Thoughts on Choices

Choices are hard!

There’s nothing which makes them easier. We stress out over the choice, the results, what other will think. (So often, though, when we finally make a decision we feel free, our stress melts away.) We pray over the choice, we pray over the results, we look left and lean right, we look right and lean left. Our stress stems from chaotic unknowns, from feeling as though we are out of control.

But the problem in our lack of control is something which goes unnoticed in our daily lives until circumstances rub our noses in it. The fact is we are not in control, God is in control. We worry so much about time, about decisions, about control yet our illusion of control once released will free us to see God’s will in our lives. This is not an easy principal.

To move my point home, I want to bring a verse to your mind. This verse comes from the book of wisdom in the Bible: Proverbs. “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9. This verse gives me my whole view point on how our lives work. We make plans, we decide to do things, and the Lord works through what happens in our lives to accomplish His will. So, what does this mean to us about our choices? Does it mean they’re worthless, or does it mean they make no difference in the end?

I would make the argument of our choices still being important. Our choices shape who we are, allow us to grow, turn us into the people we are today, and effect who we ill be tomorrow. God above all things wants a relationship with us. This means allowing us to grow and become fully mature beings. So, what about making choices? That’s where this whole thing started. Everything I’ve written doesn’t make it easier to choose between one option and another.

We pray over our choices. We pray for wisdom. Ask our pastors, elders, and counselors for insight. Even then, we still struggle to choose. I want to inject some peace into your life. (This is not my insight and I don’t have considered myself to have mastered it, yet.) If we ask God for something is He not faithful to give us an answer? We act as if He doesn’t. We ask for wisdom then act like God won’t give it. James, the brother of our Lord Jesus, didn’t agree. He wrote: “But if any of your lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who give to all generously and without reproach, and it will be give to him.” (James 1:5)

If we have this promise from God, about giving us wisdom in His word can we not trust it? If God says He will give us wisdom then He will. Choices, then, become easier: Pray for wisdom, make a choice knowing God is faithful. That’s it! If you’re feeling stressed remind yourself God is in control.

These are my two verses on making choices. God takes care of us and ultimately works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). Remember this and calm your stressed life down. Find wisdom in your life, from counselors – may they be elders, pastors, parents, or others – but also ask God for it.

Good Luck!


Note: I wrote a personal thought on choices back in 2016 on my personal blog and planned at the time to write one for Believe Better Ministries. I did not accomplish this at the time and 2017 slipped away without the thought having been written. I apologize for all who were waiting for this since I posted I was going to write it. I pray this brings you some peace in making choices.

New Year’s Thought – 2018

Well, this year went by in a blaze of speed I had not yet felt. I can’t believe it is now 2018. I’ve been through a lot this year for it to be over so soon. I’ve finished some projects and had to reevaluate others. I’ve missed out on some goals while pursuing others. I didn’t quite complete my goal of getting the commentaries on 1 – 3 John finished in order to get them to print, but I see a bright future in 2018 for the Believe Something Better Bible Commentary Series. I also feel excited for the possibility of a newsletter for Believe Better Ministries. We will see what the Lord permits me to do this year.

My thoughts this time of year are typically very reflective. Christmas is over, things are winding down it is time to sit down and read my journal and see what happened this year. (Most of the time what I really mean is see how I messed up this year.) This year has been different. I am not saying I am different, but the time is different. I still feel reflective, I just haven’t had the time to sit down and read my journal or really put any effort into self-doubt (I will admit I am not suffering from the symptoms of seasonal depression as badly this year.

This has brought to mind a truth which I seem to remember about January 12th and forget again on February 1st. We are not meant to wallow in our past mistakes! We need to forget them and move on. I am not saying we need to ignore them, I’m saying we need to learn from them but then move passed them. There is a verse which is commonly used as a new year’s verse (so you will forgive me for doing it now) and it is appropriate.

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:13-14 ESV

This is not just something I want to remember during the first and last weeks of each year, but rather it is something I want to remember for this whole year. I am going to put it on my book marks, in my notebooks, on a card in my wallet, simply it is going to be everywhere for me this year. I am going to make it my verses of the year.

Maybe we can do it together. Let’s make these two verses the verses of 2018, and let’s treat those around us with the same courtesy. The friend whom you’ve had an argument with and you can’t remember how it started? End it, forget it. The estranged family member? Reach out to them, you make the steps for mending your relationship. How we treat the people in our lives should be a reflection of how we love God (see 1 John), so, treat your loved ones with full unconditional love (agape love).

This is my major goal for 2018: Unconditional, godlike, love through forgetting what lies behind and striving to what lies before. Happy New Year, everyone!

