Monday, November 23, 2015

What to be Thankful for When You Can't Find Your Ivory Tower

I’ve been thinking of ivory towers lately.

Someplace terrorists won’t target, unborn babies are safe, and recreational marijuana isn’t legal.

Appropriately, this song comes to mind: “This world is not my home.”

But while I’m just a-passin’ through,” it sure would be nice to find an ivory tower to live in.

The Bible tells us very little about heaven—mainly what won’t be there.
                No tears.
                No sighing.
                No night.

And it leaves the rest to our imagination.

Imagine this:“There will be no more curse.” (Revelation 22:3)
                No terror attacks.
                No abortions.
                No drugs.

No more gossip, strife, impatience, unthankfulness.

Sin won’t exist.

While we live here, we will never find an ivory tower, because we can’t escape the problem of sin. Around us. Or in our own hearts.

If we did find an ivory tower, not one of us would fit there.

In Colossians, Paul tells us that out of everything there is to be grateful for, one thing sits at the top of the list.

Our Father has qualified us “to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” (Col. 1:12)

We will fit in a place one day where there will be no more sin.

When you can’t find your ivory tower, be thankful for this.

“Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us
to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.“ (Colossians 1:12)


Photo by Kelly Sikkema (from

Monday, November 16, 2015

How to Find Comfort in the Midst of Change

In this month of thanks, I’m thankful for seasons. I’m thankful that summer turns to autumn, and winter turns to spring. I’m thankful that change happens, and life’s seasons come and go.

More than that, I’m thankful that every season of life is in the hands of a powerful, loving God.

“My times [seasons] are in your hand.” (Psalm 31:15)

People come and go in our lives. Circumstances change. Life’s autumns turn to winter. Springs turn to summer. And life’s interchanges are often a mixture of joy, sighs, smiles, and tears.

But committing our lives into Someone Else’s care, as Jesus did in His dying breath, will keep us standing, walking on straight paths, and running the race set before us.

We can’t stop the changing seasons of life, but we can leave them in the hands of the One who planned them.

“He changes the times and the seasons.” Daniel 2:21

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Luke 23:46

Click here to listen to the final lesson in the series on The Words from the Cross.

Photo courtesy of Tony Morrell

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Two Beams that Build a Bridge

You sit across from each other.

Two hearts tiptoeing around the fragile places you know might crack if bumped into just right.

He. She. This person God placed in front of you needed an ear. Or two. And the tiptoeing heart across from you bumps into its fragile place, and it cracks. From the crack, truth flows.

You now see a chasm between you. One gaping chasm you never thought you’d peer into.

Truth sticks its beam straight out. Reaches out to you. Across to you from that heart that cracked. Reaching across that gaping hole.

And that tiptoeing heart of yours wants to reach right back and meet that truth. To connect with it.

And build a bridge.

Your heart asks what it can extend in return. What beam can you stick straight out across that gaping hole? What will connect to that truth and build a bridge?


Grace meeting truth builds bridges.

One Man was full of grace and truth. He connected with fragile, cracking hearts.

He knew how to build bridges.

He extended truth and grace. He reached out grace to truth. He reached across the gaping holes to tiptoeing hearts and built bridges.

Two beams build a bridge.

The sturdiest kinds are those built with grace and truth.

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory,
the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Casting Deadly Doing Down

A young girl came to Charles Spurgeon one day, distraught because she wasn’t sure she was saved.

She struggled with assurance, concerned there was something she should feel or do.

Spurgeon told her to write the words “I do not believe in Jesus” at the top of a piece of paper.

He then asked her to sign the statement.

Knowing she could never sign a statement like this, this young believer went away rejoicing, never again to wonder if she belonged in the family of God.

She believed Jesus died for her.

He did it all.

By faith, she knew there was nothing to do but rejoice and be awed by His finished work.

A hymn by James Proctor addresses those, like this young girl, who are burdened by doubt.

Nothing, either great or small—
Nothing, sinner, no;
Jesus died and paid it all,
Long, long ago.

“It is finished!” yes, indeed,
Finished, ev’ry jot;
Sinner, this is all you need,
Tell me, is it not?

When He, from His lofty throne,
Stooped to do and die,
Ev’rything was fully done;
Hearken to His cry!

Weary, working, burdened one,
Wherefore toil you so?
Cease your doing; all was done
Long, long ago.

Cast your deadly “doing” down—
Down at Jesus’ feet;
Stand in Him, in Him alone,
Gloriously complete.

Too often we want a feeling. A work to do. A sense that we had a part.

When Jesus said, “It is finished!” He was telling us that “God is satisfied.”

We can rejoice in the satisfaction of the God who could have poured out His wrath on you and me, but poured it out on His Son instead.

We can cast all “deadly doing down.”

It is finished.

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14)

Click here to listen to "It is Finished!" (a lesson in the series on "The Words from the Cross").

Monday, September 21, 2015

Nothing is for Nothing

How sovereign is God? We wrestle with this question when plans fall through and time ticks away and we suffer and we laugh and we say goodbye.

“Nothing is for nothing,” Elisabeth Elliot said.

And she knew about years of waiting and the hard lessons of suffering. She said goodbye before she wanted to and welcomed trial when she would have rather chosen joy.

God doesn’t waste our time. Or our pain.

He takes the random meeting of a stranger or a friend and the hard knocks or the wrong choices and the years of unsuccessful trying, and He patches it all together into something beautiful. More beautiful than we could design.

Because “nothing is for nothing.”

“Christ didn’t leave this world until He showed us His scars—and He won’t ever let you leave this world until you leave your most beautiful mark. To show Him.” –Ann VosKamp

There is no such thing as the too small or the too insignificant.

Or something that happened for nothing.

Yes, time ticks away. But with every tick, we are leaving our mark. And the hidden marks are the most beautiful to Him, when they’re done for Him.

So write that note only your friend will read. Pray longer than you have time for. Be kinder than is expected. Be thankful for more than you thought you had.

Think more about the scars He showed us before He left.

Nothing is for nothing.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." ~ Ecclesiastes 3:11