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Our Response to Failure

Several years ago I caught part of a documentary on the band Kings of Leon. The lead singer, Caleb, was talking about all the great people they had been able to meet on tour. He shared that one of his most memorable meetings was with Bono of the band U2. Bono said to him something to the effect of, “Every artist you meet is either running toward God or running away from Him, which one are you going to be?” I found that to be insightful and I think it’s true. Tomorrow is Good Friday and the Bono quote got me to thinking.

Away from God: Judas

The Gospel of Matthew records, “Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?’ And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.” (Matt. 26:14-16 ESV)

The very next section of Scripture records Jesus and his disciples observing Passover. As they are all eating, Jesus tells them that, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” (26:21) They all start to ask him if they were the one. Matthew tells us that Judas also asks. Jesus tells Judas, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” (John 13:27b ESV) We are then told that the others assumed that because Judas was the treasurer that he was going to purchase supplies for the coming feast. (13:29-30) The point is that only Jesus knew what Judas was about to do. Just like Judas’ our own sin is usually hidden from others. However it is not hidden from God.

Toward God: Peter

Jesus called out Judas and he also called out Peter. In Matthew we read that Jesus tells the disciples that they all will fall away [that] night. Peter was the first to speak out and proclaim his loyalty to his friend. Then we read, “Jesus said to him, ‘Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’”(Matt. 26:34 ESV)  

Jesus knew Peter’s and Judas’ failings before they happened. 

We all struggle with sin, Jesus knows we are going to mess up long before we do. Judas and Peter and their deeds were known and seen by God before they came to be. The difference was how each man responded afterwards.

Wrong Response to Failure

Judas tried to make it right on his own by returning the silver to the temple and telling the religious leaders that he changed his mind. (Matt. 27:3-4) When this was not accepted, he made his own redemption by ending his life. (27:5) He didn’t trust that he would be forgiven. His regret was too deep.

Another Betrayal

While Jesus was standing in front of the High Priest being falsely accused, Peter stood nearby. A servant girl, and then two others all remembered seeing Peter with Jesus and the others. Each time Peter denies knowing Jesus and each time with more aggression. Finally saying, essentially, I swear to God I don’t know that man. Luke’s Gospel reads, “And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will deny my three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:60b-62 ESV)

With the same quickness that Peter pled his allegiance to Jesus, he completely denied knowing him.

The Right Response to Failure

A week or two after the resurrection, Simon Peter and six others went fishing. After a day of fishing and catching nothing a voice called to the men from the shore. The man asked if they had caught any fish. They told the man that no, they had not caught anything. So the man tells them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat and they were unable to haul in all they had caught. John said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” (John 21:7 ESV) When Peter heard this, he jumped into the water and swam to shore about 100 yards. (21:8) Peter ran towards Jesus. Peter pressed into God after he failed. Jesus gave Peter three opportunities to tell him he loved him and recommissioned him each time. (21:15-19)

Peter and Judas both betrayed Jesus. Judas did not trust the redemptive power of Jesus and Peter ran toward it. Judas is known as the betrayer and Peter is a pillar of of the Church.

When we fail, it is the way we respond that makes the difference. You did not surprise Him by sinning. Jesus nailed that sin to the cross and paid for it. Will you believe and rely on that reality next time you fall short?

Are You Listening?

Are You Listening?

When I was in school and I got my report cards, there was a common thread in the comment section throughout the years. The observation from my teachers was, “excessive talking in class.” In grade school, this did not matter as much because my grades weren’t suffering. However, as I got older, the talking made it harder for me to hear what was being taught and my grades were sliding. It is difficult to hear when we can’t stop talking.

James reminds us that everyone should be quick to hear and slow to speak. (James 1:19) I’ve heard countless pastors and teachers remind students that they have “two ears and one mouth.” Echoing the idea presented in James. What a concept though!

When you really evaluate yourself, are you the type of person that actually listens or are you just waiting for your turn to speak? I’ve seen this in my youngest daughter. I will be giving her correction or instruction and I can tell that she is not paying attention. She may be looking at you, but no processing is taking place, yet as soon as you are done speaking (or maybe even before that) she is giving her response. As we enter the election season again, I am reminded of her as I watch the debates. I cringe watching these people talk at each other and over each other in hopes of getting a soundbite that goes viral—no one is listening!

