When God Seems Distant

Some days God feels more like a dusty, old book than a nearby Father. These moments happen to all of us, and our Christian faith can find itself under interrogation.  When I experience them, a blitzkrieg of questions follows:

  • Do I really believe a Middle Eastern man rose from the dead twenty centuries ago, and his Spirit lives inside me?
  • Do I really believe God loves me and wants the best for my life?
  • Do I really believe the Bible is true?

We cannot simply repress those questions – letting them creep about in our minds – waiting for doubt to strike before popping out again. What, then, should we do in moments when God seems a universe away? How can we avert these little existential, faith crises? There is a skill that, if mastered, will keep you from spiraling into despair:

Learn how to untangle your thoughts.

Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote to the church explaining how false and deceitful thinking is a spiritual issue. We often speak of “strongholds” in light of demonic influence (and rightly so – other Scriptures affirm as much), but look carefully at how he explains it:

2 Corinthians 10:4-5
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

God’s divine power gives us the ability to resist Satan as well as destroy arguments raised against the knowledge of God. These opinions attack from every angle:

  • God seems distant because He’s not real.
  • God seems distant because He doesn’t love you.
  • God seems distant because The Bible is fictitious and unreliable.

We must master the ability to untangle such thoughts; demolishing them rather than submitting to their weight (or ignoring them altogether). With practice and time, you will find it becomes easier. After years of trial and error, here are three statements I hang my hat on when days of doubt or distance come:

#1: GOD EXISTS

I have, to the best of my abilities, tried to find a consistent worldview that does not require God. Atheism (or philosophical naturalism) and Buddhism were the closest I discovered and they left me wanting when asked questions like,

“Do people live as if this were actually true?”

“Is epistemology, meaning, and conscious explained in a way that seems consistent with real life?”

Some aspects were more convincing than others but, when viewed holistically, each system fell apart over time. Monotheism (belief in an all-powerful, eternal God) was the most consistent in explaining the human experience; specifically, as it related to ontology (a branch of metaphysics that focuses on being).

For anything to exist, there has to be Something with the power of being. In other words, Something has to be able to exist without having been created. That Being must also be eternal, otherwise it would have to first create Itself before anything could exist (I’ll wait for your brain cramp to subside).

Simply put, there is a reason why His name in Hebrew is Yahweh – I Am.

R.C. Sproul’s arguments on this subject convinced me further of the philosophical necessity for God’s existence. Listen to it here. However, many Jews, Muslims and, to an extent, Hindus would agree with me on this point. It becomes necessary, then, to continue untangling.

#2: THE GOD OF THE BIBLE IS THE ONE, TRUE GOD

Dozens of books helped solidify my confidence in the reliability of the Christian Scriptures. I’ve written about them here and here. Enough ink has been spilled by scholars in this area to spill more now. Instead, I will quote one of them:

If God exists and we are made in His image we can have real meaning, and we can have real knowledge through what He has communicated to us. If this is taken away, we are left only with man and his finite self-expression.

Francis Schaeffer
The God Who Is There

#3: THE GOD OF THE BIBLE IS FAITHFUL

God makes thousands of promises throughout the Bible, and cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Here are a few of them:

Matthew 11:28-29
Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Romans 10:9
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Hebrews 13:5
I will never leave you nor forsake you.

What if God still feels distant though? Perhaps you agree with the statements above, but your spiritual life seems stuck. Although He has promised to never leave us, there are various causes that hinder our communion with God. The following ones tend to show up in our lives the most:

#1 UNCONFESSED SIN
(or lack of true repentance)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaimed, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Sin can hinder our ability to see God, but Christ paved the way for us to see again. “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

For more, see “When I Sin, Then What?”

#2 UNBELIEF IN GOD’S PROMISES

One of the loudest reasons we stumble in our spiritual journey is not a lack of knowing God’s promises, but a lack of believing them.

For more, see “Who Do You Trust?”

#3 UNWILLINGNESS TO RECEIVE FORGIVENESS AND GRACE

We feel unlovable. Our sin is too great. Our pride is too real. Our lust is too strong. We don’t deserve grace. (Of course, grace isn’t grace if you deserve it.) Remember, the Biblical God is faithful even when you are not.

