What Is Required?

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” -Psalms‬ ‭51:17‬, ‭ESV‬‬

If I'm honest, sometimes I look to do the right thing not out of a moral or ethical motivation, but rather from a place of selfishness and pride. Even if it'll require some sort of sacrifice, that I'll feel better, or even that others may notice - if I'm truly honest - can be enough of a driver at times.

However, these motivations are no different than the sacrifices that the Israelities, found here in the Old Testament, occasionally offered. Sometimes, their sacrifice came not from a place of sincere desire to seek God or be obedient to His commands. Rather, motivated by selfish desire to be (or at least to be perceived as being) more righteous or more holy, sacrifices were occasionally offered... I mean, we all know how to put on the show right? 

The truth here is that God cares about our motivations. As leaders especially, we need to be mindful of what and why we do the things we do. Are we motivated from a sincere place to serve those in our care? Are our decisions and actions undergirded by a heart for others, or are we simply trying to achieve so that we will be acknowledged? God requires a more pure sacrifice; one that comes from a place that acknowledges our imperfections and that sincerely longs to serve Him and love those around us.

Lord, help us to have broken spirits before you today. Break our pride. Break our selfish desire. Forgive us for our impure motivations, and help us to live and love more like you today. In Jesus name I pray, amen!

Speak, For Your Servant Hears

 “And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, 'Samuel! Samuel!' And Samuel said, 'Speak, for your servant hears.'" - 1 Samuel‬ ‭3:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

When was the last time that you just stopped and listened to the voice of God? Often, our prayers are filled with what we're thankful for and what we'd like God to do for us or for others. However, for this relationship to work, it needs to be a two-way street.

Because I get busy and can easily get caught up in the work that I feel God has called me to do, I far to often stop listening for how God wants to speak to me during and through the everyday situations of life. However, what we see in this passage from Samuel is a posture that we must intentionally emulate. A posture that invites God to speak as we, His servants, listen. It's a posture that values quietness because we know that what God has to say is more important than anything we could say. And it's a posture that seeks to hear and find God's voice all throughout the day, not just during our morning or evening prayers.

Lord, help me to hear your voice today. I invite you to speak just as Samuel did. And I quiet myself so that I might hear. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

Learning to Listen (Sermonette)

When I was kid, I used to be one of those kids - always so curious, and probably too smart for my own good. I remember that my mom would take me to the store with her whenever she’d go grocery shopping and I’d always want something. Sometimes it was candy, but I wasn’t really a candy kid. I loved my Captain Crunch though. My favorite was the peanut butter Captain Crunch. I’d eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if mom would of let me.

The problem wasn’t so much me loving and wanting Captain Crunch. The problem was that I’d always want to buy a new box of Captain Crunch, even when I didn’t need one… Usually because had at least one, sometimes 2 already back at the house waiting for me. I wasn’t greedy despite what those of you who just judged me are thinking…

My mom would of course say no in those moments and occasionally, I’d throw a short little tantrum until my mom leaned in and whispered in my ear, “Wait until we get home…” Some of y’all know what that means….

The bottom line is, I eventually learned the difference between a want and a need. And yes, Peanut Butter Captain Crunch is occasionally a need…

I share this story with you because it came back to me on a trip not to long ago out to Sacramento to visit and be a part of one of Jesus Culture's conference gatherings. The conference was cool. Worship was awesome. The JC Crew was phenomenal – love them… The stats around the number of attendees that started a new Scripture journey aimed at reconnecting them with their communities (the whole purpose of my trip) were amazing…

But for me, it was the journey home that really stuck out the most.

I preface this last bit with a bit of Scripture.

Reading in 1 Peter 3, starting at verse 13…

“Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame.”

Let me tie this all together quickly for you…

The worship set at Jesus Culture's Encounter conference ended at like 11:30ish. Worship went over time and nobody said anything because it was worship. By the time I said goodbye to the JC Crew and was able to get away, after turning down multiple requests to come to the after party, it was like 12:30AM Sunday morning. Of course, I had to check in with my bride who loves Jesus Culture and stayed up all night to hear about it. So here I am, finally asleep, somewhere around 1:30/2ish. Fast forward 4 hours and I’m up and in a cab heading to the airport to catch my 8AM flight back to the east coast. In total, I got maybe 8 hours sleep the entire 2 day trip… I didn’t just want sleep, I needed it.

