The Reason For Your Hope (Making God Your Priority, Part 2)

The Reason For Your Hope (Making God Your Priority, Part 2)

I wanted to add on another idea from last week’s “Drive vs Direction” post with another quick reminder that stems from 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:23-24.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Colossians 3:23-24

Just like in last week’s post, we have a choice of where we put our foundational drive: our core purpose and meaning in life.

We will all eat and drink, but you can choose to do so for God’s glory or not.
We will all work, but you can choose to do so for God’s glory or not.

So what will you choose?

One of the most influential things I have ever read on this topic came from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech:

“If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

I don’t remember when I first read this quote,
but I do remember when it most impacted me.

When I was working at Starbucks, this quote came to mind and I remember for a couple solid weeks that I was constantly thinking about this quote and asking God to help me to do everything for His glory. Everything as unto Him. Even the boring, repetitive work of cleaning, making coffee and serving customers at Starbucks.

Now, I always would do my best at work,
But something was different when I had this mindset.

I didn’t merely do my best,
I did my best tirelessly,
I did my best… almost to the point where I would enjoy working in a way I hadn’t before.

And I’m so thankful God did that in my heart.

Because my co-workers took notice.

I was already one of the hardest workers,
But something else was different now.

And then the best part happened:

I had some coworkers complain about our jobs,
And they said they wished they could do something they love to do like I did.

And that was a way to share the Gospel with them that I never saw coming.

I got to share with them that I don’t actually enjoy our jobs anymore than they do.
Free coffee is awesome, but come on; coffee customer service is not what I’d call “fun”.

BUT, I got to share with them what (or Who) makes all the difference:

Simply doing my work unto Him opened up an opportunity to share the hope I have in Jesus and talk about how they could have the same hope and relationship with Him as I have.

And THIS is what I believe Peter meant when he wrote 1 Peter 3:15:

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

1 Peter 3:15

The reason for the hope that is in you

I think we’ve misconstrued this passage to mean that we need to study and know the reasons “why we believe what we believe.” To study the history and apologetics of the Christian faith.

Those things aren’t bad, but Peter didn’t say to “make a defense to people who doubt Jesus’ resurrection.”

Peter said to “make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.

And my defense for having joy at work?


My defense for having hope through trials?


My defense for forgiving when someone wrongs me?


My defense for asking for forgiveness when I wrong someone else?


I think you get the point.

A hope to be lived out, or an idea to be shared?

I have no problem with apologetics and learning a defense of scripture and history.

But, the Gospel is not merely an idea to be shared and defended.

No one will care what apologetics you learn and know,
If your life looks no different than their own.

And, truth be told: Jesus doesn’t care either.

You can know all the right things,
And still not follow Him.

You can say all the right things,
And still not know Him.

You can even do a bunch of good things,
And they still be meaningless and empty.

In fact, Jesus says that many will come to Him saying that they prophesied, cast out demons, and did many might works in His Name, and He won’t know them (Matthew 7:22).

Paul echos this idea that you can have a super Christian life with miracles and sacrifice and still be or gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

You know how to make it all worth it?

Surrender to Him.
And do everything as unto Him.

Which brings us back to the original passages:

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Colossians 3:23-24
Drive vs Direction (Making God Your Priority, Part 1)

Drive vs Direction (Making God Your Priority, Part 1)

Just a little over a month ago, waves of people were setting New Years Resolutions and goals for themselves: personal, financial, business, even spiritual goals.

But these goals, these directions, are generally propped up on a foundation, a drive, that is crumbing.

Your direction is simply where you’re going.
Your drive is why you’re going.

All around us we are encouraged to have a self-centered “why” for every thing we do.

To make me feel better,
To make me happier,
To fulfill my dreams.

Even our attempts at being others-centered come back to wanting to feel better about ourselves, to please someone else in our lives, or to feel like we’re part of something bigger.

No matter which way we slice it,
Our drive has become self-centered at its core.

And that’s not what we were created for.

We weren’t made to use each other,
Or serve each other as an end of itself,

We were made to be in relationship with our Creator and have all of our life grow from that relationship.

Our relationship with God is to fulfill and replace all our inward drives and to propel us forward in the direction He has for us.

Our God centered drive

For example, let’s take the five self-centered drives I listed above and see what happens when we replace those with what God offers us.

I don’t need my drive to be about…

Feeling better… because He is the God of all comfort.

Feeling happier… because He is the God of all joy.