Christmas Thought – 2017

Christmas is here again. My thoughts this year have been on relationships and the application of love in our Christian lives. I’ve been going over the passages of the “Greatest Commandment” in consideration of John’s teaching in 1 John. Writing about 1 John as I am, right now, I’ve been touched by John’s continued use of love. One verse really touched me as I went through 1 John:

“He who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”

(1 John 2:10 BOGV)

This verse impressed on me something I knew already, but had forgotten – or hadn’t gotten in my bones yet (as one of the Elders of the Willamette Bible Chapel says) – along the way. It brings to mind the conversation Jesus had about the “Greatest Commandment”. Jesus said the whole of the Old Testament (the Law and Prophets) depends on the love of God and love of our neighbors. In a clarifying parable we see in loving his neighbor the Samaritan took care of a person in need. At Christmas we are told it is better to give than receive and numerous other aphorisms of taking care of those around us.

What is one of the greatest ways we can take care of our neighbors? Taking care of their needs? Yes, of course, but what is, arguably, everyone’s biggest need? Eternal Salvation? So often, we get so caught up in Christmas we forget what makes it important and it’s not Jesus’ birth. (Muslims even believe in the virgin birth (Qur’an 3:47; 66:12) and yet miss the purpose of the miracle.) The importance of Christmas, and the virgin birth, comes from it being the first sign about Jesus.

We should be using it as a means of pointing our friends, family, and neighbors to Jesus, and His work on the cross. Through this we show love for others and are able to show we remain in the light. Keep this in mind through your celebrations this year. Celebrate Jesus, not just for the miraculous conception and birth, but for Him setting us free from sin and condemnation.

Merry Christmas!

I hope you have a blessed and wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thoughts on Actions – 2017

Well, I’ve been trying over the past several years to write an article for Believe Better Ministries on the subject of Actions. I feel as though I’ve been blocked. I don’t know if I have the words to bring this subject to bare. I’ve prayed over it and still do not feel led to write a full paper on the subject. So, I’m going to give my thoughts and leave it at that. (Quick side note: I think the reason I’ve been stopped from writing is due to it being very, very hard not to become legalistic when putting forth this subject. So I pray for a grace filled message.)

My main thought, when I’ve written things down about actions, is we’re not meant to be stagnant, passive followers, sitting in pews. We are meant for so much more! So many believers think the meeting of the Church involves going to a building, sitting in a pew (or chair), singing some songs, listening to a message, drinking a little grape juice and eating a cracker, giving a little money, and then going home. This is NOT the meeting of the Believers! If this was the way our meetings were to be conducted in this day and age why do I even need to go? Can I not accomplish all of this from my sofa? My couch is way more comfortable to sit in than any pew (or for that matter any chair) I’ve ever sat in in any Church Meeting Hall, I can easily buy grape juice (or wine if I wanted) and crackers, I can listen to KLove or some other Christian music network (heck I could pull it up on Pandora if I wanted), I can watch any of a number of different speakers on TV or listen on radio for a message, I can give money over the phone or straight through the internet, and in the end I’ve accomplished about the same thing.

Are either of these a true form of a meeting of the Church? No! Again, I say no! We are called to service. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus, gave us an example (John 13:12-17). Jesus was among us as a servant and said the greatest in His Church (the believers) would be the one who served (Luke 22:24-27). We are to be ready to act! I like how the ESV translates the first half of Luke 12:35: “Stay dressed for action”! We are to be ready. The type of readiness is the same as a soldier.

The literal translation of the phrase is “gird up your loins”. This girding of the loins was what a soldier would do before putting on his chest plate. He would take a strip of tough cloth and tightly wrap it around his waist preparing himself for action, for combat. This is what the Lord Jesus was saying. Let alone His brother, James, who gave us “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26b) Why? Does this mean we need to follow the legalist? No! It simply means this: You can see the fruit!

As those who follow Christ, we have invited God into our hearts and He is faithful and indwells us. So, since we have the Holy Spirit living in us – conforming us to the image of the Son (see Romans 8), helping us to put off the old self and to put on the new self (see Colossians) – there should be fruit. Now, here is where this topic gets sticky and this is where my words fail me. I would never tell you to judge someone else, lest we forget what the Lord Jesus said about removing the log from our own eye before removing the speck from our brother’s eye.

I am not saying we need to apply these principles to others. I am saying we need to do these ourselves and let the Lord deal with everyone else. Remember this Christian life is all about a relationship with the Almighty. He teaches His children what they need when they need it. You may not see fruit in someone else’s life, but you also don’t know about the rocks their roots have been fighting with.