As I sat in the car, not even really aware of where I was, the cab driver proceeds to try and start a conversation with me. At first I’m giving one-word answers, hoping this guy gets the hint. When he asks me what I was doing out in Sacramento, I told him that I was there for a conference. He asked which, and I told him Jesus Culture… I should have seen it coming. The conversation from there turned into a series of deeper and more profound questions around my faith, what I believed, why I believed what I believed, and how I could believe it given everything else that is going on in the world – meaning that me and the larger Christian community were either to blame for much of the political drama, or too ignorant or naïve to really speak to some of the major issues of our time, or that given all the evil, how good was God really? … It’s 5AM…

After like the first 2 questions I literally remember looking at the ceiling of the cab in the back seat and saying to God – “Really? At 5 in the morning you think I’m in any state of mind to do this?” At that moment I heard this still quiet voice ask me, “if not now when? Are you not prepared?” And everything I'd been talking about with friends and other colleagues at work, everything that I’d argued about in seminary, it all suddenly took on a whole new meaning.

My point and with this I’ll end… We never know when we’re going to find ourselves in a place where we’ll be called on to defend our faith. In 1 Peter 3:15, the author writes “Always be ready to give a defense…” The original Greek word for defense here is “apologia”, the root word for what we now describe as apologetics – literally, the practice of defending our faith. However, the author continues in verse 16 to say “yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”

I could have shut that taxi driver down, thrown in my ear buds, and ironically listened to some Jesus Culture music the entire 40 minute ride back to the airport. But that wouldn’t have been being obedient. I could have broken out my apologetics training and hit the taxi driver with philosophical reasoning that shut down all of his arguments and doubts of my faith, but that wouldn’t have been gentle, respectful, and definitely would not have had any reverence in it. If I’d done either, I’d have missed out on what this taxi driver was really trying to ask me. I would have missed the question behind the question, that he’d eventually get to…

As we pulled up to the airport, and stopped in front of my gate, he said… “Thank you for entertaining my pestering. I’ve recently been thinking about going back to church even though I haven’t been in a long while. But I always struggle with why should I? Why should I go, and why would God care? When I’d think about going, I’d remember all of the reasons that pushed me away. The hypocrites in the pew next to me, the loud mouths on TV, the politicians justifying their actions with Scripture… When I think about what I’ve been through, I never felt like God really cares.” But you’ve given me something else to think about. I’d never looked at Christianity or thought about God in the way that you described. I think I’ll actually go, take a nap in my car in the church parking lot, and then get up in 2 hours and catch the early service.”

The point… It’s not about whether or not you’ve been theologically trained. It’s not about how long or short you’ve been a Christian. And it’s definitely not about how much sleep you’ve gotten. We’re called to be ready to defend our faith and to be gentle with our answers. This comes through first making sure that we are reading the Scriptures and connecting with God personally. But then, when we find ourselves in those moments, taking the time to listen to what others are actually saying to us and asking of us – to truly get to know, to listen for not what they want to hear, but what it is they need to hear. 

What If You Knew...?

And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. - Acts 20:22-23, ESV

What if you knew beforehand that when you walked into some place, something bad would happen to you? Maybe not bad, but something that would cause great discomfort? Would you still go in, or would you turn around and go home?

I can’t help but wrestle with these same questions of myself as I read this passage. To know that wherever he went, according to the Spirit, that he would be imprisoned and/or afflicted, and then still go ANYWAY, one might call him a gluten for punishment.

But he explains his perspective saying, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself…” He understood that there was a higher purpose… He knew that the true value, what gave meaning to His life and even ours today, are the callings and “great plans” (Jer. 29:11) that God has for each of us. We uncover that value, and find the meaning and purpose that we each so desire, only when we completely surrender in our obedience and love of Christ…

Lord, help me to stay focused on You, and to know and be obedient to the purposes you have for my life. In Jesus name I pray. Amen!

