Perfect Love (God) Casts Out Fear

Today’s reading is Acts 27.

Have you ever been on ship or boat in the open ocean where no land or light was in sight? I remember going on a cruise with my parents and my brother and fellow Bible Journal writer Chad when I was under 10 years old. Standing outside at night on the deck with nothing in sight was not a feeling I can say I was particularly fond of. I remember thinking if I fell off the deck they would never find me. Feeling like this on a very large, world class cruise ship (where we had no storms) has me wondering how Paul and other passengers on these primitive first century boats must have felt with no electricity, GPS, limited provisions, and the terrible storms they faced.

During all these storms and troubles, what was Paul doing? Paul was still leading. Paul was still speaking the truth in what God was telling him to help others. I would guess Paul was still writing letters..some of which likely ended up as what is now part of the New Testament in the Bible. Many of his other letters we know were written while in prison. Paul was not focused on himself. Paul was focused on making an impact on others for God’s kingdom despite his circumstances.

This is the opposite of what human nature is. When I am facing challenging times, I become very self-focused and fearful. The fear is focused on me and what could go wrong in my life or the life of my family. It can consume me, and it’s all about me.

Paul was focused on God..not his problems. 1 John 4:16 says, “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him.” Reading on, 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” Not only does verse 18 tell us when we are focused on love, and not on ourselves, we don’t fear, but since verse 16 tells us God is love…I like to trade out the word love for God in verse 18. It then reads… ‘There is no fear in God, but perfect God casts out fear.’ If we continue to read on in 1 John 4, we see more verses about how this focus on God means we are called to love others. 1 John 4:21 says,  “And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

Don’t hear me wrong, it is absolutely ok to come to God in prayer and ask for what we want when we come with a humble heart and the right intentions. Jesus makes this very clear, as well does the book of James. God wants you and your whole heart, and He wants you to come to Him with your struggles needs. My intention of having us reflect on our prayer life and thoughts is not so that we don’t come to God with our challenges, but rather a nudge for us to reflect further on our thoughts, hearts, and actions. I’ve written before that expectancy theory says that which we focus on expands. Are we focusing more on God which means we are focusing on love which leads to focusing on others causing fear to dissipate..or are we focused on ourself only causing our problems and anxieties to blow up so to speak?

We see in Paul that God can make the most of our seemingly terrible circumstances to bring glory to His Kingdom and bring others to Christ. We must remember in our challenges that someone is always watching. When they see our unfailing trust in God and how we continue to love on and bless others despite our personal problems, they see the love of Jesus in us. They will then want to know more about the ultimate sacrifice He made on the cross for us. They will desire that same peace that passes human understanding that’s rooted in His love

What’s Your Number?

Today’s reading is Psalm 90 which is attributed to Moses with some saying it’s the oldest Psalm, yet the author of every Psalm is not known so it can’t be confirmed it is the first.

What’s your number? This is the question asked in an old commercial of an investment firm regarding each person’s amount of money they need in order to retire. Each person’s number is hovering above them as they go about their daily life. What if the imaginary number above your head and this question was not about retirement money, but the number of days in your life?

Teach us to number our days

That we may get a heart of


Psalm 90:12

How would you live life differently if you knew your number? I find it ironic how most of us have a hard time wrapping our arms around the fact that God has always existed because everything we know has a beginning and end. Yet even though we know our life on Earth will end and we don’t know when, we don’t live that way.

Psalm 90:10 reads..

The years of our life are seventy

Or even by reason of strength


Life is short…even if we live that long.

Psalm 90:14 says…

Satisfy us in the morning with

your steadfast love,

that we may rejoice and be

glad all our days.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled getting out of bed in the morning (although I’m still up early to get things done).  It drives my wife Shannon nuts that once I’m out of bed I’m awake with good energy. When we leave for vacation early in the morning before daybreak, I’m ready to chat and listen to music while she’s just ready to go back to sleep for another 3 hours while I drive. However, getting out of bed initially is always tough matter what great things are going on that day. Would this be the case if I knew my number and how few might be left, or if I realized how fast the 25,000-30,000 days at full life expectancy will go?

Psalm 90:16 says…

Let your work be shown to your


and your glorious power to

their children.

My post 2 weeks ago was around our responsibility to teach our children to know and love God and His Word. Assuming our kids become adults, move out, or go to college around age 18, we have 6,570 days in which they are under our roof. I don’t know about you but that doesn’t seem like that many to me, and I’m sure it will feel even faster. Are we enjoying each one of those days with them and impacting them to help nurture and grow their relationship with God realizing they’ll only be with us for a short time to influence them for the rest of their life?

