Be Joyful My Brethren

Pride and anger are just two facets of life that keep us from having the full joy of Christ. The beloved apostle Paul was writing to the church in Philippi when he encouraged them,

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Phil 2:3) This simple exhortation to the church reminds them to be humble in all areas of life. Oddly enough it really is that simple, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory…”  

Let’s begin with a simple look at strife. Strife means to be angry or bitter over fundamental issues (Online Dictionary). The Scriptures state, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.” (James 1:19)  Paul and James both felt that to be unified with Christ, having the same mind, be of one accord, that if the Holy Spirit is to dwell, within you could not let your temper spiral out of control.

I know upon leaving the Army after nearly ten years of service that I had changed. I was calm and reserved at age seventeen when I first enlisted but after years of stress and military service, I had become a machine finely tuned for the intense life of combat. This, in turn, fueled my anger. I may have been calm when I enlisted but I was masking an anger issue that I could not suppress any longer.

The truth is my family had revealed the change to me. Shortly after leaving the service I surrendered to the call to pastoral ministry. A few things had to change; first my anger, and second I needed compassion. It wasn’t until I really began to study what makes a Christian so joyful that I discovered the wonderful works of Paul to the Philippian church. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory…

I was easily angered and the ministry was going to require some thick skin because let’s face it, this is a people business and people are a fallen creation. Here is the apostle Paul in a Roman prison chained to guards and writing one of the most joyful letters ever written. I needed to possess what the apostle possessed. After many hours of being on my badly worn out knees in prayer, God answered and His Spirit created within me a new heart.    

Vainglory or pride in oneself combined with strife or anger is a deadly sin cocktail. It is interesting that the two are commonly referred to as being one with each other. They go hand in hand. However, if we Christians are to be joyful and to live a Spirit-filled life then anger and pride must be absent from the body.

“But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.”(Col.3:8) We must leave these things that separate us from God behind with the old man. For once we have the true forgiveness of Christ we are born again and made new. Those things of the past are long gone.

In Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”

So if we are to be done with anger, put away all pride then the only possible avenue left is one of humility and selfless service. Paul countered this verse with a compare and contrast, if you are “A” then you cannot be “B”. Paul was a special man, the Hebrew of Hebrews, a scholar, a 110 percent kind of guy, but the one thing he is not, prideful.  Just in case you are like the believers in Philippi and say but Paul, Jesus our great example was the Son of God, and you Paul, are a beloved called Apostle, How can we simpletons follow those examples? Paul gives you two personal examples.

He gives you young Timothy (Phil.2:19-24) a Half-Jew Half Gentile, and Epaphroditus (Phil.2:25-30) a full-blown Gentile. These two examples are everyday Christians like you and me.

It is possible for the hardest of hearts to become soft, for the angriest to become meek and subtle. It is possible for the prideful to become humble, and until we are applying these principles in our personal experiences we may never experience the true Joy that lets a prisoner sing praises at night, and sets the broken-hearted a new.

By | 2018-02-19T05:34:47+00:00 February 23rd, 2018|2 Comments

What to Do When You’ve Already Failed Your New Year’s Resolutions

january 1st.

I was supposed to start running today but I’ve come down with a terrible flu.

January 2nd

I was supposed to start saving my money, but I just can’t get rid of this spending problem.

January 3rd

I was supposed to meet new people, but my anxiety is awful right now and I just don’t know if I can do it.

What to do when you've failed

If your diary looks anything like this, you have probably already felt the bitter sting of failure. Another resolution trashed. Another smart idea flushed down the drain. A new year was supposed to mean a new you and now all it means is a broken person trying to figure out why they failed so hard.

If you’re looking for a way to get back on track, to pick up where you left off, you’re not going to find that here. God doesn’t ask us to always stick to our plans. Because, sometimes, they’re just our plans.

Not His.

So that anxiety you feel? The flu you’ve come down with?

It’s not God’s way of punishing you, and it’s not His way of welcoming you into the New Year. God will give you what you need and take away what you don’t.

So, if you’re like me, and have already failed some of your resolutions, don’t go looking to fix the resolutions. Because, in truth, there’s nothing wrong with them.

What should you do, then?

1. Know that God is enough

Thousands of time in the Bible we see God being there for His people. When Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac, God provided a ram. Thousands of years later, when we were going to have to sacrifice ourselves, God sent the final sacrifice to save us. He was the perfect lamb. When I think about this, the mistakes I made the day before seem so small.

Most resolutions we make don’t matter. And, oftentimes, we forget that.

