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Be Strong and Courageous, not Safely on Shore

be strong and courageousBe strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people… Be strong and very courageous… Meditate on [the scriptures] day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:6-9 (NIV excerpt)

Under an umbrella, toes in the sand, watching people, and chatting with a friend describes my ideal beach day. Getting wet leaves a sticky, yet itchy, dried salt water residue. While jumping over waves looks fun, it isn’t worth the discomfort.

On this day a storm brewing offshore creates an angry ocean and massive waves. My brother exuberantly rides wave after wave, calling me to join him. I debate internally. Waves slam swimmers to the bottom, but body surfing looks like a blast. Salt water is sticky, but these waves are once-in-a-lifetime.

Safely on shore, I nearly missed a fabulously fun frolic.

We stay safe when it comes to spiritual conversations too, even among our church friends and family. We compare our busy schedules instead of comparing sermon insights. We repost cat gifs but don’t repost scriptural memes. Expressing a personal opinion requires vulnerability. We fear rejection and confrontation.

We’re missing moments for meaning relationships.

God says “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” (Isa 41:10) Immersing ourselves in His Word and following His way, let’s courageously dare to dip our toes into respectful conversations about faith, trust, doubt, and hope. We’ll discover a new depth of intimacy within our existing relationships that we don’t want to miss. Be strong and courageous!

Do you have a friendship you dare to take deeper?

I’ve also written about
Missing a chance to talk about my faith
My desire to share my passion for God

#SeedsofScripture #deeperfriendships #donotbeafraid

The Upside Down Kingdom of God

God's Upside Down Kingdom“The time has come,” [Jesus] said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Mark 1:15

According to Mark, Jesus begins His ministry by proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom. He’s not just talking about eternity. Jesus is alive and about to flip the world upside down.

God’s kingdom is life on earth with Jesus as King. (tweet this)

Jesus upsets the entire structure of society, the “Empire” all around us. Craig Greenfield, author of Subversive Jesus, writes:

Where Empire comes on a white military horse wielding weapons of shock and awe, the Upside-Down Kingdom comes on a donkey’s back and says love your enemy, even if he crucifies you.

Where Empire consolidates power and says my way or the highway, the Upside-Down Kingdom kneels with a towel and washes feet, saying I come to serve.

Where Empire honors the influential and celebrates the celebrity, the Upside-Down Kingdom welcomes little children and gives food to the hungry.

Where Empire is about power and status and tax breaks for the rich, the Upside-Down Kingdom is comprised of a handful of unemployed fishermen, rejected bureaucrats, a prostitute, and some failed revolutionaries.

Where Empire is a rat race to the top, the Upside-Down Kingdom says the last should be first, losers are winners, and the most important among us will do the dishes.

In this Kingdom, our King lays down His life even for those who hate and reject Him. It’s a place of radical enemy love in the midst of a world of violence.

This Kingdom might be Good News to the poor but uncomfortable for those who want to maintain the status quo.
(tweet this)

How can followers of Jesus bring the Kingdom to our circle of influence?
What must we do to shift from Empire building to Kingdom building?

I’ve written on Jesus’ upside-down ways before:
Deeper friendships with upside-down thinking
The upside-down Kingdom is not easy, but it is better

#SeedsofScripture #KingdomofGod #GoodNews

What is the Season of Lent About?

40 Days of LentThe following are links to posts I’ve written about Lent to help us understand this season before Easter.

Why do we eat pancakes on Tuesday?

What is Ash Wednesday?

What do ashes represent?

Why is Lent 40 Days long?

Feel free to share this post to help others better understand our faith.
#SeedsofScripture #lent #40days #repentance

Accidentally Planning to Do Evil

small sins are sinsThose who plan evil go down the wrong path. But those who plan good find love and truth.
Proverbs 14:22 (NIRV)

I don’t often plan to do evil, but sometimes I slip into it.

Like when the small internal voice says “They won’t notice if you take just a little.” as I splash milk into my coffee from someone’s pint in the shared fridge. Checking that no one’s looking proves I’m aware of my offense. I taste a hint of guilt in my first sip but by the second sip I’m in the clear. It’s not a big deal. I needed it.

Is this stealing? You might say no, but my conscience says yes. By definition, taking another person’s property without permission is stealing.

Did I plan to steal? Of course not! Then again, my quick check for witnesses betrays my plan to be quick and just take a little (of what wasn’t mine). So yes, I planned it. My stealing was not accidental.

Is this evil? Not really, but thieves start with CVS candy, not the Bank of America. My quick splash was an offense against a fellow student. It was wrong. Unchecked, it could lead to regularly assuming someone will have milk. After all, isn’t a pint stored in the shared fridge available for use?

Suddenly I’m just using milk, not someone’s personal property. It doesn’t feel like an offense and yet I am planning to do wrong. We might not call this evil, but in God’s eyes wrong is wrong. We all fall short.

Fortunately, the proverb follows the warning with the goal: Plan good to find love and truth. Plan good, my friends, plan good.