Loving Despite All Things

We love because he first loved us. […] And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. - 1 John 4:19 & 21, ESV

It’s not always easy to love the people around us. Especially when they do things to hurt or anger us, it’s even harder to love them. However, we must not forgot that the reason for love is not found in us, AND that it is not contingent upon another person’s actions. If it were, our own feelings would consistently get in the way. Rather, we are called to love because He first loved us. In this realization, loving becomes not just something we WANT to do. It is something we must do, even when we don’t want to do it, out of obedience to Him who loved us when we didn’t deserve it…

Lord, my emotions often times make it hard for me to love others as you’ve called me to. Help me today to set aside my own feelings so that I might be obedient to you. Let your love for me be all the motivation I need to love others no matter what they do or deserve. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Content In All Things

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:11-13, ESV

I love Paul’s attitude here. He explains that no matter the situation he finds himself - good, bad, or otherwise - he’d learned to be content in them all. Easier said than done I’d say.

I personally find it hard to be content in everything. When I’m offended, when a situation is going other than I’d planned, or when something or someone does something to disappoint me, my emotions tend to be anything but content. However, there is something to his mindset here to take away.

No matter what we come up against, if our contentment, our satisfaction, is in The Lord, then It becomes a whole lot easier to be content in every situation. It’s when our contentment, our satisfaction, is governed by our situations - or the people in them - that we will find it much harder to remain content in all things…

Lord, You satisfy me in every way. You provide for my needs and You are always there with me. Help me to not lose sight of You - my source - today. And as my eyes remain trained on you, help me to be content no matter the situation or circumstance. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.


The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. (Deuteronomy 28:12-14, ESV)

I’ve heard so many teachings instructing us that we are to claim the promises of God over our lives, never forgetting who we are to Him who created us… Never forgetting that He loves us.

Case in point, in this passage God declares that His people - the Israelites specifically - will “be the head and not the tail”, and that they’ll “only go up and not down.” What we often neglect to mention or emphasize are the prerequisites ascribed to each of the promises of God.

In this instance, God declared this promise, but qualified it saying that it would only come to pass if His people obeyed His commands. Other promises throughout the Scriptures also come in the form of “if-then” statements. We must remember that as we look to claim the promises of God; as we seek His face and earnestly pray for His glory to be fulfilled in our lives, we must be just as diligent in giving attention to the prerequisites that come along with the promises of God.  Most often, we must simply be obedient. Easier said… Much harder to actually do…

The End Justifies The Means

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11 ESV)

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the many pre-season training camps for soccer that I endured throughout my life. Every year through high school and college, my teammates and I would come together to be “tortured” for 2-4 weeks under the guise of “training and preparation.” If you’d asked me during any one of those pre-season camps whether or not it was pleasant or worth it, I’d probably have said no.

Looking back on things though, because I went through these camps, I was ready to endure whatever came my way during the actual seasons that followed. Discipline tends to have that effect. At times, we may not know why we’re doing something. It may be painful to continue. We may not like it. However, as we go through the process of discipling ourselves, we do 2 things: 1) we express our faith in God’s faithfulness; and 2) we prepare ourselves for the seasons we’ll inevitably come into where our training will ultimately carry us through. By definition, the end will literally justify the means of getting there.

The Scripture says, “… discipline seems painful (…) but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness..” Because our times of training and discipline, we will be able to have peace in later times of trouble that allow us to overcome and pursue righteousness when faced with temptation.

Play Your Role

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,… (Ephesians 4:11-13)

We each have a role to play in God’s design. As the Scripture tells us, we’ve each been uniquely equipped “for the work of ministry” with our purpose being to “build up the body of Christ.” We sometimes forget that our talents and strengths were not meant specifically for us or our own agendas. Rather, they’re meant to help us fulfill the calling on our lives - to play our role. In doing so, not only is the body of Christ built up, be we also find unity with others through faith, and unity with God through the knowledge of whom we serve.

