Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

On My Mind #58: Do Tragedies Make You Afraid?

I will start by making statements that are true and must be made clear:

The tragedy Monday in Boston was horrific, especially to someone who’s a pretty active participant in the running community. Bloodshed and killing traumatize people and regions for the rest of their lives. My sympathy and prayers run deep.

That said, I want to make a strong point. The intention behind the act, in my view, should NEVER be honored by society at large. What is that intention, you may ask? Fear. And, if we react in fear then terrorists (and other criminals who pull off crimes which incite fear) win.

There is a kind of bold courage that just lives in some people. Many people will agree with my statement that we shouldn’t live in fear because if these events. Some have raw abilities to overcome fearful times, pressing on despite these sorts of events. Others cower, sucked in by media coverage and the perception that society is an awful place. Regardless of our natural response, there is something more foundational that should be explored.

If this life was all I had, I probably would fear. But I truly do not fear my death. Matthew 10:28:

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (ESV)

My body is exactly that. It’s a body that will one day perish (unless Jesus returns first). I would only be afraid if I didn’t own the belief that I will live forever in heaven because of my faith in Christ. If you don’t know Jesus, you should fear. Hell awaits. But since I do . . .

I am released to pray and support those in Boston in any practical way possible. I am released to love God and fulfill the roles I’m called to fulfill. I’m released to serve Jesus with passion, even if it puts me in “dangerous” situations.

Terrorists can’t have my fear. That’s because there is nothing to fear. Please consider the depths of your faith in Christ, and if you don’t have that, please don’t hesitate to ask any questions:

On My Mind #57: Two Tips for Marriage

You can take these or leave them. These are simply a couple things that have been running through my mind quite a bit about marriage lately.

Here are two random, completely unrelated tips:

1. Schedule your times communicate about frustrations.

First, this forces you to think rationally and it prevents a destructive pattern from forming where arguments are always handled in the moment. Second, it forces you to think about what really matters. If you are scheduled to discuss your disagreements and frustrations twice per week (or more if there’s a lot you struggle with), then you may even forget about some of the stuff by the time you’re ready to talk. The stuff that is important can then be discussed in a healthy way as planned.

Specifically: set ground rules for disagreements and know when an argument needs to be stopped. Having a way to determine if one person feels more strongly than the other about a topic is really helpful too.

2. Be spontaneous.

I think a lot of marriages get in trouble because of the boredom factor. Affairs are often described as attractive because they’re new and exciting. If you do some things spontaneously to treat each other or spend time together, the boredom factor can go away. This also leaves each spouse encouraged. Small gifts, favorite fast food or grocery items, little notes of encouragement, etc. can keep a marriage fresh.

Specifically: make a list of 4-5 things your spouse could plan without you knowing that would really feel like an encouraging way to spend time together. Have your spouse do the same and share your lists.

Take ’em or leave ’em. Two tips I thought I’d share.

On My Mind #55: Five ways to honor Christ on vacation

It’s been good to be away for a few days. Back at it tomorrow. Here are five ways Christ can be exalted on any vacation trip.

1. Celebrate the place.

The Bible has many instances of God’s people changing places as a result of His work in their lives. In Christ, we have a promised land beyond our wildest dreams. On vacation, you can celebrate being in a different place as a reflection of how God has relocated the old self in place of the new.

2. Praise God for the discipline and finances.

No matter a trip big or small, praise God for His provision for the rest. You didn’t provide the money, He did. So, give Him thanks for it!

3. Look for opportunities to meet new people and share Christ.

On my recent trip with a friend, we encountered several people and were able to encourage spiritual growth, determine prayer requests for total strangers, and talk about God with random people. Being on vacation puts being on mission in a different context and gives different opportunities for sharing.

4. Fill that spare time with music, reading, or a sermon.

Hopefully, at some point you will relax on your trip. When that chance comes, fill your mind with a sermon online (provided the Internet at the hotel cooperates), some music, or just some extra Bible reading.

5. Pray.

Vacation can be a tempting time – the desire to stay stuck in fantasy world can be strong. So, pray! Pray for loved ones back home. Pray for God to give you meaningful rest. Pray for safe travel and give thanks for meals and special opportunities.

I could easily give five more, but hopefully this whets your appetite. Let your rest and time away be spiritual rest!

On My Mind #54: Three reasons you should never take anyone for granted.

Yesterday I encountered a healthy combination of a little extra money and good grocery store marketing. I decided to buy my wife flowers for no other reason other than she rocks. This is not about saying “look how great Kevin is”, it’s about the real value in never taking anyone for granted.

Here are three reasons you should never, ever take people for granted.

1. People can always (ALWAYS!) change for the better.

I Cor. 13 teaches that love hopes all things, believes all things. This is powerful if we think about how it applies. If you have taken someone for granted that they will stay in their ways, then you have permanently labeled them and stopped hoping and believing all things. Don’t ever take people for granted in this way.

2. Sadly, they can be gone.

If you’ve ever lost a loved one suddenly, you know what I’m talking about. There really is no guarantee for tomorrow. Appreciate people today as much as possible.

3. Taking people for granted keeps them (and you!) in a rut .

If you need encouragement, think about the way others in your life need it. If you take someone for granted, they are denied the chance to hear what they mean to you. If you take someone for granted, you stop saying thanks for the meaningful things they do. If you take someone granted, you whiff on the opportunity to build them up and encourage the development of the gifts and abilities they have.

Don’t take people for granted. They are gifts, they are unique. Thanks someone today for what they mean to you…then make it a habit!

On My Mind #53: God’s Activity in Specific Geographical Areas

A few experiences I am reflecting on tonight:

1. In 2008, I went to Rwanda and experienced God moving in ways I had never experienced before. Hundreds of people came to Christ during the time we were there. God was moving all throughout Rwanda, and still is as that country heals from the wounds of 1994.

2. In 2009, I traveled with a group to Costa Rica for another short term trip. God did amazing things on that trip, although it was different than 2008 in Rwanda. Amazing stories to be sure, but on a different scale.

3. As anyone could easily observe, our culture as a whole is hardened toward God and truth. Christians are generally mocked. Churches are mistrusted. The Bible is regarded as hate literature by many. Many Christians fear the future of the United States is destined for ruin, seeing its moral collapse in progress.

4. In contrast to number 3, my home community (Kenmore, Akron, OH) is a place where it is tangible that God is moving. Spiritual warfare is abundant, but we are witnessing people choose Jesus over evil. Individuals are making difficult decisions to turn from past lifestyles or poor relationships and build new ones with committed Christians. Lives of drugs, alcohol, violence, and brokenness are being traded for faith in Christ.

To be sure, it’s not by the hundreds, but talk of God is something that is becoming more acceptable and common. There is a dedicated base of believers in local churches and missions organizations (such as First Glance and Project Shine) that is building trust and living and ministering in the community representing the truth of Christ in authentic ways.

In sum…
I believe God works in geographical areas. I don’t know all the dynamics, but committed prayer efforts and ministry intentionally can help areas awaken to the truth as He uses His people for His glory. I want to experience more of this and I’m committed to seeing what God will do in the future!