rest

athletic track with the number 2022

Are You On Track in 2022?

We’ve been on a wild and challenging adventure for the last couple of years. Finally, we have faced something more difficult than what our parents faced. That and $4.00 will buy you a cup of coffee. 😀

Are You OK?

With the myriad problems we muscled through during the past 24+ months, I thought it might be good to check in on you. Are you doing okay? Spiritually, are you on track in 2022? Can you still say with confidence in your heart, “God is good!” That’s my prayer for you – yes, I pray for all who read these posts. Today that includes you!

God’s Word is full of running and racing metaphors1, but my question today is, are you undeterred from the life with Jesus? Notice that I didn’t ask about what you are “doing.”

Where’s the Track?

From “THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM,” question one is: “What is the chief end of man?” It’s probably good that I didn’t study this as a teenager. My answer would have gotten me tossed out of the class, which is sad because this is a tremendous question.

What is our purpose, our destiny? I’m just finishing up Hillsdale College’s lecture series, Introduction to Western Philosophy. It is excellent and free. I’ve learned that this question of the total and eternal purpose of man/woman is one that philosophers from 300 BC until today have struggled to know. But you and I know. The correct (Westminster) answer is: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

Every Christian knows this truth, even if we don’t know the right words. In our spirit, we know that we live and always shall live to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Notice that the primary (i.e., chief) purpose is not to build a church or lead 100 people to Jesus or give $1,000 to missions. Those are joyous ways to worship Jesus, but those aren’t our primary purpose.

What’s the Answer?

If we are Christian, then our primary purpose, which we were born for and will be doing forever, is to glorify (i.e., to honor and praise God as divine, as the one true God) God and enjoy God forever. That’s is why God created you and me, and it is how we should live our lives, and it will be fully realized when we arrive in heaven.

So, are you on track in 2022? Have you crossed into someone else’s lane? Are you running out of energy while running in your lane? Are you still on the track? Be encouraged:

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

It’s Okay to Wait

If you’re not on track, then wait for the Lord. He hasn’t forgotten you or your eternal purpose – Glorify God and enjoy God. Take some time to enjoy Him. After all, that’s your purpose in life.

Image by Tumisu, please consider ☕ Thank you! 🤗 from Pixabay


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[1]: Hebrews 12:1, 2 Timothy 4:7

Hike Lake Landscape Man Mountain Ranges

Rest and Reflection

Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. 2 A large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore.Matthew 13:1–2

I love Matthew 13:1–2 because we get a glimpse of Christ’s nature. We know that Jesus is God from (John 20:28), when the Apostle Thomas was confronted by Jesus, after His resurrection: Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28, John 14:8-10) Still, in today’s text, we see, just for a moment, Jesus enjoying His creation (Psalm 89:11).

We see that Jesus gets a late start for his rest beside the lake. (Psalms 33:6) But in these few moments, Jesus sits beside the lake; He created the lake, water, and all that lives in it. They all know their creator (Isaiah 55:12). Did they turn their attention to Him? Did they honor Him? I think they did. This makes His personal time at the lake a time of seeing His Creation reaffirming His original statement, “It was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

You and I each have, through Jesus, gifts, and callings. (Romans 11:29) These were decided before Creation was made. (2 Timothy 1:9) It is good for us to remember our gifts from God, and to recall times when, by faith in God, we used our gifts and callings. (1 Samuel 17:36) These times have a very short “shelf-life.” Soon, just as with Jesus resting by the lake, we must return to our ministry, but we return refreshed, reinvigorated to do the work Jesus has called us to.

I hope you see that rest and reflection are gifts from God. (Isaiah 40:31 They are part of the light burden Jesus places on us. (Matthew 11:29)


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downtown sign saying "expect delays"

Every Delay is a Good Delay

Can you call your mayor’s personal phone number? What about your governor’s private number? Can you give Vladimir Putin a call? My guess is that your answer is “no” to all three of these questions. How amazing is it that we can’t talk to children of Adam and subject to God’s will, but we can talk to God, Himself!

When my wife and I were missionaries in Eastern Europe, we quickly learned to live with delays. And, when anyone told us, “No problem!” we knew it would be a big problem, and that seemed to happen daily! Slowly, through these delays, we learned that delays were often very good. We learned that how we saw our problems and needs disagreed with God’s intent.

When we finally realized that delays were good, we began saying, “Every delay is a good delay.” This phrase has become part of our family’s lingo. At the heart of most delays, we can find God applying the brakes on our requests. Sometimes, God allows delays for reasons only He knows. We see this in the life of Daniel when he was visited by an angel:

12 Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia,

Daniel 10:12-13

There are some “I don’t know why” delays, but God is sovereign, so His will is never compromised. When we experience a delay, we can rest in our trust in God. God is not playing with us as we do with cats. I once had a cat named Max. I’d exercise him with a laser pointer. He never could catch the red spot on the floor because it wasn’t real. That’s not God’s relationship with any of His children. If God delays an answer, then that delay is good. We know this is good because Jesus said, “No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18) Therefore, whatever God does is good.

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!”

Psalms 31:24

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash


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Stadium Seating

Reserved Seating

If you popped out as a doer when you were born, then one of the most challenging things anyone can ask of you is to stop and sit down. 