Whatever It Takes

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
(Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a terrible memory when it comes to anything but numbers. If I’m supposed to be somewhere at a certain time, it needs to be on my calendar or I’ll forget. To-do lists keep me from forgetting what tasks need to be completed and there due date…

In this passage, as Moses instructs the people of Israel, God is also instructing us. Put plainly, we are to do whatever it takes to remember what The Lord has commanded us at all times. And because of our obedience, God promised in turn that “our days will be long.” Not simply because we’ve checked off a checklist of things to-do or not do. But because God’s desire and plans for our lives are to “prosper us” and to “give us a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). His plans and instruction will keep us from those things that place His desires for us in jeopardy…

Destination Wilderness

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:1-2)

The Lord often takes us from the known and comfortable, sending us out into the unknown where we’re uncomfortable. However, it’s only in the unknown, where we’re completely reliant on God, that all distraction fades and we begin to see clearly enough to find the promises He has for us.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? (2 Samuel 7:18)

It’s so important to never forget that who we are, and the heights that we achieve, are not of our own doing. That we are blessed, is a testimony to the faithfulness and grace of God. I know that I can get a little haughty or caught up in my own success at times. However, David’s honest humility in simply asking, “Who am I oh Lord,…, that you have brought me this far?” is a reminder that God is the creator, even of the platforms that we rise to.

So You Thought...

Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.” (…) Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. (2 Samuel 7:1-3,11b)

I love this passage. Here we find David and he’s just come up with what he thought was a brilliant idea - He was going to build God a house. Fast forward to verse 11 though and it’s God that says “ACTUALLY, I’m going to build you, David, a house” - figuratively of course.

It strikes me though… How often do we come up with a brilliant idea, or at least what we think is a brilliant idea, and God is like “Yea… That’s great and all. But I’m ACTUALLY going to do this.” Sometimes we may not understand God’s reasoning. But, much like with David, God’s plans always seem to work out better…

Lord, help me to trust your plan over my own ambitions today. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

Finding Strength In Joy (Sermonette)

They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:8-10)

When I was growing up, my parents thought that I had ADD. And to their credit, there may be some truth to that. But they thought this because I was constantly all over the place. I was like the dog from that movie UP. I’d be in the middle of something and suddenly a squirrel would run by and I’d be like “squirrel.” Seriously though, I was the kid in church who was running down the halls, into everything, under everyone, not intentionally, but often causing havoc.

In school I was no better. I wasn’t the kid always talking, but I was the kid distracted by what was going on outside, or in the hallway… Or I’d get lost reading ahead in the book, only to be brought back to the present to the sound of “Arthur…. Arthur… Arthur!” That was the usual refrain from my teachers. It took my name being said at least 3 times for them to regain my attention.
Now, it wasn’t that I was a bad kid. There was just so much going on around me that I hated to miss any of it. You see, I found the "awe" in everything. It was the simple joys that made this life so great. The way the leaves fell off the tree… The way the students lined up in the hallway. The way my Sunday School teacher cursed when she couldn’t find her key but then tried to teach us kids about being holy…

I was in Whole Foods the other day, in line waiting to purchase my lunch, and there was this young mother in front of me holding her child. She was clearly exasperated a bit, but this little boy she was holding was having a blast. At one point, his eyes caught mine, and I smiled and waved. And his reaction was just priceless. He looked at me and when I waved, his eyes got so big that they looked like they were about to pop out of his head. His jaw dropped, and he had this face of complete astonishment. I felt like I could read his mind as he looked at his own hand and slowly raised it in the air. He was thinking, “These thing-a-ma-jigs can do that?! I thought they were just for sucking!” As he raised his hand toward me, his astonishment turned into this face of pure joy and awe. It was brilliant. How often do we find the joy, the awe, in the little things of life?

Contrary to this, I was in the airport the other day, flying back from Tampa after some meetings with some colleagues. While I waited for my plane, there was this little girl sitting across from me with her mother and family. As I sat there watching Homeland on my laptop with one ear bud in, and the other out to make sure I didn’t miss my flight, I watched the following scene unfold…

The little girl was holding a box of crackers. She had been playing with the crackers for a little bit, not really eating them but more so making a mess. Her sister was next to her playing with a doll, and her mother was on the other side of her with a sippy cup and a bottle of orange juice. First, the little girl saw the doll and went to snatch it from her sister. The mother, attempting to keep this scene from blowing up politely asked the older sister to let her little sister play with the doll. At the same time, she went to remove the box of crackers so that the girl had free hands to play with the doll. Big mistake. The little girl not only wanted the doll, she wanted the crackers too. Then she saw the sippy cup and the orange juice also… Long story short, it turned into this big scene as the girl wanted everything, but being maybe no more than 2 years old, could not possibly hold everything. Needless to say, a bunch of screaming ensued. She failed to find the joy in the small things that she already had.

