Like Learning to Ride a Bike

Hebrews 12:11 

11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 


I have been thinking of the time when Canon, our son, learned to ride a bike, and this verse reminds me of this moment all the more.  Moving from training wheels to without, was a process that he was determined to do himself.  He decided, one day, that it was time.  As my wife or I went to help him he would push us away and say “NO.”  He was, again, determined to do it himself.  We’d both learned with our parents holding the back of the seat, walking alongside us until it was safe to let go.  We’d taught our oldest the same way.  Yet Canon wasn’t having it.  He’d get up and soon fall down, sometimes hard, and then scream, cry, yell and try again.  We’d try to help and encourage him, but he was ( a third time) determined to do it himself.   


Within about an hour, maybe two, he was riding.  Within a day he was zooming past us, speeding down our street.  Within a week he was racing; within 2-3 weeks he was riding, confidently, hands free.  “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace.”  Canon was determined to get it, and was soon flying down our street.  He learned something new every time he fell down and got hurt, got angry and yelled.  He’d learn the things that didn’t work and those that did in order to achieve his goal of riding a bike and applying what he learned each time. His determination to reach his goal made the discipline of falling, while he learned to balance himself, … worth it to him.  Falling was a momentary consequence for this unlearned skill, but only until it was learned.   


I’ve been discussing the importance of spiritual disciplines, but I must remind us of our goal.  The disciplines are not the goal, becoming like Jesus and less like our old selves is.  It’s a new skill that is learned over time by trial and error that often isn’t pleasant at the time, but “produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”  I don’t mention this story about Canon, because help is wrong.  Mentoring is imperative in the discipleship process.  I mention it because the determination was right.  It was having a goal, and that goal motivated determination in the process to see it to completion.  To not quit.  To quote Dallas Willard, “God isn’t opposed to effort, He is opposed to earning.”  So, give your best effort as worship.  We aren’t earning God’s affection in our effort, we are thanking Him for His affection over us.  


Spiritual disciplines are the method.  The way to develop ourselves in the way of Jesus as we worship Jesus. They are not the “thing,” Jesus is.  John 15 says that He is the vine and we are the branches… with this being the case, spiritual disciplines are the trellis by which that vine grows within us to produce a harvest of righteousness and peace.  Let the hope of eternal glory motivate us until the end.  Stick with it, we’re going somewhere.  We’re going to Him, …to be with Him and to be like Him.   



Love You, Trust Him- 





Hands and Feet


Transition of Power

Isaiah 6:1 

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 



2 Chronicles 26 reveals that “in the year that King Uzziah died,” Uzziah wasn’t king.  He’d grown arrogant, and in his pride incurred God’s resistance.  Yet, Isaiah mourned in the Temple for Uzziah his disgraced and fallen king just the same.  Why?  Because, Isaiah was Uzziah’s scribe thus an important member of Uzziah’s cabinet.  While mourning his dead king and his own fallen status, Isaiah was confronted by the Lord.  And,… in the presence of the Lord,  Isaiah repented, and in doing so he immediately buckled humbly exclaiming “woe is me, I am undone.”  Meaning, “forgive me, I have sinned.”  Isaiah realized that his worship of Uzziah was truly just idolatrous worship of himself.  In contrition, he realizes that he liked what being closely related to Uzziah meant about himself.  He liked the fame it gave him personally.  Have we considered how much we crave the status that comes when are identified with certain ideals, places or people?  Have we considered how much our desire to be identified with them may actually stand in the way of our being identified with Jesus, our Lord? 


His repentance reads like this in Isaiah 6:5-7 he says,  


“5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips,  and I live among a people of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” 

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”   


This isn’t necessarily literal, but an illustration of how God cleanses us from sin and removes from our lives the idols leading to condemnation (for those who don’t know Him) or correction (for those that do).  It can be painful, but beautiful and freeing.  In gratitude, Isaiah allowed the Lord to remove from his life the title “the king’s scribe,” as he removed fleshly and sinful leanings, to enlist him in the Lord’s Kingdom as a prophet.  It is incredibly hard to fight the temptation to deny the craving for a platform.   But, when we realize our acceptance in the Lord, much like Isaiah did, those cravings begin to pale due to the goodness of the Lord.     


