Resting Place

Lost and nowhere to be found in the middle of the woods. You are all alone, miles and miles away from any communication to the outside world. As the hour draws near, it starts to get dark outside, and it starts to rain. You find yourself searching for shelter to get out of the rain and rest for the night. Finally, you find a cave, a resting place.

This short story is an analogy for how we walk through life. Humans walk around looking for something significant. Everybody wants to be seen as valuable in society. People attempt to do this through their work, families, health, achievements, etc. It is exhausting, to see how much weight is put on finding value in life. Everybody wanders around to find something that will put their minds and hearts at peace.

From the time of the Fall till today, God recognizes that sense of belonging and value that individuals seek. Humans were always supposed to live with God in the garden until Adam and Eve sinned against God. They are left with a void inside themselves because of sin. People are left leading a life without a shepherd that they need (Jeremiah 50:6). Now, everybody attempts to fill that void with material goods, achievements, families, relationships, school, advancements, etc. People are running themselves exhausted because they are not rooted in the Lord.

What happens when people get to this point of exhaustion?

What does God do to help with this?

Why is being rooted in the Lord do for us?

Back to the story told from earlier, you find yourself lost, stranded, and stuck in the rain in the middle of nowhere…you are to that point of exhaustion and need a resting place. This is what happens in life, and how people find themselves in life. They get to a point where they can’t handle it anymore, and they want to give up or find some type of answer for why everything is falling apart in their world.

God knows that everyone can’t do this alone, and that is why He wants us to see Him as our resting place. Psalm 62:5-7 says, “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge”. When we are to that point of exhaustion, to the point of giving up, God gives us that cave every time. He always provides a resting place in Him.

Throughout all of the Gospels, Jesus tells all the people, to allow Him to take their burdens and rest in Him (Matthew 11:29). Jesus came to give us rest from all of our labors. He came, so that way, the burden of sin would no longer leaving us to feel lost and broken.

The longing and value that everybody is attempting to find on their own are found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul says, ” Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”. Everything that you are searching for is in Christ Jesus. He is the resting place that we are all longing for. He provides that cave for us every time we need it!


Today we explore suffering. Jesus was called the Man of Sorrow and also known as one Familiar with Suffering. It was even foretold in Isaiah 53 that he would be despised, rejected, not esteemed. He would suffer. GREATLY. God perfectly designed Jesus to be fully human and experience all the highs and lows of the physical life. Some of those lows are recounted in John 11:35 when Jesus wept over his friend Lazarus’ death, and in Luke 19:41 when he wept over the city of Jerusalem. A vivid moment of sorrow is in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus is disappointed that the disciples couldn’t stay awake, all the while he is praying and asking his Father to “take the cup from me” if it be His will. He knew the suffering that was going to begin, and he reveals his human emotions, completely aware of what the cross would entail.

Jesus, being fully God, also knew that Lazarus would come back to life, yet he still wept. He also knew the victory he would have over death, defeating the grave, yet he was still sorrowful and troubled. I love how God revealed his heart to us, showing us the full range of emotion. We are created in his image and the sorrow we experience is real.

Jesus’ death on the cross was the ultimate physical suffering, and then he experienced the greatest spiritual suffering when he took on the sins of the entire world and was separated from his Father. He did this for us – so we could be with him forever. Our sin separated him from the Father, and Jesus experienced the loss (Mark 15:34).

Nothing in my life comes close to that level of suffering. It’s hard to even call my experiences “suffering” when thinking of the true suffering that Jesus endured.

When I reflect on the more difficult seasons in my life, even now in hindsight, I have to admit that I wouldn’t choose them. While I have complete faith that God’s perfect will prevails and He will use any suffering I have experienced, I can’t say I’m to the point where I count it all joy, or even pray for tribulations and suffering. I’m so inspired by those that do, and face it so bravely. As God continues to sanctify me, I have confidence that one day I will genuinely rejoice in the scary medical diagnoses, challenging family dynamics, major marital strains, and unexpected deaths.

We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Romans 5:3-4

In searching my own heart, I find that I don’t like the lack of control and the unknown that comes with suffering (in addition to the actual suffering part). Sounds pretty obvious, right?

You may have picked up in past posts that I dabble in running. The past 25 years, there have been seasons of running for fun, running for health reasons, running socially, or running to reach goals. Each season is different and I’ve enjoyed all of them (and the dry spells). Running to reach goals includes an amount of physical suffering. Runners sometimes call this the pain cave, this place where you are intentionally positioning your body to suffer. And you don’t choose to run hard workouts so the pain lessons or it gets easier, runners choose this so they can endure the suffering longer. This chosen “suffering” is controlled and calculated. There’s an end to it, and you know there will be gains. Runners embrace this suffering in order to achieve goals. This hit me right between the eyes when trying to overlay this chosen suffering to unwanted suffering. Are there certain hard things in your life you’re able to choose, and other hard things you wish you could end?

