Worthwhile September 20, 2019

Is Fall actually upon us? In SoCal that means overnight temps in the 50’s and 60’s with daytime temps between 75 and, well 100. Ha. I occasionally miss a Midwest autumn with the smell of falling leaves and chill in the air. It smells like football season and Thanksgiving. Ah, nostalgia.

This week I have a trio of phenomenal articles and a video, all worthwhile. Take up and read, and watch.


First out of the gate was a stirring piece by Jared C. Wilson on the recent suicide of Jarrid Wilson. No relation just the same name. “There Should Be Two of Us” is honest and a reminder to all of us that our friends, the people we associate with and those around us can all suffer from depression. Maybe we become more equipped to love, stick with, and care for those in pain.

I am doing well now, and have been for a long time, but I know the feeling of everything being too much, the weight of the fear of never getting better, the emotional drowning of all those breakers and waves. I have heard the lies that nothing will change, that nobody really understands, that people would be better off without the burden of me, and all the rest. And in brief doubtful moments I believed them.


That is the enemy speaking. I don’t know what brought me back from the brink, really. A different kind of fear, I suspect. The fear of missing out on what might happen tomorrow. More than likely, tomorrow would be just the same as today. Every day seems to bring the same pain, the same worry, the same hopelessness. But what if tomorrow’s different? Do I want to rob myself of finding out? And do I want to hurt those I love? A residual curiosity about what might happen if I don’t give up thankfully proved slightly stronger than the despair.


For seriously depressed persons, I know these thoughts don’t come easily, if they come at all. For those seriously struggling with suicidal thoughts, the illness crowds out rationality and logic, as well as sentimentality and hope.


But it is in these moments, perhaps, that faith is most faith. If you cannot see the light, as the saying goes, cast an anchor in the dark. Doubt your doubts. Believe what you can’t. 

Read the essay on For The Church.


Next a call to weak leadership by Darryl Dash. It’s not what you think but a call to biblical leadership fully aquainted with weakness and the need for the Spirit’s power to lead.

“I’m convinced our most common leadership model within the North American church resembles that of the Corinthians. We long for the so-called super-apostles. We want the gifted, the successful, the articulate, the men and women who get things done. Our leaders are allowed to suffer, but only in the past tense. We want winners, people who’ve beat the odds…It’s time to rewrite our leadership playbook. It’s time for leaders who’ve learned the power of weakness.”

Dash looks at Paul in 2 Corinthians for guidance and I think he is on to something. This last week I have been meeting with groups in our church to discuss a new network partnership for us. These talks have also brought on questions of the church’s future and I was quick to share that like Paul I am often “burdened beyond my strength.” And that is exactly where I want to be so I keep trusting Jesus.

Think of how you lead, and give it a read here.


Thirdly, this bit from the last book written by David Powlison shared by Justin Taylor. In it Powlison gives a front row view of a heart given to Christ. What it means to suffer and have hope. Ultimately hope in our Savior.

In the midst of my confusion, unbelief, and fear of death, God used Ezekiel 36:25–27 to bring me to faith. It was my first encounter with the belt of truth that Jesus gives his people. It was my first encounter with the sword of the Spirit that exposes and heals. At that moment, I knew the truth of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). It was God who shone his light into my heart and awakened me from the slumber of sin and death.


Now more than four decades later, I am staring death in the face. Instead of my faith failing, the promise of a new heart holds true. God is still shining into the darkness of my heart to give me the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. The reality of death has made the truth of God’s Word come alive to me. 

Read the rest here.


Lastly, here is a short video description of discipleship that is spot on and might spur something in us.


Have a wonderful weekend. Stick close to your people, breathe deep, go for a walk, and go to church. You are loved. You are worth it.

Loving God for Himself Alone

This week I preached on the bigness of God from Isaiah 40:12-26. That because he is so big we can trust him with our lives. Now all of us that claim faith in Christ can on the surface agree to this and let it warm us on a Sunday morning, but how does it help us on a Monday afternoon?

Normal pressures of life punctuate the worship gathering and we swim back into the soup of the clamor of smaller things demanding to reign in our lives. We believe God is big enough to care for us, but how will the bills get paid? We believe God holds all of creation in his hand, but what if our adult children never speak to us again? We believe nations are emptiness before God, but what about the burden of our tax liability?

The list could go on, and sure it would be specific to you, external demands, responsibilities, emotions and the overall sense of exile without end weigh us down. Can we really turn to Jesus with all of this?