Doers need to be busy; if we aren’t, then we get grumpy. As we age the need to “do” doesn’t change, but our bodies start letting us down. Our heart says “yes,” but our body can’t cash that check. It’s no wonder that many older adults are cantankerous.

Well, God loves everyone, including doers. But doers have to submit to the same process that God requires for all His children. Here’s what God expects: 

Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV), But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 

Our Seating

Hmm. It seems that God has handled all the details, hired the staff, and prepared a place for each believer. Paraphrasing Jamieson-Fausset-Brown: “As believers, we already have reserved seats with Jesus in heaven. In our spirits, we are already seated.”

To be seated is to be in a resting position. New Christians don’t start off standing. Paul writes of us standing at the end of Ephesians. Also, new believers don’t start off walking. Paul urges all of us in Ephesians, chapter four, to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called.

Surprisingly, the first thing new believers do is sit down; to be at rest. To receive the peace that can only come from Jesus (John 14:27). Once we have Christ’s peace then we can walk in faith. And, with His peace in us, we can stand against the enemy of God when he comes against us.

Because of God’s rich mercy and great love, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Savior, every believer has a reserved seat in heaven. I must admit that I look forward to finding mine.

Photo by Vincent Botta on Unsplash

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Insecurity

Are you insecure? If so, the following devotional can fix you in just three minutes.

When I was in middle school – it was called junior high back then – I began to notice and be attracted to girls. My first girlfriend was Leslie. I had no courage around girls, so she chased me until she became my girlfriend for about two weeks.

We’d been friends for much longer. My best friend and I would play tetherball with her in her backyard and, sometimes, she’d watch my wrestling matches at school. But, after I became her boyfriend, she quickly dumped me and moved on. I don’t fault her for that.

Before this first brush with courting, I was backward and clumsy; afterward, I was backward, clumsy, and completely insecure. Attraction, attention, affection, and abandonment is the process of how kids begin to learn the social skills they will need once they mature and are ready to start courtship.

If nothing else, I’m consistently a slow learner, so when I entered high school, I had to take a speech class. When it came to my turn to stand up and give a speech, I took an “F” because I was too insecure to give the speech I had prepared and held in my hand.

As a novice student of history, I am astonished by the number of kingdoms destroyed by the actions of insecure leaders. Pride, combined with fear, produces an insidious foundation for insecurity. You can be sure that this toxic abscess within one’s self will manifest itself.

Hold on, you might say. If insecurity is a person’s nature, why am I picking on them? For twenty years, I was the poster child for insecurity. Then, God showed me that just as worry is a sin, so is insecurity.

Now, here comes the cure.

Just as worry is an expression of a person’s lack of trust in God, so insecurity is pride with doubt. Both pride and doubt are not God’s will for His children. God loves us and has told us, “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.” (Psalms 46:1 KJV) If we are called on to give a testimony or to take a leadership role, we need to pray. If God tells us “yes” then any action on our part to undermine God’s call is a sin. None of us want that.

Left unchecked, when insecurity has run its full course, an implosion takes place leaving that person an empty shell, exposed to all as someone who’s God-given strength was drained by insecurities abrogating God’s joy, peace, contentment and love which are available to each of us through Christ Jesus.

You can read a brief example of the impact of insecurity in Mark 6:21-28, I’ll give you the “clincher” here: “And he [King Herod] promised her with an oath...” He was a king. He did not need to write her a blank check, but his insecurity in front of his guests manifested itself much to his remorse and eventual destruction.

‘Insecurity’s fruit is loss, destruction, and embarrassment. God wants better for you.

Insecurity will lose its hold on us if we do what Jesus said in Mark 12:29-30, “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” If we do this, then there’s no place in our lives for insecurity.

Prayer: Father God, we know your bountiful promises in your Word that calls us to peace and rest in You. Therefore, right now, we ask that you would give us the boldness to deal with the root causes of our insecurities. Set us free and teach us to cast all of our care upon you. Thank you for this new freedom you have imparted to us. In the Name of Jesus we pray. Amen!

There you go. If you take to heart these passages of Scripture and pray a prayer similar to the one, above, you are free of insecurity. Walk in faith and that’s good news.

Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

Craftsmen at work

Have you ever visited a leather factory? A friend of mine took me to one that his family jointly owned with another family. The factory had been in business for more than one hundred years, and it looked it!

They had a massive warehouse where raw cow hides were unloaded from rail cars. From there hides were thrown into pits of lye and stirred with giant wooden paddles to get the hair off the hides before the hides went through the other gruesome manufacturing steps.

The stench was nearly unbearable. Every process was labor-intensive and probably hadn’t changed since the factory opened. Finally, we walked up a long, ancient, wooden staircase.

When my friend opened the door it was like I had been transported to Italy in the 18th century. The massive room was staffed by Italian leather artisans.

Italian was spoken as fluently as English, perhaps more so. All of the carnage, stench, and crudeness had produced the leather canvases upon which these masters of their trade created leather products for some of the highest-end fashion houses. It was a marvel to behold.

As with leather, the beauty of God’s abiding love was made available by gruesomeness. For the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross was profoundly gruesome. But God’s great sacrifice has secured us. As the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)

With such a clarion decree will we still cry out, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38 NIV) I hope not. Rather, let us rest in Jesus, not as a lazy guy on hot summer’s day, but as a craftsman, “who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

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