Does your small internal voice warn you to stop?
When have you ignored the voice and done something you knew was wrong?

explore these other posts:
One Time I Resisted Temptation 
What is Sin?
The Good New of Grace and Forgiveness


#SeedsofScripture #proverbs #whatissin

Get Your Ticket to Heaven

God Gave His Son John 3:16 Here is what love is. It is not that we loved God. It is that He loved us and sent His Son to give His life to pay for our sins.
1 John 4:10 (NIRV)

I used to think my mistakes were too big, too many, and too deliberate for God to forgive. My shame told me God couldn’t love be because I’d turned my back on Him.

But I wanted God in my life so I tried to make up for my past by getting involved in church, attending regularly, taking Bible study. I tried to earn His love by following Jesus’ teaching. But I could never be sure I’d done enough to compensate for my mistakes. Did He love me yet? Am I in? Had I earned my ticket to heaven?

That’s where I stumbled. It’s never enough. Ever since Adam and Eve rebelled against God, we too have been trying to do things our own way instead of God’s way. As much as we try, we can’t ever do enough to get right with God. The crazy thing is that we’re already right with God because Jesus made us right by His death on the cross.  All we have to do is believe it and claim God’s love. The ticket to heaven is free. Even so, letting go of my shame and accepting God’s view of me took time.

I love God because He loved me first. He accepted me in spite of myself. (tweet this)

The ‘stumbling block’ is that we receive God’s love by faith. We can’t earn His love by good deeds. Following Jesus doesn’t make us right with God. Until we stop focusing on our own efforts to please God we miss the point. We’re only right with God by believing that Jesus died on the cross in order to remove our sins. We follow Jesus in response to His love for us.

If you have time, explore these related posts:
Demonstrating Salvation with Good Works
Exchange Guilt for Grace 
When I Loved Jesus for the Benefits

I’ve added links to supporting scripture. Click on the colored text to dig deeper.

Patience is a Virtue in Christian Life

early Christians valued patienceIn everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us imposters.
2 Corinthians 6:4,6,8 (NLT)

I used to drive aggressively, swerving around cars cautiously turning right, using the shoulder to pass cars turning left, groaning when drivers slowed for yellow lights. Although I never honked my horn, my thoughts blared.


In an attempt to live my faith, I began showing kindness, inviting cars to go ahead, waiting for turning cars, and pulling over to let tailgaters speed along their way.

Amazingly, I still get where I’m going and I feel calm.

When the church was just starting, patience set Christians apart from others in society. Patience meant waiting well, but also encompassed endurance, non-violence, and trust. They didn’t pounce on debtors who paid late and sometimes forgave loans. When insulted, they didn’t retaliate but responded with kindness. They loved their enemies and wore their oppressors out with patience. Impatience showed a lack of faith.

We are patient because God is patient. (tweet this)

He does not compel belief, but patiently hopes to draw us close. Jesus epitomized patience. He kept a low profile, shouldered criticism and challenges to his authority, forced no one, ate with anyone, and rejected violence. His accusers mocked and spat on Him, but He did not call down angels in defense.

Patience is grounded in trust, a certainty that God will make everything right. We need not retaliate. God will judge. We need not worry. God will provide. We need not argue with critics. God will illuminate the truth. We can wait and trust God’s timing.

Would you be attracted to such a community?
How can we stand apart from the mainstream by exhibiting more patience?

#SeedsofScripture #patience #trustGod #Godstiming

The God of the Old Testament and the God of the New

Angry Old Testament GodBut because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV)

Have you ever wondered how the Old Testament God could be the same as the New Testament God? You’re not alone. (tweet this)

The Old Testament God seems so angry, yet Jesus teaches us to love our neighbor and our enemy. If God loves people, why is the Old Testament so violent? It’s disturbing and confusing and I don’t have an answer. But I will plant a few Seeds.

We probably all agree that love is one of God’s fundamental characteristics. God is also unchanging. Even when we don’t understand (or agree with) His ways, God is always holy, loving, just and merciful.

It’s a love story. God wants to live with us in relationship. In the Garden of Eden God walks and talks with Adam and Eve. In the wilderness God dwells with the Israelites in the tabernacle, and then the Temple. God wants us close to Him.

So why is God angry?

His holiness repels sin. His perfect justice demands punishment. God floods the world because men’s intentions were always evil. He destroys Sodom because of its sin. Yet God shows mercy by saving Noah and Lot’s families. King David recognizes God’s mercy; he does not receive the punishment he deserves.

Combining God’s love with His justice creates a problem. He deeply loves us, but we are sinful. As hard as we try, we cannot avoid unloving thoughts and self-centered behaviors.

Only God can resolve this grave discrepancy. In His love and mercy, God provided a way for us to reside in His presence in spite of our sinful nature. Jesus. We survive God’s justice because Jesus suffered our punishment.

These few words scatter full Seed packets. Instead of sprinkling Bible references throughout, the colored phrases link to scriptural claims. Click to dig deep and plant!

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment or email me.

Read these helpful posts:

The one who set the standard also did the saving.
What is sin?
What is grace?