It is far too easy to turn faith into a transactional relationship. I believe in God so he gives me a job, or I pray hard and long enough and I will finally be delivered…etc. But is believing in and following Jesus worthwhile if none of the externals are dealt with? Do we love God for himself alone?

The thinking brings to mind one of the most popular of Bible stories. The fiery furnace. Disobedient to the cultural demands of worship at the golden image which would make their own faith in God private, the three Jewish young men are brought before the king.

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16–18 (ESV)

They profess how big God is – big enough to deliver them out of the fire – but what’s more, they profess that even if he doesn’t they won’t bow to the fake gods. Even in the breakthrough doesn’t come, even if I remain in the valley, if I live and die in exile, I will still only worship God.

It is bold faith.

Yes, God delivers them. They are freed from the furnace and in many of our own “furnaces” God works to free us. But friends he is worth worshiping because of who he is. We don’t need the addition of circumstance or the change thereof.

Come what may, we will worship. Let’s say that. Let’s live that. Let’s rejoice when we come out the other side. Let’s look up and behold our God and gain an eager vision for eternity with him – the promise he is big enough to deliver. Let’s love God for himself alone.

Steady as We Go

It has been a tough weekend in the suburbs of San Diego. As you may have heard from news reports, a teenager, somehow influenced by hate, murdered a women and hurt others at a synagogue in Poway, CA. A block from San Diego City limits and just a short drive from Escondido where we call home.

We deplore hateful violence. There is no quarter for it in the church and we must actively and repeatedly communicate that such animus for other image-bearers is anti-Christ.

But it was so close to home. The alleged terrorist grew up in a neighborhood called Rancho Penasquitos, graduated from a good high school and was a member of a church in Escondido. A church, reformed in doctrine, certainly proclaiming the gospel, and meeting on the campus of respected seminary. The synagogue is the same neighborhood where members of our church live… this happened on our streets, where we do our best to flourish.

There will be much time for processing and working in the community for healing and I am thankful for the group of local pastors striving toward that end.

As I reflect on this today, I am struck by how quickly culturally we will move on from this tragedy and how active we must be to prevent it from happening again. But also that the gospel empowers us to keep on, to speak for justice in every day life.

Before my sermon at Reservoir yesterday I shared my joy at returning to the normal life of the church:

Coming off of Easter I was reminded in my own heart of the draw toward experience. The big Sunday, the whizbang sermon, the emphasis we put on special events. But more so I reflected on the reality that faith is lived out in community, in the day-to-day, nitty-gritty, happiness and sorrows of life. And the gospel, the good news of Jesus speaks to and holds us up in all of it.

What relief!

It is a relief. Because we need holding up. We need spiritual power for every moment of life, especially those with such darkness.

So we press on. Clinging to Christ, our hope.

Anticipating… no longing for Christmas

Something rather strange has come over me this fall. If you have known me for long enough, you would know that the preparation and celebration of Christmas, at least in my opinion, is meant for a very specific block of the calendar that falls just after Thanksgiving and ends immediately after Christmas dinner. My wife has called me a Scrooge, and I have been fine with the title.

Enter 2016. This has been an interesting year. On the home front it has been wonderful. Our big focus was adoption and now Adia is home with us and advancing by leaps and bounds. The big kids are great with their sister and all three are such a joy to parent. Stacy has taken on so much and handled it all with grace and poise. Even the dogs are doing awesome!

For all of its goodness 2016 has also been a hard year. Sickness and hospital visits/stay for the littles. Some difficult transitions of families from our church. And friends that have faced devastating prognoses, relocations, heartbreak, death, you name it. Add a layer of political and racial unrest in our country and wham… we are ready for something better.

So I sit here typxmass-treeing in a room fully decorated for Christmas. I have been listening to Christmas music for a few weeks and all around I can’t wait for Christmas. The food, the laughter, the joy, the glorious reminder of Immanuel the God with us; all of the wonderful things Christmas promises. In fact I am thankful that I have the longing for them because it tells me I am built to long for better, for truer things.

This is what Christmas should be for us. The thankful anticipation we have on this side of the cross. Thankful for the accomplished work of our redemption by the Savior that entered the scene as a child born unto us. Anticipating his return, the final restoration of all things, the end of sin, heartbreak, cancer, war and hurt. Reminded of it in every sip of egg nog and song sung round the fire…pit.

I invite you to join me in the longing. The celebration of what we have been given and the future we will see. Anticipate it with me. Revel in the goodness of a God who dwells in our mess, in the pain, in order to rescue us from it. Go ahead… sing Silent Night and rejoice!