Vegetables And Dessert

a-testimony-to-othersHave you ever noticed that kids would prefer to eat dessert more than vegetables? Well, maybe you’re an adult and you still feel the same way! But “veggies before dessert” is still a good motto to live by.


What happens if you eat only dessert? Do you eventually get healthier or are you setting yourself up for some unfavorable health conditions? What about if you only eat vegetables? The flavor may not be as good, but at least you’ll be getting healthier.

Jesus told His followers to expect the “veggie” times in time. He said, “In this world you will have trouble.” And He told us, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me.” There were no ifs or maybes in those statements!

As Christians living on Earth, the Apostle Peter calls us “aliens and strangers.” That means that both our attitude and our lifestyle should be, well, alien compared to Earthlings. Especially when we’re in a veggie time of life.

Jesus was the Perfect Man. He never said anything wrong, and He never did anything wrong. Yet He was insulted, persecuted, and eventually killed in the most horrific way imaginable. But here’s the amazing thing: Jesus went through all of this without retaliating or threatening judgment on His persecutors. Peter said that the way Jesus went through this was intended to be an example for us.

The writer of Hebrews agreed—Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him Who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 

Notice it says, “for the joy set before Him.” Other translations say “because of the joy awaiting Him” or “He never lost sight of where He was headed” or “He never lost sight of the joy ahead of Him.” In other words, Jesus knew what God’s plan was from before the beginning of time, so He—as Peter said—kept on entrusting Himself to God.

We have to do the same thing!

I have to confess something. When I quoted the “veggie” part of a couple of verses earlier in this post, I left off the “dessert” part…

  • “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
  • “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven….” (Matthew 5:10-12)

The way you handle your vegetable times—disease, insults, financial setbacks, outright persecution—can be a testimony to others. The way you go through these trials could help others turn to the Shepherd and Overseer of their souls.

Are you in a trial now? Keep on entrusting yourself to Him Whose plans cannot be thwarted. 

It might seem all “veggies” now, but you are getting healthier, and the “dessert” you cannot even imagine is on its way!

5 Ways To Be A Christlike Employee

Work like JesusHave you ever had a bad boss? One who was harsh, unreasonable, overly demanding, or just a plain meany? Do you think working for a “bad boss” means that you get to lower your standards?

Not if you are a Christian!

Christians are on Earth to represent Jesus. We are aliens and strangers here for a short time, but here to also point people toward Heaven. One place we have tremendous opportunity to do this is on our jobs.

Think about it: most people will work 30-40 hours per week, and probably work 40-50 years of their life. That’s a lot of hours in which to show that living for Jesus makes all the difference in the world. 

Peter addresses our work situation in his first epistle. In essence he says, “You may not be able to control your boss’s actions, but you can control your reactions. A Christian has a different attitude about workplace employers than Earthlings do.”

The two things that set Christian employees apart is their submission and their respect.

Submission means understanding the proper order. This isn’t just showing up on time, wearing the right uniform and checking off the right things on your job description. All of those things can be done with a lousy attitude, with an attitude that’s nothing like Christ’s attitude.

Submission means viewing our employers differently—

  • Obeying them like we would obey Jesus (Ephesians 6:5).
  • Being sincere when we say, “Yes, I’d be happy to do that” (Ephesians 6:5).
  • Working hard even when our employer isn’t watching us (Ephesians 6:6).
  • Working wholeheartedly (Ephesians 6:7).
  • Not working for an earthly paycheck, but for God’s reward (Colossians 3:23-24).
  • Submitting, respecting and working like Jesus would (1 Peter 2:21-23).
  • Making sure I am a joy to my boss, and never a burden (Hebrews 13:17).

With that in mind, here are five ways to be an “alien employee.” That is, someone who honors God on-the-job…

  1. Work for God.
  2. Trust God to be your Provider, not your employer.
  3. Trust God to keep perfect records of your faithful service.
  4. Pray for God’s blessing on your employer.
  5. Pray for your employer to see Jesus in your work ethic.

Here’s a great question to ask yourself: If Jesus were filling out my employee evaluation, what would He say about my work ethic? 

