one will even be around to remember anything that has ever happened. Everyone will be forgotten, nothing we do will make any difference, and all good endeavors, even the best, will come to naught.

Unless there is God. If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath and behind this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavor, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever.

Keller, Timothy (2012-11-13). Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work (p. 29).

Ultimately, my work matters not because of my visible accomplishments now but because there is a good God who planted me at this time in history and has gifted me to do a particular work. The world I see today is only a partial reality. The truth of all things has not yet been revealed. But since God is trustworthy, and because he has already offered redemption and reconciliation through Jesus, I can do my work to its fullest with abandon and without fear even when things don’t go well.

Keller says it best here:

Christians have, through their hope in God’s story of redemption for the world he created, a deep consolation that enables them to work with all their being and never be ultimately discouraged by the frustrating present reality of this world, in which thorns grow up when they are trying to coax up other things. We accept the fact that in this world our work will always fall short, just as we sinners always “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3: 23) because we know that our work in this life is not the final word.

Keller, Timothy (2012-11-13). Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work (p. 96).

So on Monday, I will climb out of bed and make my way to the office. I will do my work with hope and energy, not because I believe it will all go well, but because God is good and my apparent success or failure today isn’t the final word.


This post is part of the #ThisIKnow series. This month, I’m going to focus on the life-breathing, joy-fostering truths that I’ve come to know — not because I’ve been taught them but because I’ve experienced them, because there is a God in my every day who makes them known to me and because these are the things worth talking about. I invite you to join in the conversation. Post in the comments, share on Facebook, or tweet with #ThisIKnow. We’ll discuss together.

When you want to be right

“You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.” — Matthew 22:29

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What do these words from Jesus to the Pharisees mean to us in our day? Could it be that we are wrong simply because we do not know the scriptures and we do not understand the power of God?

We fail at love because we do not believe in the power of God to change people. We become consumed with our accomplishments, our things, our reputation because we fail to follow Jesus’ words to seek him first. We fail to believe he can really provide.

We think Jesus was talking to someone else when he said, “Do not be anxious about your life” because we fail to see the power that is available in him. We don’t really believe that He himself is our peace.

We will see a profound change in the fullness of our lives when we begin to trust the God of the Bible. Not a Sunday morning trust where we stand in our churches, sing our songs, and say a smiling hello to friendly faces. It’s a Monday morning trust that experiences God everywhere: in the carpool line, the cubicle, in the hospital room, and at the funeral home.

It’s a trust that asks for food because a good father won’t give a stone to a child who asks for bread.

It’s a trust that expects to shine because he said, “You are the light of the world.” It believes light will shine through her because she is a light-bearer who has been rescued by the light-maker.

It’s a trust that knows all of her guilt, all of her shame, and all of her failure was buried in a tomb with Jesus and she’s been given new life in him.


This post is part of the #ThisIKnow series. This month, I’m going to focus on the life-breathing, joy-fostering truths that I’ve come to know — not because I’ve been taught them but because I’ve experienced them, because there is a God in my every day who makes them known to me and because these are the things worth talking about. I invite you to join in the conversation. Post in the comments, share on Facebook, or tweet with #ThisIKnow. We’ll discuss together.

This I Know: Beauty points us to more

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The sky shone with gold, pink and gray as I pulled out of the drive. Winter weather has been particularly harsh this year and I’d been homebound for a few days.

I turned my car eastward into the rising sun as the colors grew, intensified, and fanned across the horizon. The trees sparkled like diamonds in a jewelers case. A pastel sky reflected from their branches, the entire landscape awash in pink glitter.

I drove in silence enraptured by the beauty of it all whispering silent gratitude to the God who created this living masterpiece. Fifteen minutes later, the sun found its hiding place behind a cloud. The world again lay sleeping under a blanket of white, yearning to be awoken for Spring.

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There are moments when the splendor of ordinary events makes them other-worldly. Glory shines in the dancing eyes of a toddler, in an elegant solution to a difficult problem, in the knowing look shared by a couple long married.

We must choose to see the beauty in these surprise gifts. We must open our eyes and step into them, relish them with open hearts and minds. If we’re willing to truly see, we will realize these moments are a glimpse beyond the veil — hints of a world to come. They tell the story of a land once whole and perfect that will be made unbroken yet again.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. (Revelation 21:1-3)

Linking with Jennifer at #TellHisStory


This post is part of the #ThisIKnow series. This month, I’m going to focus on the life-breathing, joy-fostering truths that I’ve come to know — not because I’ve been taught them but because I’ve experienced them, because there is a God in my every day who makes them known to me and because these are the things worth talking about. I invite you to join in the conversation. Post in the comments, share on Facebook, or tweet with #ThisIKnow. We’ll discuss together.

This I Know: We must get over ourselves {A call to Christian women}

I’ve had a message to share for a long time. I’ve held it in for feared being judgemental, or insensitive, or disconnected.

But God has also been stirring a desire in me — a desire to see women grab on to God and chase after him for all they’re worth. A fire to urge them to think. To learn. To read. To know God and run after him with their unique and God-given gifts.

But ladies, something is holding us back. I’m not sure how best to say it gently, so here goes:

We must get over ourselves.

I know this world hurts. I know that you’ve experienced deep pain. Maybe you’ve struggled with body image, or fear of rejection, or an overwhelming sense inadequacy. Maybe you’ve been wounded by the church. I know motherhood is hard no matter how you slice it. Infertility is harder and cancer robs and good people die young. Depression is real. Addiction steals lives. Children are abused and wives are battered.

I. know.

But I also know this: God is sufficient.

His word tells me that I have died and my life is hidden with Christ in God. Jesus is the image of the invisible God and in him all things hold together. He came to set us free from the law of sin and death.

It’s not that I’m suggesting we ignore the pain. This side of death, we cannot pretend our way into a utopian world where moth and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal. And for God’s sake, if someone is hurting you our your children, get out. Seek help.

Disability, disease and mental illness are a long-term battle for many. Some of you may fight those battles for the rest of your life. But your struggle doesn’t have to define you.

If Jesus is who we say he is, he’s big enough to handle our pain. He’s big enough to make sense of it, if not today then in eternity. He’s big enough to stay with us through the struggle and see us safely to the other side even if we don’t reach the other side in this life.

But instead of grabbing on to Jesus, digging into his word, and hanging on for dear life, many of us live like it’s godly to wallow in our misery. We act as if everyone needs a story of deep emotional angst to be authentically Christian.

We’ve confused our suffering with God’s sufficiency. We’ve made an idol of our pain. Instead of worshipping the great Deliverer, we’ve worshipped our own experience and made suffering our God.

It’s time for us to lift our eyes to the hills and see from whence our help comes. It’s time to seek God through his word, through his people and through prayer as we turn our focus from ourselves to the One who is worthy of our focus. It’s time to turn our energy to loving others and pointing their eyes to the same God who has met us in our suffering. And there friends, we will find hope.

Linking with Emily over at #ImperfectProse.


This post is part of the #ThisIKnow series. This month, I’m going to focus on the life-breathing, joy-fostering truths that I’ve come to know — not because I’ve been taught them but because I’ve experienced them, because there is a God in my every day who makes them known to me and because these are the things worth talking about. I invite you to join in the conversation. Post in the comments, share on Facebook, or tweet with #ThisIKnow. We’ll discuss together.