Sunday, November 29, 2009


“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

Do you remember when you were learning to drive? It was a long time ago for me but I still remember. Our car had a round hood ornament on it and it looked like the crosshairs in the scope of a rifle. I thought it was pretty smart of the manufacturer to put a sight in the middle of the hood of our car! That way I could just line up the sight with the right line of the lane and I would be sure to keep the car going straight. I couldn’t figure out why the big old Buick kept drifting to the right side of the lane and then to the left! My dad kept telling me to look up, to get the big picture. He told me to keep my eyes up and always moving back and forth from one mirror to the next. I thought, “How am I supposed to do that and still keep the car in the middle of the lane? That’s not safe!” But after I was driving for awhile I realized that the thing that wasn’t safe was having tunnel vision and using my scope to focus on the road immediately in front of me! The only way I would really be safe was if I lifted my eyes up and got the big picture of everything around me!

Children of God should not be surprised when they encounter trouble and hardship in life because we recall the suffering that Jesus experienced and he was the only begotten Son of God! But Paul wants to encourage us so that we will remain faithful to God through all the trouble and hardship we encounter. Tests and trials are difficult for us. They cause us pain and we don’t want pain. We lose our jobs and have a hard time finding another job. We suffer severe physical problems or someone very close to us does. A loved one dies. A child causes us deep heartache or a parent hurts or abuses us. A spouse leaves. These troubles cause deep pain and grief. We take our eyes off of God and begin to see only our trouble. We begin to slip away from God. As we slip away from God we begin to think our own way and we begin to have feelings about why God is letting us hurt so much. Sometimes we start looking around trying to find ways to make ourselves safe, to make ourselves feel better, and we slip farther from God.

Paul doesn’t pretend that everything is going to be peaches and cream for Christians. It’s not. Not only does the Bible say that the Christian life will be full of trouble but the history of Christianity is full of accounts of the persecution and suffering of some of the greatest of God’s people. One simple example will do. Jesus said that John the Baptist was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. He lived his life dressed in animal skins and he ate insects and wild honey. What happened to him? He got his head cut off simply because he told the truth. He didn’t get the big bank account and losing one’s head is far from healthy!

Paul knows that we are going to face big trouble in our lives and he doesn’t want us to be surprised by it. He doesn’t want us to think God has turned his back on us. He doesn’t want us to lose our footing and fall away from God. Paul encourages us so we will stand firm and even grow through our troubles.

So there is going to be suffering for us. There is no question about that. The suffering we experience will seem really harsh and difficult. Paul’s word of advice is that we need to get a bigger picture. Remember the lesson I had to learn when I first started driving? We need to step back and look at our suffering as it compares to the glory that awaits us in heaven. Instead of taking our eyes off of God and focusing on our hardships we need to keep our eyes fixed on the bigger thing. We need to focus on the big picture; on God and his glory. This is the hope that will help us stand firm in the midst of our troubles!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


John 3:30
He must become greater; I must become less. (NIV)

He must increase, but I must decrease. (NASB)

I’ve not posted anything for quite awhile. I’ve had some mental blocks as far as writing is concerned. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking. John 3:30 appeared in my last post and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. I keep thinking of ways in which Christ must increase in my life while I decrease. Here is a brief list of all the things that have passed through my scattered brain.

His glory must increase in my life while my pride must decrease. No matter how much I try to put Christ and others before myself in the way I live, I still find an incredible amount of myself in everything I do.

His fame must increase while my name must decrease. That is the unofficial motto of New Hope Church; To Make Jesus’ Name Famous in Our Communities. Why does it seem to be so important that people know who I am or give me credit for what I have done? Who cares who gets the credit? George Whitefield said the same thing, “Let the name of Whitefield perish…”

His kingdom must increase while my kingdom must decrease. The church is his, not mine.

His gospel must increase while my own message must decrease. All I need to do is preach his gospel. Who cares about my opinions about things?

His praise must increase while praise for me must decrease. Whatever I am able to do is completely dependent on Christ.

His power must increase while my influence must decrease.

His control of my thoughts and desires must increase while my selfish control must decrease.

My interest in knowing him intimately must increase while my interest in all other things must decrease.

My interest in serving him must increase while my self-interest must decrease.

I’m sure you can think of many more illustrations of this principle and I would love to hear what the Lord puts into your heart and mind. Please share your thoughts as well!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. John 3:27

John was ministering at the Jordan River when some of his disciples came to him and reported that Jesus was also baptizing and they said, “Everyone is going to him.” That’s when John responded, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.” John knew he was not the Chosen One and he had always said he wasn’t. He said he came to prepare the way for the Chosen One. Then he said, He must become greater; I must become less (John 3:30).

John knew he would see the crowds around him begin to diminish. He knew his would see his own disciples leave him to follow Jesus. And he rejoiced in this just as the best man rejoices to hear that the bridegroom has arrived. It wouldn’t have mattered if he had tried harder to draw crowds. It wouldn’t have made a difference if he had used some gimmickry to get more people to come to him. He knew the truth, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.” Even if he tries to take more, he will only fail, because God is in control.

How does this relate to a pastor? More specifically, how does this relate to a church planting pastor? Do we believe this statement? Do we accept this truth that we can only receive what God gives us? Should we try all kinds of gimmicks to get more and more people to come to our churches? Should we covet the larger crowds who go to the established churches? Or can we take a stand on this truth? God will give us those whom he chooses to give us and there is nothing we can or should try to do about it?

Pride is a powerful thing. It is fundamental in all people to some degree. I think it is the most diabolical aspect of the fall and the curse. It was pride that caused Satan to be cast out of heaven. It is that same pride that makes us think we know better than God knows. It is that pride that makes us want to have more than God is giving us. We desire bigger crowds. We desire different spiritual gifts. We desire power and influence. We desire all the things that make us feel important. Those desires have to be put to death as we grow in our sanctification so we can honestly say that we only want what God gives us. We need to learn that Christ must increase while we decrease!