"The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank." -G.K. Chesterton
Many years ago I attended a big megachurch in the Dallas area. One thing that stood out to me every Sunday was how thankful everyone was who spoke from the pulpit, especially the pastor. Of course, I grew up in church, and had heard plenty of people thanking God for many things. My parents always had a spirit of gratitude and did their best to instill the same in me. But, the way this church was, well, like I said, it stood out to me. I hadn’t really heard thankfulness like this before. The pastor would stand up and thank God that he got out of bed that morning. He thanked Him that he could walk, talk, that he was in his right mind, etc. Seeing that type of thankfulness made an impact on me.
I’ve been complaining a lot lately. I don’t have anything to complain about, and yet, being the weak human that I am, I do it anyway. It seems like we live in a world full of complainers. Just go do a quick Google search of your favorite neighborhood restaurant and you will see plenty of people willing to air their grievances with the world. A few minutes scrolling through Twitter is enough to make anyone depressed. Shouldn’t we be different?
Shouldn’t we be marked by how thankful we are? Comparison is the poison of thankfulness. We have our daily bread, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our heads (so many people we meet overseas can’t say the same), but our neighbor down the street has magical organic bread from Whole Foods, a sweater from Neiman Marcus, and a roof with a little more square footage under it than we have. But today I’m thankful. I’m thankful for life. I’m thankful for health. I’m thankful I can walk. I’m thankful I can breathe without a machine. I’m thankful that I can see. I’m thankful that God didn’t leave me where I was, sinking in the mud of my own sin.
Praise the Lord. Thank Him. I don’t want a rock to take my place.
I know, if you’re anything like me, you are relieved as this long, cold, winter season comes to an end; to wake up to sunshine is an immediate mood boost.
Spring is always the season for new things, new beginnings and resurrection. There is an optimistic feeling in the air and a sense of renewed hope infuses our thoughts. However, there are many concerns as we look at the state of our current culture with the political, educational, media, and social issues being at the forefront of all news.
If we didn’t know better, we could get discouraged! But, there is good news, thousands of years old, still so relevant and life giving to us today. Read aloud Isaiah 45.
“I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things…
Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ … It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts…For this is what the Lord says—he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited— he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other…I the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right. Gather together and come; assemble, you fugitives from the nations. Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save…
Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are deliverance and strength.’”
We do know better…be encouraged!
I’m not sure why exactly, but recently, I have developed a deep curiosity and interest in climbing Mount Everest. Don’t misunderstand me, I won’t personally be climbing it any time soon. I don’t really like heights that much. I have been watching a lot of documentaries about people who do climb or attempt to climb that great mountain and living vicariously through them. These people spend anywhere from $30k to $100k to risk their lives to scale this mountain. Like anyone, I always knew attempting to climb Everest was a dangerous feat, but I didn’t fully grasp the enormity of the danger. At certain altitudes, altitude sickness is very likely, and it’s a pretty scary thing…like brain swelling, hallucinating, could die any moment from a heart attack or stroke type of thing. Why do these people do this? Is it ego? Is it some innate drive to test their personal limits? Is it bragging rights? Maybe all of the above…all this risk, all this cost, so many lives lost…to climb a mountain. I think attempting and achieving what was once “impossible” is amazing, virtuous even, but…
It is amazing to see the cost and risk so many people are willing to incur for the sake of an earthly accomplishment. We, as Christians, are pursing an eternal goal. Are we willing to pay the price? Are we willing to risk our own lives even? Are we risking everything for an earthly reward that will simply burn up in the end, or are we risking everything for a work that will bear eternal rewards? What are you climbing?
I know we are all alarmed at the happenings in our world. There is an all-out assault on are beliefs and sensibilities. What we once thought impossible is being played out on our daily news feed. The attack on Christianity is at an all-time high for this generation. It used to be that the railing against us was that they didn’t believe what we proclaimed…. now, the attack is even more diabolic. Now it is not ‘what’ we say, but we don’t have the ‘right’ to say it. That, my friend, is a shift of monumental importance. The feelings of defeat taunt while we do our best to keep our heads up. Be encouraged my fellow traveler, God will have the final word!
I can reflect on trials from years gone by and I am reminded of the rescuing hand of God moving among the broken places of our world. We might think what is happening today is new, but it is not. While a particular battle may be new the overall theme of warfare is not. The enemy always goes too far. Case in point, the devil thought crucifying Jesus was a good idea!