The truly important question is this.  Who has He made you to be?  The real you?!  The one He dreamt of before you were tainted with sin and selfish pursuits?  For Isaiah, it was “prophet of the Lord,” instead of “scribe to the king.”  But, he only found that true as he pressed into time with the Lord Himself.  He had to consciously push away from people and their praise, in order to hear Jesus accurately, and … we do too.  This only came for Isaiah by a transition of power within his own heart, and it only comes to us by that same transition.   


My eyes have seen the True King, … the Lord Jesus… and I am His. 


Burning House


What (or Who) Are You Thinking About?

What (or Who)  Are You Thinking About?

Phil. 4:8 

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 


Let’s consider how our thoughts motivate our actions for a moment.  We expend a lot of mental energy in our day to day. The question I have for us this morning is, “what are we spending all that mental energy thinking about?” Someone said once that, “love” should actually be spelled T.I.M.E., because whatever you spend your time on is what you love.  Whatever has your time, also has the priority of your attention and of your affection.”  I think that’s true.   


Paul here, tells us to put our minds on what is true.  Notice, however, he is listing more than highly moral traits.  In Philippians 4, Paul reminds us that truth is a person (according to Jesus’ own words in John 14:6).  Paul implores us to primarily expend energy thinking upon the person of Jesus.  He alone is that which is “excellent and praiseworthy,” and encompasses every single attribute listed here in this epistle.  For Jesus, these are more than just a list of His attributes, they are His very nature, and thus He is the very genesis of where these attributes derive from.  Paul affirms us here in Philippians,  to think on Jesus is to be our first priority.  


So, the question is natural: What (or Who, rather) do you spend your time thinking about?  Is it, in fact, Jesus? Is there anyone or anything, in your life, that rivals Jesus?  Are you fixated on the truth that there is no condemnation for you if you are in Christ Jesus?  You are fully free, fully forgiven, and fully pardoned (for anyone who has trusted in Christ for salvation). This is what Christ accomplished on your behalf because this is Who Jesus is.  He loved you this much; that He’d take your place.  Paul instructs His reader to meditate on this reality.   


So, let’s try it.  How does meditating on Jesus’ loving sacrifice of Himself motivate you today?  He died so that you wouldn’t have to.  He rose so that you could have life.  He loved the least among us to show the world that everyone in our world is worthy of love and has intrinsic value.   


Does Jesus’ love for you, spur you on to sacrifice for someone else?  Does His uplifting love motivate you to also lift the downtrodden and heavy-hearted among you?  Does His love lead you to notice people on the margins, and lead you to kindness, possibly treating them with a deeper sense of dignity than you did before?   


Church this is our challenge this morning:  

Let’s think about Jesus today.  

 And then, let’s love like Jesus today. 



Grateful for Every Moment

Are we living grateful for every moment? That’s a question we all need to ask ourselves.


Love Deeply

1 Peter 4:8
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. 
Our author, Simon Peter, was a fisherman. He was also regarded as wildly imperfect, uneducated, and overzealous. It’s true. He was know to stick his foot in his mouth and had a reputation as someone lacking in self-control. And yet, Simon Peter was still called as a disciple of Jesus. In fact, he became the leader to Jesus’ disciples. He walked closely with Jesus, promised to always defend Jesus, and then just before Jesus’ death, denied ever even knowing Jesus. This man was a mess…hence my inspiration.  His denial of Jesus isn’t the end of Peter’s story, it is, rather a true beginning.   