I think I should leave it at that. We need to be more active in our faith. The things we say we need to do. Having said this I also want to remind you, take this to heart for yourself, don’t push it on others or judge others for what you don’t really know. The lord is working in their lives just as He is in yours and in mine.

Easter Thought – 2017

Well, here, we are in 2017 and standing again before the Lord in worship of His sacrifice for us on the cross. As far as holidays go, Easter really is my favorite. I’m brought to my knees, with tears in my eyes, as I think about how worthless my righteousness is, and yet God thought a relationship with me worth it enough to pay the price to have that relationship. Relationships have been the big-ticket item in my thoughts and Bible stud recently. I recently posted a thought here, and gave a short word on it at the Willamette Bible Chapel, where I spoke on Colossians 1:24–27.

Relationships are important! They are really in a lot of ways, the most important thing. We see this even in the law as the Pharisees ask the Lord Jesus what the greatest commandment was. His responses to this question are both completely relational (Matthew 22:34–40; Mark 12:28–34; Luke 10:25–28). Furthermore, the verse which is singular best known verse in the Bible: John 3:16 gives us a relational statement about why Jesus came to the Earth. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV) For God so loved the world!

Christianity, for some reason has almost become more like an achievement or badge to wear rather than what it’s supposed to be. Christianity should be more like the relationship status we post on Facebook:

“RB is in a relationship with the Eternal Creator of All — God”

This is what Christianity should be. This is what Easter celebrates. We are celebrating God bridging the gap for us so we can have a relationship with Him. If God hadn’t done this we would only be able to view God as one mighty lawgiver. Instead, however, we get to enjoy the benefits of a personal relationship with the most powerful Being which exist. A Being whose very word says He is love (1 John 4:8).

This is what I am remembering this Easter.

Hope you all have a happy Easter.

Thoughts on Friendship – 2017

Willamette Bible Chapel just had their annual Men’s Retreat. I attended and was truly blessed. The subject this year was friendship. I really appreciated this subject as relationships are a strong call in my life. I think everyone has a huge call in their lives toward relationships. I personally feel they are the most important thing in our lives. Jesus said the greatest commandments are to “Love the Lord your God” and “Love your neighbor”. This tells us, even from the time of the law, relationships were primary in the heart of God.

Relationships are our primary view and shining forth of God. John states in his first epistle that we cannot say we love God and hate our brother (fellow believer whether man or woman). So, it is our relationships in which we show how much we love God. Through loving our brothers and sisters (fellow believers) and our other neighbors (those who are not believers as well) we show how much we love God. Through this – loving the people around us (believers or not), and loving God – we fulfill the whole law.

One of my other thoughts on relationships, well friendships really, is our intimate friendships affect our views, attitudes, and everyday choices. If I make intimate friends with a non-believer I need to be careful with this friendship so it does not drag me away from God. Rather, I need to shine the light of God into their lives. If I allow it to pull me away from God, I allow, also, my witness for God to be torn down. So, I need to guard my heart from such things. I need to strive toward God and shine His light.

I’m not trying to say we should cut ties with the world, and those who are unsaved. This would not be loving our neighbor as our own selves. Cutting ties with those who are unsaved, also, tears down our witness. For to whom are we witnessing? Ourselves? No, we are witnessing to non-believers! So, it would be terribly inappropriate to cut ties with the unsaved. Did Jesus do this? No, of course not, He was a friend to sinners.

The difference is Christ is God, perfect, omnipotent; able to not let the world tear Him down and destroy His witness. We are impotent and must depend on the LORD for our strength. So, through all our friendships we need to cleave into God. Our intimate friendships should, however, be with believers. This is because our intimate friendships when with other believers, shall build us up in the Lord. Have friendships, evangelize, shine the light of the Lord as a city on a hill! Relationships are one of the greatest ways to evangelize. Be honest, be loving, be Christ to everyone.

New Year’s Thought – 2017

Well 2016 is over… I think it is safe to say it was not necessarily a great year for everyone. My thoughts here have been about my blessing of this year. I committed to a prayer challenge last year and I have come through it. One of the things it taught me was not allowing my relationship with the Lord not be reactive but proactive. What I mean by this is in this prayer challenge it has pushed me to confront issues with the Lord before they come up. I’m not just praying over the problems which have occurred in my life. I’m praying and talking with God over my day to day things and having a good relationship with him.

My thoughts on 2016 is I am just so awed by the blessings the Lord has given me and continues to give me. I am so thankful for the people in my life and how they have helped me grow. I have such a great relationship with my siblings. I’m so blessed by my siblings and how they present the love of God for me.