Psalm 90:17 reads…

Let the favor of the Lord our

God be upon us,

and establish the work of our

hands upon us;

yes, establish the work of our


Are we praying for a “heart of wisdom” as Psalm 90:12 mentions earlier and letting God do His work through our hands? What sort of impact are we having for His kingdom?

Psalm 90 tells us there will be challenges in this world no matter what our relationship with God (Psalm 90:10, Psalm 90:15). But we know God is with us through them. We know His love which He showed us on the cross. We know life is short here so those troubles are nothing compared to the joy we will experience in our eternal resting place in Heaven which is much longer. Jesus says in John 16:33,” I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulations. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” He conquered death through His Resurrection on Easter allowing us to do the same through belief in Him. So, let’s live like our number is 1 which turns the number above our head to ∞.


Today’s reading is 1 Thessalonians 1.

Our small group leader and Bible Journal writer, David LaFrance, is currently leading our group through the “Life As We Know It” booklet published by Spread Truth Ministries. The booklet is an exercise where each person writes about their beginning, obstacles, hope, and future. It’s really neat to hear each person’s story and how their story fits into God’s story. One of the things that stuck out to me in writing my personal story was the impact others have had on my life, especially my family and older mentors in the beginning stage.

A few years ago, I read The Resolution for Men which I really feel is a must read for all men (there is also a version for women). One topic the book discussed was that many of us many come from a background where our parents and family have a generational history of addiction, abuse, shunning God or other bad habits, but it just takes one person to be a “chain breaker” to set future generations on the right path to follow God and his will for our lives. Someone must step up. Paul discusses in 1 Thessalonians 1:6 how the Thessalonians became “imitators.” Who is a “chain breaker” or another mentor who’s impacted you that your should give thanks to God for as Paul does in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3?

As I reflect on this question, I’m extremely grateful for both of my grandfathers who were “chain breakers.” My grandfather on my mom’s side was one of six kids. His dad left him and his siblings at a young age and to our knowledge they did not attend church growing up. He became one of the kindest, gentlest men I’ve ever known and was an amazing father and husband. He established a foundation in his family rooted in faith and the Word who would attend church not once, but three times per week. As a side note, I’ve always wondered and would like to thank the person who invited him to church or asked him if he had a relationship with Jesus. My grandfather on my Dad’s side had a father who was only really present in the physical form. He was abusive and left my grandfather to work for even his basic needs as a young boy after my great grandmother passed, despite having the financial resources. My grandfather essentially raised himself, obtained his degree, and was a great husband and father who raised my dad and uncle in a Christian household. Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention my grandmothers who deserve a lot of credit for not only helping them get on the right path, but who were also strong in faith and a spiritual rock for their spouses and my parents growing up. Behind every great man is a great woman.

Because of their choices to be great husbands, fathers, wives, and mothers rooted in a foundation of faith in God, my mom and dad chose to follow their example and do the same for my brother and me. For that, I’m extremely grateful to them and our parents. I pray that my niece and nephews and Shannon and my children will stay close to God and continue this relationship with Jesus in their lives and their kids’ lives impacting generations to come.

Let us only thank those who have helped us, but let us not forget that there will be “imitators” of us which Paul mentions in 1 Thessalonians 1:6. These “imitators” may not only be our family as I have discussed, but also could be neighbors, co-workers, or others we mentor by design or default. We must ask ourselves if we are being a good example in our daily lives, and are we inviting them to have a relationship with Jesus? It will not only impact their lives, but also the lives of their friends and family for generations to come!

“For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere…..” 1 Thessalonians 1:8

Tongues and Tebowing

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 14.

I must have looked at the schedule of dates, chapters, and writers nearly five times just to make sure that my day to write and topic was 1 Corinthians 14 on speaking in tongues. Yes..the schedule was the same the fifth time I checked as it was the first! Thankfully, a few weeks ago my brother in Christ, David LaFrance told me about Pastor John MacArthur’s Grace to You app which has sermons on every chapter in the Bible, and it had 4 on this chapter alone. In listening to a few, I didn’t feel quite as inept and nervous to write on it, not only because of John’s teaching and clarification, but also because John said this chapter was without a doubt the hardest to understand in 1 Corinthians and maybe the Bible. He also said he has read close to 50 books on this chapter and the topic of speaking in tongues and no two authors fully agreed on everything. That was my sigh of relief you just heard that I don’t need to get everything just right, and I just needed to pray for guidance and attempt to do my best.