2. Trust God’s plan

Our lives become so focused on what we’ve decided, we often forget God has decided something different. So that child you were supposed to have? God wanted you to adopt. That race you were supposed to run? God wanted to keep you safe. That friend you wanted to meet? God wanted you to help the life of someone different.

If our lives went according to the way we wanted them to, they would be an absolute disaster. If my life went the way I wanted it to, I never would have met the people I’ve met or seen the things I’ve seen.

God isn’t ruining your New Year by changing your plan. He’s morphing your plan into His so that it will keep you safely on the path He has designed.

God isn't ruining your New Year by changing your plan. He's morphing your plan into His so that it will keep you safely on the path He has designed. Click To Tweet

3. Accept your failures and look for new opportunities to learn

I used to live in this delusion, believing that everyone remembered all of my failures. Little by little, however, I began to realize they didn’t. I was the only one who remembered, and with good reason.

Failures are there to teach us and to get us looking to what really matters. People forget, we move on, but one thing sticks with us for a lot longer.

People will fail us and we will fail them. We will learn, and we will move on.

But there is someone who will never fail us, and who will never move on from us.


And I think that’s the morale of all of these ‘resolutions’. People come up with these amazing, grand ideas, and soon lose sight of why they mattered in the first place. But God, when He created the universe, had this grand idea of fellowship.

And we ruined that. We failed that.

But He didn’t give up on us like we were a New Years Resolution, no. Instead, He continued to fight for us and love us– and He still does the same today.

So that’s all that matters.

Sure, running and dieting and financing and meeting new people is all great, but those will soon pass.

But God will never leave us.

That’s why He’s my New Years Resolution.


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By | 2018-01-31T02:27:06+00:00 January 23rd, 2018|0 Comments

Why We Can Have Hope in 2018

As a young and wealthy Yale graduate, William Borden had everything lined up for a successful life – even enjoying several weeks of European tourism as a graduation gift. The world was before him, his life ahead of him, and the determination and drive he would need for future success showed even in his college years. He was going places.

In 1912, he set sail for Egypt, intending to study Arabic before traveling on to serve among Chinese Muslims as a missionary. Borden shocked many with this decision to leave behind riches and ease and likely success, declaring with his life that God’s calling is greater than any success in this world. With big plans, a heart set on following God, and a love for lost people, Borden set out on the adventure of his life.

He would never arrive in China.

Why We Can Have Hope 2018

Three Reasons to Hope

There may be few times we’re as hopeful as we are when we turn the calendar to a blank and empty year. We daydream of all the possibilities represented in those empty squares—both for our own lives and for national and international concerns. Then, like snow that stays too long and merges with the dirt and grime of our daily commute, our expectations for something new under the sun fizzle out fast.

But one thing that makes us Christians different is that we have hope. Always. Not in political parties or presidential promises or international policies, not in goals or resolutions or self-betterment strategies.

But one thing that makes us Christians different is that we have hope. Always. Not in political parties or presidential promises or international policies, not in goals or resolutions or self-betterment strategies. Click To Tweet

This hope is stronger than all that.

As Christians, we base our lives and our eternal souls on the God who has existed infinitely longer than any of our governments or news cycles or bad habits or personal problems. Here are three reasons we can have hope strong enough to pull us through any challenge we face.


God never changes. 

Everything around us is always changing or always has the potential to change: the seasons, the people we see every day, our jobs, even ourselves. In all of this change, we can build our lives on the solid foundation that the God who put this planet into orbit is the same today, and that He cannot be any more or less perfect than He already is. He does not change. The God of the Scriptures is the God alive and well and active today, working in and through us like He has always worked in His creation.

“‘God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?’
” (Numbers 23:19).

God always wins. 

Nothing can ever change or thwart or stop what God has planned since before time began. Whatever hardship or setback we face, whatever unexpected problem comes up, whatever impossibly tangled and complicated situation that just isn’t getting any closer to resolution, our God is never surprised or overwhelmed or at a loss for ideas. He’s got this. All of it. As hard as it may be, He is in charge and will accomplish exactly what He knows is best.

“‘Remember this and stand firm … for I am God, and there is no other;

I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,”
calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it
’” (Isaiah 46:8-11).


Jesus loves me, this I know

Piggybacking on the last truth is this one: in all of His plans and guidance, God remembers us. Never will we ever be loved greater than He loves us. He knows what we need, He knows what we feel, He knows what we want, and He will always provide us with His best. It may not be what we wanted, but it will always be His best.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32).