2 Corinthians 5:21
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Romans 8:1
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Does God seem distant right now? Learn to untangle your thoughts while fighting for faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

He’s not as far as you think. 

When I sin, then what?

Nothing makes a person feel all warm and fuzzy like hearing, “You need to repent.”  Or other times, “This is a sin issue.” Mmmmm, like a Snuggie for the soul.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve made repentance into a nasty word. But it’s really the opposite. Repentance is awesome. Repentance should be one of the most freeing parts of the Christian life.

The problem is most people don’t know how to repent.

From what I can tell, Christians do the first part pretty well. The turn-from-sin part. The Greek word itself means an “about face.” It’s a picture of a soldier turning quickly in the opposite direction; a dual-motion of rotating away from sin and towards Christ.

Confession comes easily. They admit what they just [did-thought-said] was out of step with the Gospel. It’s the second part that trips them up. The turn-to-Christ part. They feel, unless their righteousness is proven, they are to remain at arm’s length from God’s presence.

So, how can we turn towards Christ after a moment of sin?

We are told of two ways. Both are found in this passage:

Hebrews 10:14
For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

  1. Rest in the completed work of Christ for you.

    “For by a single offering He has perfected for all time…” Because of Christ on the cross, you are perfect. Full stop. You are perfect. For all time. Past, present, future. Don’t diminish His grace by trying to prove yourself. Rest, instead, on the finished work of Jesus. You can enter into God’s presence.

  2. Embrace the continuing work of Christ in you.

    “…those who are being sanctified.” We are both perfected (past tense) and being perfected (present tense). He who began a good work will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6). In other words, there’s still work to do.

We should love repentance. It reminds us of our freedom in Christ and the continuing work He’s doing in our hearts. But we must remember to do more than just turn from sin.

Without turning towards our sin-conquering King, we end up wallowing in guilt and fear. Doomed, so it seems, to repeat the offense again and again. However, this is only possible when we forget the power of the Holy Spirit.

“The Christian life means moving from a battle that we could not win to a battle that we cannot lose. But there’s still a battle.”  –Tim Keller

So, from the moment you fall, repent. Jesus has set you free from sin. And He is setting you free from sin. Fight the good fight.

 Read. Books. Faster.

READ

Something surprised me while walking through the “Christian Living” section of a local bookstore. There was almost nothing for men. Of the dozens of titles sitting on the shelves, most were marketed towards my wife. It didn’t take long on Google to figure out why. Seventy-five percent of people who buy books are women.

So, since you’ve made it this far, I’m going to assume that you are either

  1. A woman, or
  2. Someone who values reading

For years, Godly authors have helped close the distance between what I know in my head and believe in my heart about Christianity (the faith gap). And, by the end of this post, I hope to further your commitment to read and offer ways to do it better. Perhaps it will inspire you to point others towards a love for reading, and help close their own faith gaps.

BOOKS 

Despite the statistic mentioned above, I know a lot of men who are well-read. They are also (not coincidentally) influential leaders. Sharp books shape people who shape people.

“The man who never reads will never be read. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.” – Charles Spurgeon

While articles or blog posts help and are (at very least) a good starting point for non-readers, books influence people for decades. And, if you’re slow to start one, there are ways to get past the first hurdles:

  1. Set a goal. Commit to read one before 2016 ends. (The next section will help)
  2. Read with a friend. The added accountability and different perspective makes finishing a book much easier.
  3. Make time. Create space in your schedule to read. Take advantage of small moments as well (lunch breaks, sitting in a waiting room, Saturday morning coffee).

FASTER

If you’re a dude, ten bucks says you skipped all the way down to this part. Honestly, I’m just glad you’re still here. So, how can we read books quicker? On average, I read four or five books per month and have become increasingly efficient by doing four things:

  1. Flip through the whole book in one sitting to get an idea for overall content.
  2. Read the preface carefully. Mortimer J. Adler taught me this in How to Read a Book. There are good clues in the preface that will lead you to discover everything the author intends for the journey ahead.
  3. There are moments when it’s okay to mine for concepts rather than read every single word. With leadership and development books in particular, I’ve found that the devil is not in the details. It’s usually in the sub-headings and chapter conclusions.
  4. Read more than you do right now. This is the best way to become a more proficient reader.

