Psalm 51:12 Restoring the Joy

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:12

It’s been awhile, nearly two months, since I last posted here. Despite the quietness here, I’ve been blessed to see God move in the lives of several people I’ve come to know over these past weeks. God is pouring out boundless love and is restoring hearts, and as a result, is restoring marriages and families! I’m continually in awe of I AM, and have been renewed in my own spirit.

A few weeks ago, I was honored and had the privilege of spending a weekend with two outstanding young men who needed that outpouring of love from the Father to bring them home and restore their hearts. There simply are no words to describe the beauty of watching God heal the pain, remove the shame, and release the burden these men were carrying in their lives. Each of these men has a testimony. They both had been close to Jesus in their lives, walking out their faith. But life threw both of them curve balls. Curve balls that would be unimaginable for me, and I think for most to comprehend. Yet despite these curves and the destruction caused in their wake, God’s love is bigger!

“RESTORE TO ME THE JOY OF YOUR SALVATION,” said David in the wake of his own transgressions. These two men have had that joy restored in their lives. “AND GRANT ME A WILLING SPIRIT, TO SUSTAIN ME.” And now, a few weeks later, these two men have that willing spirit sustaining them each day! Life hasn’t let up, but they both have a renewed spirit and freedom that has allowed them to overcome the challenges and go to the Father in prayer when they don’t have the answers.

I share this experience in hopes that it encourages you in some way. I wish I could share the full stories, as the context would be both overwhelming and uplifting. My other motivation for sharing this is to encourage you to seek out opportunities where you can be a vessel for God. I love my church and I truly believe the church is critical to our Christian life, but these types of encounters just don’t happen often inside the four walls of church. Jesus took His ministry to the streets where the downtrodden, the lepers and the sinners were, and He’s still doing it today. I encourage you to seek God’s will and direction to open those opportunities in your life. I promise you, it will not only bless you, but it will change your life.

Come as you are, because earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal…


Relativism is the belief that there’s no absolute truth, only the truths that a particular individual or culture happen to believe. I was driving today and saw a bumper sticker I’m sure you’ve seen many times. The video below will give you a brief history of the origin of this aggregation of symbols:

COEXIST has become a symbol to promote world peace and specifically peace among the various religions, which is a good thing (I believe this was Bono’s message in the video). However, it has also become a symbol of religious relativism.  Religious relativism says that there are no absolutes regarding god and a divine creator. In other words, each religion of the world has it right and each leads down a path to God.

Below is a short video by Sean McDowell that outlines why Christianity is different from all the other religions of the world. I hope you will take a couple of minutes to watch

Let me close with this to make my point about truth. In John chapter 18, Jesus has been arrested and is taken ultimately to Pontious Pilate, the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judea. The Jewish leaders want Pilate to judge and sentence Jesus, so Pilate confronts Jesus and here is part of that exchange from John 18:

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.

I emphasized the response by Jesus, “the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth.” God sent His only son on a rescue mission to save the world and to save you and me. The purpose of that mission was to bring forth the truth. As teenagers, you may already encounter other teens who adopt a religious relativism view. I can almost certainly guarantee you will encounter this mindset in the next few years. Our culture promotes this view and the view that no one is wrong and no one is right, we all should just accept each person’s viewpoint and belief system and morality. There has to be absolute truth! God created the world and the universe in order, not chaos. It isn’t relative, it’s definite. Because He loves us, Jesus wants us to know that there is only one truth and only one way to God.

Romans 8:37 (Final Post)

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

We finish up Romans 8:37 with the final words – “THROUGH HIM WHO LOVED US” There are tons of commentary on the book of Romans and particularly this verse. My own interpretation is this: You and I are going to face many challenges in this life. But despite the problems and the disappointments we may face, we have joy in our hearts that makes us conquerors over those negatives we face, through Christ who loved us. Not our love for Him, but His love for us. 

1 John 4:7-8 “Go Find Somebody to Love”

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.”

I’m glad it’s Friday! Today we recap this verse and end with the last statement – “BECAUSE GOD IS LOVE.”

Watching the news is depressing… I’m sure most of you would rather take a drill to the head than watch the news on television. I grew up in a time where everyone watched the news, and possibly, as I got older, I felt some kind of responsibility to watch. As I have grown older, and especially in recent years, the local news and network news make me ill. I believe we have a responsibility to be informed, but let’s face it, there’s a lot of hate and a lot of ugliness in the world.

What I briefly shared Wednesday night at Fuel was that I truly care and love each of you. Some of you I know very well, some of you I don’t know well. But regardless, I, like the others in our youth leadership, love you and want the absolute best for you. What I want you to take away from this verse is that LOVE WINS! God is love and we know in the end God wins. In the interim, we need to feel compelled to BRING HEAVEN TO EARTH. Bringing heaven to earth means we have to share God’s love with one another. GO FIND SOMEBODY TO LOVE:


1 John 4:7-8

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.”

Let’s recap what we covered last week – “DEAR FRIENDS, LET US LOVE ONE ANOTHER, FOR LOVE COMES FROM GOD.” Our love originates, comes from, God and thus we should love each other.

Today we move forward to the next sentence – “EVERYONE WHO LOVES HAS BEEN BORN OF GOD AND KNOWS GOD.” Not only does love originate from God, but those who love originate from God and know Him. Knowing God is knowing love. And those who know Him are compelled to love others. What do you think? Leave a comment below.

1 John 4:7-8

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Today, and this weekend, let’s focus on these words – “FOR LOVE COMES FROM GOD.”