Each of these truths hold us up when tragedies and disappointments threaten our lives and friendships and plans. Even when a new missionary, full of potential, contracts spinal meningitis, far away from his family and his intended mission field.

William Borden had big plans – good plans – to serve God in a humble and forgotten area of the world. All of his advantages he “counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8), and he left behind all kinds of comforts to prove that belief with his life.

William Borden died on April 9th, 1913, at the age of twenty-five, in Cairo.


An Explanation for Such a Hope

It may seem off-topic to bring up a downer of a story like this when thinking about hope.

But that’s just it.

Even in William Borden’s story, there is hope. There is in ours, too.

Borden’s tombstone in the American Cemetery in Cairo reads, in part, “Apart from faith in Christ, there is no explanation for such a life.”1

It might seem foolish to pour all that wealth and intelligence and potential into mission work among a small people group around the world. It might seem like a wasted life when the hopeful missionary never met even one of the people he was preparing to serve.

When Jesus Christ breathed His last during a Roman execution, God took the greatest tragedy the world had ever witnessed and brought the greatest treasure out of it. Through Jesus’ sacrificial death and victorious resurrection, all who believe in Him have a hope that transcends disappointment and success, life and death – and they will never know real defeat.

Through this gift, we have assurance that our work, our obedience, our lives are never wasted. No corrupt or misguided or dishonest political situation, no false promises, no inability on our part to carry out our own plans, will ever take away our hope. In whatever comes, we are promised God’s faithful presence, His constant love, and ultimate victory.

What more could we hope for?

1 – Alcorn, Randy. Retrieved Dec. 30, 2017.


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By | 2018-01-31T02:27:10+00:00 January 22nd, 2018|0 Comments

In Resolve: Our Hope in the New Year

Every January millions of people make—and break—hopeful goals.

Some, irritated by the inevitable cycle, make farcical resolutions: “This year I resolve to eat more, exercise less, and watch more TV.” Unhelpful, but certainly achievable!

Despite the discouragement of past failures, we humans keep making plans from grandiose (I will never eat sugar again) to tiny (I will floss every day). And at the beginning of the year, new hope springs up in all of us, making resolutions worth consideration.

In Resolve: Our Hope in the New Year


Resolutions can make the abstract concrete. They can also be supremely self-focused and self-saving.

They are also often either exciting or stressful.

For the excited, a swift failure can lead to disillusionment and despair for change.

For the stressed, a strict new habit can bring on the drudge of duty and a loss of perspective.


But for the Christian?

Our resolutions must not be our attempt to save ourselves, bouncing off the disappointed aftershock of Christmas. Holidays can bring bruising, and we use a burst of energy, clear action steps, and a gym membership to hide the hurt. Excess and exhaustion have not accomplished our goals; we hope good intentions and discipline will.

But Christians do not place our hope in our resolve, full of mixed motivation and sputtering energy, leading often to a guilty relapse or smug self-satisfaction. Our hope can never be in our resolve.


Our hope is in the resolve of Christ.

We make our resolutions under the shadow of the One whose great resolve held Him to a tree until it was finished—in full knowledge of our future failures. We work out our faith with the strength and guidance of Him who will carry on to completion what He began in us.

Our focus is not on ourselves, and our hope is not in our works.


Our resolutions must reflect this reality, and cast us upon Christ.

First, we run to Him as our only hope, for we can never fulfill the virtuous dreams we trace out while fueled by late night enthusiasm.

When we see, by our action steps, just how far we have to go and how unequal we are to the task—whether we wear down and let slide or snap all in a moment—when we fail, we go running back to God, praising Him for His perfection, and depending on His strength to start again.

Next, our dreaming honors God when it echoes our final perfection in His presence. A Resolution can hint at the slow changes which turn us toward our King, and our desire to be like God glorifies His majesty. Indeed, we are much less of an employee frantically polishing a portfolio of half-finished projects, and much more of a child making endless drawings for his daddy. The child puts his heart and effort in to each drawing not from fear of rejection, but a desire to delight his Father, confident in a loving reception of even imperfect work.

Resolutions are choices made to honor God, habits that glorify His name, and slow changes that reflect what He is making us to be.

Resolutions are choices made to honor God, habits that glorify His name, and slow changes that reflect what He is making us to be. Click To Tweet

Whether reading Scripture, increasing fellowship or prayer, caring for our bodies or loving our neighbors, any change made for the glory of God delights Him.

