As you’ve probably heard by now, Michael Brown, an 18-year-old male from St. Louis, was allegedly killed by a Ferguson County Police Officer shortly after noon this past Saturday. I grew up in North County, about 15 minutes away from where the shooting took place, and know all about the dangers of living in that area.

In this article, I’m going to attempt to answer this question: How can we positively respond to the aftermath of the shooting? 

Notice I said “respond.” I didn’t say “react.” Too often, in situations like this, many people simply just react. If we simply just react, we can let feelings and emotions dictate, and end up making poor decisions. But if we think critically, we can respond with the right action that leads to real progress.

Immaturity is making decisions solely on feelings. Maturity is making decisions based off what’s right and wrong. And as I examined the articles and read the Facebook statueses and witnessed the riots on TV, many people are using feelings to determine their actions, slowing down the progress we need, and ironically worsening the matter.

For example, think about the hundreds of people who showed up to “protest.” Some were protesting and were genuinely outraged by injustice, but many were not. In many respects, what was supposed to be a peaceful protest turned into a disaster. Reports show that over a dozen businesses were robbed and destroyed. People started acting like uncontrolled animals. Many people were trying to steal and destroy for personal gain, all-the-while trying to avoid any consequences, thinking that they are entitled to this because someone was shot. As Senator Nasheed has said on Twitter, “Self-destructive behavior is a major setback for real progress.”

The situation was bad. But they made it worse.

Looting is not the answer … But what is? I’m not sure that I have all the answers, but below are 5 I’ve gathered.

1) Let the governing authorities do their jobs. Protests in and of themselves aren’t always bad, but when it turns to a disaster, it becomes a distraction. The FBI, the police, and many other experts are involved. Romans 13:1 tells us they have been placed there by God. If we don’t try to do a Police Officer’s job for a routine speeding ticket, what makes us think we are any more competent to get in the way for a major crisis? We can stop making a dent and start making a difference by sitting back and allowing the authorities to handle the matter.

2) Pray. John Piper says that we shouldn’t do something about all sufferings, but that we should feel something about those sufferings. We can feel the injustice of the matter, and respond in prayer. We can pray for reconciliation, justice, peace, for the churches in the community, and the advancement of the gospel.

3) Serve. How can we serve the city of Ferguson? Can we help clean up the mess (literally) that was made? Are we providing emotional comfort for Michael Brown’s family? Most of us won’t fit in this category, but some of us may consider it.

4) Self-Examination. When I read some of the Facebook posts earlier, I thought, “Man, that person has no idea what they are talking about.” I noticed pride starting to creep into my heart. In situations like this, we can examine ourselves. Am I racist? Am I self-righteous? Am I arrogant? Am I apathetic to evil? A sober self-examination can benefit us all.

5) Trust. Finally, we can trust God. In one of the most humbling and comforting verses in the Bible, we learn that, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). Vengeance belongs to God. His wrath is for our comfort. We don’t have to chase people down who cause injustice to hurt them ourselves, but we can trust God, who repays everyone now and in the end how He sees fit.

We can’t control what happened, only our response. And if the five things afermentioned are taken seriously, I believe we can start to see progress in the matter.

Post your comments below.

 

Contentment is beautiful because contentment brings joy. It’s not something that comes naturally, but something that we have to learn (Philippians 4:11). The world doesn’t help, as it seems to be set up to only deepen our discontentment. But, paradoxically, the pathway to joy comes through the avenue of contentment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To grow in contentment, many suggest grattitude — to be grateful for what you have. This is true. And also probably obvious. But I want to propose an unconventional path to contentment: Celebrating your accomplishments.

In his book, The Dude’s Guide to Manhood, Author and Pastor, Darrin Patrick, writes, “If we don’t pause to celebrate the various chapters in our life and accomplishments, then our awareness of what we’ve accomplished will become vague, and our discontentment will grow.”

We’ve all heard about the business owner who’s determined to succeed and works incessantly. They’re hungry, ambitious, driven. They’re up at 5:00am, and work past midnight. They accomplish some goals. Their business grows. They make some money. They like the taste of success, and they become addicted to it as it becomes their identity. Because it makes them feel “alive,” they can’t imagine life without it, and never seem to stop working because they don’t want to feel inadequate.

They feel like they have to keep striving, to keep doing, to keep working. On the outside, they appear noble and successful. On the inside, they may feel empty and miserable. Why? They never stop to celebrate their accomplishments. They’re afraid that if they do, they’ll become complacent and stop achieving. But this is the opposite of what is true.

The world celebrates them, but they never celebrate.

New promotion?
Business growing?
New home?

Whatever it is, stop and remember that all good things come from God (James 1:17), and respond in a celebratory fashion, glorifying God for what he’s given you, and reflecting on what God has done through you.

If we stop, pause, reflect and think about what God has done, is doing, and will do in our life, we will further be aware of his blessings, and our contentment and joy will grow.

Post your comments below.