What gave Peter the conviction to write such words as above was the restoration and commissioning of Peter in John 21 (read it for yourself).  For every time Peter denied Jesus, Jesus reinstated Peter with a directive of love, to tend and to teach other followers about Jesus and His love.  He didn’t cast him out. Jesus called him closer and entrusted people to his care.  He anointed him with authority to lead them in the way of Jesus.  Simon Peter had been wildly unpredictable, and yet in Jesus, the Apostle Peter became wildly successful and may have been more fit to lead others in Jesus’ way than anyone else.   


He’s remembered for his denial of Jesus at the crucifixion and should be.  It was bad… really bad.  Still, this didn’t discount him or deny him the destiny God had for him.  So, with genuine conviction and emotion on the matter, Peter writes “love covers a multitude of sins.”  He had denied Jesus, yet Jesus still loved and chose to use him anyway. There was truly no offense that anyone could do to Peter that would exceed what he’d already done to Christ himself.  So, no one was beyond love or forgiveness for him.  This is a good word for us today.   


I’d just like to encourage all those this morning that are hurting or feel taken advantage of. You may be in search of justice; seeking to be fought for. You may be holding grudges, keeping score, or seeking vengeance.  Let it go.  How much more violently have you dismissed and sinned against Jesus, yet He loves and chooses to use you anyway.  He used Peter, and He will continue to use you, if you will only let Him.  


Love covers a multitude of sins. Let Him love you this morning. And then, love others today. 



Covenant Partnership


Out of Season

There I sat, sweating through my shirt, wondering how I’d ever cut a 40 minute sermon to just 15. After this final song, I was to step on stage and teach. Not to a crowd, but to a camera. Due to COVID-19, the call to suspend public gatherings had just been made a day before. I had spent weeks preparing the sermon to be delivered live to a packed house. Our people were being asked to stream the service from their living rooms. I had received texts and calls from parishioners the night before, anxious about not getting to meet as a church, Reeling in loneliness, they too needed a crowd, as much as I needed them. Was this really the church? Well, it was, it was our option, in that moment. It was revealing; I think we all felt exposed, I know that I did. Had we really made any disciples that could sustain through a time such as this? was the message truly embedded? Was the love we preach that we have…real? How did we get here? …and, how did we get here so fast?! All of this ran through my mind, revealing one fundamental question… What do we do now?
Schools were closed, businesses shut. Sporting events were cancelled, concerts/local venues cancelled, and yes…church…was cancelled. We were all being forced to consider others primarily. More than we had ever been forced to before. Some deemed it “Coronapocolypse.” Anything to this magnitude had only been imagined in the minds of Hollywood producers and End Times fanatics, yet here we were, without a dress rehearsal. We weren’t witnessing it on a big screen, but playing it out in real time. It was life; a new norm. It was real…it was surreal.
2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the Word, be prepared in season, and out of season…” Well, this was out of season, but were we truly prepared? What does the church in the West do, when it cannot “DO” any more? How does it function without programs…and production…and people…or at least a considerable crowd? It is forced to “BE.”
Being, at it’s very heart, lacks an entertaining factor. Today, many may mistake it for boredom, but isn’t it funny how the things that seem most simple in life are the things that tend to make us feel most alive? They tend to give us purpose and fuel us with meaning. I mean, consider it, the entire world was just forced into an unscheduled Sabbatical, leaving most people with the quest for something to do, but maybe…just maybe, church…while unscheduled by us, yet fully ordered by God, we were all asked to just…be, Asked to reconsider. (maybe for the first time) who we really are. What’s really important. And, Who is priority. We all went through it, but have we already forgotten? I hope not. Moments like this bring everything into focus. What we just experienced through this global pandemic was a monumental opportunity to strip everything back to the heart. 
It was a time of reckoning. A time of rediscovering. A time of revival. A time to simply “BE.”
Church, let’s pursue Him this week. Let’s become like Him in that pursuit. And. let’s simply be the people that He designed and intends us to be. Let’s trust Him and worship Him by simply being.


Just Jesus