When a Christian Leader Fails You

Leaders in the church aren’t exempt from sin. No one is. We don’t expect perfect people to lead our congregations, create our resources, and speak into our culture. But we do expect them to uphold the Bible’s authority. We do want them to remain faithful to Christ.

So what are we to do when a respected Christian leader fails the church, in any context? How are we to respond?

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How to Be Sure You’re Marrying “The One”

If Christian marriages are to picture the gospel (Ephesians 5:22-33), then believers in dating relationships need to be able to answer the question, “Am I willing to serve, sacrifice for, and forgive the person I’m with until death do us part?”

If you are seriously dating someone right now, ask yourself that question. If your answer is “yes,” then it’s likely you’ve found “the one.”

See, finding “the one” is less about demanding from the perfect person and more about choosing to serve an imperfect person – flaws, sins, and all – the one whom God has intentionally placed in your path. 

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Eight Reasons to Cling to Scripture in Suffering

Recently, a friend and I were interviewed on a radio show about the book we’d written on suffering. One of the host’s questions struck me: In the midst of the refiner’s fire, how do we keep from going through the motions? How do we have a sense of the abundance God promises us?

I immediately thought of Psalm 119:50: “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” And so I responded, “I have to be in God’s Word every day.”

Eight Reasons to Cling to Scripture in Suffering

Are you suffering right now? Would you say along with the psalmist that you’re afflicted? If your answer is no, this life guarantees that all of us will hurt in some degree before we meet the Lord. If your answer is yes, take heart; you are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who’ve known suffering in all its depths…and have endured.

Whether affliction has touched or devastated you, God promises in his Word to be your help, just as he did the psalmist. See in Psalm 119:49-56 eight reasons to cling to Scripture in your suffering:

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Confessions of an Insecure Writer, Part 2

A war continues to wage within this writing sinner’s heart.

My first three confessions covered identity, comparison, and motives in writing. Here are the final four:

Confession #4: I often don’t (think I) know what I’m doing.

There. I said it. Someone’s going to find me out because I’m not sure I know what I’m doing. By this, I don’t mean I know nothing about how to write. I know something about this. Otherwise I wouldn’t have scored well on research papers in college or be writing anything remotely helpful today…

What I mean is: I’m young and inexperienced and don’t have a turnkey process for writing. I compare myself to other writers (there it is again), and I see the sin in my heart, my mixed motives. All this makes me feel unqualified, undeserving, and, most of the time, incapable.

But this is a good place to be.

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Have You Found the Life You Wanted?

Every day, I search for satisfaction, joy, significance — life.

But I don’t always look for life in the right places. I search, but my quest often comes up empty. I keep chasing after something, but I lack what I’m seeking, even after I think I’ve found it. I hunt for purpose, but I’m left hungrier, thirstier, needier in the end.

I search for meaning in many pursuits — and I ask them to give me life — but they don’t. They can’t because I’m searching for water in the desert.

Only Jesus can give me what I’m really looking for.

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Confessions of an Insecure Writer (Part 1)

A war is waging within this writing sinner’s heart.

We’ll call this war “The Battle of the Insecure Writer.” It’s an (almost) everyday battle, a consistent fight. This is an attempt to describe that war, in hopes that I’ll better grasp its ins-and-outs and fight sin and temptation by the strength God supplies.

I’m also hoping this will help you, fellow writer. You, too, are fighting an inner war against sin, pride, and other fruit of the flesh. The ins-and-outs of your battle may look different than mine, but I’d guess much is similar. I’m hoping this will help you identify sin and temptation, and rest in God’s infinite grace as you pursue writing as a gift, a vocation, a calling.

So here-goes my first three confessions (and there are more to follow)—

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What Should I Do When I’m Struggling to Read God’s Word?

There are times when I read God’s Word…and the words seem to fall flat. I’m hungry to hear from God, eager to meet him in my Bible—yet nothing jumps off the page or particularly moves my heart.

This can feel like looking at a delicious meal, and wanting to enjoy it, but having no appetite for it.

Identify Your Motives

Such hunger and disappointment reveal two attitudes about the human heart, one we should pursue and be thankful for, and one we should confess and flee from:

First, our hunger and disappointment mean we desire God—this is good! We want to hear from him, because we love him and want to obey him. We desire to know the God who speaks and walk closely with him by opening the Scriptures.

But our hunger and disappointment can equally say we expect God to reveal himself on our terms and timing, according to our needs and feelings. If we’re not careful, our time in God’s Word can become less about knowing him and more about checking off a list of spiritual duties to make ourselves feel good.

Usually, our hunger and disappointment are some combination of both. So what can we do? Where do we turn?

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When Satan Demands to Have You

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you…”

Jesus spoke these sobering words to Peter before going to his death. And what a terrifying thought!—to be had by the evil one, to be under his dominion and rule and a prisoner to his deathly purposes. Jesus continued,

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 22:31-34)

Yes, this exchange would’ve been sobering for Peter—how should it impact us? Equally sobering is Satan’s active work to make this a reality for as many people as he can—and especially for Christians. If you’re a believer, what the enemy wants is to fail your faith. He wants to have you: eternally defeated, estranged from God, condemned for eternity—

But Jesus promises he won’t let you go.

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Thoughts from Limboland

We’re moving this weekend. Finally! After closing on our house over a month ago and delaying the move on multiple occasions, the time has come. Right now, I’m looking at the towers of boxes piled throughout our small apartment—and it’s funny because it suddenly doesn’t feel like home anymore. Nor does the new house feel like home—  

It feels like we’re in limboland.

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A Three-Part Formula for Fear

Israel refused to enter the land.

After years of wandering in the wilderness, and after freedom from slavery in Egypt, God’s people should’ve been thrilled to draw ever nearer to the land flowing with milk and honey, the land God had promised them. Finally to be home! Finally to be settled.

Instead, they were afraid. Between them and the promised land stood the Amorites, an enemy God commanded them to defeat, and promised they would defeat, with his help. The Israelites couldn’t see a vibrant, good land for their possession, but only the obstacles. Nor would they take God’s words to heart: “Do not fear or be dismayed.” I will be with you.

In looking at Deuteronomy 1, where Moses recounts the story to his people, we see a three-part formula for fear that’s most likely at the root of our fears today.

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