Some Good Books:

The most valuable ones I’ve come across were recommended by friends. Here are some of them in various categories (any of which could be read in less than 6 weeks):

Spiritual Growth

The Line of Faith: 40 Days to Deeper Dependency
Bill Elliff
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Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel with Hidden Idols
Brad Bigney
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Leadership

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Die and Others Survive
Chip & Dan Heath
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What’s Best Next? How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done
Matt Pearman
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Felt Needs

Zeal without Burnout: Seven Keys to a Life-Long Ministry of Sustainable Sacrifice
Christopher Ash
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God + Politics: Jesus’ Vision for Society, State and Government 
Mark Dever
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Fiction

Underground Airlines
Ben Winters
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“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”
– Joseph Brodsky

 

You’re Good at Stuff – So Get Better

Too many people live in denial that God made them good at stuff. I lived that way for a long time as well. It might’ve seemed humble, but it wasn’t. I was really just afraid to say I was good at something. What if I failed? What if I wasn’t the best?

Denial was easier.

God made you on purpose. There’s a reason your mind picks up on math or art or language or business more naturally than others. Accept it. You’re good at stuff.

And it wasn’t meant for just you. When the nation of Israel needed a house of worship, Moses sent this decree:

Exodus 35:10
“Let every skilled craftsmen come do what the LORD has commanded.”

Notice he didn’t call for an accountant. God used skilled craftsmen for His glory and the good of Israel.

Acts 13:36
For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers…

How can you step into the purposes of God in your generation?

Begin by believing that He actually made you good at stuff. What can you do well? What comes naturally for you that doesn’t come as naturally for others? What ignites your heart? There’s a reason for it.

I’m good at writing.

You have no idea how hard that sentence was to type. Out of fear of failing, I shoved the thought itself into a drawer for years. There it could stay hidden from the opinions of others. But God never intended for me to hide it.

Strengths have a purpose. Mine do. Yours do, too. Lean into them. Accept that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. I’ve learned to do so, and it’s changed my life.

Here are four ways to grow your strengths:

  1. Embrace Your Limits

    There will always be somebody smarter and better and prettier. If your worth is tied to being the best, don’t be surprised when paralysis or despair sets in. There’s a helpful little book by Seth Godin called The Dip: When to Quit and When to Stick that helped me understand this principle in a practical way.

  2. Make Space to Get Better

    Paul told Timothy not to neglect the gifts he’d been given. Sharpen them, instead, for the glory of God and the good of others (1 Timothy 4:14-16). This gave permission for Timothy to make space in his life to learn. One way I do this is by reading books on writing (and well-written novels) on a regular basis.

  3. Learn with Friends

    Whatever God made you good at was not intended to be done alone. Friends encourage and challenge us. If the Lord hadn’t put Tim Grissom in my life, I would have given up on writing long ago. We need friends.

  4. Do Something

    Small, consistent steps over long periods of time move us down the road quicker than we think. Read a book. Join a club. Take the class. Try your idea out. Just start. One day I realized, “You’re not going to wake up at 50 and know how to write. So, do something today that will help you down the road.”

God wired you a certain way for a reason. He has purposes for you in this generation. Run toward your gifts. And remember that, apart from Christ, you can do nothing.

How Is Your Heart? (Foundation Inspection Included)

When significant cracks begin to show up on the walls of a house, it is a symptom of foundation problems. There are two options homeowners have:

  1. Patch and paint over the wall so people don’t notice.
  2. Spend time and money repairing the foundation.

The first option is certainly the easiest (and most tempting). It fails, however, to stop the cracks from coming back.  The truest solution requires pouring a sound foundation.

Like a house, your heart shows cracks as well.  “Why is ______________ consistently a problem in my life?” you may ask. Perhaps it is because you have slapped on a patch rather than addressed the foundation.

It’s easier to convince ourselves that heart issues are due to busy schedules or anxious seasons of life.  We attempt to paint over it with time-management strategies or simply wait for the season to change when, in reality, the foundation is off.  Read the words of Jesus,

Matthew 7:24-27
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 

And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

If our life is built on sand, when the storms get strong enough, the walls will crash down around us. It’s better to stop and take a quick look at our house before that time comes.