I recently asked a friend if he spends a lot of time on Facebook or not. “I could probably spend less time on there,” was his response. And I think that’s probably a good answer for most of us. Especially for me.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. The lists goes on and on. And it seems to be growing. It is certainly helpful and fine to use, but I think becoming addicted to it is a trap that we would do well to avoid. So how do we know we’re addicted? Here are seven signs:

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1) It’s the first thing you check in the morning. The alarm goes off, you crawl out of bed, probably to use the restroom, and hop on Facebook. It’s the first thing you do every morning.

2) You check it at red lights. You’re at a red light, it’s been a whopping four seconds and you become agitated. What do you do? Check Social Media.

3) You check it almost incessantly during your day. You check it every chance you get. 10,15, 25 times per day. Every free moment you get, you’re on there. It’s part of your day to simply check it with every free second you have. 

4) You check it when you’re hanging out with friends. Sure, we want to post a pic on Instagram when we’re hanging with the boys or when it’s Girl’s Night Out. But I’m referring to constantly checking Social Media when you’re with friends in a social setting. It’s like we have the “real thing” in front of us yet we jump online to settle for the artificial community!

5) You’re constantly worried about your online perception. How many “likes” did I get? Did anyone comment on my post? How many friends and followers do I have? Do people online see me as successful and beautiful and cool?

6) Your joy differs with the amount of reaction your post receives. You post something, and get 87 “likes.” Yes, you’re the man! Then you post something the next day, and get three “likes.” You feel sad. Your joy depends on the responses of your posts.

7) You quickly take down a post because it’s not getting the reaction you’d like. You post something and then 15 minutes later you take it down because it’s not getting the “likes,” “shares,” and “comments” you’d like it to have. It’s a sign of insecurity – and something I have done before.

So how do we get over our addiction? I’m no expert and have struggled with this tension myself. I find it helpful to completely take Social Media off my phone for one week. I do that once or twice a year and it is always helpful and refreshing. Taking other mini-breaks from it throughout the year have also proved to be effective.

But honestly, the number one thing that helps me enjoy Social Media without becoming addicted is to remember that I am accepted in Christ, and I don’t have to strive to pretend to be someone online that I’m really not for people I don’t even know. I have a lot of things to improve, but nothing to prove, and remembering Christ’s work on my behalf helps me to be secure when online, knowing that the real work is already finished.

Post your comments below.

 

 

 

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times: “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

It sounds spiritual. But is it biblical?

Let’s let the cat out of the bag right away: God often gives us more than we can handle.

The saying “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is popular, but we will not find it anywhere in Scripture. It does not exist.

I think what people are doing when they use this verse is a misapplication of another verse. A verse found in 1 Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

It’s important to note that God does not tempt anyone. That’s made clear from James 1:13: “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” But, as Aaron Armstrong says, “While God does not tempt us, He does, in his sovereignty, permit us to be tempted.”

Armstrong continues:

When Paul writes that God will not tempt us beyond our ability, he means that we are never in a situation where have no other choice but to sin. In a situation where telling the truth will damage your reputation, for example, it’s much easier to give in to the temptation to protect how people see you and lie, rather than do the right thing, which is tell the truth. That’s why there’s no such thing as a “white lie”—one that you tell to protect the feelings of someone else. We never lie to make someone else feel better, only to avoid discomfort ourselves. It’s just easier to lie and not deal with the consequences of telling the truth.

But, easy rarely equals right. We always have the option of doing the right thing, that which is honoring to God, but it will often cost us—whether that cost is reputation, position, relationship, or money, there will be a cost. But it’s always worth it to do the right thing.

So it’s true that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to do what is right, He will almost always give us more than we can handle on our own.

So we learn that the implications behind the quote is in regards to temptation, not affliction. We learn that God will give us more than we can handle from Paul: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians. 1:8)

Paul said they were “utterly burdened beyond our strength.” They despaired of life itself. They were afflicted, wounded, battered and defeated. They received more than they could handle.

But why? Is there a point?

Paul answers that in the next verse: “But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Cor. 1:9).

The reason God often gives us more than we can handle is so that we can learn to depend on him.

We are not self-sufficient. If we never suffered, we would be worse, not better. Why? Our pride would destroy us. We would never feel as if we had a need to pray, to trust God, to seek him. We would have everything figured out, and our sinful rebellion would destroy us.

Maybe we need to start seeing the trials and difficulties as a blessing, not a burden. He does not want us to rely on our own strength, but his, and he uses the trials to teach us that. We can find joy amidst the trial by receiving the strength he provides in the trial. And he will — He is faithful and true.

Post your comments below.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes we look to someone’s life and we envy their platform and status. We say, “I wish I had their life!” If we’re struggling with pride, we may even say, “Hey, I can do a better job than that person” We are quick to make assumptions.

We see the success, but are unaware of the suffering.

We see the destination, but are unaware of the journey.

We see what they’ve accomplished, but are unaware of what they’ve been through.

Often, we couldn’t even walk a mile in their shoes.

Such may be the case with John Calvin — one of the most influential Christians Bible teachers of all-time. Whether it be his influential writing, regular preaching engagements, or his prominent influence in the widespread of Reformed theology — the list of his accomplishments are seemingly never-ending. I am very intrigued by his life. So much so that I recently read a biography on him to learn more about this pilgrim and pastor. I was amazed at his life — but also of what he endured.

Through the biography that I read and a short video from Michael Horton, we learn about Calvin and his ailments:

  • Multiple childhood weaknesses that he was not able to shake.
  • Never recovered from strict Monastic regime where he would go to bed very late and wake up very early often operating on little sleep.
  • His eyes were destroyed through reading with a candle light.
  • His wife died less than nine years after they married and he never remarried.
  • He and his wife had one miscarriage, and were unable to have kids.
  • His critics said his wife died of boredom and they named their dogs after him.
  • He suffered with chronic asthma, migraine headaches that kept him up at night, pleurisy, kidney stones, hemorrhoids, gallstones, severe arthritis and frequent influenza accompanied with raging fevers.

 

On top of that, he was constantly harassed by the City Council in trying to control his church, and felt the pressure and demands from a seemingly incessant workload.

After Calvin’s wife died, he said, “May the Lord Jesus Christ support me also under this heavy affliction, which would certainly overcome me, had not he, who raises up the prostrate, strengthens the weak, and refreshes the weary, stretch forth his hand from heaven to me.”

John Calvin was an influential figure, but also an afflicted one. He experienced both a great amount of success and suffering. The secret on his endurance, it seems, is to be content no matter the circumstance and trust in God’s rock-solid providential care. Calvin says, “Thou, O Lord, thou bruises me, it is enough for me to know it is thy hand.” No matter if we experience prominence or not, suffering or success, notoriety or obscurity, we can be content in Christ through the strength he provides (Phil. 4:13).

All is from his hand, and all from his hand is for our good and his glory.

Post your comments below.

 

 

 

 

What’s your testimony?

I’ve been a Christian since Junior High and I’ve met many Christians over the years. I’ve heard many testimonies of faith, but I’ve seem to notice a common denominator with many: Many people think they have a “boring” testimony.

Let me say this: There is no such thing as a boring testimony. When God raises someone from the dead, it’s staggering.

I think I  know what people mean when they say “boring.” They mean to say, I think, that they’ve never done drugs, didn’t sleep around, didn’t have an alcohol problem, didn’t come to the end of themselves, and were born into a Christian family where they got saved at a young age. If this is the case, the testimony may not be as dramatic as some, but it certainly isn’t boring.

A testimony is what our life was like before we got saved, how we got saved, and how our life is now different because we are saved. The remedy to removing the word “boring” from our understanding of our testimony is a proper understanding of what our life was like before we got saved.

Remember what Paul said to the Ephesians?

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind (Ephesians 2:1-3).

According to Paul, before we met Jesus, we were:

  1. Dead in our sins.
  2. Following satan.
  3. Children of wrath.

 

Then God saves you. And makes you a Christian where you become adopted, forgiven, loved, sharing in Christ’s inheritance, and seated with him in the heavenly places. We go from the Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of light. Surely, there is no such thing as a boring testimony.

We can have testimonies that are more or less dramatic, but never one that is boring. When God raises someone from the dead, it is always staggering.

Post your comments below.

 

 

I used to think that the only way to glorify God at work was by evangelizing my co-workers. If my co-workers weren’t converted, God wasn’t glorified.

Then I read Tim Keller’s outstanding book, Every Good Endeavor, and my views shifted. I later realized that evangelizing my co-workers was simply one of the many ways to glorify God at work.

 

 

Most of us spend upwards to 40 hours a week at work, so this is certainly a topic pertinent to every believer. So how do we do it?

On page 22 of the book, Keller outlines several ways we can glorify and serve God at work.

  • The way we serve God at work is to further social justice in the world.
  • The way we serve God at work is to be personally honest and evangelize your colleagues.
  • The way we serve God at work is just to do skilful, excellent work.
  • The way we serve God at work is to create beauty.
  • The way we serve God at work is to work from a Christian motivation to glorify God, seeking to engage and influence culture to that end.
  • The way we serve God at work is to work with a grateful, joyful, gospel-changed heart through all the ups and downs.
  • The way we serve God at work is to do whatever gives you the greatest joy and passion.
  • The way to serve God at work is to make as much money as you can, so that you can be as generous as you can.

 

Insofar as it isn’t sinful, we can glorify God doing any kind of job. Don’t put too much emphasis on your status as an employee as it relates to society. If you have a high status, it may go to your head; if you have a low one, it may go to your heart. Don’t let it. Your identity is in what Jesus has done for you, not what you do for a living. Keller adds, “In the Old Testament, God was a Gardener; in the New Testament, he came as a Carpenter.” There is no menial work. Whether you’re the CEO of a company, or you’re an employee at a restaurant, the status isn’t the big thing, but God’s glory is. “Whatever you do,” Paul says, “work heartily as for the Lord, and not for men” (Colossians 3:23). Keep your eyes focused on his glory.

 

Post your comments below.