We must fight the battles as they come without fear or trembling, always reminding ourselves that Jesus referred to us, His disciples, as salt and light representing preservation and enlightenment.
Our influence as Christians cannot be stopped. You can’t stop salt from being salty nor can you stop light from lighting the way!
Look at the words of King Jehoshaphat as he and his army were facing a great battle. “…This is what the Lord says to you: Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours but God’s.” (emphasis mine)
We’re not going to draw back or go underground, we’re pressing ahead, influencing our nation and the nations of the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The other day, I was reading about William Wilberforce, the great British politician who went against the social norms of his day to ﬁght against the slave trade and other oppressive atrocities such as child labor. Eric Metaxas, in his book, 7 Men, writes concerning Wilberforce:
How God used [him] to change the world is almost unbelievable. One man who gave his talents and time and energies to God’s purposes was able to do so much. But we who admire him shouldn’t compare ourselves to him directly. We should rather ask ourselves: Am I using what God has given me for his purposes? Do I have a relationship with him so that I know he is leading me? Am I obeying him in all areas of my life—or trying to do so—so that I can know I am in a real relationship with him? It was in honestly asking and answering these few questions that lay at the heart of the greatness of the great William Wilberforce.
In a time when everyone will be focused on so many resolutions. When Christians will start again at Genesis 1, trying to ﬁnally read through the Bible in a year as they have been promising themselves they would do for the past 10 years. When workout facilities will be ﬁlled with fresh faces, eager to ﬁnally get in shape. When people will be comparing themselves with each other. This year, 2019, what if we break through all the noise and ask ourselves these questions:
1) Am I using what God has given me for His purposes?
2) Do I have a relationship with Him so that I know He is leading me?
3) Am I obeying Him in all areas of my life—or trying to do so—so that I can know I am in a real relationship with Him?
Thank you for standing with us in 2018 and I pray for your continued support as we impact the nations with the Good News! We look forward to 2019 with great excitement for what God will do in and through all of you.
Blessings from the WMA Team. ~ Chad
I was texting with a long-time friend the other day and he said something that I have been pondering. He said that his observation was that there is Christianity fatigue sucking the life out of people. What in the world does that mean, I thought. But as I began to mull over and reﬂect on the conversations of late with other leaders, family, friends, and students, I can say without hesitation that there does seem to be a fatigue that is trying to stymie Christians in their walk with the Lord as never before.
People are tired, Christians are tired…why? Could it be that we have been trying so hard to ‘do’ the Christian life that we are missing out on the joy of just ‘living’ the gift of a redeemed life?
Everywhere we turn there are valid messages on goals, accomplishments, vision, chasing His purpose etc. I’ve preached all of these! They are all truth! But our fatigue causes a sense of guilt for lack of accomplishments in these areas and the cycle of disappointment, defeat, and weariness persists.
God cannot bless the person we pretend to be…talk about exhausting.
There is absolutely a place of rest and refreshing that I believe the Lord is calling us to…it’s called the secret place. He doesn’t say a lot about it, but it is a place of renewal.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely, he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will ﬁnd refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that ﬂies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…” Psalm 91
Find your secret place of rest and let Him bring renewal to your fatigued spirit, soul and body.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are the called according to His purpose. -Romans 8:28
There’s an old saying that goes something like, “some people can’t see the forest for the trees.” That is to say, if you focus too much on the thing right in front of you, you can miss the bigger thing. We busy ourselves with our day to day lives, so focused on this problem or that that maybe we are overlooking the bigger thing God is doing. There’s a reason Jesus told us not to worry about our everyday lives…because we all have a tendency to do just that.
Take the picture above, for example. Most of us look at that picture and see a ﬂag blowing in the wind. But think, for a moment, about all the individual threads sewn together that make up the ﬂag. It’s a wonder isn’t it, that all those individual, seemingly insigniﬁcant, strands can be put together in such a way as to make a symbol of freedom, which has stood strong in spite of adversity; so many strands, weak on their own, but beautiful and strong when put together by a master seamstress.
God promises us in His word that He will work all things together for our good if we love God and are called according to His purpose. Do you worry about your life? Do you sometimes feel insigniﬁcant. Trust that the Master is making something strong and beautiful of your life…something more signiﬁcant than you can even imagine.
My wife and I have a new baby! We're pretty excited! She's three weeks old today. Those of you who have kids will know what I mean, but it's amazing how much you can love someone who hasn't done anything. My daughter pretty much just eats, sleeps and goes to the bathroom, and yet she couldn't do anything to make me love her any more or any less. She's mine.