Fulfilling my dream… because He promises a better plan things than we could have created on our own.

Pleasing others… because God has already given us our self-worth and we don’t need to find it from others.

Manufacturing a “bigger purpose…” because God has already given us the greatest purpose we could ever know.

What’s your drive? It will affect your direction

It’s important that we root our inward drive in God, because where you put your inward drive will affect the direction you go in.

As seen throughout scripture: whatever we set our hearts on (whether God, or ourselves) will outflow into our words, our actions, and ultimately our direction.

So may you guard the drive of your heart,
And not get caught up focusing simply on the direction.

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.”

Proverbs 21:2

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:21

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

Luke 6:45, Matthew 12:34
Surrendering to God’s Plan (And Not Halfway)

Surrendering to God’s Plan (And Not Halfway)

Last week, I wrote about how I got to teach on the life of Peter in our church’s kids class and how we talked about his example in following Jesus with all of our lives (you can read that post here).

But I skipped something we talked about with them, because I thought it deserved its own post.

Last year, I read a book called “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” by Jeremiah Burroughs which was extremely insightful and encouraging regarding submission to God and contentment to Him. I encourage you to read it as well. I wrote a blog post sharing some favorite quotes and ideas from the book that you can read at this link, but I highly encourage you to read it for yourself.

Our call to surrender to Jesus.

In Peter’s life, we come across an all-to-familiar problem that is often found in our own lives:

Peter was willing to give up everything for Jesus,
But only on his terms.

Here’s what I mean:

Peter is famous for telling Jesus that he will die for and with Him, only to deny Him shortly after.

But I think Peter was ready and willing to die for and with Jesus that day.

But only in the way he wanted,
Not surrendering to what Jesus wanted.

In that famous scene when Jesus is being betrayed,
Among a crowed of armed guards and angry men,
Peter draws his sword and strikes the first blow!

I truly think Peter expected to die that day.

You don’t go up to a crowd of armed people and start a fight you’re clearly going to lose, unless you’re ready to die with your leader (who already said He was going to die).

So what went “wrong”?

Simply this:
Peter was willing to die for Jesus while fighting and standing his ground,
But not by laying down his sword and his life without a fight.

He was willing to die for Jesus on his terms,
But not on Jesus’ terms.

And that is not surrender.
That is merely sacrifice on his own terms.
And I think we often get them mixed up.

Sacrifice is giving up your things,
Surrender is giving up your will to someone else’s.

It’s been said that “a god you fully agree with is just a mirror of yourself”.

Expressed another way: if your “god” can’t tell you “no” or you can’t be wrong before your “god”, then it really isn’t your God. You’re simply projecting what you want onto someone else and calling that person “god”.

Similarly, a “god” whose plan you never have to adjust to is simply just you projecting your plan onto your “god”.

And Jesus hasn’t called to simply sacrifice for Him.
He has called us to surrender.

We even see this being expressed later when Jesus restores Peter to ministry, as He tells Peter that his death will be one of surrender (John 21:18-19).

7 Areas Of Surrender

When we aim to surrender to Jesus, it’s not simply sacrificing (as we saw with Peter). Here are 7 areas to consider as you aim to fully surrender to God in your current season of life:

What is God calling you to do? Are you doing it?

When has God allowed this difficult season in your life? Do you trust His timing of when it started… and when it will end?

Where is this happening? Whether a physical place or maybe a specific area of your life, do you trust God in what He has allowed?

Why is it happening? God promises to not waste any trials or circumstances, but sometimes we cannot point to a reason until long after – and sometimes we won’t know this side of heaven why God allows for some things to happen. Do we trust that He is good and that His ‘why’ is worth it?

How is it happening? Going back to Peter’s example from earlier: sometimes we can be ok with what we need to do or go through, but only on our terms. How is God wanting you to proceed with areas of difficulty in your life?

Who is this happening to? Sometimes it’s easier to go through a difficult time ourselves than to try to watch and comfort a close friend or family member go through something. Whether it’s a “why them” or “why me” situation; do you trust God with the who?

Practical Surrender

I don’t want to come across as unsympathetic; surrender is painful and difficult.

But surrender is worth it – as long as the One you are surrendering to is truly good.

And, God IS good
Even when our circumstances tell us otherwise.

I’ve written this verse out many times before, and will continue to quote it:

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8–9

God’s thoughts are different than ours,
And just in case we got the wrong idea from that statement:

God’s ways are also better than ours.