Do an Inspection

The following short exercise will help you look closer at life’s foundation. Take your time answering the following:

(Pick which choice best describes you)

As I do this exercise, my mind is focused on…

  1. Being courageously honest no matter what it reveals about my life.
  2. What someone will think if they knew my answers.

What brings me a greater sense of self-worth?

  1. Being loved by God.
  2. Being known as an expert at what I do.

When it comes to rest,

  1. I find that disconnecting from weekly pressures and expectations comes easily.
  2. I find it nearly impossible to not think about work or to-do lists all the time.

When someone is better than me at something,

  1. I can celebrate them.
  2. I feel threatened or insecure.

I feel like my daily choices are motivated by…

  1. Power, love and self-control.
  2. Fear and selfishness.

When I read Scripture,

  1. I am refreshed and inspired.
  2. I feel like more things get added to my spiritual “to-do” list.

I obey God…

  1. Because I love Him.
  2. So He won’t hurt or punish me.

Admit Your Need

Perhaps you are beginning to see places in your heart that need repair. So, how do we move from Answer Two to Answer One? And how can we guard ourselves from going back? There’s hope that your life can be built on the sustaining work of Jesus Christ. For today, as a next step, simply admit in prayer that you need help,

Father God,
There are places in my life that need to be reshaped by the work of Your Spirit. I am enslaved to things in ways You never intended. Would You help me experience freedom more fully? In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Repentance Brings Freedom

Many times, our areas of weakness stem from lack of faith.  Repentance is a dual-motion activity: turn away from sin and towards Christ. The example of the father in Mark 9:24 serves us well.  In a moment of doubt, he turned toward Jesus and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Turn to the Lord right now and ask Him to fill you with faith in the truths of His Word (even in the midst of doubts or uncertainty). Don’t patch it. Build your house on something better.

 

Stopping Storms

Defective little adages can get passed around like a cold, and they tend to stick around for a while. This one infected me quick:

“You’re either in a storm (difficult circumstance), coming out of a storm, or about to go through one.”

For too long, I let that statement be the filter for life. It wasn’t until much later that I figured out its two biggest problems:

  1. That can be said about anything. (You’re either in a van, getting out of a van, or about to get in one). It’s almost like announcing, “You’re either breathing or you’re… not breathing.”
  2. The focus, then, becomes whatever “it” is. In this case, one’s life is centered around storms.

The Storms

My life was the perfect host for that lingering cold. At five, my parents were divorced. It affected me more than almost any other season of my life. (I’ve written about how Christ redeemed it, and how He gives hope to blended families in a free eBook available here).

As soon as I felt like things were getting normal, an X-Ray revealed what was causing my excruciating headaches. Tumors had filled my sinuses and eyes. I was ten, and spent the next six years going through nine surgeries and many rounds of chemotherapy. Just moving from one storm to another, right?

“That’s how life works,” I’d remind myself.

The worst part was not the fear of tumors moving into my brain or the side effects of chemotherapy, but the kids who were battling life-threatening cancers in the Oncology clinic. Every Wednesday we would sit together waiting for our blood work to come back.

I knew their names. We played Donkey Kong. Each week the same thought rolled over and over as we waited: “Your storm is bad, Blake. But theirs is worse.”

That was what crushed me.  Knowing it could be worse.  Knowing that, as awful as this was, more suffering might await. Fear rose as I wondered what other storms were boiling ahead.

By eighteen, my disease was in remission. The calm made me nervous.

Three months later, I walked passed the coroner at our front door. Mom said what I had already figured out on the drive home, “Dale died.”  He was my stepdad, and I loved him very much. My world stopped for a while. Another storm.

But I knew it could be worse. It can always be worse. That was my life – the storms.

Freedom

This way of thinking is a virus. A cold that will kill you. It stole my joy for nearly 20 years. And today, as a survivor, I can diagnose the symptoms of it quickly in people:

  1. A fear of the calm (because it’s only a matter of time before the storm comes).
  2. An identity that’s tied to hardship. Their life matters only when they’re going through something (therefore, they’re always “going through something”).

Thank God for Jesus. Watch closely to what He did,

Luke 8:23-25
So they set out, and as they sailed he [Jesus] fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger.  And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?