A lot of people, some pretty famous people, died this year, but you know what, (and this is going to sound callous, but,) it doesn’t really matter, at least not to the most of us. Yes, their families are mourning over them, but for the rest of us their death affects our lives just as the death of the countless thousands dying ever moment. There is only one death which affects our lives and we need to honor. But what’s more it is not just His death which we are honor, it is his resurrection. I bet by now you can guess of whom I am referring: Jesus, our Lord and Savior. He is the only death which matters.

Keep your eyes focused on that and focused on taking care of those around you and maybe we can make 2017 a better year than 2016. This year I will be finishing the latest round of Bible read through and really, I’m rather excited to start from the beginning again.

God bless you all and keep your eyes focused on Him.

Christmas Thought – 2016

Christmas has come upon us again. As people begin the celebration of this season, whether they are celebrating one form or another, many people ask “What’s the reason for the season?” Personally, I don’t celebrate what is traditionally considered “Christmas”, but I typically end up celebrating “Easter” twice a year. To me Christmas is and what it stands for (the birth of Christ) doesn’t have very much meaning.

I do not mean Christ’s birth is meaningless, I only mean His birth only has meaning if He did what the Gospels say He did. This is true across religions even. Muslims believe in the virgin birth, they believe in His miracles, and in fact they ascribe more powers to Jesus then do the Gospels. They do not, however, believe in His death and resurrection, which makes His birth meaningless to them except as a story of mythic proportions. Easter, or the event we celebrate at Easter, is the only thing which brings purpose to Jesus’ birth.

As far as importance goes we also can look at the New Testament for dates. The NT is very clear on the day in which Jesus was crucified, but it doesn’t give the slightest clue as to when He was born (except for it wasn’t winter). This points us to the importance of events. Something else which allows us to see importance is how often are the events repeated across the four Gospels. The traditional Christmas story is only put down in two of the four Gospels, but the death and resurrection is written about in all four Gospels. (By this logic Christ’s ministry and the events which took place during His ministry are more important than His birth.)

So as you celebrate Christmas take a moment to reflect on the reason for the season, and note it is not Christ’s birth which makes it so important, but what He did for us which does so. I hope you all have a merry Christmas this year.

Thoughts on the Election

With the election over people on both side are feeling lost, disenfranchised, and even scared. I’ve personally read social media messages by those on both sides of this political season filled with anger hate, and discrimination. Some of these posts were written by friends of mine whom I know Christians. Now before we go any further I am not one of those people who thinks Christians are any better than non-believers. I had this whole argument lined out about redeemed vs. perfected, but I’m going to skip it. Suffice it to say Paul (who wrote almost half of the New Testament) called himself the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and said “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19 ESV). So, yes, all Christians are sinners.

But as I was praying the last night (the 8th) before I went to bed and before I knew the outcome of the election. I prayed a specific prayer:

“Lord Jesus, my sovereign Master and King, as the people of my country choose their next leader, I lift up to You the decision. You are king of all and in control, Lord, lead the decision. But, also, help us to know You are in control over this situation. With a political season which has been so divisive in not just our country, but in Your body, help us to come together unified in love and our common faith. Lord Jesus, You are our head, You are our Savior. Help us to turn our eyes away from petty man-made doctrines and institutions and turn our faces back to You.

I love You, Lord!

—Amen.”

We need to be healing the wounds! We need to be coming together unifying. Christians are not called to do what they are doing. We are called to live quiet lives (1Thes 4:11; 1Tim 2:2), be subject to all authorities and human institutions – including paying taxes (1Pet 2:13-17; Rom 13:1-7; Titus 3:1;), and pray for our leaders (1Tim 2:1-2). These things leave no room for us to be making snide remarks or posting angry things on social media. Christians should be those who are gracious enough to be empathetic, for we have a God who knows what we feel, who shared humanity and gives us grace freely.

Finally I will close with my prayer today when I found out the results the election:

Lord Jesus, my Master and my God, with Trump becoming president lead us and how we should go. Lord God, You are the one who really is in control, You direct the steps of all mankind. I will put my trust in you, not in the institutions of this world.

Jesus, You You are my King!

I love You, Lord!

—Amen.”

Pray for his leading in your life, but more than that, go be a sibling, parent, cousin, aunt/uncle, husband/wife, or just a friend, love someone and help them when they need it.

Thoughts on Making Choices

I wrote an blog post for my personal blog about making decisions. As I read it more and more I have come to realize it is on a subject on which I was planning on writing a Thought. So you can go read the post on decision making and get a look at some of the ideas I am working into a Thought for the future. I hope you enjoy it.