#SeedsofScripture #salvation #HisMercy #loveofGod

Life is Fragile

Life is FragileBut our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.
Philippians 3:20-21 (NIV)

We remember life’s fragility when someone dies tragically.

Human life is beautiful and fragile. Eventually, we all die and death does not always wait until our lives feel complete. A long life is not guaranteed. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

I don’t want to die anytime soon. I love my life, this place, and my people. I grieve the thought of leaving loved ones. Departing with meaningful goodbyes might help, but that opportunity is not guaranteed.

Yet as significant as this life appears, it’s merely a brief stop.

We are foreigners on earth, just passing through. Heaven is our real home. Our lifelong efforts to spread God’s kingdom on earth are crucial, but in view of eternity we are like grass or flowers, briefly beautiful and quickly gone (1 Peter 1:24).

Heaven, however, is magnificently superior. The Bible describes a place of healing, peace, joy, and beauty. We anticipate reuniting with loved ones. But we sometimes forget the best part: God will dwell with us (Rev 21:3)!

Heaven is heaven because of God’s presence. (tweet this)

But God’s presence presents a problem. God is holy and nothing imperfect can live in His presence. So Jesus shed His blood in order to remove the sins of those who believe His blood has this power. The blood of the Lamb permits entry to heaven.

Do you believe Jesus’ blood has the power to forgiven sin?
I believe. I am a sinner in need of Jesus.
This concept can be difficult to grasp. If you’d like to know more, please email me ([email protected]) or explore these other posts:

Is Jesus the only way to heaven?
Will all self-proclaimed Christians go to heaven?
The Bible Project explains heaven and earth

#SeedsofScripture #heaven #GodsPresence #LambofGod #salvation #Godwithus

Why is David a Man after God’s Own Heart?

man after God's own heartDavid was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”
2 Sam 24:10 (NIV)

What makes David a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14)?

We remember that David slept with Bathsheba, another man’s wife, and had her husband killed when his plan to hide her pregnancy failed. How could God bless this deceiving adulterer turned murderer?

Our judicial system would put David in jail. Israel’s law required death for both adultery and murder. David committed major crimes on top of sins that seem less offensive, yet God selects him as a model follower.

Prior to today’s verses, David admired his own accomplishments and bolstered his sense of security by counting the size of his army. This violated God’s instructions (Deut 17:16) to trust Him alone. It also insulted the One who had protected Israel and delivered victories over many enemies.

Why does God honor a man who can’t trust Him? Reread today’s scripture and notice David’s response.

God loves David’s heart because when David sins big, he repents big. (tweet this)

David grieves over his disobedience. He doesn’t dismiss the command as applying only to Moses’ generation. He blames no one but himself, calling his lack of trust a great sin. David humbles himself before God and repents. In a servant’s posture, he begs for God’s forgiveness, knowing he deserves punishment.

God loves David’s heart. David makes mistakes like all of us. But because he accepts responsibility and shows remorse, he is a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). We can learn from David:

  • Accept God’s faultless instructions
  • Identify and own our disobedience
  • Repent with humility and receive forgiveness

We all sin. With hearts like David, let’s spend some time repenting before God. Will you join me?

You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
Psalm 51:17 (NLT)

Learn more about the meaning of repentance in these posts:
What does repentance mean?
It’s not about being sorry

#SeedsofScripture #repentance #humility #takeresponsibility #character

Marriage Prepares Us for God’s Love

Bride of ChristFor this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24 (NIV)

This familiar marriage scripture has double purpose: first to define marriage, then to describe God’s love for us, the bride of Christ.

The marriage piece begins in the Biblical creation story when God creates the woman by removing a rib from Adam’s side.  Adam declares her bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh (Gen 2:23). God establishes this model:

  1. When two people marry they prioritize their relationship over other family bonds.
  2. They become one flesh as if they were made of one flesh like Adam and Eve.

In this personally intimate, intensely connected relationship the couple shares the joy of exclusive love. Our imperfect marriages pale in comparison with God’s perfection, but our experience of this deeply personal relationship helps us grasp the intensity of God’s personal love.

Using this scripture, the Apostle Paul (Eph 5:28-32) says the marriage relationship describes Christ’s love for the church. Jesus loves us as a husband loves his wife. We, as individuals and as a church, are members of His body, like Adam and Eve are one flesh. Christ left the Father to live on earth with us. He describes himself as the bridegroom (Lk 5) and He will come again for His bride (Rev 19:7).

Our response to this personal relationship is to love Him with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind because He demands exclusive ‘marital’ devotion. Adultery in our marriage to Jesus equals idolatry.

Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (Ex 34:14)

What is our response to Jesus’ love?
How might we be ‘cheating’ on Him?
How does this comparison to intimate, exclusive marital love impact you?

#SeedsofScripture #church #thechurchishisbride #noothergods #idolatry

Spend a few minutes to plant a quick Seed. Or stay longer and plant a whole garden.

Each post is a brief scriptural thought that will grow as you let it take root in your thoughts.  If you have time, dig into one area of interest and plant a whole garden.
Each post is a brief scriptural thought that will grow as you let it take root in your thoughts. If you have time, dig into one area of interest and plant a whole garden.

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