 Turbulent water represented chaos to everyone in the ancient world. So, by calming the waves, Jesus was doing much more than trying to get back to His nap.  Christ was showing that He had authority over the chaos. The storm bowed its knee to Him.

Even the winds and water obey.

The Gospel is that Jesus Christ brings peace in the midst of your storm. He looks into the raging waters of your fear and pain and despair, stands to His feet, and says, “Be still.”

That’s what He did for me.

Of course there were more storms – miscarriages, nights in ICU with our son and so on. Jesus never promised we wouldn’t have moments that were hard. Instead, He showed that He was in control (and why that was a good thing).  The storms bowed their knee.

So, if life is NOT peaceful right now…

  1. Take heart, Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33).
  2. Remember that Jesus can silence the waves (Luke 8:23-25).
  3. It’s ok to despair (the Psalmists often did), but follow their lead and run towards hope (Psalm 34, 42, 73, & 147).
  4. Rest knowing that God will bring comfort and peace (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

If life IS peaceful right now…

  1. Rejoice and be glad, give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  2. Ground your peace fully in the hope of eternal life (1 Peter 1:13).
  3. Don’t be afraid of future turbulence. God will be there when it gets bad (Philippians 4:6-7).

If your peace is determined by circumstances, then you’ve caught the cold and will live in fear. Please don’t. In Jesus’ name, be healed of that virus.

Let Him look into your eyes today and say, “Be still.”

Four Painless Ways to Build Your Mental Toolbox

A pair of pliers isn’t something you think about much until you need it. When I was 20, I remember going to Home Depot with my soon-to-be wife and buying a basic set of tools (hammer, screwdrivers, etc.).

It’s the most boring story ever.

Shopping for a new TV is way more exciting but, when your sink breaks at 10PM, those pliers become your best friends. Everybody needs some.

Our thoughts are mental tools of sorts, and we would be wise to consider adding a few to our workbench. As Scripture tells us, we should think about the way we think.

Philippians 4:8
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 

How can we add more mental tools to our life so that we’re ready for when the faucet leaks or it’s time to hang a mirror? Here are four to consider:

1  – Memorize Scripture

Always start with Scripture. “I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11. I’m convinced the main reason people struggle with the Bible is not because it’s hard to understand, but because they’ve never tried it (a subject for another day).

Here’s a couple of life hacks that will help:

Download the Fighter Verses app.

Take a screenshot of a passage of Scripture and make it the wallpaper of your phone. Like this one:

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2 – Commit to build your mental toolbox.

This is crucial. If you don’t to go to the hardware store ahead of time, you will regret having to rush out in the middle of a crisis for something you could’ve already had. Decide today to invest in your thinking.

3 – Always be on the lookout for good resources that are on sale.

Amazon knocks down the prices of certain books most weeks, you just have to know where to look. Here are a couple of people I follow on Twitter that help:

Tim Keller Wisdom – @DailyKeller   Here’s an example:
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Barnabas Piper – @BarnabasPiper    Here’s an example:
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Books can be downloaded on a Kindle or Kindle app (eBooks are usually about 40% cheaper than the hardcopy). And, if you’re more of the listening type, try Audible.

4 – Maximize small moments.

Listen to a book or Podcast on your drive to work or in the pick-up line at school. You should build it into your weekly rhythm. (The last two hours of my work week consists of reading a book that will help me lead better).

In any case, don’t wait until your sink breaks. Get some tools ahead of time.

Do You Push Reset Each Morning?

How I start the day can determine more about the way it goes than just about anything else. I’m not talking about my devotional life per se (though one’s day is certainly affected by it). Instead, I’m focusing on how someone starts.

What is your waking thought? What do you do first thing every morning? Have you thought about it much?

Colossians 3:2
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

I have to push this reset button on my mind each day. Its default mode is set to “earthly things,” and will stay there all day if I let it.

Here are the two ways I press reset:

A VERY SPECIFIC PRAYER

The first thought out of my mind is always the same request to God:

Father, today, expand my mind to think more like Jesus, expand my heart to love more like Jesus, and help me be unashamed of the Gospel.

Then I look at my phone. Not to check email or social media, but to see my Prayer Notebook prompt. This app allows you to set reminders on your phone to pray for specific people and moments. It also keeps track of how God has answered prayers over time. I look at my prompt, pray for whoever is on it, and get ready for the day.