What’s my point? It’s easy for us to find awe and joy at the times when things are good. It gets harder to find this joy when our circumstances take a turn for the worse.

I love the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. These are 2 that I find myself coming back to often. In Nehemiah 8:10 we read, “Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 

For context, in this passage we find God’s chosen people at the end of the reconstruction after the exile. They’d been exiled at the hand of the Assyrians and then the Babylonians, and Jerusalem and the 1st temple were destroyed. Slowly though, across the reign of a few different Persian kings, they began to return and to rebuild the temple and the walls of the city. Their efforts of course weren’t without obstacles and antagonists. The surrounding nations and people weren’t happy to see them return, the city or the temple rebuilt. So they sought to thwart them at pretty much every turn. In fact, a few times, the reconstruction halted as the Israelites became overwhelmed or frustrated. I imagine that these hard times made it hard for them to find the joy of the moment.

So, fast forward to Nehemiah chapter 8, vs 10, and we find the people having finally completed the wall under the leadership of the then governor Nehemiah. They’re now in the square before the Watergate, and the priest and Scribe Ezra have just read to them from the book of the Law - the Scriptures. And they’re beginning to cry. Some are convicted because of how they’ve been living. But others are overwhelmed by the joy of the moment.

The point here, even though their circumstances were bad, even though they were surrounded on all sides by the enemy that sought to thwart and destroy them, they found joy in the hope and promises of God found through the Word of God. Nehemiah and Ezra commanded the people to “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” In other Words, they told them, “Look, times have been bad. But be encouraged. Go home and celebrate because even in our bad times, we still have the hope and promise of God. If we hold onto Him, we can’t help but be joyful. 

The theologian Charles Spurgeon put it like this,”… the man who possesses the joy of the Lord, finds it his strength that it fortifies him against temptation.” Spurgeon went on to say, “Such a man is, moreover, made strong to bear affliction; for all the sufferings put upon him are but a few drops of bitterness cast into his cup of bliss, to give a deeper tone to the sweetness which absorbs them.”

In other words, even though we may sometimes find ourselves in our darkest hour… though we may experience illness and loss, suffering and persecution… when our bank account is empty and all of our friends and loved ones have left us,… none of it compares to the fullness and greatness that we find and have in our God. 

It’s hard to be in awe in our darkest hour. It’s hard for us to see the joy in the midst of our pain. But nevertheless, we must strive to be like that first child that I met in Whole Foods. Despite the hardships going on around us, no matter how weak we feel, we must hold on to the joy of the Lord that can be found in the simplest things of life… As simple as a wave and a smile.

Lessons of a 30-Year Old

“I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you…” (Job 42:2, NLT)

Having recently turned 30, realizing that my 20’s are gone, I find myself being a bit more reflective and self-aware. For example… In my teens and 20’s, I could take off from the gym for a while and then go back randomly a few weeks to a month later and pick up right where I left off as if I never took a break. Fast forward though, and if I’m being honest, my body doesn’t work that way anymore…

There are changes that we go through as we age. Physical changes yes, but also mental changes. For example… I used to have the worst road rage. If you cut me off on the highway, I might have chased your around town for a mile or 10 (*don’t judge me). However, now that I’m older, I think before I react. One might say, I’ve gotten somewhat wiser realizing that stalking people around town simply because they cut you off might be somewhat criminal… 

I’ve also realized this though… We talk a lot. We say a lot of things whether it be what we want, what we intend, and especially what we believe. However, it’s what we do that really, and honestly, speaks for us.

In the book of Job, chapter 42, we find him in a unique and truly difficult place. After suffering terribly, as we read earlier in the book, we find him here at a crossroads - Does he truly believe or doesn’t he? In the midst of his pain, he began to gripe as any normal person might. However, upon being confronted with the reality of whether or not he truly believed, he takes the bold step to stand on and hold fast to his faith. It takes real faith to stare your hurt and shame, your immediate circumstance, in the face and declare that it will not define you and that there is something (someone) greater. 