I love how we are challenged to truly rejoice in suffering! How amazing to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that we choose hard things on this earth! And let’s be honest, any of my suffering is so much different than the true suffering of Christ. God hasn’t given me a calling that lands me in jail, I haven’t been beaten or persecuted for my faith. My experiences can hardly be called suffering or compared to Jesus’s suffering.

So what about you? Where does this topic land on you? Are you praying for trials and rejoicing in suffering? If not, what do you think is holding you back? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Who Shall Dwell On Your Holy Hill?

Today’s readings come from 1 Samuel 14 and Psalm 15.

Yes, it’s mid February. And yes, we are still listening to Christmas Carols. Earlier this week my four year old son asked me to pause the song and wanted to know what the third verse of Away in a Manger meant – “how do we fit us for heaven”?  I tried to explain it in the simplest way possible that a tiny (yet growing) mind may understand:

  • God is so holy and perfect in every way.
  • We must be made pure and clean to be with Him in heaven.
  • We sin and are unclean, but because Jesus is perfect, when He died on the cross to pay for our sin, He makes us clean.
  • Our time here on earth is to truly believe in Jesus, every day love Him with all of our heart. This is how we “get ready” or “get fit” to live with God in heaven.

Psalm 15 takes us through a much better description of who can be in God’s presence, in His holy place, or “fit for heaven”.  And WOW, it’s convicting and motivating! I can’t wait to read this scripture with my little guy as a follow up to his question.

Psalm 15

O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
    Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
    and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue
    and does no evil to his neighbor,
    nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
    but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
who does not put out his money at interest
    and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.

While this isn’t a checklist to enter heaven, if it were, we would all fail.  We are all disqualified at the very first qualification: blameless. Because we have all sinned, we all have blame. But Jesus took our blame and shame that day on Calvary. Our belief in Him is what allows us to dwell with Him in His holy place.

As I continue studying the different verse meanings and praying through each one, the Holy Spirit is challenging me to rid and repent of any of these sins in my life.  One characteristic that really stands out is the end of verse four. Am I able to keep my word and commitments even when it hurts?  Am I unchanging even when it’s hard?

I’m humbled that my God still loves me through my failings, continues to cleanse me through His perfect Son, and keeps calling me to a deeper communion with Him.  I can’t help but think of another kids’ song I’m thankful for:

He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the Earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be,
He’s still working on me. 

United In Christ

Good Morning, today’s Bible Journal post is by my friend and brother in Christ Jeremey Helmer.  Praise! 1 Corinthians 3

As I read through the first few chapters of 1 Corinthians, especially Chapter 3, I can’t help but be reminded of the spiritual journey my wife and I have been on to find a church home since we wed ten years ago. I grew up Catholic while she spent her childhood in Baptist and evangelical churches, so we began our journey miles apart from a theological and liturgical perspective. I think we’ve regularly attended somewhere around ten churches in the ten years we’ve been married. Now, some of the changes were due to relocating from city to city. However, others were admittedly due to the fact that we just couldn’t find a pastor or church that (insert subtle sarcasm) represented a perfect blend of our Catholic/Baptist backgrounds.
Or, to put it another way, since we were both walking away from the faith traditions of our childhoods, we wanted to be sure we found a pastor that was undeniably “right” in both our minds.

Fortunately, through the frustrations of this journey, I’m thankful we’ve returned to Christ as the foundation of our walk together. And now, hopefully we’ve come to a minimal level of spiritual maturity to see the how what we’ve been searching for has been here all along. So with this context in mind, Paul’s opening of Corinthians speaks volumes about spiritual maturity and the roles of the church and its leaders.

The chapter begins with Paul essentially saying, “Look, the fact that there’s division among you regarding which pastor you choose to follow is demonstration that you’re still spiritual infants.” Basically, Paul pointed out that the envy and strife among them should have been evidence that they were completely missing the point. Neither camp was going anywhere fast because they had taken their eye of Jesus as the foundation of their faith. So for Andrea and I, the more we clung to our theological background and held on to our own right-ness, the more prone we were to take our focus off the person of Jesus Christ.

Paul then goes on to explain “Apollos and I are just servants. Don’t boast or brag that you follow either of us. And, even worse, if you can put together a 43-point narrative about why I’m right and Apollos is wrong, you’re even further from the truth.” Several times this past week, I saw a post pop up from a pastor at a small church calling out and refuting some remarks made by Franklin Graham. I won’t go into details on the post, but I was struck by some of the conversations and remarks between sympathizers of the small-town church pastor and fans of Franklin Graham. Each side was firmly entrenched, supporting the leader of their cause to the detriment of their brotherhood and sisterhood. At one point, I too, caught myself thinking “yeah, this guy is completely right, and anyone that supports the other guy just doesn’t have a clue.” It’s so easy to fall into that trap. But then I wondered, “where and how does the reconciliation begin? How could these two sides ever come together to form a body of Christ that would be a beacon of light to the world?”

I could be wrong, but I have to think the communal reconciliation begins the same way that Andrea and I have reconciled our differences through the years – returning to Christ as the foundation, and laying down our entrenched “wisdom.”

Christ Alone ~ Hillsong