It is important for us to be quick to listen. Listening is the only way we can really move past our preconceived notions and understand someone else’s position or ideas. And it takes effort (sometimes a lot!) to pump the brakes on our own desires to be heard.

I read in a recent article, “In our social media age, where someone stands on an issue is rarely seen in the context of why they believe what they believe. The dynamic has led to families, communities, and churches polarized by division…many of us see the world only through our own perspectives, relegating ourselves to societal echo chambers that only reinforce our views while essentially dismissing seeing things another way.”

We can get so much more from listening to people with differing opinions than our own. I know I learn so much more that way. Jesus never shouted down an idealistic opponent. He listened and responded in a way that his opponent could hear and understand. My daughter can respond without really listening, but she comes by it honestly. I can find myself ready to talk before I’ve taken the time to listen and process.

How about you? Are you listening?

resolving conflicts____________

How do you resolve conflicts? Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” I don’t know about you, but I have grown so tired of social media. I’ll be more specific; I am tired of Facebook. Facebook has become a place to throw ideological grenades with no thought as to what may happen. Friends and family will post, sometimes, inflammatory posts and not want to engage afterward. Over the last year or so I have seen it get so much worse and my Christian friends are often times worse than my non-Christian friends. What can we do?


When Jesus gives one of his most famous sermons you have to understand something. What Jesus is sharing is revolutionary and, in some instances, downright scandalous! This was at the beginning of his earthly ministry and Jesus was definitely making a name for himself. This portion of Scripture is known as the “Beatitudes.” Jesus had been traveling all throughout Galilee teaching and healing. Word of this spread all through the area even to Syria and beyond the Jordan and crowds have gathered.


Jesus goes through the foundations of Hebraic Law and contrasts the understanding of the day with His own take on things. Many of the topics Jesus would teach on would begin with, “you have heard it said … But I tell you …” I want to focus on this idea of peacemaking and dispel some myths. First, let’s define a term. Blessed is the experience of hope and joy, independent of outward circumstances. Peacemaking is NOT the absence of conflict. Peace in the Bible is never to be confused with pacifism. Peace is not avoiding strife. Peace is not appeasing parties. We must remember that just glossing over problems, acting as if everything is alright when it is not is not being a peacemaker.


Let’s be honest, peacemaking can be messy and wrenching work. It takes time and emotional energy. Jesus is our example of a peacemaker; establishing healing relationships of peace with the Father and with each other. We will fail, and we will get bruised, but we are to love one another.


Next time you are checking your newsfeed and find yourself confronted with a post that bothers or upsets you think of this acronym: ENATA. So often I find myself wanting to simply react and often not in the most edifying manner. Before you respond, ask yourself is what you want to say Effective, Necessary, Accurate, Timely, and Appropriate? If you cannot answer yes to these, perhaps you should just listen and not add to the noise and vitriol. Remember, God is the God of Peace (Heb.13:20) and Christ is the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6) when we are peacemakers, we are partaking of God’s nature.


Christmas Gifts: To Serve Man

Christmas Gifts: The Gift of Service
To Serve Man

I love the holidays. Ever since I was a kid I have loved this time of the year. I loved it for a few reasons. Obviously, I loved it for spending time with my family and eating and laughing and opening presents, but I also waited all year for one thing. I waited all year for the Twilight Zone marathon. My cousins and I would huddle together around my grandparents’ little television in their basement in West Orange, NJ and watch the New Year’s Eve marathon. One episode, a classic, is titled, “To Serve Man.” In this episode, earth is visited by spaceships carrying a large race of aliens called the Kanamits. At first the earthlings are skeptical of these Kanamits, but as they learn more and more, it seems they come in peace. The aliens shared advances in science and technology. They shared farming techniques and showed real care to the inhabitants of earth. They brought with them a book. This book looked like a Bible or a manual of some sort. It was written in their language and government code breakers were trying to determine what it was. The government specialists cracked the code and the title appeared to be, “To Serve Man.” What great news! They were there to serve! As time progressed, people were boarding ships to go and visit the Kanamits’ home planet. Spoiler alert, upon further investigation, a government agent runs towards the ship shouting to a colleague that the book was not titled, “To Serve Man.” The book was titled, “How to Serve Man.” It’s a cookbook!