Choosing habits of grace consistently turns our hearts and minds to Him. And when our plans burst like a water balloon on a cement sidewalk, we’re not left scrabbling for wet rubber fragments, because our hope is not in the puddle on the sidewalk. Our hope is not in our works.

Our hope is in the work of Christ. Our hope is secure.

So Christian, let go of despair when resolutions fail. Cling to delight in Christ, whose resolve never wanes.



By | 2018-01-31T02:27:12+00:00 January 21st, 2018|0 Comments

The Value of Knowing Christ

The Value of Knowing Christ by Olivia White

The Value of Knowing Christ by Olivia White

The book of Philippians was written by Paul from prison as an encouragement to the church of Philippi. Chapter three gives us some very deep thoughts about what it means to be a Christian.

In verse four, Paul begins to list off all the things he could have placed his confidence in: circumcised, an Israelite, one of the strictest adherers to the law, so zealous that he persecuted the church, considered blameless in regards to righteousness through works. Paul was among the religious elite. He was probably a pretty honored and respected guy.

And here comes the shocker: Paul counted all this as loss for the sake of Christ. Knowing Christ was of the infinite worth to him, so much so that else was worthless in comparison. Paul literally counted everything apart from Christ as junk- so much that he literally threw it away; his reputation, his honor, and his security. He gave it all up, choosing instead to endure extreme suffering because of his public and unashamed faith in Christ.

Paul didn’t mind throwing all he had away. In fact, he believed it would be a privilege to suffer for his faith. Even death itself was hardly a price to pay for the sake of the One who loved him enough to die for him.

Paul realized that he could only be truly righteous through Christ. He didn’t rely on the law anymore because Jesus could truly make him right before God. The law didn’t make righteousness possible; Jesus did.

Paul was willing to even die as Christ had died because he knew he would also eventually receive resurrection from the dead, just as Christ also had been raised from the dead. Earlier he claims that “to die is gain”. Okay, well, death isn’t too bad, because it doesn’t last forever. But how can it be gain? Death brings us closer to being with Jesus and thus to knowing him fully and having a perfect relationship with him.

If we know Jesus, we have a relationship with him. The two things are tied so close together they are practically the same. Knowing Christ means having a personal relationship with him through faith. This was Paul’s goal, the one he talks about in the next section: to know Christ more and more.

What does it mean to know God and to grow in a relationship with him?

When Adam and Eve sinned, they were separated from God, and by extension, so is all humanity. Through faith, Jesus gives us the opportunity to be reconciled to him. That means we can know him as our Savior and Father, we can grow in our understanding of him, and we can continually be growing closer to him. Most people know about Jesus, but only through faith can we personally know him and have an intimate relationship with him.

Knowing Jesus is so important that Paul basically says, “I don’t care about all that stuff anymore (the reputation, the honor, the safe easy life), because the one thing that matters to me is Christ and knowing Him.” Doesn’t it make sense that if someone was really awesome and amazing, you’d want to know them and have a relationship with them? Well, then, it’s really incredible and unbelievable that we get the opportunity to know Jesus; to know God. Because Paul understood the value of knowing Christ, he gave his all to pursuing that goal.

We too must see the value of knowing God and the importance of a relationship with him.

If you don’t have a personal relationship with God through Jesus, you are unrighteous, condemned, and without hope. If you have accepted Jesus as your savior, you already have a relationship with God through Jesus, but like Paul, you must seek to grow it.

How can we know God and grow our relationship with him?

Through the Bible

The Bible is God’s Word, his revealing of himself to us. In order to know God, we must read his Word. The Bible teaches us who God is and it is God’s direction and commands for our lives. God speaks to us through his Word, and we must listen.


Through prayer

As the Bible is God speaking to us, so prayer is us speaking to God. A relationship with God involves the blessing of coming before him in prayer. As with any relationship, it isn’t just a one way deal. Though God already knows all our needs and sins and joys and sorrows, he encourages us to pray to him because it strengthens our faith and shows our trust in him. We should want to talk to God.


Through following him

Cultivating a relationship with God takes action. As God is actively working in our lives and hearts to sanctify us, we must be actively seeking to please him with our lives and obey his commands. Our faith will grow as we trust God and serve him. Like Paul, we must be willing to follow God at whatever cost, even when it requires sacrifice. If we personally know and love God, we must live for him.

The greatest gift we have been given is the opportunity for fellowship with God through Jesus. Too often we take this for granted. Paul’s words stand as a reminder to us that knowing God and pursuing a relationship with him is the well worthwhile.

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8)


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By | 2018-01-31T02:45:30+00:00 July 7th, 2017|0 Comments


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