There have been plenty of times throughout my 30 years of life when I’ve wondered, “God, are you really real?” or “God, how could you let this happen to me?” I’ve been at the same crossroad that Job found himself at like so many others out there today. What I’ve realized though is that it’s not the crossroads itself, or the path that led to it that defines us. No, it is what he do at that crossroads that defines us. In other words, it’s not our pain, suffering, or circumstance that defines us. It is what we say to and do in response to that pain, suffering and circumstance that defines us. We can either give in and succumb to our pain, or we can stand firm in faith, knowing like Job, that there is a God that “can do anything” and who no person or thing “can stop.”

Be Encouraged!

Finding the Strength to Overcome (Sermonette)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

A while back,  my job successfully hosted an event for the team from USA Networks as they launched their reality TV series titled The Moment. Really quickly, the premise of the show revolves around people receiving “2nd chances” to realize unrealized dreams. Pretty awesome concept especially when, as we watched during the special sneak peak, some peoples dreams are as big as rising to such heights as being an NFL coach.  

During the show (the dreamer we’ll call him) got the opportunity to be mentored by a super bowl winning coach as he prepared for the rare prospect of interviewing to join the staff of Notre Dame’s nationally recognized football team. Why him? Well, earlier in the show we found out that he had been a top recruit straight out of college who went on to have a successful career playing and then coaching in the European football league. Though his future looked bright, he ended up putting it aside when his father unexpectedly passed in order to take care of his mother and family… To make a long story short, upon stepping back onto the field for the 1st time in 16 years to coach, he quickly realized that he didn’t have the strength, training, or know how, to even think about getting a position on the Notre Dame football staff…

How does this relate to you & I today? Sometimes, as we pursue our calling or consider difficult tasks, we find ourselves feeling inadequate. Questions plague our hearts and minds as we struggle with doubt, often leaving us wondering, "Can we do this? Is this the right way? Or have we made the right decision." Much like the dreamer in the show, once we step into the moment at hand we quickly realize that we don’t have the strength, training, or know how to even think about achieving what God has placed before us…

How does this relate to the passage in Ephesians 3:20? In this Pauline letter we find a few things:

First, the true source of our strength is God’s spirit in our inner being. Paul, in his prayer, did not ask for God to increase the talent or wisdom of any individual. He understood that to overcome their current circumstance, what they needed wasn’t a greater gifting. Rather, he prayed in verse 16 that they would “be strengthened with power through His (God’s) Spirit already in their inner being” because God’s strength is far more capable than our individual talent or gift.

Second, the amount of strength in us is directly proportionate to the riches of God’s glory. Paul, in his prayer understood that the Ephesian church didn’t need a little “pick me up” to get through their current trials. If they needed just a little jolt to get them through, I imagine he’d have simply prayed that God would sustain them. Rather, Paul prayed asking that God would strengthen them “according to His (God’s) riches in glory” because God’s glory is unending.

Third, only with God’s strength can we begin to fathom the unfathomable.  Paul didn’t pray for wisdom even though so many times throughout the Bible we find instruction to seek or ask God for wisdom. New knowledge and new strategies weren’t what was needed for the church of Ephesus’ situation. Rather, Paul prayed that they would have the strength to truly comprehend the breadth and length, height and depth of God’s love – an understanding that leads to hope in the incomprehensible.

Fourth, and finally, even with the strength, hope and understanding we have through the Spirit already at work within us, God can still do greater things then we can ever imagine. Paul didn’t praise a God who could meet our expectations or bring about our wildest dreams. Seriously, would any of us really look at a jug of water and see the potential for it to become wine? No, Paul believed in a God who was capable of the miraculous – a God who consistently defies imagination. Paul prayed to and praised a God that can and does far more abundantly (other translations say exceedingly greater, or my favorite IMMEASURABLY GREATER) then all that we ask or think.

Today, as we go about our daily tasks, I’d like to challenge us to remember these 4 points as we seek the face of God for the task at hand. Though our situation often may feel all-consuming. Though we may at times feel incapable… Remember that our true source of strength lies in God, and that that source is as endless as God’s Glory. That when we trust in that strength, we find hope for the unbelievable because we serve a God who can do the immeasurable.