To Be Comforters

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” Isaiah 40:1 (ESV)

To a people in exile, suffering under the weight and repercussions of their sin, far from home and seemingly without hope; prophets are called on by God to comfort them. To serve them, raise their eyes to see him and find hope.

This is a wonderful launch into a new section of Isaiah, an unfurling of chapters written and spoken to a nation in exile. But it is also a call for those that preach, that lead, that pastor God’s people today.

I think of the people in the pews, that might feel their own exile. The loss of expected gain. The struggle of anxiety or depression. The tensions of human relationships. The recovery from abuse or oppression. The drama of everyday life. It all piles on and when we gather to open God’s word, the true word that lasts, it it good news, the gospel we are meant to proclaim and reflect to one another.

I have spent enough days in ministry needing what only Jesus provides and sitting with people that are starving spiritually for the comfort only he can give. It is not a permissive gesture or false freedom to live for self, but it is grace that sustains, serves, and heals those that he loves. His people.

What can you give today? To your friends, to your neighbor, to those hurting and in need, to those celebrating and unaware? Jesus. Comfort that the striving can cease, that righteousness is won by him for us. That he is enough.

Hear of this comfort, this Savior, Jesus who longs for you, and gave himself up for you. That you can have peace, now and in eternity. Rest in him.

Worthwhile: May 24, 2019

Long weekend ahead. Which means either you will have more time for delighting in great reading or you will be busy with burgers and hotdogs on the grill. Either way, breathe deep, find some people you like, and enjoy the gifts we have been given.

Four nuggets of good if you missed them earlier in the week. Grace, devices, discipleship and a place for all of us. Cheers!


First up, Sam Storms in a surprisingly short post for him, helps us think through ways we don’t fully embrace or understand the grace of God. It is a helpful list to think through and not meant as a guilt trip but an invitation into the true grace of Jesus.

I even found myself on the list, needing more embrace and understanding of grace. Help Lord!

Check the list for yourself, find grace and be free!


Are you reading this on your phone? Well, don’t put it down just yet… John Thomas has a review of Competing Spectacles on Christianity Today. Tony Reinke wrote the book encouraging discipline in our media age and seeing Christ as our treasure.

If you are hesitant to tackle the whole thing perhaps the review is a good place to start and be stirred to something less screen driven.

When we seek out glory in the passing spectacles of this world rather than in Christ, the culprit isn’t an ever-expanding buffet of shallow entertainments; our own sinful hearts are to blame. Adam and Eve didn’t have an endless selection of forbidden fruits tempting them to reject their Maker; they only needed one. And our spectacle-craving eyes have been looking elsewhere ever since.

Read the review, think it through, look to Jesus.


Next up, how should we approach the church, as consumers or as disciples? Matt Chandler punches our expectations in the face and calls for an end of consumeristic Christianity. Don’t go to church to be entertained or coddled, go to be equipped for ministry!

This is an important perspective from a large church pastor and it is helpful for all believers as we envision the future of the church in increasingly more hostile environments. The gimmicks won’t work, mission will.

Faithwire essentially unpacks Chandler’s sermon, which you can also watch. It is worth hearing and strategizing through. Check it for yourself.


Coming in last this week, among the least… is an encounter with neighbors we don’t always expect. Earlier this week I tweeted that I wanted to be a pastor for those that eat at McDonald’s and drink cheap coffee wherever they find it. Mostly because I want to pastor myself!

We live in a far too stylized world and the mess of artisan hipness has a stranglehold on the church. But it is the church that is the remedy to the mess.

David Zahl shares stories from Chris Arnade’s upcoming book chronicling his journey to highlight the back bench and back roads of America.

But he went further than mere surprise. “Soon I saw my atheism for what it is: an intellectual belief most accessible to those who have done well.” Woah! I couldn’t believe his guts then, and I can’t believe them now. In a world in which ‘de-conversion’ narratives seem to grow sexier with each passing day (just peruse latest issue of the New Yorker if you don’t, er, believe me), no one wants to surface the privilege component—to say nothing of social class. But it’s getting harder and harder to ignore.

How can we be more accepting and welcoming of the least? How can we recognize the effort to keep up the facade isn’t worth it? Take up and read. Be encouraged.


That’s it folks. Have a splendid weekend.

The Smile of the Father

My son, a six-year-old with more energy than I ever remember having, did something pretty normal today. But I noticed keenly the way it made me feel. It brought a smile to my face and I wonder if that is how it is as we stand before God and try to squeeze out a life.

He had finished his lunch and was immersed in one of his favorite shows, “Brick by brick” which is a series where you simply watch a guy build lego sets. But then his watching turned into creating. He asked his mom to video him, or at least set it up, and the next thing I heard was “I am Ewen and today we are going to build a lego 100…”

On his own, desiring to bring to life his set of legos and somehow inspire others by filming it. Now, I doubt anyone will ever see the video. But his effort brought a smile to my face. There is something about witnessing your child come into his own, to recreate and create from scratch that stirs your affections, warms your heart, makes you feel human.

This, as meaningful as it is to me as a father, is just a glimpse in the joy the ultimate Father has when those he created live for what he has called us. In fact, in Christ, the smile of the Father is always on you. The smile of an unexplainable joy. The smile of assurance. The smile of correction and care. Always meant to comfort, spur on and draw home his children.

From my smile to his. What a life it is we get to live… Let’s keep going.

Worthwhile: May 3, 2019

It has been a bit of a whirlwind week here in Escondido but there is still plenty to share as you plan your weekend reading. A heavy subject, a better vision, and perseverance.

But first: As a member of the North County Inland Pastors Prayer group, I had the privilege of helping to draft and sign the Poway Statement on violence. It is for pastors and ministry leaders to stand together against violent acts like the one we just experienced in our community. You can view the statement at PowayPastors.org.

Anti-semitism and violence motivated by difference should have no quarter in the church and I think Jesus is bringing us as a universal church to an important moment of repentance and clarity.

Now on to the worthwhile bits for this week.


Related to the evil of white supremacy we have an article from Joe Carter on the roots of views that very well could be held in our pews.

When I was working in radio at a Christian station, of all the conversations with listeners I had the one that is most memorable is when a lady called in to complain that our station would promote a concert of DC Talk. She was appalled that we supported “mixing the races.” She even went so far to suggest that when Scripture says believers should not be “unequally yoked” it meant ethnic groups shouldn’t intermingle (and certainly never marry). I was stunned and told her she was wrong. This article brought that back to mind as I reflect on the prevalence of such a view in the church.

Take up and read to keep yourself from the same error.


Next up, we all could use a better vision given the age we live in. Why not have a “Christ-flooded vision?”

Christy Britton invites us to it in her article from early April.

A better vision awaits all who have the courage to seek the gaze of our heavenly father. When our vision is obstructed by the distracting sights before us, we need to change our field of vision. We must fix our eyes on Christ, and as we gaze on him, he will dominate our field of vision and we will be strengthened by what we see.


Our unbelief will be transformed into belief as we behold him.

Give it a read and keep your eyes up!


And lastly, mostly for pastors and youngsters, but also for all of us. The Long Haul. Darryl Dash writes about his own choice to not stick with a church and ponders the benefits of faithful, long labor in the same place.

We can be so enticed by what’s next or “greener pastures” that we fail to experience the fruit of long obedience in the same direction. Think about it as you read for yourself.


Thanks for paying attention and reading along. Have a great weekend and keep looking to Jesus!