Not just different,
His ways are better.

So, as difficult as it can be,
Let us surrender to Him,
In every area of life.

What is next for you?

I’m not sure what you may be struggling with at this moment, but I thought I should link to other posts on related subjects at the bottom of this one. I hope this time of reflecting on submission has brought you nearer to Jesus and that if any of these below resonate with where you are right now, that they do the same.

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs

Trust God, Even When You Don’t Know the Details

Waiting On God (And Thriving In The Transition)

God’s Plan Is Not A Straight Line

Verses For When You Face Discouragement And Hard Times

Thirsting for God, and coming up empty – Psalm 42

The Life Of Peter (How We Can Follow Jesus)

The Life Of Peter (How We Can Follow Jesus)

Yesterday, I got to teach in the older kids class at our church.

We’ve been going through the book of Mark and are about to cover the crucifixion, but before we got there we were doing some character studies. I got to teach on the life of Peter.

Peter is probably one of the most relatable characters in the entire Bible.

He’s very passionate,
He gets a lot of things right,
And gets a lot of things wrong.

Peter was one of the disciples closest to Jesus (part of the famous trio: Peter, James and John). He got to be part of a special group even within the 12 disciples, which was already pretty special, and because of his passion and drive, he got a lot of other special experiences with Jesus too.

Some of Peter’s highlights are…

  • The only disciple to walk on water (Matthew 14:22-33)
  • One of three to see Jesus on the mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–8)
  • One of three to see Jesus raise a girl from the dead (Mark 5:35-43)
  • The one to answer Jesus and confirm that he knew Jesus was the son of God (Matthew 16:17)
  • The one so committed to Jesus that he said he was ready to die for Jesus near the end (Mark 14:29-31)

And some of Peter’s low points are…

  • He quickly sunk on the water (Matthew 14:30)
  • He couldn’t stay awake for a few hours when Jesus asked Him to (Matthew 26:40)
  • Jesus had to rebuke Peter’s thinking that in line with Satan’s (when He told Peter “get behind me Satan”) (Matthew 16:23)
  • He denied Jesus (multiple times) (Mark 14:66-72)

Overall, we see Peter to be a great example of our own Christian life:
We have high points,
And we have low points.

But what causes Peter to be a good example for all of us is his resolve to continue to follow, repent and run after Jesus in the midst of his highs and lows.

We discussed Peter’s life more in-depth with the kids class, but the big idea we took away was that Peter is an example for us to follow in three simple ways. It’s through these three things that Peter continually does that we see him continue to grow in his relationship with Jesus and to be used by Him.

Get to know Jesus more

Peter had the privilege of getting to live and talk with Jesus for a few years, but we have Jesus’ Word (the Bible) that we can read, and His Spirit (the Holy Spirit) living inside of us, Who also reveals the person of Jesus to us. It is through knowing Jesus more that we will grow in our relationship with Him and become more like Him.

Live Passionately For Jesus (Hold Nothing Back)

One of Peter’s biggest strengths was that he never did anything halfway. Walking on water was the perfect example. When everyone else was staying in the boat, still processing what was going on, Peter said “Jesus, if it’s really you, tell me to come out on the water with you!”… and he did. In order to live a full life with Jesus and be transformed by Him, you have to be willing to lay everything out on the line and pursue Him with all of your life.

Have A Lifestyle Of Repentance And Reliance On God

I’ve written about the importance of confessing sin and repentance in the past (here’s a link to part 1 and part 2) and it’s no surprise that this is one of the things we see clearly in Peter’s life.

Through his ups and downs, we see him continually turn back to Jesus and resume following Him.

No excuses,
No hesitancy.

He’s corrected,
He repents,
He follows Jesus with the same tenacity he did before.

Peter was someone who learned to be humble in his own eyes and to rely on God’s grace through the ups and downs of his spiritual walk following Jesus.

May we do the same…

As I challenged the kids in our class yesterday: may we all do the same.

May we pursue knowing Jesus more from His Word and from spending time with Him.

May we live passionately for Jesus and pursue Him holding nothing back in our lives.

And may we have a lifestyle of repentance whenever we fail so that we may receive the grace and forgiveness that God offers and may continue to run our race of faith with endurance until the end of our lives.

May we get to heaven and hear Jesus say,
“Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Being Still Before God

Being Still Before God

When this post goes live, we will be at a 2 day retreat with our church and I’m sure we’ll be having a great time.