In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul outlines different gifts of the Spirit. One of these gifts is the gift of service. In his letter to the Romans, Paul uses the word Diakonia (dee-ah-kah-nee-ah) which means administration or service; serviceable labor. This is where we get the word Deacon. I never thought I had much to contribute. When I heard service, I thought missions or full time ministry. Growing up in the church not feeling like I had anything to give felt awkward. I learned over time that service did not mean hopping on a plane and jetting over to Zimbabwe to feed orphans or build a hospital. For some of you that might be what it means, but not for most of you. I learned that giving of your time as well as your finances and talents are service as well. I have played worship in corporate gatherings for over seventeen years. I have taught VBS classes, been a day-camp counselor and spent some time among homeless individuals in Florida. Without realizing it, I had been serving!

What about you? Have you experienced the gift of service? How did it make you feel? My wife and I have been broke and received service in the form of financial blessing. We have also been able to sacrificially give when we did not think it was possible. It is no mystery that serving feels good. Knowing that you have impacted someone in that way feels great! On one very practical level, seeing the joy and gratefulness service can bring hits us in the feels. However, the reality is that we feel that way because we are operating in the Spirit. Why do we serve? Well, if we are called to be Christ-like, take a look at the Gospel of Mark. Chapter ten and verse forty-five reads, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus came to serve and so we also, should serve. What does this have to do with Kanamits? We need to be careful that our motives are not cloudy. When you have served in the past, did you receive praise from people around you? Felt nice didn’t it? We need to be careful that we do not let pride sneak in. It can be too easy to fall into the church groupie camp and just spend all of our time being seen on committees and seen doing various acts of service. We have to be mindful that we do not become like the proud Pharisee praying out loud in the temple. We need to be more like the humble, broken tax-collector quietly confessing.

Enough of that – I did not come here to lecture you. I want you to know two things. You may not feel like you are serving, but service does not look the same in everyone. We cannot all be feet and we cannot all be hands. We are not all international missionaries and we are not all called to preach sermons. The same way that there are many gifts but one Spirit, there are many parts but one body. Each of us has a part to play in the body of Christ. You may already be serving in ways you do not realize. You will also notice that the gift of service, like all of the other gifts of the Spirit, is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Like Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians, the more we serve, the more we will find ourselves privileged to do so. So this holiday season, don’t be like the Kanamits. Don’t have cloudy motives while you are serving. Recognize that you have your part to play and that your identity does not lie in the praises of man but in the person of Jesus.


Guest Blogspot … from

May the Fourth … Be With Me

May 4, 2015

Today is DAY 1 of Guest Blogger Week at and I’m super excited for my friend Jason Romine to kick it off.  Jay and I went to Junior High and High School together and then after going our separate ways for a bunch of years, ended up working at the same Apple Store together.  I’ve had the opportunity to watch him grow and see God use him in amazing ways to make people’s lives better.  He is a great man of God, husband and father and it’s an honor to have his voice on here today.  When you have some time, check out his blog at


I am so excited for the opportunity to share with all of you this morning! As you obviously know, Glenn asked me if I would contribute again to his daily blog. He explained that this time I would be writing about my favorite passage from Scripture and why. This sounded great so, of course, I said yes.

The passage that immediately jumped out in my mind is one I know you have all heard before. Even nonbelievers use this passage as an analogy in many arenas. It is the ultimate ‘underdog’ story. It is the story of David and Goliath. This story took on new meaning and depth for me almost ten years ago. We did a study on it in our men’s group and the depth we found is incredible. I will try to keep this post concise and pick out the main reasons why I love this passage so much.

1 Samuel 17 is where you can find the whole story, but I’ll just summarize it for you here:

We all know the main components of the story. David is a young shepherd boy who is sent to the front lines of battle to bring his brothers food from their father, Jesse. When David arrives he sees commotion and fear and inaction. David sees a giant taunting the armies of Israel and no one doing anything about it. David is offended that this giant would berate and disrespect God, and says that he will do something about it. Saul, the king, offers his armor to David but it is cumbersome and impeding. David elects to go to the brook and gather five smooth stones and face the giant with his shepherd’s staff and his weapon of choice which was a sling. There is an exchange of words and David runs at Goliath, loads his sling, and releases a stone that sinks into the giant’s forehead. The giant falls. The end. Right? Wrong. The part that got glazed over, at least in my Sunday school classes, is that David approached the fallen giant, took the giant’s sword and cut off the giant’s head. This is what killed Goliath – having his own weapon used against him. This was the piece that stood out ten years ago for me.


