January 31, 2020

I am on a college-visit road trip this week with my daughter Elizabeth. It’s an emotional time for me! And personally, when I get emotional, anxiety is lurking just around the corner. Of course, my observant spiritual Enemy knows this about me. So, he took every opportunity he could to poke at that tendency, including, but not limited to, car problems 7.5 hours from home—and 7.5 hours from our destination. For me, this spiritual battle with anxiety is my heart vacillating between fearing the worst-case scenarios and wholeheartedly trusting a sovereign King and loving Father with my life. The better, wiser perspective is obvious—simple, but not easy.  

This week’s Bible story from the book of Esther is uniquely cool for several reasons: 1. The name of God is not mentioned anywhere in the text—although His fingerprints are all over it. 2. The hero is a heroine! 3. It raises all kinds of contemporary cultural issues for us to ponder (e.g., society’s emphasis on physical beauty, government corruption, gender roles, civil disobedience, racial oppression). 4. The narrative contains some of the best and most ironic plot twists of all time. 

But best of all, the book of Esther is a study of trusting God’s loving sovereignty in the face of literally the worst-case scenario. I encourage you to curl up by the fire this weekend and read this short story. Notice all the places where crucial events “just so happened…” Notice God, at work, behind the scenes, directing things to work out exactly opposite of what you’d expect.

He is trustworthy. When we can’t see how something can possibly be “for our best,” we can rest in the wisdom and care of our God. He never takes His eye off you. Your circumstances may be out of your control—but they are never out of His. He’s got this. 

Praying as we wrestle between fear and trust,

January 4, 2020

I love newness. A new calendar, new goals, a new fresh start. I am excited to be in a new decade! Welcome to the 2020s people! 

In NCBC Kids ministry, we begin this new year in a section of Scripture that understandably doesn’t get a lot of press in children’s Bible storybooks: The book of Obadiah.

That actually excites me quite a bit. How cool is it that our kids will be hearing from a part of the Bible with which us parents may not even be familiar?

The prophet Obadiah discusses a conflict between Edom and Israel that is like a long sibling rivalry. This is what can happen to people and families who do not learn how to manage conflict and forgive each other. That alone can serve as a good warning and teaching tool for our kids—and let’s face it—for ourselves.

But I also encourage you to lean into a larger concept we don’t like to think about in 2020s America: God’s justice and holy wrath. It is more comfortable to talk about God’s love and deliverance but that only tells a portion of the truth. This week is a great time to be reminded that it is only in God’s great mercy that we find the real hope of newness: a new creation, a new body, a new sinless nature. Because Jesus took on the punishment of God that we and Edom and Israel deserved, we get to have the deliverance and salvation of God. That’s the gospel and it is very good news.