Over the years, I have been to dozens of conferences and heavy Bible teaching courses, but there’s something incredibly special about retreats, whether big or small.

In our busy world, rarely do we get a chance to disconnect and be still,
And if we do, we generally fill that time with anything but God.

There’s always another thing to learn,
Another thing to study,
Another thing to experience,
And, of course, another thing to do.

And Christians aren’t exempt.

But instead of rushing to do your next task,
I encourage you to be still before Him.

Instead of rushing to learn something new,
Reflect on the things you already know.

Instead of praying for the big next thing,
Stand in awe of what He has done in your life.

All of these things are good,
But we tend to lean heavily on our next action,
And forget the relationship that God wants to have now.

So, you may not be on a physical retreat away,
But you can have (even now) a Spiritual retreat of rest for a few minutes.

To disconnect,
And breathe,
With Jesus.

I hope you do.

My Favorite 7 Books I Read In 2019

My Favorite 7 Books I Read In 2019

In 2019 I read over 20 books! Which is far more than I’ve ever read before (I can’t suggest audio books enough).

With that said, they were all very good, but I thought I’d share my favorite 7 books with you and a brief summary of each in case you’re interested in reading any of them as well. Enjoy!!

(I’ve written this list putting my favorite book first, at the top)

#1: Letters To The Church by Francis Chan

Our church read through this book together in the beginning of 2019 and it was definitely a great read. Francis Chan has such a passion for Jesus and His Church that shows though every book he’s written and His message is always so clear and simple: Let’s desire nothing less than a complete and whole relationship with Jesus. It’s a great book that I suggest you read if you haven’t already.

#2: The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson

This is one of the few biography style books I’ve read and I’m so glad that I did. I’ve already written about The Cross and the Switchblade, sharing my favorite quotes from the book which you can read at this link.

This book was so encouraging and inspiring to read as it follows David Wilkerson though many ups and downs, both in the ministry and in his personal doubts and struggles. It has many extremely important reminders for the Christian life and I can’t recommend this book enough.

#3: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs

This was one of the first books I read in 2019 and it’s still one I reflect on occasionally a year later. I can still remember listening to it and pausing it to reflect on the truths that he wrote. This is also a book I’ve shared some favorite quotes in a previous post which you can read at this link.

#4: Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp

Dangerous Calling is certainly geared towards Pastors and church leaders, but I can see benefit for anyone to read it. Paul Tripp gets extremely personal in the book and is such a breath of fresh air when it comes to some of the issues often left ignored or even hidden on purpose today. If you are in church leadership in any way, I cannot recommend it enough, and even if you aren’t, I think this book would help you know how to better encourage and pray for the leaders in your church.

#5: The Case For Miracles by Lee Strobel

I read “The Case For Miracles” kind of on a whim. The book came up in a conversation and I decided to check it out – and I’m so glad that I did. This book is filled with tons of stories of God working in miraculous ways and gives ample reason to believe that we serve a God Who is clearly still working today. There was fantastic insight, interviews and stories throughout the book, but my favorite part was actually the chapter dedicated to when God doesn’t provide a miracle. In a book surrounded with miraculous stories, he was sure to cover what to do and believe when we don’t see the miracle we prayed for. I quote the book a little in a recent post “What Should I Expect When I Step Out In Faith?” but I think you should also read this book in its entirety for yourself.

#6: The Next Right Thing – Emily P. Freeman

My wife suggested I read this book as we’ve experienced a massive amount of loss and transition in our lives these past 2 years. The author is a well-listened to podcaster who compiled and expanded upon a series of episodes to write this book. It was a great devotional style read, with her own prayers at the end of each chapter and action steps/things to consider that summarize the stories and ideas for that chapter. This book was specifically good for our previously mentioned situation in life, but I think anyone, at anytime, could benefit by reflecting on the things she writes about in this book because they are simple, yet overlooked, practices that we should incorporate into our daily lives to continually be sensitive to what God has for us, even when we’re not explicitly in a life stage of change.

#7: The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

A.W. Tozer is one of those authors who I could just keep pulling quotes from. So many things he wrote were simply said so well that I write it down and just kind of sit there thinking about it. This book in particular was an incredible one to read because it was so broad in its topic that it felt like each chapter was a different mini topic with tons of encouraging and thought provoking quotes. I definitely suggest reading this book and taking the time to think about the various areas of Christian living that he covers.

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