When I say, “We all have giants that we deal with”, what do you think of?  What is the giant or struggle that immediately comes to your mind? It could be anything – anger, hurt, addiction, lust, an annoying coworker, an abusive spouse or friend.  Whatever it is, it can seem unbeatable can’t it?

Goliath was the champion of the Philistine armies. He was a very successful killer from a long line of giants from Gath. He was an expert in human destruction.

David was a teenager who watched his father’s sheep. David was a musician, a poet. David was also fearless. David had confidence in his God and would not stand for the abuse of the Israelites anymore.

David brought his skill set to the table. David had wrestled wild beasts when they came to attack his father’s flock. David had honed his skill with that sling. David trusted God, but did not sit on his hands either. He used his God-given abilities to do his part. God had to guide the stone that David flung and give it the ability to subdue his giant. Then David had to unsheathe Goliath’s massive sword, lift it up and take of that giant’s head.


When you and I face our giants, we are able to knock them down. That giant may stay down for a while, but it will always rear its ugly head when you least expect it. However, when you cut those giants’ heads off, you experience a different kind of release. It will be an on-going process for many of you, but with accountability and encouragement, it is amazing what we can do for one another. It says in Proverbs, Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

When I read this account from Scripture, I am reminded that when our enemy, the devil, tries to attack us and make us doubt who we are, we defeat him by using his weapons against him. My mentor and spiritual father modeled this for me. He comes from a history of drug addiction and when he got saved, he decided to make one of his goals helping others through their addiction. By the grace of God and through this action of helping others slay their giants, he has been sober for decades and found his breakthrough.

God gave us two ears that do not close and one mouth that does. We need to listen to our brothers and sisters and hear what they are struggling with. We then need to take our God-given abilities and ask that the Lord guide us. We can then help each other slay our giants and achieve the victory that can show the world the love of the Father.

If you are going through something and you are being taunted by a giant, ask yourself these questions that I asked myself ten years ago:

– Do you admit but not share?

– Do you have a spiritual mother or father?

– Are you accountable to anyone?

When you can answer these questions, you are on your way to breakthrough.

God is for you and that is my encouragement.

– Jason

Where is the body? ___________________________

As I prepare for a speaking engagement next week, I was looking in the Gospel of Matthew. I will be speaking on ‘Reach’ and what that means in light of the Great Commission. The beginning of chapter twenty-eight of Matthew records the events of Resurrection Sunday morning. When Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (possibly Jesus’ aunt) went to see the tomb. The Bible says there was an earthquake and an Angel of the Lord came and rolled back the stone at the opening of the tomb. The Roman guards who were charged with guarding the tomb were terrified and fainted, or “became like dead men.” (Matt 28:4) This is when the Angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

What strikes me this morning is what I read in the footnotes of this passage. This is something I honestly don’t think I ever thought about: The stone was not rolled away so Jesus could get out. The stone was rolled away so others could get in and see that Jesus was not there. As a young person, I just thought that the Angel rolled it back, Jesus gave a nod and a high five and he peaced out. Jesus defeated death, he couldn’t roll a heavy stone?


This whole story, this whole movement, hinges on one thing and that is the empty tomb. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, than all of this is foolish. But where is the body? If the Religious and political leaders wanted to make sure that this movement was quenched and dispersed, wouldn’t they want nothing more than to produce a body? The Roman attachment stationed at the tomb was charged with guarding the tomb with their lives. The Roman government had a zero tolerance policy for abandonment of post or failure of mission.

If Jesus had just fainted on the cross, and then came to in the tomb, there is no human way to move that stone. Also, the tomb was sealed by the Roman government. Even if some of Christ’s followers wanted to perpetrate a hoax, how? Do you honestly think that the Roman soldiers would have allowed that? John Piper writes about this. About the idea that the disciples took the body, he poses the question, “Could they have overcome the guards at the tomb? More important, would they have begun to preach with such authority that Jesus was raised, knowing that he was not? Would they have risked their lives and accepted beatings for something they knew was a fraud?”1

It seems clear to me that if the Resurrection was a hoax, Christianity as a whole would not exist. Surely the message of the Gospel would not have spread from the backwoods town of Galilee around the world and back again. The burden of proof is on those who deny Christ’s deity. Where is the body? The tomb is empty. Death has been defeated.