Aliens and Strangers

Aliens and StrangersChristians are not citizens of Planet Earth. Our citizenship is in a place called Heaven, and yet we are traveling on Earth during our present lifetime. So the question is: How is a citizen of Heaven supposed to act while visiting Earth?

The Apostle Peter was one of the most active disciples of Jesus. During Christ’s first visit to Earth, Peter is recorded as speaking more than all of the other disciples combined. And not surprisingly, Jesus speaks more words directly to Peter than He does to all of the other 11 disciples combined. Peter got a lot of training!

With that background, Peter gives us invaluable instructions in his first letter to the church. He calls Christians things like: strangers in the world, chosen people, peculiar people, and aliens and strangers in the world. He tells us travelers not only how to behave while traveling on Earth, but why we should travel in a God-honoring way.

We will be continue to work our way through these fascinating themes of Peter’s instructions for aliens and strangers this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in the Cedar Springs area, I would love to have you join us. If you cannot join us in person, we will be broadcasting each message live on Facebook, and then we will make the video available later in the week.

I am excited to rejoin this journey of discovery with you!

4 Tips For Making Better Goals

1 Corinthians 10.31I have noticed a lot of similarities between the September back-to-school rush, and New Year’s Day. Except instead of resolutions, in the fall most people set new goals, or try to readjust their schedules to take advantage of a new season.

This is an excellent idea, and the perfect time to do it.

In a psalm written by Moses, he tells us to understand the value of our days, and be as wise as we can with what we do with each day God has given us (Psalm 90:12).

The Apostle Paul echoes these thoughts:

Be very careful, then, how do you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

One way for us to make the most of every day is to wisely set some goals. Here are four tips that I’ve discovered to help me.

(1) The fewer the goals, the better.

Craig Groeschel said, “To do more things, do less things better.” I totally agree. I would suggest limiting yourself to just 1-2 goals at a time. Then put these one or two goals on your calendar first. In other words: Don’t prioritize your schedule, but schedule your priorities.

(2) Don’t fall into the sacred/secular trap.

So many people—even Christians—think that there are spiritual goals and non-spiritual goals. But the Bible says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Every goal you set is a spiritual goal, because every goal should help you live your life wisely, in a way that honors and glorifies God.

(3) Make your goals S.M.A.R.T.

You may have heard these before, but I really like to use them. Make your goals:

  • Specific—not “I want to eat better” but “I want to eat two servings of fruits or vegetables each day.”
  • Measurable—have a way to track your progress toward your goal. How many pages did you read? how many calories did you eat? how many minutes did you work out?
  • Achievable—don’t set a goal to run 5 miles a day if you’ve only been a couch potato. Ramp your goals up little by little in a way that’s achievable for you.
  • Relevant—I like to ask a “so that?” question about each of my goals in make sure it’s moving me forward. “I want to exercise for 20 minute three times per week, so that my blood pressure comes down, so that I can live medicine-free, so that I can….” I think you get the idea. Keep going to make sure your goal is relevant for your life.
  • Time to review—set a date to revisit your goals and see if you need to adjust anything.

(4) Make a “stop doing” list.

You cannot do everything, so focus on the important, not the urgent. And remember not everything can stay on your calendar. For instance, if you want to read more in the evenings, you may have to eliminate some TV time; if you want to exercise in the mornings, you may have to eliminate that second cup of coffee.

Just a couple of verses after Moses challenges us to make the most of every day God has given us, he asks God for His help—May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.

May God give you wisdom as you make new goals, and may He bless the work of your hands as you implement your new strategies.

I Love My â€śJob”

I cannot even begin to tell you how thrilled I am when I get to baptize folks in water who have made the decision to follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Today it was even sweeter when I got to baptize a father and son!

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7 Tips For A Better Night’s Sleep

Psalm 4.8It’s no secret that being tired can lead to a lot of not-so-nice consequences. Everything from automobile crashes, to poor work performance, to foot-in-mouth statements, to giving in to temptations, to health issues are all traced back to not getting enough peaceful sleep.

But did you know that sweet sleep is something God wants to give you?

Psalm 127 says, “God grants sleep to those He loves.” Guess what? God loves you, and wants you to have a peaceful night’s sleep!