LISTENING TO SCRIPTURE

This is something I’ve only discovered recently, but have grown to love. Listening to Scripture on my phone helps focus my mind on things above (checkout the YouVersion app). Slowing down to write notes in a journal is good for me, too. But there’s something refreshing about hearing the Bible read out loud.

If I don’t start the day well, it tends to get cranky fast. I’ve also noticed that my morning routine thrives on subtle variety. So, I try to throw new things in the mix.

Begin thinking through your morning moments. I’d love to know what you’ve found to help. Leave a comment at the bottom with an idea or observation. It may guide other people to hit reset better. One of my favorites is an observation John Piper made:

“I feel like I wake up and have to get saved again every single morning.

How do you push reset?

Why We Need to Have Fun

A little nonsense now and then
is relished by the wisest men.
Roald Dahl
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Saturday Night Live and Jimmy Fallon make their living by reminding people to laugh at how ridiculous our world can be. The laughter, though, only promises a momentary escape for most. Hope doesn’t exactly linger once the audience quiets down.

Christians, on the other hand, are a people of hope. Yet we can take ourselves too seriously at times. The Gospel is serious to be sure, but it’s also what gives us the ability to laugh amidst the chaos.

Philippians 3:20-21
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

There’s something about being a citizen of a City to come that makes you less uptight about the city you’re living in right now.  Like Paul said, we’re eternal creatures. Life is too long to be worried all the time.

This allows us to live seriously light-hearted.  It gives me freedom to read a book on leadership without obsessing over the way I’m leading. Why? Because one day I’m going to die and go home. My leadership has a shelf life. So, while efficiency and effectiveness matter, there is freedom knowing that those things are a means to an end (namely, the glory of God and the joy of man).

We forget that a lot. I rarely go a week without needing to remind myself on the drive home, “hey, it’s gonna be alright.” It’s my way of remembering who I am; a citizen of another City. (A City that’s way more fun than this one). That usually helps me be more fun in the meantime. There is a light-heartedness knowing all the difficulties and questions today are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).

Christ’s love both sustains us and brings urgency to tell others of the hope that lifts our heaviness. Like the old hymn says,

I was sinking deep in sin,
Far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within,
Sinking to rise no more.
But the Master of the sea
Heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me.
Now safe am I.

Love lifted me!
Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help,
Love lifted me.

We have a Gospel to share. One where the love of Christ lifts us every day. This current city is tough. There’s not much that’s funny about it. But we’re not citizens of this city. We have Good News.

So, loosen up and laugh a little. It’s gonna be alright.

Pay No Attention to the God Behind the Curtain

Remember the moment you found out the Wizard wasn’t all that great or powerful? The face of Oz ended up being a balding, fancy-mustached, lever pulling man behind a curtain. All it took was a yappy little dog to bring the whole thing down.

I used to believe that asking critical questions about Christianity would do that. It was as if my yappy little dog of doubt could somehow expose the Biblical God as a fraud and bring my world down with it.

During that time, I discovered Psalm 51:6.

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Something became very clear after reading it. “If the Biblical God is true,” I reasoned, “and He desires truth in my inmost being, then doubt is nothing to fear. He’s still going to be true at the end of the day.” That idea gave me permission to face doubt head on.

One, in particular, had to do with the authenticity of Scripture. Questions like, “Did Jesus really say and do those things? How did we even get the Bible we have today?” would swirl around in my head all day. So, instead of denying the questions as they gnawed away, I sought answers to them. And my faith became stronger than ever before.

Do you have an area in your life where doubt often creeps in? Race towards it. Don’t be afraid. Take a step this week and read a helpful resource about it.

He desires truth in your inmost being. Go ahead and look. You won’t expose a fraud behind the curtain.

Helpful Resources

These were invaluable for my questions about Scripture:

Why Trust the Bible? by Greg Gilbert (148 pages)

Who Chose the Gospels? Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy by C.E. Hill (320 pages)

The Historical Reliability of the Gospels by Craig Blomberg (416 pages)

The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation for the Evidence of Jesus by Lee Strobel (320 pages)

I also wrote a short paper summarizing the arguments found in these books and others like them. YOU CAN DOWNLOAD IT HERE.