Taken from “Eight Reasons Why I Believe That Jesus Rose from the Dead” by John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:

Thanksgiving Thoughts _________________________


Enjoy your day today. It’s what God wants.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14

Today I decided to make another contribution to the ‘daily’ journal I started over four years ago. Just to give you some perspective, even if I started this journal exactly four years ago I should have 1460 pages. Today is page 45 … But it is OK, because it’s more about the content than the mere exercise itself.

Today I read from Oswald Chambers’ book, My Utmost for His Highest. Today’s title was The Consecration of Spiritual Energy. The verse was from Galatians 6 and I know the importance of context when reading Scripture so I read Galatians 6:11-18. In this passage, Paul is writing to Gentiles who are now Christians. Because the roots of the early church began in Judaism, there was much debate regarding circumcision. In the old covenant with Abraham, God instructed that all men who are in Abraham’s family from that point on were to be circumcised as a mark of identity in God’s family. This separated them from all other men and reminded them that they were set apart. In the first century, as many men came to faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, they would be circumcised to identify with the larger group. Paul here is explaining that physical circumcision is not necessary. Paul is saying that the people who are pushing for circumcision are simply doing so to boast in the number of converts being created. This to me is like conferences that share how many ‘decisions for Christ’ were made, but do no real follow up. Being a Christian is not about ‘praying the prayer’ or saying a magic phrase and that’s it. It is a change of heart and mindset. It is a relationship and not simply a choice in religion.

Many people who become Christians think that they need to throw away their TV and dump their bottles of alcohol in the sink and dust off their gray suit and part their hair on the side. This is not to say that there are not people who should do some of that, this is not what Jesus wants from us. In the Gospel of John, Jesus prays what is called the High Priestly Prayer. In this prayer, He is praying for His disciples and he prays, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world …” Jesus wants us to live in the world and among those in the world, but not to be ‘of’ the world.

Dolphins may live in the ocean, under the water, but they need air to live. They need to come up for air. As Christians, we are citizens of heaven but we live in the world. We need to ‘come up for air’ because our life source is from God. Jesus was ‘so much in the ordinary world,’ Chambers writes, ‘that the religious people of his day called him a glutton and wine-bibber.’ Jesus was relatable and with those who needed him most, but he was not ‘of’ the world.

I read a fictitious story about a kid and a WWJD bracelet. For those of you who slept through the mid to late 90’s, WWJD stands for ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ I wore one of these as did millions of other Christian kids. This was to remind us to think before we acted. Well this story illustrates how off much of our thinking around this idea was. I read this in the Huffington Post:

Once upon a time, a mother made her son a wristband. On it was written: WWJD? This, of course stood for: “What Would Jesus Do?” She instructed her son to look at the wristband before making decisions on how to live his Christian life.

A week later she was shocked to see that her son had become friends with prostitutes, was hanging out with ‘sinners’ — even buying people who were already drunk yet another round of beers!

Worse still, he had walked into their church the previous Sunday and tore down the book store, overturned the tables and threw the cash register through the window, he then made a whip and chased the pastor out of the building, declaring he was turning God’s house into a den of thieves.

Most shocking was what happened when his mother went to picket the local abortion clinic. To her embarrassment, her son was also there, but he was standing with the women who just had an abortion, and yelled at the protesters: “You who are without sin, throw the first stone!”

The mother was very distressed, but fortunately she found a solution to this terrible problem. She made another wristband, this time it read: WWAPD? This, she explained to her son, stood for: “What Would A Pharisee Do?” She took the old WWJD? wristband and burned it.

Since her son has been wearing the new wristband, looking at it to help him make his decisions, he has become a dedicated tither, a public prayer warrior, an active condemner of ‘sinners,’ a passionate defender of the Old Covenant law, and has a great reputation as a godly young man amongst other religious people.

Needless to say, the mother is very happy now. She only wishes Jesus would take notice and follow her son’s good example.

This really got me thinking and if we really want to be like Christ, we need to be in the world but not of the world. Today is Thanksgiving and I am thankful that my Savior is not some weirdo who requires that I be hermetically sealed and kept in a bubble. He wants me to be like Him and be with people. Jesus came for the sick and not for the well. We need to be fishers of men and not keepers of the aquarium. We need to be a hospital and not a courtroom. John 3:16-17: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

I am thankful that it is not about what I do, but about what He did.