John gives some great context in that the Corinthians were seeking a state of ecstasy, not only in their own homes and personal time with God, but also while in the church and around others. They were looking for an out of body type experience. It is also important as we read this to understand that John states the word “prophesy” was not used to describe predicting the future until the Middle Ages. In fact, defines prophesy as “to give instruction in a religious matter.” It also gives the word preach as a synonym. This is what Paul was referring to. John also states that the purpose of the church is to edify people about God. defines edify as “to instruct or improve…” If we understand these two definitions, then we can more clearly understand in 1 Corinthians 14:1-5 what Paul is saying in that preaching and using your spiritual gifts within the church is to help others more clearly understand and to glorify God is what is important. Being in your own state of ecstasy by speaking in a tongue no one can understand is not right because it helps only yourself. In fact, John  MacArthur goes as far as to say that if you use a spiritual gift only for yourself it is a sin and you are prostituting that gift given by God. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:1-5 that especially within the church, it is much better to preach because you are helping others.

Some may ask about Acts 2 where the Holy Spirit comes on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came and many spoke in tongues. John clarifies this is different because when the Holy Spirit truly comes like in Acts 2, everyone understands each other and the different tongues/languages which are being spoken. In this instance, God is being glorified and edification occurs because everyone understands each other. In Corinth, each individual was speaking a tongue/language which no one else could understand in public in the church. John MacArthur also interprets what Paul is saying to be the singular word for tongue which is also translated as gibberish. No one can understand gibberish, except for the one speaking it, so it is not used to help others better understand God.

So, how can we put this into context within our world and lives today? As I mentioned in our introduction to 1 Corinthians two weeks ago, not too much has changed. We still live in a society seeking ecstasy and personal experience. We are encouraged by others, advertisements, and entertainment sources to do whatever feels good to you, and it is all about you. I could just say one word that sums this up..selfie. However, I will say two words that amplifies even more the gravity and depth of our self-centered nature and the all about me world we live in…selfie-stick.

Paul tells us here in 1 Corinthians 5,12, and 26 that it’s not about you. The purpose of the gifts God gives us is to build up the church and the purpose of the church is to bring beauty to her bridegroom, Jesus. Just a few days ago we studied 1 Corinthians 10:31 which says, “So whether you eat or dink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” And then in 1 Corinthians 10:33, “just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they might be saved.”

Let me use on example of the gift of athletic abilities and sport. I have heard many Christians even criticize Tim Tebow for his outspokenness about his faith, thanking God in interviews after victories, and for “tebowing” after a touchdown. I once read a book where Bobby Knight was quoted as saying he didn’t have his teams pray before games because God didn’t want his team to win more than the other team, and God was not going to parachute down and make a basket for them when they needed it. I think many Christians take this posture and for example, think it’s wrong to mix sport and faith. They think athletic gifts are just athletic gifts and not for God’s glory and that when Tebow thanks God after winning a game that he’s saying God wanted him and his team to win more than the other team. I didn’t used to like it when athletes thanked God after victories as well. However, I missed the point. Tim is not saying God wanted his team to win more. What Tim is saying is that it’s not about him. God gave Tim the gift of athletic ability in order to glorify him and not only is Tim thanking him for these gifts, but most importantly, he’s actually using these gifts to glorify God, spread the Gospel, and model the love of Christ so others can see and will be drawn to Christ’s love by what he does both on and off the field.

Just like speaking in a tongue (gibberish), what good is the gift of athletic ability if you are only using it to benefit yourself and for your own selfish desires and not to bring glory to God and bless others? I’m very passionate about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The FCA’s vision is “to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.” Tim embodies this. He is impacting others for Christ through sport and the athletic abilites God his given him just as God is instructing us to do in 1 Corinthians 10 and 1 Corinthians 14.

Let’s learn from this and ask ourselves today the following questions. How can we use the gifts God has given us (and he’s given us all gifts) to glorify him? How can we spread the Gospel as Jesus instructed us in Matthew 28:19? How can we help others know him and his saving grace on the cross wherever he has placed us whether that be in our home, neighborhood, athletic field/court, and yes, even our workplace? How can we make wherever we are a mission field for him and his glory?