God is love. We are His. To those of us who believe, God is our Father. I feel such great love for my child, yet that love is frail in comparison to the all consuming love of our Father.... The Father. Why should I worry? Why should I fear? Why should I have anxiety? Rest in the Father's love today. --Chad
"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?" -Matthew 6:25-27
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve… If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” -1 Corinthians 15
It’s so easy to lose sight of what is most important in life. Like Peter on the water, we often take our eyes off of Jesus because of the swells crashing down around us that we feel sure will drag us under. A million preachers have preached it, but the truth remains, when your eyes are fixed on Jesus you surely won’t sink.
“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!'
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’” -Matthew 14:29b-30
The Gospel is not just some better way of living. It’s not just some superior morality. It’s not just a set of principles to live by. The Gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the Good News, that though we were dead in our trespasses and sins, Christ became sin so that we might live.
Is there something dead in your life? Do you feel like you are sinking? Just call on His name, The Resurrection and the Life.
I am just one week shy of being back stateside for a full month. As I have seen so many familiar faces, I get the very familiar question.... “How was your trip?” There are many reasons this question is a hard one for me.
#1) It is scientifically impossible for me to take 4 months of outrageously amazing adventures and experiences and shove it into 3 or 4 sentences.
#2) Even though I know that question is vastly approaching, I can never truly prepare for the emotions it evokes because everyday of re- entry (the process of coming back into one's home culture), I am “unpacking” and processing a different part of my journey. Who knows what part of my journey I am processing the moment someone asks that beautifully complicated question.
#3).... #1 and #2 are plenty, but alas, I could truly name a dozen, but then I would have to think of another title because then the focus wouldn’t be on defining “Struggle Bus” and why I am currently riding it. But before I can begin my definition, I must set the scene a little more.
So after the question escapes the lips of said human, whom I love with all my heart, I then fumble through a few sentences of what I have already unpacked and processed to share bits of the goodness of my trip and something that God did that changed me in a powerful way. Then comes the next question that flows out in various forms. “So are you glad to be home?” Or “How are you adjusting to being back home?” Or even still “How’s your heart with coming home after all that God used you to do?”
Now theses are the questions that I am currently still unable to answer at the moment. What I can answer, is that I am truly happy to be “home”. I do love all that Jesus does where I live and in the amazing ministry in which He has placed me. I feel overwhelmed by His Goodness every week because of the people we get to love. But as far as my heart or how I “feel”, I feel torn. Torn between so many places that words lose meaning if I tried to explain it. Thus enters said “Bus”.
In the places I go, we often turn a phrase that greatly expresses life in ministry. There are days that one weary heart turns to another and simply states, “I am really on the struggle bus today”. Or maybe even the verb tense when the bus just isn’t expressive enough as a noun. “I am Struggle Busing it today!” As a missionary or someone in full time ministry, there is this idea thrown around that we are all transported around by the wind of the Holy Spirit. As true as I wish this were.... it’s a lie from the pit of hell. The truth is sometimes you are indeed onboard the struggle bus, and those wheels are not exactly going round and round. But the Goodness of God IS, the Wind of the Holy Spirit may not sweep in and transport you to your destination. But it for sure will sweep in and blow subtly across your face and neck. Not because He has to, but because He loves you and because He wants to! It’s in those moments that the rickety bus of struggle is chugging along, hitting every pot hole the size of Africa, that I hear His whisper. “At least you’re moving, and you're moving forward!” You see, even in my struggle I am still moving forward. I know that I won’t stay on this means of transportation and as soon as I look to Him, I see His plans for a bus stop. You don’t always get to pick the type of struggle. I didn’t ask that man to bring me his dying child in an African village where hospitals are scarce and witch doctors rule by fear. I can’t force the temple prostitute to stop selling herself for food. I don’t get to choose the struggles I face, but I do have choices. I can choose to sit by the broken window on that bus and let the Holy Spirit speak to me. I can choose to trust in His Goodness and in His truth and get off that bus the FIRST time it stops. Transparency used to feel like a trap, but now I see it as the first stop to getting off that bus and choosing a different mode of transportation. He is so good and so faithful I can’t help but ride with Him, and He loves all of my journey. Even the times when my burden outweighs my desire for forward motion. That’s why, even in that, He has plan. I take His yoke and His load full of promise and purpose and He carries mine... and at times He even carries me.