Here are some benefits to getting solid sack time:

  1. Muscles are repaired—the body “turns off” muscles during sleep so they can repair themselves.
  2. The hormone leptin, that regulates your appetite, is adjusted.
  3. Your blood pressure is lowered.
  4. Your heart rate is lowered.
  5. The energy-producing cells we all need are restocked.
  6. Your immune system is re-energized.
  7. Memories are consolidated from short-term memory banks to long-term memories.
  8. The hormones that allow you to concentrate are replenished.
  9. Your “database” of decision-making options is re-calibrated.
  10. Bottom line—you get healthier physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.

All of this God wants to give to those He loves. “God loves me, so I’m going to sleep peacefully tonight!”

The problem is we often sabotage God’s blessing of sweet sleep by our own poor decisions during the day. So here are seven things you can do to cooperate with God’s blessing of sleep:

  1. Reduce stress. Stress causes your body to release cortisol, which prepares your body for fight-or-flight. This means when you’re trying to quiet down for the night, your body is still screaming, “Go, go go!” Stress is mainly triggered by worrying over things outside of our control, so check out what Jesus said to us about not worrying—Matthew 6:25-34.
  2. Reduce late-day caffeine. Caffeine has a half-life of six hours, so if you are pouring it into your body late in the date, you might fall into bed exhausted but the caffeine is keeping your brain buzzing. As a result, you don’t have the normal deep sleep patterns.
  3. Eliminate emotional caffeine. Arguments with other people release cortisol and adrenaline in your bloodstream. If these disagreements are happening later in the day, your body is fighting against God’s plan for your tranquil sleep. So take care of any disagreements quickly (Ephesians 4:26).
  4. Exercise. Getting some movement into your daily routine flushes cortisol and adrenaline from your bloodstream.
  5. Go to bed and get up at the same time. There’s a reason God made the sun to rise and set at predictable times. Your body also functions best on a predictable schedule.
  6. Reduce “blue lights” close to bed time. The blue light waves of dawn tell our bodies to stop releasing melatonin, the sleepy hormone. The red light waves of dusk tell our bodies to increase melatonin so we can go to sleep. But when we’re staring into the blue light of our phones and tablets, our body is being sent a conflicting signal.
  7. Pray. Two great passages you can pray before bedtime are Psalm 4:8 and Proverbs 3:24. Claim those promises of sweet sleep!

God loves you. He wants to give you the blessing of peaceful sleep. If you’re going to sleep peacefully tonight, make sure you are not sabotaging what God wants to give you.

4 Blessings From Trusting God + 1 Curse For Not

Choose lifeWhen you have a decision to make, isn’t it nice when you know the outcome of each option ahead of time? I mean, it makes it way easier to decide when you know what you’re going to get with each decision.

Like just before the Israelites head into the Promised Land, God says, “You can choose Me and have a whole lot of blessings, or you can choose another god and miss out on all My blessings” (Deuteronomy 30:11-20).

Easy choice, right?

I think the songwriter of Psalm 125 had that Deuteronomy passage in mind when he wrote his song of ascent. Basically, he says, you can trust God (v. 1) or you can walk on crooked paths (v. 5). What does it mean to trust God? Literally it means to have a confident expectation that He is Who He says He is, and He does what He says He’s going to do.

To help make the decision easier, the songwriter lists four blessings that come when we trust God—

  1. We become as secure and unshakeable as Heaven is (v. 1).
  2. We experience God’s “surroundedness” over, around, above and beneath us (v. 2).
  3. We escape evil’s clutches (v. 3).
  4. We experience God doing good for us (v. 4).

Of course, we can also choose not to trust God. We can try another path on our own. The curse for doing that is pretty sad—God will allow those who aren’t responsive to His voice to walk away from Him (v. 5).

Just like the story of the prodigal son (in Luke 15), the Father will allow you to walk away, but He will continue to long after you. And hopefully like that wayward son you will “come to your senses” and return to your Father. When you do, He will run to you, wrap you in His love, restore you to His family, and allow you to experience all of His blessings again!

The choice is up to you. I pray you will choose life and blessing and surroundedness, and God’s goodness toward you.

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