Think about these words – “Love comes from God”. God is the essence of universal love. You’ve probably heard the term agape love. Agape is a word used to describe the indescribable love God has for you and me. God’s love for us is unconditional, but it is much more. God is pure and holy, so His love is also pure and holy. As a parent, I have a glimpse into this love. I love my children with no conditions, no strings attached, no expectation of reciprocation; I love them regardless. God loves you and me the same, but even more. He is in constant pursuit to love us, and the more we pursue Him, the deeper we are enveloped in His love for us.

Image result for spokes of a wheel

Think of our love for God as spokes on a wheel. God is the hub of the wheel. He is the center of our life. The closer we draw towards Him, the stronger we feel His love. The more we feel His love the stronger our love is for others around us, and the closer we are to the other spokes. If we rebel from God, we are further out on the spoke towards the rim, and less we feel His love for us, and the less we share our love with others. We should stay close to Him and away from the rim.


1 John 4:7-8

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”


Image result for 1 John 4:7-8

Do you know a flawed person? I meet with one every morning in the mirror. What I have learned is that we are all flawed and broken in some way. But when we exchange pleasantries, “How are you?” The answer is often, “I’m good” or “I’m great!” or “I’m doing fine.” We put up a wall that says, “I want you to think I’m good or great,” or “I don’t want to let my guard down with you.” We put up a false front most of the time and so does most everyone else we come in contact with.

But let’s be real with one another. If we are truly going to walk out our Christian faith, we must love one another, and loving one another means we have to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable involves trust, and we don’t openly trust. Why don’t we trust? We fear if we share our struggles it won’t be held in confidence. Love involves respect. If I ask you if there’s something I can pray for you about, I am opening a channel with you of mutual respect and trust. If you choose to respond, I’m going to receive that response in confidence and thus build love through my respect for your willingness to share and my commitment that you can trust me.

“DEAR FRIENDS, LET US LOVE ONE ANOTHER”. These can be merely words that sound good and make us feel good, but taking action to love one another can be messy. It makes us vulnerable. It can be risky business to reach out to someone and sincerely ask them if you can pray for them. BUT, I have found that most people will receive your offer with a grateful heart, and you will be blessed by their reception. We need one another! I need you in my life. You are very valuable and important to me! Let’s not just feel good about these words, let’s live them! It starts with a conversation…Below is a classic gospel song I hope you will listen to and it will touch you as it does me:


1 John 4:7-8 “Love One Another”

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

We have spent the past several weeks seeing how much God loves us through the verses we’ve learned. The book of 1 John goes into great depth to explain God’s love for us. There are several verses in 1 John that would be great to memorize and put on our heart. Here are a few:

1 John 3:1 – “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

1 John 3:16 – “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

1 John 3:23-24 – “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”

Do you see common, recurring messages in these words? We have been made children of God! The world does not know us because the world does not know Him. If we keep God’s commands we live in Him and He in us.

We have studied and now have a glimpse into God’s love for us; His unconditional love for you and me. That should compel us to love one another, and this will be our focus in 1 John 4:7-8. Loving one another means bringing heaven to earth. Listen to Toby Mac Speak Life:



Ephesians 2:4-5 (Final post)

Today we finish Ephesians 2:4-5 with the final part of verse 5 – “IT IS BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED.” We can’t see it. We can’t touch it. We can’t comprehend the magnitude of God’s grace! Here’s a video produced by Elevation Church that may help. I posted the words below, along with a final video I hope you will watch and use in your prayer time on this verse:

This thing that is
but we often cannot see.
Too close for us to see the magnitude,
the glory of this structure.
We often see the detail
But not the stretching, sweeping scale of the thing.
It wraps us up.
Holds us.
So we consider it gentle. Warm. Kind.
We do not see, though, the violent nature.
The wrath and hate for the converse: our sin.
We do not see the scale.
We touch what is visible through our tunnel eyes and say “grace.”
But we see only a fragment of the grand, scandalous tapestry
That God has woven together over time.
The fabric of the world itself.
The very reason the stars are strung together.
When we choose to put one foot in front of the next, it’s grace.
This gracious glory buried within us,
Beating on our ribs to speak of his wonder.
With this touch, life is given.
The giver’s love is this cloak.
This sea of blue green forgetfulness. This face of majesty.
The crackling, roaring thunder.
Grace, his sound.
Glory, his bright display.
Breaks and creates. And finds us. And we’re found.
The split curtain. The opened back.
The mingling blood and water.
The flood that destroys the world we’ve built.
All the earth submitting to his power.
The Cross.
Grace wrapped in triumphant glory.
He is the eyes-shut embrace. The driving rain.
The wind blows, but only at his word.
And this same fury, this sin-thrashing storm,
Is the tempest that bows to wash our feet.
And this same fury, this sin-thrashing storm,
Is the tempest that bows to wash our feet.

And I leave you with this:


Weekend Post – The Truth

John 14:6 – “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

If you were at church today and heard Pastor Kirk’s message, you saw reference to this verse, which was one of our verses we studied a few weeks back. I hope when you heard and read the verse today in the notes, you said, “Wow! I know this verse.”

I also hope you realized both the truth and the hope in Pastor Kirk’s message today that despite the world’s view that ‘it doesn’t matter what I believe,’ we not only know the truth, but we find our hope in the truth of Jesus and his response to Thomas, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” As Pastor Kirk pointed out, Christianity isn’t an exclusive faith. Jesus, knowing that the world would provide many false truths and false hopes, provides everyone the open door and clear path to finding the way, the truth, and the life everlasting.

Tying back to our current verse, Ephesians 2:4-5 “But 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,” when we were saved, when we confessed our sins and believed in our heart that He was raised from the dead, we were made alive with Christ! His grace saved us. His grace continues to save us! His grace is not a free pass to continue to sin. It is His amazing gift to overcome our brokenness and to die to our selfish nature. I leave you a song by All Sons and Daughters that speaks to His grace for you and me: