Introducing Hope

Introducing Hope

Manners and sanctification


Republished from August of 2017





Today’s headlines are downright scary but they might not concern you as much what is going on in your own home. Maybe you are emotionally and physically exhausted from a lifestyle that seems mostly out-of-control? Perhaps you find yourself thinking, “I just can’t take it anymore!” Welcome to family life in the 21st Century. Is there any real hope?

I would like to introduce you to hope. Real hope. This is not wishful thinking but confident assurance that despite circumstances, four things can still be true of you and your family.

First, a day will come when sin, death, pain, and suffering will end. These painful challenges will not last forever (Rev. 21:4). They will come to an end. Far better days rare still ahead. Living faithfully today involves remembering this important truth in the midst of the battle and allowing it, rather than our raw emotions, to shape our response to it. I admit that I do not dwell enough upon this important truth. How about you?

Second, God is using even awful circumstances to accomplish his will in your life. In Romans 8:28-29, Paul reminds us that all things, not just the good things, work together for our good. Although we prefer it when things are going great, the truth is, we don’t grow much in those times. We grow better through challenges because they help us see how we are not like Jesus. God’s will is that we grow to live more like who we already are in Christ. This brings God glory and provides us with joy.

Many readers know that one of my children suffers with seizures. I’ll never forget what she said to me one day. “Dad. I’d rather have the seizures and have what I have with Jesus than to not have the seizures and not have what I have with Jesus.” That is 100% real, pure hope talking.

God uses even the bad things in our lives to accomplish good in us even though pain is often involved in the process.  This gives us incredible hope!

Third, there can be “joy” in the midst of suffering. In Hebrews 12:1-2, we read that even Jesus endured the unspeakable shame and suffering of the cross… with joy. How can that be possible? First of all, “Joy” can be but is not necessarily “happiness” or the euphoric feeling when everything is going our way. Jesus was not happy about the excruciating pain of crucifixion. When Peter and John went away rejoicing after being flogged it wasn’t because they enjoyed it. Rather, in each case the joy at its core was a simple yet enduring satisfaction in God alone; doing his will despite the excruciating circumstances that carried them through the suffering.

Fourth, our peace does not depend on our circumstances but on Jesus’ promise. Jesus says in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let them be afraid.” Note that there is no qualification on the peace he has given. By faith, we simply need to receive it.

If Jesus has given us peace then we should live in light of that. His peace is lasting and withstands circumstances. The world’s peace is different. It depends upon circumstances and can therefore be taken away when threatening situations arise.

To be clear: we should prayerfully seek to relieve suffering. God does heal! God does restore! Our faith in Christ, built on hope, is powerful enough to do that if God wills. But circumstances don’t always change. Hard-hearted family members only grow more embittered. Financial ends do not meet. The loved one dies. These are the harsh realities of life in a fallen world that often blind us to the hope we need to shun despair or bitterness. Instead, we would do well to exercise a resilient faith that chooses hope.

This is the hope offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you are losing the battle. Fear, anger, and despair have a grip on you. Have you ever considered a relationship with Jesus Christ? He holds the keys of hope! Perhaps you already know Jesus but are losing the battle. Whatever the case, it is only through the gospel’s message of grace, mercy, and forgiveness that we find the hope needed not merely to hang on but to flourish.


Jesus: the Ultimate Blockchain

Manners and sanctification


April 13, 2019



“What in the world is blockchain?” I asked the Barnes and Noble employee as he somewhat unceremoniously plopped a stack of magazines with “blockchain” written on the cover on the rack. He said, “It is a technology that is being used to help protect our identity and personal information.” I grabbed a copy and was quickly hooked by the article’s title which began with the huge block letters: “Identity Crisis…”

“Identity” regularly occupies the headlines. We are so much more aware of it. Protection of our personal information has become a minimal expectation for doing business. In some cases, it even represents a competitive edge. Politically and culturally, debate surges over the most basic definition of identity: male and female.

All of the attention given to identity these days makes for some wonderful opportunities to grow in Christ.

First, it presents an opportunity to think about our own identity, in Christ.“Identity” is a simple one-word summary of what Jesus has done for us. Who are you? If you are in Christ, then you are a new creation. We tend not to think much about this new identity and all that it entails. Instead, we favor thinking about what we should do. Marinating in all that Jesus has fully accomplished not only instructs us in how to live, it motivates us, too.

Second, it reminds us how fragile, needy, and dependent we all really are. The fact that there is such concern over our SSN and credit cards numbers is evidence just how little control we actually have. We are vulnerable. Much of the media attention preys on and stokes our fears. None of us are in control.

But Godisin control. He is our refuge, strength, and protector. No matter how compromised my personal information is on the internet, God protects me through the end of my life on this earth—and beyond. My identity is completely, irrevocably secure in Jesus Christ.

Third, it provides a great entry point to share the good news with nonbelievers. It is not hard to imagine why people get so hysterical about their identity being stolen. This world really doesn’t offer much in the way of security. It is another reason why people without Jesus Christ have reason to be afraid.

When my family goes to visit an elderly neighbor in a local care facility, we often find the neighbor watching the news. He sometimes makes fearful, even angry comments about the future when the stories involve healthcare and social security. In those moments, I remind him that God cares for his own and that he can rest in that. Before leaving we usually pray with him and for him to rest in God’s sovereign care. Over the years we have had many deep spiritual conversations but we are still uncertain about his relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Still, I can say that when I remind him of God’s care for his people in those moments it brings peace. I trust that a deeper work is taking place.

We all need the peace that only God offers because he is the only one in control of all that is happening everywhere and all of the time. If we are marinating in all that Jesus has done for us, we will be more attentive to the fearful, anxious cry of those around us who desperately need the security only Jesus can give. Jesus is the ultimate blockchain.

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